QWG's Cavum

Cover image

QWG will be publishing Cavum by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Riesling just in time for Essen. It will be printed in English, German, French and of course Dutch. The game takes players in the American West in search of gems. Players mine through the mountains in search of veins, working their tunnels to trace to neighboring cities (pictured on the board in orange). As I understand it, this will be a heavier game than El Capitan and play around 90 minutes.

The look of the game has an antiqued paper finish with period typography and engraved images. Like El Capitan, the punchboards are dressed up for a very nice presentation. These will be pictured in a future post.


A few of the "order" cards

Happy gaming!

– Mike

Blackbeard Anticipation II

I received some feedback which I've incorporated into these charts. They are pretty hires, so you can drag them onto your desktop and use. These print on 11x17 paper. You might need to reduce the size slightly to fit without printing. Again, if you see something incorrect, please let me know.

As previously mentioned, I was looking to add an anti-pirate back to the player aid. Not having played the game yet, I’m unsure if all the details are correct; but I hope it’s pretty close. The information was cobbled together from what I could find from the updated rule sets. I modified the look slightly for both of these to give a little more depth and thematic interest.

If anyone familiar with the game sees details in error, I'd appreciate you dropping me a note and I'll look into correcting.

Happy Gaming.

– Mike

Blackbeard Anticipation

--- Note, thanks to a few who contacted me with some fact errors in the following player aid. Much appreciated! The image below is the now updated one. ---

Ok, I too have been struck by the Blackbeard bug. I've not yet played it, and never played the original, but a detailed pirate game seems so awesome. I bought the game a week or two ago and have read the rules many times, set the board up for a few rounds of solitaire play and been doing the obligatory daily checks to BGG for rules updates. Still, after playing it myself a bit, I found quite a bit of look ups necessary. I know that's the kind of game this is, but it might prove too distasteful to some I game with. It seems like the game could flow better with concepts better consolidated. To help things move a bit, I've created an 11x17 player aid. This combines the Pirate Actions list with basic procedural guidelines done graphically.

The front of a player aid guide with Pirate Actions. The back will have Anti-Pirate actions and whatever else I can get that is meaningful.

It includes some symbols for key concepts so that it can be scanned if looking for a particular one. For instance, if you are looking for things relating to booty or loyalty there are icons associated with them. For actions that are continuous (or need to follow another action), I've kept on the same scrap of paper which appears to fold over for the next step.

I will probably get this uploaded to Geek if others find it helpful, though if there are mistakes, it would be good to know. Send me an email. I cobbled together concepts from the rules, so I could have gotten things wrong. I know there are also some procedures missing, like Dueling. I didn't want the player aid to necessarily have everything, but cover all the main concepts I would need if just starting.

Next on the agenda is the Anti-Pirate actions, which will go on the back side of the sheet.

After setting the game up, I found the need for more dimensionality. The lack of objects with depth tend to make this game seem less exciting than it really should be. Also, I found many pieces getting lost on the board – like merchant ships. It's not terrible, but I did find that adding cubes and pieces helped the experience. Here, you can see cubes for merchant ships yellow for new ships, white for 0 cargo holds, red for 1, blue for 2, green for 3 and black for 4). Once found, yellow cubes are replaced with one that is randomly drawn from bag. For the KCs, I used large wood cubes that I had on hand. These then correspond to player colors, which I feel is needed. I felt like without player colors, I tended to lose track of my ship a bit. So, I've added player color flags to AOEIII ships. Red flags are used for D&B status which seems nice. Below some images for of quick modifications.

Some modifications to make more appealing to me (and hopefully others in my group).

Congratulations to the Berg/GMT team for this! Very much looking forward to playing. I also am really looking forward to the remake of one of my favorites from yesteryear, Conquistador – another Berg title.

Happy Gaming


Valley Games’: Municipium (Cover and Cards)

After having completed the board, I've taken another look at the cover. The evolution of the board did not go in the direction that I had originally taken for the cover. So I found a little disconnect between the two. Not that they have to match, but I did think I could do better here. So, I've restyled the cover with a mosaic and picked up the various characters from the board. I'm quite fond of this. It has the richness I often like to do in these pieces. It also – in a way for me – goes back to the original concept which was more abstract in nature. One thing I have always tried to stray from is a literal interpretation of the implied game story. Such covers tend to look trite to my eyes. Here, with the characters simply lined up, there is no stiff reinactment of a scene or literal story being told. It is more abstract in nature allowing the viewer to imagine.

Card backs: Common card (gray) and family cards with family names
Card fronts from various families

Also, here we can see some of the cards for this production. Again, I think a nice rich touch that ties things together with the mosaic.

