Point & Clickbait Explainer: How Is StarCraft Different From Warhammer 40,000?

While it might seem easy on the surface to confuse the science fiction worlds of Warhammer 40,000 and StarCraft, a closer examination reveals that the two universes are actually very different. Join us for another Point & Clickbait Explainer!

While both universes have space marines, StarCraft’s Terran Marines are very different from Warhammer 40K’s Space Marines. As part of the complex ritual designed to transform regular humans into members of the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines of Warhammer 40K are purged of all human desires. This is very different to StarCraft’s Terran Marines, who are uncontrollably horny at all times.

Blizzard ‘s Art Director Samwise Didier, who worked on the original concept design for Terran Marines in the first StarCraft, explained in a GameSpy interview from 2001 that the Terran Marines need to be enclosed in heavy power armour “because they just can’t stop fucking.” “They’re just absolutely mad for it,” said Didier. “The enormous mechanical codpieces are a nod to that particular part of the worldbuilding. It’s a core part of their visual identity.”

In StarCraft, the mineral crystals you mine for resources are canonically Republican voters. In Warhammer 40K, any crystals found lying around are canonically Democrat voters. This is a huge difference that only fans of the two lores can really appreciate.

Warhammer 40K’s Tyranids can be tricky to tell apart from StarCraft’s Zerg. A quick way to tell the two teeming insectoid hordes apart is by looking at their leadership caste — the leader of the Tyranids is an unknowable, unfathomable, ancient collective consciousness so powerful it blacks out communications in an entire galaxy and drives anyone who makes contact with it permanently insane, whereas the leader of the Zerg has high heels and boobies.

Planet Earth is called “Terra” in Warhammer 40K, but in StarCraft, people from Earth are called “Terrans”. This is because from 1975 to 1996, it was illegal to say the words “Planet Earth”, and after those outrageous laws were finally repealed, it was too late to change the names in the games. Millions died for accidentally saying the words “Planet Earth”. Ask your parents!

Both Space Marine Dreadnoughts and Protoss Dragoons are mechanical shells used to house a fallen warrior, but there’s one key difference. Inside a Space Marine Dreadnought is an injured space marine, whereas inside a Protoss Dragoon is an injured protoss. Once you get your head around this, you’ll very quickly be able to tell the two apart.

Although many cynics have speculated that the StarCraft Protoss are the counterpart to Warhammer 40K‘s Eldar, this is simply not true. Although both races are highly disciplined users of psionic powers, Blizzard always intended the Protoss to be a scathing critique of consumerism, symbolically drawing these aliens without mouths so that they could not spread their messages about their harmful purchasing choices, and imagining a religion of empathy that linked all people together as an empathic whole.

This is quite distinct from Warhammer 40K‘s own punishing critique of neoliberalism, referenced in a throwaway line in Codex: Armageddon (2000), where ork warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka claims that “humies is all weak scum what is enslaved by brandz”. Of the two, it is perhaps the mouthless Protoss who remain more enduring.

In Warhammer 40K, ‘the warp’ is an extra-dimensional reality that exists beyond the veil of our own, where nothing save daemonic madness and nightmares reside. However, in StarCraft, this place is known as the Battle.net forum.

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