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First Strike is an introductory boxed set for the 8th edition of Warhammer 40,000. The two armies featured in the set are Ultramarines and Death Guard, and the text below comes from the "Read This First" booklet.
Ultramar is a sub-sector of the Imperium ruled by the Ultramarines Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. It is among the most heavily fortified and defended regions of the Imperium, yet it is in the throes of a pestilential invasion by the Death Guard.
During the Creeping Doom offensive, the plague-ridden Chaos Space Marines wrought untold destruction on Ultramar. Daemonic poxes ravaged planets and virus bombardments turned hive worlds into rubble-strewn cesspools of disease.
Nurgle, the Chaos God to whom the Death Guard are aligned, sees in the fertile planets of Ultramar the perfect breeding grounds for his most vile contagions. It falls to the Ultramarines to defend their realm, and to prevent agri worlds such as Masali from becoming flyblown wastes.
The Death Guard were once Adeptus Astartes, but their Legion fell to the corruption of foul Warp entities. Bound by the vile will of Nurgle - the Chaos god of contagion - and with bloated and festering bodies, they spread death, destruction and disease to all corners of the Imperium.
Few sights are more loathsome than the corrupted forms of the plague-infested Death Guard. Their distended torsos are ripe with disease, yet they do not feel the agony of their own decay. In anything, these afflictions only make them stronger, their necrotic bodies so numb to pain that only total destruction can stop their advance. Abominations against nature, the Death Guard advance amidst clouds of flies, their corrupted boltguns spewing death as an unnatural miasma bleeds infection into their surroundings. Their decomposing flesh bulges with corruption, and plump buboes swell with festering pus. Skin, sloughed away long ago, has been replaced by mucosal growths and mutated protusions. Innards hang dripping from rent abdomens, yet by Nurgle's will these corpulent warriors continue to live. Truly Nurgle has blessed the Death Guard, and they intend to share their foul gifts with the denizens of the galaxy.
The Death Guard were not always such monstrosities. As Adeptus Astartes, their Legion was amongst the first to be created, and their Primarch, Mortarion, was a renowned commander who prosecuted the Great Crusade with ruthless efficiency. But for all his strength and achievements, Mortarion was consumed by bitterness towards his peers and the Emperor. When Horus, one of only two fellow Primarchs Mortarion respected and was close to, convinced him to join his nascent rebellion, the Death Lord and the majority of his Legion turned against the Imperium. At that moment, Mortarion had set himself and his sons on a path that ended in their tragic corruption by Nurgle, the god of decay and putrescence. The Death Guard were forever transformed from noble warriors into corpulent mounds of flesh, their genetically enhanced organs transfigured into vestigial disease incubators, damned forever to the Plague Father's service.
Though the atrocities of that dark time were many, few Legions brought more ruin and putrefaction to the Imperium than the Death Guard. Through them, Nurgle's rot spread to countless Imperial worlds. Where they were met in battle by the loyalist Adeptus Astartes, their disgusting resilience allowed them to weather the most punishing fire before replying with their own dread onslaughts.
Despite numerous horrific victories that carried them all the way to Holy Terra, the revolters were defeated when Horus was cut down by the Emperor. With their leader gone, the remaining Chaos forces retreated to the Eye of Terror, the star-spanning portal between realspace and the warp, to regather their strength and plot their retribution. Here, Mortarion was rewarded by Nurgle for his faithful service, and his mighty form was mutated into that of a hideously disfigured Daemon Prince. The warriors of the Death Guard continued to decay, growing more grotesque with every passing century, more inured to pain with every parasite that wormed through their flesh. Now that the Great Rift has opened, the Death Guard are spewing back into the galaxy in numbers not seen since the time of the Heresy. Like an endless swarm of flies they descend upon the Imperium, to worlds where the seeds of Nurgle's plagues have long been festering. But the time for sowing is now over, and the time for reaping has begun.
Foulest of the Chaos Gods is Nurgle, the lord of disease and virulence, the bringer of plague and physical corruption. His is the cycle of infection, morbidity and painful death. Those who are made servants of Nurgle become living vectors for his contagions. Covered with dripping pustules and reeking of decay, they travel to planets throughout the galaxy to spread their god's diseases. As Nurgle's plagues become pandemic, so too does civilisation begin to crumble. Whole worlds become drowned in putrescence, and entire cities are buried under the rotting dead. This brings great joy to Nurgle, for it is his will to see the galaxy consumed by the inescapable mouldering of entropy.
Victory is yours! Polluted clouds of flies and filth swathe the battlefield, shrouding the armoured carcasses of fallen Space Marines. The sky shakes with a terrible, thunderous rumble - the booming laughter of Nurgle, the Plague God - and a pestilential rain sweeps across the land. The city gates crash inwards, rusted through in a matter of moments, and the joyful harvest begins. Yet Nurgle demands more from you, more souls offered up on the altar of war. Fresh waves of Imperial reinforcements are on their way - you have won this battle, but the war is just beginning...
|Warhammer Fantasy||Third Citadel Compendium; WFRP (1st ed); RoC: Slaves to Darkness; RoC: The Lost and the Damned; Beasts of Chaos|
|Man O' War||Plague Fleet|
|Mordheim||Empire in Flames|
|Warhammer 40,000||Warhammer 40,000 (1993); Codex: Chaos (1996); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (1999); Chapter Approved 2001; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002); Codex: Eye of Terror; Chapter Approved 2004; Imperial Armour 5; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007); Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2007); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008); Imperial Armour 6; Imperial Armour 7; Imperial Armour: Aeronautica; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2013); Stronghold Assault; Codex: Imperial Knights (2014); Imperial Armour 13; Codex: Imperial Knights (2015); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2016); Codex: Traitor Legions; Dark Imperium; Index: Chaos; First Strike; Plague Brethren|
|Epic||Adeptus Titanicus; Space Marine (1st ed); Codex Titanicus; Renegades; Titan Legions; Epic 40,000|
|White Dwarf||Oct 1988 (#106); Dec 1988 (#108); Jan 1989 (#109); May 1989 (#113); Jun 1989 (#114); Nov 1989 (#119); Jan 1990 (#121); Feb 1990 (#122); Apr 1990 (#124); May 1990 (#125); Dec 1990 (#132); Jan 2002 (#265)|
|Citadel Journal||Jul 1994 (#4); Mar 1995 (#8); May 1995 (#9); Dec 1995 (#12); Sep 1996 (#17); Nov 1996 (#18); Aug 1997 (#21)|
|Fantasy Flight Games|
|Dark Heresy||Shattered Hope; Dark Heresy (1st ed); Disciples of the Dark Gods; Creatures Anathema; Daemon Hunter; Dark Heresy (2nd ed); Game Master's Kit (2nd ed); Forgotten Gods; Enemies Within; Enemies Beyond|
|Rogue Trader||Rogue Trader; Citadel of Skulls; Battlefleet Koronus; Koronus Bestiary; Navis Primer; Stars of Inequity|
|Deathwatch||Mark of the Xenos; Achilus Assault; First Founding; Jericho Reach; Rising Tempest|
|Black Crusade||Black Crusade; Game Master's Kit; Hand of Corruption; Tome of Fate; Tome of Blood; Tome of Excess; Tome of Decay|
|Only War||Enemies of the Imperium|