Posts Tagged ‘Getting Started’

Your First WHFB List (Warriors of Chaos)
Your First WHFB List (Warriors of Chaos) avatar

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

It’s been awhile, but I’m back.  I’ve focused on a lot of the differences between WHFB and 40k, and what to look out for.  But now it’s time for what may be the most important article: how to build your first list.

As always, you need to balance your existing inventory and budget on what you’d like to spend.  Luckily, most of the Battalion boxes from Games Workshop are pretty solid buys.  Some are better than others, but for the most part you’ll be getting units you’ll use, along with a “free” unit that would cost you another $25 if you bought everything separately.

Going back to my Warriors of Chaos Battalion, I’ve got the following models: 20 Marauders, 12 Warriors of Chaos, 5 Knights, and 10 Warhounds.  Once you factor in the cost of a General, you’re not too far off from 1000 points!  It won’t bring you to a balanced 1000-point list though, so let’s start a little smaller with 750 points.  Keep in mind that 750 points of WHFB isn’t exactly proportional to 750 points of 40k, where the armies tend to be smaller.

20 Marauders – 160 points

This is a solid block of relatively weak infantry.  They’re actually not very weak, but relative to the almighty Chaos Warrior they appear so.  Having 20 models will allow me to bring 4 ranks, which is a solid infantry block in a game this size.  They’ll make a good anvil, or a tie-up unit, while I wait for the reinforcements to arrive.

I’ll equip them with humble hand weapons, Shields, and Light Armour.  Their Hand Weapon/Shield combo grants them a 5+/6++ save in combat.  I’ll give them a Mark of Tzeentch so they can enjoy a 5+ Ward Save in close combat.  Since they’ll be a mainstay in most skirmishes, they should enjoy full command (Musician/Standard/Champion).

12 Warriors of Chaos – 279 points

Now for the scary guys!  The Marauders above will give most enemy troops a tough fight; these guys just make it unfair.  We’ll again give them full command, but also Halberds.  Having your front line strike with 11 Strength 5 attacks is nasty…and that’s not even considering the supporting rank!  Giving these guys shields is always a good option — although they can’t use them in close combat, it makes them less susceptible to shooting attacks.

Combine that with a Mark of Khorne.  These guys become bloodthirsty, and gain extra attacks.  Assuming you’re running two 6-wide ranks, you’re looking at 25 attacks at S5, I5!  These guys become a blender.  To round them out and help them get to combat a bit faster, let’s give them a Banner of Swiftness.  Those extra inches can really add up!

10 Warhounds – 60 points

Warhounds are a fun little unit.  They provide speed, two ranks, and never really look like a threat to your opponent.  But they’ll always be there to harass flanks, deny charges, and generally disrupt.  They’re not going to take out many bodies, and can crumple under any focused fire.  But their main job is to buy the rest of your army time, and for 60 points it can’t be beat.  I’d avoid the extra options, because they just make a throwaway unit needlessly expensive.

5 Knights (Marauder Horsemen) – 75 points

Knights took a bit of a blow in 8th Edition.  Chaos Knights are still terrifying units, but they’re super expensive.  Rather than build an 800-point list with a 200-point unit, and then try and add junk to reach 1000, consider playing a 750 point game and using those Knights as really scary-looking Marauder Horsemen.

Being Fast Cavalry gets them a free Vanguard move, and the ability to march and fire.  To take advantage of this, I’d give them Throwing Spears (Javelins) so that they can race up to an enemy, throw some spears, and then fall back and regroup when charged.  Giving them a shield will maintain their Fast Cavalry status as well as giving them a bit of armor, plus if they ever wind up in close combat it will grant them a parry save!

Chaos Sorcerer – 175 points

Ok, so you have to buy one model outside the Battalion.  You can choose to go magic-heavy with a Sorcerer or combat-heavy with a Hero.  In low-points games, magic’s erratic nature shows its true colors.  Luckily, Chaos has some great ways to mitigate its unpredictability.

Mark of Tzeentch gives you +1 to your casting rolls, which is nice.  The Lore of Tzeentch contains a number of good spells, which scale really well to small games.  Upgrading to Level 2 means you get +3 to casting rolls, as well as a second spell.  Add a Spell Familiar, and now you get to know 3 spells!

Of course, this magic death machine’s going to be a big target, so a few defensive items are in order.  Enchanted Shield and Talisman of Protection should help with that.  Now your Sorcerer has a 2+ armor save with a 5++ Ward Save.  Thanks again, Tzeentch!

