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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Discussion: A total newbie needs your help

A break from all the FAQ talk... here's an email in:

"Hi Kirby,

I really like your website. I’ve been making use of it as best I can to try and get a grasp of the game, and I’ve enjoyed many of the articles.

Anyway, I’m a total novice looking to immerse myself in Warhammer 40,000. The problem is, there’s so much information to take in, and it can be a little overwhelming. As a result, I’m really not sure where to start. I want to play competitively, but as far as the hobby side of things is concerned, I want to have a lot to paint and not build up small armies incrementally around a certain type of play.

I figured the best way to do this, was to pick two (very different) armies, and amass about 4,000 to 5,000 points worth of figures in each of them. That way, I will hopefully have the diversity to piece together 500–2000 point armies to play with.

The problem is: I need help doing that, from someone who can explain things to me without all the acronyms and lingo. Which units should be in higher numbers? Which units should be avoided altogether? General advice on how to think about my armies. That sort of thing. I’m hoping you—or someone else who contributes to your site—can do that for me.

I know that one of my armies is going to be Tau: I like the miniatures, and from what little I’ve been able to read up on them, I like their mythology and philosophy. I have no idea what I’d like my second army to be, I just know that I don’t like Orks, I want them to play differently to the Tau, and I want them to be competitive.

So if you could help me piece together a large force of Tau units that would give me some flexibility, and maybe just recommend a few potential second armies to me, I’ve be very appreciative.


Well Reeven, what you've asked is a very broad topic and is determined a lot on what army you play. Currently only the 5th edition books are really capable of having 4000+ points of models and making effective and competitive lists out of those models that aren't always the same. With Tau for example here's all you could ever want for a couple of 2000 point variety lists:
  • 12+ crisis suits
  • 12 Fire Warriors
  • 2 Devilfish
  • 2 Hammerheads
  • 6 Piranhas
  • 8 Pathfinders
  • 6 Broadsides
  • 30 Kroot
  • 14 Kroot Hounds
  • assorted Drones
From there you'd most likely have 3000 points but would be looking at running the same list with some simple modifications each time around. Now when Tau get a new book later this year (or early 2012) this will obviously change and you can add to that force and (hopefully) make many effective armies whilst having an extensive hobby collection.

Otherwise I would recommend Marines for your 2nd army. Marines fit the bill of having lots of points making multiple armies very well because with a bit of modelling expertise, you can make one Marine essentially work for one of five books (Black Templars, Dark Angels, Vanilla, Space Wolves, Blood Angels) and you basically just get the core for each army being the same and buying the extras to make each army unique. You can also fit many playstyles across these five books and multiple army lists so you'll never exactly get bored.

Now with regards with what's good and bad, well a post on that would be long. Too long. I would recommend reading the Tau Review, How To and Armies in 5th articles for them and the same with the Space Marine articles (or if another army has tickled your fancy, read those articles) and ask questions in those posts. This blog is basically around teaching tabletop tactics and army/unit analysis so there is quite a bit of information if you use the back-links which can help you identify the good from the bad. From there the best thing to do is to start writing lists and playtesting. Trial and error not only helps you learn the system and tactics but the actual armies you've chosen and where your list(s) need work. You can proxy models, use Vassal (I would only do this if you have a good grasp of the game and are using the program to test models you otherwise don't own) or borrow a friend's/store's so you can decide if you like the feel or not.

Otherwise I would keep your eyes peeled for the Back-to-Basics series we as a blog are putting together which will hopefully address some of these points. The Armies in 5th basics articles would also be a good place to start. So here's where the community comes in. Any other ideas or comments or assistance for Reeven? I remember when I started out I just bought what was cool and not until much later did I try and design a plan. Whilst this has led to some cool ideas and concepts (which often don't see fruition) it's not exactly a wise investment of money. Having done some plans for my current Marine armies, I've saved a lot of money whilst being able to field a lot of forces from the same pool of models. Not only does this make the missus happy but I really like my Marine force as it doesn't bore me due to multiple armies and books and is very personalised.

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