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aaj's Graphic Design Adventures
Andrew
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Recently I've really gotten into expanding my games with content that I've created or designed myself, whether that's a retheme, an expansion, or even a totally new game. Below are some of the things I've created and that currently reside in my game collection.

Take a look, leave a thumb -- thanks for dropping by!

My other craft geeklists:
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aaj's Graphic Design Adventures
aaj's PNP adventures
aaj's Makerspace Adventures
aaj's Foamcore Adventures
aaj's GeekElite Box Adventures
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1. Board Game: Smash Up [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:670] [Average Rating:6.82 Unranked]
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This was my first foray into PnP and fan-made expansion content. I first fell in love with SmashUp and owe my boardgaming hobby almost entirely to it. I've created several decks, some of which I helped design the mechanics for, others of which I only did the card design for. Though I no longer own any of these, the files are still here for you to take advantage of

Warrior Monks - find your center with a sword in your hand.
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Download the Print'n'Play
Download the .PSD file
Read the project thread

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MatEffect's description: "The Warrior Monks thrive on playing extra actions and gaining power on their minions. They also have some powerful cards that will let them wreak havoc and destruction." Very solid faction, great and balanced. Highly recommended. I enjoyed it so much I did a design for them.




The Merfolk - unlock the mysteries of the deep
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Download the .PSD file
Read the project thread

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Description: "No one knows the oceans more intimately than the Merfolk. These mysterious beings manipulate their own power levels to score bases, making them worthy of careful attention." Loved these guys, my first design (collaboration with anomia1, design original).




Silvan Elves - masters of forests and glades
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Download the .PSD file
Read the project thread

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"Distance is nothing to the shadowy Silvan. Masters of the ranged attack, this faction concentrates on adjacent bases, troubling their enemies with damging volleys from afar." Loved these MtG-inspired elves, a different take on ranged attacks with adjacent bases. Highly recommended.


Chessmen - forward! back! move once more!
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Read the project thread

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Vespert's description: "A mobile faction with some abilities that trigger when they are moved. A few risky cards that reward base winners (hopefully you)." I found these thematically very interesting (a spin-off of Pirates is the best way I have to describe them) and just had to design the visuals for them.






Gunslingers - it's the Wild, Wild West out there, bud
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Read the project thread

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Desocupado Description: "Theme: Wild west. Bounties. Quick Draw.
Gimmick: Destroying minions unless the owner discard a card. Bounties (draw when destroy opponent)."
Loved the gunslingers and loved adapting Doomtown artwork to the new card designs. Strong and well-balanced, I appreciate them a great deal.




Hackers - uplink initiated
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Download the .PSD file
Read the project thread

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Desocupado Description: "Theme: Influence bases and sabotage other player resources (non-random discard)
Gimmick: Steal actions. Cause Discard."
I love the hackers. I love how they manipulate bases and have great actions for anything, similar to a hacker's toolkit. Fantastic deck, and I loved how the Android Netrunner art looks on the cards.




Mobsters - make 'em pay!
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Read the project thread

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I love how they extort VP from other players -- they're incredibly good for the theme and they're kind of a souped-up version of the Bears/lite version of the Steampunk. I love it, quickly becoming one of my favorite decks. I redid jawadam's original artwork to print a little bit lighter and cleaner.




Deck Stats - faction cards for SmashUp
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Download the .PSD file

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Disclaimer: I designed several of these factions, but what stands out to me about them is the fit and finish of the mechanics, as well as the professional-quality artwork.

I'd recommend the Custom Faction Artwork Instructions thread for instructions on printing and some good card backs to use for PrinterStudio. You can download the base back here, the normal card back here (this one is an exact color match), and the stat card back here. Enjoy!
 
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2. Board Game: Sheriff of Nottingham [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:260]
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Sheriff of Nottingham - fan-made 6th player expansion
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We love Sheriff of Nottingham, but always felt a lack of a sixth player to make this party game not so much of a party. So we built a fan-made expansion to mitigate this!


Now, play does take longer since you will have an additional player to be the Sheriff twice. If you're ok with that, the game works well. Here's how we balanced the game:

- New good type -- Potatoes are worth one gold, with a 30 gold bounty for having the most of them. They are balanced by a contraband, Coffee, which is worth 9 gold, just as a crossbow. Of course, a few potato-related royal goods snuck in there as well!



