View Full Version : Warhammer 40k for Dummies.

29-12-2006, 02:52
Okay, As I said in my Introduction thread, I'm completely new to WH40k. I basically know only what can be learned from the webcomic Turn Signals On a Land Raider, and some of the stuff from Wikipedia. So I know a fair bit of fluff, but aside from that, jack.

I'm very interested in getting into the game, but I really don't know much about the different armies and play styles, and every place I've gone on the web (including here, sorry) is not built idiot-friendly. I would just get a book on it, but all the books I see are VERY army specific. I am going to be obtaining a Battle for Macgragge starter kit soon, but I hear its VERY bare bones.

Now I'm not asking for a whole lot, but I am curious about the differences between the armies. I hear each army has its own "feel", both in fluff, style, strategy, and rules. Hopefully I'm not out of line asking for a description of these feels before I pick one :P

Brother Antonios
29-12-2006, 02:58
Pretty much they all feel like plastic, with some metal. Daemonhunters all feel like metal, except for Dreadnaughts and Vehicles. :p

Instead of rewriting whats already been writting just browse the Tactica forum for posts like Tactica Orks, Tactica Eldar, Tactica Daemonhunters, you may have use the sites search features but that's not so hard.

29-12-2006, 03:02
First of all, welcome to the game, mang. Warseer is about your best resource online for anything 40K related since, if it's been done, someone has probably posted it on here, sometime.

Anyways, the Macragge set is an excellent start, and includes a breif overview of each army. The army-specific books contain all of their rules, and are mandatory to play said army. However, the starters don't do a whole lot to cover the playstyles of each army. However, check on the website and the tactics forum for a good general overview.

29-12-2006, 03:03
I thought of that, honestly I did. I didn't think to write it though in the first post. I did search the Tactika threads, and got "No no, don't use the Sluggas, use the Grots!" and "Hmmm.. Do I take this perk with my Hammerhead or that perk?", which while I'm figuring it out to a degree, its still mostly Greek :P

Brother Antonios
29-12-2006, 03:11
Learn what the stats mean, you have to expose yourself to enough Greek before you can learn to speak it, just don't expose the wrong part of yourself, you know what they say about the Greekies! :evilgrin:

29-12-2006, 03:31
There's little point in me listing the qualities of each army - for one thing I don't know much about some of them - but general pointers for choosing an army:

Decide what sort of game you would like to play. If you think you'd like tanks, then Tyranids and Dark Eldar are not going to satisfy you. If you think you'd like to chop your enemies up into little pieces rather than shooting them, then Tau are not top of your list etc.

Spend a long time looking at the models for the armies. You have to buy, build and paint every single one of them you choose for your army. If you think you'd get tired of painting lots of models that look similar, then infantry Imperial Guard or Orks are going to make you sick.

Try reading battle-reports to see how the different armies play. Sure, some are written quite technically, but just soaking up the flavour and looking at the pictures will help you choose.

Have a look at why each army fights. Personally, the whole Eldar mystic enigmatic future-prediction thing doesn't interest me, so I don't play them. I do like Orks though - they fight because they enjoy it, and are driven to do it by their genes and culture. Waargh! If you want to be (fairly) noble and heroic, then probably Marines would suit you.

Hope I've been of some help. Good luck!

29-12-2006, 03:42
You like Green right? I mean, Grass is green, 7-up and sprite cans are green, Money is green.

Orks are Green. They're a bit of a tricky army, but Orkzes iz da biggest and da bestest uv all da armiez

but on a serious note...I'd buy the macragge set and learn to play a bit with a friend, then buy the codex to the army whose minis catch your eye the most, read up on them a bit and make a decision. Remember, buying a codex is not a commitment. I have almost all the Codecies, and i only own 4 armies...but then I've been playing since the days when Krak missiles rolled d20s for armor pen rolls...

29-12-2006, 03:46
What type of army are you looking for?

Modern type Army (think current type armies) then think Imperial Guard
Goody Goody Superhuman Army then you got Space Marines in a barrel
You wnat the "Evil" version of previous example then you got the Chaos Space Marines.
Genetically enhanced "bugs" (think the movie Aliens) then you got Tyranids
Terminator like robots then you got Necrons
The list goes on for each army.

