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WHERE DO I START? – A Beginners Guide to Tabletop Gaming

3 Minute Read
Jun 22 2014

K9Monkey here, I am putting out this series of articles to help you learn from my mistakes, and help you successfully join the millions of tabletop gamers out there.

Over the next several articles I will cover:

1.  How to get into the hobby.

2.  How to pick a game.
3.  How to pick an army.
4.  How to keep it fun and fresh.
5.  When to look at another game.
6.  Other gaming ideas.

So lets get started with topic #1. How to get into the hobby!

First, lets start with a story about how not to get into the hobby.  Back in 2001, my friend and I had this grand idea we were going to play Warhammer Fantasy.  We traveled across town to visit the Games Workshop store.  The walls were covered in the most beautiful shrink-wrapped boxes a boy could wish for.  The sheer number of options in front of me was mind-blowing.  I ended up buying a rulebook ($65), and at the advice of the store clerk, the Chaos Army Box Set ($300).  He told me it was everything I would need to get started.  Boy was that a wrong statement.
From there we went to the hobby store and I purchased, superglue, clippers, hobby knife, paintbrushes, paints, pallets, etc.  At this point I had over $400 invested into a game I know little to nothing about.
Needless to say, this is not the way to go about getting into the hobby.  The worst part is after painting five (5) Chaos warriors; I never touched the army again and ended up selling it on eBay two years later.
Now, lets talk about the right way to jump into so you can enjoy the hobby.

          Know what you want to get out of the hobby.

– Do you want to build and paint for enjoyment?
– Are you joining your local gaming club?
– Do you want to play at a competitive level?
This is very important, as it will drive what you need to get started.
If you find the miniatures amazing, and who doesn’t, you can paint for fun and enjoyment.  This opens you up to explore miniatures across many figure ranges and not worry about what game they are for, scale, compatibility, etc.  A list of things you will need, natural light lamp(s), two water dishes, some paper towels, brushes, and paints.  You can get a lot of pointers off the Internet, YouTube, and right here on the BoLS site.  Set up a painting area and enjoy yourself.  You are creating art!

But Remember…

– Pace yourself.  It is very easy to be sucked in by all the cool things and the “latest hotness”.  Fight the urge and start small and stay focused.

– Get the best you can afford.  Your tools will be with you for a long time.  I still use the same clippers I bought when I first started modeling.   You can leverage places like Harbor Freight for simple tools like files.

– Don’t stop learning.  The only way to get better is to practice, practice, and practice some more.  You will not be painting like a master class painter the first time you pick up a mini and a brush.
If you are in the second or third bucket and want to play locally or competitively, do your homework!  Know what games the local stores host, how often they play.  Go watch a few games and make sure you like the way they play, any house rules they might have, etc.  If you are going to try and join the competitive circuit, make sure to check out video from past conventions.  Read up on the blogs about what is winning and losing.  Either of these options will require a decent investment in rulebooks, army books, measuring tools, dice, etc.  You can probably find a gaming table for free in your dining room. The cost can add up quick with the accessories.

Hopefully, this gives you some food for thought before running off and spending hundreds of dollars on a game you will never play.  If you are a savvy veteran of the gaming world, what is your story for jumping into the tabletop gaming community?
Next up – How to pick a game. 


Author: K9 Monkey
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