Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 18, 2013.

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FREEDOM: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is a cooperative game where players are Abolitionists striving to end slavery in the United States.

Since America's founding, people questioned the morality of slavery. From this, an activist movement grew with the goal of universal freedom in the United States. The people involved came from all parts of society, including escaped slaves, free blacks, and white supporters from America and Europe. They became know as Abolitionists.

But there were opponents to the abolishment of slavery who believed it would hurt the American economy, since Southern agriculture depended on slavery’s free labor. In addition, many northern factory workers were afraid that they would lose their jobs to freed slaves. The topic of slavery became a national political crisis. The government's inability to resolve the issue motivated many Abolitionists to initiate change on their own.

In ‘Freedom – The Underground Railroad’ you and your friends take on the roles of Abolitionists. Cooperatively, you finance and build the Abolitionist cause, all while assisting Slaves to move from southern plantations to freedom in Canada. But you will be opposed by Slave Catchers that react to every move you make, along with detrimental laws and social events that you must react to and overcome in order to win. 

                               Men and Women of the Underground Railroad

During the game, players need to work together in an effort to achieve two victory conditions. First, the players need to raise the strength of the Abolitionist movement through the acquisition of Support Tokens. Next, the players also need to help Slaves escape from the plantations in the south, moving them north to freedom in Canada while avoiding the Slave Catchers that are roaming the board. If the players are able to achieve both conditions before the end of the game, they win. Of course this is not going to be easy, but through careful planning and strategy, the group can recreate history, helping to bring down the institution of slavery.

Game Board
Game Board

The game board consists of two sections. The map on the right features the paths available to both escaping slaves as well as the Slave Catchers who roam the board. The North Star Newspaper on the left, holds the resources available to the players during the game, including Abolitionist Cards that feature key historical figures and events.

An example of cards depicting historical people, places and events during the period.
An example of cards depicting historical people, places and events during the period.

The game is played over eight rounds, covering the years of early independence up until the end of the Civil War. During the game, players must progress through three time Periods: 1800-1839,1840-1859 and 1860-1865. Each period holds resources that the players attempt to unlock during play. These resources include new Support, Conductor, and Fundraising Tokens, as well as Abolitionist Cards that restock the Abolitionist Queue.

Tokens and Card setup at game start.
Tokens and Card setup at game start.

The players must move Slaves to freedom in Canada, which is achieved through the use of Conductor Tokens, Abolitionist Cards, and Player Roles. Only the tokens in the periods you have activated are available for purchase. Each token can only be used once and are depleted quickly! If players do not advance in a timely manner into the next period by purchasing all of the current period's Support Tokens, the Conductor Tokens run out and Slave movement along the Underground Railroad grinds to a halt.

Conductor Tokens: The number above the cubes designate how many slaves the player can move, followed by how many spaces each slave can move forward.
Conductor Tokens: The number above the cubes designate how many slaves the player can move, followed by how many spaces each slave can move forward.

Additionally working against the players are Slave Catchers that constantly react to Slaves that move onto their paths. This can hamper a player's movement options and can even result in Slaves being captured and sent back to the Slave Markets! 

Even with the best laid out plans, a Slave Catcher can make an unexpected move once per round. This movement is determined by a dice roll.

The Slave Catcher Die pictures the slave catcher colored symbols.
The Slave Catcher Die pictures the slave catcher colored symbols.
The Movement Die pictures white and black arrows to determine the direction and distance the slave catcher moves.
The Movement Die pictures white and black arrows to determine the direction and distance the slave catcher moves.

Based on the die roll pictured above, the Blue Slave Catcher moves 2 spaces along his path in the direction of the white arrows. If there had been Slaves on the last space he landed on, they would have been caught and sent to the Slave Markets.  

This unique Slave Catcher system creates tension in the game, since players need to move Slaves out of the southern plantations and into Canada before the Slave Markets deliver more Slaves into the Plantations at the end of each round. If there are not enough open spaces in the Plantations to accommodate the new influx of Slaves, the excess Slaves are placed into the Slaves Lost Track. If this is completely filled, then the players lose the game.

Freedom is a challenging cooperative game that will keep you and up to three of your friends playing over and over again.  

Uwe Eickert of Academy Games describes Freedom - The Underground Railroad at Origins 2013.

If you back us on Kickstarter, you will receive the game several weeks before the games arrive in any other retail outlets! 

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Our first Kickstarter project, 1775 - Rebellion, was very successful. Originally, we planned to ship in April 2013. Instead, we will be shipping the games in early August 2013. One reason for the delay was our decision to also publish the game in French, German and Spanish. The translations and new layouts increased the production time.

We also delayed shipment until we received a sample production run to review and approve in June 2013. We were happy that the games met our high standards and gave the printer permission to release the print run.

Freedom - The Underground Railroad is our second Kickstarter project. We expect to ship in late September 2013. However, this is contingent on us approving the sample production run we receive in August.

Thanks for your support. Uwe Eickert - Academy Games.

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    Copies of Freedom will be contributed to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, an institution dedicated to the awareness of modern day slavery and human trafficking. "We reveal stories about freedom's heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom today." For more information visit http://freedomcenter.org/

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