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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Imperial Guard Codex Review: Part 11: Heavy Support Part 1

Heavy Support for Imperial Guard is a mixed kettle of fish. There are some excellent units and squads here and you'd wonder why anyone would leave home without them. At the same time, many an Imperial Guard list CAN simply ignore the Heavy Support slot due to the firepower it can generate elsewhere. This is nothing against the Heavy Support slot nor an indication of an imbalanced codex but rather army design. If you want to push 15+ Chimeras into midfield, you don't want a couple tanks hanging out in your backfield as they become very vulnerable and can often be giving free kill points away to your opponent. At the same time, if you're not running an aggressive Guard list, well the fire support options that Heavy Support gives you are very, very nice.

Hydra Flak Tank Battery

We'll start with the most commonly seen Heavy Support choice, the Hydra. For 75 points you are basically getting the firepower of a Rifledread (that's 50 points cheaper) at BS3. It has longer range, a special ability which drops fast moving skimmers nicely and  comes with a hull heavy bolter standard. Very nice and whilst mildly weaker than a Rifledread (AV 12/10/10), it is very effective and can be taken in squadrons up to three.

These guys are just plain efficient. Two of them nets you eight S7 shots up to 72" away for 150 points. That's amazing and whilst they are less survivable due to squadron status, they also gain some benefits. When they are hit with singular pens/glances they can fob hits off onto a single tank which allows the remaining tank to continue firing. They also are never going to be movement suppressed which is nice but not really necessary in a backfield unit. The one weakness of the Hydra is how easy it is to take a lot of these guys. S7 firepower is great but if you don't have anything higher anywhere else (and no, those Vendettas do not count) that is long ranged, well your army cannot reliably hurt AV13/14 at range. This gives armies with those armor values a distinct advantage in an arena Imperial Guard excel. Do not go overboard on Hydras or your ranged S7 firepower. They are an excellent and hyper efficient buy but not the answer to all of your problems.

Ordnance Battery

This is where the majority of the artillery of the Imperial Guard now resides and like the Hydra Flak Tank, can be taken in squads of three. Similar to Hellhound squadrons, the battery can be a mix of different tanks which can allow you to keep certain artillery pieces firing/alive for longer but again makes the tanks overall weaker. Each tank is open-topped which adds to their vulnerability, is AV12/10/10 and comes standard with a hull heavy bolter. This should generally be exchanged for a free heavy flamer to stave off assaults however. The usual upgrades are allowed for this squadron with the extra ability to make themselves a proper tank with the enclosed crew compartment upgrade. At 15 points a model this is pretty expensive and best not used. Dozer Blades and Extra Armor are not needed - don't move through terrain with squadrons and squadrons provide extra armor like status for free. Hunter Killer Missiles are a nice option but not really needed though having three tanks in one slot be able take them helps with salvo numbers. Camo netting is viable at 30 points if you're taking two or three tanks in a squadron but is still expensive. 3+ cover is very nice though and it is unlikely that the Ordnance battery will ever move.

Anywho, let's look at each option then.

Basilisk - This used to be the be all and end all of Imperial Guard artillery. It sucks now. It's still got a very scary gun with strength nine, AP three and  ordnance barrage status (no cover saves for you) but has a minimum range of 36". This is terrible and forces the Basilisk into a corner to be effective. If Imperial Guard deploy first and it's not spearhead, it's highly unlikely this tank will ever get to fire. For 125 points, leave it at home.

Medusa - I like S10 and so should you. The Medusa has two firing options (though it has to pay for the second at a measly 5 points a model) and both are S10 blasts. The first which is standard is AP2 and ordnance (but not barrage) whilst the second is AP1 and a small blast - decent for destroying tanks but not hyper reliable. Being able to throw out S10 blasts, both large and small, at range however is very nice and make short work of those pesky T5, multi-wound models and parking lots both. Less vulnerable than Vindicators or Demolishers as it can fire from afar, the Medusa is a nice, steady option if not OMGwtfBBQ amazing. For 135 points, well worth it, especially without a minimum range restriction.

Colossus - Another tank with a minimum range, this time it's only 24" which isn't as bad as the Basilisk but still pretty eh. Remember that's the average distance armies start apart so again you're forced to put this model into the corner to get out of that minimum range crap. At strength six, AP three and ordnance barrage the Colossus is not as good at destroying tank as the Basilisk but is still just as effective at dropping Marines. If you're looking for a ranged Marine killer go with the Colossus over the Basilisk but at 140 point a model, I'd still just say no.

Griffon - The cheap option of the lot at 75 points, the GriffonGriffon over the Colossus or Basilisk.

Out of all of these I'd steer away from the Colossus and Basilisk and rather focus on the Medusa and Griffon. The Griffon is cheap and can punch squads out of cover at range but otherwise is only provide anti-infantry. S6 ordnance is okay against tanks but not great and isn't going to do much against parking lots (half strength = 3). The Medusa is going to consistently chuck out S10 shots with are going to be decent against parking lots and infantry alike, especially T5 & Marines. It doesn't have Barrage status though which reduces it's ability to actually kill things. Combining the two in a squadron will get you both worlds, especially if you use the Griffons initial shots to guide the Medusas' in and has all the hallmarks of squadrons we've discussed before. Pricey though at 205 points and is really only adding to your weight of anti-infantry firepower with some anti-tank utility added in.

Manticore Rocket Launcher

Now this, is an artillery piece. The Manticore throws out S10 Ordnance barrage AP4 missiles. D3 of them. That can be sickening to parking lots or infantry alike. Whilst AP4 restricits its ability to clear out Marines, S10 and multiple shots is going to put a lot of wounds on them regardless (and no FNP). The only problem Manticores have is they only have four shots the whole game. Whilst this rarely comes into play as they often get destroyed/suppressed, there are a couple of times it comes into play and is most depressing.

At 160 points Manticores are expensive and not exactly durable with AV12/10/10 but smart use of reserves should see them get off at least one salvo if not more. Use their range to your advantage and remember they have a 24" minimum range restriction. This will put them in corners just like the Artillery options above which is annoying but with their massive damage potential, it can be well worth it. Once again the upgrades are pretty useless, especially considering the expense you are already paying so keep it naked.


The Ordnance Battery has its place but most of the tanks within it are pretty meh whilst Hydras and Manticores are much, much scarier and more useful. A common setup will see a squad of 2x Hydras backed up with 2x Manticores. This gives you excellent suppression fire at range and a lot of S10 ordnance barrage to throw around. Whilst this may be common it is of course not the only choice. At 160 points Manticores are expensive for how durable they are and have a set amount of shots and Ordnance Batteries do have uses. As we discussed in the Hydra entry, massing S7 firepower is great against AV10/11 armies but really struggles against AV13+. What is in the rest of your army will really dictate what options are best for you in the Heavy Support section and we still have more to cover!

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