Start Collecting Warhammer 40,000

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For new players, starting an army can be daunting: There are tons of different army boxes and deals out there, and figuring out how to build an army can be a paralyzing experience for players who want to expand but don’t want to throw money away on bad units or weapon options they won’t use. In today’s article, we’re looking at the different Start Collecting boxes that Games Workshop offers and evaluating them both in terms of their contents and how useful those units are, their savings to the purchaser, and the amount of points they give players for their investment. 

Start Collecting

Astra Militarum

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Commissar (HQ or Elites), 10 Cadian Shock Troops (Troops), 1 Heavy Weapons Team (Heavy Support), 1 Leman Russ Battle Tank (Heavy Support)
  • Contents RRP: £75.83/$128.33
  • Saving: £20.83/$38.33
  • Points: About 240

The Astra Militarum box has several virtues – Russes are generically “good” especially as Tank Commanders, Commissars are ok, and basic Guardsmen can’t really be argued with as an effective unit. The Heavy Weapons Team is also flexible, although you only get 1 base rather than the 3 that come in the squad box. That does make it easy to slot in to the squad of Shock Troops as a heavy weapon, though. Savings wise it’s decent over RRP (we assumed that the HWT cost 1/3rd of the regular box). The main strike against it is just how old most of these models are – the Cadians are some of the earliest plastics still in use – and the fact that Commissars aren’t that great.

Blood Angels

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Terminator Captain (HQ), 10 Blood Angels Tactical Marines (Troops), 1 Baal Predator (Fast Attack)
  • Contents RRP: £85/$138
  • Saving: £25/$48
  • Points: About 400

Savings-wise this is decent, but the contents are rubbish. You don’t ever really want Tactical Marines and Baal Predators don’t offer much either. This really suffers from including the Predator – it would be a much better box if it had say, Death Company instead. Feels like a relic of 3rd/4th edition.

Chaos Space Marines

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Master of Possession (HQ), 10 Chaos Space Marines (Troops), 2 Greater Possessed (Elites), 1 Venomcrawler (Heavy Support), 2 Obliterators (Heavy Support)
  • Contents RRP: n/a (most parts can’t be bought separately at time of writing)
  • Saving: n/a
  • Points: 630

The only place you can actually get Venomcrawlers, Greater Possessed, or the new Obliterators, the new SC: Chaos Space Marines is a pretty decent deal, even if those were available elsewhere. Every single unit in the box got a points drop in Chapter Approved 2019 and the only stinker in the box is the Master of Possession (and you can proxy that as a Sorcerer with most players). You can also get by pretty well without the units in this box however, so it’s also not particularly necessary to buy.

Craftworlds

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Farseer (HQ), 5 Wraithguard/Wraithblades (Elites), 1 Wraithlord (Heavy Support), 1 War Walker (Heavy Support)
  • Contents RRP: £100/$/170
  • Saving: £45/$80
  • Points: About 450

The Craftworlds box is extremely weird. It’s an incredible saving over buying the kits individually – if you want any two of them, you might as well buy this instead and get the others essentially free – but as a place to do what it says on the tin and start collecting Craftworld Eldar it’s woeful, since there’s no actual Troops in here. There’s only two elves, even, and one of them is piloting a War Walker. Still, most of the units are at least passable to good, and it’s quite a hefty chunk of points, too.

Daemons of Khorne

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Herald on Blood Throne/Skullcannon (HQ or Heavy Support), 10 Bloodletters (Troops), 3 Bloodcrushers (Elites)
  • Contents RRP: £75/$125
  • Saving: £20/$35
  • Points: 295

It’s worth noting that you can’t currently buy Bloodcrushers in groups of 3 on the GW site (they’re sold in groups of 6 now), making this box a bit of an oddity. Enterprising modelers can repurpose the Herald of Khorne from the Blood Throne to make this a 4-model kit with a Skullcannon and Bloodmaster, which gives the kit a little bit more value. But even with their points drops in CA19, the Bloodcrushers are excessive here and you’re better off just buying Bloodletters separately or picking up Wrath and Rapture if you can still find it (at time of writing it’s still on the GW site in both the UK and US, though it’s hard to know how long this will last).

