How to Get Into Warhammer 40k: Discover the Thrilling Universe of the 41st Millennium

Warhammer 40k Space Marine reading book

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k: The Complete Guide for Beginners

As a writer with over 20 years of passion for miniatures, I often get asked by new hobbyists how to start playing Warhammer 40,000. Considering its dense lore and intricate rules, 40k can seem intimidating for beginners. But with the right introduction, it quickly becomes an addictively fun and rewarding hobby.

In this complete guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get into Warhammer 40k, from its grimdark universe to collecting your first army. You’ll also discover tips from my years of experience to help you start playing 40k and immerse yourself in its thriving community. So grab your bolter and chainsword, and let’s dive in!

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k:Understanding the Grim Darkness of the Far Future

Part of 40k’s appeal lies in its immersive science fiction setting. Known as the “grimdark future,” the Warhammer 40,000 universe is violent, dystopian, and teeming with threats to humanity.

Set 38,000 years in the future, most humans are united under the theocratic Imperium of Man, led by the practically immortal Emperor. Beset by alien races like the nefarious Eldar and Tyranids, the Imperium relies on genetically engineered Space Marines and the Imperial Guard to maintain its fragile dominance.

Meanwhile, the forces of Chaos made up of traitor Space Marines and daemons seek to destroy the Imperium. Their gods include the bloodthirsty Khorne, insidious Tzeentch, disgusting Nurgle, and hedonistic Slaanesh.

This constant state of grim war provides the stage for tabletop battles between armies of miniatures across decimated planets. As a Warhammer 40k player, you’ll choose a faction and paint detailed models to represent its units. Gameplay is driven by strategy, luck of the dice, and the rich lore.

Now let’s look at how to start your own journey in the 41st millennium.

Eldar Warhammer 40k

Getting Familiar with the Factions

With over 20 playable factions, Warhammer 40k offers tons of options for your army. Aside from appearance, each has unique units, strengths, and playstyles. I recommend browsing Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 site to explore different factions.

Popular beginner choices include:

  • Space Marines: Iconic genetically engineered supersoldiers clad in power armor. They have strong infantry and tanks. Many customizable chapters.
  • Adeptus Mechanicus: Cyborg soldiers with high-tech weaponry and machinery. Complex but powerful army.
  • Astra Militarum: Imperial Guard normal humans. Horde army with tanks and artillery. Easy for new players.
  • Sisters Of Battle: Devout warrior nuns wielding faith as a weapon. Flamers and melta weapons purge heretics. Close-ranged troops excel at destroying infantry.
  • Necrons: Ancient undead metal warriors awakening to reconquer the galaxy. Smaller model count, more elite.
  • Orks: Comical but deadly green-skinned race obsessed with war. Horde playstyle and strong vehicles.
  • Eldar: Ancient psychic aliens, remnants of fallen empire. Fragile troops with advanced weapons, rely on mobility and psyker powers.
  • Tau: Technologically advanced aliens spreading “Greater Good” ideology. Mobile battlesuits and potent ranged weapons dominate warfare.
  • Dark Eldar: Sadistic raiders favor fast attacks. Fragile yet hard-hitting, rely on mobility, special weapons and pain tokens for advantage.

I suggest picking an army based on models you think look awesome. You’ll be spending lots of time building and painting, so rule of cool is key!


How to Get Into Warhammer 40k:Assembling Your Army’s Models

Once you’ve settled on a faction, it’s time to start collecting models to build your army. Games Workshop produces multi-part plastic kits for almost every unit.

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Hobby knife: To remove models from sprues.
  • Plastic glue: To assemble models. Avoid superglue.
  • Clippers: To trim off extra bits.
  • Files: To smooth pieces before gluing.

Go slow when assembling models. Always dry fit pieces before gluing. Careful assembly ensures models look great when painted.

To start your army, pick up a Start Collecting or Combat Patrol box. These give you several infantry squads, a leader, and often a vehicle. Then expand to more advanced kits.

Chaos Space Marine Warhammer 40k

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k:Painting Your Warhammer 40k Army

A gray horde of models isn’t too inspiring. But painted armies bring your models to life and let you implement your faction’s colors.

Painting might seem daunting at first, but start simple. Just go for basic colors and some wash shades. As you gain experience, add more advanced highlighting and layering techniques.

Here are the essential painting supplies:

  • Primer: Creates a uniform basecoat for painting. Spray cans are easiest.
  • Brushes: Start with a few sizes like M basecoat, S layer, and XS detail brush.
  • Paints: Buy a starter set with essential colors for your army.
  • Palette: To mix paints. Wet palettes keep paint workable longer.
  • Shades: Nuln Oil, Agrax Earthshade, and Reikland Fleshshade washes add instant shading.

Painting takes practice, so be patient with yourself. Focus on enjoying the creative process. You’ll be amazed at how good your models look after just a bit of practice.

