Favorites, 40K Edition

In the GrimDarkness of the far future, there is only war, or so we are told. The Warhammer 40,000 universe is populated with a considerable array of different options for players, and probably half of those options consist of different paint jobs for these guys:

At least that's what Games Workshop wants you to think of them.

At least that's what Games Workshop wants you to think of them.

As nifty as the Marines are, I consider them overhyped, oversaturated and frankly much less interesting than one specific other faction. Let’s think about the various factions that exist in WH40K and see a little bit of why.

We’ve got the eight foot tall musclebound bio-engineered supermen that wearing self-contained power armor (when they’re not idiotically going without helmets, of course) with shoulder plates bigger than a car’s tire and who have been subjected to indoctrination and hypnotic training (read: brainwashing) until they are psychotic, fanatically loyal killing machines basically incapable of feeling fear with a certain amount of warrior monk thrown in for flavor. Oh, and their standard sidearm is a sort-of miniaturized missile launcher that can fire on full auto. (Yes, the Space Marines.)

We’ve also got 7-8 foot tall musclebound bio-engineered fungus beings that literally exist only for warfare. (Orks)

Then there are the various-sized (ranging from microscopic to the size of a small moon) chitinous dinosaur/bug things that come from beyond the stars and exist only to eat planets (tyranids)

Then there are the robotic skeletons from before the dawn of time who exist only to serve ancient god-beings that exist in order to eat stars (Necrons)

The list goes on in that vein for a while.

you can also play this guy:

Yeah. This guy.

That’s right, in that crazy universe full of every flavor of superhuman and ultra-awesome monstrosity, you can also play: a guy with a rifle. Or, if you want to make it even better?

A bunch of convicts. With rifles.

Yeah. The biggest balls in the Warhammer universe have to belong to the Imperial Gaurdsman, just for showing up on the same battlefield with all of the rest of those horrifying things every day and telling them to get off his planet. With a rifle.


Bring it.


That’s a big part of why I love the Imperial Guard. There’s also the fact that these guys are the real defenders of humanity. Think about it: The Imperium consists of well over one million worlds. With approximately 1,000 chapters of space marines, at maybe 1,000 members apiece (and most are well below that figure thanks to attrition and a slow, painstaking and frequently fatal recruitment procedure), there are fewer than 1,000,000 space marines in the entire galaxy. That’s less than one for every planet that the Imperium controls. There are countless billions of Imperial Guardsmen. By the numbers alone, the Marines must of necessity make up much, much less than 1% of the Imperium’s total fighting force. No less a figure than Rogal Dorn (who was indisputably awesome) once said: “Give me one hundred Space Marines. Or failing that, give me a thousand other troops.” Yes, they’re hard core… but even at what Rogal calls a 10:1 value ratio, compared to the countless billions of the Imperial Guard, the Marines’ military power is at best a drop in the bucket.

Well, for most significant military engagements in the Imperium, it’s probable that a total of zero space Marines will be able to show up. That’s simple numbers and logistics. So the Guard and the Navy have to do the heavy lifting of keeping humanity and the Imperium alive, while the Marines have to settle for streaking in to the most critical and desperate situations where their individual superiority is most needed, and where they can maximize their impact if they expect to actually make any real difference at all. They’re a pinprick surgical-strike force, not a force that can wage sector-wide wars unaided.

The Guard and the Navy (as the Imperium’s regular military forces) can protect the Imperium without the highly elite Space Marines, but the reverse would be utterly impossible.

So yeah, another reason I love them: they do the real work, even if the insane monks in the gigantic armor are getting the glory. They’re the guys that are essential to the continued existence of the Imperium. They’re the guys that fight back the Orks, the Tau, the Tyranids and every other crazy faction. They’re the Imperial Guard.


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