It’s the Tuesday after our review of the new Codex: Astra Militarum, and you know what that means: it’s time to look at the Crusade rules.
Beanith: It’s the IMPERIAL GUARD codex and I will
stand sit firm on this hill until I’m gently lured back into my pillow fort/nest in the Goonhammer Office supply closet for my afternoon nanna nap.
Tours of Duty
If you too have fallen to the sweet siren call of the new Cadia Stands: Astra Militarum Army Set (or you have the Loyal 32 gathering dust on your shelf; or simply have an IMPERIAL GUARD army then when you muster your Crusade force and include any IMPERIAL GUARD units, you can take your Crusade force on a Tour of Duty which is kinda like the Tour de France but with less bicycles and more crushing the enemy and reinforcing the Imperium’s defences.
First, you’ll need to determine the amount of battles you will have to take part in (2D3+2), and how many battles you’ll need to win (D3+2). Count those numbers down as you play, and when both of them hit zero, Congratulations! You’ve completed a Tour of Duty and can now hand out Ribbons, Medals and Participation Trophies by using the Commendation points earned throughout the Tour of Duty covered later in this article.
When you set out on your Tour of Duty, you must first brave the terrifyingly cryptic Labyrinth that is the Departmento Munitorum and their wide ranging powers of support to decide which aspects of your Tour of Duty will come to rely on most: Military Intelligence; Materiel; Tithe Pool; and Morale. Each of these are themed with a bit of background to spice things up a bit, with Materiel representing Ammo and Fuel, Tithe Pool affecting how easily you can replenish casulaties, and Morale covering everything from Inspiring Propaganda to how many rations each soldier receives.
As for what it actually does? You have 4 Logistic points to spread amongst the four categories and you can’t stick more than 2 points in the same category. Each point spent in the category breaks down into:
- 0 Logistic Points = Deficiency
- 1 Logistic Point = No Effect
- 2 Logistic Points = Surplus
Each of the four categories have status for Surplus and Deficiency which will remain play throughout your Tour of Duty. So in theory you could take the Coward’s Path and just stick 1 Logistic Point in each category and call it a day but where’s the fun in that? We suspect that most IMPERIAL GUARD players will for a 2,1,1,0 spread whilst some will attempt to fly too close to the sun with a 2,2,0,0. There is a Requisition that allows you to ignore one Deficiency for a single battle but you can only use it once during a Tour of Duty so spend that Requisition wisely.
- Officer Warlords start the game with 1 additional CP.
- You can also take an extra Agenda to score some extra Commendation points or experience.
- Officers will need to roll a D6 before issuing an Order and will fail on a roll of a 1.
- Unless you win the battle, you won’t receive a Requisition point for playing that battle.
- Re-roll 1 wound roll per unit during ranged attacks.
- Once after each battle, use the Rearm and Resupply Requisition for 0RP.
- Subtract 2” movement from your Vehicle units.
- The Rearm and Resupply Requisition now costs 2RP.
- In the Command phase, add back 1 destroyed model to each of your IMPERIAL GUARD Core Infantry units that are not at their starting strength.
- Once after each battle, use the Fresh Recruits Requisition or the Repair and Recuperate Requisition for 0RP
- Unless your Warlord is on the battlefield, you do not gain the Battle-forged CP bonus.
- The Increase Supply Limit Requisition costs 2RP to use.
- Plus 1 Leadership for all of your IMPERIAL GUARD models.
- At the end of each battle, your units gain 2 experience for Battle Experience instead of 1.
- Minus 1 Leadership for all of your IMPERIAL GUARD models.
- No Marked for Greatness for you.
Beanith: I really like this section. Some very powerful Surplus bonuses but you need to watch out for Deficiency modifiers so choose very wisely. For me I would stick 2 Logistic points into Material for the sweet wound re-rolland slap 0 Logistic points into Morale. I would have chosen Military Intelligence but losing out on all that Requisition would be crippling to my Order of Battle. Same again for Tithe Pool, ouch at inflation on Increase Supply Limit.
As mentioned earlier, Commendation points are earned throughout your Tour of Duty by completing various IMPERIAL GUARD Agendas and fighting battles (bonus points if you win said battles too). You’ll also pick up an additional point for every game you play, or d3 points for each game you win. Neat!
