Warhammer: New Year, New Army - Getting into Gameplay
While Warhammer of any kind is a hobby first and foremost, it’s also perhaps the best wargame on the market — now that you’ve gotten your first models built and ready, how do you actually learn how to play? While the journey will vary depending on who you’re playing against, and what kind of experience you have with the genre, tabletop wargames have a high learning curve, and Warhammer 40k 10th Edition is no different. I leapt into it knowing full well that I’d be playing one of the worst armies in the game, but that’s exactly the kind of challenge I wanted, and there are certainly less immediately-difficult avenues of entry.
That said, the results of this initial dive might surprise you, and while I’m a veteran of Warhammer, there’s still plenty that 10th Edition surprised me with. I can’t wait to share my personal experience with getting back into 40k by way of New Year, New Army, and hope you’re able to learn something from my successes…and failures.
As background, I’ve been playing Warhammer since I was about 10, starting with 40k at the tail end of 4th Edition; while I played religiously through 7th, I essentially went cold turkey through 8th & 9th, meaning I didn’t really know what to expect for 10th Edition. I opted to challenge myself with this re-entry, picking an army I’d both enjoy, and which would be on the lower end of the power curve: The techno-zealous Adeptus Mechanicus.
When I started Age of Sigmar in 2018, I did similarly, picking Beasts of Chaos at a low point, getting good with the army, and eventually even winning & topping at tournaments. That said, I had heard some pretty prevalent doomsaying about Admech in 10th after the new codex dropped. As a reminder, armies will change greatly in terms of relative power & rules, so it’s always important to pick one whose theme you resonate with…and choosing an army absent from the competitive zeitgeist makes you feel extremely cool.
I knew going in that I’d be playing the Admech detachment ‘Skitarii Hunter Cohort’, a horde-centric version of the army with a variety of potent mobility tricks, and debuffs to the opposing forces. This was very much my wheelhouse, as I’d learned with Beasts of Chaos, and unsurprisingly the horde-based mobility lists were ones that immediately caught my eye. Above is my finalized starter 1k, which is pretty standard fare when it comes to the detachment — plenty of bodies, an enhancement that allows me to Move-Shoot-Move (and re-embark, due to a delicious ruling quirk), and a glut of taser weapons. This is a list primed to score and survive, with the only real damage coming from the Dragoons themselves, which also happen to be the tankiest things our list has to offer. In an ideal game, we’re picking off key units with our various Anti- weapons, while shifting up the board rapidly to choke the opponent in their deployment zone and utilize Assault Doctrina.
My first game of 10th was against someone who had played up through 8th Edition, using an armor-heavy Imperial Fists list. Heroes of the Chapter, Bladeguard Vets, and Hellblasters, backed up by a tank & Dread — while the Anti-Infantry on all my Radium weapons would surely help, it was going to be tough to crack some of the heavier targets.
I managed to go first, shifting forwards to cap the center and home objectives, firing nearly every gun I could manage at the Hellblasters — with Admech in 10th, you’re best served by split firing when you can, given your base infantry has several weapons that each serve an individual target. The Hellblasters were wiped in a shocking display of Radium competency, and a few ticks of the tank were knocked down by way of Anti-Vehicle Arc Rifle shots. He hammered back with shoot-on-death, halving a Vanguard squad, before wiping my Raiders on his turn, along with another full squad of Vanguard. I drop the Callidus to hold my home objective, shifting up the vanguard who had been left in the backline, and in my Turn 2, the strength of Taser Lances is made known — with a devastating charge, and a mathematically improbable number of Sustained Hits, the tank is downed. From there, we trade blows, the Dreadnought finishing off the first squad of Dragoons (who, through the 5+ Feel No Pain stratagem had weathered far more than their cost), and the second squad sending the mech to its maker. Tank Shock from my Dunerider finished off a bruised Bladeguard squad, and by the time it got to turn 4, there was no way for my lead in points to be upset, despite him likely wiping all but my Dragoons by way of Heroes of the Chapter. I had won my first game of 10th, and now came time to play a full-board match.
This next game was, aside from its point value, a true test of what I’d learned. Choosing whether terrain was cover or obscuring, positioning around the enemy, and utilizing every trick in my book — all this would be tested by the Genestealer Cults. My opponent had everything you’d expect, an allied Scout Sentinel, bikes, Aberrants, and an absolute deathball of Acolyte Hybrids with Fights-First via a Locus and some oomph from a Primus. Turn 1 he left me little to do, only deploying out the bikes, troops, and Sentinel in positions I couldn’t easily crack. While I did manage to kill a few bikes, and a few neophytes, my turn 1 was mostly just spreading out and doing my best to hold objectives. On his turn, he fired back, killing off some Raiders, and cracking my Dunerider (with no passenger casualties, thankfully). These anemic turn 1s gave way to turn 2, where I managed to sneak some Dragoons into the backline and easily pull the Sentinel, finishing off the bike squad with errant pistol shots from Infiltrators. That said, game knowledge was in my favor - I knew that spreading out as I was ensured there were no good spots for blips, finally deploying my Callidus to the opposite corner. On his turn, he charged my Dragoons with Abberrants, killing one, but failing to realize the potency of their defensive profile with the FNP strat. That said, his Saboteur was close enough that moving meant an unfortunate explosion, requiring that I put my dragoons in danger to fight first on my turn. Finally, dropping the Hybrid deathball down, he cleared a unit of Vanguard with ease.
My turn 3 was where everything turned, however, wiping unit after unit, taking down the Neophytes, and sneaking a whole 3 units’ worth of Vanguard shots into his deathball, clearing all but the leaders. My infiltrators also had a chance to sink their shots into the Saboteur, overwhelming her by weight of dice. The dragoons wheeled, suffering some Mortal Wounds, but ultimately doubled back and crashed into the mutant hulks with the force of a very angry cricket. By turn 4, he was essentially tabled, and I could clear each blip with ease — two games, two victories.
So what’s the takeaway? Well, leaders being in units really changes the flow of 40k, and often you truly see their accompanied models made wildly better by their presence. Furthermore, objective cards are a very well-executed concept, and make the pace of the game fast and frantic, rewarding players whose armies could swiss-army-knife their way through a game. My background did help, for sure, but there was still a learning curve, especially in the smaller objective sizes than AoS, and minutia of terrain rules. All told however, this goes to show that even playing an army like Admech can result in victory for players with decent game sense, and raw math isn’t everything for lists that refocus on score above all else!
With that, I hope you enjoyed my dive into my experiences with 10th so far! What were your first experiences with the Edition like? What else should I cover for new or returning players? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so go ahead and leave a comment below!