If you haven't already read Oops New Army: Imperial Soup Edition Part 1, I recommend you go read it first as it sets the scene for what I’m about to talk about today, the Imperial Guard portion of my accidental Imperial Soup army. Dubbed “Battlegroup 86”, the army consists of elements from the Imperial Knights of house Ulfir, the Cadian 177th Mechanised Infantry and the Cadian 53rd Armoured. Last time I focussed on the Knights, this time I’m diving into the Guard, but with an overall conclusion for the whole army.
Imperial Knights are a skew army. All Vehicles All The Time. Certain armies, such as Orks, will particularly struggle with that kind of army, to a degree that playing it is simply not fun. The same would be true of playing an Imperial Guard armoured company. With that in mind, when I started building Knights I knew I would be able to bring them along to contribute to a multiplayer Apocalypse game, but I wanted to be able to have a mixed army of my own to use in smaller Crusade games. I toyed with a few options but with Harvey chanting “Guard Guard Guard” in my left ear, the choice was obvious.
I’ve always loved Guard, I’ve owned plenty of Guard models over the years and already had a small Traitor Guard army to mix with my Iron Warriors, but the amount of effort required to paint a full army put me off. But I messed around with some ideas, tried out one or two experiments in how I could paint infantry quickly, and pretty soon I was building a Guard army without ever quite having made an affirmative decision to do so.
From the very beginning, my thought was “how can I paint Guard quickly”. I knew I wanted something along the lines of green; if I’m going to collect Guard I want my little green army men. But if you want to paint an army quickly it’s all about planning, and the quickest way to get a decent looking paint scheme is some combination of spray for the basecoat, drybrush the highlights and wash to shade the recesses. I did also toy briefly with using Contrast, it had worked well for Tyranids, but honestly I was not at all happy with the results.
|On the right, pure Contrast, on the left the armour painted with normal paints. I didn't like either.|
At the time, GW sold just one green spray, Death Guard Green, and it’s far too pale for my liking. If at the time I had known about Colour Forge, I would probably have a much quicker but less pretty Guard army right now. But I did not, so I looked at other options, and the thing that jumped out at me was Zandri Dust, a suitably military looking colour that would be perfect for painting the classic Cadian scheme. It would mean hand painting all the armour and hard bits green by hand, which is a lot more effort than my Necrons or Tyranids, but surely not too much effort, right? So I had an experiment, tried out some other greens, and ultimately could not resist the lure of my very favourite colour, Castellan Green.
- Undercoat in GW Zandri Dust
- Drybrush Terminatus Stone
- Basecoat armour/weapons Castellan Green
- Drybrush armour/weapons Nurgling Green (neat drybrushing is required here)
- Basecoat webbing Thindia Brown
- Drybrush webbing Golgfag Brown (very very neat drybrushing is required here)
- Paint in flesh/metal/other details
- Apply Agrax Earthshade to everything
Initially I had been leaving the belts and pouches in Zandri, but the new Cadians are just too cool so I added in steps 5 and 6 for their fancy webbing and backpacks.
|One basic Infantryman|
Painting the Guard is not nearly as quick as I want it to be, and I have bitched about it incessantly. Spending an entire week painting a single 60 point Guard Infantry Squad when I could knock out 130 points of Necrons in an evening is harmful to my spirit (my slack bitch spirit). But I do my duty to the Emperor and to date have painted 61 Guardsmen models.
I have also now painted quite a few vehicles. Initially I painted up a Chimera much like I did the Guard, spraying it Zandri, and hand painting the green stripes. I wasn’t a big fan, but when Dan introduced me to Colour Forge sprays, a wide range of good quality spray cans colour matched to GW base paints, I came up with a much better way which I have previously documented.
I also kicked out a few sentinels, and learned the hard way that trying to paint stripes on their complex shapes was a nightmare, so I went pure green with them.
|Fully magnetised but currently equipped for killing Chaos Space Marines|
My initial goal was to avoid tanks, and build towards Infantry. That said, I knew I’d want some tanks eventually, so I started with a Cadian Defence Force (1 Command Squad, 2 Infantry Squads, 1 Heavy Weapon Squad, 1 Leman Russ, 1 Chimera) and an additional 2 Infantry Squads with the new upgrade sprue. This was all 8th edition, before the Cadian re-release.
If you leave the bipod off the missile launcher, the heavy weapon squad actually has enough parts for three full sets of heavy weapons, three missile launchers, three mortars and three of either lascannon, autocannon or heavy bolter. I used bodies from one of the infantry squads and a few of the command squad to fill in and ended up with:
- 1 Lieutenant,
- 3 Infantry squads with missile launchers
- 1 mortar heavy weapons squad
- 1 lascannon heavy weapon squad
Plus a Chimera and a Leman Russ for later.
I also took the opportunity to scour eBay for my favourite Guard model, the old Cadian Officer with Power Fist. I’ve bought a couple of these over the years, but always to carefully chop his power fist off and put it on something else (back in the days when you could use wargear that they didn’t explicitly have a model for, I had one on a Space Marine Scout and one on a Kasrkin Sergeant). The Contrast test officer above was one such donor. It’s such a great looking power fist for a non-Astartes model. No other powerfist since has been as good in my opinion. The first plastic replacement was absolute garbage, but the newer Scion and Cadian redesigns are quite nice.
