I've already discussed my struggles with deciding whether or not to jump into the Warhammer 40,000 hobby. One of the issues is which army to get into. I skipped over that problem in my last post because I knew it was the stickiest of all the issues. With this post, I would like to discuss the issue.
There are fourteen supported armies in the 40k universe. Most of those are quite customizable, which means there are a LOT of options. (The Necron army is the one exception. There are so few options that there is really only one way to build the army. Supposedly, they will be getting a new codex next winter. Hopefully that will expand the options for all the Necron players out there.)
I've thoroughly read the main Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, and have decided that close combat armies that focus on assault are not for me. That rules out several armies, namely: Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Tyranids, and the most popular builds of Chaos Daemons and Orks. The last two can be built to focus on longer-range shooting attacks, although they rarely are, which I can only assume means that they're not actually that good at it.
I like the idea of an army that utilizes a lot of long-range shooting, taking out enemy units from a distance. It seems, though, that a lot of the traditionally "shooty" armies are paper tigers. They can hit hard, but they're really fragile. I'm not sure I like that. I think I'd prefer something with a bit more durability. Although Tau, Necrons, Dark Eldar, and Eldar are all supposedly good at ranged warfare, they are also all relatively fragile. (Again, the Necrons are an exception. They're actually fairly tough to kill, but they have a special rule that nerfs them pretty badly. If you kill a high enough percentage of the army, they "phase out," vanishing into the vapor, which is cool and flavorful, but not so good for the Necron player who wants to play an interesting game. Most Necron opponents ignore the game objectives and just go for phase out. BORING.)
That leaves five potential armies: Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Daemon Hunters, Witch Hunters, and Imperial Guard.
Space Marines represent the most basic army. They're fairly durable, decent at shooting, decent at close combat, versatile, customizable, and have multiple vehicle options for tanks and transports that are all very good.
Chaos Space Marines are very similar to Space Marines, but they serve the Chaos gods. I'm okay with playing an evil army, especially since they have some interesting customization options when devoting units to a particular Chaos god.
Daemon Hunters are a branch of the Inquisition of the Empire of Man that defends humanity against the Chaos gods and their daemonic minions. They have access to all the branches of the Imperial armed forces to aid them in their war against the Warp spawn. Their elite Grey Knight space marines use powerful psychic attacks alongside conventional weapons, and Imperial Stormtroopers, with their powerful Rhino and Chimera troop transports, are feared across the universe.
Witch Hunters are devoted to weeding out heretics and the Warp-tainted enemies of the Empire of Man. Their laws prohibit them from having "men at arms," so the Witch Hunters of the Inquisition recruit loyal women of the Imperium. The "nuns with guns" are some of the most loyal and zealous soldiers in the universe, "purifying" the wicked with their blessed flamethrowers.
I could have dismissed the Imperial Guard for being yet another paper tiger. They are good at shooting, yet very fragile. However, they make up for this with numbers. The Imperial Guard conscripts and recruits billions of soldiers from across the Imperium. An individual Guardsman is completely expendable, because there are plenty more as replacements. Guardsman have access to some of the most fearsome tanks in the game, and their foot soldiers can lay down an devastating amount of firepower each round. I haven't dismissed them as a possibility because, although individually they are very easy to kill, whole units survive because of sheer numbers, giving them a surprising amount of durability.
Now, there are also a slew of interesting fan-made codices as well, such as the Soul Drinkers, the Adeptus Astartes, or the Iron Fists. But they do not have their own models, which would mean I'd have to convert the models from other armies, and that's just more work than I am really interested in putting into the game at this point.
So, I can narrow down my options to five armies. If I look at ideology, I can narrow it further. Space Marines are, quite frankly, really boring. Their fluff is just kind of blah. Tactically, they may be interesting, but for generating a storyline, they fall flat. Then there's the Witch Hunters, with their Sisters of Battle. While the models are surprisingly interesting (a lot more cool armor and a lot less cleavage than you would expect), they're a little insane and zealous for my taste. They kind of scare me.
Now, I can get behind Daemon Hunters, Chaos Space Marines, or Imperial Guard. I just can't figure out which one most appeals to me! I can't even decide if I want to commit to the whole Warhammer 40k hobby. My life is so difficult.