Perfect Wargame Starter - what is it?

   So, we have a new starter set from Games Workshop. Let’s talk about what a good wargame starter is.

   It’s quite obvious that the main purpose of the starter set is commercial. It has to be popular and make players who bought it stay in the wargame and continue getting other miniatures. 

   What do you need for this? Sure, brilliant miniatures. They should look unusual tasty and draw attention. It would be great if starter miniatures are unique and can be bought only with the starter set. Even if the set contains usual units, they should look better that their small-box counterparts. More attractive poses, unusual armor and so on. It’s also great if you those sets are launched sometime after the starter is released.

   That’s why Death Masque, Shield of Baal and other campaign sets which are often called starters by mistake, aren’t starters – yes, it’s a good start if you want to collect one of those armies. However, they don’t have the same marketing value.

   Ok, we have brilliant miniatures. But now everyone is going to buy only starters and ignore other releases. That’s why starter miniatures have fixed poses and no wargear options – no one will like playing an army of clones. Sure, you always can go into conversions… Moreover, starter armies should be playable themselves, but require reinforcements if you want to play with full-scale armies – they must have not ideal wargear, lack transport or something else. The main purpose is to show the player how his new army can be powered up. And it’s really good thing when starter has multi-purpose squads which can be used in any army concept.

   Speaking of balance. If there are two of them, starter armies must be balanced against each other. Before a new player decides to stay in this wargame, He should learn the rules using starter missions example, get some pleasure from the game, feel the spirit. And it’s kind of hard when your army loses every time.

   Starter missions should gradually show the player every rule, using first a couple of models, demonstrating different aspects of the game and only then throw them into a full-scale battle with all their miniatures.

   Such obvious and easy rules. Easy? Let’s look at the latest starters from Games Workshop to understand how it works on the example.

   In spite of being really popular and staying for 2 editions, Dark Vengeance is not an ideal starter at all. Pretty miniatures – yes. But the balance has huge problems. Dark Angels part looks nice, but CSM players still have nightmares with those chosen, each armed differently and completely useless as one squad even in friendly play. The crowd of 20 cultists was supposed to outperform 5 terminators and 15 3+ space marines, but practically they were dying before getting into close combat each time. So, most people bought DV for the conversions or for the bunch of cultists. By the way, all of these miniatures (except for Hellbrute) still don’t have another edition.

   An example of a perfect starter is Age of Sigmar. Great useful miniatures which differ from their box analogs, interesting, really teaching missions. And the balance – nonetheless Stormcast Eternals were a bit stronger, Chaos still had a chance to win using army synergy and tactics. No wonder, this starter was a big success.

   And what’s the new one? Firstly, the faction choice is really wise – still CSM and SM (which covers more than half of the players) but in fact, there are 2 new sub-factions – Death Guard and Primaris Marines – so every player can start a new army using this box set. Miniatures are also great (nonetheless some are unhappy with them)

   Unfortunately, the balance is still a problem. GW still conceder a bunch of cultists to be capable of outperforming 15 well-equipped space marines with 3+ armor. Also, we already know that Primaris marines are much stronger than usual ones and have 2 wounds while plague marines are almost the same. So…7 against 18... Looks weird.

   Anyway, we all know that this box will beextremely popular. What about you? What can you add about starters from otherwargames?