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I have been curious about Warhammer 40k for a while now and I'm wondering what it the best way to try the game out. Are there starter sets available? Can I use old models with new rules? Were is the best place to buy models? I'm just trying to become more educated on the subject. Can anyone help?
The starter set for 4th edition was called Battle for Macragge. This was a Ultramarine vs. Tyranid box set. Think badass humans vs. Aliens. It is long out of print with dated rules, but both the rules and minis are still technically usable. Most players have moved on from 4th edition rules though.
Amongst you or your friends, you can use any rules set with any miniatures. In sanctioned events, it is WYSIWYG, meaning each mini has to properly depict what it is supposed to be. You need not play in sanctioned events to enjoy the game and many play groups are quite okay with proxies and custom minis. As far as the best place to buy is concerned, that's going to vary. Prices are always going to be better on the secondary market where you're buying from an individual vs. buying from a company looking to maximize profit. Most retail stores that stock 40k stuff have prices that are the same as what you'd pay if you bought direct from Games Workshop. If you're looking to save money, you'd have to buy from eBay or from some other miniatures gaming community's buy and trade forum to save. Occasionally things can be found on Craigslist, but that's mostly in bigger cities.