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The Son of Horus 02-23-08 08:34 PM

Picking An Army
I've seen a lot of threads popping up lately about picking a new army, so I thought I'd make a sticky topic with some general guidelines for deciding where to throw your lot in the 41st Millenium.

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you get started.

-How much am I willing to spend?

-How big an army do I want / how big an army do I need to play at the size my group plays at?

-Which models do I like?

-Am I more concerned about winning the game at all costs, or am I out for a good time?

-Am I a painter/modeller before a gamer, or a gamer before a painter/modeller?

-How long have I been involved in the GW hobby?

Financially, any army CAN be easy on your wallet, as these things go. Necrons are by far the most inexpensive army to build financially, as the Battle Force boxes contain pretty much everything you'll need. It's just a question of how many Battle Forces you'll need to build your army to the appropriate size, and then getting a couple Necron Lords. Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines of all flavors are probably the next in line on the financial ladder, followed then by pretty much everyone else.

I've found that in short order, you'll lose interest in an army if you think their models are lame, even if they play really well. There are no bad armies in the game in a gaming sense, so you might as well pick something you'll like modelling, painting, and having to look at.

Your choice of models, when you've selected your army, is really a question of whether you're building an army list specifically to win, or if you'd just as soon build some units to a vague points cost, figure out the concrete details later, and have fun with it. If your approach is a more competitive one, then you'll probably be happier building the army to a pre-set army list that's been designed to take on all comers equally well, using the trump cards that the given army has to offer. A more casual approach often leaves you with more models that you won't use every game, but also tends to make a more fluffy army in the end.

Some models are simply harder to paint than others. If you fancy a challenge painting, Eldar might be up your alley. If you're not much for modelling and painting, then Necrons might be for you. Some people are bothered by not having painted armies, some aren't. It's a question of how much work you want to put into the army, and whether or not you consider it a chore. Armies that are painted because you like to paint come out looking far sharper on average, but you can still make a very good looking Space Marine, Tau, or Necron army without putting a whole lot of effort into the models if you aren't too big on the hobby side of the hobby.

Picking the right army for your experience helps out a fair bit as well. Here's a rough breakdown of how I look at armies overall, in terms of learning curve, ease of modelling, and whatnot.

Chaos Space Marines-- Very easy to learn, though difficult to master. A great starting point in the hobby, as you're free to paint them and model them however you like-- wacky things don't look too out of place most of the time, so if you screw up on a model, no one is likely to notice. Financially, Chaos is on the cheaper end of things as well. On the table, a Chaos army's advantages are good armor saves, exceptional close combat ability, and excellent basic troops; while their disadvantages tend to be a low model count. Chaos Space Marines are individually extremely tactically flexible, as they're armed with a boltgun, bolt pistol, and close combat weapon. In 5th Edition, this lets them easily adapt to either a more ranged firefight or fight in close combat as needed-- the range that 5th Edition takes place at makes Chaos Space Marines quite possibly the most flexible individual models in the game at the moment.

Daemonhunters-- On the more difficult end of things to play with, as the model count is phenominally low. They're a tad bit pricey as most of the models are metal, as well. Daemonhunters offer a huge array of modelling options, though, as no two Inquisitors and their retinues are alike. On the table, a Daemonhunter army's advantages are a wide array of specialized abilities, high ability values, and impressive anti-infantry firepower, while disadvantages lie in overspecialization and low model count. In the new edition of 40k, Grey Knights come into a new element, as they're optimized for the intense, close-range pace that the game has taken on. Powerful template weapons, such as the incinerator, are also at the daemonhunter's disposal, which makes them a potent choice for 5th Edition games.

Daemons of Chaos-- A few things stand out-- Daemons can be played with an identical army list in both 40k and Fantasy, as far as model selection goes, so you can get a two for one deal with them, in essence, as long as you mount them on square bases. Barring it being an official Games Workshop event, nobody will say anything if you have daemons on square bases in the 41st Millenium. In 40k, Daemons are a highly specialized army, and take a bit of finesse. There's not a whole lot of shooting, and you have to rely a little bit on luck to determine which half of your army decides to show up first. Based on what I've seen so far, I'd reccomend them to someone who's been in the hobby a while. Perhaps not as long as someone who should be playing Eldar or Sisters of Battle well, but still not a new gamer. The Daemons of Chaos army's advantages on the table are exceptional close combat ability with the ability to quickly engage before the opponent can really react; with disadvantages primarily being low shooting and only a 5+ invulnerable save to protect most models.

Dark Eldar-- The general consensus is that Dark Eldar are the hardest army to play with, and have an extremely steep learning curve. They're Direct-Only for the moment, so getting your hands on them requires a little extra effort. The models are old, and show their age-- they weren't great, even for their time. If that doesn't bother you, though, the army is possibly the most devastating in the game in the hands of a skilled player. The Dark Eldar army's advantages are speed and short-range firepower, disadvantaged by fragility and low model count.

Eldar-- Eldar are a painter's army. Each squad type has its own distinctive costume, and you can really go to town on Harlequins and some of the grav vehicles. A lot of the range is metal, so they're kind of expensive. The army is pretty fragile, too-- not quite as much as Dark Eldar, but close. It's difficult to win with Eldar if you don't know what you're doing. They're undeniably the best army for someone who loves to paint, though. The Eldar army's advantages are speed, close range firepower, and close combat ability. That comes at the price of a very fragile army and exceptionally high points values per model.

Imperial Guard-- The Imperial Guard can go a lot of different directions. With a new Codex, the Guard player is offered a wider array of options than they were before, even with the removal of the Doctrines rules from this edition. Heavy armour can be fielded in squadrons, and the Imperial Guard player has access to over 20 different kinds of tanks. If you're a treadhead, this may be the army for you. The Imperial Guard also is an incredible army as mass infantry, although a pure infantry Imperial Guard army is going to cost more than most pewter armies due to the volume of men you need. The Guard offer a lot to players who like historical armies-- it's not hard to model up an Imperial Guard army to look like a World War I or II army, by any means. The Imperial Guard's advantages are high model count and a huge volume of heavy weapons. It's possible for a Guard army to fire 300 lasgun shots alone in the shooting phase, plus dozens of heavy weapons on top of that! Their disadvantages are very strictly average (some would even say poor, but they're acceptable for their points) individual troopers and a relative lack of mobility.

Necrons-- Necrons are sort of the antithesis of Eldar. They're outrageously simple to build and paint, have very little variety, and have a tremendous amount of staying power. They're extremely forgiving on the tabletop, and extremely inexpensive to build financially. If you don't mind the slightly dry nature of the army, they're probably the best starting point in the game these days. The main advantage of the Necron army is its durability, offset by low model count.

Orks-- Orks are pricey to build, just because you need so many Boyz, but the army itself is rather forgiving tactically. In the end, an Ork is an Ork, and all that matters is that he gets himself stuck into close combat, which is simple enough. Painting can get a little monotonous with Orks, though-- green isn't difficult, but there are a hell of a lot of them to do. Orks excel in close combat, and have high numbers in their armies, although they're poor shots and are very vulnerable to being shot with some of the worst armor saves in the game. In 5th Edition, Orks both dish out and take it in equal measure. Large mobs are extremely destructive, but an individual Ork isn't that hard to kill in the grand scheme of things, so losing combat with fearless mobs becomes a very costly endeavor.

Space Marines-- Generally speaking, most people point new players towards the Emperor's Astartes. They're a solid army, and are the poster-boys of Games Workshop. They're easy to learn, but it takes years to truly master playing with them. They occasionally seem a bit dry, and other Space Marine armies are a dime a dozen, but you'll never have to worry about having an inferior or out of date army. You've also got the most options rules-wise with Space Marines-- there are five different Codecies available for them. Space Marines are almost entirely plastic, which makes learning to model pretty simple. Marines are relatively inexpensive financially, as well-- not so much as Necrons, but about on par with Chaos Space Marines. The advantages of a Space Marine army are excellent basic troops coupled with good shooting and close combat ability across the board, as well as being impossible to rout. They suffer in protracted combats due to low model count, however. The new Codex: Space Marines eliminates Chapter Traits; but in exchange offers an unprecidented array of equipment for combating very specific threats at any range.

Tau-- If you're an anime addict, particularly of the mecha persuasion, then Tau are probably right up your alley. They're easy to paint, fairly forgiving, and carry a moderate price tag. They've got the most powerful ranged weapons in the game. Their only real weakness is in close combat, but they have measures which make it quite difficult to engage them. It's unclear these days whether Tau or Orks are the army to beat. Tau are probably third down on the list as far as good starter armies, behind Necrons and Space Marines/Chaos Space Marines. Tau armies are highly mobile and boast the strongest weapons on basic infantry in the game, but are generally extremely poor in close combat.

Tyranids-- Tyranids offer a lot of possibilities on the modelling front. They're rather difficult to paint well, however, and are among the most expensive armies to buy simply because of how Gaunts are packaged. They've got a moderate learning curve, and getting the right balance of critters in the army takes some time. Tyranids are, ultimately, a very powerful army, though, and rewarding if you take the time to model them and learn to play them well. A Tyranid army's advantages tend to be high model count, exceptional close combat ability, and complete fearlessness. Their disadvantages are vulnerability to shooting due to poor armor saves.

