Heading East (Ancient Kings)

Thought I would post some new work I just completed for the new Columbia Games block game Ancient Kings that will be shipped at the end of the month (March 25th).

As most of my illustration work is black and white ink drawings, this is a bit different for me, but I really enjoyed the process. As a great admirer of Japanese prints with their wonderful design and subtle color relationships, I thought it would be nice to incorporate some of what I like from those prints into these images. The final images are to be printed as 3/4″ square sticker which will be placed on wood block game pieces. That is pretty small. So they have to be strong silhouettes which are easy to read in game play. I drew them out at 2″x2″.  I decided to ink them by hand, scan them into the computer and color them in in Photoshop. I used a few texture overlays and gradient fills to get that Japanese woodcut feel.

Please ignore that I misspelled Cavalry as Calvary. There is not going to be a crucifixion game piece.

I had draw the Monk with a hat I liked better, but I was asked to draw it a bit more historically accurate as shown above. Here is a look at my first attempt.

In hindsight I wish the group of images were more consistent in style. While I feel they work pretty well, I wish a few were a bit more stylized. I also probably got a bit carried away with the detail, but I had great fun doing these- I could not help myself.

The most difficult one to do was the ship. It was hard to find good references for a Samurai ship. I wanted big sails so I could design the image with a light in front of the dark sky, and the darker ship over lighter water. I found a lot of non-military Junk type ships and a lot of warships without sails. It is a combination of a few references. In the end it is one of my favorites of the group.

Let me know what you think of the group of Samurai. If you do not comment, I will be forced to commit ritual Seppuku.

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Art Musings

The fine folks at CGI have invited me to post on this blog. While I feel like I am part of  the CGI family- I am not sure I will having dinner at the Dalgliesh house on a regular basis (hint), I will be posting updates about  past and upcoming products in the Columbia Games line of products.

I first wanted to introduce myself to those following this blog who may not know me.

I am the Illustrator and Art Director for all of the CGI Harn releases. I have also recently been working on some of the block game products, my first being the Samurai group of blocks for Ancient Kings.  I will post some of the art for that in a few days.
I started playing D&D with my 7th grade teacher in an after school thing in 1981. While looking for a more realistic system, we tried and loved Dragon Quest. Using those rules we began playing in the Harn World in 85. We were attracted to the system like most were by the great maps, thorough world view , and the illustrations of Eric Hotz. We eventually converted to HM core, which we still use- with occasional pieces from HM3 and house rules.
I am 42, I have a biology degree and a fine arts degree from University of Cincinnati, neither of which are of any use to my life now. I eventually learned to draw and paint in New Hampshire studying with Paul Ingbretson. After 3 years there I returned home to Cincinnati where I  have a huge 100 year old house I am always working on with 8 tenants living above. I have a studio in a local park where I paint still life, landscape and portrait. I do teach landscape classes in the warm months and offer private instruction and drawing and painting classes in the winter. I have a painting in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection and in various collecting in town and on the East Coast. I like beer, Martinis shaken not stirred and like to watch movies with my wife of 13 years.
You can see my work, both paintings and illustration on my website.

More to come……


Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar


Opening Cards:

Caesar should open with a 3 move card or better. If only 2 moves are available see below. Caesar seeks to control play and keep Pompey on his toes.

Pompey should also open with 2 move card or better.  Higher Levy cards are useful early to Pompey.

CAESAR, 705 (49 BC):



Ravenna: Caesar, Legio 13, Navis 2.

Caesar and Legio 13 should stay together. Caesar’s opening move: East, West, or South determines the early direction of many games.

  • East: towards Athens or Byzantium. Caesar must prevent Pompey from taking the 3VPs in the east that begin vacant. Unless Caesar moves east, at least 1VP in Hispania or Syracuse (in addition to Rome) will have to be seized to avoid an early defeat. This move also compels Pompey to commit MPs in the east.
  • West: toward Hispania. There is risk of being caught up in a long war in Hispania. However, if some of Pompey’s blocks that build in Hispania, can be eliminated in the conquest, they often never return. Caesar has several Iberian legions that can be replaced if the campaign goes awry.
  • South: to Rome. This is viable only if Antonius’ Legions in Genua join to secure Rome.

