40K: Chaos vs Imperium, Who Wins?

It’s a grudge match for the ages – Chaos vs the Imperium. So who do you think will win?

Let’s all gather ’round and talk about the looming fight between two of the biggest super-powers in the the 40k universe: Chaos vs The Imperium. We know this show down is going to happen. The “Storm” is done gathering and it’s time for the clouds to burst.

In this corner…

On one hand we’ve got Chaos, arguably the defending champion for all eternity. “Chaos” itself is the psychic energy that composes Warp space. That energy emanates from all life in the galaxy and it’s that raw emotion and spiritual/psychic energy that feeds it. Within that “chaos” warp entities have risen – the dark Gods of Chaos. They have been influencing events since…well, forever. And from this point of view, Chaos is certainly the Goliath in this relationship.

But that’s the lore side of things. Looking at it on paper Chaos has got some soft spots that the Imperium can exploit. If we were going to look at based purely on the numbers Chaos Space Marines aren’t exactly helping the cause. They bring the Heldrake (who got nerfed hard), some tough troops (Nurgle Marines), some cheap troops (cultists) and they have a few formations that can bring the pain (Cyclopia Cabal). They have some neat tricks but really it’s all about those Chaos Daemons and summoning, amirite?

Chaos Daemons and the dark tidings of Tzeentch are really what the Imperium would have to look-out for. If the lore reflected the tabletop (and not the other way around) then Tzeentch would be killing it. After taking home wins at two major tournaments (LVO and Adepticon) this year (so far) the picture is starting to look clearer. Sure, they had some assistance from allies, but hey – you can’t take on the galaxy without some help.

A New Challenger Approaches

The Imperium has just gotten back a MAJOR hero. Sure they took some losses along the way but if anything this only helps to solidify the Imperial War-machine behind the risen Primarch. And with the Cadia Gate down allowing the Eye of Terror to spread they needed on in the “win” column.

When it comes to that “military-industrial complex” the Imperium has that covered. They can ramp-up production across a million (billion?) worlds and crank out WMDs like no other force in the galaxy. If you were going to pick a fight with one of the factions in the the physical reality, the Imperium wouldn’t not have been my first choice. The Orks love to fight, but really they haven’t had a good WAAAGH in awhile. The Eldar are on life support. The Tyranids are a real threat – but they are going to duke it out with the Tau (and the Ultramarines) on the Galactic East while the big fight goes down in the Galactic West. And the Necrons? Well they are being all…Necrony.

On paper, or at least in the lore, the Imperium is vast – almost countless, with endless resources, and trillions of souls bending to the will of the God-Emperor. I’m not here to get into an argument about if the Imperium is “good” or not – I’m here to talk about the fact that his virtually endless war-machine has it’s sights fixed on Chaos and is now united behind a leader who knows how to wield it.

If you want to talk numbers the Marines also out number CSM by a wide margin. But if we’re looking at total numbers of Imperial vs Chaos, the Imperial forces outnumber the combined forces of Chaos by almost 2:1. (That’s if you take all the Imperial forces and add them together and all the Chaos forces and add them together.)

Just based on player count alone that’s a definite advantage for the Imperium. Now that’s probably skewed because we don’t have all the data (number of allies, Win/Loss counts, etc) but the raw numbers don’t lie. If this was a popularity contest the Imperium would be an auto-win…but, it’s not.

These are just the battle lines that are being drawn. And with the hints at a 40k Campaign approaching it’s going to be an arms race for sure. Which side are you going to stand with when the dice start rolling?


It’s going to be a wild ride this summer! “Xenos forces” aside, who do you think would win a fight between the Imperium and Chaos. Based on Lore? Based on the Tabletop?

  • Karru

    In the lore, Chaos would win through attrition alone. Imperium is being besieged from all sides right now with no end in sight so the call of chaos is louder than ever. Especially with the Eye now being bigger and Daemon Primarchs being active, Chaos would win.

    On the table top it’s another story. Chaos is the underdog that gets beaten by Imperium so badly it isn’t even funny. Sure, Chaos has some major cheese behind it, but unfortunately Imperials win by a country mile on that one.

    The biggest reason why I have no interest on the coming campaign is purely based on the fact that everyone knows how the winner is. Imperials will win by sheer numbers alone. It’s going to just like the AoS one did. Imperials are waaaaaay to big, in terms of factions and the number of players, to ever lose a campaign like this. Then you have the fact that they will have the superior rules if this happens in 8th edition, they won’t balance things in any meaningful way because that would require actual playtesting which they have admitted not doing enough since they have limited resources on that regard.