A comparison with official cards. Other than a very, very slight size difference and a bit of color difference on the front (the back is perfect), these look just like the real thing!



There is a lot more Potato than Coffee in the expansion, so that players' hands aren't choked with contraband. When I buy some sticker sheets, I'm going to add the potato good type to each marketplace, and stick a sticker on the backside of each marketplace so that you can flip your board depending on if you're playing with <6 or 6.


We also developed an orange player to be the sixth player.

Update: The Merry Men expansion looks to solve this problem much better than I ever could with the extra materials, so I'm going to be phasing these files out. I was never happy with how long it took to play with 6, using our method.
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3. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:154]
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Glory to Rome - Rome demands print'n'play!
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Ever since I saw Heiko's design I knew I had to have this game. Now I have it, and it's turned out to be one of my top-rated games, besides -- totally worth the effort of producing it!

Starting with the 96dpi proofs available in the files page, I blew up those to three times their size (print resolution) and redrew everything by hand. Updated coin graphics, the original font, redrawn card illustrations, and the result is a game that's nearly (nearly) indistinguishable from a real black box -- and at a third of the cost!

Here's how some of the cards look. Everything is redrawn to be crisp and clean.


I made two types of Jacks:


Even the backs look sexy!




I also got new player boards printed at The Game Crafter which work a treat. They are based on Heiko's design but required redrawing and a new layout to accommodate the longer, narrower box.


A redrawn (and entirely colorized) new logo for the game box.

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4. Board Game: Mille Bornes [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:6658]
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Mil Milhas - a retheme of Mille Bornes
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I discovered a secret, beautiful edition of Mille Bornes that is long defunct. A few images have been uploaded in the images section of the game, and from that I decided to reconstruct this beautiful version:
-->


Apparently this is a 1964 'special' edition of the game that has never been rereleased. I totally fell in love with the modern illustrations and knew that I just had to redraw them and create my own set. Thus, Mil Milhas was born. It features the same illustrations, but totally redrawn from scratch and recolored to be more consistent.



Hazards are red and yellow and remedies are blue and green


The rules from the Parker Brothers edition were an absolute mess, so I completely rewrote them, and added a few tweaks and variants that have been suggested here on BGG. I think these are the best rules to ever be released for Mille Bornes -- if only because they read like actual English. Plus, you can always play without the variants.


I tweaked the original French and turned it to Portuguese. My family grew up in Brazil so I have a soft spot for Portuguese and it made it more personal than the traditional French. When I upload these to BGG, however, I think I will have both as an option since I know Portuguese isn't special to anyone else.


In most cases I kept very close to the original images, only altering coloring and a few curves to keep things neat and tidy. I did change the mile cards significantly -- I know the curves are supposed to represent literal mile stones, but I wanted to do something different on the 200 to set it apart. In general, the game is colored so that red/yellow = bad (e.g. the 25 and 50 miles cards) and blue/green = good (the 75 and 100 mile cards) in addition to the hazards/remedies. I also slipped in some green and yellow on the best cards (200, and the safeties) as a bit of an homage to Brazil.


So yes, definitely inspired by the original (heavily) but also my own spin on it, I think. In addition to restoring these cards, I ordered a custom tuck box, which is low-quality but adequate. The Game Crafter produced some nice cards, though I don't think I'll order tuck boxes from them again. Still going to see if maybe I can craft a small box for this one that's nicer than the tuck box.

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Read the project thread

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5. Board Game: Two Rooms and a Boom [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:773]
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7 Noyabrya 1918 - a retheme of Two Rooms and a Boom
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Download the .PSD file
Read the project thread

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Two Rooms and a Boom is a fun little party game that is a step above Werewolf and Mafia and a pretty fun thing to do when you've got twenty people around. I got bored of the generic factions pretty quickly, and wanted something with a little more bite. My unlikely pick: the Russian Civil War.




Instead of 'red' and 'blue', we now have the Red Army and the White Army. Characters are historical figures that play their roles -- the president now becomes the Tsar, and the bomber is now Lenin himself. Plus, the cards look gorgeous.


Color-sharing is accomplished by the small strip on the top, and is now faction sharing.


We even replicated the infamous, game-breaking zombies: this time as the fearsome Basmachi that were free agent guerilla fighters in Central Asia during the war.