The Final List – 749 points

Heroes (175pts)

  • Chaos Sorcerer (175pts)

    Gifts of Chaos (25 p), Level 2, Lore of Tzeentch, Mark of Tzeentch, On foot

    • Magic Items (50 p)

      Enchanted Shield, Spell Familiar, Talisman of Protection

Core (574pts)

  • Chaos Marauders (160pts)

    Marauder Chieftain, Musician, Standard Bearer, Mark of Tzeentch

    • 20x Chaos Marauder

      The Will of Chaos

      20x Light Armour, 20x Shields

  • Chaos Warhounds (60pts)

    10x Chaos Warhound

  • Chaos Warriors (279pts)

    Champion, Musician, Standard Bearer, Mark of Khorne

    • 12x Chaos Warrior

      The Will of Chaos

      12x Halberds, 12x Shields

    • Magic Standard (50 p)

      Banner of Swiftness

  • Marauder Horsemen (75pts)
    • 5x Marauder

      Fast Cavalry, Horselords, The Will of Chaos

      5x Shields, 5x Throwing spears

WHFB: Picking an Army
WHFB: Picking an Army avatar

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

You may remember my 40k article on choosing an army.  It focused on how you, as a new or returning 40k player, can decide on an army that will suit your style both on and off the table.  The thought process is basically the same for WHFB: you need to consider things such as model count, fluff and aesthetics, and overall playstyle.  This basic rubric may not cut it though when you start looking at the WHFB options, so I wanted to break down my thought process for picking a WHFB army.

One of the big distinctions between WHFB and 40k is the fact that you have big blocks of infantry, rather than small squads.  This means that the notion of model count is different between the two systems, resulting in drastically different experiences with playing and building a “large” army in either system.  The other ramification of the large infantry blocks is that it affects playstyle in a different way.  Close combat is the focus of WHFB, as evidenced by the complexity of the rules and the wide array of close combat goodies available to you.  This, combined with the lack of proper “vehicles,” means that you’ll need to reconsider what your playstyle in WHFB really is.

I opted to look at the problem as one of phases.  As it was explained to me, most armies are pretty good in 2 of the 4 phases of WHFB (Movement, Magic, Shooting, and Assault).  You can pick an army that really shines in one of those phases, but it will be pretty weak in another.  Here’s an overview of what it means to be “good” in each of these phases:

  1. Movement.  Armies good in the movement phase are characterized as “fast.”  This could be a high base movement value on infantry (hint: Dwarfs are not fast).  It could be a proliferation of mounted units, such as the Bretonnians.  It could be due to magical items or spells that grant movement bonuses or ignore movement penalties.  Some armies, like Tomb Kings, can be played fast or slow depending on whether you bring a lot of mounted units.  Other armies, such as Wood Elves, need to keep on the move in order to maintain a positional advantage.
  2. Magic. Some armies can bring a huge number of wizards or really powerful spells.  They tend to rely on the magic phase to compensate for their weaknesses in the other phases.  When they can pull it off, it makes them a much stronger army all around.  Playing with magic is (sometimes literally) playing with fire though, so it’s possible that these armies will fall flat on their faces.  These armies may raise more troops, like the Vampire Counts or Tomb Kings.  They may buff friendly troops, or de-buff enemies, depending on the Lore available.  Don’t discount straight damage spells, which can be dangerous in the hands of Chaos or Lizardmen.
  3. Shooting. This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Some armies have lots of guns, bows, or war machines.  These inflict pain from afar.  This can stack with the two earlier phases pretty well: Tomb Kings can move and shoot without penalty, for example.  Magic can also improve shooting in a number of the available Lores.  The thing to look for if you want to focus on the shooting phase is high BS and war machines.  In the land of no cover saves, negative modifiers reign supreme.  This means that you’ll rarely be rolling straight against your BS.  Some armies, like Dwarfs, have both…and their shooting is reviled for it.
  4. Combat. Armies can excel in close combat by a variety of means.  Some, such as Orcs and Goblins, will use sheer weight of numbers.  Other armies such as Warriors of Chaos rely on relatively few troops with elite statlines to get the job done.  Furthermore, some armies such as Ogres will use even fewer and scarier monsters to leverage Fear and Terror.  Armies such as the Dark Elves can use surprise Assassins where you least expect them.  Many armies have a variety of magical weapons, armor, and talismans to make close combat a nightmare for the opponent.  In general, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the special/rare choices in your army.  Some offer increased damage output, others increased survivability…the scariest have both.

I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that picking a WHFB army is drastically different than picking a 40k army.  The rule of thumb still is, and always will be, go with what grabs you.  There are no more “terrible” armies out there, and at worst you’ll get an older one that may not have the latest cool rules and models.  This article has hopefully explained what’s entailed in determining an army’s playstyle though, so you’ll have a better idea of what you’re getting into!

40k vs. WHFB: The Shooting Phase
40k vs. WHFB: The Shooting Phase avatar

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Note: This article is not meant to be a competitive comparison between the two systems.  If you’re a 40k player that is curious or just starting fantasy, this article is meant to highlight some of the distinctions to look out for.

So far, we’ve covered 2 phases in Fantasy, and only one in 40k.  Now I’d like to compare the 3rd WHFB phase, which I believe to have the most in common with 40k — the shooting phase.  Naturally, since the games borrow from the same basic set of mechanics, there’s quite a bit of overlap.  Models have ballistic skills, there’s hit/wound/save rolls, and you can expect to see the same quality vs. quantity in unit profiles.

