Friday, January 10, 2014

Cost Comparison: WWX vs Malifaux vs Warmachine

Recently a friend of mine was discussing new games and general mini-wargaming topics with me and caught my attention with a semi-random comment. His claim was that the new Wild West Exodus (WWX) models and game were "awfully expensive" for what you get. This intrigued me, as I was involved in the kickstarter and had not really thought about the larger release cost of the game. Furthermore, I had picked up a couple random figures and did not feel they were overly expensive. I did realize I had no real idea how WWX compared on price to other games, so I thought I would go do some research (as I tend to do).

I wanted to compare somewhat similar games which is how I settled on Warmachine, WWX, and Malifaux. All three are using plastic or plastic and resin figures currently. Malifaux is aiming to replace thier metal line with plastic so I thought that was a good comparison. Beyond that, all three have what I would consider "reasonable" starters which should be able to get you to a playable level of force with only the starter box. They are also all within the Skirmish to Squad based game size, which I believe makes them comparable.

Having my choices limited down and the approach I wanted to use for comparison in mind I set out to gather some information and compare away.

Starter Sets

All three game systems sell single player starter sets. Warmachine and Malifaux contain all plastic models in their starters while WWX contains a mix of plastic and resin. I ranked them cheapest to most expensive with commentary.


Malifaux has a range of prices on their plastic starters, running from $35 through $45 in price. They all contain generally the same number of models with the count coming to 6 models in the starters. The Guild Judgement starter that I selected has 6 models and is at the top of the price range, coming in at $45. The models are all "man sized" models on 30mm bases and can be fielded in a Malifaux game for 33 points (including SS Pool but not counting the additional upgrades). The basic Malifaux game for M2E is recommended to be played at 50 points, so this comes in a bit shy. It can probably be brought up to snuff by adding in an additional model or adding a couple upgrades overall. However, it is likely to be in the same points limit as other plastic starter boxes.


Warmachine uses a single price for all of their starter sets, $49.99 (essentially $50). I did find it interesting that through the different starters the number of models in the starter ranged from between three plastic models and five plastic models. All the of Warmachine starters had at least one and often more large base (40mm or 50mm) models and only one to four "man sized" 30mm model in the set.  The Cryx starter had the largest number of models in the starter set of all the Warmachine starters, totaling up at 5 models. This starter totals up a 14 point force by the Warmachine system. Warmachine is commonly played at 50 points, leaving a tremendous amount of room to add more models before getting to the general "playable level". Once again, starter to starter box games will generally be at the same point level (within a couple points overall).

Wild West Exodus

WWX uses a single price for all thier currently released starters in the same fashion as Warmachine. This comes in at the most expensive starter set, ringing up to a total of $69.99 (essentially $70). All of the WWX starters have the same number of models in them, totaling 13 plastic and resin models. They are generally man sized (30mm) with the one current exception the Warrior Nation. The 13 models are the same profile across the available factions, including a Boss, Sidekick, Infantry Light Support, 5 Long Ranged hired Hands, and 5 Close Combat Hired Hands. The set pictures comes to a total of $595-points for hiring your posse. WWX is played at a number of defined levels, with $500-points and $750-points laid out as the skirmish levels and $1250-points currently being discussed for the tournament level. This leaves you in fairly good standing to play the game at a skirmish level and all the boxes are fairly well balanced against each other, with Enlightened as the aberration at $450-points for the starter box.

Groups of Models

All three game systems sell sets of multiple models for thier game which are produced in plastic. In all cases that I looked at I aimed to compare small based (30mm) models in sets.


Malifaux has set's of 3 models for some of thier repatable characters in the game. The Rotten Belle's are not only iconic Malifaux models but fit the theme of undead-like models across the three game systems. Malifaux had the cheapest set for a "group of models" box, but also had the smallest number of models. This was a tough comparison as they would be the most expensive if the numbers were similar. For this 3 model set Malifaux runs $21, coming in at a total of $7 per model.

Wild West Exodus

WWX came in the middle of the pack on a "group of models" purchase with a fairly standard price of $45.99 for 10 models. WWX had the most standard pricing and selection across their "group of models" selection, with $45.99 as the price across the factions. The Hired Hands set's for all factions come with 10 models in the box, bringing the per-model cost to the lowest point of $4.60 per model. The set pictured stuck with the undead theme, although the other hired hands set's are more detailed than the undead abominations pictures.


Warmachine had the highest price for a "group of models" purchase, coming in at $49.99. This is also a set of 10 models, bringing the per model total to $5.00 per model. This places them right in the middle when it comes to a per-model cost comparison when breaking up the group of models. Warmachines plastic squads are very detailed and compare equally with both other game systems.

Single Model Comparison

There was no simple way to do a direct single model comparison between the three games. Wyrd is currently not remotely started with converting their metal single models over to plastic, throwing the overall price comparison off. Warmachine still uses a mix of metal and plastic across thier range and Wild West Exodous is solidly using resin or plastic for their single models. Looking through the websites for all three games it appears that the general cost of a single man-sized model will range between $11 and $20. The price ranges and selections are fairly consistent across all three games, with nothing jumping out wildly as out of "the ordinary".


