Jungle Juice: December 2007
by Patrick Eibel
Recently, I received the following
e-mail from a Jungle visitor seeking help with his Imperial Guard
I don't have much information
so far. I really just want some ideas, and tips for me to work with.
Zach has gotten a pretty good start,
and all this army needs is a little fine tuning to really be fun and unique.
The Imperial Guard is a great army to play because, depending on circumstances,
they could be good guys or bad guys. There are tons of fictional
references to groups of armed men fighting a war for their own purposes:
Heroes, Hammer’s Slammers, and The Dirty Dozen
are all good sources of inspiration.
Name: The 72nd Azlot Imperial
Background I have so far: Azlot
is a desert planet that is of little importance to the Imperium due to
its lack of resources, its distance to nearby Imperial worlds, and the
fact that it seems to be a hot spot for Tyranid attacks. Because of the
lack of Imperial visits, the planet has lost faith in the Emperor, and
has started worshipping their ruler, Grand Marshall Aleksy Duda.
Azlot has a primitive culture
where combat is important, women are considered holy, and certain weapons
- lascannons, melta guns, and plasma gunss – are thought of as unlucky weapons.
The 72nd are a small group of
highly trained soldiers that are used to protect the Grand Marshall, and
to deal with elite enemy formations. Few tanks are used since they
are almost useless in the desert. Sentinels are used instead.
I want to find a way to make this
army still be required to fight for the Imperium in some way. I was thinking
the Warlord would have a debt with an Inquisitor, so the Marshall lets
the 72nd fight under him if needed, but I would like to keep away from
Inquisitors and Space Marines.
Any ideas, or tips or anything?
My friends’ armies are an all-female Guard army, a Tyranid army, and an
anti-Eldar Space Marine army. I was also thinking if it would be
possible to incorporate my Deathworld Catachan army, the 69th Catachian
Coiling Cobras, but I don’t see how.
Thanks for any help you can give
The first change I want to make to
Zach’s background is the idea that they are locked to one planet and worship
the planetary ruler. Instead, I see the army as a company for hire
with Grand Marshall Duda as their charismatic leader that negotiates where
they fight next (think Hannibal from the A-Team). This
frees up the army to be able to fight any foe, either for or against the
Imperium. Since it is already stated as part of the background that
the region is not frequently patrolled by Imperial agents, the army has
pretty much free reign. Still, occasionally a Space Marine or loyal
Guard force may try to bring them into line. (If you have ever seen
the show Firefly you get the idea, but on a larger scale.)
Background and Modeling
Zach’s background is based on a
homeworld with strong religious beliefs and superstitions. The use
of Tallarn figures and molding turbans on Cadians is clearly an attempt
to echo existing cultures. However, there is a fine line between
inspiration and offensive, and some of the ideas presented in Zach’s background
could be interpreted as disrespectful. While existing cultures make
a great source for army backgrounds, you should be very aware of the positive
and negative feelings that those connotations will bring about. If
you are prepared to have your motives questioned and have a better answer
than “I like Middle Eastern cultures,” then by all means keep it as is.
On the other hand, by changing the
army to a roving band of mercenaries, many of the superstitious beliefs
can stay intact and the religious connotations can be minimized.
Zach’s preferences for weapons and Sentinels over tanks makes sense for
a highly mobile army that would not want to load up on heavy equipment
and vehicles, or weapons that may be difficult to get more ammo for (plasma
and melta guns). In fact, there are many great characters in fiction
who are the guys who get the stuff for the unit: Radar from M*A*S*H,
and Don Rickles’ character in Kelly’s Heroes, for example.
Those might inspire Zach to create such a figure for his army.
Since a mercenary army is by its
very nature a ragtag group of men, the use of a variety of different Guard
figures will be fine. Cadians, Catachans, and Tallarns all could
be used to represent the members of different units, or can be mixed to
show a more commingled force. Either way, it will be important to
make unit marking distinct and easy to see to keep infantry squads straight.
The background setting for the game
of 40K is rich with detail and opportunities to create a personal story
for your army. However, there is more to creating a background than
just writing some names down on a piece of paper. The story has to be consistent
with the army that you field (it would be unlikely to see a fully mechanized
army on a feudal world, for instance) and the story should also work in
a “real world” sense (i.e. not be offensive or too much derived from popular
culture). Striking a balance that also meets your creative vision
can be challenging, so don’t be afraid to get opinions from the people
you play with (or even here at Jungle Juice). Hopefully, Zach
will find some of the advice presented in this article useful as he created
the fluff for his army.
We’ll be back in 2008 with more fluff
advice, so keep your e-mails coming. If you would like me to develop some
ideas for you, check the introduction page
of this series for the e-mail address.
Posted December 2007.
Used with permission.