– Mike

Supernova Alien Screens and more

Here we can see player screens with the aliens and icons which correspond to board pieces. They gray type and such will actually be silver, so the contrast is not as you see here. Throughout the program we are planning to use silver which should really be lovely and through a future feel to it against the white.

Some more research cards with silver icons.

Colonization cards with silver

The Colonization cards should really look nice with the silver line work against the green – very special and high tech. It will have a very nice feel as one holds them in ones hands and tilts from side to side.

– Mike

From the Vault: Arte Moderna

I had the opportunity to play Arte Moderna for the first time a few weeks back. I'd been trying to keep the copy I had unpunched and unused, but the money had mostly fallen out of the punchboard and my friends and I were “in the mood”. I hadn't looked at this for a long time and it brought back a lot of memories – this was my first art to be previewed in a published game. There were quite a few little things the publisher and I put in the game, from a portrait of his wife, to her favorite flower to… Derk, just because.

So, with memories spinning around, I dusted off the old backup hard drive and took a look at the files. One thing I had totally forgotten was the other artists I had created as part of the selection process for the publisher. Some I'd wish were picked, but oh, well. No biggie. I really liked one of them, so I thought I'd share that and a few others that were created for the first presentation.

The first one is based off of one of my long favorite artists, Cy Twombly. While I did not want to mimic other artists (Iike Mayfair’s edition did), I didn't mind this series of paintings. To most gamers, Cy’s work would not be recognizable and would probably seem new and totally alien. One thing you will see is the English rather than native text as this was a first presentation. Also, the format was changed a bit. If I had it to do over again, I would have coded it on both sides for left and right handers, but now I know better. Note here, for the icons, I had proposed an O for open, 1 for once around and 2 for double. This seemed more logical to me than trying to interpret an icon as in previous publications. In the end, the publisher was looking for a stronger connection to the native language, so this was put aside.

Here, we have a few more artist styles that had been presented in the initial concepts. In the end, I'm fine with what was done. There are things I would have done differently. But oh well, live and learn.

Back with my buddies, we played our game of Arte Moderna and had a very good time at it. Although my incredibly poor performance in this session confirmed that I should stay far clear from opening my own art gallery. :D

– Mike

Mechanical Digital, Wooden Mirrors and Other oddities

Harry Winston’s Rare Timepiece (edition of 50) with mechanical LED display

Fascinating to look at, these unexpected twists of materials and technology boggle the mind. You can read more about them here.

The not so rare PinClock, but fun to look at

Rozen Peg Mirror

I have one of these fiber optic magnifiers on my desk. It never fails to astonish – even product designers who have pretty much seen everything. The effect of the image which is projected to the surface is captivating. In the top image, you can see it compared to a common magnifier.

– Mike

Valley Games' Municipium Board

Here, we have the board for Reiner Knizia’s, Municipium. This game is a sort of an area majority game, where players place and move their family members on the various key buildings in this roman city. The roads connect the various 6 institutions along a main route and then a special route connects two buildings to the temple. Each city has a special power which is recorded on the scrolls. These powers generally move pieces around on the board. Above the scrolls is an area which holds various key rewards in the game that help lead to victory.

Some other clarifications. The board is color coded according to the pieces placed in areas. So colored banners underneath the ovals relate to this as do the spaces in the reward monuments. Some good suggestions on adding icons, so there are now icons on the information scrolls.

One interesting thing with icons. While certainly informative and aiding in scanning, icons also serve to make games more compelling to look at and get into. Reading words are not as inviting as icons. So icons’ presence brings viewers in and offers another dimension to the information – game piece explanation. With these, one can visually match pieces to places and functions rather than go through another layer of piece names and identification as is the case with words. It is that voice that says, “Oh, this piece does that and causes this to happen.” The disadvantage to icons is that they often need to first be learned or referenced through copy or some other descriptive means. In this case, the more complicated concepts are best explained with both the icon and type to prevent annoying lookups.

– Mike

Valley Games' Supernova

Here, we can see the program for Valley Games’ upcoming space game, Supernova, by Oliver Harrison and Mike Roy. In this game, players use a type of income each turn to place tiles to expand their control in space and fortify held territories. Players get VPs in a number of ways – mostly related to the area in space they hold.

Card backs

For the look, I chose a very techie feel with simple high contrast iconic graphics. White is a nice scientific color which is used purposefully here. Battle cards have a diagramatic graphic feel to them which certainly separates from other space games currently being released. In this way, the strong graphic look has a nice contemporary styling. The more powerful the battle card, the larger the flagship pictured. Research cards retain this techie feel with lovely crisp icons. Card backs contrast the fronts with images, but again are high style with black and white against a colored bar.

