The Imperium Keyword is OP

8th Edition is a vast improvement over 7th for allies balance, but the Imperium still rules supreme.

I’m so happy the craziness of the old Allies table is gone in 8th edition.  In its place we get the Keyword system and the Battle forged requirement for a single keyword across your entire army.

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!

Unfortunately (for xenos), the faction keywords are not built equally.  Things are much better than they were in 7th, but the <Imperium> keyword is head and shoulders above the rest.

It’s just math really. The more unit share a faction keyword, the more potential combos exist for army construction (and rules-combo shenanigans).

So Many Units!

Discounting Forgeworld let’s look at all the big faction keywords to see how they stack up:

Necrons: 36 units

Aeldari: 90 units

Craftworld: 47

Drukhari: 32

Harlequins: 8

Ynnari: 3

Orks: 46 Units

T’au: 37 units

Tyranids: 103

Tyranids: 39 units

Genestealer Cult: 15 units (+ 49 Astra Militarum (Brood Brothers) units

Imperium: 324

Astra Militarum: 53 units

Astra Militarum: 49 Units

Adeptus Telepathica: 4 units

Adeptus Mechanicus: 17 units

Cult Mechanicus: 10 units

Skitari: 7 units

Questor Imperialis: 5 units

Ministorum: 21 units

Adeptus Ministorum: 6 Units

Adepta Sororitas: 15 units

Sisters of Silence: 4 units

Assassins: 4 units

Inquisition: 9 Units

Adeptus Custodes: 3

Adeptus Astartes: 70 Units

Ultramarines: 10 units

Imperial Fists: 1 unit

Crimson Fists: 1 unit

Black Templars: 5 units

Raven Guard: 1 unit

Salamanders: 1 unit

White Scars: 2 units

Legion of the Damned: 1

Blood Angels: 18 units

Flesh Tearers: 1 unit

Dark Angels: 27 units

Space Wolves: 46 units

Deathwatch: 7 units

Grey Knights: 17 units

Chaos: 113 units

Heretic Marines: 47 units

World Eaters: 2 units

Thousand Sons: 6 units

Death Guard: 7 units

Emperor’s Children: 2 units

Chaos Daemons: 48 units

Khorne Daemons: 13 units

Tzeentch Daemons: 12 units

Nurgle Daemons: 7 units

Slaanesh Daemons: 12 units

Daemons: 4 units

Questor Traitoris: 1 unit

How Isolated are the Factions

Ranking the top-level keyword for total unit variety show us the most and least isolated armies out there for gamers to build lists out of:

Necrons -36

T’au – 37

Orks – 46

Aeldari – 90

Chaos – 113

Imperium – 324

You should show some love and respect for those Necron, Ork and T’au players out there fighting all by their lonesome. The Aeldari, Tyranids (with Brood Brothers), and Chaos will have some tricks combos up their sleeves, but nothing can compare to incredible variety available to any Imperial player.

~ Have fun out there and let’s all light a candle and prayer for more Xenos units in the future – they need em.

  • silashand

    Orks don’t need no keyword nonsense. Orks is best!!!

    • NNextremNN

      ok fine no new units for orks more for necron and tau 😛

      • Arthfael

        More to loot ^^

        • NNextremNN

          If you get to destroy it 😉

          … oh right we are talking about 8th edition here have this riptide -.-

    • WhenDidVicesBecomeVirtues

      Orks have 2 keywords – Dakka and WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH

      • euansmith

        “An’ Gork! Nah, Mork! Nah, Gork! Any’ow, wot ‘ave the Weirdboyz ever dun fur uz?”

    • Xodis

      Need a special rule where any vehicle from any army can gain the looted rule and counts as an ork vehicle. Orks get the mostest!

      • Ahhh, just like back in the old days…
        IIRC, in 2nd or 3rd edition Orks had access to most, or all, of of the IG vehicles thanks to looting…

    • dave long island

      dats rite!

  • wibbling

    Ford make dozens of different vehicles, and Aston Martin only make a few… Ford are better….

    Err, no.

    • Brian Griffith

      Well, if I was going to try and conquer a random planetoid, I probably wouldn’t take Aston Martins.

    • Mathew G. Smith

      If you need to fill any role other than “sports car” Ford has something better.

      • YetAnotherFacelessMan

        But each one is specialized? … is Ford the Aeldari Path of the Warrior?

        • Brian Griffith

          And none of them are ever going to haul cargo or pull you out of a ditch.

          • YetAnotherFacelessMan

            So… Aeldari.

