Board Games for Bernie – A Maiden Voyage

So last night we invited some local Bernie Sanders supporters to have our first major playtest night. We also used this as an opportunity to raise some funds for our efforts.

Now, I realize that I have not been steadfast in my documentation of the board game creation process, but my intention is to start making the guides soon! (which I will be posting here along with some printables).

In the meantime, here are some updates:

  • I have overhauled LIFE to be way more fun! Life With Bernie v 2.0 has been playtested, and was very received. A blog post on this in the future.
  • Jenga (aka Society’s Pillar) is really popular at our Farmer’s Market and general tabling events — this is because it doesn’t require much of a commitment from the passerby — I would say the average interaction with Jenga is roughly 2-4 minutes, and everyone leaves with a smiling face!
  • Guess Who has been updated (printable to follow) … this is one of the easiest to make, and certainly drives facial recognition.
  • Scattergories was a huge success – we were playing well past midnight! I will be posting pics of the handmade cards later… but we might work up a printable on this one too!
  • New game acquisitions: we stopped in to get more games and picked up some stellar titles that we’re busy working up concepts for. Hint –
    • Where in the USA is Carmen San Diego is fixing to become a Risk-style Red State vs Blue State battle with action/advantage/damage modifying cards and regions of homefield advantage
    • Wheel of Fortune is going to stay the same, essentially, but narrow focus on the political theater.
    • Monopoly Junior is going to teach us a few things about Conglomorates and the media.
    • And this wacky game called “Pointing Fingers” is going to pull DOUBLE DUTY as both a Debate Watch Party game (concept is we record the debate on DVR and then fact-check for a couple days — then we invite people over for “Pop-Up PolitiCheck” … we pause the recording at certain points and ask people to vote  T/F, then do a reveal–rewards and consequences follow). AND a cool “Who Said It” game where we read quotes and people use the fingers to point to a face on a big poster board — the answers will be shocking.
  • We are also looking for a sister city in an early-primary state to give some games to… we would love to see this method of outreach and socializing help in areas we need to make strides in!

    OK cool. More soon.


Board Game for Bernie – Updates

We went to the local Goodwill today, and scored like 7 used board games.
Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come…

Mouse trap game with sticky notes on spaces.

Here’s my Mouse Trap makeover. In the new game, the people will attempt to stop Big Corporations from eating all the cheese. Players collect tokens and move the Corporate token around the mousetrap loop. The players can “Vote” to turn the crank and trap the Corporate baddie. If all the players reach the end of the game before the Corporate baddie is caught, the Corporate baddie wins, and takes all the cheese.

Transforming an existing board game is easier with some post-it notes. I cut them into flag size so I can cover the existing game spaces. this allows for us to play test games a bit before committing to the crafting aspect of board redesign.

Chutes and ladders with tracing paper overlay

This one is Chutes and Ladders. I’m tracing the board and instead of the Disney characters, I am going to use Candidate heads and memes to make it fun and informative. My husband is a photoshop whiz, so we’re going to scan the traced work into the computer, colorize it and insert fun stuff… then print it out and  cover the board.
Naturally, the board is going to feature a number of concepts outlined in Bernie’s platform – to inspire conversation at the game table. Chutes will be conservative proposals that stand in opposition to progressive ideas (like TPP, war).

We got some great games today – 2 more LIFE boards from different eras, which I am hoping to raffle off (proceeds to Bernie Campaign), Guess Who, Scooby Doo monster game, a lego-based version of Mouse Trap.
We’re still thinking of how to change Monopoly into a fun Bernie game. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

xoxoxo – Shalimar

Board Games For Bernie – LIFE Edition

Today I used my imagination, for Bernie Sanders…

Close up of “Republican Road” & “Bernie Boulevard”

One thing volunteers in the Bernie Sanders campaign are being asked to do is organize house parties. House parties are a friendly way to get people together to share information about Bernie & Bernie’s platform. In an effort to make my house parties for Bernie more engaging and Party-esque, I decided to repurpose/upcycle some classic board games. Obviously, this occurred to me because we play a lot of games in this house… but I hope it can inspire some other volunteers to get creative in their events.

Today’s game is LIFE, the classic board game.

Special thanks to Lexie – my co-conspirator!

Game Goal:

To retire with your finances comfortable, and your car full of loved ones.

Getting Started:

  1. Everyone begins with a car full of people pegs – these are your “Loved Ones” (try not to lose them – they earn 50k scoring when you reach retirement).
  2. Everyone spins the wheel to determine starting $$. On a 10, spinner takes 100k. On 1-9, spinner takes nothing.
  3. The person who has the most letters in their first name goes first. They choose one of two pathways – College (cost of 100k, but more earning potential upon graduation), or Work (choose “Career” immediately). Next, they spin the wheel and move the indicated # of spaces.
Career cards. College Careers are top row. Bottom row are non-college careers.
Career cards. College Careers are top row. Bottom row are non-college careers.

Choosing a Career / Graduation:

  1. If you chose the work path – choose the top two “Career” cards and select the one you prefer. Put the other card on the bottom of the “Career” card stack.
  2. If you chose College, you will eventually come to the “Stop. Graduation. Spin” spot. When you reach this spot, stop what you are doing and draw the first two cards in the “College Career” deck. Choose the one you like best, and put the other on the bottom of the stack.
  3. Notice that some cards (Intern/Unemployed) don’t earn a salary.


Campaign 4 Bernie & Forget to Vote style Action cards.
Campaign 4 Bernie & Forget to Vote style Action cards.

