Description: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\MarineFightingTigers2.gifDescription: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\logo.gif

Fighting Tigers:
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The Tiger Roars 


You Gotta Pay (and Pay and Pay and Pay) to Play

If youíve been into 40K for more than, say, 12 minutes, youíre aware that itís an expensive hobby--very expensive.   Books, miniatures, Citadel paints, figure cases--all this stuff adds up heap big high plenty quick-quick. And if you broach this subject on an Internet forum, youíll quickly receive the Standard Reply Regarding High 40K Prices, which goes more or less like this: 

         Games and miniatures are a luxury, not a necessity. 

         No one puts a gun to your head and makes you buy minis.

         Figures and models produced today are much higher quality than the versions that came out years ago. If you want high-quality minis, you have to pay a higher price: quality is not cheap.

         Games Workshop offers plenty of plastic, lower-cost minis for basic troops.

         You donít have a right to cheap minis.

         GW is a business and businesses need to stay profitable. No GW = no 40K.

 All of which is absolutely true. However, have you ever stopped to think just exactly how much this hobby costs?  I mean, sure, we all know itís expensive, but how expensive is it, really?


How Much Does it Cost to Play a Game?

To find out, letís consider an actual game that was posted here at the Jungle: Battle #3 of the Return to Auros IX campaign, a game that Pat and I played in November 2010.  Itís not that big a game--1750 points per side--but if you were to buy all the minis and stage the battle yourself, it would cost you well over $1000.


Say what?


Description: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\returnbatrep3_files\image005.jpg

Fighting Tigers ambush Orks in Battle # of the Return to Auros IX campaign


Itís true.  Letís start with the biggest costs: the two armies.  1750 points per side isnít a lot; currently, 1850 is the preferred point total for tournaments, if I recall correctly.  So for 1750 points each, what did Pat and I bring?


Pat brought: 

         Big Mek

         Mad Dok Grotsnik

         20 ĎArd Boyz

         11 Tankbustas


         2 Looted Wagons

         30 Boyz in 3 Trukks

         10 Burna Boyz and a Mek

 To me, at least, this is a typical Ork force.  So, if you were going to go to a GW store or shop online at their site, how much would it cost you to purchase this?





Big Mek



Mad Dok Grotsnik



20 ĎArd Boyz


Assumes 2 sets of regular Boyz w/ $0 spent for conversion

11 Tankbustas


Two Tankbusta sets + 1 Nob




2 Looted Wagons


Assumes purchase/conversion of 2 Space Marine Rhinos

30 Boyz


Assumes 3 box sets

3 Trukks



10 Burna Boyz + Mek







Five hundred clams: thatís how much it would cost you. 


Description: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\paybigmek.jpgDescription: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\payboyz.jpg

How does one guy cost almost as much as 10 other dudes?  Apparently, it's all the details...

Photos copyright Games Workshop 2011.  Used for review purposes


But, you say, Ork armies almost always require a lot of figures; Space Marines, however, usually use fewer, so the total should be lower.  Well maybe so, maybe not.  For the game, I brought: 

         Space Marine Captain;

         Command Squad;

         20 Tactical Marines;

         20 Scouts;

         9 Attack Bikes; and,

         10 Devastator Marines. 

And how much did that cost, in dollars?





Space Marine Captain



Command Squad



20 Tactical Marines


Assumes 2 box sets of 10 Tactical Marines each

20 Scouts


Assumes 4 box sets of 5 Scouts each

9 Attack Bikes



10 Devastator Marines


Assumes 2 box sets of 5 Devastator Marines each





About the same as Pat.  These prices, by the way, are from the Games Workshop U.S. site as of May 2011, and do not include taxes or shipping/handling. 


 Description: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\toomuch10.jpgDescription: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\toomuch21.jpg

When it comes to monetary costs, 10 Tactical Marines are a great deal.The Attack Bike, not so much

Photos copyright Games Workshop 2011.  Used for review purposes


Itís true that there are some bargains to be had: each Tactical Marine costs $3.73 and each basic Ork boy is even cheaper at $2.48.  Even though you need a bunch of Tacs and Boyz to field an army, theyíre still better than Devastator Marines at $7.00 each (even though theyíre just plastic figures like the Tac dudes) or Tankbustas at $7.45 each (+$13.50 for the Nob). 


