When people think of Miniature Wargaming they think of Games Workshop. Steve Jackson (not from GURPS) and Ian Livingston did a great job to bring out a Miniature Wargaming product to the masses. Before Games Workshop and their production company Citadel Miniatures the world of metal and plastic miniatures was lacking in standard and quality. GW really pushed the marker of quality minatures. In 1991 when Steve Jackson left (and went on to found Lionhead Studios) and Ian Livingston left (and went on to make Eidos from a small company to a worldwide name brand) Games Workshop started to change. The Hobby grew into a major money exchange - the games and the supplies to paint the minis are not cheap.
When you think of RPGs (Role Playing Games) you think Dungeons and Dragons. When you think of CCGs (Collectable Card Games) you think of Magic: The Gathering. When you think of Video Games you think Nintendo.
When you think of minis Games Workshop is the top of that list - because they were the first. Now times have changed there are other players on the field.
This year is Priavteer Press' eleventh year making Warmachine with Hordes only a few years behind. Infinity came out in 2005 making this year and the newly released N3 (3rd edition of the rules) the ten year milestone for Corvus Belli's most famous ga4me. Wyrd the folks who publish Malifaux started in 2005 and their game came out in 2009. GCT Studios who make Bushio (a game on my want list) started in 2011. Dream Pod 9 those neighbours of mine in Montreal, QC started up on 1994 - they just celebrated 20 years of being in games. Dystopian Wars the flagship game from Spartan games is only 4 years old and they have two other games, the older Uncharted Seas and younger Firestorm Armada. Megacon Games the folks who brough MERCS and Myth are around the same age. Hawk Wargames is only a few years old started by one man and his game Dropzone Commander is also on my want list. Add in Mantic (Warpath, Kings of War, Dreadzone, Dreadball), Ninja Division (Relic Knights, Robotech), Cipher Studios (Anima Tactics - another on the want list), and Knight Models (Batman Miniature Game - I want to play with Nightwing and the other Robins... nothing else). Plus the slew of miniature games and publishers I did not mention...
Also WAY TOO MANY publishers and games to link - do the google yourself today folks
We have a slew of NOT Games Workshop.
Yet yesterday I was speaking with a young mustached man, eldest of seven children who is about to get married and he had no idea there was anything better than Games Workshop. I had him to go the miniature page on meeplemart and he almost shat his pants. He had no idea...
ques'que fuck -
First off lets look at where to start.
Games need players. You need to convince your mates that the Games Workshop IP as brilliant as it is is wasted on their dated ruleset and extravigantly exspensive miniatures. Only Knight Models comes to the same prices.
I love me the world of Warhammer 40k - it's a fun popcorn world to explore and tell stories within. Warhammer Fantasy is the setting of my two most favorite of GW games (Mordenheim and Blood Bowl). It's ok to love the IP's but hate the games and in my case hate the price of the game.
When people ask why I switched my frist reply is: 'I can't afford it'. Then I explain that the games are simply more fun, in other words... Better. Games are supost to be fun and when the minis are just as much fun to paint and play with they are simply better at meeting that goal.
Example: Game of Thrones is a favorite IP in my house. Lady Bear is currently watching seaon 1. I've all the books, with the Greyjoy heavy 4th book being my favorite. The board game is simply brilliant and one of the best board games ever made. I even have a copy of the Game of Thrones card game which is... less good... It was borring. I was playing with Yasha, Wolf and his lady and we got bored. That's the opposite of a games reason to exsist. It was so bad... I'm giving it away but I love the IP. Instead I'll play Netrunner or Magic or when the fancy stirkes us I'll gather those loyal to Entil'Zha and get in a game of Babylon 5.
I look at the GW two-player starter boxes sitting around 150 Canadian Dollars and than I look at everything else:
The two-player Hordes and Warmachine starters at 90$ or if you shop around 80$. That's close to a 60$ save. Mini rule book and two 15 point armies - yes please.
The two-player Dropzone Commander box comes with more terrian and sits around 80-90$ another 60 some odd dollar saving. It's a great starter for the game.
The two-player Infinity starter, Operation Ice-Storm is about 110-120$. It comes with two fully fuctioning forces, terrain, counters, and introduction rules. It's more pricey (still 30-40$ cheaper then GW) but still a great value when you figure you have no rules to buy as they are all free online with a free army builder.
To top off one of the two forces in Infinity you're looking at maybe another 60$ - the other two above boxes are looking at close to 100$ to start playing in tournaments or store events. To put up a GW army to play strength (that's a 1000 pts in game) your looking at another 300-500 dollars worth of miniatures depending on what you bring to the table.
Now add in miniature count.
Dropzone Commander comes up with the easy win along side Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars. Most of the minis are ships or tanks at a small scale. A couple passes with a spray can, some simple brushing and the odd details with some Army Painter Quickshade and you're done.
Bushio and MERC each play with a half dozen minatures at most. You spend some extra time with a mini to show off the fine sculpts and detail and vola done. Infinity sports a only a dozen miniatures per game on the most part. So a little more time is invested there.
Warmachine/Hordes is were things get a bit bigger. A starter is a small mini with two mid sized and large mini. You add in a dozen or two minis or various sizes and your faction is playing at 35-50 points (where most games are played at tournament wise). The most exspensive miniature is close to 110-120$ and its worth between 18-20 points - almost half of a large 50 point army.
Warhammer or Warhammer 40k needs more - much more depending on your force. Most armies with play with 3-4 units (8-20 men) a few vehicles and then some special troops - When a 10 man unit costs 60$ and for some forces that only at half strength... well the math leads you to larger numbers and price. 100$ a vehicle... wowzah! Adding a large walker is close to 150$ and some need to work in groups of 3! Thats 450$ for three miniatures that still only take up 1/3rd of your Warhammer 40k force.
Games Workshop seems simply bloated and players are not even playing the game yet.
Gameplay wise... Games Workshop was the first but they are also the oldest.
When I was talking about miniature gaming with the young man in the intro above. His favorite game was one he and his friends add libs rules for a scenario. All the house rules he mentioned were all present in most of the other games I play. The game took twelve hours but it was rewarding but only because they made up a slew of rules.
When I play Infinity, the scenarios and detailed rules (now better with N3's release) I've found most games to be rewarding. Plenty of rules for details that some gamers may crave. Warmachine/Hordes is very balanced rules wise making it a perfect vehicle for competative play, which has grown like crazy since Steam Roller (the annual tournament rules) started making changes in 2010. Heavy Gear has been a quick and fun game that has yet to get bogged down with it's rules. MERCs is a simple game with simple mechanics but allows for some brilliant small skirmishes.
Sunday a timed game at Wizards Tower will last an hour or even less. In a relaxed game it takes closer to a hour and a half. Infinity in most cases gets done in 40 mins. MERCS is looking at a half an hour to play. Games do get longer when you add rules you're not familiar with but when everyone knows what's going on I've had 35 point matches of Warmachine doen in 30 mins easy.
Time is valuable - wasting it on bloated rules is not always an option.
So if you can support the game you've picked how can everyone else... games need players. Imagine all the rest of your mates trying to jump in with the same issues. Picking up and splitting a two-player starter box is easy. Most games also have very well constructed 1 player starter boxes that come with quick rules in case the two-player starters don't have the faction you're looking for.
EDIT: Here is the link to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 of my week long series with breakdowns for the more popular games on the table.