Warhammer 40k factions

Warhammer 40k factions DEFAULT


If you’ve read our beginner’s guide to Warhammer 40,000, you’ll know that the Games Workshop tabletop miniatures game is a complex beast with a myriad of ways to build an army.

In this article, we try to make it easier for beginners to figure out which Warhammer 40,000 armies are up to date, easy to pick up and play, and what units and books are available for them.

It is a full on Warhammer 40k armies overview!

The article doesn’t go into detail about strategy and rules for the armies, but focuses on explaining what belongs where, and how to start playing each army in Warhammer 40k

Note: Many armies have not yet had their codex updated fot the current 9th edition of the game. Where this is the case, this overview suggests that you play with the rules for your army from the Warhammer 40,000 app, rather than buy an outdated codex, since rules for armies without an updated codex are available in the app for a small subscription fee and should always include recent errata to the rules

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What armies and how many are there in Warhammer 40k?

It can actually be hard to count the number of armies in 40k. Depending on how you decide to cut different things into pieces, there might be significantly more or less. This is especially the case for the various space Marines. At any rate we think there are 34 different armies and these are the ones we include in our Warhammer 40k armies overview

  1. Space Marines
  2. Ultramarines
  3. Imperial Fists
  4. Dark Angels
  5. Blood Angels
  6. Salamanders
  7. Iron Hands
  8. Space Wolves
  9. White Scars
  10. Raven Guard
  11. Deathwatch
  12. Grey Knights
  13. Astra Militarum
  14. Adepta Sororitas
  15. Adeptus Custodes
  16. Adeptus Mechanicus
  17. Imperial Knights
  18. Chaos Space Marines
  19. Death Guard
  20. Thousand Sons
  21. Chaos Daemons Khorne
  22. Chaos Daemons Nurgle
  23. Chaos Daemons Tzeentch
  24. Chaos Daemons Slaanesh
  25. Chaos Knights
  26. Craftworlds
  27. Drukhari
  28. Harlequins
  29. Ynnari
  30. Tyranids
  31. Genestealer Cults
  32. Necrons
  33. Orks
  34. T’au Empire

What armies are updated for 40k ninth or 9th edition and have a new codex?

These are the armies that have gotten an updated codex for the 9th edition of Warhammer 40k

  1. Space Marines
  2. Dark Angels
  3. Blood Angels
  4. Space Wolfes
  5. Death Watch
  6. Necrons
  7. Death Guard
  8. Drukhari
  9. Adeptus Mechanicus (coming soon)

How we are dividing the Warhammer 40k Armies up

In Warhammer 40k you have a ton of different armies. They can roughly be divided into 4 big chunks:

  1. Space Marines
  2. Armies of the Imperium
  3. Armies of Chaos
  4. Armies of Xenos

Space Marines

Introduction to Space Marines

The Space Marines are monastic orders of genetically enhanced superhumans fighting to defend humanity. They have been the flagship army of Warhammer 40,000 since the beginning of the game, and there is rarely and expansion or update in the game without some sort of update for these guys.

When it comes to playing the game, Space Marines are actually fairly complex: They have a bonus that protects them from suffering too many casualties in the Morale Phase, a lot of cases where specific circumstances let them shoot better with their boltguns, and a rule called Combat Doctrines which gives them different bonuses in each round of a game.

That might sound simple enough, but if you add all the rules of the various Space Marine subfactions to that, as well as the fact that there are more different units and characters for Space Marines than for any other army, it can be very difficult to figure out the optimal army list for the army.

Luckily, that shouldn’t matter for your first few games (or even years!) in the game if you just want to have fun and play narrative games with your friends, so if that’s the case, the Space Marine range of miniatures is a treasure trove of awesome sculpts. If you like the look of the big bulky marines, go for them!

What rule book should I get to play Space Marines?

The Space Marines have a brand new codex available that fully incorporates the new 9th edition rules, and has rules for all models currently playable in the army. At this point where we’re still at the early stages of the new edition, that’s a rare occurrence.

Codex: Space Marines is the book you need. Be aware that most of the time, you will also want the Codex Supplement of the subfaction you want to play, if it’s available for the new edition (see below). This is because there are many different versions of Space Marines, so unless you want to play one of the ones covered in the general Space Marine Codex.

What miniatures are available for Space Marines, and are they up to date?

This is where it can get a bit confusing: The Space Marines have some of the newest and some of the oldest miniatures available, so if you just pick stuff randomly from a webstore, you might end up with some miniatures that are insanely detailed plastic sculpts that you don’t even need to use glue to assemble, and others that are made of finecast resin which has to be assembled with superglue and will break and bend if you look at it wrong.

This is of course due to the fact that the army has been around for so long, and has had so many updates. The most important thing to know about miniature quality and what is up to date in the Space Marines Range is all about the word Primaris: A couple of years ago, the Ultramarines Primarch returned from a 10.000 year stasis with a new vision for the Imperium and a host of new, stronger Space Marine warriors to carry out his vision. The Primaris Space Marines are taller and stronger than regular space marines, and are seen by some as the best the Imperium has to offer, and by others as something close to heresy because of all their technological innovations.

In the real world, what happened was that Games Workshop’s sculpting of plastic miniatures had gotten better and better over the decades, which has led to the miniatures growing in scale, since you could make them look better that way. This had the unfortunate consequence that older Space Marine miniatures were starting to look like strange diminutive figures compared to some other recent figures, while still holding immense sentimental value to people who had collected the army for most of their lives. So, Games Workshop decided to launch new, taller Space Marines not as a direct replacement of the old beloved “tiny marines”, but as a new kind of Space Marine all together.

In reality, the Primaris Space Marines have all but replaced the classic marines now, so as a new player with no nostalgic ties to the old stuff, you might as well only use Primaris Marines for your army, as they all look better together scale-wise, and are also mostly better in the game (with a few exceptions). I consider it very unlikely that GW will ever release any marines that are not Primaris again (and if they could without the biggest outcry from fans, they would phase the old models out completely).

That being said, even if you only go for Primaris Marines, there are still so many options: the army has close combat specialists such as the Bladeguard Veterans, snipers such as the Eliminators, massive mechs such as the Redemptor Dreadnoughts, a whole array of different Troops types, as well as a ton of different characters. The Space Marines have at least a couple of options for almost any role in the game, and more are added every year.

The most recent addition to the game has been the close combat Troops called Assault Intercessors, the Bladeguard Veterans, the meltagun-carrying Eradicators, the motorbike-riding Outriders and even an ATV with a gun mounted on top (as well as a few more). These generally encourage a fast assault style, but you can also play the army defensively, stealthily or a combination of those.

How do I get started playing Space Marines

Since Space Marines are the flagship faction for the game, there are a ton of ways to get started with them.

The recent starter sets for 9th Edition all include a contingent of Space Marines, such as the Command Edition.

However, if you know you’re only going to play Space Marines, you don’t really need to buy a box with another army also included, and all the miniatures in the box are now also available in other kits. You could of course split the set with one of your friends (or sell off the Necron stuff), which is a super common thing to do.

Luckily, you have other options: The Start Collecting!: Vanguard Space Marines also gives you a nice Primaris force, or you could go for one of the subfaction-specific Combat Patrol boxes (see below), since the miniatures in those usually aren’t subfaction-specific in their own right.

If you want to start the army with something that’s not in the starter set, a good tacticwhich works for most of the armies in the game is to download the Warhammer 40,000 app, create an army, see what you can fit in a Combat Patrol Detachment (you can read about detachments in our beginner’s guide to Warhammer 40k), and then basically buy the boxes necessary to field that army. This is one of the things that the app is really useful for if you’re a newcomer to the game or haven’t tried a specific army before.

Finally, Space Marines are generally defined by what Chapter (subfaction) they’re from. You can create your own custom Chapter, but it will usually be a successor to one of the standard Chapters, which have their own extra rules, special characters and units, as well as color schemes. Here’s a quick rundown of the most important Chapters and the special kits available to them.


You may have noticed that most images of Space Marines you see in Games Workshop marketing and box art are painted blue with gold trim. This is because the flagship army of the Warhammer 40,000 game has a flagship subfaction: The Ultramarines are the “protagonists” of much of what’s going on in the Warhammer 40,000 universe from the Imperial perspective, and every new Space Marine release from Games Workshop that’s not specific to a different Chapter is always presented as an Ultramarine unit in blue and gold.

The Ultramarines are the pillars of civilization within the Space Marines: Their homeworld sector is almost an Imperium within the Imperium, carefully planned and protected, and home to some of the most manageable standards of living for humans in the galaxy.

At the moment, the Ultramarines are also the only Space Marine chapter able to field their Primarch ancestor leader in battle: Roboute Guilliman (see the image above) is a massive warrior and the de facto leader of the military efforts of all of humanity at the moment, and also an amazing painting project if you want to field him in your army.

Since almost everything Space Marine looks like it’s already part of the Ultramarines, the Chapter isn’t generally defined by its special units, but they do have some really cool characters with updated kits such as Marneus Calgar (the guy from the recent Marvel Warhammer 40,000 comic!) and his Victrix Honour Guard.

You can also make your Space Marines look more like Ultramarines with the Ultramarine Primaris Upgrades Pack.

In short, Ultramarines are basically Space Ancient Romans or Space Ancient Greeks, and even though veterans of the game will call them boring or vanilla Marines, they are a good place to start if you want to feel like your army is part of the ongoing story of Warhammer 40,000.

Imperial Fists

This Chapter in yellow with red trim are experts of siege warfare doesn’t have any specific recent miniatures tied to their Chapter apart from a few characters, with Tor Garadon (pictured above) being the only dedicated Primaris character for the Imperial Fists. They do have a really nice Imperial Fists Primaris Upgrades and Transferspack available with some cool power fists for your Imperial Fists sergeants (as you have probably figured out by now, they have a whole fist theme going on).

An important thing to note about the Imperial Fists is that they are the forefathers of two of the most popular Successor Chapters in the range: The Crimson Fists and the Black Templars.

The Crimson Fists are blue with (you guessed it) red fists, and have a rich history of iconic artwork made for Warhammer 40,000 publications, so you may run into veteran players who are very fond of them.

The Black Templars are an eternally crusading force of Space Marines in black, white and red, and they have quite a few specific pre-Primaris miniatures available to them. For beginners, they also have the great advantage of being the only Space Marine Chapter to have all their rules available in the Warhammer 40,000 app without the user having to buy any codexes. Why that’s the case is a result of the weird transition that the game is in here at the beginning of a new edition, but it does mean that if you want to field a subfaction without having to buy too many books, the Black Templars are currently the way to go.

Dark Angels

The Dark Angels are the First Legion of the Space Marines, and they’re clad in green, gold, and often also cream robes. They are currently a very up to date chapter, since they have both a Codex Supplement: Dark Angelsavailable with all the rules they need in addition to the Codex: Space Marines, and a dedicated Combat Patrol: Dark Angels box available with all the units, upgrade bits and transfers needed to field a Combat Patrol-level army of Dark Angels Space Marines.

In addition to all this, the Dark Angels also have some interesting special units such as the DeathwingKnights or their Ravenwing flyers.

Blood Angels

The Blood Angels, clad almost entirely in red, are also a very up to date Chapter. They are especially known for their cursed bloodline, which means they are always at risk of succumbing to a raging madness, so that those inflicted by it are sent to seek swift death on the battlefield in a Death Company before they are completely consumed by the rage.

The additional rules for the Blood Angels can be found in Codex Supplement: Blood Angels which was released after the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 dropped, and the Blood Angels also have a Combat Patrol: Blood Angels available with all you need to build Blood Angels Combat Patrol Force.

While Blood Angels have some cool classic Marine special units, it’s also worth noting that the new Codex Supplement has made it possible to field the Death Company mentioned above as Primaris Space Marines, which means you can make a lore-appropriate Blood Angels force without having to use older miniatures.


The Salamanders are a Space Marine chapter clad in bright greens with coal-black skin, and they are especially known for using flame weaponry and being nice to civilians, so they’re one of the relatively “good” (as in, kind) Imperial factions.

They don’t have a Codex Supplement for the new edition, so you can just use the rules from Codex: Space Marines for the time being.

They do have a very nice Salamanders Primaris Upgrades and Transfers pack with thunder hammers and flamers to help you make your Primaris Marines look the part, as well as the fearsome Chapter Master Adrax Agatone miniature pictured at the top of this Chapter’s section of this article.

Iron Hands

The Iron Hands are clad in all black, and are easily recognisable by their mechanical arms, as they practice the art of perfection through replacing body parts with mechanical implants, as you can see on Iron Father Feirros on the image above this paragraph . They don’t currently have an updated Codex Supplement, so you’ll have to use the rules in Codex: Space Marines, but they do have an Iron Hands Primaris Upgrades and Transfers pack available with plenty of metal arms and cyborg heads to make your Iron Hands Space Marines look as half-human as they should.

Space Wolves

The Space Wolves are clad in bright grey/blue with gold trim, and they’re one of the most easily distinguishable Space Marine chapters. Hailing from the planet Fenris, they’re all about wolf iconography and viking aesthetics.

They are a very up to date army with a newly released Codex Supplement: Space Wolves and a Combat Patrol: Space Wolves box available to help you build a Combat Patrol force and play it with all the additional rules you need.

However, in the case of the Space Wolves, there’s no point in only taking Primaris Space Marines unless you really want to, even though their current leader Ragnar Blackmane (pictured above), was recently updated as a Primaris model: The Space Wolves have a ton of cool special units, ranging from the wolf-riding Thunderwolf Cavalryto the Space Wolves Wulfen half-wolf berserkers and the Stormwolf flyer, so if you can handle everything being called something with “wolf” in it, the Space Wolves let you build one of the most visually distinct forces among the Space Marines.

White Scars

The White Scars, clad in almost all white with red trim, are masters of fast assaults, often on armed motorbikes such as the Outriders. They have a distinct medieval Mongolian vibe to their aesthetic, with curved swords and chainswords, shaved heads with locks of black hair, and some horse and eagle iconography as you can see on their leader Kor-Sarro Khan above (who sadly seems to be out of production at the moment of writing this article).

They don’t have an updated Codex Supplement, so you can use the rules in Codex: Space Marines for them. They do have a White Scars Primaris Upgrades and Transfers pack available with a couple of cool curved chainswords.

Since White Scars don’t have an updated Codex Supplement and almost no special units at the moment, you might wan to wait building an army of them until they get their 9th edition upgrade, which shouldn’t take too much time.

Raven Guard

The Raven Guard is the sneaky, stealthy Space Marine Chapter, all clad in black as you can see on the leader Kayvaan Shrike above.

They currently do not have an updated Codex Supplement, so you can just use the Codex: Space Marines rules found for them in that book. They have a Raven Guard Primaris Upgrades and Transfers Pack available to them with a lot of bird iconography and trinkets, but apart from that, there’s not much available for you to buy that will distinguish your Raven Guard force from other armies. You might want to wait until they get their 9th edition upgrade.


The Deathwatch, easily distinguishable by their silver arms and pauldron on an otherwise black suit of armor, are different from all other Space Marine Chapters due to the fact that they’re made up of warriors from many of the other Space Marine Chapters. They specialise in hunting down aliens (called xenos in the Warhammer 40,000 universe).

