Ultimate 5th Ed Imperial Guard Breakdown and Tactics
If anyone else has any cool ideas or strategies I would love to hear about it and come on guys, be general. Nobody wants to go trolling through army lists and calculating point values.
Let’s start with the HQ
The company command squad is essentially the anchor for the entire army and is the starting point for your approach to the game, whether leading on the front line or in some cover next to the bulk of the firepower, they work in almost any situation…. Not well though. By itself it’s not that great but the regimental advisors give the HQ that bit of OOMPH! I swear by the Master Of Ordinance, a 30 point earthshaker cannon that adds a bit of indirect fire always makes for a treat but then I use my command as a firebase. Unfortunately his scatter rules make him a tad unpredictable especially if you’re going to charge, but is a must have against horde or swarm armies. Officer Of The Fleet is incredible and should be taken if your opponent uses reserves (which is everyone!) but otherwise is a waste of points and the Astropath I find to be only useful when out flanking my entire infantry platoon (thanks to Al’rahem). The astropath tends to be counterproductive with Marbo. Also people, read the fine print, REMEMBER your company commander has a refractor field (4+ invulnerable save). Almost everyone except the hardcore pros have forgotten this at some point.
I tend not to use Creed or Kell because they’re a big waste of points! The scout’s move from Creed is nice but is not worth 90 points. Otherwise he’s designed for close-combat which I think is a silly way to play Imperial Guard anyway. Speaking of excessive points going into one model, Mother @#$%ing @#$% of a @#$%. Commissar Yarrick is nowhere near effective enough to justify the points used on him (great for storyline abuse when versing Orks) as are Deddog, but man oh man. If only they were say 50 points cheaper, they might deserve a second glance. Lord Commissar is a cheap choice as a sort of surrogate Yarrick and will keep your troops s**ting their pants. What’s a flesh eating alien the size of a house compared to a commissar with a laspistol?
Stracken is one of the coolest mofo’s in the whole damn codex. He can basically punch through tanks, it’s insane. He would be at the forefront of any close range offensive command squads.
This brings me to the Primaris Psyker who is brilliant for a cheap HQ when low on points especially in conjunction with a Psyker Battle squad to reduce your opponent’s squad’s leadership, then make him test it to shoot at you. Also great to throw in a Chimera for the added durability, otherwise known as the Psyk Out or Psychic Armoured Fist.
I really don’t like Ministorum Priests as they’re too preachy but work well in conjunction with a Commissar Lord to give a charging squad most of the benefits Yarrick without the cost. The 4+ invulnerable save is nice too. Techpriest Enginseers with a bunch of servitors are way too expensive for the “possibility” of fixing a gun but can hold their own in combat, especially with those metal arms.
Now to Troops
First thing’s first, our infantry suck, but Holy Christ we can take lots of them. We can basically out-swarm swarm armies, which thanks to first-rank fire, second-rank fire means we get 160 lasgun shots in rapid-fire and 100 out of rapid-fire (PCS + 5 IS) to work with which has to do something. Close combat guard seems like a cool idea but starts to make firing risky as it disallows the Huge Ordinance Guns (Henceforth The HOG’s), that you should be taking as your playing Guard, to shoot in case of scattering on your already fragile enough guardsman. “We will not tolerate friendly fire”
Swarm guard is great, but I prefer taking veterans decked out with shotguns, 3 meltaguns and a demolition charge which is a bit pricy but can hold its own in a gunfight even against 2+ armour, but risking suicide bomber status (scatters on itself). This squad then infiltrates thanks to Harker (with a scouts move from Creed) or I throw them in a Vendetta (affectionately nicknamed the Veto Vendetta or V for Vendetta) and objective hunt with enough firepower to actually hold it. Another place to put them is in a slightly less durable chimera and abuse the fire points. This works really well and is worth doing just to see your opponent take down your chimera only to have 10 pissed off veterans jump out ready to blast them to infinity and beyond (thanks to the ever reliable BS4).
I also recommend not taking conscripts unless you’re trying to build a meat shield for a firebase, in which case take Chenkov with Send In The Next Wave for the ultimate reincarnating meat shield. Otherwise I don’t usually take conscripts or Chenkov.
