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Themed Army Ideas
Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice: December 2007  by Patrick Eibel
Recently, I received the following e-mail from a Jungle visitor seeking help with his Imperial Guard army:

I don't have much information so far. I really just want some ideas, and tips for me to work with. 

Name: The 72nd Azlot Imperial Guard army

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 me,

Zach

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: Kelly’s Heroes, Hammer’s Slammers, and The Dirty Dozen are all good sources of inspiration. 

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.

Conclusion
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.
 

Related Pages
More Jungle Juice

Posted December 2007. Used with permission.
 

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle