I hear passive-aggressive games like Decorum are all the rage, and my father and I believe we are well-suited to bring about the next tour-de-force of pettiness in the form of a tabletop board game. Did we create this pitch in 10 minutes while sitting next to a pool on vacation? Yes, yes we did. We even took a picture of the pool as receipts.
Behold! Tiny Church Politics, the Board Game.
In TCP, players will take on the roles of colorful staff members and notable, even infamous, parishioners, all cooperating (mostly) to make their local church, St. Swithen’s of the Swamp, functional. Will the church be hip and cool and attract the young people? No. Will it be the best, biggest, most-respected church? Absolutely not. This is the tiny parish church with the scenic graveyard round the corner from your small town’s ageing downtown. Your goal is to be adequate, and, ideally, actively loving.
But don’t get too excited for change, because blocking the players’ collective way will be a crumbling building, constant funding issues, and varying individual goals and thus each other’s pettiness. Tiny Church Politics is primarily a set-collection game with players working to collect and retain Brownie Points to signify their church’s functionality. Brownie Points—lovingly screen-printed wooden tokens in the shape of the star of Bethlehem—can be earned by doing kindnesses, of course, but also by winning battles over parish facilities and events. Changed the church logo behind the priest’s back because the old one she designed was bad but now it’s on the social media and the letterhead? Good work, two stars! But you also earn the priest’s ire, so you have to return one of your few time tokens. Scheduled the rummage sale and bingo fundraiser to fit the richest parishioner’s calendar? Fantastic, three stars! But you didn’t account for prom, the bishop’s annual visit, and the water being shut off for nonpayment on the same weekend, so you lose your only two money tokens.
Players will labor as the harried local priest, the efficient but frustrating head of the altar guild, the underpaid church secretary, the flamboyant organist, the mysterious church cat, or the oldest member of the congregation who always prays for area politicians and their “very special needs and concerns.” The advanced module introduces the diocesan bishop character who is a bit of a chaos agent, able to do almost anything they like and acting as both an antagonist and a comforter. Each character has unique actions to fulfill their own spiritual desires—achieving these desires gives the group more Brownie Points in the end, but hurts the group’s efficiency and fungibility in the interim.
The game board will have a similar vibe to games like Clue or Burgle Bros with special powers activated when players enter rooms like the undercroft, the sacristy, the choir loft, the office, and the sexton’s closet. The double-thickness board will be illustrated by Ian O’Toole or Beth Sobel, the extremely limited supply of money tokens will of course be fabulously-rendered metal coins, and the time tokens transparent, engraved acrylic watch faces. Truly, this is a deluxe, heirloom quality game. Because you demanded it, we will provide print and play files for those who find their wallets as empty as St. Swithen’s coffers.
Will St. Swithen’s Parish Church get their food pantry and job help center off the ground or will it be stymied by arguments about what color the carpet in the office should be? Find out when you back and play Tiny Church Politics, the Board Game! Coming to Kickstarter never.
My father reminds you, gentle reader, that this idea is trademark Tom VB. All snark in this article trademark Alice C.