GAMING: Warhammer 40k

I’m just curious what you think of this game. It employs a lot of Christian symbolism, and it’s heavily implied that the Emperor of Mankind attempted to unify the human race through religion (thus implying that he was who we call “Moses” and “Jesus”, etc.).There’s a heavy “the ends justify the means” theme behind it, and the institutions of Mankind could be interpreted as satirical of Catholicism. (I’ve heard the Imperium described as “Catholic Space Nazis” before.)

Blasphemous? Inoffensive? Any thoughts on it?

I play this game regularly, both with Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines and Eldar (space elves). It is true about the ends justify the means, primarily in the Inquisition, where and Inquisitor has permission to fire bomb ab entire planet if they believe it is corrupted beyond salvation (as in the taint is literally affecting the planet.)

The fluff is rather intresting for all races, yes hte Emperor is basically ‘space Jesus’, though it is shown he attempted to remove the ‘delusion’ of religon from humanity.

In truth however its liek any good fantasy/sci fi series. There are good characters, bad characters and grey characters. Some are over the top ‘ends justify the means’ characters but there are also the ‘save everyone’ kind of people. I suggest picking up some of the books (the Horus Heresy series is a good start) and judging for yourself.

As for the game itself? Its just a table top minitures game. Yes there are ‘daemons’ but you can play whoever you like… You can steer clear of the Chaos, Tyranids Necrons etc and just play stuff like the Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Eldar, Tau or the Grey Knights aka Space Templars.


I play the table top game, read the fiction books, and place the video games for Warhammer 40k. It story pulls from literally hundreds of influences. There are many races in it and humanity is usually depicted in a dark gothic sci-fi manner. There is a “Eccliasarchy” which is basically the Church of humanity, and they have a passing resembelence to the Catholic Church (such as using titles like cardinals) but other than that is it not specifically Catholic and doesnt try to be. (In fact the discussion of any religion topics is usually forbidden on warhammer online forums)

As mentioned humanity and by extension the Eccliasarchy have a very “ends justify the means” but this is shaped by the fact that the Emperor (God) was a warrior who waged war across the galaxy, not at all like Jesus Christ. In addition this is a world where deamons, aliens, and heretics are constantly attacking mankind from all sides. So the concept of destroying a whole planet to stop a deamonic incursion is not that uncommon.

In relation to us, I do not think the game is offensive to Catholics, Christians in general, or faith in general. It draws influences off of history, but it is only passing and it is changed enough that it really doesnt reflect much of reality at that point. If anything the faithful in the background, while usually depicted as very zealous, are usually the defenders of humanity and in many ways without them humanity would have become extinct.

I think the other posts are excellent and generally cover the question. There are two things I would like to add, however. The setting for this game is intended to be dark and gritty. The designers purposefully did not want a “good guy” so there were elements of “darkness” included in all the races and, depending on how you look at it, elements of “good” in even the more evil ones. For example: The Imperium of Man may be semi tyrannical and xenophobic, but in the “fluff”, as some put it, there are numerous instances of faith and righteousness (albeit in a fictional deity). The Eldar may be one of the “Order” races, but they are still alien and seperate from humanity in how they think and act, often appearing callous or vicious. The Tau may be all for the greater good, but in the end, they could be construed as castebound and taken advantage of by their ethereal class, plus, one is either with the Greater Good or against it and having plasma rifles aimed at them. The Orcs may be bloodthirsty marauders, but there is a simplicity and honor in their fighting. The Tyranids may be a scourge on the galaxy, but they are basically just animals acting without malice. The Necrons existed before anyone else and are motivated by concerns alien to any of the other races. Even the Chaos legions are motivated by what they percieve as a betrayal by the Emperor of Mankind. So… no one is totally a good guy or bad guy, although several do fall pretty heavily into one catagory or another.

