Ruminations From the Vault

The Tiniest Titans: Games Workshop’s Adeptus Titanicus

I know you’ve seen those crazy Warhammer 40,000 games down at your local store. About 200 miniatures all jam-packed on a 4×6 table, with some hulking resin monstrosities looming over everything. You can imagine the real battle for those troops and war machines is the jostle through the queue just to get their chance to actually see an opponent. Like a grim yet dark 41st millennium mosh pit.

It wasn’t always like this. At one time, hundreds of troops and tanks could duel over a 4×6 cityscape with plenty of breathing room to be had. The troops were 6mm tall, and the titans … well the titans were a mere handful of centimeters high, but there were many. “Tell me more,” I hear you breathlessly pant. Well fret not, I shall indeed. In today’s blog post we’ll be taking a whirlwind tour of Games Workshop’s long lost miniatures game Adeptus Titanicus!

A Convenient Heresy

Way back in 1988 or so, the Games Workshop design studio had the bright idea of launching a new companion game for Warhammer 40,000. For decades, war gamers had been playing historical games with 1/285 (6mm) miniatures. And a very popular miniatures/board game at that time was Battletech, a game of giant dueling robots. Ol’ GW decided to jump on that band wagon with a 1/285 (6mm) game of their own. What better way to get gamers jazzed up than by offering them the chance to wield formations of mighty robots in the 41st millennium?

But Games Workshop back then was a little short of whatever alien currency the UK uses, so they had to cut some corners. They could only afford to create molds for one side. A few cups of tea and a fistful of biccies later, an idea was born that would impact the 40K hobby for decades to come: The Horus Heresy! In the Horus Heresy, the forces of the Imperium of Man would fight against each other for supremacy in a bitter galaxy-spanning civil war. Games Workshop would only need to create one army’s worth of expensive steel molds, and just throw twice as many minis in the box. With this thrifty plan in hand, Adeptus Titanicus was born!

Warlord of My Heart

While other titans such as the medium Reaver and the swift Warhound would be introduced, the star of Adeptus Titanicus would be the mighty Warlord titan. A king of the battlefield, the Warlord could be equipped with two arm weapons, and up to two carapace-mounted weapons or accessories. Released only in plastic (a few rare metal Warlord prototypes have surfaced on the secondary market), the Warlord titans included a wide array of modular weapons for easy customization.

A myriad of metal weapons, heads, and other accessories were made available for even further customization. If you really, really need to deliver a couple squads of Terminator Space Marines into a building by punching it, you can outfit your titan with a Corvus Assault Pod in place of an arm weapon! And what upstanding Imperial commander would turn down a massive Devotional Bell on the carapace of his Warlord? Traitor titans were not forgotten, with close combat chainsaw heads and massive Energy Whips in place of arms!

Suffer Not the Alien to Do Without Titans

Soon the farthings or whatever poured in to GW’s coffers from Titan sales, and the creative juices flowed in the design studio. The possibilities for war in a galaxy of hundreds of billions of stars were endless, and Warhammer 40,000 fans clamored for the ability to fight battles with both the Eldarand the Space Orks. This call was answered by the release of titans for both races. These titans were modular also, with a number of weapon configurations made available. The first of these were the Eldar Phantom Titan and the Ork Gargant. More variants and classes, both larger and smaller, would eventually follow.

The Epic Epoch

But Adeptus Titanicus was just the beginning, for Games Workshop had not been idly resting on the giant pile of electrum pieces in it’s money bin. Titans bashing each other was a fine thing indeed, but what good are giant feet if there aren’t tiny dudes and their tanks to bash as well? The GW manufactoria were running at a high capacity and were prepared to deliver more tiny dudes and tanks than an Ork Weird Boy can shake a copper grounding stick at.

And so the stage was set for the introduction of massive armies of squishy infantry and vehicles in the form of the Epic Space Marine box set! But that story is for another time.