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Warhammer 40K’s 10th edition still has political satire in its pages

There is only war in Ba Sing Se

A Warhammer 40K wargame battle is taking place between Ultramarines and the deadly insectoid Tyranids. Image: Games Workshop
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

In Warhammer 40,000, there is only war. Still, Games Workshop has always sprinkled a healthy dose of satire through the Imperium of Man. The Warhammer 40K setting is very British, balancing absurd premises with a dry presentation. Even now, with the urgent narrative of a new Tyranid war, characters don’t suddenly become sensible in an effort to survive. The new 10th edition rulebook sheds some light on how the common folk of the Imperium react to the new wave of war.

[Ed. note: This story contains light spoilers for Warhammer 40,000: Leviathan’s core rulebook.]

One subplot in the fourth Tyrannic war is the clash between church and state. More specifically, the Imperium of Man is an enormous fascist empire based on the religion of the God-Emperor of Mankind — and that blind faith, built on the back of the corpse of a man who despised religious dogma, is causing problems for everybody. In a section of the rulebook called “Into the Maw,” we learn more about how the sectors of the Segmentum Pacificus react to the invading threat.

The dissenting voices of Gallospire became more vehement until High Frater Niyellus decreed it heresy to even speak of the Grendyllus tendril, let alone prepare for its onslaught. His directive conflicted with that of the system’s senior military officers to prepare for a full-scale xenos invasion. Torn between blind faith and the frightening realities of the situation, the defenders of the Gallospire System factionalised and tensions escalated rapidly. The first shots of what would come to be known as the War of Closed Eyes were fired soon afterwards.

Surely, the God-Emperor of Mankind wouldn’t let an army of foul xenos slay humanity! Ergo, it can’t be happening, and all the evidence saying so has to be false. The Warhammer 40K setting is at its best when it plays with this sort of grim imagery. It’s nice to imagine that in the face of destruction, all humanity would snap out of our self-destructive urges and band together to stop the Tyranids. Instead, a system descends into civil war over accusations of heresy, fake news, and not loving the Emperor enough.

The 10th edition book is full of other interesting lore, including skirmishes between the Tyranids and dwarven Leagues of Votann, Aeldari strike forces, and even some Orks that get in on the fun.

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