Hello everyone, for the last few years I've been designing a competitive two-player wargame set in a steampunk fantasy world populated by talking animals. The game was mostly inspired by Warmachine/Hordes and is a culmination of my experiences from playing miniatures games competitively for nearly a decade. I showed off the game at a game designer event last weekend named Protospiel, and it received praise from publishers and playtesters for its unique theme and simple but deep ruleset. The game is planned to have acrylic or thick cardboard cutouts mounted on a base, and fit a niche scale between a skirmish and a full wargame (units are typically between 1-6 figures) It was also considered to be an ideal entry-level game into the genre and for parents who wish to play a wargame with their kids but still wanted a game that was deep enough for experienced players. Unfortunately, I have a difficult decision to make for the game's art direction. Which I've attached as a photo and would like your opinion on which you feel would be the most suitable. Note that although the characters are cute and expressive, the overarching story is meant to be taken seriously and is oftentimes quite dark. I'm looking for opinions on which would be the people's preference of the two styles, IGNORING that Style 1 is only sketched at the moment.
Style 1: Anthro style inspired by Zootopia. The benefits of this style over style 2 are that it may attract furries as a potential market but isn't furry enough that it alienates those who aren't. The environments are simpler to design, as not everything has to be designed for four-legged animals like in style 2. The characters are easier to pose and are better suited for fitting on a circle base if they are plastic miniatures, but also can have a greater variety of poses if they are illustrated. It is however much less original and would require me to scrap the original art, though this is the sunk cost fallacy.
Style 2: The protagonist species are inspired by ponies, but designed to look more like steampunk goats. However, this does mean that almost everyone who looks at them draws the comparison and may either think that they're cute and interesting or dismiss it because of the resemblance. In this art style the creatures' cities, weaponry, and furniture are all specially designed for four legged animals, creating a unique looking fantasy world. There are a few problems though, such as the characters needing a short ranged telekinesis to be able to manipulate tools and objects (no hands) and their poses are limited, too wide and the cutout won't fit on a base and if I went with plastic miniatures they may have a hard time fitting on the base.
I would greatly appreciate any and all comments and what your preference would be between style 1 and style 2. Please vote here:
Caprinaria (working title) is a war story set in the land of Caprinaria six hundred years after the Caprans (a species of equine-goat hybrids) revolted against their Hethrell slave masters and banished them to the wilderness of Bruul. In the centuries that passed the Caprans prospered in their new paradise but the Hethrell were disparate and suffered terribly in their harsh new land. Their species was only saved from extinction and forged into a militant empire by the charismatic leadership of their Patriarch, whom they revere as a messiac figure. Tension between the two nations grows as the Hethrell begin to expand and threaten to break the Liberation Treaty, a one-sided agreement similar to the Treaty of Versailles which prevents them from entering the no-mare's land between Caprinaria and Bruul, but the growing Hethrell populace is in need of food and resources. Protests against the Liberation Treaty at the border have been becoming an everyday occurrence. The uneasy peace breaks when to win over the council and public's support for war the Patriarch places ex-criminals as suicide bombers among the protestors, the resulting chaos causing the Capran guards to fire on the protesters. The Patriarch's council and the public almost unanimously agrees to war, centuries of hatred and bitterness finally unleashed.
The novel is told from the perspective of a young Capran mare named Gadget Steamhoof, whose parents were stationed at the border due to the rising tension between the two nations and in their absence has been raising her little sister, Pip, like she was her own daughter. When war is declared on Caprinaria she is conscripted and forced to leave the comfort of her solitary life and be thrust into the heart of war. She will have to learn to make friends in order to survive and overcome the horrors of war while holding onto her morals and sanity.