Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
The box art for Dawn of War
Developer(s)Relic Entertainment
Director(s)Alex Garden
Producer(s)Jonathan Dowdeswell
Designer(s)Jay Wilson
Programmer(s)Dominic Mathieu
Artist(s)Andy Lang
Composer(s)Jeremy Soule
SeriesWarhammer 40,000
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • NA: September 20, 2004[2]
  • EU: September 24, 2004[1]
Genre(s)Real-time strategy
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Relic Entertainment and based on Games Workshop's tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000. It was released by THQ on September 20, 2004 in North America and on September 24 in Europe. Three expansion packs have been released: Winter Assault in 2005, Dark Crusade in 2006, and Soulstorm in 2008. Its first sequel, Dawn of War II was released in February 2009. Another sequel, Dawn of War III, was released in April 2017.

As a series, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide as of January 2013.[3]


Gameplay is initially focused on capturing and holding strategic locations on the battlefield. These control points are captured by infantry squads and provide resources to construct additional units and buildings or unlock certain units in an army's tech tree. Battles are won either by holding a certain number of control points for a period of time or by destroying all of the opposing armies' HQ structures. A number of special conditions are available to choose from to customize matches.


Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War features four playable armies:

  • Space Marines are the elite, highly skilled and genetically modified superhuman soldiers of the Imperium. Inducted at a young age, each Space Marine receives biological modifications, a lifetime of rigorous training, and lives to experience centuries of endless battle in the defense of humanity. Space Marines have the highest morale in the game. Their troops and vehicles are more expensive, however, reflecting their limited numbers. The Space Marines are the only playable race in the single player section of the game, and the 11-mission campaign features the 3rd Company of the Blood Ravens chapter as the protagonists, led by Captain Gabriel Angelos and Librarian Isador Akios.
  • The Chaos Space Marines are traitors that, ten thousand years ago, chose to abandon their duties to humanity, betray the Immortal Emperor of Mankind and the Imperium, and instead worship the Gods of Chaos, accepting promises of power and immortality. In Dawn of War, they use troops that are corrupted mirrors of their loyal Imperial counterparts. In addition, they employ morale-draining daemons and psykers. The campaign features the Alpha Legion, with their leaders, Sindri Myr and Lord Bale.
  • The Eldar are a sophisticated psychic race, ancient and technologically advanced, that have fought the fell powers of Chaos for millions of years before mankind's birth. Eldar in Dawn of War are fast and agile but most of their units are more fragile. Swift both on foot and in their hovering grav-vehicles, they are also able to move quickly around the map via webway gates. The campaign features a warhost hailing from the craftworld Biel-Tan, led by Farseer Macha.
  • The Orks are a savage, brutal and warlike species who exist to seek the thrilling challenge of battle. While generally lacking in sophisticated technology, they are physically powerful, using brute force and crude weapons that well complement their tendency to attack in massive hordes. In large enough numbers, they gain morale immunity. The tech tree for Orks differs from the other races in that it depends on the amount of Orks currently in the army and the number of erected WAAAGH!! banners. Several clans are featured in the campaign, as is the hulking Ork Warboss, Orkamungus.

In addition to the four fully playable races, the Imperial Guard also make appearances in the single player campaign as allies of the Space Marines, led by Colonel Brom. Lacking the superhuman resilience and fighting prowess of the Space Marines, Imperial Guardsmen are forced to rely on numbers, ranged weaponry, and tanks. Limited numbers of Imperial Guard units can be controlled in the Space Marines campaign. They would later be made into the featured playable race in the first expansion pack, Winter Assault.

In the second expansion pack, Dark Crusade, there are two additional races to be played online and solo, Tau and Necrons. In order to play as Space Marines, Chaos, Eldar, Orks or Imperial Guard online, one must have the original Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War game installed. The third and last expansion pack, Soulstorm, adds another two playable armies: Sisters of Battle and Dark Eldar. As with Dark Crusade, one must own the previous installments to play the other factions in multiplayer.

Resource management[edit]

A squad of Space Marines engage a group of Orks next to a Strategic Point.

