As a new player you are ready to jump into the Grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000. You have fallen in love with the narrative, picked your starting army, and are busy building and painting your models.
As one prepares for the tabletop battles to come, what are a few young-blood points to keep in mind to help cut down on that learning curve?
Let’s look at a few checkpoint items to explore with your army.
The first is naturally to begin with the rules, not have them memorized, or understand each point, but to understand and grasp the flow of the game.
What is happening each turn, and as you make decisions turn by turn for your units on the table, knowing what they will be doing, or what your opponent will be trying to do to them each turn.
If you are a member of a gaming club or hobby-store, jumping into some games with veteran players and having them walk through the rules with you for a few games is a great jumping off point. For those starting with a group of friends, watching YouTube videos and tutorials while having the rulebook at hand is a similarly good approach.
Once one has a decent grasp of the flow of the rules, jump into your army book and the specific rules for your faction- how do each of the models/units that you have in game work within the flow of the 40K ruleset? How do they move, shoot, and what special abilities do they have? How do these abilities effect the game in the current phase or future phases?
Ultimately, what is the plan for your army?
How are the unit that you have selected going to work together, supporting each other in the phases of the game, working together with special rules to win the game by not only reducing your opponent’s model count, but also being positioned to win the mission.
Likewise, a good question to consider is this- when does the game of 40K start?
As soon as your opponent starts pulling models out of the gaming case.
Look at the list that they have and the units they have selected- what is the plan for them? How are you going to deal with them?
This leads us to the idea of the *list* in Warhammer 40K.
We see this on many forums and hobby interactions- is my army any good?
What is in the list?
The list, the units that you have selected and how they work together on the table, is your list.
There are many ways to build a list, depending on if you are playing a narrative game, competitive game, or in a tournament, and over time you will find your player personality and the types of games that you like to play.
However, here is a starting point for those new to the hobby- what are the special rules that Games Workshop has graced your army with? This is what makes your army unique, and the what you want to exploit- build a list around this as a start.
Understanding this fundamental of 40K is important, for both your army and your opponent’s army, and in turn it may affect the units you have selected in your list.
Being a D6 based system, much of 40K comes down to rolling large amounts of dice.
Being able to build and manipulate dice pools is *critical* to winning the game.
At the start of the game, both your army and your opponent’s army are at 100% model strength. Each round that you both take losses, you model count, and the D6 dice that they can generate in each phase of the game gets less and less- you begin to lose what is called critical model mass- having enough models on the table to roll enough dice.
Tactically you must not only play the mission turn by turn, but also remove large amounts of opposing models through the dice.
Selecting a unit to shoot, based on the weapon profile, you take a number of dice and roll to hit. Not all the dice will hit, so the pool of dice gets smaller. Next wounds are taken and not all the dice will wound- the pool gets smaller. Armor or special saves reduces the pool even smaller.
When a unit shoots, based on what it is shooting at, will you have a large enough dice pool to generate the dice needed, on an average probability rolling, to remove a large amount of opposing models.
Selecting units that can put out large amounts of dice, or lower what is needed to hit/wound/etc. is a big criteria in 40K.
Layered over this, which is different for each army, is the ability to manipulate or change failed dice.
Are there abilities for a re-roll or way to change the dice to keep your dice pool as big as possible.
Now you are ready to jump in and start playing some games of 40K.
Let’s go in with this approach- your first ten games of 40K don’t count.
Don’t worry about winning or losing for those games- allow yourself the chance to really learn and grow on the Grimdark battlefield.
Winning is important, playing a good-solid game, and at the start of your 40K journey it is important feedback- the more games you win, you must be on the right track with tactics and building your army.
But it takes time to learn your army, learn the game, and learn to make dice-pool based decisions.
Treat your first few games as a learning exercise of discovery.
Following this starting outline will get you to a place where you can begin to discover your playstyle and start winning with it.
See you on the table!
From the Hostile Galaxy Team: Thanks for reading this article by Wargamer Fritz! He has given solid tactical advice for years. You can find him on YouTube as well as on his personal website. Be sure to check him out!
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