40K: What Sub-Factions Do We Want

GW is giving us sub-faction rules for all the armies so far – but some codexes will be trickier than others.


So far we’ve seen the Space Marines codex and gotten some peeks at codex Chaos Marines.  In both cases we know GW has throw in just under 10 sub-factions, who get both background AND special rules.

In many cases these sub-factions are obvious. First Founding and Traitor Legions are low hanging fruit.

GW has already mentioned things like Ork Clans and Eldar Craftworlds, so I think it’s a no brainer when those codexes come around.  I want to go through the codexes and talk about what I think GW will give us.  As you’ll see there are some sticky areas of the Grimdark where it’s gets…complicated… 

The Easy Ones

Orks – The Ork Clans. I can’t wait to see all our favorites come back. Go Kult of Speed!

Craftworld Eldar – The “big craftworlds”. From Ulthwe’s Black Guardians, to Alaitoc’s Pathfinders I’m drooling in anticipation to get my 1990s Craftworld rules back.

T’au – Break up the Sept worlds and give each specific ways of achieving the Greater Good. Kroot and Kroot mercenaries make it all a little trickier.

Necrons – Give each Dynasty something special.

Ad-Mech – Give the great Forge Worlds their own rules. While you’re at it, can we finally just combine the Cult and Skitarii into one force?


The Tricky Ones

Dark Eldar – I guess you can throw in things like Major Kabals, Haemonculis covens and Wych Cults

Astra Militarum – It’s so vast I dont even know how would chop this up. You could bring back famous worlds like Mordians, Death Korps, Tallarn or you could break it up by regiment type – Infantry, Artillery, Abhumans, Air force.  It’s hard to know how to start with the Guard.

Tyranids – The Hive fleets are a solid place to start, but then you have to balance that against the entire “rapid evolution” concept of the Great Devourer. In theory each Hive fleet should be able to morph into whatever it needs to survive, so it’s a tricky balancing act.

Harlequins – such a dynamic organization and so few units. It might be hard to deal with.

Imperial Knights – the Households are obvious starting places, but the army’s small modelcount makes it hard to balance. What the Knights need is some non-knight cheap household troops to flesh out their armies. Fast walkers and men-at-arms would do wonders and further define the faction – and give sub-factions more to play with.

Chaos Daemons – They daemonic legions are limitless, but as with the Astra Militarum the trick is how to tackle sub-factions. Do you cut them up by place of origin (say Daemonic legions from the 3rd ring of Slaanesh’s realms), or do you define famed generals (Greater Daemons) of the ruinous powers  and give their legion’s special rules?

Adepta Sororitas – The Great Orders (Ebon Chalice, etc…) are obvious starting points.

I’ve Got Nothing…

All the following have one of two problems – either they are a very small organizations, so sub-factions are difficult to define. Some like Genesteaer Cult have fluff problems, like they don’t have long lifespans and are almost “consumables” for the Hive fleets. For the Space Marines, do you go “Clan Raukaan” and give each company special rules? Some like the Inquisition almost defy organization.

Genestealer Cults – ???

Grey Knights – Such a small organization…

Space Wolves – Great Companies?

Blood Angels – Companies?

Dark Angels – Companies?

Deathwatch – Famed Watch-fortresses?

Thousand Sons – Famed Warbands?

Death Guard – Famed Warbands?

Inquisition – good luck… the Ordos perhaps, but outside of that it’s a mixing pot of unrelated units that can’t easily operate alone.

Lots to Learn this Month

We are a week away from both Chaos Marines and Grey Knights codexes arriving. Death Guard will be right behind them. This means by the end of the month we will have more info on how GW plans to address sub-factions in the smaller organizations.


~ How would you handle sub-factions for some of those tricky codexes?

  • tylran

    Well, some of those are sub-factions (Genestealer cults, Death Guard, Grey Knights etc.).

    With Tyranids you could do something like “pick a mutation” and then you could use some CP (like 2 or 3) to pick a second if you want.

    • lemt

      OK, the “buy mutations for CP” plan sounds really awesome. But instead of army-wide (which would probably be too much) how about buying mutations to apply to a unit before the game starts?