Two primary resources exist: requisition and power. These resources are not harvested or otherwise gathered by the player's units. Instead, requisition is generated constantly by the army headquarters. The player can increase the rate at which requisition is acquired by using infantry squads to capture and control "Strategic Points", "Critical Locations" and "Relics" on the battlefield. These points, with the exception of the "Critical Location", can be reinforced with defensive structures called Listening Posts that also increase the rate of requisition accumulation. Though resources are unlimited, all sources of requisition will eventually decay, dramatically decreasing their supply rate.

Power is gathered by building generators, which also decay over time and consequently produce less power. Additionally, some maps have "slag deposits", upon which more powerful generators can be constructed to produce power faster. As the player progresses up the tech tree, reliance on power increases.

In addition to these primary resources, the Orks also have Ork resource. Ork resource is generated continuously by Waaagh! banners and is used up when creating Ork troops and vehicles. The number of banners and the size of the Ork population determines the Ork's Waaagh! level which in turn determines the technology level the player has access to.


Infantry units are not given orders as individuals; they move and attack as squads. Most fully reinforced squads consist of about eight individuals, although when they are first requisitioned, they usually have fewer. They can usually be equipped with special weapons and a specific leader, depending on the squad type. Squads can produce and replace their own units and weaponry anywhere in the field, but the player must wait a short period of time before new individuals, weapons, and leaders appear in the squad. Additionally, all races have commander units, which are general leaders or other units that can be attached to most squads, but are produced separately.

Infantry units can fight in both ranged and hand-to-hand combat, and many units will have weapons for both types of combat, and if attacked in close combat will have to respond accordingly. Hand-to-hand combat is played out as a series of synchronized attack animations between combatants. When one combatant defeats the other, a finishing move known as "Sync Kill" plays out as the victorious fighter finishes his opponent off in a dramatic and violent manner. More powerful units, such as Heroes, Walkers, and monstrous Super Units, may have personalized Sync Kills against each other.

Vehicles are highly resistant to most standard infantry weaponry, so they must be targeted with specific heavy weapons (e.g. anti-tank rockets) to be destroyed. Vehicles can also be upgraded with multiple weapon systems, usually forcing a choice between either anti-infantry or anti-vehicle armaments. Walkers are a type of vehicle often armed with powerful heavy melee weapons, causing devastating damage in close combat.

In addition to a typical hitpoint system, infantry units also have morale. When in combat, squads take morale damage as well as health damage. However, morale applies to a squad as a whole. In addition to health, the morale of a squad heavily influences its combat ability. When morale drops to zero, the squad "breaks", which significantly reduces the squad's ranged accuracy, damage dealt in mêlée, and defensive capability. The squad's movement speed, however, is slightly increased to allow it to retreat. That said, the unit must still be ordered away from the combat for it to escape. The squad's morale will regenerate on its own while the squad is not in combat, and the squad will "regroup" and regain combat effectiveness once it reaches a certain threshold.

Just as with hitpoints, different types of units have different amounts of morale. Commanders have the most morale, and basic infantry usually have the least. Attaching (when possible) a commander unit to basic squads significantly increases their morale. Some weapon types, such as flamethrowers, sniper rifles and artillery bombardment, are especially effective at demoralizing the enemy. Favorable terrain such as craters, ruins or thick jungle give units a defensive cover bonus against both hitpoint and morale damage, while water and swamps will decrease their defensive ability.


The number of units a player may field at one time is determined by population and vehicle 'squad caps'; these limit the number of infantry troops and vehicles a player may have on the battlefield. Squad caps may be increased using methods differing between races. Most units have a melee attack and a ranged attack. Units are often specialized to be better using one attack type. Certain units are "hard capped", meaning a player may only have a certain amount of them, such as Skull probes and Apothecaries (both of the Space marine faction) being limited to 4, and commanders and ultimate units being limited to 1. All units also have stances; these affect how the units respond to enemies. There are three types of units: commanders, infantry, and vehicles.

