Start Competing: Astra Militarum Tactics

If you’ve just been introduced to a galaxy filled with near-immortal super-soldiers, intergalactic alien invaders, and actual demons and your first thought was, “Well what if I just wanted to play normal people?,” then Astra Militarum is the faction for you.

With massed ranks of tanks and infantry, the Astra Militarum conveys some of the grimmest and darkest imagery in the entire 41st millennium. While the Guard is rife with heroes and filled to the brim with some of the most valorous people in the setting, it brings with it a constant reminder that human life is worth very little in the grim darkness of the far future.

The Astra Militarum can only accomplish its mission of defending the Imperium of Man through disciplined volleys of massed lasgun fire, deftly-crewed columns of armored fighting vehicles, and proper application of fierce bayonet charges. No equipment or personnel are above sacrificing in the pursuit of your objective. Astra Militarum Commanders, Inquisitors, and Planetary Governors must regularly send droves of a civilization’s finest soldiers to die upon nameless hills in defense of a single planet amongst millions. Such is the will and dedication required amongst mortals to stand in the face of the ancient evils and inhuman terrors assailing the Imperium. So long as the Imperium stands, the Astra Militarum will stand to defend it.

The Astra Militarum Codex was one of the earlier releases of 8th edition, but a lot has changed since this book has come out. Most notably, the addition of Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good. We thought it might be about time to take this one off the shelf and update it for all of our valorous defenders of the Imperium out there!

Table of Contents

Army Strengths

  • Good Shooting: The Guard doesn’t have much in the way of combat, but even with one of the oldest books in the game, a fully-intact Guard army might take the cake for the most powerful shooting in the game (beside Admech, anyways).
  • Wide Array of Specialized Units: With over 90 datasheets to pick from, the Astra Militarum is likely going to have a dedicated unit to kill most things that might be present in the meta. Whether or not they can address the meta is a separate question, but at least the datasheets are there!
  • Cheap: Redundancy is relatively easy to build in with this army. You’re almost always able to take redundancy in some capacity. This doesn’t mean you’re able to sacrifice units willy-nilly, but you have the capability to suffer some bad dice on one unit because you often have a backup.
  • Mobile Objective Secured Infantry: Guardsmen with Move, Move, Move are still fantastic. 12″ + 2d6″ movement per turn with 10 Objective Secured idiots still goes a long way even 4 years after the codex has been released.

Army Weaknesses

  • Extremely Vulnerable to Secondaries: The Grand Tournament Mission Packet has not been kind to Astra Militarum. This army definitely struggles with picking secondary objectives and it’s virtually impossible to build an army that doesn’t easily give up either No Prisoners, Bring It Down, or Assassinate.
  • Mediocre Melee: The best melee unit Astra Militarum can bring to the table is Bullgryn. They’re pretty dang tanky if you have the right buffs on them but really can’t go toe to toe with a dedicated melee threat. For a fun thought exercise, roll a full Bullgryn squad into a Blade Guard Veteran squad with Transhuman, Dark Angels Terminators with Storm Shields, or Death Guard Terminators. The results are pretty depressing.
  • Fragile Damage Dealers: The damage dealers in this army come in the forms of special weapons toting Guardsmen or Scions, Manticores, and Tank Commanders. All of these units are relatively fragile and will absolutely fold if you expose them.
  • Few Competitive Units: Unfortunately, this faction is pretty overcosted right now. There are a few dead units in the book that are wildly overcosted looking at you Baneblades, but most things are probably about 5-10% overcosted right now, resulting in some lists that often feel just out of reach of some of the upper tiers.

Competitive Rating

Tier 4: Medium

Because of the weaknesses discussed above, The Astra Militarum has some serious issues competing with the top-tier armies out there. The codex has an easy time taking objectives but a difficult time holding them, with T3 models and your damage dealers being relatively fragile. The army has the ability to compete, and probably pull some favorable matchups on Tier 2 and Tier 3 armies, but right now it really struggles against the top-tier stuff out there. Overall though, the army is relatively healthy. It needs some weapon updates and some points drops, but otherwise, it’s not completely broken.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Army Rundown

Guard’s big strength is quantity – whatever they’re putting on the table (usually guns and bodies), there are probably lots of it. Guard is usually aiming to overwhelm the opponent’s defenses with the sheer volume of firepower they can lay down, seize control of the board with their bargain-priced and fast-moving infantry, and weather any counterattack the opponent can muster by dint of the sheer number of targets they present. A few more specialized or more expensive options are frequently seen addressing specific roles (though even their super heavies have competitive price tags) but a list made up of just these tends to look weak compared to other shooting armies – flooding the table with cheap threats is a key supporting strength for this army.

