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Warhammer 40,000

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Warhammer 40,000

Warhammer 40,000 (informally known as Warhammer 40K or just 40K) is a science fiction tabletop miniature wargame, produced by the British gaming company Games Workshop. Play centers around 28mm scale (approximately 1:65) miniature figurines produced by Citadel Miniatures, which represent soldiers, creatures and vehicles of war. The game requires a combination of tactics and luck.

Warhammer 40K is the science fiction companion to Warhammer Fantasy. Warhammer 40K allows for less regimental, formation-based movement, and deals with more advanced weaponry.


The first edition of the game (Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader) was published in the year 1987. The man responsible for creating the original rules set and the Warhammer 40,000 gameworld was game designer Rick Priestley. This original version came as a very detailed rulebook, making it most suitable for fighting small skirmishes. Much of the composition of units was determined randomly, by rolling dice.

A few elements of the setting (bolters, Dreadnought armour) can be seen in a set of wargaming rules called Laserburn produced by Tabletop Games. The influence of these can also be seen in the prototype Necromunda game mechanics. Laserburn was turned into the computer game Laser Squad that subsequently evolved into the X-COM computer games.

The second edition was published in late 1993, aimed at making it easier to fight larger battles. This and later developments of the game are the work of editor Andy Chambers. This version relied greatly on cards, and came as a boxset including Space Marines and Orks miniatures, scenery and dice, as well as the main rules. An expansion pack Dark Millennium was later released.

The third edition was released in 1998, and again concentrated on streamlining the rules for larger battles. The rulebook was available alone, or as a boxset with miniatures (Space Marines and the newly introduced Dark Eldar).

The current version is the fourth edition, and was released in 2004. It was not such a major change as between previous editions, as it did not break gamers' old army lists or codexes. A truncated, but playable, version of the rulebook is also available as either a boxset (Battle For Macragge - featuring Space Marine's and Tyranids) or just the complete hardcover rulebook.

Over the years the game has been expanded by many supplements. There has also been cross-fertilization from other games in the same setting.

Warhammer 40K, the Game


Each player assembles an army from one of the official lists (see below) and constructs an army of pewter and plastic miniatures representing the various units in that army. Rules for constructing armies are contained within the Warhammer 40K rulebook, as well there are army-specific Codexes that contain specific information on the units and rules for each army. (certain armies have multiple Codices-- for example, many of the major Chapters of the Space Marines army have individual Codices).

Army size is determined by "points" (pts); each figure and vehicle has an associated cost proportionate to its potential worth on the battlefield. Players agree on how many points for the game and each assemble an army up to that maximum limit. Typical game sizes are 400, 500, 1000, 1500, 1700, 1750 and 2000 points. Games can vary in length of time from half an hour to several hours.

Play is divided into turns, with each player choosing specific actions for all of his units on his turn, and using dice to determine the results of those actions. Each match, at the onset, is assigned a set of additional rules and a goal (collectively called a "scenario") specific to it. The simplest of these is a basic "cleanse" mission, which ends after six turns, the victor being declared based on the control of the four quarters of the board; more complex goals can include night fights, take-and-hold missions, and various others.

Some players organize a series of scenarios, called a campaign, where two or more players fight against each other in a number of battles. These campaigns may feature their own special rules, and are tied together by a storyline, which might alter according to the results of each scenario when it is played. Every few years, a global campaign is held in which people record their battle results online. This affects the history of the game and is accounted for in the next rulebook. The latest of these global campaigns has been the Eye of Terror Campaign.


The hobby is widely considered very expensive, even by collectors and enthusiasts (though enthusiasts often wish to point out the reasonableness of the expense compared to other leisure activities). New players wishing to start playing should expect to spend upwards of $200 to $300 for a reasonably sized army (1000 to 2000 points worth of models), including costs for rulebooks and paints. Players must purchase units, sold individually in blister packs or in squads in boxed sets. A typical blister pack with one to three models will cost from $9 to $25, with the cost of boxed sets varying widely ($35 to $200) depending on the contents.

In addition to the current line of units, Games Workshop makes available past model lines as a part of their mail-order-only "Classic" series. These are models that have been used for earlier versions of the game. This is the only way to get certain factions (for example, Harlequins), which have been discontinued.


Since the models are hand-painted and assembled by the player, players are often encouraged to design their own paint schemes as well as using the pre-designed ones displayed in the various books. They are also encouraged to further modify their figures and vehicles using parts from other kits and models (known as "bitz" to players), or scratch-made from plasticard, modeling putty, or whatever the modeler can scrounge up. These conversions are often entered into contests at sponsored tournaments and similar gaming events.

