Saturday, 9 November 2013

This hobby is expensive? Not really..

I had an interesting conversation in the pub the other day about wargaming. It may seem an odd subject to come up in that situation and to be honest, I don't entirely remember how the topic of conversation came round to it, but when I mentioned that I play tabletop games on a regular basis, someone said to me "why do you waste your money on that 'stuff'' (not their actual words, but edited for language). It's so expensive". I don't know what it was, but the question stayed with me, buzzing away in the back my mind in the way that such questions often do.

The thing that struck me was the person who said this to me spent a good 30 to 40 pounds on alcohol that night, with nothing to show for it afterwardsexcept possibly a hangover in the morning and some hazy memories. He did this without even thinking twice about it.

That same 30 to 40 pounds, if invested in hobby stuff could have bought me a box of models or two from an online stockist, which I'd then have spent hours building and painting, then I would have had further hours of enjoyment by going to my local gaming club with them and playing with those models. I'd use those models for years on end, through hundreds on evenings worth of gaming sessions. I'd get creative inventing background for them, inventing names and watching their legend grow (or diminish) on the gaming tables. I'd have the opportunity to socialise while playing with them, meeting some great people. All for the price of one night out down the pub. Plus it has the added bonus of you waking up the next day without hangovers and possible regrets.

Most hobbies are expensive, but in the grand scheme of things, ours is actually quite a cheap hobby, even with GW's constant price rises. I have a friend who does Astrophotography as a hobby and recently shelled out two grand on the latest camera equipment. That's not even including what she spent on the camera itself. She'll probably spend even more in a year or two when better equipment comes out, but I'll still have the same armies I have now, unless I take the plunge and start a new project. Even then I'm only paying a fraction of what she pays for her hobby.

Another, more common example would be video gaming. I have many friends who are fanatical gamers, often getting the latest games on the day of release. Even discounting the cost of the console, you're looking at about 40 to 50 pounds for the latest games, with two or three being released every month. That's £120 a month, just to keep up to date. Again, I may buy a new unit every now and then, but I'm still spending on average a fraction of what console games pay, even when most of my purchases are from Forge World.

Yet despite all this, many people still look down their noses at wargaming as an expensive waste of money. It's strange how the world works really. It's the reason why I've written this article, to share it with my friends who say wargaming is a waste of money and open their eyes to how it actually fits into the strata of hobbies as a whole.

What do you guys think? Am I right? Or have your experiences of this been different?


  1. Couldn't agree more with you here! As a recreational gamer and a hobbyist I can agree that overall unless you're willing to dedicate hours and hours to multiplayer, models are overall a cheaper hobby. And I can sympathise with being told you're hobby is expensive by people who go out drinking regularly :P

  2. Exactly the same arguments i've made in the past when someone has commented that "isn't that a lot of money for a few models?"

    You can take it further. If you break down how much you spend on the hobby, by how many hours of enjoyment you get out of what you buy, then for me it works out as mere pennies per hour.
    Compare that to a night drinking, or the latest console game that lasts 6 hours at most these days, and it's much better value for money.

  3. If you consider Warhammer in the context of children's or adolescent's games, it is expensive. It's closer to the cost of a sport. However, in the context of adult activities, I agree that it's inexpensive. Not cheap, but inexpensive. Now, if only GW would either price things in line with their apparent target demographic (adolescents), or make rules and models in line with their apparent actual demographic (social adults with disposable income).

  4. It is general the value for the dollar that is the issue. Those plastic kits have a very lower marginal cost and probably cost more to ship to the stores than to actually produce.

  5. It all comes down to how much use a person would get out of it. For gamers like ourselves who get a lot of use out of our games, and spend a lot of time on, then the costs aren't too bad. People do it with computer/consoles all the time.