So What’s the Point?
The web is chock full of unofficial codices for just about every faction of the 40K universe. Most of them are not terribly useful as they tend to be full of unofficial rules that no one in their right mind will let you use in a friendly game and are right out in a tournament or convention game. There is an official Codex: Imperial Guard (and even several additional rules in the Psychic Awakening, Vigilius, and Octarius books). Of course, wargaming and its close cousin role-playing are by their very nature creative hobbies. Many of the online codices are an expression of that creativity. Now house rules, unofficial characters, and entire unofficial supplements are fine for the author and his immediate gaming buddies but rarely for anyone else, including you, dear reader.
The major problem with most 40K stuff on the web is that you can’t use any of it without asking your opponent’s permission. Now, it is possible that your own circle of gaming buddies may have worked out a boatload of house rules and you want to post them online for the benefit of new and would-be new members of your group. However, these special rules are only of passing interest to those of us who are outside your gaming club.
When I set out to do my own take on the guard, I wanted a reasonably generic force, not just for 40K but to form a solid basis of a human force that could (with a few swap-out figures) be used in a variety of wargames. That meant something that could be used in a variety of environments without requiring my opponent’s permission for a blessed thing.
At first blush it seems to be a fool’s errand, after all, how am I going to get Games Workshop, Mongoose Publishing, Ground Zero Games, Privateer Press, and Far Future Enterprises to sign off on the details of my humble wargames army? Naturally, there is no way even one, let alone all, of these fine publishers, are even going to discuss my army with me let alone approve it as ‘official’. So this codex is no more official than any of the other codices on the web.
However, this is really no problem at all because there are no special rules here! Nearly everything here is about style and presentation, commonly referred to as ‘fluff’. No changes to gameplay are required. This means if you decide to build an Ice River Guards Regiment (or one similar to it based on your own ideas) you can bring your personalized army to your local gaming store and assure your opponent that your army is completely legit. Or as I like to say, “Think of them as Cadians in snow gear.”
Okay, so these guys are 100% vanilla guards right out of the official codex. So what? Well, you might find my army interesting reading for several reasons.
1. Vanilla isn’t dull! Just because these guys don’t have any cool special rules like the Catachans doesn’t mean they are dull. While the Ice River Guards do not deviate from the rules of the Imperial Guard Codex, they are anything but boring. They have a unique background developed to match my personality and style of play; well-rounded special characters; allies and enemies; and plenty of opportunities for figure conversions, terrain making, and vehicle customizations.
Admittedly, their paint scheme isn’t particularly compelling. They remain very close to the historical scheme of the WWII Soviets who inspired the Valhallan sculpts in the first place. Of course, I don’t consider this to be a real downside. I am not a Golden Demon-level painter and I am betting you aren’t either! If you are, please pardon my pitiful attempts at painting, but the fact that your level of painting talent isn’t something anyone can achieve is what makes your artwork special.
I am of the ‘I could paint that’ school of thought when it comes to displaying my talents online. I am definitely an amateur and make no claims of painting superiority to anyone.
Codex: Ice River Guards is an example of how far you can go and how much creativity you can put into your army and still be able to use it anywhere. Read through this codex and get some ideas you can use when designing your own Imperial Guard Regiment.
I did convert some ideas from the Warhammer Fantasy General’s Compendium but these are definitely optional and fall under the rubric of ‘Scenario Rules’ and are not general changes to the way any particular game is played. They can be completely disregarded without detracting from the flavor of the army at all.
2. Create a Regiment of Household troops for yourself! This was an idea inspired by the old Adeptus Titanicus game. According to the campaign rules for that game, you could become the grandmaster of your own Titan legion. Likewise, I am suggesting you cast yourself as the Governor of an Imperial World. If you’re starting your own Imperial Guard army you might want to consider making them your own personal household troops as I have done with my own Ice River Guards. Yes, it will take some additional time and yes, you will be writing a lot of background for your army but it will give your unit choices a context and make modeling decisions much easier.
You should name your regiment. You should also decide on its basic character, religious beliefs, culture, mottoes, uniforms, decorations, insignia, heraldry, tactical markings, camo schemes, etc. If this seems like a lot of work, the rewards are well worth the effort: you will have a visually distinctive army that is truly your own and as you complete custom terrain and characters for your household troops they will literally draw a crowd whenever you put them on the table.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had other gamers–even at busy events like Albacon, Council of Five Nations, Grand Tournament, or even Origins and GenCon–stop what they were doing and come over to check out my figures. And I am far from the world’s best painter–it’s not my artistic skills, it’s the design.
The Ice River Guards Regiment, the 613th Lyubov Rifle Regiment (motorized,) is a Mechanized Infantry unit designed to destroy transportation and communications hubs, enemy field assets, and other high-value targets. The regiment consists of a Headquarters with attached medical, close air support, transport, artillery, special operations, and military government assets plus a company of stormtroopers, three mechanized infantry companies, a recon company, and an armored company organized as three battalions. Each battalion has dedicated supporting arms and the administrative arms of the regiment are attached directly to the headquarters. Morale is bolstered by the presence of commissars in each command group. Many Lyubov commissars have adopted the unofficial motto “In the Imperial Guard, it is more dangerous to retreat than to advance”.
In addition, a partisan unit (The Home Army,) an abhuman unit (the 66th Anarkian Independent Co.,) and a Freeblade unit of Knights (the Free Princes,) and the 7th Chazak Independent Squadron (rough-riders) are seconded to the regiment on a more or less permanent basis.