Terrain is an important part of play. Though Games Workshop makes terrain kits available, many hobbyists prefer to make their own elaborate set pieces. Common household items like soda cans, coffee cans, styrofoam packing pieces, and pill bottles can be transformed into ruined cathedrals, alien habitats, or the like with the addition of plasticard, a bit of putty, and a bit of skill.

Current state of play

As of July 2005, Warhammer 40K is in its fourth edition. The core rules are presented in a single large volume, with details for each army appearing in separate codexes. Currently, the Space Marines codex has been updated to fourth edition, as well as the Tyranid codex. Several other codices are due later in the year, including those of the Black Templars Space Marines and Tau. A supplement covering the Taros campaign, including additional units and models available from the Forge World subsidiary of Games Workshop, is currently available. In the meantime, there exist FAQs and errata for materials done under the previous iteration of the rules.



The Warhammer 40,000 game world is most readily characterized as a gothic science-fantasy setting. The central and most popular elements of the Warhammer 40k universe are the Space Marine's, futuristic versions of fantasy knights and the finest warriors of the Imperium of Mankind, a dystopian and degenerate galaxy-spanning civilization.

Since it originally was created as a sci-fi spinoff of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle game, the 40k gameworld contain many elements of the fantasy genre, for example the concept of magic and adapted versions of classic fantasy races. The inspirational sources for the 40k universe include classic and contemporary sci-fi, horror and fantasy movies and television series and the works of renowned genre authors such as Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock, J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Heinlein (Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers inspired many elements such as elite marines in powered armor, and drop pods in which encased Space Marines and equipment are fired from orbiting ships down to the battlefield), medieval, baroque and surrealist art (especially H.R. Giger), popular depictions of historical settings, such as the World Wars, Victorian Britain, Imperial Rome, The Inquisitions, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia leads to a wholly unique fictional universe, in which every side is to some extent evil- though some are slightly less evil than others. The Imperium for example, is generally thought of as the "good side", and while it may be true that there are many good people within it, as a whole it is an oppressive, xenophobic, corrupt mess which is only able to keep control of its population through the fact that being worked to the bone assembling rifles and worshipping the Emperor is slightly better than being worked to the bone and then brutally killed by Ork warlords.

The battle for survival takes place on two different planes of existence:

Galaxy Maps

Red Dwarf StarMap


The Forces of the Imperium

There are three main armies of the forces of the Imperium:

Additionally, the Emperor has at his disposal the tripartite forces of the Inquisition:

None, however, engender fear more than the deadly disciples of the six temples of the Officio Assassinorum:

  • Callidus Temple - drug induced shape-shifters who specialize in infiltration and disguise as their methods for contacting their targets.
  • Culexus Temple - those who are born with a one-in-a-billion genetic defect are ushered into the most mysterious of the four sects, that of psionic mind-assassins.
  • Eversor Temple - a combination of drugs, bio-engineering and psychotic fury are the tools of this shrine's trade.
  • Vindicare Temple - focusing on marksmanship and patience, this shrine eliminates threats to the Imperium with a single unerring shot
  • Venenum Temple - the masters of the art of death by poison.
  • Of the last temple, that of Vanus, no information exists in accepted canon.

The Forces of Chaos

Ten thousand years ago, the Horus Heresy nearly tore the Imperium apart. Forces loyal to the dark gods of the Warp corrupted nearly half the Space Marine legions, and plunged the Imperium into a cataclysmic civil war. The Imperium defeated the traitors, but at great cost.

The Forces of Chaos still tear away at the Imperium. The sinister whispers of the dark gods turn many people away from the Emperor and their own people, and the remnants of the traitor Space Marine Legions still reside in the Eye of Terror, occasionally striking out in what is known as the Black Crusades.

The Xenos

Mankind is not the only sentient race in the galaxy. Many other races vie for survival and dominance of the galaxy. To the Imperium, all of them are enemies to be destroyed. The name for these are the xenos.

The Eldar

The Eldar are an ancient race that has long since fallen into decline. They still wield advanced technology and great psychic power. Thematically, they are reminiscent of Tolkien's elves, a vastly magical people set against the inevitability of their own demise. There are several different factions of the remaining race:

Other major races

Minor Races/Sub-Races

Notable characters

This article is based upon Warhammer 40,000 from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and is subject to GNU Licence for free documentation. There is a List of authors in the Wikipedia, which can be edited.