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

Yes, counters should be represented by physical objects.

122.1. 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 has been official products for use as counters. Punch cards including -1/-1 counters and brick counters were provided alongside the Amonkhet block (Apr 2017). To help support the keyword counters it introduced, the Ikoria set (Apr 2020) provided punch cards with +1/+1 counters and keyword counters.

Ikoria Counters

You aren't required to use these. The objects used as counter can be anything. Dice and flat-bottomed glass beads meant to be used in flower vases are popular. You can get the latter at Michaels or Jo-Ann, among others. Some gaming stores carry them as well.


I've seen people use pennies, but they will scratch your cards if the cards aren't protected. (Anything could, but beads and dice have rounder edges.)

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    Using dice works as well, especially if you begin to get multiple counters. – Discord Mar 12 '13 at 19:52
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    @Discord - As long as you don't knock the dice over. – ire_and_curses Mar 12 '13 at 19:52
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    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
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    Note that using other cards is forbidden in the context of a sanctioned event :) – Affe Mar 12 '13 at 20:21
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    For what it's worth, Wizard's internal R&D uses beads. – corsiKa Mar 12 '13 at 22:52

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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  • 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
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    You should just start with the d20s; be optimistic that you might put more than ten +1/+1 counters on that creature! – Cascabel 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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