They are currently a very up to date army, with a Codex Supplement: Deathwatch available with all the rules you need in addition to the Codex: Space Marines, and a Combat Patrol: Deathwatch box to help you easily build a Combat Patrol-sized Deathwatch force.

One of the coolest things about the Deathwatch is their ability to field Kill Teams: Mixed units of different types of Space Marines from different combat roles or chapters. You can buy some boxes of non-Primaris Kill Teams, such as the Kill Team Cassius, which are full of miniatures that still look great (if a bit small), or you can build your own Kill Teams from various Primaris units.

Grey Knights

The best way to understand the Grey Knights from a beginner’s perspective is to say that even though they are formally Space Marines, they really aren’t. They may be supersoldiers in power armor, but they don’t use the rules from Codex: Space Marines, and they can’t use any Primaris units. So in that regards they are very different from all other brands of Space Marines out there.

Instead, they have their own range of generally good quality silver-clad psychic warriors who hunt the worst horrors of Chaos. They’re a secretive order with some really cool characters, such as Grand Master Voldus pictured above, and the Grey Knights Paladins, and they can also use many Space Marine Vehicles and Flyers.

The only problem is that they don’t have a 9th edition codex yet, so they are definitely not recommended for a beginner who wants to play Space Marines. If you are just in love with the sculpts and lore, you can still play them via the Warhammer 40,000 app, but otherwise you’re better off waiting a while to see how they change in 9th edition.

Successor Chapters and more

On top of all these different Chapters, there are also many other Successor Chapters that have color schemes and lore available, but no special units or codex supplements. These are just played with the Codex: Space Marines rules.

Armies of the Imperium

Below are all the armies that defend humanity, but are not Space Marines. They are as diverse as they come, from the pretty regular humans fighting in the trenches for the Astra Militarum to the almost-robotic Adeptus Mechanicus and the Adeptus Custodes which are almost more Space Marine-esque than the Space Marines themselves. This section goes through each army and explains how to get started with them, and how up to date they are for the current edition.

Astra Militarum


The Astra Militarum is the standing army of the Imperium, made up of billions of volunteers and conscripts. In many ways, it’s the one army in Warhammer 40,000 that fights most like a modern army from our world, with infantry, mobile divisions and artillery working in tandem to overwhelm the enemy with firepower. They have a very detailed history with many planet-specific regiments and special forces, and they generally offer a more down to earth point of view of the Warhammer 40,000 universe than what you get as a Space Marine player.

They are also a fun army to collect because of the vast variations in scale across the army, from lowly footsoldiers to fortress-like tanks.

What rule book should I get?

The Astra Militarum has not been updated for 9th edition yet, so you are stuck with finding their rules in the app or playing with an outdated codex at the moment. For this reason, you might want to wait for an update until you start building an Astra Militarum army for competitive purposes (a new codex is bound to shake things up massively). This doesn’t mean you can’t build an awesome-looking army and play with rules from the app, though!

What miniatures are available, and are they up to date?

The Astra Militarum miniatures range is currently not very up to date, so while there’s a charm to a classic squad of Cadia Shock Troops, and a Baneblade still looks fearsome, much of the army will look a bit dated next to more updated armies.

One notable exception is the specialist branch Tempestus Scions, which aren’t as old as the other squads and look quite coherent as an army quality-wise.

How do I get started?

The Astra Militarum have two Start Collecting! boxes available: TheStart Collecting! Astra Militarum box gives you an infantry squad, a character, a heavy weapons squad and an iconic Leman Russ battle tank, which really sums up the essence of what a classic Astra Militarum army can look like.

The Start Collecting: Militarum Tempestus box gives you 10 Tempestus Scions, where 5 of them can be assembled as a command squad, a Comissar character and a Taurox Prime transport, making for a more elite Astra Militarum force.

Adepta Sororitas


The Adepta Sororitas is the military branch of the Imperium’s church, the Ecclesiarchy, and they are easily distinguishable from other Imperium armies due to the fact that they’re almost all women. This comes from a loophole in a contract that forbid the Ecclessiarchy to have a standing army of “men at arms” (or something to that effect), but in practice it just means that they’re an awesome-looking army of warrior nuns. If you would like a break from all the hypermasculine armies of the Imperium, and you like all the history and iconography of the religious part of Imperial life in Warhammer 40,000, they might be just the army for you.

What rule book should I get?

Sadly, the Adepta Sororitas don’t have a 9th edition codex, but they can still be played through the Warhammer 40,000 app. Hopefully they’ll get a new codex soon, as they have one of the most updated miniature ranges of the armies of the Imperium.

What miniatures are available, and are they up to date?

The Adepta Sororitas miniatures range is very up to date, having received an almost complete overhaul just prior to the release of 9th edition. Everything from core Troops such as the Battle Sisters Squad to the flying pulpit for Junith Eruita and the beautiful diorama The Triumph of Saint Katherine are brand-new, very detailed plastic sculpts that are very coherent in style – and there are even more new miniatures coming over the next few months (which means their new codex is probably not far away, either).

How do I get started?

I’m sure the Adepta Sororitas will get a Combat Patrol box along with their new codex pretty soon, but until then, your best bet is to build a Combat Patrol detachment in the Warhammer 40,000 app and buy what you need for that. You’ll probably need a Canoness and a Battle Sisters Squad as they are your best bid at an affordable HQ and your only Troops choice, respectively, but the rest is up to you.

Adeptus Custodes


The Adeptus Custodes are genetically enhanced supersoldiers charged with protecting the home of the Emperor on Terra (the Earth), but in recent editions, they have joined the war effort across the galaxy.

They are golden-clad, hyper-elite warriors, so AOS Stormcast Eternals players will feel right at home aesthetically. They are one of only a few ways of fielding an army with a very low model count for the Imperium, so if you don’t want to paint more than a couple of miniatures, that might be all you need to know to get started with the Adeptus Custodes.

What rule book should I get?

The Adeptus Custodes do not currently have a 9th edition codex, so for that reason alone we can’t recommend them for a beginner who wants to play the game competitively or for the sake of the game’s rules. We’ll update this section as soon as they get a new codex, but until then, you can play them with the rules from the Warhammer 40,000 app.

What miniatures are available, and are they up to date?

The Adeptus Custodes miniatures range is very up to date since they’re one of the newest armies in the game, and it can be made almost entirely from three boxes, since each of these boxes can be build as multiple different units, and even as characters for the army:

the Custodian Wardens box can be built as either Wardens or as Wardens with a Shield-Captain or a Vexilus Praetor.

The Vertus Praetors can be built as either Praetors or Praetors with a Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Bike.

Like the Wardens, the Allarus Custodians can be built with either a Vexilus Praetor or a Shield-Captain in Allarus Terminator Armour.

The rest of the range is just a Dreadnought, a Land Raider (transport) and a few characters.

How do I get started?

Thanks to the limited miniatures range, it’s easy to get started with Adeptus Custodes: Fit whichever of the three kits you like best into a Combat Patrol detachment in the Warhammer 40,000 app, and since all three kits have character options, you’ll have the HQ options you need as well.

Adeptus Mechanicus


The Adeptus Mechanicus is the technological branch of the Imperium. They weren’t always a part of the Imperium, and their religion is still somewhat heretical (depending on who you ask), but these mechanically augmented posthumans supply the imperium with all the weaponry and technology it needs. Their soldiers march to war to defend their Forge Worlds or recover lost technology on metallic legs, chanting their binharic hymns and using archaic weaponry and radiation ammunition, since they’re barely human and have very little organic matter for the radiation to contaminate.

If you like the dieselpunk aesthetic of the army and you’re fascinated by the peculiar role of technology in the Imperium, the Adeptus Mechanicus is a very interesting army to paint, collect and play.

What rule book should I get?

The Adeptus Mechanicus have a codex for 9th edition going up for preorder on May 22, 2021.

What miniatures are available, and are they up to date?

The Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures range is very up to date, with some new miniatures having come out just last year, and the rest of the range is in a good shape as well. They have Troops in the shape of Skitarii Rangers/Vanguard, the mounted (!) Serberys Raiders/Sulphurhounds as well as transports, flyers, fast attack options and a few other units, most of them great plastic sculpts with a very coherent visual style.

The main flaw of the range is a relative shortage of HQ choices, but the recent addition of the Tech-Priest Manipulus does improve on that, and there’s a rumour going around (helped by teasers from Games Workshop) that a Skitarii HQ is on the way as well, probably coming alongside a new codex.

How do I get started?

The Start Collecting! Adeptus Mechanicus box comes with an infantry unit, a Tech-Priest Enginseer and a Transport, which makes it a good starting point for a Patrol Detachment.

Imperial Knights


The Imperial Knights hail from feudal worlds where nobles control their mighty mechs like mechanised knights in shining armour.

Their are an extremely elite army, since all the units specific to the army are towering mechs (they’re all building-grade huge), but they can also be included in separate detachments in other Imperium armies.

They look amazing, but aren’t recommended as a starter army, as you’ll want a lot of experience building and painting miniatures before taking on one of these massive sculpts.

What rule book should I get?

The Imperial Knights had a codex in the previous edition, so there’s bound to be one for 9th edition at some point, but currently there isn’t, which is another good reason to steer clear of them for now so you don’t accidentally assemble a very expensive miniature in a way that’s not good for their eventual new rules.

What miniatures are available, and are they up to date?

The Imperial Knights range is very up to date, and if you like the iron giant aesthetic, all the miniatures are really cool. Even though they’re all big, there is some scale variety to the Imperial Knights, with Armigers being the smallest and Knight Castellans being some of the largest if you don’t count Forge World models, which we steer clear of in this guide to keep things manageable.

How do I get started?

Unless you really like the miniatures, don’t – not just yet. Since all the miniatures in the range have the Lord of War Battlefield Role, none of them will even fit in ordinary detachments, so if you and your friends are starting out with Combat Patrol size forces, you can’t play Imperial Knights.

Various other Imperial Factions and Units

Sours: https://ageofminiatures.com/warhammer-40k-armies-overview/


Choosing a faction in Warhammer 40K is sort of like taking a Rorschach test. One person may look at Space Marines and see bland sci-fi beefcakes, while another might get excited by their Darth Vader helmets and cool pauldrons. Likewise, a normal person may look at Tyranids and immediately feel disgusted, whereas most sociopaths actively enjoy the idea of swarming their opponents with hordes of eyeless monsters.

I think it’s most important to choose an army that excites you, either because their playstyle fits yours, the lore fascinates you, or their units look awesome. If you haven’t read my journey toward loving Nurgle and the Death Guard, you can read that here.

Two notes before we dive into the factions: first, I don’t have the rulebooks for all these armies, so I’m speaking generally about their character and abilities. Second, these are not all the factions in the game–the bulk of the rest will come in the next article.

Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard)

In a galaxy full of seven-foot-tall giants in power armor, transdimensional berserker demons, and Egyptian cyborg skeletons, the Imperial Guard is a bunch of average Joes with rifles, bayonets, and a dream: to drown the enemy in a sea of their broken, bloody bodies. To paraphrase Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket: “Guardsmen die. That’s what they’re here for.”

The Guard do best when they’re shooting down the enemy with massed ranks of infantry and blowing them apart with volleys from huge fuck-off tanks. What the Imperial Guard models lack in individual firepower or survivability, they more than make up for in numbers, support units, and awesome armored vehicles (seriously, those tanks are boss). Synergy is a big part of what makes the Guard terrifying on the battlefield, so keep in mind that you’re going to need units like Commissars, Sergeants, and Commanders.

If you scoff at the idea of playing an army of grunts, my friend Will recommends reading the Black Library series Gaunt’s Ghosts, which follows an Imperial Guard company called the Tanith First and Only as they fight their way through massed artillery, Chaos forces, and the horrors of war. There’s something heroic in playing an army of normal mortals who manage to beat the worst in the galaxy with some armored vehicles, a couple machine guns, and a brazen disregard for their own lives.

Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines)

Space Marines are what happen when you cross a human with an adult polar bear and slap it in power armor. Space Marines chew bubblegum and kill heretics, and they’ve been out of bubblegum for ten millennia. They’re the flagship faction of Warhammer 40K, and they’re the guys to call when you need Emperor-approved badasses.

Space Marines are tough, pack a good amount of damage, and have a nice variety of units and weapons. Though you’re usually forced to field fewer of them than, say, the Imperial Guard, you don’t need to rely on superior numbers—each of your units is a mobile wrecking ball of righteous fury, spitting bolter fire. Add in some amazing combat support units and dreadnoughts (living sarcophagi mechs with assault cannons), and Space Marines are rock-solid all-rounders who can suit almost any playstyle or scenario.

Space Marines are split into different legions, each with its own flavor and abilities: there’s the Dark Angels, Deathwatch, Ultramarines, and Blood Angels, just to name a few. The Dark Angels, for example, are an ancient legion that has access to more high-tech weaponry than others. They also have three different subfactions–the Greenwing, which specialize in “holding the line” in battles, the Ravenwing, which are all about fast-attack vehicles, and the Deathwing, which are elite veterans clad in heavy Terminator armor.

Adeptus Mechanicus (Machine Priests)

The Adeptus Mechanicus are a cult of pseudo-religious technophiles who worship the Machine God and hang out on big Forge Worlds scattered across the galaxy, cranking out machinery and weapons for the Imperium. Originally human, they’ve spent the past few millennia augmenting themselves with hardware and collecting ancient, high-powered tech. Their big clubhouse is on Mars, right next to Holy Terra (Earth).

Because they’re the only ones who actually know how to build and maintain technology in the Imperium (which looks upon science with fear and superstition), the Adeptus Mechanicus have access to some of the best weapons—seriously, their infantry is packing armor-piercing boom sticks that make Space Marines’ bolters look like staple guns. And because they’re a bunch of cyborgs, many of their special units have the ability to repair themselves.

Best of all, the Adeptus Mechanicus are best buds with the Knight Worlds, meaning that they have access to some of the coolest units in the games: Titans. Every Warhammer player dreams of owning one of these hundred-dollar behemoths and absolutely wrecking someone with it, and with the Machine Priests, all your wildest dreams can come true.

On the downside, they’ve got fewer vehicles to transport them around, bad leadership (which can cause units to flee if too many are killed), and a limited number of units available to play with.

Heretic Astartes (Chaos Space Marines)

Only one force in this universe is badass enough to withstand 10,000 years of continuous, no-holds-barred warfare against the Space Marines: Chaos Space Marines, also known as the Heretic Astartes or Traitor Legions. These sick bastards decided for one reason or another to betray the Emperor of Mankind and instead side with Chaos, a decision that has doomed them forever. Playing Chaos Marines is similar to playing normal Space Marines, but before you go and call these guys palette-swaps, shut the hell up and listen for a second.

Each Chaos Space Marine faction has its own cool, unique traits, just like the normal legions: the Death Guard, for example, have an ability called Disgustingly Resilient that allows all their units to soak up gunfire and knife wounds with their rotting flesh. They also get access to virulent diseases that can wipe out whole units and special rules that allow them to become a slow-moving juggernaut when it comes to infantry battles.

