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John Company, Pax Pamir maker to produce art installation 1819 Singapore as an actual board game

Cardboard imitating art imitating life.

Artwork for 1819 Singapore board game art installation
Image credit: Skye Liu Tianzi/Mosquito Game

An art installation about Singaporean history, colonialism and board games as interpretation will be published as an actual, playable board game as one of several new projects announced by Wehrlegig Games.

Brothers Cole and Drew Wehrle of Wehrlegig Games announced the news during a recent livestream that discussed the small tabletop publisher’s plans for 2023. After the recent success of John Company, which built upon the popularity of Pax Pamir 2E, the pair said they would be expanding the company to publish other designers’ creations in the historical board game subgenre.

1819 Singapore is one of the more notable inclusions on that list or projects because, well, it’s not a real board game. Or at least, not yet. The project first existed as an art installation in the Temenggong Art Space where it portrayed part of Singapore’s history, specifically focusing on the roots of Western colonialism, but portrayed as a full realised tabletop title. The collaborators even convinced YouTube channel Shut Up & Sit Down to film an overview video as part of the installation’s odd verisimilitude.

Watch the team play through hit historical board game Pax Pamir 2E.Watch on YouTube

Wehrlegig Games will partner with Mosquito Game and a whole design team - Chng Xin Xuan, Scott Lee Chua, Andrew Kwan, Sonny Liew, Roshan Singh Sambhi, Yong Kai Yi, Skye Liu Tianzi, Sen-Foong Lim and Faris Joraimi - to realise the components and rules portrayed in the original artwork. The Wehrle brothers professed that 1819 Singapore blew them away when they played an early version, and they expect to mostly provide a bit of polish along with audience reach and production assistance.

In a Reddit post from 2021, Liew admits that Pax Pamir 2E was among the main influences (Undaunted was also mentioned) on 1819 Singapore’s conception and his initial interest in board games’ ability to communicate history’s more complicated and ugly realities. The team’s eventual deal with Wehrlegig apparently made sense from both sides.

“It’s the obvious one we should be publishing,” Cole Wehrle said on the stream. “It feels like a Pax game.”

Three other projects from outside designers were also announced. Taylor Shuss and Joe Schmidt’s Sacred Band will be a cooperative wargame for two players described as a “slightly deckbuildy and slightly hand-management” design set in ancient history. While no artwork or mock-ups were shown on stream, the brothers described the vision as one that included, at its most ambitious, implements that portrayed vibrant clay sculptures and cloth playmats.

Persuasion, a print-and-play tabletop game by Xoe Allred, deals with navigating power, expectations and hidden desires wrapped up in the courtship rituals of Victorian England. It will be upgraded for a full, physical release that trades cut-out cards for, hopefully (according to Wehrle), actual letters, envelopes, stamps and such.

Jo Kelly’s Molly House is reportedly the only board game that has been officially signed to Wehrlegig Games. A former Zenobia Award finalist, Molly House explores 18th century gathering places for London’s queer community seeking connection amidst wide scale moral reformation. Kelly and Wehrlegig have been collaborating on design for about eight months, and it certainly seems like the title closest to a full release among the bunch.

Cole Wehrle said the announced projects will hit crowdfunding platforms by late spring of 2023 at the earliest, and he will more than likely attempt a Backerkit campaign before considering a return to Kickstarter. Wehrlegig Game’s final announced project is a second edition of An Infamous Traffic, which will reportedly require a major rework and up to two years of work.

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