I’m a fan of card games, Comedy Central, Jon Stewart and the occasional political discussion. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is that one place where you can get a hilarious, honest perspective into American politics. Cards Against Humanity is that one card game that loves to push that imaginary line between awkward perversion and downright wrong in the most hysterical way possible.
Politics, for me, is a dance of pushing that imaginary line in a society that today is blurred by greed, self-preservation, hypocrite religious radicals, and one-minded idealists. Outside of that, I enjoy humor in every size, shape, and color. My often perverse humor is appreciated by some. So when I heard that Andrew Rader was at it again with his latest card game that combined these two dynamics, I was intrigued to say the least.
Democalypse: Clusterf#@k to the White House is described as a “fast and furious US politics card game best described as The Daily Show meets Cards Against Humanity.” The game is suitable for 2-9 players, easy to learn, and is said to take 20-45 minutes to play. All the imaginable arenas of a political campaign are highlighted. Be sure to take a look here on Kickstarter.
How long have you worked on Democalypse?
I’ve been working on Democalypse for many years actually ~ I think since around 2008. I always felt like American Politics would make a great topic for a dynamic card game, so it was my first non-wargame (I come from a background of giant strategic wargames with a company called Australian design group – most famous for World in Flames). I put together a working version of Democalypse long before Ryan and I even had the idea for Evolve (which we ran the Kickstarter for last year), but it was always sitting on the shelf. I decided that it was too good to sit on the shelf forever, so I made some modifications and updates to finally get it out there.
What has been your favorite situation so far in play-testing?
Generally I’ve been sitting back in playtesting, letting others take charge to see if they can figure things out. It’s not a difficult game to learn, so that goes pretty well. It feels a bit like poker, because you have a secret bidding system with the feel of a poker bet. Based on your bid, an apparent winner is revealed for each political region. But then things get a little crazy with people shouting out things like “Sexting Scandal!”, “Hookers & Blow!”, or “Deny Climate Change!” The winner in a region can shift pretty dramatically at that point.
What are the similarities and differences between Democalypse compared to The Daily Show and Cards Against Humanity?
Democalypse feels a lot like The Daily Show (which was actually a major inspiration), just based on its funny/edgy take on politics. Each Action Card is a bit like a segment, for example a scandal lampooned on the show. The characters are stereotypes of American politics, which is often how real politicians come off in that satirical format. Cards Against Humanity was basically my inspiration to be edgy, and although I don’t go quite so far with the profanity and sexual references, Democalypse certainly could offend some. It’s also quick and dynamic like Cards Against Humanity, with lots of cards falling fast, and simultaneous play by all.
What have been some of the reactions you’ve received when you tested your game?
Whenever people test Democalypse, they always pick it up easily and have a lot of fun. I’ve changed the game mechanics a bit based on playtester suggestions to make it faster and emphasize player decision. And inevitably, each playtester always has ideas for cards. I’ve actually added quite a few cards suggested by playtesters, and that has made me want to include custom cards which you can build for yourself through the Kickstarter.
(Custom cards can be made via Kickstarter)
What lessons are you carrying over from your first Kickstarter?
I learned a lot in the last Kickstarter. For one, I made a video and a whole series of game images before I even posted the campaign. Last time, I was struggling to fill those out as I went along. I’m also going to make sure to size the game components for easier shipping. For Evolve, I didn’t really consider shipping dimensions when I made the game boxes, and this resulted in kind of a mess when it came to shipping everything. This time, I hope it goes a lot smoother so I can get all the games out as soon as possible.
What’s the age range for players for Democalypse?
Haha, good question. In terms of learning it, probably anyone over the age of 9. But the game does include some adult content (guns, drugs, sexual references, etc.). I’d recommend at least mild parental guidance.
Author’s Note: My recommendation would be to aim for mature aged players due to some of the content.
What are you hoping players will take away from the game, e.g. more understanding of the political field?
It probably depends what the players come in with. It’s certainly possible to learn something from the game. In a sense, the political regions are organized like those little geography flash cards. You’ll at least learn where states are located. I guess you could also learn about the political spectrum in terms of the candidates, and what’s been going on in politics for the past few years. It is also likely to stimulate some political debate. But mostly, I just want players to have a good time and not kill each other.
Democalypse: Clusterf#@k to the White House is nearing its goal presently on Kickstarter. Be sure to check it out and become a backer to get the option to customize your own special candidate. Happy Campaigning!