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Monday, May 2, 2011

Armies in 5th: Imperial Guard Part 4: Shooting

Imperial Guard are largely heralded as as The Shooting Army of Warhammer 40,000 and with the amount of ranged options they have in every Force Organisation Slot, it's not hard to see why. As discussed in the previous Mobility article however there is often a trade-off between movement and shooting ability in a given turn. Regardless, Imperial Guard are easily the best army at laying down static firepower. Whether this is a good army or tactic is another disucssion entirely however. Let's take a look.

Maximising firepower sounds like a great idea with any army. The more guns you have the better right? Unfortunately this is not always the case as you need to consider the platform the guns are fielded upon and the price of said platform. For example, Heavy Weapon teams are pretty cheap and give you three heavy weapons yet are susceptible to instant death, anti-infantry firepower and are static which makes them less applicable. They are still a good unit due to their price but basing an army around this unit (i.e. a foot gunline) is going to leave some significant weaknesses in your list and with 5th edition cover rules, any type of static gunline is going to find it hard to deal enough damage to overcome their static nature. On the flip side, for a similar points cost you can get a Hydra which is a vehicle and therefore more durable but easier to stop from shooting. Importantly though it is somewhat mobile and is in a completely different Force Organisation slot compared to the HWT.

This is where the Imperial Guard codex shines. Since every Force Organisation slot has multiple ranged firepower options, there are a lot combinations and variability for an Imperial Guard player to choose from (something I think which is lost when we see the Hydra, Vendetta, MeltaVet armies all the time). If you use more static firepower (i.e. infantry units or artillery) you can use more mobile firepower in the rest of the Force Organisation slots not already used. If you have a bunch of midfield or backfield firepower, there are quite a few options to generate firepower which comes in differently (i.e. deepstrike, outflank, etc.) to disrupt your opponent and modify their deployment. This is important as you can ensure your Imperial Guard army doesn't become stuck in your backfield and provides greater ability as an Imperial Guard general, to apply your firepower to greater effect.

This is another thing I think many people forget, Imperial Guard is not always all about throwing firepower from your opponent from the backfield, supported by midfield Chimeras. You can put a lot more pressure on midfield with different units such as Stormtroopers, Hellhound variants, Straken, etc. and also run a bunch of units which don't roll around with your standard deployment scheme such as Stormtroopers (again), Scout Sentinels, Al'Raheim, etc. The firepower Imperial Guard can put out from backfield is impressive and will win many games for you even if you don't move around much when your dice are hot (one of the reasons many people think Imperial Guard are overpowered). However, even your average statistics will show you this isn't going to be enough to defeat most armies.

As an Imperial Guard player you thus need to support this impressive shooting with other elements such as disruption units, midfield melta, bubble-wrap, etc. Warhammer 40,000 is often won in the movement phase assuming dice are equal and Imperial Guard need to support their static firepower with units more capable of moving and thus pressuring your opponent. If you focus too much on the firepower aspect of Imperial Guard or any army, sooner or later your dice will fail you and your opponent will break through your lines. Once that happens it's going to be hard to recover and the weakness of your pure firepower army will be exposed.


This article is pretty basic. Imperial Guard have great firepower and lots of different types of firepower in every Force Organisation slot. To get the most out of an Imperial Guard army you need to ensure your firepower is diverse and you are able to support your static elements appropriately. Do this and your static firepower will be more potent as it is able to operate effectively whilst the rest of the Imperial Guard army engages the opponent further upfield.

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