40K Deep Thought: The Happiest Armies of the Grimdark

Forget good and bad, virtuous and evil – guess who is having the most fun kicking butt in the grimdark.

One of the very first questions and discussions you hear new players have when they enter Warhammer 40,000 is: “Who are the Good Guys?”

It’s a very loaded question and while we point the beginners to easy answers like “Ultramarines are good and Chaos is evil” us oldtimers just shrug and say:

“Weeelllllllllllll – that’s complicated…”

Players like easy boxes to put their armies into mentally but like we all know – there really aren’t any good guys in the Grimdark.

Imperium – totalitarian state

Chaos – traitors

Eldar – arrogant selfish introverts

Tyranids – just make a mess out of everything

Orks – why we can’t have nice things

Ad-mech / Necrons – Is your iphone really good or evil?  I’m going with evil.

Be Merry in Your Work

But I think we’ve been doing it all wrong.  It’s not about if an army is good (they aren’t) or bad (they are). The better metric is who ENJOYS life in the Grimdark. Everyone is going to be fighting all the time and die young (except for Necrons), so who is going about life with a smile on their face in Warhammer 40,000.  We put a bunch of factions into a big chart from happiest to most bitter and arranged them.

The Results Surprised Us!

+++Happiest – Most Merry+++

Maybe the happiest pals in the galaxy? Even the Nurgling is cool with the whole thing.


The Party Animals

Nurgle – No mater what, Nurgle is a big happy family and he genuinely loves his children. Everyone from the boss down to Poxwalkers goes to war with a skip in their step and a giant smile on their face.

Orks – The only unhappy Ork is a dead one – and they don’t count. It’s all party all the time for the greenskins.

Harlequins – The happiest of the Eldar hide their faces for eternity. I’m sure there is a moral lesson in there somewhere…

Emperor’s Children – They do seem to enjoy their labors – way way way too much.

Space Wolves – These guys go to war happy (and cold, and drunk), but mostly happy. I think it’s the fresh air.

Everyone BETTER be smiling – or else!


They Enjoy Their Work

T’au – I’m not buying that The Greater Good is “The happiest good”. The goody-two-shoes thing feels like a Etherial caste sham.

Word Bearers – Zealots and they love the preaching and converting as much as the killing.

Adepta Sororitas – Zealots and they love the preaching and converting as much as the killing.

Grey Knights – All righteous all the time – and they don’t really lose their cool.

World Eaters – Hard to say how happy – but when you read World Eater dialogue, they don’t seem sad or morose in the least.

Genestealer Cult – They are secretive, but still go to war for thier big happy (creepy) family.

Dark Eldar – Kind of a knife edge on the dark kin. They they ENJOY the things they do – or do them becasue they HAVE to?  Jury is still out on that one.


After I eat I feel so much better…*burp*


Would Rather be Elsewhere

Ultramarines – All duty all the time, no time for emotions – welcome to neutral-good

Tyranids – Doctors say you shouldn’t eat to make yourself happy – but clearly Tyranids have hunger issues.

Astra Militarum – I think these guys would rather never fight and know their chance of survival is slim to none once it gets real.

Blood Angels – Again, the Blood Angels fight on the edge of personal damnation and would rather work on more master crafted weapons than risk it all the time.

Craftworld Eldar – Every fight is really a loss for the Craftworlders. Another step closer to the graveyard for their kind.


Fulgrim never invites me to parties anymore…


The Party Poopers

Ad Mech – Again, does Siri enjoy doing your bidding, or just following directions? Hard to call that “fun”.

Inquisition – Treachery is around every corner and no one can be trusted. Wow that sounds like a rad party there!

Necrons – How did all these ANTS, I mean fleshbags get into your house while you were napping?  UGG, cleaning out the galaxy is going to take a while and suck!

Black Legion – All bitter all the time.  Still mad over that Horus thing that still stings after 9000 years.

Dark Angels – Remember that feeling when you and your sibling blamed each other to get out of trouble when your parents knew one of you did something bad. That’s EVERY DAY for the Dark Angels.

Iron Warriors – Like the Black Legion – but even less fun.

+++Bitter – Most Hateful+++

We left out a bunch, but I’m sure you can add your favorites in there.

~ How would you rank them and why?

  • euansmith

    That’s a cool metric to apply to the setting.

    I guess something like Job Satisfaction would produce some similar results; Inquisition know their work is vital, but is also doomed unless the Emperor wakes up and starts laying some God-Smite on the Choas-Mutant-Xenos-Heretics.

