Playing Tokens

Andy Looney has a screed to the effect that the playing tokens that come with games are dull. (With certain exceptions, we note, starting with Roborally.) A real game afficianado will have his own tokens, ones that suit his personality. When gamers gather, they should each pull out their own token and slap it on the board, gleaming with the same sense of self-sure pride with which a cowboy uncorks his revolver.

Well, it beats "I wanna be the hat!" fights.

Phase 1: Wooden Cubes

I was actually visualizing little clusters of colored crystal... or even transparent plastic, come to that. Beads and wire. I still do visualize that. Only, when I went to the craft store, they didn't have anything that suited what I visualized.

Wooden cubes, was what they had.

(image is link to larger version)

Eight large cubes, eight small ones. (They're one-inch and three-quarters respectively.) I actually painted seven of each, but I also put dark edges on an unpainted one -- a test -- and when I started varnishing, I thought what the hell, and added that to the set.

I was trying for a different op-art effect on each cube. The patterns all looked great on paper... well, that's an easy tune. As you can see, the brown and orange cubes actually are optically active. The green one might have, if I'd gotten the lines on each face to converge, but I didn't. The rest are just geometric abstractions.

(Yes, the small cubes really are flat single colors. They were a late and hasty addition to the plan. I just figured that some games require a secondary token -- Cheapass's Spree, say -- and others might have boards too small for inch-wide cubes.)

(And yes, there are two blue cubes. One light, one dark. The dark one should have been darker, is all.)

Phase 2: Dice

When I went to Origins last month (July 2000), I endured revelation: I saw tables and tables of little plastic beads... with numbers on them. Dice of every color, pattern, and size. "Aha," I said in a revelatory way, and bought fifty dollars' worth.

A bit of work with superglue...

(images are still links to larger versions)

Actually, the bases were the hardest part to find. I originally bought small discs of mirror-glass. Which would have been very cool, but superglue doesn't bond to glass well. So I bagged those and kept looking for flat, clear pieces of plastic. Craft and bead stores were hopeless. But... you can find anything at teachers' supply stores. Little brass arrows and flat clear plastic.

As you see, I got normal dice, clear dice, tiny dice, teeny-tiny dice, and the peculiar spindle-shaped dice that somebody was selling. The center token in the second image is cheating a bit -- those are alphabet beads on the sides, not dice -- but I figure any glyphed cube is morally a die. Besides, it's got that solid-brass die on top, which trumps all uncoolness.


I still want to make the crystal clusters someday. But the purple and clear dice come close.

All pieces constructed and painted by me. Here are my notes on how to paint your own wooden pieces. As to the dice, well, think cyanoacrylate.

Last updated August 2, 2000.

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