By Conflict Gaming, LLC
A Different Kind of Prairie Chip
Gamer Bling first saw ConflictChips at Origins 2006, which is to say, he walked right past their booth without really noticing. “Yawn,” he thought. “Another poker chip seller.” There were a lot of them, what with Texas Hold ’Em being the new Pokémon and all. But when Gamer Bling passed their booth a second time and took another look, they caught his eye. These folks weren’t selling simple poker chips; they were selling a durable game aid.
ConflictChips are tokens that mark the location of large creatures on your game board. They take up the right amount of space for a large creature (2×2 squares on standard RPG map grids). Thus, at first cut, they are just like miniatures or Cardboard Heroes® or even Sorry® tokens, but a lot less three-dimensional.
If that was all they were, this review would be pretty short. But the makers of ConflictChips were far cleverer than that.
The front side of a ConflictChip shows an illustration of the creature that the chip represents. The art is nicely rendered in full color, even if it is a little small due to space constraints.
On the back, each ConflictChip lists the creature’s name and important stats: move, armor class, hit dice, hit points, initiative, attacks, feats, and saves. These appear to cover all the key elements that a game master might need on the fly. This makes ConflictChips very handy: they’re a combination miniature and game reference.
ConflictChips are made to the same standard as many professional poker chips. They are durable and have a nice, solid feel because they have a metal core that makes them weightier than your standard Clout™ chip. Better yet, the metal core interfaces nicely with the magnetic markers from Alea Tools. You can use the markers for damage, flying, poisoning, etc., even all of the above without fear that your precarious chip-and-markers stack will fall over.
If you’re really anal about protecting your investment, ConflictChips also fit nicely into a card guard protector (this is an acrylic case that protects the marker—typically a silver dollar or custom poker chip—that you place over your poker hand to keep the dealer from scooping it up). When encased in this manner, you can use wet-erase markers (not dry-erase) to note damage and the like, but this has the slight disadvantage of making the diameter of the ConflictChips larger; they still fit the map grids, but just barely.
There are some weaknesses that players and game masters alike must be aware of.
First and foremost is data completeness. There is only a small area in which they can list the creature’s feats, special qualities, and spell-like abilities. For example, the polar bear lists improved grab, track, and run, but not scent, low-light vision, or endurance. And none of the creatures printed thus far list the creature type (e.g., outsider or vermin). It seems that on the rear of the chip, instead of the second iteration of the creature’s name, they could have placed the type. Not a big deal, but it is an opportunity missed.
Second is accuracy. So far, this has been good, save only the Griffon listing a 50′ darkvision instead of 60′.
The other complaint Gamer Bling has is that some of their layout uses a smart quote (like this: ’ ) to denote feet, when the proper symbol for foot has no curve (as seen in the paragraph above). Yes, Gamer Bling is a stickler for little mistakes like this.
And by the way, do not use dry-erase markers on your chips unless you really want them to be another color for a long, long time. Wet-erase markers are just fine.
The Bottom Line
These are ideal for characters who spend significant amounts of time in the saddle. They are also a space-efficient and time-saving alternative to miniatures for those gamers who, like Gamer Bling, have kids eroding away what little time they have to collect and paint. And they’re virtually indestructible, unlike any other miniature Gamer Bling has.
They’re cool, colorful, durable, and easy to use. Gamer Bling says check ’em out.
Bling Factor: 7
Price: $2.50 per chip, $8 per set
You Need: 2-20
Conflict Gaming, LLC, is a small company. If the owner your FLGS is too concerned about playing Solitaire (or WOW MMO, which is a high-tech version of basically the same game), and does not stock Conflict Chips, you can buy them direct from their website. Just be sure to use the coupon code “gamerbling.” It won’t net you any discount, but the friendly guys at Conflict Gaming will provide a small kickback to Yours Truly to help keep this site afloat. And if enough of it happens, that may evolve into something more.
Gamer Bling expects Conflict Gaming to continue to launch new sets. He also suggested that they set up a poll on their website to see which monsters people want to see next. Gamer Bling thinks a dungeon crawler’s set would be good, with large vermin and oozes and the like. Or an ogre and giant set.
Of course, Gamer Bling fully expect to see review copies of those, too.
