Warhammer 40,000: The Imperial Guard

Warhammer 40,000: The Imperial Guard

Warhammer 40,000

The Imperium of Men, in the gloomy darkness of the Forty-first Millennium imagined by Games Workshop for its Warhammer 40,000 setting, knows only War. There is no room for diplomacy, or there is very little of it. It is mainly the weapons that speak. Obviously, such a large and warlike institution needs huge and powerful armed forces. For this reason, in fact, there are entire chapters of genetically enhanced fanatical "warrior monks", the Adeptus Astartes, while the trade routes and the sidereal void between the planets of the Imperium are kept safe by the immense Imperial Navy. But there is also another armed force of the Imperium, perhaps the most important of all, an immense expanse of soldiers, from hundreds of thousands of worlds under imperial control, some highly trained and well equipped, others simple primitive barbarians who they barely know how to properly hold a laser rifle. The brutally material personification of the saying "unity is strength". We are talking about the so-called Emperor's Hammer, the Imperial Guard.

The Imperial Guard, also known by its more correct name in High Gothic, Astra Militarum, (and whose Codex for Warhammer 40,000 is available at this link) is one of the most impressive fighting factions in the entire Galaxy , capable of competing, in numerical terms of means and actual personnel, quietly with any WHAAAAAG launched by the Orks and, probably, also with the arrival of a Tyranid BioFleet. We are talking about the real backbone of the imperial armed forces, a set of vehicles and soldiers, relatively inexpensive, expendable and with undoubted impact force in the event of a clash, given that between "career soldiers" and simple conscripts, we speak billions and billions of people, coming from the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Worlds inhabited by human beings. With very few exceptions, virtually every planet in the Imperium must, along with other taxes and duties, provide a certain amount of recruits for the Imperial Guard on a regular basis. The fate, training and procurement of these battalions varies considerably from planet to planet, from sub-sector to sub-sector. Some will feed the insatiable ranks of simple line infantry, others will replenish the ranks of one of the countless battalions of specialists of all kinds and some, it is difficult to say whether the luckiest or most unfortunate, will join some elite corps, formed by phenomenal soldiers and equipped with weapons and means that have nothing to envy to a chapter of Space Marines. Regiments of Imperial Guard such as the Devils Catachani, the Guard of Pretoria, the Legion of Steel of Armageddon or the sinister Death Korps of the haunting planet Krieg, are considered true legends across the Galaxy, admired and / or envied by others. regiments of the Guard, and feared by the enemies.

The Hammer of the Emperor

Most of the time, recruitment in the Astra Militarum takes place precisely on a coercive basis. At regular intervals (we can speak of an annual or ten-year event, depending on the state of the planet concerned) each world subject to the Imperium must provide a certain amount of new recruits. From this mandatory tithe, the planets seat of Chapters of Space Marines are exempt, but they must however provide, except in very rare cases, an annual contingent to the PDF (Planetary Defense Force), the Forge Worlds under the direct control of the Adeptus Mechanicus, or various Knight Worlds, whose population is in any case employed as a defense militia and support to the ranks of the Knights.

Generally, all the troops originating from a planet, are regimented together, trained and armed according to a criterion which, in as a general rule, it favors the amalgamation of discipline and local traditions, making the active service of each soldier as efficient as possible, and even a minimum more bearable. We will thus have excellent troops for sudden attacks and with an almost superhuman sense of direction, such as those that make up the First and Unique Tanith, also known as Gaunt Specters, originating from a world now destroyed, Tanith precisely, where to orient yourself it was almost impossible, units like those from Cadia, crucial pillar of the defense of the Imperium and which produced, before being annihilated by Abbadon in the thirteenth Black Crusade, soldiers from a strongly militarized society and accustomed to the use of the most advanced war technologies .

But there are cases of armies of Imperial Guard with a much more sinister or extreme background, such as the Catachani, born and raised on the murderous world of Catachan, covered by an impenetrable jungle and whose ecosystem is lethal in all its forms, which have turned out to be the top for guerrilla warfare and campaigns in hostile environments, especially if jungles, coming to not being they were almost no longer considered normal humans, given their ferocity and the sheer determination with which they carry out a campaign. Another example is Krieg's Death Korps, originating from a world torn apart in the past by a terrifying civil war, culminating in 500 years of continuous nuclear bombing on the planet's surface. Specialized in trench warfare and the use of heavy artillery, the Korps are the only resource that planet Krieg can currently offer to the Empire. For this, the number of conscripts is ten times higher than that of the other planets, since there are no other resources to offer. Centuries of indoctrination have produced generations of terrifying soldiers, a sort of living dead without any kind of remorse and resentment, who see immolation on the battlefield as the only possibility of forgiveness for the attempted betrayal of their ancestors against of the Emperor.

These were only two examples of the extreme variety that can be found within the Imperial Guard. As already mentioned, in principle each planet provides more or less specialized troops, also based on the technological and cultural level of the world in question. If from Cadia or Mordia we can have soldiers roughly comparable to our current operatives, from Krieg and Pretoria will come people accustomed to living in a sort of alternate nineteenth or early twentieth century, while from worlds like Catachan, Tallarn or frozen Valhalla, we will have extremely troops. specialize in a certain type of environment, respectively jungle, deserts (with a propensity for mechanized warfare) or frozen wastes. In the ranks of the Imperial Guard, there are also units, or entire regiments, of the mutated human species, generally tolerated by the Imperium, such as the gigantic Ogryns, the cunning Ratlings and what remains of the Squat civilization, or the techno-fantasy counterparts of Ogre, Halfing and Dwarves, who also play their part as specialized auxiliary troops.

Discipline is everything

Maintain cohesion and, above all, discipline in an explosive amalgam like any Imperial Guard deployment, is a difficult undertaking perhaps as much as the military campaign that is underway. For this, there are the Imperial Commissioners. The Commissioners are a real select corps of officers, carefully selected, trained and armed, capable, at least on paper, of keeping even the most ferocious and tribal regiment of the Astra Militarum in line. Generally, the decisions of a Commissioner are also valid above any other commanding officer, especially if they refer to the management of the order and discipline of a given unit. We generally said, because of course things don't go so smoothly automatically every time. It is not uncommon for an overzealous Commissioner, unable to realize when the rope he is pulling is about to break, faces a bad, very bad end, complete with the approval of the remaining command group. After all, in a universe where a state of perennial war has been in force for millennia, one more or less dead is hardly noticeable, even if "highly placed". And even if, when assigned to a unit from a planet with a strong tradition of cannibalism, his bones are found with chewing marks, the whole thing is generally dismissed as the umpteenth M.I.A. of the campaign in question.

Not all Imperial Commissioners are hated, however. Always feared, often respected, sometimes even taken as real models of inspiration. In this category of disciplinary officers, Ibrahim Gaunt certainly falls, Commissioner assigned to the aforementioned soldiers of Tanith who, after the destruction of the planet itself by the forces of Chaos, managed to forge such a strong bond with the surviving Guard contingent, the Tanith First and Only, to truly become its natural leader, eventually making the whole group identify with his own person, the Ghosts of Gaunt.

The Imperial Guard is, without shadow by doubt, the most open and diverse faction in the entire Warhammer 40,000 franchise. any type of soldier, technology or culture, can easily inspire a Guard regiment, no matter whether you are talking about primitive cannibal tribes on the edge of the subhuman, islanders raised on a hostile Oceanic World or super-equipped landing troops. There is room for everyone in the Imperial Guard. Just equip them with a laser rifle and entrust them to the guidance of a Commissioner and that's it. Meanwhile, out there, there is only War ...

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