Come, sit down a while, let me tell you a story about my inexplicable inability to shut my damn mouth.
While my friend group in college was mostly interested in Smash Bros., we also dabbled in various board games. These games were a good way to include our less gaming-enthused friends, as well as accommodate larger groups at parties. Some of our favorites were Settlers of Catan, Shadow Hunters, and the hilariously named Secret Hitler. It was in the last of those that I made my fatal error.
The game is fairly simple, but you need to understand the rules for the story to make sense. First, every player randomly draws a card to determine their role. That role can be a liberal, a fascist, or Hitler himself. Fascists (not including Hitler) are made aware of everyone’s identity. Liberals and Hitler are completely in the dark. The game then starts by selecting a president. Every round the role of president will be passed to a new player in a circle, so the first president can be decided however you like. Each round, the president appoints a chancellor. Everyone must vote on the appointment, and if it fails to win a simple majority the president changes to the next person. If it passes, the president draws three random “policy” cards. These can be either liberal or fascist policies. The president hands two of these cards to the chancellor, and the chancellor passes one of them. The liberals win if five liberal policies are passed, or if Hitler is assassinated (it’s not important how that works). The fascists win if six fascist policies are passed, or if Hitler is voted in as chancellor after three are passed.
One thing you should know if you were to ever play this game with me: I always draw the fascist role. I can’t explain it, but the universe seems to have determined that I may only play this game as a fascist. Don’t read into that too much.
So one night we had a bunch of new people over at the house, and we figured a good way to break the ice was to play a board game. Secret Hitler was the obvious choice thanks to its relative simplicity and mandatory socialization. As usual, I was a fascist. The way I generally play the game is to try to lead the proceedings, pretending that I am making choices in favor of the liberals. A lot of times this allows me to convince the actual liberals to act against their own interests, securing a victory for the glorious Third Rei- er, for my team.
Everything was going smoothly, we had passed several fascist policies and no one seemed to suspect Hitler’s identity. All we had to do was pass one or two more policies and we would win. That’s when I was caught off guard. One of my friends (who I’ve talked about before, remember EpicRaids?) appointed Hitler as chancellor. He wasn’t a fascist, but we had done a good enough job hiding Hitler’s identity that no one suspected him. I jumped up out of my seat, laughing maniacally. “We win! You just appointed Hitler!” I proudly announced. Only we didn’t win. I was being an idiot.
Remember the rules? Hitler has to be voted in to the role of chancellor. And I had just ensured that none of the liberals would vote for him. If I had just sat there and done nothing, we would have won the game. Instead, I outed one of our new guests as the most hated man in history. Oops.
There are plenty of morals that could be ascertained from this story. “Don’t be too quick to declare victory.” “Don’t get so into a game that you can’t remember the rules.” Or even “Keep your damn mouth shut.” All of those are pretty good, but I prefer the most universal of morals:
“Don’t be a fascist.”