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Card example: Beckon Apparition (Gatecrash)

There are a lot of cards that use counter as a noun. I did some Googling but I'm just not clear on what I need to use for counters. Are they physical things I can buy and if so, what is a good online resource? Can I just make do with coins or something?

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Incidentally, Beckon Apparition isn't actually an example of what you're asking about because it creates a token, not a counter. A token represents a permanent of its own, whereas counters have to be placed on a permanent. You can use the same physical objects to represent counters and tokens, but there are also actual token cards you can get that come out of booster packs. – David Z Mar 12 '13 at 22:46
Thanks. Are you talking cards like Angel that have 4/4 and then the ad on the back? – Gregg Mar 12 '13 at 23:34
Yeah, those would be Angel tokens. (Of course the part on the back doesn't matter) – David Z Mar 12 '13 at 23:51
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Yes, counters should be represented by physical objects

121.1. A counter is a marker placed on an object or player that modifies its characteristics and/or interacts with a rule, ability, or effect. [...]

There's no official "counter" product. Those objects can be anything. Dice and flat-bottomed glass beads meant to be used in flower vases are popular. You can get the latter at Micheals or Jo-Ann, among others. Some gaming stores carry them as well.


I've seen people use pennies, but that will scratch your cards if they're not protected.

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Using dice works as well, especially if you begin to get multiple counters. – Discord Mar 12 '13 at 19:52
@Discord - As long as you don't knock the dice over. – ire_and_curses Mar 12 '13 at 19:52
At a desperate pinch, when absolutely nothing else has been available, I have even used other cards (face down and offset stacked) as counters. Unwieldy, inelegant and annoying, but better than nothing. – ire_and_curses Mar 12 '13 at 19:54
Thanks, that helped. – Gregg Mar 12 '13 at 19:56
Added an image. – ikegami Mar 12 '13 at 20:04

From the Magic Rules:

100.2. To play, each player needs his or her own deck of traditional Magic cards, small items to represent any tokens and counters, and some way to clearly track life totals.


121.1. A counter is a marker placed on an object or player that modifies its characteristics and/or interacts with a rule, ability, or effect. Counters are not objects and have no characteristics. Notably, a counter is not a token, and a token is not a counter. Counters with the same name or description are interchangeable.

Any object will do to mark counters on a card. I tend to use D6s, although there are rare occasions when I have to use D10s or D20s, depending on the card. I find it easier to keep track of the number of counters on a card if I am using dice to mark them.

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Thanks, makes sense to me. – Gregg Mar 12 '13 at 19:56
A big part of that for me is that I have a ton of random dice laying around that I've collected over the years. This seems like the best use for them. – SocioMatt Mar 12 '13 at 20:02
You should just start with the d20s; be optimistic that you might put more than ten +1/+1 counters on that creature! – Jefromi Mar 13 '13 at 16:45

I always use dice, which makes it real easy to keep track even if you have a lot of counter. i got something like this.

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