Saturday, 16 June 2012

40k For Thought: Is Wargaming Too Expensive?

A lot of items in the modern world are turning into rather pricey objects, and more items are being considered less 'worth it' . Fuel never gets cheaper, chocolate is getting smaller, for the same price, and general commodities and necessities are getting harder to justify. Yet, for a lot of us, we can still set aside some money for a hobby, and in the spirit of this blog, today's focus is on wargaming. A number of people (I.e. new players and some forum users) thinking that starting wargaming (with focus on Games Workshop in particular) isn't viable: "it's too expensive" seems to be a key reason. So, here are my balanced views on this. I know I am too a gamer, But I can be objective....

Firstly, let us begin with the 'yes' side to the debate. New gamers will find out quick that they need a fair bit of money to get a start in the hobby and fun. Since Games Workshop's games are the most common where I've been, they shall be the primary case study. I have thought about starting a Necron army. For just the 'basics' (in this case, a starter, a codex and a leader) It will cost me around £100. Also, I'll need the new rulebook which comes out in a few weeks: add £45. Now, you could share this with gaming buddies, but if you have to buy it on your own, its a lot. For people who haven't started yet, add in dice, templates and a tape measure, and you can expect to pay a total of around £170.

Bear in mind, this is just the basics to get you started. Some of their other products also suffer from 'over-inflation'. For example, after a recent  annual price increase, a storm raven (a medium armoured flying transport) costs £50, a £9 rise on last month. Now some may claim this is 'natural inflation' but it's not how the public and potential customers see it. They see it as a blatant profiteering scam. Therefore, they will be deterred, and wargaming as a whole may have lost out on many new players because of this mentality.

However, there are ways around this. The second hand market for wargames is substantial: not as big as the primary sellers, but still noticeable. Places like E bay and stores with 'used model' cabinets are a haven for people who want to game, but don't have enough money to buy fresh from the box Often enough, you find a little gem, but quite often the models are not in the best condition. However, these issues can be an easy fix with the right knowledge. Badly painted models can be stripped, badly assembled ones can be broken down and started again, and missing components can be bought, found or traded. As proof, the Land raider at the top of this post was bought for £15 (1/3 of retail price) and was in a poor state. Thankfully, with a few choice parts and hours of sanding, filing and chipping off glue stains, it became a well executed and well painted battle tank.

Alongside this, there are a number of alternative companies, who sell similar products for less. Now, they may not always have the same quality aspect, but they are a viable option. For example, a box of 30 Mantic Zombies will cost you £19.99. To buy the same amount of GW zombies, you would need to spend £41 (you would get 40, but you would have to spend £30.75 to get to the 30 zombies marker). However, you need to know that you cannot take non-GW figures into their stores, they are apparently very strict about this. But, if you have an independent gaming store or club nearby, then you'll be fine bringing them along.

So, to conclude, wargaming is an expensive hobby, but there are ways around the price aspect. 2nd hand dealers, mates selling old stuff, and alternative companies can help make the game more affordable, and make you more able to enjoy. Also, consider how much you would get from the hobby. I personally have got more use and entertainment out of a £22 disc lord, than I have £22 of used Xbox games. If you get a lot of enjoyment from the hobby, then cost should not be an issue for you.

Also, in all honesty, it's still cheaper then having a shoe hobby, or something weird like that...

(current prices are direct from Mantic and GW, other on-line retailers may vary, image owned by Mantic)


  1. Well in my opinion if you are using the models to actually play (and not just to paint) then it is a very value for money hobby indeed.
    1) visiting the GW stores (although sometimes an annoying experience) can actually be useful, so if you think that factored into their prices is the expertise of the staff to assist you with painting and battle techniques then this is say £2 in each model you buy towards this free advice (assuming each time you go in you get 20mins of the staff members time, make it count!)
    2) After spending hours of your time painting a model do you get the same satisfaction than if you were to spend that time watching tv?
    3) You spend £20 on a model which lasts you for years, you spend £20 on some clothes they may last you 6 months before they start to look worn out.
    4) The models retain value, keep the older ones and eventually you can sell them on for more than the current 'finecast' version
    5) Playing games & socialising, play one game a week for a year. 52 games, split the cost of your basic £150 army over these weeks that is less than a cost of a single pint, the games last longer and are probably more satisfying (and you don't have to pay for anyone else's they get their own! ;P)

    1. Interesting views there :P Good point about how using them in-game=more value. Wasn't knocking GW's prices(I'm generally ok with them) just pointing out some potential thoughts :)

  2. oh yeah it wasn't a criticism I was just adding to your article hehe

  3. Haha ok :) You make good points :P, enjoy future content.