Betrayal at Calth: on the cheap, or “how 40k is worth more than gold”

I’ve not really been that interested in 40k as a game, I’ve always had an appreciation for the lore and have put together some 40k stuff in the past, but the game itself was never much interest to me, I always preferred Fantasy and even then I got bored of that after a few years. Some of the more recent miniatures for me have fallen into two camps, 1. Utter garbage (space chariot) and 2. Nice but eye-wateringly expensive.

So when they announced the Horus Heresy game, I was impressed and interested, but ultimatley, fell into the second camp, nearly £100 for a board game for me was too much, given I have no interest in playing 30k, who the game is clearly aimed at. That being said, congratulations to Games Workshop on realising another license to print money ala Space Hulk.

Then, last week, after the game had been released, one of the guys on the Corehammer Facebook group mentioned that the boards, rules and dice were available on ebay for a tenner. So, with a bit of cash in my paypal account I decided I would pick up the rules/boards and then get some cheap marines / chaos marines to play the game.

So, I guess what we have here is, how cheaply can you play Betrayal at Calth?

All the minatures I amassed "on the cheap"

All the minatures I amassed “on the cheap”

  • Boards / Rules / Cards / Dice – £9.99 – Ebay
  • Blood Angels Marines – Squad of 10 – Donation
  • Dark Angels Marines – 5 Terminators – Ebay – £8
  • Blood Angels – Terminator Captain – £11
  • Chaos Space Marines – Squad of 10 – Wargaming Trading – £10
  • Chaos Space marines  – 5 in bits – Donation
  • Chaos Space Marines – 5 on sprue – Ebay – £10
  • Chaos Space Marines – Chosen / Lord from Dark Vengeance Set – Ebay – £2
  • Chaos Space Marines – Hellbrute – £8
  • Bitzbox order – £10

Total Spent: £68.99

So, given that the boxed game is £85 at Element Games, probably not worth it considering I needed two donations worth to keep it cheap. THAT BEING SAID, I bought all this stuff in one go, it might be better for a gamer looking for a cheap game to get 2 squads of marines and the boards etc for £30 and try the game before they commit.

Its worth noting that all this stuff was either undercoated or unpainted, buying pre-mainted miniatures could have gotten me some stuff a bit cheaper. But I like doing my own paint jobs. There was also a lot more out there for buying armies in bulk but people don’t like to split, so i’d have to spend more and then re-sell the stuff I didn’t need. But at the same time, I also needed to make a bitz order to get a few things like a Chaos Marine heavy bolter and Flamer to convert the Dark Angels terminator into a flamer guy.

So, how does the game play?

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The rules are very simple however there was still some badly worded rules and a few issues cropped up, we played the first scenario wrong as we were not correctly resolving the defence rolls properly, so it meant marines were dying VERY easily, however both players did manage to get a couple of marines through the blast door but it got one sided very quickly due to iniative rolls. The second scenario was a lot better however it did seem like there wasn’t a whole lot of time for the actual game, you effectively get 4 or 5 turns to move the Captain to a computer and switch it on, however the first 2 turns were spent mostly running into position.

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The command cards are a nice touch, and these are essentially a replacement for “unit” special rules, however there are so many in comparison to how many you get during a game that it was hard to base any real tactics around them. That being said, I can see how lots of different cards would give you more re-play options given that there are only 6 missions.

The other bug bear is due to a lack of points, you are restricted in what you take for the mission, after two games, I would find myself thinking a better force would be say 2 terminators and 6 tactical marines, but as there are no points, it upsets any potential game balance. So if Games Workshop were going to look to expand this, this is the first avenue I would look at, the other thing is that whilst I do like the command cards, I think another option would be a similar system to the Saga Dice system, so you have a vast range of special rules, but it is more random as to which ones “switch on” at a given turn.

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So, my thoughts. there are two ways to “buy” this game, the first is to walk into a retailer and drop £100 / £85 for the game in its intended form, and the other is to buy the game components from ebay for a tenner and use your own marines. It should seem obvious from above that its not really possible to buy 40k marines cheap enough to warrant building this game from scratch, so this avenue should be avoided unless you have an interest in going into 40k / 30k in the near future (which I don’t). As an introduction to the 30k world, this is a great value box set, however as a standalone board game, it suffers in comparison to say, Imperial Assault (which I found it to be very similar to, in terms of attack and defence dice).

Thanks for reading.