Ruthless artwork overhauled

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.

Anatomy of a redesign - Battle Line

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 Sadly the current version in production is very outdated.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. 

Medieval Re-theme

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.

Prototypes and drawing into the night

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.

Escape! On no actually there is more to do...

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




Since October I have been working on on a great project that is very exciting. I can't wait to share it with you but I won't be done until April and then if I am lucky I will be able to show you something around July. Don't hold your breath though :P

In the meantime... to keep fresh creatively on the long project and to do some character work I started redesigning the Cluedo character cards. I had the idea to show two side of the characters and mimic the royalty cards in a normal playing card deck. I am pretty pleased with the idea and the results so far.



As the project is going so well I am planning to complete the whole set including room and weapon cards. I plan on getting a batch printed when I am done. I will get a few weeks off between contracts soon so I hope to make a be push then. In the meantime you can follow the development process over on my Behance page -