Stop. Watch. Listen

House of Cronies: board game makes fun of the absurdities of SA politics

This game, created by Puppet Nation ZA, will give you a brief taste of the madness of politics without much more consequence than upsetting your dad

02 December 2018 - 00:09
Pierre Cassuto wanted to make something unique to SA when creating the new board 'House of Cronies.
Pierre Cassuto wanted to make something unique to SA when creating the new board 'House of Cronies.
Image: Alaister Russell

AT A GLANCE:

WHAT: House of Cronies.

WHO: Pierre Cassuto, creator of Puppet Nation ZA's new board game.

WHY: For great entertainment.

WHERE: Available for R390 from houseofcronies.co.za.

THE DETAILS:

In 2009 Pierre Cassuto was working in advertising in France when he received a call from his father, Thierry. Thierry was in the process of preparing to make his long-held dream - of creating a satirical puppet show in the vein of the French Les Guignols and the British Spitting Image for the South African market - reality.

With just weeks to go before the show launched, there was a problem - he had to make puppets and couldn't find the 20kg of latex he needed in SA. As Pierre recalls: "I jumped on a plane that night, brought the latex and never left and have been involved with the show ever since."

The show Puppet Nation ZA entertained audiences across the continent on a variety of platforms for eight years but now, due to funding restrictions, the puppets are in cupboards in Cape Town.

However, Pierre and the team at Puppet Nation wanted to make sure that their creations still kept a place on SA's radar and, with elections coming up next year, began to wonder, "Is there anything we can do so that we can continue
our mission, and people can continue experiencing satire beyond Zapiro cartoons and what's available right now," says Cassuto.

The team thought of various ideas including a cartoon strip but "eventually we said wouldn't it be great to actually get people to interact with what we've been doing rather than making it about us giving you our stance or opinion or making you think through narrative … [if instead] we let you create the narrative, and so we decided to build a game".

The aim of the game is to build a political party and undermine your opponents by any means necessary

That game is a board game called House of Cronies that uses cards and trading to make family-friendly fun of the quagmire and absurdities of South African politics and it's here just in time for Christmas. Using the puppets of politicians and celebrities from Malusi Gigaba to Kim Kardashian and a series of influence, corruption and tactic cards that include Saxonwold Shebeen and Hawks Investigations, the aim of the game is to build a political party and undermine your opponents by any means necessary.

Its ease of play is the result of plenty of input, reworking, multiple iterations and borrowing of bits of all sorts of games.

Cassuto says that when he got involved in creating House of Cronies, he "thought this needs to be something completely original and unique. I wanted to make something that was unique to SA, felt South African and that people had never played before. It needed to do three things: it needed to be fun, it needed to be easy to learn and difficult to master so that people can play it over and over again, and it needed to be true to our values on the show - laugh about it, talk about it."

WATCH | SA comedians play House of Cronies

It hasn't required an overnight international trip with 20kg of latex to create and it's certainly easier to transport, but hopefully it will continue Puppet Nation ZA's project of ensuring that in these social media, opinionated times, "the role of satire has evolved from being there to get people to talk about things to now having more of a role in terms of trying to bring a balance of opinions and create dialogue".

It's also just plain good old-fashioned festive fun that lets all of us have a brief taste of the madness of politics without much more consequence than upsetting your dad for a few hours as you serve him with a devastating cabinet reshuffle.


X