    • orionburn

      Got to thinking….how about giving the Nids a chart similar to the Canticles of the Omnissiah that AdMech gets? That actually works near perfect for Nids as well. You could get +1 to strength for a turn, +1 to hit for shooting, +1 to hit for close combat, etc. That would be a fluffy way to make it work for all hive fleets.

    • Me

      I was going to say the same thing. As some of these (especially the ones at the bottom) already are subfactions, I don’t think the need to be parsed down further (subfactions of subfactions).

      Those listed are just the major ones from the fluff. If they would do that for the rest (Craftworlds, Ork Warbands, etc…) and then throw in some rules so you can make your own (and maybe do the same for some of the “harder” ones like Dark Eldar), that takes care of the majority if not all.

  • stonecrowe

    I want to see the Fallen get army rules, especially since they are likely to bring back the lion at some point soon.

    • Graham Bartram

      This could be fun if they did it right and it needn’t be just the Fallen either. The same codex could cover other chapters/warbands that are rebels, but not necessarily chaos, too.

  • BaronVonYoloing

    Who says every sub-faction needs to stand alone? Some are small enough to work without breaking down further into sub-factions.

    Plus my 2 pence thoughts on Nids. Every Hive Fleet has shown itself to be different in some way. Mainly in their tactics used (Leviathan always tended to be the most numerous, Gorgon had fewer large creatures, Behemoth had more of the larger Nid monsters, etc.) and could be represented in the rules in some way.

    Also no we do not need the Craftworld rules from the 90’s back. I loved them but it was a pain in the backside to be on the other side of the field against an Alaitoc “guess who’s turning up to the battle today?” or an Ulthwe psychic dakka spam army.

    • orionburn

      This. Just because sub-factions/chapters works for some armies doesn’t mean everybody needs them. As a DA player I look to my Deathwing & Ravenwing as sub-factions within my own army. Keep it like it’s been – certain rules/buffs for pure Deathwing, others for Ravenwing, and ones for the army working in synergy.

  • AircoolUK

    Stuff like Dark Angels and Space Wolves are already sub factions. I’d expect a smaller codex with rules for building fluffy armies such as Deathwing and Ravenwing.

    As for all the small Imperium factions (including sisters), I’d just lump them together in one codex.

    • tylran

      If the rules are good, I wouldn’t mind this. However, I would want some cool and awesome Sisters rules. The Marine codex raised the bar of sub-faction special rules way above the Index baselines, so I’d expect some awesome stuff for Sisters as well.

      • TheEvilBlight

        It’ll be interesting to see if they can maintain that level of intriguing rules with the other factions that have traditionally not seen much love.

    • Luca Lacchini

      A new/updated “Imperial Agents” Codex would be cool. I still hope for Adeptus Arbites to be included – and my dream faction, Imperial Militia, with Redemptionist Cults and drafted gangs in a sort of reverse-Genestealer Cults approach to the army.

      • TheEvilBlight

        Given that hewmons are the punching bag of the universe, an argument could be made for Codex Humans, in their IG form, PDF form, Chaos Cultist, Genestealer Cult form, and Tau Gue’la heretic form.

        I wonder if a Codex to handle all five variants is possible (or perhaps just the last four).

  • Deacon Ix

    Guard – Cadian – (too soon?)

    • TenDM

      Almost being wiped out did wonders for the Blood Angels, maybe the Lost Cadians will get a Codex..

    • euansmith

      Reborn as the first Battalion Astra Primaris Militarum. #cadiawillriseagain


      Cadia: The Lost and the Damned.

      • CloakingDonkey

        Cadia 2: The Revengening of the Flash Light

    • Didn’t you hear? Cadia Stands.

  • wibbling

    Surely all of these can be represented by stratagems and specific detachment choices?

  • Koiljah

    I like to see a Carcharodon Subfaction. Ever since the Red Tithe novel they got my interest. Picked up my first forge-world model, doing some conversions (previously I didn’t).

    While I do think they need some more lore and proper faction rules, I can live with just a page in another book (or a pdf on the community site). For now I’ll use the Bl-angels rules.