Witch Hunters-- Sisters of Battle are downright pricey, mostly because they're all pewter. The Adepta Sororitas are a close-range powerhouse, though, and are good if you want the 3+ armor save without being a Space Marine. Sisters have a steep learning curve, mostly because it takes some time to learn when to execute Acts of Faith. Sisters, like Eldar, seem to be a more veteran gamer's army. The Sisters of Battle army's advantages are Acts of Faith and powerful short-range shooting combined with excellent armor saves. They are disadvantaged by strictly average skills and very limited long range shooting ability.

cccp 02-23-08 08:56 PM

also, if you are thinking of Imperial Guard, you really should check out this link.


STATIC 02-24-08 09:58 AM

Nice rundown of all the armies.
I wish this was around to read when i was starting out.

Green Knight 02-26-08 02:49 PM

why dus noone collect dark eldar as i am thinking of collecting them.

Estragon 02-26-08 05:43 PM

I went with chaos as I adore the fluff and it's easy to make a characterful army. Although it can be incredibly beardy-I don't think anyone whos suffered from the lash of submission x 2/obliterator combo would disagree, ESPECIALLY if the lash-wielding models are the only slaaneshi models in the army...grrrr-it's also easy to get 'right'. Also, we've got some of the coolest minis going and incredibly versatile troops choices.

Green Knight 02-26-08 09:10 PM

were are the dark eldar players

Hespithe 02-26-08 09:14 PM

I have played Dark Eldar, and can give a few ideas for them. But on the whole, I doubt you'll see many until later in the year when the newer models are being released. A new DE 'Dex is on the way!

SyNide 02-28-08 05:42 AM

Well, A lot of people don't play DE for 2 reasons, One because it's very tough to play. You're essentially playing the glass cannon army. We hit very very hard and fast, but if they catch us then things die very quickly.

The 2nd reason is that quite frankly, alot of our models are ugly and disproportionate. So we rely quite abit on getting units from other ranges such as fantasy Witches for our Wyches.

But if you enjoy a very steep learning curve, then DE might be the army for you. Note however that we aren't an "army" per se, we're more of a Raiding Force, so we don't have things like super heavies.

Green Knight 02-28-08 08:44 AM

The Dark eldar army looks so cool, and it would be a challenge, as well i think that is the point in warhammer. They are great in fast combat and have the bonus of good guns.

SyNide 02-28-08 02:44 PM

Alright, prepare to lose your first 40 games. This is your boot camp period where you learn how to handle the army, and if you've got the perseverence to stick with them. If you do manage to get through your boot camp however, you'll be a better player than most with the same amount of time that you spend at the table.

Green Knight 02-29-08 09:30 AM

I have won my first 3 games. The armys i was against was choas space marines, eldar ,and space marines.

thomas2 02-29-08 05:10 PM

You won your first 3 games?!?:shok: With Dark Eldar? I saw them in a game against Space Marines and completely shocked how they die like guardsmen but cost more like Tau or even marines. I thought the Marine player was dead when a commander and Wyches got out a transport near them, but either they were out of range or the vehicle wasn't open-topped as they didn't assault and ALL died in a single turn of just ONE squad firing on them. I haven't even got 3 victories in about ten games with "beginner armies".

SyNide 02-29-08 07:01 PM

Lol, nice one! Of course theres always an exception to every rule. Thomas, DE are very fragile(the most fragile army in the game), but they are very fast and very painful.

coldstuff64 02-29-08 09:21 PM

i want to start an eldar army, but i only have $40. what is a good thing to get?

SyNide 03-01-08 02:05 AM

Well, what is good to get? The codex. That will give you an idea of what the army is about fluff-wise, from there you can see what units you like.

Eldar are fast, have hell of a lot of shots, and its' specialized cc units are very good. And they're much more durable than Dark Eldar. note that if you join GTs, your sportsmanship scores would suffer because many people see the Eldar army as a "cheesy" army.

ThePelt 03-01-08 03:06 PM

what is so "cheesy" about them?

coldstuff64 03-01-08 09:51 PM

i think its because they are pretty much flashy, but in close combat, they aren't that good.

foulacy 03-02-08 12:19 AM

Wow! 3 games on the trot with :O DARK ELDAR AND YOUR A BEGGINNER. Well done lol.

well to army starters how i broke mine down at first was, do i like xenos or imperium type armies including chaos.

then thought hmmm do i like to be the honourable defend your world at all costs good guy, or raghhhhh im gona kill you all for fun.

so natually i choose chaos. then narrowed it down to death guard nurgle once more by reading on the fluff and looking at what models i liked the look of.

