Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Price of Revolution

This costs how much??

This post is Dangerous.

I saw a post on TMP about how much does an army cost and it got me thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know).  Now today we have a post about the costs of starting a new genre in wargaming.   NEWS FLASH; this silly little hobby is expensive.   In OTHER NEWS, water found to make people wet.

But SSShhhhhh, don’t tell the wife. 

Not that she reads this blog anyways.  She knows I have it.  But she’s never gone “Hey, I really liked your last blog post.  It reminded me of how funny and attractive you are; (/seductive voice) COME TO ME.”

 Link to the TMP page if so inclined: TMP


Buying Frenzy:

Like many wargamers, I already have a decent collection of miniatures, rulebooks, and terrain; so when I do buy stuff, I’m just adding to a previously started project.    Therefore the purchases tend to be in smaller batches; a box or blister of miniatures here, some terrain there; modest amounts. I don’t like the lead pile to grow unchecked.  This tends not to be super expensive because the initial set up costs have all been paid. 

It’s been forever since I started a new game project from scratch like I have with this 28mm AWI project.  Mostly scratch, I have some appropriate 28mm terrain because my dark ages and LOTR collection is in 28mm; fields, roads, and some trees.  But nothing else. 

With an upcoming pay cut for all of us state workers I been doing a lot of my discretionary spending now, before it’s too late.  In a few months I might not be able to buy my family the nicer things, but we can all have some comfort in my new, totally awesome AWI miniature collection.  (That last bit makes me sound selfish, I should talk to my editorial staff).   Usually these costs are way more spread out and therefore obscure.  Yet being in a buying frenzy and rapidly making purchases brings it all to light. Which just goes to show, when one is too busy to paint and cannot play games, one will always find time to shop. 


The dangerous bit: How much does starting a new period really cost? 

I broke down the spending into categories, then rounded the costs to friendly numbers for easy maths.  Then there is some witty commentary on how this cost could be adjusted.  Prices include shipping to my house because ain’t nobody shopping in person during these days of pandemic... 


Musket and Tomahawks II Rule bundle: Main rule book, AWI supplement book and card deck, and tokens: $70

You need rules to play a genre by.  I bought this through a pre-order and so got a small discount.  I don’t think $70 is an outrageous amount to pay for a modern day rule set.  Regardless of the rules themselves, the books are of high quality.  


Brigade Miniatures AWI British: $100 for 48 miniatures

Brigade Miniatures AWI dirty revolting colonists Americans: $160 for 78 miniatures.

This is a steep cost.  BG miniatures are rather on the pricey side at $2 a miniature.   There is a 10% discount but that really just cancels out the shipping costs.  There are cheaper options out there that could bring down this cost.  I went with BG for a couple of reasons:

I wanted the British to be in the 1768 warrant uniform.  The uniform we all think of when we say Redcoat.  I know that realistically/historically this uniform went by the wayside rather quickly in the AWI in favor of lighter modifications.  But I wanted turnbacks and large cuffs dammit. 

And while I don’t have anything against plastic miniatures, I just like metal ones better.  If anything it saves me the step of building them.  Though plastic is much cheaper.  Everyone goes with Perry Miniatures for the AWI, and I wanted miniatures different from everyone else.  (Though the plastic Perry box set of AWI British infantry is in the 1768 warrant uniform, but I wanted more variety of poses, but I bet I’ll pick up a box eventually). 

And most importantly, BG was open for business during this pandemic. 

Another preference of mine that raised the cost was for dirty rebel patriotic militia.  Using Militia always means needing more figures, because their quality is in the quantity.  If I had gotten more continental line infantry the cost would be less. 

Small pile of Continental Infantry on the right,
LARGE pile of Militia on the left.

I am though, overall very pleased with my purchase and really like the miniatures now that I’ve painted up a few.    


BG Miniatures do not come with bases, so I ordered some.  

Shogun Miniatures 25mm round magnet bases.  $40 for 150 bases. 

I could of gone cheaper with plastic or fender washers, but have plans for how I am gonna store these miniatures and how I eventually want to use them in large units.  So I wanted magnet bases.

Plus, with Magnet Bases I can make troops march up the fridge.
Just to demonstrate that magnets work.