While Gamer Bling fully supports the friendly local game store, it is also sadly true that not all stores are adequately blinged out. If your FLGS is unwilling to stock ConflictChips, you can buy them online at the Conflict Gaming website. Be sure to use the promo code “gamerbling.” It won’t get you a discount, but they’ll give Gamer Bling a kickback which will help keep this website afloat. And you’ll have done your good deed for the day. And gotten yoruself a cool game aid. And given the economy a boost. And unwittingly spent the last of your beer money.
The Mounted Horse Set
Despite the name, the first set of ConflictChips was not about horses riding each other. It was about mounts a.k.a. horses. These are the most persistently useful of all of the chips; when a character wants to hop in the saddle, simply plop them atop their ConflictChip mount.
The initial print run featured three of the four horse styles, plus a special promotional griffon chip. The fourth type of horse (light warhorse) was added later, and thus has a slightly different look to it (like the aforementioned smart quote instead of foot mark).
They are very useful for those running outdoor adventures. Dungeon crawlers will find little or no use to them.
The Druid Set I
The Druid Set features a hippogriff, a dire wolf, a pegasus, and a polar bear. These creatures have challenge ratings varying from 2-4 and make suitable monsters, but are most useful to druid characters as creatures from the summon nature’s ally spells or, at higher levels, as alternate animal companions.
Again, the selection makes these most useful for outdoors encounters. Not too many polar bears in dungeons, or so Gamer Bling is led to believe.
The Bag of Tricks Set
The Tan Bag of Tricks, along with the Rod of Lordly Might and the Deck of Many Things, is one of the items of magic that garners a great deal of attention of gamers as well as consumes many uses of prepositions. Such items also add to the mangling of structures of sentences of conversation of gaming, but that is beside the point.
For an item that has a .09% chance of being found it a random hoard, it sure is a lot of fun. You reach into a bag, pull out a harmless little fuzzball, fling it, and presto! Instant large creature!
So Conflict Gaming has made the Tan Bag of Tricks. Inside a bag that is more of an ecru than a tan, one finds ten ConflictChips with an appropriately tan border. Specifically, one finds a mix of black bears, rhinos, tigers, lions, and warhorses (a reprint from the Mounts set), packed in a scientifically calculated ratio that precisely simulates the very detailed and historically accurate d100 chart found on page 248 of your 3.5 DMG.
If you detected trace amounts of sarcasm poisoning in the previous paragraph, it is because Gamer Bling mocks tables that needlessly use d100s when a d20 would do. Or even a d10, if you just fixed that funny noise under the hood of the Gray Bag of Tricks. In short, the sarcasm has nothing to do with Conflict Gaming or their clever new set.
Let’s face it: this is a great idea. Now you can reach blindly into your Ecru Bag of Tricks, grab a random beasty, and flick it onto the table with all its critical stats. No more rolling dice, no more flipping through the pages of the DMG. How cool is that? Answer: Way cool.
The Summoner’s Set I
Gamer Bling is told that the creatures in this set were chosen from polls on Conflict Gaming’s forums; fans picked their favorite large beasties from the the summon nature’s ally and summon monster spell lists. This set therefore includes:
• Dire Bear: sna6, sm8 (with celestial chip), or a level-13 animal companion
• Monstrous Scorpion: sm5 (with fiendish chip)
• Bison: sm3 (with celestial chip), or a level-3 animal companion
• Giant Eagle: sna3, sm4 (with celestial chip)
Shape-changing druids of 8th level or better also get instant miniatures for some of teh shapes they can take. And if you’re really wild (pun intended), you can use them as exotic mounts!
The Spell Effects Set
Got the chips. Review pending.
These promotional chips are condition modifiers, not creatures. There’s a chip for celestial modifiers, fiendish modifiers, and one for the magic fang spell / augment summon feat. These chips are not printed like normal poker chips; the stats are printed on a heavy-duty plastic-covered foil sticker that is then placed on the chip. Since they are placed on a recessed area, they are unlikely to come off in normal use, but they pop off quite easily in the face of a dedicated gamer (no “in the face” does not mean you put it in your mouth). It took Gamer Bling a little over five seconds to completely remove all traces of the sticker.
They do look like what you might imagine poker chips based on magic spells should look, being colorful patterned foil and all. Yet glitzy as they are, the problem they have is one of legibility, especially in a room with multiple light sources (like a convention hall or perhaps even a gaming room with an overhead chandelier). Also, the modifier chips run rather at cross-purposes to the basic concept of the ConflictChips themselves, inasmuch as it requires two chips to carry all the info instead of just one.