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Subject: Poll: What exactly is a meeple? rss

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Russ Williams
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Most people seem to agree that the player pieces in Carcassonne are meeples (after all, it was the game which inspired the neologism, according to popular history, e.g. as in threads like History of the Meeple).



But what exactly is a meeple?

Surely they're not limited to Carcassonne specifically. E.g. in Cartagena each player also has their own color of little people, which surely are pirate meeples:


But if "meeple" is a contraction of "my people", then arguably only game pieces which are assigned to or belong to specific players, and which represent people can be "meeples".

So resources which are not people, e.g. the fruits in Finca, presumably could not be "meeples":


What if they are player-specific but not "people" but merely animals, e.g. dinosaurs in Trias?


Or even robots (e.g. in The Forgotten Planet)?


Or totally non-sentient machines, e.g. cars (3, 2, 1... START!)?


If we indeed restrict it to people, what about "people" who are not player-specific, but are of various types and which are acquired as the game progresses, e.g. the various types of vikings in Vikings?


And what about the material? All these so far have been wooden, but is that an essential property of meeples? Could they be some kind of plastic, like the golems in Essentia?


Can a meeple be metal?

(2017-01-10 edited to replace broken third party image link)


What about the form? All of these so far are thick silhouettes. Presumably a meeple must be a thick silhouette, as opposed to a fully 3-dimensional miniature figure, right?


But must a meeple be monocolor? Or can it be painted to add detail, e.g. these penguins from Hey, That's My Fish!?


And is it required that a meeple be oriented vertically, or can its silhouette shape lie horizontal on the ground, like turtles in Ribbit?


Poll: Meeples
What are defining characteristics of a "meeple"?
1. Are the only true meeples the pieces from Carcassonne?
Yes, all others are imposters!
No, other games also have meeples.
2. Must meeples be assigned in groups to specific players?
Yes, meeples are assigned (typically by color) to specific players.
No, resources and other pieces whose ownership varies over time can also be meeples.
3. Can meeples represent animals?
Yes.
No.
4. Can meeples represent robots?
Yes.
No.
5. Can meeples represent non-sentient machines like cars, ships, etc?
Yes.
No.
6. Can meeples represent fruits and other plants?
Yes.
No.
7. Can meeples be made of materials beside wood?
Yes.
No.
8. Must meeples be monocolor?
Yes.
No, they can have additional decorative colors e.g. to show faces.
9. Is a meeple a thick "2-D" silhouette?
Yes!
No, it could be a fully 3-D miniature figure.
10. Does a meeple naturally stand vertically?
Yes.
No, it could naturally lie horizontally also.
      955 answers
Poll created by russ
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A boy named Sioux
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If it's shaped like a very small shorebird would it they called Sandpeeple?


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Siouxfire wrote:
Let no one say we don't tackle the big issues here at BGG.


I agree. This might actually start out to be the turning point in philosophy on how to tackle the question of "Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going to?"

This is how it should be done, you take a sample and study the sample. Then you expand to a larger universe. Way to go meeple people! Way to go!
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MWChapel wrote:
If it's shaped like a very small shorebird would it they called Sandpeeple?


No, those are Tusken Raiders.
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I'm a little uncertain... A 2d wooden silhouette of a banana is not a "meeple" but it could receive a name that ends in "(m)eeple."

Surprised that "meeples are wood" is losing.
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I'd say as long as it's a one-piece playing piece then it's a meeple. I can't define the the line between meeple and miniature, but I know the difference when I see 'em.
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Tiamat wrote:
I'm a little uncertain... A 2d wooden silhouette of a banana is not a "meeple" but it could receive a name that ends in "(m)eeple."


Baneeple?
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Has to be a "2-D" silhouette. That's what makes a meeple. They also typically must belong to a player, but I don't think that's a strict requirement.

Also, if it isn't people shaped, then it merely gets an "eeple" or "meeple" ending. Like "animeeples" from the Agricola expansion or even Vegimeeples in something like Gates of Loyang.

So, I guess technically, it has to be a people shaped item for it to be just a "Meeple."
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Woot!

I got them all right!

except that more people got #2 wrong, it's kinda a trick question.zombie
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Gwfalcon wrote:
I got them all right!

Me too, every single one. Surprising, actually.
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Alfred Wallace
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If you voted "no" to both "Must meeples be monocolor?" and "Is a meeple a thick "2-D" silhouette?" I ask you: Is this a meeple?

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2D and made out of wood. I don't think monocolor is a requirement but details on meeples look weird so publishers, don't make those.
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Of course meeples can be oriented horizontally. Carcassonne meeples do it all the time when they're farming. Lazy farmers.
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Hmmm. Apparently a lot of people don't consider these meeples:


They don't belong to a specific player... Yellow (and blue, red, green, and a single purple) 'playing pieces' are shared among all players in Keyflower. The rules call these playing pieces 'keyples'.
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Mark L
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If you think meeples must be made of wood, does that mean the plastic figures from Carcassonne: 10 Year Special Edition and Carcassonne: The Phantom aren't meeples?