A Rhino (as a stand-in for a Looted Wagon) is a much bigger model than an Attack Bike, but all things considered, itís not a bad deal: $33 for a transport that can block lines of fire as compared with $25 for a single Bike (especially as how most Marine players, if they use Attack Bikes, will want more than one in their army). And $62 for a Battlewagon?  Thatís just nuts.


Yep, over $500 for each player to field a responsible competitive army, and not a large one, at that.  For each player, you can also add on: 

         $57.75 for a copy of the rulebook;

         $29.00 for Codex: Orks or $30 for Codex: Space Marines; and,

         $8.25 for templates. 

I could include GW scenery in our dollar total, because we did use some during the game.  Thatíd be $39.50 for the Skyshield Landing Pad and $29.75 for the Imperial Bastion.  If so, then the total comes to $1295.00.  That doesnít include the price of figure cases (GW's are currently starting at $57.75 each), dice, measuring tapes, the lumber for the game boards, the other pieces of terrain, or the paint used for the aforementioned models and scenery.   


How Do We Wind Up Spending So Much?

If, when you were first interested in 40K, someone had told you that youíd have to plunk down at least $500 all at once to start playing, youíd probably have walked away.  But, of course, no one did.  What probably happened is that you first bought a blister of a single figure or two, or maybe you bought one of the less-expensive boxed sets of a unit of Troops.  You built and painted those, and then you went and got some more, and built up your army incrementally.


You noticed eventually, of course, that the game is expensive (“Wow, $50 for a box of Terminators”), but by buying incrementally, you might not have realized the magnitude of how much youíve actually spent since Day One of your involvement in 40K.  A squad now, one after that, then a tank, then two or three light vehicles: after a while, it seriously adds up, especially if you donít look for bargains or alternatives and just grab whatever’s on the shelves.


As youíve seen, unit choices outside of Troops are much more expensive, and to a lot of people, they’re much more fun.  So people buy more HQ, more Elites, more Fast Attack and Heavy Support, and these can cost a boatload.  For example:


         Ghazghkull Thraka: $35.00;

         Tyranid Hive Tyrant: $49.50;

         Eldar Wraithguard: $15.00 each;

         Tau XV8 Crisis Battlesuit: $22.25;

         Sisters of Battle Seraphim: $12.25 each;

         3 Dark Eldar Reavers: $34.75;

         Blood Angels Baal Predator: $49.50; or

         Necron Monolith: $62.00.


If youíre a more-competitive player, say, one who enters a lot of tournaments, youíre probably going to concentrate on taking several of the same certain, very effective units--which is probably going to cost you more money.  Some people, for example, rely on lots of Predators and Razorbacks: Preds are $44.50 each and Razors are $35.00 a pop.  Fill out your Heavy Supports with Preds and thatís $133.50; four Troop units with Razors is $140, and you still have to buy the guys who ride in them.  Itís pretty easy to build a tournament army thatís pretty expensive.


Finally, some armies are (at least, at the time of this writing), more expensive than others just by their nature.  Basic Tactical Marines are currently $37.25 for 10, or $3.73 each; basic Grey Knights are $33.00 for 5, or $6.60 each.  If youíre playing White Scars, youíre buying a lot of bikes: you can get 3 for $13.75 each.  If youíre doing Ravenwing, youíre buying bikes + Attack bikes + Land Speeders; if youíre doing Deathwing, youíre buying Termies.  None of them are cheap. 


Description: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\toomuch11.jpgDescription: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\toomuch13.jpg

Points-wise, Rhinos are much cheaper than Land Raiders.  Money-wise, it's a different story

Photos copyright Games Workshop 2011.  Used for review purposes


Depending on what model(s) you buy, the price tag can be balanced against the point cost.  One Land Raider is 250 points and will lighten your wallet by $62.00.  To get 250 points worth of Rhinos, youíd have to buy 7, for a whopping $231.00.        


