The first time you loot a shopping center in Bloc by Bloc—”The Insurrection Game”—you’ll leave the streets covered in mutinous graffiti. The second time through, you’ll set the buildings ablaze and salt the earth. (Don’t worry, it’s not a huge loss, considering the landmarks on the board include a garment sweatshop, an underfunded junior college, and an immigrant detention center.) You can spend dice to fend off the police on your tail, but the armored, militarized SUVs are far tougher. For that, you’re best off lighting up one of the molotov cocktail cards to clear a path. You win if you engineer the revolution, and lead the citizenry of this occupied, carceral state into a glorious new self-actualized destiny. You fail if you’re rounded up by shocktroopers and left to rot in subterranean jail cells.
Nominally, Bloc by Bloc is a board game. It’s design can be slotted alongside the other major names of our current tabletop renaissance—namely Pandemic and Dead of Winter—where players work together to stymie an airborne megavirus, or a colony of zombies. However T.L Simons, the 35-year old author of the game, sees himself as a bit of an insurgent. Board games are traditionally regarded as apolitical texts, and are presented to customers without a point of view. (Nobody is demanding to see the Monopoly Man’s tax returns.) But in Bloc by Bloc, victory can only be achieved through liberty, and liberty can only be achieved through violence.