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After asking around on reddit and doing some research on my own, I've decided that I would like to start building an army. I'm not sure how much I'd be able to play due to living in a rural area, but painting miniatures and collecting seems to be a suitable hobby in itself. I'm not new to the Warhammer universe, just the table top game. Due to the high cost of this hobby, I would like to make my first choice, the best choice to suit me.
So far I think I like the Daemons and Orks the best. I was kind of surprised, however, to learn that the Chaos Space Marines and Daemons were two separate armies. It also looks like there are different armies within the Space Marines themselves. This is a bit confusing, but does that mean CSM and CD cannot be used as one army? Would the same go for the Blood Angels and Space Wolves?
Finally, what are the general playstyles, strengths/weaknesses, and mentalities of the Orks and of the Daemons?
Doesn't look like the Daemons favor ranged gameplay, how would they counter guns and vehicles?(As I understand they are very mobile with teleports and speed.)
If I were to start building either of these armies, what would be the best thing to start with? I noticed on the GW website there seems to be a set of basic units for each army, is something like this worth buying?
I can't really help you a great deal with specific armies - I don't really know the game that well myself, so I'll just aim to answer your other questions.
Yes, Chaos Space Marines and Daemons are two separate armies with two separate codices. Most of the time, you can only make a legal army by using the units and characters from one codex at a time. The same also applies for Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Black Templars, Dark Angels, normal Space Marines - all are separate armies and you can't (usually) mix and match from different books.
I keep saying 'usually' here because, unless you're playing in a Games Workshop store or in an official tournament, you're free to make your own rules. If you're just in your own house gaming with a group of your friends and you ask nicely, they might let you take a unit or two of Daemons in your Chaos Space Marine army, or induct a bunch of Blood Angels into a Space Wolf list!
[As a small aside, seeing as it was a point causing you some consternation, Chaos Space Marines used to be able to take Daemons in their army list. My understanding is that their latest codex focused much more on the 'renegade' marines, the ones defecting from modern-day chapters, and not so much with the original Traitor Legions that took part in the Horus Heresy - thus, not so much of a focus on Warp Denizens and daemonic gifts and the like.]
The other thing I was going to mention was the Battleforce boxes. If you're set on a particular army, they might be worth looking at as you get a whole bunch of stuff, often at a bit of a discount compared to purchasing everything separately. However, some Battleforces are better than others as they have more units people consider 'useful' in them, and less stuff you're likely to never use. Something like that anyway. I guess you'd have to settle on your army, decide on a list, and then see whether or not the contents of the relevant Battlebox suits your list or not.
Hopefully someone else can pick up on your more gameplay related queries and get back to you on those, as I'm hopeless with them. Good luck selecting your army, though!
csm and daemons.
currently still separate codices, chaos is like the space marines, there's just so many units/factions within that faction that they're given their own books instead of making one big book (much to the dismay of some customers). officially, you can't mix unit rules but the daemon models can still be used, though they'll count as either a generic greater or lesser daemon. unofficially with your friends, most shouldn't have a problem if you're doing something like playing a nurgle plague marine list and want to incorporate an allied great unclean one and some plaguebearer daemons.
generally you can't mix different chapters, though there's a number of tutorials online that'll teach you how to convert, making your space wolf models look like blood angel models. right now, i'm doing something similiar with grey knight terminators, converting them to use as Dark Angel fallen terminators, mainly all that's required in most such projects is changing symbols/icons and adding weapons, accessories (robes in my case). or do the unofficial allied list rules (the new video game even features 3 different chapters working together in one assault).
general playstyle: lots of cheap units, in a varying range of assault-shoot ratio.
strengths: whatever you want to do with them, you can do a lot of it with them, whether its shooting or melee.
weakness: their quantity is countered by its quality. meaning, their shooting volume is countered by poor accuracy and their assault strength is countered by being slow in fighting priority (ie most enemies will hit and kill them first, unless you got ork numbers: too many to kill).
generally, though the strengths/weaknesses balance out about evenly.
mentality: lack of subtlety, and a strong intent on fighting and killing your enemies. fighting is everything in their culture.
general playstyle: shrug, a bunch of daemons portalling in and depending on their type, trying to kill the enemy with either shooting or more likely melee.
strengths: everything has an invulnerable save, lots of monstrous creatures, very specialized units.
weakness: chaotic randomness; only half your army arrives on turn 1, and you roll a die to determine which half it is. their invulnerable saves are only average and heavy volume of even mediocre firepower will kill them. they can have a tough time dealing with vehicles.
mentality: they're all more or less immortal, they all serve their respective gods, and more or less they just want to kill all mortals. Khorne wants blood and skulls. Slaanesh is all about the senses and pleasure. Tzeentch is about change/mutation/insanity and sorcery. Nurgle is about plague and decay.
daemons have 3 general ways to kill vehicles, bolts of change, screamers, and monstrous creatures. the first has short range and isnt effective vs heavy armor, the 2nd and 3rd require charging the vehicles. both will have trouble hitting vehicles that move cruising speed (needing 6s to hit).
honestly though, if you think you'll be hobbying and not be able to play a lot then get the army that you think looks the coolest (unless you're a fluff person, than get the army with the coolest story/background). more or less any army is playable and capable of competing (depending on the list). that said, there are a number of certain units in each army that you may or may not want to use, whether its because they're very good or very bad in gameplay.
