I've only been able to find comparison of points/price ratio of single armies. What I'm looking for are the best quality models (number of models/box, size of models etc.) for the lowest price.

So, which armies (both in Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k) are best for a modeller/painter like me?

(Please don't answer that the best one is the one I find most beautiful :))

  • 2
    If cost-efficiency is your main goal, 'anything not made by GW' will certainly accomplish it better. It follows that you have some specific reason for preferring Warhammer (like knowing other people who play it). That being the case, is there any preference for fantasy or 40k? Or do you genuinely not care which of the two you play?
    – Tynam
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 10:05
  • I'm actually not sure whether I'm really going to play :). I want exactly Warhammer because I've used to read books (Wh fantasy) or play video games (Wh 40 000). And that's mostly my incentive - memories from past :). It is possible I'll also get started with playing but that depends on my friends or my neighbourhood. Just to be clear - I want an army I can paint. My preferences are: the more models I get, the better; the bigger models I get, the even better :).
    – Samuel
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 11:19
  • @Tynam If you look at GW on a model to model basis compared to say Privateer or Malifaux, the costs are competitive. There are some new companies that are starting to make plastics at lower price points, but I don't think their quality is up to what GW puts out yet. The thing that has always made GW the expensive game is that you need 10x the models to make a 40K or Fantasy army versus smaller skirmish games like Warmachine.
    – CaulynDarr
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 13:50
  • @CaulynDarr: I can't agree; the thing that has always made GW the expensive game is that their individual metals cost two or three times as much as comparable ones. (But I'm leading away from the question now, so I'll stop here.)
    – Tynam
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 8:59
  • This is a highly subjective question. Especially given Games Workshop's business model where the price you pay for a box set is not determined just by the the amount of labour and materials but is largely based on the "luxury items" principle while taking into account utility with regards to the rules of the game. I do not believe you'll arrive at a single conclusive answer to this question.
    – Kynth
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 16:16

5 Answers 5


40K-wise, there are a few builds that you can do that are relatively cost effective.

Any of the marine variants tend to get you a full army for the least cash. Xenos armies tend to have much cheaper point cost units that are still equivalent to Marine cost in cash money. Of the marines, Space Wolves and Grey Knights are probably the cheapest to build. They have some high points cost units that are worth every point in competitive game terms.

The Draigowing Grey Knight build is the most cash efficient list out of those two options. Draigo, a Librarian, and two 10 man squads of Paladins will cost you about $250 and can be up to 1850 points depending on how you kit the Paladins out.

I'm less familiar with Fantasy, but I've always heard that High elves tend to be a good balance of cash cost and points cost. Ogre Kingdoms might also be a good choice given their lower model count. However, even a cheap Fantasy army will cost you 3x as much as a cheap 40K army given the higher model counts required for that game.


Since on re-reading the original post, the question is about models and not armies I would say that most of the plastic box sets are actually fairly equal in value. You usually get 10 small models or 5 more complex models for 25-35 dollars. Older kits tend to have less of the trimmings; newer ones(such as ones for Blood Angels, Grey Knights, Dark Eldar, and Necrons) have more alternate upgrade options and tend to let you build more than one unit type from the box. Plastic Kits in the 50-60 dollar range all tend to be larger more complex models.

The only place where you are probably going to get a little more for you money is with basic transport vehicles. These are usually costed a little lower at the $35 price point. Though these tend to be the most boring of the vehicle types. Basic Fantasy troops boxes will also tend to have more models in them at the cost of simpler sculpts. Battleforce boxes can also save you about 15% over buying models individually.

Anything Finecast is a little pricey and you wont get as much model for your money. Unfortunately some of their best looking models have been converted to Fincast already.

GW is pretty consistent with their pricing in this way. If you see two boxes both marked at $35 you're probably going to get a pretty equivalent value--slightly skewed towards the newer kits. GW's basic product value isn't so bad, it's always been the amount of things you need to buy to play the game that's the trouble.

So, unfortunately, the answer is whatever you think looks coolest ;)

  • Thanks but you haven't been reading carefully. I'm not interested in a "good balance of cash cost and points cost". I'm interested in size of models and their count per package. Your balance mostly means I get too few models for too much money.
    – Samuel
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 11:57
  • @Samuel I would suggest you change the the title of the post since it is asking for the cheapest warhammer Army. I would suggest asking "What is the most cost effective box set based on size of model and count".
    – CaulynDarr
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 12:18
  • I've changed the title as you suggested. Thanks for such a complex answer :). I've checked some battleforces and yet there can be a huge difference - 46 models black reach vs. 16 in Eldar battleforce vs 46 in Tyranid battleforce. Just one more question though - what do you mean by finecast?
    – Samuel
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 12:56
  • 1
    @Samuel Black Reach is undercosted because it's the official starter. It's a loss lead to get you into the game, so you get a bit more bang for your buck. The Eldar box has two vehicles which is why it has fewer models. Tyranid troops are simpler sculpts, which is why you can get so many into their battle force for the price. Finecast is GW's resin replacement for the white metal they've traditionally used for single fig SKUs. Many people have cost and quality concerns with the Fincast line.
    – CaulynDarr
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 13:08
  • This is a solid answer. Definitely avoid Finecast; terrible model cost-efficiency. I'd second Black Reach; it's the best-value set on purpose. Consider Tyranids or Imperial Guard; both put a lot of troops on the table, with appearance strongly determined by your choice of paint scheme. (Imperial Guard used to be a more cost-efficient, but that's no longer true.)
    – Tynam
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 9:11

