House of Cronies. Picture: Supplied
House of Cronies. Picture: Supplied

'House of Cronies' now on board

By Masego Panyane Time of article published Nov 23, 2018

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One of the best forms of entertainment in the country is politics. Especially parliament. Who thought that watching some of the country's most serious issues being discussed would be both entertaining and educational?

An extension of that edutainment came in the form of political satire television show Puppet Nation ZA, or ZA News, which kept us laughing and thinking at the same time.

The latest addition is a family-friendly board game, called House of Cronies, that allows you to literally, play politics.

Game creator Pierre Cassuto said the game was born after the show's run came to an end.

“We had an amazing run since 2009. We were blessed with many Saftas and we had a run on Star Sat for many years.

“About a year ago, we produced our last television show, because our TV contract ran out. We got a lot of letters and messages of support, and the big question was what we were going to do next.

“With the elections coming up, we thought it was important to keep our puppets out there, keep audiences informed.

“We had lots of ideas. One of them was to create a cartoon strip. While we were considering that, I was sitting with someone from a creative agency and they were playing a very nerdy card game and I was looking at the pictures, and a thought came to me that wouldn't it be fun to have our puppets on cards? That was about a year and a half ago.

“We were thinking about it and then we started creating. The idea behind it was that with the elections coming, there was a way to bring down the tension and get people to put themselves in the shoes of those people trying to win elections,” Cassuto said.

This is how the game was born.

'House of Cronies' creator Pierre Cassuto. Picture: Supplied

The game allows three to four players to put together a potential cabinet, and, ultimately, to run for elections.

The players are equipped with tactics cards that they can use to sabotage the campaigns of fellow players, while ultimately gunning to be the winner of the game by being the player with most votes.

The fun part of the game is that the personalities on the cards are similar to the puppets we grew to know and love from ZA News and Puppet Nation.

There's a card for the now infamous Gupta brothers, one for the Commander in Chief of the red berets, Julius Malema, another for former public protector Thuli Madonsela, and one for former National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, which definitely got my attention, as Abrahams was made to look like a sheep.

The game does, however, require that players get seriously involved.

'House of Cronies'. Picture: Supplied

From strategising and tactics, the game also creates a platform for cross-generational conversations over politics, which is something recent events in South Africa have proven necessary.

“We wanted it to feel like a fantasy of really building and running your party in South Africa. That's why we wanted to keep it recognisable.

“If you understand local politics, there's a lot of subtext in the game. For instance, why would the Saxonwold Shebeen give you immunity? Why can Hawks investigate yourself or others? It puts the player in a position where they have to make interesting decisions. Our mission has always been, laugh about it, talk about it,” said Casutto.

* House of Cronies is available for purchase at



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