Warhammer 40k painting of battle between space marines and orks.

Warhammer 40,000

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Updated Jul 27, 2023 at 10:42AM EDT by Zach.

Added Sep 20, 2011 at 02:54PM EDT by Jolly Jew.

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Warhammer 40,000, also known as Warhammer 40K and simply 40K, is a tabletop miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop,[1] set in a dystopian science-fantasy universe of the 41st millennium where a decaying human civilization is engaged in an endless conflict with alien races and supranational creatures. The Warhammer 40,000 franchise comprises tabletop games, video games, novels, films, TV series, comics and other media since 1987.


Tabletop Games

The game was created by Rick Priestley and Andy Chambers in 1987 as the futuristic companion to Warhammer Fantasy Battle, sharing many game mechanics with it. Warhammer 40,000 receives regular expansions, which provide rules for urban skirmishes, planetary siege and large-scale combat. As of 2021, the game is in its ninth edition, which was released in July 2020.[14] The background and playing rules of the game's factions are covered in the game's rulebooks and supplemental army "codexes," along with articles in the Games Workshop magazines, White Dwarf[2] and Imperial Armour.[3]

The Warhammer 40,000 universe is set in the 41st millennium, a dystopian and violent future, with the tagline of the game being "In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war." The tagline gave a name to a subgenre of speculative fiction, known as "grimdark."[15]

The setting of the game is centered around an endless conflict between the Imperium of Man, an authoritarian human empire that comprises about one million worlds and is led by the Emperor of Mankind, several alien races, including Necrons, Aeldari, Orks, Tyranids and T'au, as well as the forces of Chaos from the parallel universe known as the Warp.

The Warhammer 40,000 universe has been described as fatalistic, brutal and uncompromising and is the prime example of the grimdark genre. In Warhammer 40,000 lore, events such as entire solar systems being devoured by evil gods to consume the minds of psychic humans are not uncommon. The game's over-the-top, uncompromising lore has been a constant subject of jokes within the fandom, giving rise to a notable meme culture.

Other Media

In addition to the main tabletop game, Warhammer 40,000 franchise includes a large variety of other media, including spin-off board games, novels, comic books and video games. The game has an expansive universe, prompting hundreds of books based on the universe, most notably by a company named Black Library[4], and a fair share of video games, mostly made by Relic Entertainment[5].

As of October 2020, nearly 40 video games set in the Warhammer 40,000 franchise had been released.[16] Some of the most popular video games within the franchise include the 2004 strategy video game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and its 2009 sequel Dawn of War II, the 2011 hack-n-slash video game Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and the 1997 strategy game Final Liberation: Epic 40,000.


The franchise has a large presence on the internet. There are many forums devoted to it including 40KForums,[8] DakkaDakka,[9] Warseer[10] and 4chan's /tg/ board. Over the years, an extensive amount of fanon has been created by Warhammer 40,000 players, ranging from fan-created characters to the entire chapters of Space Marines. A dedicated Wiki, Warhammer 40,000 Fanon,[11] contains over 1,500 entry pages. Much of the fanon can is archived at 1d4chan,[12] a fan website that also details the lore behind the factions within the franchise and discusses strategies that players can employ.

Over the years, the franchise spawned an extensive amount of fan art, which can be found across a large variety of websites, including DeviantArt,[6] Tumblr and imageboards (examples shown below).

The franchise has been a popular subject of memes. In 2021, Warhammer 40,000 has several dedicated meme communities online, most notably the /r/grimdank[17] subreddit and 40k Inquisitionposting[18] Facebook group.

Metal Bawkses

"Metal Bawkses!" is a catchphrase which originates from Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Soulstorm, the third expansion to 2004 video game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War. The phrase is uttered during an assault on the stronghold of the Blood Ravens when playing as the Chaos Space Marines. In a cutscene that describes Blood Ravens using Rhino armored transports, the Chaos Lord refers to them as "metal boxes." However, due to the nature of voice acting in Dawn of War, the Chaos Lord pronounces it as "metal bawkses."

Spess Mehreens / Indrick Boreale

Another voice acting joke from Dawn of War: Soulstorm, "Spess Mehreens" refers to the way character Indrick Boreale, a Space Marine captain, pronounces "space marines" during his speech.

Blood for the Blood God!

"Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!" is a battle cry used by the Chaos Space Marines faction. The phrase refers to Khorne, also called the Blood God and the Lord of Skulls, one of the Four Gods of Chaos, who is the God of blood, war and murder. The catchphrase also spawned X for the X God! snowclone.