    • Mathew G. Smith

      I know Tyberos has rules in the Forge World astartes index, the were also featured in the Badab War books. They used to have chapter tactics, I don’t know if it got updated.

      • phobosftw

        They didn`t update the rules for Carcharodons (8th), at least not yet..

    • highwind

      Tyberos already has rules in Imperial Armor – Adaptes Astrates and Black Templar Chapter Tactics (reroll charges and crusader squads) go very well with Space Sharks aswell

      • UvW Sausage

        Only downside is that he buffs carcaradons and not black Templars. But you could always say they’re a black Templars successor to get the rules I suppose (even though they’re raven guard)

        • Mathew G. Smith

          Or Night Lords, jury’s still out.

  • Vorsun

    I would love for the Dark Angels to get their notable successor chapters as sub-factions. I’ve been desperate for official Consecrators army rules for a while now.

    • Kefka

      Both the Dark Angels and Blood Angels cranked out a sizeable amount of Successors who hold close ties to the First Founding Chapter and are similar enough to get access to their special equipment.
      Consecrators get extra relic stuff, Flesh Tearers get some charging stuff, and it gives the fluff department a lot of room to flesh out some more generic seeming ones. (we all get it, you keep secrets/drink blood)

  • Koen Cambré

    Personally, I want GW to not focus too much on sub-factions just yet, but rather get the books out so all armies get on a reasonably equal footing soon (in terms of relics/tactics/…).

    Or they should be able to integrate them into the codex smoothly (like with C:SM and C:CM). I don’t mind the eldar book having “craftworld paths” akin to chapter tactics. Or the Ork book having Clans. If they then add unique relics/warlord traits/strategems ONLY for specific craftworld/clans, it should be more than enough.

    Not seperate books for every single subfaction. That would create the “carry 5 books with you to play 1 army” bullsh*t we had in 7th.

    • TenDM

      Exactly. As nice as it would be to have the sub-factions I’d rather just have the bread and butter books out. I’m happy to play Blood Angels with Space Marine rules if it means one of the other major factions doesn’t miss out on an early book.

      That said I think they’re going to release Chapters for a while so they can release stuff like Tyranids later down the track. That way they’ll have an easier time focusing on selling Tyranid models and books. It makes sense but it sucks for players.

      • Griffin

        Gw already said by the end of 2018 all factions will have books…

  • benn grimm

    Kult of speed isn’t a clan. It’s a cult(kult). Of speed. I think you mean Evil Sunz. Please stop giving the only example of a clan that isn’t a clan(klan) when you mention clans. Thanks.

    • Ghachii

      Also Freebooterz. That is another example.

      • Ghachii

        And Feral Orks.

        • benn grimm

          Not clans, but they also weren’t examples given. Had they been I’m sure I’d have mentioned them also.

  • CloakingDonkey

    I doubt anything that’s already a sub faction will get further sub faction rules… just think about why we’ve seen all these CSM spoilers and no Grey Knights spoilers… most likely because they only get one set of special rules.

  • luke-vdv

    I’d prefer the Dark Eldar get their special characters back like Vect and Sliscus etc. rather than special rules for sub-factions.

    • Luca Lacchini

      Baron Sathonix, please.
      And the Dais of Destruction as a proper Lord of War model, a massive grav barge filled with slaves, bodyguards, and esoteric weaponry.

  • BartTP

    Genestealer Cults? Dude… 1. regular cults, 2. cults from feral worlds, 3. revolution cults (lots of infected humans), 4. ork cults, space hulk cults (purestrains mostly), 5. hive cults (gangers and stuff).

    • Griffin

      It’ll probably fall more along the lines of the varying degree of alliance with guard vs nids honestly, id expect 3 variants guard cult, nid cult, and regular

      • memitchell

        First, and foremost, make “regular” cult the most viable and powerful. Right now, it’s not. Right now, the LESS hybrids in an army (especially Acolytes), the stronger the army.

  • Callum Deery

    Space wolves used to have separate faction stuff with their detachments, so the death wolves got “counter charge” maybe tie it into leaders for different space marine companies. As for sisters of battle they probably need some named characters first, cause they’ve only got one.

