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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Imperial Guard Codex Review: Part 5: Special Characters Part 2

Boot Camp Barracks

Last post we looked at the Special Characters that took up residence in the HQ slot - mainly commanders. We would expect these Special Characters to be more army buffing oriented and we saw that the good ones of Creed and Straken, were. Now let's look at the Special Characters in the other slots which uniquely Imperial Guard has quite a few of. These are less of army based buffing characters but rather improve singular units.


We of course start with the guy who isn't even part of a unit. He is a unit unto himself. Marbo is a cheap disruption unit. Not only does he arrive anywhere on the battlefield within 1" of the opponent but he has the ability to actually mess with the opponent's battlelines. He doesn't have a meltagun or can assault the turn he arrives but he does have a BS5 demolition pack (S8 AP2 5"blast) and an annoyingly decent combat statline which is going to poke a lot of backfield units. He's still essentially a Guardsmen in terms of survivability (T3/5+) but has two wounds, initiative 5, attacks 4 (2+ poison in combat too) and has Hit and Run + Stealth which makes him quite durable from shooting (do you really want to waste your LF missiles shooting at him?) and capable of running circles around your backfield units. Meltabombs also help him in combat against tanks and his ripper pistol is nice but nothing to write home about.

For 65 points this is pretty damn good. He's not great and he's obviously not going to stand up in combat for any length of time but he will do decently against many backfield units in combat. His ability to appear anywhere and then chuck a Demo charge is also great as it can really screw up parking lots or infantry out in the open. If you're looking for disruption, can't go much farther than Marbo.

Knight Commander Pask:

Pask isn't that expensive for 50 points but like many of the upgrade Tank Commander options, whatever tank he chooses as his own, well it becomes very expensive. The only bonuses Pask brings are BS4 and a +1 to armor penetration rolls against vehicles when stationary (or re-roll failed wounds against monstrous creatures). Nothing really to write home about as you aren't ignoring shaken or stunned results so just making a single tank a bigger target. The +1 to armor pen really should have been +1 to the damage table (i.e. AP1) and this could have been useful on a Vanquisher but then you suffer from an expensive one shot tank. BS4 and the +1 to armor pen could be useful on the Punisher where those 20 shots can actually hit infantry and become essentially S6 against tanks. The AP - hurts though and you'd be looking at a base cost of 230 points.

Leave Pask at home. He's nice but doesn't add enough to any individual tank and simply increases the draw of fire it will receive without improving its durability.


Bastonne is basically an extra order you can give to his Veteran squad after all other orders have been given. He has access to all the standard orders except Get Back in the Fight but Bastonne also has the special ability to allow his squad to always attempt to regroup. Always. This is pretty neat as you can always cast an Order on a Veteran squad to make it more effective and you'll know your opponent is going to have to kill the unit to get rid of it. Bastonne unfortunately has a lot of unnecessary upgrades such as a Hot-shot laspistol and a power sword. These up his price and aren't really necessary - your Veterans don't want to get into close combat after all and with only a single wound, T3/4+ he's not exactly survivable (though not targetable either).

In the end an additional 60 points on top of a Veteran squad's price + Chimera is too steep and again draws more fire to that target whilst not making the squad more durable. The squad has to be killed rather than forced off the table but this is often what happens in 40k regardless. The ability to cast an Order every turn for a Veteran squad is nice but not worth the price tag.

Gunnery Sergeant Harker:

This dude comes from Australia Catachan and thus is pretty manly. He comes with the special abilities rentless (+ a heavy bolter) and FNP which obviously allows him to use his Heavy Bolter on the move with the rest of the Veteran squad and not die super easily when wounds are allocated to him. Importantly he gives his whole squad Infiltrate, Stealth and Move Through Cover. The problem, like with Bastonne and Pask, is this only applies to one squad. This certainly makes the squad more durable in cover (thank you Stealth) and with Infiltrate you can use this squad to great effect but it's only one squad and even with Stealth, a Veteran squad with meltaguns is going to draw opponent's attention and generally die.

At 55 points Harker is again pretty expensive for a single squad to bear but the upgrades of Infiltrate, Stealth and Move Through Cover are probably worth it. The question becomes though is it worth it on a single squad which will generally not have support? Generally not as it sticks out like a sore thumb and if you keep them in a Chimera, what's the point of Harker?

Captain Al'Rahem:

Al'Rahem gets to replace the Platoon Leader in a Platoon Command Squad much like Creed/Straken do for Company Command Squads. Whilst Creed/Straken benefit the whole army, Al'Rahem benefits his whole Platoon and remember, Platoons can be big units consisting of lots of separate units running around like whack jobs. The first and obvious Al'Rahem bonus is his whole Platoon MUST outflank. This really rules out using Heavy Weapon Teams and the like as they are going to lose at least two turns of shooting when you'd rather them shooting from the get go. Units in Chimeras however, well this could be very beneficial and annoying to your opponent. You would not take Al'Rahem without an Astropath of course thanks to that +1 on reserves and importantly, re-rolling which side outflankers come in on.

