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Discussion Starter #1
Do you like how they've handled the Thunder Warriors?

Before The Outcast Dead, I always thought the Astartes would be superior to the Thunder Warriors in every way. A Thunder Warrior would be somewhere between a mortal and an Astartes.

Since the release of Outcast Dead, we know that man for man, Thunder Warriors are bigger, stronger, and faster than Astartes.

At first I thought maybe Arik Taranis and Ghota were outliers of the Thunder Warriors, extremely powerful specimens (especially Arik of course) far above average Thunder Warriors.

However, In Forge World's Betrayal (released after Outcast Dead), it's mentioned that in the aftermath of a certain battle, each Thunder Warrior corpse is surrounded by several World Eater corpses (apparently, the World Eaters encounter Thunder Warrior remnants in this engagement).

The main flaw of the Thunder Warriors seems to be unpredictable mental and physical deterioration. They are easily lost to violent insanity, unpredictable rages, uncontrollable bloodlust. Consequently, they probably fight more like a horde of berserkers and less like a disciplined army. Perhaps the Emperor views the Butcher's Nails with such disapproval because it's almost like the Word Eaters have chosen to regress from Astartes back to the berserk, undisciplined Thunder Warriors.

The Thunder Warriors also have short life-spans and I surmise that physical deterioration might strike them suddenly at inopportune times (for instance...during a campaign or even in the middle of battle). For several reasons, I don't like the idea that the Emperor purposefully engineers the Thunder Warriors to have short, unpredictable life-spans so that they would die out by the start of the Great Crusade. These reasons are...

1) The Thunder Warriors don't need to have short life-spans to be "phased out". The Emperor could simply cease their production.

2) Even with their short life-spans, the Thunder Warriors had to be culled anyway. If they were really designed to die off in a short time, they obviously didn't die off soon enough and had to be culled. I guess you could say the Emperor didn't any survivors to survive for too long after the cull but still...

3) If the Emperor designed the Thunder Warriors to have short life-spans, that means he could've designed Thunder Warriors with long life-spans. I think there should be a trade-off by necessity between the Thunder Warriors and the Astartes, otherwise the Astartes wouldn't really represent an improvement over the Thunder Warriors.

Some other advantages Astartes should have over Thunder Warriors are higher combat/tactical intelligence, eidetic memory, less sustenance required to function effectively, greater adaptability to harsh non-Earth environments.

With all that said, I've come to like the idea that Thunder Warriors don't just represent the intermediary link between mortal and Astartes. They essentially represent an interesting trade-off. It shows that the Emperor prefers intelligent, professional soldiers capable of serving as diplomats if necessary, rather than unpredictable berserkers who can't control their bloodlust.

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts. What are yours?
 

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But in that battle aren't the Thunder Warriors in a very defensible location with everything you need to hold off an army? If I am wrong then please forgive my lack of knowledge as I do not have Betrayal yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
But in that battle aren't the Thunder Warriors in a very defensible location with everything you need to hold off an army? If I am wrong then please forgive my lack of knowledge as I do not have Betrayal yet.
No...it's just a bloody chaotic melee. The text suggest the TW simply put up a hell of a fight.

The TW also seems to be more resilient to physical trauma (being shot, stabbed, clubbed etc.)
 

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But in that battle aren't the Thunder Warriors in a very defensible location with everything you need to hold off an army?
It's unclear. To quote Betrayal:

"...and records more than once coming across the hulking carcass of an armoured Thunder Warrior, often with three or four of his numbers in Legiones Astartes dead around him--of choke-points and defence posts turned into blood-soaked charnel houses..."

