10 April 2017
Where Do I Start? A Beginners Guide to Wargaming....
- with Greg
A reader/listener recently asked on our Facebook group whether we had any guides for new players on any of our podcast episodes. Now, I'm pretty sure we've covered it off in various ways, shapes and forms over the course of the 30+ that we've recorded, but it kinda makes sense to have a bit of a how-to guide here on the blog, right? So...here it goes....
Disclaimer: The suggestions that follow are not intended to encompass the be-all and end-all of getting into this great hobby. They're merely my ideas and thoughts on the process.
1. Local Games Stores and Clubs
By far the easiest way to get started in the hobby is to find a club of like-minded people to get involved with. With the plethora of social media available to you, finding someone or something is as easy as typing some key words into Google or Facebook and you're away! Failing that, if you have an LGS in your general vicinity, you'll likely find a group of people who frequent such a locale with whom to get your game on!
Depending which game tickles your fancy, there will likely be an open day or a demo day where you can go in and try out your system of choice without actually having to make a purchase. This brings me nicely to my next point.
2. Try Before You Buy
I'm not going to sugar coat this point. This is not a cheap hobby if you start getting deeper and deeper into your chosen system or period. Even the initial outlay for an army can be, in some instances, hundreds of dollars worth of models before you even consider buying paint, brushes, basing materials, dice and all the other assorted bits and bobs.
And once you start, it's pretty tough to stop!
I recommend at least trying a couple of games of your chosen system before you really commit to getting into it. If you've already found an LGS or Club to get involved with, then you're probably in luck and one of the members will probably be kind enough to loan you some man-dollies to have a game with and run you through the rules as well. If they're REALLY nice, they mighty even let you win....
3. Slow Burn or Whole Hog?
So, you've found a club and tried the game you were interested in.....AND YOU FRAKING LOVE IT!
a) Immediately buy everything you need for your chosen army and get to work painting and building, or
b) Start with a couple of key units first.
In actuality, both options have pros and cons associated with them.
If you go the whole hog, you're immediately going to have everything there and ready to go. Its tangible and the pile of unpainted lead/plastic/resin shrinks at the rate comparable to effort you put in. This can also be detriment as it can seem, at times, that there is no progress and this can take a bit of the shine off your new toys.
The slow burn option allows you a little more time to get your project done but at the expense of having everything there. Having all your troops available means you can add variety to your painting challenges while only having a couple of units, while exciting to see finished, can make for a boring painting experience.
Regardless of which option you choose, you're going to have to keep yourself motivated to get them table ready! There is only so long that your opponents will be able to see masses of grey and silver advancing on them as opposed the vibrant and exciting colours of a fully painted force. And if you're intending on entering tournaments, you'll find there is usually a minimum painting requirement for entry.
Set yourself challenges or goals with your painting, this helps keep it exciting and always have a "reward" model or unit (typically your general or some other such character or big model) that you can only touch once you've finished a unit or two of rank and file.
You have this newly-bought, freshly-painted, ready to go army! So what next? There is nothing wrong with playing and running it at your local store/club and nothing more than that. Not a damned thing at all! A lot of players never enter into the tournament scene at all and have a long and enjoyable hobby experience.
There is a lot that can be said for playing in tournaments and, if they're run right, they can be some of the most amazing and rewarding gaming experiences. There are a few reasons for this.
a) New and different opponents: Facing a new challenger across the table whom you've never faced before who's fielding a force you've never battled against is a challenge in itself. What strategy do you take in? What tactics do you employ? Do they have something on their side which will completely neutralize your strongest units?
This is part of the fun of the hobby; facing off against the new challenge and coming away with either a glorious victory in the face of overwhelming odds....or getting your ass handed to you and learning a few new tricks in the process.
b) New Adversaries become mates: That's right! Someone whom you've never met suddenly becomes a friend because you both share similar interests! Who'd have thunk it, right?
c) New Ideas: If anything, heading to a tournament can introduce you to a raft of new ideas and games that you never knew existed, but you want to be part of.
Warning: Not all tournaments are created equal and you may end up at a tournament in which you just don't have a good time or have any fun at all. Unfortunately, there isn't any way to avoid it but as long as you go into the event with a positive attitude and the intent of having fun, you've done all you can!
As I said, tournaments aren't for everyone but I would recommend playing at least one...just to see if you're one of the people who just like the casual scene. What have you got to lose?!
In summary, there are a couple of things that are a given in getting into miniature wargames:
a) You'll have to spend some money. There really isn't any way of avoiding this. Toy soldiers and the accessories to play are not free.
b) Seeking out a club or local store offers you the greatest potential in terms of advice and opposition.
c) Always try before you buy. If you go balls deep and then find out you hate the game, you're likely gonna run at a loss.
The last point, IMHO, is the most important:
d) At the end of the day, its just a game. Games are made to be fun and enjoyable.
I hope this helps in some small way if you're thinking about joining us in this fantastic hobby.