Consider leaving the Navis in Ravenna and levying another one at the Major Port there before going to sea in strength later.


Genua: Antonius, Legio 8, Legio 12.

The Antonius block is useful because he is an “A” but because with only 2 steps he is vulnerable to being killed. If surrounded by stronger blocks, he is formidable.

  • East: Moving Marc Antony east instead of Caesar is an interesting twist.
  • West: To Narbo and/or Massilia, bulking up for a strong attack into Hispania.
  • South: to Rome. These 3 blocks are at some risk in Rome alone. If Levy points are available to raise the Rome Legion it can be safe.  Using a 3rd move in Lugdunum to bring these two blocks to Rome is safer. From Rome Antonius can threaten Pompey and/or press toward Syracuse and beyond.



Massilia: Legio 11, Legio 14.

These two Legions usually head west either to Narbo or to Burdigala. They are powerful C3 legions. If moved Burdigala, plan to move the Lugdunum blocks over to create a 4 block army. This threatens to outflank Tarraco while still supporting Narbo. There is also Cavalry block in Toletum that Caesar can build once this force moves south. Consider leaving the Navis in Massilia and levying another one at the Major Port there before going to sea in strength later. If Hispania is to be attacked having friendly Navis off the coast can be very valuable.


GROUP 4 (if available):

Lugdunum: Legio 16, Equitatus 1.

This group makes an ideal back up for either Hispania or Rome. Moving these blocks into Rome (with others) early helps ensure the Italy will fall but sometimes attracts Vulcan’s Fury. It is sometimes wise to hold them in reserve like to see what Pompey’s opening moves are before committing them. However if only 2 moves are available (presumably all year long) consider moving these blocks to Genua to make a larger group for future turns.



Narbo: Legio 7,  Legio 9, Legio 10

This powerful group has the only C4 in the game. The group has many options but is often best left unmoved for the first turn until a 4th block can be added there. This presents its own challenge at winter since Narbo supports only three blocks. The force is usually sufficient to defend Narbo if Pompey attacks.

Until a 4th block is built/arrives this group is not strong enough to comfortably attack Pompey’s army in Tarraco. Worse, if Pompey is moving second the blocks in Carthago Nova will likely arrive as reserves. If Pompey moves up his Carthago Nova blocks to Tarraco a fourth block in Narbo will be needed hold the line and deter Pompey from attacking (unless the objective is to bait him).



Octavian: Cannot be built until a leader is killed.

Legio 17: Builds in Rome

Legio 18: Builds in Neapolis

Legio 19: Builds in Syracuse

Legio 20: Builds in Athena

Legio 21: Builds in Ancyra



Brutus: Cannot be built until a leader is killed.

Legio 32 Builds in Athena

Legio 33Builds in Creta

Legio 34 Builds in Antioch

Legio 35 Builds in Byzantium

Legio 36 Builds in Ephesus

Legio 37 Builds in Alexandria


Auxilia: best used to add strength to places where no other blocks can deploy. Avoid committing all your Auxiliaries to early. The 4 step B1 auxiliaries make idea guards for 3 step legions, absorbing 1 or 2 hits before the legion is damaged.

Equitatus: excel in combat as B units but their limited number of steps makes them debatable when only 4 blocks can attack.  Also effective as pursuers.  Pompey has an Elephant and three Equitatus while Caesar has 4 horse blocks.

Ballista: excellent on defense. Less practical for mobile campaigns.

Navis: see below for some notes on Naval building priorities.



POMPEY, 705 (49 BC)



Neapolis: Pompey, Legio 1, Navis 1.

