8 beginner tips to bear in mind to learn wh40k faster and smarter!

I’m now firmly on the path to mastering my own force, and I feel I can actually share some experience and advice on how to make your introduction to wh40k more enjoyable and shorten the learning curve!

Chaos has much to teach.

1 – You will get mauled

Everyone loves puns.

You will get crushed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Necron decurion detachment or a fluffy Thousand Sons Chaos list, these guys have played wh40k much longer than you and are familiar with not only their own codex and units, but yours as well.

2 – Set realistic goals

The Romans set unrealistic goals with the Antonine Wall. 

Leading on from point 1, you should set realistic goals for what you determine as success. Winning a game isn’t the only measure of success – Improvement is. My first goals simply not being tabled, then to score a few points, then to make it an even game, but enjoying myself throughout. After a good streak (relatively speaking) where I didn’t get tabled and played a series of very even games, and even won one (against another beginner), I started getting tabled again. I’ve now gone back to basics after experimenting with a few tactics.

3 – Don’t take things personally

Bear in mind you are maneuvering toy soldiers with imagined personalities on a board with plastic trees and hills. There is absolutely no reason to get annoyed. If someone is gloating about his intelligence and superiority because of winning a game it says a lot about him.

4 – Learning about codices and units

Essentially, you don’t know how to best utilise your own units, never mind counter your opponent’s units. For example, the first time I played against Grav, I tried charging them down with Chosen. As Grav weapons wound on my armour save (3+), I got destroyed. Or the time my Chosen got ruined when playing AdMech/Skitarii, where they had a formation where, if one unit causes an unsaved wound on my unit, the unit loses its cover save against the rest of the unit in the formation. My Chosen (who were run with Cypher and were camping a ruin for a 2+ cover save) got wiped in T1.

You are at a handicap, as your opponent will immediately know his target priority, whereas you’re fumbling in the dark and will need to respond immediately to threats rather than having a general overview of which of his units you need to take out. Maybe you don’t know how dangerous his Wyverns can be against light infantry and that you should rain down some S7 shots on them ASAP, hoping that one pen goes through, thus preventing their blast weapons from firing due to only being able to fire Snap Shots due to being shaken or stunned. However, because you’ve never played against Wyverns, suddenly you lost an entire squad of infantry turn 1. Turn 2 you will focus on the Wyverns, because you have more infantry, but you’ve already lost a squad.

This is probably where you will have the biggest issue. Due to the variety of codices and types of lists, this can be quite overwhelming, and even if you did well against one Imperial Guard opponent you’ve played against 20 times that means nothing when coming up against Orks for the first time.

5 – Note down your experiences

After every game, I note down my army list, what I faced, the mission and score, what went wrong, and what went well. Talk to your opponent and ask him what caused him problems and what you did wrong. Be humble, don’t complain, and people will help you improve your game quickly. This will help you identify weaknesses in your army list, tactics, and strategy.

6 – Don’t blame your codex

Don’t bother blaming anything else but yourself, and keep in mind point #3. I’m not saying to ignore the fact, but it isn’t a source of complaint. Your codex, like my CSM codex, may be scrub-tier at the moment, but this’ll change sooner or later. It is better to learn how to use these units and wait for their costs to drop or their power levels to increase.

7 – You can learn from anyone

If someone turns up with a tournament list vastly stronger than yours or whether they’ve brought a themed list, you will learn from it. If they are merciless in the execution of the rules, e.g. if you forget your psychic phase after having shot once, or forgot to roll for reserves, this will all help improve your level of play. For a lack of a better word, the emotional pain will be a sharp reminder.

8 – Don’t worry about the rules

You will make mistakes due to wrong interpretations of the rules – I recently though I could shoot through my own units without giving my opponent a cover save, but it’s only my own squad for example. An opponent pointed this out, and now I’m not going to make that mistake again – I think. Everyone makes mistakes!

Here’s a great cheat sheet that I suggest bringing to your games

I think that about wraps it up for now!

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7 thoughts on “8 beginner tips to bear in mind to learn wh40k faster and smarter!

  1. All great points, especially #2. The game of 40K can be learned pretty quickly but there are a lot of nuances and combinations that only experience will reveal and your opponents already have that advantage. I would say it takes a solid year of playing before things really start to turn around. Maybe less, maybe more but at some point things just click. Until then, realize it’s all about having fun and, as you said, setting realistic goals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind feedback! For me it really depends on games I get played – I played a handful of games the first year upon rejoining, but I’ve played almost a game a week for the last few months and learnt way faster! I know what my army does, but against codices I’ve never played I treat it even more casually:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Playing weekly is huge. I used to only manage a game once every few months. I knew the rules well enough, read them frequently, but most my gaming theory was just that, theory. Once I got to play once a week, as I do now, it really progressed my ability with the game.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha. I like number 3 best. I’m a newbie when it comes to playing, an oldie when it comes to modelling and I have played a few bastards who take it all far too seriously. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my little guys and yes I’ve even named them individually but they are just little plastic men. Some die, some live. It’s all good fun but I say Boooooo to those bastards that take it far too seriously during a game. Calm down and enjoy it you bastards. Best revenge is beating the bastards at their own game hehe. PS I’m aware I’ve used Bastard a lot in this comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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