Starting a New Army – How Do You Choose? by Martin A Jones

7 Jun

I’ve just got back into Warhammer 40k and these are my thoughts on how to choose a force, there are some initial considerations to think about which I have placed in order of importance:

1. How do you play the game?

What’s your preferred game style?
Do you rush imperial guard platoons forward to wipe out the chaos Khorne Bloodletters, because you love assaulting? Then you may have the wrong army.

Do you love moving in and out of cover with your Tau Crisis suits not going anywhere, just shooting and moving away from you opponent?

Do you love doing a bit of both?

I think understanding how you intend to or actually play this game as it will help you decide on your force.

You need to have a read of internet builds, don’t take these as gospel but read them and read them all you should to get an idea of what each army can do, basically you need to have a think about how you enjoy playing the game and then try to work out which forces suits you the best.

2. Consider the 5th Edition Rules And Rulebook

You MUST read the rules and have a small understanding of how things work, not a massive understanding but some comprehension is needed, this will allow you to see that the most important features of 5th is Assault and Troops are King. What does this mean? It means you can spend all your turn shooting 30 lasguns at a mob of genestealers and they’ll take for example 3 wounds, great I hear you say, if the next turn they get into close combat with you and you score 0 wounds and they score 3 that’s the same right? Wrong, you now have lost combat and need to take a morale check and if you fail you’ll turn and run and then could potentially lose the whole squad in a sweeping advance. This is what makes assault king and you must think in terms of redundancy, for this reason something that may be one type of unit is sternguard, they’re shooty but have 2 attacks base and 3 on the charge this helps you equal the odds, they’re not great but they’re not that bad either!

Troops are King; basically troops are the most important part of your army as they can capture objectives and if you read the rules objective games are going to be a majority. You want to be filling your force org with troops so look in a codex or the GW website and look through all the troops to see which you like best. You’re going to want about 3 squads to help score and do everything else – generally they’re the cheapest units and can be kitted out in various ways.

Beware 40k has a lot of force modifiers which allow you to run certain units as troops, Belial in Dark Angels for example, so you can run all Terminators, Logan Grimnar is similar as is Dante in Blood Angels.

3. Be Shallow.

Basically be shallow when choosing your army; handpick something which looks good to you, have a read of the backstory (fluff) and see what takes your fancy too. These are going to be your guys on the field and you’re going to spend as much time if not more modelling and painting these guys than playing with them initially so pick something you like.
4. My Unwritten rule. (Which is actually now written)

Try not to codex chase, this will cause you problems in the long run, mainly with your wallet! Pick an army and stick with it for a while at least every codex has tricks or traits which people all rave about when it initially comes out, then soon enough people will give up on these tricks and realise it’s pretty balanced actually.


You need to consider these guidelines and try and achieve an equal balance of 1-3 of my suggestions. You need something you’re going to enjoy making, gluing, painting and writing lists for as much as you do playing. Sometimes it is fun to be the underdog and this can be immensely awesome, you’ll soon get joy out of your game as much as your opponents when your 10 Necrons wipe out your opponents Demon Prince in close combat you, and hopefully they’ll will enjoy it too.

Anyway good luck!


3 Responses to “Starting a New Army – How Do You Choose? by Martin A Jones”

  1. KirstySharpe June 7, 2011 at 11:34 #

    This seems like sound and good advice to me! Thank you Martin x

    • 40KUK June 7, 2011 at 11:40 #

      Yep, I agree!

      The only other 2 things to think about is if Troops and Close Combat are kings then movement and melta weaponry are their Queens.

  2. AndrewC June 9, 2011 at 20:56 #

    Like your analogy Dave, and think Martin has got it right. Anyone starting out on this rocky road should take notice of these.

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