Getting creative with the Guard:
Hidden in Games Workshop’s past is a vast range of amazing modeling and gaming ideas, many of which were released in old White Dwarf issues. Sadly many of us will not be able to find these long out of print issues and are as such really missing out. In this article I’ll be reviewing some of the excellent Imperial Guard conversions which were found in issue 303 in the Abhuman Doctrine article as well as a few of my own suggestions. To start of I’d like to thank the White Dwarf team for all the great stuff they’ve put together over all these years. A special mention goes to Andy Hoare, Gabrio Tolentino and Gareth Harvey for their efforts on the original Abhumans Chapter Approved article!
THE AFRIEL STRAIN
The product of a shadowy experiment hidden deep in the Imperium’s past, the Afriel Strain was an attempt to combine the best qualities of the greatest heroes from amongst the ranks of various Imperial forces. Combining the genetic materials of what made these men and women great a new breed of super soldiers was created. Rumor even has it that the brilliant Solar Macharius was part of this sinister project. The project proved partially successful, as the Afriel troops were clearly superior to normal Imperial Guard troop. They are, however, not without their failures. Though stronger, more adaptive and resistant to battlefield conditions, they also trigger an unexplainable animosity in others. This guaranties difficulties when operate in unison with other Imperial forces, especially those with ties to the Inquisition. On the battlefield the Afriel troopers make for an unusual sight with their pale hair, near alabaster skin, colorless eyes and highly advanced equipment. To this day small groups of Afriels are spotted on dozens of battlefields all over the Imperium. Their origins and loyalty remain unknown and many an Inquisitorial associate would sacrifice whatever number of guardsmen needed to identify the organization behind these super soldiers.
The Afriel Strain troops were first introduced in White Dwarf 303, an issue that gave us rules for Abhuman Doctrines for the Imperial Guard. Being a fan of adding unusual stuff to armies I wanted to add these guys to my army for quite a while. But just throwing together Catachan and Cadian bits didn’t do it for me, but then a new kit hit the scene – plastic Space Marine scouts. It took me ages to actually get around to converting and painting these lads, but last month they finally took to the field:
Bits you will need:
- Space Marine Scout legs
- Cadian chest armour
- Catachan arms
- Some lasgun or other weaponry
- Human heads without helmet (more on this later). This conversion is in fact very simple, just glue a Cadian chestarmour to a pair of space marine legs. Add some Catachan arms, a lasgun and a helmetless head and you’re basically done.
In fact, the only thing you need to keep an eye on is the cloth in the neck you find on top of the Cadian armour. Some heads, particularly those of Catachans, will require you to trim this piece down in order to get a realistic head position.
Using Afriels in your Imperial Guard army:
Given their secretive nature, increased toughness and specialist training, the Afriels are best suited to the role of (hardened) veterans. They may even stand in for Stormtroopers, though in that case you’ll have to do some extra work on their weapons to ensure they look up to the task. Especially if the rumors of their increased killing power in the new codex are true. The ability to deep strike, infiltrate and take support vehicles would also fit the Afriels. Another interesting option would be to replace officers with Afriels, positions in which they are certain to both excel and attract animosity of all parties involved.
Cardon 6th – Jardoon’s Reavers
Drawn from the Junker world of Cardon V, the Reavers first saw action during the Macharian Crusade against the Ork forces on Calvera. Their many light, fast moving vehicles and scouts proved to be a match to the various Cults of Speed they encountered. Over the course of the Crusade the Reavers suffered major casualties, yet never failed to achieve their set objectives. Initially know as the Cardon 6th regiment, they changed their name in honour of their fallen commander Jardoon of Dusttown. A man who had stood face-to-face with two mighty Ork warbosses, taking both of them down with his dying breath, trusty shotgun and a well placed, short-circuited plasma cell. In the battles following his fall many other officers of the 6th took to carrying a shotgun in addition to their other equipment. Over the centuries more and more regiments were drawn from Cardon V to serve in other warzones and to replace the fallen warriors of the currently serving regiments. One of these has remained in existence ever since the Macharian Crusade – the Cardon 6th. They still have a deep-rooted resentment of the Ork, especially the tribes that operated on Calvera and still bear the name ‘Jardoon’s Reavers’ with pride.