There are, however, some important distinctions.  A lot of these keep in step with other trends I’ve pointed out so far in WHFB:

  1. More modifiers, no cover saves. For the most part, there’s no such thing as a cover save in WHFB.  If you have no armor, and you get wounded, it’s tough luck.  Whereas the ubiquitous cover save gives obscured models in 40k a chance to simply ignore a wound, WHFB uses such considerations as to-hit penalties.  Shooting a model in cover might give you a -1 to all to-hit rolls, for example.  You can similarly expect penalties for things like moving and shooting, or shooting at longer ranges.  Of course, magic or equipment may give you a bonus instead, making special equipment very flavorful in WHFB.
  2. Randomized targeting. Without vehicles, WHFB resorts to “war machines” with crew.  The crew are usually distinct models, and there are rules that dictate whether a shot hits a war machine or its crew.  This can also apply to some special units and their mounts — i.e. a scary Lord on an even scarier Dragon.  This has a few implications that 40k doesn’t cover.  Destroying a dragon’s handler, for example, can make it an unpredictable monster that will ravage both friend and foe alike.  In 40k, you bring a meltagun to bear on a tank and expect to shoot at, and kill, a tank.  In WHFB, it’s possible that your high-damage single-shot weapon will just obliterate a single Dwarf!
  3. Daunting numbers. As a 40k-player, you may look at some underwhelming Fantasy weapon profiles and wonder how anyone manages to die in the shooting phase.  It’s important to remember the context of WHFB; S4 is way less common than it is in 40k.  Same with models that are T4.  A S4 weapon also carries with it the -1 penalty to armor saves, which naturally, are a lot less impressive than in 40k.  Of course, this increased lethality brings with it a series of to-hit modifiers as mentioned above.  Above all else, you can’t forget that you’re not dealing with 5-10 man squads, you’re dealing with 20-40 man regiments.
  4. Ranks and blocks. With a few exceptions, you’re not dealing with unit coherency.  You’re dealing with blocks of infantry.  This means that your unit has a front field of view in which it can fire, unlike 40k where units can shoot 360 degrees around them.  Be prepared to move, exposing a flank or incurring a penalty, if you want to bring your shots to bear on a target that’s outside of your field of view.  Also consider that only a certain number of ranks can fire, depending on your missile weapons.  You can organize your unit to contain more file/less rank (widening your frontage), but that makes you a juicier target for assault units.

Altogether, WHFB and 40k share many of the same mechanics.  Any 40k player will be familiar with the basics when switching to 40k, or vice versa.  There are certainly nuances, the biggest ones outlined above, that must be taken into consideration.  Of course, remember that there is a certain climate of each game to take into consideration.  You can face a 40k army bristling with S9 weaponry, but such a feat is far less common in WHFB!

40k vs. WHFB: The Magic Phase
40k vs. WHFB: The Magic Phase avatar

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Note: This article is not meant to be a competitive comparison between the two systems.  If you’re a 40k player that is curious or just starting fantasy, this article is meant to highlight some of the distinctions to look out for.

This week’s comparison might not seem very fair.  WHFB boasts an entire phase for magic, but 40k has no such mechanic to speak of.  So what is there to compare?  Basically, I want to compare some of the effects spells can have and how they’re deployed/countered in comparison to your options in 40k.  The closest thing 40k has to compare with is psychic powers, and they differ drastically for a few reasons:

  1. Power vs. Dispel dice. In WHFB, the Winds of Chaos determine how many dice you have available to roll in a magic phase.  You can use these to improve your chances of spells going off.  After rolling a number of dice, your opponent can choose to use some of his dispel dice for that turn in response to your spell.  Seeing as how the active player typically has more dice, the defending player has to be a bit more careful with choosing which spells to defend.  In 40k, powers are either auras (i.e. they affect all units within X”) or psyker powers that require a leadership test.  With the exception of a few items that can nullify psyker tests, there’s no offense/defense mechanic.  This push and pull makes the WHFB magic phase a very engaging process in comparison.
  2. Variety of effects. 40k psyker powers and auras can do a lot of things: cause re-rolls, offer saves, and the obvious direct-damage effects.  In Fantasy, your spells do all that and then some.  Spells can modify attributes (Strength/Toughness/Leadership and so on).  Some spells can do damage in the traditional form (2d6 S3 hits, for example) but others can make units take characteristic tests (roll under an attribute or take a wound).  Some spells remain in play, forcing your opponent to use his own power dice on his next turn to remove them from the battlefield.  Of course, with a greater sense of enrichment come more rules to learn and more details to keep track of.  Luckily, WHFB offers a variety of cards and counters to track spell effects.
  3. Lores within armies. As a long-time 40k player, I know what my units have available to them.  The Librarian only has so many powers, and there are bound to be some synergies with other units in the Codex.  In WHFB, there are numerous Lores of Magic in the main rulebook.  Many armies’ casters can choose one of a variety of those Lores, or even a Lore exclusive to their own army.  The end result is that there are many synergies to be found between Lores.  Mixing different Lores across a couple of casters will allow you to cast spells that combine to greater effect (i.e. lower the enemy’s toughness and then make them take a toughness test).  Depending on your army, the availability of multiple Lores adds replayability: your caster can pick from dozens of different spells if you want to try a different feel!  Of course, as before, more options means more responsibility.  There’s going to be a long learning curve as you learn every spell and every Lore, both as they’re used within and against your army.

