Play the CIA's internal board game depicting the Hunt for El Chapo

Play the CIA’s internal board game depicting the Hunt for El Chapo

Agency releases a complete copy of “Kingpin,” along with copious gametest notes

Written by
Edited by Beryl Lipton

Back in December, we wrote about how MuckRock’s Mitchell Kotler used FOIA to get the Central Intelligence Agency to release a number of internal board games used for training exercises. Today we’re looking at another game in the series, which the Agency reproduced in full - “Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo.”

As you could probably guess from the title, the game is based on the interagency attempt to capture the titular drug lord in Mexico. Gameplay consists of two teams taking turns; “the Cartel” attempts to evade capture of El Chapo by moving his piece around around the board in secret, while the Hunters attempt to pin him down by collecting intelligence.

That intelligence is gained by identifying the “nexus” of people surrounding El Chapo …

and exploiting their “needs,” also called “vices” in earlier builds of the game.

Speaking of builds, similar to “Collection Deck,” the release also includes extensive playtest notes …

and when we say “extensive,” we mean extensive.

(Very, very extensive.)

For anybody interested in game design, they provide an interesting insight into how the game went from a couple of sketches on a notepad …

to the finished, Agency-approved product.

Unlike “Collection Deck,” however, the release contains no redacted gamepieces. In fact, beyond redacting the designer’s name and some classification markings, the only redacted page is the initial drafts of “Topography Cards” …

which oddly enough, is redacted under b(3), b(5), and b(6) exemptions, respectfully.

As we said, this is a complete release, so we encourage you to print it out and give it a shot. Though it can look intimidating, take the rulebook’s advice and don’t get too hung up on understanding every little thing …

and as we always say*, “good luck tickling the wires!”

If you do end up playing, let us know how it goes via email, on Twitter, or on Facebook. Download a copy via the full release embedded below and on the request page.

* We never say this.