Getting Started

In an effort to introduce more people to the hobbies that I enjoy, particularly wargames, I will be offering a series of articles on how to get started. I have wasted an awful lot of time and energy over the years collecting things I didn't need or were of no particular use. Hopefully these articles will help the budding hobbyist in avoiding some of the pitfalls I encountered lo those many moons ago.

Purchasing Your Supplies

The first hurdle to cross in starting any new hobby are your start-up costs. There will likely be initial expenditures that cause the hobby to appear more pricey than it really is. However, most of your initial supplies will last a long time and provide you with a constant source of enjoyment. Here are the starters:

The rulebook for the game and the army book for your faction. Most game systems have a core rulebook that explains how the game itself is played. It will likely include "fluff" or background to the setting, lots of pictures of the models, and guides to getting started. Beyond this, there will likely be an army book that details your individual force with in-depth rules and tactica for playing them. Some companies, like Privateer Press, include basic army rules in the core book. I love collecting army books and rulebooks since they look great on my shelf and provide many hours of reading enjoyment.

The paints come next. I recommend buying high guality paints and brushes. You don't want to spend a lot of money on your models only to ruin them with a bottle of nasty, grainy paint. Spend a few extra bucks and buy Games Workshop, Privateer Press Paint, Vallejo, or Reaper. They are worth it. Also invest in a good quality can of spray primer. Make sure it is formulated for miniatures and use it properly. Again, undercoating your models on a windy, rainy day will ruin the work you put into assembling them. For brushes, buy them long and pointy.

Hobby tools are also important. For working with plastic models you will need to purchase what are called "sprue cutters." They are metal clippers that help you remove the models from their frame in order to put them together. I also use a razor blade to remove any molding lines. The one I prefer is a simple box cutter with snap-off blades. An Exacto knife is useful for getting into hard to reach places. A set of small files is also handy, particularly for metal models. You will also need a nice halogen desk lamp to illuminate your painting area. I like the goose neck variety.

Finally, you are ready for the models themselves. This is where most people take a step back and go no further. The price tag can seem a bit daunting as these will be a lot more expensive than the toys you remember as a kid. The problem is that wargames miniatures are made of two of the most expensive and volatile commodities in the world: oil and metal. Further, each model was designed and sculpted by hand or over a three year process on a computer. These are not easy products to fashion. However, once you have them, they are yours forever. I keep my models in a display case in my living room and they give me great joy whenever I walk past them. The difference between these models and a movie ticket or other transitory entertainment experience is that you are left with something substantial- something real that you can hold on to or even sell for more than what you initially paid for. Go on ebay sometime and see what a pro-painted army can bring in.

How to Purchase

You have several options for purchasing your supplies:

The Friendly Local Game Store: This should be your first stop. A local store provides a place to play and meet other hobbyists. The owner can suggest which products you might need, and it is the best place to browse for that model you didn't know you wanted. You will likely pay full price here, but supporting the FLGS is worth it.

The Company Web Store: I only use this option when no other supplier has what I am looking for. Some websites have exclusives that can't be found anywhere else. The problem with this is that you are paying a premium and do little to support your local community

The Independent web store: There are many great companies that provide discounts on a wide variety of products. If you are on a tight budget, this is the place to go. You can usually find a 20% discount pretty easily in order to maximise your savings. Some websites also provide a "bits" service which means that they will sell you only the parts you need from a bigger kit. For instance, the $20 Commander kit from GW has a ton of options you don't really need. You can get a stripped down version without the options for a good deal less.

Ebay: For some super deals, this is the place to go. Buyer beware, however. I have purchased some items here that were not quite as advertised. For hard to find items or out of print stuff, this may be your only option.

Final Thoughts

Watch your budget! Chances are that you won't be able to paint more than about one unit a month anyway, so don't go crazy buying tons of models you don't need right away. I am currently working through my backlog and it will likely take me three months to do so. In the meantime I am on a purchasing embargo. Paint what you have first! Once you have your initial purchases out of the way you can budget about $50 a month for new stuff and still have plenty to work on.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Malifaux: The Plagued

3 Stolen
3 Rats

Malifaux: Freikorps

Von Schill
Freikorps Specialist
Freikorps Trapper
2 Freikorps

Malifaux: The Desolate and the Soulless

Rusty Alice
4 Steampunk Abominations
Hollow Waif

Malifaux: Born on the Bayou

Pere Ravage

Malifaux: Mercenaries

2 Viktorias

Malifaux: The Gremlins

Som'er Teeth Jones
4 Bayou Gremlins

Malifaux: The Puppeteer

3 Wicked Dolls
4 Marionettes

Malifaux: The Hag's Puppets

Bad Juju
3 Silurids

Malifaux: Legion of Sorrows

Baby Kade
3 Sorrows

Malifaux: Lillith's Brood

3 Terror Tot nephilim
Mature Nephilim

Malifaux: Showgirls

2 Showgirls
2 Mannequins

Malifaux: Order of the Chimera


Sabretooth Cerberus
Razorspine Rattler

Malifaux: Miners and Steamfitters Union

Steamborg Executioner
2 Steampunk Arachnid Swarms

Malifaux: Spirits of Vengeance


Malifaux: Body Thieves

Flesh Golem
2 Nurses

Malifaux: Witch Hunters

Starter Box
Sonnia Criid
Samael Hopkins
3 Witchling Stalkers

Malifaux: Bad Dreams

Boxed Set
The Dreamer
Lord Chompy Bits
2 Stitched Together

Malifaux: The Death Marshals

Lady Justice
The Judge
3 Death Marshals

Malifaux: Elite Division

Guild Guard
Guild Guard Captain

Malifaux: Constructs of Order

C. Hoffman

Malifaux: The Redchapel Gang

3 Rotten Belles

Malifaux: The Undertaker's Lot

3 Samurai Punk Zombies

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Warhammer 40K: Tyranids

The Tyranids are a race of intergalactic predators. They exist only to feed and subsume all life into their own primal consciousness. They attack as a great swarm, unyielding and utterly deadly. It is nearly impossible to kill them all, since the hive mind will simply create more in response to the death of the troops in harm's way.

