Let me introduce myself.  I’m Frank Austin, and I’m a FNG.

Being a new 40k player can be pretty overwhelming.  Besides the sheer immensity of the hobby and all the different elements that you suck at, you’ve got more experienced players talking your ear off and everything you see on the table is new.  If you don’t defend yourself from the barrage of information and bullshit coming your way, you’re going to get frustrated pretty quick.

Frustration in a new hobby leads to drop-outs.  Nobody wants that.  New players are exciting because we bring new shit to the table.  We’re also really easy to win against, which everyone loves.

In my month or so of 40k experience, I’ve come across a few major frustrations that I think would be useful to talk about and share with everyone else.  All of the things I read on the internet before I started playing boiled down to tactica and list building, and so I hit each one of these roadblocks head on, full speed ahead.  No amount of 2000 point Space Wolf lists could prepare me for the sorts of things that were going to happen at the table, and I’d love to spare other noobs the pain.

Every big hurdle like this can be a good learning experience, especially if you’re having fun while it’s happening.  A lot of the time that’s the hardest part, because who’s going to have any fun getting their faces smashed by an unfamiliar foe?  It’s possible, but unlikely.  You have to be ready for that sort of thing to learn from it.  I want to prepare you for the pain that’s inevitably headed your way.

First of all, everything that comes out on the table is completely new.  This sucks in a big way.  It’s going to lead to lots of “What does this guy do?” and “Wait, what the hell is that giant thing?!” getting thrown across the table.  You’re going to have to learn from experience, but more importantly, you’re going to have to lose big before you learn.

When I first ran N’jal and another Rune Priest up against an Eldar player, I didn’t think that Eldrad’s ability to stop my powers was all that scary.  I continued to cast as normal until the turn where I lost both of my HQs to my own stubborn insistence.  It really sucks to have your coolest characters go off the board like that, but you better believe I will never get caught by Eldrad again.  The harder you fail, the more likely you are to learn from it.  Just remember that every time you want to throw dice like artillery on the table.

As if learning through losing wasn’t frustrating enough, inevitably all new players start to feel like their lists aren’t very competitive and that they should change their army around to beat the strange and new armies they’re facing.  Lots of us turn to the internet for advice.  I cannot stress how bad of an idea this really is.

You need to think about the kind of player you want to be, the kind of games that you want to play, and how to make that happen with your army.  The last thing you should try to do is switch things up a bunch when you’re just getting started.  Learn to use what you have effectively and then branch out.

It can be infuriating as hell to get run over by more experienced players with very tricked out lists, but you will be a much stronger player if you can just grit your teeth and figure out how to make things work.

I’m not advising against buying more models and trying new tricks (though it can be costly and equally frustrating) as much as I am cautioning against changing up your list a bunch every time you hit a wall with your game.  At the very least you should develop a strong core of troop units and use it in every game you play.  The more consistent you stay with your lists, the more you will learn about them.

New players all have to learn to do something very difficult: revel in their mistakes.  These are the things that teach us the most about the game.  Nothing is going to reinforce the rules harder than when they reach across the table and slap you in the face, and nothing will remind you of your strengths and weaknesses better than when another player exploits them.

Nobody wants to sink hours and hours into a hobby and feel like they’re not very good at it, but that’s what new players face every time they lose a game, run afoul of an unclear rule, or face a new codex.  If you can see these moments coming and even try to look forward to the experience they’ll grant you, you’ll be several steps ahead of any other newbie out there.

The most important thing you can do is figure out what’s fun for you and stick to it as hard as you can.  Find the models and tactics you enjoy using the most and put them on the table every time.  Totally disregard anything you read on the internet about them and find a good way to make your army work (in a way you enjoy) through experience.  All of the frustrations you meet won’t mean a damned thing if you’re having a good time, and ultimately that’s what the hobby should be all about.

I started a blog visit me at Sweeping Advance

Questions for Comment:

  1. What sort of frustrations did you have as a new player?
  2. When and how did you finally start to get over them?
  3. What piece of advice would you give yourself as a newbie if you could go back and do it all again?