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Gaming on a Budget


This last weekend, I spent a lot of time playing games. It was unusual, as I typically don’t get to play all that often, let alone multiple games in a single weekend. It started out with a Magic prerelease ran by Patrick (check out his and Zane’s latest post here). It was $25 to play in a two-headed giant game, and I got in at the last minute with Cody, who also happens to write on here from time to time.

After a few hours of me having to shake some rust off, I found it was good to play again. Later that night, we ended up playing our Ratfolk campaign where Ritt, the mute monk ratfolk, ended up prying a gem out of a Krakken, rendering it dead…at least for now. Sunday came and War Machines was the game for the day. While I didn’t get to play for very long, I did manage to get in a good game with my Protectorate of Menoth faction, and narrowly won the match.

After all this, I came home and sat on my couch with my family and a thought popped into my head: some people can’t afford to get into all these games at once. One of the reasons I had to back off on Magic was partially due to how much it cost to continue to play. I started playing originally when I was about 8 years old, back when Ice Age, 4th Ed. and 5th Ed. were the big sets. After a

One of the reasons I had to back off on Magic was partially due to how much it cost to continue to play. I started playing originally when I was about 8 years old, back when Ice Age, 4th Ed. and 5th Ed. were the big sets. After a while, I realized that I just couldn’t keep up, but luckily I did keep my cards instead of just giving them away (probably due to the fact that I hate throwing perfectly good things away, and I tend to take care of my stuff). I picked it up again around the time Origins came out as a new expansion and attended a Saturday morning prerelease. Naturally, I was wanting to try and be competitive, so I ended up buying a ton of cards.

I picked it up again around the time Origins came out as a new expansion and attended a Saturday morning prerelease. Naturally, I was wanting to try and be competitive, so I ended up buying a ton of cards. Usually, I’d spend some money out of what I used for my biweekly allowance out of my paycheck to amass my collection. Life happened, some career changes ensued, and time became something I simply didn’t have, so Magic fell to the side pretty hard. I probably spent a few hundred bucks amassing a collection that would now be sitting dormant. While it’s not as much as what a lot of other people spend, considering my short time in the hobby, I felt a sting. Luckily, I still have my cards as I’m kind of a hoarder.

War Machines has been a very enjoyable game to play…when I have time. Unfortunately, as with any tabletop miniature battle game, you’re going to run into a lot of barriers to entry in order to be competitive with it. Even casual play with table top miniatures can be cost prohibitive to most people. With individual units being around $12 and a full set of units being $20 or so, the sheer cost alone can add up very quickly. When you add to that the time it takes to paint all of those units, a lot of people end up getting priced out of the game. Warhammer easily makes these problems exponentially worse with the size of the armies that it brings to the table. When you get into anything like this, you’d probably better make sure you’re going to stick with it for a while or hopefully are ok with just having a lot of money sitting on a shelf.

Magic-my old standby. I got into playing about twenty years ago (I was young and impressionable, so I ended up playing with my neighbor a lot.) I was happy I kept onto all those old cards, but after sorting though them for a week about a year ago, I found that my youth was full of money that I spent on cards that were 1)worth nothing then and 2)still worth a whole lot of nothing. Present me wanted to go back and tell past me that I wasted a ton of allowance money on useless cards, but I digress.  I try going and getting back into it when I can, but depending on the format that you end up trying to play, you can blow a ton of money on it. Standard rotates out pretty frequently, and legacy cards are ridiculously expensive since they’ve been out of print for so long. Modern is my format of choice because of the plethora of options available (most being relatively inexpensive) for a good deck to have fun with. Pauper is always a good format

I try going and getting back into it when I can, but depending on the format that you end up trying to play, you can blow a ton of money on it. Standard rotates out pretty frequently, and legacy cards are ridiculously expensive since they’ve been out of print for so long. Modern is my format of choice because of the plethora of options available (most being relatively inexpensive) for a good deck to have fun with. Pauper is always a good format too, but also can be quite hard to play.

Dungeons and Dragons-I play this the cheapest way possible. Growing up with 3rd edition, we typically would all just buy books to add to the pile for everyone to use. Dice were cheap (because a pound-o-dice costs like 15 bucks and you get enough for everyone and their dog to play), books could be bought used from people who outgrew their obsession on Amazon, but buying pizza every week did tend to get a bit pricey. I’ve seen players who go through and buy all the models, buy the DM screens, spend 350 bucks on some sweet dice, have the special edition to each beastiary, but don’t use any of it to any advantage over your run of the mill cheap ass (like me). The Humble  Bundle downloads made my ability to get content and information pretty cheap for Pathfinder. If it’s the cheap way of playing a game, that’s usually what I’ll do.

Board games are fun for the whole family. Unfortunately, even at only $20 a pop, they tend to lose their playability pretty quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing Archer the board game every now and then, but at the same time I’m usually caught dozing off pretty early into the game out of boredom. That’s not the only game it happens with, I get distracted with most board games that I play.

So what this whole article is about is gaming on a budget. Some people just don’t have the resources to break into a new hobby, so how do you prioritize what you do? My biggest piece of advice is to make sure whatever new hobby you are looking at actually holds your interest and not just because your friends are doing it. I’ve spent a lot of money trying to get into games just because my friends played them, even though I really had no interest in them. I tend to lose interest pretty hard unless something strikes a chord with me, so longevity of a game is always on my list of considerations when I decide to purchase something.

Most gaming starts off cost prohibitive unless it gets bigger. Don’t be ashamed to get something second hand, not in mint condition, or in any way at a discount. Die hard players of any game will be way more supportive of a guy that got into a game with little money and worked his way to the top instead of the guy that just went and blew his whole paycheck on whatever was trending at that time and just bought his way into the game. The best part is that the player who works for it actually wants it, whereas the one who just buys their way in has no real connection to the game. Connections are important for any hobby. If I didn’t have any deep rooted urge to play any of the games that I do, I just wouldn’t be playing them anymore. Nor would I write about them. Ever.

Have you amassed a large collection over years? Do you need help reaching out and getting into something new? Let us know!

 

Chock is the RPG guru for The Forge Herald. He also writes about other stuff, such as budgets, because he’s weird like that and enjoys accounting from time to time.

© 2017, Randy Schmidt. All rights reserved.

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