Continuing with the Caylus project for my personal investigation, I've begun laying out the board. This is preliminary and there are some incorrect details and incomplete art – but it's a start.
Firstly, let me say that the published edition of Caylus is just fine and I have no big issues with it. The information design on the tiles and board is quite good for such a complicated game. Also, particularly good for a game seeking language independence.
My first objective was to get the castle closer to the center of the board. This reason for this? Since this is a castle building game (with subsequent infrastructure development) I wanted to put this front and center. It also will create a nice visual focal point which is appealing to look at. From the castle, goes the building track. I loved the way in the original game that you follow the track across the different actions. I expand on this by ending the track back into the castle for the castle building phase. In this way, it is one simple explaination – simply follow the actions on the road – that's it.
The section building area corresponds to the favor track which is just below it. In this way, there is a direct connection between these as the game progresses from section to section. The favor rewards for castle sections are close to the building area where I believe it is more appropriate. I've also moved the turn order track right next to the stables for a direct connection there.
One thing I have noted with many boardgames is this focus on pictorial icons of buildings to represent purchases. It's a funny thing though. While this works quite well for computer games where you can see your city growing and being built, the effect is quite different in the boardgame. For the computer games, you really feel like you are looking at a town growing. For boardgames, because the symbols are confined to different tiles, I don't get a sense of a town so much. Additionally, the buildings all start to look alike and don't serve to communicate actions so well. So, in this version, I've compiled many buildings in a scene around the castle. It looks nice to me and has the Disneyland map effect, which is playful and entertaining to look at. In their place on the tiles, I will have other icons such as people and objects representing the actions drawn in medieval style. This further supports a medieval feel. Now, one might say that the original theme of building buildings along a road is more thematic, but I donno. When looking at the board with these tiles (which I did not include in this post), I feel the theme of visiting areas and conducting actions more than before. I don't feel building a building so much, but I do feel a more colorful liveliness of medieval activity.
There is something very gamery about having an outer track that you travel on – it feels good and understandable at a glance. This could be due to the fact that we have Monopoly burned in our brains and there is an association there. No matter though as it is pleasing.