The Tyranids can be fielded in lots of different ways. They can be upgraded to have a lot of shooting or downgraded to function as a true swarm. They can field a large number of monstrous creatures creating the so-called "Nidzilla" list. They are all quick and tough, forcing the enemy to be on the ball from turn one.

Here is the Battleforce:
3 Tyranid Warriors
8 Genestealers
16 Hormagaunts
16 Termagants.
3 Ripper Swarms
This gives you a decent swarm for $110, but has fewer weapon options than buying the individual boxes. This will run you $130 but the model count will be lower.

Bleached Bone
Warlock Purple
Blood Red
Skull White

Next Steps
  • The first thing to get will likely be a Hive Tyrant and some Tyrant Guard. He is a brutal creature and teh guard will protect him from sniping.
  • Carnifexes are your shock troopers and will ruin your opponent's day.
  • Genestealers can be devastating. Even if only a handful get into the lines, there will be few troops who can go toe to toe with them. Even terminators quake in fear.
  • Bulk out your basic troops. If it doesn't look like a swarm you may be doing it wrong.
Final Thoughts
This army can be tailored like no other to go against an enemy list. Unfortunately, all those upgrades cost points. When spending points on something, ask yourself if another unit of Genestealers or a hulking big Carnifex wouldn't be better.Keep your army together and give your enemy too much to shoot at.

Warhammer 40K: Tau

The Tau are a highly advanced, though young race on the Eastern Fringes of the Imperium. They are currently in the process of increasing the size of their own empire and have made some inroads into Imperial territory. They seek to unite all races under their banner of the "greater good." Filthy Xenos scum, if you ask me!

The army boasts some deadly accurate shooting and some devious technology to keep the enemy wondering about what tricks might be hidden up their sleeves. They have a number of allies that can provide either anti-armor support or close combat expertise.

Here is the Battleforce
1 Tau Crisis XV8 Battlesuit with 2 Gun Drones

1 Tau Devilfish APC and 2 Gun Drones
3 Tau Crisis XV25 Stealth Suits and 1 Markerlight Drone
12 Tau Fire Warriors and 2 Gun Drones
12 Kroot

This is a great deal at $110. It would run $152 if bought separately, but it would give you a few extra Kroot.

The standard paint scheme is done with various shades of brown, yellow, and tan. There are a lot of different color schemes out there, however. The army features lots of clean lines and plates on their army, so it is easy to paint up in blocks using your favorite color. The camo pattern shown above is also easy. All you need to do is draw some blobs on the armor in your favorite color and then fill it in with a simple highlight around the edge. Simple!

Next Steps
  • The battlesuits are a great addition to the army right away. A few squads of these will provide a lot of firepower and mobility. Broadside suits are not as mobile, but their railguns are awesome.
  • The Kroot can be fortified with a Krootox and Kroot Hounds, making them even better in close combat.
  • The Hammerhead tank is a good choice early on, offering even more long range support.
  • Get markerlights any way you can, either on battlesuits or with pathfinders. They make your whole army better!
Final Thoughts
Don't be too eager to get into combat, even with the Kroot. This army is better at shooting the enemy to pieces and only assaulting when they can be assured of victory. The battlesuits are great, but don't think of them as flying dreadnoughts- they are not nearly that tough. Learn to use the markerlights efficiently. They will focus your firepower and allow you to annihilate the enemy one unit at a time.

Warhammer 40K: Blood Angels

The Blood Angels are a first founding chapter, meaning that they go back to the foundations of the Imperium. They are a proud and noble chapter, but hold a dark secret. When their primarch died at the hands of Horus, he passed his pain and anguish onto his battle brothers. Since that day, they have been afflicted by the Black Rage, a condition that turns them into blood-crazed maniacs who rush into battle uncontrollably. The Blood angels spend their whole lives fighting this urge. When they can no longer resist, they are formed into special units called "Death Companies" where they can meet their end in glorious battle against their enemies. 

The army has access to lots of fast attack options and excels at getting in the face of the enemy as soon as possible. They can also field a very dangerous deathstar unit in the form of the Death Company.

Here is the Battleforce Box
10 Space Marines
5 Assault Marines
5 Death Company
1 Rhino

This is a very effective force for $100, a savings of  $36.25.

Red Gore
Blood Red
Fiery Orange (to highlight the red)
Boltgun Metal
Space Wolves Gray
Chaos Black
Skull White
Trim Colors for squad designations.

Next Steps
  • For an HQ, take something with a jump pack that can join the death company or assault squad. Blood Angel Heroes do their best in combat and a jump pack gets them there.
  • The Baal Predator is a great tank for cutting down troops and light tanks. It is a good support vehicle for softening up the enemy before the troops get in.
  • More Death Company is always a good choice. They are some of your best troops, why not have a bunch of them?
Final Thoughts
I sometimes get frustrated that my own marines are not super good in close combat. This is not true with this army. They have the ability to get into combat quickly and dish out lots of pain when they get there. Also, the Death Company gets "Feel no Pain," so they can take a lot of punishment. They also have some of the coolest models among all the Space Marines, hands down!

