Tonight I played my first real game of 40K (at least the first one in about 10 years). I ran a vanilla Marines list I threw together which had the main virtue of being mainly composed of models that I actually have painted (though there were a few "counts-as"):
Chaplain Sebastian w/ terminator armour, combi-melta, melta bomb: 140
Tactical Squad, 5 man, power fist (Fistandantilus), plasma pistol: 130
Tactical Squad, 5 man, power weapon, plasma pistol, melta bomb: 125
Total: 500 pts
My opponent played orcs, he clearly had a much larger army with him but he played using:
Big Mek, Custom Force Field
15 Orks, power claw
15 Orks, power claw
I don't know:
Battlewagon or something with a roller
Some form of smaller truck
His army was very well painted, it certainly looked far far better than mine - his big truck thing was a converted Land Raider, for example. We decided to play annihilation since it was simplest, and we forgot to count the number of turns so we basically played until everyone was dead. By the end of it my Dreadnought was the only thing still alive, so I won 5 killpoints to 3. I believe he took it easy on me (he didn't take any anti-tank, for one thing, so he didn't have much to hit my dread with, and his Mek was mostly wasted), and I did get some very lucky dice rolls (at one point he rolled 4 ones to hit with his power claw against my dread, and every damage roll was a 1).
Sebastian was not terribly effective at all (I expected this going in, he's not suited for the army but he was the only painted HQ model I have). Fistandantilus missed all three power-fist attacks in his one turn of combat then got flattened by the roller. The Dread missed a LOT of hits (two attacks really isn't much, even when they're I4 S10 power attacks), but also wrecked both vehicles and whittled down a squad of Boys until the remnants of one of my tac squads could jump in.
So what did I learn? Well, for one thing, even such a small game can be very unpredictable and take longer than you would think. Even a 5 man Space Marine squad can hold out a while against an Ork charge, with a little luck. A Dread is quite a force to be reckoned with if his opponents aren't tooled up properly.
Well, I had fun, hopefully I'll play more games in the future (though it will still take a while to get more painted model in).