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Subject: Identifying board locations rss

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David Fisher
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In a game I am designing, there is a board with 24 spaces. Cards refer to specific spaces on the board (every space is referenced). I am wondering what the most helpful way would be to identify the spaces on the board so they can be easily found ... some possibilities are:

1. Grid reference (A1, B1 ... A2, B2 ...) -- the spaces are hexagonal, but they could still be referenced as a grid.

2. Numbers (1-24).

3. Coloured numbers (eg. 1-6 in four different colours).

4. Letters (A-X).

5. Unique names ("Wild Woods", etc.)

Using a bare reference number/letter feels like it would detract from the theme ("Wild Woods" is more evocative than "space A5"), but textual names seem to be too hard to locate on the board (even if the board is subdivided, eg. by terrain). Names printed inside spaces can also be obscured by playing pieces.

Maybe 1. and 5. combined ("A5. Wild Woods")?

Any thoughts welcome!
 
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James Bentley
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I think if I were shown 2 different prototype boards, one with the letter/number combination and the other with the text name, I would prefer the text version myself. The one with the letter/number identifier would make me think I'm playing a wargame-type game...which is fine if it's a wargame-type game.

That's just my 2 cents, others opinions may vary...

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I'd much prefer grid locations.
 
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I'd probably want to make it less abstract and make the locations mean something. World Map, Middle Earth, Solar System, etc.
 
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Rebekah B
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I think both theme and ease-of-use are important. A few options:
If the spaces are divided into easy-to-recognize sections (e.g., all green spaces are forest, tan are desert, etc.), then having them located by area and name/number could work. So I guess that's number 3, but with the colors representing areas that work with the theme.

If the place names aren't important in other areas of the game, you could put them in alphabetical order (assuming it's not a variable board).

Otherwise, I like some other combination of theme and utility, although I don't know that I'd use a grid for hexagonal spaces.
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James Hutchings
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Another option is to only have names, but then have cards give the name and a picture of that space's position on the board, in this style:



This could be used as well as having colours to distinguish the different types of terrain, as suggested above.
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Donald Cleary
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apeloverage wrote:
Another option is to only have names, but then have cards give the name and a picture of that space's position on the board, in this style:



This could be used as well as having colours to distinguish the different types of terrain, as suggested above.


Color grouping is a good idea. You can easily go from 24 names to maybe 4-8 colors and a few names within. For the color blind, add in a few geometric shapes.
 
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Philip Migas
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You forgot one designator: Shape. I will find spaces based on their shape and color before the name.

The typical way of showing spaces on a map is used in Risk. I don’t know if you have heard of this game. shake It uses colors for an overall region with names and unique space shape for each space. The card show the colors shape and name of each territory so it makes spaces easy enough to find. The only game that I know that does not use this system is El Grande. But the map is small enough to find all of the spaces easy enough.

I think that Pandemic has the good way to reference cards to a board. Just check out the cards:



The grid reference is not fool proof. My wife has a heck of a time finding a street on a standard city street map when referencing a street name. The street name index states map page and grid location. Sounds pretty easy to me, but she can’t find them. I don’t think grid #’s look very good on a game map either.
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Christopher Todesco
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I think like James was saying, it really depends on the type of game. However, you mentioned there are only 24 spaces, and it sounds like from your descriptions that they're fixed (i.e. not tiles or other method of a variable board). A grid may be overkill, names or just numbered 1-24 might be ok. But names are great boosters to the theme, especially if they have some other meaning throughout the game, and if there's only 24, that's not too many to think of.

However there's nothing wrong with giving multiple methods of locating a space-- look at Pandemic which gives you a name, the color (which tells you the region), and the cards even have a map with a cross-hair target over the location; or Android, which gives you a name, a grid location in parentheses, and a color (which doesn't show you the region, but the type of space, which can help you ignore spaces that aren't the same color).
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