In case you didn’t order some Penny Gems when I wrote about them in April, you’ve got another chance. Penny Gems are the brainchild of Dave Howell, who created these colorful tokens as a substitute for generic game pawns and tokens. Now, I haven’t started using these in place of my regular houses and cities in Settlers of Catan, but for those games that require you to provide some pawns, I’ve found these to be a fantastic solution.
The Penny Gems are a polyurethane dome on top of a foil sticker, which you put on both sides of a penny. Howell has written extensively about the process in the Updates section of the original Kickstarter campaign, and what’s amazing (and, I fear, maybe unsustainable) is that he’s making these all himself. This isn’t something that he invented and then found a supplier in China; he’s basically manufacturing these himself, so he doesn’t actually get a whole lot of economies of scale — but he’s something of an artist and this is one of his chosen crafts. Better take advantage of that deal before he wises up, right?
I just ordered enough for the 40 gems the first time around in the Quartet colors, and since then I’ve really wished I had more of them (and possibly in more colors). For playtesting prototypes (like Pixel Lincoln, for which the meeples hadn’t been produced yet), having these were terrific. I also used them while playing Paint the Line, which didn’t come with scoring tokens — the Kickstarter Token of Appreciation (which has a nickel in the middle) was perfect for tracking whose serve it was. They’re colorful; they don’t slip and shift because the surface has just a tiny bit of grip to it; and they’re rounded on both sides, which makes them easier to pick up off a smooth table, but they’re still flat enough to stack.
Yeah, they’re still not cheap, but if you get a friend to go in with you and do a package deal, you can get a lower price on them. That’s what I’m doing this time around, though I still need to decide if I want to get the Quartet or maybe go for the Primary colors this time. There’s also a cool Auxiliary set, a Damage marker set, and (as a high-level bonus) Jumbo Gems that use quarters instead of pennies! Now I’m eyeing those Damage markers — they might work really well for Summoner Wars. Hmmm.
Well, I’ve got a few days left to decide. And so do you.
Visit the Penny Gems II Kickstarter page for more info and to back the project.