Hey everyone - I have been working hard on a new game design.  It is tentatively called Whiskey Traders.  It deals with the history of Western Canada, Northwestern USA, and the First Nations.  It attempts to simulate the period circa 1873 - 1890 from a sympathetic FN view.


I have been busy designing event cards, faction cards, and ensuring the balance of the game is correct.  I feel it is pretty close (after 100ish playtests).


The game is very unique in many respects as you play the US, Canada, and a First Nations (Indian or Metis) all at the same time.  Each faction has its own agenda and its own victory conditions.  Although the game is not a true wargame it has many historical elements and also a few wargamey ideas.


Anyone who might be interested in this design should drop me a line anytime.  I decided to create the game after a family trip to Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan in Cypress HIlls.  There I saw a historical re-enactment of General Miles trying to persuade the Canadian NWMP commander (James Walsh) to extradite Sitting Bull back to the US.


I have been working actively on the design for the past year and have easily put in 1000+ hours (a little bit every day it seems).  Thanks for having a look.  I am hoping it will be picked up at some point by an established publisher.




In 1763, after seven years of fighting, France ceded nearly all its colonies in North America to Great Britain.  A few years later, the United States successfully seceded from British authority.  Many British loyalists, unwilling to break ties, retreated north.  On July 1, 1867, with the union of three British North American Colonies, Canada became a nation.


In 1868 Canada received transfer of Prince Rupert’s Land from the Hudson Bay Company for £300, 000.  The beaver fur industry was in decline.  Rupert’s Land was renamed the North-West Territory and further subdivided. 


On the Pacific Coast, would the United Colonies of British Columbia agree to union with debt-ridden Canada or would they join the already wealthy and populous United States?  Eventually, on condition of a transcontinental railroad linking eastern Canada with British Columbia, they joined Canada


As the authority of the Hudson’s Bay Company eroded, the un-patrolled Canadian Territories became a haven for American Whiskey Traders.  In exchange for a cup or two of whiskey (also known as whiskey bug juice) an unscrupulous Trader would receive a Bison hide from a First Nations or Métis (half First Nations and half white) hunter.  The hides went on to produce sturdy manufacturing leather belts and buffalo robes.  The bones would be shipped to make fertilizer. 


Overnight the Bison killing industry became extremely lucrative.  In its heyday, close to 100,000 hides a year would be trafficked from southern Alberta to Montana on the Fort Whoop-Up trail.  Triple that number was being trafficked via rail to Kansas.  Rampant killing and greed were destroying the livelihood of the Plains Indians. “Wolfers” would poison the discarded Bison carcasses that the Bison hunters left.  Wolves and coyotes that ate the tainted meat were then easily harvested.  Unfortunately, Indian dogs and many First Nations people were also killed this way. 


In 1873, a bloody battle, known as the Cypress Hills Massacre, took place when an American wolfer lost his horse. The wolfers believed the horse had been stolen by a group of Assiniboine Indians camped nearby; in fact it had only wandered off.  After much drinking they set out for revenge.  Approximately 30 Indians of all ages were slaughtered in the massacre.  One of the Indians, Little Soldier, was labelled the horse thief.  He was killed and decapitated, and his head was displayed on a tall stick as a warning. 


As the news filtered back to the eastern press, the country became enraged.  The Canadian West was at risk of emulating the wild frontier and lawlessness which existed south of the border.  The free movement of Montana Traders was also seen as an infringement on Canadian sovereignty.


In response, the government formed the North West Mounted Police (years later renamed and became the world famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police). They were under orders to suppress the whiskey Trade, bring law and order to Canada’s North West Territories, establish a Canadian presence, and peacefully encourage the First Nations to sign treaties and have them settle on reserves to make way for the railway and white settlements.


The NWMP journey West had begun.  The Canadian Pacific Railway was under quest to link British Columbia, while the First Nations and Métis peoples in both nations were trying to protect the lands and rights they once had free reign to.  In the United States, the Civil War had ended with a victory for the Union; the US Government was using its “Manifest Destiny” to establish law and control over the plains through the US Army.


In Whiskey Traders, you can recreate the history of the Wild West.  You will play three factions simultaneously; each with their own agenda.  On the Canadian side you will play the Canadian Government and the NWMP.  You will also play a Tribe of First Nations Indians or Métis settlers trying to survive and maintain tradition.  On the United States side, you will play the US Army and the US Whiskey Traders. 


Which faction will reign supreme and win the Western frontier?



Michael Becker

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Hey everyone - Whiskey Traders is now on Boardgamegeek.  Check out this link:  http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/143952/whiskey-traders


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