Friday, 26 February 2016

How to build and army for cheap - the £25 challenge



Hello All,

So as so of you may or may not know Callum and I have been running the £25 challenge and loads of people have been getting involved.  The idea is to start a Warhammer 40k army and build it to a playable 500 points for just £25.  I started off with Dark Eldar and bought a load of 3rd edition warriors but quickly fell out of love with these and turned to my old favorite, space marines.

Space marines are by far the most popular army that games workshop sell; they are easy to play, easy to paint and the range is massive.  Not only do gw sell space marines in many cost effective sets, it also means that places like eBay and other second hand sites are brimming with the little guys, you can pick up an army for a weeks pocket money.  I thought I would put together a little guide on how to set up an army cheaply and also give an update to my own £25 challenge.

Option 1 - The new stuff

So you have £50 in your pocket and want to start an army off the sprues, new out the box.  I don't blame you, making the models is half the fun and that shit feels good.  Games Workshop currently offer start collecting boxes which rrp at £50 but you can pick up them up for between £35 and £40 from registered retailers.  These are awesome ways to start collecting (no pun intended) as each one is a single formation that plays right out of the box, usually with some pretty neat special rules.

There are however a couple of issues with these boxes.  You get no rules, no army list info and they are all multipose stuff.  This means you will need to invest £10-£20 in modelling supplies and about £40 in reading material if you are new to 40k.  This can be a bit of a downer when only half your money is actually being spent on models.  The other issue is that some of the boxes do not expand very well.  What I mean by this is that each on is a tailored formation that contains precisely what is in the box.  If you start buying more figures you will need to break this formation into another force organisation chart or buy enough models that you have another separate force running along side your initial box; very frustrating.

Start Collecting, Space marines


Then there is Dark Vengeance.  This is a great box that contains two chunky armies that do not require complex assembly, all the rules that you need to play said armies and all the dice and templates that you will ever need.  This is great if you have a friend to split it with, usually this will run you up about £40 each depending on where you get it from and how you split it.  If you are not lucky enough to have friends you can pick dark vengeance stuff off ebay for cheap.  The armies go for between £25 and £30 as well as the individual units.  Even though I have been collecting my army a while I have still used Dark Vengeance marines to bulk up my forces.

So what is the catch with all this?  Well firstly the armies have zero customisation unless you start cutting stuff up.  The space marine side is pretty set as dark angels, you can file off the logos on most of the marines but the character models and terminators are a little trickier.  The same goes for the chaos, you are very much stuck with a khorne themed force.  This is fine if you just want to play but if you really enjoy the modelling side of things this can be a bit of a dull introduction to 40k and you will be left with an army identical to hundreds of other plays.  40k has a lot of role play elements and for many people most of the fun comes from making your army that looks exactly how you want it to look and play exactly how you want it to play.  This is something the start collecting boxes

Dark Vengeance, top dollar


Option 2 - The old Stuff

So you still have that £50 but you want more.  You want to start playing with 750-1000 points straight off the bat.  Off to eBay with ya, this is where the juicy stuff starts.  If you have a bit of time, patience and thrift you can do wonders with second hand models.  Again, this is very dependant on what force you want to start as some races just simply are not as popular and therefore you will find it much harder to pick stuff up on the cheap.  Space marines are by far the cheapest, orks, necrons and chaos are pretty easy too.

The key to eBay modelling is weighing up how much you want to spend and how long you want to spend restoring old models.  Plenty off decently painted/base coated models go for cheap on ebay and if you are allergic to modelling and painting this is a fine way to start wargaming.  The best way however is to find those job lot auctions of terribly painted models that look like they have been put together by monkeys.

I managed to pick up 20 tactical marines for just under £10 from two seperate listings.  There were all painting pretty terribly, lots were wonky and they all came on 25mm bases.


But who wants shit looking models?  You could always just paint over the models if you just want a coherent force however the best way to make these guys looking like new is grabbing some Dettol (other products do work but I find dettol is the best).  This will strip all the paint off the models and not effect the plastic.  I will hopefully be putting a tutorial up over the weekend to show you guys the best way to do this.  

I had these guys stripped, rebased and repainted within a day and they are now looking pretty damn fine. 


That is £10 and a few hours work for £20 space marines.  The average Joe troop choice such as tactical marines are always the cheapest models to pick up but with some hunting and patience you can get almost anything off eBay.  For my £25 challenge I have picked up some of the dark vengeance character models for £3 and am currently looking for a Dreadnought (these come up cheap as the old Dark Vengeance equivilent, Assault on Black reach, had a Dreadnought). 

A few points to note on thrifting your way through the hobby is extra costs.  In truth, those marines probably cost nearer £15.  This is because you have to think about the cost of the Dettol, the cost of the bases and even the cost of all the bloody loo roll I used to clean my bathroom after.  If you have everything setup and you have all the paints, this is deffo the cheap way to go about starting or expanding an army, however, if you are completely new to the hobby I still think it is best to go with some of the newer boxes from gw.  After all, who doesn't love a bit of plastic crack, that shit smells gooood.

Hope some of you found this helpful.  I will put a proper dettol tutorial out this weekend and hope to have a proper update out soon.

Thanks for reading,
- Harry




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