Tuesday 21 July 2015

Astra Militarum Army (Picture heavy)

I blame Dan Abnett.
I was re-reading the Gaunt's Ghosts series of novels (a series that I would highly recommend) and his description of the battles of the Imperial Guard were so fantastic that it made me want to collect an Imperial Guard army (back when they were still the Imperial Guard).

My guard army in full.
I hit ebay to pick up the beginnings of an army and one of my first purchases was the Gaunt's Ghosts squad and some Tanith troopers. When I started the army, these were no longer available from GW directly, so I probably paid more than I should have for them, but I had to own the models that got me collecting them in the first place. My initial plan was to use them as the command squad for my army; Gaunt as the commander and his unit as the command squad. In games these days they tend to be used as a veterans squad with sniper rifles. I would love to have collected an entire Tanith First and Only army, but my modelling skills are insufficient to kit out an entire guard army with camo cloaks.

Gaunt leads the army in to battle.

Gaunt and his crew were added to with some regular guardsmen, heavy weapons teams and some Leman Russ support to build a small army.
What was unusual about this force for me was that I decided to get the entire 1500 pts of Guard painted up before I played a single game with them. The reason for this is that I had so many guardsmen to get painted, if I didn't give myself a target to get them done, they would probably have dragged on for years. During one of the summer breaks from the St Andrews gaming club, I managed to get the army painted up. I used one of the paint splatter articles from White Dwarf for my colour scheme (printed around the time the new paint range came out) and the new inks were indispensable for getting the details out of the models. When it came to painting the tanks, I used another tip from an old issue of White Dwarf that involved using blue tack to help with the camo pattern.
The basics of this technique were as follows;
  • after undercoating black, paint the hull of the tank entirely in the basecoat of the lighter camo colour (steel legion drab in this case).
  • Apply the blue tack to the hull in a camouflage pattern where you want the lighter camo colour to remain.
  • Paint the uncovered sections of the tank with the darker camo colour (Castellan green for my tanks). Give this a wash with Nuln Oil, followed by highlights with Loren forest, then Straken green.
  • Once dried, remove the blue tack to reveal the lighter camo colour. Give this a wash with Seraphim Sepia, and highlight with Tallarn Sand, then Karak stone.
  • Give the tracks and metal regions a basecoat of black.
  • Drybrush the metal areas with Boltgun metal, or alternatively, give them a coat of Leadbelcher, followed by a wash with Nuln Oil (I find that Leadbelcher does not drybrush as nicely as Boltgun metal does, so prefer to give it a wash with nuln oil to dull it after painting it on in as a layer).

This technique means that painting tanks is really quick and easy, I am able to get two Leman Russ tanks done in a day. The longest part was waiting for the paint to dry.

With my army all lovingly painted and with some new foamboard cityfight buildings that I had recently finished (at the time), I went along to play the first game with my guard at the local club. It was a cityfight game against a Necron army. My opponent informed me that he had a special character that meant that all difficult terrain counted as dangerous for me. On a cityfight board. With Guard. Needless to say, the game did not go well. I lost a lot of guardsmen to the terrain and even more to the Necrons. I don't remember too much of the game, but it was over fairly quickly.
I am particularly enjoying the new codex. There are some strong units in it and I like the way the orders work for boosting the individual guard units. The wyvern has a particular reputation in the club that ensures that it rarely survives the game.
The latest additions to the army were the Valkyrie and the Baneblade. I love the models for both, the Valkyrie being decidedly larger than I was expecting when it was assembled (compared to the stormtalon and ork fighta). I love the Baneblade model too. I was very excited when this came out as it was one of the first apocalypse-sized plastic kits to be produced. Once again, it was pretty easy to paint using the method I described above. It doesn't get used in too many games, I tend to stick to apocalypse games to field it as it eats up way too many points in a small game for limited damage output, though it is immensely satisfying to drop that massive blast on the enemy army (figuratively, of course! Dropping large templates on your opponent's lovingly crafted army is not recommended if you want to limit the casualties to the tabletop only!).
My preferred build for a guard army is to use a sea of guardsmen, supported by orders and a few tanks for heavier firepower. The transition from Space Marine player to guard player is one that is difficult at first and forces you to change your mindset. It helps to think like a callous guard commander and know that you can expend your forces for battlefield gains and not worry about it. This was brought home to me in one of my first games with the guard. On the first turn, an Eldar bright lance blew up one of my two Leman Russes. The resulting explosion took out a company command squad and most of a combined infantry squad of guardsmen. So in total, I loss about 20 men from one tank blowing up. In my mind, the game was over in that first turn. I was used to thinking as a marine player where the loss of a tank and 20 models would have been half my army. For the guard it was still a loss, but not as drastic as I first thought it was. I eventually went on the win the game, through attrition and some jammy scattering from the wyvern onto the head of the Farseer warlord.
My guard have not seen the table in some time. Not because I don't like to play them, I've just been tempted away by the White Scars and now the new Dark Angels. They are not forgotten though, I look forward to dusting them off getting some more games in with them at some point (oh, the curse of having too many armies!). I love it when I get to field them all in apocalypse games. There's something quite dramatic about having hordes of guardsmen and tanks face off against the enemies of the Imperium.

