Today I’ll be discussing the varies ways to break into the Warhammer 40,000 hobby scene with advice on choosing a faction, play style, and what to buy first!

By: Mac Wade
What’s up everyone? Today I’m going to discuss how to break into Warhammer 40k. Over the years, this has probably been one of the most often asked questions I’ve gotten from new players interested in the hobby. And it makes sense right? With all the factions, codices, army builds….it can be overwhelming. Especially when you start looking at the price tag on a lot of the kits put out by Games Workshop. But fear not dear reader. We seemed to have entered a new age where Games Workshop is more involved with the gaming community than ever and is actively trying to make this wonderful hobby more accessible to new players. With that being said, let’s dive into what this article is really about.

Picking an Army

“So many choices…”
Depending on what you’re looking for in the hobby, this can be really easy or a kind of hard. There are so many choices, playstyles, and cool looking models that you simply can’t decide. Then again, you may be the type of person who walks in, grabs the first thing that looks cool and goes to work. Either way, I’d like to throw a few things out there for you to consider, a little food for thought.

First, try and decide what style of army you’d like to play. I say that, because like most games, some factions are better at certain things than others. For example, if you want a fast moving army that flies across the board and punches stuff in the face, then Blood Angels or Khorne Daemons may be your bread and butter. On the other hand, you may want to sit back and blast your opponent off the table with overwhelming firepower. If so, T’au or Astra Militarum may be a better army for you.

“See that guy? Shoot him and everyone around him”

The point is, figure out what you like and start there. And there are numerous ways to figure this out. Talk to people at your friendly local gaming store (FLGS) who can give you some pointers. Look for battle reports on YouTube or just google tactics for that faction. There are so many places that can tell you how an army plays that it won’t take long to figure this out. And keep in mind that just because you play a certain style of army doesn’t mean you can’t still have elements of both. A great example I can give is the Dark Angels Space Marines. They were the first army I started to collect and they have traditionally been an army that likes to shoot stuff off the table. But they have a unit called Deathwing Knights that are amazing at close combat. In fact, they are some of the best terminators in the game and have the ability to clear out hordes of enemy models in close combat.

Once you’ve figured out HOW you want to play, the next part is figuring out WHAT you want to play. The best way to do this would be to start at the Games Workshop webstore. Browse the different armies and look at the models. What color schemes do you like? What models stick out to you? Which ones do you hate? Look at the models in the army and narrow it down as best you can. Another way to do this is, again, go to your FLGS and see if anyone there has the armies you are interested in. Maybe they have a display case set up or some store armies that will give you a better feel for how the armies look. Check out google and see what images pop up. Go nuts here!

Dark Angels Inceptor from Dark Imperium
Keep in mind though, that most armies have more than one color scheme. For example, if you decide you want to play Space Marines, you would next need to decide which Space Marine Chapter you want to play. Not only will they come with a different color scheme, but different Chapter Traits that allow them to be better at certain things. This will apply to a majority of the armies out their like T’au, Tyranids, Adeptus Mechanicus, and the list goes on.  And, if you’re like me, the lore behind each army is as much a factor as how the army plays. Get online and start looking around. There are tons of web pages dedicated to the lore behind each faction that will tell you all about them from the fall of the Aeldari to when the Imperium first came into contact with the T’au and Tyranids. Some sites to check out are Lexicanum and 40k Wiki. The latter has an app that’s pretty handy as well for looking up stuff if you’re bored and on the go.  Also, if you google (Insert Army Name) Tactics, a 4chan page should be one of the first options that can give you a breakdown off all the different units.

And while I’m here, let me go off on a small tangent.   Don’t feel like you have to be strictly bound by the box art. If you like a model but not the color scheme, change it.  Like, the new Primaris Space Marine may be the coolest models Games Workshop makes but you hate all the color schemes on their website or in the codex. That’s fine.  Make up your own! Mimic one you find online, do whatever you like, go crazy. I guess my point here is make your army your own and you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of it! Anyways, back to what I was saying.

“Eliminations Protocols Engaged”
Once you’ve finally decided on a faction, the next big step is actually buying a model kit to start with. Again, what you do here will depend on what you’re looking for in the hobby and how much you want to go in at first.  Games Workshop currently puts out all kinds of deals on starter kits. Some examples are the Dark Imperium box set, Know No Fear, First Strike, Renegade, and Forgebane. These are generally designed for new players who are looking to jump right in and start playing. Don’t feel obligated to start with these though. While they can be a great starting point, things like Forgebane may not include the faction you’re wanting.

