Warhammer 40k is a futuristic tabletop strategy game created by GamesWorkshop
that pits multiple races and factions against each other for control of the galaxy. The wiki article can be found here
The Warhammer 40,000 game world is most readily characterized as a gothic science-fantasy setting. The central and most popular elements of the Warhammer 40,000 universe are the Space Marines, anachronistic combinations of sci-fi super-soldiers and fantasy knights and the finest warriors of the Imperium of Mankind, a dystopian and degenerate galaxy-spanning empire.
The physical setting of this story is the Materium, with all action here in the Milky Way Galaxy. Much of this is controlled by The Imperium of Man, though it is not the only galactic power. Other races include the Orks, a greenskinned trollike race, and the Eldar, the former rulers of a great empire. A dynamic, galaxy-spanning story line is possible because of a separate plane of existence, the Immaterium or "Warp." The Warp is described as a realm of thought, where desires and emotions can take physical form, and with currents and eddies that make traveling vast interstellar distances difficult, yet possible. As this is a realm of thought, a coalescence yields an often sinister warp entity. The strongest of these entities are the Chaos Gods, Khorne (a god of rage, bloodshed, and war), Nurgle (a god of despair, decay and pestilitic disease), Tzeentch (a god of change, deception, scheming, Sorcery, and, oddly enough, hope) and Slaanesh (a god of pleasure, pain, depravity, pride and decadence).
The Gods of Chaos are the result of the strongest impulses in the living souls of the universe's inhabitants. Their cults have a dynamic and antagonistic relationship. Khorne opposes Slaanesh, while Nurgle opposes Tzeentch. Nurgle is the personification of powerlessness, Tzeentch personifies power, Khorne personifies duty and rage, and Slaanesh personifies the epicurean or the sensual. These four powers are not the only entities in the Warp, but they are the greatest and most powerful. It is said, in the background to Warhammer 40,000, that the nature of the Warp is beyond human comprehension and is truly unknowable.
Welcome to Warhammer 40,000
The 41st Millennium is a savage age where Mankind battles for survival in a galaxy riven by bloodshed and destruction. Humanity teeters on the brink of extinction, assailed on all sides by aliens, traitors and daemons, and only the superhuman strength of the Space Marines and the uncountable numbers of the Imperial Guard keep the slavering alien hordes from bringing total annihilation.
Warhammer 40,000, the tabletop battlegame of the far future, allows you to wage war with armies of Citadel miniatures across miniature battlefields in the ultimate contest of strategy and skill. Each player is a commander who must choose his finest warriors, decide upon cunning battle plans and strategies, and lead his army to victory or death. Games can vary in size from small skirmishes of just a few dozen models per side, to massive clashes with hundreds of miniatures.
So, what exactly is Warhammer 40,000?
Each player collects an army of Citadel miniatures then, using the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook as a guideline, they fight epic battles against their fellow generals. Dice (like you'd find in almost any board game) are used to determine success and failure: to decide whether a bolter shell hits its target, or whether a lascannon blasts through the armour of a tank. Each game is played, not on a regular 'board' but on a special gaming area where models are not confined to 'squares' but are free to move as their controller wishes. Because Warhammer 40,000 is not played on a set game board, tape measures or rulers are used to see how far a miniature can move - an agile Eldar jetbike can travel faster than a foot-slogging Imperial Guardsman after all.
That all might sound a little complicated, but a short game or two is all that is needed to grasp the basics. Seasoned commanders find that the rules become second nature, and they seldom need to refer to the rulebook at all.
The Warhammer 40,000 Hobby
There's more to Warhammer than just playing games. In fact Warhammer 40,000 is an exciting hobby in its own right. Many players enjoy painting their Citadel miniatures to amazing standards, lavishing extra detail and attention on their models to make their army extra special and unique. Likewise, while your chosen battlefield can be as simple as a bare table with few obstacles, many wargamers like to build modular tabletops as detailed and exciting as the ones you can see on the Games Workshop website.
