Monday, May 21, 2012

4 Simple rules to help start your Space Wolves army

9:00 AM by Wolf Lord Noam ·
Last year I had grown tired of my old army, I wanted something new that could offer me a range of possibilities in how to play and that would allow for a diverse army rather than a box of cookie cutter units. I enjoy modelling and painting my pieces as much as playing with them so I relished the idea of an army made of individual heroes, so in the end it had to be Space Wolves. Being a student I don’t have the budget to invest in a major purchase or the time to solidly build, paint and play-test a new army. Instead I took a longer view as I didn’t need to have all of my models straight away.
While I waited to get the rest of the army I could work on those pieces that did I have and play smaller points games to get to grips with the codex.

When I wanted to put my shopping list together I looked at forums, blogs and borrowed a copy of the codex to come to grasp with which models worked and what I thought I wanted in my list. After a lot of thinking and searching I came to a decision about what I want in my army. With the easy part finished I moved onto acquiring this wealth of Fenrisian warmongers, through my time putting together this army I have learned a few lessons that will help you when it comes your time to forge a great company.

1. Never pay the list GW price.
2. Never buy anything that is not on a sprue /unassembled (finecast & metal) and don’t buy anything with paint on it.
3. Learn how to convert models.
4. Get friendly with your local game store or gaming club.

The reasons for each of these I will explain and let you know what caused me to think this way.

1. Never Pay the list GW price
Let’s be honest while this is a great hobby and it gives us hours of joy it is a bit pricey at times, a new army can run up to 300 or 400 euro and since not everyone that collects has a job these days you may not want/be able to cover that outlay.
Online retail is a great thing you can order GW products right to your door but independent traders are where the real savings are to be made. Firstly these traders’ sites offer discounts on the GW list prices and secondly they sell based on GW UK prices which can bump that to being a 30% saving if you live in the Eurozone. Unfortunately there are some pitfalls to watch out for when buying large orders from websites, customs and excise duty can be an unexpected cost that you may be forced to deal with, so be aware that this can wipe out all the savings you have made. If possible don’t buy from abroad or anywhere that may incur this cost and if in doubt the information is available online through revenue or customs websites.
To get even greater value for money you can turn to the worlds biggest bring & buy sale EBay. These auctions can drop the price quite a bit but there are two things to keep in mind when using EBay; figure out your upper spending limit and to stick to that limit no matter what. The limit I use is the lowest cost you would have to pay for the item and it’s P&P from an online retailer, you should take care not to cross this line because every penny beyond that is just wasted money.
Post and packaging are two words that can be problematic with EBay, as many people try to bump their profit by upping the costs. Be realistic about what it should cost, if it sounds too high it probably is. Another point to remember is to never bid for an item without clearly labelled P&P. I made this mistake and had to fight with a seller who wanted more in P&P then I had paid for a Rhino’s sprues. In cases like that don’t get into a position where you may feel beholden to the seller, ask them what they’ll charge to deliver if it is not listed and don’t even bother to bid until they tell you. Disputes over payment cost you exp points on EBay so you can end up looking untrustworthy and people may not except offers from you or want to send items by registered post.
My last point is not to bid on more copies of an item then you actually want to own, it could happen that after bidding for 5 Canis wolfborns you win them all, if you accidentally go over the number you need remember there is a withdraw bid procedure you can use.
That covers buying in general but something you should also be aware is that there are certain pieces that you will have to get your hands on by other means. Missile launchers and meltaguns are in high demand, everyone wants missile wielding long fangs and a meltagun in a Grey Hunters pack is mandatory but unfortunately you can’t buy them individually in plastic. Though you can get some GW metal meltas and Forge world have a nice little package of assault weapons and missile launchers they are not cheap. While these options are there I found that it was easier and faster to just search online for the parts themselves. There are ebay sellers and some dedicated “bitz” websites who sell the parts you’ll want. I took the sellers because I prefer to have plastic models for ease of gluing, also while Forge world make some beautiful models I don’t like their Space Marine heavy and special weapons.

