The free stuff you give away doesn't always have to be massively expensive. Even if you start with a £1 entry fee (not huge) and have 20ppl pay it. That gives you a £20 prize fund to divide up in to a £10, £7 and £3 or whatever prize. So cheep box of models, couple of paints of superglue and a paint.
Of course the charging thing has the problem of people complaining that you doing such a mean thing to allow them to play, and you have to keep track of who has and hasn't paid.
IMOO the better solution to having a paid entry fee is have a stealth entry fee :D How you achieve this is tell everyone that so long as they buy something equal to or over the cost of X (lets say £13 the cost of the new Mek or Painboy) gets free entry in to the prize tournament. I assume that you make a small markup on such stuff, so you will have some profit still.
This has the advantages of people will buy stuff, what they might be buying anyway, but might rush those £s out of their pockets, what I don't know how much the average Joe spends with ya per week/month or however long you plan on running the prize tourney. And depending on the up take you can vary the prizes, or even if you go for a bigger entry fee say they have to buy £30 of stuff in a month. If you make enough mark up (say £10 on a £30 purchase) and have enough players (say 20). Of course you have to pay your overheads as normal and wage for yourself, but you might have due to extra sales a £20 excess you could then use to make a prize (worth £30). Of course you can play with the numbers yourself and given enough excess and uptake it could be you can offer a huge prize like a Wraith-Knight / Imperial Knight / Stompa size model.
The additional advantage of this system is if you are sneaky you can use it to try to get rid of dead stock. One of my local stores that is an independent retailer who bought in 3 of the Eldar Ghost Warriors army boxes. He sold 2 of them over the course of 8 months but has been stuck with the other one since they came out. I am not saying you can give away a £150 box, but he is also stuck with 2 Wraith Knights as well though he did sell about 10 of them.
So you might have a dead stock of Seeker Chariots of Slaanesh or Plaguebearers or something what you could give away either saying they can paint them, use them or try to sell them on Ebay or whatever they want.
Of course the WAAC players might still win, but it will still encourage people to be giant killers. Also if you plan it right so you maybe have the competition running over a couple of months at a time, you can score each of the players and when you start the next one you can give bonuses / penalties to those who did bad / good. So if done in a points scoring system maybe the table looks like
A = 15
B = 11
C = 7
D = 3
E = 1
So you decide that you will give a bonus to those in the lower half.
During games E scores double VPs vs A & B, can always choose table end, can deploy all the scenery on the roll of a 2+ before the game. Or while he is lower on points on the leaderboard during this 'season'. D gets the same bonuses, but maybe 1 less than E is getting. C gets 1 of the bonuses but only vs A.
If the people are WAAC players, even with the overwhelming odds being stacked against them they will either be up for the challenge or maybe could be goaded them or prey on their egos saying that "You must not be good enough to beat this person", or "I thought you were unbeatable... guess not".
Last edited by mayegelt; 07-06-14 at 08:38 AM.