Bits you will need:
- Catachan legs and chests
- Cadian Arms
- Empire militia coats
- Green and brown stuff
- Helmetless heads
- Some shotguns for the officers
This guy was one of my entries for the Bell of Lost Souls Macharian Crusade challenge. The Reavers are a lot more challenging to make, that is unless GW pulls through and gets us some plastic long coat miniatures. The challenge lies in both the scarcity of the trademark component and the extensive green and brown stuff work needed to make it work. The basic set-up is simple, just put together the Catachan legs and chest. Now you need to find the trench coat piece you can find on the Empire Militia sprue. Cut off the lower parts and secure them to the back of the Catachan chest.
Using Jardoon’s Reavers in your Imperial Guard army:
These guys are raiders, striking at enemy convoys and supply stations before disappearing back into the night, so lightly mechanized forces could really use some Cardon reinforcements. Some chimeras, a sentinel or two and some rough riders would make for a very nice Cardon detachment. The complexity of the conversion work would mean that making a lot of them will be very time consuming. So only having to make two dozen for those few fast, armoured units is still feasible.
Frateris Militia / The Cult of Redemption
Fighting for the cause of the Ecclesiarchy, numerous Frateris Militia run amok throughout the Imperium of Mankind. Though poorly equipped and not an official part of either the Ecclesiarchy or the Imperial Guard, these large groups of zealous warriors take to battle with frenzied bloodlust. Some militia have recruits, or ‘brothers’, who formerly had military careers in the PDF and Imperial Guard, so the Militia are not entirely without training and strategy. Though they certainly make up for any lack of training or equipment with selfless sacrifice. Often lead by Confessors, the Frateris Militia fight as an unorganized, yet zealous rabble. The more desperate the fight, the more willing they will be to fight to the death to prove their devotion to the Emperor.
One of the most famous of these Militias is without a doubt the Cult of Redemption. Originating from the Hive World of Necromunda this Cult seek redemption for themselves, Necromunda and mankind in its entirety by means of cleansing the sinful. The methods by which they seek to root out these sinful are far from subtle, but no less effective. Through force and by the chainsword and purging fire the Cult has spread throughout the Imperium. Though they perceive all creatures to be sinful, they have focuses on three particular sinners; the culprits, the psyker, the mutant and the Heretic. And in particular this last one is to be found everywhere, for all those that deny the truth of the Redemption are automatically deemed heretical. Though unpredictable, the Redemptionists make for an excellent tool in the hands of the agents of the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy.
Bits you will need:
- Empire Flagellant bodies and heads
- Cadian arms and weapons
- Green stuff
- Imperial Guard accesories
And another fairly simple, yet quite striking conversion. Take the body of an Empire Flagellant and glue it to its base, next glue on the Cadian arms and Flagellant head. Nearly all of the Cadian arms will fit perfectly, in fact only the bare feet need some attention. We can’t have our Militia walking barefoot through battlefields filled with sharp objects now can we. Add a tiny bit of green stuff to turn those feet into boots! To finish off the Militia add some Imperial Guard accessories here and there. For those interested in the Redemption Cult or Necromunda’s House Cawdor adding a simple green stuff hood or facemask will do the trick.
Using Frateris Militia in your Imperial Guard army:
The Frateris Militia are an ideal way to add a little Ecclesiarchy touch to your army which can be emphasized by adding Priests and Preachers. At the same time using Militiamen instead of normal Guardsmen will give you a very themed ally to use alongside Witchhunters and other Inquisitorial agents. Finally you can always make a single squad to use in your Kill-Team and Necromunda games. Especially if you’re a fan of Necromunda’s house Cawdor!
I actually build this guy for the Bell of Lost Souls Macharian Crusade competition. The name Garlan Union was in fact added by the editor of the Macharian Crusade booklet, since the regiment’s original name was very similar to that of two other entries. As a result there’s no background on these guys whatsoever and given the higher level skill needed to make multiple of these guys I figured it best to keep them in here merely as an example.
