Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Politics Needs the Fun Flavor of This New Game

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Politics Needs the Fun Flavor of This New Game

Article excerpt

The board game is called Ninety, and the object is to get yourself elected mayor of Pittsburgh.

It's coming to a coffee shop near you this week. That's why your stunt columnist sat down to play with the game's creators Friday morning at Cannon Coffee on Brookline Boulevard.

Much like Republican mayoral candidate Josh Wander, I didn't devote a lot of time to this contest. I didn't sell my house and fly off to Israel like the aptly named Mr. Wander, but like him, I was in this virtual mayor's race right up until the beginning. My behind was kicked from the West End to the East Hills.

Never play poker with a guy named Lucky and never play Ninety against Alex Pazuchanicsand Adam Shuck. If you're a dyed-in-the- Terrible-Towel Pittsburgher, though, you might enjoy trying this game at 7 p.m. Monday at Cannon Coffee, or at the same time Tuesday at Bar Marco in the Strip District.

Mr. Pazuchanics and Mr. Shuck are a couple of twentysomething political animals who met when they worked about three feet from each other in Carrick Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak's office. Mr. Shuck's still there while his erstwhile colleague toils for state Rep. Erin Molchany, D-Mount Washington, but their idea of a fine June day is to pile into a van with four friends and hit all 90 of the city's neighborhoods over the course of 11 hours.

OK, so these guys did that only once, but that tour a couple of springs ago that felt like a Rick Sebak special was the inspiration for this game. With a $1,000 grant from the Sprout Fund and the design talent of Carnegie Mellon University graduate Tara Helfer, they've produced a prototype that features a handsome multicolored board and rules about as easy to understand as Chinese algebra.

When I asked before we began whether it would be smarter to concentrate on one part of the city or to seek support across the board, Mr. Pazuchanics, 23, answered, "That's the problem with campaigning. You kind of have to do both."

The game has cards, dice, money and tiny wooden blocks that players place in each neighborhood as they gather support. If Monopoly and Risk had a baby, it might be Ninety, though this game has a sleeker look. …

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