Warhammer & 40K: Chaos Daemons

In the Warhammer Universe there is an alternate dimension called "The Warp." It is a twisted reflection of our own world, where all the worst emotions of the living take shape as "warp entities." They are not evil per se, but instead are formed out of our own faults and failings. There are four chief distinctions of these entities, relating to rage, lust, decay, and change. Sometimes these entities break through into the material universe where they take form in order to spread misery and death to the living.

This is a unique army in that the same units can be fielded in both Warhammer and 40K. They consist of specialist troops that share the traits of being able to "just appear" on the battlefield, shake off grievous wounds with invulnerable saves, and wink out of existence as quickly as they came.

Here is the starter box for both games
20 Bloodletters
10 Daemonettes
10 Pink Horrors
5 Seekers

The box is $105 or $140.75 if purchased separately. The box includes both round and square bases.

Khorne troops, like the bloodletters should be painted with Blood Red and Baal Red Wash.
Nurgle troops, like Plaguebearers, can be painted with Goblin Green, Thraka Green, and Bleached Bone.
Slaanesh troops, like the Daemonettes, can be painted with any selection of pinks and purples
Tzeentch troops might be painted in any color you want, since they are constantly changing their forms.

Next Steps
  • Most of the best choices here are the named characters in the lists. They come with a wide variety of special abilities, so pick one that suits your play style.
  • Juggernaughts are very tough and can deal out a ton of damage to the enemy
  • Nurgle troops are very resilient and are great for holding the middle of your line and sitting on objectives.
  • You won't get a lot of long range shooting in this list, so take a look at where it can be found, especially in psychic abilities and fast troops with their own ranged attacks.
Final Thoughts
The army has a lot of deep-striking ability which can be a blessing and a curse. The invulnerable saves are nice, but there is a risk that your deep strikers will get shot to pieces before they get in. Play smart and use your special abilities to keep the enemy on their back foot.

Warhammer 40K: Dark Eldar

The Dark Eldar are a cruel, evil version of the Eldar. They are raiders and bandits who love to inflict pain and suffering wherever the can. They are known for lightning raids and unbelievable cruelty. I like them because they really offer an interesting enemy to fight against!

The army is still very new and I am not completely familiar with how it plays. There are a few themes that have carried over from the old list and I will try to cover them. Primarily, they are very fast. The standard transport is a fast skimmer and they have access to a lot of jetbikes. Any good Dark Eldar force will probably take advantage of their speed in some way.

Here is the Battleforce Box:
10 Dark Eldar Kabalite Warriors
10 Dark Eldar Wyches
3 Reaver Jetbikes
1 Dark Eldar Raider

The box costs $95, a pretty good savings over buying them separately at $125.75.

There are many different color schemes possible, but mainly the army features dark purple, turquoise, or red.
For red, start with Scab Red and then highlight with Red Gore.
For purple, start with Lich Purple and highlight with Warlock Purple.
For turquoise, start with Hawk Turquoise and blend in some Space Wolves Grey for a Highlight
The black armor can be highlighted with Codex Grey and Fortress Grey
The Dark Eldar Flesh can be made with Elf Flesh washed with a Leviathan Purple Wash
Since I haven't painted these models before, take my advice with a grain of salt and try your own techniques.

Next Steps
  • An Archon is the standard HQ choice. He can be tooled up with lots of equipment and some very interesting HQ choices
  • Be sure to get plenty of troops mounted in Raiders. Use them to swoop in on objectives in the end game.
  • The elite troops and fast attack choices look to be very powerful, with lots of abilities that will mess with your enemy's battle plans
  • The Heavy Support choices include a jetfighter, a monster with a scorpion tail, and a ravager with mountings for tons of Dark Lances (that is good).
Final Thoughts
This army bears a little more research on my part, but this is a good time to get into it. Lots of people who bought the army when it first came out may be looking to get rid of it now (buyers remorse) so an army may be had on the cheap over at ebay. Keep your eyes open. It is currently a top tier list on the tournament circuit, so there will be a lot of tactica out on the interwebs.

Warhammer 40K: Eldar

The Eldar are an ancient race that plied the stars long before humanity. Their technology is far superior than humanity's, but they suffer from lack of numbers and their own arrogance. They are a proud people, fighting for their existence in the ruins of a once great empire.

The Eldar army is made up of specialists. Unlike an army like the Space Marines, each unit is really only good at one thing. Their close combat units are very good at that, but are usually unable to shoot much of anything. Likewise, their long range shooters are capable of pouring lots of highly accurate fire on the enemy, but fold as soon as they get caught in an assault. As a result, you need to support units with each other and play very tactically to get the most out of them.

Here is what comes in the Battleforce:
1 Eldar Dire Avengers Squad (5 models)
1 Eldar Guardian Squad (8 models)
1 Eldar War Walker
1 Eldar Wave Serpent
1 Eldar Heavy Weapon Team

This is one of the cheaper boxes at $95. Bought separately you can get the same force with a few more Dire Avengers for $146.75.