Commanders are hero units, and each commander can only be fielded one at a time. If they perish, they may be rebuilt. A sub-class is the semi-commander unit, which has many abilities like the commander unit but several may be fielded at once. Infantry are foot soldiers, and may either be regular or heavy, with heavy infantry being much tougher than normal infantry. Vehicles serve as heavy weapon platforms and/or transports, and include tanks, artillery, troop carriers and walkers.

Infantry come in squads that are commanded as a single entity. They may be reinforced with additional members, equipped with special weapons, or be attached to hero units. Some squads have special abilities, such as grenades, teleportation, and stealth, unlocked with research or leader units. Unit longevity is determined by their health and morale points, which govern a squad's fighting effectiveness. Both are reduced by weaponry; morale recharges independently or due to unit abilities, while health is increased by natural regeneration, healer units, or repair.

Each of the four races has access to a unique special unit whilst in control of a ‘relic’, they are superior to normal units. To obtain one of the special units the player must complete all pre-requisites (research, own specific buildings) and be in the final tier of research. These special units also require substantially more resources and time to create.


Aside from their initial headquarters, races may build research and resource centers, unit-producing facilities, and defensive fortifications. Research buildings may research special upgrades that increase the abilities of that race's units, while resource buildings produce resources. Unit facilities produce infantry and vehicles. In order to access their next tier, a race must build certain buildings to unlock new technologies and buildings.


The planet Tartarus as shown from high orbit.

The game is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, a dystopian vision of the far future. Humanity has forged a galaxy-spanning empire, The Imperium of Man. The Imperium is in a state of constant war with the Orks, Eldar, and the human servants of Chaos, desperately fighting to preserve the human race from extinction. The single player campaign is set on the planet Tartarus. This also sets the stage for Dawn of War II — Retribution.


The Blood Ravens make planetfall.

The single-player campaign is set on the planet Tartarus, an Imperial planet that is currently being besieged by a large Ork invasion force. The campaign begins with Colonel Carus Brom and his 37th Tartarus Planetary Defense Force Regiment under attack by a large group of Orks. The Blood Ravens 3rd company, led by Captain Gabriel Angelos, arrive on the planet and saves Brom and his remaining men, who then proceed to exterminate the remaining Orks in the vicinity. In the aftermath of the battle, Gabriel is joined by the Librarian Isador Akios. Brom asks Isador about the recent sterilization of the planet Cyrene; however, Isador makes it clear this is not a permitted subject for discussion, particularly in Angelos' presence. The Blood Ravens then prepare to attack the Orks surrounding the port, in order to protect the evacuation craft.

Isador, sensing that the Captain's mind is troubled, realises why, and tells him that there was nothing he could have done to save his home planet of Cyrene. However, Gabriel tells him not to mention it again, stating that his homeworld was his responsibility. After the extermination of the Orks, scouts reveal to Gabriel that Chaos forces are operating on the planet. Soon after this, they are joined by an Inquisitor, Mordecai Toth, who orders them to leave the planet, warning that a Warp Storm- a great space-based storm that would make all travel impossible -is approaching the planet and will consume the planet in 3 days time. Toth orders a complete evacuation of the planet, but Gabriel refuses, stating his desire to investigate the possible threat of Chaos. Toth then implies that Gabriel's actions on Cyrene have clouded his judgement, making him "see Chaos where it doesn't exist". On further investigation, it is revealed that the Eldar are also operating on the planet. The Blood Ravens find an altar dedicated to Chaos, confirming Gabriel's suspicions, and resolve to destroy the traitors, unknowing that Isador is already under the influence of Sindri Myr, the Chaos Sorcerer of the Alpha Legion.

The Blood Ravens pursue the Eldar to the abandoned city of Loovre Marr and engage them in a full-scale battle across the city. Upon the destruction of most of the remaining Eldar by Gabriel's forces, their leader, Farseer Macha, pleads with Gabriel to heed her words; however, during their moment of distraction, Sindri steals an artifact, which Macha reveals to be a key to "the undoing of this world". When Gabriel tries to inquire for more information, the Farseer shows surprise at his ignorance, commenting that the Inquisitor "keeps them on a short leash". Macha implies that Toth knows more than he is telling, and advises Gabriel and Isador to ask him, before telling the Blood Ravens where to find the entrenched Chaos forces, stating that, thanks to the Space Marines, the Eldar are too weak to confront them.