Daemons of Nurgle

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Poxbringer (HQ), 10 Plaguebearers (Troops), 3 Nurgling bases (Troops), 3 Plague Drones (Fast Attack)
  • Contents RRP: £90/$155
  • Saving: £35/$65
  • Points: 312

The Nurgle box is pretty good value. If you’re collecting Nurgle Daemons you want Plaguebearers and Nurglings en masse, and at least one Poxbringer too. If you’re going to buy those things, you might as well buy this box, and basically get the Plague Drones for free. A very respectable set which gives you pretty much what you want to get going with the faction – perfect.

Daemons of Slaanesh

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Exalted Seeker Chariot (HQ), 10 Daemonettes (Troops), 5 Seekers (Fast Attack)
  • Contents RRP: £73.50/$125.50
  • Saving: £18.50/$35.50
  • Points: 265

If you’re wondering what an Exalted Seeker Chariot is, it’s just two Seeker Chariots slammed together. The box savings here at £18.50/$35.50 are pretty weak, and like for the Khorne box, the Wrath & Rapture set is a much better starting point for Slaanesh – you get a more useful spread of units in there, including the awesome new Infernal Enrapturess and the plastic Fiends.

Daemons of Tzeentch

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Burning Chariot of Tzeentch (HQ), 1 Changecaster, 10 Pink Horrors (Troops), 3 Flamers of Tzeentch (Elites), 3 Screamers of Tzeentch (Fast Attack)
  • Contents RRP: £85/$140
  • Saving: £30/$50
  • Points: 467

The Daemons of Tzeentch box got a significant points adjustment with the new Chapter Approved 2019 changes, and we may see Flamers showing up in Daemon lists more at their new costs. The Changecaster went up substantial in cost to account for how useful he is, but is still worth looking at. The most dubious unit in the set is the Burning Chariot, but depending on how you want to roll, you can use the Exalted Flamer from it separately instead. Overall, it’s an OK box for anyone looking to start a Daemons army, and more bang for your buck than most of the others, even with less in savings.

Deathwatch

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Watch Captain Artemis (HQ), 10 Deathwatch Veterans (Troops), 1 Venerable Dreadnought (Elites), 1 Deathwatch upgrade sprue
  • Contents RRP: £103/$167.50
  • Saving: £43/$72.50
  • Points: About 390

A box stuffed full of good stuff, with the second-highest cash savings (coming in just behind Craftworlds). It’s a much better balanced box than that one, too, with potentially two squads of Deathwatch Veterans as Troops and a Venerable Dreadnought included, which are always useful. The only weak point here is Watch Captain Artemis – like Ahriman in the Thousand Sons box, you’re probably only going to want one of this guy, although he’s good fodder for conversion into something else especially with the array of options on the Deathwatch Kill Team sprues (and upgrade sprue!) If you’re thinking about a Deathwatch army, this is a great place to get that started – just remember that storm bolters and storm shields are in critically short supply. This box is also fantastically packed with extra bitz you’ll use on future models.

Drukhari

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Succubus (HQ), 10 Wyches (Troops), 3 Reavers (Fast Attack), 1 Venom (Dedicated Transport)
  • Contents RRP: £80/$/135
  • Saving: £25/$45
  • Points: About 270

The old version of this with the Kabals stuff in felt a lot better than this one does. That said, you can at least get somewhere with this – all of Succubi, Wyches, and Venoms are good units you’ll want for a budding Drukhari army, and Reavers are OK I guess. What would have been really nice is if instead of replacing the old box, we got something like the Daemons of X boxes for Kabals, Covens, and Wych Cults, but alas.

Militarum Tempestus

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Commissar (HQ), 10 Scions (Troops), 1 Taurox Prime (Dedicated Transport)
  • Contents RRP: £90/$145
  • Saving: £30/$50
  • Points: About 200

One of the nice things about Militarum Tempestus being 4 units in 3 kits is that you get all of them right here in this box. Like the generic Militarum set this comes with the plastic Commissar (a bit like Tech-priests Dominus in Ad Mech, if you have any interest in buying Tempestus at all you will end up drowning in these guys), but also two squads of Scions and a Taurox. Squads of Scions and Tauroxes are pretty much all there is to have for the Tempestus, and the Scion kit is a dual one which lets you build the Tempestor Prime and a Command Squad too, and is full of cool bits. If you want to get some Scions on the table there’s basically no better way to do it than this – turn the Commissars into terrain statues or convert them into other things.

