Founding: 27th (Ultima)
Gene Line: Raven Guard
Specialisation: Void Combat/Anti-Insurgency
"It is a thankless, lonely task I set you men. There will be little glory out in the darkness between the stars, few grand wars to be fought. But it is a true purpose, vital to the Crusade, to Humanity and to the Emperor Himself." - Roboute Guilliman.
Born of Guilliman's Ultima Founding, the War Dogs were formed from a portion of the fleet elements of the Unnumbered Sons Of Corax. Assigned by the Lord Commander to operate behind the battle lines of the Indomitus Crusade, the War Dogs were originally missioned with protecting Imperial supply lines and eliminating pirates and insurgents, whether Chaotic, heretical or Xenos in origin. The Chapter took to this task with a vengeance, ranging out across the stars in the swiftest vessels they could find, eager to harry and destroy the enemies of the Imperium wherever they could be found.
By the end of the Indomitus Crusade, with some small measure of stability returned to the Ultima Segmentum, the Chapter has refocused a sizeable part of its attention on the Cicatrix Maledictum. All along the edge of the Great Rift, the War Dogs track and hunt those traitor vessels that attempt to slip quietly across its borders and target unsuspecting Imperial worlds.
"A hundred Space Marines? Hah! I'll do it with thirty-four!" - Captain Maric, 18th Patrol, 'Iron Raptors'.
Although the War Dogs were organised according to the strictures of the Codex Astartes at the time of their creation, in the centuries that followed they have adapted to better fulfil their purpose. The primary division of force within the Chapter is now the Patrol. Each Patrol consists of around thirty Primaris Space Marines, led by a Captain. The Chapter uses this higher rank because each Patrol leader is also commander of one or more of the many ships of the Chapter Fleet. This fleet is primarily made up of squadrons of Gladius-class frigates and Hunter-class destroyers, supported by deadly Nova-class frigates, though Patrols have been seen using repurposed Navy escorts and light cruisers. While entirely non-standard, this organisation is perfectly suited to War Dogs' role, allowing their forces to act with far greater flexibility and cover a vastly larger area than an average Chapter.
The War Dogs Patrols are typically built around a solid core of Mark X Tacitus armoured Intercessor squads, ably supported by a mix of Photos and/or Gravis units. Inceptor and Suppressor squads are rarely seen, their jump packs proving far less useful within the cramped environs in which the War Dogs usually operate. Likewise, the Chapter maintains very few vehicles other than void-capable transports such as Stormravens or Caestus Assault Rams. However, mobile fire support is provided by a variety of Dreadnought platforms deployed by modified Boarding Torpedoes, which are able to keep pace with the War Dogs fast moving infantry. While many Ultima Founding Chapters have been supplied en masse with the new Redemptor Dreadnoughts, the War Dogs have continued to favour and request the older Castraferrum-Pattern, as its smaller chassis is often better suited when fighting within the relatively narrow corridors of many space vessels.
Unsurprisingly the War Dogs Patrols and frigates need a great deal of support, both technical and medical. In an ideal Galaxy, each frigate would have aboard an Apothecary and at least one Techmarine. However, given the sheer number of such vessels within the Chapter Fleet, it is sometimes the case that a Patrol must rely on experienced Chapter serfs in these roles.
"Fourteen minutes. Fourteen stinking minutes! That's all the time it took for them to board us, hit the bridge and warp drive, cripple the life support, and leave us to choke... Astartes basta..." - Raun Trenchard, former Captain of the Grand Cruiser 'Ruination', awaiting execution for piracy.
The War Dogs are furious close quarter specialists, their equipment and tactics focussed almost entirely on the maelstrom of ship-to-ship combat and boarding actions. Chapter frigates operate alone across the breadth of the Ultima Segmentum, patrolling shipping lanes and searching out the vessels and bases of raiders and corsairs. Brutal boarding torpedo assaults hammer such heretics, delivering squads into the very heart of their defences. In combat, the War Dogs are aggressive and yet tactically precise, channeling their fury into a coldly efficient and effective fighting style. Few renegade Captains are ready to face the physical or strategic power of these highly professional gene-hanced soldiers and are quickly defeated, their crews executed and their ships scuttled.
"For three days it darkened the skies, hiding us from the Emperor-Sun's blazing sight. Then the giants came, clad in iron that turned away arrow, blade and stone, to carry off the youngest of our kin." - Elder Cha'tima, Shaman of the Bison Clan.
Given their assignment, it is unsurprising that the War Dogs have never claimed any single world as their home. Instead they operate from a Chapter Barque, the Canis Domum, a huge vessel that travels the stars behind the War Dogs' frigates. It visits all manner of worlds; civilised Hives to feral Deathworlds, primitive Feudal planets to high tech Forgeworlds. From these the Chapter requisitions, trades or simply takes whatever it needs to continue in its mission, whether it be supplies, weapons and ammunition, or young fighters to join their ranks.
Within its vast hull, the Barque holds the Chapter's Forges, the Apothecarion where new initiates are transformed into mighty warriors and, at its deepest heart, the stasis-locked vaults that hold the Chapter's precious Geneseed. The vessel's outer edges contain the Labyrinth, a maze of mile after mile of twisting corridors, dead ends, choke points and bastions. This maze forms a part of the Canis Domum's defensive measures, but more importantly also provides the training ground in which the War Dogs learn their skills in short-ranged combat and boarding actions.
While the Canis Domum is not a dedicated warship, being too slow to hunt beside the rest of the Chapter Fleet, it is nevertheless fully able to defend itself. Massively thick armour, dozens of void shield generators and countless weapons batteries and torpedo tubes protect its gargantuan hull, not to mention an ever-present and numerous shoal of smaller ships, frigates returning to resupply or awaiting new patrol routes to be assigned. The crews of these vessels would willingly give their very lives to defend the Canis Domum, for it carries within its halls and cavernous holds the future of the Chapter itself.
"We are gathered from a hundred different worlds. Tall and short, light and dark, noble men of God and savage hunters. But we are united. United by duty, by training, by purpose. We are the War Dogs, the faithful hounds of the Emperor, and what greater honour could any man ask for?" - Chaplain Acanthio.
The cosmopolitan nature of the War Dogs recruits, gathered as they are from countless different worlds and cultures, means that they have no common level of education or unified system of belief. The Chapter considers these differences as of minimal importance. Their Cult is very much a secular organisation, focussing purely on the Marines' duty to the Imperium, the Chapter and their shipmates. Those Initiates gathered from worlds of a religious disposition are permitted to worship the Emperor in their own time as they see fit, with the simple caveat that it must not interfere with either the fulfilment of their battlefield roles or their ability to work together with their brethren as a united force.
Hence, Chaplains have become less religious, mythic figures within the Chapter and more morale and cultural integration officers. As such, they are most commonly found aboard the Canis Domum, working closely with the Chapter's recruiting Sergeants. The training given by these stern and dutiful veterans instills in the Chapter's diverse warriors an attitude of professionalism and humility.
The War Dogs, as their name implies, see themselves as nothing more than simple, loyal servants of the Emperor and Mankind. While Marines are sometimes boisterous and boastful with their squad mates, like any band of soldiers, there is generally little concern among the brethren for such a nebulous concept as personal glory or any kind of self-aggrandisement. Honours won in battle are nevertheless treasured, but these tend to be kept with a Marine's personal effects rather than emblazoned across their armour. In fact, the Chapter seems to view such decorative adornments as overly ostentatious and ill-befitting for true soldiers of the Emperor.
"...Implantation Success: 79%...
...Genome degradation: 0.06%...
The War Dogs hail from the Unnumbered Sons of Corax. Unlike that of the inheritors of the Raven Guard since the dark days of the Horus Heresy, the Geneseed of the Primaris Marines created by Belisarius Cawl appears to have been cured of all degradations and losses. The War Dogs thusly have a full complement of working implants, though only time will tell whether these will continue to function on a permanent basis. Like all the sons of Corax, the skin tone of the Chapter's warriors tends to pale over time, even as their hair and eyes darken, though this does vary somewhat depending on the planetary origin and genetic makeup of each Marine.
"Kill! Kill! Kill!" - Captain Jabari, 22nd Platoon, 'Dragon Axes'.
The diverse cultural origins of the War Dogs Marines, compounded by their Patrols' propensity for working alone for lengthy periods of time, has resulted in a vast variety of battle calls and chants among the brethren. It is often the case that these cries are tied in with the preferences and experiences of their Captains, ranging from the devout to the barbaric. However, some appear to be common to most battle groups, 'For the Emperor!' or 'For Corax!' being unsurprisingly ubiquitous.