QWG’s Demetra (Key Harvest)

Here, we see the latest edition to QWG’s MasterPrint Series. Demetra as many of you now know is Richard Breese’s new upcoming Key Harvest title about medieval farming. Like Leonardo and Yspahan, this is simply a box redesign – all the inside components remain as done by Richard’s sister, Juliet.

Cover image. Note how the complexity of the image is contrasted with very simple cloth detailing.

Close-in image shows the level of detail that I put into the painting. Very lovely and authentic feeling.

The cover with two spines.

I believe this cover to be my favorite of the series so far. Here, I have created a detailed and complex scene in a medieval style depicting a vast landscape patchwork of fields. In the game, you will find a board with a patchwork grid of fields so this seemed an appropriate direction. The look is a bit dreamy and quaintly drawn. The technique and feel of the cover relates somewhat to Caylus which also employed a busy, artful touch. As such, the look is upscale and rich.

QWG MasterPrint Series cover lineup.

A yellow orange leather book contrasts nicely with the green cover as well as the other books. The overall effect is very rich. This yellow orange brings out colors in the painting.

The second spine. Again, this highlights the uniformity and diversity of the system. Its ability to complement through a rigid template, but elastic enough to give a wide range of differentiation.

A great deal thought and care is given to each cover to deliver an overall effect of visual diversity and excitement within the system. Each cover – in their own way – contrasts others around them to give a unique and visible texture to the collection as a whole. For instance, you can see with Demetra a complex painting with a very simple, understated cover detailing. Contrast this with Leonardo, which has a simple, bold painting and complex detailing in the leather work. On some covers, we use very bright colors (like Yspahan which is a lighter, brighter game) and others muted colors like Leonardo. For El Capitán we chose a more commercial approach as the publication will have a broader reach. Imagine how rich a living room bookshelf might look with the entire series displayed on it!

In addition the the look and appeal of the series, the MP Series is a limited edition proposition in that the print runs are very small. This adds to the rarity of the collection which adds value.

Congratulations to the QWG team for their continued support and promotion of the MasterPrint Series! I believe this series represents a new positive shift in the development and rethinking of style, sophistication and adult appeal in this category of boardgames.

– Mike

El Capitan: Preview III

QWG has given me permission to say a bit more about El Capitán and feature some new art here. The designers of El Capitán are Wolfgang Kramer and Horst-Rainer Rösner. I’m hesitant to say that this is a remake of a game they created in ‘98 called Tycoon as so much has been improved and special features/expansions added to the game. I’ve not played Tycoon, myself, but based on the changes, it sounds much better to me.

Firstly, as you might remember, Tycoon had genuine problems with the art. When QWG approached me with this title, I looked up Tycoon – as I was unfamiliar with it – and was shocked by the production. It looked nothing like a German game but more like a bad mass market production. As such, this really must have taken away from game play and, consequently, sales. (I’d post an image here, but it is so bad, I wouldn’t want non-English speaking/reading visitors to mistake the art for mine.)

The designers and publishers have spent a great deal of time refining the game and looking for new opportunities to refresh this title. Most of the changes I’ll mention at another time. One change I will mention here is the cities, themselves. The distribution of types of cities (more valuable, mid range, and least valuable) is different than Tycoon. Also of note is the addition of 3 expansion cities (Portuguese cities) which will be located on the left side of the board. Anywhere from 1 to all 3 of the cities may be added in a game, if one desires. The interesting thing about them is they all have unique powers/features which should add to the replay value significantly. For instance, one of these cities includes a pirate feature which seems an interesting twist.

One of nine city “boards” that lie on the captain’s table within a folded cloth. There will also be 3 “expansion” cities included in the game which can be placed off the board.

Most of the art is near final and I really like the way it is looking. The board, which I will show in another post, is an image of something like a captain’s table. On it are framed city boards that are set within the rippling of a blue cloth. The combination of wood ornamentation and blue cloth looks very rich. Pictured above you can see one such city. Along the top left are the two ports and top right the two fortresses. On the track players build their warehouses in the city. Darkened spaces relate to renovation areas that trigger renovation. The half darkened space is special renovation triggers for fewer players. A payout value is located in each space for the first majority. (Second majority is half that amount.) Dropping the second majority number was very helpful in reducing the visual clutter and focusing attention to the number patterns that make up the board. Given that second majority is always half, it is an easy matter to figure out. Each city portrays a different scene and a different pattern which is appropriate for that place. The cities span the Mediterranean from Spain, France, Africa, Greece and Egypt to name a few.

Image of one of two types of loan cards.

– Mike

Hannibal RvC: Rules and other graphic elements

In addition to the box graphics, I was involved with some of the card graphics and rules. Valley Games, who is currently working on updating their website, has generously given me permission to preview these elements here.

I really enjoy doing rules as there are opportunities here to do some lovely typeography. For the cover, I created a medallion which was placed over the leather. The leather is used throughout the program including the box cover. I chose to use a crisp, clean white background with which to showcase some classical typography. When using type beautiful type, the high contrast of black type on a clean white background hightens the effect. It also gives a little more of a museum or fine book feel to it. The publishers wrote a very interesting historical background which is what we open the rules with. Following that, is a lovely spread with a table of contents. The rules, themselves, are punctuated with large type for the section numbers and titles. This helps break things up a bit and adds to the interest of the pages. For the type, I've picked up Trajan for the titles (which was used one the cover) and Bembo for the body copy. Trajan, if you remember, is a font that was based on type found on Roman monuments. To complement the Trajan and add emphasis for subsections, I use the sans serif, Avenier. The geometric forms of this font work well with the pure geometry of Trajan.

A very dignified front cover for the rules.

The opening spread for the rules continues the dignified, prestigious look.

The open, airy pages encourage reading as pages aren’t overwhelming to get through. By leaving “white space” on the contents it stands out and can be easier to find when flipping the pages.
A typical spread in the rules. Section numbers and titles break up the space as well which helps when scanning the book for information.

I rather enjoy the back of the box as well. We had a little fun with the complexity scale and game info icons, which – while fun – are tasteful and restrained. The image is moody and type sensitive here as well.

Working on the card backs and Battle Cards were fun. Again, the look of the card backs picks up the leather language as well as the medallions. This feels quite nice. Kurt Miller illustrated the battle scenes which I like. To this was added a very strong and iconic arrow and purple info bar. Red would have been a nice color for the bar on the Battle Cards, but too strongly signalled “Roman.” Purple felt nice, though and conceptually is a mix of blue (Carthaginians) and red (Romans). The overall effect of these cards is very strong and powerful.

– Mike