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Subject: Great counter art. How does it Influence the game? rss

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Kev.
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I was recently playing a new series - well new to me anyway and struck upon a module that was just stunning. The pictures below don't do it justice.

But it did get me to thinking about the influence great components - board and counters can have on a game. What do you think about the impact of components on your perception of the game?


box.


Placement in the first scenario.
I like the facials, the terrain 'feels' rugged as it should for the Falklands War.

A hero counter, and rough, shale like beach hex.

I like the building details here, trees, and the stark info counter that smack you in the face.

I'm really enjoying this game more than I thought I would due to the counter art in part. The game system supports the story and sucks you into the system of play. Lots of replay value.

Sometimes a good artist can transport you to the place, the time period or the environment.

Congratulations to Marc Von Martial.

What games have that affect upon you?
Post some samples!



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Good counters can make a game. These are my favorites:



And this map always makes me want to play:

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Enrico Viglino
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Gotta agree with Gideon on this one.
Pax is one of the most beautiful maps
ever made. Those old SPI counters still are
among my favorites too.

Looking at the example in the OP,
it just looks cartoonish to me.

I've grown to accept the images on counters
that became popular (first saw them for Maharaja -
and I didn't mind them showing the dress).
I suppose I'll get used to these extremes too.
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Brian Morris
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While nice looking counters won't make a bad game good it's awfully nice to have them on a good game. These counters below are from the game Not War But Murder. Best civil war counters I have ever seen and the game is fantastic as well.

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I agree with Enrico that SPI's game had a lot of style and polish to them that still hold up very well against modern graphics some 30-40 years later.

West End'd graphics for their Tank Leader series were always a big draw for me. Avalon hill's Machiavelli reprint is also quite nice. GMT's counters and map art for their Combat Commander series are an excellent, first-rate combination of style and function. I also love the Successors reprint.

I know a lot of folks do like photo-realistic counters and am glad that the software and hardware technology of today makes that sort of thing possible. But it's not important to me that graphics be photo-realistic or follow the painting-guide-on-a-postage-stamp style I've seen a lot over the last ten years. Clear, simple silhouettes with an economical/inventive use of type and color to convey information and evoke the theme of the game are plenty for me.
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When I was younger/newer to the hobby, I liked pretty counter, but nowadays that I need reading glasses I care about readability and clarity over pretty.
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Dirk Holding
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I love the Lock 'N' Load components; the "Day of Heroes" map, for example, is just stunning and makes you want to play if for no other reason. The fact that the system is quick and fun is a bonus.

To answer the original question, component quality is not all important for me, however I definitely prefer nice pieces as it adds to my immersion and hence my enjoyment. It may be more important for tactical games; I don't really play strategic level.

Looking at those photos I need to get "Ring of Hills" now .

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Paolo Robino
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Recently I was eyeing Lock 'n Load: Heroes of the Gap in a store. I don't mind the system, having some familiarity with it thanks to Lock 'n Load: Forgotten Heroes – Vietnam and Lock 'n Load Tactical: Day of Heroes, and I'm interested in the topic. But in the end I decided not to pick it up, and the art on maps and counters was a factor. They look great indeed, but they make difficult for me to read the situation on the map: everything seem too crowded, too detailed, too much of everything. I feel my eyes getting tired only looking at kev's pictures!
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Dan Edwards
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I'm with Paolo. Pretty is good, but clarity is king.
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Eric Lai
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Why can't we have good looks and clarity! Think Big People! Expect Big!
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Leo Zappa
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I want appropriate art and symbols on my wargame counters. This is what I consider great counter art for an operational land combat game:


standard military symbols, simple attack, defense, and movement values, historical unit designations.

This is what I consider great counter art for a naval wargame:


ship silhouette, a la "Janes Fighting Ships", ship name and type. Period.

Wargames to me represent staff work - map exercises. As such, I want the pieces to evoke the atmosphere of the command tent or the general's bunker or the admiral's quarters. At the very least, I like my wargame art (to include the map as well as the counters) to evoke my favorite history books on the subjects, with the game components resembling the map/chart illustrations of the various campaigns and battles used in the books.





This is why counters that use the same symbology as military maps and charts hold the greatest appeal to me, and why some modern counter art with their pretty pictures leave me cold. To each his own, of course.

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Eric Lai
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usrlocal wrote:
Garfink wrote:
Think Big People! Expect Big!


 


THINK BIGGER:

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Kev.
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Others I like:



GBoH


SPI's NDC was worked well, innovated with combat as a function of movement and had great map art.

Plus the counters for this one were crisp. Say versus Atlantic wall that had that softness on the fonts.

Operation Typhoon brought together similar goodness also.



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Enrico Viglino
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desertfox2004 wrote:

Wargames to me represent staff work - map exercises. As such, I want the pieces to evoke the atmosphere of the command tent or the general's bunker or the admiral's quarters.




