Have you heard the word “meeple” before and had no clue what it even meant? We’ve been there before, and we actually only discovered this word about a few years ago. A meeple is basically a playing piece used in board games to represent a player, and board gamer lovers LOVE to use them whenever we get the chance. We will go over exactly what is a meeple and some board games that use meeples.
A meeple is a small playing piece, usually made out of wood, and is used in a board game to represent a player, acting as a pawn for gameplay. Depending on the board game you are playing, meeples can be different colors and can come in various shapes and sizes. Over the years, meeples have become a symbol of modern board games and are usually in the shape of a person, but have expanded to other shapes such as animals, trains, creatures, and more.
Meeples are not used in all board games, however they have become a huge icon when it comes to board games. If you dive deeper into the board game industry, then you will see meeples EVERYWHERE. You will see them on shirts, profile pictures, plushies, mugs, and of course in board games themselves. With all that being said, let’s dive into more information about what is a meeple, the origin of the word meeple, and board games that use meeples.
Just look at our own GNG member, Branden, sporting a t-shirt from our shop that has a dice, game pawn, and a meeple on the end!
What is a Meeple?
You can think of a meeple as a small piece of token or a pawn used for board games. There are various shapes of these tokens/meeples and you will mostly see them in the shape of a human or an animal. Depending on the board game you are playing, the meeple will represent your playing pawn during gameplay, and you will use it to perform different tasks or actions.
A meeple can come in various colors such as blue, red, green, black, and yellow. When it comes to a board game where the meeple will represent a different player, each player will have their own color meeple. If four players are playing, then there will be four different color meeples where each color will represent a different player. I always go for the blue meeple, because that’s my favorite color!
Meeples can be in any form, shape, color, and size. The size will depend on the game where it is used, but they are usually a little larger than a quarter. Depending on the game, your meeple will either be shaped as a human or an animal, or something really random.
Check out some human shaped meeples below in various different colors!
A meeple can be made of any material. However, they are generally made up of wood as this is the goto material for tokens of this type in board games. Some meeples may also be made out of plastic or cardboard. It will really depend on the type of board game you are playing and how complex the components of a game are.
The most common type of meeple is a small, human shaped meeple made out of wood. It will look like a small human with arms and legs, without too much detail. Some companies will decorate the meeples in order to include more detail and you may see them with small details such as hair, eyes, etc. For example, you may see stone age meeples, zombie meeples, western themed meeples, royal meeples, and more.
Origin of the Meeple
Now that you have a good understanding of what is a meeple, let’s take a dive back into history of the meeple’s origin. So how did the word meeple come about?
The word meeple was actually first said in 2000. Doesn’t seem like too long ago, right? The word was first used and referred to as a wooden token to represent a player. The first game to use a meeple is a very popular board game called Carcassonne. We love this game!
Why is it called a meeple?
The word “meeple” was first spoken as a combination of two words. The words “my” and “people” were combined to form the word meeple.
According to Wiktionary, the word meeple was “coined in November of 2000 by Alison Hansel during a game of Carcassonne when she fused “my” and “people” to describe the wooden figures used by each player in that game.”
So I guess we owe a big thank you to Alison! The origin of the word meeple is pretty interesting and I am glad that it has become such a huge symbol of modern board games. Where have you seen a meeple? Be sure to leave a comment below this article!
What Board Games Use Meeples?
Meeples are used by many modern board games. There are many different board games that use meeples in various shapes and sizes. Two popular games that we love that use meeples are Carcassonne and Everdell.
Let’s have a look at some other games where meeples are used!
The first game to coin the term “meeple” was Carcassonne. Carcassonne is a top notch game that offers great pacing and approachability for new players making it a must have for all board game collections.
Gameplay consists of turns where each player draws and places a map tile. They must choose whether or not to place one of their game piece “followers,” also known as meeples, on that tile. Carcassonne was the first game to incorporate meeples into gameplay.
Featuring cute creature meeples and beautiful components, Everdell is a game of dynamic tableau building and worker placement. It is one of our favorite engine building games that uses cute animal meeples as player tokens.
In Everdell, a player will be the leader of a group of critters with their intents on performing different tasks. There are buildings to construct, lively characters to meet, events to host, and so on. It’s a busy road ahead! Players will have to place their animal meeples on different areas of the game board in order to complete tasks.
Charterstone is a game where you work to build up your village by constructing buildings and then populating them with player meeples. Your meeples will act as the people who build the villages!
The workers, or meeples, in Charterstone are shaped as humans, but with a little more detail than your average looking meeples.
Kingdomino consists of each player having their own castle where they must use “dominos” with varying terrains to make a grid around their castle. Players select their dominos by placing their meeples, shaped as kings, on the tiles they would like to use for the next round.
These game pieces allow players the ability to create lakes, fields, plains, mines, and more. The goal is to combine similar terrains together in order to gain more points.
You will see the shape of the meeples below as they have ridges on the top to look like a crown. The meeples in Kindomino come in the colors blue, yellow, green, and pink. Each of the colors represent a different player and each player receives two meeples for gameplay.
In Dixit, cute little bunny rabbits are used to keep track of a player’s score. Dixit is a fun little picture based game that includes beautiful artwork and fun gameplay.
Frequently Asked Questions About Meeples
If you still have questions and are confused about the idea of meeples, then hopefully your questions will be answered below! If not, leave a comment below this article and we will be sure to send an answer your way.
Is meeple a singular word or plural?
This is a common question that people have about the word meeple. You will see in this article that I have been using both the terms “meeple” and “meeples.” Basically, the word meeple stands for “My People.” So is Meeple a singular word? Yes. Meeple is a singular word, but if you want to use it to describe more than one token, then you can use the term meeples for the plural use.
Which type of meeple should I buy?
A lot of people like to sell custom made meeples or other types of meeples on online stores such as Etsy. Most of your meeples will come with the board game you purchase if they use meeples in the game. If you want to use your own personal meeples, then there are many resources online to get custom made meeples!
If you want to buy a ton of meeples for a collection, then check out some meeples on Amazon that you can buy in packs.
Can I make meeples at home?
Of course you can! If you want to make your own meeple at home, then you will need to get a small piece of wood and cut the wood in the shape of a person and paint it the color you want.
Check out this article on how meeples are made.
Are meeples copyrighted?
The familiar shape of the human for a meeple is seen everywhere and does not seem to be copyrighted. However, if you were to make your own meeple or use one for your own board game, then try putting a creative spin on it so that you are not totally copying the original meeple design of Carcassonne.
We Love Meeples!
We hope we were able to clear up some of your questions about what exactly a meeple is and where it originated. As you continue your board gaming journey, you will see that a lot of different board games use some kind of meeple in order to represent players or different components of the game.
If you are interested in buying a set of meeples or a custom made meeple, then you can surely head over to Etsy or any local game store to buy them there as they are widely popular in the board gaming industry.
If you are interested in learning more about different board games and which board games to play, feel free to check out our blog. As always, happy gaming!