Published on October 3rd, 2016 | by Luke Turpeinen0
In The Grimdark Future
There Is Only War
Two indie gamers get pulled into the biggest war game on the market.
Warhammer is a name synonymous with fantastical war-gaming, and with good reason. Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WHFB) first appeared in 1983 and its space-faring variant Warhammer 40,000 (WH40k, 40k) followed soon after in 1987.
Warhammer won fans with its blend of science-fiction and fantasy: Heinlein-esque Mobile Infantry crossed with medieval knights, Mad Max style
orcs Orks, H. R. Giger’s Alien crossed with Heinlein’s Arachnids, zombies/mummies crossed with Terminator…
It’s really hard not to like at least one army in Warhammer 40k, at least from an aesthetic standpoint. With 40k as prevalent as it is, there are lots of ways to get introduced to the world and the lore, as well. From popular novels, to all levels of video games, board games and even role-playing games- Warhammer 40k has a way for you to have fun in its world.
Assessing the “Buy In”
Even with all of the ways to get started in the setting of 40k, when it comes down to actually getting into the war game the process can be kind of daunting. A “Start Collecting” kit from the Games Workshop website goes for $140, which is a pretty steep initial buy-in.
Another option is the kit “Dark Vengeance“, which is a small army each of Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines that retails for $160. Two friends could go half-and-half on a Dark Vengeance set, each pick a side and save some money.
While $80 is a bit more reasonable for an initial buy-in to a game for me, I’d rather try the game out a bit first. After talking to some friends that have previously played 40k, they let me borrow their rule books and build an army list. After I get an army list I will use tokens, cut-outs or other minis and proxy my whole army until I am either hooked and start buying minis or bow out.
Making tokens for use in 40k is easily done by just cutting out paperboard circles of the correct size (Space Marines are 1.25in or 32mm in diameter). Of course, one could get fancy and draw little people on the tokens instead of just putting a letter or number.
Nicole has even suggested making entire armies out of snacks like animal cookie Imperial Guard or gummy shark Tyranids. Whenever you kill an enemy, you get to eat the figure!
When I was younger I had collected Space Marines, which are now known by their in-fiction name- the Adeptus Astartes. I knew that coming back I wanted to make a Dark Angels army, as that was the Codex (rule book) I owned in high school. Dark Angels are the more monastic of the Space Marines, and their combat focus is on heavy infantry and cavalry (in the form of Terminator armor and Bikes, respectively).
Nicole decided to play the Sisters of Battle (aka Adepta Sororitas), who are the fighting arm of the Ecclesiarchy. As the military of the state church of the Empire they have a very Catholic-style imagery but they also make strong use of the fleur-de-lis motif, both of which appealed to Nicole. Plus, it’s fun to bring some women to the sausagefest that is most of the 40k armies.
Our group has decided to compose three different sizes of armies each, so that we can be ready to play for different lengths of time at a moment’s notice. The armies we will be building are 850pts, 1250pts and 1850pts, which are all standard army build sizes in the 40k community. The smallest size lets you field around 30 Space Marines, plus vehicles, and is a great starting size for newbies.
Building Army Lists
Our biggest hurdle coming into Warhammer 40k is not having much context for the kinds of units or upgrades we should be including in our lists. Do you bring a couple really upgraded figures or a horde of stock figures? Do you bring an Interrogator-Chaplain or a Dreadnought?
After reading the rule books it seems that you can pretty much field whatever army you’d like, if that’s what you really want to do. That said, there are some incentives and bonuses that you only get if you build your army in certain ways- ways that vary by faction. The Dark Angels have the Lion’s Blade Strike Force which will give my units the “Supreme Fire Discipline” bonus and the “Company Support” bonus if I include enough units in a certain manner.
After some advice from friends and the internet, I’ll be using the standard Dark Angels rule book (itself a Space Marine variant) but Nicole is going to use the army stats and rule book of the generic Space Marines as they’re more beginner friendly than the Sororitas (which aren’t a Space Marine variant, even though they look like one).
First I need 850pts, so I might as well start with the suggested strike force to see what I can do with that. For Dark Angels I’m going to build a Lion’s Blade Strike Force, so at the least I need to pick a Core choice and an Auxiliary choice, and I can have a Command choice for every Core choice I take.
My choices are going to be a Battle Demi-Company (Core), an Interrogator-Chaplain (Command), and a Ravenwing Attack Squadron (Auxiliary). I take a pretty slim Tactical squad, Assault squad and Devastator squad. Then I put my Chaplain and Interrogator-Chaplain on bikes and attach them to my Ravenwing unit (which they can do as Independent Characters). When I expand, if I take another Demi-Company then I can get Rhino transports for my units for no extra point cost.
Nicole really wants to get the Codex Astartes bonuses for making a Gladius Strike Force, which include getting “Combat Doctrine” special powers. She also really likes jump packs, so that will be on her mind for her picks. She needs at least a Core choice and an Auxiliary choice, and can take a ton of Command choices.
Nicole goes with the Battle Demi-Company (Core) and the 1st Company Task Force (Auxiliary). Choosing a Captain as her leader, she gives them a Jump Pack with plans on adding them to an Assault squad. Then three bare bones Tactical squads, a Devastator squad with Heavy Bolter and Multi-Melta, and an Assault squad with Jump Packs. The 1st Company comes in the form of three squads of Vanguard Veterans, all with Jump Packs.
If you have suggestions or comments on the army choices we made, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!