I will not attempt to tell you how to paint Eldar in this small space. The army will not necessarily have a unified color scheme since each unit comes from a different Aspect Shrine. As a result, each unit should be painted in its own scheme in order to differentiate them on the tabletop. For the best look, focus on keeping clean lines and bright highlights. It is OK for Imperial Guard and Orks to look sloppy, but not these guys.

Next Steps
  • This all depends on what kind of force you want to start putting together. A Farseer with a Council is good as they are effective in combat and the farseer can boost the army with his psychic powers.
  • Buy transports for your units when possible. If they are protected in a vehicle, that will go a long way to mitigating their low toughness.
  • After a few games, begin building up where the weaknesses lie. For shooting, get some Dark Reapers or a Heavy Weapon team. For durability, get some walkers or tanks. For close combat, get some Banshees or Striking scorpions. For mobility, get a unit of Swooping Hawks.
Final Thoughts
To be successful this army has to focus on what makes it good. They have good mobility, ballistic skill, and initiative. Ask yourself how to increase those attributes and avoid their weaknesses (low armor and toughness).Also, Harlequins are cool. Buy some and learn to paint them so they look like the picture on the box.

Warhammer 40K: Grey Knights

The Grey Knights are the elite of the elite. They were created during the time of the Horus Heresy as a bulwark against daemonic incursions and have fulfilled their duties faithfully for 10,000 years.

They are tough even by Space Marine standards and have access to some super-powered heroes and specialized equipment. They are particularly effective against daemon armies, but don't think that limits their effectiveness against other foes.

There is currently no Battleforce Box, but this will get you started:

Grey Knight Terminators(5 models)
Grey Knights (5 models)
Nemesis Dreadknight
This basic force will cost you $136.75

This army is as easy to paint as Necrons.
Try painting them Chainmail, washing with blue ink, and highlighting with Mithril Silver.
Finish the details and trim with whatever other colors look appropriate. A little Shining Gold and Scab Red should do the trick.

Next Steps
  •  There are several different HQ options, including Inquisitors and Grey Knight heroes. The Inquisitors have access to their own specialized retinues and equipment. The Grey Knight heroes are close combat monsters
  • The grey Knight Marines are a good choice for your troops, but you may also field terminators in this slot for some extra durability.
  • The Grey Knights have access to the Storm Raven, a new fast attack option that only a few armies have access to.
  • Land Raiders and Dreadnoughts also fit well in this force.
Final Thoughts
I am told that this can be one of the smallest armies in the game due to the expensive cost of all the troops. They do cost more, but each model comes with improved stats and equipment, making the price worth it. This is supposed to look like a small, elite, hard-hitting task force. Follow the fluff and the army will be successful.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Warhammer 40K: Chaos Space Marines

The Chaos Space Marines were once the Emperor's chosen guardians, but have since fallen to the insidious temptations and predations of the warp. They are veterans of countless battles and bring some unique and terrifying abilities to the table.

There are countless ways to theme your force. Some prefer to pick a single chapter and focus on a certain set of abilities, others like to combine strange, disparate elements into a loose warband, and others will field them like a traditional space marine armor with all the armor and firepower that is not that different from the loyalists.

Here is the Battleforce Box
15 Chaos Space Marines
5 Possessed Marines
8 Khorne Berserkers
1 Rhino Transport

This will cost $110, or you can purchase the units separately for $165.50 with 4 extra Berserkers

Paint Recommendations.
These rely largely on your choice of chapter and patron deity.
Khorne units favor red and brass
Nurgle Units favor green and brown
Slaanesh untis favor purple and pink
Tzeentch units favor blue and gold
Take a look at the models you like and try to match them closely. There is a reason why these colors are chosen for certain models.

Next Steps
  • If you want to field a "power specific" force, start buying up the specific units that correspond to that power. Nurgle units are tough, Khorne units are hitty, Tzeentch units have lots of different abilities, and Slaanesh units have some ammazing shooting
  • The HQ units in this army are devastating. They can shoot, hit, and cast psychic powers with the best of them. The plastic commander kit is a good option since it lets you make just about anything you want.
  • Armor. Chaos Land Raiders, Predators, Rhinos, and the infamous Defiler are great in this army. They have more options than their Imperial counterparts and should be included right away.
  • Elite units like Terminators and Obliterators are also a must have. They add even more shooting and combat skill to an army that already excels at it.
Final Thoughts
Your army will likely be smaller than a normal Space Marine force, but your units will have more abilities at their disposal. Take advantage of their special skills and maximize what they are good at.

Warhammer 40K: Necrons

The Necrons are an ancient race that predate the coming of Man. They lie sleeping in tomb worlds across the galaxy awaiting the time to rise.

The Necrons will soon be getting a reboot. Many people complain that the rules are overly complex and no unit does what it is supposed to. The army is very resilient but lacks a lot of common wargear and support units. Although there are several different types of warriors, the elite or fast versions are often not worth the cost.

Here is the Battleforce box:
28 Necron Warriors
3 Necron Destroyers
7 Scarab Swarms

The box is $105, or you can spend $130 for fewer models.

Recommended Paint
Boltgun Metal
Badab Black
Scorpion Green
There is no easier army to paint.