The Thousands Sons, meanwhile, are one of the few armies in the game that focuses on psykers, the psychic sorcerers of the Warhammer 40K universe. These tricky sons of bitches are highly mobile, disturbingly hard to kill, and able to pull of big, flashy magic effects that will blow your opponents’ minds. If Thousand Sons played Magic: The Gathering, they’d be building annoying mono-blue decks.

There’s something else Chaos Marines have that normal Marines don’t: daemons. Daemons take many forms, from titanic maws like the Great Unclean Ones to legions of horned murderers like Bloodletters, and most of them have the ability to make invulnerable saves, which can instantly negate points of damage. Downside? You usually have to summon them first, like any good Satanic cultist.

Tau Empire

These guys are a bunch of fuckin’ nerds.

Aeldari, Drukhari, and Ynnari (The Eldar)

Eldar are for the kind of person who sympathizes with the graceful, sorrowful elves in Lord of the Rings more than the dirt-covered humans—the sort of cultured sci-fi wargamer who gazes in disdain at armies clad in chunky power armor and prefers more precision and beauty in their faction. If Space Marines are human meat tenderizers, Eldar are a tray of surgical tools.

In terms of lore, the Eldar are among the oldest and most advanced races in the galaxy, with an understanding of technology and the Warp that makes the Imperium look like hairy, religious cavemen (which, to be honest, they are). After reaching their peak, however, the Eldar fell into decadence and ended up unleashing a new Chaos God upon the galaxy, born from their collective unconscious. Now that Chaos God, Slaanesh, is slowly consuming the Eldar that survived the cataclysmic fall of their civilization.

Eldar are highly mobile, have excellent high-powered guns, strong and consistent psykers, and great flying units. Unfortunately, they’re also glass cannons: they snap like Pringles in the face of enemy fire and melee armies, and though they can dish out a lot of destruction, they can’t take much of it, especially considering that their units are usually small in number. On top of that, Eldar have a higher learning curve for new players, since each unit of soldiers is usually specialized for one task—if your specialists are in the wrong place with the wrong tools, they can get shredded like mozzarella cheese. That’s part of the strategy of Eldar, but it’s also one of the key drawbacks.

Apart from your vanilla Aeldari, there are also the Drukhari, Ynnari, and Harelquin sub-factions, each of which has their own flavor and plan to deal with the looming threat of their race’s extinction. Except the Harlequins. Nobody knows why they do anything.


Orks are the lovable, incredibly violent cockney ragamuffins of the 40K universe. Seriously, these guys draw their battle plans in crayons and have trouble pronouncing polysyllabic words. They call guns “shootas” and heavy machine guns “big shootas.” What they desperately, desperately lack in brainpower they make up for in sheer brawn and big, dumb smiles. Ork armies aren’t supposed to be too serious—they’re meant to be Judge Dredd mixed with old Popeye cartoons.

Orks like to travel in big ol’ hordes, so be prepared to have a lot of guys on the board mobbing your opponents. Orks excel at stabbing people at close range and bashing them apart with melee attacks, but their long-range weapons are spotty at best. This is mostly because they’re too stupid to build anything more complicated than a club and generally have to rely on scavenging and jury-rigging their equipment from fallen enemies. Though their weapons are generally unreliable, when they hit, they hit hard. Orks love big, flashy explosions and huge hailstorms of gunfire so much that they have their own recognized onomatopoeia for the sound a machine gun makes: “dakka dakka.” This, of course, leads to the immortal Ork quote “Never enough dakka.”


Necrons are robotic Egyptian space skeletons who have been scattered across the galaxy in giant, hidden tombs, awaiting the day when they can burst from their techno-sarcophagi and claim the stars in the name of primordial cosmic gods, called the C’tan. They’re basically cyber-liches, and they don’t take shit from nobody, especially not sad, fleshy organic lifeforms.

Necrons have a couple big things going for them: first, they’re made of the same liquid metal as the T-1000, meaning they can regenerate damage. Second, if you do manage to push them in a giant vat of molten lava (or you know, just shoot them enough), they have a chance to come back from the dead. Nothing hurts your opponent’s soul like spending a turn triumphantly wiping out half a squad of Necrons, watching you roll some dice, and seeing you put those little skeletons back on the table, one by one. On top of that, Necrons have incredibly powerful armor-piercing weapons across the board and additional protection for their vehicles in the form of quantum shielding. However, they pay for all these obscene necromantic goodies by being relatively slow and having no access to (or protection from) traditional psykers.


If you want to land on my personal Shit List forever, go ahead and play Tyranids.

I’m serious. Do it. Tweet a picture of your new Tyranid army at me along with a photo, and I will fight you in a bare-knuckle showdown on the Brooklyn Bridge. Because you are what’s wrong with this world.

Tyranids are the classic swarm army. If you’ve played against Zerg in Starcraft, you already know what they are and what they do (mostly because the Zerg are based on Tyranids). If not, imagine that you’re sitting across a table that is half-covered in a sea of little eyeless dinosaurs that move in packs of twenty. Sooner or later, the swarm is going to reach your guys, and though you may kill ten, twenty, or even thirty of them, it still may not be enough to save yourself.

Of course, my friend Will loves Tyranids. He’s very fond of quoting Phil Kelly, who once said “If your opponent is looking across the table at your army and thinking ‘how am I going to kill all of this?’, you’ve already won.”

In the Warhammer universe, Tyranids are less of an army and more of a galaxy-spanning hivemind that threatens to blot out the universe with creatures that can evolve and adapt to any threat. You’re essentially controlling a bunch of miniature xenomorphs that excel at melee, but Tyranids are (regrettably) very flexible, and come with a lot of different loadouts.

Tau Empire (For Real This Time)

All right, the truth about the Tau is that they’re essentially the only decent people in the entire goddamn galaxy. The Imperium are a bunch of corrupt, oppressive religious zealots who are too busy throwing millions of lives into the giant blender of perpetual war to realize that they’ve lost their humanity, Chaos is a rag-tag horde of power-hungry psychopaths and literal hell-spawn who would burn the galaxy to the ground in a heartbeat if they had the chance, and most alien races (excluding maybe the Aeldari) are terrifying, mindless engines of destruction whose sole purpose is to kill everyone and everything that isn’t them.

And that’s what made Warhammer 40K fun—no one’s the good guy, nobody deserves to live, and nothing can stop this bloody cycle of death, destruction, and war.

Then Tau had to come along and offer a legitimate hope that somehow the races of the galaxy could put aside their differences and sacrifice their own self-interest for the Greater Good. Instead of being dogmatic purists, the Tau welcome all races to fight by their side. Instead of ultimate dominion over the galaxy, they want to establish a new order that brings peace to all. Instead of having looking like normal faces, they look like blue fish people.

All jokes aside, Tau is one of the stronger ranged armies in the game, with excellent guns and a lot of infantry. They’re similar to a mix of Eldar and Imperial Guard, with massed infantry units pouring some really nasty fire into enemy lines. Their soldiers and tech look very sleek and space age-y when compared to some other factions (like Orks or the World War II-looking Imperial Guard), and one of their key selling points is their big Gundam-esque mech suits.

Still, if an opponent manages to endure the withering fire and get into melee combat with Tau, these guys will generally crumple like a soda can. Another downside is that the Tau, like Necrons, have almost zero psykers on their side, making them extremely vulnerable to sorcerers and psychic powers.


That’s it for the first part of the faction overview–next one will include the Genestealers, Grey Knights, Imperial Knights, and more!

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Chris Mahon

Chris Mahon

Chris Mahon is a fantasy writer, speaker, and essayist living in Brooklyn, New York. His non-fiction work has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, SyFy WIRE, Outer Places, The Portalist, and others. He's also spoken at New York Comic-Con, Columbia University, and the Glasgow International Fantasy Convention. In his free time he runs The Occult Triangle Lab, a blog on trigonometry, fantasy, and ungodly amounts of milk. You can contact him on Twitter @DeadmanMu or at christophmahon [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sours: https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2018/06/warhammer-40k-choose-faction/
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6 best Warhammer 40,000 armies in Ninth Edition

Warhammer 40,000 sets the tone for conflict and war. From Space Marines to Tyranids, there are so many ways to play the grimdark miniatures game that can present success. Every faction has its charm and it’s worth spending time finding an army that is right for you. Especially if it's the Orks. Everybody loves Orks.

Since the release of Indomitus, the core rules and mission updates present a significant shake-up of how to play Warhammer 40,000. As inevitably happens with major updates, certain armies have gotten a boost, while others have lost a little potency and power. Ninth Edition shifts the focus to battleground control, giving a new edge to close-quarters combat as you try and hold certain points against the attackers.

Best Warhammer 40k armies

Fortunately, there are a few armies that present a great starting point into Warhammer 40,000 and offer success within a competitive landscape. Whether you are a casual or competitive player, there is something for everyone and it's worth taking the time to figure out what is suitable for you.

1. Iron Hands (Space Marines)

The Emperor guides my blade

Space Marines grew more diverse with the recent supplements, with each chapter presenting a different playstyle. Space Marines are an attractive option given the wealth of units on offer to combat the threats of the 41st Millennium.

Choosing a chapter can be tough, but Iron Hands remain one of the best chapters to play in a competitive setting. Since Eighth Edition, Iron Hands have cleared tables with Leviathan Dreadnoughts that prompted a swift rules update. Even then, Iron Hands remain viable due to their ability to pressure both from afar and in melee. Running Iron Father Feirros and an Apothecary with Father of the Future should be the foundation of your Iron Hands army. Incorporating these two units will provide a bubble with Feel No Pain and bolster your invulnerable saves, making your units tricky to remove. If you aren't feeling Iron Hands, Dark Angels are a decent alternative due to recent upgrades to their elite choices in Deathwing and Ravenwing.

That said, Space Marines are a potent option no matter the chapter you choose. With the combination of tough infantry, versatile transportation and robust melee options allow for a variety of ways to attack the format. You'll always see Space Marines feature at the top tables due to the amount of support gained due to their popularity within the game.

2. Adepta Sororitas

Praise the Emperor and pass the ammunition!

Released in 2020, the Adepta Sororitas (also known as Sisters of Battle) are popular within the competitive scene due to their proactive playstyle. One quality is their ability to re-roll a result through a divine blessing, or more commonly known as Miracle Dice.

Miracle Dice are a specific set of dice created by your units with the Acts of Faith ability when they do something one or more times in a phase. Then, you can use the Miracle Dice to replace the result of a single die of your choice - this could be anything from re-rolling a wound or denying psychic power. Combined with Shield of Faith, your units can provide an impressive defence against any assault, which is pivotal when the focus is holding objectives.

You have a few options when it comes to sub-factions which can generate a special trait and unique playstyle for your army. Often you'll see the Adeptus Sororitas fall into one of three sub-factions: Valorous Heart, Bloody Rose and Ebon Chalice. To begin with, running both Valorous Heart and Bloody Rose will give you a nice mixture of melee power and resilience in combat. Once comfortable, you can switch into other sub-factions and create lists based on their strengths. As such, the Adepta Sororitas remain an excellent choice for your army going forward. Being able to manipulate variance is a truly unique feature and will present frustration to those playing against you.

3. Harlequins

Time to clown around

With Warhammer 40,000: Ninth Edition, Harlequins earned a huge amount of freedom compared to the other Eldar factions. They can either work as an allied option or operate as a fully working army on their own. The Eldar traditionally boast mobility in their units, which remains true with Harlequins, and you'll be able to take advantage of small board sizes as a result. Packing Skyweavers with Hayfire Cannons will ensure you can deal with vehicles and large screening units with ease. With this, you can run very few special characters and you can get away with a single Battalion Detachment as your full army.

You'll want to play Harlequins differently compared to other factions. Instead of taking the lead and securing objectives early on, you'll want to take these from the enemy. The learning curve is steeper compared to other armies but offers a higher reward through experience. Often you'll see Harlequins under the Frozen Stars masque as this adds to your close combat efficiency, which results in rolling a bunch more dice during the combat phase. Harlequins are swift, deadly and offer some of the best-looking models in the game.

4. Death Guard (Chaos Space Marines)

Praise the Plague God, Nurgle

Led by the Death Lord Mortarion, the Death Guard march with their warped flesh and swollen bodies ignoring wounds as if it were nothing. The Death Guard are absurdly resilient and offer something novel within the 41st Millennium.

Since separating from Codex: Chaos Space Marines, the Death Guard have a bunch of new characters, vehicles and a Primarch to lead into battle. With this, it's unsurprising to see the Death Guard are well-positioned as an army in Ninth Edition with their ability to hold objectives. The Nurgle faction offers a blend of melee and psychic powers that allow you to engage in all phases of the game. With this freedom, you can curate your list in whichever way you like.

The Death Guard also hold the best survivability rule in Disgustingly Resilient, granting re-rolls on wounds (including Mortal Wounds) and adding to their stubbornness. You'll struggle with movement as the faction is slower compared to others, but you make up for it in resilience and maintaining board presence.

If you enjoy collecting a Warhammer 40,000 army that looks unique and is remarkably gross, then the Death Guard are for you.

5. Orks

Orks iz made for fightin' and winnin'!

Orks have remained a feature of Warhammer 40,000 since the beginning. They're the most savage and offensive species in the galaxy that thrive on fighting. They're everywhere and only think about their next scrap or gunfight.

With this motif in mind, Orks seeing success in Ninth Edition is one of the biggest surprises to come from the release. Initially, it seemed tough on the greenskins due to the update on core rules and the new detachment system hurting them further. But it turns out the update complements how Orks like to play, and that's up close and personal. With the emphasis on holding objectives to score primary points, you'll want to run Deathskulls due to the 'Dis is Ours! Zog Off!' rule to your infantry. Any ability that offers priority when you score objectives is going to win you games.

Orks are a fantastic option and will continue to see results due to their mobility and redundancy. Plus, who doesn't love shouting 'WAAAAGH!' when shuffling Orks into combat?

6. T'au

For the Greater Good

The T'au are known for their expertise with long-range weapons that can eliminate anything trying to make its way across the table. They're so good at it, you don't want to do much else. With this, the T'au may struggle in Ninth Edition with the point increase on Shield Drones that damages the most successful builds. In addition, the missions in Ninth Edition focus on being able to push forward and take enemy side objectives - which is unfavourable for shooting armies. However, the T'au can reach those objectives ahead of most other armies due to their movement, meaning you can at least prepare for the incoming assault.

Despite falling out of favour, the T'au remain a suitable option and will need to adapt to reflect the new update. You'll still want Riptides and Drones, but pushing towards a Farsight build will yield better results. Slanting towards an aggressive strategy will ensure you can keep those objectives and rack up primary points. Although the update did little to improve the Tau, you can still shoot everything in sight and promote the Greater Good.

You can play whatever army you like in Warhammer 40,000 and have a good time. Often you see nerfs and buffs in new editions, but it shouldn’t discourage you in building an army you appreciate the most. Indomitus is a beginner-friendly release and does a marvellous job of giving you a footing into such a broad franchise. The latest update grants freedom and creativity when it comes to planning lists, allowing you to play the game how you want. It's easy to fall into a competitive mindset, but there is nothing wrong in taking the fun and flavourful approach instead.

Looking ahead, future updates could yield a different route that could shift the metagame and playing habits once more. There is something for everyone, and if there is a situation where your army falls out of favour, then it gives you a fantastic excuse to start over with a new one.