At the end of your Tour of Duty, you can then use these Commendation points to purchase an assortment of upgrades for your IMPERIAL GUARD units in the form of Campaign Medals. They function much like Battle Traits but don’t count towards your maximum Battle Trait limit per unit. There are still some limits in place, each unit can have a maximum of 3 Campaign Medals, units can’t have taken the same Medal twice, and the first two Campaign medals increase your units Crusade points by 1 and the third medal by 2.
There are currently 14 Campaign Medals available starting at 1 Commendation point all the way up to 5 Commendation points. Most are locked to Core or Officer only for example but there are a couple that can be pinned on any IMPERIAL GUARD unit in your Order of Battle.
Cherry picking our way through, we have some very nice medals on offer. For 1 Commendation point, The Steel Armorial medal can either be pinned on your Enginseer or hammered onto a Vehicle, and lets you ignore one failed Out of Action test on another Vehicle if they survived the same battle. Bastion Honour costs 2 Commendation points and will allow the Infantry or Cavalry unit wearing it to perform Heroic Interventions. Medallion Resolute will set you back a hefty 5 Commendation points, but slap that bad boy on anything you want and give it Objective Secured and add 1 to the unit’s Combat Attrition tests. And Decoration of Duty costs 3 or 4 Commendation points (Core units get a discount) and will give that unit a valid Battle Trait of your choice that doesn’t count towards their maximum Battle Honour limit or increase their Crusade points.
Beanith: This is such a nice easy system that I have no doubt that we’ll see more Campaign Medals in a future White Dwarf article or the Warzone books.
The Imperial Guard only has four Agendas on offer down from the standard five but with that said, they’re all actually useful and you may struggle with which one to take each game (or which two if you dumped two Logistic points into Military Intelligence) for the bonus Commendation points.
Advance, For the Emperor will reward up to six of your IMPERIAL GUARD units with 1 experience if they finish the game in your opponent’s deployment zone, And if one of those units was your Warlord, you’ve earned yourself a shiny Commendation point.
The Arming the Assault Agenda is for those with excess Infantry and Cavalry to spare for performing the Access Supply Drops (Action) at every possible objective marker that you can reach. Performing this action will take from the end of your Movement phase to the end of your turn and will score you 1 point to add to your Supply Drop tally. Alongside that is at the start of each of your turns, you subtract 1 point from your Supply Drop tally for each objective marker that your opponent controls. At the end of the battle comes the payoff:
- Each objective marker with a Supply Drops tally of 1-2 will grant an IMPERIAL GUARD unit within range of the objective 1 experience point.
- Each objective marker with a Supply Drops tally of 3+ will grant an IMPERIAL GUARD unit within range of the objective 3 experience points.
- A combined total of 5-9 Supply Drops tally gives you a shiny Commendation point & a Supply Drops tally of 10+ D3 shiny Commendation points.
For the shoutier members of your IMPERIAL GUARD force, Inspired Command is another tally based Agenda that goes up for the Officer when a unit under the effect of their Order destroys an enemy unit. The Officer will gain 1 experience point for each tally to maximum of 3 experience and if the combined total of Inspired Command tally is 5+, you gain a shiny Commendation point.
Lastly we have the Propagandist Coup, where your opponent chooses three Vehicle or Monster units, not counting Dedicated Transports, and your job is (predictably enough) to destroy them. The unit responsible for each deathblow gains 2 experience. For the shiny Commendation points, you’ll gain 1 point for destroying two and D3 for bumping off all three.
As with every other Codex, you’ve got plenty of ways to spend your Requisition points, but for a change these are all mostly decent.
Uplifting Primers costs you 1 RP spent before a battle and for this solid investment, you can use the Insane Bravery Stratagem on a Platoon Infantry unit for 1CP… but wait, there’s more thankfully. All of your Platoon Infantry units will walk away with 1 additional experience point so long as it doesn’t take a Devastating Blow after the game.
Last-Minute Transfer will set you back 1 RP whenever one of your vehicles takes a Battle Scar. Just straight up replace it with ANY OTHER Guard vehicle with the same number of experience points, as well as the same Campaign Medals and all the same Battle Honours. If there were any you couldn’t put on the new vehicle, you generate new ones instead.
