Getting into 40K, or any wargame, can be hard. A little planning and advice can be a big help.
Warhammer 40,000 is a an appealing game to many. Yet getting started in the hobby can be hard. Many players get started and fizzle out quickly, wasting time and money. Many others may find 40K though books or video games, and want to get into the tabletop game but find it too daunting too. I’ve been playing 40K for 20 years now, I’ve done just about everything in the hobby, from owning a store and organizing events to playing in national tournaments, attending cons and producing content here at BoLS. So let me share a few pieces of advice that might hopefully help any new players out there.
N.B. While this advice is aimed at getting into 40K most of it can be applied to any miniatures wargame.
Decide What You Want Out Of 40K
40K is a huge hobby with many aspects to it. People play for a huge number of reasons and want different things out of it. One of the best things a new player can do when getting into the hobby is figure out what they want form it. It can be anything, from just enjoying the game, to painting or coveting models, to finding something to bond with a family member over, to becoming a top notch tournament players.
While there is no need to hyper focus, it can help to have some focus when getting into the game. For instance if you want to work on painting you not need to worry about the meta and can focus on buying units that you like the look of. Someone who just wants to master the competitive scene will need to the opposite. Understanding what you want from the game will help you avoid frustration and wasting money.
Play An Army You Like Because of Background
Picking an army to play is one of the first and most important steps to playing 40K. When figuring out what army to play its tempting for a new play to ask: “What is good?” Don’t do this. The 40K Meta is always changing. What’s good today may be horrible next month or next year. Picking an army based on its current power level will often leave you feeling unattached or uninterested in the force. Unless your goal is to be the best tournament player and you have enough disposable income to constantly buy the best new army, this strategy won’t work and will lead to you burning out.
Instead look at the models. Read the fluff. Find an army that speaks to you. Find the army you can play for 20 years through good and bad times. That will keep you in the game.
Don’t Ask How Good An Army Is, Ask How Easy is it to Collect
This goes along with my point above, but a much better question to ask about a potential army is: “How easy it is to collect?” Alternatively, ask how recently it was updated, how current it is. For instance, Space Marines are always going to be a good army for beginners to start with, it has a big range that is easy to find and collect and is updated regularly. Sisters of Battle on the other hand are not as good an army for new players. It’s a very old outdated army that historically doesn’t get updated often. The models are hard to find (most stores don’t carry them) expensive (ten Battle Sisters cost twice as much as ten Tactical Marines) and often don’t come in the combinations you want (to build a squad with 4 heavy bolters you have to buy a 5 woman squad, 4 individual heavy bolters models and an individual sister of the 10th.) Power level aside this army will be harder to build and get for a new player. If that’s what you really want to do, go for it, but be aware of the challenge.
Plan Your Army Out
It’s a very simple piece of advice, but planning your army out ahead of time will save you time and money in the long run. Many players get into the game and just start randomly picking models to buy and paint. If that works for you, great! But its also inefficient. Planning an army out at the start and slowly building up to up will save you time and money and let you focus on getting stuff you need so you can get playing. Then once you have that core army built you can start branching out.
It can also help to plan you army at different point levels, If your plan is to build a 2000 pts (or 100 PL) army then plan it out, but also plan out 500 pts, 1000 pts and 1500 pts versions of the same (using the same models.). Build the 500 pts army first, then you can get playing right away. Work your way to 1000, then 1500, then finish it. This was you can use the army and play it before the whole thing is finished, and enjoy the game right form the get go.
Make Some Good Friends or Get Yours To Start With You
Playing with friends it always going to make the game more fun. It will also help you keep interested and motived. Playing with people you like and trust and is a great way to learn the game and grow comfortable with it. Find some other new players and learn together.
Go To A Tournament
Even if you don’t want to be a very competitive player, everyone should go to one tournament in their life. Tournaments are a big part of 40K and can be an amazing experience. Try it once at least to see what all the fuss is about.
Find A Community
Maybe some kind of Warhammer Community?
Be it a group at your FLGS or an online community like the BoLS comments section (where only the best people hang out) community will enrich your life. Finding people to hang outwith, play with, and just to talk about the hobby, fluff and tactics is really important. It’s arguably one of the main reasons we play games in person. Finding a good one is key to enjoying the hobby.
Try Out All The Aspects
Not what I meant!
While its good to focus on what you want out of the game, part of finding that it is trying out new stuff. This hobby is huge and has a lot to offer. I wrote about some of those things in my article about avoiding burnout. All that is still true. Explore the game, the setting and the hobby.
Once you’ve found your goal and decided what you want of the game don’t let anyone tell you you have to do X to be in the hobby or enjoy it. Maybe all you want to do is paint. That’s fine, don’t let people convince you you have to play to be a real warhammer nerd. Or maybe you hate painting and just want to push bare plastic around. Thats OK. Don’t let people tell you you have to be a painter to play. Find what makes the game fun and do that, ignore the people on the internet saying you have to be the best at tournaments or that playing in tournaments makes you an ass. It’s you game, find your zen.
Just Do It
I know thats some basic advice but maybe it can help any new players out there. And remember, the most important thing is just to do it. Just play, just collect, get off the fence and jump in with the rest of us, the water is just fine.
Share your advice for new players down in the comments!