We don't know if the Thunder Warriors manned those posts, but it's a fair assumption they'd have utilized those positions to their advantage. Particularly since not ALL Thunder Warriors was surrounded by multiple War Hound corpses. Just most.
~~~~~~~~

But as for the OP, I dislike how powerful the Thunder Warriors have been portrayed. I honestly think they should be weaker, across the board.

Then again we know that the Emperor was attempting to conquer Terra for at least 800 years with "thunder-armoured troops". Even if those troops from 800+ years ago hadn't survived, for whatever reason, perhaps some of them had had least a couple-few centuries worth of experience on the onset of the Great Crusade? More than a match for the relatively new War Hounds.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Then again we know that the Emperor was attempting to conquer Terra for at least 800 years with "thunder-armoured troops". Even if those troops from 800+ years ago hadn't survived, for whatever reason, perhaps some of them had had least a couple-few centuries worth of experience on the onset of the Great Crusade? More than a match for the relatively new War Hounds.
Except the TW are supposed to be very short-lived compared to Astartes. The basic idea is they burn brighter but shorter.

Compared to the Astartes, the TW are a highly unreliable, unstable product. They go insane or their bodies suddenly fail them. This instability is a high price to pay for their power.

You want them to achieve precision objectives? They'll probably just massacre everyone and cause a sh*tload of collateral damage. You want them to cooperate with Imperial Army elements? Those Imperial Army elements better be highly expendable. You need them to fight with discipline and coordination against a tricky, highly sophisticated foe? They'll probably just charge mindlessly in en masse

They're like the World Eaters, post-Nails. Man for man, they're more powerful in combat but they're even more unreliable. You don't know when their bodies are going to shut down or when they'll go completely insane. Even with the Nails, the World Eaters usually avoid attacking other World Eaters in battle...that might not be the case when some Thunder Warriors suddenly lose their marbles during an engagement.

I'm fine with this idea of really powerful Thunder Warriors if the cost of that power is sufficient to justify the switch to Astartes. Another possibility is that a Thunder Warrior is costlier to produce than an Astartes. The Astartes program was the culmination of the Emperor's efforts to design the most cost-effective supersoldiers. I also like the idea that the TW would be more susceptible to Chaos corruption and the Emperor knew this. Keep in mind that by the end of the Great Crusade, the Emperor would need a peacekeeping, defensive, governing force. The TW (like the WE with Nails) would fail miserably at that task.
 

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Personally, I doubt the Unification Wars lasted for a period as long as (at least) 800 years. I can't believe that the Emperor was able to conquer the galaxy in 200 years, but couldn't conquer a single world in 800.
 

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I can't believe that the Emperor was able to conquer the galaxy in 200 years, but couldn't conquer a single world in 800.
He still hadn't conquered Terra completely even by the time of the Heresy, so it may have taken that long to get it under enough control that he could think of looking outwards.

As to the OP, I thought it was handled well. The fact that some are clinging to life and looking for a way to cure what ails them despite the apparent concerted efforts of the Emperor to kill them off makes sense, and gives us a glimpse into what went on during the Unification wars.

They appear far more powerful than SMs, but that is balanced by the flaws they appear to have. I don't think they were necessarily bred into the TWs by the Empy, because they were created to do a specific job (conquer Terra) which they did quite successfully.

But when it came time to look at starting the Great Crusade a more stable, long lived and adaptable breed of warrior was needed. These traits counter balance the apparent loss of strength and ferocity compared to TWs.

The
 

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Personally, I doubt the Unification Wars lasted for a period as long as (at least) 800 years. I can't believe that the Emperor was able to conquer the galaxy in 200 years, but couldn't conquer a single world in 800.

This is something I don't get either. Something that should be explained at some point...It make little sense.
 

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I speculate that building up resources and recruiting the original thunder warriors was counted a part of said period, as well the time needed to transform them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
As to the OP, I thought it was handled well. The fact that some are clinging to life and looking for a way to cure what ails them despite the apparent concerted efforts of the Emperor to kill them off makes sense, and gives us a glimpse into what went on during the Unification wars.

They appear far more powerful than SMs, but that is balanced by the flaws they appear to have. I don't think they were necessarily bred into the TWs by the Empy, because they were created to do a specific job (conquer Terra) which they did quite successfully.

But when it came time to look at starting the Great Crusade a more stable, long lived and adaptable breed of warrior was needed. These traits counter balance the apparent loss of strength and ferocity compared to TWs.
I have two big gripes though...

1) The idea that the Emperor culls the TW so that he doesn't have to share the glory. This idea makes no sense to me. He engineered the TW. No one's going to say, the Emperor didn't accomplish that much, the TW did it for him...when the Emperor himself was responsible for the creation of his unstoppable army.

I hope that this idea is simply erroneous conjecture by Babu Dhakal.

2) The emperor designs the TW to be short-lived and physically unstable. I think the short life-spans and the physical instability (along with mental instability/loss of sanity) should be necessary costs of the TW's great power. If the Emperor were capable of producing physically stable, long-lived TW, these TW would arguably be superior to Astartes.