  • Callum Deery

    Also what do people think of the idea of Sisters primaris?

  • euansmith

    I want rules for the Submarines.

    • Kritarion

      Imperial Fists? Because they are yellow.

      • bobrunnicles

        What’s the matter McFly? You yella?

    • bobrunnicles

      You could have the Crimson Tide, the Red October factions etc….

      • euansmith

        The Naughty Lass Sisters of Battle too. 😉

        • bobrunnicles

          The Tilted Kilt Sisters of Battle? 😉

  • Heinz Fiction

    I’m a big fan of sub factions but not of sub faction codexes. Most of them could easily be wrapped up in their respective regular faction codex. With the keyword system in place now, it’s easier then ever.

  • Spacefrisian

    Only Astra Militarum sub faction iam interrested in is Catachan, give them bonus in woods an tough fighter (hits of 6 in cc counts as 2 hits) and the option to accidentally drive over your own loudmouth Commisar.

    But this doesnt mean they should get there own dex, 2 pages plus ALL 3 characters would do fine.

    • Graham Bartram

      How about, Codex Astra Militarum; Regiments of Renown?
      One book to cover all the specialist regiments, job done.

      • TheEvilBlight

        If the Guard rules are flexible enough, you could probably attach regiments of renown to the master codex itself. Allow for mix and match of traits, with a certain combination working out to Catachan, a certain combination working out to Mordians, Cadians, etc.

        If the uniqueness of the regiments cannot be expressed within a standardized set of rules and requires exceptional rules that add to the complexity of the system..

        • Graham Bartram

          Sounds likes it would be a great codex if they did it like that. It might be a chunky book but it would be a solid seller.

  • Graham Bartram

    Stealer cults? easy, just add some rules and conversion bits for Ork hybrids (greenstealers) and Ad-Mech (bladed-Cog) etc… not too difficult for a different cult really.

    Most of all I would like to see…. ARBITES!!! …..yup, I’ll keep banging the drum for those police-state planets whose only defence is the judges.

    • TheEvilBlight

      Codex: Planetary Defense Forces, Arbites and PDF troop choices, along with Necromunda Hive Gangers.

      Get ‘ir done!

      • memitchell

        I LOVE the concept. But, I don’t see putting out a codex which needs models that are OOP, or special order only.

      • Tim Grulke

        I wrote such an index up for use in narrative games with my brother

    • TheMawr

      In RT Arbites were the other half of Custodes as Talons of the Emperor/Empire. So early in guillemans empire they have a lot of plot vehicles to reform some of the more chaotic imperium factions and start some things from scratch.

      Faith, Religion & Repentance -> Sisters of Battle; Sororitas, Silentius, Minostorum

      Law, Order & Punishment -> Talons of the Emperor; Arbites, Custodes, Assasins

      turning 5 current (and 6 potential) imperium factions into 2.

  • orionburn

    Fluff wise for Nids the Hive Fleets should be tailored for specific enemies, such as Leviathan being better at dealing with marines due to all their fighting with Blood Angels. Game wise that doesn’t really work, however. Personally I’d rather have a chart similar to warlord traits that your army can adjust to depending on the enemy you’re facing. The rules for the Malanthrope is a good example – if you wipe out a squad within 1″ of a ‘thrope you get to re-roll hit rolls of 1s for the rest of the game. Maybe build on that concept where you get a bonus for more close combat type armies (like re-rolling wound rolls of 1s), a bonus for dealing with shooty armies (some sort of increase to saves maybe?). I dunno…lots of ways to go with it.

  • Rafał Pytlak

    Sub factions should just have 1-2 pages each in the main faction codex and that’s it. No more “pay $$$ for a book that should fit into 2 pages”

    • Griffin

      Thats the entire point of the article, no one is sugesting separatr books for any of this

  • Reven

    Why is Sisters in the Tricky section?

