Encapsulating Chaos

Coin Capsules
The clear plastic discs displayed above are Coin Capsules. That’s what this article is all about!

TLDR:
If you want snug-fitting coin capsules to protect your Arkham Horror: TCG chaos tokens, get some Leuchtturm, ‘Ultras’, 25mm (inner dimension). If you’re in the UK, you can get them from Amazon. The larger, 26mm ones will allow you to easily remove the tokens later on. Read on for more details and musings.

A token gesture

There’s not a lot contained in the Arkham Horror: The Card Game core set box, but as with all FFG games, there is an abundance of cardboard tokens! You’ve got tokens to track health/damage, (in)sanity, resources, doom and clues.

Then there’s the chaos bag… The chaos bag and its tokens replace the need for dice in this game. (Dice are Elder Sign’s domain after all.) FFG seem determined to only have cardboard and paper in this box. Ok – so there are some small plastic bags too.

As with most games, there’s an element of chance thrown in when performing your skill tests. For most actions you perform, it all comes down to blind-drawing a token from the chaos bag. These tokens are 25mm, round and made from, you guessed it – cardboard!

Worn out

Now, over time, mashing a bunch of cardboard around in a bag (or cup/goblet/hollowed out human skull, etc) is going to take its toll on those components. It’s also quite tricky to mix the tokens around as they have a nasty habit of aligning and clumping together in a bag/cup. Basically, they don’t shuffle well, so it feels like I’m always drawing the same 4 tokens.

Our eldest Cockapoo, Monty flat out
Our eldest Cockapoo, Monty flat out. His family portrait behind him

Pimp your game

I never shy away from third party components as I like to bring out the best in my favourite games, as well as protect the contents to extend their lifespan. Searching online, you can find all manner of tokens on Etsy or ebay for most tabletop games. Acrylic ‘rulers’ (ahem, movement templates!) to replace the cardboard ones that come with X-Wing are popular, particularly in competitive circles. They allow players to personalise the game and add a little personal flair to it. I think for the Arkham Files games, anything that you can do to make it more thematic is highly immersive and enriches the gaming experience.

Arkham upgrades

There are oodles of token upgrade options for AH:TCG, including hearty health trackers and brainy sanity tokens. It helps that most of FFG’s other Arkham Horror Files games use similar tokens, so third party components for these can be interchangeable.

For the chaos bag, I’d recommend adding two third party items:

  1. Coin capsules
  2. A bag. (yep – you heard me right)

Now, I’m not even joking about the second one. FFG may have paid for all the lovely cardboard bits, but even with all that extra space in the core set box (and there’s a lot of it!), they didn’t provide a chaos bag. However, this isn’t a big deal, as pretty much any opaque container can be used as a chaos bag. I’ll cover this in more detail in another post, when my third party chaos bag arrives! I’ll keep this post focused on coin capsules – about which follows a bit of background…

The Detectorist

Early metal detector, 1919, used to find unexploded bombs in France after World War 1

A couple of years ago, my dad got into metal detecting. He loves it and it’s his favourite hobby nowadays. He’ll spend hours, walking back and forth in a field, waving a magic wand over the earth, hoping the pixies in his headphones will tell him there’s treasure to be had. (Apparently it’s actually more technical than that, but still this is a blog about gaming; not metal detecting!)

On the occasions he finds something of interest/value, it’s often coinage. Coins can not only bear great historical significance, but there happens to be a big hobby around coin collecting. This means that, just like deck boxes etc, there are tons of options for how you can store your coin collection. One of the best and most versatile options are coin capsules. And these crafty little items happen to cross over nicely into our tabletop hobby realm!

The Main Event: Coin capsules

Coin capsules are two pieces of transparent plastic which you clasp together around a coin to protect it and keep it both visible and portable. They come in many sizes and a 25mm coin capsule will perfectly fit your chaos bag tokens and not only protects your precious cardboard commodities, but also gives them the satisfying heft of a poker chip.

