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A friend has gotten me excited about trying 40k. Unfortunately, the armies available are all awesome, and I can't decide what to go with. I haven't ever played - this will be my first army - so I cannot say what I want in terms of playstyle. Aesthetically, I like sinister and alien looking armies.
I've narrowed my choice to the following:
At this point, I'm not sure what criterion to use in selecting. Are there any veterans who can offer advice?
Go Tyranids. Dark Eldar have a very steep learning curve, so you'd be expecting a lot of frustration. Necrons can be difficult to be competitive, and have trouble against heavy armour I've found.
Tyranids, however, just got a new codex, and a bunch of awesome and, most would say, overpowered abilities. Go with the 'Nids, you can choose a variety of builds, from deep-striking to swarms of small creatures to Nidzilla (lots of big baddies) to a mix. Plus the models are awesome and you can't get much more alien than an intergalactic compulsive overeater.
Welcome to the game, good luck and have fun!
Thanks for the reply Marius. That's good information to have.
Tyranids sound fun, but they look difficult to paint!
Would Necrons be a workable starter army or are they that badly underpowered?
Tyranids are good. They can be all sinister like the Alien. Necrons are good but have troube in certain cercumstances. They will probably get a new codex in about a year or two. Then there will be loads of new models making alot of what you have bought now not as good. At the moment Necrons don't have that many models. Necrons can have trouble against certain enemies though they aren't that bad in games.
Tyranids aren't that hard to paint. Drybrushing and or inks can get very good and quick effects with them. They can also get about any colour you want because there are loads of splinter fleets etc.
Yes, Tyranids are very good for learning the painting techniques as well, as you learn how to mass produce gaunts while taking the time to detail the bigger guys. And with Necrons, they tend to all look the same, even some different units, so Tyranids have a better look as well.
I would also have to say Tyranids, because it is a good learning army. Dark Eldar units are easy to kill, have a very steep learning curve, and everything happens on the second turn. When Necrons first came out, they were the army to beat, but once their big weakness was found out, they got the worst win-loss record. That weakness is the "Phase out" rule. When 75% of your army dies, battles over, the Necrons teleport away. So you target the Necron warriors, and once the compulsory two squads are gone, you win.
So yea, Tyranids.
Personally, I'd ignore whatever the 'army of the day' is and go with whatever you want to play. Codices get rewritten (slowly, but they do) and if you ask around on the forums people will generally be quite helpful when it comes to helping you build a fairly competative list. The important thing is that you have fun, and while tackling a steep learning curve can be a challenge it's also rewarding when you get it right.
Dark Eldar may not win all the time, but they can make for ferociously fast-paced and fun games, win or lose.
Necrons have a big, discernable weakness but if you build your list sensibly and don't get suckered in by the big puppies like the monolith you won't be that humstrung outside of serious competition play. Having (really) tough and generally above-average troops, they're also quite forgiving in some ways. They used to be very much the default starter army (along with marines) a couple of years ago.
As for Tyranids being difficult to paint, you can get away with very basic two-colour schemes quite easily. While they look difficult to paint, noone is going to mind if you skip some details, and technically as long as you've used three different paint colours it's tournament legal.
To be honest.. I'd just pick something and play with it (maybe find nice people who'll let you proxy models if you're worried about investing a lot of money) and try and learn the ropes. As long as you aren't popping ritalin and can go five minutes without winning, you'll probably be fine in the long term.