    • Graham Bartram

      Lack of imagination? XD

    • Nameless

      because whilst their are different orders, there’s never been all that much information on how they differ with regards to combat. especially when compared with different guard regiments where we know many of the regiments favoured weapons (sisters barely get different weapons after all) along with very different appearances

      • Reven

        We have a small amount of information, not too far from the amount of information we have of different T’au Septs outside of T’au and Vor’la. We know the Bloody Rose is more aggressive than the other groups. The Valorous Heart seeks repentance for their original sin and has a significantly larger amount of Repentia. The Sacred Rose are known for maintaining their cool and keeping to logic. Favored weapons don’t really matter all that much, the Cadian 85th could favor different weapons than the Cadian 110th due to different service histories. Why would the Cadian 6th Armored favor the same weapons as the Cadian 24th Infantry?

        Personally, I look forward to their being more rules that help bring out the fluff, but this Article about it I have issues with and the more I look at it the more I dislike it.

  • PrimoFederalist

    The single-most subfactiony of the subfactions, and an organization whose time as come (with the xenos uprisings and chaos insurrections all over the galaxy) is, of course, the ADEPTUS ARBITES.

  • DarthSquig

    Next to AM regiments I think I would prefer another way to breath flavour into 40k (one that GW started at the end of 7th, actually): Exodites, Arbites, Chaos Eldar, Demiurg, Hrud, Loxatl, Kroot mercenaries could all be worked into the game a bit more. (Not to mention sisters!)

    • TheEvilBlight

      Codex Rogue Trader. A little bit of everything.

  • BassTremble

    Thousand sons are easy they have different pshyic cults. Being apart of a certain cult grants different pshyic powers

  • Anthony Combs

    It was this kind of rules bloat and codex creep that destroyed 7th

  • AircoolUK

    Probably the easiest thing to do is look at the blanks in the index books. So:

    Eldar – Craftworld.
    Deldar – Kabal/ Cult/Coven.
    Harlequins – Troop.
    Necrons – Dynasty.
    Orks – Clan.
    Tau – Sept.
    Nids – Hive Fleet.
    Genestealer Cults – Sub faction of Nids.
    Inquisition – Ordo.
    Sisters – Order.
    Knights – House.
    Mechanicus – Forge World.
    Guard – Regiment.
    Rest of the Imperium – The rest.

    • TheMawr

      isnt harlequins called ?

  • I’m not sure if I understand why some of these very obvious
    sub factions need to be broken up even further.
    This is like trying to give Blood Angels a sub faction to handle all of
    their successor chapters.

    I could see the Astra Militarum getting a large codex like
    the SM one for combined forces. It could
    provide rules for Catachan and Cadian troops, etc. Then you have faction books for specialist
    style armies like Steel Legion or the special forces troops whose name I

    The same could be done for a non-AM book that handles all of
    the factions like Sisters of Silence, Custodian, Sisters of Battle, Priesthood,
    etc. Then you break out the big ones
    like Sister of Battle.

  • TheMawr

    Space wolves, Genestealer cults, Thousand sons and Deathguard already had subdivisions before, so its not hard to return those.

    Inquisition shouldnt be a faction on its own but a role/HQ option represented within various Imperium factions. Each individually styled (rules and models wise) towards fitting into the faction they are associated with, instead of an inquisitor being one generic thing with a very annoying codex.

    Deathwatch -> ordo xenos inquisitor, more exotic with or without xenos gear and xenos sidekicks/pet/bounty hunter.
    Grey knights -> ordo Malleus inquisitor.. powerarmored and psyker
    SoB/Minostorum ->(female) witchhunter type inquisitor + Missionary&minostorum etc retinue. (the classics)
    TotE (arbites, sos, custodes, assasins) -> more ott/exagerated/wealthy power armored inquisitor type… needs a twoheaded eagle. (so basically when custodes and corteaz have a lovechild)
    Astra Militarum -> longcoat/military inquisitor.. think eisenhorn.

  • Josh Felstead

    This is an interesting question to ask us really, because when it comes down to it I reckon that we could collectively come up with better codices and rules than whoever’s got the job at the moment (this kind of thing is usually said in hindsight, after the internet has already picked apart the codices, but we haven’t seen them yet).

  • Davin

    There were originally 6 “Wings” of the Dark Angels:

    So I would like to see them go that route with Dark Angels.

