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Re: (TFT) Artwork Critique

Back in the '90s I was working for an online game company that had several
boardgames being made into online games.  One was a wargame called
Operation:Market-Garden.  The artist worked on a painting that was pretty
good since it had planes, looking very much like the gliders used, then
paratroops coming down towards a town in the background.  There was a really
good bridge across a river and then some troops and a tank in the

The problem was the tank.  As soon  as I saw it I asked, "What tank is
that?"  The artist replied, "Oh, not any in particular, just... a tank.
Why, does it matter?"  I told him it would with the players of the game,
pointing out that even the small chits in the game had different icons on
them to represent the different tanks in play.  The image was put on plastic
for part of the booth display and as predicted the first question from
players at the convention was more often about the tank in the picture than
it was about the game.

So, accuracy can be important, especially for gamers.  In the TFT art I
think most of it was given along the lines of an order for "Two fighters,
one human, one orc with weapons" and the rest was artistic license.  The
fact that any actual rule could be discerned in the resulting art is
serendipity.  I would love to have seen the expression on the artist's face
if you pointed out the rules problems in their work.  Dropped jaws, raised
brows; it would have been great!

For myself, I thought the art was satisfactory.     Now, the original art is
charming in its way, especially the counter sets.   Remember the Ettin with
bellbottom pants?  That was amusing.  I liked the dwarven wizards and the
odd silhouette images.  Those were cool.  Death Test had great, generally
realistic images even with the dancing amazon with the bow.  All the figures
had some energy and flair in the look and poses.  The guy with his shield
strapped to his back holding his sword with both hands, the charging fighter
with the polearm, the barbarian with the shield and 3-headed flail.  The
dragons were some of the best, having counters that actually gave an idea of
the size of the monsters!  Just too cool for back then.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Michael Grouchy II" <david_michael_grouchy_ii@hotmail.com>
To: "mailing list" <tft@brainiac.com>
Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 3:25 AM
Subject: (TFT) Artwork Critique

