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This week's Topic of the Week was requested by Mr. Biscuits -again- who brought to my attention that this unit had not yet been covered. Thanks! Sorry that this is a day late, I didn't get the chance to post or even only visit the forum yesterday.
The Holy Bolter: the Adeptus Astartes' weapon of choice. Every single Space Marine Brother is most proficient in its use, but then there are those which have brought their skill to perfection. Veterans of several campaigns, the sternguard bring death at their chapter's front lines.
Geared with combi-weapons and special issue ammunition to deal with virtually any target, the sternguard squads descend from the skies in a drop pod or approach the enemy in a razorback, turning the tide and dictating the battle once arrived at the target destination. If the Adeptus Astartes are the elite of the elite, it makes the sternguard the elite of the elite of the elite - a title well-deserved.
Sternguard. One of the best new units in the fifth edition codex, and highly revered by many a player. Though there seems to be a mutual consent about how to equip and use them, they should be dealt with officially in the Topic of the Week to have a stickied reference.
So come forth and speaketh, fellow commanders: how often do you use sternguard, what role do you assign them, what armies do they work best with, how do you arm them, how do you use them in your battles, how do they fare? Discuss.
Two ways to run them: suicide and support.
Suicide: This is an EXPENISVE option. It can be geared in a few ways:
Anti-Infantry: The least helpful in 5th ed because of mech. Use a low model count otherwise you'll never make your points back. Add heavy flamers and combi-flamers
AT- This combo is nasty, 5/6 sternguard all equipped with combi-meltas.Go for the biggest tank you can find, and you'll normally make your points back.
Anti-EVERYTHING- 10 sternguard, 3/6 combi-meltas, flamers optional. This squad will kill almost anything (bar some Chaos daemons). Go for the biggest thing you can see. If its a tank, use C-meltas, swarm use bolter shots and flamers (although it is unlikely this will be the most expensive squad), hellfire rounds for T5+ (10 rapid fires kill the nightbringer!) and then rest is self-explanatory.
All these options should have a drop pod to get them into the fray. Preferably dropped 1st turn to take out the hammer of the enemies army. Against more competitive lists, either use the AT or AE. If their are NO big units then deploy in a strategic position or attack a flank whilst your army attacks another.
Support: This strategy uses sternguard as what they are: better marines. Kantor ups this as he makes them even more like tactical marines (scoring)
Two ways to run them:
Heavy Support: In a mech list, this is 10 sternguard in a rhino, heavy flamer (for shooting out the top), and 6 combi-meltas for AT. In a drop pod list just use a drop pod, and maybe some more flamers if wanted. However, this becomes interesting in a hybrid, as you can drop two suicide dreds (MM+HF) on 1st turn and then use the sternguard on later turns to contest objectives/support units in trouble (hellfire helps here as the trouble is usually an MC).
More vehicles: A nice and cheap way to add fire support and tanks to your army. Run a squad of 6 in a razorback (can upgrade weapon if you want, HF can actually work here as they want to get close but I still don't suggest it). Throw in some combi-weapons with left over points. Tacticwise, pair this squad up with another squad (the best example being a tactical squad) just to up their status. A rhino can be used, in which case get a heavy flamer.
The whole point of support is toforce choices on your opponent. Should they shoot the scoring unit, or that other weird unit that can cripple anything in their army. Either way its going to hurt them
I tend to run a 10-man suicide if anything, to remove pesky C'tan and landraiders. I think sternguard become better in larger point games where there will always be that super-hyped up unit, that they'll just cut through. A power fist in any of these squads really helps.
Here, I'll just explain why they're actually really good.
A sternguard with a combi-melta is slightly cheaper than two tactical marines.
Against light infantry: Ap4 weapon
Against cover: Ignore cover weapon
Against T4 or less, 3+ armour (MEQs): Dragonfire (Ap3 one)
Against T5 (or higher), even with 3+ armour (mathhammer it if you don't believe me): hellfire (the awesome one)
Against 2+ armour: combi-meltas
Against tanks: combi-melta
Against MCs: Hellfire/combi-melta (depends on toughness and armour save, a mathhammer would be useful here)
Now name another type of unit... They have versatility, one of the most important aspects of a space marine list.
Now lets look at the other aspect: durability. Unfortuantely, this is where sternguard fall down. With T4 and 3+ they're as easy to kill as tactiacl marines, and cost almost double with combiweapons. This means they have to be used like a rapier, pushing through the weak spot in the enemy (and possibly snapping before you can pull it out). The easiest way to help with this is going mech but that doesn't solve it completely, especially for suicide squads.
The more expensive option is a librarian:
Suicide squads: gate and force dome. Use force dome when you arrive (help against AP3 and power weapons), and then gate to escape if you survive. The pyschic hood is good as it arrives close. He also gives them some more combat capability and can shoot a bit. Epistolary allows him to use his force weapon to its full use, but for half his points again its debatable.
Support squads: Force dome again, and then whatever you fancy. Epistolary is helpful here, as he might want to use 2 powers. However, he helps this squad less.
Finally, remember Kantor, cos its fun
I tend to run mine as powerfist + combi-flamer, heavy flamer + 3 combi-meltas in one combat squad, and 3 combi-flamers with 2 combi-meltas in the other. Then I put them all in a drop pod, and aim for the biggest cluster of enemies. The reason I don't split them by weapon type is that I don't like to have all my eggs in one basket - also, doing it this way means I can crack a building AND torch the squad inside twice in turn one.
If I need a cheaper option (or don't want drop pods if I can't support them properly) I'll take 5/6 in a Razorback with maybe an IC of some description.
I always include a heavy flamer in my squads, as I've found them invaluable thanks to the AP4 and huge wound potential and these are the only unit that can take them AND fit in a Rhino.
Sternguard are awesome. They can gun down anything with their super bolters and with combi-weapons they can threaten everything. They are the ultimate swiss army knife.
In a mech list, 9 in a Rhino with a Null Zone Librarian can do horrible things to people. If you pod, 10 plus Gateway Libby can be very mean.
Kantor doesn't really suit them, unfortunately, due to his special rules not meshing with them. Scoring is great, but they lose combat tactics and get extra attacks. Sternguard in combat are wasting their uber bolters. Since it's rare to see more than 1 unit, Lysander fits in nicely. Pod them in and unload, stubborn being not so bad because nobody wants to mess with Lysander.
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I tend to use mine in a razorback with a character. 5 men powerfist and 2 combiflame 2 combimelta. Recently though i've upped itr to a ten man squad, combat squadded them and added 2 lascannons. The 5 extra sternguard and 2 lascannons come in 5pts cheaper than a devastator squad with 2 lascannons, alos IMO far more usefull. Noticed this when i was shaving points to try and fit extra goodies in my new army. Pedro of course makes them superb, in my experience they can be nigh on impossible to get off an objective.
I have a Razorback with Twin Lascannons. My sternguard are a 6 man squad. The line up is 1 Sgt with bolt pistol with power sword, 1 with bolt pistol and chain sword, 1 missile launcher, and 3 bolters. There not bad, but they are not the best unit in a aresonal of Space Marines.
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The only Stern Guard i've ever fielded have been a cheapo devastator squad. 5 sternguard with 2 Lascannons is cheaper than a Devastator squad with 2 Lascannons. Plus you've still got 3 Marines with special ammo and they all have 2 attacks. Not bad for 5pts less than a Devastator squad.