On Episode 7 of the podcast we discussed Secret Hitler. While I did enjoy the game, we touched on the idea that the inclusion of Hitler and Nazis might immediately create a situation where some people wouldn’t want to play it. Hell, excluding the presence of Hitler in the game, it sort of sounds dull – play a political party member, vote for the president, and pass political policies.
To me, on the surface, that sounds unappealing. But the game is fun damn it! It was a game I wanted more people to play, specifically my partner Marie. So spurned on by our discussion on the podcast of re-theming the game I set about creating Secret Voldemort!
A Crafty Gift
I was humming and hawing about whether to dive in and actually get to work on the project at first. I had just released my first D&D adventure and was buzzed to keep writing, but at the same time it was coming up to Christmas and I had no idea what to get Marie this year. For our honeymoon we went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Florida, so “something Harry Potter” is usually a safe bet when gift shopping. But this had the added bonus of being home made – or crafty if you will! I knew (or hoped!) if I made this that she’d love it so I bit the bullet and dove head first into converting Secret Hitler into Secret Voldemort.
Plus I could always just buy her something shiny or a puppy if I screwed up… right?
A Fascist By Any Other Name
Given my background in animation my immediate instinct was to rush ahead and start making artwork… But then I realised I didn’t really know what was going to be what in the game and that maybe I should take a breath. And possibly read the rules.
So I did! As I read through the rules (handily available with a print and play pdf on the Secret Hitler website) I pinpointed elements that could transfer to the Harry Potter universe: Fascists became Death Eaters because of course they did; Liberals became The Order of the Phoenix – a little bit more of a mouthful but it fit thematically; the “execute” power became “Avada Kedavra!”, the killing curse; “Yes/Ja” and “No/Nein” cards became “Lumos” and “Nox” (“On” and “Off” for a light but it’ll do!) and so on.
The thing I struggled with most was the logic of who was being elected to what position. Was “Dumbledore’s Army” involved? Was Voldemort trying to infiltrate the Order of the Phoenix? Was it just in Hogwart’s or was it the whole Wizarding World. Eventually I managed to create the slightly warped justification that the President was now the Minister of Magic, and instead of electing a Chancellor they were choosing the next Headmaster of Hogwarts. This fit with the story enough in my little brain that it felt like it worked – after all, the Ministry does get corrupted in the books and put unpleasant people in charge of Hogwarts, and surely if Voldemort was headmaster that would be a very bad thing. This also lead nicely to governmental “Policies” becoming “Educational Proclamation”s akin to those enacted by Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I thought was quite clever if I do say so myself. 10 points to Gryffindor!
Portrait of a Slytherin
So with that stewing nicely inside my mushy little brain I set about creating the artwork. Now I should mention that while my background is in art and animation I have long since been corrupted by the lure of project management (I just can’t resist those sexy spreadsheets), so creating the artwork was pretty daunting. Saying that, I’m not half bad at vector art so I decided that was the route to go! I googled around for some inspiration and came across this beautifully simple vector art of Draco Malfoy by a design student named Théo Richard. Taking that as a inspiration I set about creating the rest of the art.
One thing I wanted for Secret Voldemort was that, rather than just being a generic Death Eater or member of the Order of the Phoenix, I wanted the card you were dealt to represent one of the characters for the books. It wouldn’t any mechanical difference but I thought it would add to the fun. I also created a few more of these cards than there are in Secret Hitler so that people could pick and choose which characters to play with each time they played. Here’s the list:
It turns out that there is a lot that goes into making the artwork for a board game (who knew!), especially if you’re doing two sided cards. But I soldiered on and got it all done.
After that I started to put together the play boards (4 in total) and Headmaster and Minister placards, and since the people who made the game are professional artists and game designers I just took their layout and altered it! All in all it took about a month and a half of working on it whenever I could to get all the artwork done. But it was finally ready for the printers!
Printing & Packaging
Before getting the game printed I ordered a really nice and inexpensive wooden box to store it in on Amazon. Unfortunately it ended up being smaller than advertised so the play boards had to be altered. The cards fit perfectly though! I used a local printers to get the work done and it turned out really nice, they even manually rounded the corners on the cards! (Funny story: some of the artwork I sent was sized wrong and the placards were almost printed 3 foot wide instead of 6 inches!)
So here is the final gift! Looks pretty neat right?
For anyone who would like their own copy of Secret Voldemort I’ve included all the printable files below. These are suitable for bringing to a printers and getting everything nicely printed two-sided, and I’ve also included print at home files.
Print & Play Files
UPDATE: At the request of Warner Brothers Studios, I have removed the print & play files for Secret Voldemort.