Monday, April 18, 2016

So That's What You're Going With

I do not claim to speak on many things authoritatively but Warhammer 40K is something that I feel I'm qualified to speak to. After all, at one point in time I was obsessed with the game and its universe to the point of owning three massive armies of miniatures (Eldar, Chaos Marines, and Lost and the Damned), as well as a Battlefleet Gothic chaos fleet and Epic Chaos Marine army. I spent over 15 years deep in the hobby and lore behind it, wrote tomes of fan fiction and bought almost every publication I could get my hands on. I finally left the 40K world 8 years ago when my sons were born.

I was surprised when I saw The Mittani's post doubling-down on the Imperium analogy. At first glance it makes sense: an Imperium of Mankind surrounded by gibbering horrors of the warp, Xenos threats like Eldar and Tau and Tyranids, and the threat of rebellion from within, staunchly swearing eternal vigilance and forever-war on any that defy them.

But if you look at the analogy closer you start to wonder if The Mittani thought this through. After all, in the 40K universe the Imperium is ruled by the Emperor who is nothing more than a living corpse kept alive in a comatose state by the Golden Throne which itself requires the sacrifice of 100 psykers (humans with psychic powers) every day, swept up by Black Ships from all over the Imperium in a constant flood of uncaring murder. Actually ruling in the name of this husk on the throne is a secret all powerful cabal of tyrants that answer to no one, whose decisions carry the weight of a world of lives being snuffed out or saved by mindless hordes of soldiers and a few elite psychopaths called Space Marines. Meanwhile, the technology is stagnant as no one alive understands how it works anymore (except the priests of Mars and they barely get what's going on).

You know what? Maybe the analogy was thought out.

Except for one minor detail. In the 40K lore its quite clear once you get to know it that the Imperium of Mankind is losing. For every world saved or reclaimed, two are lost. Orks enslaved and kill, Tyranids strip planets of all biomatter, Tau build their empire bigger, and chaos continues to woo the disenfranchised, and the Imperium slips closer and closer to doom more and more every hour.

Not the inspiring narrative I would have hitched my wagon to.


  1. I had a company of space marines... more imperial guard than I care to think of...

    But I stopped obsessing about 40K in about 1989.

    But I think the analogy fits for the current situation... whether thought through or not.

  2. Ah, it's more accurate that you know: There exists a few thin shreds of hope that all the Imperium's enemies will start attacking each other instead.

    It's doubtful to work.

  3. Ultramarines FTW! Well back in the 80's anyway :P