        • Mathew G. Smith

          In this analogy Ford is any faction with rules and the Aston is a model train used as set dressing.

  • inailo

    Meh, I’m doing a lot of cross-faction stuff between detachments personally, and it’s working quite well for me. I’ve got Chaos as my main, with Ad Mech, a little bit of Necrons, and some limited Imperium support. It goes pretty well in general, and while I can’t pass buffs from Death Guard to Ad Mech or Primaris, I’ve worked out some fun little lists that have served me well thus far. Only time (and a larger army) will tell if my tactic works great or just okay. 🙂

    • inailo

      Then again, I’m a conversion nut, so everything is based on what I can come up with to make it interesting. My Necron units are all flesh-covered and represent undying possessed in my Apostlees of Contagion army.

      • Brian Griffith

        As long as you’re content to never play matched, more power to you.

        • inailo

          Unless I’ve missed something along the way here, the detachments restrictions simply state that all units in a given detachment must be of the same faction, not the entire army. Restrictions only apply to a given detachment and its unit selection, not all detachments across the whole army, right?

          • Mr.Gold

            each detachment in a matched play army must also share a keyword e.g. chaos…

          • Brian Griffith

            Right. It’s a restriction that matched play has that narrative and open don’t.

          • Brian Griffith

            If it’s any consolation, Forge World has already put out rules for a Dark Mechanicum corrupted Archmagos, and it looks like they’re going to be doing more with Dark Mechanicum in the near future.

            That stuff’s perfectly kosher to ally with Chaos in matched play.

          • phobosftw

            Did they put said rules in any of the Imperial Armour books?

          • Brian Griffith

            So far just the Hellwright, who can have either a Legion or a Dark Mechanicum keyword, and the Renegade Knights, which can have either Questor Traitoris or Dark Mechanicum as their faction. They’re both in the IA Forces of Chaos Index.

          • OctopusVolcano

            There’s also other restrictions, such as admech units aren’t affected by canticles unless all of the units in the detachment also has the canticles rule. I imagine this is probably the case for chapter tactics etc as well.

            …it better be! >.<

    • Foxdonut
      • AircoolUK

        Also, you have to choose exactly which faction keyword will apply to that detachment.

        For example (taken from the BRB), if you have a Space Marine Captain, you must then choose whether the rest of that detachment uses the keyword Imperium, Adeptus Astartes or .

        If you choose Imperium, then even if you have Adeptus Astartes units in that detachment, they’re technically classed as being Imperium, so won’t benefit from the Captain’s Rites of Battle.

        • Foxdonut

          thats just not true at all. The Auras still go by keyword, the example is talking about making the detachment.

      • Matt Craufurd

        Yeah that specifically says in matched play armies. So narrative and open play are all good.

  • Robert Thornton-Kaye

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought in a rule against using more than 2 codices to make an army as the power combos get increasingly unlikely from a fluff perspective and overly powerful from a game perspective.

    Also, I’d love it if they added ‘Mercenary’ as a keyword to the most common merc units so that you could represent a mercenary army. This would allow more diversity for the xenos players and allow the necrons and tau to have more troops as a separate detachment. I wrote some rules for them in the old edition ( and will get round to updating them soonish if anyone would like to try this out.

    • inailo

      There is a thing about “Unaligned” units, so I’m sure we’ll eventually get something. I just don’t expect much more than Astra Militarum deserters and Kroot until they add in a bunch more xenos races or non-Imperial humans.

      • Crevab

        The Unaligned units so far are Fortifications. Not sure we’ll get Unaligned infantry

        • Tyr

          I believe Furies are also unaligned, though I might be misremembering…?

  • Bakvrad

    Do other armies also have splitten up command units and/or characters in different fighting styles? Like chapter ancient, company ancient, company ancient on bike, librarian, librarians on bikes, in terminator armor, etc…
    maybe I take my time to calculate them together to see how many slots the Imperium lose, if you count them as one 😉 (one lib instead of 3, etc)

    • Hank

      Yep. Orkz have 3 version of warboss (regular, mega-armor, and biker), 3 big meks (same), 2 painboys (regular and biker), the nob w/ waaagh!!! banner is separate from nobz, each kind of war buggy is a separate unit instead of being individually upgraded (to trakk and skorcha). Sure, not nearly as many as say Marines, but we didn’t have a lot of units to start with.

  • Byor

    You missed tyranids in the last list!

  • Damon Sherman

    I wonder if they’re going to break up the keywords like they do with Heroclix. Heroclix has a similar keyword system, but it’s divided into Named keywords and Generic keywords.

