The Contender

Ages: 8 and upManufacturer: Golden Bell Studios


Using the format of a presidential debate as a premise, the Contender brings the feeding frenzy to a tabletop near you. But players need not have political smarts to play this laugh-out-loud, wacky, non-partisan, party game. Here, game cards get players into character and winging through their policy points.

To start, a designated moderator draws one of the 40 red-edged Topic Cards (such as Taxes, Christmas, Immigration, Climate Change, Violent Crime, Drugs, America) and reads the topic question to the candidates (players). In turn, candidates respond to the moderator’s question by reading one, two or three of the five Argument cards they were dealt, and then fill in the blank to improvise with comments, humor, whatever they want to say.

When all players have used all three of their selected Argument cards, the moderator decides who did best and anoints the winner the new moderator, who then introduces a new topic card and a new round or debate. The game goes quickly, despite plenty of funny and laughable comments.

What’s clever about this game is that no matter how outrageous or ridiculous the statements on the 500 Argument cards, all were drawn from actual quotes from U.S. politicians from 1776 to 2016.

With the vibe and gameplay-style of a family-friendly Cards Against Humanity, this party game actually provides playful opportunities for players ages 11+ to learn debate skills, rhetoric, critical thinking, and public policy and politics.

Don Oldenburg ©2019 Parents’ Choice


A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of “The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion” (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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