Privateer Press brings you this guest insider from our friends at Broken Egg Games, discussing the design of their beautiful WARMACHINE and HORDES tokens!
Tokens: a key element to clean gameplay. We at Broken Egg Games had a task ahead of us—we had the green light to create licensed Faction-specific tokens, so I wanted it to be epic. These tokens needed to meet not only our internal rigorous standards but also the vision Privateer Press had. So, the tokens had to be themed, recognizable, and clean for play but also beautiful. Our previous endeavors in MkII had built a solid footing for the task at hand, but we also had the release of the new version of the game right around the corner! Time was working against us. We tagged some amazing artists in the industry we knew based on their style and skills strengths, and we all went to work.
A Faction like Legion of Everblight has muted grey, brown, and white pallets, a different feel and flow than the black, blocky, and red of Khador, but both Factions carry a winter theme throughout their look and feel. Our art had to convey those elements while maintaining a consistency of design for each type of token. We knew that no matter which Faction it was, a player should be able to recognize whether that token was an Upkeep spell, a Regular spell, a General Game Effect, an Animus, a Feat, a Mini-Feat, or Focus/Fury. We had learned a lot from our first versions about how we could best tackle such a vast project. We tapped Eric Gaizat to help me with the footprints and the rules we would follow when giving notes to the artists as we worked with them to create the best tokens possible.
While theme and beauty are extremely important to us, we always look for clean gameplay first. This meant a few things to us in the design. First, they had to be easy to read—this meant contrasting colors for the words that would limit the art options. Specifically, dark-on-dark or light-on-light would not work. Second, they had to be recognizable for a quick grab out of a pile—sorting through tokens while on a clock is no good! We had feedback from new and top-level players as to what they needed, and we had more feedback than I could sort through (one of the reasons why I love this community so much is because everyone is always willing to help!). In the end, I wanted these tokens to work for all levels of play.
The Upkeep Spell Token
Our first design, the Cryx Upkeep, sparked the entire system. Eric had incorporated not only the Faction symbol, which was a key design element across several tokens, but also the sharp, draconic, steam-punk-meets-death-metal aspect that is Cryx. Our design had placed the Faction symbol for each Faction to the left of the wording and a rectangular shape for overall legibility. The names of the Upkeep spells would be clean, and we knew it could be a larger token, as it would see less play on the table at any time. We often added warcaster/warlock and warjack/warbeast elements to these tokens, as Upkeep spells are unique to ’casters.
Regular Spell Tokens
The original Privateer Press writeable Spell tokens, as well as our first generation of tokens in MkII, included a rune circle often found in the art of WARMACHINE and HORDES, and it was something I knew I had to have somewhere on these tokens. The choice to add these to this design and not to the Upkeep spell tokens was carefully thought out, as the shape and designation showed a clear difference between the two. All of our spell tokens include the rune ring as well as the Faction symbol to tie it in with the Upkeep token and Faction identity. The name of the spell is designed to be in the middle of the token within the rune ring and focused on legibility using contrasting colors for text.
General Effect Tokens
We knew we wanted the general game effect to steer clear of the magical feel our Spell tokens conveyed and to avoid the warcaster/warlock identifiers the Spell tokens carried. We had a chance to give the grunts/soldiers of each Faction some much-needed love by bringing those elements from each Faction into play. The Game Effect tokens focus on aspects of iconic Faction units.
A few years ago, I had forgotten to state a feat on my turn; of course, I lost the game. This stuck with me, leading us to invent the idea of a Feat token. This was a must for these sets, as it is a core concept that sets WARMACHINE and HORDES apart as extremely strategic games. This was also our play spot, the token that could break the mold because FEAT is a hard word to miss! When listing elements of each Faction, we could put all of your tabletop wishes into this token—each token screams aspects of the Faction because of this desire. It is the centerpiece to our project.
While not a technical term, this “Mini-Feat” token came about from one-use-per-game effects that certain unit and solo models can employ. Much like the warcaster/warlock Feat token, it was a one and done and worth noting for gameplay, but the same wording would be confusing. It opened up lots of artistic options. We created these to be warrior/unit model-themed specific, as this is where you would typically use such a token.
When we started to design these, we knew warbeast aspects needed to dominate the look and feel. I also felt strongly that the raw, savage power of hulking monsters had to somehow be included. While considered a spell effect in a lot of cases, I still thought it best to make it easy to identify the difference. We went through a few different concepts before landing on the claw crush. The layout has a similar feel to a Spell token, but it’s easy to tell the difference. Each Faction would include a warbeast hand crushing, cutting, or otherwise destroying an object with the words centered. Some choices were easy; we knew exactly which beast we would use. (For instance, dire troll for Trollbloods was a must!) Other Factions, like Circle Orboros, had a much wider range of choices. But in all cases, each token came out fantastic and are certainly among my favorites.
I hope you enjoyed a walk through of our token designs—it was an honor to work with such talent. Need them for your games? Of course you do! Well, you can get them right now on our website at www.Brokenegggames.com