A Plasma Gun and a Flak Jacket: Astra Militarum Kill Team Tactics

The ever reliable Imperial Guard get looked at today. While they don’t have all the options that Veteran Guard do, they still give you an interesting team to play, and a lot of modelling opportunities. Their entry in the Compendium has a few errors in it that were corrected in the first round of FAQs, so if you haven’t seen those yet, consider heading over to Warhammer-Community to grab those before you get started.


Faction Overview


  • Numbers – You can have 10-14 models in your team and this lets you play a board control game. Lasgun mooks can sit on an objective as well as tooled-up Scions.
  • Guns – Lasguns may not be worth much, but you get a lot of them. And more imoprtantly, a pure Guardsman or mixed Guard and Scion team can have 5 special weapons, including 2 plasma and 2 melta, which opens you up to overwhelming enemies with weight of fire as you finish them off with your flashlights.
  • Orders – the Strategic Ploys for Guard are decent, and if you have a Tempestor Leader then you get one free every turn.
  • Tempestus Scions – Kill Team seems built around ten-model teams with operatives who have a 4+ save, 2 APL and 8 wounds. Scions have bolter-equivalent basic weapons, access to decent special weapons, and don’t have to worry about a comms model relaying orders.


  • Flak armour – the Emperor is not exactly protecting you with 5+ saves. 7 wounds isn’t a long life expectancy either, and bolter equivalents are worse for you than battered mars bars.
  • Lasguns – they aren’t great. Against targets with power armour and high wounds they will kill them slightly faster than waiting for them to die of old age. Against guard equivalents or grots then you may luckily take them out in a round or two of shooting.
  • Command Chain – if you lose your leader you lose access to all of your Strategic Ploys. That is very bad. Try not to let that happen to your 8-wound model with a 5+ save.
  • Reliance on Comms operatives – if you want to give orders to Guardsman they either need to stick close to the leader or a comms operative needs to shadow them. This means that someone shooting them and messing up your ability to relay orders is a risk. Clustering your models together with their low saves is just asking for blast weapons to hit multiple models at a time.

Scions by SRM.


How do Imperial Guard Teams Play?

If you’ve gone for pure Scions, then you’ve got superior soldiers. A bolter equivalent weapon hitting at 3+, 4+ save and 4 special weapons with 8 wounds a model. This means that you can normally take a round of fire before dying, and can output damage at a respectable rate. Comms lets you do a melta or flamer rush, moving, dashing and then firing to give a 15” threat range. Plasma, volley gun and grenade launchers are all good backfield vantage point choices. Bring it down lets you be sure of getting hits to overwhelm defence dice. You can either wait for an opponent to activate a key model and then hit it with a lasgun, activate bring it down, and hit it again later in the turn, or you can hit a key model that hasn’t activated to see if that causes your opponent to hide it away where it can’t be seen, essentially wasting the turn for it. If you have the Take Aim! order in effect then you are rerolling 1s anyway, and while you may have luck that means you roll four dice and get 3 twos, it’s unlikely.

Orders are a key force multiplier for Guard players, and Scions find them easier to use (and do not lose access if the leader or comms model is killed). Special Forces is very situational, but in those situations effectively makes your models 3APL.

In a double Guardsman kill team my advice would be ideally to go with Veteran Guard, as you get more and better ploys and a greater selection of operatives. You in no way have to use the Krieg models, and a box of Cadians and a Cadian command squad should let you do most of the options. A bit of converting would let you do them all. You can also reach into the wider range and use your imagination and hobby skills.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Imperial Guard Kill Teams

There are two fireteams available for Imperial Guard:

  • Guardsmen (7 operatives)
  • Scions (five operatives)

Guardsmen Kill Teams can include Comms and Gunner operatives armed with a variety of weapons (flamer, grenade launcher, meltagun, sniper rifle, and plasma gun), and besides Guardsmen Troopers can only take each operative once, meaning they can’t double up on a special weapon in a kill team. Scions have a similar set up, only with fewer models. If you don’t have a leader yet, then either team can upgrade one of its operatives to a Leader – a Guardsman Sergeant in the Guardsmen kill team or a Tempestor for the Scions Kill Team.

