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peterstepon

Achilles Assault and a matter of scale

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First of all, I think that Achilles Assault is one of the best books ever to come out for the Warhammer 40K universe.  I love setting books and this was great on the fluff and light on the crunch which was perfect.  I just was a bit concerned about the setting and whether or not the numbers thrown around were arbitrary, or if there was a method to how this setting was created.

DISCLAMER:  Yes, I know that the book is mostly in the imagination and it would be impossible to validate such matters.  But most good fictional  settings have been based on a plausable foundation.  I am sure that many writers for warhammer 40K have a good understanding of military history and geopolitics in our real world (which they have used as inspiration in previous books).  That is what makes the setting richer, rather than a pure high fantasy setting. 

The settting mentions again that there are 6 Billion Imperial Guardsmen in the Achilles Assault.  That number is huge but how does that represent the imperial war machine as a whole?  Most of it seems to be from Scarius Sector so does that mean that Scarius Sector is bearing the brunt of the crusade and can actually committ that many troops to the crusade?  The fluff about the Imperial Army from the early days of Warhammer 40K always made it seem nigh infinite.  Maybe the upcoming book "there is only war might give a more indepth look at the imperial war machine"

Another section said that the majority of troops of the Orpheus salent were engaged on a planet to fight the Tyrannids.  33 regiments or 16 million troops.  Does that mean that Regiments now have 500,000 troops each?  Does that mean that the Orpheus salent is short changed while the other salents get the remander of the 5 billion plus change troops?

The Tau are mentioned to have 80 Fire Caste commands, with at least 12 to 20 cadres each.  If a cadre had, say 40 Fire Warriors (based on the codex), a Command would have about 800 troops.  So the entire Tau army would have... say...100,000 troops?  Maybe, the Taros campaign had about 5,000 warriors and they soundly defeated a larger imperial force.  Fire warriors are better than imperial guardsmen so they would be able to overcome greater numbers.  In addition, they did mention that they were using huge numbers of sympathetic humans who would much rather live in the Tau collective rather than get beaten down by the steel boot of the imperium. 

I got the impression at times that the Achilles Crusade was maybe the biggest crusade in the whole imperium, but at one point mentions that it is one of hundreds, maybe thousands of crusades going on at one time.  Does that mean that the Imperium could support a hundred crusades of similar size simultaneously?

Finally, the original Deathwatch books indicated that about 2 chapters worth of Space marines were involved in the initial deployment, or roughly 1/500 of the entire Astartes might.  Would that proportion be a good indicator of how much the crusade uses of the total imperial war machine?

Again, a fine book.  Reading it really got my imagination running. 

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The Imperium consists of untold billions of worlds - raising Companies of Imperial Guard is VERY easy, given that it's conscription.

As for the Space Marines, it is highly unusual that an entire Chapter is committed to a single campaign, except in cases where that Chapter guards a certain area. More likely, elements of those two Chapters were present in the Crusade, maybe a whole Company, maybe two, but not likely the whole Chapter. Anyways, it is a commonly cited statistic that there are right about 1000 chapters in the Imperium, but those Chapters can vary in size quite a bit.

At any rate, as massive as the Crusade is, it is only one of very many. The Imperium is very, very, very big. There are entire planets dedicated wholly to making weapons, or making food. Entire planets. Billions of people with a singular purpose. Think of what we here on Earth could accomplish if ALL of us were under one government, united in a single purpose. The possibilities are both breath-taking and terrifying. There are reasons that the ships are as decorated as they are - it, proportionally, adds nothing to their cost upon the Imperium as a whole.

That wars are the primary expenditure of the Imperium speaks to the sheer, epic scale of those wars, and their number.

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I haven't had the opportunity to read the book yet (waiting for it to come out on PDF), but I'd like to contribute my thoughts.

peterstepon said:

The settting mentions again that there are 6 Billion Imperial Guardsmen in the Achilles Assault.  That number is huge but how does that represent the imperial war machine as a whole?  Most of it seems to be from Scarius Sector so does that mean that Scarius Sector is bearing the brunt of the crusade and can actually committ that many troops to the crusade?  The fluff about the Imperial Army from the early days of Warhammer 40K always made it seem nigh infinite.  Maybe the upcoming book "there is only war might give a more indepth look at the imperial war machine"
I eagerly await Only War as well. Its my personal opinion that even 6 billion Imperial Guardsmen is not enough to take the Jericho Reach, considering that it is an entire sector consisting of hundreds of planets to be taken. In the games I run, I leave the precise numbers ambiguous, but the Crusade is just too vast to consist of only 6 billion.

