I saw a post a short while ago on another site describing the reason why he collected Chaos and more specifically Nurgle Chaos Marines and it got me thinking, why do i collect Imperial forces and more specifically why do i favour the Imperial Guard?
To start with, let's have a quick recap of my armies. I have a;
Guard Infantry (finished)
Guard Mechanised (unpainted but complete)
Tempestus infantry (unpainted but complete)
Blood Angels (finished)
Dark Angels (unpainted but complete)
Space Wolves (part build and not painted)
So, not a single xenos or chaos force amongst them, although there are a few repurposed chaos models, but why?
When i thought about this post, i though it would be an easy post to write but now I'm actually writing it, it's proving to be quite a bit trickier than i thought.
I have always enjoyed building and playing with models, starting off, as many children do, with Lego, before moving on to Lego Technic and also Airfix kits. My first introduction to the world of wh40k came when a school friend of mine turned up one day with a box of models he had purchased from a car boot sale. This would have been around the release of 2nd edition, so 1993 or 1994. The models in question were RTB01 marines, painted red. They were, if i remember correctly painted to what was then a good table top standard and i thought that they were awesome, in a way only a teenage boy can. From there i persuaded my parents to buy me the starter box.
The box came with 20 marines and a whole bunch of orks. I just followed the suggestions for the orks, as i didn't really care about them, but i spent quite a bit of time thinking about and reading about the marines. I didn't want red, or Blood Angles, as my mate had them. One of the other boys started looking at ultra marines, but my imagination was caught by a more feral looking mob, in the shape of the space wolves. So i started to collect these, gaining over time a squad of half metal long fangs and a rhino, along with possibly a few other bits. By this time i had started frequenting the local GW store, usually while mum was off doing the shopping in town and i had discovered a whole world of new models, from the Eldar and Chaos through to the Imperial Guard. It was around this time that i came across the new Imperial guard boxes, in the form of the Catachan Jungle Fighters, Cadian Shock Troops, Tallarn Desert Raiders, Valhallan Ice Warriors Mordian Iron Guard and the Attilan Rough Riders.
These models grabbed my attention straight away and the various Space Wolves models i had were forgotten about. I don't really know why they grabbed me but they did. The Eldar didn't appeal, don't really know why but they never have. Orks are cool but to random for my liking. Chaos did appeal, but i didn't like the look of the at the time, all the spikes and stuff just didn't look right to me. Tyranids and the genestealer cults were too alien looking for me. Which at the time, left just squats. While i loved many of the squat vehicles and even started an epic scale squat army, on the 40k table top, i just didn't like the way they played.
The guard were so familiar, yet so different at the same time. I loved the Leman Russ and the Basilisk, and the variety of troops that were available. I ended up with 2 and a bit squads of Catachans, a Valhallan squad and 2 Cadian squads, along with a number of rouge trader Imperial army soldiers. I liked the play style as well, which has changed a bit but is still basically the same. I still remember being able to drop off your heavy weapons team from the main squad, forming a mini firebase while the other 8 moved on. I still love the look of the guard over all the other forces, even the more recent ones and the modern play style works for me.
So, after all that rambling, what i'm trying to say, is that when i started this hobby many many years ago, there were not the same number of factions available as there are today and of those that were available there was really only 2 that caught my attention in terms of aesthetics and that remains pretty much the same today. It also happens that the play styles of these two forces also goes along with my own ideas and understanding of tactics, making them a natural fit for me.
I have met many players who are very cautious about loosing men and machines, who plan every move in order to maximize returns for minimum investment. Which in general is a good way to play, its not really the way i play though. Guard to me always has been about throwing bodies at things. Need to hold an objective? Throw a squad at it. Need to slow down that monster? Throw a squad at it. But what if they get killed you ask? Easy, i'll throw one of the other 20 squads at it. Its not about loosing men with the guard, its about what you loose them for. As long as they do something useful before they die, its all good.
That's the real reason i still love the Imperial Guard, in a universe of high technology and super soldiers, there the simple solution, where 9 times out of 10, the answer is "throw more men at it".