Playing your First Games - Astra Militarum Getting Started - Part 7
Getting Started

Playing your First Games – Astra Militarum Getting Started – Part 7

Tips for playing your first games with the Astra Militarum...

Approximate Reading Time: 6 minutes

By now you’re probably gearing up for your first games or maybe you’ve had a game already. This next article will look at how you can maximise your force during that game to a) have fun and b) take home a victory for the Astra Militarum.

You are currently reading one in a series of articles. Part 1 of Astra Militarum Getting Started has an index of all the published and upcoming articles. There is an Astra Militarum Glossary to accompany this series.

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Preparation for your First Games

Preparing for your first games (or any game) can be a very fun activity – it is for me!

It involves writing your list and thinking about how that list should perform on the tabletop. Writing your list on paper works fine, but consider an app such as BattleScribe and now the Warhammer 40,000 App, once you get into bigger games. The Official Warhammer 40,000 App requires a paid subscription and the Codex for your army to unlock that army in the App.

If you use paper and want to use paper then please do so – there is nothing wrong in that!

I do love thinking through a plan before a game. For example; think about how you will deploy your Company Commander and your two infantry squads to ensure the Commander is within 6″ to order both units. Maybe you’ll consider giving both squads a Vox-Caster (a radio of sorts) to increase that order range. Allowing one squad to march forward to secure ground.

If that squad is going to go forward, can I protect it somehow? Perhaps you’ll consider a squad of Bullgryns to charge up with the squad or a Chimera to transport them instead.

All of this, for me at least, is part of the fun and part of the game. Even if it’s done a week before on the sofa.

There is a lot to remember here for one of your first games!

There is a lot to remember here for one of your first games!

It’s Too Much!

To begin with, you may be overwhelmed and find it difficult to remember everything for your first games. That is normal! Let your opponent know and they may help you, prompting you to a missed re-roll or a certain Stratagem perhaps.

Perhaps stick to a couple of rules to use during your first games;

  • Your regimental doctrine – e.g. Cadians re-roll ones when shooting if they’ve not moved
  • An order or two
  • A Stratagem

It will become second nature eventually and without thinking you will be re-rolling ones for Cadians and remembering to use the Aerial Spotter Stratagem for your Wyverns.

Once you’re comfortable you can add more to the list of rules to remember and use – such as;

  • Your Warlord Trait
  • Stratagems
  • Relics
  • Psychic Powers
  • More orders
  • Tank orders

Keep It Simple

During your first games – and maybe even well into the future – try and keep your lists simple. I don’t mean bring just all one unit. I mean of the units you do bring keep them simple and similar.

If I am bringing a Brigade Detachment which requires 6 Infantry Squads then I will often kit them out all the same, or nearly the same so it is easier to remember what I have. For example;

  • 3x Squads with Vox-Caster and Heavy Bolters
  • 3x Squads with Vox-Caster and Autocannons

That is easy to remember. Try to avoid this;

  • Infantry squad with Vox, Flamer and Autocannon
  • Infantry squad with Vox, Grenade Launcher and Missile Launcher
  • Infantry squad with Flamer and Lascannon
  • Infantry squad with Vox, Plasma Gun
  • Infantry squad with Vox, Meltagun and Mortar
  • Infantry squad with Missile Launcher

If your models are WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) then it is an easier task. You can look at a squad, see the models and know what you need to shoot. But with the above list of 6 different squads, there are 8 different weapons profiles to use, plus the Lasgun and then some squads have a Vox-Caster and some do not. With my first list, there is the Lasgun plus 2 Heavy Weapon profiles and then all squads have a Vox-Caster so you can rest easy knowing that everyone has a Vox-Caster.

Paper & Pencil

With all this bouncing around your head, a piece of paper and a pencil is your friend. Both before and during your battles.

Before a battle, even now, I note down all my forces. I then use this as a packing list before I head out to a friend’s or to Boards and Swords. It often looks like this;

  • Company Commander with Bolt Pistol and Power Sword
  • 2x Sergeants with Laspistol and Chainsword
  • 2x Vox-Casters
  • 16x Guardsmen
  • 3x Heavy Bolters

From this, I can go through and pick the models I need. They are not split into units but instead, they’re grouped by type. Of course, the 2 Sergeants are not a unit of their own but by having them together I know the total number and can then grab the total number.

I also note down the total number of Command Points I have. For example, it might be 12. From that 12 I then note down any deductions (that happened before the game starts) such as for a Preliminary Bombardment which costs 2 Command Points.

I’m now on 10 Command Points and I have a visual note to do the Bombardment before the game begins. These little things I find help a lot until you’ve used a rule or a Stratagem multiple times and just know when and how to use them.

Remember there are the Astra Militarum Datacards too that can be very useful as reminders. Or you can make your own. There are a lot though to have spread out over the battlefield. So I tend to select a handful before the game and have them near me for the odd glance over.

Frequently Used Stratagems

I also make a note of any Stratagems I’m likely to forget but that can be very handy. I also note their cost.

It’s something you can glance at during your opponent’s movement phase to remind yourself of those all-important tricks you have.


This sounds daft, to begin with.

Isn’t Warhammer 40K a game of chance! How can I practice rolling a six?

Well, you can’t practice rolling a six. But you can practice using your force and getting used to it. Warhammer 40K is most certainly not a game of chance. There are elements of the game that are left completely┬áto the dice of course.

There are a lot of decisions to be made in order to improve your chances of rolling the right dice at the right time. I’d much rather roll 8 dice needing a 3+ then 4 dice needing a 5+.

The more you play the more you’ll remember. Remembering what to use and when can be the difference between a crushing defeat and a glorious victory.

Do you have any tips for improving your game when starting out?

One of my first games in November 2014

One of my first games in November 2014

Get in touch

If you want something else covered in this Astra Militarum 9th Edition Getting Started series, have a question or just want to say hello then please do. You can do so via the comments below, Facebook, Instagram,Twitter, Reddit or email me at trooper@ the domain of this blog.

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Read Part 8 – Improving Astra Militarum

Index of Getting Started Articles