9 Mar 2015

To Play on the Table (part 1) - Table Top

Here is the preamble -

Unless it's a Games Workshop product or otherwise mentioned I found all my prices on meeplemart and they are all priced in the Canadian Dollar.

Below you'll see the suggested table size, average length of a game, and the size those games are played at. I’ve also included the sizes and lengths of listed tournament style events. I've included the price of tokens, templates, and rulers needed to play at tournament events. For most tournaments each player is required to have the minimum of all the templates, tokens, rulebooks, and non-proxy miniatures.

I will not add in cost for paints and tools - you're just going to guess based on the size and count of the listed models. The time to paint each miniature will also be ignored as each reader will build and paint at their own level of quality and speed. Transportation of miniatures is also a cost that is not included in the evaluation below. The variety of transportation options is too varied to be included in the comparison.

Terrain will not be included in the comparison. In many cases, players will buy some terrain to start up but afterwards terrain is free to use when playing at most local game shops (LGS). I'll mark down size of table and how heavy the table is filled with terrain. Readers should look at and determine for themselves the extra costs of terrain if they are prone to playing more games outside of an LGS.
Please pay attention to the notes at the bottom of each entry for more details.

The scenario for my comparison is:

Two folks are wanting to get into a new miniature game. They would like to put together their miniatures, play a few matches, before jumping into a few matches at the local game store. As this is not their first miniature table top game, they are assumed to already have all the paint, glues, brushes, and other tools needed to build and play the game.

They would like to play between 2 and 5 games before playing at the store. They expect to be ready after a dozen store games, at one game a week in three months. During this time they expect to buy more minis to round out their respective forces after some experience on the table.

Their goal is to be ready to play at a large non-expert level tournament by the end of the year. They don't expect to do well at the tournament but at least be ready to participate and have fun.

Today let's look at …

Warhammer 40K

First off we'll be using the Games Workshop two-player starter Dark Vengeance as the base for all of the comparisons. As Games Workshop is the godfather of the hobby and still in many cases the industry leader they get to be first up to bat. In Warhammer 40,000, players will build large to medium sized expedition forces based on their faction using points and while making sure to meet the minimal pre-requisite of the force organization chart.

Games Workshop stores will have regular game nights and will also host introductory painting classes and other events designed for new players on a regular basis. Also prices will greatly vary depending on the player’s country of origin. Not all Games Workshop stores are open as regularly as other LGS (Local Game Store), and online purchases can only be done through Games Workshop. Some LGS still have dedicated Games Workshop play times, others will have an open (non-specific) game night and you’ll see Games Workshop players there. Many LGS have reduced the amount of Games Workshop product they support, due to policies that enforce distribution limitations on LGS.

Games Workshop has one of the strongest supported IPs in the hobby. With a dozen third party video games and hundreds of novels to explore their various IPs. Warhammer 40k is currently the highest selling IP that Games Workshop supports. 40k sports two major successful AAA video games, Dawn of War and Dawn of War 2 and a series of expansions for both games. Add in a slew of iOS/Mobile games, a few other video games like Fire Warrior and Space Marine and 40K had become a larger then the table top miniature game. Books – tons of Books allow readers to explore the Warhammer 40k universe while a series of award winning RPGs published by Fantasy Flight Games gives another way into the 40k experience.

Each game players battle each other, sometimes with extra objectives that included claiming a table quarter or controlling a point on the battlefield with a healthy unit. If objective points are not used, players win the game by wiping out the other player or by destroying the most points at the end of an agreed upon time or turn limit. In most tournaments players are given a set amount of time to set up and play the game. Players are expected to show up with a list of their chosen army to be given to tournament organizers and to be shared with opponents.

War Hammer 40,000
Play Space - 6'x4' (Light)
Store Games: 1-2 hours at 1000 points
Tournament: 1-2 hours at 1500-2000 points

Core Rule Book - 90$**
Two-Player Starter Box - 165$*** - Dark Angels and Chaos Space Marines

- Dark Angels (800 points)
1 Company Master
1 Librarian
Unit of 10 Tactical Marines
Unit of 5 Terminators
Unit of 3 bikes

- Chaos Marines (700 points)
1 Chaos Lord
1 Hellbrute
1 Aspiring Champion
Unit of 6 Chosen
Unit of 20 Cultists

Dark Angels
Codex - 70$
Suggested GW Expansion Force 170$****
1 Ravenwing Dark Talon
Unit of 3 Bikes
Unit of 5 Terminators
Should bring the starter box army close to 1300 points

Chaos Space MarinesCodex - 70$
Suggested GW Expansion Force 200$****
1 Land Raider
Unit of 5 Jump Troops
Unit of 5 Chaos Terminators
Unit of 5 Cultists
Should bring the starter box army close to 1300 points

Final Verdict:
Together the two starting players will need to have spent on average 965$ (480$ each) to play at the store. Not forgetting the notes below they will need to increase the size of their forces before they can play at a tournament at the end of the year. A few purchases would be similar in composition to the suggested expansion forces but without any possible bulk savings and at a lower point per miniature cost due to the types of that need to be bought and that are already in the force.

Common purchases include vehicles that only add a small point cost to the force but cost 70+$ each, simply adding one or two troop transports to the troop selection would easily add over 140$ worth of product. Another ten man unit of troops (over 50$) or two smaller units of specialists (over 60$) would be on the purchase order as well bringing costs up by another 100$-150$. The last purchase would include a heavy of some type, a Dreadnought (60$), an armored vehicle (over 90$), or simply enlarging the current unit counts (50$-60$). If the tournament is in the 1800-2000 point range these costs would again increase. None of these costs include options to swap in miniatures into the player’s force to add variety or to combat a specific and popular element of their opponents forces.

Expected final cost of the game: 800-1100$ per player depending on model count of army.

* Based on average game size of advertised tournaments, my experience with Warhammer 40,000 a game will last longer. After speaking with players in my meta, a small game is considered 1000 points and is enough to start playing at a store.
** Mini Core Rulebook is in the two-player starter so only one player would buy a core rulebook
*** Extra templates can be printed or photocopied for free or minimal cost
**** Games Workshop has a package deal to expand specifically the two forces in the Dark Vengeance boxset