40k is a great hobby if you're living remote. You spend most of the time building and painting anyways. I generally run into town once a week for a game when I can. And that doesn't count when folk come over.
I'd recommend taking a look at the Black Reach set if you're interested in orks. It's just a starter set with orks and space marines (who can be painted in chaos marine style if you're so inclined), which is also good if most of your games are done in-house. If you're not interested in keeping the marines, you'll find more than enough people that will trade the marines for the orks (not as many ork players as marine players, afterall).
As for which army to choose: my best advice is to go with what you think looks coolest or whose fluff draws your fancy most. You're going to spend a lot of hours staring at them as you model them and paint them. Even moreso if you pick a "horde" (large model count) army like orks. If you're not fired up about them it's easier to burn out.
And for picking an army based on power level: a lot of the rule books are balanced alright if you're not into the tourney scene. Orks have the large swathing masses that enjoy nothing more than charging forward and getting stuck in. Daemons (and I don't play daemons, so I might be completely wrong) are more of an elite that teleport in and get stuck in. I'd recommend orks if only because there are a lot more plastic models in the range, making it cheaper to collect them and allowing easier modeling prospects. But, as I said above, it's more important to go with what draws your fancy than anything else.
definitely get the ones you think are visually and/or fluff-wise the best, as said, you'll be spending a lot of intimate time with them. and it'd be regretful if you ended up buying an army you didn't like.
that said, a tabletop army is fairly large monetary investment (and that's just for 1 list out of all the possibilities that is the hobby, the more you want to expand, the way more money you'll be spending), so to help decide purchases while minimizing buyer's remorse, i'd suggest utilizing 'online resources'. mainly, finding online copies of the rules and codices to help decide which army you'll like before you buy a physical copy of it (especially if there isn't a nearby GW retailer that has open copies of the rulebooks for you to browse through).
afterwards, i'd look into Vassal40k. it's a program available on the internet that let's you play 40k online, though in a very basic looking 2d form. it provides a virtual top-down battlefield, sprites of all the units in the game, and all the other bits you'd need to play a game (dice generators, rulers, etc). but you need your own copy of the rules to play the game (where online copies comes in handy).
Vassal40k is a great resource in testing out various lists or units on the 'tabletop' from the comfort of home. It helps you get a good idea of armies/units will function before having to actually buy them, or having to extensively field proxy models on an actual tabletop (i, myself, hate putting models on the tabletop unless they're close to finished model/paint-wise). It lets you play against people worldwide (provided they're online in the lobby) or offline mode controlling both armies on the field. The online function is extremely handy if you have a friend who plays but rarely have the time or ability to play together in person (used to is it to play with other people in the Librarium Online chatroom, and 2 friends, one who lives in michigan and the other in california, while i'm in virginia).
I'm not sure what the forum rules are for discussing software that GW is against sharing (is there anything with 40k IP that GW isn't directly against?), but I will say:
Having a tool that lets you run practice games with all the models is invaluable. While it's great to pick units based on how cool you think they are by reading the fluff, sometimes they don't always behaving as you'd expect or hope on the field. And when you're starting out, having something electronical to practice with is immensely helpful when you don't have enough models to even proxy with. Practice games against yourself, while not making you any better a tactician, will at least give you a good practice of the rules and seeing how models actually play. And then there's the benefit of playing against buddies you never see but once a year.
So yeah, it's no substitute, but it's good at what it does. Wish there was a condoned version of it.
as for forum rules, not sure either but 4-5 years ago when there was bigger hype about it, i'm fairly sure several members of this forum did a lot of the work on the sprites for vassal40k. GW did eventually shut down the website, but i think it was mainly due to there being a 'donation' button or something (as it allowed them to 'profit' from GW's IP). not sure who but someone is still updating v40k with patches for the new codices/etc, on some blog site as well as torrents, there's just no dedicated website now i think.
there's also a module for blood bowl as well called FUMBBL, of which LO used to have a league for (LOBBA) as well as lists of usernames of LO'sers that would be interested in playing each other on fumbbl (though no one has posted in that blood bowl forum for a year now).
but times they are a changing, and i'm too lazy to actually read forum rules.