I’ve only been playing Warhammer 40,000 since 8th Edition. I was attracted to the game by the aesthetic of the Primaris Space Marines and to the minimal approach to the rules. I picked it up easily enough, but with 9th Edition how would I go about getting my 9 year old son, Ciarán (‘Keer-awn’ for American readers!), started with Warhammer 40,000?


  • Make the setting sound cool (this should be easy!)
  • Pick an quick/straightforward to paint faction and scheme, i.e Necrons
  • Use Kill Team as a stepping stone
  • Set a target force size to paint, i.e. 25PL, for the first game of 40k
  • Watch this video: How to Play Warhammer 40k 9th Edition for Beginners
  • Play a simple mission and guide the younger player through decisions they might make
  • Have fun!


He was already 40k curious having played a number of Kill Team games with his Ultramarines, so when the Indomitus boxed set was announced he was already aware of the game. He liked the look of the Necrons (they’re undead 60 million year old killer robots!), so just like with his Ultramrines, I agreed that he could have them if he painted them. Of course, I help him out, but he’s been doing most of the work. The beauty of the Necrons is that they can look great with even a relatively simple paint job. For Ciarán, this involved spraying the models grey, washing them with Agrax Earthshade, drybrushing with Leadbelcher (metal), picking out gold detail with Retributor Armour and then using Escorpena Green (Vallejo) for the gauss. All quite straightforward and yield an excellent result. Basing is simple, just gluing on grit, but that’s something we can look at when he’s completed the models in the boxed set.

Kill Team

He worked on the Necron Warriors and Scarabs first and that gave him enough models to play Kill Team. He’d played Kill Team before, but this gave him a chance to get used to the stats of some of his Necrons along with mechanics such as moving, rolling to hit and wound, etc. He used his Warriors and some Scarabs (they don’t have rules for Kill Team, but who cares!).

I chose a straightforward team, all Genestealer Cults Acolytes, but in retrospect I should have chosen some of my Blood Angels, this would have introduced them to him (in game terms) and kept things consistent. It would also have allowed a little narrative building.

Do some homework!

Well, it wasn’t exactly like school homework… we watched this excellent video.

It was great because Ciarán could see the guys in the video playing with the same models he was going to use (and his are painted better!).

First Game of Warhammer 40,000

The same day as watching the video we setup a simple Combat Patrol (25PL) game. We used the Open War Annihilation mission (the same one used in the video) and I chose a simple Blood Angels force to face him. I have Tyranids and Genestealer Cults, but the Marines are iconic and a little more straightforward than the other two.

He had the softbound Edge of Silence book in hand with all of his datasheets. We set out the terrain and discussed what was what (but I didn’t dwell on this) and then deployed our armies. I guided him through the turns, phases and key decisions in the game, but I left making the decisions to him. It resulted in a fun game where he got to roll lots of dice, kill lots of marines and narrowly lose the game. He (and I) had great fun. That, after all, is what it’s all about.

What next?

Ciarán is itching to paint more and play more. I think I need to throttle the former a little. Not so much the painting, but an uncontrolled expansion of his army. He barely has the basics of the game or his army down, so I don’t want him to overwhelm himself. I’ll encourage him to paint the Overlord and Cryptothralls, but that’s mainly to give him a little variety in constructing his army. Hopefully we’ll get 3-4 25PL games played with that pool of 32PL models before adding any more. That way he’ll get a better handle on the rules and on his army. I’m going to do likewise and stick to a limited pool of models, so he gets to know my army too.

Anyway, that’s the plan… but you know about plans and contacting the enemy!

Until next time,