Only War is coming later this month! This standalone Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game places players take on the roles of soldiers in the Imperial Guard, the galaxy-spanning armies of the God-Emperor. Today, we return to a series of previews examining the Only War play experience.
Over the course of our past two previews, we’ve seen a glimpse into the game’s war-torn setting and a look at Regiments and their importance to the game. Now, lead developer Andrew Fischer will take us through an overview of Only War’s engaging character Specialties.
Areas of Expertise
Within a squad of guardsmen, each soldier has a specific role that he plays. This is known as the guardsman’s Speciality, and defines what gear he is equipped with as well as what tasks he excels at. As he grows in experience, the guardsman advances based on his Speciality, learning new skills and acquiring new talents in his areas of expertise.
In Only War, Specialities are broken into two different types: Guardsmen and Support Specialists. Guardsmen characters are the rank-and-file troops of the Imperial Guard, humans that have been tithed from their homeworld alongside thousands of others to serve in the God-Emperor’s armies. These characters form the backbone of the Imperial Guard, and have great strength in their diversity and versatility. Support Specialists, on the other hand, are characters who have had specialized training above and beyond that of the average guardsmen. These characters are commonly trained outside the Imperial Guard, and then attached to squads of guardsmen. Support Specialists tend to be far less flexible than Guardsmen, excelling in only one or two areas. But in the areas in which they excel, Support Specialists are unmatched.
Today, I will preview two of my favorite Guardsmen Specialities for you: the Operator and the Sergeant. Then, you’ll meet three expert Support Specialists: the Commissar, the Ministorum Priest, and the Ogryn.
Machines of War
One of the most iconic images of the Imperial Guard is that of thousands of armoured war machines thundering over the horizon. The Chimera Armoured Transport, Leman Russ Battle Tank, Sentinel Scout Walker, and many other vehicles have been the key deciding factor on countless battlefields across the galaxy. Each of the these war machines is piloted by a brave and talented individual. In Only War, these individuals are known as Operators, guardsmen skilled in the driving and use of arcane technologies.
Operators have a unique honour amongst the ranks of the Imperial Guard; they are responsible for the operation of machinery commonly only entrusted to the servants of the Adeptus Mechanicus. They must be both agile and intelligent to succeed at their role, and can quickly rise through the ranks of the guard (assuming they survive!).
The Burden of Command
The unimaginably large structure of the Imperial Guard would fall apart in moments if it weren’t for the vast network of commanders working at all times to keep everything organized. Each squad is commanded by a Sergeant. This soldier coordinates the squad’s actions with the higher levels of command, and keeps the men motivated and organized. Each Sergeant must be charismatic and resolute, able to not only weather the battlefield, but rise above it and lead his men to victory.
The element that makes the Sergeant so cool in Only War is his ability to command the entire squad, coordinating or inspiring them when they need it most. As Sergeants become more experienced, they can unlock new, potent commands to use in battle. These commands can be used to coordinate and inspire the squad, saving them from defeat or pushing them to victory.
Support Specialists are characters who's training and expertise focus on a single aspect of warfare. They may not be as versatile as Guardsmen characters, but they are unmatched at what they do.
Support Specialists are commonly trained outside the ranks of the Imperial Guard, coming from other sources such as the Schola Progenium or the Adeptus Mechanicus. From these organizations they bring in not only their unique expertise, but a fresh perspective to offer the squad.
The ranks of the Imperial Guard are filled with mere mortals. These are regular men and women, thrust up against the worst the galaxy has to offer. So, it is natural that many of these soldiers will falter in their duty, overwhelmed by the horrors that confront them. When they do, it is the job of the Commissar to uplift, invigorate, or intimidate them, reminding them of their duty to the God-Emperor, and keeping them in the fight.
Commissars are the orphaned children of Imperial war heroes, raised from birth to be some of the most inspiring (or terrifying) leaders the galaxy has ever seen. In battle, they can be seen alongside the troops on the front line in their signature peaked caps. Each Commissar carries a bolt pistol into combat, a powerful reminder to the troops that, should they begin to flee the enemy, the Commissar will keep them in line through whatever means necessary.
The battlefield can be a very dark place, and guardsmen often lose sight of the light of the God-Emperor as they face the grim realities of war. To combat this, the Adeptus Ministorum, the holy church of the Imperium, sends agents of their own onto the battlefield to act as a guiding light of faith amongst the darkness. These Ministorum Priests keep the God-Emperor in the hearts of the every soldier, inspiring the troops and holding back the corrupting influence of the evils of the galaxy.
In addition to being the holy emissaries of the Adeptus Ministorum on the battlefield, Ministorum Priests are also adept combatants. Wielding fierce chainswords and flamers, they wade into battle, purging all those who would threaten the Imperium. Accompanied by the righteous oration of their followers, the Priests only grow in their fervor as the battle wears on, and the sight of one of these holy warriors of the Emperor at the height of battle can be enough to turn a heretic’s blood cold.
Across the galaxy, many human-populated worlds have been cut off from the Imperium, forced to live on their own for millennia. During this isolation, many of these cultures begin to differ significantly from the common human genome, evolving and mutating to fit environmental needs. Among these abhumans are immense brutes known as Ogryn. Dimwitted but immensely strong, Ogryn make incredible warriors are commonly used by the Imperial Guard on the front lines.
Once an Ogryn befriends his fellow soldiers, he is incredibly loyal, going to extreme ends to protect and fight for his friends. In this way, Ogryn make excellent squad-mates, keeping the other members of their squad safe on the battlefield, no matter the cost. Too large to wield regular weapons, Ogryn carry weapons known as ripper guns into battle. These drum-fed automatic combat shotguns are nearly as big as the Ogryn themselves, and are commonly used as clubs once the ammo runs dry.
Thanks, Andrew! Which Specialty will you choose? Keep checking back for more, and look for Only War in stores soon!