I am preparing to take my own game Ruthless to Essen this year. Essen is the worlds biggest games fair. So it will be a pretty exciting adventure. Last week I took the game to a local convention. The game and the artwork got a lot of love there. I spent the previous week redoing a lot of the drawings and adding some finishing touches.
Battle Line is a fun and simple card game. Sadly the current version in production is very outdated. The artwork to be dull and uninspiring. Visually it is not a game that can compete shoulder to shoulder on the shelves with todays high quality productions. The current version is also fails to accommodate colour blind users, which are a surprisingly large demographic.
In my redesign I have focused on tackling all of these issues. To create a product that is appealling, thematic and improves playability.
I wanted to give the game a more appealling flavour so I opted for a medieval era as it is very familiar to everyone. Knights and the age of chivalry have engaged our imaginations for generations. Every choice made in the design was a balance of function and theme. I like the idea that this game could be bought in the era or theme of your choosing ... samurai anyone?
Cards Suits - Colour, Pattern & Shape
Making the suits and values clearly distinct is the main function of the card art. This is easily achieved with colour but for the colour blind we also need another method. Inspired by the medieval theme I have added two additional distinctions between themes. The pattern on the banners and the shape of each banner is different for each suit. It also provides a thematic hook and a strong visual element to each card.
Colours for Troops
The colour themes of each suit are also echoed in the character illustrations to add further distinction and appeal. It would have been reasonable to use generically coloured illustrations on all cards. However the amount of extra time required to add this extra detail rewards the cost. The extra attention to detail is becoming the norm in modern board gaming. Industry leaders like Fantasy Flight and iello have raised the bar.
Clear Troop Silhouettes
Card identification is further improved by using troop poses with clear silhouettes. Thus we can identify each troop at a glance. The weight of the armour also increases a with the value of each card in the sequence.
Tactics Cards - Theme and function
The other element of the game is these 'Tactics' cards There are only ten of them but they change the game rules and are very distinct from the Troop cards. Here my aim was to make the cards function clear by using text supported by a simple illustration. As you can see below some additional information is adde using banner graphics where needed. These cards offered a great opportunity to drive home the theme. Using a classic medieval trope, book illumination, really lets these cards shine.
There are two personal projects and one big client project underway at the moment. So every hour is filled with drawing designing and problem solving. It is all good fun! You can follow me on Instagram to get more regular updates on these. https://www.instagram.com/rolandtheillustrator/
The illustrations above are a bit of a side project... distraction. As if I didn't have enough going on with the board game I am working on with Identity Games and my own pirate game. I watched a review of Battle Line. An interesting two player card game. The artwork is so ugly though I just can't consider buying it! So I decided to redesign the cards, GMT, the publisher were interested but sadly have decided to stick with the cards you see to the right. I am thinking of writing a proper article about ugly artwork in games and how it affects the experience. Watch this space. In the meantime I plan to finish my set for a personal edition.
New Skill - Sketch Up -
I am also illustrating an expansion to the Escape Room board game I worked on earlier this year. I decided for this board to try out mocking up the room in Sketch Up. I have been thinking of doing this over a number of projects and finally sat down and Learned the tools. It has been very useful and I am sure I will use it again. It enables me to offer the client a lot more possibilities, a lot quicker and get to an ideal solution. I can't show too much of the work yet but here is a quick look at the process.
Whilst I am busy with the concept stage for the card art, I am also working out refinements to the game design. I really enjoy the challenge of trying to make this game. One of the things I really like about illustration is the problem solving. Designing this game is that but ten fold. Keeps me on my toes and is a great learning experience. Nice to have my cat along for company.
Over the winter I illustrated a variety of game boards and numerous other assets for this new and ambitious Escape room board game project. I worked closely with the design team at Identity Games, not just to deliver exciting illustrations but also to help with problem solving and refining the look and feel of the whole project. The game is now at the manufacturers. I am eagerly awaiting a copy.
This week I begin work on the first of two expansions. Looking forward to getting my teeth into that!
It was a pleasure working with you on our biggest (and most difficult) project ever! Always thinking with us to find the best solutions and always accurate and on time. We are very happy working together!
Marijke Otto - Board Game Developer at Identity Games
These are the final versions for the Cluedo character redesigns. There may be some minor balancing to do once all the rooms and weapons are done but for now I am happy with these.