Astra militarum

Astra militarum DEFAULT

The Astra Militarum is the sledgehammer of the Emperor, and its countless armies form the vast majority of the Imperium’s military might. Although often outclassed in terms of strength and technological advancement, the warriors and vehicles of the Imperial Guard stand together, relentlessly wearing down their enemies until nothing is left but a cratered wasteland.

This section contains all of the datasheets that you will need in order to fight battles with your Astra Militarum miniatures. Each datasheet includes the characteristics profiles of the unit it describes, as well as any wargear and abilities it may have. Some rules are common to several Astra Militarum units – these are described below and referenced on the datasheets.Throughout this section you will come across a keyword that is within angular brackets, specifically . This is shorthand for a keyword of your own choosing, as described below.The following abilities are common to several ASTRA MILITARUM units.

Acts of Faith

If your army includes any models with this ability, you will start the battle with 3 Faith Points, plus 1 additional Faith Point for every 10 models with this ability in your army (rounding down). These can be spent to attempt the Acts of Faith listed below. Each can only be attempted once per battle round, and you must spend one Faith Point each time you do so (if you have no Faith Points remaining, you cannot attempt an Act of Faith). To attempt an Act of Faith, select a unit in your army that has the Acts of Faith ability and then choose the Act of Faith you wish to attempt. Then make a Test of Faith for the unit by rolling a D6; if the result is less than that Act of Faith’s devotion value, or is an unmodified roll of 1, the test fails and nothing happens. Otherwise the test is successful and the Act of Faith takes effect.

Hand of the Emperor
Devotion value 4
Use this Act of Faith at the start of your Movement phase. If successful, add 3" to the selected unit’s Move characteristic until the end of that phase.

Spirit of the Martyr
Devotion value 3
Use this Act of Faith at the start of your Movement phase. If successful, one model in the selected unit regains D3 lost wounds, or, if there are no wounded models and any models in the unit have been slain, you can return one slain model to the unit with 1 wound remaining (this model is set up in unit coherencyand cannot be set up within 1" of any enemy models – if it is not possible to place this model, it is not returned to the unit).

Aegis of the Emperor
Devotion value 3
Use this Act of Faith at the start of your opponent’s Psychic phase. If successful, then until the end of that phase, roll a D6 each time the selected unit suffers a mortal wound. On a 4+ that mortal wound is ignored.

Divine Guidance
Devotion value 4
Use this Act of Faith at the start of your Shooting phase. If successful, add 1 to hit rollsfor attacks made with this unit’s ranged weapons until the end of the phase.

The Passion
Devotion value 5
Use this Act of Faith at the start of your Fight phase. If successful, the selected unit can be chosen to Fight with twice in that phase, instead of only once.

Light of the Emperor
Devotion value 3
Use this Act of Faith at the start of the Morale phase. If successful, the selected unit automatically passes Morale teststhat phase.

In this section you will find rules for Battle-forged armies that include ASTRA MILITARUM Detachments – that is, any Detachment which includes only ASTRA MILITARUM units.

Specialist Detachments


Imperial Guard (Warhammer 40,000)

Fictional army in the Warhammer 40,000 and Epic tabletop games and universe

In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Imperial Guard is the army of the Imperium in the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop miniature wargame.

The Imperial Guard, now known as the "Astra Militarum", are a specific army or faction in the Warhammer 40,000 and Epic tabletop games and universe. The army itself is characterised by being capable of fielding a multitude of lightly armoured infantry in combination with some of the toughest and most powerful tanks in the game.[1] In the game universe, the Imperial Guard is a colossal military organisation consisting of roughly 500 trillion men and women supported by at least a few hundred billion Armoured vehicles each from thousands of different systems within the Imperium of Man.[2]

The Imperial Guard was first introduced to the game in White Dwarf 109, January 1989. In April 2014 a new codex was released for the 6th Edition of the game, along with a number of new plastic kits. Such models included plastic versions of Ogryns and Militarum Tempestus Scions (previously named Stormtroopers) which had been metal. A plastic kit of the Hydra (previously a Forge World model) also became available. In addition to the new kits and models, the Imperial Guard had a name change to the Astra Militarum in line with Games Workshop's shift away from generic naming of their intellectual property.


The Imperial Guard (previously the Imperial Army, now the Astra Militarum) is a fictional colossal military organisation, consisting of many hundreds of thousands of armies throughout the Imperium, and forming the vast bulk of the Imperium's military machine. Unlike the Space Marines, an elite unit that rely upon precision strikes against the enemy's critical assets to carry the day, the Imperial Guard has the reputation of relying on massed assaults made up of nearly endless waves of infantry and armour to achieve victory. "If a Space Marine assault is likened to a surgeon`s scalpel, the Imperial Guard assault is likened to a sledgehammer blow" It is this battlefield strategy that has earned the organisation the moniker "The Hammer of the Emperor". It also earns the Guard the reputation as a meatgrinder, whose most infamous or desperate commanders are more than willing to waste their soldiers' lives for the smallest of gains or in the most suicidal defensive actions. In truth, most Imperial commanders are highly trained and skilled career soldiers who have learned how to leverage the vast resources of the Imperium for maximum effect.

