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Why Isn’t 40k Loyal To The Fluff?

5 Minute Read
Dec 11 2015


Pimpcron imagines the game influenced by the fluff.

Oh, hey there! I didn’t see you come in. Sit a spell and we will talk about how our game might be different if it was directly a translation of the fluff. Does your army play like it “should”?

Does it Currently Represent the Fluff?

I think most of you would agree that the codices and rules that we currently have don’t really represent what the novels and backstory depict. Or maybe that it does, but only in the vaguest terms. Our current rules represent the backstory like your Driver’s License picture represents you. You guys look vaguely alike, but one somehow has a droopy eye, is way fatter, and is homeless apparently.


Tom Cruise’ Driver’s License Picture

In the backstory of Warhammer 40,000 we have single Space Marines committing genocide on entire Ork encampments; not so much on the game board. We have Orks heads being severed and stitched back on hours later with no ill-effect; but no natural Feel No Pain in-game. We have Necron Warriors who are pretty much soulless warriors with no shred of their humanity left, yet not Fearless. The Tyranids are possibly the biggest threat to the galaxy in the books, but not so much on the battle board. Meanwhile, on the tabletop Eldar are cheesy, sissy-pants nerds that nobody likes but in the books . . . well, okay maybe some of it is true to the fluff.

ELDAR aint us
Anyway, over all it is night-and-day between the two and it leaves you asking the question, “Where did I leave my car keys?” and then it leaves you with the question, “If the game is based off of the backstory, then why are they so different?”

Why Doesn’t It?

I am just a simple, metallic, alien horror and can’t really be called an expert on the history of the game. But will that stop me from telling you what I think? Nope! It seems to me that when the game first started it didn’t have a whole lot of backstory to it, so the creators had a free-for-all with stats, weapons, and every other aspect of it. Then supplemental books came out and there were literally hundreds of pages of back story. That allowed them to expand the rules even further in fun and different ways, including a lot of Ork zaniness. This is the reason why a few people I know loved Rogue Trader and 2nd edition 40k. The sheer number of options and unique flavor that was brewed into the game made each faction seem super-special.

But as “competitive” play and tournaments came into being, people cried out for a bit more balance. Well which one is easier to balance: A million different rules for each character, unit and wargear, or a hundred rules for those same things? So GW took the “easy” route and just reduced the number of moving parts in their game, to attempt some game balance. When I look back at the 3rd edition codices that I own, the amount of customizability they include can be staggering (minus the Necron one). My 3rd edition Tyranids book is the most adjustable book I have ever seen. Crushing claws on Genestealers! The old Space Marines book allowed you to make your own chapter complete with Force Org changes and special rules. Compared to today’s codices, they are super rich in options.



2nd Edition was apparently puberty-time for Warriors. Awkward.

Of course you also have to look at it from a business standpoint too. What company wants to sell five 300-point Space Marines in an army (as per what the fluff depicts) when you can sell a whole, whole lot more. I don’t blame them for that, really. It probably wouldn’t be that fun either to only play with 5 models each time. And we all know that the novels are pretty popular, which is another avenue for income. But the problem is, novels sell better with a kick-ass hero beating people up, not a novel about the way the play on the field which is only mediocre in my opinion. So a big part of the problem was because they didn’t keep their authors on a shorter leash in terms of making Space Marines bad-asses.

Could It Be Changed To Be Loyal?

At this juncture, I can’t imagine Games Workshop ever making it true to the fluff. You really couldn’t do it piecemeal, you’d have to revamp the core rules as well as release all of the codices at the same time. You couldn’t have huge changes in stats and point-costs only one book at a time, the competitive players would commit suicide. The Meta would go all topsy-turvy  and people would lose their minds. And with that much change at one time, you might have another Age of Sigmar on your hands where a lot of people are mad. So it seems too late for them to go back now. What they should have done is reign in their novel authors a bit and keep them at least within arm’s reach of how the armies play in the game.

The only real way to change it in a plausible way (and with minimal effort), would be to write a novel where the Emperor finally wakes back up from his coma. All of the fluff from Space Crusader to the present was just a dream that the Emperor had and in his dream Space Marines were awesome. Now he wakes up to find that Space Marines are only one wound and are pretty mediocre in every way. He then lives the rest of his life in disappointment of his sons. Ya know, like a real dad.

Golden_Throne-Imperial_WebwayThat moment when he wakes up and realizes that all of his chapters are really Sisters of Battle.

Who’s with me?! Let’s get a petition started for a novel based off of this idea!
Do you see any way for them to make the game loyal to the back story? How would you do it?


Hey, I’m a guest on Episode #114 of Preferred Enemies! We discuss creating your own narrative missions and I explain my 4 rules for making them, and my 3 point template I use when designing my own! Please check it out HERE!

Want to witness my slow descent into madness first-hand? Check out my blog at

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