40K: GW Takes a Step Towards the Unification War
For the first time in decades, GW is moving closer to the Unification War – and Constantin Valdor is our guide.
We’ve all been hearing for decades now of the Horus Heresy. The conflict that gets us to the Grimdark… 9000 years later. GW has gone from ignoring it for since the early 1990s to giving it all the attention (almost 100 novels) that anyone could ask for. But the tale of the Horus Heresy begets even older questions. How did the Imperium, the Custodes, and most importantly the Emperor come to craft the Imperium in the first place?
We’ve been getting little hints and glimpses of the Imperium’s founding and the Unification Wars that came before it. We have tiny prices of the Unification War puzzle from paragraphs scattered across dozens of books. Places like these:
- Albia – Albians refused to kneel before the Emperor and met his Thunder Warriors with their own steam-belching proto-dreadnoughts and armored ironside soldiers. In battle after battle, the Albians managed to hold back the Emperor’s forces but only at staggering cost for the defenders. Admitting the martial temper and indomitable spirit of his foe, the Emperor called a ceasefire and sought a diplomatic solution. The Emperor appeared before the Albian Clan Lords unarmed and clothed in white and crimson, speaking of his vision of a unified mankind. He offered them glory among the stars and redemption. To the shock of many, the warlords of Albia, seeing the Emperor as different from past tyrants, accepted terms and soon became one of the most zealous supporters of unification.
- Albyon – the tyrannical warlord Uilleam the Red is defeated by the Emperor’s forces and imprisoned in the dungeon of Khangba Marwu[9a]
- Achaemenid Empire – Swearing allegiance to the Emperor early on in his war, the Achaemenid Empire suffered little during the Wars of Unification, avoiding both atomic strike and invasion by Thunder Warriors.
- Boeotia – Mentioned in Imperial records as holding out against full Unification for some considerable time; while tacitly recognizing the Emperor’s dominance, the ruling monarchy of Boeotia used all manner of diplomacy in order to avoid losing power. In a show of great patience and benevolence, the Emperor allowed the ruling family of Boeotia – the Yeselti – to carry on like this for over 150 years, with the intention that they would integrate themselves into unified Imperial Terra at their own speed and with as much dignity as possible. Instead, the Yeselti clung onto their independence to the point where, firstly, the Imperial Army was forced to invade the province and finally, Legiones Astartes of the Thousand Sons were assigned to quash the trucculent little state. Boeotia was notable both for the presence of industry and at least one buried shrine to gods worshiped by humans in an earlier age.
- Caucasus Wastes – Its ruler, the ethnarch, was defeated by the Emperor’s forces and imprisoned in the dungeon of Khangba Marwu.[9a]
- Franc – Absorbed by the forces of the Emperor.
- Hy Brasil – Its last independent ruler, Dalmoth Kyn, was one of the last Terran warlords to be defeated by the Emperor. After their defeat Hy Brasil existed as semi-autonomous province within the Imperium, and was governed by Kyn’s descendants. However the actions of Malcador the Sigillite ensured that Dalmoth’s descendants, including Pherom Sichar, never sat on the Council of Terra when it was created.
- Merica – This major kingdom was known for its high fashion and ballrooms, fell to the Emperor’s forces.[9a]
- Maulland Sen Confederacy – The Nordic-based Confederacy, unwittingly serving the Dark Gods by engaging in cannibalistic human sacrifice and forbidden genetic manipulation, was crushed by the Thunder Warriors in the Battle of Maulland Sen. Its ruler, the Priest-King of Maulland Sen, was executed by the Emperor personally.
- Panpacific Empire – The powerful Panpacific under its tyrant Narthan Dume was defeated by the forces of the Emperor. In a rare move, the Emperor had Dume executed instead of imprisoned.[9a]
- Ursh – Ruled over by the tyrant Kalagann, Ursh employed powerful psykers in its armies and used their might to unleash dark warp powers on its enemies. This did not, however, avail him when he faced the forces of the Emperor, who defeated and killed Kalagann.
- Ethnarchy – The Ethnarchy is known to have commanded formidable forces consisting of genetically modified warriors known as the Ur-Khasis, dangerous weapons from the Dark Age of Technology, and enslaved Psykers. The first attempt by Imperial forces to capture the Ethnarchy’s strongholds earlier in the war had cost the lives of 20,000 Thunder Warriors and a million other casualties. Towards the end of the Unification Wars, the Emperor began his second attempt to topple the Ethnarchy. This time the XVIII Legion of the Legiones Astartes was tasked with destroying the subterranean power generators feeding the Ethnarchy’s power fields. In the ensuing Assault on the Tempest Galleries, the XVIIIth Legion was victorious and with their force fields down, the Ethnarchy was quickly crushed by the forces of the Emperor.[7b]
- Yndonesic Bloc – The brutal Ethnarch of the bloc, Cardinal Tang, was defeated by the forces of the Emperor and imprisoned.
- Saragorn Enclave – the Enclave surrendered to the forces of the Emperor but still carried on the experiments in secret. When the Emperor discovered this defiance, he dispatched the VIIIth Astartes Legionto bring his retribution. The Enclave was viciously destroyed.
The New Hotness?
Much like 10 years back, when super 40K fans were digging into the fragments of the Heresy, and converting armies before GW opened the floodgates, the Unification War may be the “new forbidden lore” of the game. A veiled time of Custodes, Thunder Warriors, proto-dreadnoughts, Malcadors (both man and machine), Techno-barbarians, Genewarriors, and armies slave psykers. It sounds like a lot of crazy fun.
And it looks like GW has figured that out. This weekend we got word of this:
Valdor: Birth of the Imperium
“One of the most requested stories from the 31st Millennium is the origin tale of Constantin Valdor, Captain-General of the Legio Custodes. Good news – it’s coming, with a glorious limited edition novel followed six months later by the standard edition. Valdor: Birth of the Imperium by Chris Wraight will detail this hero’s role in the formation of the Imperium, and no doubt reveal a few juicy hidden secrets about the Emperor and his plans… ”
“The Unification Wars have been fought to their bloody conclusion, but the Imperium still faces threats from within. Only the unflinching gaze of Constantin Valdor can root out these dangers.”
I can hardly wait. Sign me up for anything set at the foundation of the Imperium, with the Thunder Warriors still living memories and the Primarchs just a glint their fathers’s 20 cryo tubes. While I doubt GW would go as far as ever making a full range of minis for this era, I have for years clamored for a lavish full color “Unification War” coffee table book out of GW or Forge World. One full of the color plates of the combatants , militaries, maps of Old Terra, the original 20 Legions of Thunder Warriors and their coloring, famed Custodes. It would be amazing. I’m hoping that this Valdor novel is a first step in that direction.
Imagine a book full of details on things like this:
~Would you want to see a Unification War “history” book?