If that were the case, the major tradeoff would only be between mental stability and power. Granted, mental stability (sanity, discipline, lucidity and intelligence during battle etc.) is a very big advantage, but I feel that the TW's incredible power should come at an additional price.

I view the difference between TW and SM as the difference between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon or the difference between a stronger combat droid prone to malfunction/shutdown and a weaker but much more reliable combat droid.

I also think that in most cases, the TW process decreases overall intelligence whereas the Astartes process increases it.
 

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As Ive mentioned in other threads, I speculate that the failings of the Thunder Warriors demonstrates the limitations of pure genetech, making deranged and unstable monsters burning themselves up.

So the Emperor goes for another plan, to draw on the warp to create super generals from the bottom up, carved and created from the energies of the warp mixed with genecraft for astounding results, and using the resulting materials to create much more stable warriors.

Perhaps the Emperor had originally intended for his Thunder Warriors to be the ones to unite humanity for him, but as they began to prove themselves to be liabilities in the long term, he started to run out of time and needing to create a new army asap and thusly delving into the warp to set the foundations for the Astartes and their Primarchs. Which easilly plays into the scaremongering of Erebus claiming that the Emperor made a deal with the chaos gods to create the Primarchs. I dont think he actually did, but the best lies has a kernel of truth in them. And he did infuse his creations with warp power and drawing the attentions of the Four, making them desire the primarchs.
 

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Except the TW are supposed to be very short-lived compared to Astartes. The basic idea is they burn brighter but shorter.
We don't really know, for a fact, how long an Astartes can really live. 1500 years? 2000 years?

The Thunder Warriors may have been shorter-lived, but perhaps they were only needed to fight, say, 200 years. Still, against freshly founded War Hounds, that's an enormous gap in experience.

You want them to achieve precision objectives? They'll probably just massacre everyone and cause a sh*tload of collateral damage. You want them to cooperate with Imperial Army elements? Those Imperial Army elements better be highly expendable. You need them to fight with discipline and coordination against a tricky, highly sophisticated foe? They'll probably just charge mindlessly in en masse
Do we have proof that they were this unstable? I don't think we've seen them in action outside Outcast Dead and those were hardly a good sample of what to expect of regular Thunder Warriors.
 

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He still hadn't conquered Terra completely even by the time of the Heresy, so it may have taken that long to get it under enough control that he could think of looking outwards.
He had conquered it, it was undoubtedly under his control after all. He just hadn't assimilated every faction seamlessly.

Which easilly plays into the scaremongering of Erebus claiming that the Emperor made a deal with the chaos gods to create the Primarchs. I dont think he actually did, but the best lies has a kernel of truth in them. And he did infuse his creations with warp power and drawing the attentions of the Four, making them desire the primarchs.
It does seem increasingly likely that he did made some sort of pact or bargain with the Chaos Gods. Magnus states as much in A Thousand Sons.

in a fanfic bit im thinking up in my head there might have been extremely powerful techno barbarian tribes in terra and some even chaos alligned.
Look into the Terran nation of Ursh.
 

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1) The idea that the Emperor culls the TW so that he doesn't have to share the glory.
I don't think that was the reason. Maybe he was hoping they would just fade away with time and he wouldn't have to worry about them after too long. This didn't happen as he hoped, and they became something of a thorn in his foot. Around this time he now has fledgling Astartes legions that need to be blooded, and what better way to prove their mettle than by taking on their older, bigger brothers? Two birds with one stone, so to speak.

If the Emperor were capable of producing physically stable, long-lived TW, these TW would arguably be superior to Astartes.
You have to remember that the TWs were the very first iteration of a process that would undergo constant refinement over a couple of centuries. He needed an army that would conquer Terra. They needed to be powerful, tough and ferocious, but not necessarily long lived because it was only one world he had to conquer with them, and not a very big one at that. He did however have a longer term plan, the Great Crusade, and probably struck a balance in the process. By taking all the lessons learned in the development of the TWs the Emperor discovered that making astartes not as big, strong and tough he could get an indeterminate life span out of them. With the advent of power armour the difference becomes negligible and well worth the trade off.

It's also worth remembering though that the TWs in TOD are centuries old at that stage, and while they appear to be suffering some physical and mental deterioration they are still formidable warriors. It's possible they could have been saved if the full might of the Emperor's powers of genetic manipulation were used on them.
 

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A thought on the supposed Chaos-bargain the Emperor made to create the Primarchs and hence the Astares. To date one vast difference between the Primarchs/Astares and the Thunder Warriors is the psychic ability, which is present in almost all the Primarchs in one form or another and the geneseed accommodates in implanted Astares candidates... at least I haven't heard of a chapter yet who's geneseed rejects anyone with latent or active psyker powers. Including this enhancement in the Primarchs/Astares would be a major imrpovement on the Thunder Warriors, especially when the GC will almost certainly have the Astares encountering alien species in the thrall of Chaos, when the Emperor isn't around personally to kick their asses as he could do on Terra.