Each Imperial Guard regiment is usually raised from a single world and can number anywhere from several thousand upwards, and vary enormously,[3] and are supported by a huge array of light and heavy armoured vehicles. Each regiment also has its own entourage, consisting of support staff, camp followers, suppliers, tech-priests, psykers, doctors, religious leaders, and the like. When multiple regiments are grouped up into large fighting forces, they are issued far larger and more powerful assets such as planetary-scale artillery and super-heavy tank regiments from thousands of Munitorum armouries, fortresses, and staging worlds, with larger scale deployments taking decades if not centuries of preparation. Although a player may field a mixed force of these armour, artillery, and infantry units on the tabletop, in the game universe, the composition of any one regiment is fairly uniform; that is, an infantry regiment will contain thousands of foot soldiers and are entirely restricted from having any form of heavy armour or artillery, an armoured regiment will consist of little else save its armoured vehicles and support crews with no form of integrated air or artillery support, and an artillery regiment will be focused wholly on the task of providing fire support to front line regiments. This policy was put in place by the Imperium to prevent, or at least minimise, the damage from large scale mutinies in the wake of the Horus Heresy, as no one regiment constitutes a complete self-sufficient fighting force in its own right. However, all guardsmen, from the highest Lord General, to the lowest cook, has the secondary job of being a frontline guardsmen and are expected to know the basics of infantry warfare and the use of the most basic of standard kit. A special handbook, referred to as The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer, is given to all members of the Guard as a means of informing them on things they may miss out on through training. Should a Primer be vandilised, lost or stolen, its owner faces death.

Regiments are drawn from all types of planets of the Imperium; from Fortress worlds such as Cadia, where the entire populace is raised under arms from birth, to Feral and Medieval worlds, and the contributions of some planets over the ten thousand years of the Imperium run into the billions of regiments, if not more. The Imperial Guard are constantly at war, freeing worlds from Chaotic or alien influence, or defending them from the same, or most often putting down rebellions or other human based enemies of the Imperium.

The Imperial Guard rely upon the Imperial Navy for transport to and from war zones, orbital bombardment, and most kinds of air support. The Imperium's naval and ground forces are kept strictly separate such that a mutinous general will not have access to an integrated military machine. That was not the case with the pre-Horus Heresy Imperial Army, which had no such strict distinction, resulted in Horus acquiring a powerful fleet in addition to his vast ground forces and numerous worlds being taken over by ambitious commanders who could hold entire systems for ransom knowing that the people there were powerless to stop them

Famous and specialised Imperial Guard regiments[edit]

Many regiments of the Imperial Guard do not adhere to the standard Cadian style of warfare displayed on the tabletop. Although Cadian-style regiments are the most common due to Cadians being the poster boys of the Imperial Guard, some regiments from other worlds specialise in other forms of war, a facet they often inherit from the conditions of their home planet. The Catachans hail from a jungle covered 'death world', and so use lighter, more mobile transports rather than heavy, cumbersome ones, specialising in jungle warfare and hostile environments. The Death Korps of Krieg (chiefly inspired from the armies of World War I) have a propensity for sieges and trench warfare, where their suicidal stubbornness and tenacity are most valuable, as well as their unusually large store of biochemical weapons. Some, most notably the Elysian Drop Troopers and the Harakoni Warhawks, rely on aerial deployment and are experts in vertical envelopment. Others, such as the Tallarn Desert Raiders train their men to fight best in certain climates, and adapt their style of warfare around their chosen speciality. While each regiment has strengths and weaknesses, Imperial Planners often are forced to deploy regiments where they are their most ill-suited, Tallarn Desert Raiders on an ice world, Elysian Drop Troopers on an ocean world, Death Korp of Krieg in garrison duty, etc. Oftentimes Imperial planners cannot even be sure which regiments will arrive to a hotzone, as the fickle nature of the warp means one can arrive tomorrow, or a hundred years later.


