The Forest Gnomes just got a leg up on those sneaky wizards. Quite literally in fact.

Barklegen Gnomes commanding an ent to attack

Back when I started Gnomes and Wizards, there was a lot of excitement about building a tactical game that tabletop gamers of all experience levels could enjoy, not just the elite. Much of the devotion and time was poured into balancing the various abilities, making sure the game was streamlined, and that each game didn’t run too long. As a result, the visual design work, specifically the character illustrations, became an afterthought.

At that time, I was both designing the game and doing the illustration/graphic design work for it. Since my background is in graphic design, I figured I could pull it all off. I mean Ryan Laukat did, so why can’t I? If you aren’t familiar with his work, check out all of his games over at his website, They are stunning pieces of art, both mechanically and aesthetically.

Anyways, even if illustration wasn’t my specialty, I thought I could at the very least make something that was acceptable. In some ways, the original artwork was acceptable, but after many playtests and discussions about the game with other gamers, I realized that the thing people were getting hung up most on, was the character illustrations. Some people liked it, and others did not. Honestly, it was a bit defeating because I spent a lot of time on these characters. I am a stubborn person so I tried to make it work but eventually, I got to a point where I knew I would have to redo the art.

Although at first I was tied to the designs I made, I realized that my grief wasn’t my attachment to the sub-par illustrations I created. It was that I was being the hands, feet, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and brain of the CavernWire operations. Mix that with some family hardships and you’ve got one burnt-out individual. It wasn’t even about the illustrations, although I was dreading redoing them. I needed a partner in this. Someone who could help lighten the load and build enthusiasm with me.

After taking some time following the first Kickstarter campaign, I knew I wanted to figure out how to approach a relaunch but I also didn’t want to stop designing games, which came much more naturally so I started working on a side project. I reached out to an old buddy of mine who I knew was a good illustrator to see if he had some extra time to work on the project. He also went to design school and liked playing board games.

We got together and talked about this new side project over coffee. After spending the following months and now almost 2 years working together, Dave Testa, co-designer of Amist: Mutant Control and Illustrator for both Amist and now Gnomes and Wizards, has joined me in this endeavor to make innovative games that are community-led. The partnership has been a healthy one for CavernWire, as he has brought a lot to the table beyond great illustrations. Even though we have the same degree, we have different sets of skills that complement each other well and I am very thankful to have him on board.

Over the last few months, we have started to transition our primary focus back to Gnomes and Wizards. Dave has been re-illustrating these characters and has been doing an excellent job at it. Below we’ve put together a few of these illustrations for you to download as a wallpaper for your computer.



Send download link to:

I confirm that I have read and agree to the terms of the Privacy Policy

As a graphic designer, I knew the importance of visual aesthetics to draw people in. The board for Gnomes and Wizards had achieved that. I’ve gotten many remarks on how the look of the board drew them in. I figured since the character illustrations weren’t the primary focus, it was okay that they weren’t superb. But what I learned over the course of the last 2 years is that even though that is true, the characters are how people relate to the game and the world they are set in. These are the characters that players identify with and therefore should have as much attention to detail as the terrain tiles and all of the other components. I also learned that I didn’t even enjoy character design all that much and it became a chore for me. I have been very thankful for Dave in that regard because now I can focus on improving the mechanics and working on the business end of CavernWire.

Now that we are equally invested in the projects we’re working on, we hope to create games that have both a stunning table presence and excellent gameplay. Dave and I are excited about the new visual design Gnomes and Wizards is taking and we are excited about making progress towards a relaunch for this wacky tactical game.

Signup for our short, weekly newsletter to stay up to date on the most important changes going on at CavernWire Games

Success! You're on the list.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *