Advice: Starting Armies for new fantasy players guide
This is intended to be different from the above armies summary, and is aimed at laying out some good starting armies.
This is not intended to pick to most powerful ungodly armies, but the ones are are new user friendly. In fact I shoo slightly away from two of the three tier one armies, as they play very differently.
Organized in alphabetical order. Grades are assigned as how they rank for a new player to the game.
Beasts of Chaos:
In short, right now... I'd stay away from them. Having lost many of their options, older rules for how they rank up, etc... leaves them at a severe disadvantage. If you *really* like them, then you go for them... just understand you will be challenged. On the plus side, it will force you to develop your tactics more than other armies will.
They are fairly easy to understand the basic concept of the army (Charge), and are pretty durable. They do require a little bit of talent stiil, but that's quickly developed. They have some mild flexibility via their peasants, and the peasants are not to be underestimated.
Painting can be a bit daunting at first, though this can me made easier by switching between 3 main colors or painting them the same in groups of three or four.
Background is pretty easy to familiarize yourself with, as it's based off Arthurian legend/Medieval France.
They are also likely to get an update 2010-2011.
Grade: B- for Beginners. They're forgiving in some ways, but experienced players will be able to pose a challenge.
They have been rather recently updated (2008), so you'll be playing with the same book for years... which is good.
They, unlike the other tier 1 armies, are a very flexible list. You can make a soft/friendly army easily enough... or a very hard edged tournament list... and anywhere in between.
They can be aggressive, defensive... fast/slow... magic heavy/light... shooting heavy/light. Plus they have other options as well.
They have some newer sculpts (Cold One Knights) which are absolutely stunning. They have a well developed story behind them that can also hold your interest.
A small advantage: If you're clever enough... with the right paint job and figure selection... I have seen a lot of people find a way to cross use their units with High Elves. Just be a little careful about that, so people can understand what is what. Not all units can crossover, but several can. So you can have a 2nd army already in the works.
They can be fairly forgiving with above average leadership, and hatred.
Demons of Chaos
A very powerful army. Mount them on square bases, and I know a lot of 40k players will let use run them in 40k for casual games. So that helps you get into both. However they're not nearly as powerful in 40k.
Going multigod will give you flexibility, but many fantasy players will frown on that... possibly getting some mild attitudes or (in a tournament setting) low composition scores as that will be seen as "cheesey". Going monogod, is much more thematic and received much better... but can be a bit limiting.
They are VERY forgiving for tactical errors. Going monogod will make you think more tactically... which why I'd recommend that route personally.
Demons are a touchy subject right now, as people have a wide range of views.
Grade: If you go more thematic (not necessarily monogod): A If you go multigod/optimal unit selection: B- only because of how many people will react.
If in doubt, ask folks in your own gaming area for advice... as you can get an idea of how demons are seen. Some will just say "Whatever, bring it and let's play!" Some will say "As long as it looks cool" or "has a cool theme" they'll be fine with it.
If you like solid, determined blocks of infantry then you can look here. Right now, however, I would suggest that you has best like Dwarfs quite a bit. They can compete, but they have a very hard time of it right now.
While they have several different war machines and infantry blocks, they don't have the flexibility an army should have for beginners.
They also have no magic.
Their armor, toughness, and leadership is forgiving... however.
They have some similarities to Empire... they can field big blocks of infantry and guns. However, unlike Dwarfs, they have quite a bit of flexibility. They have cavalry, magic, some wild troops. They have elites and rabble as well.
While their infantry is not as good as Dwarfs, and their knights not the deadliest... they do have good guns. They can be played in so many different ways, that they can probably be run to a playstyle you like.
Their book is updated for the new edition, some say it is a bit weak... but others say no. They can still compete, but you will have to think more about them. Not quite a finesse army, but certainly one for the thinking man.
Their ASF rule is an advantage, but I advise you do not get to used to it if you intend to build other armies. They tend to be magic heavy, so you will learn the ins and outs of magic most certainly.
They have a little bit of flexibility. A lot of tournament players play similar lists, but there is some variety... just not much. For casual games, however, you will be able to field a wider variety and still have fun.
A small advantage: If you're clever enough... with the right paint job and figure selection... I have seen a lot of people find a way to cross use their units with Dark Elves. Just be a little careful about that, so people can understand what is what. Not all units can crossover, but several can. So you can have a 2nd army already in the works.
Their rules are up to date, and do reflect the current trend.
Most recently updated army. It's a fairly flexible list, though not as flexible as Empire, Dark Elves, or Warriors of Chaos. The base troops (Saurus) are very solid and good in combat. The Cold Blooded Rule is fairly forgiving.
