Is Infinity a Cheap Game?
When I read the forums I often see fans of Infinity reaching out to players of other games (Warhammer 40k, Warmachine etc.) proclaiming that Infinity is a cheaper miniature wargame; but is it really? To put is shortly, yes. As you’ll read below Infinity is a much more affordable wargame than its leading competitors. That being said, cheap is in the wallet of the beholder but what we can determine is how infinity ranks compared to other games in terms of price. We’ll evaluate the cost of Infinity (relative to other popular games) based on three metrics: Starting Cost, Playable Force Costs and Peripheral Costs (Things besides models that you need to play). As with all of miniature wargaming there exists a balance between time and money; building your own terrain is cheaper but not everyone has time for it. I’ll do my best to show where money can be saved in a realistic way
For this article I am defining Starting Cost as this simple question: How much does it cost to play the most basic level of the game and get a good feel for it? Meaning, what is the minimum expense to say that you have given a game a fair try; this does not include paints and brushes. To really try your first game of Infinity you need models, a tape measure, something used to mark orders/markers and 3-5 D20s (20 sided dice). If your just experimenting feel free to use any household item (or coins) for markers/Order tokens; I use poker chips. I’ll also assume you don’t need the template sets as those can be more complicated to start with. The logical place to start Infinity is with a Starter Pack; which generally runs $50 US. Throw in some dice, and a cheap tape measures then you’re looking at around $58 to start playing. That’s a very competitive price to start compared to Warmachine, which has starter packs that are similarly priced and require similar game tools to get started. $58 is a bargain when compared to 40k, where the minimum to play is two troops choices and a leader (where each box of troops can be $50 and a solo is upwards of $20).
Playable Force Costs
So just starting out we have spent as much money here as with a few other miniature wargames (Warmachine being the closest) but there is one more aspect of value to consider: the models. A starter box for Warmachine does not carry nearly as much value as a starter box for Infinity. Every Warmachine starter set has a Warcaster (leader) and 2-5 models that make up its battle-group; but that’s only one aspect of a Warmachine army. In fact, most Warmachine tournaments play at the 50 point level and a battle box (what they call their starts) come with 10-13 points… so only a fifth of a playable army (Assuming you use every model you buy). In Infinity, the standard army list is 300 points and the starter boxes come with 135-150 points in models; you can instantly see the difference. This is where infinity begins to seem like a cheaper game as you can start off with 40-50% of a tournament ready list.
To expand our view away from the starter boxes, I’ll just compare the actual MSRP costs of common armies. The average tournament ready Warmachine list costs $320+ (as determined by the most common list builds of this tournament year, averaging the winners lists). Compare that cost to the average tournament infinity list which sits at $140+. By this point Warhammer 40k isn’t even in the running due to its high costs, and Warmachine is looking a bit pricey. The only game that really competes at this level is Malifaux, which is still fairly competitive. If we were to stop our purchases here then yes, I would say that Infinity is a cheap miniatures game (relative to others on the market). However the expense doesn’t just end at the army…
What I’m talking about here are the things that are needed to play the game that are not model related. In 40k you’ll need the rulebook, a codex and weapon template. Infinity is fortunate is that the cost of peripheral can be mitigated. The rulebook is free, templates run about $15 and just about anything can be used for markers. The one area that really hurts Infinity is terrain; you need a lot of it. A common player favorite is MDF (scorched wood) terrain that works amazingly well. At the time of writing this you can get a fairly standard set for about $150 US. Think about that; that’s $150 on top of your army. What mitigates this cost is that you can use that same terrain for any other wargames you play (they generally all operate around the same scale) and you can go cheaper if you want. In fact, if you really want you can stick to homemade or paper terrain, but just know that these pieces won’t last long as wear and tear is brutal on paper products. I won’t say that expensive terrain is required in the cost of starting the game, but it certainly is an expense that you need to consider if you want to continue in Infinity.
So is it Cheap?
So where do we stand at the end? Well after a general estimate of costs (I play all three games listed) I can say that Infinity is truly cheaper, provided that you put the work in and make your own terrain. You can start an army, grow it to a tournament size and play for far less than other big games on the market. Despite being a clear winner between Warmachine and 40k, I’m hesitant to call Infinity a “Cheap” game though. There will always be model releases that push us to buy and your paper terrain will eventually fall apart until you get tired of printing more. Miniature wargaming as a whole isn’t cheap, it’s a niche hobby with real monetary and time costs. For those seeking a more affordable miniature game and can reuse terrain tat they already own, yes, Infinity is cheap. For those looking to get into the hobby from scratch, Infinity is still affordable by comparison but not cheap as a whole. What I’m really saying is this: If you’re already in the hobby then Infinity is cheap; If not, it can seem like an expensive game.