What to Buy First When Getting Started with Warhammer 40k

What to Buy First When Getting Started with Warhammer 40k

As someone who has been an avid Warhammer 40k hobbyist and player for over 20 years, I often get asked by new recruits – “What should I buy first?” Like any hobby, it can feel intimidating staring down the vast selection of miniatures, paints, tools, and accessories needed to dive in. But fear not! In this guide, I’ll walk you through the best starter sets, models, tools, and paints to kickoff your Warhammer 40k journey.

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition Starter Sets

Games Workshop offers several starter sets designed specifically to onboard new hobbyists. They come with miniatures, rules, dice, measuring tools, scenery pieces and more so you have everything needed to start playing right out of the box. I’ll overview the key options:

Warhammer 40k: Command Edition

My top overall recommendation for beginners is the Warhammer 40k: Command Edition starter set. Priced at $140, it includes a good variety of miniatures and scenery for both the Space Marines and <a href=”https://warhammeruniverse.com/what-are-tyranids-warhammer-40k/” target=”_blank”>Tyranids</a> factions – enough for two players to have a decent sized skirmish.

Inside you’ll find:

  • 16 Primaris
  • 29 Tyranids
  • 44 page Rulebook with missions
  • Terrain including a ruined building, munitorum armoured container and tectonic fissure
  • Dice, range ruler, and barricades

It’s a great balance of content and value. You get nicely sized starter armies with some imposing units like Terminators without getting overwhelmed. The scenery really brings battles to life. And the rulebook teaches you how to play.

If this set appeals but you specifically want <a href=”https://warhammeruniverse.com/what-are-necrons/” target=”_blank”>Necrons</a> vs Space Marines, the comparable Elite Edition offers similar value with those factions instead. Can’t go wrong either way!

Warhammer 40k boltgun

Warhammer 40k: Recruit Edition

For those looking to dip their toes into the hobby on a budget, the Recruit Edition delivers. At only $39 it features:

  • 5 Primaris Space Marines
  • 10 Tyranid Termagants
  • Simplified 12 page Learn to Play guide
  • Dice and measuring range ruler

As the name suggests, this streamlined starter set is perfect for learning with a friend. The smaller model count and quickstart rules lower the barrier to entry. Just know it lacks scenery and expansive unit options. But hey – you save money for more minis later!

Warhammer 40k: Command Starter

Exclusive to Target stores in the USA, this budget starter mirrors Recruit offering a low cost way to sample the game with easy to grasp rules. For $39 it has:

  • 20 Tyranid Termagants
  • Space Marine Lieutenant Titus
  • 12 page Play Guide
  • Foldout cardboard battlefield mat
  • Dice and measuring range ruler

So if you want an extremely affordable way to test the waters and learn, Command Starter hits the mark. The only downside is the very limited model selection though a separate Space Marine vs Tyranids version does exist at some retailers.



Warhammer 40k: Leviathan

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Games Workshop released the limited edition Leviathan Launch box when Warhammer 40k 10th Edition arrived this year. Priced at a hefty $250, it caters more to established hobbyists ready to go all-in with huge new armies for the latest edition.

Inside this epic box, you’ll uncover:

  • 47 Tyranids including the awesome Hierophant Bio-Titan
  • 25 Primaris Space Marines led by a Chaplain on Bike
  • The absolute latest 400+ page Rulebook
  • Unit cards and tokens
  • 2 reference sheets

Leviathan oozes value with the giant models and updated compilation rulebook alone worth the cost for diehard fans. Yet I’d only recommend it once you know you’re committed to playing long term.

Getting Started With Miniatures

Alright, you’ve chosen your starter set…now what? Next priority is expanding your roster of miniatures. The starter boxes give you enough for small scale battles, but you’ll soon crave more units to expand strategic options and play larger games.

Every Warhammer 40k army needs a solid core of Troops to form battlelines and capture objectives. So I always advise new players to grab 1-2 extra Troop choices after their Starter Set to bolster numbers.

For the <a href=”https://warhammeruniverse.com/what-are-space-marines/” target=”_blank”>Space Marines</a>, excellent early additions include:

  • Intercessor Squad – $51 for 10 basic Primaris troops
  • Infiltrator Squad – $51 for 10 troops focused on forward deployment
  • Assault Intercessor Squad – $51 for 10 aggressive melee attackers

These will give you variety and flexibility as you learn what playstyle clicks. Then branch out from there adding elite units, transports, tanks or unique characters to build your force.

If instead you started with Tyranids or Necrons research key Troop options to bulk up your swarm or mechanical legions first. Having strength in numbers will serve you well starting out.

And if you enjoy painting miniatures as much as playing, Combat Patrol boxes offer fantastic value delivering entire low cost armies. We’ll explore hobby essentials further below. But with some clippers, glue and paints you’ll have endless modeling joy for $100-150 per Patrol box.