Penal Legion Squads are cool because of their storyline but otherwise suck as they are just like regular guardsman, albeit more expensive guardsman with an unpredictable special ability and NO UPGRADES. I’ve never taken and do not plan on ever taking Penal Legion Squads.
Al’rahem and his infantry platoon are the Bees Knees of the entire 5th ed Guard codex and one of my favourite units to use. They are a KO combo as coupled with an Astropath (only time I take an Astropath) will dependably come in around 3rd turn by which time you have used your HOG’s to shoot down all of your opponent’s anti-infantry fire. The infantry platoon is completely shielded from fire as they aren’t even on the board until about 3rd turn, when they come in kitted up to take down your opponent anti-tank fire, which will struggle to take down waves of infantry. Imagine your opponents face, he’s spent two turns taking out all of your tanks at the expense of his anti-infantry firepower, which haven’t had any infantry to fire at (anti-infantry firepower is mostly ineffective against tanks anyway) when 3rd turn an entire infantry platoon, led by Al’rahem, pops up right next to him covered in Lascannons, Meltaguns, Melta-bombs and whatever else will kill a tank, when all he’s left with is anti-tank firepower. Sure, you’ll lose a few guardsman, but you’ll overwhelm them with sheer numbers. This works great unless your opponent is, yep you guessed it, the Tau (sometimes Eldar and Marines), whose weapons can damage pretty much everything especially the interchangeable hammerhead which will mow down both your infantry and your tanks. Fully expect all of your tanks to die using this strategy. It is risky though because if god forbid they manage to destroy all your tanks by 3rd turn, there’s nothing left on the board so you immediately lose. Don’t worry about that so much, the Leman Russ’s can hold their own and the strategy will win 9 times out of 10 (So long as your opponent doesn’t see it coming). Like Al’rahem you have to have the element of surprise. Technically you don’t need Al’rahem to use the strategy but his order Ride “Like the Wind” Bull’s-eye will allow your Heavy guns to shoot and move.
As to Sergeant Bastonne, I never take him because he looks too much like a pretty boy. Harker is good as he adds manoeuvrability to your list. He also works as a sweet combo with Creed if you’re going first. Infiltrate the veterans kitted out with shotguns (always choose the ASSAULT weapons so you can assault them into safety, it is worth sacrificing the extra lasgun shot), 3 meltaguns and a demo charge. With scouts you’ll be in melta-range first turn so anything that has massive armour is gone. Your veterans will probably get blown to smithereens next turn unless you can infiltrate them near some cover. If you want to get pedantic with points, you’re better of just taking a Vendetta. Again, REMEMBER Harker has Feel No Pain (4+ save).
The Chimera is the staple of any Guard army because it almost pays for itself in firepower plus it gives our fragile little guardsman some durability. Amphibious is helpful with the recent surge in water features but otherwise overlook-able. The fire points are what really makes it a worthwhile investment and don’t let those ignorant rule-Nazi’s bully you out of those firepoints. Ignore the ambiguous wording in the codex and fire using your proper weapons, they are not lasguns turrets. Personally I put a squad of veterans with meltas and tank hunt with the Armoured Fist.
No one will defeat the Elite.
Ogryns fall under a strange category because they are really good at what they do providing the best assault unit guard can muster and a pretty damn fine counter charge unit or meat shield. It’s just that they’re 40 points a model with a maxed out squad being a whopping 430 points and a mobile squad with a chimera being 305 points. Now even though they have furious charge, they could never unleash the same amount of ferocity as 2 Leman Russ’s. I don’t usually take Ogryns.
A Rattling squad is pretty cool, doesn’t really do much but is pretty cool. It’s cheap and fairly reliable at what it does. With infiltrate and stealth, just shove them in some cover and take potshots at infantry and anything with a high toughness and a low save as sniper rifles Rend, Pin and wound on a 4+. If that wasn’t enough, couple them with a Psyker Battle Squad using Weaken Resolve on a unit and your almost guaranteed (unless they roll double 1) to pin them. I call this move, the Bullstopper (Thank you Matthew Reilly). Plus I hear Ratlings are good cooks…. “Can you recommend a good wine with that ration pack?”
