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I have a problem keeping track of counters on my cards. For example, I have too many things to keep counters on and would prefer not to use dice.

I tried using paper but there is too much to keep track of.

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My group mainly uses dice, but even then with counters on many creatures, that can become burdensome. One thing we do is have "group dice" aka use one dice for a group of creatures to represent counters on all of them.

That same principle could easily apply to non-dice counters. These green baubles in front of this group of creatures are +1/+1 counters on all of them. This red one is a -1/-1 on these 3 creatures. This coin is the number of times I've cast my commander (bigger stack = more expensive?).

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  • Similar to this (or I could have made a new answer I suppose) a specific counter could represent a group. I use pennies sometimes for my counters and theorize you could use a quarter to represent 25 counters. Could do the same with non-money by colour, size or just designation.
    – joedragons
    Dec 16 '20 at 22:29
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Dice. While you would prefer not to use them (I am not sure why) there is a reason why dice are used by most players, they simply are one the best way to keep track of large numbers of counters.

The most common way is to use 6 sided dice, stopping adding to one die when you hit 5 pips - most people can very easily count by fives - 5, 10, 15, 20 - and then add whatever dice is only partially complete to 5 in, so 24 would be 4 dice at 5 and 1 die at 4. If you need this on many cards though this can add up to a lot of dice very quickly, but six sided dice are the most common, and I probably have hundreds of them laying around personally at this point (and have lost hundreds more).

If you need a large number up to 100, then you can use percentile dice. These are the 2 ten sided dice used in some role playing games, one has 2 digits, to represent tens (10, 20, 30, etc) the other is a normal ten sided die, representing ones (1, 2, 3, etc) This gives you any number up to 99 as digits very easily. 63 would be the tens ten sided die set to 60 and the ones ten sided die set to 3.

If you need a truly large number beyond that, multiple 10 sided dice can be put on the card carefully in order as exact digits, if the number is in the thousands that's 4 ten sided dice, each one in order set to the thousands, hundreds, tens and ones digit and read just like you would read a normal number. Often I see the highest digit done with a six sided die, usually this doesn't change by much (outside of repeated doubling effects)

For tracking counters on a large number of creatures, there is a method that can be combined with any of these above, though it can go wrong much more easily than tracking individual creatures. If you have effects putting counters on a large number of permanents at one time, say something like Basri's Solidarity, you can group the permanents that got that counter into one spot on your battlefield and just use a single die to represent the counters on that group. Creatures played after that group would be kept in another spot, and additional counters on those cards would need to be represented separately, until there is enough to form another group. There can be multiple such groups on the battlefield, each showing a different number of counters, and as a creature gains or loses counters it moves from one group to another - this takes up few dice but a lot of space, to make sure the groups stay distinct. I have seen this done and don't recommend it, cards often get moved around and the meaning can be forgotten much more easily than individual counters, but if you have dozens of cards with a large number of counters, it might be necessary due to lack of supplies to show them individually. It also doesn't work very well if the number of counters is different, say added by Cathars' Crusade where only large groups of token generation at the same time Rhys the Redeemed will put the same number of counters on a group of permanents, in this case they will all have a unique number and it is hard to keep track.

Similar methods are also done to represent large numbers of tokens, putting two or three individual tokens in play (untapped, tapped, summoning sick) and a die to represent how many of those tokens there are in the stack.

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    Good point about Cathars' Crusade making things a staircase of different counter amounts. That one is rough. Otherwise, I've gotten the "zone" strategy you describe to work reasonably well.
    – ryanyuyu
    Dec 15 '20 at 21:36
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    @ryanyuyu the problem is most of the time when you have counters placed they are going to one spot in particular, not onto everything, and those that go onto everything quickly start to give different numbers as new creatures get added. Most field effects are static like Lords. The only big example that sees much play I can think of where there will be equal counters on everything are effects like The Great Henge, where it makes everything enter with a counter, thus everything gets one.
    – Andrew
    Dec 15 '20 at 21:38
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Many shops (also online, which is handy in this pandemic) sell these kind of counters; just search for 'mtg counters' on your favorite marketplace or search engine. As long as you have only one type of counter, you can use any kind of token; if you have multiple (e.g. +1/+1 and -1/-1) you probably need different colors to distinguish them. I have a set similar to this one.

Six-sided dice are really useful in that you only need one of them for up to six counters, so they don't take up much space; they're also stable (not likely to roll over). I wouldn't use d20s some people use as a life counter.

You can also use various small objects which might be already present in your house, e.g. coins, macaroni or other dry food of the same size like nuts, nuts (the hardware kind), ... Just make sure they're not likely to damage your cards.

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    Those counters are a garbage deal. You can get several times that many for a cheaper price at michaels or joanns as filler gems for vases. Dec 14 '20 at 20:21
  • Sure, it's just an example, not a recommendation. I actually forgot where I bought mine.
    – Glorfindel
    Dec 14 '20 at 20:38

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