All of us at Woehammer have been playing wargames in various forms for around 30 years now. So we thought it may be a good idea to go through what we think are some of the best things to do as a beginner who is just starting out with miniature wargaming as a hobby.
William – I would definitely recommend anyone new to the hobby to get whatever hobby bits they need and to start small with a basic box of troops/battle line, and just practice techniques and colour themes so that the money invested is small and you get a basic grip on things. Like undercoating, base coats, washes, highlights, dry brushing, learning to thin paints and building a good foundation. Then when you do buy that starter box, whole army or whatever, you are more confident and not so overwhelmed by everything.
Peter – So much to say and so little time! Firstly, you may have been attracted to the hobby by all the beautifully painted miniatures you’ve seen online, in a shop window or magazine. My first tip is never to compare your own work to these, especially when you’re just starting out. Much of the time the beautifully painted minis you see will have been painted by professionals or someone who has been painting minis for decades. Always compare to your past self, if you see improvement and you like your work then that is all that matters. Looking at those minis is great for inspiration, but that’s all I would use them for.
The Citadel Colour Website has a number of fantastic painting tutorials for the beginner explaining many of the basic techniques as well as how to paint some of their miniatures. These are a great start for those just starting out in miniature painting.
Don’t necessarily buy your miniatures straight from the manufacturers like Games Workshop. If you shop around you can often find retailers who offer a 20% or like our friends at SCN Hobby World a 25% discount on the models and paints you want. If you’re just starting out and just want to test some colour schemes then eBay may be your best option to find second hand models to practice on.
Start small, plan ahead. Make sure you like both the aesthetic of an army and their play style before you dive right in. Once you find an army you like, start with a small force of perhaps 500 points and paint that up.
Every wargamer ends up with a large backlog of miniatures, IF this is something you want to avoid then try and restrict yourself to buying new units only once you have cleared your current backlog.
When it comes to painting, many of us have moved away from Games Workshop spray paints (£12.99) and use Halfords (£8.99) paints instead. Just as good and a fraction of the price.
Declan – Most important advice I’ve had… “your Hobby, your way”. There’s so many options with collecting, assembling, painting, playing and loads of companies that produce toys including some great smaller ones. Don’t be put off by others or what you see on social media – 99.9% of gamers are welcoming to new players and happy to share wisdom. I’m more into playing, so with that in mind:
Find a local club if you can – social media is great for this – and if you can’t don’t be afraid to start a small club and see what happens. Shop locally where possible as your Freindly Local Games Store (FLGS) – you don’t need to buy directly from Games Workshop or the other manufacturers, and your local shops will often have places to play or small events that you can dip your toe into. These smaller local events often are okay if you bring unpainted models so you can get into the gaming straight away.
If you do want to go to avents check out the Tournament calendars available in your area, and let the organiser know you are new.
Don’t worry about Hobby slumps – they happen to us all – just find something you enjoy and paint / play / read around that.
And finally – there is no requirement to play Games Workshop games or use their miniatures – there are so many great manufacturers and game systems out there; you will likely find a niche and you’ll be surprised how many people will play it… sometimes all a community needs is for someone to go first.
Dave – Buy items like snippers and tape measures from your local hardware store rather than places like Games Workshop. As a comparison, a Games Workshop tape measure costs £5.50 whereas an equivalent from Screwfix will cost £3.99.
Likewise with Brushes – you can get cheap brushes by the dozen from Amazon and sometimes good deals in wilko etc.
Paints, the obvious place to start is GW as these are likely your first exposure and most of the tutorials you find and free lessons in store will be with their paints. It’s worth trying out contrast and shades as a beginner. You can great bang for your buck with Vallejo though and these will last you longer for less.
Glues, lots of cheap options are available, you need a polystyrene cement for plastics, superglue for resins or the rarer metal miniatures.
Very First minis – GW stores if I remember correctly will give you a free mini for an introductory painting session. Maybe ask a buddy if they have a spare mini if you want to find out how you feel about painting.
But ask yourself, are you Painting minis or starting an army?
If you enjoy painting and want to pursue that, you might start with something relatively simple like Stormcast or space marines. It’s worth thinking about what you want to do though, something like ogres has lots of different textures and can help you learn new techniques to deal with furs, flatter panels, skin and faces on a relatively forgiving model. Choose a model with a relatively open pose if you see one you like, brush control is not easy and accidentally catching something you already painted can be frustrating. Most of all, though, choose a mini which excites you.
Starting an army.
Find a faction you like and read up on their lore, ask anybody you know who plays them about how they play. See if you can get a few games with a borrowed army and see if you enjoy them. Be a bit self-aware, if you aren’t the sort of person who can face painting hundreds of termagants, or whatever, then that’s probably not the army composition for you.
Here’s what you probably should do and nobody actually does – choose the minimum ’legal’ army and build and paint that while playing to learn the game and your army. Don’t be tempted to buy a big army box or a dozen units as it can be disheartening and you could end up with models you don’t really want. Path to Glory/Crusade can be an option here if you’re playing one of those games. For smaller skirmish games this is less of an issue but do finish your base gang before moving on.
If you aren’t playing Path to Glory, or similar, consider building your army up in blocks of a playable amount. E.g. get some 500 point games and after you have finished your first block of models then collect another 500 and play 1k etc.
Stickwithitness….. there will be times when you’ll get frustrated or disheartened. I think it’s worth trying to have a mix of units insofar as you can to avoid that. E.g. if your first army is for AoS and you’re looking at a couple of battleline and a leader, try and get two different battleline which build a bit differently and paint a bit differently to give yourself variety.
Give yourself ‘rewards’ if that works for you e.g. painted your battleline unit then treat yourself with a monster, a character or a tank.
Perfect is the enemy of the good. Get your minis painted and on the table, don’t be intimidated just get paint on them.
There you go, all our sagely advice written down for prosperity. Hopefully it helps!