Last month, the Behind Enemy Lines podcast discussed Mantic's Kings of War rules. KoW is a ruleset that I've always been interested in, having wet my toes with Warhammer Fantasy Battles 8th Edition when it first came out and found it not to my liking.
However, I don't think I'll be collecting a fantasy army anytime soon, with the necessary investment in time and money to buy, put together and paint the miniatures. However, during the podcast, there was a suggestion that one could use cardboard or paper cutouts. Since KoW is an element based game - with no single-figure removal like in Warhammer Fantasy - all one needs is a square or rectangle large enough to be an accurate representation of a unit's size.
So I thought, why do I need miniatures? (Apart from the whole philosophical questions regarding miniatures and miniature wargaming. We're trying to be cheap here.)
So I ran out to a local craft and hobby shop and looked for some supplies. And I happened to find the above - foam sheets that were 99 cents apiece. They're perfect - thick enough to have some weight to them, but pliable and able to be written on with a sharpie marker. They came in a variety of colors, so I grabbed green and blue.
I've got a double-sided sharpie that has both a thick marker and a small, pen-like nib that I used to outline the units. An orc force of nearly 1,200 points took up about two-thirds of the sheet.
I cut everything out (easy enough with a standard pair of scissors) and labelled them with the thick marker. This took about a half hour, with a little time to trim a few strange measurements that somehow sneaked through. The best part is, I still have 2 and 1/3 sheets left - plenty of material to work with if I ever want larger games.
I did the same with the dwarven force using the blue sheets. I also added small dots to both the dwarven and orc units to mark both the unit's front and center (for use with line-of-sight and other features of the rules).
So for about $2 I now have starter armies for a game I'd like to try without having to devote money and time into a demo game.
This also works for plenty of other games that use large, element-based units. I'm considering using this for Black Powder, with red and blue units representing the British and Colonial forces in the American War of Independence.