Sours: https://www.dicebreaker.com/games/warhammer-40000-ninth-edition/best-games/best-warhammer-40k-armies

There are a lot of Warhammer 40K armies/factions. Choosing the right one is quite obviously the most critical choice you’re going to make. You’ll be spending money on the army, time building and painting it, and of course time playing with it. Choosing the wrong army for yourself could not only cost you time and money, but also your enjoyment of the game.

I will give you some tips to consider when picking an army. There’s a lot more to think about beyond how powerful a codex is. The game constantly changes, so you want something that you’ll enjoy no matter what the game throws at you.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. The commission earned helps maintain this site.

Where to Start

There are ~26 Warhammer 40K armies to choose from. To someone looking at 40K for the first time, that can be an overwhelming amount of choices.

When I got into the game in 2006 there were around 14 Warhammer 40K armies. Still a lot, but a far more manageable amount to look through. I know if I were getting into it now and saw all the choices then I wouldn’t know where to begin. Hopefully I can guide you a bit.

How Cool Does it Look?

My biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to get into the game of 40K is to find an army you like the look of. Seriously. Unlike other smaller gaming systems out there, WH40K requires you to buy the models, assemble them, and paint them. The game has a hobby element, and if you don’t care for the aesthetics of the army then you won’t be very motivated to put them together and get it painted.

Warhammer 40K Armies: Orks

40K Is not a skirmish game, so you will be putting together a lot of models and doing a lot of painting. Definitely start by looking at armies you think are visually appealing.

Play Style

Once you have found some Warhammer 40K armies you like the looks of, start refining the process by looking at those that seem to fit your play style. If you’ve never played a game then that might not be so cut and dry, but I find most of us have a general preference. I always like close combat in any game I play, and will always lean towards more brutish and aggressive types.

When I was getting into 40K, my play style preference meant starting with Orks. They’re primitive brutes who love to charge headlong at the enemy with choppas (axes), held high. By looking at them, that’s a pretty easy visual cue. Orks are big and bulky, and most are carrying a close combat weapon of some sort. Most Ork vehicles look fast and fragile, a means to reach the enemy.

Tau Crisis Suits

That’s the thing with 40K, even without knowing a lot about the game mechanics, you can still get a good gauge on an army by looking at it; like I was saying with Orks. If you were to look at Tau then you would notice that almost every model is carrying a ranged weapon, so they like to shoot. Glancing at Astra Militarum would quickly tell you that they use a lot of tanks and infantry.

Some 40K armies, like Space Marines, have a good mix of everything as they are the generalists of the game. The models give a pretty clear indication of what an army does on the field.

Also, once you do decide on an army, check out our article on ways to save money with 40K. It will really help you get an army started at a discount.

The Warhammer 40K Armies

Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown of the various Warhammer 40K armies. It’s not conclusive and is just an overview. There are a lot of mechanics at play with all the armies, and describing each in detail would take a very long time.

Note: All Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines), have many similarities featuring power armor (3+ save), and many of the same units and weapons. Space Marines are generalists by nature, good at everything but seldom great at anything. As a general rule they have a good mix of infantry and armored support vehicles (tanks, transports, etc). Below I will focus on their unique flavor.

Adepta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle)

The only female army in 40K. They are like Space Marines (power armor and bolters), but physically weaker.

Adepta Sororitas have some unique tanks and work using a faith system to gain bonuses. Sisters are weak in close combat and prefer to shoot.

Adepta Sororitas Codex

Adeptus Astartes: Blood Angels

They have a focus on speed with some fast tanks and Assault Marines. Very capable of being an alpha strike army.

Death Company is a unique type of unit to Blood Angels that’s extremely good at close combat. Actually, they have quite a few unique units to them now I think about it, like the Sanguinary Guard, Sanguinary Priests, and a Librarian Dreadnought.

Overall, Blood Angels are a Space Marines army through and through with some specializations unique to them.

Blood Angels Codex

Adeptus Astartes: Dark Angels

Deathwing (all Terminators), and Ravenwing (Bikers), set them apart from other Marines. These units have distinct rules and abilities to Dark Angels.

Fluff-wise, Dark Angels are the mysterious chapter of Marines if you like that dark secretive element.

Also, the Dark Angels fluff is that they came about from houses of knights. So, they maintain that type of noble structure within their chapter.

Other than what’s noted above, they are pretty much your typical Marine chapter. Oh, plasma. Dark Angels love plasma and get a lot of it.

Dark Angels Codex

Adeptus Astartes: Deathwatch

The elite brotherhood of Space Marines joined to a common cause from various chapters.

Death Watch are a low model count army that packs quite a punch. It’s very similar to the other Marine codices except with different options and powerful special abilities unique to Death Watch.

If you like Space Marines then this is a very solid choice.

Deathwatch Codex

Adeptus Astartes: Grey Knights

These are the elite of the Space Marines. Grey Knights focus on smaller more elite units. Also, everyone is a psyker, which is rather unique to them.

Grey Knights do not have a lot of units and options compared to most other armies. It can be a limiting army, but that’s also an appeal to some.

Generally, Grey Knights are good at close combat, but they do have some shooting as well.

Overall they’re a relatively rounded army.

Grey Knights Codex

Adeptus Astartes: Space Marines

The great generalists of the game, as noted above. There is no one thing that this army really excels at, but it’s good at everything, and a well-rounded army as well.

Part of that well-rounded nature is an extensive codex that offers lots of units. It is the largest codex compared to anything else. So, if you like variety then you can’t go wrong here.

Also, between different chapter traits, and stratagems, you can flavor the army a few different way. There’s a reason this is the favorite army of most in 40K.

Space Marines Codex

Adeptus Astartes: Space Wolves

These guys lean more towards close combat than general Space Marines. Unique units to that end are Thunderwolves (Marines riding huge wolves), Fenrisian Wolves, Blood Claws (young Marines), and Wulfen (mutated Marines).

Space Wolves have a Viking thing going in terms of back story and appearance. I feel they are the most distinctive Marine Chapter in terms of looks.

Overall, a very capable army with some close combat punch.

Space Wolves Codex

Adeptus Custodes

The most elite army of infantry you can field. In terms of fluff, these are the protectors of the Emperor and are created from his geneseed directly. They are far more powerful than a Space Marine, and fall short of only a Primarch, and the Emperor of course.

Game-wise, the army consists of a select few units who are expensive, but also very effective.

If you’re after a low model count army that can put up a fight then here it is.

Adeptus Custodes Codex

Adeptus Mechanicus

An elite army able to shoot and handle close combat but very fragile.

It is a small army with very few units to choose from.

The background is these guys make all the Imperial military gear (armor, weapons, vehicles, etc).

Adeptus Mechanicus Codex

Aeldari (Eldar)

These guys can shoot a ton and are also very fast. What they lack in raw strength they make up for with speed and capability. They also tend to be on the fragile side, though not the most fragile army out there.

Aeldari (Eldar) have some great psykers to top it all off as well. In fact, the army is very capable with psychic powers and have some of the most powerful psykers in the game.

In general, the army works by having specialized units. So, they have a unit for every situation.

Aeldari Codex

Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard)

The anvil of the Imperium. These guys are your modern-day military equivalent. They focus on large infantry squads with a TON of tank options for support and fire power.

Astra Militarum is a weak close combat army who prefers to pound the enemy with fire power at range. Speaking of, they have a lot of artillery type of options where they pound the enemy at range without the need to see them.

This is one of the strongest armies in 8th edition. Guard can put down a lot of bodies, a lot of fire power, and deal with anything they face.

Astra Militarum Codex

Chaos Daemons

A very diverse army in terms of unit choices but generally aimed at close combat. In fact, the army has very little in the way of shooting.

Daemons make thorough use of psykers. Most units rely on their daemonic invulnerable save (5++), instead of armor, which makes them a bit fragile at times.

Daemons are quite capable of putting down a lot of inexpensive units and flooding the opponent.

Chaos Daemons Codex

Chaos Knights

The codex for Chaos Knights is very similar to that for Imperial Knights. In short, it will let you field an entire army of Chaos Knights.

So, if you like playing with angry, stompy robots, then check this one out. It is a very limited codex but it’s all Knights.

Chaos Knights Codex

Drukhari (Dark Eldar)

Lightly armored fast vehicles and poisoned weaponry are the mainstay of Drukhari (Dark Eldar). What the army lacks in punch they often makeup for in volume and ease of wounding.

Very much a finesse army. Also, Dark Eldar are one of the most fragile armies. In the right hands this army is brutal though.

The focus of the army is on shooting. While there are some close combat units, the poisoned ranged weaponry is where it’s at with them.

Drukhari Codex

Chaos Space Marines

The evil Space Marines. Mostly generalists, like their loyal counterparts, but with some daemonic flavor giving them some very unique units. So, they don’t play at all like the good guys.

Chaos Space Marines are usually effective mid to short ranged, though they also have some capable long ranged units as well.

While CSM have some close combat units, it’s also not really their forte either – much to my dismay.

Generally, Chaos Marines are a jack-of-all-trades and play best when treated that way.

Chaos Space Marines Codex

Heretic Astartes: Death Guard

Death Guard are followers of Nurgle, the god of plague and disease. As such, Death Guard is a very resilient and tough army, which suits the lore.

With some interesting vehicles, and the ability to take a hit, they hold up very well against anything. Also, Death Guard have some capable psykers as well.

This isn’t an army with a ton of options though. It’s well suited for someone who loves Nurgle, and/or wants a focused army.

Death Guard Codex

Heretic Astartes: Thousand Sons

All is dust!

Thousand Sons are a very psyker focused army who also has a lot of ranged weaponry that’s good at cutting through armor – seriously. Even the basic weapons in this army can cut through power armor with ease.

It can be a very resilient army, like Death Guard, albeit in a Tzeentch type of way.

Also, like Death Guard, there’s not a lot of unit choices here. It’s gotten better with 8th edition, but it’s still limited when compared to most other codices.

Thousand Sons Codex

Genestealer Cults

The Cult is still pretty new, but they’ve made quite the name for themselves already.

Genestealer Cults is probably the best army for alpha strikes. With most of the army being able to spring up anywhere on the table turn #1, it’s easy to put your opponent on the back foot quickly and gain an advantage.

Basically, the army is a merging if Astra Militarum and Tyranids – sort of. That merger creates uniqueness within the army you won’t see anywhere else.

The army itself doesn’t have a lot of unit choices, but with the capabilities to bring in Astra Militarum and Tyranid units, you won’t be short on options.

Genestealer Cults Codex


Yet another new’ish army to 40K, and also another very small one.

Harlequins are fast, but I have not faced them, so my knowledge is lacking here; sorry.

I do know they are really intended for inclusion in an Eldar or Dark Eldar army. (If anyone has a good brief overview of these guys it would be appreciated)

Harlequins Codex

Imperial Knights

If you like big giant robots then look no further.

Imperial Knights are a small group in terms of how many models you’ll use because they eat up a lot of points. You won’t find an army with fewer models than this one.

Great fire power, decent in close combat, and fast. Knights are relatively rounded, and the new codex opens up a lot of new options and variants for the army in 8th.

Imperial Knights Codex


Slow moving robotic zombies who shoot a lot and can go down to only stand right back up.

Necrons do have some good close combat units as well to help offset their slow and shooty nature.

I feel that overall Necrons are a well balanced army, but they can be played a few different ways pretty successfully.

Necron Codex


Quantity over quality is how Orks operate.

Orks are scarcely armored brutes who love close combat. Orks can also do well with shooting if taken in enough quantity to compensate for their terrible ballistic skill.

The army works well as a horde, a greentide, but the newest codex also brought back Speedfreeks as a style of play – fast, fragile vehicles.

The army is a lot of fun to play, and they’re the comic relief in the 41st millenium.

Orks Codex


These guys feature a lot of high powered long ranged fire power. T’au definitely prefer to kill their enemy at range and they do it well. Not only do they posses powerful shooting, they possess it in quantity as well.

As you can guess, the glaring weakness of the T’au is close combat. They do not have a single dedicated close combat unit in the entire codex. There’s some units that are mediocre at best with it, but T’au will never be an army built for close combat. Ever.

Still, if you like shooting things, and you like a Gundam aesthetic, then this is a great army for you.

T'au Codex


Lots and lots of bugs to swarm the enemy with. Tyranids have a good mix of shooting and close combat, be it with hordes of bugs or utilizing large monstrous creatures. They also have a fair amount of psykers. Tyranids rely on synapse to keep themselves focused. Basically, the smaller creatures have to stay near the larger ones to avoid losing focus.

As noted, you can play Tyranids in a swarm/horde style, or you can go more elite with larger creatures, or of course a balance of the two.

The army has done well under 8th edition and I only see it improving with a new codex.

Tyranids Codex

Nothing I’ve said here about each army is black and white. The beauty of 40K is that you can play an army any way you like really. An army that focuses on shooting doesn’t mean it’s incapable of being built for close combat. Horde factions can be played in a more elite manner, not just swarming the enemy.

Very little is cut-and-dry, so do some research on the Warhammer 40K armies you’re interested.

What’s the Best Army for 40K?

There is no best army for Warhammer 40K. Each army’s power level changes with the release of a new codex and rules editions. What was once a very weak can become the strong, and the previously strongest shuffled to the bottom.

This is yet another reason to choose an army you like the looks of, and one that suits your style. At least that way you still have one you enjoy regardless of whether it’s the best one or not.

Best Starter Army for 40K?

Like anything, it’s going to depend on you for what the best starter army would be. That being said, any of the Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines) is a good place to start. Space Marines are a a very solid army, good at everything, and a lot of the units are similar, in turn making it easy to learn the army.

Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard) also make a good starting army. There’s a lot more variance in the army than Space Marines, but all the infantry is similar, and Imperial Guard have a way to deal with anything.

Those would be my top 2 choices, but really you can’t go wrong with any army.

Really, I’d find something you enjoy and go for it. You don’t want to regret your choice later on to start with an army you didn’t love just because you thought it would be easier to learn.

Talk with 40K Players & Research

This might have been your first step, usually is, talking to other players. Most of us get into 40K because we have friends who play and talk about the game, and that’s where the interest begins. From there we start looking at armies, often armed with some knowledge. Regardless of which order you go through, the below is useful information.

Adeptus Mechanicus

Once you have a general idea of the Warhammer 40K armies you enjoy, talking with other players will help you cement your choice. The game has a lot of fine details, and an experienced player can help guide you to an army.

For example, there are a handful of Warhammer 40K armies in the game that really do well with close combat, but how each one approaches it will vary. Orks will often try to drown the enemy in numbers and swarm forward where Grey Knights can use more elite assault units and fewer models.

Some factions will favor certain tactics, like stealth and speed, where others are more direct. There is no better way to get all this information on the different armies for 40K than experienced players.

If you don’t know anyone who plays 40K then most employees at gaming stores are more than happy to chat about the game and answer questions. If all else fails, hit up the internet. You can find some great communities that are friendly to new players.

I don’t really participate in forums these days but the only forum community I can safely recommend is The Bolter & Chainsword. B&C is a forum focused on Space Marines, but it does also cover all other Warhammer 40K armies and the game in general. You can also try your luck with groups on Facebook, though I find they move to fast to be of much use.

