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For the Love of Art

by Blog, Fives

Top 5 games Steve would buy just for the art alone

To some, board games have always been beautiful. To folks who love game design, a game like Catan or even Monopoly, might very well hold some aesthetic appeal. To others, those games may just appear bland and boring. Well, the era of bland and boring board game art seems to be at an end.  Board games are beginning to feature jaw dropping, beautiful art. Art that could be hung on gallery walls or auctioned at an art house. I am guilty of having judged a book by its cover and have bought games just for the art contained within without much of a thought for the games actual design. I have felt compelled to buy others. Read on below to see the 5 board games I want to buy based on art alone:

Feudum

I’ve had my eye Feudum for a quite aa while now. There’s something about the eternal sunset/sunrise of the gameboard with it’s rolling hills, lollipop trees and still waters that make me want to visit this place. It feels like a psychedelic version of the Super Mario World  map with a touch of the whimsy of The Yellow Submarine film. The heavy lined faces of the characters bordering the map, make me want to meet them and hear their stories. The thing is, this is a HEAVY game with intricate systems and a dense rulebook. I honestly doubt it would hit the table much and still, I’ve almost purchased this game multiple times. Award winning artist, Justin Schultz has created a world that I could stare at for hours.

evolution

Catherine Hamilton’s art on Evolution is breathtaking. Not content with just photo-realistic wildlife art, Hamilton beautifully adds a kaleidoscopic array of colors to her drawn creatures. The result is box and card art that is impossible to ignore. Images that simultaneously look familiar, yet alien. The use of colors draws the eye and begs the viewer to examine every anatomical detail of the depicted animals. I’ve yet to play this game but I am longing to add it to my collection to play and to pore over the card and component art. One of these days…

Savage Planet: The fate of Fantos

The Kickstarter for Savage Planet: The Fate of Fantos game had ended before I discovered it, but I would have undoubtedly backed it if given the chance. The illustrations by Michael LaRiccia are phenomenal! It has a dark fantasy/sci-fi feel that, while aesthetically different, puts to mind the world building and original stylings of Jack Kirby’s New Gods that blew my pre-teen brain. The game cards detail unique alien races that range from anthropomorphic crocodiles and mandrills to grotesque monstrosities and dino-riders. The art might also please my brain because it brings to mind one of my favourite musicians, Chad Van Gaalen, who also happens to animate his own music videos in a weird sci-fi style.  Again, this is a game that probably wouldn’t see a lot of play because of its three player minimum player count, but I plan to make it part of my collection because it’s so freaking cool looking.

Bargain Quest

Bargain Quest has you donning the role of a merchant in a fantasy world trying to sell your wares to hapless adventurer’s who are roaming the market streets and looking for the best gear for their upcoming quests. Just look at that cover! A first person view from the perspective of you, the merchant, gazing at three doe-eyed heroes as they peer into your shop like kids pining over a toy store window display. I already feel like tapping my fingers together like Mr. Burns as I eagerly anticipate pushing my items and goods on these strangers and I haven’t even opened the game box yet!  Victoria Ying’s artwork on this game is spectacular. According to the game’s Kickstarter page Ying is a “veteran visual development artist who you may know from films such as  Tangled, Frozen, and Big Hero 6.” And it shows. The heroes, shops, and items in this game feel like they are part of a 90’s era Disney cartoon that I wish existed! The game has a refreshing amount of gender and racial representation that just breathes more life and character into a world I can’t wait to inhabit.

Sleeping Gods

I’ve spent a bit of time in Ryan Lauket’s universe and I’m always anticipating my next visit. I’ve journeyed across the world of Near and Far, built structures and collected resources in Above and Below and have sailed the island-populated seas of Islebound. The people I have met on these adventures have been full of life and character. Men and women of all walks of life, anthropomorphic birds and hogs, mechanical droids and giant sea serpents. Laukat’s worlds are unique and veer away from the dungeons and dragons style fantasy tropes seen in countless other games. His maps and characters appear more akin to a children’s story and invoke a sense of wonder and curiosity. Sleeping Gods is slated to release in 2019 and I have enough faith in this designer and artist that I won’t sleep on it for a second, this game will be in my collection as soon as I can get it there.

Board game art is a big part of what I love about the hobby. Sure, the designs are of the utmost importance when determining a games enjoyment, but the art is what helps tell the stories. The art is what breathes life into what would otherwise just be some cardboard, paper and math. If you go on a trip to a fantastic place, I don’t want to read your itinerary, I want to see your postcards and photographs.

Picking five artists was impossibly difficult so I’ve included a handful of honorable mentions below.

Valeria: Card Kingdoms, Inis, Darwinauts, Viticulture, Scythe, Wasteland Express Delivery Service, Dinosaur Island.

About The Author

Steve

Steve Haley is a musician and high school teacher with a penchant for comic books, RPG video games and exploring the world of craft beers one (or two) bottles at a time. His favorite game mechanic is deck building and he gets a bit light headed when he is able to chain together more than three cards in a hand.