Guard support units:

Commissar Yarrick and Commissars:

Infantry squad:

Command squad:

Kasrkin squad:



Leman Russ tanks:



Aegis defence line:



  1. I am very impressed with the results on your ranks from that seemingly very simple technique, I would never have guessed, they look fantastic! Really really cool camo look to them.

    I am also generally impressed with how many armies you have!

    Awesome sauce indeed.

    1. Thanks Rob, I too was impressed with how well they turned out. They were really simple and fast to do, much faster than the infantry.

      My bank balance is less impressed with the amount of armies I have ;)

  2. This is quite a massive collection and fully-painted to boot! Impressive. That first tank with the turret weapon that looks like a big gattling gun is especially cool. I just want to say congratulations on getting a whole army painted up to a very good table top standard in a nice consistent theme. It looks great.

    1. Thanks Philip, glad you liked the army. I think consistency is important for any army, but especially a Guard army.

      The first tank is a Leman Russ Punisher. I really like the model and it can put out a fair amount of firepower each turn.

  3. Nice army man and nice to see a mix of heavy weapons in your infantry squads. need to have a guard on guard battle at club some time. :)

    1. Definitely, my guard haven't seen any action in some time. Would be nice to give them a showing again.

  4. It's been kind of amusing watching the evolution of GW's Flyer Models. Starting from the Valkyrie, they've been mostly getting steadily smaller and easier to transport (with the notable exception of the Helldrake) as time went by. I wonder if they got some complaints about how unwieldy they were or something ;)

    Guard are a great Army, and I need to get mine on the field again. It's been different Dexes that have drawn me away (SW mostly), but I'm starting to really get the urge to pull them out again.

    That's quite a nice looking Army you've got there. I've got you beat on Vehicles, but I'm pretty sure your Infantry have mine outnumbered by a fair margin.

    1. I've noticed that too. I had to pick up the custom foam case for the Valkyrie from kr multicase to transport it to games. I highly recommend it, as you can fit the Valkyrie and 4 tanks into one GW carry case.

      When I fielded guard, I always wanted to use a lot of infantry. It makes it a bit unwieldy on the board, but its worth it when your opponent sees the masses before them.
      We used to have a guard player in the club that was tank heavy. I remember in an apocalypse game he took 2 Baneblades, 3 basilisks, about 18 russes and maybe 40 guardsmen. The game was over by about turn 3, once my Orks got in amongst the tanks, they were blowing up all over the place. My warboss led a 100 strong green tide formation, the two Baneblades battered it the whole game. In the end, my warboss ripped one of them apart with his power claw while my Stompa took out the other.

  5. I love guard. I'm seriously considering them for blog wars, in one of two forms. Either min amount to ally two wyverns in, or maximum amount, something like a horde of around 100, with a space marine ally. Can't decide!

    1. I was considering that for blog wars 9. My plan was to take a mostly white scars army with some guard back up (a couple of infantry squads, priest and wyvern). I played a few practice games and the guard were easy pickings for the enemy.

      I thought about running a guard army, but I think they will suffer in the Maelstrom missions thanks to lack of mobility (though that may just be my army). I'm thinking about running the Ravenwing this time, need to check with Alex to see if he'll let me take other bike mounted HQ's.