Quick rundown what I think would be some good options from a modelling perspective:

Warhammer Fantasy:

Skaven Battalion - Something like 70 models in the box. Fur and "raggedy cloth" are pretty easy to learn to paint to a nice standard, good for starting out on. Plus you get two Rat Ogres which are nice big mean-ugly models that are a lot of fun to model/paint.

Dwarves Battalion - Not a great "models/value" proposition, but I mention them because everything is covered in metal armor. Learning to paint metal "well" is one of the first and easiest things you should learn. Learning to paint metal "expert" is one of the most challenging things to learn, so there's actually a lot of ground to cover and experience to gain as a painter in working on it.

Daemons of Chaos Battalion - lots of variety, decent count of cool models. Flesh is a pain to do really well. Learning first on non-human colored flesh is easier since you can get the techniques down without worrying if the tones "look right."

Warriors of Chaos Battalion - also lots of variety. Armored Dudes, nekkid dudes, cavalry, beasts. Weapon and Armor customization bits. Many different painting techniques and types of models for a 50 model box.

Warhammer 40K

Tyranid Battleforce - same idea as skaven above, lots of little guys to learn on, and a couple of big nasties for fun. "chitinous armor" is also in there with fur as something that's easy to learn to paint well when you're starting out.

Eldar Battleforce - Both a hover tank and a walker! Loads of fun to paint, low model count though, and you don't get any of the more fun aspect warrior models in the boxed set.

  • Thanks. Finally, that's an answer I've been expecting to get :).
    – Samuel
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 19:00
  • The old Space Hulk game came with a lot of genestealers and Terminator plastic models and was reasonably priced at the time. Not sure if you can get hold of copies any more though.
    – Nick
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 15:40

If cost is your primary concern and which army is a secondary concern, consider a local dealer-sponsored auction or eBay. One local dealer has 2-4 auctions a year where local players offer armies they don't play anymore or armies they started but never finished.

Some models offered are already painted, some are not. I understand that a product called "Simple Green" is effective at removing paint from previously painted models.

I've seen many unopened boxes offered up at auction, too.

  • Thanks, but that might be a problem in my country - Czech Republic. There isn't too much of a warhammer stuff at all.
    – Samuel
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 15:42
  • What about eBay or possibly another online auction? Commented May 22, 2012 at 15:43
  • @Samuel - Hmm, actually, you don't need a WH dealer to organize a local auction. You could. How many players do you know in your area, and how many players do they know? Commented May 22, 2012 at 16:51
  • I know none, it really isn't that popular here. I may play it in future but my real goal is just to paint it :). Ebay is problematic too - it's been only recently translated to Czech language and people aren't much aware of it. We have aukro, which is in my opinion far superior to ebay. And in case I would have sent a box from UK/USA, transportation costs would oversize those in local shops.
    – Samuel
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 12:17

Assault on Black Reach. This starter set will provide you with a large number of Marine and Ork units, which will give you a variety of different unit sizes and types to paint, and even simply arrange in a suitably dramatic diorama if you so choose. If you decide to actually play, Assault on Black Reach comes with everything you need to get started, and presents forces with two different playstyes and backstories.

  • Given the starter box contains lower quality models made just for that box, dunno if it's a good choice for someone whose first goal is modelling :)
    – Affe
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 17:34
  • They're all plastic models, which makes them far easier to convert than metal. But you are correct, that the actual boxed sets have more complexity to the model; I'm not convinced that its a cost-effective upgrade, though.
    – GWLlosa
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 19:32

Well from what I've seen through the years, Space Marines will be your cheapest and easiest army to afford. They have a very solid presence when played, easy to learn the game with. Now as it stands I've not played since 2004 and started buying a new army after having to leave my Nurgle Army to a friend while I went off to college. So I came back to buying a few models in 2006 and went with the Imperial Guard. OMFG is this army expensive, but from what I've seen point wise to lay down an Imp Guard army w/o being all tanks is upwards to 200 models. It wouldn't be a problem with what I was buying them for in 2006 I bought 1 IG Battleforce which cost me 75 dollars, came with a Leman Russ, 2 squads, and 3 heavy weapon platforms. Now the Battleforce at 120 dollars comes with a worthless sentinel instead now...FFS at least they could have put a Chimera in there. GW is really getting out of hand with their prices it seems.

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