Board Game Extras – First Player Token Redux

For those of you who are unaware, the very first post we ever wrote for our blog was about first player tokens. You can check that post out here. Well, we are going to talk about first player tokens again. For us, they really enhance the theme of the game and we think they are important. Rather than rag on first player tokens that we think need to be upgraded, we are going to talk about first player tokens that we like – first player tokens that help the players get into the theme of the game.

However, the first game we are going to mention is one in which the first player and round marker tokens demanded an upgrade . . .

Dragonsgate College – Black Hexagons

Dragonsgate College Old FPT
The height of boredom!

Dragonsgate College was published in 2017 by NSKN. The game was designed by Thomas Vande Ginste and Wolf Plancke, who also designed the excellent Yedo. The artists for the game are Víctor Pérez Corbella, Agnieszka Kopera, and Odysseus Stamoglou. Dragonsgate College is a dice drafting game set at a wizarding academy in which the players train students, hire professors, and place new rooms in their respective houses – think Harry Potter! So why then does the game have black hexagons for its first player and round markers?

Here are some suggestions that we had for replacing those boring markers:

  1. How about scrolls? This is a school for learning magic after all!
  2. Magic wands would be good, if a little too fragile for the purpose.
  3. What about a familiar of some sort – dragons, owls, or cats come to mind.

Here is what we chose – the potion bottles mentioned in Rahdo’s run through of the game, which you can find here. As you can see from both the video (which does a much better job of showing them off than my picture) and the picture below, these potion bottles are just beautiful! We love them.

Dragonsgate College New FPT
These potion bottles are beautiful!

On to first player tokens that we actually like!


Altiplano was published in 2017 by dlp games and in the United States by Renegade Game Studios. The game was designed by Reiner Stockhausen, who designed one of Beth’s and my all-time favorite games, Orleans. The artwork for the game was provided by Klemens Franz, Andrea Kattnig, and Jeff Oglesby. The setting of the game is, in case you could not guess from the title, is the altiplano area of the South American highlands of the Andes. The first player marker for the game does a great job reflecting the game’s setting – an alpaca!

Altiplano First Player Token
Ours is named Alfredo, just so you know


Notre Dame

Notre Dame
was published originally in 2007 by alea. A tenth anniversary edition was published in 2017 by alea and Ravensburger. The game is designed by Stefan Feld with artwork provided by Harald Lieske. We have the original version of the game as well as the New Persons cards that were issued 2 years after the original publication. The New Persons cards are included in the tenth anniversary edition. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I think of Notre Dame is of Quasimodo in Victor Hugo’s classic book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. An appropriate first player marker for this game would be the bell-ringer, Quasimodo, right?

Notre Dame First Player Token
The bell-ringer on the Notre Dame tile


Glass Road

Glass Road
was originally published in 2013 by Feuerland Spiele and later in the United States by Mayfair Games. The game was designed by Uwe Rosenberg and Dennis Lohausen provided the artwork. In this game, the players are trying to manage glass and brick production via production wheels in order to build buildings that will help them maintain the most prosperous business. This game pays homage to the glassblowing tradition in the Bavarian region. The first player token reflects this homage – a large glass goblet. How appropriate!

Glass Road FPT
Wish I had a real goblet that looked like that!


Merlin was published in 2017 by Queen Games. Its designers are Stefan Feld and Michael Rieneck. The artwork for the game was provided by Dennis Lohausen. In this game, King Arthur is searching for an heir. Both the grail and Excalibur make appearances in the game, so they cannot be the first player token too. How about a crown? That idea works for us!

Merlin FPT
Arthur’s crown

Are First Player Tokens That Important?

A lot of players probably dismiss first player tokens as unimportant. After all, all the first person token really does is keep track of who was first, right? We disagree with this idea. We think that the first player token can pull players into the theme of the game right from the start. That helps set the tone for the game and eases players into the theme.

Well, what do you think? Please comment below and share your thoughts! As always, check out Board Game Geek for these and thousands of other games here.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Stasia and Beth

4 Replies to “Board Game Extras – First Player Token Redux”

  1. Kathy

    My favorite first player token is in Rajas of the Ganges! The elephant is beautiful. 🙂

    1. We thought about using that elephant, but decided against it since our using it almost seemed like a cheat. Besides, the pictures I took did not do the elephant justice!


  2. Icarion

    I immediately thought of The Big Book of Madness. Turns out I was wrong because the tokens I was thinking about is not exactly a first player token, but the ones used to count rounds: one is a little wizard hat and the other is a half open book, both wooden, quite nice.

    1. We have Big Book of Madness, but I did not think of it regarding first player tokens because as you pointed out, they are round tokens, not first player tokens. I love the wooden components though. I wish more games provided wooden first player tokens as the cardboard ones that many games have really wear fast, especially if they get passed every single turn. Also problematic are the first player tokens that are two piece, like the one in Rajas of the Ganges.



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