The Imperial Guard is the largest fighting force of the Imperium of Man. It is comprised of countless billions of men and women -- hundreds of thousands of different regiments, supported by a vast array of light and heavy armoured vehicles that provide the Guard's primary offensive punch. They are usually the first Imperial force to respond to a threat if a planet's Planetary Defence Force (PDF) fails to suppress it. They also garrison major locations of strategic or cultural interest to the Imperium and are often found in defensive roles. The Imperial Guard is often referred to as the "Sledgehammer of the Emperor"; the sheer amount of force that the Imperial Guard can bring to bear on the enemy is devastating, but is not as direct or as precise as their Space Marine allies, who are described as the "Scalpel of the Emperor." There is no universal uniform or regimental command hierarchy in the Imperial Guard, although it is compulsory for every regiment to have at least one Commissar to maintain the discipline and morale of the men while watching for any signs of corruption or taint in the ranks. However, it is worth noting that a number of worlds copy the uniform of the Cadian Regiments, which are viewed as being the most effective of the Imperial Guard's infantry units. The main tactic of the Imperial Guard is to overwhelm the enemy with their endless numbers, while at the same time hammer them into submission with devastating artillery and crush them with powerful main battle tanks.
The Guardsmen form the foundation at the end of the Imperial Guard command structure, however it is uncommon that Regiments will dispatch formations made entirely out of Guardsmen without attaching auxiliaries or support elements. In the chain of command, for example, an Imperial Officer, often a Colonel or a General, will find himself accompanied by Imperial sanctioned psykers dispatched from Scholastica Psykana facilities, or Officers of the Fleet, dispatched from the Imperial Navy to relay co-ordinates to harass enemy deployments and conduct interception attempts.
The Imperial Guard is able to draw upon a not inconsiderable number of specialized troops and sub-human and Abhuman auxiliaries. These may include the Storm Trooper Regiments of more disciplined origins, likely from the Schola Progenium facilities on many Imperial worlds. The Guard can call upon Orgyns from feral worlds whose brutish strength may be used in order to make up for the Guardsmen's lack of close combat endurance, or Ratling snipers whose small size and nimbleness allows them to infiltrate behind enemy lines where they can wreak havoc with their natural talents behind the telescopic sights of their needle rifles.
Though the Imperial Guard has enough men and firepower to throw up a withering wall of las bolts, most opponents that close the distance with the Guard's lines find themselves at a major advantage in close combat, which more often than not results in a bloodbath as the Guardsmen find themselves outmatched in melee and slaughtered.Different types of Imperial Guard Regiments utilize different methods of warfare. Though most of their engagements would count as battles of attrition, often Imperial Guard units will work alongside auxiliaries or specialized units in order to achieve different tactical outcomes some which may include, sabotage, infiltration, demolitions.
The Imperial Guard is the stalwart primary fighting force of the Imperium of Man, capable of dispensing a myriad of specialized troops. The Imperial Guard's most prominent asset is its ability to draw upon endless ranks of Guardsman - drawn from various human-settled worlds. Each Imperial world supplies an annual tithe of Guardsmen, often accompanied by quotas of las-gun production and armoured vehicles in order to sustain the never-ending war machine that is the Imperial Guard.
The hierarchy of command and the formations of local Planetary Defence Forces (PDF) may differ from world to world. On some worlds, a PDF may be composed of hiver gangs or other irregular troops or it may be an offical, professional army making use of proper military organisation and equipment. In the Imperial Guard, there is only one primary tactical and strategic formation -- the Regiment. The Regiment provides a solid command structure that allows for both versatility and lethality when the application of force is needed in any Imperial warzone. Guardsmen form the bulk of many Imperial Regiments, however it is common for Regiments to exclusively include the support drawn from other Regiments in order to sustain operations. The nature of the Regiment alone is one that requires the support of many other Imperial assets. Infantry Regiments consist mainly of Infantry Squads and Conscript Militia. However, Armoured Regiments may include Armoured Fighting Vehicles and Support Tanks with little to no Infantry, or may only include Guardsmen in mechanized formations, known as Armoured Fist squads, where a single Infantry Squad is attached to a dedicated armoured transport, likely a Salamander or Chimera Armoured Personnel Carrier or its equivalent. Thus, most regiments' Armored Fist squads that are borrowed from other regiments as infantry regiments may have no Chimera APC's. Others may be drop troops trained to drop onto a battlefield using drop ships or Drop Pod-like vehicles or they may have Valkyries attached to them for drop troop insertion. The regiments are mixed once the Imperial Navy's transport vessels picks up all the regiments or brings them to their destination so that tank regiments cannot be outflanked by infantry while an infantry regiment will have an attached artillery battery to back it up.
Imperial Guard Regiments are drawn from all types of planets in the Imperium, from Terra itself to pre-industrial feral and feudal worlds, and the contributions of troops from certain planets like Cadia over the ten thousand years of the Imperium's existence run into the millions. The Imperial Guard is constantly at war, freeing worlds from the influence of aliens or the Ruinous Powers, or defending them from the same enemies. The Imperial Guard relies upon the Imperial Navy for transport to and from war zones. The regiments of Guardsmen are as diverse as the worlds they come from.
Where the Space Marines might fight a war through tactics and efficiency, the Guard can easily afford to crush its opposition amidst thousands of lasgun volleys and hundreds of ordnance blasts. Such is the numerical superiority of the Imperial Guard that even Orks can sometimes find themselves outnumbered by the so-called "Sledgehammer" of the Imperium.
Imperial Guard equipment and weaponry spans a wide range of common Imperial hand-held weaponry, from the standard-issue lasgun to the high-powered Hellgun and Hot-Shot lasgun for Storm Troopers. Likewise, the Imperial Guard soldiers can also range in quality from Cadian Guardsmen who are trained to kill from childhood, to ordinary Imperial citizens dragged from their homes and stores, handed a las rifle and flak jacket and conscripted into the Guard. However, every Guardsmen will be given intensive training, if not on there homeworld then in transit to their first war zone. They are taught how to shoot and use special and heavy weapons effectively for weeks before they are sent into combat, and braced for the inevitable shock of being on a foreign and sometimes alien world. A Guardsman who spent his youth on a hive world will probably never have seen the open sky before, while a savage Guardsman from a feral world will have never seen a city or factory or a motorized vehicle before he joined the Guard.
Forces of the Imperial Guard
Regimental Command Squad
In large-scale Imperial Crusades that usually invole large armies of the Imperial Guard, Guardsmen High Commanders are often found directing the Crusade effort from the rear, keeping with him representatives from the various Imperial Guard Regiments and the occasional Space Marine Chapter involved in the Crusade to keep in constant contact with the fighting components. However, when necessary, the High Commander may take to the battlefield with his aides and bodyguard, boosting his men's morale with his mere presence. High Commanders have a higher rank than other officers normally found at the front lines. A commander has the choice of which regiment to lead from the front, but they can be put into the major sections of all different types of Imperial Guard Regiments.
Company Command Squad
The senior-most officer of an Imperial Guard Company leads his troops as part of a Command Squad. This is the heart of an Imperial Guard army, from where the Company Commander can disseminate orders, execute the Regimental Commander's battle strategy and direct the actions of specific units. The Command Squads typically number five men - the Senior Officer and four of the unit's most competent troopers. They are often given additional training and equipment, enabling them to function as combat medics, vox-operators and other orderlies. A soldier who has displayed gallantry above and beyond the call of duty is often inducted into such Command Squads. This gallant trooper may be permitted to carry the regimental standard, a privileged distinction. The Guardsmen of the Command Squad are equipped with a variety of weapons from the Company's armoury - one carries the company standard, another serves as a medic, a third carries a portable vox unit, and the last soldier acts as the Commander's orderly/bodyguard. The squad may all be mounted in a Chimera. The officer is in continuous contact with his subordinates and coordinates attacks and provides a solid leadership anchor and can have advisers and bodyguards accompany him. The Company Commanders fight on the front line, leading by example, providing their subordinates a solid anchor of leadership.