  • EnTyme

    I love the idea of Men-at-Arms and support infantry for Imperial Knights!

    • TheEvilBlight

      Indeed…who goes to war with the Knights? It can’t be just Skitarii with the Forgeworld that the Knight World belongs to, but I’ve always felt that was the implication.

  • TheEvilBlight

    I feel like “Chaos” deserves its own analog to Astra Militarum. For the most part, Chaos has always been depicted as having the Chaos Space Marines in the center of their universe (in a way that Space Marines are not in the center of the Imperium of Man), but surely cultists, renegades, daemons, shambling human minions in the eye of terror are their own force, independent of the legions?

    Pragmatically, I shouldn’t been giving GW more ideas to make more codices…this will simply increase rules complexity.

    • JPMcMillen

      Not really. Renegade AM would just be regular AM with a sprinkling of Chaos seasoning. Maybe a few new units. Probably an option for CSM leadership roles.

    • Reven

      Like the Renegades and Heretics from Forgeworld?

  • Drew_Da_Destroya

    The Blood and Dark Angels will get Successor Chapters… hell, the Flesh Tearers already have a unit in the Imperium I Index. The Space Wolf Great Companies seems about right, too. They always seemed like they acted pretty differently in the fluff.

    For the Harlies, they introduced the idea of Light, Dark, and Twilight troupes in the last codex (maybe it was earlier than that, but that’s the first I saw of it). I’d expect the Keyword to play off of that.

    Yeah, DE will do Kabals, Cults, and Covens. I suspect Deathwatch won’t have subfactions at all, since they’re already kind of a subfaction and get rules for it.

  • OrksIsMadeFerRockin

    I just want my warboss to be in charge of all my orks not just the ones painted the same color

  • Valeli

    I don’t think more is necessarily better. If part of the goal of 8th was to streamline a little bit, it’s fairly counter-intuitive too.

    Of course, as a Sister player, I’m acutely aware that everything posted above is just morbid wishlishting. Hell, I’ll be happy with a single list that’s actually updated. That’s my dream.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    Dark Angels and Blood Angels will likely include successor chapters.

    Space Wolves will do Great Companies and their new Successor Chapter.

    Deathwatch will do Watch Fortresses

    Grey Knights will be based off of Brotherhoods

    Deathguard and Thousand Sons have successor Warbands, famous sub-groups and fellow groups who have dedicated themselves to Nurgle/Tzeench.

    Inquisition will likely have a broad tactic for the Ordo, then maybe a few more specific tactics to show off the individuality of the inquisitor.

    Genestealer Cults will likely have a tactic based on the type of world they have infiltrated (Hive, Forge, Feral, etc.). They might get Xenos worlds but I doubt it as the Cult’s aesthetic is human-centric.

  • Jared van Kell

    Space Wolves would easily be broken down in Great Companies as in the past whilst Blood Angels and Dark Angels could be broken down into Successor Chapters.

  • Redhatter

    For the Blood Angels I would quite like some rules for some of there successor chapters like the Lamenters and the Fleshtearers

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      Same here.

  • vash113

    I agree that Imperial Knights need some work as a faction. Gerantius as a special character and the ability to take a Baron or Seneschal with formations helped but at the end of the day now the army has no interplay with other Imperial factions. They used to be able to take advantage of a few formation buffs and be repaired by Tech-Priests but no longer. Smaller walkers and men-at-arms would absolutely help and flesh the army out. Simply giving them the Forge World keyword would allow the knights to function much better as part of the larger Mechanicus/Skitarii faction as they did before and use things like Onagers and Ironstriders as support and Skitarii as men-at-arms. I did this for my own Knight household and added a sentinel formation as something like mounted yeomen.


  • Doc Noble

    Slaanesh. I just want Slaanesh. I want a new Keeper of Secrets, new Noise Marines, new Lucius the Eternal, new Phoenix Terminators, new Fiends of Slaanesh, and whatever new vehicles or other things they can concoct to fill it out.

  • Brandon Martin

    I’d love to see Dark Mechanicus come out.

  • Brandon Martin

    I’d love to see Dark Mechanicus come out.