Take some time and look at each of the codexes (however you spell codex in plural) and read the fluff as that can help you out.

Play styles vary greatly even in the same type of armies. I play a daemon heavy, troop heavy (infantry) style of Chaos Space Marines (CSM for short) as opposed to having alot of tanks, terminators, etc.

29-12-2006, 04:25
i opened this post expecting high quality scans of the BGB.

either way, welcome bud.

29-12-2006, 05:44
Since you're getting Marines and 'Nids in the Macragge box, why not get the codex for them both. You can have a look at the other units available, and decide if you fancy either of them. It's a starting point, if nothing else.

EDIT: And don't let anyone put you off starting with Space Marines with sarcastic or dimismissive comments. If you like them, play them.

29-12-2006, 05:56
Hey Paladin 01! I just wanted to say hey and I just started Warhammer40K as well and I also live in Indiana so congrats! Always good to see another person from the Midwest starting 40K. I live in Indy so maybe we can help each other out sometime :D

29-12-2006, 06:07
I'd say that Rhamag's advice has been the most complete.

An army is a very personal choice, and most, if not all of us eventually buy more than one.

My best advice is to plan, and if you have a local shop, GW or not, go down and ask questions. Look at the models people are playing with. Ask them questions between games. (Though make sure you aren't asking the the bottom of the genetic barrel when you do...)

Build the army 500 points at a time. Nothing is more discouraging than 1500 points worth of bare plastic staring you in the face, screaming paint me.

Don't get Warhammer Envy, ie don't stare at the box lid thinking you're crap because you can't get your eldar to look like the 'eavy Metal guys.

Good luck

29-12-2006, 07:36
read my sig

trust me, once you find your army, then you'll be set. ive only played feral orks...well...tyranids for a little bit, but orks mostly. im still building and painting and converting them...this game is so much fun once you get your mindset straight.

good luck!

29-12-2006, 07:43
This should help alot more than most awnsers here have... While actually just the one about plastic and metal. Here is the best place to get an idea of what each army is
I hope this helps you choose. On the second page it has a flash animation thingie that will give you each armies history, play style, advantages/disadvantages.

29-12-2006, 07:59
Part of the problem is that you are asking for more than you realize. I'll try to give a more extensive response. 40k borrows alot of elements from your typical fantasy setting, throws in a few extras, and tosses the entire mix into space. In 40k, there aren't really any "good" guys, and with a few exceptions, it is hard to describe any armies as "evil". In past campaigns, GW has described armies as being a force of order (or good) or disorder (evil).

(simplified, generalized) Summary of main 40k armies:

Space Marines: They come in alot of varieties, but all are aptly described as genetically engineered defenders of humanity. Every marine is an elite soldier. They are tactically very forgiving, thanks in large part to excellent morale and infantry armor. Order army.

Chaos Space Marines: They also come in alot of varieties. They possess many similarities to standard Marines, except these marines turned traitor, and now fight at the behest of, and aid of, dark powers. Daemons and daemonic influence pervade this army. Disorder army

Imperial Guard: If Marines are the elite vanguard of humanity's military, like a surgical scalpel, making precision attacks, then the Imperial Guard is the massive hammer. The army can do two things well: lots and lots of cheap, but effective en-masse, infantry, and tanks. Order army

Eldar: Eldar armies are composed of a variety of units, wherein each unit specializes in a particular aspect of warfare (ie, ranged tank killing), and loses the tactical flexibility to deal with all situations. Eldar armies tend to be very fast, and pack alot of firepower. In exchange, the units are specialized, and tend to be fragile. Order army

Dark Eldar: This army carries a steep learning curve, but can be deadly in the right hands. This Disorder army is at least as fast as standard Eldar, deadly on the assault, but even more fragile (and that's pretty fragile). This isn't an army I'd start with, as the figures can be hard to obtain through standard channels at the moment. Disorder army

Tyranids: This army isn't so much evil as it is...um...hungry. Think of a malevolent, violent any colony in space. The "Aliens" metaphor someone else used is fitting, as would "Starship Troopers" (preferably the book and not the movie). This army tends to specialize in hand-to-hand combat, though it also has ranged options. It is pretty adaptable, able to play as a massive horde, or a few elite units, or a mix of the two. Disorder army

