40K: Aesthetics of the Ad-Mech

  • Posted by
  • at

There’s a new Ad-Mech book coming, so let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite gross robotmen.

The Skitarii are soon to be released, and doubtless we’ll soon see what rules they’ll get, and wish that the models didn’t cost as much as they do, either in actual money, but especially points–because the Ad Mech is one of the coolest looking armies out there. So, let’s sit back, get a little weird and philosophical, and talk about what these cool looking robo-horrors represent. Strap in–and, I wanna know what you think, so let this article serve as a jumping off point.

They embody what lies at the heart of 40K. In order to face conflict and survive, you have to give up your humanity. That’s sort of the central precept of 40K, whether in the massive costs of lives in the Guard, or the literally monstrous, no longer human Space Marines. But nowhere is the cost of survival/”progress” more evident than in the mechanical bodies of the Mechanicus.

They’re obviously inhuman. You can see they retain a little of the shape, but, ultimately they’ve been changed beyond what we’d consider a person. They’re maybe coated in lethal levels of radiation, or have replaced parts of their face with machinery, which, in other sci-fi properties is an overt symbol that you’re a villain. Literally losing your humanity.

But then they also represent the fact that space is cool. Though they’re beset by this horrific theme of the price of advancement, there’s an optimism to their aesthetic. Their robots, in particular, look newly made. They’re emblematic of new discoveries, of that almost foolish optimism of the 50s going into the 60s. Which is why it’s fitting that they also have this retro sci-fi aesthetic. They are an homage to that Era through the lens of 40K’s lens.


In that futuristic vibe we even see a little of the “frontier.”

Their rangers, in particular, look like something out of a Moebius comic.

And his artwork was often apocalyptic–about finding humanity in the ruins of the world. Where the everyday is this harsh reality, but it makes humanity stand out all the more. Similarly, the Ad Mech make humanity stand out by its absence.

That does leave the question though, if the ad mech are lost humanity–who represents people finding it? Does that even have a place in 40k?

  • spla5hmummy

    I think admech are an attempt to appeal to the steampunk crowd and not much more.

    • Bran D

      Sorry but this has always bugged me…Ad Mech are not steampunk. Steampunk is an art direction that is, generally, based off a Industrial Era society having taken a different path towards technology. Instead of continuing to evolve their tech, that society has essentially stopped at Era specific aesthetics while still continuing to be more advanced than, or at least on par with, our current line of modern tech (usually driven by magic being involved). The pc game Arcanum is one of the best examples I can think of as steampunk…but just because it has gears and looks machine like does not make Ad Mech in anyway steampunk. They are much more anagulous to star trek/star wars cyborgs with a hyper religious flare added.

      Steampunk imho is a term that gets tossed around way to much and that takes away from how cool that style can be.


      • Dennis J. Pechavar


      • Rita-Audrey Jones

        They feel to me more retro 50’s sci-fi rather than steampunk, yes.

        • J Mad

          THIS! this is how i always felt with them.

    • piglette

      I hope you’re trolling.

  • Hazamelistan

    They’ve a very unique look and weaponry, which is kind of a selling point in a world mostly dominated by Space Marines on the battlefield. And yes this also appeals to people who are into steampunk like @spla5hmummy:disqus mentioned.

    And this is the only faction in 40k where I really like the fluff. They’re not good or bad. They’ve their own agenda to gather knowledge at all costs and they’re not afraid to double cross other factions.

  • zeno666

    They have some cool looking stuff, a lot of the stuff just seem forced really.
    And they don’t really feel like an army. A unit or two and some vehicles, sure.

    Oh and btw, these are the guys making the vehicles for the imperium right?
    How come they don’t use any of them themselves?

    • Bootneck

      They produce all the weapons for the Imperium, there main purpose NOW is to serve as guards for the factories and serve the cult of the machine.

      Most of there battle robots were outlawed by the Imperium after the crusades, Skitiarii make up the bulk of there armies now.