> Here is a repost of my reply to Michael Taylor about the artwork of TFT.
> http://tft.brainiac.com/archive/0112/msg00179.html
> Dec 2001
> =====================================
> And what's wrong with the pictures?
> I find the pictures don't add anything to the game. And some of them are
> plain misleading. As in they mix up the facts. Lets take them one at a
> Also I would like to say that what follows is written in the spirit of
fun. I
> don't do satyrical criticism much, so why not indulge this once.
> First the cover. What is that glowing stuff anyway. And why are there
> distinct spheres of it. Is that supposed to be 3-hex fire? In the air like
> that. If its supposed to be an abstract of not being any spell in
> is works on that level. But not any others. Unless, what, the guy is
> three points of fatigue?
> Advanced melee Page 2. Ok, this is almost, but not quite, three specific
> in TFT. First these two guys (an orc and a human?) are fighting at
> heights. The Orc sould get DX +2 to strike down at the human. NO! Wait.
> human has one knee on the level the orc is on. OK. So is the orc above the
> human or not. And about that kneeling human. Is he kneeling or not. One
leg is
> kneeling, but the other isn't. In the TFT system a person is kneeling or
> arn't. I don't know what to do with this hybrid stance. A few words about
> flail the orc has. It looks like it used to have two heads. A flail with
> chains and two balls at the end. But one head is gone. Did he break it. If
> weapon is broken is he using at club damage ala-the-rules? But one head is
> still there Is he still doing full damage with it. TFT doesn't have any
> on multi-headed flails.
> Advanced Melee Page 8. A lone guy. Probably with broadsword, small sheild
> platemail. An innocent enough looking picture on the surface. But if the
> is left handed (as he holds the sword) why is the sheath on the left side
> also. How did he ready the weapon and how does he sheath it. Does he drop
> shield on the ground, put the sword in his right hand, and then sheath it?
> Advanced Melee Page 11. A half naked barbarian, bastard sword resting on
> shoulder, small sheild, and what may be another broad sword sheathed (this
> time on the correct side). He is facing off with a 2-hex dragon. The
dragon is
> higher than him. I hope that realy nice helmit he is wearing is magical.
> Advanced Melee Page 23. I think her wrist is broken. The one holding the
> sword. At least the reigns and harness on the horse look correct.
> Advanced Melee Page 32. Great action shot. dead gargoyle. Barbarian who
> saved a lady from falling into a pit. Wait a minute. If the gargoyle
> her into the pit, how did the barbarian kill the gargoyle and catch the
> Does TFT have rules for catching people who fall into pits? If NOTHING
> at the same time wouldn't she fail her DX roll, fall into the pit, and
> the barbarian would get an action.
> Advanced Wizard Page 1. Some kind of viking in Hand To Hand (HTH) combat
> a lioness or a jaguar. He hasn't readied his dagger yet. He looks like he
> kicking the jaguars' butt with his bare hand. So, If he's in HTH and
> shouldn't he be on the ground and NOT standing. Oh, wait! I get it. The
> just attempted HTH and the viking rolled a 6 to resist getting a free
> BUT the rules on resisting HTH specifically says that on a roll to resist
of 6
> if the figure is unarmed (i.e. bare handed) a roll of 6 is ignored and
> must roll again. Why is this picture even in Advanced wizard. Shouldn't it
> in Advanced Melee? Maybe near the HTH rules.
> Advanced Wizard Page 8. Some kind of a native with zulu style leggings,
> style spear, and fur liked head dress is being attacked by two reptile
men. If
> the section on reptile men says that a lone man fighting just one reptile
> is a "messy form of suicide" then why is a lone man confronted by two not
> using his spear? Note he is striking one of them with his left bare hand.
> top of that he is striking with his bare hand and he is not in HTH. Note
> platfrom he is stading on that they aren't. That proves they are not
> the same hex.
> Advanced Wizard Page 10. An archer takes his last shot option against a
> crocodile. The crocodile has decided to engage the archer with his side
> Don't ask me why. Or did the archer run up to the croc's side hex. If so
> probably moved too far to shoot.
> Advanced Wizard page 18. An ogre? The face is a little gruesome for a
> The ogre has a nice wrist band, an arm band, and a layered necklace. He
> has some kind of furry loin cloth held on with a belt. The question I
have, is
> why does he have fur strapped to his fore arms. Is this some kind of fore
> armor we don't know about. Aside from that, this picture is one of the few
> that works. That even looks like a battle axe hanging from his belt.
> Advanced Wizard page 26. Myself, I always have time to stop and sheath my
> weapon before climbing down a crevice to escape a troll. And climbing down
> with no hands is my prefered method. NOT.
> Advanced Wizard Page 29. This picture works. This guy can drop the sack at
> moments notice and fight unencumbered. Though it doesn't look like he
> the door behind him when he came into the hall.
> Advanced Wizard Page 35. Scale mail is one of the few peices of armor not
> listed in the game. This guy is wearing it. Other than that, nice stone
> by the artist.
> Advanced Wizard page 36. Two hobgoblins. One with a crossbow. He has a
> out and looks ready to noch it. Unfortunately the crossbow is not cocked.
> Advanced Wizard page 39. A centaur weilding a battle axe with one hand
> strong for even a centaur) is taking on two big cats (sabertooth?). A
> is a double experience race. If he put all starting points into strength,
> every point after that, it would still take him 6750 EP to weild a battle
> with one hand. And his DX would be only 10. The big cats' DX would be much
> higer. I predict the death of a very experienced character.
> In The Labrinth Page 3. The worst picture of all. This reptile man has
> Or is it a gargoyle with a huge tail?
> In The Labrinth Page 8. This gargoyle has a tail. And is that a pair of
> instead of feet? It directly contradicts the previous picture. Has anyone
> found the rules for picking up and throwing living beings? What happens if
> throw something with wings. Not much I imagine.
> In The Labrinth Page 11. Almost a usefull picture. A lady with monster
> followers is taking her great ape back into the cave. Artistically the
> in this picture is abomniable. The apes leg looks double jointed and
> The lady is casting a shadow that has the profile of a great ape. What the
> hell?    In The Labrinth Page 15.  A blatant rip off of a Frazetta
> In The Labrinth Page 17. If you compare the size of the stones in the wall
> the spacing of the windows in this fort, the stones must be giant compared
> a lone person. I mean simply enourmous. Huge. And is that mortar holding
> toghether? And such straight lines for such a random jumble of boulders.
> In The Labrinth Page 25. I like this picture. It even seems to have
> to the paragraph above it. GETTING BACK LATE (OR HURT) to one's job.
> the paragraph doesn't mention anything about paying a fine. That's what
> to be happening here.
> In The Labrinth Page 30. There are absolutely no rules for incense in any
> the books or suppliments ever published for TFT. The word incense is never
> even mentioned. It is not on any equipment list. Yet, in this picture it
is a
> central feature.
> In The Labrinth Page 32. Why has that huge snake tied itself into such a
> painfull looking knot.
> In The Labrinth Page 37. Nice picture. So what are the rules for using a
> as a thrown weapon. Does it do the same damage as a thrown rock?
> In The Labrinth Page 43. "I create a fire to burn the neanderthal that is
> attacking me with a feeble looking stick. Instead of creating the fire in
> hex, I will use the option to shape it. I shall create it from my elbow!"
> In The Labrinth Page 49. This picture is cool. All kind of unexpected
> The new fangled "open toe" boots to show off your clawed feet. Scale armor
> (and you thought it wasn't availiable in only a skirt.) Chainmail shoulder
> cowl. And cloth armor for the body. So he's wearing three types of armor.
> In The Labrinth Page 52. Here is a gargoyle who has to land on a window
> with his hands and then pull his feet in. Instead of landing on the cill
> his feet like every other gargoyle. Also, there is that tail again. So can
> add in a taill attack for gargoyles now? That's three times they've been
> with them.
> In The Labrinth Page 53. This dragon's body proportions hurt to look at.
> look like front arms and not front feet. The neck doesn't look like it
> the head to turn and attack in any direction. What is with the bottom of
> left wing. Did he dip it in ink?
> In The Labrinth Page 57. This picture is safe. It is nice an vague. There
> doesn't seem to be a building around that arch way though. Maybe a gate.
>     David Michael Grouchy II
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