What type of gamer are you? Do you want an army of beastly ailens charging across the battlefield and ripping into their lines in close combat? Are you more of a defensive player, setting up firing lines and gunning your foe down before they get close? Do you like tanks? Hate them? I will break down what every army brings and how you can match them to what you want to do on the tabletop.
Finally I will give my recomendations. These are more subject to interpretation and by no means the final word, but merely the opinion of an experienced player that has played, teamed with or fought against every army in the game. Take it or leave it, but hey, it's my article so I get to put them in. I hope you find them helpful.
My ratings: I will be grading every one based on a few factors. First is price because lets face it...the economy sucks. My government has said the recession has been over for almost a year, but if you believe that, you probably als believed that Congressmen Weiner wasn't sure the pictures on his twitter were of his personal junk. Next will be a VERY simplistic look at the army's favoried tactics. As this is written for the rookie gamer, I won't go into the more advanced ideas like horde MEQ or the 30 model Ork army. You have to learn some things on your own and the General can't hold your hand forever. I'll follow that with my warning of the compulsery useless unit. Every book has one...some have several. I'm not saying to never take this unit or that some haven't found succcess with it (though that's often the case) but it's just a bad unit for a beginner to use. Rookies should be fully prepared to get stomped...why take units that make that easier? Finally I'll give my final grade. NOTE: This is NOT an analysis of the army as a whole and not me saying some armies are crap (you know who you are Necrons...) but this is my recomendation on how good this would be as a starter army. As always, this is my opinion and as such should be law, but at the very least you can get some idea on what's out there on the mini battlefields.
Chaos Space MarinesI'm doing this alphabetically, so it's just concidence that one of my higher recomended armies comes first. I recomend them for a few reasons. First, they are on the cheaper side. A good amount of their line is plastic and that makes them more affordable. They are also often available through Ebay which any hobbyist will tell you can be a wonderful place. They are an "elite" army which means you'll have less models compared to some but that means less to buy. I say this even though my Chaos army consists almost entirely of metal models. The basic troops and some HQ models are plastic, but going for cultist troops usually means metal/finecrap...except Berzerkers. The other reason why I recomend them is their versatility. A CSM army can do basically whatever you want. The standard CSM squad is flexible and can be built shooty or assault-y. Adding marks can further develop their abilities. Beyond that you have the cult troops; Berzerkers, Plague Marines, Thousand Sons and Noise Marines. They are more specialized and can do their individual job very well. Thousand Sons and Noise Marines are a bit dodgy, but not totally useless. Beyond that, you have some tanks and transports for thr tread-heads. You can put together a CC army, a ranged army or a mix and with all the choices you can play a handful of other CSM players that will have completly diferent armies to your and each other's. The only real problem this book has is its age. The points costs are a bit unreasonable for some units.
Affordability: A. D if buying Finecrap cultists, but these can be converted
Tactics: Mixed. You can build any combo of close or ranged, and most of your units that are strong in one are still OK in the other.
Useless Unit: Spawn/Posessed
Final Grade: A In this modern time, lets be honest...this hobby is expensive. There are degrees to this and tricks to help make it cheaper, but it isn't like buying a 99 cent deck of playing cards and dealing a poker game. For that reason, I will be taking starting costs in. I am not including the codex since they are all around the same price, but will instead look at availability and affordability of the models needed to get you a good 1500 points.