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Games with the best fantasy map art
Jason Lutes
United States
Woodstock
Vermont
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I'm tinkering with a fantasy-themed empire-building game of my own design and currently am working on the map tile graphics. It's got me thinking about the best looking boardgames that use a maplike or terrain-based board. I tend to think that hand-painted board art yields the best results, and contemporary Photoshop aberrations like _Runebound_ or _Duel of Ages_ only reinforce that opinion. I came up with a few but I'd really love to hear more suggestions...
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1. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:1461]
Jason Lutes
United States
Woodstock
Vermont
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_Tales of the Arabian Nights_ featured a beautiful hand-painted board by Chris Miller as a backdrop for point-to-point movement. I have a soft spot for the purple shading on mountain ranges that gives them that Maxfield Parrish touch. As long as it doesn't stray into Thomas Kinkade territory.
 
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2. Board Game: War of the Ring (first edition) [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:67]
Jason Lutes
United States
Woodstock
Vermont
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The best known fantasy world of all time is rendered masterfully by the great John Howe in Fantasy Flight's epic _War of the Ring_.
 
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3. Board Game: Search for the Emperor's Treasure [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:4014]
Jason Lutes
United States
Woodstock
Vermont
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It's a little drab, but as a teen I loved the sense of place conjured by Darlene Pekul's map for the old Tom Wham game _Search For the Emperor's Treasure_.
 
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4. Board Game: Tower of the Wizard King [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:8802]
Jason Lutes
United States
Woodstock
Vermont
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Just browsing the 'Geek I came across _Tower of the Wizard King_, which I've never played. The board looks pretty nice, with terrain that fills an entire "zone" to the edges while still managing to look good.
 
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5. Board Game: Wizard's Quest [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:2694]
Jason Lutes
United States
Woodstock
Vermont
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In other wizardly map art news, _Wizards Quest_ sported a fine hand-painted map that served has a solid grounding for the gameplay. About which I don't remember much. What I do remember vividly is the serrated look of the Crystal Mountains and the nice 3D-looking castles. And those awful orc counters.
 
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6. Board Game: Elfenland [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:725]
Mike Frantz
United States
Wenatchee
Washington
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Really a stunningly nice map. Greatly enhances the enjoyment of the game.
 
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7. Board Game: Divine Right [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2217]
Tom
United States
Seattle
Washington
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I am thinking of the older TSR version here. Lots of color, tons of special hexes with great names (Altars of Greystaff, Spires To The Sun, Lost City of Khos), really imparts a sense of history. The newer edition just doesnt capture it as much, somehow.
 
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8. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:272]
Antigonus Monophthalmus
United States
Maryland
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I love this board dearly.
 
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9. Board Game: Dragon Pass [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2839]
Sarcophilus Harrisii

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My favorite hex based board.
 
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10. Board Game: The Bridges of Shangri-La [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1075]
David Pugh
Japan
Unspecified
Tochigi Prefecture
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How about this one? I haven't played the game but the map looks intriguing with the illusion of depth.
 
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11. Board Game: World of Warcraft: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1102]
Martin Larouche
Canada
Longueuil
Quebec
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Not the prettiest... But still far from the worst art-wise.
 
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12. Board Game: Bar-Lev: The Yom-Kippur War of 1973 [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:4399]
Robert Richardson
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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I don't think this is what you are looking for, but you must admit that the orange map is unique.
 
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13. Board Game: Elric [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:10292]
Dana Zinsmeister
United States
College Station
Texas
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Chaosium had a flare for this sort of thing.
 
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14. Board Game: Quest for the Dragonlords [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:10954]
Robert Martin
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
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This picture doesn't show it well, but there are a lot of thematic flourishes on the map.
 
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15. Board Game: Nightmare House [Average Rating:5.92 Overall Rank:9871]
Dana Zinsmeister
United States
College Station
Texas
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The rules were strange but the game map had a really Halloween feel to it. If only it glowed in the dark.
 
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16. Board Game: Risk: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1604]
Shawn Bowers
United States
Portland
Oregon
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I love the map for this one.
 
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17. Board Game: Wonderful Game of OZ [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked]
G. Gomez
United States
Chula Vista
California
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Frank L Baum designed the Land Of Oz to be rectangular on purpose, so it would lend itself to being printed on a book (or boardgame.)

I believe the art on this was done by John R. Neil himself, but as it is not signed, it is really hard to tell.
 
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18. Board Game: John Carter: Warlord of Mars [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:5610]
Dana Zinsmeister
United States
College Station
Texas
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Just straddling that line between fantasy and SF, the game was also one of the earliest of the point-to-point type games with a colorful map of Barsoom (Mars to the rest of us).
 
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19. Board Game: Ringgeister [Average Rating:4.89 Overall Rank:13437]
Peter Millen
United Kingdom
Greyabbey
Northern Ireland
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Lovely artwork and quite clever, especially in the treatment of the waterways in the geomorphic tiles.

The game..well that's another matter.

In peace

Peter
 
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20. Board Game: Napoleon in Europe [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2597]
Hermus
United States
Tallahassee
Florida
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This map is known to have some funcionality issues (can't fit units into many territories), but you can't deny it's absolutely beautiful.
 
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21. Board Game: Mythology [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:5706]
Clinton Smith
United States
Port Arthur
Texas
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This one is rather nice. If I remember correctly, Mythology's map won some kind of award back in the 1980s.
 
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22. Board Game: Albion: Land of Faerie [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:5900]
Clinton Smith
United States
Port Arthur
Texas
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Here is another worthy example of fantasy map art from the early 1980s. Unfortunately, this picture does not do it justice. This is one of my favorite SPI maps.
 
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23. Board Game: Dark Emperor [Average Rating:5.53 Overall Rank:11598]
Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Unique crater world.

 
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24. Board Game: Pentantastar [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:10621]
Jeff Boes
United States
Saint Joseph
Michigan
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One of the older games in my collection, both in its age since publication and in the amount of time I've owned it. I have very fond memories of playing this with my wife PK (pre-kids). We had some epic battles where the good guys were racing through the land, doing whatever it is the game required (can you tell it's been a while?). I just had to dig it off the shelf and look at it again; the map would make a marvelous poster, much like the old LoTR poster that sprouted up on dorm walls between the 60's and the 80's (maybe it still does).

http://www.tolkientown.com/popup_image.php/page/1/pID/1704?o...
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25. Board Game: Talisman [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1601]
Jason Kraft
New Zealand
Auckland
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Not technically a "map", but I have enjoyed "walking" the topography of this game world and the artwork I have always loved. The staircase from the Sentinel to the Hills (see photo), for example, not only creates a bridge between the two regions, but is creates a symbolic feeling of actually "climbing" to the next level.
 
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