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.


Friday, October 7, 2011

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!

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