This Geek Chronicles latest venture will see us sailing through the Sea of Souls, immaterial claws scraping against the void shields as the laughter of hungry daemons rips through reality. Devoid of hope, for there is only war! […]
This Geek Chronicles latest venture will see us sailing through the Sea of Souls, immaterial claws scraping against the void shields as the laughter of hungry daemons rips through reality. Devoid of hope, for there is only war!
Warhammer 40k is a name known among many circles, either for the incredible literature, the intricate models or the joy of camaraderie whilst destroying your friend’s army (a simple joy, but deadly serious).
Here at Geek Chronicles, we will be rating the top 10 most underrated Warhammer 40k factions and their characters on sections such as how often they have a new model released, how often they are in fiction and how they are perceived by fans. So, without further ado, let us begin.
Number 10: The Night Lords Traitor Legion
Ranking at number 10 on our list is the infamous Sons of Konrad Curze, The Night Haunter, a gene–created demigod fusion of Marvel’s The Punisher, DC’s Batman and John McTiernans’ Predator. With such a wide blend of dark atmosphere and brutal outlook, what isn’t to like about the guy?
The Night Lords are his Sons, humans who have been selected and undertaken training to become Space Marines, 8 feet tall genetically enhanced super soldiers. While most Space Marines are indoctrinated with rigorous duty, protocol and order that lends them to be considered honourable or holy, the Night Lords simply aren’t. Such trivial things such as nobility and honour matter not to the Sons of Curze, as they see such qualities as the universe’s greatest jokes with the worst punchlines.
Like with most of the Space Marine legions, when the Night Lords were reunited with their gene sire, they took to their own unique way of warfare with relish. One minor problem was that Curze’s philosophy of battle was the way of fear.
Curze was raised on Nostramo, a world that’s planet is constantly shrouded in darkness which became in essence a future version of DC’s Gotham City, only with worse crimes and no Batman.
Curze began his own crusade of justice against crime here, though he didn’t take any prisoners. His use of extreme fear tactics turned the once crime-infested world into a model of compliance and peace, at the sake of a several brutal executions.
With the background of their father briefly covered (and yes, that was brief!), we move onto the sons. The Night Lords took to the fear tactics with gusto, conquering entire systems of space by simply attacking a single world and turning it into an example of what would happen if they did not comply (it was not pretty) with Imperium rule. However, this caused tension or outright anger with their allies, as such barbaric and murderous tactics were frowned upon, as they should be.
With the outbreak of the galaxy-spanning civil war of the Horus Heresy, where 9 of the space marine legions turned against The Imperium, the dictatorial empire they used to serve, and slowly joined The Ruinous Powers, or simply The Chaos Gods.
After the Horus Heresy, the Night Lords legion broke up into piratical raiders with no one leader, simply a singular goal of bleeding the Imperium. As for the Night Haunter? He was assassinated, ending the tragic tale of Konrad Curze once and for all.
You may be asking, if there is so much lore and background on this faction, why is it here? Well, one is that the Night Lords are a unique space marine legion that doesn’t get a lot of literature covering them. In addition, several key characters who are very important to the legion have simply disappeared with no record of them in the current 40k timeline, such as Sevatar the prince of crows, Decimus, Zso Sahaal the talon master and many more.
Another element is that they have no unique character models to them, leaving them behind many factions. In addition, their legion trait, a special rule that is unique to a faction, isn’t very strong or even decent compared with others, though narrative-wise it makes sense. This makes them seem very weak or comical compared to others, keeping the Night Lords at number 10.
Number 9: The Tyranids
Taking the spot at number 9 are the monstrous maws of the Tyranids, alien creatures from another Universe that literally eat galaxies (and no, not the chocolate bar). These alien creatures are a wonderful blend of Ripley Scott’s Xenomorphs, Marvel’s symbiotes like Venom, Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and the Transformers’ Unicron. As you probably can tell, they will eat everything (and everyone!).
