Saturday, September 3, 2016

Warhammer 40,000: The Factions, Part I

Evening Game Fans, tonight we’re going to take a deeper look at the various armies you can choose from for the wargame Warhammer 40,000.  There are a variety of choices you can select from, so we’ll look at each faction along three ideas.  Army aesthetic, play style, and numbers are all important characteristics when looking at your first army for warhammer 40k, all though i suggest new players look at the army aesthetic first.  If you don’t like the look of your army, it’s going to detract from your involvement from the game.  

Remember, all of the factions we’re going to look at can be found at  All you need to do is select the warhammer 40,000 tab, and scroll down until you see the list of armies on the left hand side.  We’ll take it from the top, but we’re going to cover the broad groupings rather than each individual sub faction.

Adepta Sororitas

First up, we have the Adepta Sororitas.  Commonly known as the Sisters of Battle, the Adepta Sororitas represent holy women charged with defending religious sites and protecting the faithful from the ravages of the Galaxy around them.  They have some interesting modelling choices and have a predisposition towards fire and flame based weaponry.  I think my favorite unit in this army group is the Exorcist tank, which appears to have a full pipe organ mounted on the top of its hull (secretly we’ve added a missile battery function to the organ, let’s see who notices).  
On The tabletop, the Adepta Sororitas play similarly to their Adeptus Astartes cousins.  They have heavy armor and excellent skills that combine with ranged weapons to kill the bad guys dead.  Their squads of battle sisters have some excellent options for managing opposing units, though you need to specialize your squads for the task at hand.  There are units in the army that handle most situations well, though the army does not have a dedicated anti flyer unit.  Keep in mind the Adetpa Sororitas have access to acts of faith that can dramatically swing a situation in their favor.  

As for numbers, the Sisters of Battle tend towards a smaller model count army, with squads of ten being common for most ranged sisters, and squads of five being reasonable for the jump pack equipped assault sisters.  You’re going to want to pick up the transport options available, as part of the advantage of the sisters is that their transports mount some significant firepower.  Also pick up an Exorcist or two, you will not be disappointed.  

The major points of contention for this army are twofold.  First, this is one of the oldest factions in the game that hasn’t been recently updated.  This means that other rules options that are common in other armies (like anti flyer units) aren’t available to the Adepta Sororitas.  The other issue that stems from their age is that the Adepta sororitas are all resin models which makes them significantly more expensive than other, modern faction choices.   

Adeptus Astartes

The Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes are transhuman warriors created by the Emperor of Mankind to reclaim all the worlds of the galaxy for humankind.  With bolt gun and chainsword, they strike at the heart of any conflict, destroying and moving on.  With their heavy armor, advanced weapons and superhuman physiology, they are an elite force built to take the fight to the enemy and destroy them wherever they can found.  

On the tabletop, Space marines are aggressive, taking objectives and holding them from counterattack.  Beyond this broad style, the Space Marines are one of the most easily customizable forces in the game.  With six sub-factions to choose from, The space marines of the Adeptus Astartes can be tailored to many different roles and play styles.  They also are a very forgiving army for a new player, as they heaviness of their armor plus their superhuman statistics make them difficult to kill for most weapons in the game.  

Numbers wise, they are going to be a small model count army.  They are an elite army that hits hard and moves on.  Standard squad size is 10 to a squad, though certain formations run with five or so models.  One of the upsides of the Space Marine army is that almost their entire range is plastic, which means you can mix and match parts from different kits to customize your army.  

From a gameplay standpoint  there are two points of potential contention.  First, the Adeptus Astartes are generally good at most aspects of the game and pay for that by being more expensive than most other armies in points.  This means you will traditionally be outnumbered on the table, and will have to learn to balance being good at everything while being few in number.  The other potential point of contention is that since the Adeptus Astartes are broadly good at things, it may take you a while to figure out what you want your army to do.  This means you may end up trying a lot of different unit combinations before you figure out what works for you.  

Adeptus Mechanicus

The Adeptus Mechanicus are the keepers of lost and forgotten technologies.  Don’t confuse them with scientists hiding in their labs, because the Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus are more than willing to unleash esoteric weapons of astonishing devastation on their enemies.  Their reasons to march to war are just as esoteric as their sciences, but when they march to war, they bring unusual vehicles, cybernetic warriors and lost technologies to battle.

On the tabletop, The Mechanicus are an army that loves its guns.  They have unique weapons that won’t find anywhere else, and they make the most of them.  With their army being spread across two books, you’ll find some extremely weird, yet oddly satisfying weapon and army combinations.  To compliment their heavy firepower, the Adeptus Mechanicus utilize a series of army wide buffs that can be changed from one turn to the next.  

Numbers wise, the Adeptus Mechanicus can go a couple of different directions.  The heaviest units in the army, the Destructors and the Kastellans are small squads of extremely heavy units that will shoot heavy guns.  The lighter units come in larger squads and are better suited to other tasks.  The few vehicles that the Adeptus Mechanicus utilize combine esoteric equipment with heavy guns to support their infantry.  

Astra Militarum

The Astra Militarum represents the unaugmented human soldiers who fight across a billion different battlefields in the Warhammer 40,000 Universe.  Other armies utilize advanced technology and superhuman abilities to win wars, but the Astra Militarum use the weight of bodies and heavy artillery to seize victory from the jaws of an unforgiving, unrelenting universe.  

On the Tabletop, the Astra Militarum are the faction that utilizes a lot of different methods to win games.  They group units in platoons and larger formations and gain mechanical benefits from doing so.  With the addition of orders that can be issued by the officer cadre, the plain, simple humans of the galaxy have a fighting chance to bury their opponents in heavy tank shells and las gun bolts.  

Numbers wise, this is the first army we’ve looked at that can truly drown an opponent in bodies.  They utilize massed troops to hold objectives and can pack a lot of people on a table top.  They are capable of using a similar idea with their heavy armor, and can field tank exclusive formations if the player is so inclined.  They use quantity as a form of quality that only a few other armies get close to using.

All of these armies are part of a larger designation called Armies of the Imperium.  In broad terms, this means that you can field these armies together (within the ally rules for the game) in a variety of combinations.  This can inspire a new painting project, an idea for an expansion, or a new kill team for you to try and play with.  You can utilize your new guys with your old ones because of their status as allies.

It’s getting late Game Fans, so we’ll call it here.  Next time we’ll go over some more of the Factions for Warhammer 40,000.  Until then, Game On.  

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