How To Start Playing Warhammer 40,000 TTG

how to start playing Warhammer 40,000

Warhammer 40k is a long-lasting franchise that has enticed generations of players. This monumental mix of media attracts new players daily, hence why it helps to have a decent place to start as a beginner.

Having guidelines to follow when getting into a new hobby is more than fruitful. I have had them from my friends and now I’m writing a guide compiled from all the knowledge I’ve accumulated.

The goal is to give an all-around look at Warhammer 40k, without exclusively obsessing over the rules, and potentially dispel some worry from newbies.

How To start playing Warhammer 40K

After reading the rules, find a willing opponent and get to building a 500-point army.

Points determine which units you can buy and use in the skirmish. With this many points, both of you should have a few troops, a commander, and a vehicle.

This mix will help you have a varied but still decently simple first game.

When you two have played a game or two of smaller games like this, consider moving up to 1,000 points. Miniatures required for either can be found for cheap but we will dive into even cheaper alternatives later so don’t worry.

What are the must-haves for start playing Warhammer 40k?

As with every game, certain equipment is required to get a game going. This is one of the tougher parts of playing Warhammer 40k in person, requiring planned storage and transport for each game.

The key things for play are miniatures, or a placeholder for them, and some essential tools to facilitate the game. 

We will go over them all now:

How many figures do you need to play Warhammer?

Even as few as 15 models can compose an army. These will usually be found within combat patrol-sized games which come up at 500 points.

Going higher in point costs doesn’t necessarily increase your model count by much, especially if you take vehicles.

So for two players, 30 models should be enough to play. This number can go a bit higher or lower depending on the loadout and faction choice.

Essential tools\accessories

Miniatures aren’t the only thing you’ll need to play. The extra tools you’ll need are as follows:

  • Rulers and other measuring tools
  • Six-sided dice
  • Paper
  • Terrain pieces (can be improvised)
  • Markers for objectives
  • Rulebooks (for references)

Warhammer 40k starter set

With the popularity of Warhammer 40k, it makes sense that Games Workshop would make some starter sets for newcomers. On their store, you can find starter sets that differ in size and price:

  1. Recruit Starter Set:
  • 20 easy-to-assemble miniatures
  • Basic rules manual
  • Datasheets for units
  • Range rulers
  • Six-sided dice
  • Gaming mat for the map
  1. Elite Starter Set:
  • 27 easy-to-assemble models
  • More in-depth manual
  • Datasheets for units
  • Range rulers
  • Six-sided dice
  • Gaming mat for the map
  1. Command Starter set:
  • 27 easy-to-assemble models
  • More in-depth manual
  • Datasheets for units
  • Range rulers
  • Six-sided dice
  • Table-sized gaming mat
  • Multiple push-fit pieces of terrain to enhance the battle

Any of these three starter sets can prove fruitful for a newbie. They may not be as engaging for those interested in building and painting models, but these sets get you playing fast.

Each starter set comes with a ton of transfers as well, which you can use to track wounds, effects, and any other status.

As far as which one is the best for beginners, the Recruit Starter Set will do. Those with money to spare can hop one tier higher onto Elite for those few extra models. Commander isn’t bad but it adds little that aids or enhances the experience for new players.

The codex

Codex is a book filled with specific rules and lore about a specific faction. Each faction codex will give players datasheets, special rules, and stratagems available. 

With those, players will be capable of developing their strategy. Further strategies will become apparent the more you read.

Warhammer 40k rules

The general rules of the game can be abstracted to rolling a six-sided dice and referencing the datasheet. If you exceed a number, you succeed. Most of the core rules can be found in reference documents and the datasheets are in codexes for factions.

How the Warhammer game is played?

The game is played in turns and rounds. Players get a turn each every round, who plays first is decided by a flip of a coin or roll of the dice. During their turn, a player can conduct the following phases:

Movement Phase: Players move models across the terrain.

Psychic Phase: Players use their psychic powers. Only PSYKER units have them.

Shooting Phase: Players shoot all guns within range. Casualties are resolved.

Charging Phase: Players choose which units will charge into melee, preparing for Fight Phase. Charge rolls are resolved and units that succeed move in.

Fight Phase: Players engage in melee, resolving hits for any unit in the engagement range.

Morale Phase: Losses are calculated and morale tests are rolled. Failing a morale test results in the loss of more models.

When all of the phases have been gone through, the next player conducts their turn. Once both have played, the round ends.

Can you play Warhammer on your own?

No, if you want to play the standard TTG, solo play is not enabled by default. 

