Best Board Game Art of 2017

Best Board Game Art of 2017

UPDATE: Nominations are now open for Best Board Game Art 2018!
Head here to get nominating!


I asked for your help to find out which game released in 2017 had the best overall artwork and your response far exceed my expectations. Over eight days you nominated more than 80 different games for the award, illustrated by first time artists all the way to industry favorites. Only the top 10 most nominated could make the final list and once the nominations closed you voted in your hundreds to bring us the results below. 


I decided to do this on a whim, after waiting for a vote about board game art to take part in but not finding any. I decided to create my own and from this decision to the page going live only a day had passed. I feel  like it's important we continue to talk about the art in games and as my website is designed to highlight the artists it felt right that I should use this platform to encourage that conversation. It's filled countless hours over the last few weeks and I hope it inspires you to think back and consider the games and art you've loved. Mainly, I feel honored to have had you along for the ride in this experiment.


I’d like to send out a massive thank you to all who took part, from the people who put in a nomination or vote, to the artists and all of those who made these games happen. This vote is for you.


The results start with the runners up (in alphabetical order) moving on to a top 5 (or in this case, top 6), with the winner saved for last. It's safe to say that wherever a game ended up on the list, all here deserve praise for the hard work and talent put into them.
For every nominee I've listed the names of the artists, game and publisher with each of these also doubling up as links to the artist websites, the game listing on Board Game Geek and the publishers websites. These aren't affiliate links, merely to help guide you where appropriate.
Images have come from a number of sources, such as the publishers, game artists, my own photography and generous members of the board game community who helped me scramble them together before these results went live. I've credited the source in each case. The images themselves are here to give you a little idea of the games art. I encourage you to seek the games out in person if you want a better look.
I've thrown in the publishers description of the games to give you some idea what they are all about and finally, as an added bonus the artists themselves (where possible) have been kind enough to say a few words. So without further adieu I give you the results of Best Board Game Art of 2017.

Runner Up
Artist: Josh Emrich
Game: Campy Creatures
Publisher: Keymaster Games

Publisher desciption:
A ghoulish game of bluffing, deduction, and set collection. As mad scientists, each player has been tasked with the goal of capturing Mortals for future experimentation. Players have an army of Campy Creatures to do their bidding with three nights to get the job done. Be warned though—the Mortals won’t go out without a fight.

campy creatures.jpg

(Image #1 from Instagrammer @geekygaymerguy and #2-4 from Keymaster Games)

Here's the games artist Josh Emrich with a few words:
"Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for Campy Creatures. This is the first game that I have ever illustrated, and it’s been exciting to be welcomed into this community. I tend to approach my work like a method actor — I get totally immersed into whatever inspiration I can find. In the case of Campy Creatures, I watched hours of classic horror films and poured over vintage movie posters and pulp novels. And then I talk shop and geek out about the details with the people who can make my work better. The result is a game that I hope feels authentic and honest so that the people who play it will want to immerse themselves in it as well. Thank you to Mattox Shuler and Kyle Key for trusting me with their baby."

Runner Up
Artist: Ryan Goldsberry
Game: Fugitive
Publisher: Fowers Games

Publishers Description:
Fugitive - a tense two player deduction card game, full of close calls and great escapes - all packed into 10 minutes!  It's a quick, intense chase between the Fugitive, who is trying to get out of town, and the Marshal, who is trying to catch him before he does.  

(Images supplied by More Games Please, also on Instagram)

Here's the games artist Ryan Goldsberry with a few words:
"When Tim Fowers first described Fugitive to me we kept trying to come up with ways to make the game and it’s 40+ cards less art intensive. Maybe we could make a series of cards that repeat? Or maybe the art should be very simple and stylized? Maybe some of the cards would be text? Finally I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it. I would create unique art for every card and it would tell the story of the entire chase. It was a lot of work...a ton of work. And the game was delayed because of it. But at the end of the day I think it turned out good and I am proud of the finished product. I hope everyone likes it."

If you'd like to hear more about Ryan and his work on Fugitive I interviewed him on this very site back in July - read the interview here.

Runner Up
Artist: Manuel CarvalhoRamon MartinsDaniel MelimRafael Silveira and Sigrid Thaler
Game: Modern Art
Publisher: CMON Limited

Publishers description:
Reiner Knizia’s classic high stakes art auction game, gets a modern makeover. You control a world class museum and hope to make a pretty penny by buying and selling masterpieces of modern art. 

modern art.png

Over the course of four rounds, each player will get a chance to auction off paintings. The more popular the artist, the more money you can make on a sale. There are five different types of auctions to compete in, and they all require you to have a different skill set. The winner will be the one who has earned the most money for their museum. Having good taste is only half the battle. You need to approach each sale with a cutthroat attitude if you want to walk away the winner.

