"I don't care how many there are, FIGHT!"
Stormtroopers (Sturmtruppen) were specialist close assault raiders in the German army during World War I. It is also the English name of the Sturmabteilung, the notorious paramilitary arm of the Nazi party. Their combined notoriety, plus cool name that's historical and thus freely usable, means they show up a lot as fictional specialist units. Their association with the Central Powers and Nazis makes fictional units bearing this name more likely to be part of less than benevolent governments.
In Warhammer 40,000, Stormtroopers (officially called Tempestus Scions) are the elite of the Imperial Guard and the core of the Militarum Tempestus; they're the best general-combat infantry that the Imperial Guard can field, and are the toughest, best-equipped, and best-trained soldiers available to an Imperial commander that isn't a SPESS MEHREEN. While most of the Guard is armed with your typical angry flashlight and Flak Armor or Flak Vest, Stormtroopers normally pack Hotshot Lasguns, which fire much more penetrating shots that are capable of piercing most infantry armor with ease, and they are clad in Carapace Armor, which gives them substantially higher survivability on the battlefield.
In earlier editions of the game, they were favored as "Light Marines," since they had fairly similar performance to Space Marines but cost considerably less due to their weaker gear. As of the new edition, they're now a dedicated elite choice, with all the pros and cons that implies. Unless you use their new codex, of course. Then they become troops.
There is a key difference between true Stormtroopers and many different types of regimental proxies/wannabies, the former originate from Schola Progenium, the latter are simple top-notch regimental soldiers. There is also a line between Stormtroopers analogues and Grenadiers (or Heavy Infantry Regiments): Cadia for example fields Kasrkin, Armageddon fields Steel Legion Stormtroopers, Death Korps of Krieg field Grenadiers (all three of those are armed with hellguns instead of hotshots), but the Harakoni Warhawks are grenadiers by Guard classification, armed with humble lasguns and not expected to meet Stormtroopers standards despite being clad in Carapace Armor. The Inquisition also fields their own branch called the "Inquisitorial Stormtroopers" who form the Inquisition's main offensive force and are basically 5% of Schola Progenium Stormtroopers deemed pure, faithful and overall good enough to help your average Inquisitor meet the horrors that are part of his job head-on. Regardless of their appearance or gear, they're all incredibly potent if used correctly.
Unfortunately, in terms of actual models, the only stormtroopers you can currently get (besides the Death Korps Grenadiers) are the Tempestus Scions. If you're lucky, GW may have some Kasrkin available for Made-to-Order, but only some of the time, and only in metal. If you want them in plastic, you'll have to resort to kitbashing Scions with conversion bits from Forge World like the respirators.
While this sounds all proper and awesome, the average Guardsman in the street can't stand them, referring to them as "glory boys" and resenting the fact that they're a good deal less likely to die, given that they're given better equipment than standard issue cardboard armor with a flashlight. The Kasrkin (and probably Death Korps Grenadiers, since dead men don't care for glory), who are revered and respected amongst Cadia, are a curious exception. This is likely due to the fact that, unlike most stormtroopers, who are raised and trained in the prestigious Schola Progenium, Kasrkin are all trained right on Cadia and experience the same hellish conditions as everyone else, so they also strongly believe that THIS WILL BE DA DAY UF GLOREE. More canonically, it is because Kasrkin have the same equipment as the grunt Guardsmen they serve with except they have a hellgun - and yet in spite of the shitty everything else, they're WAY more badass than the stormtroopers. That is why they are inspiring to the average Guardsmen: Kasrkin show them what normal humans can really do, even the Imperial Guard.
In Dawn of War
Kasrkin are available for the Imperial Guard starting in Winter Assault, and they're one of the better choices the Guard has. They suffer the same problem that almost every unit in Winter Assault has, however, in that they're redundant - they utterly replace Guardsmen by Tier 3 in that game, and in every game of WA that makes it that far, your sole mission objective from then on is to spam Kasrkin endlessly.
In the later games - Dark Crusade and Soulstorm - their numbers were hardcapped, ergo ensuring that you can only use one squad at a time. They were also added in as a main unit in the Inquisition Daemonhunt mod/Ultimate Apocalypse, and made hideously OP after Dark Crusade's infamous moving debuff, as their ridiculous rate of fire meant that, even with 15%, hit chance they were still going to get a decent DPS.