Necrons

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Necron Overlord (HQ), 12 Necron Warriors (Troops), 5 Immortals/Deathmarks (Troops or Elites), 3 Scarab bases (Fast Attack), 1 Annihilation Barge/Catacomb Command Barge (Heavy Support or HQ)
  • Contents RRP: £87/$139.25
  • Saving: £32/$49.25
  • Points: About 400

The Necron box is an odd one because it is stuffed full of models – you get an Overlord, two Troops choices (or an Elites, if you build Deathmarks), some Scarabs, and a flexible Heavy Support or secondary HQ option in the Barge (and if you build the Annihilation variant, you get another Lord too). It’s actually better £/model than Orks. On the downside you have to contend with the mold lines on the truly ancient Necron Warriors, and Warriors themselves are just not that great on the table, but time can change all things and maybe one day you’ll want a silver tide again – at which point you and your high-value Start Collecting box are laughing, robotically.

Orks

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Painboy (Elites), 11 Ork Boyz (Troops), 5 Nobz and ammo runt (Elites), 1 Deff Dread (Heavy Support)
  • Contents RRP: £85.50/$146
  • Saving: £30.50/$56
  • Points: About 260

The Orks box has the dubious honour of being the only Start Collecting without a legal HQ choice in it, thanks to force organisational changes in 8th edition. The contents aren’t terrible however and if you’re building an Ork horde you’re going to need savings wherever you can get them. Nobz may not be an especially optimal unit for Orks right now, but it’s an extraordinarily characterful kit full of useful bitz.

Primaris Space Wolves

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Primaris Battle Leader (HQ), 10 Intercessors (Troops), 3 Aggressors (Elites), 1 Space Wolves Primaris upgrade sprue
  • Contents RRP: £93/$157.50
  • Saving: £33/$62.50
  • Points: About 325

Aggressors are a surprisingly good pick for Space Wolves, who really like using the Lone Wolf Stratagem on them when opponents can only wipe out 2/3 of the squad with their new profiles. Space Wolves don’t have Troop Scouts, which makes Intercessors even more useful for them and the Primaris Battle Leader is a fine HQ to have. Overall a solid value and an OK start for a Space Wolves army, though we suspect most Space Wolves players would prefer to see Wulfen in here. It’s probably worth noting that none-Wolves players can still get some usage out of this box, although the Battle Leader is fairly markedly Space Wolves so you might struggle.

Skitarii

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Tech-priest Dominus (HQ), 10 Skitarii Vanguard/Rangers (Troops), 1 Onager Dunecrawler (Heavy Support)
  • Contents RRP: £92/$151
  • Saving: £32/$56
  • Points: About 260

Tech-priest Dominuses have fallen out of favor recently, which is a shame because Ad Mech still field Vanguard and Rangers on a regular basis to fill out Battalions and the Dunecrawler is a legitimately good unit that sees lots of competitive play. It’s still a great boxed set to start building off of, but some of the savings are mitigated by the fact that you probably won’t want a Tech-Priest Dominus in your army.

Space Marines

  • Price: £55/$90
  • Contents: 1 Terminator Captain (HQ), 10 Tactical Marines (Troops), 1 Venerable Dreadnought (Elites)
  • Contents RRP: £77.50/$130
  • Saving: £22.50/$40
  • Points: About 350

The Start Collecting box that gets our vote for “the next one to be discontinued,” there’s not a ton this particular box has to offer. Tactical Marines just don’t have much value when you’d rather run Scouts or Intercessors, the Terminator Captain doesn’t bring much to the table when you have other, more mobile, better-equipped, cheaper options, and the Venerable Dreadnought is only OK. You’re better off skipping this one for the Marine half of the Dark Imperium Starter.