Unlike the lengthy legion of the Night Lords, the Tyranids arrived on the scene much later (much hungrier too). They first started to attack in small fleets of creatures that consumed outposts and remote worlds, wishing to feed their insidious craving for biomass in the process. First, they scramble the communications so nobody can hear you scream (didn’t see that one coming), then they eat any ships in orbit around the world and send down hundreds of bio-monstrosities to devour everything that lives in the world. Afterwards, those same creatures are then eaten by their beast– vessels to consume all the biomass. With the planet devoid of life, the main ship, housing most of the Hive Mind, begins to literally chomp the planet to bits (it will also eat those said bits, nothing is wasted).
When the Hive Fleets of the Tyranid started to become more daring and hungrier, they started to attack heavily populated worlds. After consuming several entire universes before, such a task of doing it again seemed normal. In addition, Tyranids are highly adaptive, so whatever kills one won’t kill the rest, as they evolve that fast to counter such delicious resistance.
So, why are Tyranids on the list? Because in the lore (which to be fair, there is a decent amount) they are apex predators and a massive threat to the survival of everything in existence. However, rules-wise they are weak and haven’t had a model released since 2014, making them a very out of date faction that just doesn’t compare against the rest. Even when new additional rules were released for them it only made them decent, losing a lot of their appeal to other melee combat focused factions that are simply better than them.
Alongside this is the lack of unique characters. Sure, you’ve got the hulking behemoth of Old One Eye, the slithering shadow assassin of the Death Leaper and the tunnelling teeth of The Red Terror, but that is it. This leaves the Tyranids nibbling on Nine on our list.
Number 8: The Harlequins
Yup, that’s right, The Harlequins (not Harley Quin, that’s someone else) are performing at number 8. This faction hails from the Eldar race, which are essential space elves with an ego several miles wide and are one of the truly beautiful factions in terms of detail.
The Eldar race is one of the oldest in the Warhammer galaxy, with most of the current characters for them being older than humanity itself (don’t let that fool you, they can be just as us young ones) and had a massive empire that literally encompassed most of the universe. However, with this came a lack of purpose and so they turned to more… intimate practices that lead to a Chaos God being born and swallowing most of the Eldar’s souls (don’t try this at home, hungry Chaos Gods are not covered by your insurance).
This led to the Eldar splitting into different factions. The first is the Craftworlds, who saw what the rest of the Eldar were doing and did not stick around to see how it played out. So, they made planet-sized ships (Craft – World, get it? Made a world?) that ferried them away to escape any unforeseen dangers (lucky them).
The second is the Drukhari or Edgy Space Dark Elves, which fled into another dimension to try and rebuild their empire by basically raiding everyone else in the galaxy as well as inflicting as much pain as possible (not very nice at all!).
Other factions are the Exodites (who we’ll talk about them later) and the Harlequins. The Harlequins are a band of renegade Eldar that doesn’t truly serve anyone but their Laughing God (he’s hilarious) and travel around the galaxy to perform for other Eldar factions, kind of like a mad space circus, but with blasters. They enjoy nothing more than daringly dancing across the battlefield to the enemy and gracefully slicing them apart in a storm of blood. They are a combination of duelists, magicians, Circus performers and elven warriors, a unique, vibrant blend.
So, why are they on the list? Because they are a relatively new faction on the scene and don’t have a lot of models compared to the rest, making them a very selective choice. In addition, there are no named characters at all and very few books about them, leaving such a visually interesting faction out of the line light. On the Games Workshop Website, they have 14 items in their category. However, not all said items are the actual models, as they have 2 rule books, 3 digital copies of their rule books and a set of cards with unique abilities listed on them. Hence, The Harlequins will be performing at number 8.
Number 7: The Zoats
Now, even Warhammer fans can be stumped by this one. What is a Zoat? Well, they are a kind of combination of a lizard, a centaur and a human with extremely advanced technology. The origins of the Zoats are shrouded in mystery, with general theories that they were either created or enslaved by The Tyranids (which doesn’t seem likely, as the Tyranids are more focused on chomping you than anything else).
