Warhammer Warhammer 40k

Into the Dark Imperium


I first played 40k when I was in high school and played space marines and dark eldar against the other guys in my boy scout troop. Then I went off to college, and my armies stayed packed in boxes for years. A few years ago, I made a brief attempt to get playing again, but it ended up consisting mostly of painting with only a few games due to trouble finding other people to play with.

When the latest edition of Warhammer 40,000 launched in 2017, I decided to get back into it. I had heard a lot of good things about the Age of Sigmar rules, so the idea of an updated and more streamlined version of 40k was exciting and seemed like a good opportunity to start playing and painting again.

It had been years since I had played, but at the same time I was in the process of moving to live closer to my brother who had been one of my childhood opponents. I ordered the Dark Imperium starter box and started getting ready to paint and play.

Dark Imperium offers a great starting point to get into 8th edition with two small armies and the rulebook included. The included armies are the new primaris space marines and the heretic Death Guard.

Primaris Space Marines

Primaris space marines are a new variant of space marines that are bigger, tougher, and faster than their predecessors. They were created after the Horus Heresy as a secret project by the the Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl at the request of the Ultramarines primarch Roboute Guilliman, but then kept in stasis until the primarch’s recent reawakening.

The miniatures included in Dark Imperium make a roughly 800 point patrol detachment. The marines are durable units thanks to their multiple wounds and good armor saves, and the Inceptor and Hellblaster squads offer a lot of firepower.

  • HQ: Captain in Gravis Armour (118 pts)
  • HQ: Primaris Lieutenants (148 pts)
  • Troops: Intercessor Squad (85 pts)
  • Troops: Intercessor Squad (85 pts)
  • Elites: Primaris Ancient (69 pts)
  • Fast Attack: Inceptor Squad (135 pts)
  • Heavy Support: Hellblaster Squad (165 pts)

Death Guard

The marines of the Death Guard were once a legion of space marines in service to the Emperor of Mankind, but they rebelled during the Horus Heresy and found themselves in thrall to Nurgle, the chaos god of pestilence. They are incredibly durable and use diseased weapons and dark sorcery against their enemies.

The Death Guard units from Dark Imperium make up a roughly 700 point patrol detachment. The mob of poxwalkers, plaguecaster, and bloat-drone ensure that they feel a lot different in play from the primaris half of the box even though they are both factions of power armored marines.

  • HQ: Lord of Contagion (115 pts)
  • HQ: Malignant Plaguecaster (110 pts)
  • Troops: Plague Marines (133 pts)
  • Troops: Poxwalkers (120 pts)
  • Elites: Noxious Blightbringer (55 pts)
  • Fast Attack: Foetid Bloat-Drone (158 pts)
Death Guard -vs- Fulminators

Expanding Dark Imperium

For the primaris space marines from Dark Imperium, I decided that I wanted to put together an all-primaris force. I looked at the various Ultima Founding chapters in the lore and settled on the Fulminators. This chapter of Ultramarines successors were one of the earliest primaris chapters created and they are named for the storms of Mars. I’ve expanded the small force from Dark Imperium by adding another squad of Intercessors, a Redemptor dreadnought, a Repulsor, and a squad of Aggressors. I haven’t gotten to painting the Repulsor or Aggressors yet, but once they are painted I’ll have the army at 1500 points.

I’ve also expanded the other half of Dark Imperium to give myself enough Death Guard to field a 1500 point battalion. I started out by adding the easy-to-build plague marines so that I could field two squads of 5 rather than a squad of 7. Then I added a plagueburst crawler, a tallyman, blightlord terminators, and Typhus. More recently, I added a third squad of plague marines with a close combat load out rather than bolters. I particularly like the combination of Typhus, the tallyman, and the poxwalkers since it makes the plague zombies into a durable and deadly mob.

Impressions of 8th Edition

I’ve been really happy with 8th edition. The core rules for the game have been streamlined to fit in a few pages. The game also feels faster in both its simpler rules and more dynamic battles. All models can now advance to gain extra movement and fire heavy weapons even when moving with only a penalty on to-hit rolls. Stratagems which players can use to alter the game by spending command points from a limited pool also help to make the game more exciting with special combos and options to alleviate an unlucky roll.

I also like the approach that Games Workshop has taken towards game balance. They release periodic big FAQs to adjust rules that have been problematic and rebalance the points cost of units each year with Chapter Approved. Beyond balance adjustments, the annual Chapter Approved books have also included new missions to play to keep the game feeling fresh.

The biggest thing that I miss from older editions is the amount of customization allowed for units and characters. Most datasheets now offer a far more restricted list of wargear options than 3rd edition. For example, a Death Guard Tallyman always has a plasma pistol rather than being able to choose a different weapon such as a bolt pistol or a melee option.

At this point in 8th edition, Games Workshop has released Codexes for almost all of the existing factions, so I’m excited to see what the future holds for the game. The only known Codex that is still in the works is the Sisters of Battle, which had a beta version released in Chapter Approved 2018. The first revised codex for the edition, Chaos Space Marines, was also recently released with updates to datasheets and points costs to bring it up-to-date with new versions of the miniatures kits.

I’m excited to see what comes next for 8th edition whether it is new factions, more campaign books, or even just revisions to the existing factions.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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