Part 1: 40K may NOT be for you
So you want to start 40? Well, it may NOT be the game for you. We don’t sugar coat it; this article is honest and upfront about the problems with the game.
So you want to get started with Warhammer 40k?
You are probably eager to get started playing Warhammer 40k (or “40k”). You may have even dipped your toe into the 40k waters by purchasing a starter set or playing a few demo games and are now looking to make the plunge. Before you get in too deep, do me a favor and read this article series. I will be offering advice based on my own experiences with 40k that could save you time, money and frustration. I would love to welcome everyone to 40k, but I know that it’s not a game for everyone. I want everyone to come to the game with their eyes wide open and to enjoy their experience.
Now personally, I love 40k. The models, the game, the hobby, and the background (or “fluff”) all speak to me, so much so that I help run a website out of pocket strictly to grow the community. But 40k has some serious drawbacks that you need to know, such as…
40k is expensive
There are other more expensive hobbies I suppose, such as golf or scuba diving, but as a game 40K has to be one of the most expensive you can buy into. How expensive? Well, for a 1500 point army, (the standard starting point size for casual games), you are looking at dropping at least $300, and that is just for the models and that is at an online dealer typically offering a 20% discount. Books will run you over $100 and hobby supplies such as glue or paint or brushes cost even more, and the further you get into the hobby, the more you will find yourself spending.
Yes, there are ways to start 40k relatively cheaply and we will talk about that later in this series. Just know that there is a monetary commitment involved with 40K that you should know before you start. Speaking of commitments…
40k takes time to get started
Unlike card games such as Magic or miniature games with pre-painted miniatures such as X-Wing, 40k requires you to build several boxes of plastic models before you can walk up to a table to play. I used to build plastic models as a teenager so I was already familiar with the basic techniques before I started 40k, but if you have never done this you may find yourself staring at a pile of plastic sprues wondering where to begin. Each 40k box typically has a lot of arm, head, and weapon options that make it even more daunting for a beginner. Once you have a respectable force built to play a smaller point level game, you need to learn the rules. About those rules…
40k has confusing rules
I’m sure you are smart and you probably have experience with other games, so you probably think it will be easy to pick up 40k. On a first read-through the rules don’t even seem too difficult. I used to think that too, then I started playing the game. The basics are simple enough, but 40k has a lot of special rules and exceptions that interact in confusing ways. The rules themselves are also not always especially clear or tightly worded. It can take a long time until you start to feel comfortable with your army, and by comfortable I mean actually remembering all the rules in a game session. Even then, you will find that some of your models don’t do what you expect them to do during a game session. This leads me to my next point…
40k is not a balanced game
Oh sure, there are point values associated with every model and logically you would think that this would balance a unit against another one, but in practice this is not the case. Some models, units, and even armies are just more powerful than others, sometimes to a pretty dramatic degree. When you start out, you will probably buy models that you think look cool only to find that they die easily and accomplish very little on the table. Even worse, you may find your entire army has a really steep learning curve or is really weak compared to others. It’s not uncommon to spend your first few games picking up models rather than dishing out punishment. Experience will help you get better and over time you will learn to build effective armies and use every model the way it should be used. But when you are starting out, it’s easy to get discouraged and wonder why you spent all the time and money only to lose games. There are many former players who rage-quit the hobby because of the game imbalance of 40k. About those people…
40k has a lot of detractors online
Games Workshop, the company that makes Warhammer, is strange, and not in a funny, quirky way. They don’t market their products, they rarely interact with their customers, they don’t use social media, and they are very tight-lipped about what they are doing. It’s this silence that makes things worse when they release expensive products and confusing and unbalanced rules. Naturally players (many who no longer play the game) spend a lot of time online complaining. Go to any message board or comment section of popular 40k websites and it won’t take long to see that there is a small but loud chorus of anger, sarcasm and bitterness. Some of this is well-deserved criticism, but at some point it becomes tedious negativity that breeds and feeds on itself. Even worse, you might start to find yourself getting caught up in this and agreeing with strangers on the Internet and getting sucked into the negativity. At times like that, it’s important to remember your own personal experience with the game rather than listen to the opinions of others.
So that is a pretty good list of what you need to consider before you start 40k. Are you still with me after all of that? Check out my next article where I discuss why you should start 40k.