peterstepon said:

Another section said that the majority of troops of the Orpheus salent were engaged on a planet to fight the Tyrannids.  33 regiments or 16 million troops.  Does that mean that Regiments now have 500,000 troops each?  Does that mean that the Orpheus salent is short changed while the other salents get the remander of the 5 billion plus change troops?
"Regiment" is technically an accounting term used by the Departmento Munitorum (the bureaucratic arm of the Imperial Guard, responsible for logistics). It is how the Departmento divides soldiers and vehicles into manageable blocks. The reality is that the exact size and composition of any "Regiment" varies hugely, and is extremely idiocentric between the armed forces of various planets. An infantry regiment from one world might consist of five hundred, while the infantry regiment of the world next door could consist of thousands. Regiments are also defined by the type of unit they consist of, and are completely homogenous. Armored regiments include only tanks, infantry regiments include only foot soldiers. This is to force cooperation, so that no individual regiment can rebel without being crushed by combined-arms loyalists. Finally, with regards to the distribution of the troops, remember that Tetrarchus is a megalomaniac, he's drawn all the troops he can into the quagmire of the Acheros Salient so he can win his glorious victory, and he's pulled them from other Salients to do it.

peterstepon said:

The Tau are mentioned to have 80 Fire Caste commands, with at least 12 to 20 cadres each.  If a cadre had, say 40 Fire Warriors (based on the codex), a Command would have about 800 troops.  So the entire Tau army would have... say...100,000 troops?  Maybe, the Taros campaign had about 5,000 warriors and they soundly defeated a larger imperial force.  Fire warriors are better than imperial guardsmen so they would be able to overcome greater numbers.  In addition, they did mention that they were using huge numbers of sympathetic humans who would much rather live in the Tau collective rather than get beaten down by the steel boot of the imperium.
I wouldn't necessarily say that Fire Warriors are better than guardsmen. However, the Fire Caste is trained to fight far more efficiently than the Imperial Guard. They can do more with less. In large part, this is because they move very quickly, and aren't afraid to cede a position if it becomes untenable. Look into Fire Caste philosophy and tactics to learn more. With regards to precise numbers, the Tau have always been described as a species which maintains high population-density within its occupied territories. In the tabletop wargame, Tau units are fairly cheap, and therefore plentiful; Tau players get to put a lot of models on the board, and its not uncommon for them to outnumber their foes. Tau also do employ Auxiliaries, and because I think that non-Chaos humans are one of the most interesting opponents (and foils) for the PCs, I like to play up that aspect of the Tau military hierarchy, having entire civilized nations or that have chosen the Greater Good and contribute their own well-armed and organized military to the cause. In the end, as the GM, its up to you to decide what you want out of your Tau. The Tau army is as big as you need it to be to tell your story. The Imperial army too, for that matter.

peterstepon said:

I got the impression at times that the Achilles Crusade was maybe the biggest crusade in the whole imperium, but at one point mentions that it is one of hundreds, maybe thousands of crusades going on at one time.  Does that mean that the Imperium could support a hundred crusades of similar size simultaneously?
Again, "Crusade" is something of a vague term. For example, the Black Templars once launched a "crusade" to retake an orbital station from the enemy. One battle, but they called it a crusade. An Inquisitor might launch a "crusade" to purge a world of its corrupt leadership and citizens. Rogue Traders might carry a "crusade" into wilderness space to carve out new territory for the Imperium. And yes, there are reclamation Crusades like the Achilus, which cover whole sectors with battlefields. The Imperium is so vast it can be hard to imagine it. A single Hive World might host fifty billion lives or more, all Guardsmen waiting to be conscripted. Yes, there are hundreds of ongoing crusades, and more with each passing day.

peterstepon said:

Finally, the original Deathwatch books indicated that about 2 chapters worth of Space marines were involved in the initial deployment, or roughly 1/500 of the entire Astartes might.  Would that proportion be a good indicator of how much the crusade uses of the total imperial war machine?
The Crusade is a massive commitment of manpower and resources. It might be as much as a few tenths of a percent of the total imperial war machine. But again, the fluff and I sometimes disagree. I don't think that the Crusade involves 1/500th of the Astartes. I think that the Crusade involves as much of the Astartes as I want it to, to tell my story.

Simple guideline: Everything is fanfiction. If you don't like a bit of fluff, ignore it, or change it. Do what you need to do to tell your story. Don't like Tetrarchus? Replace him with someone else. Think Orks are cooler than Tyranids? Have a WAAAGH! invade the Orpheous Salient instead of a Hive Fleet. Want the Achilus Crusade to be a significant drain on the Imperial war machine? Introduce the political and bureaucratic angles that come with reduced resources!

