Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Definitions: Meeples

Meeples are, simply, the little wooden people used in Eurogames. If you hang around BoardGameGeek forums for more than five minutes, you’re almost certain to encounter the word. Since most people don’t hang around in BoardGameGeek forums, it seemed worthwhile to explain some basic terminology, and “Meeple” is one of the most common.

The most popular shape of meeple originated with Carcassonne, and has since been used for many other games. It has become an iconic image for Eurogames in general. I even tossed a couple into the photo I took for this blog’s header image.

There were even Meeples Choice Awards, chosen by polling the members of the Spielfriek discussion group. (“Spiel” is another bit of Eurogame lingo that gets tossed around. It’s German for “game.”) The Meeples Choice site claims that the word was coined (at least in its modern usage) in 2000 by a gamer named Alison Hansel, during a session of Carcassonne. In the absence of a better etymology, that’ll do me.

As symbols go, it’s a darn good one: it’s oddly appealing, identifiable in silhouette, and easy to draw. It’s also attracted a cult following all its own, as you can see by the products offered by

PS: Right now, Amazon is offering a terrific deal on the original Carcassonne (only $20, which is 45% off), so if you don't have it ... well, you really should have it. It's a core Eurogame and a great entry-level game, with countless expansions and variant editions. (Gamers love their expansions.)


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