Friday, September 01, 2006

The CE Project: Tokens

Gen Con's all done, the Con of the North website is mostly up to date, and overall things are getting back to normal again. (Heck, next week I should have my desktop computer back up and running! Yay!)

In my spare time I've been working on things that don't need a computer, one of which is a supply of replacement tokens for our CE sets. Little cardboard circles don't last forever and are easy to lose. My friend Flip made new ones from generic blank white squares, the type you'd use in a classic wargame. Those work, but they're not pretty.

Before I show you what I came up with, let me list the requirements I was looking to fulfill:

  • I'd like tokens that are about the same size as the existing ones: roughly 1/2" in diameter and 1/16" thick. Any smaller and they'd be hard to pick up; larger tokens would require scaling up the system hexes to match.

  • I'd like tokens in a range of colors to match my destiny choices, with the new main colors being Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple.

  • The Mayfair CE set has a few powers that flip tokens over to mean various things. Either all of the tokens need to have the same back and side colors or these powers will need to be rewritten to adapt them to tokens that can't be flipped.

  • In the future, I may want to make a set that uses different shapes, symbols, or something similar so that colorblind folks can play without too many problems. (Aside: did you know that the color choices in the main Mayfair set were made because they were easily discernable by a colorblind person in the Mayfair offices? I don't know if that story is true, but it sounds like a reasonable explanation.)

I was really hoping to find wooden pieces at or about the same size as the existing tokens, but I struck out. It turns out that CE tokens are pretty small compared to the wooden game pieces of today. The choice came down to getting close to the diameter I wanted or the thickness, and I chose diameter. Spielmaterial sells wooden circles (under "Pawns & other figures", then "Discs") in a wide variety of colors that are only a bit wider than the existing tokens but about twice as thick as my well-used tokens. (They're about 0.6" in diameter and 1/8" thick.) Ordering from Spielmaterial was quite simple; just pay via PayPal and let PP handle the conversion. A few days later and $25 lighter I was the prowd owner of a whole bag of white tokens.

Now, you may ask "Why white instead of getting a bunch of different colors?" I decided to be stubborn and paint one side myself so we had flippable tokens. I headed off to Michael's to pick up supplies. This is where I discovered the paint marker, which must have been one of the recent great inventions in arts and crafts. No brushes to wash, no worry about spilling dirty water, just shake it up and paint. Here's the results:

Table with Tokens

In the middle you can see the red tokens from my well used 10+ year old Mayfair set. Their replacements are directly to the right. You can't see the difference in thickness, but the wooden pieces are about twice as thick as my old tokens, and three to four times as thick as a brand new token. I also included the remainder of the token bag (I have enough to make another set of seven different colors and have a bunch left over for replacements), the paint markers, and printed-up Destiny Cards, which we actually used at Gen Con Indy. (Well, we used the ones that match the Mayfair colors.)

I did two coats for all of the colors, and I'm probably going to do a third coat on the reds because they have a lot of dark spots. (It's not so easy to see in this picture, but they do vary in color much more than any of the other color sets.)

Next time, I'll be back to cards. See you then!


Jack said...

It looks like you're using those card sleeves on your Destiny cards. Is that so? I picked up a Xyron at Michael's years ago, and now I am a laminating ninja. Just crank the card stock through and voila! Laminated cards.

Michael Miller said...

I chose card condoms because they were simple, not that expensive, and make prototyping pretty easy. The cards are printed on normal paper and put in there with an old Warlords trading card game card. (The sellers at Gen Con are great for filler. I think we paid $5 for the whole box of cards.)

How well do your laminated cards perform? In my experiences laminated things don't shuffle all that well, worse than the sleeves.

(Besides, if I was laminating then I'd have to make things double sided. :)

Jack said...

The back of my cards are black with stars on them (I use a full page image of stars on black to print on the reverse side). It works pretty well. I also have a template I've been using for custom Apples to Apples cards that could easily be used to give each card the same graphic- and when I print a new set of CE addons, I will probably move over to some new image for that.
The laminated cards don't shuffle as well as real cards... but not too bad. I wouldn't put them through the auto-shuffler, but no complaints. Much better than sleeves.