Art in board games has come along way since the days of your youth spent playing Uno, Sorry and even the old standby Monopoly. It’s even been over 20 since the release of the tabletop game changer Settlers of Catan. In those years that have passed board games have evolved tremendously.
I’ve been heavily involved in tabletop gaming since 2004, the summer I discovered Settlers of Catan and subsequently spent the rest of the summer playing the breakout Euro game for the rest or the summer. In those past 13 years the production quality of hobby board games has increased in all aspects giving us highly produced components including highly detailed miniatures, laser cute wooden tokens (Meeples) and layered player mats.
Luck based “roll and move” games and four-hour player elimination (ie: Risk) have been replaced with shorter, strategic (low luck) and innovative victory point based games. Instead of cardboard chits or plastic bits, wooden components were favoured. A lot of these games are referred to as Euro games, made popular by Catan, Ticket to Ride among others and coming primarily from European designers and publishers.
The American designers and publishers also evolved into a genre referred to affectionately as Ameritrash. These games are known for having a heavily incorporated theme, detailed miniatures, dice.
It’s not only the game mechanics, themes and components that have evolved, it’s also the art and design featured in these games that has progressed by leaps and bounds.
The first game I will take about in this new ongoing series is Scythe. Published by Stonemaier Games, designed by Jamey Stegmaier and featuring art by world building art of Jakub Rozalski.
Most people involved in hobby board gaming will if not have played Scythe, have heard about the game. Two years ago, Jamey Stegmaier raised 1.8 million dollars on Kickstarter to fund his then latest game. Scythe was inspired by Stegmaier coming across Rozalski’s art on the website Kotaku. Images of a post-WWI Eastern European world populated by both serfs and mechs drove Stegmaier to contact Rozalski and proposition the creation of a tabletop board game based in the world created in his digital paintings.
The art was a mix of classic European pastoral painting mixed with new world fantasy and the game Stegmaier created was also a mix of Euro and Ameritrash game. Wooden cubes and meeples, no dice, quick turns coupled with cool plastic minis, factions and dripping in theme.
This is one of the few, if only board game, that’s had an art book released along side. Here are a few of Rozalski’s pieces featured in the game.