40K Blogs

There are a lot of blogs dedicated to one particular army, or a few Warhammer 40K armies. Some of those blogs will have some great information, and some authors will be kind enough to help you out if you post a comment.


For example, I would gladly help anyone out interested in Chaos Space Marines. Greggles is a very friendly guy who I’m sure would help an aspiring Ork player out. NafNaf recommends the Dark City forum for Dark Eldar players.

With a little luck you can find some awesome blogs that might already have answers to your questions. I do also have a rather extensive list of wargaming bloggers you can check out, as well as a list of top wargaming bloggers I recommend reading.

Bear in mind that everyone has their preferences and their own personal experiences when giving advice on Warhammer 40K armies. We don’t all see each army the same way. Eldar can be seen as overpowered to one person, but someone else will say how balanced they are. Experiences and perception will impact advice given, so do not rely on a single source of information for this reason.


Choosing the right army for yourself will make a huge difference in how you perceive the game. Choosing something based on how powerful it is isn’t a good idea. Power level is in a constant state of flux. A new codex, or rules release, can move a strong army from the top to the bottom.

If you start with something you like the looks of, and it fits your play style, then you will find the game far more enjoyable and rewarding. There are ebbs and flows in the game of 40K, and having an army that fits you will make riding those waves easier and less noticeable.


Founder at Creative Twilight

I have been in the miniature hobby since 2006 when some friends introduced me to Warhammer 40K. I'm a huge fan of Blood Bowl and I have an endless collection of teams for it.

I love painting miniatures and teaching people how to paint. I also really love blogging, so I've combined those two passions here.

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In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war

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The Dark Millennium

Fight for the future of Humanity across a vicious, war-torn galaxy.

Welcome to Warhammer 40,000, the thrilling hobby of tabletop wargaming! The game is set in the grim darkness of the far future, where mighty armies clash on countless war-torn worlds and Humanity stands alone, beset on all sides by the threats of the heretic, the mutant and the alien. There is no mercy. There is no respite. Prepare yourself for battle.

There’s never been a better time to get into Warhammer 40,000! Make sure to stay up to date with all of the latest news by signing up to our newsletter.

New to Warhammer 40,000?

Welcome to the Warhammer hobby! You couldn’t have picked a better time to get started. Being a Warhammer hobbyist opens up a whole world of activities and community. Everything from building and painting collections of stunning miniatures to pitting them against other armies in exhilarating tabletop battles and forging your own narrative in the galaxy of the far future. You can delve deeper into the 41st Millennium with a huge range of novels, video games, and animations, alongside an active online community of fellow fans.

  • Collect Your Armies

    Every collection of Citadel miniatures represents a force fighting for survival in a galaxy of war. From relentless superhuman warriors to endless alien swarms and abyssal horrors from beyond the veil of reality, there are many armies and enemies to discover, and you’ll soon have a mighty collection of your own to be proud of.

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  • Assemble Your Forces

    Building your models is an integral part of the Warhammer 40,000 hobby, and one that gives hours of satisfaction. Citadel miniatures come with clear assembly instructions that make them easy and fun to build. As your skill and confidence grows, you’ll be able to add ever more ambitious and impressive models to your collection.

  • Add Some Colour

    Painting your Citadel miniatures brings them to life and really makes them your own, and painted miniatures look great, whether on display or fighting across a tabletop. The Citadel Paint range offers a huge selection of paints and brushes, and all the information, advice and guides you’ll need to go from beginner to expert can be found on the Citadel Colour website.

    Visit Citadel ColourHow to Paint Indomitus

  • War on the Tabletop

    Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop game of dark, futuristic warfare that sees carnage erupt in a spectacular scale. Whether playing narrative battles with friends or leading your forces to victory in gaming tournaments, you’ll find that every tabletop battle you play is unique, exciting, and tells its own tales of havoc, horror and heroism.


  • Explore the Legends

    Continue your adventures off the tabletop in a range of books from Black Library. Delve into adrenaline-fuelled fiction as the greatest heroes of Warhammer 40,000 fight for survival in conflicts across a war-torn galaxy. They’re a great way to explore the deep background of the 41st Millennium.

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  • Play Amazing Video Games

    Experience the 41st Millennium digitally with a range of games across a variety of formats and platforms. From mobile games to first person shooters to massive strategy epics, there’s something for you no matter what you want to play or where you want to play it.

  • Experience Amazing Tales

    Encounter new heroes and embark on epic adventures in awesome animated series. Created in collaboration with world-class animation studios, these stories depict the Warhammer 40,000 universe in a new and visceral way. So sit back and get ready to enjoy the 41st Millennium as you’ve never seen it before.

How to Play

Whether you’re taking your first steps into the grim darkness of the far future or are already a stalwart veteran, this handy series of How to Play videos will teach you the core rules to help you learn the game. Once you’ve mastered these basics, you can build upon that solid foundation and learn all the more advanced rules in the Warhammer 40,000 Core Book that bring extra layers of tactics and strategy to your games.

Free Core Rules

The Warhammer 40,000 Core Rules shows you how to move, shoot, charge and fight with your units on the battlefield. These represent the backbone of how the game is played, and once you have mastered them, you can use all the additional rules found in the Warhammer 40,000 Core Book to take your game even further.

Download Core Rules


  • One Phone 40K App (Final) (1)

    Warhammer 40,000 – The App


    Rules in the palm of your hand – get full access to Warhammer 40,000: The App, included with every Warhammer+ subscription.


    Find Out More

Start Warhammer 40,000 Your Way

There are three Warhammer 40,000 starter boxes to choose from – the Recruit, Elite, and Command Editions. Each set is specially designed to cater to three levels of experience, from brand-new hobbyists to more experienced players looking to dive in head first.


    • The Perfect Beginner’s Set

      The Recruit Edition includes everything you need to get started and learn how to play Warhammer 40,000. The set includes units for both the Space Marines and Necrons (and a heroic Character to lead each side), as well as a gaming mat, rules set and more to help guide you through your first steps into gaming in the grim darkness of the far future.

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    • The Angels of Death

      The Adeptus Astartes, otherwise known as the Space Marines, are Mankind’s mightiest warriors. Each among them is a genetically engineered super-soldier, clad in nigh impregnable power armour and equipped with the very finest wargear. Alone, a Space Marine is a deadly adversary, but when surrounded by his battle-brothers, he is the Emperor’s vengeance made manifest.

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    • An Ancient Empire Rises

      The Necrons were once the undisputed rulers of the stars. After millions of years of dormancy, they have arisen once more and will stop at nothing to reclaim their dominion of the stars. Each Necron is a tireless machine warrior armed with weaponry so advanced that they can atomise their enemies or even remove them from time and space!

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    • Gaming Wargear

      In addition to the push-fit miniatures, the Recruit Edition includes all the accessories you need to get them on the battlefield so you can learn how to play. As well as a gaming mat, the set includes dice, range rulers, and reference guides as well as a bespoke Recruit Manual to get you up and running in no time.

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    • Get Started Today!

      If you’re looking to dip your toe into the war-torn galaxy of Warhammer 40,000 for the first time, the Recruit Edition is for you! The miniatures in the set also represent the foundations of a Patrol Detachment – the perfect building blocks to start your collection of Space Marines and Necrons.

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    • Start at the Next Level!

      If you’re ready to enter the grim, dark world of Warhammer 40,000 and are looking to start things off with a bang, the Elite Edition is the way to do just that! Pitting a mighty Captain of the Space Marines and his battle-brothers against a towering Necron Overlord and his mechanical warriors, the Elite Edition is the perfect starter set for the more ambitious beginner.

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    • Command&Elite SpaceMarines

      The Angels of Death

      The Adeptus Astartes, otherwise known as the Space Marines, are Mankind’s mightiest warriors. Each among them is a genetically engineered super-soldier, clad in nigh-impregnable power armour and equipped with the very finest wargear. Alone, a Space Marine is a deadly adversary, but when surrounded by his battle-brothers, he is the Emperor’s vengeance made manifest.

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    • Command&Elite Necrons

      An Ancient Empire Rises

      The Necrons were once the undisputed rulers of the stars. After millions of years of dormancy, they have arisen once more and will stop at nothing to reclaim their dominion of the stars. Each Necron is a tireless machine warrior armed with weaponry so advanced that they can atomise their enemies or even remove them from time and space!

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    • Gaming Wargear

      In addition to the push fit miniatures, the Elite Edition includes all the accessories you need to get them on the battlefield so you can learn how to play. As well as a gaming mat, the set includes dice, range rulers, and reference guides as well as a bespoke Elite Manual to get you up and running in no time.

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    • Start Your Hobby in Style!

      If you’re looking to take your first journey into Warhammer 40,000 to the next level, the Elite Edition is the way to go. In addition to a larger number of miniatures compared to the Recruit Edition, you’ll be able to wield the might of a Space Marine Captain and a Necron Overlord.

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    • Take Command of Your Hobby!

      The Command Edition is the top tier of awesome new starter sets for Warhammer 40,000. Not only does it include the same fantastic selection of push fit miniatures as the Elite Edition, but the set features a double-sided, fold-out gaming board and a selection of terrain for your rival armies to fight over!

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    • Command&Elite SpaceMarines

      The Angels of Death

      The Adeptus Astartes, otherwise known as the Space Marines, are Mankind’s mightiest warriors. Each among them is a genetically engineered super-soldier, clad in nigh-impregnable power armour and equipped with the very finest wargear. Alone, a Space Marine is a deadly adversary, but when surrounded by his battle-brothers, he is the Emperor’s vengeance made manifest.

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    • Command&Elite Necrons

      An Ancient Empire Rises

      The Necrons were once the undisputed rulers of the stars. After millions of years of dormancy, they have arisen once more and will stop at nothing to reclaim their dominion of the stars. Each Necron is a tireless machine warrior armed with weaponry so advanced that they can atomise their enemies or even remove them from time and space!

      Order Now

    • Gaming Wargear

      In addition to the push fit miniatures, the Command Edition includes all the accessories you need to get them on the battlefield so you can learn how to play. As well as a double-sided, fold-out gaming board, the set includes a selection of terrain with which to decorate your battlefield. You’ll also find a set of dice, range rulers, and reference guides as well as a bespoke Command Manual to get you up and running in no time.

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    • Bring Your Battlefield to Life!

      Having a beautifully detailed gaming board to battle over is one thing, but for the fully immersive experience, you need some terrain for your miniatures to traverse and fight over. The Command Edition features a variety of Warhammer 40,000 terrain, from ruined buildings and industrial pipes to an imposing Thermo-exchanger Shrine.

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    • Lead Your Warriors to Victory!

      The Command Edition is the biggest and most comprehensive starter set in the Warhammer 40,000 range. If you’re after diving head first into the game, look no further than the Command Edition to provide you with everything you need to get started.

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The galaxy is filled with myriad races, all constantly at war. Each has their own cultures and different ways of fighting. Learn more about them here.

  • Space Marines

    At the vanguard of the Humanity’s armies fight the Space Marines. They are Mankind’s greatest warriors, holding back nightmarish foes, and they know no fear.

  • Necrons

    From a time before Humanity existed, an ancient power stretches out through the veil of death itself, bearing cold disdain for all other forms of life in the galaxy.

  • Sisters of Battle

    There are none so full of faith and fury as the Sisters of Battle. All would gladly martyr themselves to fulfill their holy mission.

  • Adeptus Custodes

    The Adeptus Custodes were the first and greatest of the super-soldiers engineered by the Emperor – they are nigh-immortal exemplars of legend.

  • Adeptus Mechanicus

    The Adeptus Mechanicus wield strange and arcane technological weapons of phenomenal power. They are as aggressive and unrelenting a foe as they are terrifying,

  • Astra Militarum

    The Astra Militarum are a blunt instrument of violence, wrought on a galactic scale. There’s no subtlety to their way of war, just the raw application of force.

  • Chaos Daemons

    Nightmares given flesh, the Chaos Daemons are otherworldly creatures who war endlessly for their dark patrons.

  • Chaos Knights

    Corrupted by the Ruinous Powers, the Chaos Knights are gigantic, warp-twisted war machines.

  • Chaos Space Marines

    Once, they defended the Imperium. Now, the Chaos Space Marines seek to annihilate it in service of the Dark Gods.

  • Craftworlds

    Craftworlds Aeldari are ancient, arrogant and exceptionally dangerous, having turned war into a fine art.

  • Drukhari

    Striking without warning from the webway, the Drukhari are malicious corsairs who revel in the suffering of others.

  • Genestealer Cults

    Infected with Tyranid DNA, Genestealer Cultists combine human cunning and alien ferocity to destroy the Imperium from the inside.

  • Grey Knights

    Wherever Daemons break through the veil of reality, wherever the powers of the warp manifest, the Grey Knights are there, fighting to protect the very soul of Humanity.

  • Harlequins

    Capricious warriors who approach battle as a performance, the Harlequins are Aeldari who follow the mysterious Laughing God.

  • Imperial Knights

    Imperial Knights tower over the battlefield like ironclad idols of war. Each piloted by a warrior of prodigious skill and courage, they can devastate their enemies

  • Orks

    Born to battle, Orks are brutal aliens who fight for the sheer fun of it with ramshackle, but lethal, weapons and armour.

  • The T’au Empire

    Optimistic, driven and ever-expanding, the T’au Empire seek to enlighten the galaxy through diplomacy – and superior firepower.

  • Tyranids

    Ravenous intergalactic predators, the Tyranids are an ever-adapting hive entity with a single, unstoppable directive: to feed.

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Space Marines

Humanity’s Elite Shock Troops

There is no combat theatre in which the Space Marines cannot excel, no foe they cannot overcome, and no danger they dare not face. There are hundreds of different Space Marine Chapters with proud honour rolls and magnificent martial histories to call their own.

The lightning-fast campaigns of the Space Marines are conducted with such spectacular brutality that they have come to be known as the Angels of Death. If you want to field gene-enhanced living weapons who have undergone the best training, wear the finest armour and bear devastating weaponry, choose the Space Marines.

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An Ancient Evil Awakens

After sixty million years in hibernation, the android legions of the Necrons are rising across the galaxy. These armies of living metal were once dormant and hidden, but now they march again, inexorable in their advance to restore their ancient empire.

Armed with arcane technology, nearly impervious to damage and led by maniacal Overlords, few xenos races are as terrifyingly dangerous. If you love the thought of hordes of nigh-unstoppable, mindless androids relentlessly advancing on your enemies before utterly crushing them, then the Necrons are for you.

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Sisters of Battle

Army of the Faithful

The Sisters of Battle are warriors of zealous devotion. With bolter and melta, with flamer and howling chainblade, they purge their enemies from the field of battle in the name of the Emperor and the Imperial creed.

Excelling in mid- to close-ranged firefights, this devout sisterhood mows down their foes with endless volleys of firepower while their soaring hymnals echo over the screams of the dying. The Sisters of Battle are supported by hordes of fanatical and bizarre shock troops – if you want to destroy the enemies of Mankind in the most pious way possible, this army is for you.

