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Discussion Starter #1
I have been reading some of the forgeworld books from the horus heresy and normal 40k and I noticed something. The army sizes are usually really small for forces that operate on a galactic scale and sometimes going long times without resuply. For example the imperial army at the muster of calth was only 1 million. That is smaller than just the army of the united states and this is supposedly the army of one entire hiveworld.
Now in and of itself that might just be how large armies are in 40 but the reason I am confused is the fact that hive are regularly in the exes of billions of people and the naval vessels of the imperium especially are weird to me. The dauntless class light cruise, one of the smallest ships. Has a crew of 65000. So if you have 10 of these in a fleet, which isn't to many for a 40k fleet battle, you already have more than half of your ground army?
And that is without taking larger ships into account.
While the amount of people in those ships seems perfectly normal, the face that the land army is ridiculously smaller in comparison just seems a weird conflict of scale. Even more so when you consider that in the fluff of the imperial guard they are described as drowning the enemy in bodies.
Should I just disregard horus heresy numbers as artistic licence to keep things approachable for story reasons, a bit like in star wars. Or were battles in the horus heresy just smaller than in 40k for whatever reason?
I am really curious and I couldn't find anything about in online so I thought I would ask :).
 

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Games Workshop and Forgeworld really aren't the best of writers when it comes to the appropriate scale of things like armies. They tend to just throw out numbers like "ONE MILLION MEN!" or "BILLIONS IN A HIVE!" because it sounds impressive.

Hell, until the last couple of years, the original Space Marine Legions were only 10,000 men each. That's 180,000 for a conquest of the galaxy. Since they started getting real authors that number has jumped up to 100,000 each, but still.

Even consider the length of the Great Crusade. 250 years to conquer the galaxy, when the number of populated worlds is at least 4 times that number? And no Primarchs until 30 years into it? Not nearly enough time to spend travelling to, finding each planet, bringing about compliance (even if peaceful it would take months), then moving on. And that's when they knew where worlds were, not including blind searching or any campaigns that ended up taking years.
 

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Yeah, the numbers are always a bit of a rabbit hole when it comes to GW/FW and fluff. Don't forget that it all started out as a tabletop game and the fluff came later. Fluff wise, a Company of Space Marines is enough for total domination of a world, possible a system.

Anyways, Calth is interesting because the numbers are just ridiculous.

Casualties for the Ultramarines alone are apparently (according to Battle of Calth | Warhammer 40k | Fandom powered by Wikia) 119,422 Ultramarines confirmed KIA, 23,392 rendered combat incapable and a further 40,000 left behind on Calth.

Out of the stated 20 chapters of Ultramarines that were present (approximately 200,000) there was an effective fighting force of 17,186 remaining of the Betrayal.

Lexicanum (Space Marine Legion - Lexicanum) lists the Ultramarines at 250,000 at the start of the Heresy. This gives them approximately 67,186 combat effective marines post Calth (plus the 40,000 that were left behind).


Conversely, it also lists the following for Legion numbers:

Ultramarines - 250,000
Iron Warriors - 150,000 to 180,000
Sons of Horus - Between 130,000 and 170,000
World Eaters - 150,000
Word Bearers - 100,000 to 150,000
Blood Angels - 120,000
Night Lords - 90,000 to 120,000
Iron Hands - 113,000
Emperor's Children - 110,000
Imperial Fists - 100,000
Death Guard - 95,000
Alpha Legion - Conflicting accounts ranging from 90,000 to 180,000
Salamanders - 89,000
Raven Guard - 80,000
Thousand Sons - 10,000

Note that these figures are pre-Heresy (i.e. Pre-Istvaan, Calth and Prospero). It puts total Legion strength to between 1,677,000 and 1,917,000 during the Great Crusade. Accompanying this was the Imperial Army and AdMech forces, of which I've not seen any figures for.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Alright, shame the numbers are so inconsistent. I was hoping I was just missing something from other heresy sources. I hope we get some number on the imperial army in the future, maybe that will put things into perspective.
Thanks for the replies guys.
 
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