The Psyker Battle Squad is another must have in any Imperial Guard army as they are just so damn versatile. Using Soulstorm gives you a HOG equivalent S9 AP D6 pie plate which is assault 1 meaning you can fire out of a Chimera. And if that wasn’t good enough, Weaken Resolve allows you to lower your opponent’s squads’ leadership by the number of sanctioned psykers giving them some really cool combos with Ratlings or the Primaris Psyker… And just for some icing on the cake, if they suffer a perils of the warp instead of rolling wounds for all of them, you just remove three.
As much as everybody keeps bagging it out, the Storm Trooper Squad is really cool. Because of Special Operations, this makes them an incredibly versatile unit and they can be kitted out for almost any task, mainly decoy dummies. Throw them right next to something big and you’re opponent has to shoot at them…. That’s a whole turn where they’re not shooting at something else! A little bit pricy, but they more than make up for it by just being able to use a squad called Storm Troopers, albeit Storm Troopers with better aim. I’m a Star Wars fan, back off.
Last but not least, Guardsman Marbo is the cornerstone of any imperial guard army because you just never know what he’s going to do. He may come in and take out a full squad of Marines or he might become a suicide bomber (Demolition charge scattering on himself). He is just so unpredictable. He can however, in some exceptional circumstances be effective against 2+ armour saves that are taking potshots at you, such as Broadsides, Terminators, Obliterators etc as his ripper pistol is AP2 as well. Just be prepared to have him blown away next turn. Always take Marbo! What else are you gonna spend the points on Pask, Bastonne… makes me sick. Also if you are lucky enough to be really unlucky with your reserve roles Marbo comes in 5th turn and contests the objective way on the other side of the board… you know, the one you were never going to get to because its in the middle of cover with a whole troop choice on top of it. “Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?” Also opponents frequently forget you’ve taken him…. Just casually forget to role for reserves every turn.
Fast Attack is Back
Scout Sentinels and Armoured Sentinels are really overpriced units for what they do and as such I never take them. On second thought, Scout Sentinels are very effective as throw away searchlights when the night fighting rule is in effect. Use their Scouts move to get closer to a big tank or something, illuminate it with the searchlight, and have all your HOG’s blow it into nothingness.
Hellhounds are really good against cover dependant armies like Kroot, Eldar etc but otherwise aren’t really worth taking as their points are impinging on a Vendetta. Devil Dogs with melta sponsons are pretty good for some roaming guns that can take on anything but again is starting to impinge on a Vendetta or HOG. The Bane Wolf however is a god among men. This 130 point FAST tank, will deny all but the strongest of armour, has a S1 gun (so it is counted as a defensive weapon), and wounds EVERYTHING on a 2+. Throw in some heavy bolters and you’ve got a Marine killing machine. You mess with the Guard, and we’ll set the dogs on you.
I really like Rough Riders and they make a brilliant counter charge unit because of their Hunting Lances. I always take Mogul Kamir for the furious charge, however due to rage, your opponent could be sneaky and send them chasing after a decoy dummy. I usually get around this by placing them outside line of sight or in a transport (Can we do that?). Place them in some cover next to your HOG’s and wait for a Carnifex, Warboss, Deamon Prince etc to try and charge your tanks, only to see that smile gone from your opponents face, as a squad of Rough Riders comes galloping towards them. Before they start their charge, I always imagine the Horn of Gondor blaring in the background.
Now to the Valkyrie and Vendetta. What can I say, they’re just perfect in every way. Personally I prefer the Vendetta (30 points for 3 MOBILE twin – linked lascannons), and use it as a transport instead of a Chimera. I use their Scouts move to run them as point or as a forward Gun emplacement and hold back, taking potshots with the twin-linked Lascannons until the final turns when I zoom them up and capture or contest objectives. They’re quite bulky though so expect them to be shot. Another favourite is to put a squad of hootin tootin veterans inside kitted with some meltaguns and demolitions. 2 of these if you’re going first and you’ve just punched through their line…..FIRST TURN. Boom baby…. Boom %@#$ing Boom! The Vendetta model is large, cumbersome and intimidating so it will always get shot down first (rule of thumb biggest model on the board always goes down first) so in the scout’s move attempt warp speed and zoom the full 24” to get the cover save.