FFG isn't giving you a bible, its giving you good ideas. Do whatever you've got to do, whatever you want to do, to tell your story. Whatever it takes to have fun.

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 Just to sum it up: 
Regimens is a very loose term,  numbers vary greatly around the imperium, even training and equipment varies. The only two things that are really any sort of standard is flak armor (often modified by the regiment/user) and lasguns.

When it says that a chapter participates it's hardly ever the entire chapter, even Armageddon had 20 chapters fighting on/around it, but I don't think even one of them fielded an entire company. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, though  I wouldn't be surprised if the Blood Angels, Salamanders and Black Templars had a full company (or more in BC's case) given their chapter masters were present. 

The scale is most likely massive, given the amount of troops present. But for the imperium itself, I doubt they notice much. With forgeworlds churging out armaments in huge numbers and hive worlds filled with people ready to be conscripted. Hive worlds exist almost entire for this reason.

As for Tau, I'd assume their pulse rifles and armor is better then lasguns , nicknamed flashlights, and flak armor which is mostly designed to stop shrapnel. But I think the biggest difference is training. Think of Tau as having the training a western military in todays world has, and the imperial guard more like back in WW1. Where knowing how to salute and stabbing scarecrows wasabout all the training you got. It's not guardsmen that carry the day for the guard, it's the heavy armour and artillery that pounds the enemy into the dust under a mountain of munitions.
 

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The qaulity of Guardsmen varies greatly from command to command. Some regiments like the Cadian's, Necromundian's and so on fight in ways familliar with modern western armies. Others fight in differant ways (Valhallans, Tallarn, Catachan). Alot of what is seen on the 40K field (mainly because of the way the wargame handles) is reminescent of WWI or WWII. The deeper you go (eg into the RPG aspect of the universe or the Fluff) the greater the actual tactical flavour and performance of these units become.

As has been touched upon, the size and composition of regiments vary wildly. The 6Billion soldiers mentioned (IIRC) are those operating in "FrontLine" theatres, with as muchy as 20times those numbers in second line, garrison and holding theatres. Plus Navy. Plus Auxilary. Plus Sorroritas. Plus the some 20Companies of Astartes present. Plus the Deathwatch (and other inquisitorial assets). Plus the Titan Legions (of which one is named and cited). Plus the other Mechanicus influences. Plus RogueTrader fleets.

The list above takes the numbers of combat assets into the 200Billion mark...

 

Yes the Achillus Crusade is a huge undertaking. But the Imperium is also VAST. It's called the Imperium of a Million worlds, but that's just a catchephrase, it's got huge amounts of resources with which to run these things. Some Imperial Crusades are smaller, some Larger. The Drain on Resources is large but only from a few sectors, of which the Imperium has alot.

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A brief google search tells me that there were about 50 million combatants in world war 1, (when earth had a population of about 1.8 billion)  and perhaps 100 million in world war two (when the world had a population of about 2.3 billion.) We're at about 7 billion now, suggesting if WW3 erupted now, and was a conventional war, we'd be looking at about 300 million combatants. 

So with 6 billion guardsmen, you could probably fight (6 billion divided by 300 million= 20) twenty world wars on earth sized planets. As your guardsmen aren't fighting each other, ie they're not fighting BOTH SIDES of the world war sized campaigns, this means you're looking at a force that size being capable of fighting about 40 "world war" sized campaigns, assuming planets with a population similar to that of modern earth. 

Now the worlds of the Jericho Reach are highly variable. They are not a solid block of 40 worlds each with a population of 7 billion. Some will be virtually uninhabited, some will have a population of 8 million, some may have a populations in the tens of billions. 

Assuming thousands of years of isolation, war and famine, I would say that on average, the human populations of the Jericho Reach are probably far lower than current Earth levels, or indeed the Imperial norm. The overall population of the Reach is likely far lower than, for example, the population of the Calixis Sector, even though it has the potential to sustain similar population levels. 

This suggests to me that 6 billion is actually a perfectly workable number of guardsmen to conquer the depleted and war torn worlds of the Jericho Reach. 6 billion seems about right to me, to be honest. 

I do think that the number of regiments is somewhat understated in the source material, though. Assuming roughly 5,000 men per regiment (Yes, I know, some regiments are much larger, some much smaller) you're looking at 6,000,000,000 divided by 5,000, or 1.2 MILLION regiments. Yet the background material consistently gets into doing things like listing regiments in high level strategic documentation, which is like listing the names of individual soldiers sent to a warzone in a General's briefing.  

(Disclaimer: Maths are NOT my strong point, so aspects of this could be totally wrong!happy.gif)     

 

EDIT: one other quick point: the crusade has taken over 40 years so far. Assuming 6 billion is the current number of troops in theatre (as I say above, this seems a reasonable figure of guardsmen in theatre at any one time) you can bet that the overall number of guarsmen who've fought in the campaign is many times that - perhaps 10-20 times that number, depending upon casualties. The Jericho Reach does seem to have produced quite high casualties, too...   

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Couple of things:

1. Remember that imperials worlds must tithe men to the guard regardless of their technological state. While there are plenty of books about the quality frontline combat units like the Tallarn, Valhallans, Tanith, etc. the fact is that the fluff regularly mentions feral world guard fighting with spears and chainmail shoulder to shoulder with everyone else. Even if this is hyperbole, one can assume that there is a lot of cannon fodder in the guard ranks that is used as such.

2. Non-combatants make up the majority of a modern military. The Imperium being the definition of an inefficient bureaucracy this could be played straight as munitorium officials, administratum auditors, enginseers, sororitas medicae folks, missionaria galactica preachers, astra telepathica support, and the innumerable bodyguards, servants, aides, adjuncts, apprentices, slaves, concubines, camp followers, and other sorts that make up their respective entourages. How many of these are counted in the official guard numbers if any at all is open to interpretation.

3. Everything is true, and one of it is. Remember that the rule of canon in 40k is not what it is in most settings. Almost all material is drawn from an in universe perspective and is subject to rumor, falsehood, intrigue, subterfuge, corruption, and incompetence. Perhaps there are 6 billion guardsman, or perhaps that is only the official list to make the crusade look manageable, or perhaps that number in inflated to make the crusade seem mroe important, or perhaps that number is intentionally massaged to mislead someone. The margin crusade cover up is only the most blatant and sweeping reason to mess with such data, one can easily come up with a 100 others, ranging from petty to diabolical.

 

The Crusade is a a backdrop, as storyteller's prop and stage. Make of it what you will, shape it to your vision, don't get too hung up on mutable details. They are there for your story, not the other way around.

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Bravo that man!

 

Although all the Bureaucractic Staffing is performed by the Administratum and thus isnt entered into the Guard Logis and TO&E lists at all. Entirely seperate monstrosities  and deliberately segregated post Horus Heresy. 

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Moirdryd said:

Bravo that man!

 

Although all the Bureaucractic Staffing is performed by the Administratum and thus isnt entered into the Guard Logis and TO&E lists at all. Entirely seperate monstrosities  and deliberately segregated post Horus Heresy. 

 

Sure, and the ministorum doesn't have armies anymore either...

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Togath said:

Moirdryd said:

 

Bravo that man!

 

Although all the Bureaucractic Staffing is performed by the Administratum and thus isnt entered into the Guard Logis and TO&E lists at all. Entirely seperate monstrosities  and deliberately segregated post Horus Heresy. 

 

 

 

Sure, and the ministorum doesn't have armies anymore either...

It's a little different with the Imperial Guard and their logistical requirements.

The Departmento Munitorum is the department of the Administratum responsible for all matters related to raising, transporting, supplying and maintaining the Imperial Guard (and to a lesser extent, the Imperial Navy), a complex matter requiring untold billions of scribes, statisticians, mathemancers and other personnel to perform. Technically, the Imperial Guard is subordinate to, and exists within, the Departmento Munitorum, which exists above and between every single individual regiment.

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Most of this stuff has been addressed, I only wanted to throw in a few points.

 

It was stated that there was a billion stars in the galaxy.  There are actually between 200 and 400 billions stars in the galaxy.  The galaxy is a very big place.

 

As for differences between the Tau and the IG, the Tau have the advantage of being equipped with the high end of their society's technology and fighting relatively close to their supply chains.  The IG, on the other hand, is equipped with a greater eye on logistical robustness.  Thus vehicles that can be fueled by wood chips or promethium, easy to recharge, robust las weapons with few moving parts being common, easy to mass produce armour and so forth.  The Tau never underwent the uphevels that human civilization has and go to war within close support distance of highly developed worlds.  The Imperium fights a hundred different wars and ships men and equipment all over the galaxy.  It's logistics problems are far beyond what the Tau have to deal with and the IG reflects that. 

 

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