Want to learn the rules for Painting? Check our guide here for Rules For Painting Your Warhammer Army

Learning the Core Rules

While complex compared to many miniatures games, Warhammer 40k’s core rules can be learned with a bit of study. Grab the free basic rules PDF from Games Workshop’s site to begin.

Key concepts include:

  • Datasheets: Contain stats and abilities for each unit.
  • Battle Rounds: Each round has two player turns of movement, psychic, shooting, charging, fighting and morale phases.
  • Dice: Roll to hit, wound, save against damage, cast psychic powers, and more. Modifiers change target numbers.
  • Cover: Adds bonus to units’ saving throws when in terrain like ruins.
  • Stratagems: Special abilities that cost Command Points to use.

I also recommend the full core rulebook for expanded content. Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the details! The rules make more sense as you play games.

Imperial guardsman warhammer 40k

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k: Building a Battleforged Army

In Matched Play games, you’ll need to build a Battleforged army by adding Detachments of units. The most common are:

  • Patrol (2 CP): At least 1 HQ and 1 Troops unit. Great starting point.
  • Battalion (5 CP): At least 2 HQs and 3 Troops units. Gives lots of Command Points.
  • Vanguard (3 CP): At least 1 HQ and 3 Elites units. Focuses on elite infantry.

You can include multiple detachments from aligned factions in your army. Just remember to set an agreed upon points limit for your games.

I suggest starting with a Patrol detachment, then expanding to a Battalion once you have more units. Use Battlescribe or the Warhammer 40k app to plan your detachments.

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k: Picking Mission and Setting Up Terrain

The mission you choose determines battlefield setup, deployment, objectives, and winning conditions. The core book has multiple options.

Before deploying forces, set up terrain like buildings, ruins, and woods to create an interesting battlefield. Dense terrain blocks line of sight.

For your first games, start with a simple mission like Only War. This has you either wipe out enemy units or hold objectives to gain victory points and win.

Later you can try more complex scenarios with custom deployment, multi-turn objectives, and special rules. Terrain placement is also a strategic part of matched play.

Mechancius Warhammer 40k

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k: Deploying Your Army

Once your battlefield is set up, the mission will define how to deploy forces. Many split the board into halves for each player. Others have triangular setup areas or pre-set deployments.

Some key deployment tips:

  • Set up in cover to gain save bonuses.
  • Deploy melee units closer to the enemy.
  • Castle up shooty units for fire support.
  • Hold objectives with Troops units if needed.

After deploying, you’re ready to start playing! Follow the turn sequence, moving units and attacking. React to your opponent and leverage your army’s strengths to achieve objectives.

Games can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on size. Just relax, have fun, and don’t stress over rules disputes.

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k: Joining the Warhammer Community

While you can play Warhammer 40k casually with friends, joining the wider hobby community enhances the experience exponentially. Here are some suggestions:

  • Find a game store: Attend 40k game nights to meet fellow players. Some stores host tournaments.
  • Check Facebook Groups: Search for local 40k buy/sell/trade groups to connect.
  • Attend Events: Go to tournaments or conventions to see armies in action and network.
  • Join Online: Reddit, Discord, and forums like DakkaDakka have active 40k communities.

The 40k scene is thriving globally. Players are passionate and welcoming to newcomers. With a bit of initiative, you’ll quickly find fellow generals to face in battle.

Warhammer 40k Chaos

How to Get Into Warhammer 40k: Expanding Your Collection Over Time

Starting with a small combat patrol force is smart for beginners. But as you master the game, you’ll hunger to expand your army. Here are some thoughts:

  • Add more Troops: The core of most armies, you’ll want lots of basic infantry squads.
  • Play what’s fun: Follow your passion when adding new units, not just what’s optimal.
  • Read codex: Learn new strategies so expansions synergize with your army.
  • Magnetize special weapons: Makes swapping gear easier when assembling.
  • Take it slow: No need to buy everything at once, build your force over years.

Growing your army is part of the hobby’s long-term appeal. Set a budget and pace yourself. Most importantly, have fun collecting new units!

Final Thoughts on Getting Started with Warhammer 40k

I hope this guide has demystified how to start playing Warhammer 40,000. It may seem complex initially, but once you grasp the basics, 40k offers limitless depth and excitement.

Choose an appealing army, assemble a starter force, learn core rules, play some small games, then expand from there. And most importantly, engage with the 40k community both locally and online.

40k has been my passion for over 20 years now. I’m sure you’ll come to love fielding your painted armies on the tabletop battlefield. Soon you’ll be immersed in the grim darkness of the far future!

To stay up-to-date on 40k tactics, battle reports, and more, remember to subscribe to the Warhammer Universe YouTube channel. We have regular videos to help you on your journey to becoming a grizzled general of the 41st millennium. For the Emperor!

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