By Kieron Gillen on April 4th, 2008 at 1:10 am.
Dawn of War 2’s a go. Which means it’s time to indulge in some completely groundless speculation, intermixed with gags and geek-local-colour. The big question is… what races do we get to play? 40k is a big place. There isn’t room for everyone. Who’ll make the grade in a grim universe where there is only war (again)? Beneath the cut you’ll find a breakdown of the contenders we may see, both likely and not so likely.
Read ‘em, see what you think. Put your prediction for what the races in Dawn of War will be in the comments thread. No prizes, bar bragging rights. Arguing and debating and taking offence over meanness at Tau is also encouraged.
They are? The Adeptus Astartes, a million-strong warrior brotherhood who… okay. Think of 40k. If you’re even aware of it, what you’re thinking of is almost certainly a Space Marine. They’re eight-foot genetically modified power-armoured superfascists. What’s not to love?
What are their chances? A dead cert. An enormous percentage – something like 50%, according to some bloke I met in a in pub once – of the 40k figurines sold are Space Marines. In a real way, the Space Marines are 40k. If you want to lengthen the odds a little, you could speculate they may, rather than vanilla Space Marines, include some of the special rules for individual Chapters (Marines’ Military Unit) to personalise them a little. And – y’know – they’re in the press release.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: There were some sources back in the day which hinted that the Space Marines have their genitalia removed as part of their induction process. Or, at least, that’s what you should say to Space Marine players, as it always gets a rise.
Odds: Evens favourite.
They are? If you don’t know 40k, you’re probably a little lost now. Orkz? Whatever could they be. Well, swap the kz for a cs… ah, yes. That’s right. They’re Orcs, in space, with a K and a Z. Enormously loveable homicidal maniacs with a habit of going on crusades they call WAAAAAARGHs. Why? For no reason at all, my friend, for no reason at all.
What are their chances? A strong contender. They’re one of the main races, and they were in the initial set of Dawn of War. Also, they’re mentioned in the leaked Benelux PC mag article. Assuming they’re right, they’re in. And if they’re not, you can blame Benelux when you lose your money for betting on them. They’re also – er – in the press release too. So you can blame THQ. You can do a whole lot of blaming.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: They’re actually a symbiotic life-form with fungi. Yes, they’re basically mushrooms with attitude.
Odds: 1/1, but less favourite, somehow.
They are? HR Geiger-influenced Hive-mind-controlled monsters who move from planet to planet, consuming everything. Like Locusts, except it’s rare you find a locust that’s weighs several tons. They’re the Zerg, basically. Or, rather, the Zerg are them.
What are their chances? They’re a popular race – they’re also the only major 40k race which didn’t appear in the original Dawn of War. Relic repeated cited technological limitations. Now, with the sequel, expectations are high. In fact, the only thing preventing them being a shoe-in is that they’re so clearly lusted after. They could sell an expansion pack by themselves, if THQ wanted to be cynical.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: “Worked out the secret of the Tyranids? They’re the final weapon of the Old Ones, released when the Necron re-emerged, in a final attempt to get rid of them. Think about it – in which direction did the Old Ones disappear? Which direction are the Tyranid coming from? And who makes biological weapons? And what’s the most impressive Biological weapon in the 40k universe?” This will mean nothing to anyone but the hardest core 40kite, but in them will probably induce excited babbling.
They are? While there’s no good guys in 40k, it’s safe to say that Chaos are the actual Baddest Guys. Tyranids just want to eat everything and poop it out as a chitinous thing with exciting mandibles. But Chaos is about eternal damnation, reality itself warping into insane shapes, a scream, forever, forever, fore… well, they’re not nice. Unless you think that being reduced to a screaming mishapen ever-living bolus of flesh that looks like the result of a one-night stand between the chubbiest game developer at GDC and a Tumour. In which case, they’re very nice indeed.
