Backer Poll: The Double-Sided Game Board

28 October 2012 | 22 Comments

About a month ago, near the end of Viticulture’s Kickstarter campaign, the backers voted for the $55k stretch goal to be an alternate art version of the original game board unimpeded by labels (and with arbor card slots). The idea was that Beth, the artist behind the vineyard mats and the vast majority of the cards, had become the primary artist for the game, and we wanted at least one side of the board to be consistent with all of that other art.

Well, we received the alternative art (which followed the exact same layout as the original art so as to not confuse players when they flipped the board) from the artist and graphic designer today…and we were awestruck by how good it looks. It takes the original design to a whole new level, extending the art from edge to edge and enriching all of the colors. It looks right at home next to the vineyard mats that Beth created.

So we began to wonder…why wouldn’t we use this art for both sides of the board? Although the idea of alternative art is neat, the truth is that the two sides of the board are not otherwise equal. One side of the board will have full labels for people learning to play the game, while the other side will only have the action spaces. You’ll probably use both sides of the board with different groups of people.

Having the art consistent on both sides will also help us with future expansions. For example, one of the expansions I’m considering allows you to upgrade the various actions on the board. You would represent that by overlaying a card or tile on top of an existing action. We would use Beth’s art for that card or tile, but it wouldn’t be seamless if you were playing with the original art.

Thus we would like to propose that we use Beth’s art for both sides of the board, one with labels, one without. (As our Kickstarter backers, you would still have exclusive access to the original board in PnP form.) We will only make this change if the vast majority of you all share the same vision.

So please take a close look at the following two versions of the board as they would be if we stuck with the original plan (or the labels would be switched–one side would not have labels), and then vote to decide if you want to stick with that plan or use only Beth’s art with and without labels. The poll will close at 6:00 pm St. Louis time on Monday, as this decision affects a lot of the other design decisions we’re making.

original art front of board
Beth’s art back of board

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22 Comments on “Backer Poll: The Double-Sided Game Board

  1. Thanks for the follow-up and insight into changing the translucency. Matching components…YES and it’s the right decision. Can’t wait for the game!

    1. I didn’t check email in time, but I’m really glad this vote went to both sides. The art is functional and pleasing to the eye, which can be a lesson to all of us who work in data viz.

      Gents at Stonemaier, please keep careful track of your notes. I think you ought to work on a “how to design a game” book.

  2. I think the only major disadvantage might be losing the scroll information for new players… perhaps a card or tile, or maybe a quick reference rule book page so that while learning, table type information can be gathered at a glance.

    1. Sean–Just to clarify, the front of the board will still have the key (that side will be needed for new players since it has the labels). The back of the board would have the arbor card slots instead of the key since the only players using the back will be experienced players who know what to do at the end of the year.

  3. Also, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about the wake up track. I think it’s perfectly fine. The artwork and game mechanisms should blend and not be so distinctly different. You only have to take a look at Stone Age to understand how to blend mechanics and art beautifully.

  4. One other thing you might want to look at doing is making the card spots on the board “Translucent” so you can still see the board. I think that would go a long way to making the card slots seamlessly integrate into the board without them being so jarring within the artwork.

    1. Steve–That’s funny you should say that about the card translucence. They were translucent before, but this past weekend we changed it to the full color. The problem with the translucent cards is that they no longer look the same color, and I know that having colors match between components and the board is important.

  5. The only issue with using Beth’s art on the starter board is being able to read the information printed on the board. You might want to look at the color of your fonts and lines to make sure that they are properly highligted and not lost for those with color blindness.

  6. The only downslide is that the table at the bottom left corner is a little list among the vines. It’s more visible with the light green field as background on the original board.

    I also would like ti see all spaces numbered on the scoretrack (?) It makes moving up and down it much faster. keep the purple around 5:s and 10:s but put a smaller 2,3,4, etc everywhere else, please .-)

    1. My keyboard must sit a little to much to the right, I keep hitting “i” instaed of “o”. Of course I mean “lost” not “list” and “to” not “ti” ;-)

    2. The new version of the board is so vibrant! But I do agree that the wake up track does get a bit lost in all the colours. The brown cards would also make more sense next to the green cards. I guess there’s not quite enough room to move them to just above the wake up track?

    3. Per, Greg, and Renate–If Beth’s board wins the vote, we’ll make sure that both the wake-up track and the words on the front of the board are very visible. Either way we’re going to make the words bigger and add symbols to them so they can be understood from any angle, as well as other visual tricks to make them visible (I’m completely confident in my graphic designer’s ability to do this). The board is 16×20, so the wake-up track is quite large when viewed at full size.

  7. Jamey,

    I, too, voted for Beth’s gorgeous art on both side. Having seen an earlier preview of the back side board, the arbor cards slots (brown) seem a tad out of place. Would it be possible to have the original board layout with Beth’s art? So that all the cards spaces would be inline and the scroll with actions remains at the extreme right of the board? If yes, the brown cards spaces could be next to the green, vine cards since they are related. It would probably mean a larger board, but since it is so beautiful… :)

    1. Jure–That’s a good point about the location about the brown cards. I think both orientations have downsides (because either way, one set of cards will have to be on the right sidebar area). The downside to the current orientation is, as you said, that green and brown cards are associated with one another. The downside to moving them is that it changes the spatial understanding that you might be used to from the front side of the board.

  8. WOW…not even a question, Beth’s art brings Viticulture to life! Nothing against the original art, but Beth just elevated this game to a whole other level of artistry. Beth’s art…BOTH SIDES hands down.

  9. Text was quite easy to read on the first one, I hope it is on the second one too. However, merging card overlays is more important to me than my worry about legibility, so I voted for the new artwork.

    I was wondering though whether it is necessary to have the decks on the board? We would get more art if they were off the board.

    1. Jarrah–I did get some feedback that the font wasn’t large enough on the original, so we have plans to increase the size of the font.

      Originally the decks weren’t on the board, but we found the configuration to be helpful because of the sheer amount of drawing and discarding. We wanted it to be as clear as possible that the discard piles were visible and important to the game.

  10. I would have a printable version of the board with the labels on it. That way newbies can learn the game without interfering with the artwork.

    1. Joseph–Unfortunately this is the only version of Beth’s board that we have. If you can envision the labels, they will get in the way of the art to a certain extent–hence my vote for us to use Beth’s art on both sides so that there’s at least one side unimpeded by the labels and the other for players as they’re learning to play.

  11. Wow, Jamey – the original art was great, but the deep saturated colors really bring it to life in the new version. Not only is it prettier, but I think it will increase the speed of play by making the board clearer.

    Nice improvement.

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