2. Never buy anything that is not on a sprue /unassembled (finecast & metal) and don’t buy anything with paint on it.
This may sound silly but I am a modeller 1st and I’m never happy if I include a model I didn’t make in my army. While this makes me sound a little obsessive I have found that models that are sold assembled online may be on sale for a reason. A 5 man squad of assault marines I bought rather cheaply to flesh out my grey hunters were so badly glued that most of their features were destroyed and I could the his jetpack and legs from each man. The images looked fine on the website but in person the truth was plain to see. Despite all of that, with a few pieces from the Wolf sprues and a Death company sprue I had lying around those models are now powerfist and combi-melta wielding Wolf Guard.
I want my army to look its best and I enjoy painting the models to the best level that I can. When you buy models that have already been painted they don’t match your colour scheme or you may get models that have been caked in excess paint during base coating, when this happens you have no choice but to strip the paint off. Despite my best efforts stripped models never give as good a finish as starting with a clean plastic or metal body. Metal models required industrial solvents and when cleaning up plastic it took an eternity with weak solvents and elbow grease to clean. In the end it is not worth it for a model you know you could have painted better.

3. Learn how to convert models
When I started out playing 40K there was a lot more metal models and people used to spend weeks filling, shaping and sculpting to get the desired look on their characters. These days it is so much easier and faster as plastic models have a broader range of poses and can include a large amount of optional extras on their sprues that can be worked into models. The easiest conversion work you could do is to swap out the standard scout heads for those of wolf scout and while it is a very small step it can give you a feel for how simple it is to slightly alter a model to make it tie in better with the rest of your army.
Why does this skill matter? The reason it matters is because it gives you the opportunity to equip your characters as your want, you can add a distinctive look to your models and you can produce the wargear that you need. While you could just buy a rune priest to lead your army, you can put one together as I did with some of the weapons and flare in a Space Wolves pack. The internet and this blog is full of “how to” guides that show you the means to easily and quickly model the characters one needs to play the game. If you feel more adventurous and have played with Green Stuff before you can produce a model resplendent in wolf pelt or with rune etched armour. My second rune priest began life as Cypher but could pass for a son of the fang with a huge axe and a fur cape. These two models cost me very little as they are just plastic parts, some green stuff and a metal body I pulled out of a bitz box.
If you have a local gaming or hobby shop you should drop in some time and see if they have a bits box. These treasure troves have allowed me to turn 2 Space Wolves packs into 40 space wolves. With all the extra heads, chest plates and arms that you are given on the sprues all you need are a few sets of legs, torsos and backpacks to make even more warriors. The few models that look a little sparse on fenrisian flavour I decked in some furs and wolf tails rendered in green stuff.
Another thing to remember is that while you can buy things like combi-meltas there are resources that show you how to make your own. When it came to these items an infernus pistol is just as good as a metlagun for a conversion and they are much more common. Conversions make it easier to get the pieces you want and let you do it for less than a fraction of the cost of a fine cast models or ordering specific parts.

4. Get friendly with your local game store or gaming club
Once you have started assembling some models you need to get experience with your army as soon as possible. My advice is to go and find your nearest gaming club. Many wargaming clubs have all the terrain and sundries needed to play a game and they may also run beginners’ competitions or gaming sessions to encourage and develop new players. Most stores have a wargaming club that meet regularly as this is great for business. You can also see if a nearby college or university has a club and allows external members to play. If none of those options are available just start one yourself with a few friends, really all you need is a kitchen table and you’ll be fine.

Even if you are getting the army in drips and drabs you still want to get to grips with how it plays. Gaming clubs and stores are always happy to have people play small skirmishes to test out different things plus they’ll be very lenient on if models are painted and the level of “counts as” units in your list. As you practice you can get a feel of how certain units and unit combinations work before you commit to buying them. Maybe you want to run half a dozen land speeders or have two landraiders in your list, the only way to try it with “counts as” models is at your friendly local gaming institution.

While I am no stranger to the game it was beneficial to start off at 500pts and build my list to 1500pts while trying different units and tactics. Those games let me get to grips with the Space Wolves strengths. The only way to know your list, codex and the rulebook by rote is to get as many games under your belt as possible and to talk to experienced players. I can’t think of anywhere better to learn a new army then with a dedicated group of gamers.

So those are my tips on how to build a space wolves army for a reasonable price without losing the image and characters and how to avoid some of the problems that I encountered. Good luck and have fun with a new and interesting band of warriors.

13 comments:

HeadHunter67 said...
May 21, 2012 at 9:20 AM

A lot of people think eBay sellers pad the shipping costs to make more profit, but that's not the case.

Shipping and handling is about more than just the cost of postage. There are other costs that a buyer never sees: the listing fee, eBay's cut of the final sale, PayPal costs, as well as the cost of packing materials and the time and expense of packing it up and taking it to the post office.