What are their chances? For some variety of Chaos, very good indeed. The Chaos Space Marines are the Space Marines’ dark mirror, and an absolutely key part of the whole mythos. Where things may be more unpredictable is exactly what strain of Chaos they go for – there’s four Chaos Powers, each with their own brand of Demons. Last time it centred on Khorne’s Bloodthirsters and similar. Maybe Slannesh, Tzeench or Nurgle will get a bit of play this time? Hell, we’d like to see all four properly detailed.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: Casually bring up that you’re actually into the Fifth Chaos Power, Malal…
They are? Space Elves, with a few twists – they’re a fallen race who had too many good parties, and accidentally birthed the Chaos God of Fuck, Slannesh. Whenever an Eldar dies, Slannesh consumes their soul in the warp, which the Eldar generally consider a Bad Thing. They now trap their souls in gems, and store them in the enormous ships they travel the galaxy in, one day dreaming of having enough souls so they can release them all at once and create a God who’ll be able to maintain itself and not be gobbled up by Slannesh. Since their ships keep on getting blown up, they haven’t got a chance in hell of this working. Completely doomed, bless ‘em. In the standard “Starcraft ripped off 40k argument”, people say they’re what the Protoss are. This is, frankly, a bit of a reach.
What are their chances? Well, they were one of the initial four races in Dawn of War. However, while a relatively subtle race which rewards expert play, they don’t actually seem that popular. From Dawn of Wars four races, I’d say the Eldar were the ones most likely to be swapped for something new. But then again, I’ve always hated the Elves of all varieties.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: “Worked out the secret of the Laughing God yet? He’s the C’tan Deciever. No, think about it”. This is even more indecipherable than the Tyranid conspiracy theory. If someone even vaguely understands what you’re talking about, they’re a big dirty geek. Either bait them or befriend them according to your nature. They will know a lot about hit modifiers.
THE IMPERIAL GUARD
They are? The Imperium’s Army. Basic soldiers in Space. As regularly savaged as you’d imagine a normal human would be in a combat zone where the average inhabitant is over seven foot tall and has swapped their hands for chainsaws. Luckily, they have big tanks.
What are their chances? Reasonable… ish. They were the first expansion pack last time. If Relic want to balance the four races half Imperium and half enemies of the imperium, they’re the strongest non-Space Marine race. It kind of depends whether they actually want to do that, obv.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: Mention that the original Imperial Guard list didn’t actually have any tanks. They came later. A lot later. In fact, some heavily beaten Imperial Guards veteran commander like yours truly may say, much too late.
They are? Robot undead from the beginning of time. Cthullu meets the Terminator, with a splash of an Egyptian Influence. A latter-day addition to the 40k world, but a fairly popular one. Also, vibrant use of bright green. It’s a genuine fashion risk, but they pull it off with style.
What are their chances? Probably an outsider, alas, because their Dark Crusade Incarnation was really neat. If they don’t go for the Tyranids (and – were I to guess – Guards) for the Expansion pack, the Necron would be a strong choice for the second race.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: “When the Void Dragon wakes up, the Imperium is completely screwed. I mean, without the Adeptus Mechanicus, the whole thing falls apart” This means nothing to you, but will mean something to them.
THE TAU EMPIRE
They are?Zen-fascists with zap-guns. Kind of the mirror of the Necron – while they came from the beginning of time, these are a young, optimistic race who have yet to realise that they’re just a speck in an infinite, uncaring cosmos. Frankly, I look forward to the day, because they’re an uppity bunch of dipshits.
What are their chances? Even more of an outsider than the Necron, unless they get swapped in place of the Eldar. With their fancy mech-suits and railguns and similar, they’re a ranged-focused army – if the main three are Orks, Marines and Chaos, they do add tactical variety in a way that the Necron wouldn’t.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: Note that it’s a bit sinister that many Tau fans seem to take the Greater Good thing without any irony. It’s a society based on mind-control, a strict-caste system and (arguably) genocide-by-sterilisation. Just because they wear pastels and don’t want to eat you and poop you out as a chitinous thing with exciting mandibles doesn’t make them Good guys, y’know.