Mixing Colors


Must-Have Hobby Tools

Part of the magic of Warhammer is assembling your miniatures and customizing them with paint. It imbues a personal touch and sense of ownership. But doing it right does require some key gear and accessories beyond just the models themselves:

  • Xuron Sprue Cutters – $20
    Clippers are essential for removing plastic miniatures from their molded frames without damaging them. Cheap clippers crush pieces making gluing tricky. The gold standard are Xuron’s ultra sharp cutters letting you cleanly liberate components with precision. Well worth the minor investment – your models will thank you.
  • Army Painter – $10 Every new painter needs good brushes with fine tips. Army Painter and Citadel make excellent starter brush bundles for detailing miniatures big and small. Plus their triangular handles provide a comfortable grip. At $10-15, these packs will supply all the brushes you need for dozens of models.
  • Testors Plastic Cement Glue – $5 Gluing miniatures together permanently requires plastic cement like Testors. It literally melts/welds the contact points fusing pieces as one. Messier superglue works too. But for plastic, always use solvent glues for the strongest, invisible bonds that won’t fail on the tabletop.
  • Games Workshop/Army Painter Primer – $20

Priming antes up painting by prefilling detail and giving colored basecoats. Match primer to your main model color for instant traction. Army Painter and Citadel (Games Workshop) offer quality primers catering to light or dark scheme needs. Just research your local climate – humidity impacts drying.

  • Painting Handle – $15 Handles transformed my painting game by letting me safely grip minis at any angle without touching wet sections. Citadel and Army Painter make workshop grade handles with adjustable clamps to hold bases or limbs for brush access. Protect those paint jobs and save messy handprints!

These five inexpensive tools will enable smooth assembly and painting. Invest here first before buying more miniatures to make the hobby process more enjoyable from the start.

Brushes Miniature painting

Paints & Brushes

Now for pigment! Games Workshop produces their own Citadel paint pots designed specifically to interact well with their plastic miniatures. The Warhammer TV Youtube channel also offers hundreds of official painting tutorials using Citadel colors to match faction box art schemes.

So if chasing that authentic look, Citadel matched playsets offer one stop accuracy. Or if striking your own path, both Army Painter and Vallejo paint ranges offer comparable quality and variety for often lower prices.

I recommend grabbing a Start Painting or Essentials set from any major brand tailored to your main modeloction. These include basecoats, shades, layers and tools for $35-60 putting pro results within reach of beginners. Then supplement with individual pots when needing brighter golds, deeper blues or washes for weathering.

Beyond paint, detail brushes bring models to life. Citadel, Army Painter and D’Artisan Shop offer excellent finesse brush 3-5 packs covering all needs. Use larger brushes to apply basecoats and heavy layering. Then flip to precisions series 000 and 0000 tips for sharp edge highlights, eyes, markings and freehand artistry.

Take your time practicing fine brush control on leftover sprues before tackling miniatures. Patience and care pays off in radiant results. But we all had to start somewhere on the path to Golden Demon!


Game Accessories

Alright – your growing roster now marches resplendent off painting desks. All that remains are a few accessories to actually play games with your works of art:

  • Feldherr Carrying Case – $50+ First step to safe travel is a sturdy miniature case. Feldherr makes durable foam-lined carrying cases proven to protect models through years of gaming abuse. Pick based on army size, but go bigger than you think as your forces will inevitably expand!
  • Chessex Battlemat – $20
    Portable roll out battlemats from Chessex provide perfect environmental backdrops for wargames providing a 6′ x 4′ play surface. Flocked, grassland and urban options all help suspend disbelief your models are clashing in vivid locales. Plus they keep fragile models from slipping off tables.
  • Combat Gauge & Essentials Set – $25 Games Workshop’s handy tools measure movement and weapon distances, mark objectives plus help track battle rounds and wounds. While rulers and iOS apps work too, these visual tactile accessories really enhance gameplay and table presence. The Emergency Cutoff tech-priest in me compels their recommendation!


Where to Buy?

So where find all this glorious gear? Your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) deserves support for fostering local communities. But mega retailers like Amazon and large online hobby stores also offer convenience and discounts worth checking.

I often scout sales online then buy at my FLGS to save money while giving back. Do some comparison shopping as deals abound at various vendors.

Wrapping Up

I hope this guide steers you towards smart first buys that unlock rewarding years in the Warhammer 40k hobby without breaking budgets. The galaxy awaits your custom armies! Please reach out to me at [email protected] for any other advice on embarking on your 40k journey. And don’t forget to check our Youtube channel for painting tutorials, battle reports and more. The Emperor Protects!

Stumped on the best starter paints for Warhammer miniatures? Check out our top recommendations.

Frustrated stripping old Warhammer paint for better results? Check out our tips on the best stripper products.

Overwhelmed making incredible terrain for 40K battles? Our guide has you covered with top techniques.

Lost on where to start with 40K lore? Refer to our definitive introductory guide.

Perplexed on what are Necrons in 40K? Our guide explains these mysterious mechanical warriors.

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