      If you look at Admech/Skitarii weapons, they are all pretty much superior to space marine weapons, radium carbines/galvanic, rifles going upwards to the arc rifles,torsion cannons etc.

      They don’t make use of tanks but then they don’t need to as they have Knight households and titan legions which accompany them too.

      • zeno666

        Thats another odd thing.
        They have superior weapons. And the Imperium doesn’t care about that?
        Nah, don’t think so.

        • Bootneck

          You say thats odd – but in real life its exactly the same.

          Army all the gear no idea. Marines have to make do.

          • zeno666

            You have a point for sure.
            But please don’t get the 40k universe mixed up with real life 🙂
            In 40k we have astartes, the best of the best with the best stuff available… But no. They are perfectly fine with a bunch of No.5’s in robes giving them inferior weapons.

            But then again this is GWs setting and they had to make them better to sell models.

          • Bootneck

            SMs are the poster boys don’t forget.

            They have caught up slightly this edition with the Primaris Marines, Bolt rifles are now on par with Galvanic rifles etc.

            Don’t forget though a lot of the old heresy tech which was common among the legions was band after the HH. But when you look at Admech they still get some interesting weapons that feel a bit HH esk. Which i like a lot – dark arts and crafts.

          • Thebob288

            The problem here is that for the tabletop wargame to be playable it can’t match the fluff. Think about the absurdity of a laspistol killing a tactical marine in a single blow. It just doesn’t happen. In the fluff the ad-mech basic infantry don’t get better stuff than marines its a conceit of gaming.

        • Lion El’ Jonson

          Cause the Imperium can’t mess with the Mechanicum. They can essentially do as they please as they are responsible for the production of pretty much all of the Imperiums war assets.

          • Dr.Clock

            This is good discussion – keep it up!

            Comparing the equipment of the branches of the 40k human ‘militaries’ can help bring to mind or remind of us what the different factions are ‘supposedly about’ in the setting.

            I think one of the key things to remember is that there is a huge part of warfare that is not represented by the stats of something in a conventional 40k game: logistics and maintenance. This starts to crop up, though, in games like Necromunda and Shadow War where there’s no longer any guarantee that ‘points’ will be balanced.

            When considering the Adeptus Mechanicus, one must remember that the weapons they use likely require advanced knowledge for the most basic repairs or maintenance. Thus one must have a high-cost ‘special operator’ for each weapon, whether by years of training or through direct brain manipulation, which itself will change the nature of the operator’s ‘humanity’.

            This discussion reminds me then that ‘the true strength of the Guard is not its weapons, but the bodies of its soldiery.’ Or in a less lofty manner, we’re reminded that Marines are truly an ASSAULT force strategically, no matter what role they’re playing within the tactical flow of a game.

            Anyway – good stuff.



        • piglette

          The Imperium does not control the Ad Mech. They are allied.

          • Fergie0044

            Yep. On thing that really stood out to me in ‘Mechanicium’ was how the traitor ad mech were already chaffing under what they saw as imperial rule. It wasn’t about corruption by chaos (that came later) they just saw Mars becoming more of a slave to Terra when they had originally signed up to an alliance of equals.

  • Kyle Stetson

    I think their aesthetic is futuristic WWI, which itself was a time of huge technological change on the battlefield. They wear imperial Roman looking armor, with segmented breastplates and crested helmets (not to mention the AdMech power sword is an exact replica of a Roman gladus) but carry advanced weapons. The walkers in particular look like some of the last cavalry units used in the war; there is one picture in particular of an elephant mounted with a machine gun that evokes the Onager Dunecrawler. The ranger guns in particular look like the early repeating rifles, and the units look to me almost Ottoman.

  • Fergie0044

    Love their overall look – that’s why I’m currently painting up a Ryza force. Although the odd ducks for me are the electro priests. IMO, they look terrible even taken on their own and even worse alongside the rest of the ad mech force.