Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets: Your Gateway to Endless Sci-Fi Battles

Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets

Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets: Your Gateway to Endless Sci-Fi Battles

The Warhammer 40k universe is a vast, rich tapestry woven with tales of heroism, betrayal, and unending war. It’s a hobby that combines the thrill of tabletop gaming with the satisfaction of painting and collecting miniatures. If you’re eager to dive in but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll compare Games Workshop’s three current starter sets and help you determine which one is the best fit for your needs.

Interested in 3d printing instead? Checkout our article for The Best 3D Printers For Hobbyists

We’ll break down the three current Warhammer 40k starter sets – the Introductory Set, the Starter Set, and the Ultimate Starter Set. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of which set is right for you based on your experience level, budget, and hobby goals.

Whether you dream of leading the superhuman Space Marines into battle or commanding the swarming bioforms of the Tyranids, there’s a starter set that will help you bring your tabletop sci-fi fantasies to life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choose the right starter set based on your experience level and goals
  • Starter sets provide great value for building Space Marine and Tyranid armies
  • Includes everything needed to learn the rules and start playing games

Why Choose a Warhammer 40k Starter Set?

Warhammer 40k is an immersive, expansive hobby that combines tactical tabletop gameplay with the creativity of assembling and painting your own miniature army.

It can be an incredibly rewarding pursuit, but it’s not without its challenges, especially for newcomers. This is where starter sets shine, offering several key benefits:

  1. All-In-One Content: Starter sets provide everything you need to begin playing, including miniatures, rules, dice, range rulers, and gaming boards. It’s a convenient one-stop-shop.
  2. Competitive Pricing: Buying a starter set is far more economical than purchasing individual kits, offering substantial savings for the number of miniatures you get.
  3. Beginner-Friendly Resources: Most sets include a step-by-step assembly guide, introductory missions, and background lore to help you learn the ropes.
  4. Two Armies to Play With: With starter sets, you’ll get two opposing forces to battle against each other right out of the box, making it perfect for learning the game with a friend or family member.

So whether you’re a total beginner looking to test the waters of the hobby, or a veteran wanting to start a new army on the cheap, Warhammer 40k starter sets are an ideal solution. Now, let’s take a closer look at three available sets.

Want to understand the rules of painting your miniatures? Check here to see Rules For Painting your Warhammer Army 

Warhammer 40k Starter Set Comparison

While all three current starter sets revolve around the elite Space Marines chapter battling the ravenous Tyranids, each one varies in terms of price, number of miniatures, and bonus accessories. Here’s a quick comparison:

Starter Set Price (USD) # of Models Paints & Tools? Terrain? Gaming Board Rulebook
Introductory $65 16 Yes No Paper 47pg booklet
Starter $110 38 No No Paper 63pg booklet
Ultimate $210 44 No Yes Cardboard 71pg booklet + mini core rules

As you can see, the sets scale up in both price and content. So which one is right for you? Let’s break it down.

If you are looking for Paint sets we reccomend checking out our article for The Best Beginner Paint Sets for Miniatures

Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets

Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets – Introductory Set – Best for Complete Beginners

Price: $65 Ideal For: Total newcomers to the hobby who want the easiest introduction possible

If you’re completely new to Warhammer 40k and aren’t sure if you’ll stick with the hobby, the Introductory Set is your best bet. With the lowest price point, a handful of easy-to-build miniatures, and all the paints and tools you need to assemble them, this set gently guides you into the universe of Warhammer 40k without overwhelming you with too much at once.

The set contains 16 models in total – five Space Marines Primaris Intercessors and 11 Tyranid Genestealers and Termagants. The included 47-page booklet features introductory lore, datasheets for your units, and three beginner-friendly mission tutorials that incrementally teach you the basic rules.

Ultimately, this set is all about getting your feet wet and trying out the core mechanics of the game in an accessible way. You won’t be learning more advanced rules like utilizing terrain or psychic powers, and the miniatures you get aren’t enough for a full matched play game, but it’s a fun, low-cost glimpse into the potential of the hobby.

As I discovered with my first starter set many years ago, this is the perfect gateway to a lifelong passion.

Decided on the introductory set? Don’t forget to get some brushes, read here for the Best Brushes for Painting Miniatures 

Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets

Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets – Starter Set – Great for Casual Gamers

Price: $110 Ideal For: Newcomers who want to play larger casual games, or existing fans starting a new army

Stepping up from the Introductory Set, the Starter Set significantly increases the number of miniatures you get (38 vs 16) for only a bit more money ($110 vs $65). With this set, you’ll get a force of 12 Space Marine units, including a Captain, Dreadnought, Intercessors, and Assault Intercessors. To oppose them, you’ll build 26 Tyranid models ranging from the small but numerous Termagants, to the elite Warriors and a Winged Hive Tyrant.