However, you may find homebrew rules for your opponent following a simple set of tactics. These are best present with Solo Heresy for Tabletop Simulator, a virtual tabletop program.

Where do people play Warhammer 40k?

The favored locations for Warhammer 40k are local game stores. While there’s rarely a place to house every game, it’s still a great place to meet people to play with. After you find a few players to engage with, the game can also be played at home.

If there are no game stores nearby or people who want to play, there are always online communities. Most people online play using Tabletop Simulator with appropriate Warhammer 40k mods.

Seeking players online is a different story. Thankfully, there are a couple of online communities to engage with. Finding players and learning the game better are great reasons to join such communities. 

Online, you’ll quickly find looking for group forums or sections dedicated to the group finding on general Warhammer 40k forums.

What communities should you join?

Warhammer 40k subreddit: As with most other hobbies, a subreddit on its topic is one of the better places to start. The 40k one is oriented toward hobbyists so it should prove to be a great starting point for newbies.

Dakka Dakka Forums: Extremely helpful and friendly community. While some official forums can get too caught up in recent balance arguments, Dakka Dakka forums are quite varied. You can have discussions range from competitive play to interesting rules from the history of the game.

Is Warhammer 40K easy to get into?

It’s a bit of a complicated question to answer. The rules aren’t too hard to get the hang of but complex strategies can make mastering the game hard. The best way to avoid extra confusion is by checking out a simpler faction for a start.

Is Warhammer 40K difficult to learn?

Warhammer 40k is not too hard to learn actually, the basic rules of the games are resolved similarly. The more you add on top of that base, the better your strategy becomes but basic rules are generally approachable.

The true difficulty of Warhammer 40k is in mastering the game. Knowing strategies and when to employ them is far tougher than knowing the rules themselves, which can be quickly referenced anyway.

Is it hard to build a WH40K army?

Building an army is simple, as long as you stick to the point limits. Building a good army, however, will take a bit of reading. Making sure to cover all forms of required firepower and ranges is what truly brings out the difference in army creation.

How to choose the right Army\faction for you

It’s all about knowing your playstyle. Knowing what type of play fits you best helps pick a proper faction.

Every faction having its own unique twist does make it far harder to quantify specific archetypes, so we will go through each faction and briefly note their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Adeptus Astartes: The poster boys of the 41st millennium, Space Marines are a great generalist faction. They have sturdy troops, good base weaponry, and decent speed. You also get to pick a chapter, which gives the entire army extra rules, shaping their playstyle better.
  • Astra Militarum: Faction with a ton of infantry units that can fire a surprising amount of times. Weak weaponry means little when so many shots are fired at once.

However, vehicles are their forte. Tanks and artillery alike will shred even the most potent of enemies. Melee is not their strong suit but any ranged engagement is sure to be in your favor.

  • Grey Knights: What if your Space Marines were even better at fighting in melee and all had psychic powers? Well, then you have Grey Knights. Secret Space Marines chapter with their own units and rules to bring to the table. Their model count is smaller but they make up for it in sheer power.
  • Adeptus Sororitas: Somewhere between the scale of Astra Militarum and Adeptus Astartes, we have Adeptus Sororitas. These Emperor-blessed warrior women have quite a bit of firepower along with numbers to go about.

Their stats may be a bit lower than that of a Space Marine but will drag out far more potency due to the unique rules and special arsenal they command. Medium range is your bread and butter, the close range being good as well if you have flamers on.

  • Adeptus Mechanicus: The coolest-looking faction, Adeptus Mechanicus have the second most advanced technology in the galaxy.

They are extremely good at range, with both their infantry and vehicles having extremely nice reach. Firepower won’t be found lacking either, so shoot away at even the tankiest of units.

  • Imperial Knights: Incredibly massive robots piloted by a single person who connects with the robot’s spirit. Even the smaller ones are outfitted with enough weaponry to erase entire squads. However, they are quite pricey on the tabletop and often used as auxiliary.
  • Adeptus Custodes: Even bigger and even stronger Space Marines. Scaling up from Grey Knights, Adeptus Custodes have even fewer models on the field, on account of their models being insanely hard to kill.

You won’t feel the number cuts most of the time as Custodes cut through enemies swiftly, especially in melee. However, don’t expect your army to look too colorful even at high point costs due to this trade-off.

  • Necrons: Alien faction of metal skeletons. Most of their units boast regenerative abilities and the possibility to revive when killed. They play the slow game from range but have a few units that can be absolutely devastating in melee.
  • Tyranids: Swarm faction of melee-loving alien bugs. They rush in fast, with support from psychic units, take out a unit and then move on.

