Secret objectives: Players have secret and unique objectives that may coincide or collide.
Secret voting: Players are openly selected for voting but the vote cast remain secret.
Deduction: Based on the voting, players may deduce whom to ally with to secure votes (but may also be deceived).
Blame game: Players may blame failed votes on each other.
The inspiration to Politburo actually came from my professional work, where political differences often delays or even prevent work from getting done.
The step to the totalitarian theme of my two previous micro games Comrade
and Gulag was surprisingly small.
The initial idea was to have a project with three different priorities; time, cost and quality; and
where each player would want to prioritize one or several areas to score most but where all areas must
score something or the entire project would fail (causing all players to lose), resulting in a blame game.
This was eventually transformed into the totalitarian theme with the players turned into historical
politicians and the prioritizations into ministry areas. The one-way scoring, where a priority may only
score 0 or 1. was abandoned due to concerns that players would rather block the scoring and cause all to
lose than let someone else win. Instead, the positive and negative scoring was introduced (or repression
vs reform) to allow a more dynamic scoring. This also made voting possible, as more players would be
willing to approve a plan (although with different intentions).
Finally the blame game (or purge) was incorporated into the
scoring to give alternative ways of winning (support the project or stop it and blame others).
Whereas my previous totalitarian game had used propaganda images to illustrate the cards, I now
used actual photos with added sepia and brush filters to make them look painted, and clipart from
Openclipart.org, modified to match the color scheme of the game.
Both ministry levels and influence levels got dedicated cards to be flipped and/or rotated to show the
current score. Although the inspiration to Politburo came too late for it to participate in the
18 card Microgame Contest,
I still wanted to keep it in the same format as the other two totalitarian games.