The card back is taken from an old Russian poster and looks amazing (redrawn title)


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6. Board Game: Serica: Plains of Dust [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:10333]
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Serica Refresh - a small coat of paint for Todd Sander's gem
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Todd Sanders is a prolific designer of gorgeous games, and the latest one to grab me was Serica: Plains of Dust. This is an asymmetrical 2-player game that takes place along the Silk Road, simulating the trade routes of the Roman and Han Empires. Todd did an amazing job with the board and cards and I just had to craft this game.


Board image and finished board. To fit in my box I permanently cut it into three segments.

However, I'm a little bit of a stickler for graphic design, so I slightly refreshed the board and cards to use fewer gradients/shadows, and align with more of a flat look and feel. Layout and the game itself is still Todd's design in whole, and he deserves all the credit: this is just a slight refresh.



Will add live shots when I've crafted the game. Right now everything looks like this:



Update: the finished game:

Custom box. I didn't bother with the wrap, but just did the faces of the box. I don't mind how it looks, but probably wouldn't do it again. I only did so because I happened to have a nice black box on hand.

The board fits on top of the card/cube area, with the discs still showing on the left.

Unboxing. Eventually I will paint the discs on the left in red and yellow, for now we just pillage eurocubes from another game.

My foamcore divider and the cubes I used. The cards are 4x2 folded over and glued/sleeved -- I think they're high enough quality that I could probably unsleeve them once I round them with my corner rounder (arriving soon).

You can download the game using these links, and get everything else you need from the official files on the game page. In addition, you'll need some cubes of various colors.

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7. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:137]
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For Christmas, I made my father-in-law a card game version of Ra. We both really enjoy this Knizia auction game, so I wanted to try it with a sci-fi retheme. I ordered his cards at PrinterStudio and did my own as Print'n'Plays, so the images are a mix of both our sets.

Currently the files are about 80% of what I'd like them to be and I might update a few cards that printed too dark overall.

We all know how important wooden voting tiles are

By contrast, my father-in-law's set has voting cards. I think for portability this might end up being a better solution.

Central tile for the Ra tracker, and player aids to help with scoring.

 Eclipse cards replace Ra tiles.

Planet cards replace the civilizations -- these came out fine, but too dark in my PNP set.

Extraction, discovery, and credit cards replace gods, pharaohs, and coins respectively. There are no coins in the retheme, you just keep score on a piece of paper.

Spaceport and launch cards replace the Nile/flood tiles of the original.

 City cards are the new monuments. These lack a mark denoting they stick around, but my PNP has a small X in the top left corner.

All of the cards in my father-in-law's set. Obviously, my PNP is not as vivid nor polished.

I'm probably 80% happy with the game as it is. I need to make a custom box for it, and eventually I want to find coins that I can use for it. I will also continue to tweak the design of various cards, and print off new versions as I need to. Some cards printed with messed up colors (making it hard to read the label) and I'm not happy with the persistence symbol (it's just a simple X at the moment). Longer-term, I'm not convinced it makes thematic sense to have the cities be persistent and the planets go away every round, but such is life. I'll also eventually type up rethemed rules for this version as well -- like most of my projects, it's an eternal WIP.

A
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8. Board Game: Snooker Solitaire [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
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I fell in love with Mark Tuck's incredible solo game, but I wanted to give the game a slight coat of paint -- I like to feel ownership over the games I craft Basically all I did was swap in a different felt texture (in the background) and add some photo-realistic balls as they were more to my liking. I also backed his cue cards on chipboard and bought some metal dice to complete the package. GeekElite box coming for this sucker soon. . .







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9. Board Game: SNCF: Germany Expansion [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
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Custom Paris Connection Maps - Some redrawn SNCF maps
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Paris Connection is a great (if eccentric) hidden information game that scratches the same itch that Acquire does for me. I was intrigued by the SNCF expansion maps that were never printed for Paris Connection. Instead, I tracked down a pnp file of the Germany expansion and reskinned it to match Paris Connection.

I do really like the look of Paris connection (at least compared to the bland nothingness of SNBC) so I spent far too much time replicating it, which involved making a map, drawing a hex grid, and placing all the cities. Ugh! But the end result promises to be nice -- just need to find a cheap thrift store board to mount it on now. . .


The original look, for comparison.


