I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but by blood.
This Guilty Land is about the political struggle over slavery in the decades leading up to the American Civil War. Its central premise is that the war was the only way to achieve abolition: the slave states never would have willingly given up the practice, nor would it have worked itself out at some point down the road. This is a story of how the systems that democracies use to solve problems - debate and legislation - utterly failed in the face of an undeniable moral evil, of how that evil was defended by those systems, and of how calls for compromise only strengthened it and delayed the reckoning that had to come.
In this game, each player acts on behalf of an abstract idea - Justice and Oppression - with one player working for abolition and the other working against it. It seeks to treat the subject matter with sensitivity and respect. There is no piece that represents a human being - no action that replicates the horrors and the lived experience of slavery. Instead, this is about the framework that allowed that evil to exist, and the moral cowardice that enabled it to continue to exist.
This is a card-driven game, but not in the sense that the term is typically employed. There is no hidden information, and there is no "ops"/"events" dichotomy. Instead, cards are dealt into a face-up display, and each card's uses are determined by a generic card type. Many of these cards can also be tucked away into a "Reserve" - a semi-permanent ancillary hand of cards that each player builds over the course of the game. You will always know what your opponent can accomplish, and the actions you take on your turn dictate the amount of political capitol they will have available on theirs. Because of this, the game is uniquely well suited for solitaire play in the "play both sides" style.
Game Design: Tom Russell
Art: Cole Wehrle
Hex Number: 36
Duration: 45 minutes
Solitaire Suitability: High