Because these are 7 and 5 model teams respectively, you need to decide when building your roster if you want to have a double Guard team or not, because if you do then you cannot have a double scion team. There are good points to pure Scions, though I feel a mixture has some advantages as well. Mainly numbers.


Guardsman [Trooper]

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

The humble guardsman with a flak jacket and lasgun. 2APL, 7 wounds and 5+ save, but they’re activated two at a time.

The shooting and combat aren’t great (both 4+ 2/3, with 4 dice for shooting and 3 for melee) but a guardsman holds an objective or does a mission actions just as well as a Tempestus Scion. If you’re facing lightly armoured opponents (cultists for example, or gaunts) then lasguns can chip away at them but don’t expect them to one shot marines because you may have better odds winning the lottery.

Guardsman [Comms]

A very useful specialist, the comms operative can relay orders from a Leader to all friendly Guardsman models for 1 AP. This means your Guard don’t have to stick within 6” of the Sergeant or Tempestor to benefit from orders, only the comms operative has to.

The unique action for the model is Signal, a 1AP action that increases a friendly Guardsman operative within 6” and Visible’s APL by 1. This can be very useful, and as a Guard fireteam can take three unique operatives (comms and the various gunners) then in an entirely guard kill team you will definitely take one, and in a mixed team there is a reason to (so you can relay orders to all the other Guardsman models).

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

Guardsman [Gunner]

This is where the firepower of a Guardsman kill team is. There are five possible gunner choices (melta, plasma, flamer, sniper and grenade launcher) all with their own advantage. Meltas and flamers require getting close to the enemy, and one excels at punching out marine and higher level targets and the other at chipping away at guard equivalents (eldar guardians, cultists, etc) especially if they have bunched up close enough to hit a couple of them. The other weapons are more suited to long range fire, in particular plasma, but you want to ensure you are benefitting from some sort of reroll, either due to a ploy or some other effect.

The sniper rifle is worth mentioning, because it is 3/3 Heavy, Silent and MW1 on criticals. This makes it great for parking at the back on a vantage point with the conceal order and trying to put holes in anything it can see.

Sergeant “Ripper” Jackson. Credit: Rockfish
Sergeant “Ripper” Jackson. Credit: Rockfish

Guardsman Sergeant

If you select this as your leader you are tied to a short-ranged melee operative, ideally with plasma pistol and power weapon, as these are the best options on the model. With only 8 wounds you have to be careful about exposing the sergeant to danger, as a lucky bolter shot will leave you unable to issue orders and so unable to use any strategic ploys.

In a horde double guard kill team with 14 models you’ll have this as your leader by default, in which case keeping their head down and keeping them next to the Comms operative in cover is a good idea to keep being able to issue orders. That leaves them able to run out and counter attack something as it gets to your lines, but bear in mind that 8 wounds and a 5+ armour save means that if you leave them in the open or run them into a tough close combat opponent with a decent stack of wounds left, then the counter attacks will likely polish them off. 4 dice 4+ to hit 4/6 Lethal 5+ looks good until you miss with half your dice, your opponent parries the second hit, and then kills you with a couple of whacks.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Tempestus Scion [Trooper]

The elite of the Imperial Guard – Tempestus Scions or Stormtroopers or Kasrkin as they’ve been alternately called over the years. With a 4+ save, 8 wounds, 3+ to hit shooting or in melee and Hot Shot lasguns which are functionally the same as bolters, you’ve got a model that is functionally pretty good, can take a bit of damage and reliably put it out. While melee is still 2/3 butt damage you can at least get more hits on 3+ and either parry or dish out some ineffective slaps.

Tempestus Scion [Comms]

A Tempestus Scion with the Comms ability to sacrifice an AP to give another Scion model an additional AP, this will be an auto include if you have a Scion fire team. You can have a Guardsman and Scion Comms model in a Kill Team. The Scion Comms model can also give it’s additional AP to any other Scion model on the table, and is explicitly allowed to perform this action more than once, allowing you to give two models 3APL, opening up melta/flamer rushes, or Shoot/Charge/Fight turns.

A really useful model able to affect any other friendly Scions on the map.

Tempestus Scion [Gunner]

With the options to take flamers, melta guns, plasma guns and hot-shot volley guns (but two per fire team and no duplicates) means that if you take one Scion fire team not two then it’s hard decision time.

