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Many spells or abilities cause one or more creatures to join the battlefield (i.e. 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens, 3/3 green Beast creature tokens, etc.). These token cards are not included with the cards that require them.

What do MtG players use instead to represent token creatures?

A quick search shows you can buy packs of such cards, but I'm wondering what convenient ways exist to represent these tokens without actually having to buy more cards?

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    VTC too broad -- I feel that this is essentially a list question, as the rules allow for almost anything, so long as the board state is clear to all players – Brian S Oct 13 '14 at 20:38
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    A reminder to answerers that this question is asking for real play advice, an explanation of how it tends to be handled, and an overall picture of the situation in MTG. This is not an invitation to share the various unique ways you personally do it - this is not a discussion forum nor a survey, and answering that way is a Bad Subjective answer, or the kind that we try to avoid. Avoid filling the question up with these. – doppelgreener Oct 13 '14 at 23:37
  • possible duplicate of Can a creature token represent a different creature token? – Hackworth Oct 14 '14 at 13:04
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    @Hackworth Regarding duplication, I searched B&CG for 10 minutes before posting this question and was not able to find the question you referenced. I also searched the internet for a couple minutes. While that question's answer pretty much answers my question, the title and question is not what I was asking and is therefore pretty hard to find for someone asking my more general question - which seems to me a natural question to ask for someone new to this game (such as myself). – Joe Golton Oct 14 '14 at 15:05
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    @JoeGolton You are correct to judge duplication by question, and not by answers. This is not a duplicate. My only small nitpick with your question is that I'd prefer if you asked "What can I use [...]" instead of "What should I use [...]". – Rainbolt Oct 14 '14 at 16:10

10 Answers 10

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I can cover what is legal and what is common, and you can hopefully determine what is "convenient". The MTG Tournament Rules dictate that you clearly represent your board state. This means:

  • You must be able to represent the tapped state of your token
  • You must be able to differentiate types of tokens
  • Tokens must not be in the same sleeves as the deck you are playing
    • This is under Section 3.8 of the Tournament Policy

      [...] Sleeves or card backs that appear similar to any player’s sleeves or card backs may not be used as markers. [...]

    • Notably, if you are playing without sleeves, you may not use an unsleeved Magic card as a token

I see no reason to ignore these rules for casual play. They aren't very limiting.

The most common legal method of representing a token, for those lacking the actual token card, is a plain face down card. Any card. If you control multiple types of tokens, it must be clear to both players which cards represent which tokens.

Some players use dice to represent tokens. Depending on what kind of dice you use, it can be difficult or impossible to tell whether a particular token is tapped or untapped. It's also unclear whether a "2" means "two tokens" or "one 2/2 token". You can overcome this by using dice that don't have rotational symmetry and by communicating clearly. I still advise against it because there are easier, clearer options (my opinion).

Representing a large number of tokens individually may not be feasible. In these cases, you can group tokens that have the same status using a single card with a numeric counter placed on top. Every token in the group must be identical. If some are tapped, or if some have summoning sickness, represent them as a separate group.

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    Those rules can be limiting. The third one, especially, can be a huge pain if you can generate a ton of tokens. Especially in a casual game, situations could come up where a player generates an unwieldy number of tokens (such as with Rhys the Redeemed), and having a separate object for each would be impossible. I also think the first one can be ignored for objects that aren't affected by tapping (such as enchantments), but that's a rare case. – murgatroid99 Oct 13 '14 at 21:00
  • @murgtroid99 I did a little bit of research and it looks like I just made number 3 up because a local judge requires players to represent their tokens individually. It's been removed, and number 1 reworded to cover it more precisely and with a [not so authoritative] reference. – Rainbolt Oct 13 '14 at 21:27
  • I would be curious to see a more explicit statement of that from a judge. Technically, the rules excerpt you've quoted says that sleeves cannot be used as markers, but it doesn't say that sleeved cardboard can't be used as markers, assuming whatever is in the sleeve suitably identifies the type of token (e.g. one of the token inserts distributed in boosters). – David Z Oct 13 '14 at 23:41
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    @JoeyWunderlich Yes, that sort of situation occurs often, so it would be useful to include in the answer. Added. – Rainbolt Mar 30 '15 at 21:06
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    Dice with solid numbers instead of dots can work, as they can tap. Just get colored dice to keep track of creature color, and write down anything that has to do with them having keywords (like flying) if you cant remember. – Shadow Z. Jul 4 '17 at 20:10
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When ever I play magic with my brother or friends, we use sticky notes. You can write any abilities they might have just as long as you bring a pen. I use smaller sticky notes as ++ tokens too.

This method is occasionally used for feature matches (i.e., matches that get video coverage) at large tournaments, but only when a better alternative is not available. For example, there is no official marker for which mode is chosen for Outpost Siege (Dragons or Khans), so a sticky is used instead.

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PoTo Life Counter and Creature tokenMost counters and methods use dice or cards to represent that there is a token, or that it has counters on it. But there is only one product I've found that displays power/toughness and can double as a tappable creature token on its own. It's from Jace's Toy Chest. Only place i've found them is on Etsy and ebay.

  • A link or more precise name of this item might be helpful for people who are looking for it. – Mosquite Jul 4 '17 at 20:59
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My friends and I use cards that aren't in the current game, face-down. We put coins (1, 2 or 5 cents) on them depending on the power/toughness of the creature tokens (since most of the time, they have equal power and toughness).

  • Alternative to coins: dice (1 through 6), which is handy if they go up (or down) in value through enchantments or other means. – Joe Golton Oct 13 '14 at 20:11
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    There are good reasons to separate base power/toughness, P/T from continuous effects, and P/T from counters. If you merge them all together it can become difficult to track what the original base was. – murgatroid99 Oct 13 '14 at 20:16
  • @Joe Golton, That's a bad idea for numerous reasons. Just leave it at the base P/T like on cards. – ikegami Oct 13 '14 at 22:05
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    @JoeGolton If you do use dice, it's probably best to use a distinct color/type of dice for the base power/toughness, so that if you add counters (and also represent them with dice) you can keep them straight. – Cascabel Oct 14 '14 at 0:44
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Our group uses index cards, which is pretty handy because you can just write the static stats (color, creature type, BASE P/T, etc) on the card. D6 on top of the card is usually enough for counters, and d10/20 to count a group of identical tokens if things start getting... silly...

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I put all my ad cards in white, blue, green, red, or black sleeves and put those face down with a dice on them.

  • Using the colors of the sleeves to represent the color of the token wouldn't work very well for multicolored tokens, such as a Elemental (green-white), or colorless tokens, such as Thopter. – Rainbolt May 13 '15 at 15:07
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Mini Dice and flipped cards. My friends typically up just use dice. If you want you can easily get a lot of token cards since almost all of them are super cheap.

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As far as dice go, use two dice for a 2/2 token. When they are horizontal, the token is untapped. Twist them both so they are vertical, and it's tapped.

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I just use a face-down card and put a piece of paper on it with its stats

  • Welcome to the site Red Dawn! Consider taking the tour for more information on how to write good answers or questions. – Malco Jul 4 '17 at 19:07
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Yugioh cards find a creature card that represents the token it is supposed to be. You can buy one in playsets of 3 for 2$.

  • Given that this question is about Magic the Gathering this answer isn't particularly helpful here. – Fr33dan Oct 24 '15 at 22:04
  • The suggestion sounds like: get a random yugioh card that looks like the thing and use that for the token, but I'm downvoting because it doesn't very well address the question itself. We are probably not going to benefit from building up a big list of all the token options, because we don't handle list questions well. – doppelgreener Oct 25 '15 at 7:42

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