A Lust for Gold. Or, how GW is pricing me out of armies.

The good old days

The Good Old Days

Now, lets lay the groundwork here – I was, for many years, a GW redshirt. Even a blue shirt. And a Blackshirt. I even wore the hallowed black of the Deathwatch, the trade teams events people. I’ve been on the inside of GW and man, I have seen some things. I’ve also been into the hobby since I was a wee lad, that’s pretty much 20 years now. I’ve seen trends come and go, I’ve seen prices rise and rise and I’ve seen the quality of sculpts get better and better – with a few notable exceptions of course.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m old. No, wait, it’s that I have experience. I can remember when a box of multi-part Tactical Marines was about £18, which was awesome considering how much you got in the box. Then they went up to 20-odd….then to 25….then to the heady heights of 28…all without any new content. The current box is still at that level, albeit with a whole heap of new pieces and sculpts. Now, while new stuff is nice, is it worth the increased cost?

Well…..I don’t know anymore.

I’m not going to deny that by and large, the new minis that GW are bringing out are lovely. The new Dark Elf range was glorious, the skill of the multi-part plastic kits is astounding and some of the new mono-pose plastic characters are absolutely lovely. But value for money? Nope.

It was the Greatswords that first brought this trend to notice. Staple of pretty much every Empire army, collecting a decent unit of 24 or more meant multiple blisters of £8 each. Pricey. Then the joyous news – plastic Greatswords! And they were very very nice – surely plastic kits would be better value? But then the price. £25 for 10. A unit of 30 would set you back £75. Not that much cheaper than the same size unit in the old metal blisters.

GW’s reasoning was that as they were not a core unit, people would buy less, therefore the price needed to be slightly higher to offset the productions costs – same reason why a single character was always around the 10-12 bucks mark. Ok, I can kinda understand that.

That doesn’t ring true…

What I can’t understand is why core and troop units are now being priced crazily high. Let’s take a look at the Witch Elves – 10 models for £30. Somewhat cynically in my opinion, the 8th ed army book made them a core choice, resulting in a huge demand for them in Dark Elf armies. And why not? Frenzied, poison attacks, two hand weapons and the option to chuck a Cauldron of Blood in to make them truly gross? Add the standard mage with Mindrazor and you are laughing. But for units to work in 8th ed, you really need to go big or go home – especially when that unit is only toughness 3 and wearing what could only generously be called ‘clothes’. And lets be honest, for all those attacks, you want a horde. So that’s 50 of the lovelies at least. Let’s be generous and say that with the Cauldron in there and some unit fillers, you’re still looking at least 30 or 40 of them.

That’s £90 to £120 for a single unit. A single unit. Not even counting the £50-odd for the Cauldron.

Maybe I’m cheap. Maybe I don’t want to spend £170 on a single unit for my army. Maybe I’d prefer to eat that month.

And as nice as the models are….there’s only a limited number of poses. And they are all very similar and all seem to be constantly dragging around pieces of elven architecture to jump off dramatically (which by the way is another very irritating trend GW seem to have inherited from Rackham).

Things like the big multi-monster/tank kits aren’t as bad in comparison – you get a fair old chunk of plastic and loads of spares after all, but the increasing costs of basic units and characters just seems to be pushing new starters out. Even for an established gamer like myself, its hard to justify the expense of GW anymore.

Better Alternatives?

Lets look at it this way – if I want to start a new army for 40k, I’m looking at around £30 for my first troop choice. Even more if I choose Eldar and want Dire Avengers (seriously GW? £25 for 5 Avengers? The go-to core choice? What the actual fuck?). For Fantasy, it’s the same cost for anywhere between 10 and 16 models, so not even a full unit. And that’s not even counting the cost of the rules and the army book.

Bottom line, it’s almost too expensive to consider starting an army from scratch these days. Compare that to something like Infinity, where I can get the rules for free online – including all the main game rules, all the army lists and all the extras they released. All free. For £30 I can (and in fact did) get a decent 200pt force, suitable for the standard size game – all individual minis, all very nicely sculpted.

Now before you all shout – yes I know Infinity is a skirmish game and therefore a little poor as a comparison cost wise – but that’s my point. GW is making it almost too expensive to consider starting a new army from scratch so I’m almost being pushed towards skirmish games instead to get more bang for my buck.

It’s a shame, because while for some reason I do still love 40k and Fantasy, I don’t think I can physically afford a new army any time soon. And with the hit-and-miss quality of some of the releases (High elves and Lizardmen were poor, Dark Elves and Eldar impressive) I’m not sure how GW can justify their increasing costs without facing up to loosing the majority of their long term gamers.

Tune in next time to hear me complain about how politicians aren’t as honest as they used to be, what’s wrong with kids these days and why things just aren’t as good as they used to be.

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