Many a Harry Potter fan wants to go to Hogwarts and Lord of the Rings fans want to visit Middle Earth but ask a fan of Warhammer 40 000 whether they want to visit a Hive City and they’ll say heck no.
It is a universe famous for its dark and hellish lore. Conflicts are fought on an unimaginable scale, with combatants being torn limb from limb, vaporized, eaten alive or blown apart. Off the battlefield conditions are even worse, with torture, prejudice, starvation, depravity, oppression and horrendous living conditions common place.
There is no good, only degrees of evil. But for fans of the game therein lies the charm, because when everyone is evil, no one is (good news for Drukhari players). But which faction would we least want to encounter in the real world? We’ll start light and end grim, going from the bad to the absolutely horrific in order to find the most nightmare-inducing race of all.
(Note: the Sisters of Silence, Inquisition and Officio Assasinorum will not be included as they can be considered part of the extreme end of the Imperium, which is covered in the entry on the Sisters of Battle. The Adeptus Custodes also will not be included, as lore-wise they are primarily a bodyguard, nor will the Harlequins, as their motives are...inscrutable. Imperial Knights may be considered to be part of the Adeptus Mechanicus.)
12. The Tyranids
The Tyranids are undoubtedly one of the most fearsome factions in 40K, a gargantuan, overpowering swarm of billions of bladed, fanged, acid-spewing monstrosities that slaughter their prey without mercy. The hapless victims are then reduced to an organic mush used in the creation of the next generation of horrors.
But savage as they are, calling the Tyranids evil is like calling a swarm of Army ants evil: while their collective consciousness does coalesce into a hive mind which guides the actions and evolution of the swarm, they lack any real higher order intelligence, and without it, any form of ideology or the concept of ethics. The Tyranids are driven simply to feed and reproduce, creating better and ever more lethal varieties of themselves.
There is no malevolence here, only instinct, and while the Genestealers hint at more devious and horrific intent, the Tyranids are ultimately little more than a galactic-scale bug infestation.
Small consolation when you’re being eaten alive.