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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Imperial Guard Codex Review: Part 7: Troops Part 1


I've split Troops into two separate sections for Imperial Guard - Infantry Platoons and everything else. The reasoning should be obvious, Infantry Platoons have a massive amount of options and taking just a single selection of these guys can net you 14 individual squads + six Chimeras. Uh wow? This obviously isn't common but there are still a ton of options to discuss. We aren't doing that this post though! First we're going to look at the always loved Veterans and forgotten Troops of Penal Legions. Before this though, Imperial Guard are one of the few 5th edition armies without major Force Organisation swapping available. This is highly unusual and whilst they do have some good options, there are some pretty easy things which could have been FoC swapped. Veterans themselves could have made a lot of sense as a Troop under a specific character (or characters) though they make sense as regular Troops as well. Other choices such as Stormtroopers or perhaps Rough Riders would have opened up some more builds for Imperial Guard.

They don't but we can wish! Let's start with the Veterans then.

Veterans -

This is probably the most hated unit in all of Warhammer 40,000 thanks to the uninformed masses and bad Imperial Guard lists. A lot of lists seem to take six Veteran squads in Chimeras packed full of special weapons. This isn't a bad unit but doesn't make a great army basis for reasons we've discussed in the Armies in 5th articles. The short version - your army is too predictable, too vulnerable to flanking and thus less mobile and your scoring options need to be moved towards the enemy to gain significant gains from them. Good Imperial Guard lists can and do make use of this unit layout but don't base their army around it (or support it correctly with lots more Chimeras/units moving forward) and rather have it work within the army.

So let's look at the unit itself then. You have a set unit size of 10 Veterans which are the exact same as Guardsmen (T3/5+/Ld7) with Ld8 from the Sergeant. This of course means the unit is pretty weak and easy to kill and when you are only running Veterans as your Troops, 60 T3/5+ guys can be easy to kill depending upon the army (read: unsupported Veterans). The main difference: BS4 and options and this is why Veterans are used a lot. The Vet Sarge has the standard array of upgrade weapons such as a plasma pistol, shotgun, bolt pistol, etc. but importantly can take a Power Fist (unlike normal Infantry Platoons). Obviously this has less impact without the ability to combine squads but in appropriate builds a cheap Power Fist has some, if not a lot, of merit (read: Straken). I wouldn't really recommend it but it is an option to have.

Otherwise the Veteran squad can take a Vox Caster to improve the reliability of orders for five points, a heavy weapon (more effective at BS4) and up to three special weapons. Here's where Veterans shine, especially in Chimeras as they can shoot all their weapons from the top hatch without exposing their weak sauce bodies. You've got the usual options of meltagun, plasma gun and flamer with the additional options of grenade launchers, sniper rifles and one heavy flamer. A nice array of options though in 5th edition the obvious (and relatively cheap) choice is the meltagun. Three of these gives you a very reliable anti-tank unit. The flamer options are really meh. You're wasting the BS4 and you can get heavy flamers on all of your vehicles for free already, why pay? Grenade Launchers and Sniper Rifles aren't really special enough to warrant - they aren't going to smash hordes like flamers (though do bring some anti-horde and anti-tank ability in one gun) whilst sniper rifles aren't picking off specials or blowing up tanks. These weapons have some use in Infantry Platoons/Platoon Command Squads, but not in Veterans. The other choice is obviously the Plasma Gun which has some potential to blast MEQs in the open but is quite a bit more expensive and Gets Hot! will very likely kill the Veteran holding it.

With all this in mind, the most common setup for Veterans is triple meltagun or plasma gun in a Chimera. Heavy Weapons are cheap and can offer some ranged utility but only if there are points spare really. Both of these special weapon options allows the Veterans to move up into midfield at a stately pace and use their Chimera heavy weapon to lay down suppressive fire. As they near midfield they bring three specials to bear at BS4. Not rocket science but building a list around this can be more difficult.

Of course there are Doctrines! Let's look at these quickly.

Grenadiers - 4+ save for 30 points? No thanks.

Forward Sentries - Stealth and snare mines for 30 points? Without Infiltrate this isn't as useful as it could be though jumping out a bunch of Veterans in cover who now have 3+ saves is pretty annoying. Expensive to do for lots of units though.

Demolitions - Entire squad has meltabombs and one member carries a Demo-charge for 30 points. Now this we can use, it's still expensive but putting it on one or two squads when one has Vendettas/Valkyries in their army gives your army some excellent alpha-striking options. Hitting a parking lot of stationary tanks with lots of melta-bombs can be devastating. The problem of course here is that it is pretty easy to defend against though forcing your opponent into this situation can be worth the points and having the utility of melta-bombs and a demo-charge later in the game is not a bad thing. Recommended on only a few squads but don't feel like you HAVE to use them like this.

Penal Legion Squad

80 points gets you 10 Penal Legionnaires with the same statline as all Guardsmen - WS/BS/S/T/I 3 with a 5+ save. Ld8 though yay! They do however come with Scout, Stubborn and a randomly generated bonus. These include assault 2 lasguns (so you can fire before you assault), counter-attack/fleet/furious charge make them a bit better in combat but not exactly durable and rending of course means they can potentially poke tanks or kill things! All in all still going to be Guardsmen with a couple special rules. That being said, scout is a great harassment tool in allowing the unit to outflank and Stubborn makes sure they'll stick around to tie backfield units up in combat. For 80 points and scoring it's nice but not amazing and I'd rather use Al'Rahem, Stormtroopers or Scout Sentinels as my outflanking units.


Veterans are a mainstay in most lists but shouldn't be the sole focus of such lists without considerable thought. Don't run six veterans and then a bunch of backfield firepower. If you're running lots of Veterans moving forward, get other units which move forward, too. Remember though, they are still 10 T3/5+ guys and whilst hiding in Chimeras increases their durability, explosions can kill quite a few. Penal Legion Squads however are really only useful as harassment and aren't that spectacular at it. They can tie up backfield squads but have issue dealing with squads or actually killing anything. Other units can do both of these.

Next post we'll look at the lovely Infantry Platoon!

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