The magic phase holds a lot of exciting possibilities, and is one of the main appeals for WHFB.  Magic can be very random and very powerful, but relying on it could make your army quite unpredictable.  Nonetheless, it can be used to supplement other phases and even if you don’t plan on partaking, you can be sure your opponent will!

40k vs. WHFB: The Movement Phase
40k vs. WHFB: The Movement Phase avatar

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Note: This article is not meant to be a competitive comparison between the two systems.  If you’re a 40k player that is curious or just starting fantasy, this article is meant to highlight some of the distinctions to look out for.

As I continue learning about WHFB, I’m noticing important differences.  The movement phase is arguably the most important phase in WHFB, and there are a few reasons for that.  It’s drastically different than in 40k, so you need to rethink your gameplan.  Here are the biggest differences I want to point out:

  1. Charges in the movement phase. Aside from the “Start of Turn” subphase, which primarily provides a window for special rules to force movement, this is the beginning of your turn.  This is the only time you can charge.  This means that you don’t get to move, shoot a flamethrower, and then assault.  You assault first, and that’s it.  Charge distance is semi-random, determined by adding 2d6 to your movement value, and if you fall short you may end up in a dangerous spot.
  2. Charge reactions. In 40k, when you’re charged, your only option is to stand and take it.  Fantasy grants you a little more flexibility.  You can stand and take it (called “Hold”) just like 40k, but you have other options.  If your unit has ranged weapons, they may actually take a free round of shooting (Stand and Shoot) with some negative modifiers.  If you fear that your unit can’t survive a combat, you can voluntarily break and run away (Flee).  These aren’t enormous gamechangers, but can make you think twice about charging a few ranks of archers with an annoying unit just to “tie them up” as with 40k.
  3. Movement values. There’s no class-based movement like in 40k.  Your infantry can move 4″ per turn while mine move 6″ per turn.  This has repercussions across the board, whether you’re just trying to inch around some terrain, marching, or charging directly at an enemy.
  4. Marching.  Units can basically move double if they want.  This is similar to 40k’s “run” mechanic, but there’s no randomization — you just double your movement value.  Naturally, you can’t charge (since charging comes first!) and you also an’t shoot in the shooting phase.  Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that just because your opponent’s cavalry move 8″ doesn’t mean that you’re “far away” at 25″.
  5. Formations and maneuvers. Ranks matter.  They determine how many attacks you get, and whether you remain stubborn in combat.  Thus, it’s only fair that it’s not trivial to reform into a wider/shorter unit instead of a narrow/deep unit on a whim. Reforming costs movement, and your formation will affect how you travel.  You can’t pivot for free like in 40k, but you can “wheel” as you move (rotate using a corner model as an anchor).

Altogether, the movement phase contains some drastic differences from 40k.  I’m not advocating that one is better than the other, I just want to point out some of the things you need to remember when you start reading through the rulebook and playing your first few games.  Stay tuned as I continue to evaluate each of the remaining phases, comparing and contrasting the stuff that jumps out at me!

WHFB: Getting your feet wet
WHFB: Getting your feet wet avatar

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

I’ve written a fair bit about getting started again with GW’s Warhammer 40k.  I’m having a blast with my friends, growing my Imperial Guard force and figuring out the new rules.  We’ve played a bunch of games, learned a lot of stuff, and talked a lot of trash.  As I’m progressing though, for the first time in my many stints of 40k, I find my eye wandering to Warhammer Fantasy Battles (WHFB), 40k’s older brother.  If you’re considering getting into it, I invite you to try it with me as I learn about the game system, and how it differs from 40k.

There are a few big distinctions that separate Fantasy from 40k.  After reading through the rulebook, I want to point out some of the distinctions and the effects they have in game:

