The Warhammer 40K miniatures game is a massive and rich setting. It is simultaneously a wonderful hobby to take up and can be daunting for new players. With over a dozen factions, a host of unique playstyles and a massive variety of miniatures, getting started can be overwhelming. If you are brand new to this hobby, have no fear though. I’ll break down the various ways of getting started with Warhammer 40k and have you fielding your minis against your friends in no time!
1) The Editions box set
The best way into 40K, especially if you have a friend that is interested, is with the main box set released with each edition. At the time of writing this article, we are in the 8th edition and its accompanying box set is pictured above. It includes 2 forces of equal power, supplement books for each that has the background story and information to play with their units. The models themselves are monopose figures, which are designed to go together only one way. This makes them incredibly easy and quick to put together, though you will still need clippers and glue.
On the supplies side, you get dice, a ruler, and a pamphlet with the core rules to get you started. You also get the hardcover core rulebook for 40K, which has scenarios and additional rules to play with if you’d like. The core book also has an introduction to all of the factions of Warhammer 40K. This allows you to see what else is available to claim your gaming table as home.
This box set is a great value, though there are a few drawbacks. If neither faction interests you, there is no point in buying it. There are other options for you. If you split this set with a friend, you only get one core rulebook so you will have to share. Finally, the monopose figures are wonderful sculpts, but if you get more than one box you will have duplicate models. This bothers some but is a matter of personal preference.
2) Special limited box sets
Where the main edition box set is geared towards the very beginning players the special box sets offer an additional variety of factions as well as kits that can be made in a variety of ways. Often accompanying the release of new models, these sets (such as the Prophecy of the Wolf shown above) offer players another entry into the hobby that is great for friends.
The downside of these boxes is that they are limited products. It can be difficult to find them once Games Workshop stops offering them. However, there is usually one available at all times. Seeing which one is available and asking at your friendly local game store can get you and a friend an awesome jumping-off point into your 40K career.
3) Start Collecting Boxes
As the name implies, these boxes are designed for someone who wants to start collecting a 40K army. The boxes will generally include a leader, an infantry unit, and a heavy support choice. Like the special box sets mentioned previously, the Start Collecting boxes include full kits for each unit in the box. This allows you to customize their looks and have different loadouts based on how you want to play. This also means that getting multiple Start Collecting boxes can be a great way to build up your force while still having a variety of units on the field.
I can honestly say that the Start Collecting boxes are some of the best places to start. However, there are a few qualms that I have with them. The biggest is that, while there are many available, not every faction has a Start Collecting box yet. Furthermore, the boxes are not all equal. Some are better value than others, and if you and a friend were to pick one up each, you could find yourself slightly under or overpowered right out of the box.
4) Slow Grow
Sometimes, picking up one of the bigger boxes isn’t an option at the time. If so, I’d recommend the Codex for the faction that interests you. The Codex will have all of the information about your faction and rules regarding their units. Aim to pick up a leader, known as an HQ, and two troops units. Make sure you think the HQ is cool and has some interesting abilities. The troops are your armies backbone, but there aren’t usually many options for troops. If your faction does have a variety of troops, try to pick some that work well with your HQ. From there, get either a heavy-support or elite unit. These will generally be more specialized but offer more punch to your growing army. Again, picking a unit that works with your HQ will give you a great deal of fun in your games.
Once you’ve had some experience playing with this small force, you’ll have seen the strengths and weaknesses of your faction. With that in mind, you can move forward and pick up new units as you see fit.
5) Seasonal Battleforces
These boxes are, in my opinion, the best starting place for an individual player. They offer a large selection of models for a faction, allowing a new player to dive into the deep end of the hobby right off the bat. They are usually only released during the holidays and their stock can sell out very quickly. However, checking in with your local game store can gain you a solid start to your 40K force!
Whatever you choose, my advice would be to go to your FLGS, get some demo games in and see how the various factions play. Once you’ve seen how the different armies deal with their foes, pick one that interests you the most and get its codex. You’ll get to learn all about your chosen faction, how they organize their forces, and most importantly, how they crush their enemies! From there, pick which of the above options best suits you, and start your journey in this wonderful hobby of Warhammer 40K.