Incursion site is now up and the team here are starting to think about what comes next. In my case this means developing the environment the action takes place in so that I can begin work on the cardstock board for the boxed game.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have seen that it’s the rock of Gibraltar that plays host to Hugo Von X and his minions. A former British stronghold, it has been overrun by the Axis powers and converted into a research post. So what does this place look like? I want to take it further than the obvious fortified tunnels and labs that the background suggests.

The first thing I would like to express is multi levels. This is tricky as the board game, by its nature, is set on one floor. However, I think by using shafts, grates and apertures it is going to be possible to view the levels below. Thus I hope to make it plain to the audience that they are exploring one level of a much bigger structure.

Another theme I would like to articulate is the place’s naval heritage. As a coastal fort it will have sluice channels, subterranean dockyards as well as the obligatory bulkheads and pressure-sealed doors. Given that Hugo needs to pump the detritus from his experiments somewhere, I would imagine the seawater at the foot of The Rock will be less than pleasant.

I am very fond of the work of British sci-fi writer Nigel Kneale, most famous for his Quatermass stories. In a number of his works he explores the idea that a place can be bad – that cursed sites have a history of sorrow, pain and fear dating back hundreds or thousands of years. I think this is certainly the case with The Rock. Who knows what secret conclaves of the Holy Inquisition it might have hosted, or what petrified remains might be embedded in its limestone strata? Just because Hugo values his soul too much to open Vault XIII is not going to stop Slugger and his squad from taking a shortcut…

I look forward to exploring and articulating these themes (with a surreal streak that I cannot seem to suppress) in glorious photo-realism next year. I hope to deliver a high quality board for what is sure to be the “must have” game of 2009.

Have a good Christmas and I leave you with a present from The Rock that you really don’t want to step in!

Tears of Envy