The vast majority of basic Imperial Guard guardsmen are armed with a laser rifle known as a "lasgun" or "lasrifle" which serves as their standard weapon and is the only guaranteed piece of equipment all guardsmen will possess, but even then some will go into battle without one. The Lasgun is cheap, easy to mass-produce, and reliable. While it's a powerful anti-infantry weapon (able to cleanly sever human limbs and blast holes through solid concrete) it's considered a relatively weak weapon against the many inhuman and superhuman enemies the Imperium faces, but in numbers it's capable of damaging just about anything. A lasgun's ammunition comes in the form of a power pack which on a lasgun's standard settings can provide up to 80-120 shots before needing to be recharged, but this is not an issue as the pack can easily be recharged by virtually any heat source whether it be from sunlight, solar panels or even throwing it into a campfire, though the latter most option risks damaging the pack, shortening it's lifespan. It can also be overcharged in last-ditch situations turning it into a makeshift grenade, a tactic favored by veterans, but results in the destruction of the weapon. Most lasguns also come with a bayonet lug allowing for a bayonet or other close combat weapon to be attached, useful when assaulting entrenched enemy positions. Combat knives are also standard issue, these can range from basic knives made out of plasteel to mono knives whose edge always stay at their sharpest and never dulls. For protection a guardsman will typically be outfitted in a flak vest, armour similar in principle and design to 21st-century Bulletproof vests, but made from more advanced and durable materials. While the flak vest is seen as a very basic form of combat armour, it is extremely easy to mass-produce and requires little knowledge to repair. Many guardsmen (usually veterans) may also be found carrying an additional sidearm as a backup weapon, usually laspistols (like the Death Korps of Krieg) or autopistols (such as Cadians). Guardsmen can also be issued with a small pack of 2-4 grenades, typically fragmentation, krak, Smoke, and/or photon flash grenades. Although even more specialised or exotic types of grenades can be issued in rare instances, they are normally handed over to more elite soldiers such as scions or specialists such as breachers (Guardsmen specially trained in demolition tactics) instead of the standard rank-and-file guardsman. Scions have access to superior wargear and are specially trained to be able to undertake a variety of advanced missions. They are outfitted in carapace armour which offers superior protection compared to a flak vest, but at the cost of reduced movement speed. However most, if not all scions are given minor genetic enhancements which allows them to bear the extra weight without any problems, nullifying the drawback. They are also armed with a more advanced and powerful version of the lasgun known as a hotshot lasgun and/or hellgun which is much favoured for its superior armour-penetration ability, able to pierce even the mighty power armour of the superhuman Space Marines. Scions are also privileged to request more exotic equipment to be able to fulfill certain missions or to defeat certain targets. The Imperial Guard also makes wide use of autoguns, an improved version of modern assault rifles, bolter-type weapons (heavy bolters in particular), directed-energy weapons, grenade launchers, flamethrowers, a huge arsenal of ordnance weapons such as artillery and tank cannons, and various close combat weapons such as chain and power weapons.

The Imperial Guard can also field a wide range of vehicles, from the amphibious Chimera IFV to the awe-inspiring and terror-inducing Baneblade tank, most of which are usually maintained by members of the Adeptus Mechanicus assigned to their subsequent regiments. Usually not as sophisticated as the vehicles used by Space Marines but effective in their own right, they can be as numerous as the infantry themselves and are shown to be as reliable. Two examples of this would be the mobile artillery piece known as the basilisk, which is known to field both anti-armour and incendiary rounds, not to mention the devastating Earthshaker round. The second example is the Leman Russ main battle tank, a highly versatile armoured unit that has multiple variants that have different main cannons for a variety of situations, from the versatile battle cannon to the deadly, but temperamental plasma destroyer. While they are versatile, it is well known that other forces such as the Orks and the forces of Chaos claim these units for themselves and can be seen fighting against the Imperium. Some units, such as the Baneblade, are even classified by the Imperial Guard as essential for their campaigns due to their incredible prowess in battle, the vehicle in question being a super-heavy tank akin to a mobile fortress 3-4 stories high. When these vehicles are about to fall into enemy hands, Imperial commanders usually scuttle or rescue them at the expense of many of their men. After all, if there is one resource in the Imperium that can be considered "infinite" it's manpower.


History of the Imperial Guard as an army[edit]

The codex for the game's 2nd edition.
The first Imperial Guard codex for Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition.

The first edition of Warhammer 40,000 included rules for a force known as the "Army". Later their name was changed to "Imperial Guard" and then as of 7th edition "Astra Militarum". The Imperial Guard make up the backbone of the Imperium's armed forces.

The Imperial Guard was initially bound by a series of rules, published in the Warhammer 40,000 Compendium, relating to its command structure. Squads of units formed platoons under a command squad. Units that were separated from the command squad were more limited in action. The initial Imperial Guard army could include, besides the basic squads, Rough Riders (a form of Cavalry), penal units, human bombs, abhumans and robots. Several vehicles were available, including; motorcycles with an optional side-car, Jet cycles (a form of jet propelled motorbike), grav attack vehicles (armoured fighting vehicles utilising anti gravity for propulsion) and Sentinels (a two-legged walker, similar to an AT-ST),.[4]