(Image #1-2 from Instagrammer @boardgamesetc and #3-4 from

Runner Up
Artist: Ellie Jang, Dmitriy Logunkov, Neil Martin and Steven Preston
Publisher: Rule and Make

Publisher description:
After centuries of sparring, four factions have finally put their differences aside and agreed to combine their strengths to build a better tomorrow. As a commitment to this new alliance, they are working together to launch Skyward, the world’s first airborne city, constructed above the point where all four empires meet.


(Images from Rule and Make)

Here's the games artist and art director Steven Preston with a few words:
"Thanks for the nomination of Skyward being in the Best Board Game Art of 2017, it really means a lot that people love the art in the game that much. For me personally, Skyward was a great experience to work on as I was not only one of the artists involved, but it was also my first time being an Art Director on a project. I got to work with other fantastic artists that helped evolve the game from its original design to what it is today. Thank you to all that voted for Skyward and I hope to do more board games in the future, perhaps Skyward 2 maybe.. :)"

Joint 5th Place
Artist: Sabrina Miramon
Game: Photosynthesis
Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Publisher description:
Welcome to the world of Photosynthesis, the green strategy board game! Plant and shape the ever-changing forest as you cultivate your seeds and your strategy.

Take your trees through their life-cycle, from seedling to full bloom to rebirth, and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun’s rays. Carefully pick where you sow and when you grow, as trees in the shadows are blocked from light, and from points. This game features realistic gameplay and beautiful graphics.

(Image #1 from Instagrammer @boardgamesetc, #2-3 from Sabrina Miramon and #4 Blue Orange Games)

Here's the games artist Sabrina Miramon with a few words:
"I had a blast illustrating Photosynthesis, I was lucky to work with a publisher that gave me a lot of creative freedom. They had a really specific idea for the cover but for the other elements they gave me the templates and asked me to fill in the blanks (this is a brief explanation, it's a little bit more complex than this).
For the past couple of years I've been asked to illustrate architectural assets, so painting something green and more nature oriented was a nice change. You always get this amazing feeling when you see your work printed, and it's even truer with this game. I love seeing it displayed on a table and I’m overwhelmed by the positive feedback we receive from players all over the world. I feel really lucky!"

Joint 5th Place
Artist: Jérémie Fleury
Game: Yamatai
Publisher: Days of Wonder

Publisher Description:
Queen Himiko has tasked every builder in the kingdom with a prestigious mission: build the capital of Yamataï and make it the jewel of the archipelago.

Your task: surpass your competitors and build the most prestigious city of them all, using resources from the fleets that travel through the kingdom. Prepare your strategy, recruit specialists, and do whatever is necessary to become the best builder and be rewarded by Queen Himiko for your work. In the end, only one name will be remembered as the greatest builder of Yamataï!

(Images supplied by More Games Please, also on Instagram)

Here's the games artist Jérémie Fleury with a few words: 
"Hello everyone! Thanks for nominating Yamataï and to those who have voted for the game. I am touched by your support which encourages me to give the best of myself on every project. 
Days of Wonder contacted me to work on this game and while I had never really illustrated an Asian universe before it was an opportunity for me to get away from my comfort zone and add some strings to my bow! Before I started making images, I first tested the game in the city where I live with one of its authors who had made the trip for this occasion: Bruno Cathala. Despite the fact that Yamataï was in the prototype stage, I really enjoyed the gaming experience. When I came out of this game night, which was a sort of business meeting, I realized what a challenge it would be to illustrate such a game. There were many characters, architectural elements, fleets, and a gigantic game board. In short, a varied content that would require several months of work. Still today I am very happy with the result. It is the testimony of a beautiful energy and great teamwork.
A funny anecdote: Returning to the hotel after an intensive day at the gaming festival Essen (Germany), I started talking to someone who was walking on the same sidewalk as me, asking him if he was having a good Essen, and over the course of the discussion, when I told him my name, he jumped for joy and said he loved my work. I was very surprised, it was actually Marc Paquien (who designed this with Bruno), who knew that I was going to illustrate his first game!"

4th Place
Artist: Garen Ewing
Game: The Lost Expedition
Publisher: Osprey Games

Publisher description:
Legendary explorer Percy Fawcett marched deep into the Amazon in search of El Dorado. He was never seen again. Your team has gone in search of him, but now you hope to escape the jungle with the greatest treasure of all: your life.

the lost expedition.jpg

Make the best of your food, your ammunition, and your health in The Lost Expedition as you plunge deep into the jungle. Choose your path carefully to ensure you're ready for the pitfalls that may occur. Play solo or cooperatively to survive the expedition, or play in teams to see which group can escape the jungle first.