The Zoats are very old, not just in terms of lore but also in models, as they have only recently gotten any new ones and none of the older ones has been stocked by Games Workshop any more, leaving them to gather dust (don’t worry though, they have rebreathers to filter it out).
During Warhammer’s Black Stone Fortress expansion sets, a new model was unveiled to be a new Zoat called the Archivist, who’s main priority is scavenging materials and relics. In addition, for Blood Ball, a game unrelated to the Warhammer 40k universe that’s basically rugby but bloodier, Games Workshop released a new character – Zolcath The Zoat! (I kid you not, that’s his name, very alliterative). While Zolcath does lack the high-tech appearance of The Archivist, he makes up for it with his dramatic pose.
I think it’s clear now why Zoats are on our list, but just to make it obvious; Zoats are a very dynamic and interesting species that unfortunately don’t feature enough in the Warhammer 40k Universe. With only 2 models for them, just the one in 40K, I’m sure fans want to see more of this faction. This leaves the Zoats solidly at number 6.
Number 6: The Dark Mechcanicus
Well, everyone from Warhammer knows of the Adeptus Mechcanicus (religious machine worshipping cyborgs that create all the weaponry for the main Human faction, the Imperium) but fewer people know of their evil counterparts called the Dark Mechcanicus (imaginative name).
During the galaxy-spanning civil war known as the Horus Heresy (we briefly mentioned it at number 10), the Dark Mechcanicus joined the traitor forces against Humanity. For some, they did it for the promise of freedom, others for the forbidden knowledge that could be obtained and illegal experimentation/creation of certain machines (such as Daemon Engines, monstrous beast-like machines that were created using Humans, Machines and Daemons).
Currently in Warhammer 40K, The Dark Mechcanicus mostly appear in the books, with few figures standing out. The rule books (called a codex, because why not?) for both Adeptus Mechcanicus and Chaos Space Marines only have small columns on a single page that detail the Dark Mechcanicus but that’s it, leaving a unique and interesting faction out of the game.
However, another mention to the Blackstone Fortress Boxset (a Warhammer 40K boxset that can be used in a larger game or played as its own independent game), as it has models that relate to the Dark Mechcanicus. These are the Negavolt Cultists, cyborg humans that are devoted to Chaos and enjoy nothing more than causing machinery to fail or fall apart. Note that they are part of Heretek Cults, meaning that they aren’t technically only fielded by Dark Mechcanicus but other factions as well, hence why they only relate to it.
While Warhammer 40K have a shortage, if we go across to Warhammer Horus Heresy (a game set during that civil war that allows players to reenact the “historical” battles from that era) we can see that they do have a few special characters that really stand out, these being Archmagos Draykavac and Anarcharis Scoria. Sadly, these terrific models do not have rules in 40K and therefor, can’t count. This leaves the mechanical might of the Dark Mechanicus toiling at number 6.
Number 5: The Perpetuals
Now, this is where things get interesting! The Perpetuals are humans that possess an array of powers that seems almost superhuman- for what their species is, remember we have eldritch abominations that eat worlds on this list. The most important and powerful of these powers was literal immortality, from practically everything in the universe (which is quite handy, considering all the various ways of dying).
It is unclear how a Perpetual comes into being. Sometimes the person is simply born with the innate ability to give death the cold shoulder (which would normally kill you, so don’t try it at home) while others gain it from using advanced technology to alter their genetics (don’t try that at home either). Perpetuals have known to survival pretty much everything, from suffocation to disintegration because of this unique ability.
In addition, other perpetuals (if they are powerful enough) can also turn people into perpetuals, which simply makes these beings extremely overpowered. Hence, they are extremely rare in the Warhammer 40K universe, seeing to simply live their lives (which isn’t that successful, considering it all war, death and destruction, which makes traffic a nightmare)
So, with perpetuals being few and far between, you’re probably wondering why they are only number 5 on our list. Well, that’s because most of the perpetuals are figures that are extremely well known in the Warhammer universe, such as The God-Emperor of Mankind, the ruler of the Imperium and one of the most powerful beings ever. Second to that is Vulkan (sorry Star Trek, not The Vulcans) primarch of the Salamanders Space Marine Legion. If you remember all the way back at number 10, we briefly discussed what a primarch is, so we know they are powerful. Now make one practically immortal. It’s not looking good for anyone facing them.