Most hobbyists begin playing Warhammer 40,000 with a friend or two, honing their skills, and developing their army in regular battles, but the fun doesn't have to stop there. There are thousands of wargaming clubs around the world where players challenge each other to games of Warhammer 40,000 every week. Also, every Games Workshop store has its own gaming tables and boards. Most offer gaming nights for you to come and meet new Warhammer 40,000 generals, discuss painting, modelling and gaming tactics - and of course, do battle. For the really adventurous there are regular Warhammer 40,000 gaming events all over the world, run both by Games Workshop and by enthusiastic gaming clubs and societies. From competitive tournaments where hundreds of players battle to determine a champion, to campaign weekends where each battle forms part of an exciting storyline, there are Warhammer gaming events to suit every taste - all you need is an army of your own and the courage to do battle.
All miniatures wargames need a few basic things before you can get started. First and foremost is a collection of miniatures. Second a place to play. Thirdly, and just as importantly, are the rules for the game. Warhammer 40,000 has grown and developed over more than 20 years and the current rules are the best ever.
There are two ways that you can get to grips with the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. It's available separately as a hardback volume - more than three hundred pages of glorious artwork, background and photography, as well as the rules themselves. This rulebook is the indispensable guide for hobbyists everywhere, it details the rich and colourful galaxy of Warhammer 40,000 and contains all the rules and instructions that you need to get started with your own games.
The second way to get your claws on the Warhammer 40,000 rules is with the Assault on Black Reach boxed game. This awesome game in a box contains two fledgling armies, the superhuman Space Marines and the brutal Orks - as well as scenery, dice, measuring sticks, a getting-started guide and a pocket sized rulebook. This book contains exactly the same rules as the larger, hardback rulebook - but misses out on some of the extra information contained in it (there's only so much you can cram into a box!)
The important thing to remember with both the hardback rulebook and the pocket sized rulebook is that the game is exactly the same - the rules are identical, it's just that the rulebook contains extra background on the Warhammer 40,000 universe and guidance on collecting and painting your armies.
Which rules set is for me?
In the end, the only person who can answer that question is you. People who are completely new to wargaming, and Warhammer 40,000 in particular, often appreciate the getting-started guide contained in the Assault on Black Reach boxed game, as well as the awesome collection of Citadel miniatures it contains! The boxed game contains everything you need to start playing. It's hard to argue with getting the complete package all at once.
Veterans of the wargaming hobby, and players who already have experienced Warhammer 40,000 before, often choose to go for just the hardback rulebook - they understand the basics of wargaming and sometimes already have their own collections of Citadel miniatures, so they don't need introducing in quite the same way.
In the end, the most important factor is: which appeals to you. Most new Warhammer 40,000 players start with the Assault on Black Reach set to get their collection off the ground, and get themselves a copy of the hardback rulebook later - covering both bases.
So, tell me about the rules.
Games of Warhammer 40,000 are traditionally fought for five - seven 'game turns'. In each 'game turn' each player gets a go. They can move, unleash devastating ranged attacks and fight with all of their models. The rulebook explains how to do each of these things, and once you've read over it once, it becomes remarkably simple to do. In no time you'll be blasting your enemy's warriors with battle cannons and bolter shells, and hacking them down with whirring chainswords!
- The Neverborn -
Lust, hate, despair, sorrow. All emotion has a reverbaeration within the warp, the worst, most bitterly felt, and the furtherest extreme becoming strong enough to persist, coalesce, and finally, become. It was from the darkest corners of the galaxy's hearts that Khorne - Lord Upon the Skullthrone, Tzeentch - The Changer of Ways, Nurgle - The Final Decay, and Slaneesh - The Feaster of Pain, sprang forth, and they await the time when the veil against the Warp wears thin, and their warriors, spawn, and offspring can pour through.
- The Betrayer -
Chaos Space Marines
At the very birth of the Imperium of Man, fully half of the Emperor's most trusted Legions turned against him in a bitter civil war. Brother fought brother, and Mankind drove itself to the very brink of extinction. Ten thousand years after their defeat, those same traitors still launch their Black Crusades from within the Eye of Terror, their dead hearts intent upon nothing less than the utter destruction of the Imperium and the death of its weakling Emperor.
- The Hammer -
The Imperium of Man is beset on all quarters by enemies hellbent on its destruction. However, some of the greatest threats imaginable originate not within this physical universe, but rather the one beyond. These are a foe that not even the mighty Space Marines are capable of standing against alone, and it was in the face of these that the Ordo Malleus, and their servants, the Grey Knights, were created.
- The Lost-
These spawn of unquiet dreams inhabit a realm called Commorragh, a place as darkly twisted as its rulers, from which these merciless pirates launch raids across the length and breadth of the galaxy. The purpose of these raids is not to conquer planets or protect territory but to cause mayhem, steal, pillage, and – most importantly of all – capture new victims to be taken back to Commorragh for endless torture.
- The Dying -
An unimaginably ancient race who once ruled an empire spanning the galaxy. Then came the hideous time of the Fall, when the Eldar were consumed by their own decadence and nearly oblitereated to the last, the few survivors scattered across the stars. Though the Eldar are few in number, they continue to be one of the most technologically advanced races in the galaxy. This advantage is combined with the prescient abilities of their Farseers, who scry the future and guide their kin along the most favorable paths of fate.
- The Dutiful -
In the midst of genetically engineered super-beings, alien killing machines, warrior mystics, and technology that approaches sorcery in its sophistication, the Imperial Guard are mere mortals. Protected by little more than faith, they contend with the most terrifying threats the darkest corners of the galaxy vomits forth. As such it is easy to identify with these brave souls and to see in them the qualities of true heroes. Also: tanks tank lol
- The Ancient -
Ancient beyond imagining, the Necrons are awakening from their 60-million-year dormancy to plague the living once more. Thousands of immortal, soulless warriors have risen from dusty stasis-tombs, their cold wills bent on harvesting the teeming species of the galaxy. Their miraculous technology was far in advance of any contemporary equivalent long before the Eldar, reckoned the oldest amongst the xenos races, had even begun their existence, and it is only that so few have awoken that they do not pose a greater threat in the current day.
- The Beast -
The most widespread and warlike race of aliens in the bloodstained galaxy of the 41st millennium. From the depths of the galactic core to the distant ghost-stars beyond the galactic rim, burgeoning Ork empires rise and fall. In terms of sheer numbers and planets, Orks occupy more of the galaxy than any other single race, and if they ever unified, they would crush all opposition the stood before them. However, the Orks' passion for violence is so unquenchable that they spend their entire lives embroiled in war, and will fight each other as readily as any other foe.
- The Loyal -
They are the most powerful and dreaded of all the human warriors in the galaxy. No longer strictly human, but superhuman, superior in all respects to mere men by a harsh regime of genetic modification, psycho-conditioning and rigorous training. Being few in number compared to the uncounted trillions of humanity, Space Marines are organized into small independent armies called Chapters. Their unswerving loyalty is to the Emperor of Mankind first, their Chapter second, and none other beyond that.
- The Young -
Since their first contact with the Imperium in the 35th millennium, the Tau have risen from a hunter-gatherer society to a star-faring race in less than six thousand years. Absolute obedient to the command of the enigmatic ethereal caste, the Tau believe that now is their time. It is their race and their Empire that will bring unity to the stars, all races equal, and the Tau first among them. There is no foe their technology cannot overcome, no quandary their science cannot resolve, the stars and all that lies between to be joined beneath the aegis of the Greater Good.
- The Hungry -
Without a doubt the most alien race encountered by Humanity. They have been likened to galacticlocusts, remorselessly hungry and too numerous to stop. Tyranids are a nomadic, space-dwelling race that emerged from the void between galaxies into our own in search of new resources to consume. These hive fleets have discovered sustenance in abundance in the forms of the myriad species of the Milky Way galaxy, stripping planets of all bio-mass before moving on, leaving nothing but a ball of scoured rock in the wake of their titanic swarms. What's worse, no one seems able to halt, let alone reverse, the Tyranid tide as its tendrils bore ever deeper towards the heart of our galaxy.
- The Faithful -
The darkness contained within the Imperium itself is a sinister and subtle threat. The heretic, mutant, and rogue psyker threaten humanity with an internal rot far more damaging than any xenos invasion. The Ordo Hereticus exists to seek and burn out this threat. Known as the Witch Hunters, these Inquisitors command the might of the Imperium – especially the Adepta Sororitas – in their hunt for the witch, the mutant, the heretic, the fallen cleric, and none is permitted to escape the cleansing fire of their wrath.
Where can I buy this stuff online?
- The main site. Not the cheapest place to get minis, but if you can't find it anywhere else...
- Beautiful resin models to add spiff to any army. High detail, even higher cost, the place to go if you love your hobby, but hate your wallet.
- Consistent discounts, extra discounts on 5+ 'army bundles', free international shipping, great selection.
