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Warhammer 40k, How to build an army: The First Step

Starting off in Warhammer 40K can be confusing for students, and can be even more confusing at competitive levels. At a certain point, the young neophytes are going to want to build their own armies. But where to begin?

The best advice you can give is this: Buy the models you like.

Theory crafting an optimization aside, if you love the look of a model you are going to find a way to make it work. Right now, grav-biker Space Marines are a very strong option, but you won't find many people running out to buy them. They're a bit of a pain to construct as there are no kits for them, and the poses on most of the stock models are rather static.

This is why you'll find them in very competitive lists, but not so much in friendly matches. They're a bit of a hassle for the average person, and only tourney types and people who love the bikes are making them.

Contrast this with Eldar scatter bikes, who have a modern and easily obtained model for the tactic. You find them everywhere, and them appearing in the Start Collecting kit is only helping their proliferation.

Here's the thing; for your first army you need to get models you want to stare at. When you begin you'll be new at painting, and are going to be spending an awful lot of time with these little chunks of plastic. If you only kind of like the models, you won't be motivated to keep painting them. Make sure you like the look of them in grey plastic, since they might be that way for a while.

The second thing you need to consider is availability. Conversion jobs look great, and there are some units out there that can only be done this way. The problem is that if you're a new player you won't have the bits to make them. What you'll end up doing is buying two or three kits to get one unit out that you want. Again, grav-biker marines are a good example of this. You need the bike kit, along with a tactical or sternguard box to get the grav guns.

Whilst these projects can be fun and rewarding. your first army should be tabletop ready in preferably the first weekend after purchase. Getting them to table will be a struggle, and you're going to encounter all sorts of problems in buying paints and working out how to do things properly... you don't want extra complications on top of this.

So, two pieces of advice:

  • Get good looking models
  • Get easy to build/find models
One final bit of advice: Your first army will suck, and suck hard. 

No one ever was Sun Tzu straight away, and it will take a few dozen humiliating defeats before you really get a grip of the game. So don't stress yourself about getting the perfect list straight away. The glacial way the meta moves in tabletop gaming means that there's always room, even for weaker lists to gain victory whilst people learn how to use the latest cheese.

That's all for now. Basics will be coming up under the Build an army tag.

Thanks for reading.

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