It’s a great shame that I am writing this, as I wrote the first article “The Danger of Free Figures” several years ago. Although this original article was designed to serve as a warning and to let others learn from my experience, I didn’t learn enough from my own article.
A few moths ago, a friend of mine said he had some wargames stuff, and the next time I met him he gave me a 40K starter box. This has all the stuff you got in the 3rd Edition starter box (20 Dark Eldar, 5 Space Marines and a Land Speeder), plus an additional 5 metal Terminators, a Tactical Squad with 10 Space Marines including a missile launcher and a flamer, plus 3 metal Dark Angles Space Marines and one of the 3rd Edition Command Squads with tech marine, apothecary etc, plus EVERY single Dark Angels special character. All these had been painted to a very reasonable standard, especially as this was my friend’s first effort at painting – he did much better than I did with my first army. Now, I don’t play 40K very often, but a free army was too good an idea to pass up! My Chaos Space Marines army was very much put together from what was cheap, rather than what was effective, and, after some furtive emails between myself and 40K expert Sean Councill, I worked out that with a few purchases I could make a competitive Dark Angels army.
My chance soon came when James Funnell announced that he was running a 40K in 40 Minutes tournament.
To make an effective army I decided I needed some scout snipers and a scout with a missile launcher and some Assault Marines with jump-packs. A quick trip to Games Workshop in Swindon netted me a 40K Rulebook (£30), a Space Marines Codex (£12), a squad of 5 Assault Marines (£15), a Space Marine Scout with a Missile Launcher (£4) and two blisters of Scouts with Sniper Rifles (£12). With just £73 spent my free army was already taking shape.
I realised that I would need some heavy weapons, so I went down to GW Swindon and bought a Space Marine with a Lascannon (£5) and a Space Marine with a Multi-melta (£5) – (not a popular choice, multi-meltas, but I liked the model). I also needed some serious firepower, so I bought a Predator Tank (£20) and a Dreadnought (£20) from GW in Swindon too. By this time my free army was becoming almost a Tournament level army, and with just £123 spent.
However, reading 40K tactical articles I realise that my Chaplain would be excellent to lead my Assault marines, but I needed a jump-pack, so it was back to GW Swindon for more Assault Marines (£15). I also won a painted Dark Angels Landraider on EBay for £23.50 including postage. Finally, I needed to upgrade my Land Speeder so that it had an assault cannon, so a final purchase of a new Land Speeder Tornado (£15) from GW Swindon and my free army was finally complete. However, one problem I hadn’t appreciated was that I would need a new system for taking my army into the club as the figures didn’t have square bases for magnetic bases, and the vehicles were too big for any tool box. Once again, GW Swindon came to my rescue and my free army could be packed into two army cases (£60).
So although I don’t play 40K, I now have a free Tournament Ready army for just £236.50. What a bargain!
However, what makes this really sad is that I have an emotional attachment to my Chaos Space Marines army. It may be old and a bit naff, but I have had some good battles with it and I felt sorry for it gathering dust on the shelf. So there was nothing for it but to pop down to GW Swindon again. A couple of Obliterators (£24) and a new Chaos Lord (£10), plus a Chaos Marine with a lascannon (£5), a Defiler (£30), a new Squad of 8 Chaos Marines (£15), a Chaos Predator tank (£20) and a squad of 5 Raptors (£20) and my Chaos army was feeling much happier.
It not quiet tournament ready just yet, but to be fair, I only spent a further £124 pounds on it. So that’s alright then.
So, having detailed how a free army left me £360.50 out of pocket for a games system I don’t play, there is a glimmer of hope. My original free army had a single Ork with it – and I gave this away to Craig Polder to join his Ork army, rather than use it as an excuse for fiscal silliness.
Mind you, I still have 20 half painted Dark Eldar Warriors left…