Board with pieces. Moons and planet pieces are missing but this gives the general impression.

The board is very simple but effective. Dots are placed at the corners of all the hexes connected with subtle gray lines for definition. It's sort of a constellation look. By varying the star sizes the appearance seems more random then it is. This dot graphic then serves not only to provide atmosphere but also highlights the board’s structure. The board reminds me a little of Ingenious with its simple background, black and a bright colored symbol on the hex shaped pieces. The board fills up with pieces really quickly, so it is not of much use to focus on much detail here which could take away from the scanning. Besides this, the simple, straightforward graphic look is in line with other components and has a modern look to it.

Battle Cards, each with a unique ship diagram. Ship names to the right are simply for flavor.

Battle Cards – special weapons. There are only 3 special weapons cards with very straightforward effects. Simple enough to quickly understand and supplimented with an icon in the lower left. Some might initially complain of the text running up the side, but, as said with only 3 simple choices, it's easier to look at the icon once you know what the choices are. The vertical type then graphically supports the vertically formatted projectiles.

Players may attack an opponent’s space using battle cards (pictured above). Basically, for battles, cards are played either in suit or in different suits, adding the total (along with modifiers) to determine who gets that space. The gray cards are sort of wild (with some restrictions) and then there are 3 special cards.

Research cards. Simple technical looking icons serve to set the mood on these cards.

A few of the aliens. These will be pure flavor added to the player screens, most likely.

The player’s screens will have different aliens on them. These few are the humoids. Painted very realistically, they are crisp and clean and complement the high contrast cards and other iconic graphics.

– Mike

Valley Games' Municipium

Here, we have a cover for the new midweight Knizia game, Municipium, from Valley Games. While I enjoy the abstract nature of the previous cover version, I am very, very fond of this one as well. The previous design had roots seen in many contemporary arenas including some covers of New Yorker and a number of high style products I have seen. Here we have a softer, gentler touch with bright, friendly colors. Still retaining an abstract quality, this cover lends itself to the highly abstracted game of provincial Roman family politics.

Most of my covers in past have been quite serious to go with the heavier nature of the games, so it is nice to have something lighter here for this somewhat lighter game. In this way, I see a connection to the Big City cover, which also is abstract and fun.

– Mike

Nexus’ Battles of Napoleon

Here, you can see more following a previous post on Nexus’ first installment of their Battles of Napoleon series, The Eagle and the Lion. I was looking for a cover that felt a bit high end, so I opted for a period cloth treatment with collages of the two countries. For the typeface, I was pleased to use Firmin Didot as the main face. This font style – along with the Bodoni families had been created toward the end of the 18th century and were considered very progressive for the times. They can be distinguished by their high contrast between thick and thins which were made possible during that period by more refined metals (which allowed for greater details in forging the type) and better quality paper, which could hold the details. A secondary typeface, Sackers Gothic, while not at all period, complements the type with its very geometric forms and elegant elongated forms – offering a high end appeal. Because this will be a series of games, the title lockup with the flourishes, Napoleon head (taken from a medal he had created) and Napoleonic N will remain in other titles, but will change configuration. Each title will then have a family look but with some variety.

Incidentally, the bee motif (which you see on the cloth and above the N) has an interesting history. The golden bees which are really cicadas (not bees at all) were found in 1653 in the tomb of Childeric I, who, in 457, had founded the Merovingian dynasty. This symbol is regarded as the oldest emblem of the sovereigns of France. As such, it is a symbol of immortality and resurrection, which Napoleon had thought very appropriate.

Collaging techniques I do adore both as a point of differentiation in this market and as a device to imply lots of choices and things going on. The overwhelming cover execution in games is to reenact or picture a scene from the times. Collaging contrasts this typical execution while enhancing a level of authenticity. Generally, pictorial scenes on covers don't seem period. They certainly portray a period, but often are not painted in a style that seems of the time.

Note here the sheer size of this box, dwarfing even Roads & Boats from this view and, incidentally, from the side as well.

Above you can get a sense of the size and scale of this game – it's huge. PR and R&B are dwarfed by this box. Not pictured is a side view of the deep box which also is higher than both PR and R&B.

You can see here more of the cards from this game which include infantry, calvary and artillery units. Leaders have three levels as well – Commander in Chiefs, Commanders and Replacement Commanders. Also pictured here are event cards which display battle stats when played.

– Mike


Beautiful and meditative sci art. Definately worth a few minutes to watch the different shifts. You can see more of his work on on his blog.