Meltas and plasmas are easy choices, and plasmas are a great vantage point sniper weapon. The hot-shot volley gun is like a less damaging heavy bolter (3/4 not 4/5) but does have 5 dice, 3+, Fusillade and P1. P1 and 5 dice makes it likely to overwhelm a models defensive dice even if it has a good save value, and get 6/7 points of damage through. Not as good as a plasma or melta, but longer ranged than a melta.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms


The Scion Leader choice, this model against can only be taken with a melee build, and a plasma pistol and power sword or power fist is the go to loadout. 9 wounds make them slightly more survivable, but as the model would be your only source of orders, if they die you lose access to strategic ploys.

Accomplished Leader means you can use a strategic ploy each turn for no cost, which is a very good reason to take a Scion Leader, though if you mix fire team types you would have to have a Guardsman Comms operative follow them around like a caddy.

Power sword and power fist are a matter of personal preference. Power fist has 5/7 damage and hits on 4+ and has brutal, while the power sword has 4/6 lethal 5+. If you are fighting 7 wound enemies then charging in with power fists and taking them out in one hit is great. Fighting tougher enemies you’ve got to make choices about whether more hits, and more criticals is better to have. For tournament players that means busting out the calculator, for normal play go with what you like.

Scions – Corrode


Guardsmen are a little different in that their Strategic Ploys are orders, which have additional strings attached to their use. They have five of them, and only one Tactical Ploy.

Strategic Ploys

These are the orders available to you. Making them strategic ploys sucks up your CP, and Tempestor Leaders getting one free per turn makes them very attractive. However if your leader cops a bullet to the head then you can’t give orders to Guardsman models. RAW you could still use strategic ploys and have them affect Scions. This makes Scions a better bet, as they can’t be locked out of strategic ploys from losing a model.

Each of these costs 1 CP.
  • Take Aim! Reroll 1s when you shoot. Helps with low Guardsman BS, and makes Scion damage output even more reliable.
  • Take Cover! If a model is in cover, it can reroll 1s on defence dice. Since you’d be getting one auto pass on saves in cover, this has limited utility.
  • Fix Bayonets!  Re-roll 1s in Fights, which is nice, but getting Guardsman in melee combat is not a winning strategy since you’ll either be trading 2/3 slaps, or getting murdered by something much beefier than you. You can have one model in your kill team with a power weapon or fist, so it’s useful in some situations, but this won’t be your first pick.
  • Move! Move! Move! Add an inch to guard models move characteristic. Useful for getting across the board or up tall terrain.
  • Special Forces Tempestus Scions can only receive this order. You pick either the Pick Up or a Mission Action, and Scions can perform this action for one less AP. This improves the action efficiency of the kill team in missions where you have to grab a lot of stuff, or perform a lot of mission actions. While this seems like an order you’d never use, it can make a lot of difference in a game giving Scions who have to do mission actions effectively 3APL.

Tactical Ploys

With only one tactical ploy, Guard are woefully underserved on tactical ploys. I would have very much liked to see two or three more tactical ploys to give players a bit more choice.

  • Bring it Down! After a friendly Imperial Guard model completes a Shoot action, spend a CP to gain rerolls on misses against the same target till the end of the turn.

This is actually a really good ploy for a big team. Against targets that need the attention of plasma or melta guns, then hitting it with a lasgun or hot shot lasgun means that you can reroll all your misses on the special weapons you hit it with later. This ploy is very useful when fighting marines or tougher targets, like Tyranid warriors or Custodes.



Imperial Guard have a solid range of equipment, with two options that essentially turn models into specialists.

Frag Grenade

For 2EP a solid choice for trying to kill off hordes, and if you’re fighting GSC or similar horde team taking one on a model that you can race forward and throw them into a gaggle of opponents is a good tactic, particularly if you boost the model with an extra AP from a comms operative.

Krak Grenade

For 3EP this is the grenade you take if you are facing marines. However you need to get to within six inches, and this tends not to be good for the health of guard models. However that wouldn’t stop a suicide grenade rush with a guardsman to throw a krak grenade at a Leader or special weapon model with the acceptance that he may be shot to pieces in the next activation. Take Aim or Bring It Down can help ensure four hits against just two defence dice and give a decent chance of killing a marine or injuring them enough to make them very vulnerable.