Terrain (didn’t have much to start)

Battlefield Terrain Concepts fences kits: $65 for 3 bags (each is supposed to make 5 feet).

Future Fences.
15 fifteen feet might sound like a lot,
but from prior experience I know it's not for a wargame table.

Sarissa Precision North American Buildings: $100 for 5 buildings

I don't have the building yet, and with shipping from the UK to USA being what it is these days, don't suspect that I will anytime soon so no pic...

Naturally I didn't need to buy 5 buildings all at once.  I just figured that I'd want 5 eventually so might as well get them all at once so I can make homesteads or villages versus just having a single house here or there in the woods.   


$535 without even playing the a game yet. 

This is not a humble brag.  I genuinely find this stuff interesting and it’s a side of the hobby that we don’t talk about much.  We all come from different SES and have different amounts we can afford.  The costs of wargaming is one of the daunting aspects that keeps people out of the hobby or even out of a particular style or period of play.  I have often heard that the rise of skirmish games is due in part to the cost of acquiring large armies.  

I generally don't have a strict hobby budget.  I tend to get what I want when I want; mainly because I am a grown man with a decent job and my hobby is literally the only place in my life where I am able to do that.  Everywhere else in life is compromise.  However, I'm also generally responsible and am not a spendthrift.  But this is clearly a large investment and goes to illustrate how expensive starting a new miniature project can be.  And why these days I don't just start new genres without serious thought for a few years.  And believe it or not, it's out of character for me to get so much so quickly.  It's the old experiment; get everything at once and see of you can paint it all before going on to something else.  How often have we tried that int the past? 

Though, I have been known to focus on genre for a lengthy amount of time. 

Or maybe it's a symptom of this Pandemic.  In any case, this genre might well cover my spending for the rest of year.  Unless something really cool comes along.  Or maybe if I actually do paint it all,  I'll get myself a small reward. 

Besides, during the pandemic I've been saving a lot of money on haircuts...

This is my COVID look

Thanks for reading.  See you again soon with a hobby update.  


  1. I rarely plan anything, if I did I'd realise its gonna cost me a fortune, last year I bought my first new period in 10 years, the Haitian Revolution. Which I think is pretty good, I'm quite good at concentrating on one period for years. Good luck with the AWI, I shall look forward to see more units as they appear, hope your gonna do Sherborne's Continental. Love their uniform, reminds me of a packet of sweets.

    1. Thanks Ray. In the first 10 years of wargaming I started all sorts of projects only to abandon most of them. Now in the last 5 years I’ve only started 2; Age of Sail and this AWI.
      I’ll have to look up Sherbornes Continental. I’m looking for a good American uniform. πŸ˜€

  2. One of the reasons my historical hobby has been focused on smaller scales is the issue of cost. I'm in a similar position, in that I've a good job, am a grown adult etc., but I'm keenly aware that money I spend on my hobby is being spent a) on me rather than my family, and b) could be spent on more practical things. I do tend to keep a lid on spending, spread it out, and generally look for bargains when I can. As it turns out, I rather like 6mm and 15mm, and the smaller figures offer advantages in space and storage as well.

    I've not come across Brigade before, I'll have to check them out. When I was playing M&T, it was in 18mm (Blue Moon) for the SYW in North America - might have to revive that project ;)

    1. Thanks FMB. We are very similar. I would never spend so much if it actually meant the family would lack something.
      Most of my stuff is in 15/18mm. I haven’t done 28mm in forever and now they seem HUGE.
      I’ve only recently came across BG as well. πŸ˜€

  3. Interesting analysis. The hobby seems to be expensive (and can be, as anything can), but I think we are more self conscious of wargaming costs, and they are highlighted more by outsiders because it is not a "mainstream" leisure activity. Think about the expenses involved with golf, for instance--even leaving out the culture of wagering that is often involved: when was the last time you dropped $100 for not making a critical die roll in a wargame? In conversations about golf, nobody jumps to the price of the hobby as an issue (that I have ever heard).

