“Astra Militarum” is a silly name, and Games Workshop Knows It

I’ve always had a fondness for the plucky mortal humans of the 40K universe, the brave men and women who face down hordes of demons, aliens and other horrors with nothing more than a dubiously powered firearm. Which meant I was looking forward to the new Codex with eagerness, anticipating massed ranks and lumbering warmachine hijinks.

To book delivered, but Codex: Astra Militarum? Seriously?

The logic behind Astra Militarum can, I think, only be attributed to using make-up words and faux Latin to create branding distinction and something easily trademarked, along with it’s cousin Militarum Tempestus, which doesn’t even have the decency to be properly made up Latin.

Clearly, I think the new Codex names are stupid. But more importantly: Games Workshop knows its true. My evidence for this? Comparing the incidence of “Astra Militarum” in the Codex, the new proper name for the force Formerly Known As The Imperial Army Before Horus Ruined Everything versus “Imperial Guard”, the old and familiar name. Basically, whenever they’re given the opportunity, Games Workshop’s writers refer to the army as the Imperial Guard. A quick search through the electronic version (which may be off by a # or two in each direction) reveals 59 occurrences of “Astra Militarum”. 19 of these refer to the specific book “Codex: Astra Militarum”. 13 of them refer to a specific table, the “Astra Militarum Vehicle Equipment List”. Which leaves only 17 occurrences of the word in the form of headers, prose, things like that.

“Imperial Guard” on the other hand, shows up 111 times, and that doesn’t even include “Imperial Guardsmen”.

That the writers clearly and consistently refer to the force as the Imperial Guard reveals the awkwardness of the new name. Why does this matter – beyond the faux-Latin silliness? For one, having been the person in charge of coordinating holiday gift giving for various people, telling elderly grandparents to buy “Astra Militarum” units is way, way more hazard prone than “Imperial Guard” or just “Guard”. No one is going to refer to the Codex this way. It’s a sacrifice of usability in favor of trademarkability, and lets face it, because everyone is still going to use “Imperial Guard”, knockoff companies selling “Imperial Sentinels” or “Stellar Guard” or whatever else are still going to sell their products.


  1. I think you’re right about this, and everyone will agree with you, but I also think that these days gamers have become so adept at hunting down alternative miniatures that GW could have changed the name to ‘The Royal Imperial People’s Army of the Entire Galaxy’ and it would make no difference.

    They need to make sure their rules are solid, their models are nice, then start to compete on price a little better.

    Perhaps if Games Workshop had kept their hand in with the wider tournament scene, they would have more influence now on what brands of models people buy so they can use them in competitve events?


  2. It all comes down to copyrights. They can copyright “Astra Militarum” but they can’t copyright “Imperial Guard” it’s just something to cover their ass.


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