That’s the question I always dread being asked because my experiences with the hobby have been very different from the experiences that other people have. I like some games immensely and despise (well, not despise, but don’t prefer) others. So I’ll give you the same advice I gave him and then move onto a different side of this topic.
What Game do I recommend for new wargamers?
It shouldn’t be that shocking. Star Wars X-wing is a wonderfully tight game (that I am terrible at), with concise rules, small games, and instant recognition. It plays quick, it has an excellent tournament setup that Fantasy Flight Games supports and it doesn’t require a ton of models to play. For the person dipping their to into the wargaming market, it provides a low cost, easy entry into a game that hits a lot of the wargaming itches without requiring the big leap.
- Prepainted Ships
- Low model count (the most ships I’ve ever seen fielded by one side is 7, and those were TIE fighters)
- Simple rules set (the rule booklet is only about 30 some odd pages)
- Tournament support (this game has massive tournament support in the US)
- Low cost (the starter set is around 40 dollars US, and the ship expansions are between 15 and 20 unless you are grabbing one of the big bad ships)
- Self Contained rules and stats (Between the ship stand and the associated card, a player has all of that ship’s vital rules at hand and the only thing they may need to reference is a more general rule)
- It’s Star Wars (Some of you love the intellectual property and some of you hate it)
- Extreme Compartmentalization (While you only need to purchase the ships you want to play with, if you want to have all of the options in the game available to your faction, you will need to pick up additional expansions until you actually have one of every ship)
- Small Games (The standard sized game of X-wing is 100 points, which means most games are played with between 2 and 5 ships. )
- TOKENS (Each ship expansion comes with at least two sheets worth of tokens for the ship it comes with, and they can be a pain to sort and keep track of. I think the tokens I own for my Scum and Villainy fleet take up more space than the ships)
- Repetition (Especially at tournaments, there are a lot of people who use the same ship lists with minor tweaks. A day of playing the same fleet over and over again can be grinding, especially if it’s not something you planned for).
X-Wing isn’t a perfect game, but there really isn’t a perfect game. It does fill an extraordinary starting point for new players looking to try out Wargaming with something that’s easy on the rules, and easy on the hobby side of things so they can play. If you can introduce people to a game they want to play, great. Teach them the game, let them tinker with it, and when they are ready to move on to something with a heavier commitment of time/resources/brain power, let them try out your personal favorite.
A Deeper Dive
Now if you’re looking to take a deeper dive into a wargame, we always suggest you check out what games are popular in your local play environment. If you’re not wanting to start a brand new gaming club by yourself, we think you’ll do fine looking around. The best purchase you can make in an environment like this is one of the many two player starter sets that are on the market. Your local store and their deals may affect the price you end up paying. You can get in on a new game for anywhere from $75 to upwards of $125 for a two player starter set. If you’re looking to go it alone, Games Workshop has your back in a big way this year.
I always suggest that a new player look through the company catalog (website for those of you that don’t remember catalogs) and watch people play the game. This let’s you get a feel for the aesthetics you like. It also shows you how the game is played. Watching other folks play a game is the easiest way to pick up the game mechanics and can help you decide if the game is for you.
Once you’ve found your game, The first thing you probably want to pick up is the Army book for your guys. Some games call them army books, codices, Commands, or Combat Manuals, but these books all give you as a player all of the specific rules for your faction and how to put them on the tabletop. Depending on your game of choice, these vary wildly in price, and can set you back upwards of $50. I’d also recommend you pick up the rulebook for the game you’re playing. These contain the general rules of the game and are absolutely necessary for playing the game. Again, depending on the game, these can set you back up to $80 if you buy them separately.
The thing that draws me to Wargaming time and time again are the models. They look amazing in every application of them I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen bare plastic marine parts glued to bases, guys using lego men to stand in for their troops while they get the rest of their stuff ordered, all the way up to guys who spent hour after hour finishing their models to look exactly how they like. Models really sell a game for me, and if I like the look of the models I can overlook some other things that otherwise I may not like.
Games Workshop has made a concerted effort over the last 18 or so months to bring the game down to an affordable price point and few barriers to enter the game. They started this with the Start Collecting boxes they’ve been releasing for the last 18 or so months, and now they have boxes for 15 different factions with a suggested price point of $85. This means that for the price of a video game and a half (or a month of lattes) you can pick up a start collecting box for your favorite guys.
They’ve taken this a step further going into 2017 and are releasing a new series of products to put units in the hands of players. Currently being showcased as parts of the Armored Assault line, these twelve boxes represent a continuation of the trend in Games Workshop pricing. The current trend has these boxes priced at around $55, which is a 20% ish saving, depending on the box you purchase. So what’s in these boxes?
Each one of these boxes comes with a troop unit for the game and a transport (except for the Tyranids, who get a Big Bug) that routinely carries that unit into battle. What does this mean for army building? That’s a little trickier to answer, as it depends on the faction you’re playing and what you intend to do. I’ll show you an example of what you can do with the Space Marine components though.
Start Collecting Space Marines contains 1 Tactical Squad, 1 Dreadnought, 1 Terminator Captain.
Skyhammer Tactical Squad contains 1 Tactical Squad and 1 Drop Pod
Between the two boxes, you as a player now have two tactical squads, a Drop Pod, a Dreadnought and a Terminator Captain. This small force is capable of being fielded as both a Combined Arms Detachment (It meets the requirements of 2 troop choices and 1 HQ choice) or you can field it as the separate formations that each box is made of. Purchasing these two kits will set you back around $140 retail, but it gives you a place to start building your Warhammer 40,000 army. (Remember you still need your codex, and your tools and paints). These boxes also make fairly easy for folks to save up enough money to buy a specific box of things that will help them build their army. Saving up Hundreds of dollars to buy your army all at once is hard to do, but this let’s you turn that big number into bite sized chunks.
Remember, these are just a couple of potential directions that you can take your wargaming hobby into the new year. I strongly suggest you do your research, find out what’s popular in your area, identify what you like, and try the game. You’ll have plenty of time to save up for buying into a new army and there’s a decent hope that you’ve got some holiday cash to help out. Don’t rush into a big holiday purchase for something completely new. Take it for a test drive if you can.
Anyway, those are our thoughts for the holiday spending of currency units for Wargaming, and we at the offices hope all of you have wonderfully happy holidays and find your dice to be hot when you need them.
Game On, Game Fans.
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