Orks: They're green and mean. Orks used to be the "comedy relief" army of 40k, and still carry some elements of that portrayal, but overall they've been described as more brutish in recent years. The army excels in large numbers and hand-to-hand, though any good ork player will tell you that the sheer number of guns an ork army can bring to bear can make up for their poor shooting skill. Disorder army

Tau: Along with Eldar, the Tau are one of the more technologically advanced races in 40k. The army specializes in shooting, and tends to be very weak in close combat. The signature Tau units are the various battle-suits, which bring a whole new level of ranged firepower, and in most cases mobility, to the army. Order army

Necrons: Necrons are a sentient robot race, embittered toward all life (that's a really oversimplified explanation). The army, model-per-model, is easily the most durable army in 40k. The basic Necron weapons are able to deal with both infantry and vehicles, giving them alot of flexibility. This tends to be a very slow army in terms of movement. This is also one of the cheapest 40k armies to collect, due to the high (in-game) value of each unit. Disorder army.

Those are the main ones. There are other armies, like the various Inquisition forces, but I'll leave those for someone else.

29-12-2006, 09:42
Find the army that looks good to you. Something that makes you go "Wow! I want that!" and go from there. I started because of a single Tau Broadside battlesuit. I didn't like the look of most of the other armies, but nowadays, I consider getting small armies of each.....:rolleyes:

29-12-2006, 10:02
I'll plug the Witchhunters.

Witchhunters - Nuns with Guns

Very Agressive shooting army that's meant to get in your face with flamers and massed small arms. Interesting "Acts of Faith" mechanic allows them to give squads small boosts for a turn, making them a bit better in close combat, or a bit better shooting, or even fearless. Probaly has some of the best mechanised infantry in the game. Can add suicide shock troops, such as Arco-Flaggelants to clean up in Close Combat. List also includes things like Inquisitors and Asassins. Can take Inducted Imperial Guard as allies.

Fluffwise the codex is meant to represent two armies really, the Ordo Hereticus and the Orders Militant of the Imperial Cult. Ordo Hereticus are a branch of the Inquisition which are tasked with the mission of hunting down rebel elements within the Imperium. The execution of rouge psykers is a big part of this, so they have a lot of wargear and weapons that target psykers in particular.

The Orders Militant are comprised of the Sisters of battle. Warrior Nuns equipped with Powered Armor. They fight regularly on wars of faith decreed by the Imperial Cult. Their faith in the immortal God-Emperor of Mankind is so strong that they are capable of performing minor miracles on the battle field: "Acts of Faith". What the sisters lack in long range firepower they more than make up with Flamers, Meltas, and More bolters than you can shake a stick at.

However the Sisters are only mortal humans that have not been augmented. This means they are not as strong or tough as their Marine brethren. So they are somewhat weak in Close Combat. This can however be overcome with the proper use of faith at just the right moment. Additionally, there are other units which are supplied to them by the Imperial Cult which are monsters in CC. For example, Arco-Flagellants, heretics which have been punished for their sins by being turned into half-man half-machine monsters.

The Ordo Hereticus and the Orders Militant work together fairly regularly to expunge the taint of sin from the Imperium. As such you can take them both together in the same army list. Also, you can take allies to represent an inquisitor using his authority to requisition forces. So it's possible to field a Witchhunters force that uses Imperial Guard Regiments or Space Marine Tactical Squads.

Aditionally, From time to time, the Emperor will manifest his divine will through a mortal agent. These mortal agents are known as "Living Saints" an absolute terror to behold on the battlefield. The WH codex has a Living Saint which was a Sister of Battle and you can take as a special character in your army, Saint Celestine.

This is what got me into the army:
It's a Nun!
In Powered Armor!
With a Giant Flamethrower!

29-12-2006, 10:22
I would skip the Battle for Macgragge starter kit and just pick up the main rule book. Inside it you will find a bit of fluff and pictures of all the different army models. I would suggest figuring out which army background and models you like the best and go from there. The next step being, picking up that particular army codex and perhaps a troops choice. The reason is, if you don't like Space Marines or Tyranids you are going to have a bunch of models you don't really want and the templates and dice you can pick up when you get the codex for cheaper than the boxed set. That is just my two bits though. :D Happy gaming.

