Whilst being undoubtedly a fun and rewarding past time wargaming is as undeniably an expensive hobby to maintain. With rulebooks, miniatures, gaming aids and boards/scenery to buy the costs soon add up which can ultimately put people off wargaming. This is very unfortunate, especially when you consider that all you really need to play are a set of rules, some card cut outs, dice and a bit of

With this article I am aiming to provide you with a number of ideas and tips on how to enjoy wargaming without breaking the bank. Some of them are common sense but you may find a few tips that you may not have considered before.

Private Sellers & Thrift Stores

Wargaming, for some people, is something that you 'grow out of'. As a result of eBay, Craigslist and Thrift/Charity Stores can be a great source of cheap miniatures. If you're not concerned about having second hand or possibly older miniatures you really can grab some bargains.

Quite often the people selling these miniatures are unaware of how high a miniatures resell value can be, this is especially true of Thrift/Charity Stores and Flea Markets. If you're an eBay aficionado look out for poorly painted miniatures, these don't tend to get as many bids and can easily be cleaned up to
bare plastic/metal. Finally Craigslist and other similar private classified ads often have larger lots for sale, again lowering the price. You can pick up some cheap deals especially if the seller is looking for a quick sale. 

It should be noted that due to their inherent popularity, you are far more likely find Games Workshop products at these locations as opposed to other sources. However, keep an eye out for old rogue traders miniatures, you never know just what rare (and valuable) models you may find.


There are several groups in forums and on social media that offer miniature swaps. These can be great for simultaneously clearing out your old unused models and getting something that you actually want without spending any money beyond shipping costs. It can be harder to find someone who has what you want and will take your items in exchange but there are plenty of groups out there and plenty more people willing to trade. You will often find that you get a better deal with swaps as opposed to selling you own collection and then buying elsewhere.

It should be noted though that there is no real protection from unscrupulous sellers. There have been horror stories of people sending off their entire army only to receive nothing in return. Operate caution and try to only trade with people who have already earned positive feedback within their respective group.

Free Rules

Before I continue, I am not referring to illegal downloads I am in fact referring to rules published by their developers free of charge. One notable company is Mantic Games who have most of their rules freely available online. However there are also great repositories such as This that compile locations of free wargaming rules for your convenience.

These free rules are not only great for your wallet but they are also a risk free way to try out a new game. You can use your existing miniatures to play your first few games and if you enjoy it then you can start investing in it. Being able to 'try before you buy' is a great advantage, especially when there is such a large range of wargames to choose from.


As I briefly mentioned in the free rules section, proxying your miniatures is also a great way to save some cash. Having to only collect a single set of miniatures that can be used in several games also means that you save time assembling and painting your force as well, great news for anyone who is short of time. Generally speaking, you probably will not be able to enter many tournaments with your proxied force and even some gaming clubs may frown upon it. However, if you are playing with friends then you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Just be sure that the models you are using roughly represent what it is supposed to be; no one will be impressed by your Goblin being a 'counts as' for a Dragon.

On the extreme end of proxies, you could also use pieces of card to represent units. As long as they are cut to the correct size/shape and are clearly labeled you should be able to play most games with only a small tweaking of the rules. This isn't particularly desirable in the long term however, as the miniatures themselves are an important part of the wargaming experience.


Whilst not being the most expensive hobby in the world it is by no means the cheapest. However, when money is tight it shouldn't mean that your wargaming has to suffer. Hopefully by following the tips outlined in this article you will be able to continue your tabletop gaming without having to sell your kidneys.

If you have any money saving tips for wargamers let us know in the comments.

Hot On The Wire.

Tutorial: Painting Warlord's Plastic Roman Legionaries

My friend Scott got very excited by my 28mm Roman project. So excited he's been amassing an army of his own. I have to paint them though...