Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Astra Militarum

Howdy folk!

Bob here with some thoughts on the new Imperial Guard Codex. I will break it down thusly: Changes to the lore and the stupendous changes to the terminology. I will also to a brief breakdown of the new units and some of the changes to existing units and systems (i.e. orders, weapons, etc). Lastly I will highlight my own forces of the Imperial Guard. So let us get started.

Astra what? Right out of the gate we have the first huge change to the dog soldiers of the Golden Throne, the name. Now we can speculate all day as to why GW did this (copyrights), but the change in the name of the army isn't the only name change we have. Astra Militarum comes on the heels of the Tempestus Scions (Storm Troopers) we also have the Commissariat being changed to the Officio Prefectus, as well as some other changes to names for other organizations. Lore related changes really aren't that significant. We get a overview of how the Imperium musters Guard forces to face a threat as well as some new snippets about various campaigns. Perhaps one of the biggest changes is the relegation of any regiment without plastics to a small artwork and a blurb about the regiment. As of the time this article was written, a lot of the other regiments are still available to order via the GW Online Store. This includes a lot of the older metal models, mostly Infantry and Officers with a few heavy/special weapons for the Tallarn, Valhallan, Mordian, and the "newer" Vostroyan. This drive by highlight also includes ranges like the Elysians and Death Korps that Forge World produce. Something that really bugged me about this was the artwork and description of the Tanith 1st. Let me be clear, the Gaunt's Ghosts series is one of my favorites the Black Library has ever done. I am fairly well versed in the lore of the Ghosts. Nowhere in the description is Colonel Commisar Guant mentioned. Nowhere. The artwork, while cool, does not depict what Abnett has described as the combat uniform of the Ghosts.

Seriously, does anyone actually check the source material?

It is things like this that take away from the pretty awesome presentation GW has been putting forth for army books (at $50 they had better be top notch). The rest of the book falls in line with current GW layout . Unit entries with descriptions and pictures. Nothing really to comment on here. The model section is pretty standard as well. The inclusion of a non 'eavy metal painted army seems to be something that is being worked into more and more Codecies and Army Books. In this case we get a converted up Cadian army. It is a well painted army with some interesting conversion work. Now on to the rules.

As most of you who have read my book reviews know, I am not big on going into detail here. Other sites crunch the numbers and do breakdowns in way more detail and effort than I really care to. So that being said I will do a brief rundown of my impressions on some of the bigger changes. So what is new? Well we of course get a Warlord Traits table, which true to form, is overall pretty meh. New orders are a welcome addition, "First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire!" still being my favorite. I always picture that scene from the movie Zulu as Stanley Baker and Michael Caine give the same order. The Tank Commander offers some interesting options for those inclined to be tread heads or anyone looking to boost the effectiveness of their Russ formations. Storm Troopers have been changed over to Scions and finally get a Command Squad option, though they do not get the "orders" from either Militarum Tempestus or the old Storm Troopers. The Taurox and Prime have been added as transport options for multiple units, though I am really not a fan of those glass cannons. Psykers have been brought in line with the options to choose lores. Priests are also close, if not exact, to the equivelent entries in the new Sisters "book". The new artillery vehicle, the Wyvren, offers a relatively cheap option to rain S4 blast templates down on some poor blob of a unit. The prospect of a unit of three of these targeting a unit in power armour would be enough to give said unit pause. The abhumans got a little bit of attention with the addition of Bullgryns or as some people have been calling them, "Banegryns".

 These are Ogryns with Carapace Armour and kitted out for melee or support. One options gives you what amounts to mobile cover for anything behind the unit and a short range grenade launcher or a power maul and 5++ save and To Wound re rolls for Hammer of Wrath. Most everything else in the book either remained the same or had some cost adjustments. Enginseers got a potentially cool new ability in the form of granting a vehicle Power of the Machine Spirit. Priests, Commissars, and Enginseers are all HQ choices that don't occupy a space on the FOC. Bodyguards are also missing from Company Command Squad upgrades as well. Speaking of HQ choices and such, gone are the vast majority of special characters. Marbo, Al'Rahem, Chenkov, Mogul Kamir, and Sargent Bastonne all disappeared from the book (and Gaunt was yet again left out). So basically this brings the book in line with the new "policy" of if it doesn't have a GW made model, you can't take it.

I think this edition of the Guard is a fairly solid book. Want a "red tide" style army of foot sloggers? You got it. Want a mechanized force? You got it. Want a armoured company with infantry support? You got it. Want an army based on something other than Cadians or Catachans? Not so much. At least not easily or "cheaply" from GW or Forge World. Nothing much major was added nor taken away from the army. Now I can hear some of you saying "but Bob, they took away all of those artillery vehicles!" and I get where you are coming from. That being said, lets be realistic for a moment. Those models where never going to be made plastic since doing so would be stepping all over Forge World turf. The models are still available from Forge World as are the rules for them. As much bitching and moaning that went on over this removal I would wager most of the loudest voices are the same people who had no intention of ever purchasing them in the first place. It sucks anytime an army looses a unit option, but at least the models and rules are still available. The new Wyveren is a potentially nasty customer, and the availability of cheap, effective psykers in the form of the Primaris is likely to turn a few heads. I am liking the new orders and the inclusion of a Tank Commander is a welcome one (though his usefulness is somewhat debatable). I also think that GW missed a lot of opportunities model and lore wise. I think the time has come for the Catachans to get a new plastic sculpt that makes them look slightly more realistic and not like a bunch of steroid abusing Rambo clones. I think there also is room to see some of the older metal regiments get brought into the age of plastic. I personally would love to expand the small forces of Tallarns, Valhalans, Vostroyans, and Ghosts that my Dad and I own. Hell, plastic Steel Legion would certainly have been a buy for me had they been made. Lore wise GW dropped the ball yet again in bringing the universe that the Black Library has created for an army into it's Codex. I am of course speaking of the complete lack of female Guard. The Ciaphas Cain novels as well as the Ghosts and other novels all feature prominent female characters as members of the Imperial Guard both as foot soldiers and officers. To me, this is a huge missed opportunity to both broaden the appeal of the game and to take some of the best stories written for 40K and make them part of the tabletop experience.

Lastly here are just a few examples of my own Guard force, the 152nd Cadian Grenadiers. I plan on doing a more in depth focus on my army in the near future so for now I will just show some of the things I have been working on recently. From left to right top to bottom we have the following: Company Commander, Guardsman, Plasma Gunner, plastic Commissar, Regimental Standard, Tank Commander, and lastly one of the new Scions.

That is it for now, folks. Stay tuned for more articles dealing with the Guard in the near future. I will be bringing these guys to the table top in force hopefully in the next month. Till next time, happy gaming!


  1. Your Guard -ur, I mean Militarum, look great!

  2. I have to say I was disappointed with the description of the unique regiments as well. I also, as a new player, would have appreciated a break down of some basic rules on game play to follow, they used to do these two editions ago in fantasy, but they have completely stopped. I also would have liked a break down of at least the typical regiment/army in lore. Again it would be helpful for new players to have something to start from.

    1. I agree with you on all points. I think GW has been rather lazy on the lore front of late, at least with some armies. If they aren't going to make new plastics or give good descriptions for the main book, I would hope they plan some supplements down the road. The subject of supplements is a topic for a article all by its self though.....