Space Wolves

  • Price: £50/$85
  • Contents: 1 Space Marine Commander (HQ), 10 Space Wolves Pack (Troops), 3 Thunderwolf Cavalry (Fast Attack)
  • Contents RRP: £73/$119.50
  • Saving: £23/$34.50
  • Points: About 380

A starter that’s a little more about unique Space Wolves units. The 10 Wolf Pack models can be built as either Grey Hunters (tactical) or Blood Claws (melee), the latter of which are likely to be more valuable once Space Wolves get their next rules update. Otherwise, there’s not a ton to recommend about this one, given that the Thunderwolf Cavalry are still overcosted in their current state. Also thanks to Goonhammer reader Ian Donovan for pointing out that, in a pinch, you can build your Thunderwolf Cavalry as Wolf Lords or Battle Leaders on Thunderwolves, giving you 3 more HQs in the box to play with (and enough Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields to go around), giving it some versatiliy. Also note that the Pack box is full of great bitz which are still compatible with Primaris models, so if you do find yourself wanting a cheap HQ, some small Marines, and a pile of bitz to work with, this isn’t the worst place to look.

T’au Empire

  • Price: £60/$90
  • Contents: 1 Ethereal on Hover Drone (HQ), 10 Fire Warriors + DS8 Support Turret (Troops), 3 Crisis Suits (Elites), 8 Tactical Drones (Fast Attack)
  • Contents RRP: £75+/$125+ (Ethereal not sold separately)
  • Saving: £15+/$30+
  • Points: About 230

The Ethereal on Hover Drone, Fire Warriors, and Drones all see tons of competitive use at high levels, and you can never have enough drones as T’au in the current rules. The only stinkers in here are the Crisis Suits and while they likely still won’t see much competitive play, they’re a lot more forgiving to play with in casual games now that their points have dropped a bit in Chapter Approved 2019. The downside is that with only £15+/$30+ in savings, you’re losing most of that on the Crisis Suits, which you definitely won’t want a second unit of if you decide to double up on this boxed set – even if you decided to use them as cheap Tau Commanders, you don’t need more than three.

Thousand Sons

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Ahriman (HQ), 10 Tzaangors (Troops), 10 Rubric Marines (Troops), 2 Tzaangor upgrade packs (to convert Tzaangors from AoS to 40k)
  • Contents RRP: £98.50/$160
  • Saving: £38.50/$65
  • Points: About 420

As a Starting Thousand Sons player, you want all of these models in your army, and the savings on this box are pretty great. One of these is a fantastic near must-buy for someone who wants to start their own Thousand sons army. The big downside is that because Ahriman is a named character, you don’t really want more than one of these. Though the box savings more than offset Ahriman’s cost, and if you can convert your second copy of him into a regular sorcerer, it’s worth it to buy two so you can make a battalion, and of course there’s the fringe use of having one version of him on foot and another on the disk.

Tyranids

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Broodlord (HQ), 8 Genestealers (Troops), 1 Trygon/Mawloc (Heavy Support)
  • Contents RRP: £90/$150
  • Saving: £30/$55
  • Points: About 310

Well, two out of three ain’t bad. The Broodlord and Genestealers are a solid core to build around, and helpful whether you’re building a full Tyranids army or just adding a Kraken Detachment of Genestealers to your Forces of the Hive Mind army. The Trygon/Mawloc is the standard pack-in for a lot of GW Tyranid bundles it appears, but you’re probably going to build it as a Mawloc, the more useful option of the two and a unit that’s pretty cheap for how disruptive it can be. So the box is a good value, but you probably won’t want to double up on it, given that you’ll need more Genestealers and not multiple Broodlords and probably not multiple Mawlocs.

Vanguard Space Marines

  • Price: £60/$95
  • Contents: 1 Lieutenant in Phobos armour (HQ), 10 Infiltrators (Troops), 3 Suppressors (Fast Attack), 3 Eliminators (Heavy Support)
  • Contents RRP: £85+/$145+ (Suppressors not sold separately, values used are multipart – models included are monopose)
  • Saving: £25+/$50
  • Points: About 420

Like the new Start Collecting: Chaos Space Marines box, it’s a bit hard to evaluate this one effectively because it’s currently the only place to get Suppressors, which are an insanely good unit for Iron Hands and, to a lesser extent, Imperial Fists armies. That said, everything in this box except the Lieutenant is a solid addition to a competitive Space Marines army, and even the Lieutenant is serviceable in a pinch. Even if you could get Suppressors somewhere else, this box would still be an incredibly good value based on what’s in it.

