Thursday, 11 December 2014

Mustering Your Forces: Getting Started With Wargaming

Welcome back, peasants.

Today I want to talk about getting started with wargaming in general, but more specifically getting an army started with Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I hope to impart some of the wisdom I've gathered over my many years of starting, abandoning and rediscovering various armies in both Fantasy and 40k, as well as a couple of other games.

If you're just getting into wargaming it can be very daunting. There is a lot involved in getting started. You have to read the rules, both the basic rules of the game and then your own particular army. Then there is the cost. It's no secret that wargaming can be a pricey hobby to be involved in, but in my opinion the enjoyment you get out of it more than makes up for the cost. In purely practical terms there are hours of enjoyment to be had painting your soldiers and then playing against friends or even strangers at your FLGS or tournaments. Then there are the countless hours you can spend reading and re-reading rule books, source books, army books, campaign books, blogs and forums online. Not to mention the many occasions I've spent simply sitting around with friends and just talking about wargaming.

Action packed!

Assuming you've gotten over the hurdle of the investment and you've decided you want to play, the next step is to choose an army. There are plenty of theories on how to do this. In my opinion, the best way to choose an army is to look at the models. What army appeals to you aesthetically? Do you like the sleek lines and shiny armour of Elves, are you more into the impressive sight of Bretonnian Knights charging upon war horses, or do the filthy hordes of subterranean rat-people tickle your fancy? There's no wrong answer, each army has something to offer in modelling, collecting, painting and gaming opportunities; but it's important to choose one you like the look of, because you're going to have to spend hours building and painting these little buggers. One of the great things about Warhammer (Fantasy and 40k), and the hallmark of a good gaming system, is that there are a bunch of options for play style within each faction. That's why I think going off the look of the army is the best way to choose one.

The next part is a big one. Painting and building your army. My advice is to come up with an overall theme for your army. One thing that keeps me motivated to paint my armies is seeing the units come together to form a cohesive force. Each time you put another painted unit on the board, you'll see your army taking shape and it will only keep you interested in painting more. One of the best things about wargaming is seeing an army arrayed for battle with the individual units coming together to form a whole. For example; my High Elf army is themed around a haughty prince of Caledor manning an ocean outpost, from whence he can defend Ulthuan from invaders or range out into the Old World and defeat the forces of darkness. This manifests itself on the table top with the use of Lothern Sea Guard and Dragon Princes of Caledor. Add to this as many dragons and knights as can be fit in the points limit of a game and you've got an army.

Swordmasters of Hoeth

In terms of painting, the theme translates to the use of turquoise. I use Hawk Turquoise (an old GW colour) for the trimming on the armour. I then wash the miniature with Coelia Greenshade (GW). This is a blue-green wash that tints the whole model, armour, cloth and details and imbues it with a hint of ocean colouring. It also looks a bit magical which is nice for High Elves. This theme really ties the army together visually as well as dictates the play-style somewhat. This helps me to keep a focus of what I'm collecting. I think this is another useful tip as it means you can really plan what you want to use and can even proxy a unit or two before you buy them, just to make sure they fit.

Dragon Prince of Caledor

Another example of theme is Jimzan's Vampire Counts army (from the battle I spoke of last time). He's chosen to really concentrate on the idea of a Necromancer compelling his shambling hordes forward in an unstoppable tide of (un)death. This translates into a lot of zombies and skeletons and a play style of summoning units, making tarpits and giant blocks of infantry that you just can't kill enough of. It also focuses his army construction with most, if not all, of his army being Undead.

Once you've got these things down, the best thing to do is play! Playing games always keeps me motivated to paint more and to look into new and interesting ways to put an army together. 

Have you started an army recently? What are you working on?
Next time I'm going to go a bit more in depth into implementing 
these general tips to get an army painted and ready for war.

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