Periodically, as a tournament organizer, I notice consistent issues among the greater gaming community that don’t make much sense to me. The most recent thing that has been bugging me is that I have yet to encounter a player who comes to an event with objective markers. Even casual players seem to not bother having a set of objective markers. It’s a bit of a head scratcher, really, since five out of six game types from the main rulebook involve objectives. If you factor in the missions found in any supplement, you’re left with only one game type that doesn’t require objective markers.
So why do gamers not bother with objective markers, when they are such a critical element of the game overall? For local events we supply players with simple game stones which are available in bulk quantities for next to nothing—if you want to go the expensive route, Chessex sells tubes of around 30 of them for about $5, while home decorating stores will sell quantities of up to 100 or 200 for between $8 and $10. This isn’t what I’d call an ideal solution, by any means—they’re half an inch diameter at the most, and don’t add anything visually to the game. It’s no different than putting a piece of scrap paper on the table to act as the objective marker. We do this locally only because experience shows that inevitably, somebody will fail to show up with objective markers, and it’s a simple fix to provide them to ensure the event runs smoothly.
|Clear acrylic game stones|
It’s easy to be critical of the tournament scene, though. Many of those players are interested more in the competitive element of the game (which admittedly, the game isn’t designed for, but that’s another discussion entirely), and poke fun at Games Workshop’s “Forging the Narrative” blurbs. To those people, the hobby element of things is very secondary, and I can respect that, even if I am a little baffled by it at times. If it were something limited to the competitive event scene, I probably would just shrug and write it off as part of that particular brand of the hobby. But, I’ve found casual players don’t seem to do objective markers, either.
So let’s look at some very simple ways to make objective markers, in ascending order of difficulty. Perhaps the least exciting, but most cost-effective way to make objective markers is to take a spare blank base, and paint your army’s logo on it. You can use a transfer from a decal sheet, if you prefer, too. Some kits also come with flat iconography you can glue to the base, such as what's shown here. It’s not much better than the nondescript game stones, but it at least is specific to your army and indicates a point has some strategic value in the abstract to your men on the field. I like my objective markers to be at least 40mm, and no larger than 60mm bases, personally. This technique ultimately works best with 25mm bases, though.
|From Blood of Kittens|
Another option, clocking in at $20, is the Games Workshop Battlefield Accessory set. It has ammo crates and tank traps. Each can represent a strategically vital point on the battlefield which has crucial supplies. It’s not army specific, but all you have to do is paint it. By adding 40mm bases, you can match your army’s basing style with the objective markers to make it clearly “yours.” There’s not much to do with the set to make it army specific, though—it’s great for neutral ambient objectives on the field, but it doesn’t tell a story (or “forge the narrative?”) of why your army is fighting over this little 6 x 4 foot sliver of land.
|Warhammer 40,000 Battlefield Accessories|
A personal favorite of mine, repurposing old miniatures into objective markers is quick, easy, and frequently quite unique. There are a million and three defunct miniature games out there whose models are laughably inexpensive on ebay. Shown here is a Lion Rampant from Dreamblade—a perfect objective marker for my Lions Rampant Space Marines. It’s the Chapter icon, after all, and you can’t get better than that! These cost a buck a piece on ebay. Reaper miniatures also make excellent statues—pick your favorite inexpensive fantasy miniature, paint it gold, and attach it to a cake plinth. Perhaps add army-appropriate iconography to it. Now you have something to mark strategically vital or holy ground for your army, and it’s a full model, not just a simple bit.
|"Lion Rampant" from Dreamblade, defunct game by Wizards of the Coast|
Games Workshop makes Space Marine casualty models. These are great—just mount ‘em to a 40mm base, and paint them appropriately for your Chapter. Simple, easy, but unfortunately limited to Imperial Space Marine players. As a direct order item, getting these can be a little tricky, too—it’s often a crapshoot as to when GW fills direct order orders, and sometimes these show up months after you order ‘em.
|The Space Marine Casualty models are perfect for Space Marine objective counters. Just paint in your Chapter colors, and they're ready to go!|
Now, let’s get into what passes for actual modelling. Your basic infantry kits come with loads and loads of extras these days, and some even come with things that are perfect for use as objectives on them. The Eldar Dire Avengers come with a little Eldar statuette that can be mounted on a 25mm base, while the Space Marine terminator kits both come with a teleport homer and a 25mm base to mount it on. Even if your army’s kits don’t include bits like that, you can make a pile of extra helmets, guns, and swords to make a vital ammo dump or the like.
|A simple pile of extra bits makes a great objective counter.|
Maybe the most interesting, but most time consuming option, is to specifically model your objective markers by specifically sculpting, converting, and otherwise hand-crafting suitable objective markers for your army. This Black Legion objective was made using an old Raptor body, a cut up helmet, and the spare shell from the Space Marine Hunter kit. Is it a daemonically-possessed shell? A bio-weapon? Regardless of what actually is in the shell, you get a sense of why the Chaos Space Marines are interested in that point. There’s no limit to what you can do with an objective marker—grab a 40 or 60mm base, and model what you think your army would fight for.
|Green stuff, some knife work, and some spare bits result in a narrative objective counter themed to your army.|
Hopefully, this has given you some idea for how to model some objective markers that are suitable for you and your army, and aren’t just scraps of paper or random game stones. Ours is a hobby, after all—why not make the table look as much like a warzone as you can, instead of just a game board?