    Generic keywords are broader like “Martial artist”, or “scientist”. Which would allow you to make a team of say, the TMNT’s, Batman, and Daredevil vs Jor’El, Spiderman and a WeaponX researcher.

    Named keywords are more like your specific team, like “Gotham city police” or “the West coast Avengers”.

    If you made a team witha shared keyword, you’d get the equivilent of command rerolls. Less if you used a generic keyword, and more for a named keyword.

    I’d like to see something like this for 40k. especially for the Imperium, so you don’t feel like you’re handicapping yourself for just doing Astra Militarum. Compared to that of a pan-Imperial player mixing and matching units from all across the faction.

    • CloakingDonkey

      well yeah that’s what the Codices are for. You can either run a generic Imperium list with Guard, Imperial Fists and Assassins, or you can run a pure Imperial Fists list and get access to their Chapter Tactics, Relics, special command abilities and whatever else we’ll find in Codex Space Marines. You don’t get that stuff if you mix and match.

      • Damon Sherman

        man, assassins and inquisition units are going to have to be bad-ass if you’re willing to give up codex perks like that.

        hopefully this wont wind up the clusterfuck that Warmahordes themed forces wound up.

        • Simon Bates

          Depending on whether the restrictions are at the army or detachment level. Going by what we’ve seen in the indexes, I anticipate the latter.

  • AircoolUK

    However, there’s very few abilities that apply to an Imperium detachment.

    Most character bubbles will be useless etc…

  • Damon Sherman

    I wonder when we’ll get rules for the Lost and the Damned again? I really want an excuse to make mutants and traitor guard.

    • DreadArchon

      The closest you’ll get to that currently is the Renegades & Heretics list in the IA: Forces of the Astra Militarum book.

  • Steve L Duelist

    Cypher and the Fallen also share the Choas and Imperium Faction keyword that is 2 more units for the Imperium count plus all the new Pirmaris Marines models coming out this month.

  • Fergie0044

    The more things change…

  • A side effect of the codexes will be to make taking specific Space Marine chapters, Guard regiments, Ad Mech forgeworlds, etc more appealing than just taking an “Imperium” army.

    If we take the Codex: Space Marines example, AFAIK the whole army has to have the Ultramarines keyword in order to benefit from the Ultramarines chapter tactics, same with the other chapter tactics. I would expect the same to happen with the other codexes.

    So unless they release a Codex: Imperium with special rules specifically for an all-Imperial army, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    • NNextremNN

      I think only the detachment has to be Ultramarine not the whole army.

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        Depends on how it is worded but most people are presuming the whole army needs to share the keyword to benefit from relics, chapter tactics, etc.

        Otherwise everyone could just have their cake and eat it too.

        • NNextremNN

          I guess we will know for sure in a few weeks.

          I think SM + Guard + Skitarii should be possible. I also like the Imperial Knights as a general LoW option or Inquisitors as general HQ options for the Imperium. And think that none of those factions should loose their , , bonus in such cases.

          I’m not so sure about mixing different like Raven Guard for the shooty stuff and White Scar for assault units.

  • orionburn

    So if I’m understanding this correctly the way it’s currently designed to show Imperium armies working together…to you know…match the actual 40k universe storeyline…is OP? Come on. I play Nids knowing I’m not going to have many friends in the 40k universe. Same thing if I start up Necrons like I want to. Not everybody is worried about having allies from 3 different factions.

    If you want to use it to make an argument of Army X needing more units you can, but at the same time more isn’t always better. Just because one army has more numbers than another does not make it OP.

    • ZeeLobby

      I’d say that the issue is that the gap is forever widening. Imperials not only have the majority of factions, but also get the majority of releases and the majority of fluff and novels. I think I’d care less of every book wasn’t Imperials vs X. I mean they could do 3 years of just flushing out Xenos forces (Exodites, Hive Fleet Splinters, Ork Clans, etc.) and Imperials would still likely have the majority.

      I think the start of 8th, much like AoS, is their opportunity to rebalance their focus and create an equally supported universe. My guess is that it won’t happen (much like AoS), but I’d love to be surprised.

      • orionburn

        One of the things that has annoyed me most in the debate of premie-marines going away, or at least not getting new releases, is that what exactly do Marines need more of? FW kicks out some pretty awesome armour. Let them keep handling that. The Marines have more than enough. There are other armies that are in a vast need of an update and/or actual new models. I’m all for seeing the Xenos side expanding. Story arc wise seeing Xenos ally more in order to take down the Imperium is an angle that could work if done properly. Not likely to happen, but one can wish.