Beanith: They’ve dinged my Scout Sentinel, so let’s see if they notice when I replace it with a Super Heavy Baneblade? Keen eyes will note that this Requisition is missing the usual “You cannot purchase this Requisition if doing so would cause your total Power Level to exceed your Crusade forces Supply Limit.” I shall assume you’re all good righteous upstanding people. Those other “That Guys” should be told to go fuck a cactus.
Tank Ace lets you add a Tank Ace skill to your tanks for 1 RP whenever you add a tank to your order of battle or an existing one gains a level above Blooded.
At 1RP, Sequester Support Staff lets you use the Regimental Attaches and Bodyguard rules to add extra mooks and a meatshield to follow either a new Infantry Officer or an existing one when it levels up. Or you could drop 1RP for Decorated Officer when adding a new Officer to your Order of Battle to give it 6XP out of the gate, pushing it to Blooded and letting it choose a Battle Honour.
Commit Everything is for that clutch game where you can’t risk that Deficiency holding you back. For 1 Req, ignore the Deficiency for one game. You can only use this Requisition ONCE per Tour of Duty, though, so make it count.
Lastly, we have Consolidated Regiments which lets you just straight up change your Regimental Doctrines for your IMPERIAL GUARD Crusade Force. Found Born Soldiers too easy and want to try Parade Drill and Trophy Hunters for a laugh? Go for it, espeically since this Requisition starts off free for the first time you use it. Every time after that, though, it will set you back 2 requisition, so you won’t likely be using it every game.
Beanith: Consolidated Regiments is simply the best Requisition I’ve seen in a long time. Being able to switch out Doctrines will really make an Imperial Guard Crusade force stay more interesting to play for longer. I’d love to see this mechanic spread to other armies with some minimal hand waving, such as a Necron force being forcibly switched Dynasties for example.
One of our favourite sections to cover is generally the Relics, and the Guard has the usual collection of fancy pistols, silly hats and an obscenely powerful Legendary relic that is almost as good as the Vortex Grenade.
Starting off with baby’s first relics or Artificer level relics we have four to choose from:
- Fire of Judgement is a Pistol 3 laspistol replacement that will cause 1 mortal wound whenever you successfully hit a target. So the Str 3 part is there for flavour, I guess?
- Pietrov’s Mk 45 is a fancy Str 4 bolt pistol that is AP-2 and 2 damage that also lets you ignore the Look Out, Sir rule. Dinging an angry Chaos Lord for a couple of wounds is nice and all but the gun also causes a unit to subtract 2 from their Leadership on a successful hit which might be a lot more handier.
- The Skull Mask of Acheron gives you an aura that subtracts 1 from Leadership and Combat Attrition tests of enemy units within 6”. There’s also a bonus ability when fighting Orks that stops them benefiting from their own aura abilities.
- Koledin’s Triumph is a swagger stick, but this one has magical powers. It reduces incoming damage by 1 to a minimum of 1, and also completely negates the damage each turn for the first failed save roll.
Antiquity Relics don’t belong in a museum but on the battlefield. Three relics on offer, including two fancy badges and a knockoff Votann Beam weapon.
- The Medal Macharia lets an Officer issue a second Order to a single unit, allowing it to be affected by both Orders.
- The Star of Terra ribbon comes with all the best toys. Not only does your Officer get a 4+ invulnerable save, they also get a free Warlord trait. Bonus point, this means your Officer in question can have two Warlord traits using the Warlord Trait Requisition. On top of all that, the Munitorum also throws in a free once per game Epic Deed Stratagem, making this a solid choice that you’ll definitely want in your roster.
- The Moiraen Lance replaces a plasma pistol with the much improved ABS (always be supercharging) plasma pistol. None of this killing yourself on 1 malarky either. Instead you have a pistol that also hits units between you and your target and–just to rub salt into the wound–this pistol also ignores invulnerable saves saves. Fun fact, the Moiraen Lance also has zero chill and will also hit any friendly units, but it’s the Guard, what else do you expect?
Beanith: The Star of Terra is a war crime waiting to happen to your Crusade campaign because as written, you can slap that on a Tank Commander and make zero friends. Campaign Masters may want to consider sliding in the Infantry keyword into this relic should it be too problematic.
