Sampling and Bias
The total number of respondents to this survey was 224. Although there is some controversy regarding the exact number of players, I believe is is safe to say it is somewhere in the low thousands, making this as survey of less than 5% of the population. Thus, it is unlikely to be truly representative. In addition, there are at least two biases built into this survey:
Self-Selection Bias: by asking for volunteers, those with something to say are more likely to respond than those who don’t
Sampling Bias: my call for volunteers was placed on the Official Forums and the Steam Forums, and thus only reached those that are active readers of either or both.
Unsurprisingly, most players are Loyalist Space Marines – more than a third of us. Chaos Space Marines make up just over another quarter, for a total of 62.5% of all respondents playing some form of Space Marine. Of the other two factions, the Eldar are a surprisingly large portion, nearly a quarter themselves. Orks are the least populous, with only 15.2% of respondents choosing that faction. Of course, the survey forced people to choose only one faction, so those who play multiple factions were most likely choosing their most commonly played of late.
Also not surprising is the fact that most respondents are from either continental Europe or the USA, although I personally found it surprising that the largest group came from Europe not the US – I’m guessing the UK origins of the Warhammer 40K franchise is a factor in this. Great Britain is, naturally, the third largest group, with Canada and Oceania accounting for just over 10% of respondents together. All of the other countries combined account for 8.7%, with Russia being the largest contributor. One respondent listed their country as “Other”.
Another demographic that is no surprise to anyone is the class split, with nearly 40% of all respondents playing a Tactical, Shoota, or Avenger. Heavy Weapon and Support classes are equally next most popular, followed closely by Ground Assault at not quite 15% of respondents. The least popular are the Jump Pack Assaults, and of course the Swooping Hawks who are limited in popularity by being faction exclusive. I listed the Hawks separately because although they are Jump Pack troops, they are not equivalent to the JPAs of the other factions. It’s also worth noting that because each respondent was able to choose more than one class, the percentage will add up to more than 100%.
The class split was very similar between the factions. The notable exceptions were that Loyalists found the JPA more appealing than the Ground Assault, and the Orks were the reverse and even more so. Tacticals were the least popular with Chaos at less than 60% of respondents.
Of particular interest to me was identifying the Specialists amongst us by filtering the dataset to only show those that listed a single preferred class. The greater proportion of respondents who were Chaos, Eldar, or Loyalist were specialists in a single class, but the Orks are much more generalist, with it being more common for them to play two classes than one. Of the other three, Chaos was more likely to specialise in a single class, but the Loyalists were only slightly more specialised than the Eldar.
Naturally, the preferred class to specialise in was Tactical, Shoota, or Avenger. The other classes were roughly equally popular amongst specialists, but once again the JPA is the least popular.
However, the factional differences were much greater amongst the specialists than in general. Less than half of the Chaos specialists chose Tactical compared to nearly 60% in the other factions, and there were many more Chaos players who chose to specialise in Heavy or Support than there were Eldar, Loyalist, or Orks. Fully a quarter of the Chaos specialists choose to play Havocs – the largest non-tactical choice across both faction and class choice. I suggest that this is due to the appeal and effectiveness of the Autocannon and the Aspiring Sorcerer.
On the melee front, Ground Assaults are most popular amongst the Eldar and Ork specialists, while Jump Assaults are the domain of the Loyalists and the Orks.