    Another example: my wife has taken up ice hockey (believe it or not). If you want to talk about an expensive pastime, think about the equipment and rink fees involved there (in addition to regular rig, she also has goalie kit!). So happily, I hold the "high ground" when it comes to hobby layouts in our household--the downside is that she can deliver a mean hip check ;)

    There are certainly some folks who spend a monstrous amount on the hobby, but I think on average, it is a pretty modest pastime in comparison to others. So I don't follow the "wargaming is so expensive" conversations much.

    1. Thanks Ed. You are right of course; all hobbies tend to be somewhat expensive from time to time. I have a friend who flew remote control airplanes and helicopters....

      It’s not so much that I think this was exorbitant, just rapid. It also makes me appreciate my collections more as long term investments in fun. πŸ˜€

  4. It's hard to get away from start-up costs, but once done, further maintenance with drip - drip buying is much easier on the hip and then if you start to divide costs by hours involved from painting to regular play, the hourly cost comes down, add into that feel good factors etc and it is easy to talk oneself into the argument of reasonable cost. I have a neighbour who plays golf and that would put any spending I do in shade! I have another neighbour who is struggling to make ends meet at the moment - so it is just shades of grey, with everyone in a different place.

    An 85 year old said to me the other day .... 'there are no pockets in shrouds'!

    1. Thanks Norm. It is the start up costs that get ya. Though I was thinking after I wrote this post that after this initial investment, there really isn’t that much more to go before everything is purchased if keeping to a skirmish-y level.
      And of course, the potential hours of fun make it all worth it. πŸ˜€

  5. Great post, Stew! You have maintained your sense of humor through all of this. I fall into the camps of Ed and Norm with respect to spending. Being an economist, I factor in the utility of the hobby. I gain a great deal of satisfaction or utils from these activities. Spread over a lifetime of enjoyment, the spending is really not excessive considering all of the utils it provides. As a figure vendor once told me, "you only have to buy the figures once!"

    1. Thanks Jonathan! You are of course right. I too get a ton of fun from this hobby and will (hopefully) have these figures for decades to come. πŸ˜€
      And if anything, the collection will just get larger...

  6. I’m just not going to go there....πŸ˜€ as long as you are not holding back food from the kids. My wife constantly tells me to stop procrastinating and just buy stuff. I am by nature not extravagant. So if I can save £1 on a purchase that might be £50 I will wait crazy but just the way I am. It is so easy to buy stuff but part of the fun is getting things cheap from flea markets or eBay. New projects are scary, what is also scary is the collective value sitting in boxes !

    1. Thanks Matt! Of course it’s not really a situation where the kids go hungry. I don’t really have many opportunities to attend flea markets but I could pay attention to EBay a little more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money. πŸ˜€

  7. I completely agree that start up costs are rarely fully explained in this hobby. For the most popular wargames, the manufacturers sell the smaller unit boxes and individual books so a $50 book here and a $40 box of space marines seems fine. If you spread your hobby fixes out like this, it can be $50-$100 a month for each month or less frequently if your budget is tighter. On one hand, I think that is pretty reasonable and many adults can afford it, on the other hand, when you add the fact that you constantly need things like paint and paintbrushes, basing supplies, and terrain, it does become a bit more deceptive and you rarely think about the total overall money you're spending!

    I prefer to buy as I go so as to avoid sticker shock but also because I don't like to have too many projects laying around the house. I think having 200+ miniatures to paint tends to put people off unless they're committed. Yeah, it is cool when you can brag about the hundreds of dollars you just spent on miniatures on social media but I suspect a lot of the same people who do that, end up losing interest in that army and end up selling it on the very same social media sites, a year or two later!

    Having said that, I think buying all of this at once will afford you variety (you can't well paint 100+ colonials in a row without other stuff to work on!) and I would do the same about spending while I can before my belt tightens. It is a relief to know you have something you will enjoy in the coming months when you'll need it! I look forward to seeing more AWI stuff as you have time. I'm sure it is going to look really cool :)

    1. Thanks Kuribo. I certainly have the same plan that as I grind through my newly acquired lead pile I can keep in some variety with miniatures or terrain to keep fatigue at bay. The idea bring that as long as I’m doing something from the above list, the overall project is moving forward. I certainly don’t want to be one of those people who sells it all at a loss later.
      I appreciate you following along on these historical wargaming posts as I know it’s not your favorite genre. πŸ˜€

    2. Sounds like a sound strategy! I really like the idea of playing a historical, I'm just waiting to find one that fits my lowish model count and solo requirements. There are tons of historical eras that do tempt me so you never know when I might join :D

  8. Interesting post Stew, sums up the costs nicely. You think Brigade Game miniatures are expensive over there, try shipping them to the UK!
    Look forward to seeing the progression. In case I ever start mine I picked up the digital version of the C E Franklin British uniform book for the period.


