Rogues to reality: Board game enters production

Crowdfunded board game Rogues to Riches hits the presses

Sam Fraser shows off the what the finished product will look like
Sam Fraser shows off the what the finished product will look like   Mat Wilush

After a successful month-long Kickstarter campaign followed by a year of tweaking fine details, Sam Fraser’s board game is heading through production.

On Wednesday, 1,000 copies of Rogues to Riches went to print in China. Fraser is expecting the finished shipment to arrive in Halifax by June. It’s been a long journey from when Fraser started the first version of the game..

“I think I wrote the first card in 2002,” laughs Fraser.

Inspired by the creative openness of tabletop gaming, Fraser wanted to make a game that never loses its novelty. This endeavor would take until 2012 to be realized, when Fraser debuted his first game, Gentlemen Thieves.

Limited to a 150-unit press run, the game caught the interest of gamers in and around Halifax. However, Fraser would continue tweaking the game and introducing additional cards.

In August 2014, Fraser launched a month-long Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Rogues to Riches, a revamped and fully-realized version of Gentleman Thieves. Through the month, Fraser hired a campaign manager, shot commercial videos, was featured on board game channels on YouTube and was listed as one of Kickstarter’s staff picks.

Fraser’s successful campaign brought in $22,000 in 30 days.

“It was really validating to know that people I don’t know want to play my game,” says Fraser.

Julianne Harnish, a local illustrator, met Fraser at Game Jam in 2012, an annual board and video-game expo. The two began working together, culminating in Gentlemen Thieves. Harnish was brought on by Fraser to illustrate Rogues to Riches.

After the Kickstarter campaign’s success, Harnish set out to illustrate Rogues’ 200 unique cards while working full time. Gentleman Thieves, by comparison, featured only 50 cards.

“It took about a year to finish everything,” Harnish says. “But Sam and I are total perfectionists, so maybe we took a little longer than we needed to.”

A sheet of Rogues' to Riches newly designed cards
A sheet of Rogues’ to Riches newly designed cards   Mat Wilush

Now, after the final proofs have been sent to production, Fraser waits for his 1,000 copies.

“What’s most important to me right now is getting copies to my Kickstarter supporters,” says Fraser. “They were so supportive through the whole thing, this couldn’t have worked without them.”

Fraser has started work on his next game, tentatively titled Kowloon, styled after the Chinese walled city of the same name. He hasn’t set a timeline for the project, but he’s definitely open to crowdfunding again.

“Kickstarter and tabletop gaming go hand in hand,” he says.

“There’s this incredible culture online. I mean, it’s not risk free. And you have to sell a lot of games to see any money. But I feel like part of a growing industry that puts out so much creativity into the world.”