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Table Top Tesla Blog

Terraforming Mars Overlays: Offsetting for Durability

by Roger Rigby

If you are a current subscriber to this blog, you may have noticed that I was silent for quite a while. Everything is all right, I just added another hobby to my collection. I have but one hobby, I collect hobbies.

The latest was that I rescued a 1993 Dodge Stealth from taking a trip to the junk yard. I wont go into detail as to everything I had to do to get it driveable. If you are interested, the journey is here, https://plus.google.com/collection/g9o2SB

Since I last wrote, I designed the first Terraforming Mars Player-mat overlay. The game was released right around the same time I was going to a local convention last Fall. I skipped a couple of days so I could figure out the design for this amazing game that desperately needed some help in the cube wrangling department. :whistle:

I am not going to beat a dead horse on the quality of the components, how slippery, metal cube corner chipping, paperboard thickness, self destructing inserts, etc. Nothing will ever be 100% perfect, for 100% of the people, 100% of the time. Bottom line, it is in the third printing, I can safely say the the masses have spoken in the most democratic way possible, with their wallet!

On the issue of pleasing everyone, if you look at the image above of the Terraforming Mars: Player Mat Overlay in original size, you will see that the one row for each resource is aligned with "zero" and that the other row(s) is offset approximately halfway up or down on the numbers. What a horrible defect! I must be some kind of hack! :what:

Nothing could be further from the truth. I design for what I perceive the need to be, to solve a problem, or mitigate an issue that sometimes only I can relate to. Why did I offset the rows; because they had to be. Physics got in the way. The cubes used for production record keeping are nearly as large as the printed squares they sit upon. Rotating every other cube position 45 degrees, (Patent Pending), solves the problem for one axis, left to right in this example, but up and down are not helped. Space, the final frontier... was needed.

I am a big fan of the quote "Form (ever) follows function" - Louis Henry Sullivan. He was an architect, you can read a bit about him here if you like. https://www.wired.com/2015/09/man-coined-form-follows-functi... That quote is something I learned I think in the architecture part of drafting class. I hate architecture, it is so subjective. Unless of course it falls down. But I digress.

I carry my games in the car to board game night at the coffee shop. They get borrowed by friends. Played at conventions by strangers. I wont say they are abused, but they are lovingly played. Ok, sometimes they are abused. So any kind of accessory that I am going to design is going to need to hold up to a little bit of rigorous handling. I also have have an aversion to doing anything twice, like cutting out replacement overlays that have broken in transit. That one I believe comes from General Patton, "Never take the same hill twice".

Every overlay for Terraforming Mars is going to have an offset on the numbers somewhere, as long as you are using the cubes that came with the game. It might not be noticeable, but it is there, no matter how small. I have never used other people's solutions, nor is it my nature to bad mouth others, publicly anyway. :) They made the choice to lean closer towards form, and I towards durability, (Function). One is not wrong, nor the other right. The design must meet the need of the user.

Amped up the form aspect of my overlay design by modifying the graphics of the player mat to perfectly match the offset and rotation. Form and function! The graphic file can be found here Player Mats Customized to Fit Acrylic Overlays, just print it out on glossy card-stock at 100% scale, trim, and your done.

Thank you for helping to balance the equation!

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