In Dawn of War 2
Stormtroopers are DoW 2's equivalent of DOW's Kasrkin, they appear in all games but only become widely playable during Retribution, where the Guard becomes a playable faction. You only fight alongside them in the original DoW 2 and you get to control two squads of them on one mission during Chaos Rising. They use Hot-Shot lasguns with armor-piercing effects. Stormtroopers can be upgraded with multiple "kits" that lets them be more effective to different targets and fit certain circumstances.
The kits are:
- Assault kit, which increases their fire rate and range, but now actually costs something
and makes them take more damage as well (Outdated as of version 3.18, more info on the Retribution wiki comments). Usually passed up in favour of melta, but still useful for dealing with some elite infantry and commanders.
- Anti-tank kit, which easily makes them the best hunter-killer unit the Imperial Guard have available in the game. Their melta guns and melta bombs allow them to wreck vehicles, fuck up enemy power supplies, and to a lesser extent, tear up enemy commanders and superheavies.
Unlike their original appearance in DoW, stormtroopers this time round actually have a role other than being guardsman squad 2.0. Their weapon options and ability to infiltrate make them ideal for removing high priority targets like enemy vehicles, elite units, or commanders. They can also be used to disrupt power supplies and decap points. Although stormtroopers are a bit tougher and have more dakka than regular guardsmen, their unit size is much smaller (compare 5 troopers to an infantry squad's maximum of 12) and they fare even worse in melee. With the addition of a sergeant and commissar, guardsman infantry squads can reinforce three troopers at a time for a fraction of the cost of a stormtrooper, which makes them a whole lot more resilient in the field when combined with a reinforcement point such as a Chimera.
Scions/Stormtroopers are difficult to classify in tabletop. Many players eschew them, since the Imperial Guard used to be able to field cheaper
Infiltrators with carapace armor (and better range as part of the bargain) via Veteran Squads, and Veterans had Objective Secured as part of the bargain (but now so do Scions, who can be taken as Troops). On the other hand, Scions Deep Strike by default and come with AP-2 weapons which can put the hurt on just about anything, including Marines.
As of 8th Scions have effectively replaced Veterans as an up-armored, elite Troops choice. Although Veterans can still take heavy weapon teams and heavy flamers (which makes them a better choice for a static gunline) they have lost infiltrate and their old doctrines (carapace armor, camo-cloaks, snare mines), making them worth just about fuck-all to anyone who isn't running a Vanguard.
Where Scions come into their own, however, is as surgical strike units. Suffice to say, Scions are amazing units when used for target elimination - nobody likes taking AP-2 fire from anything (except, you know, TEQ) and they provide easy deep-striking plasma and meltas that the Imperial Guard lacks. Scions are a comparatively mobile and deadly force whose basic guns now have better AP than a goddamn bolter. Access to up to 4x special weapons and BS+3 doesn't hurt either - well, actually it does hurt. A lot.
Scions can take a transport such as a Chimera or Taurox Prime, however, Valkries and Vendettas are much more reliable than simply deep striking. In 8th they can also be taken as their own stand-alone regiment and come with interesting stratagems and special rules. For instance, their Warlords can Deny the Witch as if they were a psyker; with Superior Intelligence you can shoot at deep strikers within 12" the instant they arrive; combine the Tactical Auto-Reliquary of Tiberius with Master of Command and your Tempestor Prime becomes a 40 pt Creed; and if your Stormies are in double-tap range then their weapons gets an extra shot whenever you roll 6+ to hit.
A common joke amongst /tg/ is that in order to win, you must spam MOAR STORMTROOPERS.
Tales of Hilarity
Almost every 40K oldfag can tell you a tale of their first (and often most memorable) encounter with Stormtroopers; usually it pans out around the same way: the player (often playing something lighter-armored, like Tyranids, Orks, or Eldar) has fought a lot of Guard units, but hasn't really seen Stormtroopers in action before, and the Storms are usually camping an objective or getting ready to clear an area. The unwitting player moves in to intercept, expecting just another Guardsman squad, and proceeds to learn that Carapace Armor is a thing and it makes its wearer substantially harder to kill than Guardsmen are. The Stormtroopers then immediately return fire and quickly mulch the squad with their BS4 and AP3 Hellguns (AP5 in the previous editions, but with 24" range) weapons, and the young player quickly learns to never take a unit lightly again.