        • euansmith

          The only thing they are lacking are rules for open-topped Assault Rhinos; and guess that isn’t an issue anymore with the change in Disembarking.

          • orionburn

            And that’s something that can be tweaked with a rules change rather than requiring a new model. We all want to get new stuff from time to time. I’d rather see some things go away. “Oh noz! We lost the STC! Even though we can make floaty Land Raiders now we can’t make Whirlwinds anymore!”

            Might be heresy to say this, but honestly I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing some characters getting killed off in order to get some new ones. I have yet to run Asmodi in any Dark Angels game that I play. If he got stepped on by a Titan I wouldn’t be broken hearted…lol

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah. That would be pretty sweet. Allowing Xenos to ally would at least create a third wheel.

  • Marios Kontopyrgos

    So let’s say you remove the Imperium keyword or nerf it significantly, how the heck can I run my Adeptus Custodes army that doesn’t have an HQ? or my Sisters of silence?

    • ZeeLobby

      Uh. Give them an HQ?

      • euansmith

        Yeah a couple of £25 clam pack models would sort that; or even just a couple of Data Slates for using a standard minis as an HQ.

        • ZeeLobby

          I think it’s be kinda cool for them to have HQs regardless. I feel like they’ve had them in the fluff, why not flesh them out a little more.

          • euansmith

            Certainly, with the Custodes, the HQ’s should be some colourful, Homeric-standard, full-of-them-selves, knobheads.

            Maybe the Sisters could have a creepy, Greek-chorus style of leadership where you could field a “Command Squad” as an HQ. The Greek word, “Khoros” has a nicely 40k look it. The idea of a Squad of psychic blanks who, speak and act in unison is pretty creepy and inhuman to my mind

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. Flight of the Einstein had some kind of hierarchy for sisters of silence, I’m pretty sure. As well as in Prospero Burns. That Khoros unit does sound bomb diggity tho.

      • Marios Kontopyrgos

        So make the army unplayable for the next year?

        • ZeeLobby

          Please explain? Cause adding an HQ allows you to take Detachments and then add whatever you want.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      IIRC, Custodes say you can pick any HQ with the Imperium keyword to be your HQ.

  • SWISSchris

    If this is a real concern for you, I feel you may have missed the point (or at least all of the fluff) of 40k a little.

    • ZeeLobby

      The point being “spez mareens are da COOLest!”?

      • SWISSchris

        I just mean 40k emerged from the RPG scene and isn’t balanced, never was, and never will be so people who are hyper-focused on optimising lists / min-maxing and moaning about imbalance are missing out on just having fun simulating cool battles with awesome minatures. But each to their own : )

        • ZeeLobby

          I mean I just think it’d be much cooler if other factions got just as much cool stuff. Feel like that’d create a much more interesting world, regardless of balance. I mean humanity, after all, is supposed to be on the verge of extinction, and yet they have more diversity than any other faction. Feels like there’s something other than fluff driving these decisions, haha.

          • SWISSchris

            Oh absolutely! It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling cycle now unfortunately: GW are hugely biased to the imperium in number of products, which means they are more likely to sell well, which makes GW focus more on the imperium, which makes them sell well… They totally do need to focus on other races in a big way, especially orks that have been mistreated for a couple of editions now. Pretty convinced that that orks and eldar etc will be upscaled for “reasons” ($$$) too when they are revisited this edition.

          • ZeeLobby

            Haha. Yeah. Oh well. I bought the 8th starter, but I’m definitely holding off further purchases til I see how the first 10 codexes pan out. I just don’t have the energy to wade through another decade of endless Imperial or Primaris releases.

  • Anderan

    And here I am playing my pure AdMech army with only 17 unit choices.

  • ZeeLobby

    This has been, and will probably forever be, a symptom of this system. What I find astonishing is that they also introduced this very same issue into AoS, and I have no clue why…

  • pokemastercube .

    but a lot of imperial things require same chapter/regiment/ect. and from what has been mentioned in the previews for the space marine codex you only get the benifits if the entire detachment is of that same group

    • ZeeLobby

      If you want to have auras or chapter tactics, etc. you can just take multiple Detachments and cherry pick from a different faction for each. Or who knows, cherry picking the best out of every Imperium faction may result in the strongest force overall. The difference in number of options is significant. An imperium force can build every type/skew of army available. Not saying that this somehow makes them the best, but having the most options never hurts.