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Adeptus Custodes

The Golden Legion

10,000 years ago the Custodians were created by the Emperor as his companions and sworn bodyguards. While they were created to defend the Throne World, the Adeptus Custodes have recognised that the most effective way to safeguard Terra is to take a proactive hand in the ongoing battle against Mankind’s innumerable foes. Guided by psychic divination and the intelligence gathered by shadowy agents, they strike down demagogues and warlords who might otherwise raise invasion forces against the heart of the Imperium.

The Adeptus Custodes never exceed ten thousand warriors at any given time. Fortunately, a single Custodian Guard is the equal of entire regiments of any other soldier, meaning that you’ll triumph despite being constantly outnumbered in battle. Equipped with the finest wargear that the Imperium can provide, your forces will be able to wade into the enemy. As bolts thunder from the guns of their guardian spears, swords and axes, their gilded storm shields deflect shots and blades as they fight and slay the enemies of the Emperor.

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Adeptus Mechanicus

Scions of the Machine God

The Adeptus Mechanicus prize knowledge above all things, and without a second thought they will shed oceans of blood – both the enemy’s and their own – in their endless crusade for its acquisition. Such is the will of the Omnissiah, and his priests will stop at nothing to see that will done. It is not uncommon for forge worlds to launch vast, interstellar crusades in order to recover some lost repository of scientific knowledge or weapons technology, should such a prize present itself.

An Adeptus Mechanicus army in the field resembles a bizarre and grotesque religious procession. Rank upon rank of cyborg Skitarii march tirelessly into the teeth of rival guns, or ride to battle aboard Skorpius Duneriders, raising binharic hymns to the glory of the Omnissiah as their radium carbines and galvanic rifles howl and crack. You can support your masses of augmetic soldiers with maniples of battle robots – ancient Cybernetica war constructs driven by clattering difference engines – as well as insectoid walking tanks, Kataphron servitors or other lethal war machines.

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Astra Militarum

Hammer of the Emperor

In a galaxy of terrors, those who would stand firm and fight for their species are champions all. In battle, the Imperial Guard bring immense firepower and sheer, crushing weight of numbers to bear. Astra Militarum armies are characterised by teeming regiments of ground-pounding infantry, mechanised assault spearheads, rumbling armoured columns, tortured battle psykers, companies of abhuman troopers, sprawling batteries of mobile artillery, sky-darkening squadrons of combat aircraft, and super-heavy war engines the size of mobile fortresses.

When the grand armies of the Astra Militarum open fire, it is apocalyptic. If you like the idea of filling the air with countless lasgun beams, salvoes of missiles, and the fury of plasma blasts, then the Imperial Guard is for you. Overwhelm your enemies by hurling regiments of Guardsmen into the meat grinder, or crush your foes beneath the tracks of dozens of tanks. It may seem like a horrific way to make war, but this impersonal slaughter has won untold victories in the name of the Emperor.

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Chaos Daemons

Horrors of the Warp

Nearly every sentient being has a psychic resonance with the warp – a terrifying realm where emotion takes form. Chaos Daemons are literally the nightmares of Humanity given flesh, immortal servants of the Chaos Gods imbued with all manner of fell power. Each Daemon is savagely strong, cunning, and often blessed with bizarre abilities that reflect their patron – from the head-claiming, horned legions of Khorne to the shimmering, magic-mastering hosts of Tzeentch.

Chaos Daemons are unlike any other army – instead of war machines or ranks of infantry, you’ll be fielding an army of eldritch nightmares and monsters. Focus your play style on your favourite Chaos God with an indomitable procession of Plaguebearers or a swift Slaaneshi strike force, or master the strengths of all four in a single, varied collection! Chaos Daemons are a savage close-combat army, using psychic powers and warpflame-spewing monstrosities to weaken the foe before tearing them apart with claw, blade and fang, capable of appearing almost anywhere they wish!

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Chaos Knights

Titanic Traitors

Traitors to the Imperium they once defended, the Chaos Knights are a twisted mirror of the Imperial Knights, oathed now to the Ruinous Powers and rewarded with fell gifts. Persecuting war with regal contempt from their titanic war machines, the Chaos Knights are an elite and terrifying brethren who bring worlds to ruin for glory, for their gods, or simply to follow twisted and insane codes of dark chivalry.

Chaos Knights armies consist of only a few models – two or three of these titanic terrors are easily a match for entire armies of lesser troops. Every Chaos Knight in your force will have a colossal impact, whether it’s a charging Knight Rampager smashing aside ranks of enemy infantry or a fast-moving War Dog peppering the foe from afar. Collecting Chaos Knights allows you to lavish attention on each stunning individual model, making for a small but impactful collection of models that are fantastic allies in any other Chaos army as well as a standalone force.

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Chaos Space Marines

Crusaders of Darkness

Not even the Adeptus Astartes can resist the insidious taint of Chaos. Ten thousand years after the Horus Heresy tore the galaxy in two, the Space Marines who once defended the Imperium are now one of the greatest threats to its survival, marrying their gene-given abilities and master-wrought wargear with dark blessings and millennia of experience fighting the so-called “Long War”. They will not stop until Terra itself is in flames, and the Emperor’s corpse is offered before the Dark Gods!

Chaos Space Marine forces combine the heavy arms and armour of their loyal kin with an arsenal of hellforged arcana. Your bolter-wielding Space Marines may be backed up by hellish Daemon Engines or hordes of cult infantry. Chaos Space Marines armies are excellent all-rounders, capable of shredding enemies at a distance before closing in deadly charges, and offer a vast range of models to collect, paint, and play with. Perhaps you’ll play a legendary force from the Horus Heresy or let your creativity run wild with a renegade Chapter of your own making.

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Arrogance. Elegance. Firepower.

The craftworlds are great planet ships that sail the stars, bearing with them the remnants of the once-glorious Aeldari empire. Battered, broken but still unbowed, the craftworlders live lives of ruthless discipline and asceticism, mastering arts both aesthetic and martial over millennia-spanning lifespans. When roused to war, they shred their enemies with contemptuous fusillades backed up by the blades of carefully trained Aspect Warriors and the guns of swift grav-tanks and skimmers.

Craftworlds armies are highly focused warhosts where every unit fulfils a specific role, each utterly deadly when used in its proper place. Excelling at mid-range, these forces use speed to dictate the pace of battle, keeping their shooting units just out of reach while melee specialists cause carnage on the front lines. Collecting such a force offers the chance to paint and play with a huge variety of models, with incredible colour schemes to choose from and a diverse spread of Aspect Warriors, wraith constructs, and more to demonstrate your skills.

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Raiders of Realspace

Sundered from the Aeldari in the harrowing events of the Fall, the Drukhari are sadistic corsairs for whom the universe is merely a plaything. Sustaining themselves through the suffering of living beings, Drukhari warbands strike forth from the hidden city of Commorragh in search of slaves, plunder, sport, and the chance to influence the Dark City’s labyrinthine and deadly politics. Murderous, swift, and utterly without mercy, they have been the ruin of countless worlds.

Drukhari armies are fast, lightly armoured raiding parties. Poison-slinging Kabalites mounted in incredibly fast transports offer fire support to gladiatorial Wyches and the hulking nightmares Haemonculus Covens, alongside esoteric and terrifying units like shadow-lurking Mandrakes and winged Scourges. Drukhari armies exchange durability for raw speed and attack power, allowing you to slay enemies before they’ve even had a chance to react. For hobbyists, you’ll have a stunning, diverse range of models to play with, paint, and convert – after all, as every Archon knows, variety (and suffering!) is the spice of life.

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Genestealer Cults

The Threat Within

Genestealers are the pioneers of Tyranid invasions, infecting human cultures and, over generations, turning them into mutant insurrectionists known as the Genestealer Cults. Blessed with alien cunning and strange “gifts”, these worshippers of the Tyranids bring entire worlds down from within, turning the implements they once used to build the Imperium to its ultimate ruin in carefully planned insurrections that see even the military might of the Astra Militarum humbled.

Genestealer Cult forces let you take command of an insurrection, combining a scrappy, rugged array of civilian vehicles and weapons with nifty alien tricks. Capable of pouncing on enemies from anywhere in hit-and-run attacks, Genestealer Cult armies boast versatile infantry and terrifying close-combat brutes. Rewarding to careful planners, Genestealer Cults allow you to punch way above your weight through sheer cunning, while for painters and collectors, the army offers a glimpse at the “ordinary” civilians of the 41st Millennium – give or take a few arms…

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Grey Knights

The Incorruptible

The Grey Knights are the Emperor’s Daemon hunters. They are a highly specialised Space Marine Chapter whose existence is known only to a privileged few, and whose deployment is the ultimate sanction against the powers of the warp. Based on the moon of Titan, shielded from detection by vast and sorcerous wards, they have their own fortress-monastery whose defences are all but impenetrable, and whose deep catacombs contain labyrinths of dark secrets and forbidden lore.

Silver-clad psychic templars, the Grey Knight are selfless warriors who risk all to hold back the threat of Humanity’s eternal damnation. Just as the battle-brothers of the Grey Knights are a superlative evolution of all that it means to be a Space Marine, so too does their Chapter Armoury contain some of the greatest war machines in the Imperium. While they excel in combat against the creatures of the warp, they will fight any enemy that threatens Humanity, even those from within the Imperium itself. Unleashing their psychic might, nothing can stand in their way.

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The Masque of Death

The Harlequins are an elite cadre of warrior-dancers who have escaped Slaanesh through the patronage of Cegorach, the mysterious Aeldari god of mischief. War to them is a careful ritual, a deadly dance prosecuted in the defence of the hidden places of the webway.

Playing the Harlequins is like choreographing a particularly deadly dance, as your specialist troops run rings around their sluggish enemies, devastating them up close and in melee. A small but focused roster of ultra-customisable units means your force won’t need many models to complete, while rich detail and lurid colour schemes offer hours of painting fun for each model. A Harlequin army is a deadly cast of characters, each playing their role to perfection – and leaving your enemies in shreds.

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Imperial Knights

The Quest Begins

Often outnumbered but never outgunned, Imperial Knights are miracles of the Dark Age technology. They can annihilate entire regiments of the foe in a single salvo, or else wield industrial-scale close-combat weaponry that can tear down a fortress gate or flip a battle tank with a single blow. There are numerous patterns of Knight, each of which lend themselves to broad strategic roles, such as scouting or fire support.

The ground shakes as the Imperial Knights march into battle, the pennants and honour banners affixed to their armour flapping in the hot winds of war. Massive plasma reactors thrum with energy, driving the pistons, servos, and gears that send the Knight suits pounding forward with frightening speed. At the heart of each towering war engine is a Noble pilot, sitting in their Throne Mechanicum and controlling their mighty steed.

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Dawn of Waaagh!

Orks are hulking creatures quite literally born to fight, a deadly alien race that loves nothing more than a good scrap. Led into battle by hulking Warbosses, Ork hordes known as Waaaghs! leave utter ruin in their wake, as roiling, seemingly endless hordes of Boyz cause merry havoc with scavenged weapons and wargear. To the Orks, might makes right – and few are as mighty as they.

Ork armies are as diverse, punchy, and bonkers as Orks themselves! From the nigh-legendary “green tide” of choppy Boyz, to rumbling armoured columns, to Dread Mobs of clanking walkers, Ork armies are generally characterised by devastating (and inaccurate) firepower and bruising melee skills. Orks are wildly unpredictable to both you and your foe, ensuring no two games are the same and offering all sorts of hilarious moments, while for painters and collectors, the range is a playground for vivid paint jobs and crazy conversions.

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The T’au Empire

For the Greater Good!

The T’au Empire are a recent contender in the great game of the 41st Millennium, rising among fallen empires and intergalactic predators through diplomacy, unity and a simply terrifying amount of firepower. Optimistic and forward-looking, they push the borders of their fledgling dominion ever forward with well-trained and superbly armed cadres made up of infantry, alien auxiliaries and super-advanced battlesuits. Woe betide those that see the T’au Empire as naive, for this young faction will stop at nothing to bring the “Greater Good” to the galaxy.

The T’au Empire offers nigh-unmatched shooting, boasting firepower few forces can dream of. T’au armies eschew the monsters, madmen and magi used by other armies, instead giving you access to towering battlesuits and bizarre alien auxiliaries. Maybe you’ll field a fast-moving strike force of rapid assault mechs, or create a defensive line of Fire Warriors capable of obliterating anyone who dares get close. T’au models have a high-tech aesthetic and super-modular kits that let you customise your battlesuits to meet any battlefield need – or just what you think looks the coolest!

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The Great Devourer

They came from outside of our galaxy – a predator from some distant, forsaken place. Part of a unknowable vast gestalt consciousness known as the Hive Mind, the Tyranids are bio-adapted monstrosities who endlessly travel the stars in search of biomass, consuming entire planets in order to grow and adapt, falling upon worlds in waves until nothing remains but ash and acid-scarred rock. They cannot be bargained with. They cannot be stopped. They are the Tyranids, and they will not cease until they have devoured the universe.

Tyranids offer you a seemingly endless horde of single-minded beasts and hulking monsters armed with claws, talons and bio-weapons. Tyranid armies are incredibly distinctive, using alien creatures where other armies might have tanks and planes! A vast range of models means your choice of tactics is up to you – maybe you’ll take an elite force of armoured, towering brutes, or perhaps a devastating line of bio-artillery backed up by nightmarish alien psykers. After all, to adapt is to survive!

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  • Ultramarines

    The Ultramarines epitomise what it means to be Adeptus Astartes. They are beacons of nobility, honour and discipline in a galaxy riven by darkness and disorder. No Chapter holds the Codex Astartes in such hallowed regard as they, and they have utilised its tenets and strategies to achieve glorious victories over ten thousand years.

    The discipline and training of the Ultramarines is without peer – their morale is unshakeable, and they remain combat effective even during a tactical redeployment.

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  • Salamanders

    Forged in the crucible of war, the Salamanders are flame bearers and warrior-craftsmen who hail from the volcanic death world of Nocturne. This brotherhood of onyx-skinned guardians has fought stoically to defend the Imperium for ten millennia, wielding master-wrought weapons to hammer the foe into oblivion.

    The Salamanders bear the mantle of Humanity’s protectors as nobly as their cloaks of drakeskin while smiting the Emperor’s enemies with devastating weapons they themselves have crafted. Their mastery over their wargear makes them more accurate and deadly.

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  • Black Templars

    The Black Templars are valiant knights and pious champions, unusual among the Adeptus Astartes for venerating the Emperor as a literal god. The Chapter’s fanatical devotion finds focus in constant campaigning. A fleet-based Chapter, they divide their forces into crusades and storm across the galaxy annihilating everything in their path.

    As befits the heirs of the legendary swordsman Sigismund, the Black Templars are specialists in the white-hot fury of close combat. On the tabletop they charge headlong into the fray. Take the fight to the enemy!

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  • White Scars

    The roaring of furious engines, deep rumbles of thundering armoured transports, screaming of heavy jump packs at full burn and ferocious war cries herald the devastating assault of the White Scars. Formidable hunters drawn from fierce tribesmen, the White Scars smash through their foes like a spear through their prey.

    The White Scars are the Masters of high speed, hit-and-run warfare. They do battle on the move, wrong-footing their enemies with breakneck manoeuvres and melting away one moment only to crash home like a lightning strike elsewhere the next.