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They are plasteeples or something.

I never played Carcassonne so I don't care what it thinks.
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cervantes3773 wrote:
I can't define the the line between meeple and miniature, but I know the difference when I see 'em.


That's the standard the US Supreme Court uses to distinguish between obscenity and art, so good enough for me.
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xipuloxx wrote:
If you think meeples must be made of wood, does that mean the plastic figures from Carcassonne: 10 Year Special Edition and Carcassonne: The Phantom aren't meeples?





I don't think material matters. Just shape
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MyParadox wrote:
Has to be a "2-D" silhouette. That's what makes a meeple. They also typically must belong to a player, but I don't think that's a strict requirement.

Also, if it isn't people shaped, then it merely gets an "eeple" or "meeple" ending. Like "animeeples" from the Agricola expansion or even Vegimeeples in something like Gates of Loyang.

So, I guess technically, it has to be a people shaped item for it to be just a "Meeple."


But if it's derived from my people, it wouldn't be very logical to use the eeple part of the word for things not-people
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Ruesailmana wrote:
MyParadox wrote:
Has to be a "2-D" silhouette. That's what makes a meeple. They also typically must belong to a player, but I don't think that's a strict requirement.

Also, if it isn't people shaped, then it merely gets an "eeple" or "meeple" ending. Like "animeeples" from the Agricola expansion or even Vegimeeples in something like Gates of Loyang.

So, I guess technically, it has to be a people shaped item for it to be just a "Meeple."


But if it's derived from my people, it wouldn't be very logical to use the eeple part of the word for things not-people


And yet it is commonly done. Although manimals and megitables are interesting words, they don't convey the same thing.
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I voted the way I did based on my following definition of the single term "meeple": a meeple is an iconic token representing a human(oid) presence on the game board by a player or autonomous faction, which is realized as a simplified silhouette cutout in wood or other solid crafting material.

Only the above can have the single, simple term "meeple". Other similarly-realized figures can have related names but are not, by this definition, a "meeple". Therefore, the votes were as follows:

* Are the only true "meeples" from Carcassonne? - No; other games have tokens fitting the above definition.

* Must meeples be assigned to specific players? - Well, not always, but the examples given as "community-owned" tokens are not meeples. One example I can think of are the grey builder meeples that are available to whomever wants them each round in Pillars of the Earth, in addition to each player's colored builder meeples. Since the overwhelming majority of meeples are not shared I votes "yes" here, but I think the answers were poorly formed.

* Can meeples represent animals? - Not as such, but I freely use the related term "animeeple" to refer to a similarly-designed token representing an animal. I may make an exception for games in which the primary player "avatars" are animals.

* Can meeples represent robots? - Yes, if realized in the silhouette format of a meeple and a general representative of some in-game faction. Robo Rally's robot tokens are "miniatures".

* Can meeples represent nonsentient machines? - No, those are simply "tokens", such as the example car tokens. I typically call them by the real-world object they represent and imply that they are tokens.

* Can meeples represent fruit or plants? - Not as such, but I freely use the related term "vegimeeple" for many such examples.

* Can meeples be made of other materials than wood? - Yes, meeples can be made of any material; it's their shape and in-game meaning that defines them.

* Can a single meeple be more than one color? - Yes, provided they have a primary color identifying their purpose and ownership as necessary, they can be given detail painting.

* Is a meeple a thick 2D silhouette? - Yes. Any gaming piece realized in full 3D detail is a "token" or "miniature" depending on level of detail. Lathed pieces with some resulting level of rotational symmetry are "tokens", while most other fully-3D pieces are in enough detail to be "miniatures".

* Does a meeple naturally stand vertically? - Yes, but they don't always have to do so. The default family tokens from Agricola are not meeples because they don't easily stand on "edge" and are designed to be laid flat (they also are not iconic silhouettes, but instead simple coin shapes). While meeples can be placed flat on the board (and may have specific meaning in-game based on this position, such as being a "farmer"), they should have other postures.
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max_s wrote:
2D and made out of wood. I don't think monocolor is a requirement but details on meeples look weird so publishers, don't make those.


I think it's simply that painting details is very time-consuming and introduces a lot more potential for defects, which are cost drivers. If a manufacturer want to pimp a special edition of the game, they'll typically do so with some sort of miniature.
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Since the originator of the term was making a hybrid of "my" and "people" the logical conclusion if the goal is to stay true to her intentions, that they must be assigned to a specific player, and be human figures.

I like the idea that they're wooden, stand up, 2-D figures. But that doesn't seem to be a prerequisite.
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* Can meeples represent nonsentient machines? - No, those are simply "tokens", such as the example car tokens. I typically call them by the real-world object they represent and imply that they are tokens.

What if it is a self aware robot. robot
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