After a pitched battle with the forces of the Alpha Legion (including traitorous Imperial Guard regiments who have been corrupted by Chaos), Gabriel and Isador confront Toth in the ruins of an Imperial Temple. He reveals that the world is cursed, and bears an artifact of Chaos: the Maledictum, a stone that contains the essence of a daemon. The forces of Chaos now bear all that they need to unearth it. Toth also explains that the Eldar were fighting to protect the stone, as it was they who imprisoned the daemon in the stone originally. Toth comments that "as Chaos's oldest enemy, the Eldar see themselves as the only capable defence against its influence. And we have paid for their arrogance." Toth also says that the power of the Maledictum is enough "to turn the faithful and drive men mad", having already corrupted much of the population of Tartarus and the Imperial Guard, as well as affecting the Blood Ravens somewhat: Toth explains his insistence the Blood Ravens depart was to protect them from being trapped on the planet with the demon by the coming Warp Storm. Gabriel and Toth form an alliance and make plans to find and destroy the Maledictum.

Gabriel executes the Traitor Isador.

However, Isador is completely overcome by the temptations of Sindri and Chaos, and resolves to steal the Maledictum for himself. While the Blood Ravens and the remaining loyal guardsmen are busy exterminating the army of Lord Bale, including the Chaos Lord himself, Isador seizes his chance and steals the Maledictum. Inquisitor Toth then reveals that he had known that Chaos was corrupting one of the Space Marine commanders, but he had suspected Gabriel and they had paid the price for his error. In the face of Isador's betrayal, Gabriel pursues him in an effort to bring him to justice. The Blood Raven forces are successful in destroying Isador's troops and Gabriel challenges Isador to a duel. Isador holds the upper hand at first, taunting Gabriel about his weakness and guilt over what he did to Cyrene, but Gabriel finally lets go of his guilt, replying that he did the right thing to stop the taint on Cyrene spreading further; goaded to fight back, Gabriel eventually defeats Isador. Beaten, Isador pleads Gabriel for forgiveness and a chance to redeem himself. Gabriel tells him, "If redemption is what you seek, then that is what I will give you" before shooting him in the head with his bolt pistol, using him as an example to his men about the fate of traitors.

Meanwhile, Sindri had attempted to use the power of the Maledictum for his own ends, transforming himself into a Daemon Prince with the stone's power. Inquisitor Toth bequeaths the Daemon Hammer, God-Splitter, to Gabriel, since he feels that it is Gabriel that will end this battle and not him. They then, with the Blood Ravens and the aid of the remaining Eldar forces of Farseer Macha, attack the Chaos forces, eventually killing Sindri. The final scene sees the Eldar and Blood Ravens standing around the Maledictum. Despite the warnings of Farseer Macha, who begs them not to destroy the stone, Gabriel obeys Inquisitor Toth and his own judgement, and destroys the Maledictum with God-Splitter. The Eldar forces then retreat after Macha prophetically warns Gabriel that he has doomed them all. Inquisitor Toth and the Blood Ravens leave to be evacuated. However, Gabriel stays behind, and encounters the Daemon of Khorne which he unwittingly released from the Maledictum. The daemon lets Gabriel and his men leave safely as thanks for its release, but not before informing Gabriel that the planet was actually an altar to the blood god, Khorne. In fact, the Ork invasion had been prearranged by Sindri, who sought the release of the Daemon of Khorne through the spilling of blood upon the planet. Every death had been a sacrifice toward the daemon's release, in which Gabriel's contributions were "many and magnificent". The daemon acknowledges that, if he had been released much earlier, he would have been much easier to destroy. The daemon then tells Gabriel to flee, and to know that soon he would come to claim them all. Gabriel then vows to destroy the daemon, before following after his departing men.


The base game has three expansions, all available in DVD format and on Steam. Each expansion adds substantial additional new content to the game, such as new factions, maps and units. For the latter standalone expansions, users are unable to play any factions in multiplayer other than those added by the expansion itself.