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  • Iron Hands

    Adherents to cold logic, intolerant of weakness and utterly without mercy, the Iron Hands are implacable warriors whose resolve is as unflinching as solid adamantine. They are relentless defenders of the Imperium who seek to replace the weakness of the flesh with the unyielding strength of the machine to attain perfection.

    To the Iron Hands, the flesh is weak. Though many Space Marine Chapters utilise bionics to replace body parts of their wounded that have been damaged beyond repair, the Iron Hands replace entirely functional limbs, organs and digits with mechanical augmentations. These allow them to shrug off damage and stay in the fight longer.

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  • Imperial Fists

    The Imperial Fists have stood as steadfast defenders of the Imperium since the Great Crusade. Strong of mind and spirit, they are the Emperor’s shield, indomitable and unbreakable. Their stubbornness is matched only by their zealous efforts to see their gene-sire’s dreams for the Imperium made real.

    Masters of siege warfare, the Imperial Fists leave their enemy no place to hide. They can dismantle fortifications with shocking ease, and target entrenched enemies with pinpoint-accurate firepower.

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  • Blood Angels

    Resplendent in their Chapter’s gleaming red, the Blood Angels have fought for the Emperor since the First Founding. They are amongst the most noble Space Marine Chapters, yet they bear a hideous curse they conceal from all outsiders and ever strive to resist.

    The Blood Angels are one of the most aggressive of all Chapters, quick to get stuck in with unique, melee-oriented units. If you want to close ranks and tear your enemy apart in a bloody display of martial skill, this is your Chapter.

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  • Space Wolves

    With the fury of a winter’s storm and the savagery of apex predators, the Space Wolves tear apart Humanity’s foes with instinctive aggression. The Chapter is a brotherhood of heroes seeking to forge their sagas of honour, ever hungry for glory and dedicated to defending the Imperium.

    The primal ferocity and independence of the Space Wolves makes them one of the most unique Chapters of Space Marines, including a wide variety of specialised units. If you’re looking for a Chapter that goes hard and hits like a ton of bricks, sink your teeth in these savage warriors.

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  • Dark Angels

    The Dark Angels were the First Legion. No other Space Marine brotherhood has served the Emperor for as long. Staunch defenders of Mankind, merciless on the attack and stubborn in defence. They are also shrouded in mystery, guarding secrets so shameful they are kept even from many of their own.

    The inclusion of specialised Ravenwing and Deathwing contingents makes the Dark Angels one of the most versatile armies, catering to a variety of play styles. If you want to keep your tactical options open, this Chapter is a great choice.

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  • Raven Guard

    Masters of clandestine warfare and the shadowed blade, when the Raven Guard engage in open warfare, it is already too late for their enemies. Sabotage, guerrilla tactics, and targeted strikes are the means by which the Raven Guard apply exactly the right amount of power to utterly destroy their foe.

    Both fast and stealthy, the Raven Guard are hard for your enemy to pin down. If you enjoy springing traps or coordinating a complicated all-out attack at just the right moment, the Raven Guard are for you.

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  • Flesh Tearers

    The Flesh Tearers’ blood-rage is infamous, as are their deeds upon the battlefield. They’ve become so divorced from the rest of Mankind that most Imperial Commanders accept the Chapter’s help only in the direst need. Repeated calls have been made by the Inquisition’s Ordo Astartes to have the Chapter investigated.

    Savage and brutal to an extreme, these warriors will stop at nothing to close ranks and tear the enemy limb-from-limb. If you like your Blood Angels even more aggressive, follow Gabriel Seth into battle!

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  • Crimson Fists

    Of the Imperial Fists’ many successor Chapters, none better embody the defiant valour of the old Legion than the Crimson Fists. Tested like few others at the forefront of the endless war against the barbaric Orks, they forever rise to new glories as they strive to fulfil their duty.

    The Crimson Fists spent arduous decades on the brink of extinction. This has inured them to pain, and also taught them the value of experience. If you like your Space Marines stubborn and battle-tested, choose the Crimson Fists.

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  • Deathwatch

    It is the task of the Deathwatch to defend the Imperium from the ravages of the xenos, countless species of which threaten Mankind in every corner of the galaxy. Drawing their numbers from almost every Space Marine Chapter, each is an elite alien killer of proven skill in battle.

    The galaxy is inhabited with innumerable alien horrors, each non-Human race seen by the Deathwatch as a blight on Mankind’s birthright. Their focus and mission makes them unique amongst Space Marines, and their affiliation with the Inquisition grants them access to exceedingly rare and deadly weapons of war.

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  • Szarekhan Dynasty

    The Szarekhan Dynasty exhibit a deep-rooted ability to fashion and maintain the finest wargear of any Necron dynasty. Enemy fire ricochets harmlessly from their magnificent android forms while, in return, every blast and blade stroke the Szarekhan level at their enemies is lethal in the extreme.

    The Szarekhan Dynasty are particularly resilient to psychic damage inflicted by their foes, while striking in return with deadly accuracy. They’re perfect for players looking to silence psykers or capitalise on the biggest guns their army has to offer.

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  • Sautekh Dynasty

    Nothing can halt the inexorable march of the Sautekh. These disdainful conquerors will stop at nothing to retake their ancient domain, obliterating any who dare to defy them in a storm of death and destruction.

    The Sautekh Dynasty make the most of Warriors and Immortals, with both unleashing rapid fire over longer ranges than their brethren in other dynasties – all the better to reclaim the galaxy!

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  • Novokh Dynasty

    The crimson hosts of Novokh remember well the sacred rites of blooding performed by their warriors in the ancient times. The dynasty’s martial heritage awakens a spark of violent pride within its legions, lending power and ferocity to their attacks.

    The Novokh Dynasty transform your Necrons into a savage close-combat force, with even humble Warriors capable of slicing apart lesser enemies.

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  • Nihilakh Dynasty

    Regal and arrogant, the warriors of this proud dynasty will not give a single inch to their foes. They stand their ground defiantly, unleashing a formidably accurate hail of fire that cleanses the stain of the lesser races from the Nihilakh rightful lands.

    This dynasty excels in taking and holding ground, fighting with extra tenacity to secure terrain – and, ultimately, victory. Fast moving units can claim points from even dedicated defenders, while the core of your army is that much harder to shift in defence.

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  • Nephrekh Dynasty

    The Crypteks of this dynasty adapted metagold to create what their phaeron calls the ‘golden form’. Their soldiery can utilise translocation beamer technology to transmute their bodies into living light in order to flicker across the battlefield.

    The Nephrekh Dynasty are the most mobile of the Necrons, capable of translocating to wherever they need to be on the tabletop with terrifying speed.

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  • Mephrit Dynasty

    The Mephrit have harnessed the wrath of captive stars to imbue into their weapons. This raging solar energy confers immense raw power and can sear through even the thickest armour with ease.

    The Mephrit Dynasty are masters of the short-ranged firefight, striking with armour-rending force when close to their foes. They excel at getting up in the enemy’s face and annihilating them with gauss weaponry.

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  • Order of the Valorous Heart

    Girded by their unshakable faith, the Order of the Valorous Heart perseveres through the most gruelling hardships to bring death to the Emperor’s enemies. No amount of suffering is too great for them to bear, and all they endure is paid double to their foes.

    Valorous Heart armies can walk through a storm of bullets and survive unscathed. Their faith in the Emperor reduces the impact of incoming fire and shields them against damage. They’re perfect for a player who wants a hardy, durable force capable of weathering attacks and then dealing damage in return.

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  • Order of Our Martyred Lady

    The fires of vengeance burn bright in every Sister of the Order of Our Martyred Lady. They are the God-Emperor’s fiery sword, the deliverers of His holy justice, and to the sound of impassioned prayers they rain unrelenting destruction upon His enemies.

    The more losses they take, the harder Sisters of Our Martyred Lady fight. If you want to battle to the last, with your units increasing in effectiveness as casualties mount, the Order of the Martyred Lady is for you.

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  • Order of the Ebon Chalice

    Obstinate in their traditions and indomitable in combat, the Sisters of the Ebon Chalice seek to perfect the martial disciplines of the Daughters of the Emperor, employing tactics that have been honed over millennia to annihilate the enemies of the Imperium.

    Armies of the Ebon Chalice have ways to shrug off mortal wounds and make their Acts of Faith more effective, making them perfect for a player who wants to use precisely timed abilities to turn the tide of battle.

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  • Order of the Argent Shroud

    Like a silver bolt, the Sisters of the Argent Shroud strike at the Emperor’s enemies. They are renowned for their speed in combat, and are often first into the fray, where their faith in their protector saint shines bright.

    Sisters of the Argent Shroud can fire their weapons at full effectiveness as they move forwards, allowing them to get into the perfect battlefield positions while raking the enemy with with withering firepower.

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  • Order of the Bloody Rose

    The Order of the Bloody Rose are the embodiment of the Emperor’s hatred towards the heretic, the psyker and the mutant. Their Wars of Faith are not waged to save the innocent, but to slaughter the guilty, for only in death can the vile be made pure.

    Bloody Rose units are more effective close to the enemy, striking hard and fast with pistols and melee weapons. They will reward players who like to advance quickly and bring the battle to the foe.

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  • Order of the Sacred Rose

    Wreathed in holy light and possessed of divine serenity, the Sisters of the Sacred Rose are the calm at the centre of a violent storm. Their hymns of hope and salvation are underscored in battle by the crack of bolts and the roar of burning promethium.

    Sisters of the Sacred Rose rarely flee, meaning that the enemy will have to work harder to kill them all. If you like an army that will stick around and stay effective into the late game, check them out.

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  • The Dread Host

    Fear is a familiar weapon to the Imperium, used to deter enemies and keep seething populations in line. Yet there is no terror as pure and absolute as that invoked when the Emperor’s own fury is unleashed to punish his foes.

    The Dread Host are among the most aggressive of their elite warrior brotherhood. If you seek to take the fight to the foe and unleash the destruction and terror upon them in the name of the Master of Mankind, the Dread Host is for you!

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  • The Solar Watch

    The Sol System is amongst the most heavily fortified of Mankind’s stellar holdings. The Adeptus Custodes consider its worlds, star forts and space lanes to be extensions of their master’s palace, and ensure they are guarded accordingly.

    The Solar Watch favour aggressive tactics and advance quickly on the foe while still laying down brutal fusillades from their guardian spears. Look no further for a swift and dynamic edge to your Adeptus Custodes.

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  • The Shadowkeepers

    There are terrible things locked away beneath the Emperor’s palace, eldritch terrors from the depths of Old Night that could annihilate the Imperium. To the Shadowkeepers falls the duty of standing guard over them unto the end of time.

    The Shadowkeepers are captors and gaolers without peer, making them especially deadly adversaries for enemy Characters. Give them nowhere to hide with the Shadowkeepers!

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  • Emissaries Imperatus

    In the days of the Great Crusade, the Emperor often entrusted crucial messages or artefacts to be borne by his Custodians. It is a duty they still fulfil now, speaking with the authority of the Master of Mankind himself.

    Serving as the Voice of the Emperor, the Emissaries Imperatus both complement and greatly augment other Imperium factions in battle. As such, they make an excellent choice to field within a mixed army of the Imperium.

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  • The Aquilan Shield

    Certain servants of the Emperor bear great responsibilities deemed directly relevant to the safety of Terra. Such esteemed figures are afforded the protection of the Aquilan Shield, at least until their usefulness is thought to be at its end.

    As their name suggest, the Aquilan Shield are formed of the most stoic and determined warriors of the Adeptus Custodes. If you seek an unstoppable force against which to break your opponent’s army, look no further.

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  • Agripinaa

    Situated on the cusp of the Eye of Terror, this forge world has long stood as a bulwark against the forces of Chaos. Grim of demeanor and likeness, they reserve a special hatred for the twisted minions of the Dark Gods.

    Experts in defensive warfare, these stalwart soldiers are hard to shift from an entrenched position. If you like to hold your ground, look no further than the Skitarii of Agripinaa and their exotic allies.

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  • Graia

    This forge world is actually a network of space stations capable of warp travel – though few outsiders are made aware of this capability. Their warriors are hardwired to be intensely dogmatic, rational and logical almost to a fault.

    All Skitarii are stubborn, but the soldiers of Graia refuse to retreat even in face of overwhelming odds. Shrugging off the occasional loss means they’ll stay and fight through it all, so this is the forge world you want if you like sticking to your plan at all costs.

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  • Lucius

    Situated on a hollow world with an artificial sun inside it, Lucius has become one of the most productive forge worlds in the Imperium. Lacking natural resources as it does, their armies can be found marching to war anywhere ore and raw materials can be found.

    The wargear produced on Lucius is of impeccable craftsmanship, using a unique alloys called Luciun. This offers their warriors superior protection that allows them to shrug off small arms fire – ideal if you want to take on hordes of lesser enemies.

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  • Mars

    The Red Planet is the ancient seat of the Adeptus Mechanicus, stretching far back before the birth of the Imperium. The troops raised there are justifiably proud, and as well equipped as any Skitarii force in the galaxy.

    Clad in the heraldry of Mars itself, their faith in the Cult Mechanicus is beyond reproach. Their unquestioning loyalty allows them to draw power and strength from their worship of the Omnissiah, keeping them mighty throughout the entire game.

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  • Metalica

    Having long since destroyed all life on their forge world in the pursuit of industrial efficiency, the entire surface of their planit is clad in hissing pistons, glowing forges, and industrial waste. Their white-robed warriors march to war to spread the purity of the machine to unbelievers.

    Relentless is the word often used to describe the Skitarii of Metalica. If you like to advance implacably forward without reducing your rate of fire, Metalica lets you do just that.

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  • Ryza

    Having been invaded not once, but twice by Orks, the Tech-Priests of Ryza have been able to monitor and optimise their weapons and strategies using copious amounts of first-hand data.

    More aggressive than other forge worlds, the warriors of Ryza utilise deadly martial training protocols to inflict maximum damage at close quarters. Not a fan of massive gunlines? Get stuck in with Ryza.

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  • Stygies VIII

    Mistrusted even by their peers, this forge world was once saved with the aid of the Aeldari. Secretive to an extreme, they are surrounded by dark whispers of research into forbidden xenos technology.

Sours: https://warhammer40000.com/
Every single Warhammer 40k (WH40k) Faction Explained - Part 2

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war – this is one of few fundamental laws in the vast, intoxicating, gothic sci-fi setting of Warhammer 40k. And boy, oh boy, what a big, horrible and altogether complicated war it can seem sometimes! The borders of 40k have grown exponentially over the three decades since Games Workshop released its first edition of the game (then called Rogue Trader) in 1987.

Today, it boasts an extended universe of lore, history, characters, politics, metaphysics and, of course, warfare which easily dwarfs most other fantasy franchises, and which continues to live in profitable harmony with the tabletop miniatures game and its family of digital adaptations.

But that huge library of lore can be a forbidding mountain to climb for new initiates to the game. Ask a 40k lore aficionado to briefly list the factions at play in Warhammer 40,000 and they will laugh heartily at your fresh-faced naivete, before gratefully launching into a breathless, multi-hour lecture. They’ll tell of how the various institutions within the grand Imperium of Man jostled for primacy over 10,000 years of total war; how the capricious tinkerings of the Chaos gods raised entire civilisations over millennia, only to annihilate them at a stroke; how Ork economies function on the basis of smashing out and then exchanging their own teeth, and on, and on… It can be a time-consuming endeavour.