    • petrow84

      Don’t forget the promotion system for the Hive Fleets: once you bit the dust as a Ripper, you have the chance to become anything, from Hive Ship component to prowl the wastes of space, to hulking Carnifex, smashing tanks aside, and even sometimes Swarmy himself, to mess with papa smurf.
      And look at their gums (whoever has one, that is); their dental plan is second to none!

  • Mr.Gold

    01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100101 01101101 01101111 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 00100010 01101000 01100001 01110000 01110000 01111001 01101110 01100101 01110011 01110011 00100010 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01110010 01100101 01110001 01110101 01101001 01110010 01100101 01100100 00101100 00100000 01110000 01110010 01100001 01101001 01110011 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101111 01101101 01101110 01101001 01110011 01110011 01101001 01100001 01101000 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101111 01110011 01100101 00100000 01100101 01101101 01101111 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 01110011 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01100010 01100101 01100101 01101110 00100000 01110010 01100101 01101101 01101111 01110110 01100101 01100100 00101110

    • Jakub Jánošík

      01101011 01100101 01100101 01110000 00100000 01110100 01100001 01101100 01101011 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000

    • Ebsolom

      01001000 01000001 01001000 01000001

    • Inco Gnito

      What? My mother was a saint! Get out!

  • John John Slade

    Speaking of Ethereal… Does even Chaos fight Tau before? I mean any Chaos campaign which they are encounter Tau Empire. Did they win or lose?

    • Inco Gnito

      The Tau encountered Chaos only once, as far as I know.
      The Farsight expansion was conquering an imperial star system when the encounter happened. It does not go into too much detail and can be debated if it was Chaos, but highly hinted at.
      At the end of the encounter, Farsight chose not be part of the Tau empire anymore =D

      • marxlives

        Don’t forget Firewarrior storyline.

        • Inco Gnito

          No! I refuse to remember the Firewarrior storyline !

          The horror… the horror

    • Mathew G. Smith

      It gets greater detail in the Farsight supplement. There was a pretty standard Bloodletter incursion, and Farsight managed to close the portal after figuring out how the Imperial shrine holding it closed effected them. All of the expedion’s Etherials were killed and that’s where he found his daemon sword.

    • Simon Bates

      In his AMA the other day, Aaron DB was anticipating writing a scene where Abaddon meets the T’au for the first time. He reckoned it ought to be pretty fun, considering Abaddon’s perspective on noble bright palladins trying to forge and empire among the stars.

  • Simon Chatterley

    But wait…the big slug is an AoS unit no?

    Wink wink

    • Cristhian Mario Landa Rivera

      Already confirmed for 40K on the next Codex.

  • Liam Lofty Loftus

    Read the Black Legion by ADB to see how exactly wrong the statement about Black Legion is here.

    • 6Cobra

      ..As well as most of the other books by ADB to see how exactly wrong the statement about World Eaters is, as well. The ones with any lucidity left live in constant misery.

  • Jon Bohlinger

    All the daemon armies seem pretty happy to be doing what they love.

  • piglette

    Hey not all Iron Warriors are party poopers. Kalkator was quite pleasent.

  • Monkeybrains

    Tyranids are probably the most happy, and are objectively the good guys of the setting. They only do what they do because of instinct, there is no malice of forethought, just plain old hunger and desire to propagate. And all that eating till you turn into bio-goo probably feels pretty good!

    • Drew_Da_Destroya

      I mean, a similar statement could be made about the Orks. They only fight and maraud about the galaxy because of genetically-coded imperatives which are basically instinct, which is basically a desire to propagate. And they love fighting, so they’re always having a great time!

  • Rafał Pytlak

    Why no Salamanders bro? The biggest bros in the galaxy?

    • LeroyJenkinss

      It’s cause they’re black

  • marxlives

    Love the welcome to neutral good comment. Very cool.

    • petrow84

      I also chuckled at the Dark Angel entry – pretty much sums it up.

  • memitchell

    Chaos. It’s all fun and games till someone loses an Eye of Terror.

  • Zreat mi Legenderi

    World Eaters not top 3??????? Seriously???? They eat, sleep, breath and live only with one idea… FIGHT FOR THE GLORY, FIGHT FOR THE THRONE OF SKULLS! Blood for the Blood God!!! They want to die fighting! They want butchery every Day! And you issued them below TAU????? Pfffff…….

  • petrow84

    Overall a nice round-up, but I disagree on the Necrons. The biggest parts of their army are either

    * Gone completely mad, feeling perfectly fine in their world (Destroyers, DestLords, Flayed 1s), or

    * Mindless machines, doing all the work for eternity (Canoptek stuff) or

    * Brainwashed up to the point of near zero self-awareness (warriors and immortals).

    The only party poopers are the Necron ruling class members.