 

Summary

The Start Collecting boxes are a diverse bunch. The value of the individual boxes varies pretty wildly – both in terms of the savings on offer and in terms of the in-game points they represent. Some of them are a fantastic start to an army, and some of them almost are an army – the Chaos Space Marines box especially is something that could form the core of a 1,000pt list quite happily. Meanwhile there is no legal way to put Craftworlds or Orks on the table right now, though they at least have the virtue of having otherwise good contents. If we were going to pick some to recommend against, it would have to be the basic Space Marines and Blood Angels boxes, which are almost entirely made up of trap choices – meanwhile Deathwatch and Thousand Sons both offer fantastic selections, even if they suffer from containing unique characters.

As a final “buying guide” please find below three tables, showing the savings on offer in £ and $ respectively (and yes, this does make a difference), and then ranking each box in order of most points to least. Anything marked with an asterisk includes estimated costs for units not available outside of the box – that means Chaos Space Marines, T’au Empire, and Vanguard Space Marines.

Start Collecting Boxes – Best Saving (£)

BoxPrice £RRP £Saving £
Craftworlds £    55.00 £  100.00 £       45.00
Deathwatch £    60.00 £  103.00 £       43.00
Chaos Space Marines* £    60.00 £  100.00 £       40.00
Vanguard Space Marines* £    60.00 £  100.00 £       40.00
Thousand Sons £    60.00 £    98.50 £       38.50
Daemons of Nurgle £    55.00 £    90.00 £       35.00
Primaris Space Wolves £    60.00 £    93.00 £       33.00
Necrons £    55.00 £    87.00 £       32.00
Skitarii £    60.00 £    92.00 £       32.00
Orks £    55.00 £    85.50 £       30.50
Daemons of Tzeentch £    55.00 £    85.00 £       30.00
Militarum Tempestus £    60.00 £    90.00 £       30.00
T’au Empire* £    60.00 £    90.00 £       30.00
Tyranids £    60.00 £    90.00 £       30.00
Blood Angels £    60.00 £    85.00 £       25.00
Drukhari £    55.00 £    80.00 £       25.00
Space Wolves £    50.00 £    73.00 £       23.00
Space Marines £    55.00 £    77.50 £       22.50
Astra Militarum £    55.00 £    75.83 £       20.83
Daemons of Khorne £    55.00 £    75.00 £       20.00
Daemons of Slaanesh £    55.00 £    77.50 £       18.50

Start Collecting Boxes – Best Saving ($)

BoxPrice $RRP $Saving $
Craftworlds $    90.00 $  170.00 $    80.00
Chaos Space Marines* $    95.00 $  170.00 $    75.00
Vanguard Space Marines* $    95.00 $  170.00 $    75.00
Deathwatch $    95.00 $  167.50 $    72.50
Daemons of Nurgle $    90.00 $  155.00 $    65.00
Thousand Sons $    95.00 $  160.00 $    65.00
Primaris Space Wolves $    95.00 $  157.50 $    62.50
T’au Empire* $    90.00 $  150.00 $    60.00
Orks $    90.00 $  146.00 $    56.00
Skitarii $    95.00 $  151.00 $    56.00
Tyranids $    95.00 $  150.00 $    55.00
Daemons of Tzeentch $    90.00 $  140.00 $    50.00
Militarum Tempestus $    95.00 $  145.00 $    50.00
Necrons $    90.00 $  139.25 $    49.25
Blood Angels $    90.00 $  138.00 $    48.00
Drukhari $    90.00 $  135.00 $    45.00
Space Marines $    90.00 $  130.00 $    40.00
Astra Militarum $    90.00 $  128.33 $    38.33
Daemons of Khorne $    90.00 $  125.00 $    35.00
Daemons of Slaanesh* $    90.00 $  125.00 $    35.00
Space Wolves $    85.00 $  119.50 $    34.50

Start Collecting Boxes – Points High to Low

BoxPoints
Chaos Space Marines*630
Daemons of Tzeentch467
Craftworlds450
Thousand Sons420
Vanguard Space Marines*420
Blood Angels400
Necrons400
Deathwatch390
Space Wolves380
Space Marines350
Primaris Space Wolves325
Daemons of Nurgle312
Tyranids310
Daemons of Khorne295
Drukhari270
Daemons of Slaanesh*265
Orks260
Skitarii260
Astra Militarum240
T’au Empire*230
Militarum Tempestus200

 

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