How To Get Into Warhammer 40k Hobby

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So, you’re considering getting into Warhammer 40k, but you don’t know where to start. You are in the right place. In this article, we’ll cover all the aspects of this amazing hobby you’ll want to know about.  

Warhammer 40k: Games Workshop’s Blend of Multiple Hobbies

When people think of this game, they often picture a bunch of nerds huddled around a table with a tape measure, throwing dice, and moving little plastic models around. While not necessarily wrong, there is also much more to it!

For starters, Warhammer 40k is a game of strategy and tactics. You must plan your moves, anticipate your opponent’s actions, and constantly adapt to changing circumstances to fulfill your objectives.

It’s like playing a game of chess but with tanks, aliens, and psychic powers thrown into the mix. Not to mention that it’s much more fun to play!

Epic battles in warhammer 40k
Warhammer 40k has plenty of epic battle scenes.

But that’s not all. Warhammer 40k has a creative outlet. Building, painting, and customizing (converting) your own miniatures is a hobby in and of itself. There’s something deeply satisfying about taking a pile of plastic sprues and turning them into a beautifully crafted army that’s uniquely yours. It’s like building a model kit but with way more opportunities for customization and personal expression.

Painting a space marine
Painting and assembling miniatures is also a part of the hobby.

And let’s not forget about the most important aspect of the hobby, which is the lore. Warhammer 40k has a rich and expansive universe, full of epic battles, tragic heroes, and unspeakable horrors. 

Reading the novels and codexes is like delving into a dark and twisted fantasy world in a distant future, where nothing is sacred and there is only war. This rich backstory helps with immersion and, as we’ll see later, shapes the choices you make when choosing an army for yourself.

How to Pick a Warhammer 40k Army

When it comes to picking a Warhammer 40k army, there are a few things to consider before making a decision. 

  • The look of the miniatures
  • The gameplay style of the army
  • The lore and background of the chosen faction

Army Aesthetics

First and foremost, you want to choose an army that speaks to you visually. You’ll be spending a lot of time painting and modeling your army, so it’s important that you find the models aesthetically pleasing. I can’t stress enough how important this is. 

space marines vs necrons
Space Marines charging Necorns

Spend some time going through images on Games Workshop’s website and see if something draws your attention. Figures are painted by Games Workshop’s ‘Eavy Metal team, and they will help you see how amazing those models can look! There are 360° views of most miniatures, giving you a better perspective and feel of what you are getting into.

Furthermore, Warhammer 40k hobbyists also like to share their work on social media. There are amazing experienced artists and hobby beginners in the tabletop community sharing their work and advice on painting miniatures. 

Keep in mind that some miniatures are easier to paint than others. There’s a good reason why most players pick the Space Marine army as their first choice. They are among the easiest armies to learn to paint with, and you don’t need that many miniatures to start your hobby journey. 

Of course, if you have your eye set on Orks, Tyranids, or any other faction, don’t hesitate just because the painting and collecting process might seem overwhelming. You’ll be happier with the choice you like, not necessarily the easiest choice when it comes to collecting and painting all of the needed miniatures. Remember, this hobby is more of a marathon than a sprint. 

Gameplay and Army Strategy

With more than 30 factions to choose from, it’s no wonder that many armies have different play styles. Basic rules change between different editions of 40k but some army archetypes remain. Here are some types of playstyles and armies you can expect on the tabletop: 

  • Close combat oriented
  • Gunline
  • Highly elite armies with low model count
  • Horde armies that drown the board in models
  • Mechanized with some infantry
  • Fully mechanized
  • and many more.

These are just some examples, and we’re yet to see what innovations in army building the 10th edition of Warhammer will bring. Many armies can pull off different kinds of playstyles, like the Space Marines, for example, which have plenty of units to fit any kind of playstyle.

I personally wouldn’t recommend picking an army primarily for its playstyle unless it also fits the aesthetic you like. How the army works may change as rules change between editions, leaving you with an army you don’t care about anymore. However, if you like your army’s background and love painting those models, it won’t lose its appeal in the long run. 

At Boar Gamer, we’ll cover each faction and how it works as soon as the datasheets and basic rules for the 10th edition are launched, so you’ll have a perspective on how each army works. Games Workshop plans to make rules available for all factions for free to download with the launch of the 10th edition, and we’re going to review most of them. 

Lore and Faction Background

Warhammer 40k is a rich and complex universe, and each army has its own unique story and character. Choosing an army that you find interesting and engaging from a lore perspective will help you connect with your army on a deeper level and add to the overall enjoyment of the hobby. The three overarching factions you can choose from are: 

  • Imperium
  • Chaos 
  • Xenos

Imperium: Not Just Space Marines

Keep one thing in mind, there are no traditional “good guys” in Warhammer 40k. There are endless numbers of people representing the Imperium of mankind in this dark future of the 41st millennium. After reading a few books, you’ll see that the Imperium and humans themselves are more often than not their own worst enemies (sounds familiar?).