In chronological order of release, these expansions are:

Cumulatively, the expansions add five new factions to the game's pre-existing selection of four, making for a total of nine factions to choose from, along with adding dozens of new maps, tweaks, etc.

The Game of the Year edition was released on September 21, 2005 in the US and on September 23 in Europe, containing 4 exclusive maps. Later, the Game of the Year edition and Winter Assault were bundled in the Gold Edition in the US, released in March 2006. In November 2006, Dawn of War and its first two expansions were released together as The Platinum Collection in the USA or as the Dawn of War Anthology in the PAL regions. More recently, in March 2008, all three expansions along with Dawn of War have been released as The Complete Collection. The Game of the Year version was the final title to be added to the Humble THQ Bundle, and could only be unlocked by paying more than the average price.

In addition, a series of three novels was released by Black Library and later released as a single omnibus volume.[4][5]


By early 2009, Dawn of War and its expansion packs together had sold 4 million copies.[13] Dawn of War received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[14] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[15]

Upon release, the critical response to Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War was on the whole positive. It was congratulated most frequently for its varied and balanced factions and units, its polished presentation, in particular the high quality of unit animations, and the user interface.

One of the first reviews was by IGN, who awarded the game 8.8/10, in particular praising the large level of graphical and animation detail.[16] They also cited the skirmish and multiplayer as one of the game's strongest points.[12] GameSpot came to similar conclusions, in particular praising the game's presentation and audio.[10]

Conversely, an area of the game that drew criticism was the single player campaign, which many reviewers found to be too short and unchallenging.[17][18] Another area of weakness identified was a lack of originality in the gameplay. However, these weaknesses were considered to be minor, IGN summarising "Nothing about the gameplay will really surprise anyone (though the addition of reinforceable squads is pretty neat) but it doesn't particularly matter ... Relic kicked ass creating a great piece of entertainment."[12] The French website Jeux PC awarded the game 16 out of 20, in particular praising the simplicity of the user interface and the intensity of the battles.[19] German reviewer Daniel Matschijewsky awarded the game 83 out of 100, praising the user interface and the sound, but identifying the campaign and the AI as weaker areas.[20]

Dawn of War was a runner-up for Computer Games Magazine's list of the 10 best computer games of 2004.[21] It received a runner-up position in GameSpot's 2004 "Best Strategy Game" award category across all platforms, losing to Rome: Total War.[22]


  1. ^ Sega took over publishing rights after THQ declared bankruptcy.


  1. ^ "Release dates". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  2. ^ "PC release dates". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  3. ^ "Notice of SEGA's Acquisition of Relic Entertainment and Some IPs Owned by THQ Inc". Sega. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  4. ^ Black Library: Blood Ravens: The Dawn of War Omnibus
  5. ^ Goodreads - Blood Ravens: The Dawn of War Omnibus
  6. ^ a b c "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  7. ^ "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (pc: 2004): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  8. ^ Biessener, Adam. "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War review at Game Informer". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 2004-12-04. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  9. ^ "Review: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War for PC on GamePro.com". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  10. ^ a b Kasavin, Greg. "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War for PC Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  11. ^ "GameSpy: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Review". GameSpy. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  12. ^ a b c "IGN: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  13. ^ Remo, Chris (February 5, 2009). "THQ's Farrell: Focus On Fewer, Better Core Titles". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009.
  14. ^ "ELSPA Sales Awards: Silver". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009.
  15. ^ Caoili, Eric (November 26, 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on September 18, 2017.
  16. ^ "IGN: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  17. ^ "PC Zone: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War". PC Zone. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  18. ^ Kasavin, Greg. "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War for PC Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  19. ^ "Test Warhammer 40 000 : Dawn of war". Jeux PC (in French). Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  20. ^ "Titelstory: Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War". Gamestar (in German). Retrieved 2007-10-17.
  21. ^ Staff (March 2005). "The Best of 2004; The 14th Annual Computer Games Awards". Computer Games Magazine (172): 48–56.
  22. ^ The GameSpot Editors (January 5, 2005). "Best and Worst of 2004". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 7, 2005.

Further reading[edit]

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