These are still easy-to-build models that are colored plastic, so assembly is a breeze. However, you’ll have to supply your own clippers to remove the pieces from the frame, as well as paints and brushes to decorate them.

The missions included in the 63-page booklet in this set are a bit more advanced, introducing concepts like fighting in coherency and objective markers. After learning the ropes, you can play the included Open Hostility mission which encourages you to craft your own custom narrative.

While the models in the box aren’t quite enough to field a legal 500pt Combat Patrol, the set provides a solid foundation to build on for narrative and casual games. You’ll get a better taste of the ebb-and-flow of the game and the strategic interplay between units on a larger board.

Plus, the set makes for a very economical start for larger armies down the line, if you want to expand further.

As you expand your army you will most likely need an Airbrush to help cover the more mass of models, read our article here detailing the Best Airbrushes for Miniatures


Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets

Best Warhammer 40k Starter Sets – Ultimate Starter Set – Best for Dedicated Players

Price: $210 Ideal For: Beginners certain about investing in the hobby, or veteran gamers starting a new army

For those who know they want to go all-in on Warhammer 40k, the Ultimate Starter Set provides the best value and long-term utility. With 44 models, you’ll be able to build a full Combat Patrol for both the Space Marines and Tyranids. This is the most common game size played at local hobby stores and clubs.

In addition to more miniatures, the Ultimate Starter Set really shines with its included terrain; you’ll get a small 3D ruined building and barricades to place around your board and bring your battles to life. The set also comes with a dense cardboard fold-out gaming board which is sturdier and looks nicer than the paper ones included in the other sets.

The miniatures in this set are more comprehensive; for the Space Marines, you’ll be able to build Intercessors, Reivers, a Dreadnought, a Librarian in Phobos Armor, a Primaris Lieutenant, and an Invader ATV.

The Tyranids range from the diminutive Genestealers to the commanding Broodlord. With this collection, you’ll be learning the core rules plus additional advanced mechanics like psykers, vehicles, and terrain.

When I decided to get back into the hobby a few years ago, a set like this would have been perfect. With enough models for a matched play game, plus the gorgeous terrain, this set can keep you busy with assembling, painting, and gaming for months.

If you’re interested in other starter sets for other races/factions please view the links below to find the perfect starter set for you!


What tools do I need to assemble Warhammer models?

At minimum, you’ll want a pair of sharp clippers or nail scissors to remove the plastic pieces from the frame. A hobby knife can help clean up the models. Some sets come with clippers, but you’ll need to supply your own for the Starter Set and Ultimate Starter Set. To paint the models, you’ll need brushes and paints.

How long does it take to play a game of Warhammer 40k?

The length of a game can vary dramatically based on the size of the battle (measured in points), the experience level of the players, and the mission being played. The Introductory Set missions can take about 30 minutes each, while a Combat Patrol game with the contents of the Ultimate Starter Set can last 1-2 hours. Larger tournament games with thousands of points can be 3+ hours!

Can I combine the models in the starter sets with kits I already own?

Absolutely! All the miniatures are fully compatible with their respective codex range. The starter sets are a perfect way to add variety to your existing collections or start a new army at a discount.

What’s the recommended paint color scheme for the miniatures in the starter sets?

The Citadel Paint App and Warhammer YouTube tutorials are great resources for choosing a paint scheme and learning techniques. That said, the miniatures are your artistic canvas to decorate as you please, whether you follow the standard studio look, a successor chapter scheme, or your own fully unique creation.

How can I play a game with the new models I’ve assembled if I don’t know anyone else who plays Warhammer 40k?

Many local gaming stores have a thriving Warhammer community where you can meet other players and try an introductory game. Games Workshop stores also run beginner events. And don’t overlook friends and family – you might be surprised who’s willing to try if you offer to teach them!

Interested in learning how to play on Tabletop? Head over to for fantastic tabletop guides!


As you can see, Games Workshop has put a lot of thought into crafting starter sets that cater to different audiences. Whether you just want to dip your toe in and see if you enjoy the hobby with the Introductory Set, desire a more robust experience with the Starter Set, or want to dive into matched play games with the Ultimate Starter Set, there’s an accessible entry point for everyone.

I’ve owned countless models, but I’ll never forget the joy and excitement of opening my first starter set. The plastic frames held the promise of epic sci-fi clashes and the beginning of a journey that continues to this day.

If you’re reading this article, perhaps you too are intrigued by the rich universe of Warhammer 40k.

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