The basic foot soldier and most common troops deployed by the Imperium of Man. They are recruited from countless worlds, forming billions upon billions of regiments and armed forces. Their lives are but ammunition for their superiors and the most common tactic for the Imperial Guard to throw enough bodies at the enemy until they run out of ammo. The varieties of units and hardware used by the Imperial Guard is as diverse as any one is likely to find, with regiments each forming their own battle tactics, equipment, and role on the battlefield. The Imperial Guard is best known for their impressive tanks and artillery pieces that are second to none in sheer killing power. The Imperial Guard are at the front lines of any conflict in the Imperium. They are often the first to the fight, and they usually never leave until the job is done or they are completely destroyed. To ensure that all commands are met and that military units are in tip-top shape, an organization known as the Commissariat has been put in place to ensure that morale is just high enough to keep troops from deserting the first chance they get. Commissars are integrated into every decent-sized squad or regiment and have authority over all men in their unit. They exist outside the chain of command that the rest of the Guard adheres to, and so they do not necessarily have to obey commands from officers that would normally outrank them. The general policy of a commissar is to make sure no soldier abandons his duty. This usually entails a guardsmen being shot in the head for any infraction, or supposed infraction of a regulation. This aspect of their job gives them much deserved fear and respect of their authority, and it is not uncommon for more soldiers to be killed by corporal punishment than by the enemy in many conflicts.
Vehicles in the Imperium Guard are vastly varied though the vehicles most commonly used include:
- Basilisk- mobile artillery tank, has longest range of any vehicle on the ground, fires indirect artillery barrages or the Earthshaker rounds which can destroy entire squads of infantry that are trapped within the blast radius.
- Chimera- Main troop transport, has firing ports for troops inside as well as las turrets for fire support, can deploy smoke screens for infantry.
- Hellhound- flame tank, effective at denying cover to the enemy, destroying buildings, and breaking enemy morale.
- Leman Russ- Main battle tank of the Guard, has many different variations, the general one has two heavy bolters on either side with a battle cannon on the turret. Variations have twin-linked las cannons, specialized cannons (infantry support, long range), a plasma cannon (extremely rare), or a variety of other heavy armaments.
- Sentinel- Lightweight, bipedal walker platform, used in scouting and flanking maneuvers. Can be outfitted with a variety of armaments including flame weaponry, autocannons, and lascannons.
- Baneblade- Super-heavy tank used to completely decimate the enemy, takes a crew of ten to operate. The standard Baneblade complement includes a turret-mounted baneblade cannon with a co-axial autocannon, three twin-linked heavy bolters (one sponson-mounted on either side, and one turret mounted on the front hull slope), two sponson mounted lascannons on either side (sharing a sponson with the heavy bolters), and lastly, a fixed-forward, hull-mounted Demolisher cannon. The Baneblade weighs in at approximately 319 tonnes.
Guard Regiments of Note:
- Cadian Shock Troops: The Cadian Shock Troopers hail from Cadia, a legendary fortress world on the gates of the Eye of Terror. They held against the horrors of the Warp for centuries, but were eventually overwhelmed. Despite this, their forces remain active throughout the Galaxy, as well as having inspired numerous other Guard regiments to use their weapons, armor, and tactics. As such they are the most prominent Imperial Guard regiment, and the one most commonly represented by far in various Warhammer media.
- Armageddon Steel Legion: A Guard regiment with significant experience fighting the Orks due to that race's continued, persistent presence on their homeworld. Identifiable by their bowl helmets, gas masks, and trench coats.
- Attilan Rough Riders: A primarily mounted force loosely based off of the Mongols and Huns.
- Catachan Jungle Fighters: Hardened survivalists who come from the most notorious death world in the Imperium. Largely influenced by both the Vietnam War and various 1980s action movies like Predator and Rambo.
- Death Korps of Krieg: Fanatical and suicidal extremists who see death for the Emperor as the ultimate goal to strive towards. Recognizable by their long trenchcoats and gas masks, which in addition to their use of trench warfare and fatalistic attitudes, are based off of World War I.
- Elysian Drop Troopers: Outfitted with jetpacks, they specialize in aerial combat and attacking from above.
- Maccabian Janissaries: An Ottoman Empire-inspired Guard regiment.
- Mordian Iron Guard: Known for their fancy dress uniforms that are worn at all times, even in battle. As they are stationed on a planet shrouded in perpetual darkness, this is in part to ensure they remain visible in the dark.
- Praetorians: Guard regiment based off of 19th Century British redcoat armies.
- Savlar Chem Dogs: A penal legion drawn from the prison planet of Savlar, made up of recruited criminals enticed with the promises of plunder and being able to get off their dangerously polluted world.
- Scintillan Fusiliers: Regiment based off of the French under Napoleon Bonaparte. Known for their fancy, colorful uniforms and general arrogance.
- Tallarn Desert Raiders: Arabian-themed Imperial Guard regiment, whose desert world was once verdant before being ravaged during the Horus Heresy.
- Valhallan Ice Warriors: Soviet Russia-inspired Guard Regiment that throw wave after wave of troops at an enemy due to seeing their large numbers of soldiers as expendable.
- Vostroyan Firstborn: Imperial Russia-inspired Guard Regiment who view their service as atonement for their world's earlier refusal to aid the Imperium during the Horus Heresy.