  1. Save modifiers.  There’s no AP system in WHFB like there is in 40k.  There’s no separate target class, i.e. vehicles with armor ratings, meaning everything has a toughness.  The net result, combined with the fact that there’s no proliferation of S4 Space Marine type models, means that anything above S3 is kind of rare in WHFB.  This is reflected in save modifiers: anything of at least S4 will worsen your armor save by 1, with the penalty going up with each point of strength.  In 40k, Terminators have the same save against a S8 AP3 weapon as they do against a S4 AP6 weapon.  In Fantasy, a S8 weapon is rare, and will wreck even the craziest-armored troops.
  2. Limited vision. In 40k, units can see 360 degrees around themselves.  If someone shows up behind them, you can just say “oh yeah, they’re shooting backwards at them, and then charging.”  In WHFB, your unit’s front arc determines what they can see/shoot/charge.  This means that if you find yourself in an advantageous position, say in a unit’s flank or rear arc, then they have to take time to turn and face you.  The game also includes bonuses in combat for charging from the side or rear, meaning that the movement phase is substantially more important than in 40k.
  3. Ward saves. Rather than the 40k “invulnerable” save, WHFB employs “ward saves.”  They represent the same thing, a trinket or energy that protects someone more than physical armor or metal.  The difference is that in 40k, you want an invulnerable save to ensure that you have some kind of save if your normal armor save is taken away.  In WHFB, the ward save can be rolled in addition to your armor save.  This means that ward saves are substantially more powerful, as their value stacks with your armor save, rather than replacing it in certain circumstances.  A 4+/4++ model has a 50% chance of taking a wound in 40k, and a 25% chance of taking a wound in WHFB.
  4. Magic. This is one of the most obvious differences between 40k and WHFB, and it has its own phase.  Magic is a powerful, unpredictable force that is incorporated throughout the rules.  While you can rarely rely on it, it can certainly change the tide.  40k’s closest equivalent is psyker powers, which are often psychology or shooting attacks that need only to pass a leadership test.  Magic in WHFB allows for an offense vs. defense scenario in every game turn, with the results ranging from direct damage to buffing and nerfing models’ statlines.

As I start playing more WHFB, I’ll continue to write more articles in the event that any readers out there are trying to decide whether Fantasy is right for them.  Both games are fun, but each simply has a different focus.  40k’s got a sprawling universe filled with terrifying technology and a bleak outlook.  WHFB takes place on a single planet, outlining the struggle of its inhabitants as they clash and stake their claim.  The rules reflect this, and while neither is “better” than the other, it’s a safe bet that you’ll find something to like in each of them!

(Re)Starting 40k: Paint up!
(Re)Starting 40k: Paint up! avatar

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Up until now, I’ve focused on some gaming aspects of 40k: picking an army, learning to write lists, etc.  But once you’ve got 500 points planned out, it’s time to pull some plastic and paint them up!  As a result, I’ll be showing you how I’m going to paint up my Imperial Guard army.  Some people prefer to come up with their army’s background (sometimes called fluff) before coming up with a paint scheme.  After all, having an identity and story in mind makes it easier to build, convert, and paint the characters and units of your army.  I prefer to work opposite: I paint up something I know will look respectable on the table, and come up with background from there!

Keep in mind that if you’re painting a very numerous army, such as the Imperial Guard, you can expect to do a lot of painting.  Speed may be your priority here.  The important thing isn’t necessarily that you have Golden Demon skills, but that you have the patience and planning to get a lot done.  Pick simple schemes, plan on using washes if possible, and don’t worry if each model isn’t perfect.  By nature of playing a horde army, you’re going to take a lot of casualties, so they won’t spend much time on the table!

For my IG, I really wanted to do an urban, sort of arctic camouflage pattern.  Here’s an overview of what we’ll be making:

For this, you’ll need these paints (I use GW, use what you prefer):

  • Regal blue
  • Scorched brown
  • Dwarf flesh
  • Shadow grey
  • Space Wolves grey
  • Boltgun/Chainmail/Mithril (your choice)

Step 1: Basecoat

Your first goal is to get a base of regal blue down.  If you have a spray paint that’s a dark blue, that’ll work wonders and save you oodles of time.  If not, just prime black and thin out some of the Regal Blue and cover the entire model in it.  I’m a big fan of gluing down a sand or something before painting, that way the primer helps get it, but to each his own.  You should have something like this now:

Step 2: Skin and Accessories

Do a coat of Scorched Brown over the heads and hands of your guardsmen.  I’d also advise using it to hit any canteens, sheathes, etc.  If you’re painting a sergeant with no helmet, get the whole head!  I like the color of Scorched Brown for hair, so no worries there:

Step 3: Armor, Helmets, Camo

Now the easy part.  Paint up some Shadow Grey (the darker, bluer one) and paint the armor.  Get the shoulder straps, and under the arms.  Also get the ankle cuffs and helmet.  Next, start dabbling on the camo spots!  The Shadow Grey should show up just fine on the Regal Blue, so you shouldn’t need to worry about doing multiple coats, and you can thin it a bit.  Make different shapes and sizes, and make sure to go in different directions.  I personally like the look of a blob that stretches across folds and in creases, as it adds a bit of depth.  Finally, take a tiny bit of paint on your brush and lightly drag the side of the brush on the top edges of the lasgun.  This will keep the gun from looking like a blue blob in the model’s hand, and should get you familiar with edging (which we’ll need soon).  Here’s a few shots of how I do the blobbing and camo:

Step 4: Finish the Skin

I’m a big proponent of painting from the inside out, because I’m pretty sloppy and tend to mess things up when I try and get in close…especially when you’ve got a hundred of these guys to whip up!  So I’d recommend doing the skin now.  Take some dwarf flesh and hit the face and hands.  I’m not great at staying in the lines, and I don’t advise trying to paint the eyes.  After you’ve painted your best of the fingers, hands, and face do a wash with some really watered down Scorched Brown.