  • Kayreios

    Kinda surprised that there wasn’t a Lost and Damned style option for Chaos out of the gate.

  • ikari_kun2002

    I agree, and it bothers me on a crunch level, but it’s entirely appropriate on a fluff level. Does anyone have anything to suggest?

    • TheMawr

      to be fair on a fluff level; Necron enslave trough mind scarabs, Dark eldar also use slaves (including pet tyranids.), Tau have plenty non-tau auxililaries, Genestealer are not limited to Humans (but also orks, tau and more rarely eldar.) while all these are rare, I think they are less rare as an army composed of space wolves wulfen, dark angels deathwing and blood angels sanguinary guard led by a commisar, or Kharn the betrayer leading an army of Pink horrors and rubric marines in battle 😉

      So yeah, Xenos probably could have been a faction keyword. And for easyness sake… Imperial guard should have been able to get any of those 3… as they represent the human rabble that get twisted around all the time 🙂

      • ikari_kun2002

        I’ve actually been thinking about it a bit more today, and I say: bring back the allies matrix, but only for factions within Imperium and Chaos.
        For Chaos, just bring back chaos animosity.
        For Imperium, represent that within the Imperium, the Mechanicum hates the Ecclesiarchy, the Ecclesiarchy distrusts the Space Marines, and nobody likes the Inquisition.

  • PrimoFederalist

    This article is ignorant: what does the keyword get you other than access to more units? Not much. There are no buffs in my two armies, SW and IG, which affect keyword “Imperium”. Maybe you can fit in an occasional vehicle which is especially points efficient, but that’s about it. This addition revolves around character buffs, and “Imperium” doesn’t affect that.

    • GravesDisease

      That’s a bit harsh of an assessment. I found it quite interesting to the totals for each faction.

  • Heinz Fiction

    The number of available units doesn’t really tell much about how strong an army is on the tabletop…

  • Randy Randalman

    Won’t matter once the best rules belong to sub-factions and Imperium can’t benefit from them.

    • CloakingDonkey

      true but the variety will still certainly be a strength.

  • Master Avoghai

    What’s the point of having 324 units when all you play is storm ravens and razorbacks?

    • CloakingDonkey

      I’ll have you know there’s also Girlyman… and something has to go in those Razorbacks, don’t you know?

  • Inco Gnito

    Well, doesn’t it sort of make sense?
    The Imperium is the largest empire in the 40k universe, spanning the whole galaxy. Wouldn’t they be, as such, the most versatily army you could play? Xeno’s races might have superior fighters/weaponry/psychic abilities/ etc. but the Imperium of man has, due to their sheer size, the potential counter against it

  • zeno666

    The Imperium favoured by GW?! Nooo? Really!?
    Also there is a specific terrain piece that only gives bonus to models with the Imperium keyword (its the crappy looking statue)…

  • GrogDaTyrant

    There are (still) factions to 40k besides space marines? Lies!

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    You forgot Aeronautica Imperialis.

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    All of this is hampered by 1 basic fact: most Aura abilities are keyed to smaller Faction Keywords than Imperium or the other Race Keywords.

  • Drpx

    Like Necrons ever needed more than 5 units.

    • euansmith

      That original codex was straight and to the point. I guess they needed some flyers once they snuck in to the game; though the Monolith could have been given a really brutal anti-air attack.

      • zeno666

        Yeah. Now the “new” Necrons have all sorts of crap. And now they’re all chatty and stuff!?
        Next codex they’ll be like the damn robots from Star Wars Episode 1. Roger roger…

  • Derek Lee

    Can’t wait for Warhammer 10k where Eldar, Orks, and “Old Ones” are in a 3-way fight with Necrons and Enslavers. There won’t be any humans or space marines to ruin everyone else’s fun.

  • Iconoc1ast

    Join my keyword or be destroyed. For the greater good!

  • And ATC/ETC used only about 30 of those 300+ imperial units

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    You don’t “need” allies, as the bonuses for playing are going to be solid.

    You don’t get Chapter Tactics if you are running an Imperium Keyword army.

  • Guillermo Cordido

    Now consider dissadvantages on necrons and Tau, no psyckers/ psychers or however they are called.
    the rule for the greater good is a joke, no overwatch at 5+,4+, 3… only thing that Tau have is the shooting fase and overwatch, now that is gone, that’s why Tau fell from mid tier to low tier… Tau never were OP, formations made RIPTIDE wing OP, but nothing more.
    I have 7 armies i had FUN with Tau, now is really hard to have fun with Tau, but at least i have fun with nids….