Playing the game: Military Coins and How They’re Played

A game that dates back fifty to a hundred years ago, military coins were used by soldiers of the past as a typical drinking game. The rules are simple, and they lasted throughout the years with the core objective in check which is “Keep your military coin with you at all times.”

The game begins with a ‘Coin Check’ which is when one participant challenges another to show his coin with a loud announcement. If the challenged is unable to produce his personalized military coin then he would have to buy a round of drinks for the one who challenged him and other participants. However, if the challenged gets to show his coin then the one who challenged shall be the one to buy a round of drinks.

Another subtler way is by continuously tapping the bar with your coin which is an announcement that a challenge is being made. An extra rule is when you accidentally dropped your coin, it means you are automatically challenging everyone present (this rule is made to make sure you take care of your military coin at all times.) Some imply a strict time limit rule when responding to a challenge.

The history of this military coins game dates back to post-World War II when the American soldiers were occupying the German outposts. Some sources say that during this time, the German Pfennig was worth less than an American penny and soldiers turned it into a game from which the modern military game has been sketched from.

Back in the day, soldiers would challenge other participants with a ‘Pfennig check’ meaning anyone without a Pfennig (the lowest denomination of coin in Germany) is regarded as someone with enough money to not have to save the worthless coin, thus having enough to buy a round of drinks for his peers.

Over the years, many officers in higher ranks have resented this kind of contest because the military looks down on the act of drinking while on the job. Some implementation of this rule allowed the coin check game to be more of a contest of dares. The core stayed intact with being required to have your coin in person at all times, and must keep it in pristine condition without any form of tampering.

military coinsThe ones that are on their belts or key chains are no longer regarded as military coins, but the exception is to have the coin on a clasp worn around the neck. Drilling holes on the coins would nullify their use to the game.

As it always has been, a challenge can be initiated anytime and anywhere (within reason of course).

Although it was more commonly handed out in the military in the last century, today’s world allows civilians to purchase personalized coins for their own purposes (be it not to challenge anyone, but more likely be put on display at their own homes or elsewhere.)

There are many producers of the said military coins nowadays, and they vary in all shapes and sizes depending on a person’s liking. Some of the crazier designs include the Mickey Mouse head shape and a skull shape made from bronze or sliver-alloy materials.

No matter its value to a bearer, the true meaning of the coin to the soldiers and those awarded with it in the past is to symbolize pride and excellence in their service and is therefore rightfully rewarded with a unique memorabilia for their troubles. Members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and other law enforcement or government groups who carry the insignia of their organizations should bear their symbol and banners with honor.