I may have done something rather silly. I’ve briefly handed over the reigns to Timothy Stephens (@tjstep83) who has written a little article poking fun at the noble warriors of Macragge and why they’ve become the poster boys for the Imperium and Warhammer 40,000 as a whole.
Before I unleash Tim on my beloved Ultramarines I will say this; I started collecting an Ultramarines army after years of watching kids paint them terribly because they were the ones on the box. I was determined to prove that you could field a nicely painted Ultramarines army. It was only until I’d started down my journey to Ultramar that I realised what a fantastic and honourable heritage the chapter had. It resonated with me and started a passion for those blue armoured bastards that is approaching 10 years and 2 full companies…
Ultramarines are perhaps the single most prolific space marine army on the tabletop in the science fiction or fantasy realm of Warhammer 40,000. Since Second Edition the Ultramarines have also formed the basis, whether we like it or not, of every vanilla marine codex ever printed. Ultimately, for whatever unfathomable reason, Games Workshop chose the Ultramarines as their poster boy. In the following article the question is raised, why did Games Workshop make the Ultramarines their poster boy and not some other Space Marine chapter like the Imperial Fists?
Why not choose the Imperial Fists? The sons of Dorn were featured in one of the first ever Games Workshop printed novels entitled Space Marine and have inspired many a gamer since. Imperial Fists were there at Terra by the Emperor’s side when Horus came knocking, surely that is a worthy enough deed! In addition they successfully helped to defend Cadia against the thirteenth black crusade, have fought against Tyranids and stopped many an Ork WAAGH! Surely that must be taken into consideration when deciding who gets to be Games Workshop’s poster boy?
However, only Ultramarines are worthy enough to be put on the cover of 3 out of 4 vanilla marine codices (We won’t mention third edition now will we?). Only Ultramarines are good enough to be pictured on the Vanilla Marine Box Sets. Well to be honest that marvel of a movie “Ultramarine: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie” says it all about why the Ultramarines are the Games Workshop poster boys! When John Hurt states in the introduction that “the greatest of them all are the Ultramarines.” You don’t need to debate the issue anymore! Quite simply they are the greatest, no qualifier as to why is needed.
Ultramarines have a proud history of slaying the alien, burning the heretic and knowing no fear! Indeed on many occasions they have stuck to the holy tenants of the Codex Astartes, as laid out by Roboute Guilliman, to persecute a war in a timely and efficient manner that any management team would be proud of! They defeated the Tyrannic hoard at Macragge and destroyed the Necron menace at Deimos all in quick order and without incident. Compare that to the blundering efforts of the Imperial Fists who’s greatest contribution to date was letting valuable gene-seed fall into the hands of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion, or First Captain Lysander’s dubious escape from Malodrax.
A further reason why Games Workshop would choose the Ultramarines over the Imperial Fists comes from fluff relating to the scouring, that event in which the Loyalists pushed the Traitor Legions back into the eye of terror. During the scouring the Imperial Fists located the Iron Warriors final bastion, the Eternal Fortress. The Imperial Fists under Rogal Dorn leaped head first into a war of attrition with no forethought or planning. Needless to say the legion was nearly wiped out to a man. The remaining sons of Dorn were rescued by the heroic actions of the newly formed Ultramarine Chapter who also forced the Iron Warriors to retreat. Thus the Imperial Fists could never hope to challenge the Ultramarines as poster boys!
The choice of the colour palate is a more practical example on why Games Workshop chose the Ultramarines over the Imperial Fists. Unfortunately, for the Ultramarines, this is a point of derision that seems to rear its head occasionally. The most common dig seems to be Ultra-Smurf for obvious reasons. However painting an army yellow is for either the most experienced pro or the bravest amateur around! Good yellow often starts with a dark brown and works its way up, layer after painstaking layer. Blue on the other hand only requires one coat if you’re a beginner or maybe three if you want to put some more effort into it. This is why ultramarines are great for Games Workshop’s target market, the tween boy! As a result the Ultramarines have their own free how to paint guide available and if someone wants to go all out, they can purchase the “how to paint Ultramarines” guide from iBooks. You don’t see a guide on how to paint Imperial Fists on iBooks now do you?
Clearly Ultramarines are the number one choice for poster boy for a number of reasons. Let’s recap! Their Fluff is better than the Imperial Fists, being more noble and pure of heart than any other chapter of space marines. According to John Hurt they are the greatest, no qualifier needed! They also rescued the Imperial Fists from certain doom at the Eternal Fortress, while they are much easier to paint than other space marine chapters featuring their own free how to paint guide. At the end of the day however it is easy to see why a jealous Rogal Dorn that started these anti-Ultramarine shenanigans all because he couldn’t choose the colour he wanted for his legion.