(Images supplied by More Games Please, also on Instagram)

Here's the games artist Garen Ewing with a few words: 
"I loved working on The Lost Expedition and the subject matter could not be more up my street. The characters that Osprey settled on are fantastic - they are all based on real people and I probably used up far too much of my time on research as they have such a fascinating backstory each, and there's some welcome diversity within the group as well. Illustrating the deck of adventure cards was probably the most daunting part with sixty-five cards in all but it was enormous fun, even if, sometimes, the research involved looking at some rather nasty stuff! A big part of the enjoyment of The Lost Expedition is creating a narrative and telling the story of your explorers' jungle trek as you go along, and I like to think the illustrations play a big part in bringing that aspect to life for the players. I wish I'd done a better job (as ever!), but the reaction to the artwork has genuinely been a very nice surprise. I'm glad it's a part of a fantastic game, and I'm truly grateful to everyone who liked it enough to vote it into the ten."

If you'd like to hear more about Garen and his work on The Lost Expedition I interviewed him on this very site back in June - read the interview here.

3rd Place - web.jpg

3rd Place
Artist/designer: Ryan Laukat
Game: Near and Far
Publisher: Red Raven Games

Publisher description:
Search for a lost city in a strange and wonderful world of ruins; manage and recruit adventurers, each with a unique identity; read from a book of stories, building an amazing and memorable tale each time you play!

near and far.jpg

(Images supplied by More Games Please, also on Instagram)

Here's the games artist and designer Ryan Laukat with a few words: 
"Near and Far was one of the most challenging projects I have worked on, but I'm very happy with the final product. As a follow-up to Above and Below, I knew that it had to have a similar look (because it is set in the same world), but it also needed to feel like the game ventured into new territory. The deep oranges and burnt yellows are a nice contrast to the blue and greens of Above and Below, and helped me express the danger and wildness of the frontier-wasteland in the game. There was quite a lot of trial and error throughout the process as I struggled with the style of a few of the visual elements. I painted almost half of the game's atlas in a thick, painterly style before scrapping it all and starting over with a more "inked map" look. I repainted the cover a few times, and grappled with graphic design and layout elements. There's a subtle Art Deco vibe throughout the graphic design, which was a lot more pronounced before I toned it down for the final release. I like that the game has such a unique look when set up on the table."

2nd Place - web.jpg

2nd Place
Artist: Ian O'Toole
Game: Nemo's War (2nd Ed)
Publisher: Victory Point Games

Publishers description:
Set sail in the amazing electric-powered submarine, the Nautilus, assuming the role and motive of Captain Nemo as you travel across the seas on missions of science, exploration, anti-imperialism, and war!

nemos war.jpg

Jules Verne’s classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas tells the story of Captain Nemo and his astounding ship, the Nautilus. This second edition of Victory Point Games' popular solitaire offering from designer Chris Taylor has been greatly enhanced. With this supercharged second edition of Nemo's War, prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!

(Images from Ian O'Toole and Victory Point Games)

Here's the games artist Ian O'Toole with a few words: 
"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one of my favourite books, and I loved how the first edition of Nemo’s War captured the character of Nemo while allowing the player to create their own narrative. When I asked Victory Point Games if I could be involved with the second edition I was delighted that they said yes. I’m really proud that this fantastic game is finding a wider audience and garnering the praise it deserves."

1st Place - web.jpg

1st Place
ArtistIan O'Toole
Game: Lisboa
Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games

Publishers Description:
Lisboa is a game about the reconstruction of the great Portuguese capital city after a series of terrible catastrophes. On November 1, 1755, Lisboa suffered an earthquake of an estimated magnitude of 8.5–9.0, followed by a devastating tsunami and 3 days of raging fires. The city was almost totally destroyed.


Lisboa is thus played, in part, on a representational map of the city. During the planning of the downtown re-building project, the type of businesses permitted in each street was pre-determined. The clockmakers and goldsmiths had their street; as did the bookstores and libraries; the tailors and silk vendors; and the toolmakers as well. This all comes into play on the Lisboa gameboard. Players represent the nobility of Lisboa who will use their influence in the reconstruction and business development of the new city. 

But the true reason you are rebuilding the city is not for greatness, or even fame or fortune. As a nobleman or noblewoman of Lisboa, your primary motivation is the acquisition of Wigs--a most important trading commodity of the Era. 

(Images #1-6 from Ian O'Toole and #7-8 from BGG user @styren)

Here's the games artist Ian O'Toole with a few words:
"This is my third game for Vital Lacerda and Eagle Gryphon, and by far the biggest of the three as regards art demands. The style of the Azulejos tiles was very satisfying to work in. I felt it had a commitment to the game’s history and theme in a visual sense that matched what Vital had shown through the mechanisms."
You can read more about the process of creating the art for Lisboa on Ian's blog post here

Thanks for reading and if you've made it this far then feel free to discuss both the results and your favorite releases from 2017 in the comments section below. One simple request, keep it respectful and positive. Happy 2018 all.

Nominate - Best Board Game Art 2018

Nominate - Best Board Game Art 2018