Many Imperial Guard regiments hail from planets that lack just gunpowder.

What I want to know is how do they react when they get sent away from their homeworld to anywhere in the galaxy. I would imagine that boarding the transport ships alone is a complete culture shock to the guys armed with just arrows and stone clubs, let alone going to a culture with more advanced weaponry?

  • 5
    I'm guessing the Imperial Commissars play a large part in helping them to quickly... adjust... to their new lifestyle.
    – delinear
    Nov 10, 2017 at 16:12
  • 4
    Death world Guardsman: "whatever you do, don't anger the black-suited man that shoots fire from his hand." Nov 10, 2017 at 16:18
  • 2
    This being the warhammer universe, I presume by attempting to murder the nearest xenos with an axe. Nov 12, 2017 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


Fear and Fanaticism

Those are the two key factors that keep the armies at bay. You know that you are fighting for the God Emperor, who is your saviour and the only power holding the Galaxy together and against you there are forces that want to undo his glorious work. And if you have any doubts, your nearest friendly Comissar will gladly reeducate you.

Now about "how would the 'savages' act on more advanced world": armies are meant to be used in the battlefields, not to mingle with civilians - they won't be hanging around shopping malls gawking at the pretty lights. Lo-tech recruits would be given a lasrifle, told which end should they point at the enemy and where to press (they don't need to know how does it work!) and sent towards whoever they have to kill! They will be fighting against tanks and planes, which they will treat as big monsters - but they already come from planet that quite probably have some powerful beasts. And the fact that your allies have "tamed similar monsters" (aka YOUR tanks and planes) - well, that is just the power and glory of the Emperor!

Its also worth pointing that Imperial Guard also uses some low-tech weapons like swords and horses. Although horses might be cyborgised and swords containing chainsaw.

While I can't recall any story about whole contingent from savage world, there is a good example of Eszrah Ap Niht from "Gaunt's Ghosts" series, who came from a tribe living in the swamps and the most complicated machine that he used to know is crossbow (or "reynbow" as he calls it) - but he is an extremely (even for Ghosts standards) good scout and assassin.


Confusion (then some horrible death)

Free will and independent thought are the first things beaten out of a recruit upon joining the Guard. Whether they come from a hive world and are very well acquainted with las weapons and generally understand the concept of warp travel, or they come from a primitive world that hasn't yet discovered gunpowder, they're destined to be thrown into a war they have absolutely no understanding of against enemies they never knew even existed, on some planet on the other side of the galaxy.

They're all confused, all the time, until they're dead.

A hive world thug and a primitive world thug will both perform just as well against a tyranid.

Guardsmen, especially those conscripted during times of crisis, are usually rushed through basic training and used primarily as a meat shield. Their job is to protect artillery or soak up enemy bullets.

The only Guardsmen that matter (none matter) and have at least a vague idea of what to expect are the more famous regiments:

These guys know what they're doing and they know what's coming.

Everyone else is confused and scared and dead.

  • I do not think it is fair to say that the more famous legions know what is coming. They all do, it is just that those legions are typically better trained, equipped, and/or lucky to survive the next creek they are dropped off at. They all receive reinforcements which means they lose their collective experience each time a guardsman dies and is replaced. Arguably the only regiment that matters is the Tanith First and Only... just cause they aren't making any more on that planet... But you are definitely correct in the "Confusion (then some horrible death)" reaction!
    – Odin1806
    Dec 7, 2017 at 20:19
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    I disagree - IG are disciplined units - they have to be otherwise they would break so easy under the enemy fire: those are regular humans that have to face horrors from another dimension, bloodthirsty monsters and deadly aliens with greatly advanced technology - and they keep holding the line and even push back! Only elite of the Planetary Defence Force is taken into IG regiments; on the primitive planets similarly only elite warriors would be taken
    – Yasskier
    Dec 7, 2017 at 20:26
  • @Yasskier I think you're a little off about the quality of soldier the Guard will accept. They take everyone. You're executed if you retreat. There are surely a lot of fearless soldiers in the Guard, but they take absolutely everyone.
    – Daft
    Dec 8, 2017 at 9:53
  • No, they don't take everyone - look at Ciaphas Cain series for example when he explains it that while it is relatively easy to get to PDF, only the best of the soldiers get chance to join a guard unit.
    – Yasskier
    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:09
  • 1
    The 40K universe as a narrative setting is purposefully large enough to encompass all possible situations, a guardsman could be anything from tribal warrior wearing nothing but a helmet and a fur loincloth (if there was no time for training or equipment to be allocated) to someone in full tactical gear with years of specialist training, it all depends on the situation and the 40K universe encompasses all situations.
    – Cognisant
    Jan 3, 2018 at 7:09

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