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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Feel the Force (Chips)

by Ken Newquist / October 29, 2008
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One of the problems I’ve found with action points, bennies, plot points, and other similar mechanics is that unless they’re crucial to the game, players tend to forget about them. And even when they are important, keeping track of them can be a challenge as the light-weight chips or tokens get covered up, buried, or pushed out of the way.

Our solution has been to use plastic poker chips, which have the advantage of being large enough to seen and thus, remembered. They’re easy to toss around the table (important for games like Serenity or Spycraft where the points tend to fly fast and furious) and while they can make an annoying sound that grates on the nerves when ground together, mostly they get the job done. Except, of course, when the light plastic chips go rolling off the table, or bounce where you weren't expecting.

For Star Wars, we’ve kicked it up a notch thanks to campaign members Cory and Brendan, who were in Wal-Mart and found a set of weighted poker chips on clearance. These are far superior than what we’ve used before. The weighted chips have heft to them, so they’re less likely to slide around on the table, and they come in a variety of colors (including white, red, blue, green and black). I’m planning on using blue and green for Force points, White for destiny points and Red for Dark Side points (which should be far and few between … but still, it’s good to have them there)

Comments

Brendan and I thought they looked good, and at $3 a pack we took a chance. After playing with them a bit, I highly recommend them. I'd even pay full price for them at this point. Fortunately the poker craze caused a surplus supply at that particular Walmart. But I've noticed them at other Walmarts, so they should be available regardless of where you live.

I agree. These chips are ideal, and having played with them, I'd have happily purchased them at full-price myself. IMHO, they're a must buy for anyone who uses this kind of mechanic in their game; they're infinitely better than those stupid little glass beads.

Are these actually clay chips or are they plastic with some sort of weight in them? I'd love to get a set of clay chips for just this sort of thing (and even for the occasional poker game).

I'm not sure exactly what they're made of -- I'll have to check the box when I get home tonight and report back.

Heavier chips would be nice, but for me the little card suit or other symbols around the edge of poker chips just seems out of place with an RPG. And I'd rather have all in one color. So, instead of the extreme expense of ordering custom chips, I splurged a bit and ordered the minimum 1,000 chips from manufacturer Rolco Games (www.rolcogames.com/Speciality.htm). They're light, but the wood-plastic composite has a nice feel and doesn't make that grating sound. I got chips in purple and gave away 700 of them (in packs of 30) at Gen Con as promotional items for Purple Pawn (www.purplepawn.com).

Hmmm. I should really post a close-up of these chips. I didn't know this would be such a popular topic. :) Our chips have small d6 symbols on them (one for each face of a six-sider) so it's not jarring. Heck, we were debating how to use them to calculate scatter damage. I can see how card suit symbols could be jarring though, and the Rolco Game ones you linked to look nice. Honestly though, I think what resonates most with me about these is the heft; they really feel -- I don't know -- significant in your hand, and you can't underestimate the value of tossing a chip out and having it land where you wanted it (particularly in Battlestar or Serenity, where the chips are flying fast).