UCF Students Develop Political Game “Supreme Leader”

Supreme Leader is a political strategy board game developed by several UCF students.

The gameplay is a mix of Risk and Survivor, with dictators forming alliances with other dictators only to stab them in the back when they are no longer in use.

By Sean David Hartman

There are four students at the University of Central Florida who want you be Josef Stalin. Or Mao Zedong. Or Adolf Hitler.

The students are the creators of a new card game called Supreme Leader, which will pit you against your friends in a ruthless attempt to destroy everyone.

The card game has each player choosing the role of tyrannical world leaders from a variety of regimes past and present, trying to become the last dictator standing tall.  You can choose between infamous leaders like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, to ancient leaders like Julius Caesar and Emperor Napoleon, to even American leaders like President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-NY).

The game was originally created by Jackson Herold with the help of co-designer Michael Arcuri, Garrett Powers, and Derek Perez, with all of the design, prototypes, marketing, and testing coming out of their own pockets.

A Kickstarter to fund a first run of the board game has already reached 80% funding and can be found here. 

Herold, who studies political science, told the Central Florida Post he sought to combine his love of board games with his interest in geopolitical power struggles.

“I have always been fascinated by power dynamics and struggles for power in the international and internal realm,” Herold told the Post.  “I wanted to create a game that explores this topic in the comfort of the home.”

The gameplay is a mix of Risk and Survivor, with dictators forming alliances with other dictators only to stab them in the back when they are no longer in use.  It is a game of ruthlessness and backstabbing meant to test and destroy and friendships.

But the fun-filled Machiavellianism doubles as an educational opportunity, delving into game theory, international relations, and national sustainability.

“What makes a leader last?” Herold asked.  “If it was a strong economy, the Kim Family wouldn’t still be in power.  If it was reforming a totalitarian empire, Khrushchev wouldn’t have been ousted from the Party in the USSR.  If nationalism and uniting a country was the key to longevity, the Roman Empire wouldn’t have fallen, and if it was the most powerful army, many wars would have ended much differently.”

Herold came up with the idea studying Stalin’s rise to power by working his way through the Bolsheviks, as well as how Napoleon Bonaparte subverted French revolutionaries.

Each dictator has a special ability usually applicable to their history, as well as money (based on their national resources) and influence numbers.  With each round, dictators are able to obtain money and purchase items based on their influence. Items could make or break the game, with anything from protective immunities to “nuclear bombs”, could even make relative unknowns like Mobuto Seso Seko become the Supreme Leader.  

After chaos and destruction, the decision ironically ends diplomatically with a United Nations composing of the losing dictators deciding democratically who is the Supreme Leader.

Having had the honor of playing several prototypes, winning one, this is certainly a cutthroat game perfect for any game night or outing…though, at your social circle’s own risk.


Sean David Hartman is a reporter for the Central Florida Post, covering entertainment and public affairs. He describes himself as a “Professional Political Nuisance” and goes after politicians on both sides. Hartman is an autism rights activist, and #ProudlyAutistic.