Commissars and Lord Commissars
Even in battle, a Guardsman may need to be reminded of his duty to the Emperor to overcome his fear, and Commissars are often seen as the Emperor's personal representatives on the battlefield. Stern-faced and grim individual officers trained by the Imperium's Schola Progenium, Commissars are able to either inspire great deeds or strike fear into the hearts of Guardsmen. Either way, these emotions encourage the troops to stand their ground against an often horrific enemy and battle it out to the end.
Commissars are more than just a visible representative of the Emperor of Mankind. They also often take the fight to the enemy, battling against foe after foe to aid their units in battle. Their elevated status marks them apart from the standard hierarchy of an Imperial Guard Regiment's command, and they often operate as autonomous individuals, counseling and advising the commanding officer of a Guard unit. They have the authority to execute sanctioned psykers and Primaris Psykers if they are possessed by the dark forces of the Warp. If a commander or soldier is found wanting, or wavers in his duty to the Emperor, the Commissar has full legal authority to immediately execute him. It is this mix of extreme corporal punishment and courage that makes Commissars such effective boosters of Imperial Guard morale on the grim frontlines of the Imperium. Such is their reputation that in some regiments the wrath of the Commissar is more feared than the enemy.
The Schola Progenium teaches and trains orphans of Imperial Officers until they are ready to be initiated into one of the numerous organisations of the Imperium. Here, young orphans are schooled to love the beneficent Emperor. It is here that many Commissars find their unbreakable strength of their faith in the missionary orphanages. This orphans are recruited into the ranks of the fiercely loyal Imperial Storm Troopers. Commissars are often drawn from the ranks of these elite soldiers. Commissars are also drawn from the ranks of orphans of the Schola Progenium. They learn how to lead and fight in these squads at the Schola Progenium, working their way up to the rank of Cadet Commissar. As such, their training continues on the galaxy's battlegrounds where they are formed into special Commissar Training Squads, fighting alongside Imperial Guard units.
The Commissar-General is the senior Commissar of the regiment with the longest service and most extensive campaign experience. It is the Commissar-General's responsibility to select the most promising recruits from those recommended to him by the schools of the Adeptus Ministorum. After basic Imperial Guard training these become Cadet Commissars and proceed to special training for their demanding responsibilities as Commissars. The best way to achieve this is for the Cadets to be instructed under battlefield conditions. The Commissar-General assigns Cadet Commissars to these special training squads, who are then allocated to specific Imperial Guard officers according to his judgement of the battlefield situation. These squad members are identified by a blue uniform trim and Cadet badge.
A Commissar is then assigned to take the regiment's Commissar Cadets and form their own tactical unit. This Commissar Training Squad is made up of one Commissar and nine Cadet Commissars. The training of these Cadets Commissars has no fixed duration. A Cadet qualifies as a full Commissar on the judgement of the Commissar-General. He will be awarded his Commissar status as soon as he/she is deemed worthy of it by their actions. This newly promoted Commissars provide great inspiration to the other Cadets on the battlefield. The new Commissar can then be allocated Commissarial duties in his own right. Those Cadets who fail in their duties, but has not shown cowardice or insubordination, is relieved of his position and duties. These failed Commissar Cadets are often commissioned in a penal battalion. Others volunteer for service in a Rogue Trader entourage. Sometimes, their destiny will be decided by the Commissar-General or Commissar under whom the ex-Cadet trained.
The few Commissars who survive for long and demonstrate extreme valour and leadership may achieve the rank of Lord Commissars. The gallantry of Lord Commissars is legendary and tales abound of stranded, demoralised Imperial Guard squads being driven to valourous deeds by the leadership of such heroes. Lord Commissars exemplify power and bravery, making them natural leaders with a reputation for turning the tide of battle, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Just being in the presence of a Lord Commissar drives Imperial Guardsmen to extreme measures of dicipline and in may cases they have been lead without fear into the heat of battle. Lord Commissars are few and far between among the Imperium's forces, but they inspire their soldiers to acts of valour in a way no average Commissar can.
These fanatical members of the Ecclesiarchy and ministers of the Imperial Cult follow the Imperial Guard on campaigns and battles preaching the righteousness of the God-Emperor. These Priests of the Ecclesiarchy play a vital role in the Imperial Guard, imparting holy teachings of the Emperor and providing spiritual succour to the troops both on and off the battlefield. To these followers of the Imperial Creed there is no higher calling than tending the flocks of the Emperor's armies. They lead by example and gladly martyr themselves on blood-soaked fields of battle. They favour close combat over the use of ranged weapons, as they bring holy death to their enemies and they instill this ideal in the Guardsmen following them, making them equally as ferocious as a Commissar when it comes to motivating men, although they use religious inspiration rather than terror in the way most Commissars do. Ministorum Priests ensure that troops are sufficiently motivated to do their duty without fear, as well as fighting fanatically themselves. In battle they harness the faith of the troops to smite the Emperor's foes. They fill the hearts of nearby Guardsmen with righteous anger through their powerful and rousing oratory, chanting litanies of devotion and mantras of hate. Together they charge down heretics that dare oppose the Emperor, determined to purge such filth from the battlefield.
A tech-priest Enginseer is a heavily armoured warrior from the Adeptus Mechanicus who can repair tanks and other Imperial vehicles on the battlefield. They can be accompanied by up to five other cybernetic Servitor units, who can aid the tech-priest in ranged combat or repairing vehicles.
A tech-priest has numerous cybernetic enhancements which aid them in the performance of their duties, such as when tanks and other vehicles need to be repaired under heavy fire or extreme time constraints. Many tech-priests have their lungs replaced with mechanical breathers or portions of their cerebral cortex replaced with cogitator (computer) circuitry to allow for easier interfaces with the archaic but advanced technology of the Imperium. Some of the more fanatically devoted tech-priests who worship the Cult Mechanicus have their blood replaced with a synthetic oxygen-carrying chemical substitute, to minimize the effects of wounds and injuries inflicted on the field of battle. Many tech-priests choose to have the serpentine cybernetic servo-arms called Mechadendrites installed, as an extra limb is always useful for both combat and repair duties.
The tech-priest Enginseers are privy to the mystical secrets of the machine spirits that the Adeptus Mechanicus' Cult of the Machine God believes inhabits all Imperial vehicles and technology and they are held in high regard amongst the Imperial Guard's armoured companies, which are comprised primarily of tanks and other vehicles. However, in most Imperial Guard armies, the tech-priests are shunned by their fellow Guardsmen because of their bionic enhancements and cybernetic disfigurements.
Storm Troopers are considered superior to other Imperial Guardsmen because of their additional training and indoctrination by the Schola Progenium, as well as their improved personal technology and equipment. They are often used in the vanguard of an assault or as infiltrating troops to carry out special objectives lesser Guardsmen would be unable to undertake. Storm Troopers are ruthless, proficient killers whose combat skills within the Imperial Guard are second-to-none. To complement their superior training, Storm Troopers are better armed and armoured than regular Guardsmen. Their bodies are protected by carapace armour composed of rigid arma-plas and reinforced ceramite plate, protecting them better than the standard issue flak armour. Storm Troopers also wield sophisticated Hot-Shot lasguns and Hot-Shot laspistols - a more potent and lethal form of weapon than the standard issue lasgun. However, the drawback of these weapons are that they are difficult to produce and maintain. These weapons are rarely issued to soldier outside Storm Trooper companies, who are trained to look after and even rebuild these weapons if necessary. These elite units are constantly moving from one war zone to another and are amongst the most experienced units within the Imperial Guard. Storm Troopers are taught to perform covert operations, spearhead assaults into fortified positions and storm key installations.
