At last, I used folded index cards to help track initiative. Or, rather, I used the cards to communicate the initiative order to my players and they used a bottle cap to note whose turn. Players’ names were in pink, monsters in green. I kept my own electronic tracking in the Excel spreadsheet I wrote about previously. All in all, it was a great success, and I understand why DMs swear by the method. Since I only use my DM’s screen as a reference, I set the cards in front of me, as table tents.
The other fun experiment arose when my sprite swarms used their rechargeable, close burst Darkwave to create a zone. We’ve struggled with the best way to mark zones with mixed results. Pipe cleaner boxes get tangled with the minis; placing a dice in the middle of the zone works reasonably well, but feels unsatisfying to me. I don’t like having to count to remember the zone’s size, even if I only have to count to one. We’ve also placed small stones in the zone’s corners.
The battle had begun in earnest, my monsters were getting busy and I had to hurry and figure out what all the power does in addition to creating the zone. I glanced around my living room frantically when my eye fell on a small dish of toothpicks, probably left over from a recent dinner party. Eureka! I bent four toothpicks in half and placed one at each corner of the zone, like little brackets. Since toothpicks are small and discrete, they don’t interfere with the minis. They visually contrasted nicely with the battle map, and bend into the nicest 90 degree corner that I can remember.
Here is a pic from our recent game. You can see the things I wrote about above, plus the world level hex map, our robust use of pipe cleaners and the map tiles, all fully in action. You can even see the gold coins that we use to incentivize good play.