“Prepare for the worst, because that is where you are headed.”
– Imperial Guard proverb
The Imperial Guard is the backbone of the Imperium’s military might. Millions upon millions of well-trained men and women, organized into thousands of regiments, make up the Guard. With lasgun and bayonet they march upon alien battlefields and garrison vital worlds. They form the Imperium’s first line of defence and they strike the first blow in many crusades. Its regiments are drawn in great tithes of manpower from the Imperium’s worlds and each regiment has a unique character and fighting tradition, from the rigid discipline of the Steel Legion to the stealthy brutality of the pale-skinned Stygian 23rd and the unflinching bravery of the Vostroyans.
Vast conscript armies, elite special forces, massive tank columns and glorious sabre-wielding cavalry can all be found in the Imperial Guard, often fighting alongside one another on Emperor-forsaken worlds they have never heard of. Regiments do not remain on their home worlds but are raised explicitly to be sent to fight and die light years away from home. And die they do, for the Imperial Guard bear the weight of the Imperium’s wars. It is said that the Emperor knows the name of every soldier that has fallen fighting in His wars---but if that is true, He is the only one who can comprehend just how many Imperial Guardsmen have died in the ten thousand years since the Emperor ascended to the Golden Throne. Those who survive the grinding horrors of a lifetime of war are frequently gifted a portion of the very land they fought to conquer as a reward. As with many things in the Imperium, this is a mixed blessing indeed.
The Imperial Guard regiments are raised from the local armies of the Imperium’s worlds as part of a planet’s tithe to the Imperium. These regiments are normally deployed according to the orders of the Adeptus Terra. However, when the High Lords declare a major military campaign (often referred to as a “crusade”) they appoint a Warmaster chosen from among highranking Imperial Guard officers to command the campaign’s regiments. One of the most famous Warmasters, Macharius, was given the title Lord Solar on account that he conquered a thousand worlds on the Imperium’s eastern fringe and expanded the Imperium to the very edge of the Astronomican’s reach.