in 'Queen of the Celts'
By Susan Robinson, Production
When I finished the intricate counters for
Battles: Austerlitz, I was a happy
woman. I finally was done with a project that
I likened to dental surgery without anesthesia.
But my relief was temporary. Lurking in the
back of my mind was the knowledge that agony
soon would return with our upcoming game Rome
at War: Queen of the Celts.
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy seeing
all the artwork for our games — counters,
maps, boxes, book covers — come together.
I take pride in my work, and I’m usually
fast as well as accurate. When the design
gods are smiling down on me, I can finish
a counter sheet in a few days or less. But
with these elaborate counters, I swear I can
feel time simultaneously slowing down (“Why
is this taking so long?”) and speeding
up (“That can't be my deadline
I’ve been talking to our Web master,
Shane Ivey, about the Queen of the Celts
counters. He has designed counters for us
in the past, so he feels my pain. He thinks
our customers might like to see a little bit
of what goes into this work.
With Queen of the Celts, I use the
War: Fading Legions counters as templates.
I borrow the basic designs and the drawings
of the warriors, such as those in Figure A.
Figure A: Just the beginning.
“This’ll be easy,” I tell
myself. Wrong! I discover I must give each
of 16 Celtic tribes a separate shield design.
(Fortunately, our artist, Beth Donahue, has
drawn the shields for me.) I have to “take
apart” the Fading Legions warriors,
get rid of the old shields and add the new
ones — see below for Figure B. Eeeew,
that one in the middle with missing body parts
looks a little freaky.
But it’s not quite as bad as it seems. With the convenience
of copy and paste, I don’t have to reassemble
each and every barbarian. So Figure A is transformed
into Figure C.
Figure C: Celts!
No, no, no. Something is clearly wrong. Aha, these figures
have not been “arranged” from
front to back to represent the correct perspective.
The warriors at the bottom (“closer”
to the viewer) are “in front”
of the row above, which is in front of the
next row, and so on. Also, when the figures
are so close together, as they are here, care
must be taken so that one barbarian’s
shadow does not obscure his buddy next to
him. OK, a quick rearrangement and all is
well (Figure D).
Figure D: Shadows shifted.
Oops, not quite. See the shadow of the spear at the bottom
left? It’s intruding into the next compartment,
which sets off my perfectionism alarm. Gotta
fix that. There are a couple of ways to go
about it, and each involves layering. The
cousin of arrangement, layering allows a designer
to keep elements that belong together (such
as text, which always is on top) in the same
dimension, if you will. In this case, I’ll
put the shadow in the same layer as the base
(the green background). Then I’ll arrange
the shadow to be “in back” of
the green background so it won’t show
(Figure E). Are you with me so far?
Figure E: A layered
I switch out the shields on a few more counters and send them
to my boss for review. He says he didn’t
realize the helmets would be so noticeable,
and I have to get rid of those because the
real Celts didn’t wear helmets. No problem.
I end up with counters that resemble beautiful
Figure F: Helmet hair
“All right,” you say. “That’s
not so bad. She does that 16 times and she’s
done. What is she whining about? Slacker!”
Oh, but I’m only getting started.
That’s just the elite barbarians
for the long counters. Add the plain
old barbarians and the lesser barbarians.
Plus all three kinds of barbarians for the
short counters, the light infantry,
the light and heavy cavalries, the chariots,
the slingers, the Wild Women. . . .
My head is starting to hurt, and I haven’t
even started on the Romans. I’d better
get back to work.