Political Arguments, Over Cards

Wizards of the Coast
Tries to take 
Politically neutral stance
On blue collar
Trading card line.
 
Printed on thin
Plastic card stock
Water and wear proof
1/3 taller than
Normal playing cards.
 
First edition has 4 decks: 
Armed Resolutions - Red
Peaceful Resolutions - Blue
The Economy - Black 
The Environment - Green.
                                 
3 rows to play on
Conservative
Liberal
And 3rd parties.
 
Each card has:
A name,
A power number, 
Which row,
Counter effects,
And some have
Special abilities. 
And on it’s back
Red or Blue or
Black or Green 
To say which deck. 
 
Critics excitedly remark
This is knock-off Gwent. 
 
CD Projekt Red 
Eagerly cashing 
It’s huge check
And Wizards
Worried about 
Such a risky venture
Counter,
 
“No this is the
Real thing.
In Real Life.” 
 
Donald Trump 
And
Antonio Guterres
Red versus blue
Square off. 
 
On Racks at a 
Gas station and
Near checkout lines
At a Wegman’s
In Ithaca, NY
Mayor Svante Myrick’s
Official headshot
Sits printed on 
Strange rectangle cards.
 
You can get him, 
Individually from  
Stacks at the registers
For 99 cents, 
And taped to the 
Starter deck boxes
Hanging on flimsy
White painted
Metal shelves.
 
Blue card,
Low power,
Low controversy,
No counter-effects, 
A cool
Special effect. 
 
A special run
Only for that city.
 
No one in
Groton,
Binghamton,
Philadelphia,
New York City,
Or Miami,
Will see him
Unless their
Associate professor 
Friend mails him.
 
Families silently 
Play out
Heated arguments
With their
Controversial politician
Loaded decks.
 
Older conservative 
Parents beat their
College age nieces
With a surprising venom.
 
And those same kids
Breathe sharply in,
Reinforced, when
They win instead.
 
Bored truckers,
People at coffee shops,
Police, and
Devil’s advocate
Card shop owners
Come over to 
Stranger’s tables
And ask to play.
 
Always eager to
Show off their
Small town, or
Governor, or
Chinese card from
A conference. 
 
An official
New York Times styled 
Fact checking page
Profile of voting history and
Outsize controversy links
Builds up in 
Proportion to popularity 
As casual card fans
Ask for neutral,
Centralized,
Resolutions to
Stat related 
Disputes. 
 
A baseline to be political
Early and late
In life.
 
A child asks
His grandmother
Why people fight 
Wars 
When they could
Play checkers
Instead. 
 
I don’t know 
Honey.
 
Dialogue,
A barrier between 
It being about the cards
And over the cards
 
Easier
 
Like talking while
Driving
 
Looking out the 
Window. 

*When I played through the Witcher 3 I loved the in-game card game, Gwent. I thought it was really interesting how a lot of everyday people in that game were carrying around decks of these cards, and bartenders sold you ones to expand your deck, and characters would casually talk about the game. I thought it was interesting how characters would use a deck usually aligned with their same faction (northern merchant uses a Northern Realms deck instead of a Nilfgaard one). 

I think something like that might work in real life, and I think it would have a positive impact. I think it would A: make political discourse more calm, and B: help people stay more informed. 

A: I think the most important line is, “Like talking while driving.” That’s the goal, to turn the weirdly heated debates we get into about people we only vaguely know and only sometimes support, into more rational discussions. Use the plain numbers of a card game to thinly veil someone’s real feelings about politics. Just enough to have everybody take a breath. 

B: I think it would be cool for a game like this, with hyper limited distribution of local political cards, to keep people in touch with local politics. I think it would be interesting to compare the relative merits of your local mayor or police chief card with the national characters in your deck. Think about their importance, actively build an investment in local elections. 

****Importantly thought, I’m not convinced that this is actually the way to make this idea work. It’s objectively way too nerdy. Like basing it on The Witcher series is not how you reach the audience the poem talks about. Truck drivers, police officers, your parents, are probably not going to be super entertained by this weirdly targeted new spin on Magic the Gathering. 

The reason I posted this is because I would really appreciate some thoughts on types of games or strategies that might actually accomplish this. How do we make a game that let’s people keep political engagement in their back pocket? How can people talk about politics like they’re looking out the window while driving? 

Links:

Here is the Gwent card builder that I used for the cards above: https://custom-gwent.com

Here is a video about the aftermarket Gwent game, it is way different from the version inside the actual Witcher video game, but it’s a more exciting and shorter intro than otherwise available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE6V8NgKLEQ

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