Next Steps
  • HQ choices are limited. The C'Tan can be devastating, but they are quite expensive. The normal Lord can be given some nice equipment as well as a Destroyer Body for a little more flexibility.
  • Destroyers can offer a lot of shooting coupled with high speed. They can cause your opponent lots of problems, especially in great numbers
  • The Monolith is a very tough tank with good shooting and also the ability to transport units around the board.
  • More Necrons. You must always be aware of the danger of phaseout. Have enough Necron warriors with you to survive the battle, even if it means keeping an entire unit hidden and out of sight of the enemy.
Final Thoughts
While you may be able to pick up a very cheap army, you may want to wait a few months. The new army book is supposed to be changing things radically, so your current army may be worthless in the new edition. If someone does give you an army, however, don't forget to make those "we'll be back" rolls and duck all the power swords out there!

Warhammer 40k: Sisters of Battle

The Sisters of Battle form the Chamber Militant of the Ecclesiarchy and the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus. They are warrior-nuns who fearlessly fight all manner of heretics in the name of the God-Emperor.

The Sisters are currently in the middle of a reboot of the line. There are rumors that they will be getting a line of new plastic models soon, which is good because the old pewter ones are becoming prohibitively expensive. They also were recently issued a pared-down version of their codex in White Dwarf. The new list is easier to use, but some players felt that many of their favorite rules and abilities were lost.

There is currently no starter box, but a decent starting force might look like this:

10 Sisters of Battle with superior and two special weapons
5 Dominions with superior and two special weapons

1 Immolator

This bare bones army will run you $150.85 retail. Don't pay this! Get online and find some sisters for a discount. Once you have a core force, go back to the store and buy the special weapons that you need to field some different kinds of troops. This will save you significant cash.

Recommended Paint
The army is generally depicted in Black, White, and Red. Pick a combo that you like and keep it consistent throughout the army. Paint the tanks the opposite of the troops by way of contrast. If you are painting lots of white, get a tutorial somewhere because it will drive you crazy without the right techniques!

First Steps
  • You will need an HQ. The Canoness will support your troops by increasing their ability to succeed at acts of faith. St. Celestine is very durable and pretty good as an assault force on her own. The Confessor and his warband can also do well as an assault force.
  • Focus on getting more sisters mounted in Rhinos. The army can field a lot of 3+ armor saves and shoots as well as Space Marines. The basic troop choice is a solid value
  • Do what you can to increase your long range firepower. Retributors can field four heavy bolters or multi-meltas and the Exorcist tank is a beast.
  • The army has access to quite a few specialized close combat units. Take a look at them, particularly the Penitent Engine.
Final Thoughts
I believe that the Sisters of Battle are one of the most aesthetically pleasing armies out there. The models are very nice and the tanks can easily be modeled to look like rolling shrines. The army will benefit from a full codex and some new models, however. Since the army has a lot of specialist troops, they will need to rely on one another pretty heavily. Keep your shooty models shooting and get your close combat models in as soon as possible to protect the weaker sisters. Finally, don't forget the Acts of Faith!

Warhammer 40K: Space Wolves

The Space Wolves are a First-Founding Chapter and also one of the largest. They do not follow a standard organization, but instead go to battle in packs, lead by grizzled and fearsome veterans.

The have several powerful units at their disposal and a focus on any of them will win you lots of battles. This is currently a popular army, and your foe may already know your tricks. Be a canny wolf and be prepared for whatever comes your way.

Here is the Battleforce Box
10 Grey Hunters
10 Blood Claws
5 Wolf Scouts
1 Drop Pod.

This gives you a nice selection of core troops for $100, a savings of $32.50.

Recommended Paints:
Space Wolves Grey
Skull White
Bleached Bone
Blood Red
Sunburst Yellow
Dwarven Flesh
Elf Flesh
Boltgun Metal
Scorched Brown
Bestial Brown

Next Steps
  • The first trick some people use is to field an enormous unit of Thunderwolf Cavalry. Equip each model differently so you can allocate wounds all around before removing models and get them where they can do the most damage right away. Look online fore third party producers of wolf models you can use.
  • The second trick is to field Long Fangs with Missle Launchers. These elite devastators are excellent shots and can threaten your enemy at range with lots of firepower.
  • Buy the Terminator box set and put some Lone Wolves in your list for extra troop support in the form of hard-hitting elites and HQ.
Final Thoughts
The plastic kits give you a dizzying array of options for your units, making the Space Wolves one of the most characterful armies on the tabletop. They reward aggressive play and when done right, can win tournaments handily. That being said, the army can be abused as well. If you start spamming too many of the toughest units, you may find that no one wants to play with you!

Warhammer 40K: Dark Angels

The Dark Angels are an ancient chapter of Space Marines and have a grim, secretive nature. They are warrior monks, both fierce and proud.

The Dark Angels can be fielded in several different ways. They have the ability to field a large number of Terminators and deep striking troops (the Deathwing) or an entire army of fast vehicles (the Ravenwing). They can also be fielded as a combined arms force with elements of each as well as normal space marines. They also have some  very nice upgrade sprues in order to give your models a unique appearance.

These are the contents of the Ravenwing Battleforce:
1 Land Speeder
6 Space Marine Bikes
1 Attack Bike
The Battleforce is $105, buying the models separately would be $125.75

The Chapter Upgrade Sprue is only $16.50 and will be useful for making your Deathwing or standard army.