Al'Rahem can issue an unsual mix of orders with Bring it Down! and First Rank, FIRE! Secound Rank, FIRE! along with a unique order called Like the Wind! This allows a unit to shoot and then move D6" in any direction you desire - a mini jumpshootjump. This is obviously very nice for any unit outside of a transport with meltaguns looking to shoot and then hide but isn't very reliable with only D6" movement. Still, you can keep any given squad alive just that little bit longer with effective use of Like the Wind!

Al'Rahem comes with a plasma pistol and power sword which inflicts instant death, neither of which we'd like to use too often. He's more durable than your standard Platoon Commander but still W2/T3/5+ so keep him out of combat. At 70 points Al'Rahem isn't cheap but being able to outflank masses of Chimeras + units is pretty awesome. If you're looking for a solid outflanking and disrupting force, Al'Rahem can bring that to your army. Make sure you don't put too much into his Platoon though, the rest of the army has to fight alone before these guys show up remember.

Commander Chenkov:

Same as Al'Rahem, Chenkov replaces a Platoon Command Leader but rather than buffing his Platoon, brings a Stubborn aura and the ability to make Conscripts 'Without Number.' This is an old term which means every time the Conscript Squad is destroyed (which can be done voluntarily at the start of the player's turn), next turn the full compliment of the squad comes on from the player's table edge. Chenkov also gets the Move, Move, MOVE! and Get back into the Fight! orders which are obviously designed to whip those useless conscripts into a frenzy.

So, is unlimited conscripts (at a cost of nearly double the points cost) worth it? Not really. You get lots of cheap and pretty useless guys but you obviously bleed Kill Points and you cannot give the unit anything special. They are literally cannon fodder and your opponent isn't going to bother with them until they get close. Then they'll just throw a unit at them, kill them in combat with their Ld5 (stubborn only goes so far) and bob's your uncle. The only time unlimited Conscripts is going to be nice is if your opponent assaults the unit to try and not be shot next turn and you remove the unit to shoo them, yay. This is certainly useful but very unlikely to happen with their poor statline.

Outside of this Chenkov has some nice wargear options with a power weapon and bolt pistol whilst only costing 50 points. His statline is still pretty eh (W2/T3/4+) so you don't want to be throwing him into combat anytime soon but if you don't have any other Stubborn bubble auras, Chenkov is a nice option to have in this regard. His conscript special abilities are pretty worthless and losing some of the other orders a normal Platoon Command Squad would have hurts, but stubborn bubbles are a very nice option.

Mogul Kamir:

Kamir is an upgrade character for Rough Riders who have a Rough reputation. They are a decent enough counter assault unit and can use their speed to harass the opponent but too many people attempt to use them as actual heavy hitting assault units. They are not and Kamir certainly doesn't change this. Kamir brings furious charge + fearless to the unit. Furious Charge is obviously very nice as they hit at S6/I6 on the charge but Fearless is a bit iffy. They aren't going to flee from shooting but in combat their low saves and meh durability could cause them to evaporate pretty quickly rather than flee and be ordered back into the fight. The big issue with Kamir though is he gives the unit Rage. This makes it very hard to use as a disruption or counter-assault unit as it keeps moving towards the opponent. Counter-assault and disruption units are all about control and micromanagement so to speak, hard to do that when you have minimal control over where the unit moves.

Kamir himself is pretty decent in combat with 3+D3 attacks on the charge at the important WS4. His Leadership and save aren't great but he does have 2W so is a bit more durable and again, cannot be picked out. Whilst most of the other upgrade characters make their unit a bigger target, one rarely has more than a single Rough Rider unit so Kamir generally doesn't have this disadvantage. Giving his unit rage though, well that sucks and in the end doesn't outweigh the usefulness of Furious Charge even though he's only 40 points. If you want a counter-assault/disruption unit of the Rough Riders, that's fine but be very careful when choosing to take Kamir or not. In the end buying four more Riders will often make up for the lost Furious Charge ability.


Most of these characters aren't as useful as the Company Commanders we looked at. Why? They buff single units and this makes those units a target or leaves them out to dry. Chenkov and Al'Rahem look to buff their whole Platoons and whilst Al'Rahem does this well, Chenkov does and he doesn't. If you're desperate for a stubborn bubble, Chenkov works but I'd rather use some of the other options available to Imperial Guard. Losing some of the Platoon Command orders and paying for it is a pretty big trade-off. Al'Rahem otherwise is an excellent addition to many Imperial Guard forces as it gives them added mobility and disruption purposes. The units outflanking aren't super scary (unlike say Veterans) but a bunch of Chimeras in your opponent's flank will give them pause.

Marbo is also an excellent character all by himself who brings some backfield disruption to your army. He's certainly not fantastic but being able to chuck a large blast on his arrival and play assault games with backfield units is well worth his price tag. The rest I would simply leave at home.

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