One of the things that often appalls me as a wargamer is the apparent entry cost of many games. First you have the rulebook, its supplements, rulers, dice, terrain and then the unpainted figures you then have to paint or pay someone to paint for you.
All this must be very off-putting to new players.
However, it does not have to be this way. There are several ways to get into a game without paying north of £100/$100 and as the Ministry’s skinflint-in-chief here are a few examples…
- Digital rulebooks
Most wargames companies have embraced the digital nature of the world today. You don’t have to get their expensive 300+ page hardbacks as they will usually sell you a digital version for half that price or even give you the basic rules (without fluff and pictures) for nothing.
There are numerous companies and creators out there who have created terrain that you simple print on light card, cut-out and assemble. Much of this is absolutely beautiful and surprisingly durable. For example: Dave Graffam produces a wide range of useful terrain at very little cost, and once you own the PDF you can print as many as you like. [http://www.davesgames.net/]
If you have a 3D printer Thingiverse and Cults3D are full of free terrain objects you can print.
The obvious route here seems to be to download designs from Thingiverse/Cults3D and simply 3D print them. Of course they are not painted, and the range is still a little limited. If you do not have a 3D printer there are hundreds of producers in Etsy willing to sell you decent prints.
A much cheaper option though is to print 2.5D paper craft figures on card. Numerous artists now produce ranged of these for a tiny cost. Look up Dave Okum on Drivethru RPG for amazing examples. http://www.okumarts.com/
- Figure bases
There are plenty of companies who will sell you incredibly detailed resin or plastic bases that can cost more than the figures that stand on them. However, if you just want something simple go to your local craft store and buy bags of 50+ small wooden 1mm thick disks for a couple of pounds/euros/dollars.
The pictures I have added here are of a Dave Okum Troll, on a wooden base and painted with a textured acrylic paint that cost me, all in, about 10 pence. I printed the figure from a five page PDF which includes 20 detailed full-colour figures and terrain pieces, used a 40mm wooden disk from The Works (pack of fifty includes 40mm, 25mm and 20mm disks for £2), and painted the base with a textured Acrylic paint from the middle of Lidl (5 x 100ml tubes for £6.99). Assembly took me ten minutes for five figures.
In an afternoon you could easily print, assemble and base a 100 figure army, while listening to Youtube videos telling you how to play the game.