Another humorous tale that is constantly related regarding Stormtroopers is when Inquisitorial Stormtrooper Sergeants, in 3rd edition, were able to, due to a typo in earlier prints of the codex, take Thunder Hammers. This was expensive, but since a standard power weapon was only 10 less, this quickly became a thing wherein a Stormtrooper squad could be an effective charge deterrent, as enemies would assault the squad, the Stormtroopers would armor save most of the damage, and the hits from the Thunder Hammer would screw the attacker's initiative, resulting in the one thing every close-combat squad fears: Losing an assault to a bunch of Squishy humies. This was errata'd away in later editions, though there was an article on Games-Workshop's website condoning the practice back in 2006.
|Forces of the Militarum Tempestus|
|Command:|| Tempestor Prime - Lord Commissar |
Commissar - Tempestus Command Squad
|Vehicles:||Taurox - Taurox Prime - Chimera|
|Flyers:||Valkyrie - Vendetta|
|Allies:||Imperial Guard - Inquisition|
|Forces of the Inquisition|
|Command:|| Inquisitor (Ordo Malleus Inquisitor - Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor |
Ordo Xenos Inquisitor)
|Retinue:|| Acolyte - Arco-flagellant - Astropath - Banisher - Cherubim |
Chiurgeon - Crusaders - Daemonhost - Death Cult Assassin
Jokaero - Hierophant - Mystic - Sanctioned Psyker
Sage (Autosavant - Lexmechanic - Sister Dialogous)
Servo-skull - Servitor - Sister Hospitaler - Pariah - Penitent
Ministorum Priest - Militarum Veteran Squad - Warp-Seer
|Auxiliaries:|| Inquisitorial Stormtroopers - Deathwatch - Grey Knights |
Sisters of Battle - Callidus Assassin - Culexus Assassin
Eversor Assassin - Vindicare Assassin
|Vehicles:|| Chimera - Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader |
Land Raider Redeemer) - Razorback - Rhino
In Star Wars Stormtroopers are the iconic white armored soldiers of the Galactic Empire. They were formed out of the remaining clones of the Grand Army of the Republic when it was dissolved into the Empire. The increase in numbers needed to hold territory instead of just take it combined with a clone rebellion and exhaustion of the original Jango Fett DNA has seen the Empire transition away from a force exclusively made up of clones. As a result, rather than be children of a single clone daddy, Stormtroopers are made up of recruited humans as well as clones of newer templates created by Spaarti cloning, a process that produced much faster results than the Kaminoan cloning used by the original clones at the cost of lower quality. Their fancy armor isn't very good against blasters, even within the films.
Clones? Skill Level?
Lucas has waffled on if Stormtroopers are cloned or not. The original films had large groups of uneven height stand next to each other and in his early notes for Expanded Universe material, he stated there were female Stormtroopers at other duty stations. Later on he made edits in the special edition and other rereleases, plus a gag in the prequels that the Stromtrooper hitting his head was inherited from Jango, that implied they were. Stormtroopers are also said to be elite soldiers with peerless marksmanship ("Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise."). Despite this, their poor showing during the Death Star escape (people often forget they were intentionally letting them get away to track them) and the Battle of Endor (for which there is no excuse) and minimal appearance of "normal" Imperial soldiers (The Holiday Special and SOLO: A Star Wars story are the only places in live action where they're anything but background details, though don't mention the first one to George Lucas and the second one is skub due to the Disney reboot) have resulted in the expanded universe and most RPGs showing them as disposable mooks. These were eventually rectified by establishing that while Vader's personal 501st Legion, the only ones Kenobi was familiar with, were indeed cloned elites and the only unit to fully retain the Jango Fett template due to them being fanatically loyal, the majority of Stormtroopers in the galaxy are merely recruited humans with much lower standards or cloned from younger, inferior, clone daddies. The 501st legion were retired by Endor due to the aging problems with clones and degradation in the original DNA sample, which helps explain their losses there. The 501st legacy itself continues for more than a century with the best of the best being placed there.
