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Monday, July 4, 2011

Imperial Guard Codex Review: Part 3: Headquarters Part 2

There are quite a few HQ choices outside of the Company Command Squad which don't often see the light of day and often for good reason. They do however offer some variety and uses which we'll cover below and the two main HQ choices (Lord Commissar and Primaris Psyker) can be cheap alternatives to the Company Command Squad if they take a Chimera. We'll start with the actual HQ choices which use a FoC and then look at the extras which are listed as HQs but don't actually take HQ slots. Remember, special characters are being looked at in a different post.

Lord Commissar

I can summarise this guy in two words. Stealth pants. The Lord Commissar is basically an independent character of a Commissar with Ld10, more wounds, better WS/BS, etc. There are a couple of important differences however. First is the Lord Commissar is an independent character which means he can move squads. This can be very nice when squads start to get whittled down. Secondly, his leadership is actually an aura (6") and is Ld10 so can make the pitiful leadership of Imperial Guard less of an issue whilst still granting stubborn to one squad. Thirdly the Lord Commissar can take a lot more wargear options and comes standard with a refractor field (5++). The important wargear selections here are a power fist at 15 points (WS5, 3A base? Pretty good) and a camo cloak. With the changes to the BRB FAQ recently, this means any unit the Lord Commissar joins also gets the stealth ability. For 10 points. Stealth pants! If you're going to be taking a Lord Commissar, don't leave home without these. The Lord Commissar is also capable of taking a Chimera which can be useful to load other units in or if you really need it, create a bigger area of effect for the Stubborn aura.

The combination of Summary Execution/Stubborn, Aura of Discipline, Stealth Pants makes the Lord Commissar a great fit for any army with bubble-wrap. Not only does their basic cover save become 3+ and not require Orders to get a 2+ go to ground save but the Commissar is going to make any units on foot within 6" Ld10 and the main unit itself Stubborn. Great for any sort of counter assaults (power weapon Sergeants + PFist Commissar) and protecting the unit itself from being wiped easily in combat. In the end the Lord Commissar is an excellent buy for any foot-based firebase due to the leadership aura and being able to grant a single squad stealth is pretty huge. Not exactly the cheapest at 95 points but not breaking the bank either.

Primaris Psyker

This really is the 'cheap' option for Imperial Guard HQs and is a Psyker, obviously. Unfortunately we have an issue right off the bat  - the Primaris is Ld9 which means he is very vulnerable to psychic hoods and doesn't come with any sort of psychic defense of his own. This reduces his utility a lot, especially since his psychic powers aren't amazing.

Nightshroud is rarely going to come into play as most armies out there have at least Ld8+. If it was perhaps something like pass a leadership test + night fight against the unit in question, much better as the unit now has to pass two tests to actually be able to shoot the unit. As it is, this power will find limited use and isn't reliable enough to warrant continuous use. Lightning Arc is of the same vein. It's an excellent anti-infantry option with 2-12 shots at BS4 but is quite random. 2D6 helps this and S6 makes it useful against infantry, MCs and light tanks alike but isn't anything to write home about. Remember that Ld9 as well.

Coming in at an even 70 points with no options, the Primaris Psyker is going to be cheaper than the Lord Commissar or CCS but unfortunately doesn't provide as much. I'd much rather take a cheap CCS or Lord Commissar unless I was really strapped for points. The Primaris can make any Chimera based squad a bit more fearsome with Lightning Arc or a blobbed squad have somewhat better defenses with Nightshroud but lacks overall utility and suffers severely from not having Ld10 or a psychic hood.

Ministorum Priests

This is the first of the two HQ options which don't actually take up an HQ slot. This means you have to take something outside of these units to actually count as your mandatory HQ. Any Imperial Guard army can include up to five of these guys which act independently and importantly are Independent characters so they aren't going to be hung out to dry. So what role do Priests play? Mini-chaplains! Each Priest comes with a 4++ and for 15 points an Eviscerator (chainfist) and allows himself and the squad he joins to re-roll hits on the turn they charge into combat.

This is obviously really only important in an Imperial Guard army which has designs to actually use combat offensively so Priests are good fits in large blob units with Commissars and lots of power weapons. Unfortunately, the Priest is pretty weak offensively and defensively with a very GEQ-based statline (but 2A). At 45 points a pop they aren't cheap so if you are looking to make your Guardsmen scary on the charge, don't take too many of these. The Eviscerator is a good way to get some combat anti-tank into these type of units as well but makes each Priest quiet expensive considering their durability.

Techpriest Enginseer

Like the Priests, up to two Techpriests can be taken in any Imperial Guard army and don't use a Force Organisation slot. However, they are not Independent Characters which makes them a lot easier to target and kill. You can take Servitors with them to increase their durability but they are quite expensive if you actually want to give them guns (15 points base + 20 for HB, + 30 for MM). Things are looking pretty bleak for the Techpriest and they really only have one function - hiding in vehicle parking lots and repairing immobilised and weapon destroyed results.

This way you can keep the Techpriest out of sight whilst still impacting the game. The problem is, for 45 points you might as well get another vehicle and if you want to make the Techpriest any sort of reliable, you are generally buying 2-3 Servitors taking the total price to 75-90. Whilst being able to repair those sort of results on any tanks in base contact with the Techpriest you will find yourself very immobile, vulnerable to blasts/anti-castling tactics and really sinking points into a unit which can only repair 1/3 of results against tanks.  Useful but those points are much better spent elsewhere.


The Company Command Squad is still really the stand out. Not only is it bringing weapons, bodies and a tank to the table but buffing abilities the whole army can use. The Lord Commissar and Priests have obvious uses, particularly in foot heavy lists or lists with combined Infantry Platoons but need to have an army focus to get their maximum usage. The Priests also don't take FoC slots which is great for utilising the two HQs on other units but hurts in KP missions. The Primaris Psyker, whilst cheap doesn't really offer much and the Techpriests just don't provide enough for the army whilst being quite expensive as you up their reliability. Taking one to babysit your backfield is never really a bad thing but those points can often be spent on getting more tanks.

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