When comparing the three game systems I have come to the following conclusion (for myself).

Cheapest (kind of): It appears to me that Malifaux is the cheapest game system to get started in and pay at a basic "community" level. It certainly has the least models and fills in truly as a skirmish game. The rating as cheapest comes directly from the reduced number of models necessary to play, as on average Malifaux has the most expensive models when looking at the cost for a "general man sized model". Malifaux's starter set averaged $7.50 per model, their "group of model" single model cost stayed consistent at $7 per model,  then their single model was in the same range as the other games.

Middle (essentially): WWX comes in the middle of the road overall. While thier starter box was more expensive overall in raw dollars spent, it's per model cost of $5.38 per model was the lowest. The "group of model" single model cost of $4.60 per model dropped that average even lower, and the single models stayed in the same range as the other two games. WWX came in fairly close to being able to play at an acceptable level straight from their starter, and seems to be only slightly more than Malifaux for the least expansion necessary to get to a "regular" play level.

Most Expensive (really): Warmachine is pretty clearly the most expensive game of the three games compared. While the starter set rated in the middle for raw dollars spent, the per model cost was the highest at $10 per model. This price gets even steeper if you choose the 3 model starter set, bringing the per model cost to almost $17 per model. The $5 "group of models" single model cost goes a ways to balancing out the starter set costs, but then single models still sit in the same range with the other two games. What makes Warmachine so much more expensive is the simple distance of expansion necessary to get to the "publicly common" play level of 50 points. It requires a lot more buying in Warmachine to get to that level than either of the other two games.

Final Thoughts

Overall this was an interesting exercise for me, especially since I started without a strong expectation of what I would find. I hope that it's helpful for everyone reading this as well. I believe that over time players will spend similar amounts on miniature games regardless of the initial costs. The big question will be, what is the "bang for your buck" for that money spent. This is one of the motivators for my departure from GW games, as I no longer felt a positive "bang for my buck" in those games. I think in all three of these systems players will find once they reach a pretty common level they will gain the same "bang for their buck" regardless of the system.


  1. I think it's extremely important to remember that Starting Cost is not the same as Overall Cost.

    For example, I don't think anyone would dispute that it's a heck of a lot cheaper to start playing Warmachine than it is 40K... but I know that, when I sold off my Warmachine models, I did the math and I spent more on that single faction + mercs than I did on any of my 40K armies.

    So, you can go from nothing to playing for quite a bit less with Warmachine, but it's been my experience that you keep adding new models... as opposed to 40K, where it takes quite a bit of time to get an army together, but then you're set for a couple of years and, when a new book comes out, you'll add a new unit or three. Again, this has been my experience (and I make poor spending decisions when it comes to my hobby), but it it's cheaper to start playing Warmachine than 40K... but more expensive to continue playing it.

    Which, of course, isn't exactly what you're talking about here, but I think it's another important thing to examine: how much will you continue to spend after you've bought in.

    1. No argument from me at all Rush, I agree with almost everything you say. There were a couple reasons I stayed away from comparing the game to 40K or WHFB. Some of those had to do with GW cost and others had to do with not believing they are truly the same scale. I see WWX bridging the Skirmish to Squad level game size but not truly approaching army size.

      I think the only part I do not agree with you on is the idea that once you "buy in" to a playable level you will be set for a couple years. In my experience (both personally, watching groups of friends, and watching sales at various stores), players are always buying. That's where my later comments about "bang for your buck" come from. Overall I believe that players keep buying into the games they are playing regularly, and I would even argue it's at a fairly consistent rate as long as there is stuff to buy.

      At the end of the day (article....) I wanted to write this up simply based on the comment that was made and referenced at the beginning of the article. I bought into WWX through the kickstarter so the cost was not exactly extreme for me. I had not even looked at the "start up cost" outside the kickstarter, but did not feel the couple of individual models I had picked up were out of synch with other games. Thats the biggest reason I focused on "start up" costs instead of ongoing costs of the game.

  2. Eh, I think your math is a bit skewed, but I will agree that cost per fig in the starters makes warmachine the most expensive, but that really isn't a good meter of rating. I'd argue that the Warmachine starter boxes have the most value per starter compared to what it would cost to buy each model individually. Take the Khador Starter box for example, each warjack when bought individually costs $35, and the warcaster would cost $8 separately, which totals to $78. That is a saving of $28..

    Also, The average Heavy warjack can take 28 to 34 damage before being disabled and the warcaster usually has 15 to 20 Damage boxes too.

    And finally, you are a bit off on the points needed to play Warmachine/Hordes. Yes 50pts is the National Tournament standard, but to go to one of those events you will need shell out a good deal more money to go to one of the big conventions held around the country through out the year. Yes you can find 50pt tournaments in the local area, but most average games a new player would be involved in are going to run between 25 to 35 points. That puts it on par with either of the other two games mentioned above for cost to add to the army. Add in the fact that you and a friend can each put $50 done (the cost of a normal battle box) and each get a 20pt starter army by splitting one of the Warmachine or Hordes 2 player starter boxes. That are basically the contents of 2 battle boxes (Khador & Menoth for Warmachine, Legion & Circle for Hordes) plus a free 9pt 5 man 40mm based unit (retails at $45 each normally) and a free mini rule book to share and the deal is even sweeter.

