A Space Hulk is a hulk of giant space debris, most often Imperial ships that were either destroyed or lost in the Warp, fused together and drifting in between space and the Warp. Space Hulks are regarded as both dangerous and important for these reasons: lost Imperial technology, information, relics, and entire ships may be recovered from the Hulk; problem is, it'll probably be infested by Tyranid Genestealers, a Chaos warband, or Orks, and sometimes stranger things that may threaten the system they are in.
For this reason, if a Space Marine Terminator squad is available, they will venture into the Hulk to both purge it of threats and recover anything of value. If they aren't available, the Space Hulk will usually be destroyed by any available battleships in the area to prevent anything from getting out of it.
Why they send Terminators is beyond our understanding, because Termies:
- Are armed mostly with Storm Bolters, don't pack nearly enough firepower to deal with most threats and certainly not enough ammo to purge an entire hulk.
- Are huge enough to block entire corridors, so they cannot focus their firepower.
- While that Invulnerable Save gives them a fighting chance, Termies still get slaughtered by Genestealers the second they come in CQC range.
- Said Invulnerable Save can also be provided by a simple Refractor Field, which are apparently cheap and numerous enough that they can be issued to every 'Guard Officer.
- Unless you're a First Founding chapter, Terminator armour is absurdly expensive and often irreplaceable.
The debate's carried over into canon too: in the book 'Death of Integrity', it was mentioned multiple times that Terminator armour had to be used due to the ridiculous amounts of radiation in some parts of the Hulk, enough radiation that would cook Power Armoured Marines in their suits. Once they had accurate seismic scans of the hulk they were able to deploy Devastators and Assault Marines in areas where the radiation was lower, and even space-suited Scouts on the surface to help the Techmarines do shit. Nice to know the guys at Black Library are still awesome.
- Length: 20km+
- Mass: 150+ megatonnes; approx
- Crew: 400,000+ crew, 94,000 pilots and support staff; approx
- Acceleration: 1.2 gravities max sustainable acceleration
In Battlefleet Gothic
""Space Hulks," it says, "are big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big they are. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to Space Hulks.""
- – A fair description of Space Hulks in-game
The Space Hulk is a frankly absurd unit in Battlefleet Gothic, that puts the Planet Killer to shame. For 600pts, you get Defence/40, yes, 40!!! This thing was as tough as four Battleships put together, and whilst it only had 4+ Armour, it also had 3 Shields and 6 Turrets, the only thing Orks had that had more than one of each natively. It shoved eleven Armaments aboard, including 4 Gunz Batteries, 1 Heavy Gunz Battery, 3 Torpedo Launchas, 2 Launch Bays, and even a Zzap Kannon, the only Ork vessel to carry one other than the unique Slamblasta Battlekroozer. Most of these guns also had 2d6 or 2d6+6 Firepower, so this could unleash an amount of Dakka that beggars belief.
Like Roks, Space Hulks were unconventional spacecraft, and thus had a host of special rules to represent them on the field. They were always Leadership 6, thanks to the inefficient communication systems employed, and having your Warlord pick a Space Hulk as his flagship didn't double its Boarding Value. Several upgrades're modified as well, with Looted Torpedoes and Maniac Gunners only affecting a single Armament each turn, Extra Powerfields costing double, and Mad Meks essentially gives a Space Hulk 6+++ Feel no Pain.
|Vessels of the Orks|
|Space Station||Attack Moon|
|Battleships||Ork Battleship - Space Hulk|
|Cruisers||Light Kroozer - Kroozer - Battlekroozer|
|Combat Spacecraft||Ork Assault Boat|
|Armored Trains||Locomotive Battering Ram|
|Titans||Stompa - Supa Stompa - Gargant |
Great Gargant - Mega Gargant
|Superheavy Tanks||Battlefortress - Gunfortress|
|Flying Fortress||Mega Bommer - Bommer Fortress|
|Oceanic Battleships||Nautical Kroozer|
"What do you mean *they* cut the power? How could they cut the power, man? They're animals!"
- – An example of a typical conversation between space marines in a space hulk
Features two small factions from the 40K universe: Genestealers, a subspecies of Tyranid who tend to infest Space Hulks so they can OM NOM NOM. The other faction is composed of a Space Marine Terminator squad, who enter these hulks to recover long lost technology and pretty much kill everything they see. The game is fucking hardcore for both sides - Genestealers, because they have no ranged weapons and die from so much as a mean look, and Terminators, because they have little mobility, few numbers, and, for all but a select few Terminators, are very vulnerable in close-range combat. (The deficiencies in hand-to-hand can be made up by equipping Terminators with Lightning Claws or the Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield, both added in the Deathwing Expansion.)
A vidya version of it for PC, Mac, and iOS
is coming out CAME out August 15 2013 and produced by an indie studio called Full Control. The single-player campaign features Terminators from the Blood Angels (fortunately, we evaded the Ultramarines and Matt Ward) on the Space Hulk Wrath Of Baal fighting against Genestealers, although there will also be a multiplayer mode that plays more like the board game, along with a cooperative mode allowing multiple players to join forces to fight off CPU-controlled Genestealers. (Technically, it's a remake of the 1993 game, but most fa/tg/guys don't have computers that run Amiga.) It's pretty skub-tastic, and Space Hulk veterans refuse to touch it. We'll let you judge the ups and downs for yourself in this page.
The 1st edition of Space Hulk was released back in 1989, and over the next two years received three expansions: Deathwing, Genestealer, and Space Hulk Campaigns.
A funny piece of lore as well, a 1994 issue of TSR's Dragon Magazine released a "supplement" for Space Hulk called Dance Steps for GW's Space Hulk, by Allen Varney. You play as the "Recreators" squad, an elite group of Astartes who are tasked with fighting their way through a hulk full of Genestealers to the sanctum, and then defiantly ballet dancing in a live-broadcast meant to "boost morale". Rules include an intricate series of dance actions, up to and including break-dancing (because this was the 90s). Painting your Terminators as the Fresh Princeps of Bel'Air optional.
The 2nd Edition was released in 1996, featuring better board artwork and figurines, but simplified rules and no expansions beyond scenarios and board sections released through White Dwarf.
The 3rd Edition was released as a limited edition in 2009, and set the standard that would remain unchanged for all further printings of the game, with a modernized game board and models. Perhaps most importantly it changed the way marines worked by giving sustained fire on overwatch, but removing reloads for the heavy flamer, this made bog standard terminators much more useful than in the previous editions as well as forcing you to use all models rather than just hide behind flames.
Around 2014, GW released Space Hulk's 4th edition, even though it was virtually identical to the last one. Unfortunately, it was also limited release. And expensive.....like 40k starter set expensive. You did get some neat models that could be used in regular 40k, though, as well as four new missions and new board pieces such as Boarding Torpedoes. However, this pissed off A LOT of people who bought the previous limited release of Space Hulk, with many feeling cheated.
The 4th edition Space Hulk set was rereleased in fall of 2016. It was still expensive, but this time, there was no indication of it being a limited release. With specialist games like Bloodbowl, Necromunda, and Kill Team being rebooted at the time, it was hoped that Space Hulk might actually be here to stay.
Fast forward to 2017; after what was thought to be its removal, GW announces the return of Space Hulk, now with expanded rules (through December 2017's White Dwarf) allowing for the use of Genestealer Hybrids and other Genestealer Cult units, such as the Patriarch and Magus.
As of February 2018, Space Hulk has been removed from GW's website completely, with no hint of when, or if, it might ever return.
Space Hulk: Reasonable Marines Edition
For those that (rightly) believe that regular Power Armored Veterans can do just about everything Terminators can do, better, the Terminators of the base tabletop game are actually quite easy to count-as with Power Armored Marines without any changes to the game itself.
- Terminator Sgt with Power Sword and Storm Bolter = Veteran Sgt with Power Sword and Boltgun
- Terminator Sgt with Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield = Veteran Sgt with Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield
- Terminator with Storm Bolter and Power Fist = Veteran with Boltgun
- Terminator with Assault Cannon and Power Fist = Veteran with Heavy Bolter
- Terminator with Heavy Flamer and Power Fist = Veteran with Flamer
- Terminator with Lightning Claws = Veteran with Lightning Claws
- Terminator Librarian with Storm Bolter and Force Axe = Librarian with Boltgun and Force Axe
- Alien Assault - A Swedish indie video game that's based around the gameplay of Space Hulk. With enough mods that's listed in the article, you can actually turn the game into Space Hulk, complete with marine chapters, graphics, sounds, and maps.
- Space Hulk (2013) - 2013 video game adaptation
- Space Hulk: Deathwing, now in Unreal Engine, enjoy your trailer (and redirect that money you were going to use in a Titan for a decent PC)!
- The second trailer, with EXTRA-appropriated tango-pop music because Focus Home Interactive knows how to TROLL you with style!
- Assassinorum Execution Force - The latest and greatest board game from GeeDubs, similar in style to Spess Hulk. Actually more similar to X-COM, but whatever.
- Zone Mortalis - A Kill Team module produced by Forge World with lots of halls and corridors. You can pretty much pretend-play space hulk by playing a game Terminators vs. Genestealers. Or play it as Space hulk with anything vs. anything else. Got replaced by Kill Team.
- Mantic Games' Warpath: Project Pandora