The Cost of a Game

I was drawing up a list of all the current miniature games in existence and came across many companies who are nursing a popular franchise of a game into its 3rd or 4th year and for the reasons of wanting to turn a profit or keeping the game fresh have expanded the initial rule set or printed more cards or created more models than they originally planned. This is entirely normal for publishers as they need to create more content to sell to players to employ their staff. The bigger the company the more of the staff and the more of the product needed to sell to support it.


Let’s have a look at how much product complete your collection for what I would consider the largest traditional miniature or card games out there:

Games Workshop 40k 7th edition released May 2014 and kept most of the previous editions supplements

  • Rulebook: £25
  • 16 Codexes £320
  • 7 Codex supplements: £140
  • 9 Campaigns and expansions: £180

Total: £665 or £330 per year plus an army of £300 – £500

Games Workshop – Age of Sigmar released July 11th 2015

The rules on how to play and stats for each unit was published for free on Games Workshops website so I’m not sure how much of this you actually need. There also aren’t any agreed conventions on force size so you have to agree on that before the battle. However in order to enter into a discussion on this you have to know what it does, so you will need:

  • Age of Sigmar book – £45
  • Grand Alliance 4 book collection – £60
  • Realmgate Wars: Godbeasts, Balance of Power, Quest for Ghak Maraz: £130

Totalling: £235 per year (well 10 months worth) plus the cost of buying an army. As there is no defined limit for an army it’s hard to say at this point.

Privateer Press – Warmachine / Hordes

  • Prime Mark 2 rulebook – £20
  • Primal Mark 2 rulebook – £20
  • 21 expansion books over the last 6 years: £525 or £95 a year. Plus £150 for a competitive 35 point army.

However in June 2016 a new rulebook will be released online along with 12 faction decks with each unit in the game published up till that point.

Up till that point rules were published in either the boxes with the models or in the factions main book for people willing to look at them all before creating an army.

Wizards of the Coast – Magic the Gathering, Standard Format is everything published in the last year so:

  • Dragons of Tarkir – 264 cards
  • Magic Origins – 272 cards
  • Battle for Zendikar – 274 cards
  • Oath of the Gatewatch – 184 cards
  • Shadows over Innistrad – 297 cards

You won’t need all the cards in the same way you won’t need all the models a company produces so estimates online are around £1000 a year but it depends on how far you want to really go.

Top end competitive decks for the yearly standard format weigh in at nearly £400 but that assumes these players won’t ever buy a booster pack or a core set, it also depends what players believe their cards are worth, the best cards are around £20 each.

Netrunner – standard rotation since 2012

  • Boxed game x 3: £75
  • 4 Deluxe Expansions: £88
  • 5 cycles of 6 (30) data packs: £330

Total: £493 or £120 per year

12 older data packs will rotate out next year.

Fantasy Flight Games – X Wing the miniature game Since 2012

  • 23 small ships: £230
  • 4 deluxe expansions: £100
  • 9 large ships: £180
  • 4 Huge ships: £220
  • 2 core sets: £60

Total £790 or £195 per year

This takes into account 1 of everything, rules can be found on Wikipedia style websites online if you wanted to. If you wanted to play against others or in a organised event you need to buy multiples of certain models, however you could just skip one huge ship or faction to cut down your costs.

Hearthstone standard

  • 133 Basic cards – free
  • 245 Classic cards – £30 when starting

Totalling 378 cards always available, plus:

  • 132 The Grand Tournament £30 for launch promo
  • 134 Whispers of the Old Gods £30 for launch promo
  • 31 Blackrock Mountain £30 for launch promo
  • 45 League of Explorers £30 for launch promo

Totalling 342 cards that can cycle out over 2 years. In addition, as a digital card game, old or unused cards can be converted to “dust” which can then be used to create individual cards for your collection. Also playing games daily allows you to buy packs in game. Daily playing accumulated easily enough to get almost all the carded needed in the expansions.

So what does this tell you, well if cost per year is your key factor the list goes:

  • Hearthstone: £120, Though you can play and win for free if you are good enough
  • Netrunner: £120
  • Warmachine / Hordes: £95 (plus models for £245)
  • X Wing: £195
  • Magic: £400
  • Age of Sigmar: £235 (I’m assuming you will be playing with £200 worth of models)
  • 40k: minimum £600 for a years worth of rules and a small army

This isn’t entirely fair as a) the figures are estimated for a hypothetical person b) this assumes the gamer wants every rulebook, it doesn’t factor in deck protectors, paints, brushes and the cost to travelling to get a game and d) no one thinks about this kind of yearly cost before planning out a hobby, in fact when these games are released the company won’t know how much product it’s planning to release that year.

But what about the cost of picking up the previous rulebooks in order to know all the rules to play competitively. If so 40k rockets up to £965 and Warmachine to £675, Netrunner to £493 and X Wing to £570 (huge ships are not tournament legal). It does make recommending games like this a tricky prospect.

But wait you cry, “I just want to play a few games with my small group of mates and won’t be interested in playing competitively”. I don’t need / want / have the time for all these rules damnit. This is fine it that’s your Jazz, let’s look at what that costs.

  • Hearthstone – free to play
  • X Wing 4-9 models a side £40-£90
  • Magic fat pack each – £30 (although due to the nature of the game things will rapidly escalate)
  • 40k – “lets play” miniature boxed set, rules and codex £100
  • Age of Sigmar – God knows but probably a “lets play” set £50
  • Warmachine – Battlegroup each with rules included and main game rules £45, however rules are currently and will be free online in its 3rd edition.
  • Netrunner – A core set each at £25

The problem here is that at these small scales I’m not sure how playable Warmachine, Age of Sigmar and 40k are, if it’s just a small scale game between two players you might be better off with a skirmish game like Infinity, Mantics Deadzone, Dreadball, Blood Bowl or Malifaux.

This is a problem if you want to buy into 40k and Warmachine games, except that as wildly popular franchises it clearly isn’t. So in conclusion we have learnt nothing from this exercise, see you next week for another thrilling article.


Like mirrors in a Terry Pratchett Novel, Chilvers Industries feeds on a little part of your soul every time you look at it, to continue enabling me please Subscribe now.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.