Card games

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.


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Great Mechanics – Netrunner

In my Great Mechanics posts I will be discussing some of the most creative and interesting rules that I have discovered while playing games, it’s really an attempt to review games in a way that isn’t done by traditional review sites. This week the mechanic of revealing of cards in Netrunner, Fantasy Flights LCG.


Why do people buy packs for a collectable card game like Magic the Gathering? Discounting the people who buy them not knowing what they are going to get or are buying then for nostalgia reasons (which a 20-year-old game is going to get) people pick them up because they like the little hit of endorphins when they look through a freshly opened pack of cards and see a powerful rare card staring back at them. Wizards of the Coast knows this and have made sure that even players who don’t know what the cards are extremely rare can see the foil holographic finish and / or the orange mythic rare symbol on the strongest cards in the set.


If you’ve ever played a collectable card game or know how addictions develop, you can see how the problem with this occurs. More product is brought and the rewards happen less and less often, the buyer’s excitement level lowers as they have experienced it all before but they continue to buy in to this minigame of random chance because they are still looking for the hit they get when they discover one.


Netrunner is a living card game which means all the cards you will ever need are in the packs and ready to be used in your games, there aren’t rare cards or mythic rare cards, there aren’t even random foil cards, every card in a certain pack is exactly the same. However, that addictive hit of discovering a rare card still exists except it’s been transferred to be part of the fabric of the game instead. This is because during a game every time a Runner makes a successful attack (called a run) they see a random card either from the top of their opponents (the Corporation) deck or from their hand. This gives out certain information on what the Corporation has ready to use, sometimes it lets the Runner force the Corporation to discard it but the main use of this is to discover the Agenda cards hidden in the Corporations deck, these cards have a number on and when the runner has a set of them that add up to 7 or more they win the game.


So the Runner makes runs steals the agendas and goes home happy with that endorphin rush, except, wait, that’s only one side of the game. The Corporation can seed their deck with ambushes that come into play when the Runner accesses them on their hunt for agendas, these things can damage the Runner directly, destroy programs or place nasty tokens on the Runner called tags that can be used to trigger even nastier effects like the removal of all the Runners money or the demolition of their house and surrounding houses in their neighbourhood.


So you have risk and reward working together in glorious concert, though be warned the total cost of all the Netrunner expansions released so far is over £400 so its hard for me to recommend anything over than sharing a copy of the basic game.


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Wyrmwood Gaming

One of the things I’d like to write about in this blog are the smaller companies that don’t get a lot of press in the gaming industry, I’m not doing it as paid advertising or being given free product so if I write about something then it’s just that I want to offer my opinion on something that deserves being written about. Today I’m going to be writing about a company I backed on Kickstarter called Wyrmwood Gaming, they have done 5 campaigns at the current time of writing this, the Dice Vault, the Magnetic Dice Tower System, the Hero Vault, the Dice Tray and the Deck Box with optional Bluetooth tracking tile. As you can tell especially with the last one, they are high end gaming accessories for tabletop gaming.

I picked up the Dice Vault and the Hero Vault on Kickstarter. Depending on the wood you pick, the Dice Vault goes for $25 to $125 and the Hero Vault goes from $24 to $110 with $24 shipping. So that’s £17.27 to £86.38 for the Dice Vault and £16.58 to £76 for the Hero Vault with £16.58 shipping.

First things first, these are luxuries, there should be no one out there who is under the illusion that you should need a special wooden box to hold 8 dice or a single model or a magnetically assembled contraption to roll their dice or store their cards so picking this up should be the last call on your gaming shopping trip.


Both are well made, and match the pictures and description on their website which is sometimes a problem with Kickstarter products, especially those using natural materials like wood or stone, they know what they are doing and have attached rare earth magnets into the wood using screws to secure them in place so that the two halves of the Vault snap it together and secure with enough force to make it clear no jolt or knock is going to open it when it is being carried around in your bag.


This smoothly leads me on to my next point, these items are so nice and so expensive I would not recommend just throwing them in a bag full of other equipment that might damage them, their price and the varying hardnesses of the wood needs to be taken into account, I suggest checking out the style of wood here and seeing if it matches your needs first.

If I was going to pick the most useful it would be the Hero Vault as its great for taking an individual model around for a game like Descent or Imperial Assault when even the smallest carrying case is too large and yes, it does garner looks of envy from your fellow players. Maybe one day when I have the full games room setup I will have matching Wyrmwood dice towers and other accessories but probably not just yet.


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