The first incarnation of the Imperial Guard as a fully supported army was in 1995, with the release of the Codex: Imperial Guard sourcebook for the second edition of Warhammer 40,000. This was the first time that the army itself had specific army rules collected in their own sourcebook.[5] With the release of the third edition of the game, almost all the Warhammer 40,000 armies eventually had new codices compatible with the new edition. In line with this, Codex: Imperial Guard was released in 1999,[6] followed by Codex: Catachans in 2001. This was a smaller sourcebook (or mini-dex/mini-codex) that was meant to be used in conjunction with the "parent" Codex: Imperial Guard. The mini-dex itself provided even more specific rules for fielding one of the more popular Imperial Guard sub-armies, the Catachan Jungle Fighters, for which plastic models were available.[7] In 2003, Games Workshop conducted the Eye of Terror worldwide campaign and released a corresponding sourcebook, Codex: Eye of Terror. This campaign sourcebook contained various rules, including a specific army list for another one of the Imperial Guard's notable sub-armies, the Cadian Shock Troops.[8] Soon after the campaign ended, the changes in the Cadian Shock Troops army list were integrated into the Imperial Guard rules, and Games Workshop released a second, revamped version of Codex: Imperial Guard.[1]

In the actual in-universe background, the predecessors to the Imperial Guard was the Imperial Army alongside innumerable Imperial Cults and Militias present throughout the Great Crusade, but also more elite forces, such as the Solar Auxilia. However, after the Horus Heresy, the Imperial Army was split into the Imperial Guard and Navy to prevent either force from either having the ability to their gain quick access to transportation or field occupational troops quickly if any of their divisional units turned traitor.


Please note that this text was written during the 7th edition of the game and is therefore out of date, as a 9th edition codex has now been released

Individual guardsmen are weak and have low point-costs of 5, for comparison A Space Marine costs 14, thus Imperial Guard armies are usually rather large (a full guard platoon can boast up to 138 models, not counting independent characters, per troops choice. When adding dedicated transports, this number rises to 144 the total point cost of such a listing could be up to a 1,000 points and hundreds of dollars). In addition, they have access to various vehicles, such as the Leman Russ main battle tank, Basilisk mobile artillery, Manticore rocket artillery, Chimera armoured troop transport and the Sentinel walker. Because they require so many units, an Imperial Guard army can be expensive and time-consuming to assemble and paint. In regards to their weak infantry, when they don't vastly outnumber the enemy, the guardsmen rely on their unique tanks and fire support.

In a later Codex, the Imperial Guard "doctrines" were removed, replaced by the "orders" system. Units designated by the "order" must be in a specific distance radius from either a Platoon Officer or a HQ Officer. Benefits are given if both the officer's unit and the squad receiving the order have "vox-casters" (in-universe term for "radio").

In addition to baseline humans, the Imperial Guard also contains several types of abhumans — humans evolved from radically different planetary environment over tens of thousands of years that differ markedly from the norm. The two species most commonly found are the Ogryns (the counterpart of the Warhammer Fantasy setting ogres) whose superhuman strength and incredibly tough resilience makes them excellent close combat fighters and the Ratlings (resembling halflings/hobbits) who function as expert snipers and trackers.

One of the more distinctive aspects of the Imperial Guard army is its Commissars. They are represented as akin to the ruthless, political commissars of the former Soviet Union. The Imperial Commissar, as described by many Warhammer novelists, is given complete jurisdiction to judge the actions of any trooper or officer and to act accordingly. This includes up to summary execution of units who display disobedience or cowardice (in gameplay, this is an often useful function that boosts the morale of wavering units and prevents possessed psykers from harming their comrades) This is useful for the Imperium who must keep an ever-watchful eye in case their subjects turn to chaos. Understandably, they are much hated by the guardsmen they serve with. Many novels hint that a good portion of the Commissars slain in battle are "accidentally" hit by friendly fire; the 4th-Edition Codex for the notoriously anti-authoritarian Catachan regiments of the Imperial Guard includes the "Oops, Sorry Sir" rule that gives Commissar models included in a Catachan army a 1-in-6 chance of having been killed – or more appropriately, fragged – before the game begins. The Death Korps of Krieg are famous for killing Commissars/CO's should ever they commit cowardice themselves and attempt to flee. There are also hints that most if not all Commissars primarily inspire troops by heroic or suicidal example, hoping to emulate figures like the "heroic" Commissar Ciaphas Cain or Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt.

Another unique aspect of the Imperial Guard is that the models for the regiments of different worlds are physically distinct, rather than the same models with different paint schemes like the other armies (save the Space Marines where the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, and Grey Knights Chapters all have models specific to them which other Chapters may not field and as such are considered separate armies). For example, the models for the Cadian Shock Troops resemble the soldiers of the Mobile Infantry as seen in the movie Starship Troopers and the Catachan Jungle Fighters appear in the stripped down uniforms as worn by American and Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War, and as seen in movies such as Rambo – a look befitting the inhabitants of a jungle world where everything is trying to kill them.

As a single platoon contains several squads, and each squad has options for taking special and heavy weapons, a single troops choice can take a staggering amount of said weapons: a fully loaded platoon may take up to 11 special weapons and 20 heavy weapons in a single troops choice, while most other armies can only take one of each. This, combined with the heavy firepower of Guard vehicles, produces an army that is primarily geared toward firepower. To offset this and create a proper balance to the game, the designers made the average Imperial Guardsman both physically weaker and less skilled with their weapons. This means that should an enemy withstand the blistering hail of weapons fire and close the distance to assault the Guardsman in melee, the Guardsmen will more than likely be torn apart.