There are sources out there that go into more detail about coin capsules, and this video from Arkham Cronicle is probably the best because it shows you lots of different ones in the context of using them for this very game! It was this video which enabled me to make my choice as to which ones to go for, so big thanks to Arkham Chronicle!

I’m very pleased with the brand, product range and size I went for in the end: Leuchtturm, ‘Ultras’, 25mm (inner dimension). ‘Ultras’ are Leuchtturm’s (which translates into English as ‘Lighthouse’s’) premium range, and it shows. They come well packaged with 10 per box and wrapped in plastic to minimise scratches in transit as you can see in this picture:

Coin capsule packaging
Coin capsule packaging – no they’re not prophylactics!

I bought them from Amazon and they were shipped over from Germany. It only took a few days to reach me in the UK. The fit of an Arkham Horror: TCG chaos token inside a 25mm Leuchtturm Ultra is very snug. You’re unlikely to be able to remove the tokens once they’re in, but I see this as a permanent modification, so I’m happy with my choice. If you want to be able to remove your tokens or buy just a few and change them per campaign according to the game’s requirements, go for 26mm.

There is no lip on these, so they are very pleasing in the hand and don’t catch on anything. That said, there were some very small nubbins of plastic around the rim on most of them, which I trimmed off with an exacto/craft knife, just like I would flash on a miniature. Just like minis, I guess they’re made on a continuous sprue, so there are some with more excess plastic than others, but the overall finish is pretty decent.

Even with the fastidious plastic wrapping, you can see some still got scratched presumably before that wrapping went on. Below, you can see the one in the top left is pretty scratched, whereas the other two are ok.

Scratched coin capsules
When the light catches them, the scratches are pretty obvious.

A closer look

Here’s a look at some of the good ones when they’re on the tokens:

Coin Capsules
Coin Capsules

I bought enough to protect my whole chaos token set (below). This includes 44 tokens, so you’d need five packs of the ones what I have.

Encapsulation

Applying these coin capsules to the chaos tokens was very easy, but I have a couple of tips:

  1. Don’t try to push your token all the way into the capsule. If you do, it’ll probably end up fully depressed on one side and not so much on the other. You want to push them in just enough so the tokens outward facing surface is flat with the edges/rim of the smaller half of the capsule.
  2. Half way through fitting them all, I found that if you place your token on a playmat on a table with the ‘good’ face up (I’d consider the good face to be the one which has the rounded edge), you can then evenly press the smaller half of the coin capsule onto the top of your token. Using the softness of the playmat to your advantage should mean it goes in flat and even. This is better than trying to position the token by hand over the capsule, as this inevitably ends up with you pushing down one side more than the other, leaving it lop sided in its seating within the capsule.
  3. If using 25mm capsules, you could choose to carefully cut away the nodules left from punching out the token boards. If you do this using say a craft knife, be very careful! This will make the tokens move around a little within the capsule and possibly enable you to remove them in future. (I haven’t done this myself but did it on an Arkham Horror: Third Edition token and this was the effect.)

Why would you do such a thing?

There are several reasons why using coin capsules is a nice addition:

  • They look nice
  • They give a satisfying, premium feel to your tokens (they now feel like casino poker chips)
  • They prevent the cardboard wearing out of existence
  • They mix in your chaos bag more easily

I’m glad I found out about these as it’s made drawing the chaos tokens (something you do a lot in this game!) all the more satisfying. If you’re just curious, you could get away with buying just enough coin capsules to cover one campaign’s worth of tokens. If you got the 26mm ones, you’d be able to chop and change which ones are in there. It’s also worth noting that these could also be interchanged with any other game that has similar-sized (or smaller) cardboard/paper tokens.

I’m going to look into using my remaining 6 coin capsules to create some player markers that are easier to pick up than those pesky, small investigator cards! There are some excellent images on BGG’s files section.


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