Post By timallen
The Lost Cause
Boy, its been some time since I posted anything here about boardgame maps! I will start by describing an interesting (and still ongoing) project).
Waaay back in 2009 Victory Point Games asked me to make up an 11x17 map for a game they were beta-testing called "The Lost Cause". It was a solitaire game that used various tracks on the game-board to show the movement of different armies during the US Civil War. I made up a map and the as far as I know it sold moderately well for them. But I was never very happy with how the map turned out. It had huge amounts of info crammed onto it and the result was not pretty. Here is what it looked like-
Really, its a bit of a mess.
Last year Alan at VPG told me they were looking at releasing a second edition of the game, and asked me to look at re-working the map and expanding it to 22x17 (in other words, two 11x17 sheets). I was only too happy to do it, as the original just seemed so cramped. The old one just had too much on it, and had too much going on. It was actually hard to tell you were even on a map. So I decided to go back to square one and start again, but with a bigger canvas and 3 more years experience with Photoshop. The results are what you see here; a map were you can actually See the map, and recognize the areas you are fighting over. The little images in the boxes I found on the pages of a Civil War paper called "Harper's Weekly", all of which are online. I tried to find an original image for each box, but towards the end I was getting a bit tired and just ended up duplicating some. I figured the project was not final yet so I had time to fix it up.
I really like the overall look of this map now. Hopefully it will be published in the next year or so, although I have not heard back on the project in some time. I assume its gotten pushed onto the VPG back burner.
Okay, so. I'm not so pro at the map thing, but I do love board games. So I'll just tell you the random drivel in my head, because there's nothing I love better than rambling!
The first (smaller) map:
My first glance at the *thumbnail* of the first map was "Ooo that looks fun". My first look at the map itself was "Ohh, that looks confusing."
The 3 tracks looked interesting, but the board WAS too crowded. I, personally, like the little tidbits of information, but it *felt* like a kids' game and *looked* too complicated for most adults. I don't know if that makes sense.
I got the feeling that this was something I would see and immediately buy for a class of grade-schoolers/middle-schoolers and it would then frustrate them and sit on the shelf for years - untouched.
For civil war buffs or conquest game enthusiasts - I don't *feel* like it would sell super well, but it would sell, and those who got it would love it.
The second (larger) map:
My first thought on seeing the *thumbnail* of this larger map was: "That looks accurate." My first thought on seeing the actual map was "This looks *interesting*."
It's a lot clearer, and probably more accurate/realistic. I can actually see the map. I did wonder, what happened to the other 2 tracks. The game looks less complicated, but not immediately clear. I would still need to read the instructions to have any idea what to do with this.
It looks more like a map than a game.
However, I got the general feeling that once I understood it, it would be fun, and relatively uncomplicated.
I felt like this is something a *school* would order, the kids would groan about it, but enjoy it once they started playing it.
For civil war buffs/conquest game enthusiasts - I feel like they'd be quick to buy it, but complain that there wasn't more... idk... trivia/challenge/something. People complain about everything.
I feel like the 2nd, larger map is really great. It's a vast improvement, and I kind of want to play the game ...I do feel that if there were a way to put the other tracks back in without crowding, or to add little factoids (either with the icons, or on cards, or around the game as a border, something...) that would make it feel complete.
That being said... I don't think there was anything terribly wrong with the first map. If it had been larger, that would have fixed nearly anything that could have been wrong with it. I'm not sure why (other than size/crowding) you were dissatisfied.
Obviously the first WAS released, and found its' market... enough so that they want a second edition. Congrats!
The key to a second *anything* is finding a new market - without losing your original market.
I can see this as a second edition to the first game. It would appeal to a different crowd of people, and it would probably sell to those who loved the first.
However, since you've not *added* much, (except the new design/icons which are much more appealing; but these will be seen by Joe Ordinary as "changes" not "additions") and you've lost some of the tracks and whatnot, you'll have those consumers of the first edition who are going to cry "NERFED!". Of course those people cry about everything. So... if it was me, I'd put the tracks back in and add some trivia-type information somewhere, and be content. Of course, it's not me... it's you and your client.
Since both maps are lovely and the game is sucessful, I'd say if you're both happy with it, you're good even without anything else.
I really hope your client gets back in touch with you! Best of Luck~
Doh! that was Not the image I meant to post. This one was. The one with the missing tracks is an earlier version.
Yes this would not be a game for your casual gamer. VPG publishes mostly small board war-games. They cater to those of use who like heavy strategy games that take hours to play and usually have a multitude of rules. Not everyone's cuppa tea. In fact its pretty much a niche market.
Ohhhh that makes a lot more sense!!
This is pretty perfect Ignore everything I said above
For those interested, here is the next evolution of the map. The name of the game has now changed to Damned Yankees. The designer/developer asked me to use rail lines and rivers to connect the boxes as he felt it was an important visual cue. I am not convinced it looks better, but he is the boss!
I have been playing the first version of Lost Cause and indeed I found that I could have been more immersed with a 'better' material. It was very functionnal, but didn't really give me the impression of having to deal with the Civil War. I like everything much more in the second map, the colours, the general view of the states. I am just wondering 2 things :
- whether the illustration of each area don't make it a bit heavy or a bit 'messy' (english isn't my mother language, sorry if I am not choosing the best words)?
- whether it's not a bit too colorful for a historical game?
Those are just questions, I don't really know. Anyway, it's a beautiful work!