Cheap Washer Miniatures

   Posted by: Blackbird   in DM Stuff

Since the game took a bit of a haitus during the holidays I’ve decided to put up some posts that may help out other DMs out there.

Lately I haven’t liked using pewter miniatures at games, the good ones tend to cost a rather large amount and even buying reaper and other cheaper miniatures is fairly expensive if you actually want to have unique miniatures for each NPC. I found that using miniatures I was always putting them out on the table and then having to tell the group who was who. In large d20 combats this took up a bunch of time but people also had a hard time remembering what each mini happened to represent this time around.

One of my players came to me with an idea of cutting 1″ squares out of Magic: The Gathering cards and using those as minis, since they couldn’t fall over, and there would be a wide variety of different monsters, faces etc to choose from. I liked the idea but decided that I’d rather go for circular cutouts and I wanted them to have some weight.

At a craft store I got a 1″ hole punch and at the local hardware store I got ~100ish 3/8″ washers (washers are measured by the hole in the center but a 3/8″ washer is 1″ around).

I stopped playing Magic a long time ago and didn’t have any cards to use. I posted online saying that I was looking for cards that had merchants, wizards, knights, soldiers, skeletons, goblins, orcs, etc on them and that I’d pay .10 per card. A guy named Ludo hooked me up with about 250ish cards and after a couple of lazy evenings I now have these:

They’re brain-dead simple to make, and a regular craft glue stick seems to hold the card onto the washer just fine.

Each one has a bit of weight to it and they feel like heavy quarters in my hand, they also click together which I like.

On the table they work great, none of them fall down, and they can’t knock each other over. With some cheap magnets I can add status effect markers and I’m looking for a way to make some small (1/4″) magnetic weapons to stick onto the cards.

What I enjoy most about them is the fact that unique characters can have their own figure without it costing me a ton or making transportation a big hassle. If an important NPC or villain dies I can just rip the card off the washer, glue a new one down and that person will never be seen again. Also when I lay out a battle I don’t have to describe every NPC, instead I can just describe the villains/monsters. I do plan to reuse goblins, skeletons and other lower level critters.

Storage is much easier and they don’t seem to destroy themselves the way pewter miniatures do when you toss a bunch of them into a shoe box. I can carry about 250 of these for the same weight as about 25 reaper minis.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 2nd, 2010 at 11:57 pm and is filed under DM Stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far

Ed Green

This is an incredibly awesome idea. I’ll have to do this. I have tons of old Magic cards I could use, as well as cards from Vampire, Legend of the Five Rings, Warlords and plenty of others.

July 21st, 2010 at 5:52 am
Ed Green

You may have heard of this already, but Xerox makes magnetic sheets that you can run through an ink-jet printer and then cut out to size. Not sure if they make magnetic sheets for laser printers. These could be very handy in making special counters to attack to the washer bases.

July 27th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

That’s a GREAT idea! It’s about 8 bucks for 3 sheets but that’s a great way to make status markers. I’ll have to get started on that. Thanks!

Just in case others are interested here’s a link to the paper:

August 3rd, 2010 at 8:03 pm

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