Goatboy has some thoughts on what really is the Best Beginner Army for Warhammer 40,000.
Goatboy here and we all know how this hobby has gotten a bit beastly on the wallet. Building these crazy lists with so many duplicates and other options can become a nightmare for a new player — especially with some of the model shipment issues. Add in complicated rules and it starts to get hard to “learn” on the fly. With that in mind let’s talk about the best starter armies out there.
Will start with probably the easiest to get ahold of miniatures for. The “Plain Jane Space Marines” seem well suited for a beginning player. They are not the best army currently in the game but you have a ton of variety if you want to get in the mix. Plus with some practice you can easily win a lot of your games even against the harder lists. On top of that most of the initial starter sets have the models you need and, with some careful planning, you can build a simple but effective list. The army also benefits you by forcing you to learn how to score missions — unlike some of the other more brutal builds. This isn’t going to be the cheapest army because there are a lot of toys to figure out but it should be the easiest to get.
They are not the most expensive but most likely the easiest army to get ahold of. It also is going to be one of the few armies you can always find used models for. That’s because everyone and their mom that played this game has probably had a Marine army at some point.
Ease of Play:
They are not terribly hard to learn and, in a lot of ways, very forgiving. Their basic troop unit is pretty good, they have some powerful stratagems, and you have abilities to play in all phases of the game. They get a ton of re-rolls sprinkled all over the army and you have access to some powerful characters – thus allowing you to play some hero hammer which can be fun. They also have a good Secondary to pick and can play almost all of the other ones.
Ease of Build/Paint:
Marines are pretty easy to paint up. You can go simple with a very basic flat color scheme, some metallic highlights, and bam you got a done army. They also build pretty easily, too. Most of the kits simple to build barring some weird nonsense with those floating tanks and individual floating plate options. They also have a ton of model selections so you can kit bash some heroes and other options.
Grey Knight Benefits
The next army I think works out as an easy choice for players is one of the newest ones on the block. I also think it fits well into the meta right now as a kind of DE spoiler with its ability to do damage in a lot of phase. Mix in with a super strong secondary and you got a good army to start with. This would be the Grey Knights that just came out. Overall I think it is a pretty strong army, fairly cheap to get into and, while it can be a little bit more complicated, it does run pretty easily as your army choices are not crazy turn by turn.
This is one of those armies where both the new Combat patrol helps out as well as the Hexfire boxed set. You can look around and easily find the main units for a decent cost. The troop boxes you have available also makes 2 troop choices or 2 Fast Attack choices. Really the overall limited options in the book make it cheap to build. The combat patrol only has one kind of stinker unit in it – the Terminators – but you can use those to make some characters as needed for the army.
Ease of Play:
This is probably the hardest of the 3 armies listed here. This is due to needing to order your psychic phase a bit and know when to do your actions or throw a smite or two out. Beyond that there are a few other little stacks like the Tide and Litany combinations that could be hard — but a few practice games should make it easy. You also have an army with mostly the same weapons and this makes it so the pieces are easy to shift around as you roll hits and wounds. Again it also has a very simple to use Secondary that can help bring you that needed extra 15 Secondary points to help push you to the winners circle.
Ease of Build/Paint:
This is the OG of easy to paint armies. There are a ton of sprays available to help get your guys silver. I am working on a 6 Dreadknight army as we speak and have found doing a black primer, Silver Leadbelcher equivalent base, and then a zenith spray of a bright silver to be the easiest. I end up contrast washing it with the Black Templar and it has that nice dark look I want. Dry brush a brighter silver and we got the base scheme. Throw in some highlight colors on the shoulder pads, arms, get a simple power sword scheme, mix in some gold, and you’ve got a cohesive army. It’s these simple little things that can make this go from a chore to a simple enough process to get done.
Death Guard Benefits
The last army is another Marine army — but this time for the bad guys. The Death Guard are another powerful option to pick as they can be easy to pick up, easy to build/paint, and then easy enough to play. The Models are tough and with a nice set of re-rolls and other options you get a powerfully easy army to build and play with.
Games Workshop has introduced a lot of kits. Death Guard had a starter set that had them and people collected a lot of them so they should be easy to find. You can easily make an army that has some guys in Rhinos, a lot of Terminator options, and a sprinkling of characters. You’ll end up with something unique. They even have some Forgeworld goodness if you want to go there — or figure a way to covert things out of the plastic Contemptor and gross weird cannon options. It is in the realm of Marines in cost but it is still cheaper than a lot of Xenos options or Ad Mech nonsense we see on the table top.
Ease of Play:
Tough models with re-rolls to hit means this army will be forgiving if you move things incorrectly. This seems to be the biggest benefit to any army — having good re-rolls and enough wounds to survive being out of place for a turn. Their Secondaries can be ok but you really need to plan on how your army works to ensure you get the most out of it. I also think the army sits in a nice low model count and good damage counter balance to reward smarter play. These are good things to allow for a player to get better and reward practice.
Ease of Build/Paint:
This army is simple to build because any mistake you can easily green stuff a boil on and you got a winner. My current “go-to easy scheme” is to use Death Guard Green over all the model, pick out some metal I want to pick out, color the flesh with a tone, and then wash it a dark green/army painter Military shader (Green, Black, Brown). This brings all the greens to the model I want. Then I pick out some lighter colors, highlight some flesh, and do some sponge damage to the metallics. It is a very relaxing paint job and rewards doing each part as a stage. You can add in more work as needed.
I know I listed 3 Marine body based armies but those are truly the cheapest and easiest armies to build and paint. The Xenos side of things you could look at Dark Eldar as the next one as it is the newest and its Battleforce Box is pretty good to start with. I also like Sisters but it is not a cheap army to dive into even though we had some snap fit options and everything being plastic and available. Orks are also not looking too crazy — if you don’t go into the meta buster buggy builds and instead want to build something balanced and all over the place. I will post my Grey Knight army when it is finished with all the player cards and other fun things I make to let me not do too terrible when I bring it to the GW Nola event.
Space Marines, Grey Knights, and Death Guard – What’s a good easy starter army you’d recommend to a friend?