My own take on Frugality

I’m not knocking A Year of Frugal Gaming, I’ll say that right out of the blocks.  I think he’s got a good, albeit not exactly original, idea about trying to spend less on the hobby.  When I aksed him about “the rubber hitting the road” when he is obviously drooling over Games Workshop products, he responded,  “The idea of my Year of Frugal Gaming is to make sure that I only spend money on games I’m going to play and minis that I’m going to paint.”  I’m assuming he means also miniatures he’s going to use in games, but I dont’ know.

That’s cool, although I’d say that what he’s describing is more “practical” hobby spending, not necessarily frugal, because in my mind frugal means “spending less on normative needs” not “spending only on what I need” (realizing I’m talking about hobbies in terms of “need.”) 

Let me give an example.  Let’s say you want to play Mordheim (and boy, do I ever).  To play Mordheim, you need a Mordheim warband.  By the above definition, you can buy a GW miniature for your Mordheim warband because you’re going to use it.  In my mind, frugal means a) using a mini you already own, or b) using a miniature from a less-expensive manufacturer, even if it means taking a hit in quality, because the difference in quality is an almost negligible factor when it comes to gameplay.  Frugal people eat lower-quality, store-brand ravioli and not Chef Boyardee because in the end of the day it’s just ravioli from a can.

Now I’ll admit that part of this essay is because I’m naturally a miser.  I was born into relative poverty, lived in trailers, and didn’t have a lot of flashy toys or stuff.  I had a good life, and loving parents, and went onto a career that is become more and more in the “upper” range of middle class each year, it seems.  But I’m still a cheap guy, the kind who goes into gaming stores only to buy things from the second-hand bin, keeps odd scraps of foamcore around because I’ll never know when I need them, and yes once built a pirate army not from wargaming miniatures from pieces from a tabletop game because I could get twenty of them for a handful of dollars.

So “frugal” stuff appeals to me.  Tim over at Tim’s Wargaming Blog making HOTT armies out of LotR plastics appeals to me because I already own LotR plastics (Christmas gift) but will never play the game.  If I want an HOTT army, I’ll probably do just want he did.  Or the guy at Wasted Roads who made spiffy post-apoc vehicles for cars that look like they could be bought at Goodwill for fifty cents.  Side note: Torben, I’m starved for an update here.  I’ve even thought, in one my many “hey, this’d be a fun project” trying to raise a Battletech unit from nothing from minis found in junkbins, a sort of “scrapyard force” kind of thing.

I’ll close again by saying I got nothing against Dave, who is clearly interested in doing all he can to help keep the hobby viable for people who, for whatever reason, do not have a lot of spend on it.  Keep up the good work, and you’ve still got the top spot on the blogroll.


  1. I had a real chuckle when Frugal gaming posted about mold making. Great posts, good execution – but not frugal. RTV and resin are far from cheap: sample sizes I’m familiar with run about $30 each. Frugal would be making killer terrain from stuff other people threw away. Or let me rephrase that: my definition of frugal is replacing money with labor or cleverness.

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