Thursday, 14 January 2010

Von's Frugal Mission

Hello there. My name is Von - well, it isn't really, but I answer to it and it's written on my coffee mug, so it might as well be. Dave's been decent enough to allow me into his online space to talk about ways in which I'm planning to be Frugal in my Gaming over the next Year. He's going to regret that when he realises how many words can fall out of me on my mornings off work, but still. Here we go.

Until last year, my hobby was essentially self-financing. I played enough games, and changed armies regularly enough, to be able to sell something off to pay for something new, and keep a bit of variety in there, with only the occasional investment of real money to start up a new system. Then I stopped playing several games altogether, and decided to sell off the miniatures, books, templates, EVERYTHING for these, as well as the RPG books I'd either played to death or simply never, ever played.

What I'm left with now is a fairly tight collection. I own two armies for Warmachine, both of which receive the occasional influx of hot new stuff, and both of which (to my shame) have a painting backlog owing to the sudden drop in free time that comes with having a real job. I'd be painting right now instead of writing this, but it's freezing outside - too cold for spray primer to work properly, and I'm not allowed to mess with noxious chemicals in the house. I've pared the RPG collection back to stuff I actually play: World of Darkness (tempted to sell Vampire: the Requiem though, since I bought it when it came out about six years ago and seem to be the only person who likes it), Dark Heresy and Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (that new edition of WFRP is looking miiiighty tempting, but at £65-£80 it's not THAT tempting) and Iron Kingdoms (for which I use the Savage Worlds system rather than D&D, for reasons it would be terribly off-topic of me to go into here). Unfortunately, this means I have nothing left to sell, so I actually have to think about where the money's coming from from now on.

Expansion, from here on in, must be cautious. I simply don't have either the disposable income or the hobby time that I once had. One of these doesn't bother me so much: money renews itself, people give me more of it every month, and unwise purchases can be sold or traded to recoup loss. Time, however, once spent, cannot be recovered, and neither can happiness: months of my life have recently been spent trying to play certain games and anguishing over the local play environment and its goals and appropriate army lists, whether to go for style or game effectiveness or theme or some other qualifier, and I'm not about to get back into a game that actually upsets me to think about.

So, the Frugal Mission, for me, is about controlling the financial, temporal and emotional investment in games. Here's how I'm going about it.

First of all, my top priority for this year is actually finishing a gaming board. Being able to play games in the comfort of my own home and not have to worry about the trends and politics of a club or shop environment if I don't want to is a good thing. I had the most fun with wargames when I was about fifteen or sixteen and playing home games, and that's something I want to get back into. So I'm going to concentrate my time and money on getting a 4' x 4' board done. No new games until that's been accomplished.

Tying into that is the resolution not to get into another 28mm army scale game - they cost a lot of money to start up, the models take a lot of time to paint (and many of them are frequently little more than wound markers for important pieces anyway) and they often have a tense meta-game community that creates a lot of gamer angst in me. They're expensive, in terms of all three of the things I get excited about investing.

I can expand sideways in Warmachine and its wild child Hordes by having figures I already own pull double duty (more on this in a future post), but I'm not going to get back into WFB or 40K or take up Lord of the Rings no matter how tempting those new Skaven are. If I pick up a new game, it will be something like Malifaux or a Necromunda or Mordheim or even Inquisitor, something that doesn't need a multitude of figures and may even have free rules - or it'll be something in 10mm or 15mm scale like Warmaster, or actually buying some miniatures for Hordes of the Things. I find this sort of game works better for army scales anyway, with the focus on morale and leadership mechanics, and the small miniatures in big units (which also helps for playing in the fairly confined space I have available). These games are also bloody cheap, as a rule, with rules often free online and/or small numbers of figures required to play - and they'll add variety rather than being different flavours of the same style and scale of game.

Thirdly, I'm not getting into any computer games besides World of Warcraft (which the saintly Hark also plays) and maybe playing through Warcraft III again. I'm also going to fight the urge to buy board games. I love board games, don't get me wrong, but I like to try 'em before I buy 'em. If I've been able to do that, then someone I know must already own the game (because I've played it with them) and so I already have access to it without needing to buy it.

Fourthly, I'm giving up Bartertowning. Bartertown is brilliant if you have stuff you don't use and know what stuff you want instead, and it's not bad for selling things either. However, I keep coming across bargains on Bartertown, and snapping them up instinctively without thinking "do I really want this?" That's partly why I have so many unpainted Warmachine minis on my desk right now - I haven't been able to pass up a bargain in some time. That has to stop. They cost money, and they also cost time in painting, and some of them may never even see use.

Finally, I'm doing all of this on a budget. £50 a month of conscience-free Nerd Money, out of which everything bar the Warcraft subscription (since that's not just for me) has to come. New RPG book? Out of that. Supplies for the gaming board? Out of that. New Warmachine minis (this month's purchase)? Out of that. Pay-to-play gaming clubs? Out of that. Time is different, since I'm never sure how much of it I'm going to have, but I will have to discipline myself into not automatically logging into WoW or onto forums when I have nothing else to do. I've caught myself spending whole days cycling through the same six or so websites recently, and that's not good enough. Emotionally? Well, there's a plan there, but I've chattered on for more than long enough already, and I need to save something for next time.


BigLee said...

Fifty quid a month...sheesh your rich! LoL... actually thats about what I have as well, but thats for everything from the sneaky chocolate bar I buy at lunchtime to fares to/from conventions and everything in between. In reality actual game disposable income is actually about £30 a month.

Good luck with your mission Von. It won't be easy, temptation is always around the corner.

Chgowiz said...

Your link to Bartertown is to .org - it should be to - the .org takes you to some strange page with a lot of nonsense - probably a click for ads page.

Shelexie said...

I agree with your break down of money, time, and emotions. We invest these and sometimes not in the right places. I look forward to hearing more =)

Von said...

@ BigLee - I'm really not. I can afford this because I have really low overheads and not many other luxuries (I don't have a car to maintain or children to upkeep, for instance, and I don't go away for holidays). It may turn out to be a bit unrealistic (WoW fees may have to come out of the fifty, for instance) down the line. We shall see.

@ Chgowiz - thank you, well spotted, fixed that.

@ Shelexie - glad you agree. I think 'emotional investment' might be the next thing I write about.

Witteridderludo said...

All the best with the frugal mission, I've been (trying) to stick to something similar and it has changed my style of gaming/spending in a big way

Dave said...

Hiya Von, welcome to the World of Frugal Gaming and thanks for your post, I look forward to plenty more in the future.

As you've probably noticed from the Blog I'm a big Necromunda fan so I can highly recommend that to anyone looking to reduce the gaming spending.

I must warn you about the emotional investment though; watching your gang leader, who's worked his way up from a Juve, being shot off the top of a tower and killed can be pretty hard to cope with ;)


Von said...

@ Dave - funnily enough, I was thinking about the last time I played Necromunda, and how the investment (emotional, financial and temporal) wasn't really worth the outcome (which was, umm, let's say 'unsatisfactory'). It wasn't the game, though, far from it - it was one of my favourites when I was just a wee gamer (back when Sustained Fire dice were a thing) and I didn't dislike the system when I played the new one, just the way it was being played.

It'll probably be an example in the investment entry when I get around to writing it.

@ Witteridderludo - thank you, and I'm glad to know this sort of thing works.

Phillip said...

Good luck with your missions!

I went self financing for my own gaming by setting up a trade stand at wargames shows. The initial outlay would probably make a frugal gamer weep but over the years it seems to have paid off!