Often drafted into Imperial Guard Regiments from the Ogryn Auxilia Legions, these Abhuman mutant offshoots of humanity are large, hulking, and angry. Ogryns tend to be very loyal to friends and have the same values, personal loyalties and determination as Guardsmen from barbaric feral societies so the two groups tend to get along famously well. Of course, given their tendency for brute force and phenomenal melee power, Ogryns usually have little intellectual power. They are given well-built Ripper Guns, which more often than not are used for bashing the enemy as a club, rather than shooting them. The weaponhas a built-in burst limiter to prevent them from shooting off their entire ammunition drum at once, something that would be conceived as fun to an Ogryn. Ogryns are extremely tough combatnats and can serve as a good blocking force, preventing the enemy from reaching the softer, inner core of an Imperial army's standard Guardsmen. Ogryns can be mounted in a transport, although they do suffer from a form of claustrophobia and are not at their best when being transported (however, it has been found that officers can get them in with the help of a friendly-faced trooper and a crate of rations. Unfortunately for the trooper he is stuck in there until they leave). Ogryns can resist incoming fire and move up the field to bash away at the enemy's stronger combat units. Ogryn come from high-gravity Imperial worlds, which led their ancestors to grow taller and much more muscular than most humans.
Ratlings are small mutant Abhumans who developed on low-gravity Imperial worlds and are unsuitable for use as close combat troops. The Ratlings instead act as perhaps the Imperial Guard's most skilled snipers, and many a regiment has been saved at the last moment only by the pinpoint accuracy of the tiny Abhumans.Ratlings are also great cooks, being able to make anything out of whatever they find (or pilfer). Ratlings are notorious crooks, organizing gambling rings or using their small size to steal whatever is laying around, whether it be a shiny bullet casing or the senior Commissar's peaked hat. Needless to say, Regimental commanders have noticed that rates of petty theft and drug-dealing invariably increase when a Ratlings squad is attached to the regiment. This tendency means the Ratlings make fine profits on the front-lines, where they smuggle in whatever the soldiers need or want - for a price.
Imperial Guard Troop Types
Found in every single Imperial Guard Regiment, the Guardsman is the ubiquitous representative soldier of the Imperial Guard, as he makes up the very backbone of the organisation's fighting force. Armed with low-power laser weaponry known as lasguns, a Guardsmen's lethality is minimal. Armoured with basic Flak armour fabricated from basic metallic alloys, they have little protection in comparison with the Adeptus Astartes and the other intelligent species' front-line warriors. Instead of cybernetic upgrades, daemonic Chaos powers or biological weapons, the Guardsmen face up to the universe's unimaginable horrors with nothing more than a las rifle in their hands and the fire in their bellies. Guardsmen are used differently by their regiment, depending on their commanding officer's preferences. Some regimental commanders choose to use the near-limitless number of Guardsmen like water on rocks - maximum casulties, but a slow and sure victory. Others prefer a sledgehammer style - an enemy will always fall under a volley of a thousand lasguns. Others just use the Guard like flesh shields - force the enemy through the human meat grinder until it works no more. However they are used, the Guard always maintains its faith in victory no matter the cost, in the name of the God-Emperor of Mankind.
The standard and most basic tactical infantry deployment of the Imperial Guard, an infantry platoon comprises 1 command squad lead by a junior officer and their staff, 2-5 infantry squads and 0-5 heavy weapon squads, 0-2 special weapon squads, and 0-1 conscript platoons.
Platoon Command Squad
The Platoon Command Squad provides the first link in the chain-of-command within Imperial Guard Regiments. For battlefield operations to perform smoothly the Imperial Guard operates by using a substantial command structure. The Platoon Command Squad provides the command-and-control necessary for effective combat operations. The officer who lead Platoon Command Squads are known by a variety of official ranks and titles; lieutenant, marshal and shield-centurion are just a few examples. Their primary role is to ensure the platoon fulfills the Company Commander's orders and gets the job done. It is their duty to ensure that their most basic unit of the Guard fights effectively on the battlefield. Sadly, for every fresh-faced officer whom performs valiantly there is another that panics and falters and is quickly punished by a neighbouring Commissar for wasting the time and countless lives of the Guard. The Platoon Commanders are accompinied by this hand-picked team who help them fulfill their duties. The Platoon Command Squad consists of a junior officer and his personal staff of non-commissioned officers (NCOs). They may be chosen for their medical skills, their skill with special weapons or their potential to ultimately become an officer. These squads coordinate and plan their platoon's movement and actions. Troopers within these squads are chosen for their courage and may be given the honour of carrying the platoon standard. Others are chosen for their technical or medical skills. A select few are individuals that are thought suitable for officer training. Troopers assigned to a Command Squad not only assist in relaying the officer's orders but also gain first-hand leadership experience.
These are the main body of men and women fighting in the Guard. They do everything that is required in combat and do most of the dying until the enemy is defeated. These Infantry Squads form the backbone of the Imperial Guard. The fighting ability of each regiment reflects the world and society it comes from. Some planets breed savage gang fighters whilst others raise primitive and barbaric warriors. A typical infantry squad is composed of a Sergeant and nine infantrymen with the option of one using a special weapon (a grenade launcher, a Flamer, a Plasma Gun, Melta Gun or a Sniper Rifle) and the option of one acting as the squad's vox officer (radio operator) and 2 others may act as a heavy weapons team within this group (armed with either a Lascannon, Autocannon or a Heavy-Bolter). Although some Guardsmen are equipped with a variety of powerful and specialised weaponry, the primitive strength of the infantry regiments remains their huge and expendable mass of firepower. This combined firepower of an Imperial Guard regiment makes them a deadly opponent.
These squads consist of normal Imperial citizens with little or no military training, new Guard recruits who have not yet entered training, children of the Regiment's troops or Guardsmen that have not completed their training. Sometimes, in military emergencies, the Imperium's need for manpower is so great that normal Imperial citizens will simply find themselves conscripted by their planetary government and handed over to the Imperial Guard as part of their world's Administratum tithe. They are given a lasgun and Flak armour, and sent into battle. They can comprise small units or can be brought together to form a formidable swarm of men. They consist of 20-50 troops in a single platoon.
Heavy Weapon Teams
These Imperial soldiers serve in dedicated heavy weapon teams in their platoons. They are equipped with mortars, Heavy Bolters, Autocannons or Lascannons to offer long-range infantry support or antitank support to regular Guardsmen. These special heavy weapons sections bolster the battle line and provide close fire support. Unleashing a torrent of indiscriminate firepower, a Heavy Weapons Team can reduce the packed ranks of the enemy to nothing but a pile of bleeding corpses in the time it takes to pull the trigger. Those soldiers whom demonstrate an affinity with specialised weaponry are gathered together into squads within a heavy weapon company. Generally, these teams are made up of two troopers who crew a heavy weapon - one crewman fires whilst the other hauls and loads the ammunition. Placed under command of an officer, the Heavy Weapons Teams boost the firepower of the individual squads, allowing them to engage enemy armoured units or hold off alien hordes that outnumber them many times over.
Special Weapon Teams
Most Imperial Guard regiments maintain a separate support company dedicated to providing infantry platoons with troops armed and trained to fulfill a number of specialist roles. These six-man squads of specialist Imperial Guardsmen may consist of snipers and spotters, combat engineers with Flamers, or demolition experts offering a variety of special support. Sniper teams are used to target enemy commanders, whilst those armed with heavy explosives perform tasks such as destroying fortifications. Demolitions experts can carry either grenade launchers or a special Melta demolition charge. Combat engineers are particularly feared by the enemy and can clear out bunkers with gouts of lethal Promethium flame. Some of these specialists can act as anti-tank units using Multi-Melta or Plasma Gun.
