Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

The Buy-In

What is this?

Do you like the games system? Do you like the models? These are the two prinicpal questions to answer when looking at a new miniatures wargame system. Price is relevant, but only after you’ve answered yes to the first two questions. This list represents a number of wargames systems, and their cost to buy-in. The buy in costs in intended to be a minimum to get you started, and includes:

Rules for the system

Anything else you need to get started (eg special strategy cards, army book, special dice, and so on)

Army/force playable in a minimum points game

The buy-in price is meant to be that – your cost to get up and running. The assumption is that you have no miniatures, no game specific pieces, rules or anything else. Prices are based on Australian retail prices, as this blog is based in Australia. Other countries would have different results.


Curiosity as much as anything else. You know, just to see.

What am I Looking at?

Below is a table ranking different games systems, starting with the most expensive. The notes column will give you an idea of what has been included. This is not meant as a definitive price guide to any system, more an indicator. Some systems have a cheap buy-in, but quickly demand you scale up with further purchases. Other systems may have a higher buy-in but you need purchase no more. Modular systems such as War Machine or Warhammer are difficult to give a direct answer, the notes cover the assumptions behind the given buy-in price for such games.

System Publisher Buy-in Notes
Warhammer 40,000 Games Workshop $550-$620 Buy in includes rulebook, codex (details a single army), character, and two battleforces.There are many armies to choose from, and codex and battleforce products have variable pricing. This should allow an army of approximately 500 points.Typical games of Warhammer 40,000 are 750, 1200, and 1500 points.
Flames of War Battlefront $260-$300 This includes rulebook, one campaign setting (which includes army lists) and one army.The assumption here is that your army will cost $150-$200 to muster. This will allow you to get started in the game at a reasonable size.Scaling up is possible and would cost a further $150-$200 depending on options.
War Machine Privateer Press $210+ A 35 point starter army can be purchased for $210 or less. The rules are available free at the Privateer Press website. Your preferred options can vary the additional price quite radically.Typical games of War Machine are 25, 35, and 50 points.
Hordes Privateer Press $210+ A 35 point starter army can be purchased for $210 or less. The rules are available free at the Privateer Press website. Your preferred options can vary the additional price quite radically.Typical games of Hordes are 25, 35, and 50 points
SAGA Gripping Beast/Tomahawk Studios $175 or $135 This price includes the SAGA rulebook, a set of dice, and a 4 point starter army.The second price refers to the same except with the starter army replaced with a single box of Gripping Beast plastics. This can be done for the Viking or Anglo-Dane faction and will provide for a 6 point army.Factions requiring an expansion book will cost an additional $30 to buy into. A typical game of SAGA is 6 points.
Dystopian Wars  Spartan Games  $110 This includes a rulebook, cards, and a naval fleet box for each of the major factions.This provides enough forces for introductory and main games.The forces can be expanded in a modular fashion with additional models and allied forces.
 Dropzone Commander Hawk Wargames  $110  This includes a rulebook and starter army for any of the four main factions  This will provide you with a force to play a skirmish level game.Expanding to the next level (clash) will double the buy-in cost.
Age of Sigmar  Games Workshop $100  For this price you can buy a box of five models and a character. The rules are free and the game is meant to scale as high as you like. However a single box set and a character to lead the army is a perfectly legal force. The rules are free and available from the Games Workshop website.
Star Wars X-Wing Fantasy Flight Games  $90 $90 will buy you a starter box and a single expansion ship, which should work for a game of 50 points of less. Typical tournament games are 100 points, and casual games can range higher or lower. 50 points is playable and fun.
  Malifaux  Wyrd Miniatures  $90  This price gives you the rulebook and a starter gang box. A starter gang is sufficient to play a Scrap sized game.
  Infinity  Corvus Belli  $60  This price gives you a starter gang. The rules are available for free at the Infinity The Game website. Expanding your gang into a force will add around $150-$200.

6 comments on “The Buy-In

  1. Pingback: Introducing The Buy-In « Scent of a Gamer

  2. Pingback: 15 months, 15 articles | Scent of a Gamer

    May 17, 2014

    Yeah, the big selling point of WARMACHINE used to be that there was a low buy-in but now that Privateer is trying to emulate GW – not so much.

  4. Ann Wycoff
    April 25, 2015

    Dropzone Commander is one I am interesting in giving a try, though not sure I’d want to buy in because of the lack of player base in my circle. Bolt Action is a fun game as well.

    With some games, especially historicals, one can always use the figures one already owns since 25mm or 15mm Germans are still Germans. Also, I think Infinity is a game you can do that with. I have some female guardsmen from Victoria Miniatures, which usually I use for 40K, but seem like they’d work fine for Infinity.

  5. Azazel
    September 12, 2015

    Might be a good time for a V2 of this post? Updated versions of the previous listings with more current AU$ prices, Removal of WHFB (or notes about how you need to get the rules from eBay or onlne), add in AoS, Bolt Action and perhaps a couple of other popular up-and-comers…

    • davekay
      September 12, 2015

      A good idea! I’ll update this week or next.

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