Pompey is in a tight spot to start out the war. He can move directly into Rome but with Antony and Caesar just north of his position that is a risky move. His safest move is to move south to Sicily. If he is attacked attack by either Antony or Caesar early he will be thrashed. Antony and Caesar have too many good C3 Legions with them for Pompey to attempt to control Italy early. The other option is to move to the Brundisium where Legion 3 begins play. This has risks as Caesar can march right down next to Pompey and if he goes first in the card play Pompey could be thrashed. This is the more risky move but it allows for move flexibility in later card plays. The riskiest move is to hold your position and put your ship out to sea. This might work if your opponent decides to concede Italy for other victory points. If Caesar goes first he might decide to move west and east first and then Pompey can consider holding his ground.



Brundisium: Legio 3

This isolated block needs to get out of Italy or at least be supported by other blocks as soon as possible. It is a strong C3 block and needs to preserved – if possible. Because it hails from Ravenna, rebuilding it is difficult. Also it one of just a handful of C3’s for Pompey. Try to get it to Sicily or over to Athens as soon as possible. Leaving it in Brundisium is almost certain death.



Syracuse: Legio 37

Syracuse on of the most defensible locations Pompey has. Moving blocks away opens up the possibility of invasion by Caesar! Syracuse is also a major port that is very necessary if Pompey is planning to win the game. If you move this block, build an Auxiliary or Ballista first to hold the VP Moving this block to Utica or Crete to allows for considerable flexibility.




Alexandria: Cleopatra, Navis 2

Cleopatra! She is one of those blocks that just make your head spin. She isn’t very good (C1) in combat so she isn’t good on attack. She is, however, important as she sides with whoever controls Alexandria. She can defend Alexandria early pretty well with help from the Legion from Alexandria that Pompey should recruit. The Navis she has with her is a D3 – one of the best in the game. Move that Navis out and into action quickly. Control of the Mare Internum is very important to keeping Alexandria safe. Moving the Alexandria Navis to Mare Egypticum, Crete, or Mare Aegeum are all also good options. The Navis can later move into Athens, Ephesus, etc.



Antioch: Scipio, Legio 34

Scipio was one of Pompey’s great generals. He was responsible for the eastern provinces. He starts in Antioch but can be a force in just about any corner of the board. His opening move should be toward Ephesus or up toward Byzantium. He also can sometimes stop Caesar from taking Athens or getting the great 4 step C3 Block in Ancyra. Sometimes waiting to see what Caesar has planned is wiser – at least for the first card. Recruiting the Cavalry in Antioch is a high priority. Scipio is also effective operating from Crete with the C3 block that builds there. Crete accesses 3 sea zones and it is easy to redeploy from there to just about anywhere.



Utica: Legio 39, Navis 3

Utica is where Pompey either lives or dies. Utica is hard to take from Pompey but can happen if left under-protected. The elephant block is a strong block and you can only get it in Utica. The Navis in Utica is normally used to control one of the three sea zones that Utica is adjacent to. Controlling the Mare Hispanum is most important to securing Utica. Recruit elephant block built quickly and ship it abroad to bolster your Hispania forces or possibly help Pompey in Italy. The Cavalry block just south of Utica is the best in the game so you will want to get that block built and up to fighting strength as soon as possible. If you lose Hispania Caesar may cross at the strait in North Africa. You will need at least a few good blocks to defend the road if that happens.



Carthago Nova: Legio 2, Legio 4

There are several choices for this group. They can move up to Tarraco and help defend that city or wait to react to a future attack. Remember, Tarraco supports only 4 blocks over Winter, so consider leaving one in Carthago Nova. Another strategy is to move these blocks to Utica via the Mare Hispanum as soon as possible. If you are getting crushed in Hispania getting the “spanish” blocks out is not a bad idea – they are otherwise difficult to rebuild. Moving West into the poorer roads and holing-up there where only 2 blocks can attack can prove a thorn in Caesar’s side for a long time.



Tarraco; Legio 5, Legio 6, Equitatus 1

These blocks are usually up to the challenge of an attack from Caesar’s blocks in Narbo. If Caesar reinforces Narbo you need to be reinforced yourself or back off to Carthage Nova. Attacking Caesar here is a sucker-play. Falling back to Carthage Nova is the safest strategy unless you get hit before you can move.