Why do people expect the seller to pay those costs out of his pocket? that's overhead, just like a brick and mortar store. If a physical store didn't pass those expenses along to the customer in its prices, they'd go out of business.

I had a half.com sale where I actually JUST broke even on it - so basically, the end result was that I had no more money than before, I just didn't have the book either.

You're still paying less on eBay than you would in the store - but keep in mind that it's not a charity. No one wants to take a loss for your convenience, and there's no reason to expect a seller to place less value on the merchandise than a buyer.

Svorlrik said...
May 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

I agree with the above, when selling models on ebay, the seller gets frustratingly little money for the effort / materials and the fact he is parting with models that probably cost him more than he is selling them for anyway.

I agree with this post though, it's truly much better to buy stuff unassembled and put your own personal touch on it as you build and paint them.

Personally the only thing I have bought for my wolf army second hand was the classic wulfen miniatures (always regretted not getting them back in the day). The models were undercoated but after a bath of acetone they were renewed and are now painted with no visible difference to any other model in my army.

Dat Chu said...
May 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM

I agree with both of the comments above. But, I find them rather one sided.

Noam has a point: if one can get something brand new (typically tax-free, free-shipping) for X amount of dollars, an ebay listing that is not brand new in box, should be at least 10% cheaper. It doesn't matter if the seller is breaking even. Or, if the seller is losing his money. At the end of the day, it is how much money will it cost for one to acquire an item.

Noam has many points right. However, I don't think he gives pewter models enough credit. Most pewter models are in such a good shape after stripping that one can barely tell the difference. (+Svorlrik for stating this as well). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about plastic or finecast. Thus, new gamers should avoid buying used plastic or finecast at all cost while still consider metal models from trade and ebay.

Also, words of caution should be given to all new gamers regarding "starter box set". These box are very bad value for what you pay. Snap-fit plastic models are borderline worthless.

Old Robert said...
May 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Although I totally agree that GW prices are way too high, and I like to save money as much as the next man, it is very important to me that my FLGS stay in business. I wouldn't buy anything from a GW corporate store at gunpoint, but my local store provides me with a place to play, hang out, model, learn things, host local tournaments, etc. If I, and everyone else who plays there, buys everything online then how does he pay his rent. I try to mix my purchases, so I end up averaging about 10% off retail.

wolvesofruss said...
May 21, 2012 at 1:24 PM

1. Never pay the list GW price.

Not always true and you should always put you flgs first, x5 meltas for $8 is not a bad price.

2. Never buy anything that is not on a sprue /unassembled (finecast & metal) and don’t buy anything with paint on it.

Both Plastic and metal strip super easy with a little castrol super clean bath for a night.

3. Learn how to convert models.

Not every one want to do this, it is fun but some folks just wanna play!

4. Get friendly with your local game store or gaming club

Yes yes yes!

Dat Chu said...

"Also, words of caution should be given to all new gamers regarding "starter box set". These box are very bad value for what you pay. Snap-fit plastic models are borderline worthless."

No way is this true to the first timer.

HeadHunter67 said...
May 21, 2012 at 2:46 PM

I think Dat Chu misunderstands what I mean. When I say "breaking even", I don't mean getting as much as a store would charge - obviously, that isn't going to happen.

I mean to illustrate that all of the behind-the-scenes costs dig into any money a seller might make from an auction. Between eBay and Paypal, nearly 12% of the sale price is taken, before fixed fees. After all is said and done, that means I make about 75-80% of what you pay me for the item. Sorry, but there's no reason the seller shoud absorb the costs of listing, selling, and packing an item for the buyer. So I often roll those costs into my handling charges. You stil get the item for less than you'd pay in a store, and I'm not paying for the "privilege" of saving you money.

Dat Chu said...
May 21, 2012 at 4:12 PM

@OldRobert: I absolutely agree. Play at a store this month? Spend some money there. Not playing at at store this month? Spend it wherever you want.

@HeadHunter67: Certainly, rolling those cost into shipping/packing charge in order to provide a nice compromise for both parties is acceptable. My problem is with people complaining that they cannot sell their stuff on ebay. However, upon looking closer, their total cost to the buyer just doesn't make sense. I think we do agree with each other, just from two different angles.

@wolvesofruss: I think that it is still true for first timers. If you look at the SM side (most popular) of the starter box, the only thing that will see some use down the road is the Dreadnought. So you paid $100 for a dreadnought (that has little details at leg, body and front plates), some template, the mini rulebook and some scatter dice?

