Sneak Peek: Ystari’s Premium Limited Edition of Caylus

Note, if you have been here before take another look at things. The board background has undergone some very slight tweaks that make a larger impact on gameplay. Worth taking a look at and the bottom addendum section. :)

Yes, it’s true. Ystari – the company who brought us Caylus – is now developing their own premium limited edition version which, as I understand it, is to be released for Essen 07. I’m very proud to have been part of this endevour and think the whole production is going to be a sight to see. Most of the game art is complete and now aspects of production are being worked out. Below, I’ll describe some of the art that I have worked on. In addition, you can count on a product very worthy of the title “premium.” I won’t go into any details of the production and components as that is work in progress, but some fascinating and exciting upgrades are being looked into – the likes of which I've never seen in a game.

Cover art

Full box top art including cover and four sides. The seamless transitioning of the landscape encourages the viewer to pick up and turn around to reveal more. This wrapped look offers a more premium look as well. Additionally, the intricate, complicated composition is reflective of the intricate gameplay

Box Top Detail

For the cover, I have evolved the direction that I first had displayed last July. You can see the two side by side below. I’ve gone into much more detail with this final version which makes for a far more interesting cover. The overall look is based on medieval drawings of a castle and town. I’ve wrapped the entire cover with this image for a more premium look. To set this off, we have a thin ribbon with the game information.

The final cover is more intricate and interesting. It invites the viewer to look and pour over the details.

The board is structured so all the actions follow the track back to the castle for castle building. I like little information design points like the turn track located next to the stable (for easier connection to the stable's actions). Note, baliff and provost icons will be added at a later time.

Board Details

For the board, we have a look that marries well with the cover. The actions follow the road from the castle back to it where castle building follows. I enjoy little details like the turn order track being located next to the stables – which controls that order. For the buildings, I chose to use medieval illustrations. These seem to add a little life to the program. Coupled with these illustrations are blocks of text as if these have been grabbed from an illuminated manuscript. Period ornamentation finishes the board off.

The information design is primarily the same. I increased the size of the cubes in the upper corner to help readability.

Posted with the gracious permission of the publisher. I hope you enjoy.

– Mike

----- Addendum ––––

One image that I should have posted is the board with pieces on it. You can compare to an identical setup with the original board. Some things to note here are as follows:

– Contrast on the newer board seems lower than that of the old one.
– Less saturated board on the new one allows pieces to more effectively pop off. In the original board and tiles bright colors can tend to swallow up the bright bits a little.
– Allowing road to follow the board sides sets up alignment of bits which aid in scanning. This is because the eye runs up and down faster than at angles where the bits don't line up.
– The VP track is less contrasty and easier to track pieces. The addition of numbers helps support scoring a little bit.
– VPs awarded to building sections are not covered up by the pieces.
– Castle favor awards are now grouped with their counterpart building sections.

– VPs on tiles are a little easier to read than the original.
– Resource costs on tiles (upper left) are easier to read the original.
– In addition to being playful, the new tile images seem more unique and individual. The images also have a period look to them.

All this is not to say the original was bad at all but to say that there has been some thought toward usability in the new edition. While I don't claim it is necessarily easier to play, it seems to work just fine for me. Information seems to be where it want to be: the turn order next to the stables, the castle building favor reward chart below the each castle building section, the favor track following down from the previously mentioned reward chart. Some things to think about at any rate.

In addition, the background is undergoing some slight darkening and repositioning to set it back a bit. This was something I went back and forth on in the design process and previously pushed it too far into the foreground. So, this has been updated accordingly in the post. :)

©2007 Mike Doyle