Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A Space Marine, an Eldar and an Ork all walk into a bar…

…and because this is the grimdark universe of the 41st millenium, there is no punchline to this setup.

The battle for supremacy in the greater Warhammer 40k universe has been raging for fictional eons. Mankind pushes against the frontier of the galaxy, the Orkz continue to maim, kill and burn wherever they appear, and the Eldar – well, they continue to be snooty bastards who should be shot just on principal.

Now, with the release of Dawn of War III (keep an eye out for a review in the future), the battle rages on. But what if there were no bolters, no lances, no lasers and no spaceships? What if a single member of each of these iconic factions went head-to-head in a three-way, bareknuckle brawl to the death? Who would win?

We’ve got the definitive highly opinionated answer.

Space Marines

 

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Space Marines, the Emperor’s Chosen. Genetically modified supersoldiers intended for one thing and one thing only: War.

Even when stripped of their armour and weapons, a fully-fledged Space Marine is a tower of meat, muscle and bone. Standing between seven and eight feet tall in their socks and weighing upwards of 200kg (though some sources say  the bare minimum is 500kg), the average trooper has already left what most would think of as humanity far behind them. Additional organs improve their strength and fortitude at the biological level, while psychological conditioning hardens their mind against all fear. Combine this with the technological wonder of Astartes power armour, and it is understandable why some call these post-humans the Angels of Death.

In a bareknuckle brawl, a Space Marine brings raw, physical power as well as an enormous amount of training. If you think of the globe’s strongest Olympic weight-lifter in the heaviest weight class combined with a world champion MMA fighter, you’d still be way off from even the most average Space Marine. Imagine getting punched by someone with arms only slightly smaller than your torso, with decades if not centuries of training, and bones partially made out of stone – that’s what it would be like to tangle with a Space Marine.

Eldar

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Eldar are an ancient, dying race with millennia of knowledge tucked away in their Craftworlds. Tall, thin and lithe, their psychically-attuned minds work faster than any human genius’ ever could, and they usually spend their extremely long lives perfecting specific doctrines. Some of these are poetry, music, science – and combat.

If you put an Eldar next to a Space Marine or an Ork, you would think them broken as easily as a twig. But Eldar aren’t designed (and yes, they were designed) for raw physical strength. They are dextrous, agile and usually base their combat styles around avoiding or deflecting enemy attacks. Coupled with their incredibly intelligent minds and inherent psychic abilities, an Eldar who is following the Path of the Warrior is an incredibly deadly opponent.

So how would they do in a brawl? Space Marines are fast, as are Orks in a feral way, but the Eldar would leave them all in the dust. It would be less of a fistfight and more of a dance with an Eldar involved – something akin to a death from a thousand cuts, all the while dodging the trained punches of the Marine and the wild haymakers of the Ork.

Orkz

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Alright ya gitz, listen up. Orkz is da best, da fightiest, da tuffest, da strongest. We’z got the blessings of Gork AND Mork, see, an’ da humies and da pointy ‘eds ain’t got eitha! We’re made for fightin’, and fightin’ is what we iz good at! There ain’t no one who can beat an Ork in a scrap – and if they do, dat Ork they beat ain’t a real Ork! Orkz win again!

Orkz are big, green muscle machines, and, much like the Space Marines, were purely designed to fight, kill, and win. There is no part of Orkish Kultur that isn’t based around fighting: amongst themselves for power, against other races for fun, it’s all about finding the biggest and best fights in the galaxy and bringing the WAAAGH! with them.

There is no intelligence to an Ork in a fight (with some rare exceptions). The average footsoldier of the Orkish clan picks up the pointiest, heaviest piece of metal they can or the loudest, blow-upiest gun they can scrap together and throws themselves at the enemy. A roving, bareknuckle brawl is pretty much all an Ork warband is. There’s no finesse, no real tactics other than punch, kick, shoot and generally krump the enemy until they stop moving.

But you might be surprised to learn that despite all these ‘home advantages’, the Ork isn’t the winner.

Who would win?

No weapons, no armour, no special equipment. One average Marine, one average Eldar of the warrior persuasion, and one regular Ork boy. Flat ground. No reinforcements. Who wins?

If this was a test of pure strength, the Ork would be the clear winner. Space Marines are genetically enhanced and extremely tactically capable, and the Eldar is fast and will be far more cunning than either of the others – but both rely on their technology a great deal.

If this was a test of pure strength, the Ork would be the clear winner.

Space Marines are strong, but they are intended to fight primarily with their armour and blessed bolter. A warrior Eldar tends to train with a single weapon and style to perfection, depending on their Path – but it’s unlikely any Eldar train exclusively in unarmed fighting.

The Ork, on the other hand, is a beast that only has any modicum of intelligence because of a symbiotic fungus. To put it into RPG terms, they dumped all their points into strength. In the Dawn of War III opening cinematic, there is even an instance where a regular old Ork boy casually rips the arm off a dying, armoured Space Marine.

The Ork, on the other hand, is a beast that only has any modicum of intelligence because of a symbiotic fungus.

Punch for punch, an Ork would tear the Marine and the Eldar apart.

However, a brawl is about far more than just strength. It’s about tactics and intelligence, and keep in mind that this is a three-way fight, not a one-on-one boxing match. There is room for maneuvering here: something the Eldar excel at.

Chances are, the Eldar would try to divert the aggression of the Ork onto the Space Marine, keeping themselves out of harm’s way. However, this would probably come back to bite them, as the Marine would still likely come out the victor in such a fight. Wild, animalistic aggression is all very well in an Orkish horde, but tactics and training would likely win out in a one-on-one confrontation.

That leaves the Eldar and the Marine.

And the Marine would win.

Space Marines are made for war.

Space Marines are made for war. They have enormous strength. They know no fear. They fight and train, train and fight. Some chapters act as rulers of planets (such as the Ultramarines) but they are, at their core, living weapons. An Eldar warrior might be fast and cunning, but without their equipment, they would fall to a less specialised Marine.

There you have it. The Ork dies first, then the Eldar, and the Space Marine emerges victorious. Thankfully for both of the losing factions, Dawn of War III doesn’t exactly have a lot of three-way bareknuckle brawls – when guns, reinforcements and tactics start getting involved, things get a little more… interesting.

Think we’ve got the right idea? Who do you think would win in a three-way fight? Let us know in the comment section below!

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