The second point is mostly a reiteration of what has already been said: While there are trappings that make some of the Imperium appear Church-like, they are used in a primarily evocative sense to create a sense of depth, age and encompassment (is that a word?). Nothing in the game is intended to be a truly shining beacon, so even this Chuch-like establishment gets some grime thrown on it. Keep in mind, it IS just a game and if they made one side the glowing perfect Knights that can always successfully cast out the daemons, as it were, there would be little fun in playing the “losing side” and thus the game falls apart. And games that don’t fit together well don’t sell…

But, in the end, it is just a game. And, as RedBaron998 points out, there are some positive points to humanity in the game, zealotry aside. And, in the end, isn’t it better to have a few fictional offerings that have examples of potent and universe reaching monotheistic characters than entirely atheistic or polytheistic settings? One could argue it’s at least in the same zipcode, if not the same neighborhood.

And, yes, I play those Commie Tau, though I am planning on adding to my single Space Marine model eventually or possibly some Sisters of Battle…

One thing I should add: I am writing as someone who only recently has approached this faith. For most of my life I’ve been agnostic or pursuing other paths than Christianity, let alone Catholicism, so my view may be… skewed as I am still integrating my faith into my life and learning and integrating Catholic thought and belief. That said, as far as my understanding of Catholic thought on fiction goes, my opinion shouldn’t be too far off. I think there was a post in the “Questions” section about Harry Potter and why it was evil and the Clergy member answering said basically that while it could be critiqued as literature, that it was a fictional story and could be enjoyed as such if approached as such. I am paraphrasing and I may have misunderstood the response, but there you go.

PS This is my first post so I’m sorry for the rambling.

A few years back a somewhat famous player/painter did a zombie Mary and infant Jesus themed army. Games Workshop disqualified him from the painting contest and censored his army from the GW magazine and website. It’s just one incident but it won my respect.

To doubt the Imperium is to doubt humanity.

Nuns with guns…how more awesome can you possibly be?


I think anyone with sense can look at something like Warhammer 40k and realize that we’re not dealing with serious topics. There isn’t a message in it, Games Workshop isn’t banging a drum, I really don’t think it’s criticism or satire. I’m pretty sure the game isn’t designed for children who are too young to properly understand what they are seeing. Heck, I’m 27 and I’m still having trouble with the rules.

An’ iffn you lot gots a problem wiff’it, ditch those pumy ‘Umies an’ join up wiff some propa boyz!


Blasphemous? Inoffensive? Any thoughts on it?

I thought I’d find it offensive at first, but now I’m a die-hard player of the Dawn of War RTS series. Plus they made it rather obvious that science logic and reason did nothing to protect you against the deamon spawns of the Warp, to quote “Faith is all that matters.”

That being said, I love the Imperial Guard

To bad they are elft behind in the codexes and apparently their blood is more usful then they are. Matt Ward, who most Games Workshop players want to murder butchered the Grey Knights, turning them into an unbeatable force on table top with a broken army list. In the ‘fluff’ he wrote hwo a planet was completely tainted by chaos except for one bastion garrisoned by the Sisters. The grey knights killed the sisters, coated their weapons in their blood and used their ‘magoc blood’ to defeat the enemy. I wonder if they were channeling Kharn :shrug:

Somewhat old but I ran across this like the nerd I am.

I think the 40k fiction has/had some pluses. It was always unclear whether the Imperium (sort of the main protagonist) was good, bad, or something in-between and it often portrayed faith as a very good and noble thing that saves men from the worst of evils. Heck, I would argue early on the fiction like this helped me consider faith in general for there seems little out there that ever portrays faith as a positive thing (what curious ways God can promote conversion :D).

Recently, however, with those blasted Horus Heresy novels, a lot of it seems to be making the fiction darker and more hopeless than it already is and seems to be advancing a lot of militant atheistic ideals (such as the only good of religion in 40k is as a necessary evil that in a more perfect place would be done away with.) I never took that to be a theme of 40k, but I suppose it is solidifying this way. Still, those other elements in the fiction remain, but it mingles with these silly atheistic ideas much much more. Too much for my taste honestly. Gone are the days of 40k being a mythos shrouded in mystery, and the more its uncloaked the lamer it looks.

I actually already held the concept the Imperium was a necessary evil in face of all the dangers humanity faced from the warp and Xenos. I pray for the day GW moves the plot forward but I have the feeling it will never come :frowning:

Don’t play the game, but I’m a big fan of the novels. Especially Dan Abnett’s.

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