Action Spaces:

  1. Most spaces are Action spaces. Action spaces are denoted by a circle in the center. These circles come in yellow (standard) and black (handmade).
  2. Action spaces indicate a player should draw an action card.
  3. There are two decks of action cards – and they must be kept separate.

Deck 1 is the “Prior to Bernie” stack. This stack includes the following card types:

  1. Campaign for Bernie – 100/200 Bernie Points
  2. Forget to Vote – -100/-200 Bernie Points
  3. Lose a loved one – Pay 10k/50k
  4. Lose Job – become unemployed
Lose Loved One action cards
Lose Loved One action cards


Lose Job action cards
Lose Job action cards

Deck 2 is the “After Bernie Has Been Elected” stack. This stack includes the following card types:

Bernie as Prez action cards
Bernie as Prez action cards
  1. Loved One Returns/Have a Baby – get 50k
  2. Free College – choose a new College Career
  3. Universal Healthcare – get 100k
  4. Clean Energy – get 100k
  5. Close Gender Gap – female players get 50k
  6. Unionize – get 100k
  7. Worker Co-Op – get 100k


Super Obvious Pro-Tip: It’s much easier to retire with adequate finances and a car full of loved ones if you successfully elect Bernie Sanders.


Triggering Bernie Sanders Presidency

Because the game is a tool to help illustrate the importance in taking proactive steps to get Bernie elected (and to showcase how hard it is to be in the 99% right now), a huge element of gameplay is getting Bernie elected.

In order for Bernie to get into the White House, we need to earn 1000 Bernie Points as a team.

Certainly, action cards with “Campaign for Bernie +100/+200 Bernie Points” will help our cause,  but because the deck is rigged with “Forgot to Vote” cards, they may not be enough.
That’s where a special fork in the road comes into play…

Close-up of "Activist Avenue" and "Apathy Alley."
Close-up of “Activist Avenue” and “Apathy Alley.”

At the STOP space, players must choose between one of two pathways.

  1. Activist Avenue: Rack up Bernie Points on nearly every space. A second STOP space is in place to be sure you earn some points. At “Feel the Bern” STOP space, spin the wheel. On a 10 get 300 Bernie Points. On 6-9, get 200 Bernie Points. On 1-5, get 100 Bernie Points. Note – It might take more than one Activist in your group to trigger Bernie as Prez.
  2. Apathy Alley: This pathway is much shorter. It places personal gain over society’s gain.


Special Spaces Around the Board

  1. “Job” space – These typically occur after a payday. Anyone who is an Intern, or unemployed make take the top card in the career pile that matches their pathway (college or work). After a new career is taken, continue moving until you are out of moves.
  2. House space – When you land on a house, you have the choice to go house shopping, to sell a house, or to do nothing. When house shopping. take the top two house cards. Choose 1 of the two. If you cannot afford a home, you must go into debt to buy it – OR YOU CAN TAKE A RENTAL from the houses stack.
    1. Note: Selling a house requires the player to spin. The inner circle of the spinner has red and black spaces. The red/black (r/b) amounts indicate how much you can sell it for.
  3. Spin to Win – When you land on a wheel that looks like the LIFE spinner, everyone playing gets to spin the wheel. The player with the highest spin gets 100k from the bank.
  4. Baby – Put another Loved One into your car.
  5. STOP. Economy Collapse — Spin the wheel. On a 10 – get 100k in Bank Bailout. On 6-9, pay 50k. On 1-5, take 100k. You may need to get loans. When you have paid, spin the wheel and move along.
  6. STOP. Night School — Pathway leading left is night school. If Bernie is elected, night school is free… if not, it costs 100k. Choose a new career when the paths meet up again. Either way, once you have chosen a path, spin the wheel again and move along.
  7. $$ – These are just my homemade payday spaces🙂


Finishing Up

Towards the end of the game, we need to start planning for retirement. Before retirement, we are faced with another fork in the road.

Close up of "Republican Road" & "Bernie Boulevard"
Close up of “Republican Road” & “Bernie Boulevard”

So if you’ve elected Bernie, you can take “Bernie Boulevard” which has the following special spaces:

  1. End Corporate Personhood – All players get 100k
  2. Middle Class Lives! – Get 100k
  3. House Space / Growth – Look through the top 5 house cards – buy one if (and only if) you want to.

If you have failed to elect Bernie, you must take “Republican Road” which has the following special spaces:

  1. Invest in Prisons – Get 10k, but force all other players to lose a family member.
  2. 401k Mismanagement – Everyone spins the wheel. On an even, lose 100k. On odd, lose 50k.
  3. Tax Loopholes – Get 10k, but all other players must sell a property at red value (if they have one to sell).


Retirement/ Scoring:

  1. The first person to retire gets $400k
  2. The second person to retire gets $300k
  3. Third retiree gets $200k
  4. Fourth retiree gets $100k
  5. Loved ones are worth $50k each
  6. Sell your house(s) – requires spin for each.
  7. Pay any outstanding debt.

The person with the most $$ wins the game… but really, everyone wins — because hopefully this board game inspired some great conversation about Bernie Sanders’ platform.

On making the board:
I used a lot of colored card stock and glitter tape. There’s a fair amount of Gorilla tape as well.

On sharing:
Please share this with anyone who might try to make their own. Please attribute me if reposting.

Follow up:
I’ve already re-imagined CLUE, and hope to be posting a tutorial on this soon (much easier).

xoxoxo – Shalimar