- Good discounts (particularly on large items), cheap shipping. patchy selection but carries lots of older products and non-GW stuff. Some items aren't clearly labeled differently from older versions, but they're a good alternative on specific items.
- Excellent selection, good discounts, good service. 20% off normal prices, and an excellent selection of bits when you're just looking for a single piece in particular.
- Carries an excellent selection of bits, including metal and resin pieces, as well as selling GW kits at 20% off. Free shipping for orders over $75.
- A good one for the UK folks. They offer a straight 25% off most anything GW sells and are pretty lax about "street dates" too (they tend to start shipping stuff as soon as it turns up in their warehouse). Don't be put off by the fact that the website looks like it was put together by a five year old; they are pretty reliable and all transactions are paypal'd.
- A Texas store run by our own alqadim. Come for the resin, stay for the 20% off MSRP.
Great Canadian Minis
For the discerning Canadian wargame shopper. Offers 30% off standard MSRP.
Other places of Note:
- Website owned and run by this threads own Sharp101. It has expanded to include other contributors who are regulars in this thread. Blog posting that cover all things related to 40k and wargaming
- A great 40k (and sometimes fantasy) rumor site. They also post articles on campaigning, modeling and home made rules.
- Online custom dice store, great customer service and speed. (see Gallery of Cool Custom Dice below)
- Currently about the biggest GW-related forum on the net. Unfortunately, it has a horrible signal/noise ratio, but the rumors forums are frequently the first place to hear accurate news of upcoming products.
- Space Marines, and high fashion (not really)
- Orks orks orks orks! Jobs a gud'un boss.
- All things Tau in one handy place. Sign up for the greater good!
- They used to be cool. Kinda fallen on hard times but you do tend to get much more signal and much less noise over there.
- Ein's modelling and converting site. Totally slipped this into the OP because I could.
- The place to go when looking for like-minded people with models for trade and sale. (I got a Forgeworld Warhound Titan for half-off from someone who needed to raise cash for a ring.)
How do I mine haversack?
Because you need a way to cart all your wonderful new toys around, here are a couple recommendations beyond what you can get from GW itself:
Sabol Army Transports
A little expensive, but I use them exclusively, because of the quite reasonable international shipping price, and mostly for the fact that you can custom cut the foam trays to fit your models. Also available from the War Store.
Figures in Comfort
A wide range of precut foam trays, and carrying cases for whatever your needs.
Sturdy solid cases and custom cut foam tray. Pricey, but guaranteed to keep your little dudes safe and secure in transit.
The hobby's dirty little secret, for people who have entire armies in venerable shades of pewter and gray, and want something else, but lack the time, ability, or faith in their own prowess to do it themselves (but still have plenty of money).
Blue Table Painting
: Based in Utah, USA, these guys do good work for a reasonable price. They have quite a few videos up on youtube if you want to check out their work.
: Based in Sri Lanka. Just about the best $/painting quality ratio out there. They do excellent work at a very reasonable price. Shipping is pretty expensive from the USA, but for anyone closer to that side of the world (like Japan) even with the cost of getting your models there and back, the price can't be beat.
Game Fusion Studio
: Based in California. They make and sell a large variety of terrain as well as offering mini painting services. Pricey, but they do some nice looking work.
: Branching out into offering painted minis, as well as kits and bits.
Paints, tools, and hobby supplies:
: The best place for finding Tamiya paints and sprays in the U.S. outside of a well stocked local store.
Test out paint scheme templates without actually putting pigment to plastic.
Bolter & Chainsword's awesome multi-model painter.
Rare earth magnets:
Tiny, strong, a modeler's best friend for making swappable pieces.
In the U.S.: K&J Magnetics
In the UK: Power Magnet Store
Gallery of Cool Custom Dice
Nifty pictures to follow:
This Chaplain's rendition of the Litanies of Hate is a sight to behold.
A Gentleman's guide to the modern codex
The game is currently in it's 5th edition. Here's a list of which books are up to date, and which are not.
4th edition, with 5th in mind
Chaos Space Marines
These books are the most up to date, and are safe to delve right into with no fear of having anything become obsolete.
Blood Angels (were given a pdf mini-dex in 4th edition, which has since recieved a 5th edition update)
On the Horizon
Space Wolves are the next release, and should be hitting the shelves around October