SyNide 03-02-08 03:52 AM

Whats so cheesy about Eldar? Nothing really, as cheesiness is subjective. Some would say they are cheesy because of the unkillable falcon loading with Harlequins or firedragons. Others might say the Fire prisms. Personally, i'm fine with eldar.

Pickle 03-02-08 05:02 AM

Maybe we could bulk out each army, like a basic army to buy to get started like:



Put in simple words, buy this and you will on your way to making a Necron army. It contains twenty Warriors, three Destroyers and five Scarab Swarms. So essentially by buying this Battleforce, you have your two complusory troop choices of Warriors (ten in each unit). The three Destroyers, a great unit for long range support for a beginning Necron army. The five
Scarab Swarms provide the speed and assault bite, you need. Overall the Battleforce is a great deal considering, it would cost you: $35 USD per Necron Warrior box and $20 USD per Destroyer. Just buying this separately would cost you $95 USA, which is more than the Battleforce, and you’re getting eight less Necron arriors and two Less Scarab Swarms.

Three Battleforces will provide you with sixty Warriors, nine Destroyers and
fifteen Scarab Swarms for $240 USD from GW, but if you go online, stores like Wargaming World can provide a 20-30% discount. This may seem like a lot to start with but it provides you with the basis of a full 1500 point army. You probably wont use all this stuff so here's some tips to save more money by converting. You've just save around $75 USD.

Conversion Tips

Heavy Destroyers = Destroyers with bigger guns, Yes? Well, get using your imagination and convert three Destroyers into Heavy Destroyers. Extend the guns, bulk them out.

Do you really need sixty Warriors? I think not. Convert 8 or so into Flayed Ones, by reposing them and making some claws, sculpt some flesh onto there backs. Convert another 8 or so into Immortals, modify the gun, bulk their shoulders out and you've just saved over $150 USD by creating your own Flayed Ones and Immortals.

You could buy a Lord or convert one. Depends if you want to, as those models are really nice and its only one model.

Models generated from the three Battleforces.

1 Necron Lord (Modified from a Necron Warrior)
8 Immortals (Modified from Necron Warriors)
8 Flayed Ones (Modified from Necron Warriors)
43 Warriors
15 Scarab Swarms
6 Destroyers
3 Heavy Destroyers (Modified from Destroyers)

Reasonable force isn't it. By buying more stuff like Wraiths, Destroyer Lord and a Monolith, you could end up with something similar to this list.

Necron Lord Points:
Destroyer Body, Resurrection Orb, Warscythe

Immortals Points:
6 Immortals with Gauss Blasters

Flayed Ones Points:
8 Flayed Ones with Claws

Warriors Points:
12 Warriors with Gauss Flayers

Warriors Points:
12 Warriors with Gauss Flayers

Warriors Points:
12 Warriors with Gauss Flayers

Wraiths Points:
3 Wraiths with Barbed Tail, Claws

Monolith Points:


And still have models left over, to mix in and run in a 2000pt list. Overall the first purchase of three Battleforces may seem a lot but it isn't really.

Hope this helps for an example and other people looking into Necrons, I might be able to do this for most armies if you want.

foulacy 03-02-08 07:08 PM

Its all about opinions and preferences, to me there are no cheesy armies, every army is unique in its own nature which is why every collects different armys.

Zeldrin 03-02-08 07:34 PM

Pickles, that post of yours seem like a really good idea. Anything that saves people money is always good. Pointing out conversions and models that fit in any army may be really useful for a new player or an old veteran venturing into new territory. Not sure how other people feel about it, but I think a series of this style of article/post could be extremely useful. Personally, I would love to hear a little more about the dark eldar. In all my years of playing I have never seen a dark eldar force fielded. Only the manager of my local GW had one and he never broke it out because it was too powerful.

All the best,


Pickle 03-03-08 02:12 AM

Thanks, Zeldrin. I may be able to do one on each army if its wanted by everyone?

SyNide 03-03-08 03:46 AM

Sure pickle

LandRaiderLove 03-05-08 12:08 PM

this threads' very useful!!! even though its made me want marines more (still dont know who yet!! lol) i never thought id end up thinking about a dark eldar army!! i think they look alright to be honest!! not ugly at all, actually the weird dog things look dodgy haha!!

angels of fire 03-06-08 07:54 PM

Yeah pickle that would be a good idea. Or you could start a new thread...*the cost effeictive way to start the GW hobby*

Green Knight 03-09-08 12:03 PM

I put the army list on, have look at it see what you think

powerful92 03-09-08 05:05 PM

are dark eldar coming out with a new codex or new models soon because i am thinking of making my second army.