These hardy soldiers are Guardsmen are members of squads and platoons who have survived grueling wars of attrition for years and even decades at a time. Inevitably, each company shrinks in size as casualties take their toll. These superlative warriors have been forged into lethal and efficient killers through their battlefield training. These Veterans are the hard-core of the Imperial Guard - the first squad in an assault and the last in retreat. They possess unmatched skills and the combat experience to survive. They are crack shots and can have several special weapons in their squads and have non-standard weapons not issued to regular Guardsmen. Many of their weapons are taken from their foes. It is rare for a Regiment to possess a large number of Veterans except for Regiments with elite soldiers like those from the world of Cadia or those who have had a run of unusually good luck or competent commanders. A Regiment that has been reduced to the point when there are just a few Veterans left are combined with a new Regiment in the hope that their skills will rub off onto the new men. Many of these Veterans may not be from the Regiment or even the same home world, and so may introduce brand new combat-tactics and an entirely different war-ethic to their foster regiment. Although technically these Veteran squads remain a part of the same rigid command structure, these grizzled survivors function best when allowed a certain amount of autonomy. Through their valuable battlefield experience and insight - they often employ unconventional, but effective tactics- such as the use of booby traps - that are not taught by the Tactica Imperialis. Veterans excel in all aspects of warfare, from close-range firefights to heavy demolitions work.
Imperial Guard Penal Legions are formed by those individuals who have committed capital crimes against the Imperium of Man but have been given a chance to redeem themselves by the Adeptus Arbites with their inevitable deaths in battle as warriors of the Imperial Guard. The troopers sentenced to serve in the Penal Legions invariably have short lives. They must live under a tremendous burden of guilt - for they have not only committed crimes, but in doing so, they have also betrayed the Emperor. For those Penal Legionnaires who are genuinely repentant, the opportunity to alleviate this burden is fully embraced and many die on the battlefield in desperate attempts to atone for their crimes. In rare and exceptional circumstances, Legionnaires who complete their missions and survive may be absolved of their crimes and allowed to rejoin the ranks of the Imperial Guard. The ranks of the Penal Legions are made up of the scum of the galaxy. Their ranks are swelled with rapists, murderers, traitors, mutants, and psychopaths, contributing to their disreputable aura; nonetheless, nearly every century a particularly brave (or lucky) Penal Legion is awarded freedom for their years of service, and their sins absolved before the Emperor. This is the only hope that the Legionnaires' cling to as they bloodily die by the dozen, leaving behind the most violent and hardened of their number. Reprieved from the death cells because of some talent or uncanny instinct, these dregs comprise the most vicious, ill-tempered and unstable group of psychopaths and killers in the Imperial Guard. New Legionnaires of the Penal Legion have their heads shaved and tattooed with their unit insignia. Discipline within a Penal Legion is necessarily harsh, even by Imperial Guard standards. A blind eye can never be turned from those that would kill each other by 'accident' or design. The commanding officer or Custodian of the Legion has control of the detonator that is linked to the explosive collars that every Legionnaires' must wear after they join the Legion, and he can use it to kill any Legionnaire he chooses, showering those nearby with sanguinous gore in an effort to retain order. Penal Legionnaires are tasked with the most dangerous missions where their unorthodox abilities and unique skills are essential for victory. Though they are composed of the worst dregs of Imperium, amongst them are found some of the most skilled warriors of the Imperial Guard. Some of those who serve within the Legion want to die in battle and forget their disgrace. But often, its the toughest and most dangerous born killers that somehow survive.
The Banewolf tank is only used when the complete destruction of the opposition is warranted. It carries a Chem Cannon which fires a chemical shell infused with a chemical weapon that dissolves all organic material. Skin is destroyed and the victims blood boils as the horrific weapon takes its toll. Even Power Armour will not protect the enemy and so all infantry, apart from heavily armoured infantry units such as Chaos Space Marine Terminators, will run for their lives as their friends and allies scream behind them. The Banewolf can form a squadron of 1-3 vehicles mixed with the Hellhound and the Devildog tank variants.
Capable of transporting twelve Guardsmen, the Chimera is the standard Imperial armoured personnel carrier for nearly all Imperial Guard Regiments. It is amphibious and capable of supporting naval assaults from orbit. It is often the basis for other Guard vehicle variants, such as the Basilisk, the Hellhound, and the Griffin self-propelled mortar platform. They play a heavy role in highly-mechanized Imperial Guard armies, such as that of Armageddon's Steel Legion.
The Devildog is a variant of the Hellhound tank armed instead with a Melta Cannon. The Melta Cannon makes a howling sound when it is fired. The Devildog offers crucial anti-tank support to Imperial Guard armies that would otherwise be lacking it. The Devildog can form a squadron of 1-3 vehicles mixed with the Hellhound and Banewolf variants of the tank.
Based on the chassis of the Chimera, Hellhounds have large Promethium fuel tanks mounted on the rear of the vehicle. These tanks are used to fuel a large front-facing Flamer known as an "Inferno Cannon". The Inferno Cannon has the ability to spew streams of flaming fuel over large distances, making it the bane of infantry like Orks and Chaos Space Marines. The Inferno Cannon and its tanks are highly unstable, making the Hellhound a risky vehicle to operate. Because of this, most Hellhounds are crewed by maddened pyromaniacs. The Hellhound can form squadrons of 1-3 vehicles, and can be upgraded to the Devildog and the Banewolf variant tanks.
Rough Rider Cavalry Squadron
These specialist warriors are recruited from feral worlds where nomadic clans and warrior horse-lodges have perfected the art traditional cavalry techniques through years of bloodshed. Often, members of the Rough Riders retain many of the ferocious customs of their home worlds such as ritual scarring and tribal tattoos. Mounted upon specially bred steeds or other draught animal's back that are as tough and dangerous (and ill-tempered) as the warriors who ride them. Whilst the majority of Rough Riders are raised from feral, undeveloped worlds this is not exclusively the case. On some planets the honour of riding a steed to war is reserved for the elite classes, formalised horse-warrior aristrocricies that have accumulated generations of cavalry experience. Despite its legions of machinery and fighting vehicles, even the Imperial Guard has a place for these fierce mounted warriors. These traditional cavalry units are fast and flexible, but cannot last for long in intense combat with advanced technological or armoured enemy forces. Compared to normal Guardsmen, Rogh Riders specialize in close combat, but they are weak compared to the close combat specialists of many other armies. Rough Riders carry a variety of weapons but the most deadly is, without doubt, the potent explosive-tipped hunting lance derived from lethal spear heads used by cavalry on their home worlds to hunt down large carnivorous animals. This one-shot advantage in close combat makes them especially useful when deployed for hit-and-run tactics.
Scout Sentinel Squadron
These small squadrons of mechanical combat walkers known as Sentinels can carry a variety of heavy weapons, depending on the pattern of the Sentinels, and bring high levels of power and maneuverability together in one place. They are lightly armoured however, and are susceptible to light arms fire. They are often employed as anti-infantry units and can be used for defending the flanks of other units or striking forward to take out light to medium armoured infantry or vehicles. They are also commonly used in hit-and-run attacks and many foes will find themselves attacked in the middle of their own territory by squadrons of these effective walkers. Sentinel squadrons will commonly attack refineries and factories, harassing the enemy garrison protecting them, if any.
Armoured Sentinel Squadron
These Sentinel Squadrons are more heavily armoured than Scout Sentinels and can carry weapons such as Plasma Cannons and Lascannons to destroy tanks. They are more deadly in combat because they are not open topped and have heavier armour. Unlike the Scout Sentinel, the normal Sentinel will be used for tank-hunting as well as anti-infantry combat duties. They are far deadlier, and by a consequence of design, far noisier. While Scout Sentinels produce little engine noise, the armoured variant is one that will be heard coming from a long way off.
The Valkyrie is an airborne transport and dropship used by the Imperial Guard that can carry troops into battle from long distances.The Valkyrie is used for drop missions and aerial insertions. Its missile pods and Hellstrike missiles are potent, and can be used as excellent anti-tank weapons. The Valkyrie is often used to air-drop the elite Storm Troopers into battle on special operations missions. If a Valkyrie is moving at maximum speed it can drop its occupants anywhere along its flight path.