Guard take forever to paint though, 44 Guardsmen later and I still only had about 350 points. My eyes strayed to my beloved abhumans, just 5 Ogryns would fill up 150 points (more now) and take me less time than painting one infantry squad…
|The lovingly nicknamed "Bonk Squad"|
Admittedly I did also get distracted and painted up the Chimera, mostly as an experiment in how tedious it would be, so I threw that in a few early games too.
With multiple soup games under my belt I found I was having a lot of fun with the Guard, maybe even… more fun than the Knights?! So with Lachesis on the horizon, I decided to crack the seal and build some tanks. I had the one from the Cadian Defence Force, but also two more that came from Mark’s glorious cairn of opportunity, so a trinity of boom was knocked up in short order.
I also added a few fun characters as I went along, largely older models I’d always coveted but never had a Guard army to justify. Plus some beautiful Ratlings. So far all they’ve ever added to my army is charm, they’ve never even killed a single model.
|A mix of old and new sculptes I really like and wanted to add in|
|The mobile picnic that is ratling snipers|
The 9th Age
After many years of patience, sustained by faith in the Emperor, the Guard got their Codex. There were lots of lovely new models I suddenly wanted, but there were also some key changes to units I already had. Most significantly, Officers now either had Command Squads or were “Commandants”. For me this meant Captain Founder and Lieutenant Wright needed command squads.
I decided to build Lieutenant Wright a command squad with the older Cadians, but use the new Command Squad to update the extremely heroic Captain Founder (despite my extreme love of his power fist, the rest of the model, it turns out, is not actually that great). I started work on Lieutenant Wright even before the new book dropped, and made a critical mistake. I had built it with the cool looking (but somewhat rubbish rules-wise) sniper model (Maxmin baby!) but it turns out that Cadian command squads cannot have a sniper rifle anymore so I had to rather rapidly build another plasma gunner instead.
|Platoon Command Squad A20 - Lieutenant Wright|
|Company Command Squad A0 - Captain Founder|
The rest was paperwork, updating stats on my Crusade roster and changing around Warlord Traits and Relics that had been updated etc. One technically optional thing I did was change out a few upgrades on some tanks. I had got lucky and managed to get +1 damage on both my regular Leman Russ and my Executioner Tank Commander. This gave me some actually decent damage output at D3+1 and 3 respectively which was extremely helpful playing a 9th edition game with an 8th edition Codex.
With the glow-up the tanks gained from the new Codex, these upgrades would push them to a flat 4 damage, which on a gun regularly knocking out 6+ shots per turn was “quite fresh”. I rerolled their upgrades, making them somewhat less obnoxious.
The 10th Age
For me, has yet to begin. The downside of having so many armies is I end up flitting between them as it takes a bit of time to get up to speed each time something changes. For 10th I am initially concentrating on Necrons, whose Index list has the right vibe for my army, and Space Marines whose Codex is coming very soon.
Making it my own
This is definitely one of my armies where I like what GW have done and am happy to stick with the classic. They were initially conceived as just being the poor doomed nameless Guardsmen, background characters to the Imperial Knights, but of course I should have known that I would fall wildly in love with these glorious underdogs. That said, I didn’t want my Cadians to be a finite resource, I knew they would be dying in glorious numbers, so I have written some lore about them having (grudgingly) picked up non-Cadian reinforcements.
Even though I planned for them to be chaff, I had no interest in building totally faceless identical Guardsmen. Each Infantry squad has a named Sergeant and their own flavour, such as second squad, led by Sergeant Smale. As the most senior non-Cadian-born in the company she has a high proportion of non-Cadian-born soldiers in her squad and is always charging her squad into danger to try and prove they are just as good as “those purple-eyed bastards”. Her squad carries a melta instead of a plasma gun and are all modelled with bayonets fixed, ready to get stuck in.
|Squad A22 - Sergeant Smale|
Captain Founder is the main leader of my Cadians (although I do now have a Major as well who I can bring along sometimes). He started with a name, and some basic characteristics of being a good officer with the characteristic Cadian trait of leading from the front. I did however expect him to die a lot. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much of a big damn hero he would become, personally rescuing civilians, facing down Chaos Warlords and Ork Nobs, and generally kicking disproportionate arse.
He won many medals (many Crusade relics for Guard are, charmingly, medals) and did so well high command assigned him an Ogryn bodyguard. Later (with the aforementioned requirements to have command squads) he was honoured to bear with him the Regimental Standard of the Cadian 177th. From what I've seen of 10th, we won't be returning to lone officer anytime soon.
This army, in many ways, exists because of Mark. It will always be special to me because of that. It’s not Orks, obviously, but I think he’d have enjoyed seeing it on the table and giving them a good krumping. Also it is green. It did occur to me to name a character in it for him, but somehow it didn’t feel right.
My previous oops new armies have been fun self-contained projects. They have been knocked out, played with a bit, and put on the shelf ready as a resource whenever I need them with an occasional extra unit added here or there. This one has been different, and I'm going to be contuniing to work on it for years to come. I don’t particularly think of myself as a Tyranids player, but I am definitely a Guard player now. This didn’t happen by choice, I have been conscripted. I guess since I’m Cadian that makes me a Whiteshield actually.
I have had an incredible amount of fun playing with this army. Everything in 40k looks better when your perspective is that of the humble Guardsman, rather than a ceremite clad superhuman or alien monstrosity, it all just feels… more 40k. Also, speaking psychologically, I never really feel like I’m losing when I play as Guard.
- General Sturnn, Commander Cadian 412th
As long as I turn up for the game and put my models on the table, I’ve done my duty and they’ve done theirs. A helpful viewpoint I think when you are pretty much removing your models with a dustpan and brush.