How to make custom markers for card games

In ActionI’ve recently started teaching/playing Doomtown:Reloaded using some proxies I’ve printed out and one of the few things that are kinda annoying in the card pool, is that there’s a significant amount of card effects which one has to track manually because either the originating card was an action that was discarded, or because it’s an effect from a deed or spell which has to remain in its original location, and cannot be used to track the effect.

So for example, one of your dudes moves to Charlie’s Place and grabs +2 bullets, then a few plays later they’re hit by a noon Blood Curse, and after an amount of maneuvering later, you end up in a shootout. Now you have to remember that +2 bullets and that -1 bullet effects, plus any Sun In Yer Eyes and so on,that you may get in the shootout itself before calculating your bullet bonuses. And finally at the end of the turn you also have to remember that -1 influence from Blood Curse as well. Let’s just say that is can easily lead to mistakes…

Now, Doomtown:Reloaded will come with more than influence, control and ghost rock counters. It will also come with a bunch of double-sided generic counters which you can use to track other effects, such as the aforementioned ones (and generally shotoout effects are fairly easy to remember since they last so little), but you’d still have to remember that the green star is a blood curse, and the grey skull is an extra bullet etc. Still leaves room for mistakes.

A few weeks ago, I was at a Android:Netrunner game night, and one player had this cool little plastic tokens that he created to add custom markers, instead of using his own cards, such as parasite tokens on cards instead of his parasite card, or personal workshop tokens to remember which of his cards are still in the workshop, and so on. It was a really nifty idea but I thought that it was a wasted potential in Netrunner because it has very little things one needs to track manually ((This is actually one of my favourite designs. I find that the way they’re dealing with increasing or resident effects to be brilliant! Basically what they do in ANR is that almost any effect which stays at the table is always represented with a card, and any variable changes on top of that is represented with a marker upon the card which explains the effect itself. This way one can always understand the state of the game just by looking at the state of the cards on the table, even if they just tuned in to the game. )) other than the occasional Femme Fatale marker or Uroboros effect which are few and short enough not to cause any issues.

In Doomtown however, where noon-long effects are fairly common ((fortunately we got rid of card memory shenanigans)) these kind of tokens are a great idea. So using the information that it’s simple coin capsules (used by collectors mostly) I researched a bit online started preparing.

For my Coin Capsules, I went with the 20mm ones from Unicorn, which at 12 euro for a 100, means 0.12 cents each. Not bad for simple plastic. Their size is fitting for a 10cent euro coin, which I felt was sufficiently large to show the card art in the marker, without being so large that it obscures the card itself or leaves no space for other counters.

(Here I’m going to explain how I prepared everything from the start. If you just want to see how to simply print your own based on what I made, skip to the “Making your own custom markers” part.)

Once they arrived, I opened the card art and took a screenshot of the area I wanted to make into a marker, I passed that into GIMP, made a perfect circle selection of exactly the area I needed, then cut that into a new image (to remove the rest of the art), resized it to 60 px (which prints out to roughly 21mm) and finally created a white image in gimp at A4-paper size, and pasted the resized marker in there.

I repeated the procedure with 14 other cards ((of which blood curse was one I did two times with two different art sections, to keep track of the two different spell effects)) that I felt created resident effects often enough. This created a double row of markers 7-wide +1 marker on the side which I didn’t need so many of. Finally I copy-pasted that double row 4 more times, to get 4 of each marker in the same page and thus have enough to use on the rare occasions where I get to use multiple of that effect in the same turn (or if my opponent is running some at the same time)

I finally exported from GIMP in .pdf format which would make sure the images print out at exactly the dimensions I put in the paper.

Making your own custom markers

2014 - 1So if you want to make your own markers using the ones I’ve already prepared, first you need to get yourself some coin capsules. You can prolly buy them in any hobby story, or just use the same item I got on Amazon. Afterwards print out my A4 page with the markers and cut them.

Since you can create each marker double-sided, what I did is put two different markers per capsule’s side. I chose cards which are unlikely to be together at the same time in multiple numbers, so as to avoid having a situation where I needed 2 from one side and 3 of the other side.

My pairs were:

  • Blood Curse 1/ Blood Curse 2 (The two different effects of the spell)
  • War Paint / Unprepared (Value difference of 6 means unlikely to be in the same straight flush draw structure)
  • Sun in Yer Eyes / Stakes Just Rose (Same Value)
  • Pinned Down / Make the Smart Choice (Value difference of 5 means less chance to be in the same straight flush draw structure)
  • Bad Company / Hiding in the Shadows (Same Value)
  • Rumors / Charlie’s Place (Influence Reduction tends not to me used in the same decks which care about boosting their bullets)
  • Yan Li’s Tailoring / Morgan Research Institute (Spell/Gadget decks unlikely to run deeds at 3 value)
  • Kevin / Kevin (just double sided solo marker for Kevin’s Ability)

Feel free to make your own pairs if you think something is more appropriate.

When putting the images in the capsule, you’ll notice that one side will not fit exactly, while the other will have space remaining. This is normal since the capsule needs some space to lock itself in place. To put the 21mm marker in the 20mm space, I simply used a 10cent coint to squeeze it in, and while I lost a little bit of circumference it’s not noticeable at all on the final marker. And the extra size on the larger size ensures the image is held into place on the capsule’s face, rather than just falling to the bottom.

This was my end result

Complete Look

I think the result is pretty neat, and in a mock setup I’ve done, the custom markers fit very comfortable among all the other cards and normal markers. Of course one has to have the art memorized to know what each custom marker does, but after a few plays that should be fairly easy. I do think a good improvement might be to include a small icon on each marker’s art that is like “+2 bullet”, or “-1 influence”,  or “turned into draw” etc. Maybe something for the future or someone better than me could arrange it and share the results with everyone (I can provide my GIMP sources on demand)

To cover all of Doomtown:Reloaded’s important resident effects I used only 29 capsules so far, so I’m left with 71 more. More than enough to re-use for other games, or for new Doomtown:Reloaded abilities as expansion come out.