The Vendetta is a modified version of the Valkyrie, replacing the usual Valkyrie armaments with three twin-linked Lascannons. For this reason, the Vendetta gives up most of its anti-infantry capabilities and takes on the role of an anti-tank unit, allowing it to counter enemy armour while simultaneously transporting soldiers across the battlefield. Notwithstanding this difference, the Vendetta is otherwise identical to the Valkyrie variant of the aircraft.
Heavy Armoured Support
Destroyer Tank Hunter
The Destroyer Tank Hunter was a once common vehicle of the Imperial Guard Regiments, but is now considered a relic. Now it is rarely seen and its numbers are steadily declining. Whilst its hull can be mass produced, its Laser Destroyer cannot be so easily produced. Only a few Forge Worlds possess the skills to be able to hand-craft each weapon. This is a painstaking and laborious process, resulting in demand far outstripping supply. The Destroyer utilises the old Mars Alpha pattern hull design, modified due to the removal of the standard Leman Russ' turret ring. Destroyers are generally issued to specialist tank destroyer squadrons, and occasionally enough vehicles are gathered to form an entire Tank Destroyer Company. Those Imperial Guard Regiments that still do possess Destroyer Tank Hunters guard them jealously and each vehicle is continually patched up and repaired to keep it operational. Once lost, a regimental commander knows he is unlikely to get any replacements. Wrecks which can be reconstructed are high priority salvage after a battle. The role of the Destroyer on the battlefield is to seek out and eliminate enemy tanks.
Hydra Flak Tank
The Hydra Flak Tank is incredibly effective against opponents that rely upon poorly armoured but highly agile vehicles in combat like the Tau and the Eldar. The tank's auto-targeting system is what makes it so effective against agile enemy vehicles. This is a very effective weapon against Tau or Eldar skimmers, but it possesses little armour so will need some protection from enemy infantry. There is also a version where the main gun is mounted on a Chimera chassis.
Leman Russ Main Battle Tank
The Leman Russ main battle tank is named after one of the Adeptus Astartes' Primarchs, Leman Russ of the Space Wolves, and is the primary tank used by the Imperial Guard. It has a large main battle cannon, which is a hugely powerful kinetic ordnance weapon that fires explosive shells, a hull-mounted lascannon and optional sponson-mounted Heavy Bolters, Heavy Flamers, Plasma Cannons,or Melta Cannons. With strong frontal armour, the Leman Russ is designed to initially bombard large enemy formations and then assault the weakened enemy defensive lines later, its weapons firing. However, the Leman Russ tank is particularly vulnerable to rear and flank attacks because of the thinner armour it possesses in those positions. The Leman Russ tank is the most commonly found armoured vehicle in the Imperial Guard, and is the base design for some of the other vehicles of the Guard, including the Vanquisher, Conqueror and many others. Leman Russ tanks can be upgraded or customised to enhance their combat effectiveness.
Leman Russ Conqueror
The Leman Russ Conqueror is an uncommon variant of the standard Leman Russ main battle tank. Imperial records show that it is only produced in significant numbers on the Forge World of Gryphonne IV, where the original pattern blue-prints were rediscovered sometime in the 38th Millennium. These plans currently reside in Mars, though several Forge Worlds are lobbying for access to them. The Conqueror has many notable features, including a smaller cannon which allows the Conqueror greater mobility and the a higher rate of fire, due to the smaller shell size. Initial field-testing showed that the Conqueror's reduced recoil from the gun's torsion bar counter-balance gives the tank better accuracy for firing on the move. The turret of the Conqueror includes additional armour plates riveted on the forward turret sides. There is also a co-axial-mounted storm bolter for anti-infantry defence, alleviating the need for a pintle-mounted storm bolter and thus eliminating the need for exposing the tank commander. A small searchlight is also included, which can be used for night time communications in the event of radio failure or interference from atmospheric conditions.
Leman Russ Demolisher
Based on the standard Leman Russ chassis, the Demolisher has a similar configuration. It boasts a Demolisher Cannon, designed for short-range kinetic bombardment, rather than the longer-ranged main battle cannon. The extreme power of this weapon makes it tear easily through even Terminator Armour. The simplest tactic is to get just within range of the enemy and then blast away with the Demolisher Cannon as much as possible, relying on the tank's thick frontal armour to keep the tank intact as it advances. The Demolisher is the only tank in the Imperial Guard that is directly attached to infantry formations, rather than being assigned from an armoured company, and have a reputation for never letting down their "little brothers." As such, Demolishers are often at the front of the battle with the infantrymen of the Guard.
Leman Russ Eradicator
The Eradicator is a variant of the Leman Russ main battle tank that was first used during the urban conflict on the world of Khai-Zhan. The Eradicator cannon's blast is so powerful that any cover is useless against such a torrent. The Eradicator offers a solution to a simple but annoying problem: enemy forces hiding behind a wall. Even throwing Krak grenades and plasma bolts at such an enemy can fail, as they can use cover to negate the killing power of those weapons. The Eradicator is the solution for this problem because of the power of its cannon which can simply knock down most forms of cover. The Eradicator is the vehicle of choice for fighting cover-dependent enemy units who hide and harass the Imperial Guard's troops and tanks.
Leman Russ Executioner
The Executioner is an ancient and very powerful version of the Leman Russ main battle tank dating back to the time of the Great Crusade. Once it was produced in vast legions of vehicles, but as the Imperium's understanding of plasma technology degraded, so was the technology to make this variant of the tank. The Executioner is in essence a plasma tank. Its main gun is an Executioner Plasma Cannon that fires massive beams of pure plasma that can simply disintegrate a target or mass of targets on contact. Because of its power, the few remaining Executioner tanks are highly prized relics of those few Imperial Guard Regiments that possess them and they are only used on the battlefield when the risk of their destruction is outweighed by the need for their unmatched firepower.
Leman Russ Exterminator
The Exterminator variant of the Leman Russ main battle tank is an excellent choice for taking on enemy infantry and light vehicles. its twin-linked Autocannons excel at knocking out light vehicles such as buggies and Land Speeders, and the sponson-mounted Heavy Bolters can decimate enemy troop formations. Against more heavily armoured troops and vehicles, the Exterminator flounders, as it lacks the stopping power of dedicated anti-tank weapons such as Lascannons or Krak Missiles.
Leman Russ Punisher
The Leman Russ Punisher can pump more ammunition at the target than any other tank in the Imperial Guard with its powerful Autocannons.The crew is usually gung-ho and trigger happy. The Punisher has proven to be the Imperial Guard's most effective vehicle when assaulting Tyranid and Ork forces which rely on large volumes of poorly armoured troops. A Punisher tank can kill most known forms of Tyranid Genestealers due to their low armour value.
Leman Russ Vanquisher
The Vanquisher is a new variant of the Leman Russ main battle tank that is now slowly becoming a rare sight on the battlefield. Its 1 shot:1 kill ratio makes it a great candidate for anti-tank jobs. The Vanquisher should be used for cracking Chaos Space Marine Land Raiders, along with other light or medium tanks. There is only one known enemy vehicle that can stand up to its power, the Necron Monolith, because of the special properties of its living metal necrodermis casing. The Vanquisher is usually fielded against tank-heavy armies that the standard Imperial Guard infantry platoon finds hard to deal with. The technology required to make this tank was lost when the Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World Tigrus was overrun.
"Infantry win firefights, tanks win battles, artillery wins wars" - old saying amongst Imperial Guard artillery officers.
One of the longest range weapons in the galaxy, the Basilisk self-propelled artillery unit is a common sight on the battlefields of the Imperium. Equipped with the powerful Earthshaker Cannon, the Basilisk is designed to sit far from the frontlines, ceaselessly bombarding the enemy's troops with massive kinetic shells of explosive power. The Basilisk uses the standard Chimera APC chassis but has had all of the troop transport room and the lasguns removed, leaving it with a single hull weapon and the Earthshaker Cannon itself. It can be upgraded to be allowed to fire from behind cover, blindly destroying targets before the other Imperial Guard forces arrive, while keeping itself safe from enemy fire. The explosive ordnance used by the Basilisk is able to break through most known enemies' defences and is greatly feared among enemy forces, and rightly so. The Basilisk is susceptible to enemy fire if caught in the open, however, and will not last long against any heavy weapons or heavily armoured vehicles like tanks.