Rich 123
29-12-2006, 10:41
Firstly, welcome to Warseer!

Conversely the Battle for Macgragge box is quite handy - it has a slimmed down rule set than the normal rule book (all the rules you need but without any of the other background and advanced bits. It comes with some Space Marines and some Tyranids (and an excellent crashed shuttle terrain piece!) and will allow you and, maybe a mate, the chance to have a little game or two with just the contents of the starter box and get a feel for the rules a bit first...

Then based on your experiences of that decide which of the aspects of 40k appeal to you (you never know .... it might be one of the two starter box armies!). From there buy one or other of the many codices of the army that catches your eye as being interesting. The minis (short for miniature - each individual model in an army) are also composed of less parts than the normal kits and so are easy to build if you don't have very much experience with assembling model kits.

Or ....

I have been into the hobby for years, and yet I can count the number of games of 40k (or in fact any wargame) on the fingers of one hand. I am starting to get into the gaming aspect more but what has always been the main draw for me is the minis and the associated building, painting and converting of them (converting is taking the standard minis and altering them with other parts or reposing them, sculpting new parts and so forth to make really individual and personal armies).

This is what I love about it and, as I said, gaming has come many years down the line to me, my entire marine army is converted and if you are interested to see the lengths some people go to in this crazy hobby there is a project log documenting my army, here (http://www.warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31677).

If the actual modelling aspect of the game appeals to you better then I would have to recommend that you just look around on the GW online store and their website and look for some Warseerites project logs here in the Modelling/Painting & Terrain sub-forum for inspiration on which army has the minis that really take your fancy. Pick up a codex for them and some minis and start work on those while absorbing their background. The rulebook, of course, is a vital purchase and has more background than the slimmed down one in the Starter Box but this way you can start more on the modelling/painting aspect of the hobby and gaming with an army you like initially, rather than getting a feel for the game with just the standard minis in the Starter Box.

It really depends which aspect of the hobby appeals more to you initially, do you have any thoughts yet on that? Are you more of a modeller or a gamer?

We'd like to hear what your thoughts are on this, what armies catch your eye and so forth? I would be more than happy to expand on the background and particular style of any of the forces involved in 40k as I'm sure many others would as well, you just need to ask here, or just PM me or contact me on MSN!

And, welcome to the hobby!

29-12-2006, 10:44
Hello paladin, welcome to the unfathomable nonsense that is 40k. Though we could all wax lyrical about our favourite armies, Ill confine myself to what "did it" for me. A few years ago (actually, a lot) I was very into roleplaying and bought white dwarf for its rpg articles. As gw developed into the monster it is today, the mag turned away from rpg's and toward their own wargame product. This turned me off it as there was little I actually read and so I stopped buying it. A while later for want of something to read (no, not on the loo) I took a random dwarf and what did I find? All the fluff for the new eldar aspect warriors! Brilliant stuff, I was hooked. Now I am on about 4000 of them and have moved on to 10000 points of chaos.
The point of this? Well, I think you are going about things in the right way. Talk to people, read the fluff. Sooner or later, something will click and you will have the army for you. Good luck and always remember to give proper respect to the dice gods, venerate them and they will make you great. Or poo on you from a great height of course. Jubilex.

Captain Micha
29-12-2006, 12:59
welcome to the hobby!. While like some others my gaming experience is limited (seems the red-neck hicks 'round here don't play with toys) I've unfortunatly got the 40k bug badly. REALLY badly.

I think what started it for me was just hearing one of my friends talking about it all the time. Then I saw Tau ships in battlefleet gothic. And I was like "oh hell yes" The crisis suits almost made me turn away (and I -still- hate their look so guess what I don't use lol) from them. And as I started assembling models other ideas popped up. Like Imperial Guard... I figured at first it would be nice to just have an army to shoot up. then I got to liking the guard and my plans for them keep getting bigger but I hated absolutly hated the paint scheme in the codex. so at the sime time I bought codex Necrons. bought an immortal, a box of warriors, a tomb spyder, and heavy destroyer and sat on them for a while. then I got another box of warrirors and a destroyer lord. Now I have a monolith and plan on buying the battle force sometime *soon*

I love their sameness. My friends hate it but thats -their- problem. I look at the crons I see alot of -subtle- options.

