Board of Craghold

This week I have been spending most of my design time working on The Battle for Craghold, my planned entry for the wargame design contest on BGG. I managed a solo playtest of the current version of the game and found some issues to work on, got to work on the rulebook, and made some more progress with the board.

Absolutely not final, but starting to feel like a proper game board.
So, the board is now at the level where it is substantially done, but needs more than a little tidying up, and may need significant changes based on playtest results, but it at least looks like a (rather amateurish) board that could be used for playing on.

Creating the board has been an interesting learning process, which involved a lot of points where I should have probably done something different, like doing a lot more of the work in a vector art package rather than going more or less straight to the GIMP for painting and the likes.

So, most of the work here was done with the GIMP, which is pretty much an open source analog of Photoshop.  I don't have training in using this sort of software, and the only experience I have is for very basic work, so using a big, powerful tool for a pretty big project was a bit daunting.  Recent experience, though, has taught me that building a project in a series of layers is really effective and allows for a lot of flexibility, so I went all-in on this. So the grassy background is one layer, the hex grid is another, the city walls yet another, and so on. Then I can tweak the composite image with comparative ease, upgrading and replacing elements whenever I need to, for instance. A side benefit of this is that I can easily make two versions of the map: the one pictured above, and one without the green grass or the grey city background, which would thus be much more printer-friendly, with just a few clicks.

This board is nearly A2 size (it's about 54cm x 34cm), so needs to be broken down to print on A4 sheets, partly because the contest rules demand that you mustn't need to print anything larger than A4 or US letter size, but mainly because I can't print larger than that myself and there's no point me designing prototype components that I can't use.  This was a bit of a challenge until I found a handy tool that works on my Linux computer: PosteRazor, which can take an image file (I exported my working image as a jpeg) and output it as a set of PDFs with configurable borders and overlaps between the tiles.

So far I have been slack at writing up a rulebook for this game.  Even in the early stages, with rules constantly in flux, writing down rules can be very helpful.  You can always change things as you go, and depending on the tool you use for writing rules (I use Google Docs for working documents) you may have a versioning system built in, so it can be easy to roll back to earlier versions.  Up until now my written rules have just been a list of combat factors (you get bonus dice in combat for these reasons...), so I have started working on turning this into a full draft of the rules. Still a lot to do there, but it's now high on my priorities.

The other priority I have is a relatively straightforward reworking of the unit tokens, adjusting the quantities of some of them and adding a "leader" unit for each side in the battle, which will link in to most of the "special power" actions that I am starting to introduce. More on those another day...

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