Recommended Paints for the Ravenwing:
Chaos Black
Codex Grey
Dark Angels Green
Red Gore
Badab Black Wash

Recommended Paints for the Deathwing:
Bleached Bone
Skull White
Dark Angels Green
Blood Red
Boltgun Metal
Badab Black Wash

Recommended Paints for a standard force:
Dark Angels Green
Goblin Green
Bleached Bone
Skull White
Boltgun Metal
Badab Black Wash

Next Steps:
  • For the Ravenwing, you will need to purchase the "Master of the Ravenwing" in order to field this force legally. Another battleforce box will give you a very fast, hard-hitting army.
  • For the Deathwing, you will need to start buying Terminators, Land Raiders, Drop Pods, and Dreadnoughts. This should look like a highly specialized, elite force. You will also need to convert one of your Terminators into the "Master of the Deathwing."
Final Thoughts
The Dark Angels are an interesting army because with one book, you get three very different ways to play. Further, once you have your army put together, you can usually shoehorn it into a standard marine list as well, taking advantage of all the newest gear. Because of its elite nature, the more specialized list may not be one you wish to start out with as your first force. However, the Dark Angels have a consistently high win ratio and function well against a wide variety of opponents..

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Chapters

There are several Space Marine chapters that do not follow the standard organization and have their own army books without a full line of miniatures. Instead, these armies will have several different HQ choices and few upgrade packs to change the look and feel of the models.

Black Templars
These marines will generally be painted in a white, red, and black paint scheme. They have an upgrade pack with bits for both vehicles and troopers. They have a unique elites choice, the Sword Brethren, and a few HQ choices- High Marshal Helbrecht, the Emperor's Champion and Chaplain Grimaldus. This army is intended to specialize in close combat and speedy transport vehicles.

Iron Hands
There is only one upgrade pack for this army. It is a standard squad box with the addition of some extra bionic legs, heads, arms, and 10 chapter shoulder pads.

Other Chapters
There is a wide variety of shoulder pads for other armies as well. In the bits section on the website, you will find them for most of the popular chapters including Imperial Fists, Salamanders, White Scars, and others. You can use these to customize your own army and they are an easy way to paint the heraldry, since the designs will be sculpted into the shoulder pad itself.

Warhammer 40K: Imperial Guard

This is the army to play if you are a "tread head" While the Imperial Guard does rely on the lowly guardsman to capture objectives and lay down covering fire, it does have access to the widest variety of tanks in the game. They can also field a great number of them since most of their armor can be fielded in squadrons of 1-3 tanks each. This means that a standard Imperial Guard army can field nine tanks without counting transports, flyers, and other fast attack forces. Tanks are a great way to fill out the army since they are relatively easy to paint and start bringing up your point value quickly. There are a wide variety of troop options as well, allowing you to customize your list to include veterans, conscripts, and everything in between.

Here is what you get in the battalion box:
1 Command Squad (5 models)
20 Troopers
3 Heavy Weapons Teams
1 Sentinel Walker

This box will run you $15 and you can pick from two different styles- Cadian and Catachan. If you buy these separately, the price is $151.75. This is one of the best deals we have seen so far, but there is some bad news (see below).

Recommended Paints:
Catachan Green
Graveyard Earth
Bestial Brown
Dwarf Flesh
Elf Flesh
Ogryn Flesh Wash
Chaos Black
The Guard can be painted in any camo pattern you like, so don't feel limited by these colors.

Next Steps
  • Here is the bad news. Even with this box you are still a long ways from an effective starting force. You don't have enough weapon options to effectively field your troops as veterans and the Sentinel is not the heavy armor you need. Buying another battalion box is the answer if you want to field lots of troops. However, there is another way.
  • Buy two command squad boxes or at least order the special weapon bits from an online supplier. Use what you have to equip your basic troopers with three special weapons per squad. Now you have two or three decent troop choices and the command squad for an HQ. Attach heavy weapons as needed.
  • Buy as many tanks as you can afford. Don't worry about adding lots of options and upgrades for your first few. Focus on fielding the basic Leman Russ with one gun and only add the other stuff if you absolutely need to.
  • After adding some armor, go back and add in a few basic platoons. Squeeze in as much shooting as possible since that is the only thing they will be good at.
Final Thoughts:
I like the Imperial Guard because they seem to function the most like a real world army. They can be fielded in a number of different ways and have some of the nicest kits in the game. The are frustratingly weak, however, especially against close combat armies like the Tyranids and Orks. Get used to seeing your men dying in droves, but also relish the moments when you can drop five or six template attacks on the onrushing horde!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Warmachine: Cygnar

At some point we all want to play the good guys. The best approximation for them in Warmachine is Cygnar. They are a proud people in a strong nation. They have well-balanced armies that can both shoot and fight equally well. They are not as heavily armored as Khador armies, but bring a lot more tactical flexibility.

Here is the starter box:
Warcaster Commander Coleman Stryker
Ironclad Heavy Warjack
Lancer Light Warjack
Charger Light Warjack

This box is $49.99. Bought separately, the models are about $78.

Recommended Paints:
The P3 box set for Cygnar includes
Arcane Blue
Cygnar Blue Base
Cygnar Blue Highlight
Cygnus Yellow
Ironhull Grey
Rucksack Brown
I would also add in a flesh tone for Stryker's skin

Next Steps
  • Some players like to swap out the two smaller jacks for another heavy jack. All of them are good and you have a choice between hitty, shooty, and both.

  • Units are important and Cygnar has some good ones. The basic infantry can lay down a lot of fire and some of their close combat units have special attacks against 'jacks.
  • The journeyman warcaster is a nice edition as it generates more focus, allowing you to effectively field more 'jacks.
Final Thoughts
I do not own a Cygnar army, but they are on my list. their shooting had some amazingly long range and gives you the opportunity to take the enemy out before they get into combat. They are also quite good at melee, even if they are not as big and tough as the Khador 'jacks. Soften up the enemy at range and then move in for the kill!