- Catachan legs and torso
- Cadian arms
- Sentinel driver’s head
Glue the torso and legs together and onto its base. Next shave of any excess equipment that could be in the way of the armour. Then grab your green stuff and a healthy dose of patience and start layering on the chest armour, the leg plates and the reinforced boots. The chest armour in particular is best tackled in multiple stages. Add the Cadian arms and the Sentinel driver’s head and you’re done – one elite trooper at your service.
Using Garlan Union troops in your Imperial Guard army:
Given the complexity and time needed to make these guys I’d suggest either using them as Stormtroopers or as commanding officers. They have an elitist enough look about them to fit perfectly into both roles. In addition I can imagine they would also work quite well as Inquisitorial Stormtroopers or Henchmen.
Homo Sapiens Variatus
Throughout the uncountable systems that make up the Imperium large numbers of human mutants can be found. Those that combine the appearance of both humans and animals have been dubbed degens, beast or twists. These mutations take a broad range of manifestations, yet unlike normal mutation they appear to remain fairly stable over generations. They are considered Abhumans, rather than mere mutants and as such they are put to use in the Imperial Guard.
A Degen’s temperament is quite suitable for its beastial appearance, making them ideal for suicidal assaults where their brawn can make all the difference. Yet their undisciplined and unsanitary ways do not make them favorites with many more organized regiments. To ensure that other Imperial forces will not mistake them for followers of the ruinous power, they are often forced to wear purity seals and devotional banners.
Bits you will need:
- Catachan sprue
- Beastmen heads
The Imperium is very intolerant towards mutants, particularly those showing any kind of link to the ruinous powers. As such it is best to avoid horns and the likes, so you’ll need to remove any horns from Ungor heads, while at the same time not adding the normal horns to Gor heads to make these Abhumans introduced in WD 303.
This will leave you with a bit of extra work on Gor heads, as you’ll now have to either remove the hair and add some green stuff to make a bald degen or add some extra green stuff hair. Personally I’m leaning more towards using only Ungor heads, they look just that tiny bit more human than Gor heads.
These guys don’t like discipline, love a good brawl and will most likely be thrown into the fray by those who dislike them. So use them as such, give them a Chimera, some flamers and get-a-fighting! You may want to make a full platoon of them, in which case it may be a good idea to include a ‘normal’ human as commanding officer and a priest or two to keep them in check. Another role for which these brutal Abhumans would be suitable is as pilots of flamer Sentinels. I can imagine Catachans would get on with these guys like a house
Ithara has been home to major hive cities for over twelve millennia. Yet despite the huge pollution and waste produced by the uncountable Manefactoriums, the planet still sports great forests. And for millennia the sons of the ruling classes of Hive City Primandis have hunted the gruesome Itharan Grintax in these forests. Using nothing more than an old fashioned hunting rifle, a weeksworth of emergency supplies and a dozen bullets each young man ventures into the unknown. The Grintax is an extremely resourceful predator, normally content in living far away from the noises, scents and lights of the Hives. Yet when its territory is invaded the beast will stalks its prey for as long as it either slays it or is killed itself. The ensuing hunt can last from days to months, though in the end only one can survive. Those that make it out of the forest with a trophy of their kill will be permitted to return there each successive year, each time to stalk a bigger, more dangerous Grintax. Those that survive till their twentieth year will be inducted into the Imperial Guard, where their marksmanship and hunting skills have earned them a legendary reputation as snipers and assassins.
Bits you will need:
- Cadian torsos and legs
- Cadian arms
- Glade Guard cloaked heads
- Glade Guard cloaks
- Vox caster
Glue together the Cadian torso and legs and remove the neckcloth segment of the torso and the armour extention on the back. . Next take the lasgun arm and cut off the top barrel. Now grab the vox caster and cut off the long antenna. By removing the round end and cutting the antenna in two you can make two sniper rifles barrels. Glue the new barrel to the lasgun and once it is stuck attach the old barrel to its end. Now take the vernaculars which you can find on the weapon team and tank accessories sprues. Cut it in half and you have a lens to add to your sniper rifle. There’s usually a small gap in the middle of the two segments that you need to filled up with green stuff.