Some of the major strengths of the Imperial Guard army are their vehicles. From the fragile, but mobile Scout Sentinel to the devastatingly destructive Leman Russ Demolisher firing small nuclear weapons to the long ranged Basilisk self-propelled howitzer, the vehicles of the Imperial Guard can significantly add to their effectiveness as an army. Although individual tanks from other armies (such as the Necrons) may sport more firepower, speed, and/or armour than those of the Imperial Guard, the Guard has, overall, the most powerful and varied armoured force, with many devastatingly powerful units like the Baneblade Super heavy Tank and it's many variants, or the DeathStrike ICBM Launcher platform (armed with plasma nukes by standard) being added to the possibilities.

Video games[edit]

Squad of Imperial Guardsmen led by a Commissar in the game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

The Imperial Guard make several appearances in many of the video games that occur in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

The Imperial Guard make a guest appearance in the single player campaign of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War led by Colonel Carus Brom as NPCs and playable units in some missions. They have since been expanded into a playable faction in the game's expansion packs:

The Imperial Guard were part of the Imperium's force in Final Liberation: Warhammer Epic 40,000, the other two parts consisting of the Space Marines and the Adeptus Mechanicus Titan legions.[9]

The Imperial Guard also make appearances as opposition in the Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior first-person shooter. Among the possible opponents, there are guardsman equipped with lasguns, autogun-wielding stormtroopers, officers with chainswords and a Valkyrie Gunship as a boss.[10]

The Imperial Guard has also made an appearance in the computer game Warhammer 40,000: Rites of War, usually used alongside Space Marine forces (much like in the Final Liberation).

Much like in the original Dawn of War the Imperial Guard (more specifically stormtroopers and regular guardsmen squads) make a supporting appearance as NPCs in Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II during several campaign battles, including the ending mission against the Tyranids. They also appeared in its expansion, Chaos Rising, with some guardsmen becoming traitorous and pledging their loyalties to Chaos in the early missions on Aurelia.

In Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution, the Imperial Guard have become a fully playable race and are most dangerous when they field a large number of tanks or a huge horde of infantry.

In Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, the Cadian 203rd regiment (so battered up it is under the command of a second lieutenant) is trying to survive on Graia, an adeptus mechanicus forgeworld, as the player's Ultramarines squad drops in. Guardsmen serve as NPCs throughout the game, and both the Guard and the player provide mutual support in terms of combat, navigation and air transport.


  • Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete; Hoare, Andy (2003). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  • Johnson, Jervis (2001). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Catachans. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  • Priestley, Rick; Ansell, Bryan; Stillman, Nigel; Davis, Graeme; Knifton, Pete; Weeds, Ivan; Brunton, Mike; Warwick, Andy; Norton, Derrick (1989). Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (1st ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  • Imperial Guard Homepage from the UK Games Workshop website. URL accessed on 9 January 2006.
  • Haines, Pete. "Chapter Approved – Rolling Thunder: Armoured Companies Army List". Games Workshop. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2007-08-12.


  1. ^ abChambers, Andy; Haines, Pete; Hoare, Andy (2003). Codex: Imperial Guard (2nd release) (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  2. ^Priestley, Rick (1998). Warhammer 40,000 (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  3. ^Codex Astra Militarum 8th edition. Nottingham. 2017. p. 9.
  4. ^Priestley, Rick; et al. (1989). Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (1st ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  5. ^Priestley, Rick (1995). Codex: Imperial Guard (2nd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  6. ^Johnson, Jervis; Gavin Thorpe (1999). Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  7. ^Johnson, Jervis (2001). Codex: Catachans (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  8. ^Chambers, Andy; Hoare, Andy; Kelly, Phil (2003). Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN .
  9. ^Holistic Design, Inc. (1997-11-30). Final Liberation: Warhammer Epic 40,000 (Windows/DOS) (1.0 ed.). Strategic Simulations, Inc.
  10. ^THQ (September 2003). Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior (Microsoft Windows/PlayStation 2). KUJI.
  1. 1994 cobra wheels
  2. Peterbilt cab shocks
  3. Dbz god
  4. String replace salesforce
  5. Kansas customs hardtail

Special Rules

If you’ve just been introduced to a galaxy filled with near-immortal super-soldiers, intergalactic alien invaders, and actual demons and your first thought was, “Well what if I just wanted to play normal people?,” then Astra Militarum is the faction for you.

With massed ranks of tanks and infantry, the Astra Militarum conveys some of the grimmest and darkest imagery in the entire 41st millennium. While the Guard is rife with heroes and filled to the brim with some of the most valorous people in the setting, it brings with it a constant reminder that human life is worth very little in the grim darkness of the far future.

