Starting a New Warhammer or Warmachine Army
So, you've decided to start a new army. We've all been there before. We pick up a new game, start a new army, or something out of the ordinary. Depending on the game system and army, this can require several hundred dollars in investment as well as hundreds of hours of your time. So how do you get from start to finish without going crazy and actually ending up with a completed army? What do you do next?
The title specifies Warhammer or Warmachine, the games I play, but the principles really apply to any game system.
In my case, I just started with Orks, but also picked up a box set of Bloodletters and stripped some of my old Rogue Trader-era Marines.
Preparing For A New Project
First off, be honest with yourself and make sure you understand why the army is being built. Ask yourself a couple of questions:
- What is the due date for the completed army? The way you approach army assembly and painting is going to a lot different if you need a legal army for this weekend's tournament vs. no due date.
- Do you play with a WYSIWYG crowd. If you do, then think about knowing exactly what your army is going to look like or invest some time in experimenting with the wonders of magnets. Also, a non-WYSIWYG army gives you a little bit more flexibility to play around with the army list to help you decide what to buy next.
- Do you play with a "must be painted" crowd. Again, if your regular gaming group doesn't care, the you have a little more freedom than the guy who can't play his figures if not painted to a minimal standard.
- What level of painting standard are you aiming for. I'm painting some Orks for my kids. Suffice to say that none of them will be entered into a Golden Daemon comp any time soon.
- How many points do you think you'll need initially and incrementally thereafter. This also talks to flexibility. If your local crowd plays a lot of 500 point combat patrol or basic 500 point Warmachine, then you're job isn't nearly as daunting if the standard game is 1,500 point WH40 or 1,000 Warmachine.
Part of the prep phase is doing a little bit of research to help you better understand what units you want, how many figures you need, what color you want to paint them, what colors you'll need, as well as where you can get them and for what cost. Don't forget assembly tips too. There types of miniatures that may be problematic during assembly (e.g., Tau Broadsides, Khador Men-o-War) and it's better to find out and read about other people's fixes than to find out on your own.
I like to look through old magazines to get ideas and almost always pick up a the army book. I also like to look through some of the various internet forums to find articles on tactics. This small investment in time saves you time and expense in the back end as the coolest looking figures aren't always the best fit for your army.
Acquiring The Miniatures
Now it's time to take the plunge and pick up your first miniatures. I typically like to start off with a small set and then expand later vs. going whole hog and picking up an entire army box. Why? I want to get a good feel for how the figures prep and paint before I invest a considerable amount of money in a large number of figures. It's also easier on the pocketbook. Painting the first box, (I'm working on 11 Ork Boys) gives me some time to look for trades on-line, E-Bay auctions, or put in special orders at my local game store. I recently found a good deal on the Ork Battleforce on E-Bay and now am considering some HQ units and Lootas, so I'll be looking for trades or online for deals.
Another school of thought says buy everything at once. This might be the best option if you need a completed army ASAP or you find a good deal on a bundle that you just can't pass up. This really depends on your tolerance for unpainted figures sitting around the house. I know that I can get overwhelmed by the amount of work if I have too many things to work on.
Selecting A Color Scheme
I typically look for a fairly basic color scheme. There are also tons of sites out there that talk about color theory, so I won't dive into that, but put some thought into your colors. The colors should complement each other and not clash. A nice scheme can make up for a little bit of poor painting.
Another item you might consider here is vehicles. Because vehicles are so large, you want to consider how easy they will be to paint in your planned color scheme. You'll also want to think about whether or not you can find a spray paint in your base color, as this will make you work go much quicker ... if a color exists and is close enough to the regular lines of paints in case you need touch ups.
A nice advantage people with the Dawn of War games have is that they can try out their color schemes with the Army Painter tool, which I strongly recommend before potentially ruining a few miniatures.
Painting The Concept Squad
One of the reasons I start out with a small box is to test out the color scheme and road test my painting process. I'm testing it to see how easy or hard it is to paint as well as figuring out where the pitfalls lie and what colors I may want to change out. After all, you might have a great scheme in your brain, but you won't actually know what it looks like until it's finished, flocked, and sealed. On that note, pick you basing scheme carefully. It shouldn't clash with the colors of your mini, and should help accentuate it. My Orks are fairly dark, so I'm using a lighter colored base to help frame the figure.
Sequencing Your Work
One of the things I hate most, is 100+ partially painted miniatures sitting on the table all looking at me. It's also somewhat boring to be painting the 100th coat of Ork skin. It helps me when I have a number of figures in various stages of development. I can be flocking one set, basecoating a second, cleaning and assembling a third ... you get the picture. This also gives me some flexibility that if I want to sit outside for a bit, I work on the flocking. If I want to watch TV, I take the models I'm cleaning. I like to keep each set in a shoebox top for easy movement and organization.
The other reason that I sequence work this way is so that I can actually play with my models. After a basecoat and wash, my models are playable and that's pretty motivating to see them on the table with their brethern yet not looking completely out of place.