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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Imperial Guard Codex Review: Part 1: Introduction - Orders & Vehicle Upgrades

Imperial Guard has been out for ages so it seems a bit odd to be doing a review on the book now but hey, when you look at how people perceive the book as overpowered, cheese and downright mean, I guess some logic needs to be inserted into the masses yes? We've covered some really broad topics with the Armies in 5th articles on Imperial Guard which cover some key aspects of how their army works on the tabletop. There are obvious deviations from this but do help players understand some core constructs of the army. In the codex review we're actually going to break down each unit and Force Organisation slot one by one and look at unit effectiveness. This is from a competitive stand-point so please keep that in mind.

So some quick overviews and then we're going to take a look at vehicle upgrades and orders. Imperial Guard are primarily a shooting army and when there is minimal terrain coverage, particularly LoS blocking terrain, Imperial Guard armies appear to have a distinct advantage. This is because opposing armies can find games very difficult if Imperial Guard get the first turn as there is no-where to hide and it's hard to get cover. This is not a result of the codex being overpowered but rather poor terrain coverage. Ensure there is a mix of terrain and at least 25% coverage and you'll find Imperial Guard is a little bit more manageable. With that out of the way, let's break into the juicy bits and look at the Imperial Guard order system and how it can affect their gameplay.


I'm not going into the individual orders here or how they benefit individual units. That will be covered in t heir specific entries. An overview of the system however is warranted. Orders are essentially buffing devices certain units (command based) can 'cast' to make surrounding units better. It's important to remember that all orders are used at the start of the shooting phase and in a specific order (hierarchy and stuff). Orders can only be issued from foot (the Chimera is an exception) and if the unit is not engaged in combat. The Orders are issued based on a Leadership test of the target squad which cannot be in a vehicle, be falling back/gone to ground (unless noted otherwise) and can only receive one order a turn.

There are a set amount of orders each unit type can cast and this can be improved by rolling double 1's for an Order but can also be completely disrupted by rolling double 6's. With the average IG leadership being around eight, Orders are a great way to increase your army effectiveness but not the most reliable actions. They are part of the army you build so you often aren't going out of your way to build around them but be very careful when you do and ensure you have enough units which can benefit from the Orders themselves.

Tank Upgrades

Tanks are a quintessential part of competitive Imperial Guard. Not only are they numerous but often quite cheap and come with a lot of upgrade potential. Unfortunately, most of these upgrades are simply a waste of points and it's often better to spend your points elsewhere. Let's take a look and remember, most vehicles come with smoke launchers and searchlights as stock standard.

Camo-netting: An essential +1 to cover is pretty nice...but your tank cannot move in the previous movement phase. This restriction limits the usefulness of camo-netting to very low settings and is only really going to be useful on tanks in the backfield which aren't moving a lot normally. However, their best defense is more often going to be range rather than cover saves and at 20 points a pop, netting is expensive and restricting. Skip it.

Dozer Blades: Re-roll failed dangerous terrain check. This turns terrain into cute little fluffy balls of wool rather than dangerous sticks capable of ripping your tracks off and leaving your tanks stuck. A very good buy for any tank which is going to be mobile such as Chimeras or Hellhound variants. It allows you to move through cover with much great confidence and keeps your tanks moving. Unfortunately the Imperial Guard codex has priced Dozer Blades at 10 points a model which is double what their Marine brethren pay. If you have spare points Dozer Blades are still a good buy but getting them en masse on tanks when they are double the price is more difficult.

Extra Armor: The lovely old Stunned to Shaken upgrade. At 15 points this is expensive on multiple tanks and Imperial Guard don't have any assault vehicles which they want to keep moving at all times (i.e. Land Raiders). Rather than spending points keeping a vehicle occasionally moving, just buy more vehicles.

Heavy Stubber: Extra firepower is never really a bad thing and three shots at 36" is pretty good but for 10 points? Too much really. Imperial Guard armies aren't exactly lacking in anti-infantry ability and the Heavy Stubber is only S4 so isn't scaring tanks much. Add in a dodgy AP and it's not threatening infantry that much either.

Hunter Killer Missile: 10 points for a single S8 AP3 shot sounds like a lot and although the unlimited range is nice, not really worth the price. Ultimately HKM are an all or nothing upgrade. Grab a bunch of them for a first or second turn salvo with a bunch of S8 shots or don't take any. Whilst spending 100 points on ten S8 shots seems excessive, you'll reliably suppress enemy mech and be able to advance more ably. The downside to this salvo is it isn't going to affect high AV mech walls very well and has nearly no use against infantry lists. It's viable but consider if you cannot get this firepower elsewhere.

Searchlights: Most IG vehicles come with these standard so there's often very little consideration whether or not you should take already have them. Searchlights are really only going to benefit you in 33% of missions where with some good initial rolling, can get in some long-ranged shots in Dawn of War. This is particularly helpful to Imperial Guard who rely on their shooting and without searchlights, an enemy could advance very quickly into Imperial lines. Remember though Searchlights aren't the most reliable as you still need to roll for nightfight. You'll often find you'll get more use of them going 2nd as your opponent has advance already (and actually has stuff on the table).

Smoke Launchers: Again, most Imperial vehicles come with these standard and it's a good thing, too. Smoke launchers allow you to artificially create cover. Effective use of this wargear can allow your mech to advance all the way to the other side of the board without ever not having cover. Combine with terrain and you should rarely be without cover saves on the majority of your facings. It is important to manage your smoke launchers as you'll often find you need them in late game situations so don't burn them all up in the first couple of turns.

Storm Bolter: Like the Heavy Stubber extra anti-infantry is nice but 10 points for strength four shots? Not really that impressive and like the Heavy Stubber is best left at home.


Most of the Imperial Guard upgrades aren't going to see the light of day. HKM salvoes aren't unpopular or bad (but limited as mentioned) and Dozer Blades are always nice but at 10 points a pop, harder to find points for than Marine armies. Everything else is generally not needed or too expensive (often both).

With that out of the way, we can start breaking down the codex by FoC slot. We'll start with Headquarters next post.

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