The Astra Militarum can only accomplish its mission of defending the Imperium of Man through disciplined volleys of massed lasgun fire, deftly-crewed columns of armored fighting vehicles, and proper application of fierce bayonet charges. No equipment or personnel are above sacrificing in the pursuit of your objective. Astra Militarum Commanders, Inquisitors, and Planetary Governors must regularly send droves of a civilization’s finest soldiers to die upon nameless hills in defense of a single planet amongst millions. Such is the will and dedication required amongst mortals to stand in the face of the ancient evils and inhuman terrors assailing the Imperium. So long as the Imperium stands, the Astra Militarum will stand to defend it.

The Astra Militarum Codex was one of the earlier releases of 8th edition, but a lot has changed since this book has come out. Most notably, the addition of Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good. We thought it might be about time to take this one off the shelf and update it for all of our valorous defenders of the Imperium out there!

Army Strengths

  • Good Shooting: The Guard doesn’t have much in the way of combat, but even with one of the oldest books in the game, a fully-intact Guard army might take the cake for the most powerful shooting in the game (beside Admech, anyways).
  • Wide Array of Specialized Units: With over 90 datasheets to pick from, the Astra Militarum is likely going to have a dedicated unit to kill most things that might be present in the meta. Whether or not they can address the meta is a separate question, but at least the datasheets are there!
  • Cheap: Redundancy is relatively easy to build in with this army. You’re almost always able to take redundancy in some capacity. This doesn’t mean you’re able to sacrifice units willy-nilly, but you have the capability to suffer some bad dice on one unit because you often have a backup.
  • Mobile Objective Secured Infantry: Guardsmen with Move, Move, Move are still fantastic. 12″ + 2d6″ movement per turn with 10 Objective Secured idiots still goes a long way even 4 years after the codex has been released.

Army Weaknesses

  • Extremely Vulnerable toSecondaries: The Grand Tournament Mission Packet has not been kind to Astra Militarum. This army definitely struggles with picking secondary objectives and it’s virtually impossible to build an army that doesn’t easily give up either No Prisoners, Bring It Down, or Assassinate.
  • Mediocre Melee: The best melee unit Astra Militarum can bring to the table is Bullgryn. They’re pretty dang tanky if you have the right buffs on them but really can’t go toe to toe with a dedicated melee threat. For a fun thought exercise, roll a full Bullgryn squad into a Blade Guard Veteran squad with Transhuman, Dark Angels Terminators with Storm Shields, or Death Guard Terminators. The results are pretty depressing.
  • Fragile Damage Dealers: The damage dealers in this army come in the forms of special weapons toting Guardsmen or Scions, Manticores, and Tank Commanders. All of these units are relatively fragile and will absolutely fold if you expose them.
  • Few Competitive Units: Unfortunately, this faction is pretty overcosted right now. There are a few dead units in the book that are wildly overcosted looking at you Baneblades, but most things are probably about 5-10% overcosted right now, resulting in some lists that often feel just out of reach of some of the upper tiers.

Competitive Rating

Tier 4: Medium

Because of the weaknesses discussed above, The Astra Militarum has some serious issues competing with the top-tier armies out there. The codex has an easy time taking objectives but a difficult time holding them, with T3 models and your damage dealers being relatively fragile. The army has the ability to compete, and probably pull some favorable matchups on Tier 2 and Tier 3 armies, but right now it reallystruggles against the top-tier stuff out there. Overall though, the army is relatively healthy. It needs some weapon updates and some points drops, but otherwise, it’s not completely broken.


Army Rundown

Guard’s big strength is quantity – whatever they’re putting on the table (usually guns and bodies), there are probably lots of it. Guard is usually aiming to overwhelm the opponent’s defenses with the sheer volume of firepower they can lay down, seize control of the board with their bargain-priced and fast-moving infantry, and weather any counterattack the opponent can muster by dint of the sheer number of targets they present. A few more specialized or more expensive options are frequently seen addressing specific roles (though even their super heavies have competitive price tags) but a list made up of just these tends to look weak compared to other shooting armies – flooding the table with cheap threats is a key supporting strength for this army.

You normally see a core of a large number of Infantry squads and supporting characters, backed up by Tank Commanders, Leman Russes, and/or Manticores as the basic gunline. There’s then a huge variety of more niches that are frequently seen supplementing this – heavily buffed Bullgryns can act as a melee counterpunch/tank unit, a Baneblade can provide some even heftier firepower or a battalion of Tempestus Scions can give you some surgical problem solvers. Bringing up the rear, plenty of stuff on this book sits on the edge of having a competitive price tag. The important thing is to bring the volume – if you’re building a competitive list and don’t have at least 100 Infantry Squad bodies or 5+ vehicle chassis you better have a really, really good reason for it.