Space Marines, the Imperial Guard, Sisters of Battle, Mechanicus, and other Imperium factions defend humanity from other monstrosities, while often being a not-so-lesser evil in the equation themselves. 

Sisters of battle
Unit of Sisters of Battle

Chaos: Here Be Demons

The biggest baddies like Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Knights, Demons, and other warped monstrosities that lurk in the shadows of the grimdark universe of 40k are here. If you like the idea of leading some of the main antagonists in the universe and being over-the-top evil, then some of these factions are for you. 

chaos knight
Chaos Knight: Demonic Engine of War

Xenos: From Space Elves to Bugs That Just Want to Eat You

Xenos are some of the strangest factions in the 40k universe. From mystical Aeldari, warmongering Orks, monstrous Tyranids, ancient Necrons, and others, you’ll find some of the most interesting armies in the 40k universe here.

Necrons rise from their tombs.

Black Library: Start Reading Here!

Black Library is the publishing division of Games Workshop and has many books covering all the factions (except for Leagues of Votan – sorry all of you space dwarf fans out there). It’s a great place to find books to get you hooked on the setting. Here are some of our recommended titles if you want to familiarize yourself with the universe. 

Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

The book does not take place in the 41st millennium but rather 10,000 years earlier, in a more optimistic age of humanity before its inevitable plunge into darkness. The Emperor of Mankind leaves his favored son and now Warmaster, Horus Lupercal, to lead his armies of Space Marines along with his brothers before things start taking a dark turn. 

If you like Space Marines and want to learn everything you can about them, the Horus Heresy novels are as good a place to start as any other. I would also recommend reading False Gods by Graham McNeill and Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter before finding novels about your favorite chapters, or just simply reading all of the books in their chronological order. 

Eisenhorn Series by Dan Abnett

Gregor Eisenhorn is an Imperial Inquisitor, a not-so-ordinary human that acts as a detective, judge, and (if needed) executioner when it comes to defending the Imperium from threats external and internal, such as daemons, aliens, and heretics. 

Eisenhorn Series by Dan Abnett

One of the most beloved anti-heroes in Warhammer 40k lore will show you how evil looks to destroy humanity from every corner. The books that make up the series are Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus, or you can pick up the Omnibus that covers them all, including a collection of short stories called The Magos. 

Brutal Kunnin by Mike Brooks

Brutal Kunnin by Mike Brooks

One of the rare novels written about Orks from an Orkish perspective is a definitive recommendation for people who want to learn more about the greenskin menace. The books revolve around Ufthak Blackhawk, an ork who wants to make a name for himself during a siege of an Imperial world that’s already beset by the notorious Kaptin Bardukk, the leader of the pirate ork faction, the Freebooters. 

The Infinite and The Divine by Robert Rath

The Infinite and The Divine by Robert Rath

There are few older Xenos races in the universe than the Necrons. This novel revolves around two of the most prominent Necron leaders, Trazyn the Infinite and Orikan the Diviner. It covers millennia-long rivalries and machinations spanning an era before even the Aeldari have arisen – a time way before humanity spread across the galaxy. The novel spans the time before Necrons traded their former flesh bodies and souls for living metal suits they still inhabit today. 

Where Can I Learn More About the Warhammer 40k Lore?

There are many other Black Library books that we would gladly recommend. Obviously, you don’t have to think of books as the only media available to learn more about the rich background behind this tabletop game (even though it’s the best one).

The core rulebook is a perfect place to start. In this core book, you’ll find the essential lore of each faction, the universe, and where the story sits currently. 

The overarching narrative of the 41st millennium slowly but surely progresses between editions, and there are plenty of groundbreaking events that will shape its future yet to be revealed. Not to mention that the core books are also where you’ll find a bunch of great-looking pictures of the armies, helping you choose your favorite(s).

warhammer 40k 10th ed. rulebook

If you don’t have time to read, audiobooks can be the perfect solution. Listening to an epic and defiant last stand of your favorite plastic soldiers can be the right push to help you choose your army or to get you motivated to start painting.

If you prefer a quick insight into the lore, a great place to visit is Warhammer 40000 Wiki, which I’ll admit I’ve spent countless hours on, jumping from one article to another. You should also know that reading through the wiki may lead to book spoilers, so be careful.

Space wolves redemptor dreadnought
Painting goes by much faster while you listen to 40k lore.

