My first prototype boards were a few very simple paper sketches...
...but I felt I had something sensible going pretty early, and since I like nice prototype art (for myself and my testers) I started building the city sections in a simple art program, originally designed for making RPG maps (Dundjinni). It is nice, but not bug-free, so I ended up just using it to make simple buildings and import props, and then I finalized it all in Photoshop:
Although similar in size and layout to the original, the board has been simplified somewhat, since I started prototyping. I will explain the decisions here, but also start by saying that since the board will likely be redesigned from scratch, lots of stuff might still change…
When I started the layout, I did not want to make it too “gamey”, so I did not include any “slots” for the Emergency Cards to be placed. I simply had texts on the buildings, but ultimately decided to include the card slots, so that other people than me could understand where to place any cards The only exceptions are the Emergencies taking place on the streets – there is no slots for these, as they could mess with the player movement feel.
Also, I had alleys for criminals and civilians to move through, just as I had markers on the sidewalk to show in which direction to move pedestrians. I finally decided to not have civilians and criminals running around, as it became too complex and the mechanic felt… well, too mechanic …So I removed that part, and then also the directional arrows. At the same time I made the sidewalks smaller on the sides with no Bad Hoods – that allowed me to increase the size of the city blocks, which again gave me the possibility to add slots big enough to hold cards, on each relevant building.
To make it more clear when a player was next to a building, I added big white arrows next to the buildings with card slots. Furthermore, I went ahead and printed the building name on the arrow as well, so that you could find your way to a specific building, even if it was already covered with an Emergency Card.
Finally, I decided to give spread the six warehouses and apartment buildings to six different zones, and then number these zones (Districts? Blocks?) accordingly. Before that I just had numbers next to the name on each individual building, but it took too long to find the building you needed: