The Art of Poorhammer. 40k for cheapskates!

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Hello all.  Yup, yet again I am posting some of my demented ravings on a subject in the hopes of actually helping out a few people.  So for my 3000th post I present to you a subject that is actually a favourite of mine, I present to you...

The Art of Poorhammer

  If you're like me you probably hate the outrageous prices these days for models.  If you're even more like me you probably sit around on your porch, and between periods of yelling at passing children to get off your lawn, you muse about how in ye dayes of olde you could buy a boxed set for half of what you pay now, or get a Hershey for a nickel.  But how does one keep up a wargaming hobby while acting like some old miser?

  The answer is Poorhammer!  Poorhammer is the act of keeping up a wargaming hobby on a shoestring budget.  I've played 40k (and a bit of fantasy or other games) on an investment of about 15-20 dollars a week!  So how have I pulled this off?  Well over the next little while I will share some of my secrets.


Rule 1: Never throw anything out!

  Seriously, being a complete and utter pack rat when it comes to your hobby is a cornerstone of poorhammer.  You'll never know when that old box will come in handy!  Sprue, boxes, the plastic that they pack metal models in, I keep it all.  Some day down the line I find a use for that old Pringles can and I'm damn happy I still have it.  Why go out and buy mixing palettes when you can use an empty blister pack?

Enter the Bitz Ninja

  Collect as many extra bitz as you can.  It doesn't matter if you don't really need them, you can always trade them to someone with something you want.  If you have an opportunity to expand your bitz box for little to no cost, then take it!  I can't count the number of times where I've been able to piece together an entire model out of bitz I had left over from other kits.

Conversions

  Conversions don't just look cool; they can serve a practical purpose as well.  If you graft a spare lascannon from your bitz box onto a marine and do it in a convincing manner, you've just saved yourself the cost of buying that lascannon separately.  There are simply a phenomenal number of ways you can convert models to save money.  Have all the parts for a model except the legs?  No problem, just model him like he's partially submerged in a swamp.  If you pull it off you've just made a cool model and saved money!  The trick here is to convert the model well enough that it doesn't look like you're just being a cheapskate.  If you just glue a guardsman's torso and arms to a base and paint the base blue, it'll look like you just lost his legs.  But if you convert it so that he's chest deep in water and use a lil putty to model things like ripples, then paint it realistically, people will ask you how you did it!

Scratch Building

  This is sort of a subset of Conversions, if you master this, you can really save some cash.  This is most commonly done with plasticard, but other materials are sometimes used.  If you can track down some of the old templates GW Definition: Games Workshopput out years ago you can scratch built all kinds of stuff, from Drop Pods to Baneblades.  Now some GW Definition: Games Workshopshops may get a lil sticky if you've scratch built a readily available kit like a rhino, but if you've built something that they don't make a non FW Definition: Forge Worldkit for, or something big and rare like a Baneblade, even they will usually let it slide as long as it looks convincing.  A special mention must be made of Orks, who can actually get away with all kinds of scratch builds due to the orky tendency to just weld their vehicles together out of old scrap.

Smart Building

  If you're clever, you can save all kinds of money but using cheaper models instead of something more expensive with a bit of work.  This need not even fall into the realm of converting things. Take for example, Skaven Plague Censor Bearers.  There are metal blisters available of the models.  Very nice models, but the price tag may be a lil much.  The good news is the plastic plague monk box includes 4 plastic arms with plague censors.  Now you have to take a Plague Monk unit in order to get the censor bearers anyway.  So that's $45 Canadian for a box of 20 Plague Monks.  Now it'll cost you $42 extra for 6 metal censor bearers for a total of $87.  For that you get anywhere from 16-20 Plague Monks and 6-10 censor bearers.  The only thing it, chances are you're going to want more than 20 Plague Monks in your unit, and what if you only want 5 censor bearers?  So what would happen if you just bought another Plague Monk box? Well you'd have anywhere from 32-40 Plague Monks and 0-8 Censor Bearers.  All for $90.  That's 3 dollars more for 14 more models…

Buying in Bulk

  GW Definition: Games Workshopactually does have some decent deals.  However, you have to be willing to shell out for something like a battleforce box.  Take a look at the tau battleforce.  You get 1 Crisis Battlesuit, 1 Devilfish, 3 Stealth Suits, 1 Markerlight Drone, 4 Gun Drones, 12 Tau Fire Warriors and 12 for $120 Canadian.  Normally that would cost you $195.  That's like getting the Fire Warriors and the Kroot for FREE!  Now with the Apocalypse book, they're releasing things like a marine battle company, which is basically an entire marine army in a box, or a box of 10 Leman Russes, which would be perfect if you wanted to do an armoured company.  These deals usually carry a substantial discount!  Now what do you think would happen if you could get one of these boxes at a discount?  Read the section on that later on and have your mind blown by the poorhammer potential.

Scenery and Tables and Such

  Well, you may eventually want to host games at your own house.  Well, for this you'll need some kind of table and some scenery.  At first, the ol kitchen table with a few old boxes will do the job, but let's be honest, that can't go on forever.  Eventually you'll want better, more varied scenery.  You'll eventually want to fight over a ruined temple rather the 2for1 coupon hidden away in a Cherios box.  So you'll need a table and some scenery.  Tables aren't that expensive to make.  A good sturdy piece of plywood can be gotten for a reasonable price at a place like Home Depot or comparable stores.  Another thing to consider is Pink Insulation Foam.  It's actually quite sturdy and lightweight.  All you have to do is put a lil duct tape around the edged to keep them from chipping. 

Now that I've mentioned the actual table, let's mention the scenery.  The key thing here is to remember that there is usually a low cost alternative to pre-made scenery.  GW Definition: Games Workshopruins too expensive?  Pick up a sheet of Foamcore and a good sharp knife and make your own.  Hills can easily be made out of yet more insulation foam.  Also always be on the lookout for interesting pieces of junk.  One of my favourite scenery pieces is built around an old computer power supply I found in the trash!

Death is a Money Saver!

  No, I'm not suggesting you fake your own death in order to get your bookie off your tail.  What I'm saying is that if you play an Undead army (Vampire Counts or Tomb Kings) you've just stumbled upon one of the most poorhammer friendly armies in existence!  They're so poorhammer friendly that they deserve their own section.  Those extra heads on the skeleton sprue can be glued to some spare bases (which are a very common occurrence) and used to represent models recently raised by the Invocation of Nehek spell or just mixed into your units.  As long as you don't try to field entire units of heads on bases people are unlikely to say anything.  Plus it just looks cool to have the undead modelled to be rising from their graves.  Another great thing about the Vampire Counts in particular is that there are many alternatives to buying more expensive models.  Why buy metal grave guard when you can just convert a bunch of chaos warriors with the extra skeleton bitz you have lying around?  What about Black Knights?  Just convert up a few Empire or Bretonnian plastics.  Dire Wolves?  Go and get yourself a goblin wolf rider regiment.  You get a bunch of plastic wolves and can use the goblins for some zombie conversions!

Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart!

  Don't you just love Army of Darkness?  It's such a great source of amusing headings.  Anyway, one of the easiest ways to save money on your hobby is to know where to shop.  If your neighbourhood hobby shop stocks GW Definition: Games Workshopstuff (or any other hobby for that matter) there's a chance they may do so at a discount, so buy your stuff from there.  EBay is another good source of cheap stuff.  A lot of folks will sell off their old models on there that they don't need any more for cheap.  Another thing that may be useful is to check out some reputable online retailers.  Often they will sell stuff at an even bigger discount than your local hobby shop.  I've had quite a bit of success ordering stuff online due to where I live.  I live in Canada and up here GW Definition: Games Workshophas little concept of the proper exchange rate.  There are boxes up here that cost double the US price when (at the time of writing this article) the Canadian dollar is at about 90-something cents US.  So what I often do is order from US sites.  Why?  1) They usually offer some kind of discount and 2) A credit card company uses the actual exchange rate when you buy something in another country's currency.  So when you combine these things, a Canadian (or anyone else in the same situation exchange rate wise) stands to save a fair pile of money as long as shipping charges are not too high.  Even the possibility of having to pay some customs charges doesn't negate the potential money savings.  I must stress once again, that any online retailers you use should be reputable.  Be sure to ask around and see if some people have successfully dealt with them before.  Below are links to a few online stores that have been recommended by numerous people.

http://www.gc-minis.com/index.htm
http://www.chaosorc.com/
http://www.maelstromgames.co.uk/index.php
http://www.thewarstore.net/

And a special RIP to BWbits, who provided many people with discount boxed sets and piles of bitz while they were around.  Thankfully the Warstore is planning to continue their bitz selling service in the future*salutes*

Miscellaneous Poorhammer guides/tips

  This section will be filled with any miscellaneous tips that I or other members can came up with.  So if you have a money-saving tip, post it up and I'll edit it into here.  Some of these may be more specific to certain armies or units as I intended the main part of the article as a fairly general look at Poorhammer.

Yriel's advice on places to buy stuff other than GW
http://forums.tauonline.org/index.php?topic=51487.msg1058396616#msg1058396616
Advice from Olle P on how to start 40k on a tight budget
http://forums.tauonline.org/index.php?topic=51487.msg1058398024#msg1058398024




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