It's a controversial statement I know - but the overwhelming feeling I took away from the Codex: Astra Militarum was "why bother?". We are continually told that the Guard are doomed and cannon fodder and really don't matter that much and frankly it made me wonder why I spent $80+ to be told that...
As a fan of the Imperial Army/ Imperial Guard/ Astra Militarum it's actually a real shame and not entirely motivating to paint collect & field a force that kind of sucks!
But his hasn't always been the way.
These teeming masses of humanity, the strong line that holds the galaxy have a proud tradition and I thought it might be a good idea to have a look back at what once was and how I personally think the Astra Militarum incarnation is a real negative when it comes to the Guard.
This is just my opinion, so feel free to pipe in and set me straight or just put in your 2 cents worth about the current state of a once great and noble force.
So lets start at the beginning and look to the Bible - kind of fitting for a weekend such as this - Rogue Trader!
Though only briefly touched on, the "Warriors of the Army" are the predecessors of the Imperial Guard.
We know that they are numbered in their millions (my how harsh times have led to a population explosion - the Army now numbers in it's billions) and that they are drafted for life from all walks of life.
Their weapons aren't as good as the legendary marines, but they are similarly armed and equipped and well led.
At this point there were no Commissars or the like - we have to get to the Warhammer 40,000 Compendium for this one.
The Warhammer 40,000 Compendium was released in 1989 and collected articles from White Dwarf for the rapidly expanding Warhammer 40,000 universe.
This is where it all began for the now-crowned Imperial Guard.
We are taken into their world as a "Whitesheild", a new recruit to an Imperial Guard unit - they work hard, they fight hard and they die hard, but all the while there is a strong thread of a force that is strong and large and a band of brothers effectively, something sorely missing from the new Codex: Astra Militarum.
Of real interest is the tradition of a form of caravan train that accompany the Imperial Guard regiments. Sons of Guardsmen are recruited into the Guard at a young age and train alongside their brethren. Again, not only a band of brothers, but a family unit almost.
It's here we begin to get a real sense of the Imperial Guard and the place I first began to become a fan.
We read about "battle badges" sold to guardsmen by their officers to commemorate and celebrate hard fought victories.
To me this is a far cry from the Codex: Astra Militarum which repeats the following line, or derivations of:
Their lives may be short and brutal, their sacrifices insultingly thankless...
Codex: Astra Militarum
To me this doesn't ring true and more so, it makes the likelihood of characters, honours and veterans so unlikely that it's hard to put yourself in their shoes.
Recruitment for the Imperial Guard creams off the elite of the Planetary Defence Forces...
You take this as meaning that there is some kind of system, maybe a trial or maybe the Guardsmen rank is something you earn and something to be proud of.
But then in the Codex: Astra Militarum...
... though some worlds recruit by caste, population density, geography or even lottery, most Governors are given to pouring their best men into such regimental foundings.
It's a wishy washy almost draft-style system where anyone is thrown into the Guard. It's not earned!
How are you then covered in glory to be a Guardsman? Answer: you're not!
The Codex: Astra Militarum makes it seem almost like slavery!
It's all doom and gloom. Where are the heroes, the veterans of distinction? There is no glory in this book!
The miniatures themselves scream grandeur - from the huge banners to the Commissar's uniforms to the massive tanks and decorated Command squads.
This is a force to be reckoned with, covered in a long history and here to crush the enemy into the ground by skill at arms and brutal hand to hand fighting, something many of the recruits have been doing long before they were in the Imperial Guard!
These former tattooed gang members or savage tribesmen or even medieval knights are now in in Imperial uniform and using their previous experience to devastating effect!
At least that was the way before Codex: Astra Militarum...
I found it boring, there were few pictures of interest and no alternate schemes to paint your troops in (unlike the Tempestus Militarum book).
The Codex lacks imagination, flair or the idea that people would want to identify and make heroes of their best troops. How would their ever be Veteran Squads or elite formations in this incarnation of the Imperial Guard?
This Codex takes a great formation and drives it into the ground.
New players must be wondering why anyone would want to field a force which just die all the time? Why not just field Marines?
I'm really sorry I bought this book - it's not fun to read, it's not even interesting.
What do you think?
Do you miss the brave Imperial Guard or do you like the way the new Astra Militarum are portrayed in this Codex?
Do you care if the miniatures all look the same or do you like alternate colour schemes too?
Love to hear what you think!