Point is. go with the first thing that "speaks" to you. Even if it turns out to be a codex that will be unused for anything other than looking at your opponents stuff and 1 or 2 minis. its still a wonderful hobby to get into.

29-12-2006, 13:31
I've been playing Tau for about 6 months now and I just love them.
I started becouse my firend had tried to convince me for an unknown lenght of time. So I looked through his codexes and got totaly stuck when I came to Tau.
A nicely looking army with heavy tanks and heavy, jetpack equiped troops.
I had played a couple of games with a SM army and had found out that i hated close combat, and Tau aren't meant to get close so that became the army I play today.

I still hate close combat and when I get into that situation I can kiss my squad goodbye, but as long as you keep yourself at a bit of distace you can cause some great losses for your opponent.

30-12-2006, 00:39
Okay, I just kind of walked away from this topic for a day or two because I felt too nervous to keep watching it, despite these quality responses.

First, I don't have easy access to a GW place. I live about two hours from the closest GW-friendly place, so I don't have easy access to it, or the models (And I didn't want to walk in like a complete idiot and go HAI GUYS WHATS GOING ON IN THIS ROOM.... like I just did to this forum...)

I live in kind of a desolate vaccum in general, and find gaming hard enough to accomplish at the best of times, though I am an D&D fan. I do have a small collection of other models, and enjoy modifying them. One of the first things that caught me eye for Warhammer 40k, aside from the Toy Story-esque webcomic Turn Signals On A Land Raider, was this picture of Earthworm Jim. In the end though, I'd have to go with gaming, because I can get plenty of other distractions to lose myself into.


As it stands though, I'm showing interest in either the Tau or Necrons. The Imperial Guard sounds interesting, but I hate the drudgery of managing big armies.

30-12-2006, 00:48
Learn what the stats mean, you have to expose yourself to enough Greek before you can learn to speak it, just don't expose the wrong part of yourself, you know what they say about the Greekies! :evilgrin:

Greek, don't you mean geek. Nah we're the coolest folk around...

The best thing to do is go into a store. You an buy the rulebooks and stuff but this is a game which can only really be picked up by playing it. Its abit unfortunate that you live so far away.

30-12-2006, 00:57
I looked up Milan, Indiana. You really are in the middle of nowhere aren't you? I feel for you man. I grew up in South Bend which must seem like a bustling metropolis.

You're relatively close to Cincinnati. You might want to see if there are any game stores on the Indiana side of the border where you can check the game out. Louisville is another option.

If your concern is getting the minis then there are many, many places to order online. However, if no one in your area plays then it can be a really un-fun game.

Some people do collect and paint the minis as a hobby unto itself. That's not what I'm personally in to but it floats some people's boats.

Past that I don't have a lot of advice, sorry :(

30-12-2006, 01:02
Right now, I'd say your best option is to grab a copy of Battle of Macragge and an opponent (another new starter would be good). There's no point all of us shouting "Get an Ork army! No, do Marines! Don't listen to them, collect Ass-Flying Space Monkeys!" if you're still figuring out how to handle movement and shooting. Make sure you've got your head around the basic rule mechanics before you bury yourself in a mountain of plastic sprues for a randomly selected army. If that sounds patronising, then it isn't intended to, its just that you should get used to how the game works first. The BfM set is pretty good at this, as it takes you through the various aspects of the game step by step, and gives you the contrast of a small, heavily armed, elite race (Space Marines) and a fast moving horde of cannon fodder (Nids).

Also, don't listen to anyone who uses the phrase 'starter army' to recommend a particular race (usually Space Marines, but sometimes others). Every army has its own unique quirks and styles which need to be learned, and the worst thing you could do is blow a couple of hundred dollars on an army that you're not particularly interested in, just because you heard it was newbie-friendly.


30-12-2006, 01:21
The whole Greek thing was me making a play on the term "Its all Greek to me"

Yeah. This area is REALLY in the middle of nowhere. Its actually got a problem with social anxiety disorders because of the lack of... anything.

