Monday, July 25, 2011

5 Minute History: Adeptus Mechanicus Robots

War Robots were introduced in the early days of Warhammer 40,000 starting with Rouge Trader and introduced later for the Epic 40,000 setting with the Adeptus Titanicus expansion. During the hazy time when Rouge Trader (1987) was giving birth to Adeptus Titanicus (1988) which was then spawning Space Marine (1989), war robots came and went with little fanfare. War Robots were the offspring of Jes Goodwin and were available to Imperial Guard, Orks and Squats. The basic premise being an army of Robots maintained by the Adeptus Mechanicus to act as support for infantry and ground troops. One can make the assumption that robots were tossed aside in favor of vehicles as the demise of the War Robots began with the release of actual vehicle kits starting in 1988.

Page from GW Gatalogue 1987 - no challenge intended

Background-wise, Imperial Robots were the jurisdiction of an obscure branch of the Adeptus Mechanicus called the Legio Cybernetica. Robots were fielded in organizations similar to the reformed Roman Legions of old. Three to five robots, plus their attending tech-adept were organized in a single maniple, which were then organized into a cohort of less than a hundred maniples. During this early time, entire cohorts of Imperial Robots were spread across the armies of the Imperial Guard (then-called the Imperial Army) and the Space Marines. On at least one occasion, Robots were made honorary members of a Space Marine chapter for exemplary service. This was after marines from the Desert Lions chapter participated in Operation Carthage on the planet of Isstvan V. Because of the actions of a legion of Robots, the Space Marines lost only seven of their battle brothers in their siege.
Photo Credit to Mordian 7th: LINK
The Legio Cybernetica has produced many Robot designs over the centuries. Some were failures, such as the disastrous Castigator (a Robot so heavily armoured that it was slower than the troops it was designed to protect and support). Others proved more successful, and there are five types that have played a role in the Imperium's long history. Five types for different battlefield roles were described.
The most common robots and their typical armament loadouts were:
The Castellan was armed with twin power fists and a heavy bolter.
The Cataphract had a bolter, arm-mounted flamers and a back-mounted weapon.

The Colossus was armed with a bolter, had "siege hammer" arms and a back-mounted weapon.

The Conqueror variant had a power fist, autocannons mounted on its arms and a heavy bolter.
The Crusader had twin power-sword arms and a back-mounted lascannon.
In Warhammer 40,000, each robot's points cost was determined by the sophistication of its programming - the programming being a set of simple instructions that the player would draw up. In game play the robot followed these instructions slavishly whether to the advantage of the owning player or not. At Epic scale, individual metal models were available and robots were also included on plastic sprues for Space Marine and Imperial Guard units.
In recent editions of Warhammer 40,000 robots have been all but removed from the canon; it being deemed heretical to use such machines, the Emperor himself dictated this, for he wished for artificial intelligences to never again gain the power to challenge the human race's power.

still practicing_



  1. Great article. I noted that the new Space Marine Contemptor Dreadnought that Forge World just released has mention of the Legio Cybernetica in its fluff.

  2. YYYAAAAAAYYYYY!! :) my GK army is Desert Lions, and my terminators, dreadknight and dreadnoughts and some henchmen are modeled as robots. my favourite things ever :)

  3. @Inner Geek, thanks - im glad you liked it! Yes, I think even the guys at Forgeworld still remember some of the old fluff... Maybe some of the Legio Cybernetica fluff will make a comeback.

    @Atreides, im gald you enjoyed it! Mordian 7th does a great job with Mechanicus stuff, some great old mini's he has over there (the link on the second picture)

  4. THIS is what I've been talking about! Old models and obscure fluff. Gotta love ya, Tallarn!

  5. Thats a blast from the past! I still have a couple that I paited 20 odd years ago! are they bit hard to come by then?

  6. Lately, I have been fielding my robots from back in the day as Sentinels in my guard army. I still remember photocopying the programming pages and trying to build the best program for my Robots in Rogue Trader games.


  7. @ Laz, thanks this was all for you!

    @ Jet, yes, apparently they are quite rare and spendy!

    ColKG, lol you are old school! I would love to see some of thowse old sheets if you still have them...

  8. Another great 5 minute history, Thanks!

  9. In The First Heretic Horus Heresy Black Library novel the Word Bearers have a cohort of Cybernetica robots assisting their crusade.