Songun is a card game where players must collect resources to survive against a totalitarian regime.
This game was made over a 2 week period in UCSC’s CMPM 80K : Foundations of Game Design. The game was created in collaboration with Steven Tozlian who created the basic mechanics and balancing.
You are a citizen in the glorious Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. You live for the prosperity of all the people in the nation, but most importantly, the Supreme Leader. Battle the forces of nature to accrue resources that you need to survive. You can not be selfish, however. Your needs mean nothing compared to those of the whole nation and of course, the Supreme Leader.
The assignment given to us in class was to make a card game/tabletop game that was based around a current issue. At the time this game was being developed there were rumors of peace talks and other negotiations happening with the DPRK. We wanted to create a game that to some extent illustrated a feeling that is rather rare for those living in more developed nations, and that was the thought of disparity and frustration from having to pay a large tax. Though that thought may have been due to ignorance, the game’s base narrative was created.
We chose to make a game that illustrates what we interpret as a dictatorship or a communist society. The game requires you to collect resources, and split most of the resources between the government and yourself. If you don’t meet either, you die.
There’s supposed to be an inherent feeling of frustration within the game overall. Even though the game was supposed to start out as an emulation of a communist society such as those in the DPRK, there sort of is a narrative to be said with it here in the United States as well. The player “works” for his/her resources. He is able to gain these resources, but ultimately must use them on himself and then use a large half of it for the government. It is unfair, and that’s one of the aesthetics we were going for. Using the resources for yourself is understandable, but giving a large majority of it away should make players feel dissatisfied with their conditions.
How the Game Works
- Begin the game by taking the season cards, and placing them face down in order of a real year. (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter).
- All Players will draw 1 card each begin each season by drawing cards in the order mentioned above.
- Upon drawing the card, take note of the icons on the card back noting how many of each resource the player is allotted to collect for that season.
Afterwards, flip the card over showing the government requirements, and the citizen’s requirements.
Players can share their resources in order to meet these requirements.
Deduct the appropriate amount of resources from the player, then move onto the next season.
You must always satisfy the government, if you have no resources for yourself, you will die. If the player doesn’t satisfy the government deduct two of each resource.