Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gaming on the Cheap

I am a man with a family and many financial responsibilities. I rarely, very rarely, buy any product new. I wait for gifts much of the time or I trade things I obtain somewhere for something that I want. The Vampire Counts army I'm building is all traded for materials except the skeletons regiment which I won off eBay years ago for a song, I believe $21.00 with free shipping for 20 GW skeletons, basically a 60% discount. I am always looking to game on the cheap and I thought it would make a good post of how I go about gaming on the cheap.

Taking as an example building a new army for Warhammer based off a recent acquisition. I obtained as a reward from GAMA for working Origins this past June, a Mantic Elven Warhost. There was a lot of options but this one stood out to me the most!
Quite a few miniatures for a good price!
As you can see, it is basically a huge chunk of elveny-plastic-goodness that any fantasy war gamer would dig. I haven't assembled mine yet, but have been thinking about going to it. I have a big chunk of Lizardmen I'm working on and the Vampire Counts so I don't know if I should. But, if taking into consideration about building on the cheap, let us look what could be done. If you apply the High Elf army book to this you have...
  • 20 spears with command for 205 points
  • 20 archers with command for 265 points (adding light armor)
  • 10 shadow warriors with a shadow walker for 176 points
  • a repeater bolt thrower for 100 poitns
This is a respectable starting force!  746 points, 2 core units of endurable numbers, a nice scouting/skirmishing unit and a war machine. The price runs only $59.99 were you to buy it new, or go to the warstore and get it for $47.99, or like me work for it and get it free. This army lacks heroic individuals but I'm sure we can address that easily enough.

A real quick way is to split the Island of Blood box with someone, that will give you a prince on a griffin, a mage, a small fast cavalry unit (Elyrian Reavers), and two more small infantry regiments (Swordmasters of Hoeth and Lothern Seaguard). Really this almost immediately brings the army to 1,750 points. But we CAN go cheaper...
Remember these guys?
Ah, Mage Knight was a great game in its day but its day is past, fortunately you can find the miniatures fairly affordable when looking for them. This "Skyguard Griffon" is essentially a mounted prince on a griffin. A much bigger griffin than the GW one if you must know and it's already painted and all scenic based. All you have to do is pop it off the clicky one and make a nice new square one and you're golden. I have one of these, got it for five bucks but you can still find them cheap (like this). The rider is not terribly in line with the Mantic or the GW but he is still perfectly fine for fighting table top battles. So, if you chip this guy in you've built an army just over 1,000 points and give him 100 points of war gear and you've got a 1,200 point army ready to fight. It does lack magic, but finding an elf wizard isn't that hard to do and you don't have to spend $13.50 to get one (for example). All in all, you can put together a nice 1,000 to 1,250 points of high elves for less than the Games Workshop battalion box...
Oooo elves!
..which is a fine box. Just, I can take the same one hundred dollars and have... my griffin riding prince, high elf mage, spear men, archers, shadow warriors and repeater bolt thrower (total $66.48) and have more army (the battalion box is only 710 points). None of them are GW models, and GW models are very nice. I have plenty and you've seen that. But I know there are lot of men like me out there and sometimes you need to field some warriors for club night on the cheap!

I've been heavily influenced by many war game authors to not sweat where the models come from and to not fear conversion work or mediocre paint jobs. When you smash your opponent's Warriors of Chaos with your average quality high elves it only adds to his shame. Especially if the victorious prince is a recycled Mage Knight piece, more shame more shame more shame.

Post Script: as an aside I do encourage you to watch out for scale discrepancy, 25mm isn't always 25mm.  I purchased a couple Reaper Warlord figures for my VC off from eBay and they were too large. There are pictures of them on my blog and my flickr and when I tried to fit the necromancer in with the skeletons he looked like a friggin' giant next to them so I had to find another in trade. I feel this is okay pretty often, such as if I was using a mounted vampire who would be running about alone, but if it's too much in a unit it just looks goofy!

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