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“Now, more than ever, we need to be strong”: Ukraine board game publishers, creators and stores rally in wake of Russian invasion

Tabletop outlets in country urge supporters to donate blood, money and other aid.
Ukraine flag waving
Image: aviavlad/stock.adobe.com

Board game publishers, designers and retailers in Ukraine have urged support and rallied with their country’s defence in the wake of its ongoing invasion by Russia last week.

The country is home to several tabletop publishers, hobby stores and designers, many of whom release games from the US and Europe localised in the state language of Ukrainian as well as Russian, which remains widely-used among the population.

Desktop Games, which distributes board games by Arkham Horror, Star Wars: X-Wing and Descent publisher Fantasy Flight Games, among others, is located near the centre of Kyiv. The capital city has been caught in a fierce battle for several days between invading Russian troops and the staunch resistance mounted by local Ukrainian forces, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

“Now, more than ever, we need to be strong and believe in our army, which is heroically repelling the enemy. The invaders suffered losses and were morally exhausted, because they did not expect such strong resistance,” the outlet wrote in a post on its website and Facebook page, under the Ukraine flag and the title “Ukraine wins”.

“Take care of yourself, victory will be ours!” it ended, urging supporters to donate blood and contribute financial aid to the Ukrainian special forces.

Bombat Games, a Ukrainian publisher of both family games and adult drinking games, similarly posted a call for donations to the Armed Forces of Ukraine on its Facebook page.

Geekach Games, which is also based in Kyiv, has published localised editions of board games including Scythe, War of the Ring and Marvel United. The publisher and online retailer provided an update on its Facebook and Instagram pages, the latter next to a black square.

“Friends, we are not working today, and in the future everything will depend on the circumstances, we will keep you informed about the work of Gikach,” it wrote. “Support also does not work because there is no one in the office. We will process all orders and inquiries as soon as we return to work in one form or another.

“Hang in there!”

FeelIndigo, a Ukrainian publisher that has produced localised versions of popular board games including Sushi Go, Codenames and Kingdomino within the country, followed in providing an update that outlined the impact of the war on its business. The company said it had been forced to delay a number of projects, while production and shipping had been halted in order to protect staff.

“Friends, our faith is stronger than our fear,” its Facebook post said. “The faith of our partners in us is stronger than the expectations of the aggressor.

“We encourage you to take care of yourself, loved ones and friends. Don't panic, control yourself and help others. Take care of your physical safety. There are enough recommendations on the official pages of Ukrainian intelligence services.”

The publisher also provided a separate message addressed to those in Russia, writing: “I hope you can observe the tragedy unfolding, make sound assessments and draw conclusions. I want to wish that such events don't happen in your life - it's hard.

“I'll tell you as a player to a player: you and I ended up in a game where the rules were broken, and the main host was a cheater.

“We play a lot of games with you. Games teach us how to win, teach us to accept defeat with dignity, but I am sure that no one is ready to play with a cheater. I ask you to hear us, think about what is happening. Support Ukraine - support fair play.”

The publisher behind solo dungeon-delving game Four Against Darkness and skirmish miniatures wargame Song of Blades and Heroes, Ganesha Games, launched a Patreon to raise financial support after fleeing the besieged city of Kharkiv.

“The main goal of this Patreon will be to reconstruct my game design studio and buy equipment and software,” wrote founder and designer Andrea Sfiligoi.

“I and my wife could not go back to Ukraine (we were based in Kharkiv) because of the Russian invasion. Our apartment is still standing as I type this, but I doubt we will ever return to Ukraine as we do not want to live under a tyrant. We are currently in my native Italy (I am Italian, my wife is Ukranian).”

Outside of Ukraine, Polish video game developer 11 Bit Studios tweeted on February 24th that it would donate all proceeds from the sale This War of Mine and its DLC to the Ukrainian Red Cross for the next seven days. The company co-published This War of Mine: The Board Game, a faithful adaptation of the video game that simulates the experiences of everyday civilians caught in a warzone; however, it later confirmed that sales of the board game would not be included in the donation.

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Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis

Editor-in-chief, Dicebreaker

After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.

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