Finally, we get to the backbone of the Imperial Guard army, The Huge Ordinance Guns (The HOG’s).
I’m repeatedly told how unreliable Ordinance guns are so I did the math. Assuming an average BS3, it is already a 5+ to hit, as there are two hit symbols on the scatter die. You then minus your BS from the 2 D6 rolled for scatter. Now the radius of the large blast marker is approximately 2.5 inches, so any scatter of less than 6 will hit (especially now that partial hits count as proper), making HOG’s just better than a 4+ to hit. AND this is when you’re only aiming at one model, usually HOG’s will be aimed at squads where even if you miss and it scatters by a lot there is still a chance it’ll hit something. Even if you’re really unlucky and it scatters off your opponent’s squad entirely, there is still a chance it’ll hit something else, especially if you’re against a horde army, making HOG’s very reliable pieces of firepower.
Now since there is a vast range of Leman Russ’s, everybody has their own favorites and they all work well in their given situations, so I’m not going to go into it much. My favorites are the ever-reliable, sturdy Battle Tank, The Vanquisher (works well with Knight Commander Pask for a tank sniper rifle), The Demolisher for a close range tank and The Executioner (with sponson plasmas, for 5 plasma shots a turn). However never take The Punisher, even with Pask, don’t be fooled by Heavy 20, it’s rubbing s**t in glitter and giving it to ignorant folk. The Exterminator is overrated as well.
I’ve never actually used a Hydra Flak Battery for swatting skimmers, which is what it was designed for, so I can’t comment on its usefulness there. I can say that it’s an excellent anti-infantry gun if a bit expensive.
I don’t usually take Ordinance Batteries as they take up an entire Heavy Support Choice that could go to a squadron of Leman Russ’s. Also I don’t like not being able to shoot in the turn I fire. But those that do, again it’s a similar situation with the Ordinance Batteries as it was with the Leman Russ’s, different players will have their favourites and each will work effectively in their given circumstances. My personal favourites are the Basilisk placed outside of line of sight, a Medusa with Bastion-breacher shells if my opponent has lots of vehicles or if there are lots of buildings to shoot at, and a Griffin if I’m playing a horde army and low on points.
To my favourite piece of artillery and another cornerstone of any Guard list, The Manticore Rocket Launcher is another god among men, with potentially three S10 AP4 pie plates a turn for only 160 points, they will decimate infantry at a ridiculous rate. The limited ammunition special rule may seem like a handicap at first but by fourth turn, unless you’re really lucky, your Manticores will probably all be dead anyway because let’s face it, they’re pretty fragile. I always take one Manticore Rocket Launcher in every list for some dedicated anti-infantry firepower and with S10 and Barrage, even works well against vehicles after all the infantry are gone.
Finally, the Deathstrike Missile Launcher, 160 points of sheer enigma. A cursory glance leaves me with the impression that it is the biggest piece of @#$% but somehow it didn’t get moderated out of the codex so there must be something I’m not seeing. Any thoughts on when it could be used EFFECTIVELY are welcomed….
I’m predominately a purist so personally play a pure Guard list. I’m not big into hybrids so this is the part I’m unsure about. Since the release of 5th Ed the rules for Hybrid lists such as Daemonhunters, Witchhunters etc have become a bit … ummm… convoluted. Same thing with assassins. Any clarification would be appreciated? From someone with experience, newbies put down your hands….
Long story short Daemonhunters give you powerful infantry that can’t be shot at but are very expensive so you can’t afford many of them. With Witchhunters you’re essentially paying for the 3+ save and the acts of faith, some of which are really cool, especially the 3+ invulnerable save for every model. That royally @#$%s over those opponents who’ve got the math behind their turns down pat. Always…. ALWAYS use Guard as the parent list. The Hunters are great and all, but the sheer brutality comes from the Guard HOG’s which can’t be taken if they’re the subordinate list. Also taking un-upgraded Guard without tanks or artillery is just plain ridiculous.
Assassins. Fun fact, something I only learned recently, all of the assassins are girls….. Damn I want me one of those. Basically Eversor and Vindicare are expensive and mostly redundant.