Now, to play the game without getting noob-stomped all the time, you have to:
1- Convert (not considering that these are newbies): not easy to get dynamic poses with these snap fit terminators. Their size is also off. Plus, the bits to convert them are expensive.
2- Get rid of the Ork side. You can expect to get about $25 for this (after ebay fee yada yada). The first people will ask you if you are selling/trading Ork/SM on a forum is: Are these from AoBR?

Even a battleforce box is not that bad.

Duke of Earl said...
May 21, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Simple Green is the answer to all paint stripping questions I've encountered so far.

It is also very good for cleaning hands after I've been working on my car.

Ken said...
May 21, 2012 at 5:19 PM

I'm a tad up in the air about agreeing and disagreeing:

GW Prices:
Yes, GW is outrageous, but they also make the game. Gotta pay the guy who does the work. But, on the other hand, my finances have higher priorities. If I can get a deal, I probably will.

Unassembled/Painted:
Half of my SW are off of eBay, and came painted (pewter). 1 glass jar and some lacquer thinner later and they were brand new. Brand spankin' new. All of the units in my nids army that aren't troops choices are used pewter as well. Same deal: excellent results.

Converting:
Very difficult when you're just getting into the hobby, on top of learning the game and painting your miniatures. And converting pewter is a real paint.

Get friendly:
As long as you make an attempt, rock on. My FLGS isn't friendly, but that's people for ya.

HeadHunter67 said...
May 21, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Actually, Ken, GW gets their cut no matter what. If you buy used, someone's already paid GW. If you buy at a discount, that doesn't come out of GW's share. It usually comes off the profit of the merchant at the end of the line.

Don't worry about keeping GW in business - their entire business model is set up to keep players dependent on the retail stream.

itsacoyote said...
May 21, 2012 at 6:08 PM

I've found a lot of great deals on eBay as well as on barter/trade sites. I also prefer to get the stuff NOS/NIB as the prices tend to be almost near same compared to assembled and painted that I see no reason to get painted ones. I like to customize my own.
I got a pretty great deal on two boxes of old OOP Long Fangs which may be a little much as I can customize some other marines to be them, but they just tug at my collector's heart...

wolvesofruss said...
May 22, 2012 at 1:48 PM

To reply to Dat Chu...

The only thing you will use down the road is the Dreadnought? What about Grey Hunters? You can use the Captain model as a GH with a Power Weapon. A $100 For a $50 Terminator box, $37.00 Tactical Squad, and a $44.50 Dreadnought is money well spent and that's not counting the book or the dice & templates. If you want The terminators armed differently Drop $50 on a WG Termmie box, it has almost all the options and then you have 10 WG Terminators, 5 with wolf claws 5 with Thunder Hammer + Storm Shields, or how ever you want them armed!

You said "Convert (not considering that these are newbies): not easy to get dynamic poses with these snap fit terminators. Their size is also off. Plus, the bits to convert them are expensive.", First "
4 Simple rules to help start your Space Wolves army" is for new folks to the hobby some one that has played awhile will know what to do. Terminators don't need to all have "dynamic poses" and there size is fine. Some people are bigger and some are smaller than others. As I said before its not expensive you will ave 10 armed in a way that will suit you fine.

If you can split the box with a friend then do it! If not selling the Orks for $25 makes all the rest of it cheaper! A Space Wolves Battleforce is a great buy only made better if you already have The starter box dudes. Then you can have a HQ, x3 Elites, x3 Troops, and x1 HS. Or all the other things you can do with the Space Wolves pack box! If The starter box dudes need more of a Wolfy appearance then grab some tails, skulls and the like and put them on them!

Aikidokanavan said...
May 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM

TBH, I am not sold on the hardships of an ebay seller. You know going in that you are going to lose a flat fee off the top, either suck it up or list a higher starting bid. I know how much it costs to send from you to me so why should you add more then a euro or dollar to the cost for a parcel?

I think the idea that AOBR is a starter kit in and of itself. I have some old as hell space marines I got when I started. THey are poorly painted and have crap detail, when I want to have something pretty I get propper models.
Noam seems to be talking kitbash and conversion as the same. A kitbash is something anyone can do. How hard is it to glue some bits together? Yes conversion is more difficult but I love my custom Dante far more then my standard model. If you are serious about making the army look pretty and having it look your way then you are going to have to do a little bit of work.

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