    • Damistar

      You are assuming that GW plans to base their ongoing narrative on player game results. I don’t believe they will repeat that mistake in a second Eye of Terror campaign. I think they will put out a campaign book this summer with some story and a number of scenarios/missions but in the end they already know where the story is going. I expect that Chaos will make a strong showing, led by Mortarion most likely, and probably throw back the Imperiums counterattack. The Imperium will be on the back foot until the next campaign book where another loyalist Primarch returns and stall the Chaos advance towards Terra.

      • Karru

        I meant that the campaign they will do in summer for 40k will go just like the campaign for AoS did a while back. As in, who won the thing based on number of wins. I know that in the GW narrative Imperium is no danger and that the campaign result will have no affect on that. I was just saying how things will go for the campaign on the tabletop.

        In its current state though, Imperium would lose if the lore was left “as is”. We all know that GW will pull off another “miracle” that will save Imperium. I am not saying that Imperium should die, but this is like looking a movie and expecting the main character to die. No matter how bs the thing gets, the main character won’t die because plot armour.

        • Damistar

          I don’t think the Imperium is that weak, and the Galaxy is a big place. Given that Chaos will likely be driving straight for Terra there is not that wide of a front that needs to be defended. Also the Imperium has had 10,000 years to prepare. Sure it’s a retrograde medieval society but it’s not like they’ve been doing nothing since the Heresy. The Imperium can hold against the Tyranids, Necrons, Tau and Orks long enough to still send overwhelming power to fight the Black Crusade. Especially with R.G. organizing things from the top.

          • Karru

            That’s why I said that Chaos would win through war of attrition. Tyranids are finally coming in full force to this galaxy, Ghazghkull is preparing for the Ragnaork that will manifest Gork and Mork into real space and Necrons are getting more and more aggressive.

            Chaos would win in the long run, plain and simple. Of course, the real winner in 40k lore will always be Tyranids as they will just devour this galaxy and move on.

          • Graham Bartram

            You are not calculating the variables of Necron technologies now understood by the illustrious and glorious Arch Magos Belisarius Cawl or the potential recovery of the The Omnicopaeia. ….Praise the machine.. …hail the Omnissiah…. .You are obviously a heretic.. …The Inquisition has been informed.. … Please stay where you are and await purging.

          • euansmith

            The 13th Black Crusade is blitzkrieg vs defence in depth, so the Imperium should win that; but the entire war is Order vs Entropy, and Entropy always wins. 😉

          • Damistar

            Ah, but if Grandfather Nurgle has taught us nothing else, it’s that death leads to rebirth!

          • euansmith

            A game set on a world that has fallen to Nurgle could be a lot of crappy fun.

        • marxlives

          I remember that, Order held every city for the entire campaign. Not a very good endorsement for balance, even with the rules being more “streamlined”.

          • Karru

            Well, it was clear right out of the gate they would win. When that campaign started, they had the most battle tomes released as well as three new factions. Meanwhile Chaos only had 1 and a half, since the Archaon release didn’t really feel like a faction as it was just 2 kits, Archaon and the Varanguard.

            Destruction got their new faction and one updated battle tome (can’t remember if the Ogres got updated before the campaign started). Death was in the most sorry state, having only the Flesh Eater Court and over nerfed Summoning rules behind them.

            Yeah, it was a one-sided campaign right out of the gate. Unfortunately this campaign will most likely just follow suite. Imperium being the largest faction and the most supported will dominate the campaign.

    • Ronin

      Imperium would win because plot armor. xD

      • euansmith

        2++ re-rollable plot armour 😉

        • Reven

          Probably an invuln save instead of armor

          • euansmith

            Or maybe an additional FNP (Feel No Plot) roll.

      • phobosftw

        INB4 40K endtimes?

  • stinkoman

    ” But if we’re looking at total numbers of Imperial vs Chaos, the Imperial forces outnumber the combined forces of Chaos by almost 2:1. (That’s if you take all the Imperial forces and add them together and all the Chaos forces and add them together.)”

    thanks for clearing that one up.

  • ZeeLobby

    Anyone else please!

  • euansmith

    Chaos! No, Imperium! No, Chaos! Wait… what was the question again?

  • Mathew G. Smith

    Chaos wins at the end. Order has to win a thousand times just to maintain the status quo; Chaos only has to win once.

    • ikari_kun2002

      But Chaos victory is boring, possibly even to the Ruinous Powers themselves. Maybe that’s why Abaddon is such a failure, he’s being sabotaged by his own patrons.

      • LeroyJenkinss

        Huh… You got a point

  • sniperjack

    The question is not not who wins.
    Its who is not losing?
    Answer: Everyone loses.

  • Marco Marantz

    Chaos cannot be defeated, merely resisted….for a time. Chaos should win eventually.

  • Brettila

    Is this a joke? CSM in NO WAY is on par with Imperial forces.