• Robison Wells

How Much Does It Cost To Build a Tournament-Winning List?

We all know that Warhammer can be expensive. We've written before about the costs involved in the hobby and compared it to other hobbies. But it's one thing to have a list that is playable and a list that will win tournaments. Tournament lists require fine tuning and the kind of skill at list building that comes from careful planning. Sometimes it may cost you $50 to purchase a unit of 3 Bladeguard Veterans, but you want to run your list with five of them. You're going to have to buy six and leave one out. Or you want 5 Intercessors but they only come in boxes of 10. So you buy 10 and leave 5 on the shelf. That's the kind of sacrifice that you have to make to build a tournament list.


But it got us thinking: how much does it really cost to build a tournament winning list? So we searched through the most recent (June 2021) ITC tournament winners, looked at their lists (which are posted at Blood Kitten) and went to Games Workshop's website and priced them all. (We realize that buying from a FLGS will be cheaper, so your mileage may vary, but this is what we came up with.)


We looked at five recent tournaments, did the math, and came up with the following. (If you want the exact loadouts and point costs of each and every unit you can follow the links at Blood Kitten.)


Maryland OPEN ITC Grand Tournament 2021

1st Place Winner: Patrick McAneeny -- Space Marines, White Scars



Khan on Bike: $45

Lieutenant: $35

Primaris Chaplain on Bike: $40

10 Assault Intercessors: $60

5 Incursors: $60

Apothecary: $35

10 Bladeguard Veterans: $50 for 3, so $200

5 Vanguard Veterans: $48

5 Vanguard Veterans: $48

3 Attack Bikes: $40

3 Attack Bikes: $40

4 Inceptors: $50 for 3, so $100

2 Exterminators: $50 for 3, so $50

Land Speeder Storm: $36

Land Speeder Storm: $36


Total: $862.75


Rocky Top Rumble 40k Major 2021

1st Place Winner: Steven Crawley -- Drukhari



Succubus: $25

Succubus: $25

10 Wyches: $36

10 Wyches: $36

10 Wyches: $36

10 Reavers: $40 for 3, so $160

Archon: 29

10 Kabalite Warriors: $36

10 Incubi: $110

10 Incubi: $110

Raider: $48

Raider: $48

Raider: $48

Raider: $48

Raider: $48

Drazhar: $40

5 Wracks: $36

5 Wracks: $36

Raider: $48


Total: $1003


Hero Complex Games 40k Grand Tournament 2021

1st Place Winner: Jason Rogers -- Death Guard


Mortarion: $150

Malignant Plaguecaster: Not for sale on Games Workshop's site. Price on eBay: $40

20 Poxwalkers: $70

20 Poxwalkers: $70

5 Blightlord Terminators: $60

Chaos Leviathon Dreadnought: $78 (Forgeworld)

5 Deathshroud Terminators: $60 for 3, so $120

Foul Blightspawn: $30

Tallyman: $30

Plagueburst Crawler: $65

Plagueburst Crawler: $65


Total: $778


Copenhammer GT 2021

1st Place Winner: Alexander Dzougov -- Space Marines, Ultramarines



Librarian: $35

Captain on Bike: $40 for 3 Bikes, needs kitbashing

10 Vanguard Veterans: $96

Relic Contemptor: $59

Relic Contemptor: $59

3 Attack Bikes: $40

3 Attack Bikes: $40

5 Devastators: $54

5 Devastators: $54

Drop Pod: $44


Total: $586


Salty Alliance GT 2021

1st Place Winner: Scott Rumple -- Space Marines, Space Wolves



Chapter Master: $40

Librarian in Phobos Armor: $35

5 Incursors: $60 for 10

5 Infiltrators: $60 for 10

5 Intercessors: $60 for 10

15 Wolf Guard: $60 for 10, so $120

5 Wolf Guard Terminators: $54

5 Wolf Guard Terminators: $54

Cyberwolves: $18

Invader ATV: $40

5 Long Fangs: $54

Drop Pod: $44


Total: $684


So, we've seen the totals. Granted, this is a sample size considering there are eight or ten ITC tournaments per month. But, as a random sample, what conclusions can we draw?


  • First, Ultramarines are the least expensive, and that kind of makes sense because Space Marines--especially Ultramarines--have the most kits produced and have the largest selection with economies of scale to lower the price. That list also spent its money well: there were no places (with the exception of the captain on a bike) where models had to be purchased and not used.

  • Second, the Space Wolves list was second-cheapest, and that was despite several instances where models were purchased and not used. One thing that I didn't factor into the price, however, was that that army most likely had several Space Wolves upgrade sprues, which come in at $14 a piece. Still, even if they needed four or five of them, they'd still come in second place in price.

  • Third, the Death Guard list was third, and this price was probably lower than it could have been because Mortarion was used. He represents 490 points of the 2000 point army, and he cost $150. If that 490 points was spent on several units of Plague Marines, the price could have gone up substantially.

  • Fourth, the White Scars list had a lot of expensive units: their two units of 5 Bladeguard Veterans--just ten models--cost $200 alone. Add to that the strange unit size of the Inceptors (which doubled their price) and only using 5 Incursors, leaving 5 on the shelf, the cost grew quickly.

  • Fifth, the Drukhari list was by far the most expensive, though that shouldn't be much of a surprise as several of the units are older and cost a lot (a unit of 10 Incubi costs $110 and they take two units). Admittedly, some of the units were cheaper than other armies: the characters, such as the two Succubi, only were $25 a piece, compared to Space Marine characters costing $35 each. But six Raiders at $48 each adds up, and it's an expensive list.


Conclusion


I think the biggest conclusion to draw from this is that tournament lists can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you make them. The Ultramarines at $586 isn't a bad deal at all, given how expensive this hobby is. It would be interesting to see how these 1st Place Winners would all fare playing against each other.


Either way, as we've mentioned in our other hobby article, even the Drukhari list is cheaper than an XBox X.


What do you think? Do you need to spend a lot of money to make a good tournament list? How does your list compare?


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