For 2EP you can turn one model into a medic, allowing them to spend an AP to heal 2D3 wounds on a model within an inch and visible to them.

Carapace Armour

For 3EP improve a Guardsman models armour save to 4+. This is a good pick on a pure Guardsman team to make your sergeant a bit more survivable.

Scion Blade

On Tempestus Scions only you can pay an EP to get a 3/4 damage weapon in melee, which significantly improves their damage output in melee, though it still only gets 3 dice hitting on 3+. Scions don’t become melee monsters, but when facing guard equivalents it gives them an extra punch if they end up in melee.

Regimental Standard

3EP gets you a banner model, which then counts as a 3APL model for holding objectives. For one AP you can take an action that gives models within 3 inches and visible, then it can reroll a defence dice. This is not super useful on 5+ save models, but proportionately better on scions.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Building a Kill Team

If you want to build a pure Scions Kill Team, you’ll need to use 11 slots to do so, as you can only choose two gunners per fire team and have five potential gunner choices.

This roster is built around either a pure Scion kill team, or a one scion/one guardsman kill team structure. I feel that if you want a pure Guardsman kill team, then the Veteran Guard kill team gives you much better options and access to ploys. A pure Scion team gives you access to elite guard troops, using multiple orders per turn and benefiting from a free order from the Tempestor. Four gunners give significant firepower, and standard Scions being armed with bolter equivalent weapons gives the team good damage output.

The roster below gives you all the options for scions, and the options for a mixed team.

Operative Weapons
Tempestor Plasma Pistol & Power Sword
Tempestus Scion [Trooper] Hot-Shot Lasgun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Trooper] Hot-Shot Lasgun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Trooper] Hot-Shot Lasgun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Trooper] Hot-Shot Lasgun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Comms] Hot-Shot Lasgun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Gunner] Melta Gun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Gunner] Plasma Gun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Gunner] Hot-Shot Volley Gun & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Gunner] Grenade Launcher & Gun Butt
Tempestus Scion [Gunner] Flamer & Gun Butt
Guardsman Trooper Lasgun & Bayonet
Guardsman Trooper Lasgun & Bayonet
Guardsman Trooper Lasgun & Bayonet
Guardsman Trooper Lasgun & Bayonet
Guardsman Comms Lasgun & Bayonet
Guardsman Gunner Plasma Gun & Bayonet
Guardsman Gunner Melta Gun & Bayonet
Guardsman Gunner Grenade Launcher & Bayonet
Guardsman Gunner Flamer & Bayonet


Example Kill Team

The example kill team I’m giving is a Scion one aimed at fighting power armoured enemies and leaves 5EP for Scion blades and grenades.

  • Tempestor – Plasma pistol & power sword
  • 2 x Tempestus Scion Troopers
  • 1 x Tempestus Scion – medikit
  • 1 x Tempestus Scion – regimental standard
  • 1 x Tempestus Scion Comms
  • 1 x Tempestus Scion Gunner – plasma gun
  • 1 x Tempestus Scion Gunner – hot-shot volley gun
  • 1 x Tempestus Scion Gunner – melta gun
  • 1 x Tempestus Scion Gunner – grenade launcher


Final Thoughts

The Imperial Guard compendium kill team has already been complemented by the Guard Veteran kill team in the Octarius supplement, so I’m not expecting any White Dwarf articles giving Guard an updated team any time soon (though a Scions elite operators force would be both cool and interesting). Orders are an ability in Veteran Guard, and there is a separate selection of ploys and a series of options (artillery, extra vanilla guardsmen) that ups the power level of the team. I would only use the Compendium Guard list for Scions, and feel they fit reasonably in the power level of the 10 model, 7/8-wound teams we are seeing in White Dwarf and newer supplements.

Imperial Guard (whichever set of rules you choose to use) provide a rich opportunity to use your imagination, dig out classic models, or do something interesting with the variety of human equivalent models available to you.

As a faction I really like Imperial Guard, though it feels like the strength in the Compendium list is in double Scions.

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