Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Dice & Tokens

Slotkarman from the SI's Soldiers blog asked me about what tokens I use on Pax Stellarum, so I thought it would be nice to share with anyone out there who may also happen to be interested on my homebrew.

Keep in mind that I'm probably a token addict, so bear with me here...

First, Space Mines.

I use either Corsecs mine tokens or Litko's. The first can be found here, the second, here. Corsec's has the advantage of having a dock for a small D6. This is useful if you want to keep track of the number of mines you placed on that same spot. As I don't have such smal D6's, I simply pile those markers in.

Litko's advantage is that they come in different colors, so you can easily know which player deployed each mine. This is important as a mine will only explode if an enemy ship approaches.

On Pax Stellarum, ships may travel on 3 thrust modes: Adrift, Low Thrust and High Thrust. Thus, each unit (squadron or individual ship) must have a token indicating its current thrust mode. Litko has got perfect solutions for this. Here you can find the Adrift token.

As I tend to leave my ships mostly on low thrust, I just use tokens in case they are on high thrust or adrift, as this reduces the number of markers on the table. The High Thrust tokens I use were custom made with this option from Litko. I just chosed the shape, color and text I wanted on my set of 10 tokens. Very handy!

I also use some Move tokens to show the direction each terrain piece is moving to. I place a D6 next to each of these tokens to indicate the speed of movement.

Tractor Beam tokens are also very useful, to connect the ship using the beam to the ship targeted by it.

Next, the Critical Hits tokens. There are 11 different critical systems that can be damaged, and the best solution I found for this was Litko's custom 20. Of course, that won't give you an equal number of tokens for each system, so what I did was purchased 2 of these sets, so I had 40 tokens in total. That allowed me to have at least 3 of each - and 4 of some.

Here again, you can choose the shape, color and text of each token. I kept the shape the same for them all (the burst shape), as it represents an explosion, and makes sense to the purpose I'm using them.

Other tokens I find useful are those for Cloak, Energy and Alert. No particular use for the last 2, but they are handy in some cases, to indicate that the ship is under a Special Order or something.

Also handy are the artillery markers, to represent surface batteries on planets, and the activated tokens, as it can become hard to keep track by memory of which units have already been activated when you're playing big battles.

And now we arrive to dice. Well, Pax Stellarum uses lots of dice. You're mainly going to need different colored D10 and D6, as those are the dice used by the game's mechanics. Other dice are useful to keep track of some ship stats, as we're going to see ahead.

Different colors for your D10 are needed because all weapons from the same unit fire at the same time, so different weapons should roll different D10. This speeds up game play a lot.

D6's are used basically for Shields rolls. I like to have blue dice for anything related to Shields...

... That's why I also use blue D10's to keep track of the level of Shields each ship is currently on. Shields Rating may vary between 0 and 15, but only huge ships have Shields above 10, so a D10 will do for most cases. A couple D20's for your really big ships would be nice, though.

I use D12's and D20's to keep track of Hull points. For this, I tend to use grey dice. To illustrate, a Corvette has about 2 hull points, while a Battleship may have more than 20, so both small and big dice are needed here.

I use D6's next to fighter wings to indicate the number of fighters that wing has still got. Fighters also need to keep track of number of payloads they still have to spend before having to go back to bay to rearm, but to avoid using another token for each wing, I simply use different colored D6 for each level of payload. 

So, 3 payloads use blue D6, 2 payloads use orange D6 and 1 payload use red D6. Fighters with no more payloads use black D6. Very intuitive and easy to differentiate on the table.

 And last, but not least, I use a circular protractor for 2 things. For one, I need it to determine each fire arc for those ships that are not based on hexagonal flight stands. This is what the white markings at every 60º are for on the pic below. I simply place the protractor over the ship, with the central hole alligned with the ship's flight peg, and each fire arc then becomes apparent.

Second, I use the protractor to turn my ships, using the blue markings you can see there. Ships can turn 30°, 45°, 60° or 90°, so I marked my protractor on each of those degrees, on both sides of the 90° mark.

It goes without saying that I also use a measuring tape to check distances and ranges.

And that's it! Although it may seem a lot of stuff, most of times, I only need a token on the table once a ship stat changes from its original level. That means I don't have shields and hull dice placed next to every single ship on the table. 

You can see from the pics of my various playtesting games that my table doesn't look cluttered with stuff other than ships. Just enough so it looks nice. And those who don't like tokens on the table can always resort on the old, safe, bookeeping technique.

As the game is intended to be played, the only pen & paper you'll need is to check the number of hull points each fleet still has and their respective Spacefaring level.

*End of Transmission*


  1. When you get these rules loaded up you should probably make a basic counter sheet to go with them so people can print them off, cut them out and get a few games in within having to invest in tokens straight away. Many people will have the dice required but not necessarily appropriate tokens and tokens are so much faster than bookkeeping. Just sayin!

    1. Samulus, that's a great idea!

      I'll start working on that right away.

  2. Indeed, a basic counter sheet would be a great idea.

    I will order some of the tokens later and I will have to buy some additional d10 and d20 dice.