Most Unappealing Gameboards
Tomas Lundin
Sweden
Åtvidaberg
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I'm sure many of us have felt an interest in a particular game, checked it out - only to be faced with a really unappealing and plain ugly board (and this may well have been discussed a dozen times before). And I'm sure that has stopped quite a few of us from getting the game. I mean speaking of components, the board must be the most important one: the very arena of the game. What examples of unappealing gameboards spring to mind? Let's hear it. Note: It's not the point here to put down particular graphic designers. We may also be talking really good games. But isn't it a shame - for any game - to have it's potential hindered by an awful-looking board?

I'll start with two examples. Highly subjective.
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1. Board Game: Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:511]
Tomas Lundin
Sweden
Åtvidaberg
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This board doesn't do it for me. The board looks a bit, I don't know, flowing in a childish, weightless kind of way (almost like in Sumeria. In play, it all becomes to colorful and kids-gamey. Shame, since it's a good game and the board's underlying topography is really nice.
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2. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:310]
Tomas Lundin
Sweden
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Coincidence that we're in India here too. But this board is just too watercolor fluffy and set-up, board and component colors just clash. What's up with the score-track color? Good game, but this board simply hurts the game experience. soblue
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3. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:323]
Gabe Covert
United States
Lexington
KY
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I immediately thought of this when I saw the geeklist title...

This is a great game... really fun, but my GAWD, that board is hideous. It truly looks like a prototype board to me...

ninja
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4. Board Game: Tobruk: Tank Battles in North Africa 1942 [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3597]
 

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The sand is a nice pumpkin tone.... and the entire mapboard is smeared with it.
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5. Board Game: Santiago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:526]
Phil Alberg
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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The board is very bland, but that's OK as the point is to fill it up with plantations. The game is fantastic!
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6. Board Game: Hansa [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:710]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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The board is just so drab that I had little interest in it. I only played it because it was a Play to Win game at a con. I'm glad I did because there's a fantastic game in there. (And I won that copy to boot.)
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7. Board Game: Web of Power [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:516]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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What a strange and unappealing mix of colors that board has, though now I prefer it over the color saturated eye strainer that is China. (Still some of the best 20-minute 5-player fillers I've played.)
 
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8. Board Game: Beowulf: The Legend [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1847]
Randall Bart
United States
Winnetka
California
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The board is L-shaped and the path is winding to hide the fact that you are going on a single path with no choices. At least The Game of Life has two forks in the road.
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9. Board Game: Magna Grecia [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:2273]
Chris Bailey
United States
Broomfield
Colorado
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This board always bothered me. Too brown.
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10. Board Game: Clever Endeavor [Average Rating:5.28 Overall Rank:14172]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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I picked this up at a thrift shop a while ago, mostly so I could gaffle the piecepack-style triangular pawns. The board is ugly in that "only someone in the 70s could have thought this looked any good" sort of way (despite the game being put out in 1989).
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11. Board Game: Sorcerer [Average Rating:5.45 Overall Rank:13790]
Kent Reuber
United States
San Mateo
California
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Magic is so psychedelic!
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12. Board Game: Keythedral [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:687]
Patrick Hanley
Canada
Dorval
Quebec
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Yeccch!
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13. Board Game: Necromancer [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:10202]
That is not Depeche but rather
United States
Grandville
Michigan
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This is a two for one deal. The first edition had the map shown to the left. Several shades of blue. Yay.

The second edition presented us with this map:


Though more accurate colorwise I suppose, still pretty drab.
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14. Board Game: Air Force [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3170]
Tim Mirkes
United States
La Crosse
Wisconsin
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So, are we fighting over water? Is the battle being viewed from the ground?

I suppose it makes for maximum flexibility to have a bland, hex mapped sheet for your board when the game can have widely varying objectives from one play to another. Still, would some clouds have been too much to ask?
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15. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:230]
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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I'm serious. Looks like a screenshot from a generic RTS game. Washed out, bland, drab, indistinct. Like a painting in the background that you're not actually meant to look at. Ditto Stone Age and A Castle for All Seasons

I prefer to the graphic design in Glory to Rome.
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16. Board Game: Firepower [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:4426]
Bob Roberts

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I loved this game's predecessor Close Assault, but the colors used on the map, and the general amoeba appearance of the contour lines left me cold here. I ended up using the charts and rules but playing with miniatures on 3d terrain.
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17. Board Game: Utopia [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2787]
Sean Victor
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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I love great bits and artistic boards; Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorites. But here the pieces are at odds with the board. The board isn't big enough, or the plastic pieces are too big, or the cardboard tokens are too small, or there are too many unnecessary details on the board that make everything difficult to see at a glance. I struggled through a four-player of this once, trying to make things fit, squinting to see what tokens were where. By the end of the game it just became a cluttered mess. There is a playable game here (not great but playable), but not with this board. I traded it away after that single play. Don't think I've ever been as frustrated with a game solely because of aesthetic choices.
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18. Board Game: Metropolys [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:643]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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The poster child for great gmes with hideous boards. Do not play this with epileptics, or people prone to headaches and/or nausea.

Why such gorgeous box art, and this monstrosity inside? Not only ugly, but murky to the point of impeding the play of several experienced game players I know.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Metropolys is the best board game of 2008. But unless they reprint it with a clearer board, I won't play again.
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19. Board Game: D-Day [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:11557]
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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The friend who bought this game in 1971 or so half apologized for the board but then said he liked it because it was "functional." It is that, I guess. Maybe I'm just not minimalist enough to appreciate it.

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20. Board Game: Hermagor [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1127]
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Such a great game but, man!!!, is this one ugly... DIGUSTING!!!

I really love the game, buut I can't stand looking at the artwork. The worst of many bad artworks Czarne did... I just can stand two games that he did the artwork for: Planet Steam and Rise of Empires...
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21. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:442]

Eugene
Oregon
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Two different editions of Medici vie for most unappealing:



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22. Board Game: Il Principe [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2203]
 
Eric Knauer
United States
Heathrow
Florida
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Completely uninspired and adding insult to injury, the crappy little board warps.

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23. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:117]
Glenn Ironhat
United States
Syracuse
Utah
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Someone has to say it.

Functional? Sure. Pretty, No. And it could have been nicer.
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24. Board Game: Olympica [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:8463]
Rob Rob
United States
Tampa
Florida
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Black magic marker on orange hex paper... yum. gulp
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25. Board Game: Sniper! (first edition) [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:5489]
Rob Rob
United States
Tampa
Florida
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Man to man urban combat in Pepto Bismol pink? gulp
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