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The Tiger Roars 
Guest Commentary
 The Name Game by Patrick Eibel
“Marcia, Marcia, bo-barcia…banana, fanna, fo farcia…mee, my, mo Marcia…Marcia!” 
--from “The Name Game”
Allusions to silly pop songs aside, creating names for your army can be a tricky proposition. The names you choose will certainly develop the “fluff” for your army and will be a clear indicator of how seriously you take the army in general (I cannot tell you how many players I’ve met that name their Farseers Bob or Joey or some variant). 

The first thing you must decide is just how much naming you are willing to do. At the very least, you will want to name your army and the highest-ranking HQ. While “my 2000-point Necron army” is descriptive, it is not as cool as “Yblis’ Marauders.” Below is a general list of things that would make sense to name in your army. You may want to name more or less as your tastes and creativity allow:

  • All Independent Characters;
  • All Squads, Platoons, etc. (regardless of being Elite, Troop, Fast Attack, or Heavy Support);
  • All squad leaders;
  • Any character not covered above (i.e., retinues, henchmen, etc.);
  • All tanks other than transports (you can name transports, too, but heavy tanks lend themselves too cool names); and
  • Any other vehicle, or vehicle squadron not covered above (i.e., skimmers, bikes, etc.).
As you can see, in a standard 2000-point army, you might find yourself having to come up with a lot of names. If you are finding it difficult to come up with something other than “Sergeant Larry and Corporal Darryl and his brother, Corporal Darryl,” the list below may offer some inspiration.

Movies and Books. Since 40K is a science fiction game, science fiction books and movies provide a rich treasure trove of names to steal from. The only thing to be careful of is not to pick names that are easily recognizable (unless you are doing a themed army). For instance, naming a Stormtrooper squad leader Sergeant Riddick would probably fly under most people’s radar, but naming your Inquisitor Darth Vader will lead to problems unless he actually IS supposed to be Darth Vader. I have done both the above examples for my Daemonhunter army, and yes, old Darth is supposed to be the one from the films.

Real and Famous People. I do not mean to imply that famous people are not real, but that famous people and people you know can provide interesting names for your characters. You may want to, of course, avoid naming a character after yourself or your best friend lest you feel sympathetic pains anytime that character is killed in battle. Conversely, you could name a character after someone you don’t like and take particular joy if they bite it in a game. 

In my Space Wolf army, I have a Wolf Guard Battle Leader named Lars Ulrik (see below), a modified spelling of the name of the drummer for the band Metallica. Try to pick names that fit into the theme of your army (James Hetfield, also from Metallica, does not sound like a crazed Viking warrior’s name, even if he may look like one).

Lars Ulrik, Space Wolf
Above:  This Lars has fought Dark Eldar pirates, not music pirates

Mythology. Mythology has been responsible for names for constellations, space ships, and even automobiles. While most of us are familiar with Greek, Norse and Egyptian mythology names, you may want to investigate other mythoi, like Babylonian, Finnish, and Native American. Kenton uses names from Hindu myth to punch up the flavor of his Fighting Tigers Space Marines.

Animals and Alphabets. Names do not need to come from obscure sources. Everyday words like animal names or letters from an alphabet (Greek or Hebrew work best, but others are viable) can provide a quick system for naming squads. As car manufacturers know, the animal world can be relied on to provide names that immediately convey a certain image. “Squad Cheetah” may be a Fast Attack Squad while “Squad Hippo” might be Heavy Support. The U.S. Army has used alphabetical designations for years: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc. By the same token, you can use other alphabets as they suit your theme: Japanese characters for a samurai-themed army, Latin for an Inquisitor warband, etc.

Colors. Army names can be made more descriptive by adding a color designation. For instance, the Falcons, Panthers, and Tigers are all great sport team names, but Steel Falcons, White Panthers, and Emerald Tigers are much better for army names. Likewise, you can use colors to differentiate your squads. Imperial Guard players frequently use color to distinguish platoons (“Blue Platoon”) and squads (“Red Squad”). 

Hopefully, this article has presented some ideas on where to begin to look for names. Remember, your army will be a reflection of the amount of effort you put into it, so taking time to name your characters will only enhance people’s opinion of the army as a whole. 

Related Pages
Making Your Army Distinct

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© copyright Patrick Eibel, July 2004. Used with permission.


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle