The History Behind Among Thieves

One seemingly usual night in suburban Sofia, a twentysomething regular guy was going to sleep after an exhausting day of studying for exams. It was August, it was hot as hell and the only thing keeping him awake was some unfinished business with a bunch of law textbooks. As he gently laid his rugged beard on the pillow and was just about to surrender to the long-awaited (and deserved, mind you!) call of Hypnos, four words suddenly popped into his mind:

NO HONOR AMONG THIEVES.

“Well, that’s a neat name for a game, right?” he muttered to himself, his muscles feeling the fatigue slowly overcoming them. And just then, half-embraced by the welcoming bosom of sleep, his curiosity made him spring up with his las remaining energy and sit back at the PC.

“Let’s check it out, then; perhaps there is one” thought he, as he was searching the entire known database, but to no avail. No results to show. But it was such an awesome title for a board game that he wrote it on a piece of paper and only after that went back to bed and quickly fell asleep.

First thing this guy did next morning was… to brush his teeth and make his bed. But the second one was to check out the name again and start planning for a game. What is it going to be about? How many players? Cards, dice, meeples, board, hexes, what? All the questions were answered in the next 4 hours or so. He started with the concept – obviously, a game about thievery. And if it will be “among thieves”, then surely intensive interaction between the players would be most appropriate. He wanted to play it with his friends and thought about having it made for more people, say up to 5 or 6.

Cards. Why cards? They are relatively small, easy to carry, convenient for almost all places (including in the park, in a bar, etc) and they can easily be protected with sleeves so that they would last longer. One by one the actions were defined, starting with the Steal, which was the obvious choice and going to the others. The rules were fairly simple – choose among your actions, place them secretly in front of you, play them, take as much as you can from the pile of money and ultimately – win the game.

Among Thieves: 10 months and 400 playtest later

different Among Thieves cards

Yeah, like hell. About 10 months and 400 playtests later, the rules were kept as the original in their core, but many things changed. The name changed, as another game that was in the making before this one was discovered and had already taken the title. The Heist Locations were modified. The discard was added. Finally, the first player marker started generating a coin to the new Acting Master Thief each turn, so that more money would go to the players and leave the center of the table. And not to mention how much the artwork has changed and evolved into something delightfully dark. In this long and hard process, said guy was joined by a true friend and board game patron, two amazing ladies with a talent to draw and design and a taste for the macabre and a constantly growing army of supporters of the cause. And you can see how far they’ve gone.

How do I know this? Well, it was my curiosity that defeated exhaustion this one night a year ago. My name is Vassil and I thank you all for sharing with me this mind-blowing experience that Among Thieves has been in the past 12 months, especially now in its Kickstarter phase.

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