As I mentioned in my first article, I’ve been familiar with Warhammer 40k for many years. Between my initial interest, a couple video games, and general osmosis from being a tabletop gamer I picked up a general familiarity with the lore. I knew enough to know it was deep and that people fell in love with characters and factions. I ended that article with a request for some help picking a faction, expecting a few responses pointing me towards some online resources. I wanted to learn some of the grimdark stories, but I got so much more.
My phone didn’t stop lighting up for hours as my notifications filled with people sharing their favorite Space Marine chapters, stories, pictures, and recommendations. Chris Morgan from the Forge the Narrative podcast reached out and has been sending me information on Xenos factions ever since that post. I learned how the Eldar brought about the birth of Slaanesh through their own depravity, how their Wraith’s are a formidable force on the tabletop, and the emergence of the Dark Eldar.
I had basically ignored the forces of Chaos until S. Jamin Thompson pointed me in the direction of the Thousand Sons and their tragic backstory in a comment on Facebook. An elite unit of Space Marines was doomed by their own Primarch as he betrayed the laws of his own Emperor in an attempt to save the Emperor’s life; their minds and bodies tainted by Chaos, they fled to a sanctuary only to destroyed by one of their own. They’re now cursed to fight for Tzeentch as mindless automatons bound directly to the armor that once protected their bodies.
This is some really great stuff, and I really appreciate people having taken the time to condense years of lore and events for a total stranger. With stories-and a community-like this it’s no wonder people get so invested in the world of Warhammer. I’ve talked to people who get tattoos of the emblems and symbols of their favorite factions. I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole-or perhaps a rift in the warp-of fascinating worlds and legends and I haven’t really wanted to come up for air. A rich tapestry of tales to dig into is a little new to me. My background is primarily in traditional board games. While many of them have extensive worlds and settings, very few have multiple decades’ worth of continuous narrative to draw from.
I think this is why I’ve enjoyed hearing about other people’s favorite factions so much. They offer a launching point for me to begin reading and listening. Similar to the Chaos, I didn’t really appreciate the difference in Space Marine factions until Mike Dao explained why he deals with the pain and struggle of painting yellow in order to play the Imperial Fist. Stalwart and loyal, it’s the stories of their devotion and sacrifice in the name of the Emperor that lead him to wave their flag. From there I delved into the stories of the Space Wolves when someone sent me pictures, as vicious as the Imperial Fist are dutiful.
So what was I ultimately drawn to? What will I play? There are two different answers.
Simon Munoz messaged me on Twitter, to share his allegiance for the Imperial Guard. There’s a pretty interesting faction. In a grimdark world of world-eating monsters, 8’ tall super soldiers, and technologically advanced aliens, the Guard are legions or normal humans proudly wading into battle to defend their worlds. There’s an appealing honor in that and while learning about the guards I stumbled upon the Adepta Sororitas and their Sisters of Battle.
An all-female fighting force created to take advantage of a loophole preventing the Church from fielding “men at arms”. These women do not share the genetic enhancements of the Space Marines yet they still don power armor and wield chainswords, standing toe to toe with the enemies of the Imperium bolstered by the raw power of their faith. I love it. It’s inspiring in a universe full of darkness Unfortunately, they’re a rather difficult army to collect seeing as they’re currently unavailable.
From there, I turned to what is perhaps the exact opposite of the Battle Sisters. I’m going with da ‘bois of da orks. While I love the ramshackle aesthetic of these green monsters, what really drew me in was (again) the lore. Ork technology doesn’t really work except for the raw power of the ork psyche. They believe things work, and so they do. While that certainly leads to funny bits of lore like the Red trucks of the Evil Sunz driving faster because Orks believe that red things drive faster, there’s a sinister edge to that as well. The right Warboss could harness the power of weaponized propaganda for some truly nefarious deeds. If there’s anything more nefarious than wanton destruction I guess.
So now, with an army chosen and some test models painted (I’m leaning into a Fury Road-inspired style) I’m ready to finish this dive into the world of Warhammer 40k. My next piece will be on my impression of this new edition from the perspective of a brand new player with a few games under my belt, and I’m very much looking forward gathering up massive amounts of dice and rolling them alongside my new green-skinned friends.
To everyone who shared their favorite factions, memes, and stories: thank you. See you on the battlefield!
What is your favorite story or event in Warhammer 40K‘s history?
Featured Image Credits: Games Workshop
Image Credits: Raf Cordero, Mike Dao, Chris Colschen, Games Workshop
In addition to Geek & Sundry, Raf Cordero writes for Miniature Market’s The Review Corner and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. Chat with him on Twitter @captainraffi.