New board game created by locals plays on legislative process

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

A group plays the board game "The Partisans," which will soon be available for purchase.

For students who can’t stay away from politics, the new board game “The Partisans” aims to satisfy your obsession with friendly competition.

Nick Reddick and Andrew Park launched “The Partisans” last month to educate others about the legislative process while illustrating real issue points in American politics. “The Partisans” is currently available through donations on its Kickstarter campaign page, and will be available for purchase at stores in about six months.

The game allows players to play as one of six ideologies – blue collar, bourgeois, communitarian, libertarian, nationalist or traditionalist – as they negotiate and compromise to pass bills on 10 different key issues.

In the game, players try to best represent their ideology by proposing and passing legislation that affirms their values. Once the board is open, players form committees and pick amendment cards to attach on a bill before proposing it to other lawmakers. Each committee picks up to three amendments for a bill, which all players will vote to either pass or reject.

Reddick and Park said the core of their game involves “negotiation and interaction,” with each round introducing two bills put to a vote among players. There are no holds barred to pass a bill. Players can bribe others to vote for or to fail a bill by leveraging political capital, an in-game currency, and there are no rules keeping players from making secret deals. To win, you must end with the most victory points by using the passage of bills to gain ideological traction over other players.

Reddick considers the heavily interactive component of “The Partisans” as unique in the realm of political board games, given that it doesn’t pay to get ahead without the help of other players.

“My favorite games are when you can have a few beers, sit around a table with friends and get into heated debates and arguments involving the game,” Reddick said.

Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

The game allows players to play as one of six ideologies – blue collar, bourgeois, communitarian, libertarian, nationalist or traditionalist – as they negotiate and compromise to pass bills on 10 different key issues.

While Reddick and Park met at the University of Michigan Law School in 2009, they both currently live in D.C. and have day jobs in the political circuit: Reddick works as a civil rights lawyer and Park works in election campaigning. Both friends have an affinity for board games and thought the chaos of the 2016 presidential election could translate into a fun game. The board game format of “The Partisans” forces players to negotiate and talk in a similar fashion to real legislatures.

“We both came to the realization that if we could show people the different pushes and pulls that any politician would face, maybe then they would start to realize why we keep getting such bad results from our politicians,” Reddick said. “We thought the board game model would be best because that’s the only time you’re playing a game and you’re social with people.”

Despite the name of the game, Reddick said they designed “The Partisans” to be as objective as possible.

“We tried to represent generally where humankind falls on the political spectrum,” Reddick said. “The game doesn’t place value judgments on the ideology.”

Reddick and Park consider “The Partisans” an educational game in general. Though the game’s subject matter usually appeals to adults, Reddick and Park wanted their product to target students as well. They ensured that high school and college students tested the game and tried to make it as realistic as possible, whether you’re an aspiring politician or just a big fan of board games.

“It’s a lot of fun for students because it’s kind of a real-world experience of what you learn about in political science,” Reddick said.

Ultimately, Reddick and Park said they want players to see the need for systemic reform and bipartisanship through the game. Without some form of cooperation, “The Partisans” is almost impossible to win. Multiple ideologies need to work together to pass bills in the interest of the country, which is also true when the board game has been packed up, they said.

“You have what you want, you have what your voters want, you have what your lobbyists want,” Park said. “But since we all live in the same country together, if you’re still not working together in some way, at the end of the day, everyone’s going to suffer.”

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