Valley Games’ Container

Here we have a few components from Container which is Valley Game’s latest production and marks their first original game design. For the cover, we let the containers themselves be the heroes pointing the way to their destination aboard the ships. The image features a strong diagonal composition which leads the eye from the many colorful containers to the ship at sea. The sky and containers were created optimistic and bright for the cover.

Money (front and back)

The money was an interesting feature that I enjoyed doing. More often then not, money is the component that disappoints me in games (other than the cover). Certainly there is the paper/card/token issue for which paper remains highly annoying. But also, in the case of paper and card money, I find that I do not care for the look. Typically when showing a bill, the entire piece is shown. The problem becomes making the bill look real. If real, then where is it from? Do you use real currency or create a fake country? Mostly, games tend to follow the monopoly example showing the game’s name and some components. Here, we have avoided the fake country issue by only showing a portion of the bills. In this way, enough real looking information can be displayed without specifying much more. On these bills we decided to celebrate container transportation with engraved images of that theme.

Loan Card (front and back)

End Value Card (front and back)

Also pictured here are loan cards and end value cards. The end value cards are kept secret and determine the value of each kind of container for a player at the finish. The card backs were fun to do. We have here the language of containers with a diamond sign and the typical bold condensed type that you find on containers.

The container theme was further pushed with the rules cover where we used the diamond signs to house a sort of language table of contents.

– Mike

Valley Games’ Supernova Cover

Here we have the cover for one of Valley’s upcoming titles, Supernova. I had thought it would be nice to take advantage of the “letterbox” format with a blast of light sweeping across the cover. The effect is dynamic and a bit captivating. Space themes allow the possibility of wild, dazzling color schemes. In this case the pinks, cyans and purples are quite unique and should allow the game to pop off the shelves that much better. Supernova’s premise is of the blast taking over neighboring systems. So here we have planets engulfed in the mighty blast. I’ve added some computery bips and bops for a slicker, modern feel. Hex shapes relate to the game components and the computery type can be game rules typeset in this manner.

– Mike

Nexus’ Battles of Napoleon: The Eagle and the Lion

I was quite excited earlier this year when Nexus games had contacted me regarding the possibility of developing art for their upcoming game, the Eagle and the Lion. This is to be the first massive installment of their “Battles of Napoleon” series.

It turns out that my gaming roots are of wargames where in the ’80s, I used to shop the aisles for interesting Avalon Hill titles. I only ended up playing a few wargames on a limited scale, though. Of them, one of my favorites was the old AH “War and Peace.” I loved the scope of the war and romance of the era. For me this really hit a chord.

So it was that I was extremely keen to take on this grand Napoleonic game from a company with such a reputation for quality products. For those that don't know, Nexus were the folks that brought us War of the Ring and the follow-up, Battles of the Third Age. Now they are digging their teeth very deeply into the Napoleonic battle genre. I had used the word massive earlier, and I'm not kidding. The box is huge - larger than Battlelore. There will be tons of bits as the game is filled with hundreds of miniatures.

I cannot comment on gameplay but can say that it is its own game system which is meant to be deep enough for wargamers, but accessible to the Euros. It uses a new system which is based based both on orders and cards to regulate the actions of the players.

Below you can see some cards for the French side. There are two categories of cards - Leaders and Units. As such, each have a distinct look. The leaders feature a close up portrait, while the units have a soldier in a battle scene. Within these two categories we have a number of types and classes of cards. The leaders have 3 categories, pictured in varied ranges of size. The more powerful leaders appear close up, with the lesser ones further away. Additionally, a ribbon type further reinforces the leader type.

Commander in Chief



The units are broken down by infantry, calvary and artillery. Pictured here are infantry units. While the background image will remain fairly similar between these 3 groups, there will be a subtle change to help cue each of these categories. We have spent some time developing the images for historical correctness. In addition, on the card backs, there will be a little info on the actual unit that the picture comes from. Each image will be unique to add to the richness of the program.

A unit card. Each one has the unit type (upper left), unit flag (upper right), moral (below flag), some die roll modifiers (bottom ribbon) and initial unit makeup (4 icons, middle left).

There will be 4 double sided boards that can be assembled to create a variety of scenarios. Configurations will be available to combine 2-4 boards depending on the scale. Pictured here are two boards. The relevant terrain are the hill ridges, hedges and forests. The look here is one of an old engraved map which is meant to lend a feel of authenticity to the program and separate from other miniature wargame products. Other special terrain tiles will be placed on the boards depending on the scenario. To give a sense of scale, each tile is a little larger than the tiles in Roads and Boats.

Two of the eight map pieces.

Map detail

– Mike

QWG's El Capitan: Preview V

For this next installment of El Capitan preview, I have some spreads from the rules, an expansion board (included in the game) and some token boards.

One of the interesting parts to this game are the 3 “expansion cities.” One can choose to play with 1-3 of these boards, each of which has its own special set of rules. Pictured here is “Porto.” Notice Porto has 3 ports and only one fortress, making it easier to dock here – but harder to get a fortress. Also, note the rewards are higher than other cities. The downside has to do with the shutting down of warehouses – indicated by the dark square spaces. When a player places their warehouse on one of these spaces, the first warehouse in the chain of squares is eliminated from the game. Normal cities simply place such warehouse in the center of the board awaiting repairs. Another special rule unique to all of the expansion cities relates to majority scoring. ALL players who have placed at least one warehouse in the city will now get second majority during scoring (which is 1/2 of 1st majority). The first majority player, will however get the first majority payout – as in normal rules.

Pictured here is the cover and one spread from the rules. In this case, I chose to set up each spread with a background of ocean which adds a nice thematic texture to each page.

Here you can see one of the 4 token sheets enclosed. I like giving more context to my token sheets when possible. To me, they are like sheets of stamps. Postal services around the world now take the extra step with their sheets to add information and interest to them for collectors to admire. I find, with little effort, the overall presentation is much enhanced by the addition of such detailing. Even though discarded in the end, the punchboards serve an important first impression when one opens a game. A well designed and themed punchboard can add excitement and an emotional reward for those who buy the game or collectors who choose not to punch their boards.

For those looking to purchase this game at Essen, I've been told by the publisher that this game as well as all the other 3 MasterPrint titles Leonardo da Vinci, Yspahan and Demetra (Richard Breese's new title, Key Harvest) – can be preordered through QWG Games. Below you can see images of each of these titles.

– Mike