They can go magic heavy, or light. Which is nice as it allows you to tinker with magic and have the level you like.
Painting can get dry, but you can spice it up with different spawnings for each unit... basically warriors blessed by the different Lizardmen gods.
They're not hard to use, but not brainless either.
While I know some people just love these guys, I only recommend these for experienced players. The army is unforgiving for mistakes, and requires finesse.
The only advantage is the low model count will be easy to paint.
Grade: Gaming wise: F Hobby wise: D+/C-
Orcs & Goblins
The attitude of this army is perfect for "Beer and pretzal" gamers. If you're looking for a laugh, than this army is just fine. They're certainly not the strongest army, they are considered to be in the lower tiers right now... but it will force your tactical skills to develop especially since the army can not do what you want it to do at times.
If like an army that you can control and focus... avoid them. If you like a challenge, but not a hopeless fight... they're good for that.
The other disadvantage is: They play a bit differently than other armies. While the tactical skill will carry over... it will feel very different.
They're due for an update soon. So I'd slowly get into them if you pick them as what is good now... might not be good with the new book (or vice versa)... or could be the same. Plus the new figures might be really cool.
This is a horde army. Otherwise read as: expensive. Which will make it harder to get into the game as it will be a bigger draw on your wallet, and frustrating if you find you don't like them.
Like Orcs, they are a bit of a Beer and Pretzals army. They have a lot of humor to them, and can be a quite a treat to play.
Tactically, with the *current* book (before the upcoming update) they do require an experienced general guiding them. This could change with the upcoming book, however.
I would recommend this army as a 2nd army or for experienced players. While I personally find them very cool and fun, they are not a beginners army.
This army is a bit older, and most would agree in need of an update. While they are somewhat forgiving in that they are undead... this can be a liability against troops deadly in close combat as you can't raise figures to the same extent as Vampire Counts.
They are a bit of a finesse army, but can be made to work. However, I think an experienced general is needed for this. Magic, however, as long as you do it in the right order is very simple and perfectly reliable... but a knowledge player will be able to counter effectively.
Background wise, they are very easy to get into being based off Ancient Egypt.
The heirophant can be a bit of a liability.
The main advantage right now is... you can cross use a lot with Vampire Counts. If you theme your VC as Lahmian vampires and paint them/base them as being desert/Egyptian style... you can switch between the two. Letting you work on two armies at much less of cost (some units, however are hard to cross over). Skeletons, Tomb Guard, and Skeleton Horsemen are easy enough to cross use though.
Grade: D-... though if you cross use with VC... D+/C-
I'm not getting into the whole debate of who is nastier Vampires Counts or Demons of Chaos, as there is no true consensus. I will not even state my personal opinion on the matter. They have a wider variety to choose from than DoC is about all I will say.
Very forgiving being undead. They can allow for tactical mistakes and let you survive. They can get to be a horde with all the zombies, but this doesn't automatically make them expensive as unlike Skaven... you can have zombies/skeletons emerging from the grave (IE: A hand sticking out of the ground, etc). Basically, take all the spare bits you have and use them! You just need to buy bases, which are not that pricey.
They will be a magic heavy army, normally. They can be run with medium magic, but you're trending to a more elite/fighty army at that point.
The one thing you need to know about VC is the general is perhaps the single most important figure in your army. Keep him alive at all costs!
Warriors of Chaos
Very recently updated, meaning you will be able to get used to the rules. They have quite a bit of a variety in units, and the ability to give them upgrades via marks emphasizes this even more. They can be mobile, or based off infantry (marauder horde... or several solid Chaos Warrior blocks)
They're a very close combat orientated army. A few units let them develop their tactics (Spawn) fairly nicely, and some help with buffing the other units (War Shrine).
Overall decent leadership, and except for marauders... pretty solid in combat.
Disadvantage: No figures as of yet for the War Shrine or Forsaken! You will have to convert them up.
A very mobile list. Not a lot of flexibility, but not terrible either. They rely a lot on shooting or maneuvering. For someone who is new, this is not the best combination. Their magic tends to be low as well.
I hope this helps figure out what army is better for beginners. This is intended as more of a general over view aimed at beginners.
I did not include Dogs of War, or Chaos Dwarfs (despite my liking both) for a large number of reasons including their questionable status of if they are allowed or not.
Chaos Dwarfs: Wins/Loss/Draw 20/13/7
Wastelanders (Chaos Space Marines): Wins/Loss/Draw 8/3/5