Saturday 18 May 2013

So You Want To Join The Imperial Guard

Hello and welcome to what hopefully will be a concise guide to some of the most important aspects of an Imperial Guard army. My name is Siceralc and as the resident Imperial Guard player it falls to me to offer some opinions and advice on how to enjoyably, if not always successfully, play this wonderful soul destroying army.

A little disclaimer before we continue though. Please don't take my advice as law; this is MY point of view as a Guard player who plays no other 40k armies but Guard.  I'm not interested in Farsight bombs or Azrael blobs, I'm interested in the units, tactics and gaming style of the Imperial Guard. Plenty of people tell me this is restrictive, but I believe it makes my experience easier. When I consider how to use the resources from the codex against each opponent I face I understand the unit synergy just a little bit better, and with that understanding comes better list design and a better overall victory-loss ratio. I may not always be right but I do always enjoy myself with the way that I play, and if you can take any of the information I write and use it to your benefit I'll be completely satisfied.

Now on to the good stuff:

Assuming you've got this far, you've probably landed your first few models and there's really only one thing to say: Congratulations, you're now the proud collector of one of the most ridiculously diverse armies available in 40k.

Diversity is the biggest feature of the Imperial Guard and in it we also find both it's greatest strength and weakness. The fact that you've got a core infantry troop choice that's effectively 5-in-1, a mix of spectacularly hit and miss elites choices, a selection of 7 different Leman Russ variants, 6 artillery vehicles, an almost universally available 55 point APC and its 3 attack oriented chassis variants, 2 flyers, 2 sentinel variants and a handful of special characters make it very hard to know where to begin.
All too often I see casual Guard players with a mish-mash of forces and no clear strategy and more often than not they tend to lose quite convincingly. However once you get an understanding of how this force can work, you can mould a list to suit your style and leave you with an undeniable advantage.

As I mentioned above what I'm going to run through are a handful of things I feel that Guard players must know; please feel free to comment with anything you do believe may be important as well, or anything I may have forgotten. We'll start with one unit ANY player of Imperial Guardsmen cannot and must not go into a game without:

1. Marbo.

For those of you who have come across this fine young man you'll understand the anxiety this guy can cause in a list. For 65 points and the use of an elites slot you net yourself arguably the best one hit wonder in the 40k universe. Marbo's hilarity begins with his special rule 'He's Behind You'. Effectively what this means is that on the turn he arrives from reserve (he MUST start in reserve, you have no choice) you may place him anywhere on the board that is more than 1 inch away from an enemy model. This is when his primary function begins and ends. In the shooting phase Trooper Marbo can lob a S8 AP2 large blast demolition charge with a range of 6". Now this can backfire spectacularly of course, but as he's BS5 usually you end up with a bunch of dead broadsides/terminators/independent characters, and an opponent who's severely pissed off.

One thing to remember is that the demo charge is an Assault 1 ordnance weapon, so don't forget to roll your 2D6 against vehicles, and any wounds that the charge causes must be resolved to the CLOSEST models. THANK YOU 6TH ED. With some careful planning and a careless enemy this could mean that 250 point Space Marine Captain has to take 7 wounds (with look out sirs) before his group of assault terminators. All it takes is for him to fail one, and it's goodbye HQ, hello slay the warlord. Oh yes, and if Marbo actually survives the other players next shooting phase without getting revenge killed, he also makes a nifty assault character with and I5 and WS5, melta bombs, and a 2+ poisoned blade.

2. The Infantry Platoon.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Imperial Guard are the countless infantry that make up the bulk of this infinitely scaled organisation. As a Guard player you're ideally suited to make this vision a reality. Your most basic troops choice is of course the Infantry Platoon. At its fundamental level it's made up of 25 models, split between a Platoon Command Squad of 5 and two Infantry Squads of 10. Not only is this probably the most cost effective troops choice available in the warhammer 40,000 univers, but for 130 points you get 25 throwaway scoring units, and you also gain the option of adding 3 more squads of 10 at 50 points each, up to five squads of 3 heavy weapons at 60 points a squad, two 'special weapons' squads at 35 points a pop and a single squad of conscripts which can end up being an enormous blob of 50 BS2 guardsmen for 200 points (or 80 points for 20 at base). All of the above in a SINGLE TROOPS CHOICE. Yup.

The range of options available to each of the above units is myriad and to be honest I don't really have the energy to do that much typing, but suffice to say that usually in 1800 points I'm fielding 2 platoons with somewhere in the region of 90 infantry models on the board all for less than 700 points. If purchasing, assembling and painting vast hordes of infantry isn't your thing, best go back to the Space Marines where you belong. The ability to field this endless supply of infantry can be one of the most valuable tactics you can have as a Guard player. Do some math and invision what 1800 points of imperial guard infantry looks like at an average of 5 points a model. Go ahead. I'll do some of my own while I wait for you. For 1500 points you get 4 full platoons of 5 infantry squads, each with a heavy weapon and special weapon, as well as a platoon command squad with 20 extra points to spend on equipment. 220 infantry models on the board in 25 individual squads. 300 points left over for an HQ, Marbo, an aegis line and maybe a flyer. I don't care what you say or do, but under the current rules it will be simply impossible for you to kill them all in 6 turns.

