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Monday, August 1, 2011

Imperial Guard Codex Review: Part 12: Heavy Support Part 2

Defending Humanity

Well that was a nice flurry of 2500 point lists that you will rarely see outside of 'Ard Boyz. Would who have thought, Games Workshop promoting a tournament where you need to buy stuff... Moving right along! We are at the final stage of the Imperial Guard codex review. This has gone quite quickly if several years after the release date and we have two units to cover before we look at the Imperial Guard book as a whole. These are of course the ever iconic Leman Russ variants and the ever hilarious Death Strike Missile Launcher.

Deathstrike Missile Launcher

It's a single shot all game ever and you don't get to choose when it happens! Sounds crap already. The Deathstrike missile can be one of the deadlist single shots in the game with a potentially very large ordnance barrage blast which is S10 and AP1. So....basically a Medusa on steroids that can only be fired once and you don't have complete control over when you do fire it? Eh. The Deathstrike improves the odds of firing each full turn it's on the table with a 1/6 chance it will fire regardless. Each time it takes a weapon destroyed result or a shaken/stunned in the previous turn its chances are reduced. So basically against competent players this will always be a 1/6 chance and the problem them becomes this.

Once you fire, what does it do? It had better do a lot of damage or you have an expensive paper weight sitting around. Sure you can move it forward to start blocking, etc. but this tank is generally hiding away in the backfield so will find it slow going moving up to where the action is. If you could launch this on reliably on Turn 1 where it could hit parking lots it'd be great but as it is, you really need three of them to have a remote chance at this being plausible and to force your opponent to spread their fire a lot. Even then, 480 points for three extra large ordnance barrages? Even if they are S10 Ap1 I'll pass. If you want parking lot disruption get Manticores instead. No AP1 but way more reliable and way higher damage potential.

Leman Russ Squadron

Ah I remember when this codex first came out. Cries of nine Russes running around in Squadrons and breaking the game. I'm still waiting to see one army with more than four Russes let alone three squadrons of three. The Russ options are a mixed lot. There are some excellent options and some down right bad options. The ability to squadron them offers up the usual ability to mix the different variants and with AV14, this is reaelly powerful. Meltaguns still own you but your opponent is unlikely to get multiple hits through AV14 with regularity so squadron status can be very handy to protect one tank. Add in that AV14 facing becomes bigger in a squad and everyone is cheering.

Side AV13 is also very strong but they of course have weak rear armor - half the variants have AV10 on the rear and half have AV11. Everyone comes with a Heavy Bolter + their main turret but this should often be upgraded to a free Heavy Flamer for combat/horde control. 15 points for a BS3 lascannon is a bit steep so best left alone. The upgrades are as usually not worth it and camo netting more so being 20 points a model and restricting movement. Each Russ can take Heavy Bolter sponsons (20 points), Multi-melta sponsons (30 points) or Plasma Cannon sponsons (40 points) and which, if any, are good depends a lot upon the individual variant. A good rule of thumb though is not to bother as they can make these tanks expensive quickly.

Each Russ is also a lumbering behemoth which limits its movement beyond 6" but allows it to fire at greater effect whilst moving. Fair trade-off just remember the movement restriction late in game. Let's now look at the variants.

Battle Tank - bog standard Leman Russ is still one of the better buys. Great range on a S8 AP3 ordnance gun which is great at breaking up parking lots and putting wounds on pretty much everything. Anything that gets caught in the open and isn't a Terminator dies a horrendous death. At 150 points these guys are pretty cheap and can provide the army with extra range and another low AP blast. Putting two of these in corners can give certain armies fits as dealing with AV14 at range can be difficult. Heavy Bolter sponsons aren't bad here to add to weight of fire but not necessary.

Exterminator - A Rifledread on an AV14 platform...neat but expensive and when you have 75 point Hydras which do the same job on a cheaper (but less durable) platform, it seems strange to pay extra for it. If you're looking for AV14 there are better Russ options. If you're looking for S7 twin-linked firepower, buy two Hydras for the price of the Extermiantor.

Vanquisher - You pay more over the Battle Tank to change the main gun from S8 AP3 ordnance blast to S8 AP2 single shot which rolls 2D6 for armor pen. On a BS3 tank. No. Get a damn missile launcher or two in infantry squads instead.

Eradicator - S6 AP4 large blast which ignores cover. Not bad all things considered but there are cheaper options for this throughout the Imperial Guard codex. Hellhounds and Griffons jump to mind, both of which are cheaper as well, or simply using weight of fire to blast guys out of trees. Having minimal utility against tanks as well since it's not ordanance is a drawback, too.

Demolisher - Back to something halfway decent, the Demolisher has the every lovely Demolisher cannon which is S10 AP2 ordnance blast. Great as all the other S10 ordnance blasts are at disrupting parking lots and putting wounds on anything and everything whilst instnant deathing T5 multi-wound models and killing Marines and Terminators in the open. The problem of course is the range (24") which is something most Russes don't have to deal with. This brings the Demolisher closer to meltaguns and the like but unlike the Vindicator is at least AV14 on the front which offers it decent protection against most firepower. As with the Battle Tank, heavy Bolter sponsons are a nice addition to add weight of fire which isn't blast based but not necessary.

Punisher - 20 S5 AP- shots. Yawn. Couple infantry platoons will put out similar anti-infantry firepower, better anti-tank firepower and be cheaper. Lack of higher strength and an AP value reduces the viability of this tank as horde control or utilty against tanks.

Executioner - The one new Russ variant which is good. This sucker has a main cannon that is three plasma cannons wrapped into one. If we add in plasma cannon sponsons that's 5 S7 AP2 blasts up to 36" away. Very scary but very expensive. This Russ will make mince meat of most units in cover and out simply to the amount of AP2 wounds it will cause which makes it a huge target. If you're going to take one of these, pair it with another Russ variant such as a Battle Tank (cheap) or a Demolisher (AP2 firepower again) and fob hits onto them as much as possible.

All in all there are really only three variants which you should consider. The ageless Battle Tank, Demolisher or brand spanking new Executioner. Based solely on their chassis these tanks give you some excellent options in terms of early deployment and movement against armies with limited high strength ranged firepower. AV14 is a pain to deal with at range and you can use this to your advantage. They are expensive, especially in squadrons, but do put out good anti-infantry firepower with some utility against tanks due to high strength/ordnance. They are vulnerable to weapon destroyed results since their main weapons are so powerful but having an AV14 tank running around is still very handy to have.


When we add the three useful Russ variants to the Hydras, Medusas, Griffons and Manticores from last post we have a lot of useful options in our Heavy Support for Imperial Guard. Again though, many an army can completely forego this slot and still do reasonably well. It's all about army design and how these ranged vehicles fit into said design. There's not point having some Leman Russes provide their AV14 support to a bunch of Chimeras if the list wants to get up into midfield ASAP. That being said, in a list where backfield firepower is welcome, Russes can do an excellent job and add a lot of anti-infantry firepower to the table. No Marine player wants to get caught in the open with these around and with AV14, give the Imperial Guard player some reliable armor and extra deployment/movement options.

And with that we are all done! Every unit has been reviewed and we'll take a look at the overview in the next post.

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