Base Paris map, for comparison. We will still need to use the value tracker on this map.


Printed out


Base file (not print res -- the JPG is 24mb and 6500 pixels long :shock: ) Borders didn't match up as well as I'd hoped, but I didn't want to tinker with the map for fear of affecting game balance.

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10. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2717]
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I made up a big box of solo games that has 5 or 6 games -- my entire collection of solo-only card games. I need to whip up a proper foamcore divider for this, but I'm pretty happy with the job it's doing right now. I also need to print a cover image that includes elements from all the games inside:



My WIP Shooting Party redo:
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11. Board Game: Two Rooms and a Boom [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:773]
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7 Noyabrya 1918 (2017 edition) - a retheme of Two Rooms and a Boom
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Download the JPG Print'n'Play Files
Download the PDF Print'n'Play Files
Download the .PSD file
Read the project thread

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I updated my original retheme of 2 Rooms and a Boom with clearer cards, a new design based on gorgeous colorized photographs, and a slightly different subset of role cards from the original game:

One of the things I did poorly in my original design was keep the legibility of the roles. For this redesign, I reversed the size of Russian/English text (since most people want the English first) and found a typeface that looks legible and beautiful in both languages. I also increased the overall size of the role description to make it easier to understand.

The second problem the original design had was that color-sharing was difficult and fiddly, and the icons denoting teams were not big enough. Now, everyone has a much larger icon, and the space of the card identifying your team is big enough that you can color-share without giving your card away.

I'm happy with the result:



a selection of cards to give an overall idea of look/feel:







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Download the JPG Print'n'Play Files
Download the PDF Print'n'Play Files
Download the .PSD file
Read the project thread

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12. Board Game: Ethnos [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:227]
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The Chronicles of Narnia (Ethnos) - For Aslan!
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The germ of an idea...but from such germs come complete projects. I love Ethnos, can't stand the generic, boring theme. Even in such a lightly-themed game as this, a theme that has a little more meat to it increases my enjoyment. How about...Narnia?



This boosts the theme just enough for me -- dragons become white witches, there are already enough analogues between the generic fantasy races and the ones found in Narnia, and you get to play on an actual map instead of a ripped-off map of the Czech Republic shake Much more coming soon, would love to see this one through to the finish.
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13. Board Game: Elevenses for One [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:5499]
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I have wanted to make something out of Galaxy Saga (a defunct mobile game) for a long time as they have some pretty cool artwork. Granted, a lot of it is gratuitous (and NSFW), but there are some awesome mechs and such hidden amongst the rest.

WELCOME GALACTIC HOPEFUL!
You are a young urchin on Terra Prime, hoping to snag a place on a space flight to Coros IV, where the government is offering free claims of land to anyone who shows up.

The only problem is, you don’t have any money. A harried space pilot gives you a final chance: if you can sort and arrange his remaining ten passengers, he’ll give you passage to Coros.

But these passengers don’t like each other - and some of them have guns. Big guns. Good luck!

I present:

AKA, the quest to reach Coros IV (without paying any money) - the abridged edition


For the most part, the retheme is pretty seamless. Cards become passengers, and they are waiting in line to board the ship. You must rearrange them into the proper order before the captain will allow you to stow away in a random corner. I'll admit, it's not quite as themed as the original, but it's good enough for my liking


I also had a lot of fun getting together a rulebook with thematic 'snippets' set up like video game cutscene text. I wanted to pull from an 8-bit sort of feel, so the whole thing has a pixelated look to it. The artwork is posterized to only 8 colors per card, with some pixellating added for good measure.


A twelve-card game is a really easy one to retheme I also love the way all the cards look together.


I used a linen paper folded over twice. This makes it still pretty thin, but good enough when it's sleeved. Plus, we're only talking twelve cards so shuffling is not really a pain. If I could do it again, I'd use linen cardstock.
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14. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:520]
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I've been working on a redesign for Spyrium on and off. I've finished most pieces but have yet to finalize everything. Mostly, the action cards still need to be done!


Wanted to offload the useless main board to a personal player board. This keeps track of everything but victory points. Residence track and passing from round one to round two are now handled on each person's board. I'm thinking of making a main board that includes space for the events, score track, and a place to deal the nine action cards. I'm also considering mini cards for the actions since they don't need to be shuffled except at the beginning and it would save space for sure.


Event cards
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