Warhammer 40,000

From Academic Kids

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Example of Warhammer 40,000 miniatures

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.



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Rogue Trader - the first edition of Warhammer 40,000

The first edition of the game (Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader) was published in 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 Lasersquad 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 Marine and Ork 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. It is also available as either a boxset (Battle For Macragge - featuring Space Marines and Tyranids) or just the 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


Cover of the Warhammer 40,000 4th edition rulebook
Cover of the Warhammer 40,000 4th edition rulebook

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 Codices 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 500, 750, 1000, 1500, 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 there battle results online and this affects the history of the game and is accounted for in the next rulebook. The vey latest of these global campaigns has been the Eye of Terror Campaign.


The hobby is widely considered even by collectors and enthusiasts to be very expensive (though enthusiast 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 - $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 1-3 models will cost $9 - $25, with boxed sets varying widely ($20 - $100) 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 May 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 codices. As of May 2005, 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 Templar Space Marines and Eldar. 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 Marines, 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 eclectic mix of 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 aspects of the dystopian, militaristic universe of Warhammer 40K), medieval, baroque and surrealist art (especially H.R. Giger), popular depictions of historical settings, such as the World Wars, Victorian Britain, Imperial Rome, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Therefore, there are countless anachronisms and juxtapositions in the Warhammer 40K setting.

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


Galaxy Maps


The Forces of the Imperium

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

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

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 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 reminescent 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

Warhammer 40K spin-offs

Miniature based games

Other miniature-based games in the Warhammer 40K universe include:

  • Battlefleet Gothic - a spaceship combat game
  • Epic 40,000 - a much larger scale war simulation, with much smaller 6mm miniatures
  • Gorkamorka - Ork gang fighting based on a desert planet, with a focus on scavenging
  • Inquisitor - a smaller scale fight simulation, with relatively large 54mm models
  • Necromunda - gang fighting in a large underground slum
  • Space Crusade - a board game where Space Marines battle the forces of Chaos
  • Space Hulk - a board game where Space Marine Terminators fight Genestealers on an abandoned spaceship

Computer games

Several computer games have also been based on Warhammer 40K:

Apart from official computer game projects there have also been a number of mod developer teams inspired by the Warhammer 40K background. WH40K : Rival Species is a mod for Half-Life which uses the background of Warhammer 40K.

The popular computer game Starcraft is thought by some to have been largely inspired by the Warhammer 40K universe.

Non-wargame products

Include books, comics and art albums, published by the Black Library Books include the Gaunt's Ghosts series and Eisenhorn trilogy by Dan Abnett, the Space Wolf series by William King and the Inquisition War trilogy by Ian Watson.

See also

External links

de:Warhammer 40,000 es:Warhammer 40.000 fr:Warhammer 40000 it:Warhammer 40.000 nl:Warhammer 40.000 sv:Warhammer 40,000 zh-cn:战锤 40000


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