Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Musings on Markers

I've recently got involved in a few discussions on markers in wargaming, things like smoke and flame markers and suchlike to denote burning aircraft and ships. One of the discussions surrounded this piece:

Its intended to show jammed guns on aircraft in Wings of Glory. Seven bucks a set. Now, I can see why some sorts of markers make sense on wargaming tables. Things like fallen masts and fired broadsides in naval games, flame and smoke markers more generally, but things like this I really can't see the point. and for two reasons.

1) In Wings of Glory a gun jam is announced. Thats fine, but the player whose guns are jammed has markers on his aircraft card that keep track of the number of turns that the jam is in effect. Why make it easy for the opposition? Let them remember if an enemy's guns are jammed.

2) I really can't see the appeal of any markers on a table that aren't essential and especially when they are "cartooney". The old "Fire and Fury" rules had the right idea, with models used as markers (for example a reloading soldier for units low on ammo, a broken artillery piece for damaged batteries, a charging officer or standard bearer for units on a breakthrough). Casualty figures to denote morale and losses are OK, but there seems to be a growing fad for markers denoting every flippin' effect and with that tables that are being increasingly cluttered with largely irrelevant ephemera.

I think some of it has to do with the "ooh, shiney" effect, which in some games seems to be quite prevalent. If something is released, whether official or not, you just "have to have it", whether it really serves a useful purpose or not. But to me, a lot of this stuff just detracts from the game, especially when you are playing with beautifully sculpted and painted miniatures and terrain. You might s well just be playing a board game with cardboard counters.


  1. I generally use coloured counters for markers. Except in FLOB of course, which I wouldn't dream of sullying with such things; I have smoke, fallen masts and fires for that :)

    Litko seem particulalrly good at finding solutions to problems people haven't had yet, although their smoke/flame markers are useful for marking hits in games like BKC.

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