I think there are two things going on in the thread that are related but not really the same:
- Clarity of the components being used
- Clarity of the way they are setup
I think for custom tokens you should always explain your tokens and ask if the person is ok with your tokens and if they are not be willing to switch to the cardboard tokens. I brought tokens to tournaments this year and i always got out my tokens, showed them the credit values and then asked if that was cool. No one said no, but if someone had I had a bag of the cardboard tokens with me.
As far as where to put money, I think at the front of your mat is a must. I see people all the time pile money on their ID and it eventually becomes impossible to really know how much money they even have. Stacks of 5 is preferable to some, but I’ve always put my tokens in decending order of value to make it clear how much I have and how much each token is worth.
W/R/T making sure the tokens are clearly different, I use the 1,2, and 5 credit tokens from BoardGameFactory on Etsy. The thing I like about them is that each one is a distinct shape, which, in addition to using different colors, I feel like it makes very clear which ones are more valuable. My only complaint about them is that the actual monetary value as printed on the tokens is a bit small.
I like the Team Covenant tokens, but even though they get progressively larger, it is often still hard for me to tell which is bigger between the 1,2, and 3 tokens (this is a personal preference, but I also don’t like that the reverse side is two advancement or three advancement, I feel like it’s hard to tell how much a card is advanced). As for the Broken Egg Tokens, I think they’re very handsome, but the thing that I always run into is if the person turns them upside down by accident the 5 looks like a 2. The number of times I thought I had a scoring window and it turned out the runer had 8-12 more credits than I had thought. . .
Edit: You know I just had a thought. I don’t know if this would just be too hard for them to publish, but if FFG did a standardization document for the tokens it would help. Standarizing colors of tokens, the symbols on tokens, and how large the number was on the token all have obvious value. They could even conceivably partner with a vendor to make official plastic tokens, or do like Apple and have an approval process that makes the tokens endorsed in some way.