Imperial Guard: Looking Forward, Looking Back

I'm in a bit of a pensive mood this morning, so I'm going to start rambling on all the little topics I've always wanted to post on and gather them together - hopefully in some kind of order.  All this has been sparked by my reaching something of an impasse with my Guard army.  I've got one of almost every unit in the codex, and not sure if I can cope with life after Guard!  But that decision might be made for me by the executive bigwigs at GW ...

Looking Back: Why Guard?

Coming towards the end of any army is a bit of a reflective experience.  In all seriousness I don't see this as the end - I already have one (dusty, badly-painted) Guard army in the closet from my young(er) days, so I suspect I'll find something new to work on, in fact my Penal Legion platoon might well end up being an army and despite the heretical theme, Chaos Renegades are basically guard.  And there's my fledgeling 'Sentinel Army' I still need to work on ...

But why collect them?  I've noticed that there are many oddities about Guard players.  Firstly, one that'll be familiar to all of you - is there are plenty of Guard blogs out there, far more than for other armies.  A cursory Google of some of the other big 40K names reveal plenty of 'painting service' websites and general 40K blogs, but none of the full spectrum army blogs that cover fluff, modelling, painting and gaming.

For me, I suppose it was the smart uniforms, characterful minis and great big give-up-and-go-home tanks.  Any one would have been a win for me, but put all three together and that explains why I've collected the same army for over 10 years.

I basically love the Guard.  I'm not ashamed to say it.  I'm certainly not a 'tactical' player - I pick choices that are fluffy and fit with my army's background (or sometimes ones that have cool models like Ratlings).  But Headologist will probably tell you I get into the spirit of it when I'm playing...

Looking Forward: Whither Guard?

Those were the days!
This is more the question on my mind at the moment.  I regularly dip in to Faeit 212, a rather excellent rumour blog that always seems to be two steps ahead.  I saw this interesting article yesterday, which suggests that GW consider Finecast a temporary stopgap before moving all models over to plastic.  Fine, I hear you cry, but what about metal models who never made it to Finecast, will they get put into plastic?  What about my Mordians/Praetorians/Valhallans/Tallharns!?

I've often grumbled about the lack of new releases for Guard.  I think we're actually the most spoiled in terms of miniature ranges.  I can't easily think of a famous Guard army that can't be bought (albeit expensively from FW or the 'collectors range') or converted from the enormous range that we have.  The tanks and vehicles are all still lovely, so although it might be nice to get, say, a plastic sniper boxed set or Hardened Veterans squad, I think I'll have to be satisfied with what we've got.

I've been buying up Mordians for years now, paranoid that one day I'll go on the website to find a sneering photo of the GW CEO (whoever he is) saying "Ha ha ha!  I've taken your Mordians, what are you going to do now?!"

Exam Questions

No real point to this ramble.  What are other peoples thoughts on Guard, past and present?  Why did you start with them?  Do you think there's a future in the new, streamlined, brushed-aluinium hyper-expensive GW of the third millennium?  And even, if there are any outsiders here, what do you think of the Guard?

Back to proper models next week, I promise!

The Colonel


  1. I think that when I choose to do a guard army, I didn't truely understand why I was attracted to it. In the end, I enjoed working with them because, of the whole 40K mythos, the Guard is the one army that is easiest to identify with. Space Marines are nice for a futuristic view of battle, but with all of thier rituals and (inhumainity and) such, they become more difficult to identify with. It's much easier to identify with the human soldiers who gamble, feel fear, and have to, at times, be coerced into battle.

    1. That identity piece is very strong - if I remember rightly it's even alluded to in the opening blurb for one or more editions of the codex. At the end of the day the side with the tricky motivations and the complex behaviour is more interesting than the genetically engineered superwarriors!

  2. Damned train wi-fi ate my comment when I tried replying straight after you posted it. Anyhoo, here is attempt two...

    As a non-Guard player I have to say that without a doubt the Guard are my favourite army. Whilst Chaos may have been my first love, and my two Nid armies were cherished dearly for their pure gribbliness. There's something organic (and I don't mean fresh fruit and veg) about the Eldar that I like, and my current Marine army is only Marine because they suit the fluff I wanted to do better.

    But I love the Guard, like many, because they're human. Whilst GW may not really focus on that in any real depth, they have human faults and hopes, human arguments and ideas about death, life, religion and politics (despite any attempts to repress them). They have human variety - there is more true variety amongst the Guard, both fluff and miniatures, than in any other army I think. They inspire me to write stuff and create concepts more than any other, and at both ends of the spectrum, two projects I've wanted to do for a while reflect this: the ragtag forces of Vullis Prime, a world solely dedicated to the processing of the garbage of other planets through to a Zaporich army - the agrarian cousins of Vostroyans, comprised of "Streltsy" storm troopers and snipers, dark hooded Oprichnik as provosts or sub-Commissars, black-clad Rasputin-esque bearded priests holding Russian style icons of the Emperor and his saints aloft as Cossack (Kislevite) cavalry ride by on the flanks. It's the Guard that inspires the most, but sadly the cost of all-metal meant I couldn't get the Valhallans I long drooled over in my younger days, and still makes the Zaporich/Vostroyans a difficult prospect. I hope they get plastic versions or equivalents...

    1. I don't think it would be totally impossible to plastic kit bash a crazy Russian inspired Guard army...

    2. This is very true, but the scales could look a bit naff

    3. That's the problem - a lot of ideas like these are great then people try to shoehorn in other naff ranges to carry the idea on. The Zaporich army is great but, despite the prohibitive cost I can't see them in anything else but Vostroyan models. What do you think?

  3. For the second time ( cross face )

    I have always played elves in every game I could; AD&D, MERP, WHRPG, RM and 40K. I bought guard to give my friends (none of whom would spend the money required) an army with which could face each other across the field of battle.

    I wanted mechanised infantry. So looked for ASL ( didn't realised that "classic range" meant "this is what you are looking for" for years ), and found the DKK. So I'd already bought a load of DKK when IA5 came out. And I have been sending my disposable income to FW ever since.

    I think that there might have been a modular IG kit on a drawing board somewhere. Possibly with a mid length coat that would have done the ASL and Vostroyans. However, as we are so well served by the diverse aftermarket IG parts suppliers, I suspect that the IG are at the end of the queue for type of development that we might want.

    1. FW is in a class of its own for cost but their sculpts are lovely. Can't say the same for quality, I've had a lot of duff scuplts from them in the past. I think if we do get new models it will be for something specific like Kasrkin, or at the extreme end of the scale the core for a new army - but a total overhaul replacing all the existing ranges is probably not going to happen any time soon.

  4. Was always put off by the model count and monetary cost for the tanks of a Guard force. Always wanted one though. Like others have mentioned, they are the real humans, the people, fighting for people in the 40K setting.

    Am really sad there's so much emphasis on Astartes as they are supposed to be mythical beings that perhaps one regular citizen in one hundred "might" be lucky to glimpse during their wretched lifetimes.

    I think Guard are also far more varied than anything the Space Marines can drum up. From Feral backgrounds, to Feudal and super high-tech, there are SO MANY ideas one can play with for an interesting Guard army and never be "wrong".

    1. Yes, they're very much more a blank canvas that people can mould into their own army. Possibly why they attract fewer new players - and why there are so many 'fluffy' gamers, historical players and bloggers who like to create their own armies.

  5. Ach!

    I want to comment at leangth here, but I'm just on a break from a massive amount of marking. Damn.

    Maybe the emails from further comments will remind me...

    1. This will remind you! Just B- them all and get modelling...

  6. Dai summed up exactly what I was trying to say without half the waffle. I think the emphasis should be on the Guard and not on the astartes, but I would also like to see the fluff for the astartes make them less uber (somewhere between where they are now and where they were in the RT days) and make them a little more common than fluff would suggest. Essentially how I remember them being in 2nd ed.

  7. I've decided to take a night off work tonight - If I can get my backside off the sofa I might even do some painting.

    Finding hobby time's been hard recently what with work pressures and No.2 Daughter, but even though I've not had them out much of late, it's hard not to love the Guard.

    One fo the reasons I've been working on the Flames of War stuff recently is that it's just so much smaller and consequently so very much easier to store, get out and paint. 28mm's physically tricky at times in a small cottage!

    So why Guard?

    I've tried marines, in the dim-and-distant past, but I found them too cheesy to play and too dull, modelling-wise. Much as I like the clean lines of marines, I found I missed the more 'organic' appeal of Guardsmen.

    These days - with the exception of a valkyrie (for modelling purposes - not the overblown rules!) and everything ForgeWorld ever made - my Guard army wants for nothing: I've got pretty mcuh everything I need.

    So I've bought practically nothing other than a manticore in the last two years or so, but I'm finding it hard to get playing at the moment, because:
    (a) It's tricky to get time out from homelife and
    (b) I'm not up-to-speed on 6th ed, but most interestingly...
    (c) I love playing friendly, narrative games, but with the Guard (unless you're playing a regular opponent) it too easily becomes almost inevitably either a hands-down spanking for the Guard, which can be no fun at all, or the frustration of having to 'defend' units perceived as overpowered.

    Plus, gaming-wise, I find increasingly that my fun/fluffy forces can't even begin to hurt the legions of flying monstrous creatures (no chance), necrons (vanishingly small chance but then they rise again) or the new Codex-du-jour (I haven't even considered chaos yet!). It all changes so quickly, and the Guard are just so bad at being flexible that it becomes...y'know...frustrating.

    But I do love them!

    1. My Guard have unfortunately not had as much done on them in the past few weeks as previously, partly because of real life but partly because of several other projects as well. In a way, hearing that you've bought nothing for the last two years is reassuring - it allays my irrational fear that if I don't buy anything the army will stagnate, which is of course rubbish. I also hate 'defending' our big guns, mainly because people only compare the top entires in the codex, they forget that we pay for every Basilisk with the basic stat line of the Guardsmen.


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