My next Dollar Store Dungeons purchase was a pretty easy choice: one of the world’s oldest wargames, chess.
Not that I intend to play chess, that is. (If I’m going to go that old-school, my preference is 圍棋 Wéiqí.) Instead, it’s about the cheapest price I’ve ever paid for cheap minis. At 32 minis for $1, that equals about three cents each. While it’s certainly possible to get cheaper ones (the word “free” comes to mind), these are about as cheap as it gets while still spending money.
Chess pieces work admirably as gaming minis, I think. They are both generic and suggestive. They generally suggest standing combatants, unlike, say, coins or paper clips. Yet they’re generic enough that they don’t suggest any particular kind of combatant too strongly; they don’t cause the cognitive dissonance that comes with saying “these orcs here are actually ents, and the humans with black helmets are actually giants”. Also, these chess pieces are a whole lot cheaper than dedicated minis.
Here I should admit that I haven’t actually used chess pieces for gaming minis before. I only use minis about twice a year with either of my gaming groups, and so far, we haven’t needed minis that I didn’t already have. But I know that some day, there will be an encounter with ghouls, elementals or some other creature that my existing minis don’t work for. The chess pieces will then come in quite handy.
Another idea comes to mind: they’d make great mass combat markers for Blade & Crown. The mass combat system requires two colors, with a few different counters each. I’ve usually used glass beads in the past, but I can easily see using chess pieces. Somehow makes sense to use pieces from one of the oldest abstract mass combat games when doing abstract mass combat.