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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary: Legionis Tacticum
Tactical articles

Legionis Tacticum: Imperial Guard  by Patrick Eibel
“…And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how do I work this?’…”

In all of the excitement over the Space Wolf Codex, let us not forget this past year’s previous offering – Codex: Imperial Guard.  The Guard used to be a one-trick (or possibly two-trick) pony, but the new codex offers opportunities for a variety of army lists while still keeping the essential flavor.

Strengths: Orders, vehicle squadrons, cheap troops
Weaknesses: Toughness 3, generally static forces, close combat
Key Wargear:  Ordnance weapons, power fists

The Imperial Guard has always been GW’s answer to a current-day army.  There should be lots of rank and file troopers supported by heavily armored tanks, and the new codex delivers plenty in the way of fielding a viable force including these elements. I will present three possible army builds below: Troop-Heavy, Tank-Heavy, and Mixed.

The Troop-Heavy Army
In the past, an all-infantry guard army suffered from two weaknesses: lack of mobility, and lack of close-combat capability.  The new codex helps address those weaknesses in a variety of ways, so that now a Guard player does not feel they need to have tanks to be successful (just check out the excellent blog of Mike Sommerville and the exploits of his all-infantry Guard army for proof).  The key to building an all-infantry force is that the Infantry Platoon is such an incredible deal.  For about 500 points, you can field a Command Squad and five Infantry Squads, all with heavy weapons.  To save on Kill Points, you can make the entire platoon one unit made up of 55 Guardsmen.  Of course, they would have to shoot at the same thing, so you may want to carefully consider how you break up your units.  


Sing along with me: "All you need is guns...All you need is guns, guns...
Guns are all you need..." (with apologies to the Beatles)

The addition of Orders has made the standard infantry squad much more viable.  Move! Move! Move!  means that the rank-and-file guys can actually make it to objectives eventually, and First Rank Fire! makes even the lowly lasgun a fearsome weapon.  I would suggest investing in some Commissars with power fists and perhaps a squad of Ogryns or two.  Both will help with the inevitable close-combat assaults your opponent will launch, and the Commissars can help with Morale rolls.  You will want to make sure your army has some way of dealing with close combat, as without ordnance or a Ballistic Skill of 4, you will frequently find your guys in hand-to-hand with the opponent.


Look this guy in the face and tell him that he doesn't belong in your army.
You can't, can you? I didn't think so

The Tank-Heavy Army
Players have enjoyed the idea of an Armored Company for years, and now there are viable rules for fielding something like it without hamstringing your tanks.  The increased variety of tanks available to the Guard is really enticing.  For a mid-sized army (2,000 to 3,000 points) you could field two or three squadrons of two Leman Russ-type tanks.  That’s four to six vehicles with Armor Value 14 that your opponent will have fits trying to take out.  By putting your tanks into squadrons, you do not have to take extra armor (squadrons vehicles ignore stuns), but do take smoke launchers.  


The 2010 Leman Russ, now with $0 down and 0% APR financing
for 60 months for qualified customers (limited time offer)

My favorite tank combos are: 

  • Two Demolishers with lascannon hulls (for anti-tank);
  • An Exterminator with heavy bolter sponsons and hull and an added heavy stubber (14 shots per round when stationary) and an Executioner with plasma cannon sponson and heavy bolter hull (the two tanks will excel at killing troops of all types); and,
  • Two standard Leman Russ with battle cannons and heavy bolters in sponsons and hull (make fine swing vehicles that could go after either troops or tanks).  
Other excellent tanks to include in your army are the Devil Dog (multi-meltas rock), and Medusas (Medusae?) with siege-breaker shells.  


I don't care who you are, that right there is a thing of beauty

Want to make a Space Marine player fielding nigh invulnerable Land Raiders cry?  Siege-shell the Raiders, roll 2D6 + 10 for penetration, and add one to the damage result (AP1, baby).  Make sure to take Commander Pask for one of your non-template using tanks where his increased Ballistic Skill will do the most good.  For Troop choices, load Veteran Squads into Chimeras with flamers and meltaguns and have them mop up whatever is left.

The Mixed Army
If you can’t decide what type of army you like better, you can mix elements of both.  Certainly any of the tanks mentioned above are solid choices for any type of army.  For Troop selections, one platoon with a variety of weaponry should provide a solid firing base, while a Veteran Squad led by Sergeant Harker can give extra firepower and a surprise when needed.  The addition of Valkyries can make any unit a mobile strikeforce (I like Stormtroopers with an attached Priest to give them Furious Charge).  Just be sure to strike a balance between manpower and firepower.


Stormtroopers: Oh, HELL yeah!

Conclusion
The new Guard Codex has definitely widened the scope of possible army builds and made the Imperial Guard a fearsome opponent in any battle.  You may not win every game using these tactics, but you will have a lot of fun confounding your opponents in new and different ways each game.  Plus, whether you go with tanks or infantry, think of how cool all of your force will look laid out on the table in row upon row of shooty goodness.   
 

Related Pages
Introduction to the series
Other articles in this series
 

Posted December 2009. Used with permission. All images copyright 2009 by Games Workshop; used for review purposes
 

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