In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, humanity has come to worship The Emperor of Mankind, who led the Great Crusade to restore humanity to the stars, as the one true god. The violent nature of the universe, coupled with blind faith, has led to an establishment of radical theocracy, resulting in heresy and blasphemy being considered the worst crimes a person can commit. It is common for heretics to be used as living fuel, burned alive, have their soul shredded or otherwise executed.


Creed's Tactical Genius

Ursarkar E. Creed, commonly known as Creed, is the leader of the Imperial forces of Cadia. He is known for having a unique rule called Tactical Genius. The rule allows Creed to infiltrate nearly any unit under the Outflank special rule. However, Creed can infiltrate units such as divisions of vehicles and Titans, which would normally make no logical sense, the rule spawned an exaggeration meme, with players imagining large tanks coming from behind telephone poles, etc.

The cry "It must have taken some sort of tactical genius… CREEEEED!" originates from a combination of the name of the rule with a piece of fan fiction.[7]

Angry Marines

The Angry Marines are a popular custom army created by 4chan's /tg/ (traditional games) board. The chapter members are known for their bright yellow armor with red elements, unorthodox fighting style and being constantly angry. Their battle cry is “ALWAYS ANGRY! ALL THE TIME!”. The chapter spawned an extensive amount of fan fiction and art.[13]

F--- YO

Other Memes

More Dakka – "Dakka" is an Ork term for high rate of fire. The phrase has been as a caption in image macros featuring gigantic rapid-fire weapons.

Just as Planned / Not as Planned is a phrase associated with everything being a plot uttered by Tzeentch.

Drive Me Closer! I Want To Hit Them With My Sword! is a phrase that originates from an image of a Commissar in a Leman Russ Battle Tank holding his sword high. The phrase mocks the fact that in a setting with tanks and machine guns, people still try to charge the enemy to hit them with a sword.

The Emperor Protects is a popular quote that references the Emperor's godlike authority in the Imperium.

WAAAGH! – the Ork word for war. It's a word that in order to say properly must be shouted. The word gains more power the more Orks shout it.

Red Ones Go Fasta! – Orks have a strong belief that a red vehicle moves faster than one that isn't. This being Orks, this is true for them. It is considered comedic because it doesn't make logical sense.

Thin Your Paints – advice to novice painters to avoid obscuring model details with globs of paint. A formulation of 60-66% paint 40-33% water is optimal.

Extra Heretical – often aimed at an example of extreme heresy.

"Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!" is a phrase that can often be heard at Warhammer 40,000 tournaments, particularly when an Ork player is doing well, but also as a sort of general rallying cry for the entire hobby.

Matt Ward is a codex writer for Warhammer 40,000. His codexes have gained a reputation of featuring ludicrously overpowered rulesets and bastardization of lore.

Bloody Magpies is a fan nickname for Blood Ravens Space Marine Chapter, who have a reputation of stealing various gear, relics and other objects.

Abaddon the Armless Failure / Failbaddon is a meme that started from a picture of Chaos Lord Abaddon’s miniature with its arm parts missing, combined with the fact that Abaddon started 13 black crusades against the Imperium and failed to destroy it.

Exterminatus is a catchphrase similar to “Heresy!” or “Orbital bombardment: It’s the only way to be sure.”. It has been used in image macros to signify one’s extreme dislike of something to the degree that they would prefer it destroyed and obliterated.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Games Workshop – Official Website

[2] Wikipedia – White Dwarf magazine

[3] Wikipedia – Imperial Armour

[4] Black Library – Official Website

[5] Relic Games – Official Website

[6] DeviantArt – Warhammer 40K

[7] 1d4chan (via Wayback Machine) – Creed

[8] 40KForums (via Wayback Machine) – Home Page

[9] DakkaDakka – Main Page

[10] WarSeer – Forums

[11] Warhammer 40K Fanon Wiki – Main Page

[12] 1d4chan (via Wayback Machine) – Main Page

[13] 1d4chan (via Wayback Machine) – Angry Marines

[14] Polygon – Warhammer 40,000 9th edition is no less complex, but much more inviting

[15] Wikipedia – Grimdark

[16] PC Gamer – Every Warhammer 40,000 game, ranked

[17] Reddit – /r/Grimdank

[18] Facebook – 40k Inquisitionposting

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