Once that’s on the table, your goal is generally for your damage-dealing tanks to blast the enemy to bits while your infantry roll forward, dying in droves to the enemy’s guns in service of shielding your valuable vehicles and racking up objective points. Your best guns tend to have excellent range and pretty broadly applicable profiles, allowing you to selectively blast away your opponent’s best stuff and remove their ability to deal with the volume of threats you present. For all that other factions have access to equivalent options nowadays, going second against a Guard army is still an extremely nerve-racking experience for many lists, as a good turn of shooting can leave you short on the tools you need to shift them, letting the loyal forces of the Imperium grind you into the dirt beneath their boots and tank tracks. As the guard player, you want this fear to become a reality.

Keywords: Regiment and Tempestus Regiment

The Astra Militarum Codex really only has two relevant keywords:

  • <Regiment>: The standard “Chapter Tactics”-granting keyword most 8th Edition Codex. Nearly every unit has this except for Scions and other units not drawn from an Astra Militarum Regiment in the lore, such as Abhumans and Imperial Navy elements.
  • <TempestusRegiment>: The <Regiment> keyword, but Tempestus Scions flavor. You’re only going to benefit from this one if every unit with a variable keyword in the detachment has this.

Unit Special Rules

Astra Militarum has two unit abilities shared among many datasheets:

  • Grinding Advance: Allows Leman Russ Battle Tanks to fire their turret weapon twice if they’ve remained stationary or moved under half their movement speed.
  • Voice of Command: Allows the unit to issue orders to friendly <Regiment> Infantry units. This happens at the beginning of the Shooting phase before any of your other shooting happens. More on these in a moment.
  • Tank OrdersWhile this rule only affects one datasheet, it makes sense to put it here. This is effectively the same as Voice of Command, but for Leman Russ Battle Tanks.


Orders are one of the hallmarks of the Astra Militarum. This mechanic has been alive and well since the 4th Edition cut of this Codex, letting you get more value out of your models by yelling at them. Making good use of orders is critical to good play. You’re going to issue an order every single turn to every unit you can no matter what. There’s literally no downside.

So what are the generic orders?

  • Take Aim!: Reroll 1s to hit. Pretty neat.
  • First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire!: Lasguns and Hot-shot Lasguns become Rapid Fire 2 until the end of the phase. Very handy for addressing hordes. 37 Lasgun shots out of a Guardsman Squad are very handy.
  • Bring it Down!: Reroll 1s to wound. Also handy. Not often as handy as Take Aim!, but if you’ve got re-roll 1s to hit already, it’s nice to have.
  • Forwards, for the Emperor!: You may shoot with a unit even if that unit Advanced this turn. Another handy thing you might need to do from time to time.
  • Get Back in the Fight!: Fire in the shooting phase even if you’ve fallen back. Super nice.
  • Move! Move! Move!: This is the single most useful order that Guard has. Instead of shooting you can immediately move and advance as if it were the Movement phase. You have to Advance as part of this move, and you can’t charge this turn. You’ll use this to toss idiots onto objectives from great distances. It’s great.

Tank Orders

  • Full Throttle!: Move! Move! Move! now comes in Tonk flavor.
  • Gunners, Kill on Sight!: Take Aim!, but for Tonks.
  • Strike and Shroud!: Again, the last order is probably the most unique and useful of the bunch. You can shoot your weapons and pop off your smoke launchers in this phase.

Regiment-Specific Orders

Regiment-Specific Orders are gained by having an officer with the appropriate <Regiment> keyword:

  • Cadian (Tank Order): Pound Them to Dust! – Probably the second most useful order of this set. Re-roll the number of shots with your turret weapon for the rest of the phase.
  • Catachan: Burn Them Out! – Re-roll the number of shots with flamers and heavy flamers. Also, units hit by these weapons don’t get the benefit of cover to their saves.
  • Valhallan: Fire on My Command! – Allows you to shoot targets that are within Engagement Range of friendly units, but any 1s you roll to hit scores a hit on one of your friendly units within Engagement Range. You can’t use this to shoot with a unit that is itself in Engagement Range of an enemy unit.
  • Vostroyan: Repel the Enemy! – You can fire your weapons into units that are within Engagement Range, regardless of their type, but you have to shoot at a unit within Engagement Range.
  • Armageddon: Mount Up! – You can fire your weapons and embark in a transport if every model in the unit is within 3″ of the transport. Can be pretty cheeky, especially with Special Weapons Teams or Command Squad coming in off of Strategic Reserve. You can’t do this if you also disembarked earlier in the same turn.
  • Tallarn (Tank Order): Get Around Behind Them! – This is the most useful Regiment Order of the bunch. You get to move 6″ and fire, or fire and then move 6″. Given 9th edition rules changes, this is a Normal Move, so you can’t use this to make a Fall Back move… sorry. The upside is that this absolutely lets your fire and slink away with Tank Commanders. It’s pretty great and that’s the suggested use for most occasions.
  • Militarum Tempestus: Elimination ProtocolSanctioned – A pretty slept-on order. Allows you to re-roll failed wound rolls against MONSTERS and VEHICLES. Pair this with Laurels of Command and go to hope to roll hot.
  • Mordian: Form Firing Squad! – You can effectively ignore Look out, Sir! with Rapid Fire weapons.

