War Chest Graphic Design Diary
By Brigette Indelicato, project Art Director
I’ve been working as a graphic designer for the past eight years, and on board game graphic design for the last three. Board and card games are some of my favorite graphic design projects – I really enjoy the unique challenges and creative problem-solving involved with the process. (Being an avid tabletop gamer myself also adds to the appeal!) The graphic design for a game not only needs to be attractive visually and communicate information effectively; it also needs to be intuitive to interact with, function well in three dimensions, look unique yet appealing in a marketing sense, and enhance the general experience of playing the game.
Mark Wootton, the lead developer for War Chest, contacted me looking for a graphic designer to be part of the brainstorming and production of the final graphic design for the game components, including icons, board, cards, box/packaging, and rulebook. The goal of the graphic look was to mirror the simple elegance of the game mechanics and create a sophisticated and eye-catching end product.
I created a quick mockup/inspiration board for a few of the theme ideas that had been discussed, including one for the Celtic approach:
After it was decided as our direction, I continued to amass visual research on Celtic symbols, patterns, design motifs, stone carvings, and wooden chests. I usually create a private Pinterest board for each of my design projects to keep all my inspiration and informational links in one place for easy referencing.
To bring in some of that thematic inspiration, I incorporated the “shield knot” into the game logo, box, and the back of the tokens. I also did some research about Celtic mythology to choose the Raven and the Wolf (animals associated with war deities) for the main symbols of the two opposing sides.
I created preliminary versions of the various game components, and through rounds of feedback from Mark and the AEG team, refined the designs until we had a polished end product. One of the main challenges was designing the 14 unique unit icons – they needed to be simple and clean enough that they would work well on the unit token and as an icon on the cards. I also designed the colors and icons to be different enough to be easily distinguished from one another, while still feeling like a cohesive set. Another task was refining the wood and metal textures on the cards, board, and box to make the graphics visually interesting without being overly busy.
Here’s an example of the design stages of one of the unit cards, from the early rough mockup to final card design:
It was clear early on that the game box should be designed to look like a wooden chest, which informed the card and board design as well. The box of a game is especially important since it’s the first aspect of the game a potential player interacts with and can set the tone and expectation for what’s inside. I incorporated imagery from the unit tokens and the warring factions into the carvings to bring all the elements together. Even the box went through some iteration when AEG received feedback from partners and retailers that the box could be more colorful and easier to see on a store shelf:
War Chest was a fantastic project to work on with Mark and the AEG team, and an exciting opportunity to create graphics for a really enjoyable and versatile game design. Every project is a learning experience of tackling new design challenges, and I look forward to taking the lessons I’ve learned from this to future projects!