Another phenomena in the expanded universe is attempts to explain the poor accuracy with gear issues. These range from poor vision in helmets to defective components in blasters. These two could be used together, saying that the armor was designed for a very limited size range (a literal bunch of clones) and fit poorly on recruited soldiers. This is especially so when it's outright canon that early generation clone armor was made by non-humans and did indeed impede movement. However it is also worth pointing out that in the real world: 90% of a shots a solider take miss anyway.
Where Stormtroopers do excel consistently is in fights against equally nameless foes. All RPGs stats and asymmetrical video games show Stormtroopers are flat out better than the typical Rebel soldier, B1 droid or Hutt thug. This isn't so curbstompingly better that Stormtroopers would win with 2-1 odds without better tactics (which they'd have in narrative but isn't represented mechanically) but they do have better stats. Officially they're just worse than any hero. If you watch the original Star Wars movie (whether remastered or not), the Stormtroopers whenever fighting non-plot armored people absolutely curbstomp. Like in the first scene of the movie when they go through a single-file door into a heavily defended and narrow corridor and yet slaughter the absolute fuck out of the Rebels. In fact, the only time we see them faring badly in firefights in the movies is on the Death Star in the first movie (when there was a beacon on the Falcon and so their misses were likely due to orders to let the heroes escape), against Luke on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back (he's a freaking Force-sensitive with some training, so that isn't a fair measurement), and we don't really see anything in Return of the Jedi due to Ewok shenanigans. When the Millennium Falcon was escaping Tatooine where the troopers were arguably trying to damage the ship's engines and not actively trying to shoot Han Solo.
Within the Disney canon, Rogue One also indicates another factor in which Force Adept Chirrut Imwe walks out of cover (after a Rebel Soldier gets wasted by Stormtroopers for being exposed from cover for a second) and walks through a hail of blaster fire sedately while chanting a matra to the Force. This indicates that the Force is to some degree actively intervening for force sensitive individuals by making shots run astray, though even this is not a 100% fool proof solution.
Since the Empire is large and includes every biome known to man and several fictional ones (and the Star Wars franchise is built on toy sales), the Stormtrooper Corps has specialized units for nearly everything imaginable. On top of this, there have also been many attempts to create even more elite versions of normal Stormtroopers.
- Cold assault stormtrooper: More commonly known as snowtroopers, this is a normal group of Stormtroopers outfited with cold weather gear. It is most infamous for its actions on Hoth, but the equipment has also seen many other frozen battlefields. One of the two non-standard variants seen on film.
- Dark Trooper: A series of battle droids (and cybernetically augmented soldiers depending on iteration) and Power Armor for a next generation Stormtrooper. Discontinued after Kyle Katarn blew up their mobile production facility, taking the project notes and designer with it, in Dark Forces.
- Jump Trooper: AKA Rocket Trooper, Sky Trooper and Air Assault Trooper. Stormtroopers with jetpacks. Originally only suitable for short jumps, by the New Republic era technology has evolved enough for them to progress into power armor that can fly indefinitely.
- Scout trooper (Storm Commando): Scout troopers have a distinct helmet that allows for greater visibility as well as lighter leg and shoulder armor for greater mobility. Serving as a combination of scout (duh) and marksman, they typically use Speederbikes and long ranged rifles. Scout troopers are the only type of Stormtrooper known to regularly make use of camouflage (though the ones at Endor did not). One of the two variants shown on film.
- Wetland assault stormtrooper: More commonly known as swamptroopers, this branch wears green colored gear optimized for swamps. Would be obscure if not for the fact that they show up in both Jedi Outcast and Galaxies.
- Zero-G assault stormtrooper: More commonly known as spacetroopers, this branch wears Power Armor designed for boarding and capturing disabled ships. They are first mentioned in Star Wars RPG materials by West End Games, but are most famous for their appearance in the climax of Heir to the Empire, the first book of the Thrawn trilogy. There is a pair of Stormtroopers with an unusual backpack (possibly a jetpack) that are very briefly seen in the original movie, but they look nothing like future deceptions of spacetroopers, fanoned as that configuration being more for guys patrolling out of atmosphere but in gravity. They also appear in the computer game X-Wing: Alliance.
- Like a billion other variants in Legends. No joke, just look at the Wookiepedia page.