Next glue on the arms and get a nice pose going. There are two sets of arms that place the lasgun close to the body, this will give a nice sniperpose. Next take the Glade Guard cloak and cut off the arrow sticking out of the quill. Personally I rather like to keep the rest of it as really gives them that extra special touch. But it you don’t like it, just cut it off and use green stuff to repair any damage you did to the cloak. All that’s left is to glue on the cloak and head and perhaps fill any minor gaps with green stuff and you have yourself some snipers!
Using the Itharan Rifles in your Imperial Guard army:
These guys are definitely intended to be nothing more than snipers with a bit of extra background story. Depending on the new rules Ratlings might get in the soon to be released new Imperial Guard codex, they could also stand in for them.
The life of the average citizen of the Imperium is already hard, but there are worlds where they do not even get to glimpse at a rising sun. Worlds, so hazardous that its inhabitants are forced to live in subterranean cities or mining facilities. Worlds where they are only safe from the deadly exposure of solar radiation on the planet's nightside. Through the millennia the people of such worlds have managed to adapt to the darkness, some through the use of technology, others by genetic adaptation. Inhabitants of such worlds, often referred to as Nightsiders, have evolved to compensate for the limited light by enhancing their other senses. Some now have bulbous eyes that will react to even the smallest difference in light. Others no longer have functional eyes, instead relying on their other senses to survive the hazardous conditions of their homeworld.
- Cadian torso, arms and legs
- Catachan heads
Put together the Cadian parts as you would normally do. Next take a Catachan head and shave of any hair or bandana it may be wearing. Next use green stuff to restore the shape of the head. Once this green stuff has dried use a very small extra amount to fill up the eye sockets.
Using Nightsiders in your Imperial Guard army:
Nightsiders are a bit of an oddity even amongst the oddities of this article. We’re dealing with halfblind soldiers who rely on sense of vibration, hearing and smell to orient themselves. Some may have some tech to ensure they actually see something, but they are still basically blind. Given this unique condition it would seem odd that these warriors would be unleashed onto the noisy battlefields of the 41st millennium. But that won’t stop me from giving some suggestions, the first one is simple. A full Nightsiders army based on an underground mining facility, completely with digger Russ tanks, blind Slave Levies (also included in this article) and tremor cannons. It would indeed be a lot of work to get everything in this army to work out visually (no pun intended) and logically. But it would make for something truly unique. A second option would be equip them with heavier armour, weapons and a Termite Tunneller (deep strike) and you have another unique unit to add to your army.
The Imperial warmachine is fueled by uncountable factories, ammunition plants and refineries on a hundred times a hundred worlds scattered throughout the Imperium. These manufactoriums are more often than not manned by one of the lowest classes in Imperial society – mutant workers. Constant exposure to toxins, radiation and backbreaking labor have taken toll over the generations, resulting abhumans are deemed impure by Imperium standards. They do, however, serve a purpose as their remarkable strength and endurance make them ideal for the toiling labor in the factories of many an underhive on many a world.
When true desperation takes hold it is not unheard of to mass thousands of what are practically slave laborers into fighting units. Such a force is usually accompanied by large number of Preachers, who’s sole task is to drive the slaves to acts of heroism and sacrifice. All in the hopes that this final act of loyalty to society that treats them as nothing more than a resource, will lead to forgiveness of the sins of imperfection and the Emperor’s forgiveness.
Bits you will need:
- Catachan or Cadian kneeling legs (Weapon Team)
- Catachan heads
- Catachan arms
- Space Ork torsos
- Green Stuff
Creating these slave levies will take a moderate level of
modeling experience, though the only truly more advanced part is making their hoods. To start out glue the weapon team kneeling legs to your base. Next take the Ork torso and cut of the round bottom segment, sometimes you will need to trim a bit of the right side as well to make certain it fits onto raised leg. In addition you may want to remove any spiky bits from the torsos to make them look less Orky.
Next come the arms, due to the increased bulk and low head you will not be able to use to normal ‘holding lasgun’ pose for these guys. Luckily the Catachan sprue has two sets of arms that do not use this pose. For the rest you merely have to cut the other arms at a slight angle so they fit in front of the larger torso. For the other arms just take the support hand, cut of the hand and glue it on the other side. If you want to take it even further you can do the same as I did, make the arms rest of the leg to emphasize the hunch-backed pose of the slave.
