Playing “The Power Broker”

Tim Hwang
Tim Hwang
Sep 9, 2016 · 5 min read

Since announcing “The Power Broker” game design challenge back in March, we’ve been absolutely blown away. Over one hundred teams registered to compete in the challenge, hailing from countries all around the world.

Teams had to send us their final games on July 29, after which our Prize Committee went to work playing through all the submissions this past August. Today, we’re glad to announce our grand prize winner, and the runners up in our tabletop and video game categories.

“The Power Broker” is a complex work, and our submissions represented the many different ways of adapting the story of Robert Moses into a playable form. To win, teams had to pull off a difficult balancing act — creating games that were close to the source material, beautifully designed, and, most of all, were fun to play.

This was a tough call. We were lucky to have a wave of amazing entries, though it made the work of choosing a winner very difficult. We’ve included a short list of honorable mentions below to showcase some of what we received.

Interested in playing these games and others? In collaboration with our friends at SPUR, we’ll be hosting an evening of design talks and a live play session on September 26 in Oakland, CA.

Hope to see some of you there!


“Triborough: The Card Game” by Michael Chrien

The Grand Prize winner of the Power Broker Game Challenge is Michael Chrien’s “Triborough: The Card Game”. Players take turns collecting and expending political capital to construct a network of parks, parkways, and bridges to maximize their score. The game features a simple, but subtle mechanic that we loved in allowing players to shuffle and re-order the deck to the advantage of themselves and disadvantage of other players.


Tabletop Games: “Right of Way” by Jonas Stallmeister

Our winning runner up on the tabletop side is Jonas Stallmeister’s “Right of Way.” This Carcassonne style tile-laying game for two simulates the political trade-offs of highway construction in an abstract grid of poor and rich neighborhoods of a city.

Video Games: “Good Authority” by Eddie Cameron and Robert Yang

Winning on the video game side is Eddie Cameron and Robert Yang’s “Good Authority”. The game simulates the career of Robert Moses circa 1934–1936, during which Moses ran for governor, outmaneuvered FDR, and built the Triborough Bridge. Players steer a car through the streets of New York, completing missions and accumulating power. The game is set for release in early 2017, with more information available here.


“Heartbreak Highway” by Joe Steinworth, Liz Winters, Matthew Schoolfield, Eric Jedraszczak, and Liz Steinworth

“Heartbreak Highway” is a game that simulates the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway and the displacement of the many residents that lived in the path of construction. Players take the role of housing administrators with the difficult task of finding new apartments for residents (by any means necessary) before the bulldozers arrive.

“Legacy: Urban Canvas” by Frank DiCola and Chris Diggins

“Legacy: Urban Canvas” puts players in the role of influential local politicos in a New York City of the year 2500 featuring robots, aliens, and humans uneasily living side by side. Players compete to influence legislation, elect state and local officers, and construct structures throughout the city.

“Moses vs. Moses” by Heather Smith, Audrey Nieh, Anna Muessig

In “Moses vs. Moses” (full title “Moses vs. Moses: Highway to the Danger Zone”) players compete to become “America’s Next Top Robert Moses.” Cards combine to form parkways, apartment superblocks, and other Moses contributions to the built landscape of New York. Cards like “Jane Jacobs” and “Bunch of Mothers” throw obstacles in the way of other players.

“Metropolis Now” by Rudy Letsche, Bruce Hancock, and Zachary Gong

“Metropolis Now” is a beautiful, ambitious tile-playing game for up to four where players compete to construct bridges, apartment towers, and parks. The game results in a colorful three-dimensional landscape, with victory awarded to players who are most able to make their imprint on the shape of the city.

“Brand New Subway” by Jason Wright

Brand New Subway” is a subway design simulator. In it, players can edit the existing New York City subway system, or play around with laying entirely new lines. When players build each station, the game uses a variety of data sources (census data, jobs data, existing transportation demand data, etc.) to estimate the station’s ridership. It uses this to extrapolate overall ridership, fares, and an overall system rating.

Tim Hwang

Written by

Tim Hwang

i’ve got mass communication / i’m the human corporation

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