How do Tyranids Rank as the Best Starter Army?

This week, Pimpcron explores what army is the best choice for new players.

What’s up my mortal readers? This is your friendly neighborhood Pimpcron with a look at which armies are good for throwing at newbies. (The answer is not “Whichever army is heaviest”.)

So to me , the best starter army for a new player would be something that has some oomph behind it rules-wise so that the codex will take up for some of their early mistakes. The army also has to be fairly simple to learn and master, and preferably not be too complex to make it work well. In a perfect world, it would also be affordable, but I think I just heard some of you laugh at that notion.

So let’s get started in no particular order:



The Greenskins are a fun army to play, have some really neat Walker options, and get to roll loads and loads of dice. In my experience, new players are often drawn to Orks because of the ork-craziness in general and almost everyone loves to roll buckets of dice. But they are *generally* ran in hordes which brings the model count up pretty high and an assault-oriented army may not always be the best choice for the new player. Plus I think Orks are kind of average on the power curve, making it a little rough on new players. Orks can also be pretty unforgiving if mistakes are made trying to get across the board. Grade: C


Chaos Marines

I often recommend the Traitors to new players who are on a budget. The reason being, I feel that they are one of the best bang for your buck in terms of money spent and versatility. They may not be at the top of the Power Curve competitively, but all of the different marks you can give them can change up your play style significantly game-to-game. If you aren’t being a stickler about painting them the appropriate colors for each god, nearly all of your units in the book can take on very different roles depending on the mark you give them. So in effect, new players can get a better feel for what their play style is with this army over others without having to buy models 4-fold. I think they have a lot of the durability of regular Marines, with some extra stuff sprinkled in to make them interesting. Grade: B


Dark Eldar

The Deldar army is the epitome of a glass cannon army. They have an awesome amount of AP2 and AP3 weaponry and eventually get Feel No pain army-wide. I personally love chopping up Terminators with my Incubi and think they are arguably one of the best close combat units in the game. But each and every one of their vehicles are made from paper mache, and nearly the whole army is a 5+ armor save which the most common troop weapons laugh at. I would put them in the 75th percentile for the power curve if used properly, but they are seriously one of the least forgiving armies out there. I would only suggest them to experienced players. Grade: D



The Blue Fish People are a nicely powered army if you use them well. It could be said that they are unmatched in the amount of high strength shooting compared to any other army. But they fold so quickly in close combat, have mediocre leadership and armor, and rely heavily on teamwork. I really enjoy the idea behind Tau needing to work in unison in order to buff each other, but that is just adding another layer of unnecessary difficulty to new players. Their massed fire makes them a little forgiving if you make mistakes, but God help you if you get into combat. Grade: C


Space Marines

I am lumping all of the Smurfs, Wolves, Vampires, etc in this category. I would say as a whole they have decent options for weapons and vehicles, and a 3+ armor save nearly army-wide helps a lot. They have good rules against leadership breaks, a lot of different vehicles, and access to 2+ saves. Over all I think they are in a good position on the Power Curve too, and have some neat stuff that those Chaos guys don’t have access to. So new players have forgiving armor saves, lots of options, and not a huge model count to buy. Grade: B+



The Terriblids are one of my personal favorite armies, but is it because I feel sorry for them? Sometimes I think the Nids belong on the Island of Misfit Toys. Anyway, despite their own company hating them, Tyranids can be used to good effect. But I feel like this army has fewer viable builds than other armies and the Synapse thing makes things a little more complicated for new people. I feel like Tyranids fall a little in the Deldar category of needing to be used in a particular way to be effective; but unlike the Deldar they largely lack AP2 or AP3 shooting weapons. On the other hand they have the most AP 2 (and maybe Rending) of any other army, but have to get stuck in first to be most effective. So if Dark Eldar is a glass cannon, Tyranids are kind of like a plastic gun. Slightly more durable, but less fierce. Does that make sense? Probably not. Grade: C-


Grey Knights

I think their small model count is a great thing for new players, the army has *generally* lots of 2+ saves, AP2 and AP3 weapons. I personally think the Psychic phase is currently a little wonky right now which is a hurdle for n00bs, but this army can really dish it out in general. They also have fairly simple army rules and seem pretty forgiving, making them one of the armies I would suggest for new players. Just don’t tell the new guys about Paladin Blob Squads with Feel No Pain. Ugh. I am so sick of seeing them in my gaming group. Grade: A



The Elves in Space are pretty well rounded and come up as a neat mix between sturdy Space Marines and lethal Dark Eldar. Toughness 6 can be very prominent with the right list, and 3+ saves are extremely common as well. Not to mention the potent psycher ability of the army and many options for low AP weapons. In short, deadly and durable. Plus their vehicles are much more maneuverable than other armies and benefit from Jink saves. If you were part of my gaming group you’d know about the infamous “Lava is impassable” fiasco my Orks ran into a couple years ago. That was all due to Eldar skimmer tanks. I still get chills. Grade: B+


Chaos Daemons

I think the Rainbow Brigade is a a mixed bag. They generally rely on getting into close combat and have one of the smallest number of shooting units of any army. They are generally low toughness and their vehicles are made of paper. They have quite a few nice HQ options, but an unpredictable Chaos chart to roll on, and no good way to get across the field without Deep Striking. I have the most mixed feelings about this army than any other for these reasons. I have seen them work beautifully, but require skill and experience. If you make mistakes and get caught in a cross fire, most of your troops are gone. They are arguably one of the best armies for psychic abilities and generating Warp Charges, but like I said, I feel the Psychic Phase can be a bit much for new players. Grade: C-


Imperial Guard

The Expendable Guard is a fairly versatile army with a ton of vehicle options. They get access to many high armor vehicles all of which can have very different payloads. Their regular troops aren’t anything to write home about, but they are so dirt cheap and have one of the very best dedicated transports in the game methinks. I don’t think they are over powered, and the orders you can issue only provide a little more complexity to the game. Overall I think they are a nice choice for new people, but there are more friendly n00b options out there. Grade: B-



The T-100 rip-offs would be the number one army I suggest for new players. They shoot very well, have decent armors saves across the board, nicely powered vehicles, and even have some good close combat units. And let’s not forget the Reanimation Protocols coupled with the Decurion Detachment. This is arguably the most resilient army in the game overall and even though the rank-and-file troops suck in close combat, they are so darn resilient that they can still hold their own. All of this makes them the best option for new players who want a powerful army that doesn’t rely too heavily on complex schemes to work so they can learn the basic rules. Grade: A+

I know that a lot of you probably started out with these lower-scored armies as a new player and did just fine. But I have ran many demos for new players, and some people need as little in their way as possible in order to wrap their heads around our giant rulebook.

So above all others, what one army would you suggest for new players?

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