Apr 7, 2017

Nevera Wars Card Design Decisions

I am very proud to show the final design for the cards for Nevera Wars, my necromancer themed deck construction game. Layout by Scott Nicely and Illustrations by Matheus Graef. I'm going to spend some time talking about some of the design decisions on the cards and the reasons behind them. If you want to hear me speak about art you can also check out this presentation I gave in March 2017 at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment with advice on working with freelance artists.

The vast majority of the illustrations for Nevera Wars are of bipedal creatures who are taller than they are wide, and so it made sense to me to have tall illustrations that go almost the whole height of the card, instead of the more traditional short and fat illustrations. I always wanted the illustrations to be a big area of engagement for the game, and so I wanted to give a great deal of space for them to breathe. I wanted the illustrations to do a lot of world-building for Nevera and I believe I have struck a good balance with how much of the card they take to do that.

The abilities of each minion are aligned on the left of the card so that when the cards in the player's hand are fanned out, all of the abilities will be visible to the player. Each minion has four abilities to give the player a range of options for their turn, but also to ensure that all cards are competitive.
The order of the abilities is generally a physical attack, a magical attack, a buff, and a debuff. This means the players will generally be focused on the top two abilities and will check out the bottom two when they need a strategic option.

Each ability has a title, which is not necessary for every game, however for Nevera wars all the minions take their abilities from a common pool of abilities. This means that players can gain familiarity with abilities over time by associating them with their names and gives an extra thematic boost to the minions and what they are capable of.

There are very few icons used to support the ability text, a total of four to be exact. Plus two other icons on the card to denote specific information. With four abilities on each card it was important for the learning curve of players that very few icons exist within the game to take the pressure off of the player's memory.

The simplicity of the icons was also very important, that they be easy to see and be black and white. Partly so they do not overpower the illustration, but also so that players with sight challenges can easily determine them. The icons utilized resources from the wonderful websitegame-icons.net and were chosen to be as intuitive as possible. Icons are an element where it is completely okay to be unoriginal in service to their purpose.

The messy outer border was chosen to add to the necromantic theme, and also to make small printing edge errors less noticeable. The color of the border also indicates the type of minion. There is no green border as that would appear too conflicting with the necromantic theme.

The semi-opaque backing to the abilities allows the text to be read easily but also to showcase more of the illustration, sometimes with some fun world-building or setting features.  When getting caught up in the excitement of illustrations it is sometimes easy to forget that the information is the most important element of the card, and that needs to be the highest priority on the card.

Want tips and advice when working with freelance artists? Check out my presentation here. 

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