Anyone that has played fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons knows that keeping up with conditions can become a very important, time-consuming, and often confusing part of the game. Normally the task of keeping up with all of these conditions, especially those on PCs, falls to the DM. If an ogre is taking ongoing damage from a spell the party wizard took you can be sure that he will remind everyone of it constantly, but if that same wizard is taking ongoing fire damage he will be just as likely to “forget”about it as not.
Even if everyone is being honest and trying to keep up with it, the fact that most fights will have eight or more combatants in a room can make it quite confusing to keep up with marks, bloodied conditions, prone, ongoing damage, stuns, daze, etc. Thankfully the folks over at Alea Tools have come up with a fairly elegant solution to all of our problems: magnetized markers.
These one or two inch markers fit neatly under the base of most any standard sized medium or large miniature. Basically, if your miniature will fit correctly on the play mat, it will work with these markers. What is even nicer is that they sell a set of edge marks that go along with these markers, so you can easily tell what conditions each marker represents. Over time all of the players will learn that red means bloodied, and blue means marked, but it is always nice to have at least some of the markers setup with these edge marks.
The set we use in our ongoing campaign also has a nice hard shell black case with cut-outs for the markers. This does a great job keeping up with all of these markers as well as various other pieces we use on a regular basis. The ultimate pack that we use also comes with a bunch of peel and stick bases for use with miniatures. These are magnetic on one side and sticky on the other. The idea here is that you attach them to your miniatures and then the marks will stick to them when you move the mini around on the board. We don’t actually use these for the most part as we have far more miniatures than sticky bases and it isn’t really that hard to keep the markers with the correct figure as you move them around on the board anyway.
Besides keeping up with conditions, another great use for these markers is for keeping up with large numbers of minions or other identical figures. Quite often a battle will involve five to ten identical miniatures. In order to keep these straight we use white markers with numbers marked on the outside edges of them underneath each figure. This immediately helps keep the figures straight for everyone and has been a definite improvement to game play.
In actual play these markers hold up well. They stick as they are intended, flat surface to flat surface, and don’t attach to one another if you have multiple figures adjacent to one another that all have markers under them. They also make a very satisfying sound as they snap together which makes them seem very sold and well put together.
These little markers are definitely worth the money. We rarely fight a battle without them, and when we do they are missed. It can be a little expensive to get started with a set of them, especially if you are still in high school/college but for the cost of a couple of source books you can have a decent set and your battles will start to be much easier for everyone to keep up with. Not to mention how fun it can be to stack a monster up four or five markers high as everyone in the party hammers him with effects!