Vindicare will sit their and snipe independent characters until they get close enough to wipe him out. Eversor will charge into battle, pistols blazing Dirty Harry style and will destroy whatever it gets into close-combat with, if it gets that far, then die next turn. She’s suicidal, you send her in for the template against squads or for the Armour denying against 2+’s (which the Callidus is better at anyway). What will actually end up happening is you’ll infiltrate her in some cover and stalk your opponents 2+ armour or squad of 4+ or more and watch your opponent spend the next turn carving your Eversor into oblivion. Remember you’re infiltrating outside 18” so 6” movement plus 12” assault leaves you just out of range.
Callidus is brilliant; she’s like Marbo on steroids (polymorphine to be exact) and gives you (in my opinion) the most ridiculous rule ever written in the history of 40k. She’s worth the points already this is just overkill; getting to move an opponents unit 6” at the start of the game is absurd. If I ever took her I would boycott this rule. She is unstoppable, turn she comes in place her ANYWHERE and just f**k s**t up! Gun is AP1 S8 ASSAULT TEMPLATE so no saves; she’s instant-deathing most infantry and almost everyone are under the template. The leadership damage is weird though. Have her come in next to a squad of 2+ or some particularly nasty infantry, fire, then assault to protect her from fire. Next turn, jump back, fire, then assault to protect her from fire. Repeat until dead.
The Culexus assassin is the other semi-worthwhile assassin choice; she’s the combo hitwoman. By herself she’s kind of hopeless but once that creativity starts flowing: Guard can take whole squads of psykers. Surround her in psyker squads (put them in Chimera’s so they don’t run away) and let her fire that Psychic Machine Gun of hers to mow down Marines. S5 AP1…..Assault 20…. Buddy! She gets +1 Assault for each psyker near her, God help them if she’s shooting at psykers as well.
I have never ever seen a COMPETETIVE close-combat Guard army and hope I never will. It’s perverted! (Sweeping Advances also make it nye impossibl) The three prevailing Guard strategies are Mechanized (everyone has a transport), Long Range Fire Bases (self-explanatory) and Overwhelming Swarm (too many for an opponent to shoot down) / Horde Gun Emplacements (lots of guns = lots of shooting). Everybody kind of has a general idea how Guard play and any other strategies are based (sort of) on one of the above core strategies after mixing and matching the various units and tactics.
A word on Orders. They are all fairly self explanatory. ALWAYS ISSUE AN ORDER!!! There is an order for almost every situation and the benefits always outway the down side. Even if the order is completely useless, which it shouldn’t be, issue it anyway! Your shooting priorities should be in sync with your orders.
That’s all folks….
So I was playing a 40k tournament and was on fire…. I might add. Made it undefeated to the semi-final and was against some smug 17 year old kid (they just keep getting younger). For those of you who don’t know, my army are Nazi’s (anybody make a rule Nazi joke I’ll slap you). The whole ensemble is painted in a Nazi theme, the Leman Russ’s have big Swastika’s on the side and the Vendetta has a tiny Nazi flag sticking out of the cockpit. I even have a giant Nazi flag, a Gestapo uniform and a fake moustache to complete the whole shebang, which I wear whilst playing in tournaments, suffice to say, I regularly win the prettiest army awards. Now this kid’s old man’s old man had come to proudly support his grandson and was a veteran of the concentration camps. One look at my army and he was pissed as hell, on the verge of tears. Took me an hour to explain I’m not actually a Nazi. I ended up withdrawing from the tournament, kissing that shiny trophy and the comparatively pathetic prize money goodbye and leaving with my tail between my legs and thoroughly embarassed. What else could I do? This is just a game to me but this guy has seen the real deal and I wasn’t going to offend someone who’s been through something so horrific. So I came back the next day to see the final, decided it would be fun to see how the kid goes and to apologise to the old guy. I turned up and what do I find, no old dude…… The kid had hired an actor. I was stunned speechless. Talk about psyching out an opponent…. @#$%! The kid eventually won the tournament and was laughing his arse off as he told me what happened. Greatest warhammer 40k moment I’ve ever had….