28 March 2009

Something Games Workshop Does Right

I'm not really a Games Workshop hater anyway, but I have to agree with those who say some of GW's figures are overpriced. I would love to have a whole bunch of Terminators, but at $50 for a box of 5 I can't very well afford that. Some of the metal figures are pretty crazy too. I try to avoid large units of metal figures in my army lists for that reason. But this is a post about something that Games Workshop got right, so I'll move into that. Specifically I am going to discuss the starter sets for Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Warhammer 40k.

The Warhammer 40k: Assault on Black Reach (AoBR) starter set is a pretty good value, even helping to solve the previously mentioned problem of expensive Terminators. I'm going to go off of MSRP here although you can get a 20% discount on GW stuff fairly easily, and more if you search hard. Anyway, on to the analysis. The AoBR set lists at $60. You get ten regular Space Marines, 5 Terminators, a Space Marine Captain, and a Dreadnought. The Orks get a Warboss, 5 Nobz, 20 Boyz, and 3 Deffkoptas. If you add up the list prices for all of those components separately you get around $140 for the Space Marines and $134 for the Orks (I had to fudge a bit for the Deffkoptas as the regular Deffkopta model doesn't match up very well with the AoBR models). For the purposes of this discussion I am ignoring the perceived value of the mini rulebook and templates that come in the AoBR set, these are often sold on eBay for $10-20. To buy all of the components separately would cost about $274 at full retail, maybe $220 if you shopped around a bit. So buying the AoBR set for $60 comes out to a 70-80% discount, assuming you collect Orks and Space Marines and need all the figures in the box.

The downside of this is that the figures in the AoBR set are simplified sculpts. You're limited to the squad layouts provided, and there aren't a lot of interchangeable parts. Your Tactical Squad is going to have a missile launcher and flamer, and the Sergeant will be armed with a chainsword and pistol. The Terminators will all have Storm Bolters and power fists. The Terminator Sergeant will have a power sword and Storm Bolter. The Dreadnought will have a close combat arm and a multi-melta. The Orks will also be limited to a certain loadout, although you can vary their arms a bit more. It's a tradeoff, but in my opinion the AoBR set is a great way to put together large numbers of basic troops that can fill out the bulk of an army. It works out especially well for me as Space marines and Orks are the two 40k armies I like most.

I had pretty much ignored the Warhammer Fantasy Battles starter set as I had already filled out my Orcs and Goblins army with a big lot purchased from the Marketplace on The Miniatures Page and Dwarfs were third or fourth on my list of armies I'd like to build. But a few weeks ago I stumbled onto the start of a Dwarf army and I began to look a bit harder at the Battle for Skull Pass starter box.

How do you stumble onto the start of an army? Well, I was innocently browsing the models at Hobbytown when I looked up at the wall where the battalion boxes are kept. Hobbytown has started using a red price sticker for clearance items, and I noticed that there was a red sticker up on that wall. It was the Dwarf Battalion box.

"Hmm, a Battalion box at 50% off doesn't seem like something I should pass up," said my compulsive inner monologue.

"But you don't even collect Dwarfs! And you haven't finished your Skaven or even started your Orcs and Goblins! You've also got all those unpainted Orks, Space Marines, and Imperial Guardsmen, not to mention the pile of Lord of the Rings stuff, the Mordheim warbands, the various Dogs of War units, the Reaper CAV stuff, and all the odds and sods you've got besides! You can't start a new army!" yelped the inner voice of reason.

"It's 50% off, you can't pass that up. You've already got the army book, it's not like you'll need to buy a lot of other stuff to make a playable force. And look, this Dwarf Lord figure is 50% off as well. You could probably build a 1000-point army with just this stuff," said the voice with the thin moustache and the cheap suit.

So now I've got this start to a Dwarf army and the starter box becomes rather attractive all sudden-like. It's got 60 Night Goblins, 10 Spider Riders, a Troll, a Night Goblin Boss, and a Night Goblin Shaman for the Orcs and Goblins, and 12 Dwarf Warriors, 10 Dwarf Thunderers, 8 Dwarf Miners, a cannon, a Dragon Slayer, and a Thane for the Dwarfs. The dollar amounts come out to be very similar to the AoBR set. To buy the components separately would be $112.73 for the Dwarfs and $157.50 for the Goblins, or $270.23 total. With discounts you could bring that to around $215. The Battle for Skull Pass starter retails for $60, although it is fairly easy to find it for around $40. At $60 you're getting a 70-80% discount at the expense of having less variety in your figures. Almost all of the figures in the set are one-piece sculpts, but being able to build the core of an army at that price point seems worthwhile to me. And that is one thing that Games Workshop has done right, at least for people who collect the armies featured in the starter sets.

My blog went over 10,000 hits today. That is pretty neat. February was my highest-traffic month ever. March will not quite make it to that level as I was away from my computer for over a week and didn't get much traffic during that time.

The house hunt is going somewhat poorly. We looked at several houses yesterday, and the only one that was any good was too small to comfortably fit us in it. With a different floorplan it would've been a keeper, but the way the rooms were laid out made it just as cramped as the trailer is. The good thing is that there are plenty of houses on the market and we aren't under a lot of pressure to move so we can just keep looking.

That's about it for tonight. I am trying to get back into the swing of school. I hope I can make it to the end of the semester.

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