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This Board Game About The Creeping Rise Of Fascism Is Booming

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 8, 2017 5:02PM

Secret Hitler

In a development that will surprise precisely zero people, a board game in which players compete to quell or advance the rise of a fascist leader has become quite the hit in 2017. Hmm. Wonder why that caught on.

The game, Secret Hitler, is the brainchild of three Chicago co-creators, including (also not surprisingly) Max Temkin, the co-founder of the gleefully offensive Cards Against Humanity game. (CAH has its own long history of political-minded "gamesmanship." You might also recall their"weed packs" to support recreational marijuana legalization and their well-played swipe at the "pink tax.") Secret Hitler garnered more than $1 million from its crowdfunding campaign two years ago and since it was launched about a year ago has likely sold units numbering in the tens of thousands, according to the New York Times.

Here's a quick rundown of how the "social deduction" game is played—and why its topicality might be finding so much resonance: A group of "liberals" competes against a team of "fascists," with a "Secret Hitler" plant added to the mix. "The majority of players are liberals. If they can learn to trust each other, they have enough votes to control the table and win the game," reads the game's website. "But some players are fascists. They will say whatever it takes to get elected, enact their agenda, and blame others for the fallout. The liberals must work together to discover the truth before the fascists install their cold-blooded leader and win the game."

While the fact that the game has found popularity shouldn't come as a shock, the game creator's prescience is rather remarkable. The developers had created a prototype long before even the primaries for the presidential election had arrived.

Life imitates art, as the fella says.

You can find out more about the game here. In the meantime, check out a video from earlier this year of the company sending a copy of the game to every U.S. Senator. Maybe word of mouth from our elected representatives explains its fast growth!