Thursday, 8 July 2021

More Frugal Gaming: Grimdark Future Challenge

 Over on Facebook, Badger Bodges proposed a challenge: create a 3,000-point army for the sci-fi wargame Grimdark Future while spending only £55. I decided to undertake it. In fact, I'm not even going to spend £55: I'm mainly going to use models already in my collection, but I will keep track of what they cost and not go over £55. 

£55 is the cost of a Start Collecting Astra Militarum box from Games Workshop. Start Collecting boxes are a more affordable way to, er, start collecting Citadel miniatures, and I don't know if Badger picked the Astra Militarum one because it's singularly unimpressive, but in it you get: 

  • 10 Cadian Shock Troops
  • A heavy weapons team
  • A Commissar
  • A Leman Russ
So that's ten regular troops, a character, a heavy weapon, and a tank. Nice variety, but I think we should be able to do rather better than that. 

After looking at the Grimdark Future army lists, I decided to go with a mixed force. My starting point will be the Human Inquisition list. This is a very weird army list full of small, specialist squads and unusual characters. It should provide a core of unique characters to build the army around, which I can then bulk up with some regular infantry squads built using the Human Defense Force and Battle Brothers lists. 

To get things started off, I'm going to buy some sprues online (well, I'm not; I already own them. But for the purposes of this exercise let's assume I am). These will provide the materials for some of our characters, and also help us build up some bits for conversions when we come to cheaper figures later on. One of the challenges I'm dealing with here is working without my bits box: I have a pretty good collection, built up over decades, but I'm trying to do without it here as a way to show that this is possible using only resources available to everyone. 

So here are my starting expenditures, based on eBay prices. These may seem high given our limited overall budget, but I think you'll see that they come in handy throughout the project: 

  • Frostgrave cultist sprue: £6
  • Frostgrave demon sprue: £6.50
  • Stargrave mercenary sprue: £6
  • Stargrave trooper sprue: £6
So that's £24.50 spent so far, but as I hope you'll see, these bits are going to go a long way. We'll also need some bases for this project; I don't know how many just yet, but I'm keeping some room in my budget for them. I'm basing my cost on 3mm MDF bases on eBay, which is what I use for my Stargrave and Dragon Rampant armies. Let's spend £2 for now, which should get us all the bases we need for this phase of the project. 

First things first, let's make some of the characters at the core of the army. Not only will these make a fun visual centrepiece for the project, they'll eat up a hefty chunk of points. Taking a look at the Inquisition army list, a team of assassins seems useful. I'll start out by using the sprues to make a Sniper assassin. This is a mixture of bits from the Frostgrave Trooper and Mercenary Sprues 

I need to think of a good logo for my inquisitors that I can use to mark the plate on the back of the armour. Otherwise this model is good to go once I touch up that splotch on his leg.

Next we're going to add some Battle Brothers. These elite infantry are going to serve two purposes: they're going to give us some versatile armoured troops who can engage enemies at medium range and hold positions for us, and they're going to soak up a big wodge of points in our army list. Actually, three purposes: they're going to provide us with a few spare bits that will help us make our other units down the line. 

For my Battle Brothers, I'm going to be using Space Rangers. These monopose (well, duopose) plastics were released by Grenadier in the early 1990s as an alternative to Space Marines for the budget-conscious gamer. I was a budget-conscious gamer even at that young age, and my brother and I bought a big box of these. These are in fact those self-same models, bought over 25 years ago. However, you can still get them from em-4, a snip at just £2.99 for five models, bringing us to a total of £29.49. We're going to include five to ten in our army eventually, but let's start out with a single test model for now. 

These are nicely massive models. Like the assassin, I'm going to add some inquisitorial heraldry when I figure out how I want to do it. 

Using the sprues, I am now assembling twelve more models: three Daemonhosts, three Crusaders, three Psychics, and the remaining three assassins: Spy, Assault, and Terror. Here's a little look at these models in progress: 

So, we've spent nearly £30 of our £55 budget so far. How are we doing on points? Well, here's the list as it stands: 

Assault Assassin: 180 pts
Spy Assassin: 185 pts
Sniper Assassin: 185 pts
Terror Assassin: 200 pts
Crusaders (3): 70 pts
Daemon Hosts (3): 70 pts
Psychics (3): 95 pts
Battle Brothers (5) w/ Veteran Infantry, Standard, plasma pistol, energy sword, plasma cannon: 260 pts

Total: 1225 pts

Now we need to add a little mobility and some anti-vehicle firepower, together with a few foot troops to defend objectives and widen the range of targets. But as you can see, we're well on the way to 2,000 points, and we're right on budget for now -- plus there's still a lot of good stuff on the sprues that we haven't used yet. 

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