When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.
With this lost of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bard, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.
Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one’s own, and likewise a single picul of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one’s own store.
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 2 “Laying Plans” [12-15]
In sum: war is expensive.
And so can tabletop wargaming.
There’s a lot of what I call “overt” expenses when it comes to wargaming. You can what these are every time you open up an issue of Wargames Illustrated and peruse the beautiful battlereports or diorama. The price tag is on the box of miniatures at your local gaming store. The same goes with the paints, brushes, and terrain.
Yet there are 7 more expenses you often won’t see in advertisements, and newbie wargamers fail to take into account.
Okay, the veteran gamers are probably rolling their eyes right now. But there are probably quite a few newbies out there wondering where to begin.
The box you bought those miniatures in just won’t work. Neither will a shoe box, not a small pencil-case, nor many of the other cheap solutions I’ve seen out there. If you’ve spent all that time and money painting your figures, it pays of invest in some proper storage cases or even make your own.
We’ll discuss your options in a later installment.
There’s always more accessories to get. Dice. Tape measures. Fire arc templates. Chits to indicate wounds. More dice. And anything else, including the printing of reference sheets and certain “army builder” applications to make running wargames faster, easier.
3. Food and drink.
Never wargame on an empty stomach. Eat beforehand. I prefer Panda Express or Chic-fil-A if I can get it. But don’t pig out because that can bring lethargy.
Make sure you’ve got something to drink, preferably water, during the game–especially if you’re involved in a marathon session like a tournament.
4. “Official” Merchandise
Wargame company X produces an “official” set of paint brushes, modelling knives, and super glue for your miniatures. Wargame company Y produces its own movement trays you can customize for your units.
All of which can be conveniently (that’s the key word here) purchased at the company’s website (or your local gaming store) with a significant mark up.
Most “official” merchandise is no different from what you’d get elsewhere at hobby shop. Some of it is downright cheaply made and a waste of money.
Talk to veteran wargamer to see what they use.
5. Miniatures you don’t use or need.
And I’m not talking about miniatures you buy on impulse.
No. That’s your choice.
What’s annoying is when certain companies put too few miniatures in their boxed kits to make an effective unit on the tabletop for their set of rules. So you end up buying more, and somehow you still have miniatures left over anyway.
You’ve paid for those extra figures. Now its question of what do to with them. (We’ll have some suggestions in a later post).
You have got to the local gaming store or your friend’s house, right? Younger wargamers don’t have to worry about this, as their parents will drop them off.
It’s one thing to take a 10 minute cruse, but if you’re looking to game across town, those dollars for gas can add up.
A lot new players, I think, get seduced into the hobby for the wrong reasons. Perhaps they look at the gorgeously painted miniatures and think: “Oh, I can do all that in no time.”
The fact is, time is the most expensive aspect of this hobby (or any hobby). And if you’ve become a wargamer for the wrong reasons, it’ll seem like too much time, which may eventually lead to you thinking you’ve wasted your time.
If, however, you’ve become a wargamer for the right reasons, then it will be time well spent.
Just make sure your eyes for miniatures don’t become bigger than your wallet–or you might have additional worries besides your finances.
Next on The Art of Wargaming: “That Which Does not Kill Us…”