Latest Post

Beginners Guide to Warhammer 40K

I've been asked this question a lot, not only in my capacity as a school club runner, and de facto Warhammer Coach, but also in comments on the blog.

In fact, this is a comment from Lucas H. in response to my post on the latest 8th Edition starter kits:

Hello, my name is Lucas. I'm very new to Warhammer and I want to start playing! I've read your article and it does help a lot but I'm still very confused on where I should start. I have any budget and it doesn't matter how long it takes me to get ready to play.The reason I'm confused is because there are so many ways to start advertised, I have no clue where to go with it. I saw the three starter kits here and the book, but now I also saw these new easy to hold boxes coming out. I honestly have no clue how to play or build a proper army, so I should probably pick up the new handbook, but any help on where to start would be appreciated! :)

Don't worry Lucas, I took the liberty of removing the spelling errors. Auto correct on mobiles is a pain in the neck.

I'll be keeping a running total of costs at the end of each section so you can plan how many pennies to save, and you may discover that this hobby is cheaper than you thought!

warhammer 40k beginners guide 2017 8th edition

The First Step

Locate your Friendly Local Games Workshop (FLGW), or the more generic Friendly Local Game Shop (FLGS).

The manager there is tasked with selling you toy soldiers, and will not only help you exchange vast sums of money for small pieces of finely moulded plastic, but will also give you a support network of real people to play with. As much as I'd like this blog to help hobbyists, students and teachers, there's really no substitute for genuine human interaction and guidance.

The First Purchase

There are three options right now with a place to start in Warhammer 40K, and the best for raw beginners is First Strike.

beginners guide to warhammer 40k first strike
The best for raw beginners
There are a number of reasons why:

  • Cheap. It's £25 for 15 models, a board, some cardboard terrain and all the rules you need to start playing.
  • Quick. These models are all snap fit, meaning you can be playing in about 30 minutes from opening the box.
  • Self-contained. As these are snap-fit with coloured plastic, you only need a decent pair of scissors to put together the models without buying a hobby kit to go with it. No glue needed.
  • Easy to learn. There's the core rule book and some starter scenarios to teach you how to play.

This is a really good starting point, and clear competition for other starter kits on the market. You can easily compare this to X-Wing Miniaturs game core game pack... but I'd argue you get more value for money with this. More miniatures, and frankly more interaction time of you go to the next step.

Cost for this stage: £25
Total costs: £25

The Second Purchase

After you've played some games, you're probably sick of looking at blue and green plastic. It's time to get some paints, and get into the hobby part of the hobby.

warhammer 40K beginners guide paint set
Actually this is a place holder...
The best value for money is usually one of these Citadel Essentials kits, but I can't find them on the GW web store anymore. Even the one above is "Temporarily Out of Stock". If I were a betting man I'd say they were gearing up for a new Essentials kit in the future.

If they don't release one, you're going to have to buy yourself one of the paint kits available for the two factions you have. 

warhammer 40k beginners guide painting 2
If you like Ultramarines
You'll also want to get yourself a spray can for undercoating. This will either be a black or white, depending on if you have darker moodier colours, or brighter colours that stand out. If you can't decide between the two, a lot of painters opt for Mechanicus Grey as a base spray, and will do the job just as well as the black or white sprays.

Find some of the handy painting guides on Warhammer TV, on this blog, or anywhere else online. If you can find a guide which does dry brushing, then that will tend to be easier for a newbie to get good results with.

warhammer 40k beginners guide spray paint
Citadel spray is a little more expensive but reliable

Assuming you got yourself a spray and the essentials kit:

Costs for this stage: £32.75
Total costs: £57.75

The Third Purchase

This is where you make a choice, and frankly where the beginners guide ends.If you like Primaris Space Marines, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, or even Space Wolves, you can't go wrong getting either Know No Fear or Dark Imperium. The same goes if you find yourself drawn to the Death Guard:

warhammer 40k beginners guide know no fear
£50 Upgrade

warhammer 40k beginners guide dark imperium
£95 Upgrade
These two boxes will give you more models to fill out either a Space Marine force or a Death Guard vectorium, and will make full use of the paints you've already bought. The models themselves aren't snap fit, but only have limited ways in which they can be put together. As far as I can remember, the only choices you have are which way some of the Space Marines look.