That’s where I would suggest looking at the Start Collecting! boxes.  You really can’t go wrong with these as they usually include a unit of troops, an HQ choice, and some type of support unit. These are great for jump starting your collection with models that both look cool and you’ll use as you get more involved in the hobby. Plus, they are a really good deal and you end up saving a decent amount of money as opposed to buying them separately.  Once you have a few games under your belt, you’ll be able to better judge what you want to buy next, whether it’s another Dunecrawler for your Adeptus Mechanicus force or some more Necron Warriors for your awakening Dynasty.  You may even decide to just by another Start Collecting! box which isn’t a bad idea in some cases since they really do save you money. When I started my Astra Militarum army I bought two of the Militarum Tempestus boxes!

Something else to consider is eBay. Don’t feel obligated to start off buying brand new kits from the FLGS or online, although I do believe supporting your local FLGS is important and I will probably talk about that in a future article. But for those of us who aren’t really sure what army we want or are on a strict budget, eBay can be an easy way to get into the hobby.  You can find some really good deals on there that will allow you to break into the hobby at a reasonable price as opposed to spending a ton of money right out the gate. I still get models from eBay on a fairly regular basis just because they are so much cheaper.  And if you’re the kind of person that isn’t keen on painting, you may be able to get a reasonably sized starting army with a decent paint job at a good price.

Or, if you have a ton of money and no time to paint, you can just get a whole professionally painted army right out the gate…for a pretty hefty price of course.  The downside to eBay is you may get models you don’t really want with the lot you buy, they may not be assembled with the wargear you want, and the paint jobs might be…shall we say sub par? That being said, it’s a great place to get your feet wet!  Also, see if your local gaming club has a Facebook page.  Someone local may be selling some stuff and cut you a really good deal to boot.  There are also a ton of buy, sell, trade groups on Facebook as well where you can get some really good deals that are worth looking into.  Just be careful on there and use PayPal or a similar service to make sure you aren’t left eating the cost if someone isn’t as trustworthy as they should be.

“What did I just see?”
I will put my own opinion in here and say that the Dark Imperium box set is probably one of the best deals for new players if you’re considering a Space Marine or Death Guard army you want to build and paint yourself.  It includes dice, rulers, models for a decent start at two different armies, the big rule book, and a small fold out reference guide with the core rules.  It also has rules for the models in there though they may be outdated as Games Workshop has come out with a codex for each since the initial release and I’m not sure they have updated the model rules to reflect that in the box set. And if you go this route and decide you want to become a follower of Nurgle with the Death Guard, you may be able to trade or sell the Space Marine half of the box set for the Nurgle half.  And vice versa if you love the Space Marine side. Also, the smaller versions of this, like Know no Fear, may be a good starting place just to get a feel for the game with a smaller monetary investment, so figure out what’s best for YOU and go with that!

A few more tips

I know I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again, visit your local FLGS as soon as you can!  One of the best things about this hobby is the community.  You can meet experienced hobbyist there that can help guide you towards what armies you may like the most and what kits to buy next. If you’re lucky, they may also have some store armies you can borrow to play a few games with to both get a handle on the rules but also to get a better feel for what you want to play.  If you’re super nice and/or lucky, there may even be a few gamers like me around who have multiple armies you can play a few games with and just borrow one of ours!
Another bit of advice I wish someone had told me is to not rush out and buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of models all at once.  And this may seem counter-intuitive, I mean, you’ve decided to make the plunge, why not get enough stuff to build a 2,000 point army this weekend and get to playing? But hear me out. First off, you have to build and paint it. I have seen players time and again rush out and get enough stuff to build a 2,000 point army, build part of it, and never actually paint even that because they feel overwhelmed.  Heck, I’ve been guilty of this myself.  I’d suggest getting maybe a start collecting box or maybe one of the boxed games like Forgebane first. Get these built and try to get a few games in while you work on painting them to keep this from happening.

This also leads me into my next reason, you’ll have a better grasp of what models you’ll want next after playing three or four games.  Something else a lot of us are guilty of is buying models before we really know how an army plays or what we like. We spend all this time building and painting them but then never actually put them on the table top because they don’t fit into our play style, list, or they just don’t have good rules. This also may seem contradictory because early in the article I mentioned buying the models you like. I’m not saying you won’t eventually want to buy and build something just because it’s cool, I’m just saying I wouldn’t do it if I’m first getting into the hobby. I mean you’ve put the time, effort, and money into that beautifully painted model, you’re going to want to play with it and you want it to do work! So just think about that.
Finally, the last thing that any new player should have is a list building app for putting an army list together. For starters, it’s a great way to get a sneak peek at some of the units, their rules, and their wargear options to help figure out exactly what you want to run.  It will also make building army list a little easier and help you figure out what units to buy next by seeing what works best with the models you have now.  I will add a disclaimer that the rules and points aren’t always exactly correct but they are close enough for friendly games and learning to play. I mean, if you were going to a tournament you would need to check the list but that’s a topic for another day!

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