After my last post describing the history of the game Maryann and I invented, I didn’t write for awhile. I was quiet while waiting for the results of the contests I applied to, and the results were mixed. Sort of.
For the competition I was most concerned with, Boston FIG, I received my rejection and, as you could guess, was a bit dejected. But then, about two weeks ago, I received their feedback on the game, and it was… All positive. Literally. The curator who gave me the review said things like, “This is a great party game, best played with people you know well and aren’t afraid of acting foolish in front of. Would make a great drinking game, too” –the last of which is exceptionally fitting since it was originally solely a drinking game. It was also described as, “Easily learned and quite intuitive.”
Most importantly, though, was that the review included one sentence which so perfectly stated a sentiment I’d been grasping with describing ever since the game concept really was solidified back in January:
“[The game is] totally fair or completely unfair, depending on who is playing, but that’s kind of the point.”
After all this jabber, and now that I have some renewed vigor after hearing such great things by people who aren’t completely obligated to be nice to me, let me actually tell you about the game.
You and your “friends” are all in Dictator Preschool. Your goal is to learn how to undermine and arbitrarily impose rules on your peers, while doing your best to avoid having to follow rules yourself. The more conniving you are, the better supreme leader you will make. Every turn, one player – “The Dictator” – pits other players against each other in challenges to vie for their approval. This game isn’t fun for the whole family, but it’s exciting and hilarious for anyone who enjoys the chance to let out their inner dictator.
Summary: Players compete in Playground challenges, doing their best to avoid getting Punishments while imposing Punishments on others. Punishments are rules that players must follow or else suffer a consequence. To start, everyone draws a Tyrant card and agrees on a consequence for breaking rules. Every round, someone becomes The Dictator and draws a Playground card, which gives a challenge to other players. After they compete, The Dictator arbitrarily chooses a winner, who gets to arbitrarily make another player draw a Punishment card. The game ends when one player has 7 Punishments in front of them, or
when everyone’s lust for power is sated.
Starting the Game: The game starts when people agree on an easily completed but suitably harsh consequence for inevitable rule breaking (e.g., take a drink, do a sit up, etc.). Then, every player draws a Tyrant card, and the Tyrant with the highest Tyrant Level goes first. After this, Tyrant cards can be ignored though acting like Hitler for the remainder of the game is, of course, encouraged. Play continues clockwise. Sequence of Events: Each player becomes The Dictator on his or her
turn as soon as they draw a Playground Card. The Dictator, as the supreme ruler of the land, does not have to follow any rules. The Dictator has two jobs: first, they get to decide how long the players have to complete a Playground Card; second, they decide the winner of that challenge. There are three phases to a turn:
1. The Dictator draws a card from the Playground deck and reads it out loud. After the card is read, the players listed on that card must vie for The Dictator’s approval by completing the challenge associated with
2. The Dictator chooses a winner of the round by whatever standards they want.
3. The winner gets to make another player of their choosing (EXCEPT for The Dictator) draw a Punishment card, which is read
aloud and placed in front of the person who drew it.
Playground Cards: Playground Cards are divided into four categories, all of which are shuffled together.
● Tantrums: These cards require two players of The Dictator’s choosing to argue that they are the best or most likely to be
something. Whether it is something they want to be the best at or not, players must argue in favor of themselves.
● Tattle Telling: The Dictator reads a sentence on the card, which includes a blank. All other players must write down how they think The Dictator would most likely complete the statement.
● Acting Out: Each one of these cards has a category written on it. The Dictator chooses a word or short phrase that fits the category and then choose two other players to simultaneously act out the chosen word or phrase silently.
● Fingerpainting: Fingerpainting cards consist of questions. If the Dictator draws a Fingerpainting card, he reads the card out loud and then answers the question however he wants. The other players then draw The Dictator’s answer.
Supreme Judge: The Dictator chooses a winner of each challenge based on what he liked best. For instance, in a Fingerpainting challenge, The Dictator could choose the picture he thought was prettiest, or the one that best depicted his sexy abs, or give a pity win to the worst artist.
Punishment Cards: Punishment cards are rules (e.g., “End every sentence with ‘Amen!’”), with a penalty enforced for rule breaking determined by the players at the start of the game. Most of the time, the player who draws a Punishment card places it in front of himself and has to follow that rule for the rest of the game, even while competing in Playground challenges. There are also four special types of Punishment cards, which are explained directly on the cards. If any Punishments seem to conflict, do your best to follow both. All Punishment cards are shuffled together into their own pile.
Ending the Game: If you are a stickler for tradition and feel that the game must officially “end,” you can choose to declare a game over when someone has 7 Punishment cards in front of them. Whoever has the fewest doesn’t win so much as they lose the least.