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Top 10 Bespoke Metal Coins

bespoke metal coins
bespoke metal coins

Bespoke Is Best

Over the last 10 years the world of board game ‘pimping’ has exploded with sites like Etsy taking the lead. The argument is often made that aesthetically upgrading your game doesn’t change it. The mechanisms are, after all, the same whether you spend a small fortune on custom pieces or not. This includes bespoke metal coins, miniatures and the rest of it!

However, I might argue that of course it changes the game. Board games aren’t simply the mechanisms that the designer/s implemented. Board games are also the look by the artists and the production from the publisher. Board games are the experience they create. These experiences, for many, also include how the pieces feel in their hands, and move across the board. I am one of those players. In my opinion, painted miniatures make a much better gaming experience than gray plastic and fancy inserts to help with set up and tear down means it will get to the table much more.

But one of the biggest things to come to upgrading are metal coins. Maybe it’s because we all live our day-to-day lives with the knowledge of what money feels like and so cardboard chits just don’t satisfy. Or maybe it’s just more of a substantial moment to pay for something that feels like it’s worth something. There are dozens of online producers that make generic metal coins and since Roxley Games released its generic Iron Clays, weighted poker chips have become more popular. But there is something about bespoke coins that feels more luxurious, more immersive. Coins that are purposefully designed for a specific game. But what are the best bespoke coins available?

10) Dinosaur Island/World - Pandasaurus Games

I was a little reluctant to add these two games to the list as the bespoke metal coins were Kickstarter exclusive and so no longer available. However, the bespoke metal coins that came with both KS prints are beautiful. Dinosaur Island (2017) started the franchise by giving us the Jurassic Park game that we all wanted. Full of 90s nostalgia and neon colours, the table presence was great.

The original set of coins totally embraced this aesthetic and not only had dinosaurs inscribed into the face design, one side of each coin was painted in a bright neon tone. The Dinosaur World coins took a more stylish route and offered three coins in dynamic shapes and colours. Both sets are completely thematic and fit perfectly with the games, it’s just a shame that they have yet to be made available to those buying the game at retail.

9) Raiders Of The North Sea - Garphill Games

2015’s addition to Shem Phillips’ array of compass based trilogies, Raiders of the North Sea is a viking themed worker placement game. The iconic look of these games comes from Mihajlo Dimitrievski’s illustrations and Raiders is just as gorgeous. The viking theme calls out for metal coins and Garphill Games do not disappoint. As standard, the retail version comes with a little pouch of bespoke metal coins, stamped like old Norse money. Incredibly thematic, these coins make the list over the ones available from Architects of the West Kingdom simply because they come in the box.

8) Maracaibo - Capstone Games

17th Century seafaring has to be the easiest and most obvious for coin upgrades. You can’t think about big ships and the Caribbean without thinking about those iconic gold doubloons. 2019’s Maracaibo by Alexender Pfister sees you sail around the Caribbean as you gain resources and influence and Capstone Games released upgradable coins so you can live your best seafarer life. They are chunky and heavy and are wonderfully thematic.

7) Viticulture - Stonemaier Games

It is impossible to talk about bespoke metal coins upgrades without mentioning Viticulture. This 2012 Kickstart launch birthed one of the most iconic games publishers of recent years, Stonemaier Games. Designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone (the company’s namesakes), the wonderfully thematic worker placement is still seen as one of the favorites in the genre. This was one of the first games that created custom coins that were available as a purchasable upgrade. Although not very heavy, the coins are beautifully designed to be thematic. The wreaths of grapes and the old Italian Lira inspired design really feels like part of the world you are playing in.

6) Dwellings Of Eldervale

Luke Laurie’s Dwellings of Eldervale (2020) is a beast of a game, in more ways than one and those beasts are upgradable. Dwellings of Eldervale blends worker placement, area control, and engine building throughout multiple realms of magical creatures and the production value is just as magical. Like most Kickstarter games, stretch goals usually or deluxe versions often add metal coins and the coins added here are gorgeous. Now available as an upgrade pack from Breaking Games, with dragon head design and a hefty weight, these coins add to an already impressive gaming experience.

5) Libertalia: Winds Of Galecrest

Another Stonemaier game but this time a new version of 2012’s Libertalia by Paolo Mori. The re-design and new illustration caused a lot of controversy from fans of the original but the one thing that wasn’t controversial was the quality of the production. Every element of this pirate themed game from cardstock to plastic tokens upgraded the game to a whole new level. And as with most Stonemaier productions came the additional upgrade of bespoke metal coins. As already mentioned, any pirate or pirate-adjacent theme is perfect for coin design but what makes this one better is the effort to add variety to the coin design. As well as the quality you would come to expect, the coins all come in different shapes and sizes capturing that coin stamping look of the 17th Century.

4) Oath - Leder Games

2021’s Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile was a divisive game with its kingmaking mechanism at the fore of its design. Leder Games is never one to skimp when it comes to production quality but even retail Oath surpassed all of their other games. With a huge deck of uniquely illustrated cards by the incredible Kyle Ferrin, and a vibrant neoprene mat, the only elements that may want upgrading are the ‘secrets’ (available as miniature books) and the ‘favour’ as metal coins. Kyle’s illustrations work so well on the coins, a homage to medieval fantasy realms that have come before but totally uniquely his style. Not only incredibly thematic but also another heavy coin, something that shouldn't be underestimated.

3) Xia: Legends Of A Drift System - Far Off Games

Cody Miller’s 2014 game about space exploration is a sandbox experience where players fly around, fighting others and completing missions. Designed around an ever expanding map of hexes, Xia has a great aesthetic and the miniature spaceships are excellent. But the star (excuse the pun!) of the production is the set of metal coins that come in the base game. In a triangular form they have a Star Trek feel whilst also feeling totally unique. They totally encapsulate the genre of the game and are also weighty enough to have that gameplay satisfaction of moving them around with mighty clinks. More games in the sci-fi and fantasy genres need to experiment with shape when it comes to coins as it can add substantially to the worldbuilding and thus the overall gameplay experience.

2) Flamecraft - Cardboard Alchemy

The newest game on the list at time of writing, Flamecraft, has already become known for its beautiful production quality. The worker/dragon placement game is illustrated by Sandara Tang and even the retail version comes with a neoprene mat amongst an array of cards all with unique artwork. However, it is its deluxe version that really shines. Coming with perhaps the most intricate and vibrant screen-printed wooden resources I have ever seen, the game also has custom metal coins. These coins are engraved with dragon imagery, each coin a single unit and all the same design, but the weight is something I haven’t felt in bespoke coins. Kept in a little ‘dragon made’ pouch they offer such a satisfactory sound as they clink together!

1) Scythe - Stonemaier Games

After the success of Viticulture’s coins, it was inevitable that Stonemaier would continue to create upgrades. 2015's Scythe is an alternate Europe based euro game with beautiful illustrations from Jakob Rozalski. Perhaps Stonemaiere’s most intricate and immersive world to date it already encouraged its players to paint the minis that came with it. It also kicked off the industry of upgradable ‘realistic’ resources with miniature oil barrels, logs, bags of hay and iron bars available to move around the enormous board. The coins are intricately designed to represent each faction within the game and are all different sizes and colours to help differentiate themselves. Although not the weightiest coins in the list, these are some of the most thematically designed and really finish off the production quality of the game perfectly.

That concludes our list of top 10 bespoke metal coins in board games. Is there any we missed? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames.