This New Card Game Takes Your Least Favourite Politician For a Ride
Standfirst: Co-creator Ben Lindley guest blogs about the development of Political Suicide
It’s tongue-in-cheek, bang up-to-date political satire in a box. Four players taking on the roles of Bush, Nixon, Trump and Clinton in 2v2 battles. That’s what you see from the packaging, the design, and the cards themselves. But what you don’t see at first is how fun the game is to play. This was the most important part of the game’s development from my point of view: it had to be fun to actually play.
We came up with the idea of creating a satirical game over the Christmas break, and set about grabbing free friends to try out mechanics on. I had the idea that play should be fast paced and brutal – as aggressive as politics can be. I though about the speed of reactions you need for a classic game of Snap, and remembered the way each player was tense with excitement, coiled and ready to slam their palm down if two of the same card popped up. We experimented for a few beer-fuelled evenings and decided on a two-level attack pattern. One player in the team Prepares the attack, and the other player finishes it off. Simple. The defending team has two chances to avoid attack – by distracting everyone after a Prep card is played, or playing a Defend card if the attack is successful.
But what are they attacking and defending? Each player has three suicides (call them lives or secrets if you like) that they must defend at all costs. These are things like Clinton’s infamous affair with Monica Lewinsky, or the French Government selling arms to Angola. Tut tut. When a player is attacked and looses all their secrets, they’re out of the game. We tested these rules for a week or two. The result? Player elimination lends a proper sense of victory to any card, board or digital game, but it totally sucks for the player who’s cut out of the loop. The answer? Keep the elimination mechanic, but count the team’s lives as one, so both team-mates are out of the game, only when they have lost.
We had the main mechanics down, but wanted to add another layer to the game – a layer that emerged and developed as people played through a single game. What else can politicians do? Change laws, that’s what! What if players could change the law to legalise their own secrets? We scribbled down the types of political suicide and put them in six categories: Adultery, Corruption, War, Arms, Drugs, and of course Racism. Now any character could use a Law Change card to alter the course of the battle.
The final stage was designing the cards. We split the Prep, Attack and Defend cards into four colours, for the stories that surround each of the four politicians. Clinton got the yellow adultery-based cards, Nixon won on the red corruption stories, Bush was green for war crimes, and Trump ended up with blue for political slander. Fitting, eh?
I should finish off by saying that all characters that appear on or in the game are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Political Suicide in the Press:
“You’ve got to play the game”
— The Daily Squib.
“Political Suicide card game allows you to use the filthiest political mechanisms to defend and attack your political opponents”
— Board Game King
“This sounds hilarious!”