By ann summers
The anonymous op-ed in the NY Times has shown that Trump may have (only) one dissenter in his WH. It’s still a game of Secret Hitler, and the unhingery continues. John Miller/Baron’s cabinet has bad hinges. But the op-ed does have a tactical feel, considering the Woodward book and the Kavanaugh hearings are coming.
Play can get undermined in Secret Hitler, by policy traitors and like the Trump regime, has shown that trust among players becomes a precious commodity. We now see it’s a White House of back-stabbers or as the Mooch says, “front-stabbers”.
The op-ed’s made more tantalizing because a #KreminAnnex protestor claims to have seen a WH staffer leaving the building with a copy of the game in the hands. Bill Shine is not smart enough to play such a game but this whole anonymous op-ed affair is the thing of trust falls in Caesar’s forum and PR party games.
More interesting is the op-ed’s turn to neoconservative talking points, trying to whitewash the capitalist crimes committed by the WH in favor of as yet unidentified speculators and numerous oligarchs so far.
Whoever wrote it is worried that Trump will tank the economy or even start a war, hence devaluing wealth, and does want to rationalize the grab-bag RW takeover of the US executive branch by now betraying the clown prince of kleptocracy.
The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.
Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.
In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.
Trump is not smart enough to undertake an internal purge and cannot trust his chief of staff to execute such a move because … “idiot” so this whole op-ed might be contrived by folks with other agendas. The current betting line has authorship by someone associated with Mike Pence.
In a rambling speech that took place shortly after the New York Times published a bombshell editorial written by an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration, the president himself took shots at both the op-ed and the newspaper that published it.
“When you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration probably who’s failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons, now, The New York Times is failing,” Trump said. “If I weren’t here, I believe The New York Times probably wouldn’t even exist.”
“The failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial, can you believe it, anonymous, meaning gutless, a gutless editorial,” he continued.
For those uninterested in Fantasy Football, There’s Secret Hitler.
They must be really screwed at the WH if they’re playing this game during working hours, aside from the irony.
WHAT IS SECRET HITLER?
Secret Hitler is a social deduction game for 5-10 people about finding and stopping the Secret Hitler.
The standard edition is identical to the edition of Secret Hitler that shipped to Kickstarter backers in 2016, including foil inlays on the boards and wooden placards for the Chancellor and President.Players are secretly divided into two teams: the liberals, who have a majority, and the fascists, who are hidden to everyone but each other. If the liberals can learn to trust each other, they have enough votes to control the elections and save the day. But the fascists will say whatever it takes to get elected, advance their agenda, and win the game.
PLAY THE GAME FOR FREE.
Secret Hitler is available for free under Creative Commons license BY–NC–SA 4.0. Plan to spend about an hour with a printer and scissors, or $5 and 20–30 mins at your local print shop.
in the FAQ:
I DON’T THINK THERE’S ANYTHING FUNNY OR COOL ABOUT FASCISM. WHO CAN I COMPLAIN TO?
President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
If you live in the US, you can also text your address to 520-200-2223 to get contact information for your elected representatives.
For the last year I’ve been working on Secret Hitler, a game of hidden identity where everyone claims to be on the Liberal team, but some players are secretly on the Fascist team.
It features an Investigation mechanic where a player gets the power to find out for sure what team another player is on, which is extremely valuable information, but the information comes at a cost that makes it harder to share.
Another aspect of Secret Hitler is that one Fascist player’s secret role is Hitler. If the Liberals assassinate Hitler, they win the game. But if the Fascists get Hitler elected at the right moment, the Liberals lose immediately. The drama this creates is part of what makes Secret Hitler so fun.
I’ve written about designing Secret Hitler before! Learn about how we designed the hidden information mechanics and how we balanced the policy deck to make the game exciting. I also talked about the Liberal vs. Fascist balance here. And for more on the value of prototyping, Max Temkin wrote about the process of prototyping Secret Hitler more generally and has some extremely cool images to share.
A brief overview: games readily defeat strict categorization, but here are the important commonalities to the social deduction games I’ll discuss:
- Players are assigned to a team in secret.
- There’s a Good Team, which has a majority, and a Bad Team, which has more information.
The Bad Team must hurt the Good Team in secret.
- The Good Team must figure out who is on the Bad Team to prevent further interference, but they have limited information, which forces them to rely on social cues.
The asymmetry of more people vs. more information is, for me, the engine that makes social deduction games go. They are, at their core, (and this gets at the inherently political nature of the genre) about a well-coordinated minority convincing less-informed members of the majority to vote against their own interests.
The most compelling mechanics in social deduction games — think of the Seer in Werewolf or Merlin in Avalon — are the ones that balance or change the flow of information in interesting ways.
You can see why Trumpists in the WH would be interested in such a game, convincing people to vote against their interests. All that one needs to do is add money, which is what will ultimately end the Trump story. Note that there are “bad liberals” as well.
So if A and B are in a dispute, which one you decide to trust has implications well beyond that one pair. If you trust A, that looks really good for C and D and really bad for E and F. But maybe while B looks bad, E and F look really good. Is B’s statistically unlikely story actually true, or are E and F just very deep-cover fascists? The information is all related somehow, but there’s still an element of trust at the center of the web.
If the game is well-balanced, the liberals can win by making their information public, painting a cohesive picture and using social cues to sort out information from misinformation quickly.
The fascists can win by creating clever misinformation that suggests an alternate version of events.
The policy deck is intended to give fascists cover for enacting fascist policy. It should force some fascist actions from liberal players (which complicates liberals’ ability to find each other) without forcing so many that the fascists never have to take risks.
We found over months of playtesting that to strike the right balance, fascist policies had to outweigh liberal policies about 2-to-1. That’s a number we pretty carefully calibrated: the earliest versions of the deck were much more evenly split, and we continued to add fascist policies to the deck until we got to almost 2.5 fascist policies for every 1 liberal policy. Then, we scaled it back to our final balance: at the outset of the game the policy deck contains 11 fascist policies and 6 liberal policies.