Another platform that has been awesome for all things Warhammer 40,000 is YouTube. There are content creators that I’ve spent many hours listening to while I was assembling and painting models. Who knows, maybe one of their videos can tip the scales for you and help you choose your first army! These are the content creators that I would like to recommend:

  • Lutein09 – without a doubt the best WH40k lore channel out there.
  • Baldermort’s Guide to Warhammer – like Lutein09, Baldemort has engaging long-format videos.
  • Wolf Lord Rho – Rho has interesting videos and is pleasant to listen to.
  • The Remembrancer – This channel has great short videos for anyone interested in learning more about the central characters of the WH40k lore.

Playing Warhammer 40,000

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to learn how to play the game, such as going to your friendly local gaming store or an official Games Workshop store. Most players and store staff are more than happy to give you some starting pointers and directions. Thankfully, since the 10th edition is just around the corner, we’ll all have to learn the nuances of the new rules together. 

Like with the lore videos, there are amazing content creators on YouTube who record games they play in the format of battle reports. You’re going to find your first game much less difficult if watch a couple of other games being played beforehand. You’ll also easily pick up on the terminology, some basic deployment rules, how the shooting phase works, how to quickly roll the dice, how the victory points are scored, why the objective markers are important, and more.

Here are some of the best creators you can find on YouTube: 

  • Miniwargaming – These lovely Canadians are the pioneers of the battle report and the GW hobby scene and are a great place to start for anyone getting into Warhammer 40k.
  • Tabletop Tactics – Amazing team from the UK with a limitless passion for the hobby and fantastic video production.
  • Winters SEO – Another content creator from the UK with fantastic narrative battle reports.
  • Tabletop Titans – Titans are great competitive players from the US and will show you how to enjoy the game while playing it at a top level.

The Perfect Way to Start Collecting

If you are thinking about collecting Space Marines or Tyranids, starter sets for the 10th edition are a great place to start. However, if you are not planning on collecting those two factions, the perfect solution is combat patrol boxes. 

So what can you find in these bundles? Basically, you will get a small army consisting of several units which often include a troop unit, some specialist units, and a hero to lead them. This is a perfect out-of-the-box solution for playing the first few games with an army that you like and getting all the units you need at a discount. 

Furthermore, Games Workshop has announced its plans to fine-tune all the rules for those combat patrol sets so you can have a perfectly balanced game even with such a small army size.

Space marines and Tyranids combat patrols
Newest Combat Patrols for Tyranids and Space Marines

Painting Minis: Citadel Paints and More

Painting miniatures is one of the most relaxing parts of the hobby, which we will cover in more detail in some other articles on Boar Gamer. Keep in mind that nowadays you have many options to choose from when it comes to paints, sprays, brushes, and other materials that you’ll be using to add color to your minis. 

Closing Thoughts: Just Paint and Play Games

In conclusion, diving into the captivating world of Warhammer 40k is an exhilarating journey encompassing learning battle strategy, showing your artistic creativity, and getting familiar with a wealth of immersive lore. You’ll rarely find yourself with nothing to do, which makes Warhammer 40k a very rewarding hobby.

Just remember, when choosing your army, consider the aesthetics, gameplay style, and faction lore that resonate with you the most. So, grab your tape measure, roll those dice, and embark on an epic adventure into the grim darkness of the 41st millennium!


  1. Is Warhammer 40k hard to get into?

    Warhammer 40k may seem daunting to newcomers, but getting into the hobby is not necessarily difficult. While it involves various aspects such as tabletop gaming, painting miniatures, and exploring the extensive lore, the process can be approached step by step. Find miniatures that you like, familiarize yourself with their background, buy a combat patrol box, and continue from there.

  2. Is Warhammer 40k beginner friendly?

    Warhammer 40k offers a range of entry points and resources that make it beginner-friendly. The game provides starter sets and combat patrol boxes, which offer pre-selected units and simplified rules for new players. This allows beginners to quickly assemble a playable army and engage in their first games.

  3. How much does it take to get into Warhammer 40k?

    The cost of getting into Warhammer 40k can vary significantly. The main expenses include purchasing the rulebooks, miniatures, paints, brushes, and hobby tools.

    The core rulebook is essential but Games Workshop will have Warhammer 40,000 rules free for download on its website. Miniatures are the main component of the game and their cost depends on the army you choose and the size of the force you want to build. Starter sets and combat patrol boxes offer cost-effective options for beginners.

Dusan Vasic

Dusan Vasic

Dusan is a veteran Game Master and Warhammer player. If he isn’t painting miniatures for himself or others, he’s making plans to collect more tabletop minis or expand his evergrowing collection of board games. He’s fast running out of living space, but he doesn’t plan to stop adding to his collection anytime soon.