The Colossus is an ancient and renowned Imperial artillery piece. They are rarely seen except when their enormous siege cannons are required to flatten enemy positions and fortifications. While not as powerful as some of the other Imperial artillery units, the Colossus is used when a wall or fortess needs to be penetrated. The Colossus is a mssive mortar that fires high explosive shells that produce an enormous shockwave when they detonate, crushing bones, cracking rocks and reducing flesh to pulp. In its delivery of ordnance, a Colossus is brutally uncompromising.
The Death Strike is a massive missile launcher. It has a massive missile that boasts the largest blast size of any weapon comonly used by the Imperial Guard. Used only in situations where total destruction of an enemy and the surrounding environment is warranted, a Death Strike launcher can carry multiple warheads including every type of missile ordanance from thermonuclear Titan-killing warheads to warheads outfitted with bio-weapons. Its most destructive warhead is the Vortex warhead that can only be used if approved by Segmentum Command. Traditionally, it carries a large plasma-enhanced thermonuclear charge that can incinerate entire armies in a single blast, along with most of the surrounding environment.
The Griffon is a self-propelled heavy mortar. Based on a Chimera chassis, this cheap artillery option is very effective. The Griffon is a close relative of the Basilisk, replacing the Earthshaker cannon with a heavy mortar. Used as a close support for infantry attacks and during sieges to throw shells over enemy walls. The mortar shells fired by the Griffon are extremely heavy and their trajectory means they can bury themselves in the ground before exploding, if the fuse is set correctly. This reduces the blast radius, making this type of explosion less dangerous to infantry but devastating against buildings and bunkers, whose foundations can collapse, bringing the building down with it.
Manticore Missile System and Manticore Missile Tank
The Manticore is one of the most feared units in the Imperial Guard. It is an anti-personnel weapon which is highly effective against Orks and some Tyranid species. The machine spirit (i.e. technological reliability) of the Manticore is so unpredictable that its rockets may not fire, even when given the proper blessing, or sometimes all four rockets will launch at once unexpectedly. The Manticore has only 4 shots and reloading is a time-consuming process. This unpredicatbility makes the Manticore a danger to all those around it, including friendly units. Once during a siege of a major fortress the defenders surrendered at just the sight of a single Manticore. Moments later the fortress was destroyed by the rockets of the Manticore all going off at the same time. Clearly this vehicle is dangerous to everyone except the crew inside it. The Manticore Missle Tank has its main rocket weapons mounted on a Chimera chassis so that it can be mobile.
The Medusa is a siege cannon designed to crack open enemy bunkers or blast a breach into an enemy fortress. It is a very high-powered for of explosive artillery and excellent for piercing armour, but the cannon possesses only a very short range. Medusa are usually fielded with heavy infantry support to protect its vulnerabilities to infantry and armour assaults. Unlike the Griffon which can fling its shells over a curtain wall, the Medusa fires heavy shells directly into the walls, turning them into rubble and dust and opening a breach for assaulting infantry to attack through. The Medusa is often regarded as an aging warhorse whose time has passed. It is no longer regarded as an important or necessary part of an armoured force. It lacks the range of a Bombard, Manticore or Basilisk, or the thick armoured protection of a Demolisher of Thunderer. Because of this, Medusa's are no longer a common vehicle amongst the Imperial Guard. They are generally only used when Demolishers are in short supply.
Notable Imperial Guard Forces
Cadian Shock Troops
The Regiments of the Cadian Shock Troops of the Imperial Guard are famous throughout the galaxy for constantly proving themselves in the arena of battle. Their leader is the Lord Castellan, the position currently held by Ursarkar E. Creed, hero of the Battle for Cadia during the 13th Black Crusade. The model for Cadians are the standard model for all Imperial Guard troopers, consequently making them the Imperial Guard's equivalent of the Ultramarines, who serve as the model for all standard Space Marine Chapters. Cadia has always been an Imperial fortress world, charged with guarding the great Warp rift of the Eye of Terror.
The population of Cadia are all destined for military life; the birth rate and Imperial Guard or Planetary Defence Forces recruitment rate of the world are practically synonymous. Cadian Regiments are highly disciplined, make excellent shots and use elite shock troops to lead their attacks. Such is their reputation of the shock troops that many other regiments mimic their appearance and equipment, although their doctrines may differ.
The Cadians fighting in the 13th Black Crusade were depicted as a generic force representing any science fiction military based on modern Russian, British, German, American, and various other high-technology soldiers. In the Second and Third Editions of Warhammer 40,000, the Cadian Shock Troopers were heavily styled on the Mobile Infantry from the 1997 Starship Troopers film as well as the Colonial Marines from the 1986 movie Aliens.
History of Cadia
Cadia has a special and honoured place in the history of Mankind. Cadia stands upon the very edge of the Eye of Terror within a narrow corridor of stable space called the Cadian Gate. This forms the one and only predictable passage between the Chaos infested daemon worlds of the Eye of Terror and Terra. No battle fleet of any size can rely upon other unstable passages and must pass through the Cadian Gate. Cadia is therefore one of the most strategically important planets of the galaxy.
On several occasions the forces of Chaos have moved against Cadia and raging battles have been fought in the depths of space. Such huge battles are rare, but the constant intrusion of Chaos raiding craft is commonplace. Chaos Space Marines make frequent forays onto the surface of Cadia and must be hunted down. The bulk of the Cadian army is made up of the Shocktroops, with the remainder made up of the Whiteshields (conscript soldiers recruited at the age of 14 and trained to take place in Shocktroop regiments) and the Elite Kaskrin soldiers.
- 7th Cadian: "The Lucky Sevens"
- 8th Cadian: "The Lord Castellan's Own", led personally by Ursarkar E. Creed during the Thirteenth Black Crusade
- 39th Cadian: "Xenobane"
- 89th Armoured Cadian: In the Apocalypse rulebook due to their famous baneblade "Steel Lord"
- 110th Cadian: "Shadow Corps"
- 122nd Cadian: Distinguished themselves in the Vogen Campaign, and featured in Codex: Cityfight (Chambers, 2001)
- 412th Cadian: Featured in the Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War expansion Winter Assault
- 417th Cadian: "Hellbringers"
Catachan Jungle Fighters
Catachan is an Imperial death world almost completely covered in dense jungle where it seems the entire ecosystem is hostile to human life. Catachan's only export is its people, who through natural selection are bred tough and strong from living in such a dangerous world. Catachan Jungle Fighters are among some of the deadliest experts of jungle warfare in the entire galaxy and their reputation precedes them. They make use of many close combat weapons, including the "Catachan Fang", a knife measuring up to 20 inches of gleaming steel, which is the most common weapon. It is also used for settling disputes between Catachans. Another knife is the Night Reaper, which is smaller and blackened, effective for use in night infiltration and assassinations. They are sometimes poisoned to improve their kill strength, the poisons coming directly from Catachan's deadly flora and fauna. The Devil's Claw, named after the Catachan Devil, is the longest Catachan weapon, up to four feet long. It is closer to a sword than a knife and has achieved status among the Orks who call it "Da Cutta" with respect. The blade is hollow and half filled with mercury in order to improve swing strength and control, and the design of this weapon has been copied by Catachan regimental officers for use as a power weapon.
They also make extensive use of traps, mines and other unpleasant surprises. They use traps, spring mines, shredder mines and plasma charges, each specializing in killing certain types of troops. The most skilled Catachan Jungle Fighters are capable of launching deadly ambushes, remaining unseen in the foliage and appearing only when they want to attack. Due to their tactics and the terrain which they specialize in, the Catachan Jungle Fighters do not use any vehicles save for the Sentinel walker which is modified for jungle warfare. They also use fewer heavy weapon teams than a standard army, and those that they do have favor mortars and heavy bolters. This leaves them undergunned compared to other Imperial Guard Regiments, but their weaponry is optimal for their preferred style of combat.
