Thursday, December 8, 2016

Getting started in Warhammer 40,000

An online friend text'd me and said "After all this time, I still don't have a solid direction I want to go in 40K'

We talked about it back and forth and this is a friendly guy I have known for a long time.  He has always "run into walls' as he puts it, and been very discouraged by his lack of progress in either making a decision on the faction he wants to play and the way he wants to play it.  

He is probably the hardest person I have ever tried to give advice to because his general emotional state is more relevant than his tactical acumen.  I mean how can you gain tactical acumen without practice and how can one practice without commitment to the particular faction and their methods of war?  So it's tough to tell him which direction to head.  the best direction I told him, was "towards the fun".

This did however trigger in me the idea of writing a short blog on the problem of peoples difficulty in just getting started.

People see the models that Games Workshop produces and they realize in a stunning epiphany that there are actual rules for playing this as a game which is usually an incredibly exciting moment of revaluation for new gamers, and one they often remember in some way  The first thing I explain to them is that they are better off playing a couple of warm up games with a friend and getting the hang of the rules before moving on to making any big decisions about which factions they would want to play.  The enthusiasm grows quickly as a rule and they want to get those models and build them post haste so no matter how good the advice, they plunge in.

The second thing I tell them, flat out to their aces is that unless they are themselves playing others at the same basic place in the game, there will be losses and they will be many in number.  I am a competitive guy so my wife got me a Tau army and i painted it and was playing veterans almost within a week.  I lost 13 of my first fifteen games as some of my loyal readers know.  It was quite an ice bath.

I think peoples expectations must be tempered when they first play, but this kind of brought home how important it is to bring someone with you into the hobby.  I mean if you are going to start playing this game and start to even eventually consider competitive play in tournaments, nothing is a better idea than having a competitive player moderate the game and help both sides with lists.  If you want to play this game, bring a friend!  This is really important advice.  I don't hear anyone giving this advice because in their haste to "help" the player learn the hobby, they often simply overwhelm them.  being "too good" is a problem but not if the person entering it gets to know the game with a friend and latches on to a mentor that can teach you both.

This has two great side benefits.  One is that you are much more likely to learn the game correctly.  By correctly I don't just mean the rules.  I also mean the social conventions that people at your shop generally conform to.  For example, some shops play rubble (which is a 4+ cover save) as being the entire base of the terrain piece while other shops do not include the outer edges of a building to be considered as rubble (the Main Rulebook sort of took the old "Area terrain" idea, scrapped it, but did offer up "Rubble" as a terrain type to use in its place in 7E).  The second benefit is that it removes the highly honed competitive strength of the mentors list from the equation and allows the mentor to guide both sides on their list building.

We know that the cost for an army can become exorbitant if you aren't real clear in what you want to buy, before buying it. that makes it twice as good an ideas to bring a friend into the hobby with you.  You can benefit from model swaps if you purchase the starter box sets and the cost in general goes down for both of you.  In addition as you build your force you also have the added benefit of being able to do it incrementally and the guy you brought with you into the hobby need feel no pressure to speed up his purchases or make ill advised ones.  After all the mentor will be there to guide both of them.

So when and if you ever find out the Tzeentchian secret that these world class ridiculously awesome models actually come with rules that allow you to play with them (which still blows my mind after all this time) bring a friend into the hobby with you, seek out a mentor and explain to them that the two of you would love his help in moderating and help in to grow both collections.  

Mentors will also probably know a lot of people who have models they can let the newest member of the fraternity borrow to try out, or flat give them.  The gaming community is all about the newest person and helping them (if it's a good community) and I know many players locally have been huge beneficiaries of gaining models to their collections just by the people the mentor may know.

Making a decision on which way you want to go, both as far as which faction and how deep, is easier when you grow WITH someone who is right there with you.