Sunday, 16 March 2014

028. Nostaligic lookback - the Imperial Guard...

It seems fitting with all these rumours circulating of a change in name from the beloved Imperial Guard to the Latin mess Astra Militarum (??) that i put up my nostalgic look back on the lowly Las-man.

Looking at the books on my shelves the other night, I realised I had earlier material available referencing the characters that populate the 40K universe we all know and love.  Whilst Codex Imperials was the first proper Codex akin to current generation books, there was a time pre-second edition.  Rogue Trader!!!

Now while I don't have a handy copy of the Rogue Trader book itself, I do have some of the supplements that were released alongside it to help flesh out the growing background.

I give you, 'White Dwarf presents, Warhammer 40,000 Compendium' (unfortunately I don't have the second book, the Compilation, which go for a pretty penny on eBay these days.
Old school stuff
The Compendium was in effect a collection of Chapter Approved articles with a load of background thrown in as well as unit entries and crazy 80's artwork (such as the opening page artwork of Imperial Commander Marneus Calgar and his creepy lizard pets.
I have no idea what these lizards are meant to be

In amongst articles on how to make a Space Marine (a staple of Marine Codices ever since), Terminator Armour, the Badab War, Imperial Robots, Dreadnoughts (including the original Contemptor) and Eldar War Walkers, are articles on the Imperial Guard.
The original, but not the best.  The other page had more Ogryns - lots of conversions using Ogre models

Included in the spread of articles are ones on Rough Riders, Whiteshields, and Ogryns.  At the back of the book are army lists for the Guard including lots of esoteric weapon and wargear options no longer available in the current generation codex.  The Rogue Trader era was much looser in army organisation and this Compendium is full of examples of  Marine/Squat/Guard combined arms - including some fantastic art work - my favourite of which is below.
Whiteshields have been around for over 30 years
I'm not sure I want that medic helping me out
 The Imperial Guard as an effective army in its own right was expanded upon in the Codex Imperialis which brought together in an organised way many of the armies of the era (including Squats!!!).  
Second Ed
Brilliant artwork - its a pity we never saw this guy in miniature form

The lads over at Spiky Rat Pack are currently showing off a range of units built using the new Dwarf kits and Marine Scout bits which throw back to the glorious age of squats.  I think they are nailing it based on comparison to this picture.
Skipping straight over Imperialis, the Guard burst onto the Codex scene with their own stand alone codex in Second Ed after the Marines gained there's.
Pure second ed Guard - love those muscle men
The boys from Catachan featured on the cover but the codex itself didn't expand much beyond the unit entries in Imperialis.  The new addition being Storm Troopers.  This book did go a long way to fleshing out the Guard regiments, introducing dedicated background to various regiments including the Valhallans, Mordians, Tallarn, Catchans, Cadians and Attilans.

Also introduced were named characters for most of the regiments, as well as a named Ratling Sniper, Stumper Muckstart.  As with all codices from this period, 20 odd pages were dedicated to showcasing the available metal miniatures in exploded bits view.  There were unique sculpts for each of the named regiments, many of which have only been taken out of the webstore recently!

The next series of Codices and supplements conformed to the style during third edition with a main codex, and supplements exploring additional facets of that core codex.  in the case of the Guard it split the Catachans out of the main codex following the Armageddon world wide campaign (which introduced the Steel Legion as a distinct regiment).  A few years later we had the Eye of Terror campaign which gave the Cadians specific rules/army builds.  While the third edition codex maintained image coverage of the named regiments, the focus was slowly shifting towards the Cadians as the primary regimental face of the Guard.
Not sure why we then got a Catachan codex - Catachans were the featured army on the back cover
Why was this even necessary - the special rules seemed forced and it added so little to the main codex
Waaaagh!!!  'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go
The Steel Legion - loved the Heavy Bolter sculpt
Rules for the Militia - these were morphed into Conscripts in 4th ed
Unnecessary rules to my mind
Black Crusade ahoy
Those Storm Troopers were great minis.  And that Commissar still holds up
Special rules - really.  Although this did reintroduce the Whiteshields as a Youth Army
The fourth edition codex came with a whole swag of new plastic miniatures that replaced the legacy Catachan and Cadian ranges.  The Cadians cemented their place as the glory regiment at the expense of the other named regiments from second and third editions. Most of the named characters were dropped in place of introducing characters like Creed and given their popularity at the time, Commissar Gaunt from the Black Library novel series (complete with a limited run of models from the Tanith First and Only).
4th Ed - the missus bought me into the army with a Battleforce
As with the Marine Codex of the time, this codex did allow for some unique themed armies by introducing Regimental Doctrines and a Skills and Drills section, as well as suggested approaches to building some named regiments.

The current fifth edition codex returned to the past and brought back a number of the named characters of yesteryear.  We also had the introduction of the Vostroyan first born as a model range which included some lovely sculpts.
5th Ed - plenty of options under the covers
The HQ and heavy support sections were again expanded drawing on historical figures and themes, as well as poaching from the vast range that Forge World had been developing through its Imperial Armour series.

Its unclear what the future holds for the humble Las-man.  Personally, I'm not too keen on the idea of these constant mini-supplements with alternate play rules.  To me, the game is getting too big and complicated, requiring access to too many books and supplements under the guise of giving us choice to play how we want - in my mind there is now too much choice, but that's just a personal view.  

I think the core Guard codex gives a decent framework to build a force how you would like.  The idea of regimental doctrines is probably as far as I would take the expansion theme.  The playstyle of different regiments to be is null and void - the miniatures in my mind are just the eye candy for the game play - suggesting that a miniature should have different rules just because he wears a long coat instead of fatigues is a bit much.  If I fancy playing a mechanised force I just buy my units Chimeras.  If I want a foot force I don't take transports.  I don't then need extra rules to emphasise this difference.

That turned into a bit of a rant, sorry about that.  I'm having a game with a combined Guard and Marine force in a 2 on 2 game in a couple of weeks against Col. Ackland and some lads we know.  I'm sticking very vanilla and true to my thoughts on how a Guard force would look.  I'll post about it when it all goes down.




  1. A very enjoyable walk down memory lane Muppet.

    I think that the game as a whole continually goes through these periods of complication and simplification. At the moment we are in a great big complication period where rules for everything imaginable are being added and everything is getting its own specialised rules. It is impossible to keep up with!

    I think you are right in that essentially every guard army should be pretty much the same on the table. There has always been enough diversity in unit choice to give forces their character. ‘Want an elite force – take more storm troopers, want a ‘green’ force – take conscripts, want an armoured force – take tanks. Did Catachans or Steel Legion ever really need their own rules? Probably not, but I can remember enjoying the slight twist to the rules that they brought to the game.

    At the moment I think there are loads of stupid restrictions that don’t need to be in the game. As an example why was it changed so that troops are the only scoring units? Back in the day if we were fighting to take a bridge and I parked my tank on it I controlled the bridge! Seems pretty realistic to me. Regulating things like allied detachments, fortification, strict force org charts and numerous rules for each ‘faction’ in every race are all superfluous. These do add some character, but it is all a balancing act.

    For our game I see my Guard humbly falling in behind their Space Marines allies. They will do the grunt work with their big guns, tanks and men in the background, while the heroic Marines win all the glory on center stage.

    1. Cheers Col. I think what things like Steel Legion and Vostroyans and any of the other non Caddian regiments bring to the table are quality miniatures. Im still wedded to the idea they probably didn't need to play any differently to be cool.

      I totally see my list choices the same way - the massed infantry/tank of the Guard supporting the lightning strike (or not) of the Marines. It probably will play out differently but then we'll just have to figure out how to weave that into a continuing narrative.

  2. A lovely guided tour, really enjoyed that. My favourite was (and is) Third, just because the artwork and the fluff were so nice. I have to say although I never did an army I loved the Deathworld Codex - I agree with what you and Col A say with regards not every regiment needs its own codex, but the Deathworlds one gave you a chance to field some really interesting all-infantry armies.

    I think the guard's great strength is its diversity, so some light special rules and org changes (a la Fourth Edition doctrines) made me feel I was playing with my unique Cadian army rather than just another run-of-the-mill force that's the same as everyone else. However I can certainly see the flip side of the coin where it's hard to keep up with all the changes, especially for the opponent.

    Really enjoyed that, thanks!

    1. Thanks for stopping in Colonel and sharing your thoughts. Thats what makes this hobby and the internet medium such a cool place to hang out in - we can share/collect our thoughts about a mutually loved topic from around the world.

      I'm thinking if I continue this series of posts I'll start exploring the content of the codexes more (within reason - don't want GW peeking into our little cornenr and telling me off for publishing their content). There really are some corking images hidden amongst some of the older books, as well as some interesting unit entries and pieces of background/fluff.

    2. I'm with Scipio in pretty much everything he says here.

      What an amazingly fun post: thanks, Muppet!

    3. Thanks Drax.

      I do think the regimental doctrines, much like the Space Marine chapter traits I talked about in the earlier series post added something to the mix from within the parent codex.