From Deliverance Lost, Corax reads in the Emperor's implanted memories that the base genetic mix used for the Primarchs includes some of his own DNA, hence each Primarch has characteristics of the Emperor. The Emperor's own DNA would be both superior and far more complex than anything utilized to create the Thunder Warriors in it's versatility and potential. Opening the genetic code for psykers in the Primarch process provides an in for Chaos like is present in any psyker, but that doesn't mean the Emperor made a bargain with Chaos, he only opened the door for them to interefere where none had been before with the Thunder Warriors. It does make for a more interesting story line to have the Emperor come across as just another poser with delusions of grandure only to have the Chaos Gods give him his just desserts in the end, but I still don't think that's the way it happened.

COtE, in A Thousand Sons, Magnus recognizes that,
Magnus's internal dialogue indicates he had virtual unlimited access to his father's thoughts from the moment of his conception, but this sounds more like interactions from pre-Strife Era and not just at Magnus's birth. I haven't been able to come up with anything more specific, so what am I missing?
 

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We don't really know, for a fact, how long an Astartes can really live. 1500 years? 2000 years?
At least 10,000 years if Nick Kyme’s writings are anything to go by.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
We don't really know, for a fact, how long an Astartes can really live. 1500 years? 2000 years?
500 year-old space marines are usually considered very old and some chapters retire these marines. There's fluff somwhere in which a 400 year old space marine is considered very old and almost not fit for active duty.

With a few exceptions (i.e. Commander Dante, the oldest living member of the most long-lived chapter) 1,000 years of age is an extreme outlier for space marine age. Dante himself is only around 1,000 years old. That said, if the Thunder Warriors are said to burn brighter but shorter, I'm assuming their short life-span is a drawback.

For it to be a meaningful drawback, their short life-span has to limit their effective combat life-span. For instance, if an Astartes can live for 600 years outside combat and a Thunder Warrior can live for 300 years outside combat, that difference in life span wouldn't really matter if the average effective combat life-span of both is only around 200 years.

I'm guessing it's probably something like...
An Astartes can live for 600 years outside combat. On average, a Thunder Warrior can live for 60 years outside combat before rapid physical deterioration sets in. An Astartes usually survives around 200 years of combat. A Thunder Warrior would also survive around 200 years of combat if not for his physical instability. However, his effective combat life-span is limited to around 60 years by his body's tendency to decline rapidly after this relatively short time.

Do we have proof that they were this unstable? I don't think we've seen them in action outside Outcast Dead and those were hardly a good sample of what to expect of regular Thunder Warriors.
No concrete proof either way.

I really hope that an authour more thoughtful than McNeill gets to cover the Thunder Warriors next. I think for the concept of powerful Thunder Warriors to work, the Thunder Warriors have to be markedly inferior to Astartes in certain areas. To me, this would make the most sense:

1) Strength and speed: advantage TW
2) Durability against physical trauma: adv. TW
3) Physical size: slight adv. TW
4) Cost-effectiveness: adv. SM (SM are the epitome of "bang for your buck" super soldiers, a real bargain so to speak...whereas TW production is more time-consuming and costly, though still quicker and cheaper than producing Custodes)
5) Durability against environmental factors/deprivation (toxic atmospheres, poisons, microbes, radiation, thirst, starvation, etc.): adv. SM
6) Physical stability (life-span, probability of bodily failure): adv. SM
7) Mental stability (impulse/aggression control, sanity, discipline): adv. SM
8) Overall and combat intelligence (ability to formulate and execute complex strategies and tactics while adapting to those of an intelligent foe): adv. SM

If the above were true, I'd say the SM are clearly superior galaxy-conqering supersoldiers. The only advantage the TW have is...they're better brawlers. However if an authour, such as McNeill, [email protected] them too hard, it would be hard to justify the switch to Astartes. I'm hoping ADB, Wraight, or Abnett does the next book with TW.
 

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Perhaps the Thunder Warriors were the Emperor's attempt at the super-soldier process. If the Astartes were a constant refinement of this original template -- then it appears the Emperor made very little progress and then suddenly got it right.

Chances are the Thunder Warriors personal defects might have resulted from the Emperor himself. His constant experimenting with their genetic code to reduce instability and insanity in fact led to the opposite approach. Maybe these constant genetic failures and such led to an extended timeline in conquering Terra.

Maybe this is why, in the end, the Emperor sought the help of the Chaos Gods. They imparted some kind of knowledge to him, some key he didn't have or some idea he hadn't thought of in the Astartes template. This would require him to cull the Thunder Warriors to wash away his mistakes in genetic engineering.

Its interesting to me. The Thunder Warriors may have been the Emperor's own creation: stronger, faster, bigger but completely unreliable. The Astartes were the soldiers of the Gods: weaker, slower, but infinitely more intelligent. It would make the eventual betrayal of the Thunder Warriors all that much more poetic: the Emperor condoning the massacre of his own creations and leaving him alone with the children of the gods.
 

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Unless the emperor's background had been completely retconned he would never make any deals with the Chaos gods.

Has it been retconned?
 
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