In Cincinatti, maybe an hour and a half away, there is a place that is listed with GW's site, but I've been there, and they maybe have some prepainted minis for sale, and a rulebook, but they're not the best place in any way of consideration in my book. There's a place in Indy, but its 2 hours away :P

Also, I feel incredibly stupid, now that I've gone to GW's site (which to be fair, I heard was horrible to get around) and found most of the information I wanted, though the advice and statements of welcome are most appreciated

30-12-2006, 07:21
It's not much of an advice, but from now it's up to you to decide. There's good advice and nice summaries of how each army is in this thread, but to complicate matters even more you can mae vastly different armies with most codexes (codecii?). Eldar are a good example: you can perfectly build an army where everyone can move 24 inches, or an horde with lots of relatively cheap guardians. You'd need a whole book to detail every single variation and how they feel and play and the miniatures you can use.

I'd continue reading these forums and specially look for battle reports. Also go to the GW sites and read what they have on each army - while the tactical advice isnt normally really good, you'll get nice pics of the models. After you have a clearer advice of what you want to play, either because you have a clear idea of what general strategy you want, or because you fell in love with some particular range of miniatures, then you can come back and ask for some more specific advice.

There was also a thread on gaming via internet a week or two ago. You can search for it, and see if you like the idea if you can't find tabletop opponents or want to try the rules.

30-12-2006, 10:30
Chosing the army is the easiest job to do, All the advice already written is sound, have a look at all the models ranges on the GW website and note which models draws your attention the most. read up on the army introductions and see which ones has the right feel or style.

For me I loved the Howling Banshees and the elegent (if not arrogent) style of the Eldar. now I'm looking at the model conversion potential of the Orks and their rough ****/rag-tag style.

Painting can be seem very daunting at first. but bear in mind that tournament rules only states 'no bare models' and at least 'two basic colors' on each model. if you are new to painting it might be better to get a few metal models to practice your basic painting techniques, block painting, detail painting, highlighting (dry brushing) and low lighting (ink wash), that way if you really make a mess of it, drop it in a jamjar with a little paint stripper, give it a cocktail shake, a quick scub with a old toothbrush and start again.

There is plenty of painting tips on the web and in the local library, don't think minitures painting is restricted to WH40, there is loads of stuff on Nepolionic/historical miniture painting etc. model are different but the technique is the same. you could mass paint your models but you run the risk of ruining a whole box of models in a hour. it may be better to paint them one at a time, try something differnt on each one until you develop your own painting technique, if you paint using thin coats you can easily re-paint any older models once you start to develop a decent standard.

there are only a few simple army styles: armies of numbers, fast armies and heavy armies.
Armies of numbers: use loads of low values models maxed up (i.e. maximum squad size typically 20 models/squad for troop choices). and rely on a swamping advance to over power the enemy.

Fast armies: lots of vehicles, (bikes, skimmers etc.) and jump-pack troops, perfect for flanking (pincer) attacks.

Heavy armies: lots of heavy weapons (S6+ and AP1), tanks and dreadnaughts rely on high toughness values to survive.

Which one is best, none and all of them, its all pretty much 'paper, scissors and stone' really. although heavy armies tend to survive better as low strength weapons wont even scratch a dreadnaught, a thousand troops with S4 weapons would never beat a dreadnaught. in cases such as this your troops are nothing more than cannon fodder, although this is a valid tactic as if a dreadnaught is locked in 'close combat', he is leaving the rest of your army alone, no longer picking off your more elite troops. but on the other hand a single elite squad of Fire Dragons with S8 AP1 weapons in a wave serpent can cut down a dreadnaught in a single turn (you'll need to learn WH40K maths to prove this, but its only for serious gamers).

Although new tournament rules are coming in which clamp the number of heavy choices as this is called army rigging and is classed as unsporting, 'not in the spirit of the game' as they put it.

17-01-2007, 15:12
I suppose I'm a touch late to say welcome aboard, but, well... welcome aboard. You'll soon find that somebody on this site always has the answer to the question you're asking, be it rules-wise or if you're trying to pick someone's brain about a conversion you're thiking about. My advice is to check out the models and buy the ones that appeal to you.