Pickle 03-09-08 06:05 PM

New Codex and models sometime next year eg 09 So you can wait or buy now

Green Knight 03-10-08 02:59 PM

use ebay it is so cheap!!

Apoctis 03-13-08 01:22 AM

I would say choose one you want to build and what models you like

Silb 03-13-08 02:35 AM

Price shouldn't be a problem if you're willing to use ebay. You can find nearly everything at a reduced price and some things are ridiculously cheap (like 2 US dollars for 32 dark eldar warriors). You should pick an army based on its fluff, effectiveness in combat, and models; although some armies are hard to use if you're a beginner and aren't recommended. Also, if you have a spacemarines army, you shouldn't get a chaos marine, necron, blood angel, daemonhunter, witchhunter, dark angel, space wolf, or black templar army unless you want to be bored out of your skull.

Carna 03-20-08 12:30 PM

Buy the Battleforce and Codex for each race in WH40k and pick the one you like the best to build a gaming army. That's what I plan to do :good:

Silb 03-20-08 01:27 PM


Originally Posted by Carna (Post 81736)
Buy the Battleforce and Codex for each race in WH40k and pick the one you like the best to build a gaming army. That's what I plan to do :good:

I have to disagree with buying the battleforce. I mean, if you buy the eldar battleforce but then end up realizing that you hate war walkers, guardians, and wave serpents, then you've just bought 5 dire avengers for 90 bucks (even if you sell the rest on ebay you'll probably end up with a lot less money than you started out with). It would be much easier and cost effective to buy 2 boxes of dire avengers and a couple other units that you like. On the other hand, if nearly all of the units in the battleforce are ones that you like, I would definitely recommend using it to start your army.

Carna 03-20-08 03:35 PM

More like $150 :P Damn Games Workshop and their unfair prices to Australians compared to US/UK/CA. I intend to buy online from gamingfigures.com or a website like that for 40k/LotR things, $150AU from GW or $90 from GF, I know which I'd choose.

delta13 03-21-08 03:13 AM

pick what suites you
i would recomend reading both the fluff and the codex's first before you start buying models...A. if you actually buy the codex's or other fluff books it is not a waste becauwse if noting else you know your enemy...B. it helps you to really decide what army you want to play. because you are going to find tons of interesting facts and facets of all the different armies that will suite your desires as both agamer and a painter/modeler... the only issue i ever found was narrowing it down to a specific group (i.e what chpater or what regimnt or what craftworld) but never fear the fluff always helps...lol i would also agree wirth something that "son of Horus" said you also have to decide do you want to be a gaming god or jsut have some fun and taylor your army to look good and have a great background and not worry so much about winning but playing a great army:ok:

Elemental_elf 03-21-08 03:50 AM


Originally Posted by delta13 (Post 82251)
i would recomend reading both the fluff and the codex's first before you start buying models...A. if you actually buy the codex's or other fluff books it is not a waste becauwse if noting else you know your enemy...B. it helps you to really decide what army you want to play. because you are going to find tons of interesting facts and facets of all the different armies that will suite your desires as both agamer and a painter/modeler... the only issue i ever found was narrowing it down to a specific group (i.e what chpater or what regimnt or what craftworld) but never fear the fluff always helps...lol i would also agree wirth something that "son of Horus" said you also have to decide do you want to be a gaming god or jsut have some fun and taylor your army to look good and have a great background and not worry so much about winning but playing a great army:ok:

That is some sound advice! :good:

I wish I had done this before buying all my models. $22 is a small price to pay to have sound of mind and a plan. :)

silvarius 03-21-08 05:37 PM


Originally Posted by Green Knight (Post 70466)
why dus noone collect dark eldar as i am thinking of collecting them.

most people don't like the models because most of them are metal and in blisters making them quite exspensive and the fact that there rules are quite old doesn't really help, but i know one or two people who play Dark Elves and there armies are ok

Otep 03-22-08 09:02 AM

if only i saw this before i started getting SOB... i do love them though :) so willing (and at times eager) to die for the God Emperor

Acts of Faith are quite nifty too :P

delta13 03-23-08 12:41 PM

well i will say that in the end it all comes down to YOU no matter what people say on here (no offense or disrespect intended)or who ever you play with. you will her all kinds of nifty things about all kinds of units and armies but ultimatly it is up to you and your own personal preferences...

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