The endless masses of the Astra Militarum represent the cultural diversity of humanity, and its myriad ways of war – except they are all Catachans on the tabletop. GW forgot that they already had a great solution to the problem.
Once upon a time, The Astra Militarum were diverse. You would go around tabletops and see all kinds of amazing things like this:
Yup, over the years GW has made about ten different ranges of AM miniatures, counting the Rogue Trader and Forge World ones (pouring one out for the Elysians). I remember diving into the codexes and losing myself in all the collecting or conversion opportunities with background and fluff listings like these:
Heck, we even made a squad of Kanak Skull Takers back in the day for one of our campaigns. We still break them out to use as a Veteran squad!
8th Edition – The Double-Edged Sword
8th Edition normalized everything about every army in the game. Not only did the datasheets unify every unit, monster, and vehicle, the designers even gave most armies a standard template for how their special rules would work. Most armies for a set of 5-8 “sub-faction” rules, like the Marines, or Necrons, while the unlucky armies got none, like Grey Knights.
When the Astra Militarum got their book, they got swept up into the format, and the significant regiments got rules. It was nice for most armies who had never previously had rules, but somehow it just didn’t sit right for the Astra Militarum. This isn’t a niche organization with dozens or even hundreds of sub-factions across the galaxy. The Astra Militaum is literally millions of worlds under arms. The entire concept of laying out a small set of sub-factions doesn’t do them justice – and is trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
A Solution From the Past
Luckily, GW had already solved this issue – over a decade ago. Back in 4th Edition, the Imperial Guard has the Regimental doctrine system, and I think they should really get it back when their codex is redone. Remember this:
Each army had to pick several doctrines to define themselves, which unlocked rare units, special rules, and equipment.
It was pretty cool. It was a solid system and can be used with some “pre-packaged regiments” to represent the famous ones.
What I am talking about is bringing back the sheer enormity of the Astra Militarum. I LOVE the sub-faction rules and am happy that most armies got them. But what I want to see in the next Astra Militarum Codex is to let players get back to not just picking the best rules out of a tiny set (surprise! S:4 Catachans). Instead, encourage each player to make his own regiment, design what ways of war they use, what rare units they utilize, and what they don’t, and sprinkle in some special wargear. With the current GW testing environment I’m sure they can make a new 21st century Regimental Doctrine balanced, promote awesome hobby conversions (there are a lot of bits to plunder from both 40K and AoS), and get back to making the Astra Militarum reflect the diversity of mankind – both for hobbyists and on the tabletop.
Finally, let’s give the Catachans some time off. These guys have been holding up the Imperium single-handedly since 8th came out. Even with all those muscles, they’re tired.
~What out of the way AM Regiment is your favorite and what would you build?