21

I used to play a lot of games during my childhood and the "player token" had a pattern: A cylinder/cone with a sphere on top of it. Pawn, start token, player token, we used a lot of names to define it. I have never bothered about naming or knowing what the name of this piece was, cause it was only used as player token.

But now, I can see that a number of newer games (post-2000) use this little humanoid figure as player token or as resource on some games:

Carcassone-meeple from Wikimedia Carcassone-meeple.jpg from Wikimedia - You must be asking yourself: And what about this filename? Read the spoiler if it bugs you

I was searching using the words that are at the answer, finally found the Meeple term, and searching for "Meeple" at Google Images leads to a lot of images, including this one that is at the Carcassonne Wikipedia and ocasionally is called Carcassonne-meeple (with a better license to use at StackExchange sites). Acessed Carcassonne's wiki and double-checked the Meeple name, found the wikitionary definition, searched for another reference online using that definition, and the HappyMeeple pointed to wikitionary. But before that, I didn't know that it was one of its players that coined the term and since there is an older game called Europa 1945-2030 that have a similar-but-not-equal humanoid figure i couldn't be sure if there was possibly an older game also using Meeple design, of if the Europa humanoid design was also called Meeple or a variant of it and therefore, other older game using Europa's design. Then I have asked and answered at the same time to spread knowledge. But believe me, I was not aware of the term until i wrote this question+answer, and the image used at this question was decided when I was posting :)

Ok, back to the question. Examples:

  • Carcassonne: This figure is used as player points counter and a resource that will be turned into 4 different classes(base game) like a pawn;
  • Terra Mystica: This figure is a multi-purpose resource(Priest), depending on your race;
  • Tiny Little Quest: You have 3 of these figures in your control, but they are not minions neither resources;

My Question: Is there an official or de facto name I can call this little guy on my image? I am specifically interested in what this particular design of token is called.

  • 7
    I'm curious how you found that image without finding the answer to your question. Its in the file name, and the wikipedia caption for the image states what it is. – bwarner Jul 17 '18 at 19:47
  • @bwarner Take a look at the spoiler section of my question ;) I had explained at the comments but it was deleted. Cheers – user11737 Jul 18 '18 at 10:58
47

After some searching, the Meeple term was prominent on lot of online resources (filenames, sites and boardgame spare parts sellers). Searching for "Meeple Origin", this definition was found and helped me to track the origin of the name and what games are using this piece.

At HappyMeeple.com:

Origin of the Meeple word

A meeple is a little wooden character representing the player in many modern board games.

Over time, the meeple has become the symbol of modern board games.

According to Wiktionary, the origin of the term “Meeple” is the following:

“Coined in November of 2000 by Alison Hansel during a game of Carcassonne when she fused "my" and "people" to describe the wooden figures each player uses in that game.

Searching for Meeple Games we have the following list:

Interesting Stuff:

  • If you look closer at the Wikitonary entry for it you will see that it is more specific then just a wooden character and also includes the shape. "A small person-shaped figure used as a player's token in a board game". So in your examples in question the objects in the top picture would be called something else since they are not person shaped and as was mentioned by Zeiss in his answer they are called pawns. – Joe W Jul 16 '18 at 19:39
  • I thought the "But now, i can see the same pattern repeating on newer games ..." should be enough to point out that i was asking about the Meeple, not the pawn. I messed up with some over-explanation... – user11737 Jul 16 '18 at 19:58
  • Urgh. I don't like the first line of your quote. A meeple doesn't represent the player; that would only work if each player has 1 meeple and 1 only. Every game I've ever played with them, each player has multiple meeples. Personally I'd call them "followers" of the player, who do what the player tells them to do. – AndyT Jul 17 '18 at 11:09
  • This does not mean to be an "exclusive" role. Carcassonne is an example where you use 1 Meeple to represent player points(player score token), and other 7 turn into classes that make points(resources). Playing Terra Mystica, Meeples are just a simple resource(one of them). At Tiny Little quest you control 3 heroes using 3 Meeples(it's not only 1, but it's 3 simultaneous player controled characters - not a resource, and not "minions" of the player). Maybe player status marker or player marker and not "token" should be a better term then? What do you think? – user11737 Jul 17 '18 at 11:41
  • @nwildner I think the word "piece" covers the bases adequately: so we could say that a piece shaped like a cut-out person, especially when made of wood, is a "meeple". – Max Williams Jul 18 '18 at 7:59
4

I'm used to calling simple game pieces "pawns" -- yes, the same word used for the expendable pieces in chess. If you have a piece that isn't a figure of revolution (i.e. can't be created on a lathe), you might call it a "figure" (that's what I'm used to calling American Monopoly pieces, which are tiny castings of a shoe, a hat, a dog, etc.).

  • Maybe i have caused a confusion on my question by putting those 2 images. The "But now, i can see the same pattern repeating on newer games " piece of my question was placed to justify that i found the same pawn pattern repeating on newer games, but with the Meeple figure and not with the pawn. – user11737 Jul 16 '18 at 19:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy