How to make campfire Encounter Tokens for Scythe!
One of my favorite aspects of Scythe is chasing encounter tokens with my character - especially with the community made Scythe Encounter card pack . Somehow, traversing the map with my dashing Rusviet woman (and her loyal tiger) to discover these little tokens of goodness is a thrilling side-mission amidst my primary goals.
Thus, when thinking of what game piece to make next, it was an obvious choice to upgrade the cardboard tokens to something more magical - campfires.
Campfires represent a warm, inviting place to recoup after a long day's journey. They also symbolize a communal meeting place where stories are shared and friendships are formed, so they were a good match for the typical Encounter Cards, which have a variety of choices entailing interaction with the local people (albeit not always so friendly!).
Surprisingly, these took very little time to prototype, and are still one of my favorite things to make. They aren't particularly difficult or time consuming and they look incredible on the board.
What's especially fun is that the order in which you add the components is equivalent to how you build fires in reality:
1) Build a rock fire ring.
2) Add the wood.
3) Add the fire.
and Voila! Okay, that's clearly simplified, but not by much!
This project introduces a couple of new skills in clay-making, but they are forgiving and can potentially be simplified. A beginner can certainly attempt this project, and will likely be happy with the results.
Time: 2-4 hours depending on skill.
Cost: $12-20 if you're starting fresh, but you will have lots of clay and varnish left over. The actual cost of clay is closer to $2.
- 6 or 7 colors of Polymer Clay (red, yellow, brown, light brown, green, "Gray Granite," (orange is optional if you would like more variation to your fire)). I use Premo! brand, but you can use other polymer clays; however, Gray Granite is special to Premo and required for the rocks. Alternatively, this sampler pack is a great way to get started!
- 3/4 inch round clay cutter
- Gloss varnish and small paint brush
- Clay or Fondant roller. I bought this one on sale, but you can also use a hard water bottle like a Nalgene.
- Razor blade (preferred) OR sharp knife
- Non-permeable work surface (I use a dry-erase board)
Total # of Game Pieces: 11
Don't have time to make them yourself?
You can purchase these here!
Let's get started!
We need 11 bases for our fires, and they need to be of consistent thickness. If you have a pasta maker lying around, that's fantastic! But if you're like me and don't want to fork over the cash, here's a DIY hack.
Take two stacks of cards of your desired thickness, in this case 6 cards each. After warming your clay, roll an elongated piece of clay and place it in between the two card stacks.
Use your rolling pin to roll the clay out, pushing as hard as you can until both sides of the pin are touching the card stacks. This will stop the clay from getting thinner than your desired height. You will need to move your card stacks as you elongate your clay past the tops/bottoms of the stacks.
Then use your 3/4-inch clay cutter to cut out 11 bases.
If you don't have enough space for 11 cuts, take your remaining clay and do this once more.
Carefully, use a razor blade to pick up and move the bases closer to you for adding details. Your bases are done!
Rock Fire Ring
We are going to need A LOT of rocks. Each of the fires has about 12 rocks, so that's a total of 132 rocks! The best way to maintain consistency of size is to do the following:
Begin by rolling out a long piece of Gray Granite clay (called a rope). The diameter of your rope should be about 3-4mm.
Using a razor blade or knife, cut along the rope about every 3mm. You can get the clay to to stick to the blade by pulling to your non-dominant side AFTER you make the cut. You can then use the previously cut "rock" to measure out the rest of the rocks.
You will likely need to make a few ropes to finally get the number of rocks you need (I don't count them, I just keep cutting till I have a lot and if I need more I will make them).
Take your pieces and start forming little balls in your hands. They don't need to be perfectly spherical. Position them around the base in a circle, allowing the rocks to touch one another.
IMPORTANT! Make sure you warm the rocks well in your hands so that the rocks stick well to the base. This will likely occur simply by rolling them into balls, but if you have cold hands, make sure you get them warmed up!
They should look like this afterwards.
***Note: This step can be simplified!
If you want to save time and do not need the extra detail, you can merely roll out a very thin rope (1-2mm diameter) of brown clay and use this as wood. The following process is for a more realistic look.
