A Newbies guide to picking your first Warhammer army
Hello there, I'm Roamer. Sometimes affectionately referred to by Grey as “Build Monkey”. I’m going to start with a confession; I am a bit of a newbie. I don’t have extensive knowledge of the lore, and I still have so much I need to learn on the gaming side (psykers I'm looking at you).
Growing up, I never visited a Warhammer store. I didn't have people around me who could introduce me to it either. But I’ve always loved gaming and I've always liked to be creative, however until relatively recently I had no idea Warhammer was something that could bridge the gap between these two interests. So I’m going to tell you how, as a newbie, I choose my first army.
My initial introduction to this wonderful hobby happened many years before I began to fully immerse myself in the world. I was a student at the time, but I had already started to notice that many of my friends all had the same black ‘Games Workshop’ embossed case somewhere in their dorm. I didn’t know what it was until one day Grey himself opened up his case to show me what was inside.
It was an army of Ultramarines, and I thought the amount of detail in each of his models was astounding. But over the years that followed, as much as I enjoyed looking at other peoples miniatures, I always had an itch… I wanted to build one. So one night Grey got out a “bits box” and let me rummage around, and I slowly pieced together my first ever model. It wasn’t spectacular, a simple chaplain with a black and gold colour scheme I decided to name “Caesar” because of the laurel wreath on his helmet. But from that moment, I was hooked, and before long I was building whatever I could get my hands on from the simplest models to the more complex... But none of these were mine. I needed my own army. But i didn’t know how to choose.
As my interest began to grow Grey started to lend me some of his Warhammer novels. The Black Library is great for introductions to some of the key figures of the Warhammer universe, enabling you a glimpse into the mindset of the characters and factions. Following specific characters, such as Roboute Guilliman in ‘Dark Imperium’ by Guy Hayley, could sway you in one direction or another to learn more about the characters that interest you, helping you develop your preferences for the kind of army you would like to own.
Visiting a local Warhammer store let me check out the tables and displays for myself. Getting that first-hand look helped me to see what was possible, and the staff have always been friendly and willing to help. They give great advice and insight into the kind of army you might like to play and who might best suit your interests and style, offering introductory building and painting sessions to get you started so that when you take your first box of miniatures home, you’ll know what to do.
Warhammer has a considerable presence online as well, with sites such as ‘Spikey Bits’ and ‘Warhammer Community’ displaying pictures of peoples work, various articles, and news about the hobby in general to help to inspire people and enable them to express their love for the hobby. Social media pages are also great platforms to ask questions, and youtube channels run by people such as ‘Wolf Lord Rho’ and ‘Oculus Imperia’ talk about characters and lore in ways I've found to be enlightening and extremely engaging.
When I was choosing my army I went through a number of phases. I had already developed an interest in Roboute Guilliman by reading Dark Imperium and by seeing the miniatures Grey had shown me when I was a student. But as much as I like the Ultramarines I never felt truly invested in having them as my army. Likewise, my first sight of a model of Magnus the Red intrigued and entertained me, and still to this day the “nipple horns” are a feature I find hilarious as well as confusing. But again, the Thousand Sons didn’t grasp me enough to want to invest in an army. Vulcan very nearly won me over with his Salamanders, but when Grey decided to play a video on youtube by 'Bruva Alfabusa' during one of our building sessions, I fell completely in love with the character of “Little Kitten” from the “If the Emperor had a Text-to-Speech Device” series. And that was that.
The series isn’t canon but it made me want to learn more about the Adeptus Custodes. I had initially been tempted by other models and factions, often weighing up all the pros and cons in my local store as I looked over the various boxes on the shelves, but buying my first Custodian Guard Squad box didn’t feel like a difficult choice for me. As a result of this, nearly three years later, I am now the proud owner of an army worth well over 2000 points and counting.
Choosing your first army can seem daunting, But if you do your research, talk to the staff in stores and your friends that play the game, you’ll get a better feel for what army best suits you. At the end of the day, it’s your army. So pick one that you’ll enjoy.