They are? As Jim put it in his recent review of Soulstorm: “The normal Eldar might be a bit emo, but they’ve got some class. The Deldar are awkward pubescent posers, like they did Chaos but didn’t inhale.” They’re mainly notable to me for their plan to avoid being eaten by Slannesh when they die – they figure they should worship him and feed him so many souls they’ll leave them alone. This is about as well thought out a plan as the normal Eldar’s.
What are their chances? It took three expansions to get to them last time. I don’t see it being any different this time around. And, I suspect, the general critical shrug surrounding Soulstorm won’t help their cause.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: I’d just quote Jim’s “they did try Chaos but didn’t inhale” line.
THE SISTERS OF BATTLE
They are? Warrior Nuns with Flamethrowers.
What are their chances? Probably even less than the Deldar. They were generally dismissed as bosomy Space Marines, and Soulstorm’s rep won’t help them either.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: They’re mainly notable for how they came into being. The Imperium’s Ecclesiastic branch wasn’t allowed soldiers, for various reasons. However, the rule said something like “No man shall serve the Ecllesiastic People”. At which point one person noted it didn’t say anything about women. Instead of telling them to fuck off, the High Lords of Terra let it slide. This is another classic example of people in the 40k universe not thinking through things properly.
THE SISTERS OF MERCY
They are? An old goth Band featuring Andrew Eldritch, Drum-machine Doktor Avalanche and whoever he says so. Actually a bit awesome, on the quiet.
What are their chances? Something of a dark horse.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: Did you know Andrew Eldritch is into interactive fiction?
They are? Dwarfs… in… SPACE!!!!
What are their chances? About as outside as they get. While existing in early 40k lore, were written out when – basically – it was decided they were a bit rubbish. They were human miners stuck on high-gravity worlds for a long time, and ended up being shorter and having their own culture around ancestor worship. Hmm… they were a bit rubbish. Their most inspired section was their Biker-units, who were clearly hells-angels with Bolters.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: “Have you noticed that any time Games Workshop wants to get rid of a bit of the background, they have the Tyranid eat it and poop it out as a chitinous thing with exciting mandibles? The Squats… the Zoats. They’re less an alien race, more the office paper-shredder.”
They are? Dwarfs… in… SPACE!!! Prt 2
What are their chances?Minimal. They’re space-dwelling traders who dwell in exoskeletons, a bit like Kosh in Babylon Five. Or, at least, I think they do – the Demiurg are right at the periphery of the 40k mythos, and little is known about them. It’s just about possible that GW may want to introduce a race properly in Dawn of War, feeding it into the minds of millions of Gamers… but it’s a tad unlikely. But still more likely than the Squats.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: They’re responsible for actually selling the Tau their Ion Cannon tech. So it’s THEIR fault.
They are? Okay – this is an interesting one. There’s all sorts of creatures and races buried in 40k’s voluminous lore, but in the recently published Dark Heresy 40K RPG there was a box-out describing the main alien threats to the Imperium. All the usual ones are rolled out – Eldar, Tau, The French. But buried in the list are the “Verminthiculians”, described as “Wild Mercenaries and Reavers”. Now, the name would imply that this may the start of an attempt to bring something akin to Warhammer Fantasy’s Skaven - chaos rats, and probably my favourite race in the Fantasy game – into 40k. Now, it could be dismissed as just another name for the Hrud, another 40k background race, who are traditionally described in a short-hand fashion as the equivalent to the Skaven… except the Hrud are also on the list. This is something different. Could they use Dawn of War 2 to introduce it to the world?
What are their chances? No, probably not. But there’s more chance of it than the Squats coming back.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: Mentioning them will do the trick. There’s only two google hits on them right now, and one of them is me talking about ‘em over on QuarterToThree.
They are? Orangutans. Orangutans with the ability to assembled hyperadvanced technology from what’s lying around – like a more Simian McGuyver – but Orangutans, nevertheless.
What are their chances? Still more likely than the Squats. While they’ve been kind of buried in the mythos since they appeared in the first edition, at least they haven’t been pooped out as a chitinous thing with exciting mandibles.
Random Thing to Say to 40k fans about them: Er… Orangutans, eh?
What do I think? Marines, Chaos, Orkz and Tyranid.