Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Astra Militarum: the problem with regiments

Greetings folks,

Before business resumes as normal in the hobbying department I thought I would share this article. There were rumours in advance of the Imperial Guard (I will still be referring to AM as IG) that the regiments would be gone completely and that the whole galaxy would use Cadian standard equipment. Thankfully, this turned out to be false. Sadly, so did the usual rumours about greatcoat guard, which seem to have been around forever. Another rumour about snap-fit steel legion has yet to be totally dismissed and with the Ork/Blood Angel started rumours, it's at least in the realm of possibility that the Armageddon boys may get a look in. 

On to actual discussion about regiments then. Cadians remain the poster boys of the model range with the much maligned Catachans a close second. After that though you're looking to forgeworld for more comprehensive ranges (more on this later). If, like me, you started your 40k obsession during second edition, you would have seen the original Cadians (not bad ) and Catachans (which I prefer) in addition to a whole host of other regiments. These metal squad sets would see further augmentation later and would be joined by no fewer than four additional regiments. Suffice to say, although some of these regiments have become casualties over the years, GW still has most of them available in limited format on their new website. The fact that they bothered to update the art/packages for them suggests they will be around for some time still (plus the notable mentions in the codex) and so my question then becomes, how would a new Imperial Guard player go about fielding them?

With great difficulty is the answer. Unless you resort to Ebay or have a friend who just happens to own a regiment, you'd be very hard pressed to field any of the named regiments save for those mentioned above and the forgeworld ones. The Mordian range, for example, consists of a single set of 10 models, which although they are all unique, only leaves you with a single choice of special weapon and officer. Unless you turn to one of the alternative ranges (and Victoria miniatures is a very good if expensive alternative) you would not realistically be able to represent Mordians on the battlefield any longer without simply repainting Cadians. My next series of questions is therefore aimed at what the future may hold for these regiments. The way I see it there are 5 options:

1. They gradually disappear from the GW site becoming OOP models as some of the range already has.
2. They remain as they are now indefintely, making them mostly unviable
3. The range returns to the relatively comprehensive state it was in a couple of years ago, making it more viable to field as an army but made up of old (but still good) and expensive metal models. (who knows what the future of finecast is at the moment?)
4. Forgeworld gradually takes up the mantle and reimagines some of the regiments in resin as part of the Imperial Army for Horus Heresy
5. Games Workshop, having run out of kits to produce for IG, starts to remake regiments in plastic.

Now, IMO all of these options are potentially viable, with 3 and 5 being the least likely. However, because it's a bit of fun and I love to speculate I'm going to delve into option 5 a bit. To do this, let's start by summarising what we have so far for the named regiments:

GW plastic - Cadians and Catachans, each represented as command, squad and heavy kits. Sentinels also represent both and several vehicle kits represent Cadians.

FW resin - Death Korps and Elysians, both comprehensive ranges with DKoK having more variety. The odd kit for Cadians/Tallarns

GW metal - Tallarns, Mordians, Valhallans, Steel Legion, Vostroyans, Tanith. (more on these in a moment)

Out of production - old style 'Necromundan' (rogue trader era) guard made obsolete by Cadians. Praetorians (Mordian resculpts) and Attilan rough riders. (you never know, a Rough rider kit may appear sometime as it is one of the only codex entries without a model)

So, the current GW metal models are the ones I will focus on discussing the most from here on. Although these model ranges were some time back a lot more complete than they are now, most were missing at least one special/heavy weapon and items such as vox operators, standard bearers, medics etc. Should any of them ever get a model range then, following the model laid out with the Cadians/Catachans, you would need 3 boxed sets in order to fill the range: a command set, a squad set and a heavy weapon set. Spare parts could easy be used to augment tank commanders, artillery crew, sentinel pilots and the like to make them fit in. How would this work in a more practical sense though?

Mordians have a lot of similarities with the Cadians uniforms, but not enough to be represented with Cadian models without taking a lot away from the Mordians distinctive look. The beauty of a Mordian kit would be that some existing elements that made them so impressive could be retained, such as the strap holding the grenade launcher, the greatcoat officer, trouser stripes, shoulder epaulets and heavy weapon carriages. also, were such a kit ever to be produced, it would be criminal not to include the pith helmets to represent Praetorians from the same kits. 

Tanith are, quite frankly, unlikely to ever get represented as a regiment. They feature mostly as characters in a novel series and, although I've seen some small homage armies out there, their model range was never meant to be able to represent a full army on the tabletop. Modifying Cadians with ghillie suits could be a  fair representation anyway. Tallarns have a very distinct look, which in recent artwork seems to have changed somewhat to appear closer to the standard Cadian appearance. 

Vostroyans, being relatively late to the party, have a command squad, snipers and the like. Though they share some elements with other regiments (same length greatcoats as Steel legion, similar hats to Valhallans) the intricacy of their uniforms would make combining them into a box difficult. Steel legion too have knee length boots to distinguish them, where Valhallans have the full length greatcoats. By sacrificing these elements to make a multi-regiment kit, the object of the exercise would be somewhat defeated.

My conclusion is that we may see one regiment in the distant future make the upgrade to plastic but I doubt we would ever see all of them updated. It just isn't practical or cost-effective for GW to do so, any more than it would be to produce an entirely individually tailored range for each Space Marine chapter. I would love for a smaller scale project either by forgeworld or finecast to take place, wherein the individual models are reorganised again into more appropriate, resin bundles, with new and old scuplts supplementing the range so that each unit/weapon could be represented. It might be expensive and monopose but at least it would give players the option to use something other than Cadians in their army. 

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