Step 5: Edging and Camo

Now you’re going to need to crack open the Space Wolves Grey (the one that’s almost white).  Hopefully you’re more comfortable with edging, because we’re going to be doing a lot of it.  The same way you did on the lasgun, paint the edges on the armor.  This includes the hard edges on the back, the shoulder pads, the straps between the shoulders/head, and the pad things on the side of the helmets.  Also make sure to throw some paint on the Imperial Eagles you see on the chest/helmet/lasgun.  Finally, the same way you did with the Shadow Grey, do some camo dabbles.  Mix it up a bit…make sure you’re not just making vertical or horizontal streaks.  Let some blobs overlap, but not others.  Allow some blobs to have tiny holes in them through which you can see the Regal Blue or Shadow Grey underneath.

Step 6: Metal

Whip out whichever metallic paint you decided to go with and start painting.  Make sure to get bayonets, lasgun barrels, the little rods on top of the lasguns (takes a bit longer but adds a lot more color to the gun).  When you’ve done all that, take a bigger brush you don’t mind drybrushing with, and drybrush the metal over your sand on the ground.  Most people stick with a gray/white highlight combo but I personally feel like a futuristic theme should have more metallic rubble.  Plus it complements the small amount of metal on the model quite nicely.

Step 7: Accessories

If you feel like it, go ahead and paint a lighter brown (snakebite leather or such) over the leather accessories to give them a bit more color.  I personally don’t think it adds much and takes too much time to worry about now, so I put that all off for later.  Also, grab some Dark Angels Green if you wish and put a few coats on the grenades.  Lightly take your metallic color and paint the pin and primer devices on the grenades.  If you do it carefully and well, it looks really slick.

Step 8: Touchups

Now’s the time to go back over and fix any little slip-ups you may have had with the brush.  If you messed up the edging on the armor or painting the face, go back with Shadow Grey.  If you splotched a bit on the lasgun, go back and cover it up with Regal Blue.  The nice thing is that for the most part, the only touchups you’ll need to do is with those colors.

Share your painting tips and critiques in the forums

(Re)Starting 40k: Starter List Exercise
(Re)Starting 40k: Starter List Exercise avatar

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Warhammer 40k Logo

Let’s go through an example of writing a 500 point list. If you’re just joining this column, I’d recommend you read the earlier parts (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) to catch up on starting your new force.

There were 3 guidelines I pointed out in my last article.  You should consider these points whenever you tweak a list:

  1. Consider what’s already in your army.
  2. Consider the point value of a unit or upgrade, in relation to your whole list as well as other options your codex gives you.
  3. Consider how you plan to win with every unit.

To recap, I want to hit 500 points, starting with the mandatory HQ and two Troops choices:

Company Command Squad

Alpha Platoon 
   Platoon Command Squad
   Infantry Squad
   Infantry Squad
Beta Platoon
   Platoon Command Squad
   Infantry Squad
   Infantry Squad

What does this army need?  Some direction!  I see a blank canvas of infantry squads, bristling gunlines waiting for a purpose.  We need to consider a few problems: killing infantry, killing tanks, and taking objectives.  That is, after all, how you win games!

Killing Infantry

We’re going to devote one entire platoon to killing infantry.  In a 500 point game, most armies can’t afford to field a ton of transports, walkers, and tanks because they’re also required to take 2 Troops and an HQ unit.  The Imperial Guard can merge squads, allowing you to consolidate potential kill-points (KP’s) for missions where no objectives are on the table.  Likewise, a 20-man blob squad can require a lot of firepower to take down.

If we’re going to move this blob squad around, they won’t be able to use heavy weapons.  A good idea for squads that will roam around is assault weapons: grenade launchers and flame throwers.  I’ll opt to equip both infantry squads in the platoon with flamers, allowing them to get up close and personal and not be hindered by their poor ballistic skill.

Of course, Guardsmen aren’t infallible.  In order to protect this squad I’ll want to keep their Platoon Command Squad (PCS) moving with them, to help them along with orders.  As they’ll be supporting an assault-oriented “hammer” squad, it makes sense to equip the PCS with laspistols and CCW’s, instead of the standard lasgun.  I’m also going to throw in a Commissar with a power weapon, to ensure that the squad always gets to roll at a high leadership and gets a “free” reroll.  Let’s review our objectives:

  1. What else is in my army? Right now just plain infantry, so it’s ok to specialize this platoon.
  2. What kind of points are we talking about? We’ve only added 55 points to our army, but given it some serious teeth in terms of holding objectives or dealing with enemy infantry on a 500-point game’s small board.
  3. How will I win? By burning them, or by squatting on an objective and using orders to keep morale and cover saves up.

Killing Tanks

At 500 points, you likely don’t have to worry about seeing too many tanks.  Still, you want to be prepared for transports, walkers, or “that guy” who does bring a tank.  Plus, a lot of weapons designed to kill light vehicles can work in a pinch for killing infantry!  I’m going to shape the other two squads into anti-tank squads, giving them both an autocannon.  I’m a big fan of the autocannon, because it gets a couple shots (which is important with BS3) and has relatively high strength and low AP.  It’s great for popping Dreadnoughts, Transports, and more.

I’ll also add a Scout Sentinel, with an autocannon, to keep in reserve.  This allows you to outflank, so you can show up on a side table edge and take potshots at exposed rear and side armor.  You can also tie up weak infantry (be careful for hidden powerfists!) ad infinitum, if they’re not prepared for it.  Let’s ask the same questions:

  1. What else is in my army? A lot of anti-infantry stuff.  Adding 3 autocannons gives some serious punch against transports and walkers, but we have to be careful because as of now we only have one vehicle, and that will likely draw the ire of every high-strength weapon pointed our way.
  2. What kind of points are we talking about? This adds another 65 points to our tally.  The Sentinel is a big investment at almost 10% of our list, but can be our only means of silencing enemy artillery or tying up hordes.
  3. How will I win? These units buy time for your objective-grabbers to get into position, as well as keeping enemy units honest by denying big shooting lanes.

Grabbing Objectives

This problem must be solved in two respects: using troops to grab your own objectives, and using fast or resilient units to contest enemy-held objectives.  We have a whole platoon dedicated to grabbing and holding objectives, and your defensive-minded squads should hold the ones in your own territory.  We even have a Sentinel, who can sweep in from a flank and contest an objective or keep scoring units tied up.

We need more mobility though, so I want to add a Chimera.  Equipping it with a pair of heavy bolters, as well as a pintle-mounted heavy stubber, gives us a pillbox for our second PCS.  It also gives them the ability to zoom across the table and grab or contest an objective late-game, if needed.

  1. What else is in my army? Having another vehicle out there could help draw fire from the Sentinel.  We’ve got plenty of anti-infantry and anti-tank, and the Chimera fits the soft spot in between, with a bunch of S5 shots and some S4 shots that can be dealt out on the move.
  2. What kind of points are we talking about? 65 points buys us one of the best transports in the game, and it really shines at this point level.  You can move a squad around, effectively increase their command radius, and dish out 3 S4 and 3 S5 shots on the move.  Talk about a bargain!
  3. How will I win? By moving a PCS to where they’re needed, adding order support or just loads and loads of firepower.


Altogether, we’ve walked through a 185-point addition to our list.  This puts us at a sparkling 495 points, giving you 5 points to add some zing to a command squad, or upgrade another unit as you see fit.  Hopefully this process has shed some light on how to think through your changes, and I can certainly assure you that it gets more complicated and more rewarding as you move on to higher point values!  Check back soon as I show you how I’m going to paint up this little force.

Our final list:

Company Command Squad

Alpha Platoon 
   Platoon Command Squad (LP/CCW)
   Infantry Squad (Flamer)
   Infantry Squad (Flamer)
Beta Platoon
   Platoon Command Squad
      Chimera (Heavy Bolter, Hull Heavy Bolter, Heavy Stubber)
   Infantry Squad (Autocannon)
   Infantry Squad (Autocannon)
Sentinel (Autocannon)

Discuss the list and point allocation in our forums

(Re)Starting 40k: Your First List
(Re)Starting 40k: Your First List avatar

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

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Welcome back to (Re)Starting 40k.  If you’ve missed the earlier posts (post 1 and post 2) of mine, I’d advise you take a look at why 40k is worth getting in to, and how to pick an army to start with.

With that in mind, you’ve got to start your army somewhere.  Due to the force organization chart outlined in the rulebook, I’d advise you start with at least an HQ unit and two Troop units.  The goal is to hit a nice, round 500 point mark.  This may require the addition of a few more units or upgrades for some squads, depending on the race you’ve chosen.  Necrons, for example, can’t fit much beyond their HQ and two minimal-sized Troop squads in 500 points.  Imperial Guard have a bit more wiggle room, however.

Whatever you want to add to your list, whether you’re trying to hit 500 or 1500, I would advise that each modification to your list answer the following questions:

  1. What else is in my army? This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself.  If you’ve already got 3 Heavy Bolters and you’re trying to hit 500 points, maybe your remaining points are better spent on some anti-tank weaponry.  Don’t just look at heavy weapons: think about special weapons, which ranges you can cover, and at what ballistic skill.  Most armies will reward you for specializing squads, so consider how many squads you have kitted out to kill hordes of light infantry, light vehicles, heavy vehicles, and so on.
  2. What kind of points are we talking about? This question should address the cost of the unit, both itself and relative to the rest of your army.  A 200-point Terminator command squad may be a good idea in a 2000-point game, but be too pricey in a 500-point game.  Likewise, you have to ask yourself how much value the unit gives you relative to your other options.  Imperial Guard Stormtroopers, for example, are just too expensive in my opinion when compared to Veterans who can do most of the same stuff.
  3. How will I win with this unit? Don’t just assume that because a unit fills a unique roll and does it relatively well, that it’s a good addition to your force.  A whopping 2 out of 3 objectives for the standard missions require you to move and grab objectives.  These objectives mean you should think about mobility, and whether a change helps you capture or contest an objective late-game.  The last objective focuses on kill points, which should make you question whether a unit will do more damage than it takes.  You need to do that calculation in terms of kill points as well as regular point costs, meaning that suicide squads can be a wash at best.