Generally, you want to be issuing as many orders as you can every turn. For the most part, you’re going to be tossing Move! Move! Move! or First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire! onto your Guardsmen units and Gunners, Kill on Sight! or Strike and Shroud! to your Tank Commanders. The other orders pop up from time to time, but usually, their usage is pretty obvious. Do I want to Fall Back and toss 10 grenades into these Orks with the Grenadiers Strategem? Do you play Tallarn and have Tank Commanders?

The other orders will often come into play if you’ve built a specific army around them. I’ve found myself rolling with Elimination Protocols from time to time on Scions and I’d love to see some cheeky use out of Mount Up!, but so far I’ve only seen it executed to great effect in my dreams. Orders are a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting the most out of your Astra Militarum units. It’s one of the mechanics doing the heavy lifting of keeping the Codex alive. Use your movement to put Guardsmen in inconvenient places for your opponent, use them to make your Tank Commanders a little more survivable with a -1 to hit. It’s great.


There are seven core regiments available to Astra Militarum armies, and seven options for the Militarum Tempestus. In addition, Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good introduced options for designing your own <REGIMENT> on top of those. In this section we’ll be looking at the core and custom ones, then we’ll tackle the Tempestus Scions in their own section.

If every unit in a detachment (other than the ones specified in the two special rules above) has the same <REGIMENT> chosen for it then all units in that detachment gain a Regimental Doctrine – this army’s version of faction traits. In addition, each main book <REGIMENT> has a Stratagem that can affect their units plus a relic and warlord trait that its characters can use, and finally a special order that can be issued by one of their kinds of an officer.

The core book regiments have stood the test of time pretty well – there are two that sit head and shoulders above the rest for pure guard armies, but two of the others have decent competitive uses, two let you pull off some interesting tricks and there’s really only one dud. The custom traits have some appealing options too, and there’s been some experimentation with several choices since TGG landed, but haven’t yet supplanted the best two main book choices in winning lists. We’ll have a look at what each core choice offers, ticking off the good ones first, and then move on to custom traits at the end.

It’s worth saying upfront that while some of this stuff has held up well, the Warlord traits are universally kind of garbage. You can basically ignore them, especially now that Tank Aces are available as replacements. With a few exceptions, most of the relics are pretty bad too, though a couple has their uses.


  • Regimental Doctrine – Born Soldiers: Stationary units re-roll 1s to hit in shooting, and stationary INFANTRY re-roll all failed hits if they are issued the Take Aim! order.
  • Stratagem – Overlapping Fields of Fire – 2CP: After a CADIAN unit inflicts an unsaved wound on a unit in the shooting phase, you can add +1 to hit for other shooting attacks from CADIAN units against that target this phase.
  • Warlord Trait – Superior Tactical Training: Roll a dice when your warlord issues an order. On a 4+, they can issue the same order to another valid target within 6″.
  • Relic – Relic of Lost Cadia: Once per battle you can activate this at the start of the turn, and re-roll hits and wounds of 1 for CADIAN units within 12″ of the bearer. Against CHAOS, they instead re-roll all failed hits and wounds.
  • Order – Pound them to Dust!: Tank Order. The target can re-roll the dice determining the number of shots for a turret weapon in this phase.

The bread and butter trait that enables a fearsome Guard parking lot, The Cadian Doctrine gives you a great efficiency boost across the board, while their stratagem lets them obliterate any single large target in their sights. Their Tank Commanders also get a great order to use (important since they often don’t need to use Gunners Kill on Sight!), significantly increasing the reliability of their main guns. Finally, the relic is pretty decent generally, giving you a turn where you can mosey up the board a bit while keeping re-rolls, and outrageously deadly against any flavor of Chaos. A good, clean choice for any Tank Commander heavy build. Cadians also get some neat special characters, most notably Knight Commander Pask, a super Tank Commander.


  • Regimental Doctrine – Brutal Strength: INFANTRY get +1S and +1Ld if they are within 6″ of an officer. VEHICLES can re-roll one of the dice used to determine a random number of shots for each weapon they fire.
  • Stratagem – Vicious Traps – 1CP: After an enemy charges a CATACHAN unit wholly on or within a terrain feature, deal d3 MWs to the charging unit on a 4+.
  • Warlord Trait – Lead From the Front: The warlord has 6″ heroic and re-rolls hits in the first round of combat.
  • Relic – Mamorph Tuskblade: Relic power sword with +2S and D2.
  • Order – Burn Them Out!: Target unit can re-roll shot counts for flamers and heavy flamers, and they ignore cover.
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Astra Militarum // Imperial Guard - Warhammer 40,000

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