Catachan Jungle Fighters, as a whole, bear similarities to the Rambo movie series of the 1980's, complete with red headbands, and to a lesser extent, Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movies Commando and Predator. Catachan Jungle Fighters closely resemble members of the United States Army and Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, which involved a great deal of jungle combat in Southeast Asia.
Notable Catachan Regiments
- The Catachan 24th Jungle Fighters, "Waiting Death" - Use of extensive traps, using "baiter" squads to lure the enemy onto the traps.
- The Catachan 18th Jungle Fighters, "Swamprats" - Attacked a Tyranid horde, masked themselves in Tyranid ichor and successfully wiped out the Tyranids. They then had to spend two years on a decontamination ship.
- The Catachan 17th Jungle Fighters "Screaming Devils" - Led by Captain Thorn, including famous sniper, Sniper Dell, who won the Silver Bullet seven years in a row.
- The Catachan Jungle Fighters 22nd Airborne Assault Group - Led by ColonelPaseski, combined with the 1139th Orbital Attack Group, known for their extensive use of Valkyries.
There is a Catachan special character named Sly Marbo, who appeared in the 3rd Edition of Warhammer 40,000 in the Catacahan "sub-codex". He also appears in the short story Death World by Steve Lyons as part of the Imperial Guard Omnibus: Volume One collection. He is part of the Catachan XIV Regiment and is considered the best camouflage expert and sniper in the entire regiment. He has also been referred to as the "one man army" by his commanding officers and fellow Catachans. He often works completely alone in the field, shadowing his regiment's squads as they travel through dense jungles, acting as their sniper support. His character is heavily inspired by the famous character of John Rambo as portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in the 1980's films (Marbo is an anagram of Rambo). Little is known of Marbo's past, but it is hinted that he and his nine brothers joined a Catachan regiment that was wiped out - only Marbo survived, returning to his post with a severed enemy commander's head with a bullet hole between the eyes. Marbo apparently stares vacantly into space in the time between assignments, and few have heard him speak; both attributes unsettle commanders who encounter him, but none can argue with the results of his solo missions or his combat effectiveness.
Valhallan Ice Warriors
Valhalla was originally a verdant paradise world. No records survive of its colonisation by humans, but legends recall a world ripe for conquest. Unfortunately, Valhalla was destined for catastrophe. A rogue comet entered into a collision course with the world. The planet's defence lasers fired at the comet, but only succeeded in breaking it up. Later, it was found that the comet was made of almost pure iron, explaining why the lasers were so ineffective. The comet mostly impacted in the vast ocean, but a mile-wide fragment impacted the northern continent, creating vast plumes of dust which proceeded to cover the planet in a blanket of dirt. To make matters worse, the planet's orbit was changed, moving it farther away from its sun. This change in the amount of warmth and light altered Valhalla's ecosystem permanently, changing the planet to an icy wasteland, the most well known of the Imperium's Ice Worlds. The people struggled to make a living, fearing famine due to a lack of viable farmland. Unfortunately, this was not the end of Valhalla's troubles. A damaged Ork warfleet descended on the planet and proceeded to fight the Valhallans for the precious food they had stored. The Valhallans held out bravely for a long time in their vast hive cities beneath the ice but were pushed right back to the food vats. Eventually they destroyed the Orks by using ice boring machines to strategically strike at the heart of the mob, burning and melting most of the Orks and scattering the rest. Regiments of Valhallan Ice Warriors have been assigned to planets infested with Orks due to their intimate knowledge of Ork tactics and their dogged determination in the face of defeat, where other armies might run. Valhallan Ice Warriors resemble the Soviet army during World War II. Famously, the Commissar Ciaphas Cain served with the Valhallan 597th Regiment.
Praetoria is a heavily populated Hive World that lies in a star system close to the Imperial naval base at Bakka. The overpopulated hive cities of Praetoria are renowned for their rigid class divide and severe squalor and degradation in the lower classes, and produce some of the toughest gangsters on any of the hive worlds in the Imperium. Imperial Guard Regiments raised on Praetoria are renowned for their iron discipline, by-the-book drilling and unshakeable bravery, even in the face of the most overwhelming odds.
Originally the Mordians used Praetorian bodies with different sculpted heads and a few have changed poses. The Praetorians were introduced following the Games Workshop Games Day display "Massacre at Big Toof River", where a substantial Imperial Guard force was annihilated by an enormous Ork horde in a similar style to the British defeat at the Battle of Isandhlwana by the Zulus in 1879. Despite this crippling loss, the Praetorians fought back at the "Last Stand at Glazer's Creek", where they, supported by local militia and allied Ratlings, fought off a rampaging Ork horde in a battle similar to the British-Zulu conflict at the Battle of Rourke's Drift.
It is fitting, then, that the Praetorians are based on British colonial soldiers typical of those found in Africa during the 19th Century. This is further reflected by the fact that their most common enemies are Feral Ork tribes -- who function as a grotesque parody of the Zulu warriors.
Tallarn Desert Raiders
The Tallarn Desert Raiders are exceptional at guerrilla-style warfare, having adapted to the harsh conditions of their home planet. They are highly skilled at desert and mobile armoured warfare. The Desert Raiders are mobile guerrilla fighters, evasive and opportunistic. They are especially known for their lightning-quick Sentinel and hard-hitting tank squadrons and are masters of hit-and-run mobile warfare. They love to strike a killing blow at the heart of an enemy formation before returning to their own lines, prepared to pounce once more. The people of Tallarn are extremely resourceful and pragmatic. They are patien, determined and utterly ferocious in pursuit of their enemies. Tallarn are all accomplished riders, and often will use riding mounts to move from battle to battle, dismounting only when they are close to the enemy and wish to employ stealth. Once the enemy is sighted, the Tallarn will stalk them closely, relying on their practiced marksmanship and lightning-quick curved combat knives to achieve victory. Tallarn Desert Raiders have a slightly Arab-like appearance, but influences have also been taken from other sources, such as the North African campaigns of World War II.
Mordian Iron Guard
The Mordian Iron Guard regiments raised from the world of Mordia normally wear bright dress uniforms, even into combat, and often present a look of amateurism, perhaps to catch their enemies off-guard. Friends and allies alike learn from this mistake quickly, as the Iron Guard's training is second to none. Due to the condition of their planet, the troops raised for the Imperial Guard on Mordia tend to be a dour, no-nonsense lot. Mordians believe in perfect precision and constant drill to overcome their foes, and they will rarely be seen routed, rather they make fighting retreats to a better and more defensible position. The Mordian Iron Guard bear a slight resemblance to the Prussian Army under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and if painted right could also look like the Imperial Japanese Army in the early 20th Century.
Armageddon Steel Legion
"Heroes of Armageddon! You have withstood the evil savagery of the Orks, and they have nothing left for you to fear. So raise high the black banners of vengeance - now is our time!" - Commissar Yarrick
Armageddon is a Hive World, an Imperial planet covered in vast polluted industrial wastelands broken up by hive cities, huge human arcologies stretching miles into the sky. True to its name, Armageddon has been the site of three apocalyptic battles between the Imperium and its enemies, most recently a pair of invasions by the Ork Warboss Ghazghkull Thraka. As a result, the Imperial Guard Regiments of Armageddon, known as the Armageddon Steel Legion, are skilled in fighting against Orks. The Steel Legion soldiers are siege experts and masters of attrition, driving their wounded enemies back across the ash wasteslands of the planet after they have suffered severe casualties. Armageddon produces many armored fighting vehicles for the Imperium, such as Chimera APCs. As such, the Armageddon Steel Legions are primarily mechanised infantry, employing Chimera armoured personnel carriers, Hellhounds and several variants of the Leman Russ main battle tank. Commissar Yarrick is the best known hero of the Steel Legion, and he is greatly feared by the Orks for having ripped off Ghazghkull Thraka's Power Klaw with his bare hands - hence the fact that Yarrick is the only human Ghazghkull respects.