Time to move on to the head. Simple cut a Catachan head in two and take the top part of like in the picture. Next glue it to the Ork neck, perhaps at an angle to enhance the slave’s pose. After this add a simple green stuff hood to cover the neck and top half of the Catachan head. Finally add some details like a shovel and other industrial worker-related bits and you’re done!
Using Slave Levies in your Imperial Guard army:
I’d almost feel sorry to use these poor souls, then again these are desperate times! Well first of, just for good measure I’d replace any commanding officer of a group of Slaves with a preacher-type of character. Havi ng a leader who is really talking them forward will add a lot to the feel of a unit. A second option is to use their strength to your best advantage – use them to drag around ammo and heavy weapons. Place a few in each squad carrying around extra ammo, weapons and whatnot.
Subs are the most despised mutants in the Imperium, save perhaps for those who willingly turn to the worship of the Chaos Gods. Though their mutations are relatively stable over generations, their appearance is so disturbing that they are forced to live separately from the rest of society. Downtrodden, poor and weak these abhumans fall prey to such hardships as the overzealous actions of the Ecclesiarchy and the great temptations of corruption and heresy. Though it has been rare, the Imperium has used these miserable creatures as expandable troops. They will only receive enough ammo, equipment and rations to survive till their first major engagement.
- Cadian legs and arms
- Plague Monk hooded heads
- Tubes and/or guitar wire
- Flagellant torsos (see below)
- Green stuff
I used Flagellant torsos, with the robes cut off. If this is too much hassle for you, then I can recommend clothed Catachan torsos. I’d suggest avoiding the armoured Cadian torsos though, way too good stuff to waste on Subs! Once more glue the Cadian legs to their base. Next take the torso of your choice and make a small cut on the front side in such a manner that it can be placed on top of the legs in a forward leaning position.
Next attach the arms and if you want make some minor changes to the lasgun. I first removed the both front barrels, than I cut of the front of the barrel and glued it back onto the front of the lasgun. Using this method you get a more compact lasgun, which really fits well with the stumped pose of the Subs.
And another gem from White Dwarf 303 can be a part of your army. They are ideal for a themed army who’s survival odds are seriously low. When things get tough, who you gonna drag forward to soak up the incoming fire? That’s right, half a dozen Sub squadrons!
The Zombie Plague
As Abaddon’s forces prepared for the 13th Black Crusade, the Imperium’s outposts surrounding the Eye of Terror were struck by a wave of visions, signs and worse. The most gruesome of these portents was without a doubt the Zombie Plague. Believed to have been engineered by agents of the Dark Mechanicus, the virus proved extremely infectious. Those that died rose again to strike at the living with undead hands. Entire worlds were overrun as agents of Typhus of the Death Guard infiltrated and spread disease, the victims of which increases the deathtoll exponentially as the dead rose once more from the graves and battlefields.
Even those worlds well-entrenched and prepared soon discovered that the Zombie Plague could strike where ever the dead were left unattended for a short period. And even the most pious of followers of the Emperor’s faith were stuck down by it, as when demonstrated when the Governor Secundus of Cadia collapse and his stronghold had be declared Unclean and sealed forever. Though after the 13th Black Crusade the number of infections has subsided somewhat, the Ordo Sepulturum and the Thorian Inquisitor are still investigating the origins and a possible counter-virus to the plague.
Bits you will need:
- Cadian chest and leg pieces
- Ghoul arms and heads
- Loose Cadian helmets
- Green stuff
To take the plague to the battlefield you’ll only need a few bits from two different kits and some assembly time. Start out with gluing the legs, chest and base together. Next there are several things to keep an eye on, first the ghoul arms. As you’ve undoubtedly noticed by now, these arms fit directly onto the Ghoul torso. They need some work to fit the Cadian torso though, in particular the shoulder segment will need to be cut off.
Using Plague Zombies in your 40K games:
Plague Zombies are definitely out for your normal Imperial Guard army, no general in his right mind would go within a hundred yards of one of these gruesome creatures. They are, however, perfect for Apocalypse games. In fact Games Workshop has a datasheet for them – Plague of Zombies. In addition they make for an excellent extra opponent in Kill-Team games.