Not at the tactical level. It probably comes closest to the
field commander's view (with a bit of God mixed in). Little
pictures that look goofy at the operational level seem to work
well at the tactical.

Too, if a game is not what I would consider a 'real' wargame,
I have no objection whatsoever to help make that distinction
clear. For example, Here I Stand get classified as
a wargame here, but I think that pieces are entirely fitting
for the type of game it is. The player's AREN'T making primarily
military decisions.

We still have an area that bothers me, but I don't know what to
use. Look at something like War and Peace. Same kind of
generic strength points as HIS, but clearly a wargame. NATO style
symbols would look wrong, and the design of the game pretty much
forces the solution taken. I'll give it a pass based on this (though
I far prefer seeing Empires in Arms' battle flags).
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Kev.
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For sure the iconography works best at tactical level. NATO symbols are more effective at the Operations and up. That does not mean you can't have great art at that level, due to font choice, counter colors etc.
I think Proud Monster does a good job with its counters representing units, and abilities as a recent example.

TCS is an odd duck. In that its battalion scale with images for platoons, mg sections and tanks.

Like Bloody 110


Old style counters from Objective Schmidt
Newer versions

GD'42
The colored numerals make it easy to distinguish capabilities, differentiate range, movement etc. The addition of bands across the top to help denote battalion affiliation is helpful when you have 800-1500 counters.

This for me leads to less rules cramming, and more time struggling with the tactics and the decisions of the given battle.



More pictures and threads on GD'42 @ www.meshtime.com/tag/tcs



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Paolo Robino wrote:
Recently I was eyeing Lock 'n Load: Heroes of the Gap in a store. I don't mind the system, having some familiarity with it thanks to Lock 'n Load: Forgotten Heroes – Vietnam and Lock 'n Load Tactical: Day of Heroes, and I'm interested in the topic. But in the end I decided not to pick it up, and the art on maps and counters was a factor. They look great indeed, but they make difficult for me to read the situation on the map: everything seem too crowded, too detailed, too much of everything. I feel my eyes getting tired only looking at kev's pictures!


This.

I once made a thread about this, but I love the artwork on the ASL counters. Nothing really flashy, as opposed to Lock n' Load, which had little faces and brightly colored, laminated counters.

But what the older, less flashy graphics accomplished to ASL was to make me take the game seriously. The counters Gideon and Leo posted, as well as the GD 42 counters by Kev, are really awesome to look at, for some reason. They're symbols, or silhouettes, not goofy illustrations. While playing it leads to more of a "I'm playing a serious wargame" feel.
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Michael Edwards
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I think those Civil War counters posted earlier are great.

I grew up with the old mono-chromatic, Nato symbol style chits. I like color and nice graphics. I don't mind the old style - especially updated versions - but I want art that's good graphic design.

Good graphic design being (for me), that it does the following, in about this order of importance:

• Communicates information clearly
• Uses design/color to help you remember rules
• Is clearly distinguishable
• Makes the presentation beautiful (good illustrations/pretty pictures)

For those that prefer it, "makes the presentation beautiful" might mean "makes it look like a period HQ map". For me that sometimes works - see Napoleon's Triumph. However, if you didn't get to, and achieve the fourth step, it's not great graphic design.

At the same time, I don't mind most illustration style graphics. I think the counters from the OP's example look like they provide a lot of info, but might be bordering on overload/confusion. I like the art style just fine, however.
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PoG counters are just so clear.



SPQR counters are so full.


Even though they are very different they are two of my favorites.
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Stephen Wright
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I find I'm more attracted to tactical games because of the art on the counters. To me games such as Lock 'n Load, Panzer Grenadier, and Tactical Combat Series(the more recent ones) are the nicest looking games available.

On a tactical level I want my counters to make me feel like I'm witnessing the action first hand. The counters mentioned above make the game feel more personable. When I play these games I find the atmosphere to be enhanced by the counters looking like real troops, as opposed to looking cold and detached like Nato symbols do.
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Edward Wehrenberg
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I love great looking counters. Conflict of Heroes and A House Divided are some of my favorites.
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Enrico Viglino
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Chairman7w wrote:
I love great looking counters. Conflict of Heroes and A House Divided are some of my favorites.


AHD?



Guess it got a facelift from my day.

I think those were fine looking counters though -
VERY easy to use.
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Michael Edwards
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Heh, I think of the old counters too. But, with so little information to convey, it does leave a lot of room on the large counters for graphics.

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Chanfan wrote:
Heh, I think of the old counters too. But, with so little information to convey, it does leave a lot of room on the large counters for graphics.




Don't like these! To much!
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Enrico Viglino
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I don't mind 'em.

Just don't try it with a wargame.
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Robert Wilson
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this game has great counters

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