You don’t need minis to run a good game but laying out a battlefield and pushing around plastic can bring flair and immersion to your tabletop. Having a varied supply of mini’s can run you hundreds if not thousands (from experience) of dollars, but it really doesn’t have to. I’ve done a lot of “Cheap Miniatures” google searches over the years and summed up a few of the better options below.
- Mage Knight Lots on eBay.
For the uninitiated, Mage Knight was THE first collectible miniatures game on the market and can be considered the predecessor to pre painted D&D miniatures (Wizkids produced both). There is a ton of variety in the model range and the scale isn’t too far off from modern D&D miniatures. Gunpowder featured heavily in the lore, so depending on your setting your mileage may vary. Keep in mind, the paint jobs are consistent with what you could expect from a twenty year old game.
The game is sadly long out of print, so you’ll have to find these on the secondary market. A quick search through some eBay sold listings for “Mage Knight Lot” has these painted minis weighing in at just about $1 per miniature, and even less for larger lots. If you do end up scoring some, you’ll want to rebase them (the bases they come on are a little to large for 1” grids). I recommend picking up these.
Here’s a picture of some of my own rebased Mage Knight Figures.
Price per mini: About $0.50 – $1 depending on the deal you score.
2. Runewars Miniatures Game
A fantasy tabletop miniatures game produced by Fantasy Flight Games. Failing to really gain any traction the game unfortunately went out of print a few years ago. Despite this, there are loads of copies to be found pretty much anywhere. The core set, as of now, will run you $45 on Amazon. For that you get 48 well detailed miniatures. Half are generic human infantry/calvary while the other half are skeletons armed with various weaponry. You also get 2 heroes and 2 monsters, including a sweet 4 armed sword wielding rock golem creature. I can’t speak to the game itself, but I did pick up a copy just for the purpose of using the minis. There are some other expansions/armies too which net you around the same number of minis per dollar.
Price per mini: $0.95
3. Board Games
The list of miniature centric board games is increasingly expansive. Picking up one of these gives you the added benefit of adding a new game to the shelf. Below are a few to get minis on your table while still getting in under the $1 mark.
Arena of the Planeswalkers- A Miniatures/Magic the Gathering card game. In addition to the 35 miniatures (including 5 painted spellcasters) you good a decent hex board and some cardstock ruins. Copies can be found on Amazon for around $24.
Price per mini: $0.67
Reign- A mix of 48 fantasy and sci-fi miniatures. You get a decent variety for the price of $14. I can’t speak to any of the games mechanics and do not own it, but plastic is plastic.
Price per mini: $0.29
Lionheart- Another out of print gem, this game will net you 92 miniatures for an average eBay price of $25. Knights, peasants, and spearmen make this a good buy for a human-centric or war-based campaign. You will have to do some modifying as the game is played with 2-4 minis on a single slotted base. I have played this game many times, and if you have kids or any interest in getting into tabletop wargaming, this is a great entry point.
Price per mini: $0.27
Lords of Hellas- This is an intriguing one which I had only found out about recently. It comes packed with 90 miniatures, a bulk of which are rank and file grunts than can stand in for any humanoid. The real value comes from the Big Bads. You get 4 heroes and 10 monsters/godlike beings. The quality on the bigger miniatures is excellent for a $45 game.
Price per mini: $0.50
4. Box o Monsters
This isn’t really a single brand, more of selection of bargain miniatures found on Amazon. The quality varies by manufacturer, but they definitely fit the bill for cheap minis.
Monster Fantasy Creatures Series 1: 92 Miniatures for $25. These are probably way out of scale with most other options on this list.
Price per mini: $0.27
Wildspire Fantasy Miniatures: 68 miniatures (including a bear with shark arms) + 200 pages of digital 5e content, all for $40
Price per mini: $0.58
Monster 56 painted fantasy Miniatures: 56 painted Minis for $40. They have a variety of different sets both painted and unpainted
Price per mini: $0.71
Path Gaming 40 Fantasy Miniatures: Selection of 40 generic but useful fantasy minis. $25. They also have a selection of different sets.
Price per mini: $0.62
5. D&D Adventure System
The D&D Adventure System is a series of 7 co-op dungeon crawl board games. Each boxed set is about $50 and comes with roughly 40 miniatures, 5 Being heroes, and the rest a mix of monsters and villains. Monsters typically come in groupings of three which is good for encounter building.
Each game is directly tied to an official WOTC module or thematically inspired by the lore. If your planning on running any of these adventures I highly recommend picking up the corresponding box.
The minis themselves, while bare unpainted plastic, are typically the same molds used by the icons of the realms line. Beyond just value for the minis, you get a solid dungeon crawl game with light story and leveling mechanics. It’s a quick stand in for a night where you have multiple no shows or just need a break from DM’ing (you don’t need one to play).
I’m going to break our $1 per mini rule here. Each game nets you one big monster, like a Red Dragon or a Balor. These alone are easily $10-15 and offset the cost of the other minis.
Price per mini: $1.20
So that’s pretty much it for now. This list definitely isn’t exhaustive but should be a good starting point for getting minis on your table. Im always on the hunt for a good deal, so if you have any I missed drop a link down in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and keep checking back for weekly gaming content!
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