We are very excited to start this new monthly series here at Green Akers Games. This series will be written specifically to appreciate the wonderful works of art that have been bestowed upon us in our board game collections! For our first post we are admiring a few of our favorite works from Mr. Cuddington! David Forest and Lina Cossette have consistently created spectacular art for games and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for them! Two projects in particular we can't wait to acquire and show off are The Grimm Masquerade and Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef, which you can get a glimpse of below! Enough of the intro, check out the art and let us know in the comments which piece of art featured in the post is your favorite! For more information on Mr. Cuddington check out their website below and if you'd like to follow this series be sure to create a member account and subscribe to our blog!
Santorini is an abstract strategy board game for 2-4 players designed and released in 2004 by Gordon Hamilton and republished via Kickstarter in 2016 by Roxley Games. Inspired by the architecture of cliff side villages on Santorini Island in Greece, and primarily designed for two players, the game is played on a grid where on each turn players build a town by placing building pieces up to three levels high. The 3D board brings much enjoyment to the game and makes you feel as if you are actually constructing Santorini with the help of the gods. To win the game, players must move one of their two characters to the third level of the town while evading opponent’s hero powers/building placements. Play as gods such as Aphrodite, Ares, Poseidon, Triton, Atlas, Zeus, and many more!
The cover art is fantastic and makes me want to grab a toga before jumping into this wonderful game. Each god’s artwork is really visually appealing and creates a comic/cartoonish feel as they are portrayed in a more childlike manner. It is extremely hard to choose but my favorite gods due to their artwork only would have to be Ares, Aphrodite, Athena, and Dionysus. Starting off Ares his battle pose, fire gusting around him, and wicked smile is what pushed him forward to one of my favorites. Aphrodite was created in a subtle way with this being a fun family game, but you can still gather much of the love and seduction that she is known for in this cute card as she welcomes you into her presence whilst biting her lip. Athena proudly stands on the edge of cliff leaving the viewer to delve into their imagination of what she could be looking at. Most likely it is either another battle about to commence or she is enjoying the aftermath with the spoils of war incoming as she lives up to the title of favorite child of Zeus. Lastly the charismatic Dionysus will entice you to have a stiff drink with him after he dazzles you with his smile. Throw him and Aphrodite together while playing and you may have some extra minis if you aren’t careful before the game is over. Finally, we have the game board which is a sandwich of the island pedestal being the middle peice with the top consisting of the foundation of the city and the bottom being the ocean surrounding the island. All of which are very colorful and and mesh perfectly together.
The Grimm Forest
The Grimm Forest is a 2-4 player strategic game of Hidden Movement, Resource Gathering, and House Building. It is a medium weight game that plays in approximately 45-60 minutes. The Grimm Forest revolves around relatives of the legendary Three Little Pigs which are having an epic house building competition. But this is no ordinary competition as all the most famous Fairy Tale characters will be looking on and occasionally lending a hand. Designed by Tim Eisner and published by Druid City Games. Be the first to build three houses using wheat, wood, or brick before the other opponents to win! In case of a tie breaker the winner with houses made out of stronger material wins.
The Grimm Forest is easily one of my favorite games when it comes to art, and I’m quite sad it did not win first place for the Golden Geek award for Art and Presentation. To start off, the box is enveloped by one of the best looking box sleeves I have ever seen with beautiful gold embellishments. When revealed the sleeve uncovers an equally as beautiful box art that begins your immersive journey into the Grimm Forest. Each of the four player boards have their own style (Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Robin Hood) that matches one of the respective little piggies to its board. Each friend card shows just enough detail to bring you into that characters story and for me brings quite a nostalgic feeling. The fable cards mixed with their amazing minis create such a fun and whimsical experience in the game as well, especially when the minis are painted. Even the gathering areas (Forest, Brickyard, Market, and Fields) with the respective gathering cards that are small in size still show such wonderful detail demonstrating how even the smaller aspects of the game can help to develop theme. The Bridge Troll and Dragon are probably my two favorite cards in regards to the art. That poor little piggy is about to become the Troll’s next snack, while the dragon is rushing through the air while blasting fire in your direction!
“Brass: Birmingham is an economic strategy game sequel to Martin Wallace' 2007 masterpiece, Brass. Birmingham tells the story of competing entrepreneurs in Birmingham during the industrial revolution, between the years of 1770-1870. As in its predecessor, you must develop, build, and establish your industries and network, in an effort to exploit low or high market demands. Each round, players take turns according to the turn order track, receiving two actions to perform any of the following actions (found in the original game): Build - Pay required resources and place an industry tile. Network - Add a rail / canal link, expanding your network. Develop - Increase the VP value of an industry. Sell - Sell your cotton, manufactured goods and pottery. Take a £30 loan and reduce your income. Brass: Birmingham also features a new sixth action. Scout - Discard three cards and take a wild location and wild industry card. (This action replaces Double Action Build in original Brass. The game is played over two halves: the canal era (years 1770-1830) and the rail era (years 1830-1870). To win the game, score the most VPs. VPs are counted at the end of each half for the canals, rails and established (flipped) industry tiles. Birmingham features dynamic scoring canals/rails. Instead of each flipped industry tile giving a static 1 VP to all connected canals and rails, many industries give 0 or even 2 VPs. This provides players with the opportunity to score much higher value canals in the first era, and creates interesting strategy with industry placement.”