Navis Strategy tips:


Caesar has 2 Navis at the start of the game that are D2’s and they start in Massilia and Ravenna.


Pompey has 3 Navis at the start of the game. One is D2 and it starts in Utica. Two Navis are D3’s and start in Alexandria and Neapolis.


Pompey has the sea power advantage early and should press that if possible. He who controls the seas controls the sea routes to the “Heart of Rome”.  Caesar must not give up on the sea as his chances for a victory diminish greatly if he does.


If the average levy per card is 1.75 you should be able to build out your entire navy in 3 card plays for Pompey. (4 for Caesar) That is a lot because you won’t be able to add steps to other important blocks under attack or building new blocks.


1.         Should you do this as Pompey? I would slowly build up your ships by building 1 pip on each block to get them out on the board. The illusion of strength will take over after a few turns. Caesar will have to respect your sea power in year one. Just remember the port limits during wintering. You can lose full strength blocks if you don’t have ports open to you. I know from experience on this one.



2.         Should you do this as Caesar? I think Caesar has time on his side so I would build my Ships up to full quickly. Once up and concentrated you can surprise Pompey with an Armada of ships. Caesar needs to control the Mare Hispanum and Mare Tyrrhenum to keep his power base secure. At a very minimum he needs to control theses two areas to keep his eastern march underway working.

In the end game if Pompey controls Hispanum and Tyrrhenum with a strong navy Caesar will have real problems keeping Pompey away from those victory points in Hispania, Gaul and Italy. If Caesar can command the seas he can send his high powered veterans to Utica or Syracuse to contend for those VPs. Sea power is something neither side can do with out if they want to win Julius Caesar!

War of 1812

War of 1812

War of 1812

War of 1812 is an elegant strategy wargame depicting the Anglo-American struggle to control the Great Lakes and Canada. War of 1812 sets up in five minutes and plays in 1-2 hours. This classic game has been enjoyed by thousands of gamers for over 30 years. Unit types in this edition include artillery, cavalry, infantry, and navies. The map board is unchanged from previous editions. Read more

Crusader Rex 2nd Ed.

Crusader Rex

Crusader Rex

Crusader Rex 2nd edition is now available.  The new, larger, map is gorgeous and the new playing cards are first-rate.

Crusader Rex is a game of the 3rd Crusade. One Player plays the Franks, the other, the Saracens. The objective of the game is to control important Victory Cities such as Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, and Antioch.

For more details visit the Columbia Games website.

Richard III

Richard III

Richard III

We are pleased to announce that Richard III is now available.

The rules are available for free download.

Click here to learn more…

Everyone is raving about the gameboard:

Richard III Map

Richard III Map

Click here to learn more…

Wizard Kings Rebooted & Ancient Armies?

Wizard Kings 2nd Edition

Wizard Kings 2nd Edition

Wizard Kings continues to be popular and many are saying the 2nd edition rules changes make a significantly better game. This thread on BoardgameGeek.com called Wizard Kings Rebooted explains why. Also visit the new Wizard Kings Wiki.

Some consideration is being given to a new Wizard Kings expansion with armies of Romans, Greeks, Celts, Persians and other ancient empires. Developer Ed Thilenius is working on the armies now:

I have created a series of “spells” for the clerics in the game. For example: An Egyptian Temple Priest (the Egyptian Cleric), pays 1 step to cause “Corruption” on his Roman opponent, if successful, the Roman loses up to half his income on the next turn (due to insider evil doings). I have each army with its own unique abilities. From poisoning, bribery, corruption, assassinations, Truces, Hornets, and even flaming pigs [a great counter to enemy Elephants].

Comments are encouraged on the Block Games Forum and also on the new Wizard King Wiki.

Texas Glory rules patch 1.01

Texas Glory

Texas Glory

1.01 rules have been posted now.

Changes from 1.0 noted in red text.

Visit Columbia Games GamePlan and preorder upcoming wargames!