Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)
Since remote gaming has now become a significant part of how we play board games, we have added a short cut to this forum in the menu on the left.
The Importance of Visual Appeal in Board Games
As many of you probably already know, I'm a very visual person. So it's no surprise that I am drawn in by great board game art, sculpts, luxurious components and overall visual appeal. Don't get me wrong, visual appeal alone doesn't make me want to buy a game, but when good gameplay and great art come together, a game really zings for me.
Given that many modern games are purchased and played perhaps two or three times prior to retirement I think a lot of collectors are focused on the visual appeal more than the gameplay. I suppose this is true of all products, not just board games.
That's fine, because there's plenty to choose from. But the art of Scythe was being fawned over long before Scythe was available to any customer. It was (and in my opinion still is) a major part of the purchase decision, perhaps the biggest part.
Given that Scythe is a critically acclaimed game it can get away with it. But I've played more than a few turds with a high-gloss lacquer applied. That's how sales and marketing works, I suppose.
When Summoner Wars was released originally, it came with a white and black paper mat which Robert Florence (I believe) compared to a 16 year old's bed sheet... in an otherwise glowingly positive review!
The same artist came back for Mice and Mystics, but people seem to like his anthropomorphic creations more than his humanoids. The modular board for that game were all nicely illustrated, and that game took off even harder, despite likely being a less solid game mechanically.
I don't think Dead of Winter (or Ashes) would have been nearly as popular without Fernanda Suarez's illustrations.
And I do exactly like Oliver describes - the box front draws me in and then the display of the game setup on the back will get me reading the rules and any reviews I can find.
There are some exceptions to that, C&C: Ancients, where I like the system. Since I cut my teeth on AH games, hex and counter games get a romanticized pass.
Plus I'm a Libra/Virgo cusp and we like pretty things. LOL
I've seen games that fail at all of these because it doesn't look like they ever took the final product and demoed it for real. I especially dislike it when important game text is put in some gothic script, printed in a tiny 6 point font, and then thematically written on aged parchment splattered with blood for the thematic presentation. Hey man, I gotta actually READ that stuff!!
This is probably an aside from art design, but layout itself is critical. I hate it when there isn't a flow to the layout. This is particularly important with cards or tokens covered in stats. List the stats in an order than makes it easy to see what they are and when they are used. Arkham Horror 2ed was the worst for this, the cards were covered in numbers and symbols but it was an almost random distribution across the card, making it hard to know which numbers were used for what. Wargames have a similar problem when the token is littered with numbers.
Symbology is another side tangent. I know publishers want language universal game components but I think I'd rather learn some french or german for a game than try to deal with arcane symbols replacing what could just be a few simple words.
Andi Lennon wrote: ... on the strength of the art alone. Escape the Dark Castle, Sea Evil and Dungeon Degenerates initially sang to me for the same reasons. These are perhaps outliers but hit me with a singular vision that speaks to me ....
Picked up EtDC and DD after being attracted for the same reason, hopefully that's a niche part of gaming that can be supported and stay.