Rounding out the relics is the Legendary Behemoth Primal for Tank Commanders only. This non-Void Grenade relic makes your Tank Toughness 9 and limits the amount of wounds you can lose per phase to 6 wounds.
Beanith: The flavour text says it’s the tank itself that is the Behemoth Primal and not something you add… so your Tank Commander has been in this tank for however many games it took to get to 51+ experience and only just noticed it’s T9 and not T8? Someone promote that man.
There are three tables for you to hand out Battle Honours like candy. We have three possible upgrades for Officers to make them more shouty, three more for your dozen of Vehicles and lastly six for the mooks (Infantry) and horsies (Cavalry).
Among the Officer Battle Honours we have:
- Bellowing Voice which increases their Aura abilities by 3” increase their Order range by a further 6”.
- Eye for Talent lets you select an additional unit to be Marked for Greatness.
- Draconian Disciplinarian isn’t just for Editors, it also lets a unit within 6” auto-pass a Morale test.
Vehicle units have the awesomely named skills starting out with:
- Street Fighter sadly isn’t based around “fucking up a 1993 Toyota Celsior.” Instead it improves the unit’s Weapon skill by 1 and also ignore the penalty to their hit rolls when targeting enemy units within Engagement Range.
- Battlefield Hunter is a straight up killer, allowing a unit to re-roll hit and wound rolls of 1 when making ranged attacks at other Vehicles and Monsters.
- Grizzled Crew also slaps hard, being a 6+ Feel No Pain.
Infantry and Cavalry:
- Crazed which lets you ignore all modifiers to Leadership, and re-roll Morale tests and failed Out of Action tests.
- Stealthy units can move over Difficult Ground with no penalty to movement. Plus they get the benefit of Light Cover anywhere assuming they stood still. (Beanith: Powerful Drax Vibes)
- Dead Eye Shots is simply +1 Ballistic skill.
- Slick Crew makes your Heavy weapons score an additional hit on an unmodified 6 to hit.
- Guerrillas get to still shoot after it Fell Back but with a minus 1 to hit.
- Last up is Hardened Fighters which is +1 Weapon Skill.
Beanith: One wonders, is the Battle Honour for the horsie or the bellend on its back trying to hit things with a bomb on a stick?
Astra Militarum Name Generator
As a special little treat and mostly because it was adjacent to the Crusade section, there is quite a large Name Generator table to help create some names for your Troopers and Armoured Vehicles. With six tables that cover the major Regiments and two more just for the vehicles you’re spoiled for choice and most importantly Beanith can’t just default to calling everyone Steeve.
Beanith: My powerful Gregbot dice have deemed me worthy of being referred to as Beanith ‘Slim’ Hasker and I now travel to work in my little hatchback, the Crimson Roar.
Jack: I am now named “Jack the Hunter” instead of “Jack Hunter”. My car is the Grinding Firebrand.
Soggy: My car is known as the Intolerant Lance which sounds like something you would take pills for… otherwise I am now known as the Sand Devil
Beanith: All in all, it’s one of my favourite set of Crusade Rules so far. I really like the Tour of Duty and Logistics mechanic. The Campaign Medals are a fantastic idea and I’m keen/dread to see if the White Dwarf Intern comes up with some more Medal options in a future issue.
For me the best part has to be the Consolidated Regiments requisition where you can change up the focus of your army as it grows and you want to change up play styles.
Condit: While the Battle Honours and Commendations you have to hand out are a really great set of cool options with some seriously good rule in there for good measure, the Tour of Duty gimmick sort of falls flat for me. That said, while it’s a little weak as a narrative hook, it does break up your force’s advancement into convenient chunks that neatly divide up your force’s development. There’s definitely plenty of room in here for you to forge your own narrative, but that space is largely created by the absence of the real story-building tricks in some of the other codexes. Put another way, you won’t get the cool narrative beats of the Genestealer Cults working toward the Day of Ascension or the T’au working to bring another system around to the Greater Good, but you’re also not stuck with a mechanic that doesn’t quite get there like Grey Knights or Blood Angels. Basically, it works, but sometimes, that’s all you need.