My second item for Dollar Store Dungeons is something I wish I’d found a few years ago:
In Blade & Crown combat, your stance (aggressive, evasive, etc.) is pretty important. But it can be hard for the players to remember what stance they, or someone else, declared at the beginning of the round. When combat gets really tactical and every position and stance counts, it can be helpful to have a visual reminder of everyone’s stances. What I wanted is some kind of counter to show what each combatant’s stance is for the round: a stance marker.
Are stance markers necessary? No, it’s entirely practical to play without them. But they give that added visual element and serve as a helpful reminder.
What should such a counter look like? I gave this some thought, and came up my ideal stance marker:
- Regular, so that (for example) all Aggressive counters look like all other Aggressive counters.
- Big enough to be a visual reminder.
- Not so big that it can’t be placed on the map, perhaps next to a mini or under a mini.
- Colorful and perhaps varied by shape, making all the different stances obviously distinct.
- Cheap enough that I can easily afford markers for all the combatants in a melee, even a big one.
- It should also have the various combat effects of the stance listed on it, so players can remember them at a glance.
I hunted around for different things that would do the trick. Litko makes lots of different plastic tokens for gaming (and by “lots” I mean “really, seriously, a vast array”). They even make customizable counters. But the font size is apparently fixed, so getting enough useful text onto a B&C stance marker would be impossible. Also, the price ($6.99 per set, which implies about $40 for an entire set of stance markers) is prohibitive for my purposes.
I toyed with using colored paperclips (cheap, but not really big or visually obvious enough), Lego bricks (too expensive to get a large enough group, not really in the colors I wanted), hand-colored wooden discs (too much trouble and hard to make them look regular enough for my tastes), or poker chips (also too much trouble, and not visually distinct enough). None seemed workable.
Later, I found some fish tank beads that have done the trick. They’re fairly cheap and come in a variety of colors. They aren’t quite big enough to serve as off-the-map reminders, but on the map they work pretty well. It’s been hard to find them online, but Amazon sells some, albeit not in the variety of colors I found. I think I ended up paying about $15 to get enough to play with. These fish tank beads have served as my main stance markers for a couple years now. I don’t use them every combat, but when I do, they’re very handy.
All of which brings me to the “linking shapes” I found in the dollar store. How do they match up with my standards?
- They’re fairly regular, though different sets have different shapes.
- They’re definitely big enough to be a visual reminder.
- Seems like they’re small enough to also fit well on a combat map.
- They’re very colorful and are varied by shape.
- They’re really cheap! $1 is easily enough for an entire combat; $2 should be enough for even the largest brawl. These are by far the cheapest good stance markers I’ve found.
The one thing they don’t have is a place to write combat effects, but that’s okay — they’re still about the best markers I’ve found so far. And did I mention they’re cheap? (Cheap enough that I actually bought two sets, to get a better variety of shapes.)
Now, to decide if I should put them under minis or next to them…
I’m sure you know this; Axman Surplus has the glass beads that you mention in your post, in several colors, and for really cheap. They also have a wide selection of cheap plastic creatures that are very handy.
I actually decided against glass beads as stance markers because I already use glass beads to track Traits! But yes, I know Axman sells those cheaply. Dollar stores sell them even more cheaply (she alluded). 🙂
Way cool! You are very welcome!
(check out the giant fleas in the first aisle past the lab glassware! )