The Art and Components of Fossilis

Updated: Feb 11, 2020


Note: Prototype components are depicted in these images. The final version may differ.

Board games are a combination of a number of different elements coming together to create a complete experience. They aren’t solely the mechanics, or the objectives, or the theme. The art and components go a long way towards supporting both the gameplay and the story of the game.

In Fossilis, players take on the role of palaeontologists exploring a dig site and discovering dinosaur fossils. The idea began with a strong focus on the gameplay tied to the components. Designer David Diaz had envisioned a game with thick, chunky tiles representing different types of terrain that players had to dig through. As a prototype, the main board was constructed with Lego (is there anything it can’t do?). The Terrain tiles were stolen from a square domino set. With those simple elements the proof of concept of the components was made.

Over the course of its design, the Terrain tiles took on more definition, with their colour denoting the type of terrain they were. The dig site has become a beautiful, 3D board the looks like a piece of the badlands where you might actually find a treasure trove of fossils. The dinosaur fossils are represented by very cool 3D printed bones, including ribs, limbs, and tiny T-rex skulls.

The majority of the gameplay in Fossilis takes place on the dig site board, with Terrain tiles being shifted and fossils extracted. The game has an eye-catching table presence that not only looks cool, but actually supports the gameplay and theme. It was critical for Diaz and the KTBG development team that the components were not a cliche or shoehorned into the game. They wanted each element to play a logical role in the gameplay.

For the art in Fossilis, the KTBG team turned to a trusted name. Apolline Etienne has previously worked on Haunt the House and Wreck Raiders for Kids Table Board Gaming. For Fossilis, she got to focus on creating images of some of the great creatures that lived millions of years ago. Each of the dinosaur cards in the game features an illustration by Apolline.

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