When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. 

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 2: Laying Plans, 2-3.

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge in tabletop wargaming. Great! Good for you.

Now here are the next steps.

1. Start Small.
Some newbies dive right into building big armies. I caution against this. The risk of burn-out is too high.

There’s lot of skirmish wargames out there where you build a warband of 50 figures or less. Once of you’ve completed a warband, you can move on to an army level game.

If you’ve picked an army-level game, paint one regiment at a time.

One strategy would be to buy figures that are compatible with skirmish game and and army-level game. For example: finishing some fantasy/medievals for Lion Rampant or Dragon Rampant before moving on to Kings of War.

2. Blitzkrieg.
Paint your first army as fast as you can. Three months tops.

This will probably mean giving up few evenings or a weekend to finish your army, instead of hanging out with your new wargaming buddies.

Get those miniatures painted. Get’em done.

3. Aim for Decency, not Excellency. 
Don’t worry about making your figures look like something out of Wargames Illustrated. Don’t worry about what other wargamers might think of your paint jobs–especially folks with unpainted miniatures or The Bearded Bastard.

Batch paint. That is, paint 8-10 figures at time which have similar colors. A quick Internet search will bring up instructions how to do this.

If you miniature looks good at arm’s length, you’re good to go.

Perhaps you might be wondering: why paint so fast? 

The short answer: nothing quite inspires confidence like getting results. Your first army is your practice army.

The long answer will be explained in the installment of The Art of Wargaming: The Tale of Newbie Wargamer’s Folly.