First roll out a short, but thick piece of light-brown clay. Then roll out a thinner (but not thin) piece of dark-brown clay that is as wide as the light-brown piece is long, and is long enough to wrap entirely around the -light brown piece. *You may wish to reference the images below.
Cut the sides of the dark-brown pice to be straight. Place your light-brown piece on top of the dark-brown piece close to the edge.
Roll your dark piece around the light piece until the dark clay has good contact with itself, and make a cut.
Smooth out the cut with your finger (or silicone shaper) so that the light piece is fully wrapped by the dark piece.
Roll out the clay until it becomes a long, thin rope, eventually only about 1-2mm thick. Don't press too hard!
You will end up having to cut the rope and continue rolling each segment to get it this thin.
Once your rope is thin enough, begin cutting it into lengths of about 1.5cm, or long enough to span the diameter of your rock ring. NOTE: The ends of your rope may only be dark-brown, so you may need to cut further in to the rope to find where the "tootsie-roll" appearance begins.
You will need 3 lengths of wood per campfire.
Position each wood piece so that they cross one another at equal angles on top of the base, and so that the ends of the wood come out over the rocks.
You can also press lightly in the center of the cross, so that the wood pieces stick better to one another and the base.
For added detail, take your blade and make vertical cuts along the wood. These don't have to be perfect, and look better if they are sometimes at angles or have varying thicknesses.
They should finally look like this!
This part will take some flexibility, as it's not a rigid process and no two fires will look the same.
Begin by rolling out a chunk of red clay and about half as much orange clay. Press the orange clay into the red clay without much care and begin rolling a rope. The idea is to make swirls of red and orange.
*If you did not buy orange clay, you can make some by mixing red and yellow until your desired color, OR you can just use red clay and skip to adding yellow.
Continue hand-rolling, not pressing too hard. You will end up needing to cut down your rope and continue rolling until your rope is about 1-2mm thick in diameter.
Next, add in some yellow clay in a similar fashion, creating a rope and beginning to roll. NOTE: I prefer to keep a rope that is just red & orange in addition to my rope that is all 3 colors.
Continue hand-rolling. You will start to see these beautiful swirl patterns.
Continue hand-rolling until your rope is about 1-2mm thick in diameter. Then make cuts of about 4-5cm long. Each fire will take 3 of these segments.
This step is less tricky than it seems, but it requires some idea of how you want the fire to look. Do you want a tall roaring fire with high spikes? Or a more mellow, broad fire that spans the base?
Begin by positioning one strip of flame on top of the wood near one side. Make sure the your starting end is sticking up. You should make contact with the wood about 5-7mm into the rope and press a small section down against the base between logs.
Then make a loop (or two) with your rope such that the fire comes into contact with itself and part of the center of the wood. Position the tailing end so that it is also vertical.
This is another view angle of the first fire rope.
Add a second rope in a similar fashion, closer to the center of the wood. You will want to make sure the ends are both vertical, but the center of the rope is looped and in contact with wood and the other flame rope.
You will want to have the ropes slightly touching one another near the ends (for stability), but the actual ends free standing for a proper look.
Add your 3rd rope in a similar fashion, filling the spaces that need to be filled and making contact with the wood and other flame ropes. Allow your tips to free stand. for a more wild fire look.
This is a very loose process, so have fun with it and experiment!
Carefully use a razor blade to transfer these to the baking sheet. If you used different brands of clay, I prefer to use the baking instructions for the hottest required temp (for Premo this is 275 degrees for 30 min).
Once these come out of the oven and you've let them cool, use a paint brush to add the gloss varnish to the flames, wood, and tops of the rocks. You don't need much, and it doesn't have to be perfect. Let dry.
And your finished!
Enjoy your beautiful pieces!
Don't have time to make them yourself?
You can purchase these here!
About the Author
My name is Alee! I'm an avid board gamer who loves to craft. I started upgrading my games in various ways and stumbled upon polymer clay 4 months ago. Since then I've been making tons of board game pieces and have fallen in love with the outcome.
When I'm not playing games or crafting I'm typically out rock climbing, travelling, or watching space launches. For work I'm a molecular biologist, so I love science (of all kinds).
What's my favorite game? #X-ODUS: Rise of the Corruption