    1. Thanks Tony. The shipping might be crazy. But we Americans are constantly having to ship stuff from the UK to the USA, so maybe it’s a kind of revenge! πŸ˜€
      Thanks for recommending the book. I’ll have to check it out. So far, I’ve been relying on google image searches.

  9. Great post and the comments have been good as well. Each step of the process has a value, even if you put the whole project on the shelf you still got the joy of planning and shopping for it. Every step after adds to the value you get out of it. A guy in a bike shop once said "a $200.00 bike that sits in the garage cost more than the $2,000.00 bike you ride 5 days a week.

    1. Thanks Dan. That’s a great bike metaphor! I don’t know if my sloppy paint jobs would actually add any value to these miniatures, except that painted armies with cool terrain is more fun to play for me. πŸ˜€

    2. I forgot to mention that my wife has had a $300 bike that has sat in the garage for YEARS. πŸ˜€

    3. I've a treadmill like that.

    4. Haha, try a $2,000 horse that never gets ridden, but keeps on eating and still needs hooves trimmed at $50 a pop. Now multiply that by two.

  10. Interesting post, nicely laid out. I tend to think of the hobby as not being that expensive, sure you can spend a fortune if you want to but I (mostly!) stick to around £6 a week which is what I would give out as pocket money and an occasional bonus amount, I don't think it's that much it's about a pint in a pub, I don't really go out and drink anymore so that seems a reasonable amount. It still adds up to about £300 a year which won't necessarily start new projects but will easily keep you ticking over, to me it's a magazine or a couple of paints plus a box of plastic figures,it's difficult to paint that fast! That's how I built up my bolt action soviet force. My Italian wars project was more like your AWI approach, in that I used £500 of my inheritance so I would think about my dad, collecting,painting and playing ,there is still one unit left to paint 6 years on, although additional troops have been added and painted. All my Dux Bellorum figures are either plastic, second hand or Ebay .
    I guess it's not super cheap but its still a lot cheaper than golf, motorbikes, going to the football etc etc! Sorry to have gone on a bit!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, it’s sldo much cheaper than a mistress, or so I tell the wife.
      I think the take away from all this is to make reasonable purchases based on your own situation, with perhaps the occasional splurge in a new project. πŸ˜€

  11. Imagine your hobby was a classic car, just a single part can cost $500 alone.
    Any hobby is paid for with disposable income so really if we are clever about it we can make that stretch as best as we can to accommodate purchases for the project in question.
    I like to buy an army in one go. More my ocd really due to fearing I won’t have the funds down the line otherwise to complete it. But this does mean I have multiple unfinished projects sat half done...

    That hair... is majestic btw.

    Hope the wife is feeling better mate?

    1. And that’s why the wife calls me her ‘mane man!’
      Snort snort chuckle.

      In some ways wargaming is like a classic car hobby, bc this AWI genre is just one part of the whole collection. πŸ˜€

      The wife is feeling a little better.

  12. Yeah I feel your pain mate, I just started both a FIW project and Baron Wars one and as I loath plastic toys (I do cave in sometimes for plastic though) it's ending up costing both an arm and a leg as I wanted both sides for each and 2 new ruleset.

    Hoo humm..

    1. Thanks for the comment Chico. You’re right that how you go about it definitely raises the cost. As I tend to go all in and do both sides and terrain and rules it adds up quickly. πŸ˜€

  13. Very interesting post Stew. Any hobby is ‘expensive’ in that it is money spent on a personal leisure activity rather than an investment. When compared to other hobbies I think ours is not expensive at all. My brother flies R/C airplanes and goes scuba diving whilst my brother in law is into sailing. All very nice hobbies but much more onerous than wargaming. If one still sees the actvity as expensive, then I echo FMB above - there’s always the smaller scale option one can resort to. And then, after all, aren’t we all entitled to that occasional peccadillo?

