Friday, March 23, 2012

Better Gamer Friday #1: So You Want to Play Warhammer 40k

Welcome to the first posts of a series where we will talk about how to improve as a miniature war-gamer, specifically in Warhammer 40,000.  Now many of the topics that are going to be covered in these segments over the next few weeks (and I have stuff planned a few months down the line should this take off) can be used for just about any mini war game. To keep things in theme with the blog, and to make things a little easier on myself and the majority of the readers I won't be switching from system to system and all my examples will be 40k based. All in all this is just a place where you guys can come every week to get some information to really get the most out of your hobby. From the painting table to the gaming table and the dinner table I just want you guys to enjoy what you are doing and have fun!

I want to start the whole series at the very beginning with a person who maybe hasn't gotten into the hobby yet. This doesn't mean that there won't be anything in here for players who have been into Warhammer for a little while now or you vets out there (we all have some things we can improve on), it just means that the majority of the first posts are going to be geared around building up your hobby group and picking your first army.

So You Want to Play Warhammer 40,000

Starting out is scary. Starting anything from scratch all alone, whether it is getting in 40k, or going to the gym to work out is a daunting process by yourself. You don't know anybody, the membership fees are expensive (space marines are how much!?), and you don't really know where to start. Maybe you feel like everyone is already in a group and you are a sort of outsider, or every time you go to the shop there isn't anyone around who wants to play or help you out. You know, I wouldn't have gotten started in the hobby at all if it were not for two of my very close friends starting at the same time.

I think that this is a pretty important thing that new players really need to keep in mind. Before you even buy your first model you should get a group of "hobby buddies." I really can't stress enough how vital it is to your growth and motivation to just have some friends to do stuff with. Your group doesn't have to be that big, maybe its just one other person like your brother or sister or a good nerdy friend. Something like 3 other people is perfect, as it allows for some variety in the friends you can play against and talk to. Overall you are just looking for someone you feel comfortable playing games and hanging out with. The few of you will be taking your "hobby journey" together and growing in skill side by side. Many people stagnate in different aspects of their hobby (most often painting) because they don't have a go-to person to talk to or hang out with, they just go to the shop by them self and find someone to play against there, maybe hang out for a bit then go home. I'm not saying that this isn't a way you can enjoy yourself, it is just my experience that you might not be getting as much out of it as you could.

Painting is much more fun when people make funny faces?
Buddies offer a lot more than just a person to play who is at your skill level, or just someone you know who isn't a jerk. As someone who enjoys the building and painting aspects of Warhammer, let me tell you sometimes it just gets downright boring to do it by yourself. Just having someone to talk to while you glue a dudes legs together or paint some guys pants blue makes the whole experience a million times more fun. It even goes beyond just witty banter, maybe your hobby buddy is a little better with a file than you are and can give you some tips, or maybe you need to ask if yellow is the best color to paint these shoulder pads (the answer is always no, yellow is awful). It's a lot easier to pull the trigger on that new paint scheme, or know if that piece is supposed to glue there when you have an outside opinion backing you up. If you guys are all building/painting/playing at the same time and working on the same stuff it can really help keep you motivated to stick with it.

There's that face again....
Keeping motivated is really key when starting out as this is the time when you are the least invested. Time and time again I have seen people buy their first box never to return, and others who last for only a summer. If this is something you are seriously considering, your little community that you forge will keep you on track and be a constant source of fun and enjoyment. A key part of the whole hobby is the social aspect of it all, it's why having those buddies is so important. These are friends that you can share your success with, and who will be sharing their triumphs with you too! It's awesome to be able to show off your new coolest model, or tell the story about the awesome roll you had or the brilliant move you made in the last turn of the game. Get excited when you do something great and share it, and get excited when they share something with you. Telling stories will get you both pumped about the hobby more and drive you up to better things! As you get going it kind of creates this feedback loop where you will enjoy being social about the game, which will make you want to do more stuff, which will make you want to share more, which will get you more excited. You can even get into hobby loops with yourself where you play a game and a unit or model does particularly well, so you paint them up cause they are cooler than everyone else. Then as you paint up the unit you start jonesing for another game where something else cool happens and where you can show off your new painted unit, and the cycle continues.

Look how much fun we are having! :P
Its great to get into the habit of celebrating when you do something well, feeling good about your successes is great. In the end you are doing this hobby because it is fun and you want to have fun. That's something that is really important, you are doing this to HAVE FUN. I think "leave your ego at the door" is one way to really put it. It is cool to feel proud when you do something awesome, but the point isn't to lord your painting sills over other people, and it isn't good sportsmanship to bash people about how much better of a player you are. Those things aren't about celebrating success or having fun, they are about being a dick. The opposite is true too, if every time you loose a game you beat yourself up over it then you aren't having any fun either. Just leave your ego somewhere else when you hobby, don't bash yourself or other people and just concentrate on just having fun. It's not always easy, and there will definitely be times when you get frustrated, but try to just keep your hobby time as "fun time." If you ever find that you not really enjoying yourself, take a break, maybe you just "aren't in a painting mood," maybe that piece just won't fit together right. Don't force it, just go off and do something else (like ask a buddy about what they are doing) and come back to it later. Just try and stay positive, you will enjoy your hobby more, and the people you hobby with will enjoy you more too. It's all about having fun, and the more fun you have the more you want to be a better gamer, and the better you get the more fun you have.....and well you can see where this is going.

That's all for the first little intro segment of Better Gamer Friday #1. Next week we will be exploring picking the right army and all that particular topic entails. See you next week!

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