Kickstarter TableTop Alert: The Contender

The Contender box art. Used with permission.
The Contender box art. Used with permission.

What happens when the heated debate of political rhetoric meets the family fun of games like Apples to Apples? Magic party fun!

Game Play
Live on Kickstarter until, Sunday, August 30, “The Contender” social card game allows players to take on the role of candidates in their own political debate. The Moderator chooses a topic card from the deck and the other players take turns playing argument cards to bolster their specific point. Once each player has three cards, their argument is complete and the Moderator chooses a winner. The winner becomes the next moderator and play continues through an agreed upon number of rounds.

The overall format is easy to learn and the game itself can be played in smaller chunks, if desired. Timing depends mostly on how much you want to expand on the argument card text, so it can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as you stay awake depending on the players. Most of the topics are evergreen – Education, Religion, Crime – and none of the others will be dated any time soon. The argument deck is a fun mixture of personal attacks, pithy one-liners and actual debate tactics. My personal favorite reads simply, “Oops.” While the game does play better with three or more players, I enjoyed leafing through the topic and argument decks during the actual televised debate. Could make for an interesting meta game to see how many times references on the cards appear in actual arguments.

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Sample cards from 'The Contender.' Used with permission
Sample cards from ‘The Contender.’ Used with permission

The Verdict
Like most social card games, gameplay takes place on so many levels. Personal beliefs and philosophies mingle with the canned responses on the topic cards, all within the context of the perceived stance of the Moderator. The current game consists of 34 debate topics and 330 argument cards, but current stretch goals could add up to 155 more cards to the mix. That’s 1,210,772,640 possible permutations for the existing card set, which definitely makes for a game with not only a high replay factor but plenty of fun and funny combinations. It’s enjoyable, occasionally gets intense, and like most other social card games, reveals truths about your friends that you may have never suspected. Younger kids will likely not have the frame of reference for the game, but I know a few 10-12 year olds who could easily beat me in a debate on several of these topics.

If you’re at all interested in political or social issues, this game encourages proud pontification and pompous pulpiteering, so check it out on Kickstarter or visit the official website here. They also structured their stretch goals around backers and social media presence rather than pledges and dollar amounts, so even just following the campaign on Twitter can benefit the project.

Check out the Kickstarter and support the game. Image used with permission.
Check out the Kickstarter and support the game. Image used with permission.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer. Please note that I received a print and play copy of the game for evaluation.

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Gerry Tolbert, otherwise known as Ella, Lydia and Phoebe's Dad, started his geeky pursuits very early in life. While much of his time is consumed by introducing his daughters to Star Wars, table top games, video games, and gadgets, he spends his free time caring for people as a family doctor.