However, there are both drawbacks. Vulkan only has a model in the Horus Heresy game, not 40K. The Emperor doesn’t have a model at all currently, leaving it out of the picture. Hence, the Perpetuals will not be dying at number 5.
Number 4: The Sensei
Remember when I said things get interesting? Here we are again! The Sensei are basically Warhammer Jedi, being the offspring of the God-Emperor of Mankind. They have immortality against age and poison but, unlike a perpetual, can be killed. In addition, they are not Psykers (basically space wizards and sorcerers) like their father but are Psychic Blanks (meaning that disrupt and stop the space wizard powers) which is especially rare in the Warhammer universe.
Now, to clear some things up. The Sensei are made up of The Emperor’s descendants but not all of them and they themselves are infertile, meaning they are few in number without the Emperor creating more of them (which hasn’t happened in a while, since the Emperor is mostly dead).
The Sensei’s main goal is ascending to a divine form and merging with something called The Star Child – which may or may not be a fragment of the Emperor’s soul that wanders the universe. They have also known to form Adventure Bands, recruiting multiple individuals to help oppose oppression in all forms. Ironically, this has led to them becoming enemies of the Imperium’s secret police, The Inquisition, leading many of them to be purged by a faction that serves their father. The Sensei openly do not work with any agent of Chaos but have known to work with mutants like Ratlings (space hobbits) and aliens like the Eldar.
While the Sensei doesn’t have models anymore, they did feature in the Realms of Chaos duology pair of RPG books mini-game Path to Glory. However, this was quite a while ago, and the current canon of Warhammer 40K doesn’t mention them. This could suggest that they have been wiped out by the Inquisition, but they could be in hiding, fighting off the servants of Chaos in the shadows as unsung heroes.
Now, not all Sensei do oppose the Chaos Powers. Some flee to join the Chaos Gods and seek to tear apart the Imperium of their father made, either out of bitterness against an absent parent or because Chaos offers them enough power to fully oppose all oppression. These are called Grey Sensei. Without any models and an uncertain future in Warhammer 40K, we have the Sensei settling on number 4 on our list.
Number 3: The Cacodominus
Quite the mouthful, isn’t it? The Cacodominus was an Alien – cyborg psyker that was extremely powerful. Its origins are not known, but it is recorded as creating a period of galaxy-wide anarchy called ‘The Howling’ in the Warhammer 40K universe (to be fair, that sounds like a cool event name, unfortunately, no wolves were involved).
This creature was immensely powerful with its psychic abilities, to the point, it could mind-controlling an area of 1300 planetary systems at the same time. With this mind control, the Cacodominus would plunge thousands of space systems into civil war, creating what would be known as the Catelexis Heresy. In addition to the massive range of its abilities, the Cacodominus had also under control seventeen Dread Blade knights (gigantic mechanical war machines that literally tower over everything).
While there is little information on the Catelexis Heresy, it was notable enough to draw an entire Astartes Space Marine Chapter to launch a crusade to slay the psyker. Said Space Marines are known as the Black Templars, which are basically space marines mixed with the templar knights. Eventually, the Cacodominus was slain by the Templars, which would then result in The Howling, whoch is basically a psychic death scream that ripped through the entire Warhammer 40K galaxy. This action would plunge entire sectors of space into anarchic madness, killing billions of Astropaths (basically space wizards that can use their magic to send messages across the void of space) and losing millions of ships. In addition, those seventeen Dreadblade Knights? They still wander the universe in the current timeline, either replaying old orders by the Cacodominus or maybe protocols that activate in the case of its death.
