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Wargaming Baby Steps: Choosing the Army That’s Right For You

The holiday season, as much I hate to admit it, is fast approaching. You might be looking to take advantage of Black Friday sales as an inexpensive way to try out a new system or you may want to buy a present for a friend who is interested in wargaming. It can be difficult to select the best force when you’re looking through the many options. This guide should help you pick an army that you will enjoy.

Infinity USAriadna header - Wargaming Baby Steps: Choosing the Army That’s Right For You

When starting a brand new army, there are three major areas that you should consider: the aesthetics, the background and your playstyle. Each person decides how much they value each aspect. We’ll cover the basics for each of these areas to make it easier to decide. This can be a good strategy, but new players will often find themselves in serious trouble after their very first games. This is something I personally can testify to, since my very first Warhammer 4K was Dark Eldar. It was at the end of the 5 th and beginning of the 6 th edition. My army was chosen based on aesthetics and I quickly realized that I chose to play 40Kin Nightmare Mode. It worked for me, but it could cause frustration to others.

Let’s start with aesthetics. In today’s overcrowded market, the appearance of miniature games is important. The world’s gaming studios are competing for your money by offering beautifully painted and sculpted miniatures that beg to sit on your shelf. Consider not just the quality of a sculpt, but also your own painting abilities and time available to paint. You shouldn’t expect to produce Golden Demon quality as soon as you start playing miniature games. You’ll end up saving a ton of money and time if you are honest now. You can paint some models more easily, such as Necrons. They are very easy to bring up to standard for tabletop gaming. Look at models from the line and paint schemes that are being discussed on forums, Facebook groups and twitter hashtags. Look at the miniatures that catch your attention and see what color schemes and paint schemes look best to you.

Cameronian Werewolf - Wargaming Baby Steps: Choosing the Army That’s Right For You

Second, you should consider the background of your army. The narrative of a game and its backstory give context to games; otherwise, you are just moving painted bits and rolling dice. This is a great way to motivate yourself and get your army painted. Painting is not something that anyone wants to do. Instead, it should be viewed as an opportunity to prepare your Caledonian force to fight another Yu Jing Expedition Force on Dawn’s surface to defend the Teseum Mining Rights. The Lawmen of Wild West Exodus is perfect for those who want to portray moral and upright good guys, fighting on behalf of the underdog. Enlightened and Hex are good options if you like to use darker colors. You might just be looking to make some cash, raise hell, or leave your mark on history. My friend, it sounds like you’re interested in joining the Outlaws. If you are curious, find out as much about the force you want to join and what makes you interested.

Playstyle is another important factor to consider. Finding the right style for your army will determine how much you enjoy the game. If you try to use a Dark Eldar force as an orderly Napoleonic army, it will only lead to crushing defeat. If you use the same Dark Eldar army, but focus on attacking their flanks and rear while moving in and out to cover your play will be much more successful.

This is a brief overview of some common playing styles. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it will help you get started.

Age of Sigmar Death army - Wargaming Baby Steps: Choosing the Army That’s Right For You

  • The Elite: This army has fewer models than the majority of other armies in the game. Models that are available tend to have better stats and better equipment. Elite armies are more difficult to play because every defeat will affect your overall game. Some examples of elite army are ALEPH, Infinity and Imperial Knights, Warhammer 400K.
  • Horde : Opposite of elite armies. Horde armies are based on large waves of poorly-equipped troops, hoping to overwhelm the enemy with dice and blood. The losses in horde army are to be expected, and will not have much of an impact at first. Ariadna, from Infinity and the Golden Army, from Wild West Exodus are all perfect examples of horde armies.
  • The Glass Cannon: This army focuses more on mobile firepower and mobility to achieve crippling alpha attacks. You won’t be able take as much damage as you did if your alpha attacks don’t work out as expected. You might also be interested in Dark Eldar for 40K and Enlightened, both of which are available as part of Wild West Exodus.
  • The Gun Line: Do you remember the scene from The Matrix when Neo was preparing to save Morpheus, and asked for “Guns”? “Lots of guns?” Gun line armies look like that. The main focus is on engaging their enemies at a distance. If the enemy manages to survive your attacks and get close, you may find yourself in serious trouble. The Union for Wild West Exodus and the Tau from 40K are good examples.
  • Hack & Slash : The opposite of gun-line armies. They like to be up close with their enemies. The tend to move a bit quicker than the average, but it’s not so much that they are a distinguishing feature. The focus is on chopping up their opponents. Look at Khorne’s Bloodbound in Warhammer Age of Sigmar or the Orks of 40K and the Warrior Nation of Wild West Exodus.
  • Defense: While they may not be the fastest or the strongest, but at least they are able to take a hit. The defensive armies use their ability to tank damage to counter threats. This allows their enemies to spend their time fighting against an apparent insurmountable attack. You can see the Trollbloods on Hordes and the Lawmen for Wild West Exodus. The Brewers are in Guild Ball.
  • Dirty tricks: This force will not engage in a direct fight, but instead choose to disable their opponent with different weapon effects. These forces can sometimes be more difficult to play because their abilities and tricks are harder to master. The Nomads in Infintiy are a good example, as is the Morticians’ Guild from Guild Ball and the Skitariis in Warhammer 4K.
  • Jack of All Trades This guy is mediocre or above average in almost everything, but doesn’t excel at any particular thing. These are easy to paint, and they’re easy to use. They make them perfect for newbies. If you enjoy playing them then who cares if others think they are a training wheels army? You can also check out the Space Marines in 40K and Stormcast Eternals in Age of Sigmar. And Khador is available for Warmachine.
  • Support/Synergy This army is characterized by units which are mediocre on their own but grow in power when they receive support from other units. These armies tend to be heavily reliant on their buff generators. This makes them high-priority targets. This includes the Protectorate of Menoth in Warmachine, and the Death Grand Alliance from Age of Sigmar.
As I’m sure you’ve probably noticed, this list isn’t exactly cut and dry; most of the forces listed can easily fit into multiple categories. For example, it’s entirely possible to play a horde style Ariadna army in Infinity with a few dirty tricks, like choosing a force comprised entirely of miniatures with some level of the Camouflage skill, forcing your opponent to play what amounts to a shell game the entire time trying to figure out which camo marker is a mine, which is a decoy, and which is something truly nasty.

It is for a good reason that I chose not to discuss the “strength” of an army, or its performance in tournaments. Metas for local, regional and tournament circuits are fluid. So, anything I say now is likely to become outdated very quickly, rendering my advice ineffective. In addition, I believe focusing only on the rules that work in competitive games will not be effective for casual learning games. The tournament-style army is hyper-focused around the rules of the specific tournament and requires a high level of understanding of the army and game. It is a costly mistake to grab the army list of the month from Dakkka Dakka, Warseer or other places and expect your opponent to be swept aside because that list has won some games in the ITC Circuit. Focus on your chosen army and game to get a good foundation before you start competing in tournaments.

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