The Armageddon Steel Legion regiments resemble the German Fallschirmjäger (paratroops) deployed by Nazi Germany during World War II.
Death Korps of Krieg
The planet Krieg was once the site of a rebellion against the Imperium. In retaliation, the people of Krieg subjected their world to 500 years of atomic cleansing to root out the rebellious factions. The Death Korps of Krieg Regiments of the Imperial Guard are composed of fearless warriors, never flinching even in the face of unavoidable death, which they see as atonement for the rebellion. They see their deaths fighting in war as penance for the heresy of their ancestors. They are a dedicated trench and siege warfare force and perform best in wars of attrition. Appearance-wise, the Death Korps are similar to the Steel Legion, but have darker colors, and their masks usually have a skull motif. Of all the regiments of the Guard, they are the most gloomy and dark, both in appearance and in spirit. They bear a strong resemblance to the Imperial German Army in World War I, in tactics (trench warfare) as well as appearance.
Tanith First-and-Only (Gaunt's Ghosts)
The world of Tanith came under attack by Chaos forces while it was mustering soldiers for the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Only about 3,000 men were rescued from the planet by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt before it was destroyed by the powers of Chaos. Because they were left without a homeworld, the members of the Tanith First and Only came to call themselves "Gaunt's Ghosts". During the course of their deployment, after a mission in Verunhive, they gain new troops from the ruined hive. A second commissar, Commissar Hark, joined the unit. They are excellent light infantry and scouts, and as such are known to dress in cloaks made out of cameoline for camouflage. The stories of the Tanith First and Only can be found in the Gaunt's Ghosts series, written by Dan Abnett.
Harakon is a low-gravity planet with tall hive cities. The Harakoni use grav-gliders to hunt vapourwyrms in the valleys below their hives. This makes them fearless of altitudes and great at judging air currents. Their abilities have found a home in the Imperial Guard where regiments drawn from Harakon they act as drop troops. The generations-old adaptation to adverse gravity levels leaves the Harakoni Warhawks predisposed to excel at Grav-Chute drops into a planetary combat zone from orbit. This style of combat also increases the Warhawks use of Storm Troopers and small-unit tactics over those preferred by standard line troopers of the Imperial Guard. The Harakoni wear Carapace Armour, use rebreathers during a planetary drop to breathe in the ultra-thin atmosphere at high altitudes and use folding stock Lasguns or kinetic Autoguns. Many an Imperial general or Warmaster owes their decorations to the bravery and experience of the regiments drawn from the Harakoni Warhawks.
Elysian Drop Troopers
Elysian Drop Troops are the airborne assault infantry regiments of the Imperial Guard who are recruited from the verdant world of Elysia in the Segmentum Solar, 30 light years from the world of Armageddon. The Elysian Drop Troop Regiments make extensive use of aircraft and elite soldiers plunging from the skies directly into battle. These regiments' true advantage lies in their speed, unpredictability and the unrivalled ability to attack anywhere on the battlefield, at any time. The Elysian Drop Troops Regiments are known for their rapid deployment capabilities using Airborne Troop Carriers called Valkyries, and they deploy from these aircraft by rappelling or making use of Grav-Chutes at high altitudes. Elysian Drop Troopers are able to strike deep into enemy territory, and so are unable to field any heavy ground vehicles during missions. While this may be the case, the Elysians do make use of a number of light vehicles including the Tauros rapid assault vehicle, the modified Drop Sentinel, Cyclops Demolition Vehicle, and Sentry Gun batteries. The Elysians make use of Valkyries, Vulture Gunships, and the support of the Imperial Navy to make up for their lack of heavy armour. Using their Valkyries and Grav-Chutes, the Elysians can capture objectives rapidly by dint of overwhelming force and their close-range firepower. Elysian Drop Troop Regiments often rely on demo-charges and special weapons for tank-busting. Vultures, Valkyries and Imperial Navy aircraft pack fearsome amounts of firepower, and swooping over the battlefield they can target just about anything. Tactical flexibility is the Elysians' true advantage over most other forces, and there are few tactical situations, other than a drawn-out planetary siege, that the Elysians cannot counter quickly and effectively.
The Elysian Drop Troops are a very specialised force. Being drop troops, Elysians lack many of the heavy weapons needed to defeat the enemies heaviest equipment and vehicles. As their primary armaments are simple Lasguns Elysian Dop Troops cannot afford to sit back and engage in prolonged firefights with an enemy either. Elysian Drop Troops do not engage the enemy in a conventional stand-up fight. Instead, they seek to take objectives by rapid, hard-hitting attacks and then hold them with grim determination and the selective targetting of enemy threats. Casualties will often be high for Elysian Regiments as a result of this strategy, but that is the price Drop Troop Regiments pay for their extreme mobility.
Vostroya is a world in the zone of Halo Stars in the galactic rim beyond the Eye of Terror, which swore allegiance to Mars during the Age of Strife. It is now ruled by a committee of Techtriarchs; a mix of Adeptus Mechanicus Magos and the officials that comprise a more traditional Imperial planetary government. During the Horus Heresy, Vostroya refused to provide regiments to the Emperor, preferring instead to reserve the population in the manufactorium blanketing the world. After the Heresy came to an end the Vostroyans agreed to supply every firstborn son to service with the Imperial guard. Despite the black mark on their people's history, the Vostroyans now consider it an honour to fight for the Emperor, and view other more reluctant regiments with disgust.
The Vostroyans were introduced in the 2006 campaign Fall of Medusa V.
The Vostroyan Carapace Armour is mildly based on the armour worn by the Russian Cossacks, and the Vostroyan culture itself is inspired by that of the 19th Century Russian Empire.
Other Imperial Guard Regiments
The Imperial Guard, perhaps more than any other Warhammer 40,000 army, allows painters and modellers a great deal of scope for creating a personalised force. With regiments of Imperial Guard present on almost every world in the Imperium many players like to invent their own regiment, writing their own background and creating a unique looking force. The Citadel plastic kits for Cadians and Catachans are fully compatible allowing for very easy conversions
Some players combine the Citadel Minitures plastic kits with 28mm minitures produced by other companies, such as World War II historical models, to make their Imperial Guard more characterful (although doing this often means they cannot enter offcial GW tournaments or use the models at in-store games).
Notable Imperial Guardsmen
- Lord Commander Solar Macharius
- Commissar Yarrick
- Nork Deddog
- Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt (Later Commissar Gaunt)
- Commissar Hark
- Colonel Schaeffer (and his Last Chancers)
- Lord Castellan Ursarkar E. Creed
- Al'rahem of the Tallarn
- Chenkov of the Valhallans
- "Iron Hand" Straken of the Catachans
- Commissar Ciaphas Cain
- "Stonetooth" Harker of the Catachans
- Tank Ace Major Pious Korren of the Steel Legion
- Sergeant Bastonne
- Knight Commander Pask
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - The Imperial Guard made a guest appearance in the Single Player campaign, exactly the same with Dawn of War 2 and Chaos Rising, but this time Kaskrin instead of ordinary Guardsmen, and were expanded into a playable army in the expansions Winter Assault, Dark Crusade, and Soulstorm.
- The Imperial Guard also made an appearance as antagonists in the game Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior.
- The Imperial Guard make a brief playable scene in a secondary mission where Meridian must be defended from a House Vandis attack. The Guard appear weak but can throw grenades or lay traps. Against the rules of the codex they appear to have a squad of close-combatants and Kaskrin that have to set up. The colour of their lasfire is orange, different to the original Dawn of War and Fire Warrior .
- They also became a playable army in Dawn of War II:Retribution.
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (4th Edition)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition)
- Codex: Catachans