We’re going to break it down to much more palatable chunks, don’t worry. But be warned – it’s impossible to cover all the armies in this sprawling game without going on a bit. You’re really going to need a few cups of tea for this one. To make things easier, we’ve split the 20-odd total factions into three separate articles, of which this is the first – introducing the armies of the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man.

For those who prefer to venture beyond the warmth of the Emperor’s holy light, feel free to commit heresy by reading our Chaos guide below – and, if you prefer a few extra arms, check out our guide to 40k’s Xenos armies.

Ruinous powers:Warhammer 40k Chaos factions guide
Suffer not the Xenos:Warhammer 40k Xenos factions guide

Between them, these guides will contain everything you need to know to get a feel for all the major factions in Warhammer 40,000, and perhaps get a flavour for which army you might like to collect.

For now, then, these are the fully-playable, standalone 40k armies within the Imperium:

Warhammer 40k imperium factions guide inquisitor and grey knights artwork

These are the Warhammer 40k Imperium factions:

Naturally, there are lots of subdivisions within these (especially the Space Marines) and we’ll cover some of the big ones here, while others will come in future guides.

Right then, with the disclaimers out of the way, let’s fire up the Gellar Field and prepare for warp translation because we’ve got a lot to cover and humanity’s many galactic enemies don’t take lunch breaks. Just remember: the Emperor protects. 

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Space Marines


You knew it had to start here. These mighty, power-armoured, gene-enhanced superhuman warriors are most people’s first visual reference point in the universe of 40k, as they feature prominently in so much of the fiction and remain the most popular army to collect and play on the tabletop.

And they shall know no fear

The Emperor


Created by the almighty, psychic Emperor of Mankind in the late 30th millennium to help him conquer Earth (or Terra, as it’s known in 40k), the eight-foot-tall Space Marines – also called Astartes – are the deadliest human soldiers ever seen and (as you will often hear repeated) they know no fear.

Space Marines have the finest armaments available to humanity – including specialised tanks, aircraft, fast attack vehicles and their own fleets of spacefaring warships – and wield anything from the humble boltgun (a stubby rifle that fires coke-can-sized explosive slugs) to hulking laser cannons that would usually be mounted on tanks.

Warhammer 40k imperium factions guide space marine thunderhawks

The new Primaris variants, introduced with the release of 40k’s 8th edition in 2017, are further-augmented versions with even snazzier weaponry. While they’re hardly a fascinating narrative shift in what Space Marines are all about, they have added a gorgeous new range of miniatures and some surprisingly interesting stories to the mix.

Space marine legions waged a bloody civil war 10,000 years ago

They were originally organised into 20 gigantic legions, each led by a supremely powerful ‘Primarch’ marine, grown directly from the Emperor’s own genetic material. However, after these legions turned on one another in a cataclysmic civil war known as the Horus Heresy (more on this in the Chaos guide), they were mostly broken down into small ‘chapters’ of just 1000 marines each, to prevent any such schism among supersoldiers endangering the Imperium of Man again.

Space Marine chapters – of which there are many hundreds operating in the 41st millennium – each fight with their own heraldry, colours and symbols, and with many different ways of war, often reflected in their in-game special abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Painting your spiffy little spacemen in the colours of your chosen chapter before sending them to war is something of a 40k rite of passage, and one we can heartily recommend.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide image painting photo

Space marines are cool. There’s no getting around it, they just are. There’s loads of variety between the different fictional cultures, philosophies and traditions represented within the different chapters and, though you may find yourself having to hold your nose through some very lazy cultural stereotypes, there’s a surprising amount of depth to be found in stories of the Space Marines.

Another dark one: Read our Gloomhaven board game guide

Speaking of variety, we’d be remiss not to give a quick word on some of the more ‘divergent’ Space Marine chapters (though if we mentioned all of them we’d be here until the Dark Age of Technology). These marines do *not* follow the prescribed template of 1000 marines in neat rows, and have their own distinct characteristics and in-game rules that make them, in effect, standalone armies to collect.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Space Wolves

Space Wolves

The Viking ones. Once known as the VI Legion Astartes, these guys now have many names – the Wolves of Fenris, the Vlka Fenryka, the Rout, the Sons of Russ, and many other titles, some less charitable than others. You’ll know them if you see them, though – the Space Wolves wear wintry greys, favouring a lot of runes, horns and animal pelts.

Following the example of their ferocious Primarch, Leman Russ, they join battle with the express intent of reaching their foe swiftly and tearing them to pieces – ideally with their teeth. Watch out for their psychic rune priests and at all costs avoid the fearsome, mutated Wulfen.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Blood Angels

Blood Angels

The Italian renaissance-themed ones with the red armour. Originally the IX Legion, led by the dashing, clairvoyant Primarch Sanguinius (RIP), the Blood Angels can be identified by their blood-drop insignia, gorgeously embellished red and gold armour, wan, melodramatic demeanour and semi-veiled references to blood-drinking rituals (those armour embellishments feature an awful lot of goblets filled with red stuff).

Rules as written: Read our guide to 9th Edition codex release dates

True to their name, Blood Angels favour swooping down on enemies with jump packs, before carving them up with elegant, well-drilled sword, fist and axe strikes. Occasionally, a genetic fault will cause a Blood Angel to enter a psychotic, grief-fueled ‘black rage’, at which point they join the dreaded Death Company, making them a terrifying combatant, but a real downer at parties.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Dark Angels

Dark Angels

The green-armoured, knightly-looking ones. The Dark Angels were once the I Legion Astartes, raised as a semi-monastic, knightly order among the continent-spanning, monster-infested forests of Caliban and led by the heroic Primarch Lion El’Johnson (yes, that’s really his name and no, don’t ask us why).

The Dark Angels are defined by the schism in their legion during the Horus Heresy

The chapter in the time of 40k is defined by its infamous fall from grace 10 millennia earlier: part of the Legion turned to Chaos during the Horus Heresy and became the ‘Fallen’ – a source of such shame for the loyalists who remained that they now call themselves ‘The Unforgiven’, a mark of their quest to prove their undying loyalty.

In a sci-fi homage to medieval warfare, the Dark Angels overwhelm their foes by barraging them with ranged firepower, while simultaneously harrying key targets with fast-moving Ravenwing motorbike cavalry, and smashing holes in the frontline with wrecking-ball squads of heavily armoured Deathwing knights.

Want to join the Inner Circle of the Sons of the Lion? Read up on their lore, tactics, codex, and more in our Warhammer 40k Dark Angels army guide.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide

Grey Knights

The Grey Knights are a secretive chapter of specially-bred psychic space marines based in a secret fortress on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Technically part of the Imperial Inquisition (a quasi-religious shadow faction that’s roughly one part Homeland Security, one part Hitler’s SS and three parts sexy Jacobean outfits), these guys are tasked with stamping out incursions by the daemons of the warp (more on them later, too).

Rank and file: Check out our Warhammer 40k detachments guide

On the tabletop, their top-tier melee weapons and psychic abilities make Grey Knights an elite force – meaning that, in the average balanced game, you’ll have only a few models on the field compared to your opponent, so you really have to make them count. They can be a challenge, but feel incredibly powerful in their own way and are a joy to paint.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Deathwatch


If the Grey Knights are the daemon-hunting special forces, the Deathwatch are the equivalent for hunting down aliens (or xenos, in 40k terms). Recruited from the ‘best of the best’ among the regular chapters, Deathwatch marines are allowed to keep one shoulder-guard showing their original insignia, but swap their old armour for plain black and their other shoulder for a neat silver one.

Deployed in hand-picked ‘kill-teams’ and equipped with uniquely modified anti-xenos weapons, munitions, armour and vehicles, the Deathwatch also play as an ‘elite’ army whose potent special abilities have to be carefully managed to maximum effect. However, their competitive power and the inherent potential for heavy customisation of your badass special ops marines make Deathwatch a very popular choice.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Astra Militarum


The poor, sad-looking ordinary soldiers huddled around WW1-style tanks. Mighty though the Space Marines are, there simply aren’t enough of them to hold the million worlds laid claim to by the Emperor of mankind. For that, you need the Guard. Humanity’s first line of defence in any war, the Astra Militarum is made up of trillions of non-genetically-enhanced base-line humans, ‘recruited’ from loyal imperial worlds across the galaxy. Many of GW’s Guard-related artworks (including the one above) depict the classic Cadian Shock Troops, though there are many thousands of regiments from across the galaxy, with different uniforms, gear, and ways of war.

Materiel is expensive, but bodies are cheap

Anonymous Astra Militarum officer


Your basic ‘guardsman’ (an imperfect term, as gender is utterly immaterial in Guard recruitment) is given only rudimentary training. As quickly as the paperwork allows, they’re issued with a uniform, a copy of the Imperial Infantryman’s Uplifting Primer, and a lasgun (nicknamed the ‘flashlight’ for its paltry stopping power), and pushed off to fight the many enemies of humanity.

Luckily, they’re supported by legions of mass-produced tanks, aircraft and other war machines from humanity’s many factory planets. But that stuff is expensive and bodies are cheap and plentiful, so much of Imperial Guard strategy boils down to pretty horrendous, meat-grinder stuff. If you’re going to play them on the tabletop, get ready to paint hundreds of near-identical soldiers, and bring a dustpan and brush to clear away the casualties. 

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Adeptus Mechanicus


The red-robed, metal-limbed spindly folks with the eerie, War-of-the-Worlds-esque steampunk aesthetic. The Adeptus Mechanicus (or AdMech for short) are a human-cyborg faction born of ancient, technology-worshipping cults native to Mars, who long ago struck an alliance with the Emperor and joined the Imperium of Man.

In their religion, every machine – down to the most rudimentary cog-driven system – has its own supernatural ‘machine spirit’ which must be appeased for the thing to work properly.

Start collecting: Our guide to Warhammer 40k combat patrols

The AdMech’s ruling class of revered ‘tech-priests’ tend to seek communion with such spirits via solemn chanting, the application of holy oils and unguents, and progressively replacing their own body parts with ‘augmetic’ substitutes until they look like Doctor Octopus and their footsteps sound like sackfuls of pennies thrown in a woodchipper.

On the tabletop, their half-robotic foot-soldiers tend to hang back and fire off fusillades of laser and radioactive shots, while letting their high-tech martian war machines do the dirty work with some of the game’s most destructive heavy weapons. Recommended for anyone that likes listening to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds on repeat.

If you’re already itching to replace your puny organic parts with the cold, calculated precision of the machine, then jump right into our Warhammer 40k Adeptus Mechanicus army guide.  

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Adeptus Custodes

Adeptus Custodes

The big shiny gold space marines with the winged helmets, and spears with guns on. The Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor’s personal bodyguards, the elite of the elite among Space Marines.

each Custodian towers over other space marines

Crafted from a genetic recipe closer to the Emperor’s own essence than any of his other experiments (save perhaps the Primarchs), each Custodian towers over a normal or even Primaris Space Marine, and their preternatural combat abilities far surpass any of the lesser Astartes.

On the tabletop, Custodes are perhaps the most ‘elite’ army available – save perhaps Imperial Knights – and in most games you will be able to field just a few of these gold-clad giants. However, their unmatched resilience under fire and extremely powerful unique abilities make them satisfying to command and an in-game force to be reckoned with.

OK, so you want to encase yourself in auramite and become one of the Emperor’s ultra-elite; time to dig into our comprehensive Warhammer 40k Adeptus Custodes army guide. 

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide adepta sororitas

Sisters of Battle / Adepta Sororitas

The power-armoured battle nuns that 40k can always point towards to avoid the sticky question of why there aren’t any female Space Marines . The Ecclesiarchy (the hideously wealthy galacto-church in charge of humanity’s state religion of Emperor-worship) was long ago forbidden to maintain a force of men under arms. So, in a hilarious twist, it raised its own private army of female super-soldiers instead.

Clad in voluptuously-cut ladies power armour, covered in more fleur-de-lis decorations than you can shake a power sword at, the Sisters of Battle are incredibly cool, even if their eyeshadow, boob armour and battle cleavage is still (even after a redesign) a reminder that Warhammer still has one foot in the bad old days of making toys primarily to titillate male gazes.

Traitorous brothers: Our guide to 40k’s Chaos Space Marines

Games Workshop released a whole new range of plastic Sisters of Battle miniatures in late 2019, making this army one of the newest, best-engineered collections of models in the game, featuring some of the finest sculpts the firm has ever produced.

In-game, it takes a practised strategic and tactical hand to get the most out of their potential, as the Sisters’ greatest strength comes from combining key characters’ aura abilities, layering buff effects, and making canny use of their Acts of Faith and Miracle Dice mechanics. But if you can put in the time, they’re a highly rewarding army to play.

Feeling holy enough yet to start your own Order and draw blood for the Emperor? Get clued in with our full Warhammer 40k Sisters of Battle army guide. 

Warhammer 40k Imperium Factions Guide Imperial Knights artwork

Imperial Knights

Yep, the Imperial Knights are walkers – but these are not your common-or-garden mech-warriors. Like most mechanical things in 40k’s human empire, these magnificent war machines were built eons ago using long-lost technology, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. As such, they are owned and operated by the scions of ancient aristocratic ‘knightly’ households, which come complete with colourful european-style heraldry, mottoes and the inevitable genetic pitfalls of generational inbreeding.

Knights are one of the best 40k armies for beginners

Still, there is very little in sci-fi quite as glorious as a charging lance of Imperial Knights, their hulking arm-cannons training on the enemy as their noble pennants flutter wildly in their colossal wake. A Knight is perhaps the intermediate painter’s go-to choice for a ‘big centrepiece model’, its broad shoulder-plates and and armour panels providing loads of opportunity for personalisation and flair.

While each of these chonky models is pricey – the cheapest full-size Knight retails at £95 – it’s worth considering that a full, competitive army of Knights could consist of just three models, somewhat counterintuitively making it one of the less financially costly armies to collect. Taking into account the army’s relative strategic simplicity (move your massive robots forward and shoot stuff), Knights are actually one of the best 40k armies for beginners.

Want to climb your Throne Mechanicum and start collecting these pseudo-chivalric behemoths? Check out our in-depth Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide.

Warhammer 40k Imperium factions guide Walls of Terra

These are the main, truly playable 40k armies under the banner of the Imperium of Man. There are a few other important groups – such as the Inquisition proper, Officio Assassinorum, Sisters of Silence, Titan Legions – for which you can collect models and include them in your Imperium tabletop army, which we will most certainly be covering in future guides, and there are countless other minor players we probably won’t. But, for now, farewell – and walk in the light of the God-Emperor.

Now you’ve read about the bloated, bureaucratic neo-fascist theocracy that is humanity in the 41st millennium, take a walk on the warped side with our Warhammer 40k Chaos factions guide.

Or meet the real extra-terrestrials waiting for us among the stars (poison mandibles, rending claws and all) in our guide to the Warhammer 40k Xenos factions.

Sours: https://www.wargamer.com/warhammer-40k/factions-imperium-guide

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