Avoiding Sticker Shock

Before we go further, letís inject some reality into this theoretical discourse.  The figures that Pat and I used for our game are not actually worth all that money: we couldnít turn around and sell everything and pocket about $500 each.  It doesnít work that way. 


Just as we couldnít make that much money for our figures, we didnít pay that much money for them, either.  Obviously, we did not actually buy all those figures from Games Workshop in May 2011.  Some of my minis are from the original RTB01 Space Marines box set that came out in 1988 (which cost, if I recall correctly, $12 for 30 guys).  Pat got a lot of his Orks in a recent trade with a friend of ours.  There are lots of ways that one can build an army for less, or, as popular radio ad where I live says, “Nobody pays retail anymore: why should you?”


Obviously, one can purchase minis and vehicles off eBay or from retailers who offer discounts.  You can also buy mega-box sets to get a lot of basic figures for even less money.  The Space Marine Battleforce, for example, is a great deal; for $90 you get: 

         15 Tactical Marines;

         5 Scouts;

         5 Assault Marines; and,

         A Rhino.

 Thatís a savings of $55 over buying all those units individually at your local Games Workshop store.


Description: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\toomuchbattleforce.jpg

Photo copyright Games Workshop 2011.  Used for review purposes


Also, dare I say it, you can also find perfectly good figures at lower prices from other gaming companies.  Heresy, I know, but a few units of my Dvergar Steeljacks (proxied Orks using Dwarf models) are from Reaper Miniatures.  I paid all of $4.00 each for my equivalent of Nobz, $5.00 for each ďWarboss,Ē and a whopping $8.00 for each ďPainboy.Ē”  


Description: C:\Users\Keeg\Desktop\Kenton's files\The Jungle\website\dvergar111109c.jpg

Dvergar are evil not only because many of them aren't GW minis, but because they're all overt Steeler fans


When Iíve been able to, Iíve converted or simply painted toys and included them in my army, for minimal cost, if any.  Some units from my ď40K LizardmanĒ army started out as toy dinosaurs or monsters, several of them left over from McDonald Happy Meals.  Youíd be amazed what useful stuff you can find for a quarter or two at yard sales.  This assumes, of course, that including actual toys in your army doesnít offend your sophisticated gaming sensibilities.  Certainly, you wouldnít want to include anything juvenile or remotely silly in your collection ofÖtoy soldiers.    


In addition to saving on models, one can share rulebooks and make terrain, and get dice and tape measures from the local dollar store.  Youíll find that hardware stores have pots of paint in similar colors and many times larger than the little jars you get at a gaming store, for about the same price. 


Then, of course, there is always the option of simply buying what I called, many moons ago, a ďmini-armyĒ of 1000 points or less and never expanding on it.  If youíre going to go that route, then you need to pick your units carefully, because thatís what youíre going to be stuck with.  Youíll also need to find some players who donít mind playing very small games, other players you can team up with for larger battles, or both.



The point of this article was not to gripe about the price of Games Workshopís products: it was to get you, if you hadnít already, to think about what sort of investment is required to play 40K at anything past the introductory level. 


For an analogy, Iíve recently gotten into motorcycling.  The biggest amount of money Iíve spent is on the bike itself, of course, but there are also all kinds of other costs I didnít think of right off the bat: helmets (and a lock to attach them to the bike), gloves, jackets, riding lessons, maintenance, etc.  I dropped an easy $500 just to add a passenger seat and passenger foot pegs (donít tell my wife).  I could have saved some money if I had bought my helmet somewhere other than the dealership.  Then there are all sorts of customizing options one can get: extra lights, louder exhaust pipes, different mirrors, a windshield, etc.  My friend Mike, also a biker, told me, ďBuying the bike is just the beginningóthe skyís the limit after that.Ē”


So, too, with 40K.  Be smart with your purchases.  



Related Pages

More About How You Gotta Pay (and Pay and Pay and Pay) to Play

Posted May 2011




Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle