I’ve often harped on about the Imperial Guard and how, in terms of their aesthetics as a faction, I don’t really like them. Part of what draws me to 40k is the sheer strangeness of it all, the cultural melting pot of the Imperium and the grubby insanity that rises to the surface. All too often however the guard have been immune to this. Forgeworld have brought us the Death Korps of Kreig and, more recently, the Solar Auxilia, and there are always weird characters like the Enginseers amongst the ranks, but in the main the eerie strangeness of the 41st Millennium seems to have passed the Guard by. Some of the old regiments were quite interesting (I love a Vostroyan as much as the next man) but in general there seems to have been a policy of cutting and pasting real world, historical military into the far future (Space Russians, Space Arabs, even Space Rambo) rather than thinking about how those themes or environmental factors might have led to a convergent evolution in tactics, outlook or appearance. I’d actually love to see the Guard reappraised in a more nuanced manner – in the same way that the Space Marine Legions have developed into more complex, interesting creatures under the guidance of the Forge World and Horus Heresy designers, as opposed to the Space Vikings, Space Mongol Hordes and so on that we once had. Perhaps the solution would be to do something similar to FW’s Legion Upgrade kits, where a set of heads and torsos that allowed us to convert other regiments from the Cadians (a solid enough kit in itself but a bit too ‘little green army men’ for my tastes). The Talarns and Mordians could be created this way, whilst a new kit featuring longer coats to cover the legs would allow Vostroyans, Valhallans and Steel Legion. Who knows, they could even push the boat out and come up with some new regiments based around original ideas
Anyway I’ve wandered slightly from my original point which is my dissatisfaction with the current Imperial Guard in terms of their appearance and aesthetics. What I was looking for was more in the vein of the mad counts from Warhammer’s Empire, or perhaps the filthy peasants of Bretonia, men armed with nothing but hand-me-down weaponry and grim determination facing down the rampaging horrors of a hostile galaxy. I wanted incompetent commanders, bombastic priests, heraldic beasts and chimerical weapon-servitors. I wanted an army based around hubris and overwhelming firepower that makes up for its ineffectual military tactics with a callous disregard for human lives and the everyday heroism of unremembered martyrs.
By now some of you may be wondering if all this musing is actually going somewhere. Working on the ranks of my traitor guard recently, as well as the Imperial Serf I showed a few weeks ago, has led to me thinking about their loyalist adversaries more than I normally would, with the result that – by some organic process – I ended up building this guy. Whilst the fickle muse was still working for me, rather than against me, I even got him painted. He’s quick and crude, and I could use going back and adding a few details (some text on the oath scroll for instance). Consider him a little test of concept should I ever decide to explore the Guard more fully.
As it stands I remain an unrepentant heretic but I do feel a certain draw towards the Imperium at times so who knows, someday he may have some squadmates to back him up or, as is more likely, die valiantly by his side. Otherwise he’s going to have to take on my entire chaos collection by himself and some challenges are beyond even the humble guardsman.