A Western University student has transformed his passion for war history into an educational board game.
Eric Sheppard's interest in history stemmed from game nights throughout his childhood. Several victories and honour badges later, the 18 year-old is pushing for school-aged children to learn the same way he did.
"It's about getting people talking about it, reading about it, and excited about their country's history," said Sheppard, the mastermind behind Sabres and Smoke, a hex-based game that allows players to determine the fate of the War of 1812.
"It's not difficult to understand but it's about getting people interested in these sorts of things," said Sheppard, of the game geared for all ages. "I think it really puts it into perspective what the commanding officers and the generals and even the everyday soldiers would've had to do."
Following his launch Sunday, Sheppard plans to pitch his interactive game to the Thames Valley and Toronto District School Board battle curriculums.
Ready, aim, roll
The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain, with Canada swept up in the conflict under its monarch. The two-year battle saw invasions across the nation and along the Great Lakes.
Along with visiting battle forts across the province, Sheppard rummaged through history books and maps to ensure the game is historically accurate.
The interactive board game features 250 army cutouts representing British, Canadian, American and Native troops, coming to life on a board adapted to represent land and water battlefronts.
The game includes a deck of 52 playing cards, each outlining a battlefield scenario — everything from artillery malfunctions to instant victories.
Sheppard poured up to $500 of personal finances into creating the $65 board game, which is manufactured in Toronto. He also received $7,500 in backing through a summer entrepreneurship incubator in London.
Michelle Stenescu, co-ordinator of the Propel Campus-Linked Accelerator program, says the centre works as a support system for innovators and start-ups.
"When you're a student, you have a lot of time and a lot of flexibility," she said. "You don't have a job yet so you can actually go out and do these things and dip your toe into entrepreneurship."
Sheppard hopes to sell up to 250 games in the first two days of his launch to reach a goal of $10,000.