The choice you have to make here is between more models and the rule book in Dark Imperium, or less models with terrain and battle mat in Know No Fear.

Since there's plenty of overlap between these two kits, it's really a case of either/or. You may think that you have some odd numbers of models from First Strike, but those can be your first attempts at painting, and therefore don't need to be all that neat. The models in these can be your real armies.

But what if you don't like Death Guard or Space Marines? 

Well then you can look at the other Factions, and their Start Collecting! kits.

warhammer 40k beginners guide start collecting tau
These are Tau
These kits are about £50, but you may well need to get some extra paints for them. You'll also need to pick up the appropriate Index book:

warhammer 40k beginners guide index
Make sure you get the right one! They're £15 each
You may also want to buy the Warhammer 40K Rule book. You won't need this for Core rules, so it's by no means a necessary purchase. However, it will have advance rules of play, and a bucket load more scenarios to play.

warhammer 40k beginners guide rule book
£35 book
You'll need to buy this if you go the Know no Fear route as well, as it only comes in Dark Imperium.

This stage costs:
Know No Fear + Rule Book = £85
Dark Imperium = £95
Start Collecting Kit + Index + Rule Book = £100

Total Running Costs = £142.75 - £157.75

And beyond!

At this point you're no longer a beginner. You will have either one big army under your belt, or two patrol armies. Where you go from there will be entirely up to you. Not only that, but you will successfully started a new hobby for about half the price of getting into console gaming!

If you're desperate to start, repeat the First Step up there, or head on over to Games Workshop's Webstore.

But if you're looking to reduce the costs of the hobby a bit, here are two places you can get cheaper prices:

Wayland Games
Wayland Games is actually one of the more reliable sites I've bought from, and are pretty cheap. As with every third-party purchasing site, you need to be patient when you order. They'll usually take a week to deliver, and don't stock everything all the time.

Also, by using the link above, I get a small percentage of whatever you buy from them. If you found this post helpful, you can give me a "tip" for my troubles from purchasing through that link. I run this blog partly to pay for the things I buy out of my own pocket for my school's club. Anything you buy using that link puts paint in the hands of kids who ordinarily couldn't afford to get into this hobby.

The next website is one I haven't used personally yet, but comes well recommended:

Element Games

As above, any purchase you make through that link gives me a little percentage of the value of what you get. Buying Dark Imperium through that link will let me replenish our supply of Leadbelcher, which is going to cost me personally as last terms budget was spent buying index books and the new rules.

Like before, this is if you're rick on time and not on cash. You'll need to wait a bit longer to get your orders from this site, but 15-25% of a £95 box set is probably worth waiting for!

If you're still with me at this point, and haven't disappeared off to the shops, thank you for sticking with me this long. If you discovered this blog through Google, please bookmark me and visit back a often as possible. My mission is to support hobbyists, students and teachers as they go on their Warhammer journeys. Maybe you'll find something helpful here too!

Thanks for reading.

If you liked what you saw, and you want to help out, please leave a comment. Sharing this with your friends, and following me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ would also be hugely appreciated.

If you have anything you want me to look at, let me know in the comments below. I'll probably be able to write an article about that topic within a day!

If you really love what I do here, you can make a one off donation at my PayPal, or become a true hero to table top education and make a regular donation to my Patreon. Every Little helps!


  1. Thank you for posting this. Very informative. Breaks down the entry for new comers.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad you found it useful.

  2. I never said this but thank you for making this guide! I just ordered first strike and am currently loving it!

    1. Glad to help, and even more glad you're enjoying First Strike!

  3. Hey great guide thanks for taking the time to make it and share it with us all !!!

    1. Thanks for the comment, I hope the guide is useful!

  4. Thank you very much for the guide!

    1. You're very welcome, and thanks for the comment!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Primaris Space Marine Paint Planner

Painting Guide: Blood Angels, perfecting the colour scheme

Space Marine Unit Spotlight: An Inceptor Review