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Do custom tokens provide a competitive advantage?

As the title says…

I don’t mean those crazy tokens that are nearly undeciferable or otherwise harder to count if you’re not used to using them (i.e. Broken egg tokens). I play with the cutout tokens, as do most of my playgroup. Most people with custom tokens have reasonable looking pieces. Nothing I can’t quickly count out with a glance. However, I feel like I have a firmer mental grasp of the opponents board when they’re using cutout tokens as I’m used to them. Unless I focus more of my attention on keeping track of their money, it is hard to do the same with custom tokens. I feel like it adds to the mind game, but if this is not an Damons goal then might it not be a competitive advantage in higher level play?

One problem with the idea of forcing everyone to use the default tokens is that they wear out and become at least as unrecognizable as custom ones. Or at least, that was my conclusion from seeing Timmy Wong’s tokens on last year’s World’s stream.

I suppose you could still argue that you’d then only have to get used to two types of tokens - the default tokens, and worn out cardboard discs that started their existence as the default tokens.

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This feels like kind of a loaded question. I have custom tokens, and I’ve played people who have custom tokens and I’ve not had a complaint about them and the only complaint I have had about other people’s tokens are broken egg which simply look like the wrong numbers if they’re reversed.

In competitive tournaments if someone asked me to use standard tokens I’d do it with no hard feelings. I just don’t think tokens are that big of a deal.

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I typically and frequently ask people to use standard tokens (or share mine!) if they are using some strange system. I can’t read poker chips, or instance, so that’s a common example of when I ask people to use something different.

I have had more people comment on my tokens than not.
I have had unanimously positive feedback on my tokens, in the vein of ‘Those are sweet.’

I use the PennyGem tokens because they’re really easy to read across the table and even stacks of them are easy to count. If I ever get a question, it’s ‘The big ones are 5, right?’

Tokens don’t provide a competitive advantage, regardless.

Only that it’s easier to sort out which ones are yours after the table flip.

I really dislike this type of question. It’s the same thing with the dice issue. The implication is “anything that could be manipulated/exploited is likely to be manipulated and thus shouldn’t be permitted” - as if there was no other reason to use them (ease of use, simplicity/conservation of board space, aesthetics, etc.). When did we all stop giving each other the benefit of the doubt?

This isn’t MTG. I like that this community cares about itself, and that the stakes at tournaments are so low that cheating would be pointless. Griping about technical stuff like tokens suggests a loss of that sense of comity. /rant


I don’t think Onion01 was suggesting that people were deliberately seeking to gain a competitive advantage by using custom tokens. They only asked if an advantage might exist. Their post doesn’t read to me as accusatory.

I’m also not sure it’s helpful to say that no one should worry about “technical stuff” because Netrunner players are nice and the stakes are low. Conquest 40k wasn’t MtG either, and they still ended up with a high-level cheater. It’s true that we shouldn’t put more energy into worrying about cheating than is warranted, but that doesn’t mean that we should never discuss technical issues at all.


Remember this a a pretty good community. if your opponent is using custom tokens and you are confused about amounts, ask them to fan them out.

This issue here is not custom tokens its people being willing to ask for clarification of board state.

For example in my meta I ask that people using the broken tokens do not stack them but fan them out so the numbers can be clearly seen. No one minds.


Well, obviously. For one thing, there’s no judge program.

(Though I don’t fault FFG for really weird rules sometimes. Honestly they’re in a pretty decent state for a game less than 5 years old. Heck, they’ve even got templating down for the most part.)

That’s fair. I suppose I’m responding more to the tone of the conversation back when dice were prohibited than to tokens themselves. One of the big arguments they made, for instance, was that dice are easy to tip over, which was a bad argument on a number of levels, not least being the implication that people do that constantly and that’s the only reason to use dice. Sorry for elevating Onion01 to straw-man status. (And sure, there will always be some people who care about winning nothing at any cost.)

At the same time, though, the phrase “competitive advantage” carries a suggestion of subterfuge, even if used in a benign manner. Are there tricks that one could use to eke out a few percentage points? Well, sure. Could tokens be used in that manner? Maybe. I guess I’m just not sure what Onion wants to hear other than a verbal shrug if his question doesn’t have a subtext. It’s a very thin semantic line between “the pros do these things and win” and “the pros win because they do these things.”

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No one was implying that because dice can be easily tipped that people were cheating. They were saying, simply “If the table gets jostled it’s hard to correct the mistake”. There’s no sinister implied motive to not wanting dice.

You know, with how much Fantasy Flight loves their Supply line of products, I’m surprised they themselves havn’t put out any sort of premium token sets for their games.


I don’t think custom tokens are a competitive advantage as how a player stores and shows their tokens. I’ve had more of a problem trying to figure out how many credits someone had when they just had a big pile of Core set cardboard token on their ID (a very common practice years ago, and even occasionally now). But, now most players try to display their tokens in a clear manner (no matter what tokens they are using), so it’s much better overall.

Point being that a player can find competitive advantage even if they’re using official FFG tokens, but the vast majority don’t (or are just unaware that their board state is difficult to read).


This is very true. I often find the people who are the hardest to read their credit amount are people using core set tokens. If people are willing to spend money on credits they usually care enough to organize them well.

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Ugh, I use the Broken Token ones and if I’m not fanning them out I can’t even keep track of values. Worst I do is stack 2’s and 3’s to = 5’s, which is actually a good thing.

I use the Broken Token counters and, like most tokens, they are very clear to read when they’re organized sanely. I find the Team Covenant 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 5’s ridiculously hard to tell apart if they’re on the table haphazardly because they’re all dark and about the same size. Same with the core set tokens, if just a jumble on the ID or corner of the playmat. If the opponent orders them in some logical or ordered way then it’s usually less of a problem. It’s all about how your opponent is presenting this information. Hopefully they’re doing it courteously.

The thing I don’t like about broken token is when the five is reversed it looks like a two and I have mis-counted amounts enough times to really hate them. My friend stated organizing them into groups of five as well and that has helped.

That’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t be a problem if they’re organized correctly, though. I always have them at the top of my playmat, in order (1s then 2s then 3s then 5s). The color coding should help too when you see Orange = 5, Blue = 2. Of course, this does somewhat depend on them being ordered, which everyone should do with any token anyway.