Getting Started in Warhammer 40,000

 A guest article from Robert Chandler on starting our awesome hobby!

So, your buddy has been bugging you for weeks now to check out this game Warhammer 40,000.  He’s shown you his miniatures, and given you a run down on how the game is played, and it looks cool to you.  You’ve made the decision to jump in on this craziness that is Warhammer 40,000.  How do you get started?  What armies should you choose to play?  How do you learn how to play the game?  It can be a daunting idea jumping into such an immersive hobby, but also very worthwhile and rewarding.  

The best place to begin your journey into the world of the 41st millennium is via your friendly local game store.  These places will have all the tools you need to break into our amazing hobby.  What exactly will you need?  Let’s cover that:

  • 6 sided dice….lots of them.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 rulebook for 7th edition.
  • Templates
  • Miniatures
  • Basic paint, plastic glue, and hobby kits

Warhammer 40,000 uses the six sided dice as its core dice mechanic.  Every roll you make while playing the game will utilize one or more (often many more) six sided die.  You can buy these in large quantities and they are fairly inexpensive.  There is a good chance your friendly local game store will have plenty to choose from.

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The rulebook for the game can be purchased in a number of ways.  There is a hardcover version available in a three book slipcase format which includes the rules of play and two other books going over the backgrounds of all the armies as well as pictures of painted armies to give you inspiration when painting your own force.  All three of these books are beautifully illustrated.  In addition to the hardcover version, you can pick up a digital version for your iPad or tablet via games workshops official site.  Probably the most affordable way to get the rulebook is through the Dark Vengeance starter set (more about this below), which includes a smaller, paperback copy of the rules. 

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The game uses templates in various stages of gameplay.  These can also be found in your local game store sold in a pack together.  They can also be found in the Dark Vengeance starter box. 

Miniatures are, of course, the key component of the game and probably will be the most significant investment when you’re just starting out.  It’s important to select the army which appeals to you.  Most veterans of the game selected their first army from sheer aesthetics alone.  I recommend having a look through the various factions of the game, reading some background info on them, and deciding what faction suits your particular flavor.  Check out the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 webstore and have a look through all the factions and their models.  Another option, as mentioned previously, is the Dark Vengeance starter box.  This box is a great way to get into the game as it includes two starter armies, rules, templates, and even some dice to get you started in the game.  For under $200, Dark Vengeance is the most cost effective way to break into Warhammer 40,000.  

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In addition, Games Workshop has several “Start Collecting Now” kits with 2-3 units and a leader with rules for those units ready to play out of the box (you’ll still need the basic rulebook however).  These are a great value for anyone looking to break into the hobby or start a new army. 

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Finally, once you’ve picked up your dice, rulebook, templates, and you’ve decided which army you want to play, it’s time to pick up some paints and brushes.  Games Workshop makes a great starter build and paint set including plastic glue (a must have for assembling your miniatures), clippers to clip them off of their sprues, a starter paint brush, and 13 different paints.  If hobbying and painting is your thing, there are tons of video tutorials on YouTube you can watch to improve your skills as a painter.  There is nothing quite as rewarding being a Warhammer 40,000 player as having a beautifully fully painted army to put out on the table.

Warhammer 40,000 is an exciting hobby.  I would urge any new player to take caution when jumping into the game.  Start by getting a demo from your local game store.  Read various websites on the background and lore of the game’s setting, which is vast.  Warhammer 40k wikia is a great place to start as well as any of the Black Library Warhammer 40,000 novels.  Decide which faction interests you the most, and go from there.  Pick up a copy of the rules, and read them.  Learn how an army is constructed in the rulebook and pick your faction.  As a starting player just getting in, picking your first faction will probably be the biggest decision you make.  It can seem overwhelming at first, but with some patience and dedication, you will probably find it is one of the most rewarding hobbies in the world.

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!

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About Jason

Raw Dogger, aka, Phat J Sleaze (formerly of the Booty Boyzzz) is a highly opinionated, questionably skilled 40k enthusiast. When not working at Frontline Gaming, he can be found down on Jabroni Avenue.

3 Responses to “Getting Started in Warhammer 40,000”

  1. gvcolor August 1, 2016 10:19 am
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    Solid article – We started with 40K when Dark Vengence came out – the play-throughs helped a lot and the models are good, the price is fair.

    Joining a game group, yes. If I started now I would pickup a Start Collecting set that I liked and a digital or mini-size version of the rule book and go from there. A downside of a gaming group, is that although everyone is helpful you can be barraged with information within 5-minutes and it becomes overload. The ideal is having someone that knows the game, really take you through the steps and be in the position of teaching the game, rather then playing against you!

    The most overwhelming thing for me when I started with 40K besides the rules, was looking at five different weapon options and deciding how to equip the models… then reading “oh, it depends on how you’re going to use them.” Haha, when you really have no idea about that yet.

    • Chandler August 1, 2016 1:02 pm
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      Thanks for the feedback and I agree completely. Fortunately I had the fortune to learn the basic mechanics from a small group of friends and slowly built from there. Battle boxes were amazing values at the time really and GW has stepped up with the start collecting boxes giving players ready to play armies right out the gate. 40k can be really overwhelming for a new player I think especially considering how scattered about all the rules and datasheets are now in various books and codices and what have you. Honestly I feel that right now it’s not really favorable towards the newbie but I think they realize that and are taking steps to fix it.

  2. Heldericht August 1, 2016 3:42 pm
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    This question “Where do I start” for 40k, gets posted multiple times a day, pretty much every day on the 40k subreddit. It’s good to have an article I can just link to next time it pops up, instead of writing multiple paragraphs. Thanks!