    1. Thanks Mike. In honesty, I feel more than entitled. πŸ˜€
      It’s not that much in the grand scheme of things I suppose....and it’ll be money well spent once it’s hits the table all painted and pretty.

  14. Hey Stew,

    Great discussion of the costs of wargaming. I know that after a few years of free flowing cash, storage and time became far more of an issue than anticipated at the outset, and consequently I have been quite miserly since then (my wife's opinion may differ). I have the money, I just dislike spending it, particularly when it comes to putting that box of new figures on top of the 100 other unpainted boxes of figures.

    Did you look at any other manufacturers like Fife & Drum for your AWI? With Militia you will want some variety.

    I just spent some pleasant time getting caught up with your blog. I appreciate that you posted exactly twice each month to make it easier... Anyway, great reads as always, and I liked seeing the AoS ships come to completion in fast forward as it were, waiting a few weeks between posts can make painting nearly as slow as the real thing.

    And I hope your wife is better!

    p.s. I am pleased to see that you have made the leap to AWI, I may have to glance at my spreadsheet where I planned out a few forces. Continental Regulars? Hessians? French? Natives? All could be useful for skirmish...

    1. Thanks Las. I have often said that I have an abundance of everything, except Time. And energy these days.

      I looked all over for AWI miniatures and I’m quite pleased with BG. I’m sure that the militia are quite varied enough. After painting some of them I can say that I like them a lot.

      And posting about twice a month Seems to be my style. I would post more if I did more hobbies or could write faster. But as a fellow blogger you know how each perfect post is the culmination of several tough drafts and meticulous editing....yeah right. πŸ˜€

      Thanks for thinking of the wife. She is feeling a little better.

    2. Yes, time, that would be nice to have. With working from home I thought I would have a ton of time, but instead I seem to be doing a lot more cooking and cleaning... then I go to bed earlier and sleep in later.

      As for blog posts, I love yours, and if you are not editing them you do a great job making it seem like you do since they flow nicely and are well written.

    3. Thanks Las, I appreciate that very much. πŸ˜€

  15. Great post Stew. I feel the same way as most here. I have always made good money, but have always held back on spending too much on the hobby/myself. But really it isn't all that expensive when compared to other hobbies. Take my wife's hobby for instance, horses! I won't go into exactly how much. Just say we could have sent both the kids to Harvard and then grad school for what has been spent on those hay burners over the last 20 years! And nobody rides 'em, they are yard ornaments. But she loves them, so they have value.
    So I love my minis and they too have value. My trouble is I feel guilty spending money on more when I have drawers of unpainted figs, and I do, drawers, plural!
    BTW Stew I like the bushy look. I was going for the same look but the wife stepped in. Now I have the same barber as my dogs. And look about the same too. Good thing I can't go anywhere!

    1. Thanks Vol. I’ve long known that horses are just big cats...good for nothing. πŸ˜€
      I’m tempted to let the wife cut my hair. But if My hair is crazy, it’s the 2 year old that really has it bad.

  16. Plenty of children have grown up without new shoes and on a diet of bread and dripping. Many have gone on to be successful in life, but how many grow up with the rare and valuable opportunity to tell their friends and peers about their father’s fabulous collection of painted miniatures? They could even share the fact their father has boxes of unpainted miniatures? What better gift could any child have to prepare for the long road ahead? Don’t see it as a personal indulgence, but rather a wonderful gift for your family.

    Hopefully, your family will be more appreciative than mine, who were endlessly selfish and self obsessed. Why can’t the kids eat tonight? One blanket is not enough in winter! Why am I still going to high school wearing my primary school clothes? On and on they bleat completely unaware of the opportunity life has given them. If they ever come back from that trip to the in-laws, I’ll be telling them to their faces.

    1. LoL. Thanks TP.
      Now I’m thinking that I should of spent times as much and then spend every waking hour painting them up and totally ignore all the chores and playing with the kids and diaper changes etc... that will really make them appreciative. πŸ˜€