The Imperial Guard Series

(Updated 2 November 2003)

Important Note: The anticipated release of the 4th Edition 40K rules promises to render much of the advice that follows far less useful. An updated appraisal of Imperial Guard units will be posted some time after IÔŅĹve had a chance to digest (and playtest) the new rules.

Why the Imperial Guard? Even after years of experience with the Impies, through a multitude of incarnations and editions of Warhammer 40K, I canít tell you exactly why Iím a hardcore Guard player. Iím just not that eloquent. But fortunately for me, the gentlemen at GW have wrestled with the very same question, and come up with an answer that is quite good. You can read it in the very first pages of the Imperial Guard Codex, under the heading "Why collect an Imperial Guard army?". Basically, they lists four things, to which Iíll add my own take on it:

The Lowly Groundpounder. The Rumble of Big Tanks. Vast Numbers of Troops. And the Imperium's Infinite Diversity.

INFINITE DIVERSITY: If you walk into a GW store, at first glance youíd think that the Imperial Guard consists solely of rather cartoonish, GI-Joe looking figures with mis-proportionately large helmets. That or similarly comic-grotesque Rambo-lookalikes with brawny muscles and steely eyes. However, if you looked closer at all the shiny pewter figures on the wall, youíd start to realize that there were at least another handful of different kinds of Guardsmen models. Then once you start digging through the catalogs and the Archives, you'd find even more... But you'd still be missing the underlying point because, see, almost ANYTHING can be Imperial Guardsmen. Any human model holding a gun can be recruited into your army and made a proud member of the Guard! At current count, I have Citadel miniatures representing over TWO DOZEN different Imperial Guard regiments, from female Escher gangers (Necromunda) to fierce Diggas (Gorkamorka) to old-style plastic Guardsmen modeled in the 1980ís, to Empire Handgunners (Warhammer Fantasy). If you look beyond Citadel (and GW products), thereís a vast wealth of miniatures available; humans with guns are made for many other wargames in "heroic 25mm" scale, from dusty old Warzone & Vor blisters in the back racks of your gaming store, to Void or em4 or Shadowforge miniatures from all the way Down Under. There is literally no end to the look of your army, unlike the rather standard appearance of a Space Marine (because honestly, how many different colors can you paint power armor?), or even the look of Chaos (basically just spikey Marines), Eldar, or Orks. And that's even before you start considering conversions!

VAST NUMBERS: While this isnít something GW explicitly mentions, there's more to just sheer numbers than the aesthetic appeal of ranked rows and rows of troops. See, I donít trust armies that rely on good dice rolls too often ó expensive armies with small amounts of troops, especially ones that depend on close combat. Like Marines. Like especially the Deathwing. Not that I donít respect the Deathwing ó theyíre very fearsome. But numbers are their own equalizers -- they give you the ability to absorb bad rolls, and simultaneously provide you with an incredible potential for good rolls. Nowhere can I find that quite like in the Imperial Guard ó scores of little guys with puny lasguns. I know that MOST of them wonít do anything. But thereís only so often that a Terminatorís armor of 2+ will keep him alive. And if Iím lucky and my opponentís not, he might as well just go home, because itíll be all over very quickly. And, of course, I "cheat" by running the numbers in my favor. I weight the odds by picking cost-effective units, and cost-effective unit upgrades, all designed to do as much damage as possible to my opponent for the least relative cost. Part of this Series on the Imperial Guard is designed to explain how and why I do just that. Yes, MY officers donít worship the Emperor, they worship the Law of Averages. Respect it. Learn to use it. And it will reward you with victory.

BIG TANKS: Since the release of the Leman Russ Battletank many years ago, the Imperial Guard have become a haven for treadheads of all kinds. The Imperial Guard certainly have some of the meanest, most solid, most punishing tanks in the game ó and has a lot of Ďem. If youíre a fan of Forgeworld, you know that the fertile imaginations of their designers keep coming up with new tanks every month. Yes, with the 3rd edition of 40K, everyone can have tanks. But only the Imperial Guard can have so MANY -- and so punishing an array of them.

THE LOWLY GROUNDPOUNDER: But in the end, this is the real reason to play Imperial Guard ó infantry. Lots of infantry, with lots of guns. Lots and lots of guns. If you want to play with tanks, thatís well and good ó I can try to help you, and even point you in the direction that some other players have gone. But if you want to play the role of the downtrodden, gritty veteran warrior, outpowered and underskilled against a hostile universe of things that can squish him without a second thought, then youíve come to the right place. THIS is the army to use. Welcome home.

Now there are many different ways to make a solid Imperial Guard army. Everyone has their opinion on the subject, and lots of different formulas work. Later weíll cover some of these in more detail, but for now the place to start when discussing the Imperial Guard is to examine the various core choices available to the Guard Commander in the Imperial Guard codex. Despite the fact that Warhammer 40K is a points-based system, and thus in theory every unit's utility is reflected in its cost, this isn't always the case. And thus, at least some of the skill in playing the game comes from understanding which units work well for their points, and which do not. This first part of the Imperial Guard Series will provide in-depth analyses of each codex entry and, it is planned, will be regularly updated with further commentary & observations from readers, opponents, and myself.

I have included notes about units that 'require' Points, as well as units that can benefit from different Doctrines. One thing to keep in mind when reading through the entries, however (and thanks to everyone who wrote in to remind me), is that an Imperial Guard army can be designed (with regard to Doctrines) in two ways. The method I assume people will use -- simply because there are so many useful tweaks that can be made -- is that one picks five useful Doctrines as part of their army design. However, you can also design an Imperial Guard army by spending no Doctrine points. If you do the latter, all the 'restricted' that you normally would have to 'buy back' if you used Doctrine points, are all available. You'll miss out on all the alternate organizations, drills and skills, and special equipment options, but you will freely be able to use all the army list entries in the Imperial Guard codex.

Created by: system. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of January, 2009 11:32:27 AM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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