    Yes, in the long runner Warmachine is an expensive game, but so is Malifaux if you want to do well in tournament play, I know very little about WWX so can not comment on cost, only that the prices seem high for what you get to me.

    1. I tried to stay away from looking at it in the individual model points within game break-down as that I think that can wildly skew the value of what you get. It's so heavily based on the individual model pricing of each company which is generally close, but gets skewed again when you look at the internal values of company "group of models" boxes. I think this also artificially makes companies who are truly more expensive look cheaper with their starters.

      On the point totals I can understand where your coming from. I realize that WM can be played comfortably at 35 points, that's where I play. I also get a lot of pressure to push that level up to 50 even with the limited amount of games I play and even at our store. Traveling to other areas (Game Vault, Adepticon, Dallas TX, NYC) finds that the common levlel of play actually matches the tournament level of 50 points. Thats why I used 50 as the "common level of play" for WM.

      Overall, as I mentioned to Rush, I think people (gamers) will end up spending the same amount of money regardless of which game they play. I know when you and I looked at the "competitive level" comparison for Malifaux Classic and WM on the podcast (~2 years ago) the cost was essentially the same. WWX does not have a competitive level at this point so I am unsure where the cost for that will come out. I can say that I find WWX to be pretty reasonable so far in the price compartment, not feeling too expensive at all. I am looking at buying into a new faction and I can get everything I want to play a variety of Leaders (Bosses) and scale between the 750 skirmish level I am currently playing and the 1250 anticipated tournament level for under $200. That's in line with my experience for both WM and Malifaux.

  3. Having recently taken the plunge into WM/H, I would have to say that it has felt more expensive an entry point than Malifaux, without a doubt.
    I have no point of comparison for WWX.

    But prior to making the investments I am in the midst of, I lurked and read quite a bit about PP, WM/H and its community and decided to invest for three primary reasons.

    1. Unlike our investments into 40K and Malifaux, I am not concerned about the purchases that I am making being essentially invalidated by revisions or complete rewrites. My son's Necrons were essentially castrated by 5th edition rules without any sort of allowance for what the changes did to them. Then when a new codex finally came along, the several hundred dollars worth of models we had were not the "correct" models any longer. We still have an unopened Monolith box... I'll not bother getting into my issues with Malifaux, but we have the entire Rezzer and Guild factions collecting dust. (Although we are signed up for 1.5 story at adepticon. :) )

    2. I feel like PP takes balance more seriously than any other miniatures company I have seen.

    3. Convergence of Cyriss... Yes please. :)

    I remember when I was drinking the cool-aid and making the case for entry-costs being a factor, but I have moved on from that and ask myself the simple question:

    What company do I most trust to keep me interested 3 years from now when "entry costs" amount to 2% of what I have spent on the game?

  4. I had an interesting chat with Andrey about something very similar when on the same day from the same store he picked up some of the new Malifaux starters and I picked up my first Hell Dorado starter.
    We were at logger heads, comparing the Lady J set (£30 for 6 models) with the Demon set (£20 for 5 models) now one was in plastic, the other in metal, but it was my opinion that paying an extra £10 for 1 more model was not good value for money, plus the HD stuff is metal compared to plastic (in my mind this has greater value therefore) and comes with QuickStart rules as well as stat cards.

    Ultimately it came down to personal opinion, and as I am not a fan of the new Lady J sculpt, that individual box came out to me as less value, where as for Andrey preferring them to my demons that came out on top.

    I think you'll agree, hardly scientific.

    With all of this in mind, and you seem to have a formula for creating a value, I'd really like to see how other skirmish games sit into it, like Hell Dorado, Bushido and Infinity.
    - I'm sure you can pull in favours from those who don't own said games so you can add their info to your matrix

  5. I agree and disagree... For me the initial cost isn't really the factor but more of the return play. If I buy a starter for M2e and never play it again, I burned all that money. If I buy a starter for WWX and play constantly, then the return was worth it.

    Also, as I know you love to talk about as I do, it is also based on the company's attitude to the players. Right now PP is doing a great job listening to their player base. WWX is coming in a close second but I am not sure that will last long. I won't mention M2e...

  6. I think another important entry level cost comparison consideration is the availability of the rule set and additional play aids. For example Warmachine/ Hordes can be played with the included quick start rules and standard d6 where as Malifaux will require the Rule book (as they dont have a quick start set included or even downloadable) and more than likely a fate deck as well. With this additional cost in mind Malifaux is going to cost at least a few dollars more (Mini Rule Book is MSRP $15.00 and a standard Fate Deck is MSRP $7.25) than just the starter and additional blister (and some starting crews are going to require more than that) to play.