Malifaux: Perdita

Perdita is part of a faction called "the Guild." They serve as the law and order in Malifaux, hunting down Arcanists and defending from Neverborn attacks. Perdita and her family are known as gunslingers and are some of the most dangerous characters in the city.

Here is what you get in Perdita's starter box:
Papa Loco

Painting Recommendations:
Get a good selection of Brown shades since there is a lot of leather and wood
To work on the coats and hair you will need black and gray
There are a few splashes of color on the models, pick one you like and use it sparingly throughout the crew.
Use bright metallics on the guns, such as Chainmail and Mithril for a nice highlight.

Next Steps:
  • The army plays well as it is. The models all have the "family" rule so they can all choose to activate at the same time by companioning with each other. Buying more family members can keep this synergy going.
  • The Executioner is where a lot of people go next. He can cause a ton of damage when he gets in, so many other models will try to avoid him.
  • The Guild Austringer is another common choice. I have not played with him, but I understand that his bird is very effective. The model is pretty cool as well.
Final Thoughts
This is a good recommendation for a starter army since you will do well with simply shooting all your guns. The special abilities, like Perdita shooting around corners, are just icing on the cake. Also, don't worry about taking wounds. Santiago actually gets better once he has taken a few!


Warhammer: Orcs and Goblins

Along with starting my 40K Ork army, I also started a Warhammer Orc and Goblin army. They are not too different from their 40K counterparts, being tough, strong, and unruly. They boast some combat specialists, powerful magic, and some unpredictability as well.

Here is what come in the Battalion Box:
20 Goblin Warriors
15 Orc Boyz
10 Goblin Spider Riders
5 Orc Boar Boyz

All these units come with command options and will run you $105. This is a savings of $18.75, not the greatest deal but you end up with a good sized force.

Recommended Paints
Dark Angels Green
Goblin Gree
Bleached Bone
Scorched Brown
Bestial Brown
Snakebite Leather
Blood Red
Boltgun Metal

Next Steps:
  • Your first HQ option is of course the Warboss kit. I like these since they let you build two characters. However, another interesting option is to field a number of cheap Goblin heroes instead of heading right to the Orcs. They are super cheap and can be tooled up to offer a surprise to the opponent, especially when you put three of them in the same unit.
  • This force is already fairly mobile, but chariots and wolf riders are good as well. Your boyz become particularly effective when helped out with a flanking attack on the enemy.
  • Artillery is important as well. The list has access to lots of cheap bolt throwers and stone throwers. With the increased number of hordes being seen in Warhammer, these have a good chance of paying for themselves
  • Black Orks are very tough combatants and have the ability to quell animosity of units around them. This will help your army function more effectively in the long run.
Final Thoughts
This army has been fun to play over the years and has given me equal wins and losses The losses often came about because the units began squabbling or magic went disastrously wrong. When I did win, however, it was often decisive. The kits are easy to put together and you don't need to be a master painter to get them looking good. Overall this is a very good starting force.


Warhammer 40K: Orks

Orks were my first 40K army. They are a characterful army with lots of crazy rules. The orks can at times be unpredictable, but hit like a sledgehammer even when everything goes wrong. The army gets updates often from GW and is a very popular line. Painting is easy and the army lends itself to loads of conversion possibilities.

Here is what you get in the battleforce box:
20 Ork Boyz
3 Ork Bikerz
1 Ork Trukk

The box is $100, saving you $32.25 over buying them separately

Recommended Paints:
Dark Angels Green
Goblin Green
Green Ink/Wash
Bestial Brown
Scab Red
Boltgun Metal
Chaos Black
Skull White
Next Steps:
  • You should pick out an HQ. The Warboss is a good pick, but the Big Mek can be taken with a force field to give the boyz and nearby vehicles a nice cover save.
  • Consider getting some Killa Kans. Their shooting is more effective than the standard ork and they are dead hitty in combat. Combined with the force field they have pretty decent survivability.
  • Buy another battleforce. You can never have enough boyz and trukks, and the bikerz, when taken as Nobs, can be a "deathstar" unit.
Final Thoughts:
Orks play best according to their fluff. In the stories they are depicted as hordes of boyz slogging across a battlefield using their mates as cover. Don't worry about taking lots of casualties, since you only need a few to survive to ruin your opponent's day. Orks are also addicted to speed. The orks that can afford to do so will mount up in a trukk and plow straight into the enemy's lines. Once in a while they will crash into their own lines, but hopefully you have enough boys left over when the smoke clears. Focus on overwhelming numbers and speed- you won't go wrong.


Warmachine: Khador

Everyone knows that Warmachine is all about the 'jacks. Troops are cool, casters are neat, but what makes the game are lots and lots of steam-powered berserking monstrosities. No one has bigger or meaner 'jacks than Khador. They come at a premium, but their durability and power is well worth it.

Here is what comes in the standard starter box:
Warcaster Kommander Sorscha
Destroyer Heavy Warjack
Juggernaut Heavy Warjack

The models are all plastic and the box set costs $49.99. Purchased separately, this will run you closer to $78, but the 'jack kits can each be assembled into four different models. again, they all come with the relevant stat cards.

Recommended Paint Options:
Privateer Press has some nice, faction specific kits. The Khador kit has the following-
Battlefield Brown
Greatcoat Grey
Khador Red Base
Khador Red Highlight
Khardic Flesh
Thronwood Green
I would then add some Red Ink and Armor Wash.