It is generally theorized that the Cacodominus’ psychic apocalypse killed all the Black Templar’s Librarians (Space Marine Battle Wizards, not an actual librarian wielding a book into battle). Such a horrific experience with this creature could leave a mark on the space marines, suggesting why they no longer field psykers of any kind unless necessary.
Sadly, the Cacodominus doesn’t have a model or a clear description of itself. Its skull, however, does feature as a Relic (a special item that has unique abilities) for the Black Templars faction. This sadly leaves such a promising, dynamic villain at number 3.
Number 2: The Hrud
Next up, we have a very interesting case of The Hrud, an extremely old Warhammer race that originates back to the old days of Rogue Trader (basically the first edition of Warhammer 40K). They were known as the Nocturnal Warriors of Hrud, which appeared as a gangly, cloaked figure armed with long rifles.
However, this seems to be reconned with an out-of-print book called Xenology, which detailed an Inquisitor going around and analyzing the different alien races (by “analyzing”, we mean dissecting and cutting apart to see how they function). This made the Hrud (now known with the scientific name of Troglydium Hrudii) a more sinister, parasitic alien species that look akin to a kind of fungal man with long, tentacle-like arms and legs. Kind of like a rotting jellyfish. This introduced them as a major enemy of the Imperium, alongside the awakening Necrons (basically The Terminator as aliens) and the arrival of the Tyranids, who we already covered.
So, keeping this in mind, it would seem very strange to change again their origins. This is what we are treated to at one bit in the Primarch Book Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia, which creates the theory that the Hrud are humans from very far in the future fleeing doom. While this is a theory, it does still lend more mystery to the Hrud, making them quite a dynamic faction. It was also assumed in the book that they had wiped the Hrud out, but life finds a way to bring the faction back.
The Hrud, while they don’t appear often enough, did get involved in some major battles that should really make them stand out. One such event called The Hrud Rising (very imaginative) where they waged a war against the Imperium. This led to a Space Marine chapter called the Dark Angels being called to annihilate them, though such an action was very completed, as the marines withdrew for their own reasons.
So, The Hrud. A unique faction with the possible power of time travel technology and shrouded in mystery. With no models, rules or any characters that stand out, this leaves the Hrud infesting our list at number 2.
Number 1: The Exodites
Now, we mentioned these guys briefly at number 8 when explaining the alien faction known as the Eldar. These guys are one of the most fascinating and underrated of the factions here, with no rules, characters or models. So just who are the Exodites?
Well, the Exodites a faction of the Eldar that left their homeworlds to settle on the more isolated planets to leave the growing decadence of the Eldar Empire. This allowed them to mostly escape the birth of Slaanesh and having their souls eaten (lucky them). To this end, they were mostly left alone by their brethren and started to create their own society.
If that isn’t enough, the Exodites have at least one more trick up their sleeves. They ride Dinosaurs. That’s right, the space elves ride dinosaurs into battle (which is awesome). These creatures can range from the flying Pterosaurs to the giant behemoths of the Brachiosaurs (the long-necked dinosaurs, you know which ones). They also ride Megadons, which seem to be their equivalent to a T-Rex. Now that is awesome. In addition, these creatures can also be mounted with Prism Cannons, we are basically big laser guns that make a great many things explode. The Craft World Eldar also have access to Prism Cannons, but they are normally on a tank, not a large scaley beast with lots of teeth.
Now, even though they like to live a solitary life, The Exodites do have close ties to some of their brethren. Craft Worlds Alaitoc and Biel-Tan have the best relations to their Dinosaur riding kin, but the Exodites also have been known to host by Harlequin troupes.
So, with such an awesome dynamic of having a literal army dinosaur rider, why don’t they have their own models and rules? It can be simply stated that because they don’t often get involved with other affairs. They have had battles against the Imperium of Man, but not many that are recorded, which is strange, as they are part of one of the major races in the actual game. Hence, with no army or rules but some seriously cool dinosaur riding skills, we leave the Exodites in peace at number 1.