I feel the artwork in Brass: Birmingham is one of the key components that draws people into this wonderful game, especially in the deluxe version. The clay chips are as beautiful as they are sturdy, the two-sided central board features a rustic portrayal of both day and night in the industrial theme, and the cards masterfully represent various industries and English locations. The central board is probably my favorite in regards to art with both the day and night side composing a thematic immersion that brings Birmingham into your very own living room or wherever you may be delving into this adventure. Even the cardboard tokens for the players/canal/rail connections and wooden tokens for the industrial commodities do great work building upon the theme. Then we get to the best part of the game which is the beer! So grab some craft beer and dive into this wonderfully illustrated board game. Brass: Birmingham also has recently won runner up in the 13th annual golden geek awards for 2018!
The Grimm Masquerade
“The Beast has invited you to his luxurious castle for a Masquerade. When you enter, you are magically transformed into the identity of another character from The Grimm Forest! The Beast enjoys his antics! Players will be outed if they are given 2 artifacts of their bane, but can win the magical masquerade if they are able to collect 3 artifacts of their favor. The Beast loves to watch the characters try and oust each other. Each player will draw 2 artifacts, keeping one for themselves and giving 1 to any player at the ball. This reveals a lot of information on both players. Why did you keep that artifact? Oh excuse me Snow White, I see you have 2 mirrors does that oust you as the Evil Queen? Turning in 2 Artifacts activates special actions as well, timing these well have great benefits! Don't worry if you are outed early, you take on the role of a Ghost, you get to guess what character you think will win the magical masquerade and if you are correct, you win along with them! You also take a turn handing out Artifacts to characters to try and sway the ball to your favor! The first player to collect 3 Artifacts of Favor or to be the last player remaining will win. All other players will be given a token in their defeat. When someone has 3 tokens, that triggers the end of the masquerade and we see which player was the best!”
The artwork in The Grimm Masquerade is just astounding, and I believe the Beast would agree with me wholeheartedly. The cover art alone grants its immediate approval into my collection! Each character card creates a regal experience of attending this beautiful masquerade, along with their artifacts that help you to win or be outed! If you think winning a rose on the bachelor/bachelorette was exciting, just wait till you play this deceptively fun game. Everything in this game exudes elegance from the character/artifact card designs down to the embellishments delicately placed on them. If I had to choose a favorite I believe I would have to pick the Evil Queen along with the crown and mirror artifact cards.
“The prosperous Kingdom of Greengully, ruled for centuries by the Forever King, has issued a decree to its citizens to colonize the vast lands beyond its borders. In an effort to start a new village, the Forever King has selected six citizens for the task, each of whom has a unique set of skills they use to build their charter. In Charterstone, a competitive legacy game, you construct buildings and populate a shared village. Building stickers are permanently added to the game board and become action spaces for any player to use. Thus, you start off with simple choices and few workers, but soon you have a bustling village with dozens of possible actions. Your journey through Charterstone's many secrets will last twelve games, but it doesn’t end there. Your completed village will be a one-of-a-kind worker-placement game with plenty of variability.
Charterstone’s art shares a lot of similarities to Santorini, especially in the form of the characters. The cover art is my favorite in regards to art as it displays a minimalist look but still packs a punch in the beauty department leaving you wondering more about back story of this game. The character cards are cartoonish looking like in Santorini but are very well thought out in detail such as outfits suggesting abilities and benefits. The game board itself which will be changing as you play also displays great details in the beautiful landscape down to the score tracker traveling around the edges of the land. I absolutely love the organization of the inside of the box, especially the artistic touch. The embellishments and descriptions of perfectly placed box is really pleasing to my slight OCD.
Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef
In Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef, each player takes the role of a young hero competing to be named a Tidal Blade. The tournament takes place over 5 Days and Nights. In which players will be gathering the needed resources, signing up to compete in Challenges, and timing your arrival at different islands so you can make the most of your Hero’s turns and rise in the ranks of the contestants. Each day you will send your hero to take actions on the different Locations and to undertake Challenges. Each action will gain you the resource or effect listed on the action space as well as the Location bonus. At the Arenas you may then attempt a Challenge that matches your Location, and at the Fold you may battle a monster. Completing Challenges and fighting monsters will advance your character in the four traits of Focus, Spirit, Resilience and Synergy. Each Tidal Blade will be judged at the end of the 5 rounds based on the Challenges they have completed, the level of each of their Traits, their standing on the Champions Board, and the monsters they have fought.
This is probably the most immersive artwork to accompany a game from Mr. Cuddington yet! I could dive into this world and be ok with never coming back. It will become our new Neverland! Something about this game reminds me of the numerous hours I spent playing Final Fantasy 7 and I believe this game will copy that amount of immersion from such a great classic video game into the board game world. Following the concept art has really made me giddy waiting to receive this game and to welcome its distinctive presence in our collection. The characters, for me, are what really draws you into this magnificent world and makes you question every little detail about their backstories. The art and lore book was such a special addition to this game, and I believe it will up the value tremendously. The cover art, the components, player boards, and even the gosh darn dice are brandished in such a unique feel that will lead you into a world like no other. My favorite character would have to be Eko as this little axolotl is here to create a big impact in this tournament! Mr. Cuddington have really outdone themselves with this project, and I’m not sure how it will be possible to one-up this level of creativity, uniqueness, and attention to detail in their future endeavors. However, I will be playing close attention and for sure backing anything that their Midas touch comes in contact with.