You could write a hundred pages about building an army list and still have a lot left to say.  By no means do I consider myself an expert at making a list, nor do I claim that the above three principles are the only things you need to consider.  They are, however, very helpful questions to ask yourself when you’re adding to a list.  Let’s take a look at my first Imperial Guard force, which starts with two troops and an HQ:

Company Command Squad

Alpha Platoon 
   Platoon Command Squad
   Infantry Squad
   Infantry Squad
Beta Platoon
   Platoon Command Squad
   Infantry Squad
   Infantry Squad

This list, which packs 55 models, only comes out to a bit over 300 points.  If you’ve got the Imperial Guard codex handy, take a look at it.  If not, imagine playing against this army.  What does it need?  What can we afford to add in 290 points?  Would we be better off using veterans instead of an entire infantry platoon as one of our two mandatory troops?

It may seem overwhelming, but use the above template of questions to try and determine which direction you’d take this army.  In my next post, I’ll flesh this list out to 500 points and explain my decisions with respect to those three questions.

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(Re)Starting 40k: Picking an Army
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Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

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Note: This is Part 2 of my series.  Part 1 is also available.

So you’re getting into 40k.  Whether for the first time, or as a repeat offender, you’re going to need to get your fix.  The first thing to consider is what army you’ll want to start.  The rich background of the Warhammer 40k universe accommodates the whole gamut of options: vile demons, stoic superhumans, crafty aliens, or the lowly human being.  To pick your starting force, I would recommend you research three topics for each race:

  1. Playstyle. If you’re unfamiliar with 40k, this can be tricky.  Nonetheless, it’s easy to imagine what kinds of decisions you’ll be making.  While each race can be played in numerous different ways, they all tend to have a common theme.  Space Marines, for example, are known to rely on their resilience relative to other armies.  You need to consider if you want the speed of a Dark Eldar army, the firepower of the Imperial Guard, or the bone-crushing might of the Orks.  Consider the versatility of a race, but also make sure you’re willing to play to their strengths.
  2. Model count. This dimension affects all aspects of the hobby.  A force like the Orks, with tons of models, will be able to shrug off massive casualties.  On the other hand, they will take much more energy to assemble, paint, and transport.  Gameplay speed and convenience is also somewhat determined by the size of your army (in terms of model count).  Smaller, elite armies are less of a hassle to get a game going with, but you’ll certainly feel every loss on the tabletop.
  3. Aesthetics/Background. Though these are two separate concepts, I’m grouping them together because in my experience people tend to care about neither of these or both of them.  I personally find I make the best progress with an army when their aesthetics appeal to me.  Likewise, being able to get “in the mindset” of your little plastic men is certainly a fun experience.  Whether you see yourself as a relentless tide of ravenous Tyranids, or a solemn warrior monk Ultramarine, your army is an extension of you and should reflect that.

So with that being said, I’m determined to make an Imperial Guard army!  I asked myself about those three things and came up with some interesting answers:

  1. Playstyle. The Imperial Guard are weak as individuals but strong as a team.  They can bring to bear some of the biggest guns, and some of the biggest numbers of small guns.  They can play infantry horde, mechanized, air cavalry, or with oodles of tanks.  There are few things you can’t build an Imperial Guard army to do, one of them being an aggressive close-combat force.  That being said, I tend to shy away from close combat, so this suits me well.
  2. Model count. The Imperial Guard will often bring a lot of models.  Lowly guardsmen make up the bulk of your forces, and you’ll have a lot of them.  Given their poor toughness and armor, that’s a good thing.  I tend to be a little reckless with my units, so having the ability to shrug off a few models is appealing.  I don’t mind assembling and painting them, and the best part is that when I take heavy casualties I can blame their poor statline!
  3. Aesthetics/Background. There’s something appealing about being human in a universe filled with horrifying monsters and building-sized aliens.  The Imperial Guard are one of the things that keeps the hyperbolic 40k universe from seeming too far-fetched.  The Cadian models are absolutely gorgeous, and I love the Sentinel model as well.  Being excited just to see the models of your army is a good sign, because it makes you far more likely to paint them and get them to a table.

How can you not love this?!Courtesy of Games Workshop

Hopefully this article has given you a bit of direction in picking a force.  Whether you’re totally new or a returning veteran, it’s a good idea to know why you’re playing an army.  Stay tuned next week, where I start walking through the principles of constructing an army list.

Tell us how you decided on your favorite army in the forums.