You and your fellow advisers are nervously sitting around a large mahogany table, softly chatting and anticipating the arrival of the person who the grand chair at the head of the table belongs to. Coming down the hall, you hear commanding footsteps. The room snaps into silence and all eyes are on the beautiful mahogany doors with gold inlay. The double doors swing open and you feel the breath ripped from your chest. Standing there in all his glory and greatness is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong Un.
Dear Leader is a Casual Party game for 4-15 players and conducive to drop-in/drop out style play. It encourages boasting, one-upmanship, creativity, insults and more clapping than the Academy Awards. Set up for this game is extremely easy: simply shuffle the telegram cards and put them in a pile next to the demerit tokens. Select one player to start as the Supreme Leader. For us it was the last person who had Korean BBQ.
The Advice Phase: The adviser to the left of Kim Jong Un draws a card and reads it aloud. That adviser then offers up a possible solution to the problem and passes the card to their left. Each adviser then takes a turn offering a solution and passing the card. These suggestions should be concise and clear, and each adviser should offer only one solution. Advisers, remember that this is your opportunity to create problems for Kim Jong Un because whatever idea you offer up he will be forced to reject in favour of something else. Have fun blocking off the easy solutions and forcing Kim Jong Un into ridiculous extremes.
The Solution Phase: Kim Jong Un begins the solution phase by roundly insulting the advisors for their lack of wisdom and paucity of vision. Kim Jong Un will then offer a solution to the policy problem which is distinct from all the advice he was given. If the advisors have done a good job of making suggestions, this can be quite hard. After Kim Jong Un gives his solution everyone claps in appreciation of his wisdom.
The Acclamation Phase: Beginning with the adviser to Kim Jong Un’s left, each adviser will now get a chance to exaggerate the wisdom and wonderfulness of Kim Jong Un’s decision. The advisers should seek to one-up each other in their praise and imaginings, and to extrapolate Kim Jung Un’s ideas in different ways, and insult each other. As each adviser offers their piece, Kim Jong Un gets one or two sentences with which to find fault with what the adviser said. This criticism may or may not be accompanied by demerits. Kim Jong Un will then award the adviser who pleased him the most by giving them the original policy problem card. This adviser now takes on the role of Kim Jong Un and a new round begins.
Like most party games there is no real endgame and people are free to come and go as they please without any interruption to the game. The only rule is that once you have declared and finished the round, take the person with the most demerits outside and they will need to be shot. (Please Note: Australian Tabletop Gaming Network and the producers of this game must insist that no one attempt to take out and shoot the losing player/s).
I played this game with a dozen friends this weekend at a BBQ for a friend’s birthday. Dear Leader was extremely well received and to be honest was an extremely nice change from our normal go to party game of Cards Against Humanity. Dear Leader has some real similarity to Cards Against Humanity, but what I find refreshing about Dear Leader is you get to use your brain. Cards Against Humanity can limit you to playing what you have in your hand which I find a lot of times forces you to burn cards because you have nothing that fits perfectly. You get to actually come up with your own ideas, so your only limitation is your own intellect. Even with a tenth the cards of Cards Against Humanity, this helps to keep Dear Leader new and exciting, especially when played with different groups.
The insulting aspect of this game is the greatest! You get to jokingly put down and insult your friends for their horrible ideas, knowing full well some of them have taken your idea or secretly loved the silliness of their answer. Then once you are done throwing insults at them, having them have to praise you in the next step is pure genius. It made for some amazingly funny moments and kept you wanting to be the Leader to get them back. This was honestly the first time we had not ended the night with Cards Against Humanity as we were having way too much fun with Dear Leader.
This game is a fantastic party game. There is only one minor issue. I received the Print and Play and there were only 11 telegrams. We would burn through the deck extremely quickly and though we allowed Kim Jong Un to make up some of his own telegrams it did make it a little repetitive. I have been told this has been rectified and there are due to be 30 telegrams in the completed game and any stretch goals reached will add telegrams to the set, so this issue will be fixed with the final version.
Other than that minor issue which is due to be fixed, the only limitation I see with this game is the players themselves.
It feels that Tim Hutching, the designer of this game, has left nothing to chance. Including fun facts about North Korea on the back of the Telegram Cards was not a necessity but a beautiful little touch. There is so much effort put into the details and writing of this game. But what do you expect from an award winner? Tim was runner up and winner of the Golden Cobra Award for freeform game design, and his skill and attention to detail really shows in Dear Leader.
As for the artwork for this game, Wow! Just Wow! The over the top, colorful propaganda style artwork is what originally drew me to this game. It is so perfect, you almost feel like Tim has pulled it straight from the streets of North Korea. Dear Leader is far more than amazing artwork. It is a fun and crazy game of political comedy, one-upmanship, brown nosing, creativity, insults and clapping. Lots and lots of clapping. If you enjoy Cards Against Humanity you really need to check this game out.
Dez from ATGN.com.au