To paraphrase Joseph Stalin: Quantity has a quality all its own.

Use this power in whatever way you decide to put your list together. Not taking advantage of the ability to cheaply stack up dozens of infantry models is just leaving yourself wide open to be walked all over. You don't have to make it your core strategy, but don't forsake your infantry for a few extra flashy tanks that can get glanced to death by bolt pistols.

3. Orders and The Aegis Defence Line

One of the unique racial abilities of the Imperial Guard is the Command Structure series of rules. Effectively what this means is that an Imperial Guard army made up of either a Company Command Squad or at least one Infantry Platoon has access to a series of abilities performed in the shooting phase that can boost your generally ok BS3 troops with flashlights to a fighting force to be reckoned with.

Imperial Guard orders come in two forms, those issued by Company Commanders and those issued by Platoon Commanders. Company Commanders have access to 6 different orders and can use two of them in the shooting phase to boost or augment another Imperial Guard infantry unit within 12" of his model, provided that the augmented squad passes a leadership check (just quickly on this, any roll of a 12 will fail and no more orders may be issued this turn from ANYONE, any roll of a 2 will grant you an ADDITIONAL FREE ORDER from the Commander in question, and this CAN keep stacking if you're lucky enough to roll double ones twice in a row).

The orders are:  
Bring it Down - targeted at any vehicle, unit of vehicles, monstrous creature, unit of monstrous creatures, this order causes all weapons in the augmented squad to become twin-linked.
Fire on my Target - this order can be used to make the targeted enemy unit reroll all successful cover saves from attacks made by the augmented unit.
Get Back in the Fight - instantly rallies a fleeing squad, or eliminates the effects of having 'gone to ground' on the augmented unit.
First Rank Fire - Second Rank Fire - basically adds an additional lasgun shot [and ONLY lasgun, not laspistol or hot-shot lasgun] for the targeted unit; so 2 shots up to 24", 3 shots within 12".
Move-Move-Move - the unit immediately moves 6" as if making a run move and is unable to shoot or assault this turn.
and Incoming - forces the augmented unit to 'go to ground' except adding +2 to it's cover save instead of +1.

Platoon Commanders have access to only the last 3 of those mentioned above, and can make only one order per shooting phase with the same range of 12". In the case of the three attack based orders (Bring it Down, Fire on my Target, First Rank Fire - Second Rank Fire) the Commander issuing the order must have line of sight on the targeted unit, as must the augmented unit (rather obvious considering you can't shoot what you can't see). The orders must be issued at the START of the shooting phase and resolved immediately if successful, and must be issued in a chain of command style, so your highest ranking officer to your lowest (A.K.A. Company Commanders then Platoon Commanders). This set of abilities mean that your infantry core can become a very useful tool under the right circumstances.

And the right circumstances are actually surprisingly easy to create.

If you've been wondering why this section is not simply labelled 'Orders' then stop your wondering. Whether through design oversight or actual intention the arrival of 6th edition has given the Imperial Guard access to the ability to design your own battlefield. The Aegis Defence Line (hereafter known as the ADL cos I'm lazy yet also too anal to not have capital letters) is an almost essential part of a list with even a modest infantry contribution. The ADL grants a generic 4+ cover save and a 2+ cover save if you 'go to ground' behind it.
You've probably picked up on what I'm about to explain by now, but I'll continue anyway.
The combination of an ADL and a Company Command Squad means that your 5 point per model infantry get Terminator saves, and then can be ordered to 'Get Back in the Fight' in the shooting phase and deal out punishment as if nothing ever happened. Watch the silly shooty Grey Knights waste bolt rounds on your troops hoping for easy kills only to discover that your 2+ cover save beats their 3+ armour save, and they're actually losing more models than you are.

The downside of this of course is telegraphing your deployment zone in having to deploy your fortification before the actual deployment phase, but if you're playing semi-static Guard tactics and you have an artillery piece or two trust me when I say there's not that much difference in how the enemy will deploy.

More to come soon! For now I need to sleep, then paint more Dark Elves...

Things to watch for in future:

4. The Vendetta

5. Artillery

6. HQ's and Characters

7. Pesky Things Other Armies Do, and How You Can Counter Them


  1. Brilliant guide mate. Now I understand it a little bit better

    1. You should get a game in 1v1 on guard.

    2. I need a competitive And balanced army first for that

  2. "So You Want to Join the Imperial Guard" offers a fascinating glimpse into a revered institution. It provides invaluable insights and advice for aspiring recruits. Best Software Create This guide is a gateway to understanding the honor, discipline, and commitment required to serve in such a distinguished force.


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