The giant monsters available to the Tyranids can also prove as potent wrecking ball units when that enemy vehicle just won’t fall.

Get in close as soon as possible, ranged attacks are awful but it will all be worth the effort once the fight phase comes.

  • Eldar: Fast, shooty, and psychic the Eldar are a menace on the battlefield. Easily outmaneuvering armies while not losing out on damage is always respected.

Their varied choice of ways to shoot at you and flank if needed makes them even more devastating. Eldar units can survive melee just fine. If the player chooses, they can be built as a melee army too.

  • Dark Eldar: Following after regular Eldar, Dark Eldar are even faster. Dark Eldar are masters of speed and have a decently mixed set of options to choose from.

Whether you want to charge into melee with wytches, shoot with cabalites, or stumble with undying masses of grotesques the Dark Eldar provide. However, speed will stay your key strength.

  • Harlequins: We had Eldar, we had Dark Eldar, now we have Harlequins. These Eldar follow the laughing god and absolutely devastate anything in melee.

Despite their models being somewhat unassuming, these clown-dressed Eldar are masters of eliminating entire units in a single fight phase. Harlequins are also a nice pick if you prefer fewer models in your army.

  • Orks: Melee and swarm army with all sorts of shenanigans. Orks can close in easily, overwhelming the enemies in melee with high toughness and many attacks.

Their numerous nature extends to certain vehicles too, Kila Khans come in groups of three, for example, crushing enemies under a Green Tide.

  • T’au Empire: Among the most shooty factions, T’au Empire brings in battlesuits and all sorts of ranged weaponry. Even the simplest units have strong guns to shoot, making T’au a consistent threat.

Battlesuits such as Riptide are key strengths still due to the incredible amount of firepower they can put out.

  • Genestealer Cults: These humans infected with Tyranid blood are a faction composed mostly out of civilians. Genestealer Cults are potent despite their shoddy equipment.

Genestealer Cults can utilize some Tyranid tricks while fielding a lot of chaff to capitalize on objectives. Shooting is something they do well but more mutated units can do melee fine too.

  • Chaos Daemons: Depending on the allegiance, Daemons can field different roles.

Khorne and Slaanesh are extremely powerful melee combatants that easily charge into melee.

Nurgle stumbles slowly with tough units, doing a poor job offensively but enduring a ton of punishment.

Lastly, Tzeentch provides psychic powers and a strong shooting phase.

  • Chaos Marines: Like Space Marines but with extra demonic influence. Chaos Marines have access to a few different support units as well as boons from their chosen Chaos God. Very good in melee.
  • Chaos Knights: Like their Imperial counterparts, but pointier.

Can you play Warhammer without miniatures?

Yes, you can play Warhammer without miniatures, either by using random objects to symbolize figures, such as bottle caps, or playing virtually with Tabletop Simulator.

Tips for beginners in Warhammer TTG

Reading is paramount. Rules, faction entries, and strategies on forums dedicated to the subject are all great to get you up to speed. Playing is another way to improve swiftly, so if you pick up a similarly experienced pal while going through the community posts, the time you spend playing will be even better.

Do you have to paint your Warhammer miniatures?

For regular play, painting your minis isn’t a requirement. They may look a bit drab but are still legal for play. However, if both players are using unpainted minis, it pays to figure out a way to distinguish the two sides.

This can be done either by marking models with stickers or a tiny paint marking. It will be exceptionally helpful once melee fights break out and all the models mosh together.

What are some good beginner’s Warhammer sets?

Absolute beginners may consider the aforementioned starter sets. They come with two ready-to-play armies and rules. However, they do not provide the fun of customizing and assembling miniatures. For a full paint-and-play experience, look at the following boxes.

  • Warhammer 40,000: Eldritch Omens: A box with Eldar and Chaos Marine units. It contains a booklet for the campaign as well as plenty of map pieces.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Combat Patrol: Picking up a combat patrol for your desired faction is a good way to go. Combat patrols generally have decent value for money and a few different pieces to use and paint.


There are plenty of available resources around to make your first engagement with Warhammer 40k painless. Additionally, official game sets aimed at newbies make it easy to start playing fast. A choice of faction is sure to solve most of your issues.

It’s not an effortless task, but getting into Warhammer 40k should be rendered far easier with the above tools and information. If anything is missing, there are always those endlessly useful online communities to contact.