Next Steps:
  • Don't automatically buy more warjacks. Sorscha only has so many focus points to go around.
  • Consider getting some Man-O-War units. They function like light 'jacks but don't need to be given focus to be effective
  • Standard winterguard units may seem a little dull, but Sorscha has some abilities to boost them up
  • Increase your ranged threat with some widowmakers or greylords.
  • Purchase Sorscha's epic card to try out some different abilities.
  • Buy a new caster. for just a few bucks you can completely change how the army works.
Final Thoughts:
Right out of the box you have a solid force that other battle boxes will have a tough time dealing with. Rely on your armor to get into the fight and don't hold back. One solid charge by either 'jack should seriously disable any other on the board. Use Sorscha's abilities to make sure they get there at the right time.


Malifaux: Rasputina

Rasputina's crew is a great one to start with. The models are easy to paint and the rules are easy to learn.

Here is what comes in her starter box:

Ice Golem
3x Ice Gamin

Recommended paint options;
Enchanted Blue
Ice blue
Space Wolves Gray
Blood Red
Hawk Turquiose
Elf Flesh
Chaos Black
Skull White

Next Steps:
  • The December Acolyte offers some ranged attacks as well as the ability to heal himself.
  • A familiar for Rasputina will increase her already formidable spellcasting abilities.
  • Any model with "Frozen Heart" works well in this band
Final Thoughts
Rasputina has a good mix of offensive and defensive spells. She does not have a ton of triggers to memorize so plays in a pretty straightforward manner. Her ability to cast spells through friendly models helps keep her safe. She can also slow down the enemy advance by freezing the terrain they are in or creating her own walls! The Ice Gamin are pretty cheap and can be a threat, particularly in numbers. They can hit and shoot, and if they die they explode, dealing damage to all models around them. Since they have armor, they can absorb a lot of punishment as well. The Golem takes this to an even further extent. He is a great beatstick up close or far away. He is heavily armored and his explosion damage is even better than the Gamin's. I have had a lot of success with this basic force.

Hobby Starters: Warhammer: The Empire

The Empire is a good place to start in Warhammer. You will be able to have an all plastic army with lots of options. You can field a relatively small army with lots of cavalry and artillery or go the horde route with lots and lots of infantry.

Here is what comes in the Battalion Box:
20 State Troops
10 Handgunners
10 Greatswords
8 Knights
Bought Separately, this would run you $150.50. As a set, it costs $115.

Recommended Paint Options (around $4 apiece):

Blood Red or Scab Red
Goblin Green
Dwarf Flesh
Elf Flesh
Bestial Brown
Chaos Black
Skull White

Next Steps
  • You will need to purchase a General. The plastic kit is the best value for $26.50 since you will get enough pieces to create two characters, one mounted and one on foot 
  • You should look at long range support. This can take the form of fast cavalry units, artillery pieces, or wizards. All are good options but reward different playing styles
  • Bulk out the army with another Battalion Box. This will give you the option to use the horde rule and take advantage of attachments as well.
Final Thoughts
The Empire is not as tough, fast, or hitty as other armies. It focuses on teamwork and tactics over brute force. I have found that the army works best with lots of different units supporting one another on the field. If you get too specialized, chances are that another opponent will out-specialize you and your efforts will be wasted. Also, invest in a good army transport for your figures. This army has a lot of little, fragile pieces that do not respond well to rough handling. Also, buy some regiment bases and movement trays so that you can model the troops standing together. As the army grows in size it will be more difficult to move them around the table if they are all on individual bases.


Warhammer 40K: Space Marines

The most popular army in the 40K universe is by far the Space Marines. These genetically engineered super soldiers are the perfect starting army. They have high damage output, tough armor, and hundreds of characterful options. They are also relatively high value models, so a typical force will not have a ton of guys to paint up.

Here is what you get in a Battleforce Box.

1 Space Marine Tactical Squad with 10 models.
1 Space Marine Combat Squad with 5 models.
1 Space Marine Scout Squad with 5 models.
1 Space Marine Assault Squad with 5 models.
1 Space marine Rhino Transport Vehicle.

If purchased separately from the web store, these models would cost $153.25. The Boxed set is $110. This is a pretty good deal, saving you enough money to buy the army book (around $30) and some paint.

Paint Options
Space Marines can be painted in almost any color, as each chapter has its own livery. In order to paint the models as shown on the website, you should start with these paints:

Ultramarine Blue
Blood Red
Boltgun Metal
Shining Gold
Dwarven Flesh
Bestial Brown
Skull White
Chaos Black

Each pot will run you about $4, but they last forever and are of very good quality.

Next Steps
From here you will want to start looking at how to flesh out the army.
  • The most glaring lack is that this force does not have a leader. There are a wide range of models that can be purchased ranging from $15-$20. The plastic Commander sprue is the best deal as it will also give you some more weapon options for your basic squads.
  • Secondly, there are no elite units. A box of Terminators ($50) will add a lot of punch
  • Finally, there is no heavy armor. A Land Raider ($66) will provide transport for the terminators and also some anti-tank firepower of your own.
Final Thoughts:
It will be very hard to put together a bad Space Marine army. The models look great and the army has a lot of built-in toughness and redundancy. There are a plethora of options to personalize your own force and no two armies need look the same. The only drawback is that everyone else plays Space Marines, too. If you want a little variety or a more challenging army, I would look elsewhere.