Posted by: markfender | May 26, 2015


Despite the picture, this isn’t a complaint about Fantasy Flight Games token proliferation. Been there, done that.

pic1597193Instead, it’s about the proliferation of tokens in miniature games. I’m not sure when it happened, but there are a lot of tokens involved in your average miniature game. There’s wounds to track, states to mark off, and continuous effects to account for. Someone, somewhere decided that the minis themselves weren’t capable of displaying enough information (I mean, you’re pretty much limited to “on the table/off the table”. You can expand slightly by laying a mini on its side or maybe turning it around to face away, but that’s still not that many states).

And that’s fine. Warmachine gets much of its tactical depth with its upkeep spells, continuous effects, and game states besides just alive/dead. Likewise, Infinity has way too many states that a model can be in, but they all add up to making the game more engaging. And Malifaux loves creating new token/marker types whenever they introduce a new crew.

I have nothing against changing game states or even marking things with tokens. But it does seem slightly inelegant to just pile markers next to a mini. Then, you’ve got to move the mini and it’s pile of tokens. You’ve got to remember to look at the mini itself when activating it, in order to remember all the effects that are currently effecting it. And it gets really bad when you’ve got a scrum in the middle of the table where there isn’t enough room to keep all the tokens.

Some people combat this by keeping the tokens on the mini’s stat card (assuming the game uses those). This keeps the table neater, but does tend to occlude what states the mini is operating under. Your opponent has a harder time keeping up with the tokens on your miniature. And, eventually, stat cards become less and less relevant as you memorize the important numbers on the card…meaning you’re referring to the card less and less, possibly missing the giant pile of tokens on the mini you just activated.

I’ve seen various token management systems out there (magnets, slots in bases, etc) to contain token proliferation, but they all seem like incomplete solutions. Probably the easiest method would be to have click dials (like HeroClix) or some variation that kept track of all the states on a miniature. But even this isn’t a great solution if you’ve got to pick up the mini every time something happens to it that doesnt’ outright kill it.

There’s probably no easy solution. It’s probably not even a problem most of the time. But I do think miniature games could do with a lesson in bookkeeping to maybe contain the number of states a model can be laboring under.


  1. I was thinking about this right a few day back while writing the draft for a post (that I have not published yet). Seems incredible that 20 years ago I played any game using almost no tokens, if not just couple of things like morale or overwatch.
    Anyway, if possible, I keep tokens on the cards, Warmahordes for example, and work very fine. Yes, my opponent has to look across the table to spot them. But same is for marked wounds (truth is, he will ask me. Simple as that).
    For Malifaux, most of the 30mm tokens must be on table, but for status one, you can put them on the cards, too. Even better, for things that tend to grow (like Poison) I don’t use tokens at all, just mark it on the card with same dry-erase pen I use to mark wounds (this is possible as M2E cards are lighter than Warmachine ones). So “P3” on a cards means 3 poison counters.

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