You normally see a core of a large number of Infantry squads and supporting characters, backed up by Tank Commanders, Leman Russes, and/or Manticores as the basic gunline. There’s then a huge variety of more niches that are frequently seen supplementing this – heavily buffed Bullgryns can act as a melee counterpunch/tank unit, a Baneblade can provide some even heftier firepower or a battalion of Tempestus Scions can give you some surgical problem solvers. Bringing up the rear, plenty of stuff on this book sits on the edge of having a competitive price tag. The important thing is to bring the volume – if you’re building a competitive list and don’t have at least 100 Infantry Squad bodies or 5+ vehicle chassis you better have a really, really good reason for it.

Once that’s on the table, your goal is generally for your damage-dealing tanks to blast the enemy to bits while your infantry roll forward, dying in droves to the enemy’s guns in service of shielding your valuable vehicles and racking up objective points. Your best guns tend to have excellent range and pretty broadly applicable profiles, allowing you to selectively blast away your opponent’s best stuff and remove their ability to deal with the volume of threats you present. For all that other factions have access to equivalent options nowadays, going second against a Guard army is still an extremely nerve-racking experience for many lists, as a good turn of shooting can leave you short on the tools you need to shift them, letting the loyal forces of the Imperium grind you into the dirt beneath their boots and tank tracks. As the guard player, you want this fear to become a reality.

Special Rules

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Keywords: Regiment and Tempestus Regiment

The Astra Militarum Codex really only has two relevant keywords:

  • <Regiment>: The standard “Chapter Tactics”-granting keyword most 8th Edition Codex. Nearly every unit has this except for Scions and other units not drawn from an Astra Militarum Regiment in the lore, such as Abhumans and Imperial Navy elements.
  • <Tempestus Regiment>: The <Regiment> keyword, but Tempestus Scions flavor. You’re only going to benefit from this one if every unit with a variable keyword in the detachment has this.

Unit Special Rules

Astra Militarum has two unit abilities shared among many datasheets:

  • Grinding Advance: Allows Leman Russ Battle Tanks to fire their turret weapon twice if they’ve remained stationary or moved under half their movement speed.
  • Voice of Command: Allows the unit to issue orders to friendly <Regiment> Infantry units. This happens at the beginning of the Shooting phase before any of your other shooting happens. More on these in a moment.
  • Tank OrdersWhile this rule only affects one datasheet, it makes sense to put it here. This is effectively the same as Voice of Command, but for Leman Russ Battle Tanks.
Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Orders

Orders are one of the hallmarks of the Astra Militarum. This mechanic has been alive and well since the 4th Edition cut of this Codex, letting you get more value out of your models by yelling at them. Making good use of orders is critical to good play. You’re going to issue an order every single turn to every unit you can no matter what. There’s literally no downside.

So what are the generic orders?

  • Take Aim!: Reroll 1s to hit. Pretty neat.
  • First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire!: Lasguns and Hot-shot Lasguns become Rapid Fire 2 until the end of the phase. Very handy for addressing hordes. 37 Lasgun shots out of a Guardsman Squad are very handy.
  • Bring it Down!: Reroll 1s to wound. Also handy. Not often as handy as Take Aim!, but if you’ve got re-roll 1s to hit already, it’s nice to have.
  • Forwards, for the Emperor!: You may shoot with a unit even if that unit Advanced this turn. Another handy thing you might need to do from time to time.
  • Get Back in the Fight!: Fire in the shooting phase even if you’ve fallen back. Super nice.
  • Move! Move! Move!: This is the single most useful order that Guard has. Instead of shooting you can immediately move and advance as if it were the Movement phase. You have to Advance as part of this move, and you can’t charge this turn. You’ll use this to toss idiots onto objectives from great distances. It’s great.
Valhallan Leman Russ. Credit: SRM

Tank Orders

  • Full Throttle!: Move! Move! Move! now comes in Tonk flavor.
  • Gunners, Kill on Sight!: Take Aim!, but for Tonks.
  • Strike and Shroud!: Again, the last order is probably the most unique and useful of the bunch. You can shoot your weapons and pop off your smoke launchers in this phase.

Regiment-Specific Orders

Regiment-Specific Orders are gained by having an officer with the appropriate <Regiment> keyword:

  • Cadian (Tank Order): Pound Them to Dust! – Probably the second most useful order of this set. Re-roll the number of shots with your turret weapon for the rest of the phase.
  • Catachan: Burn Them Out! – Re-roll the number of shots with flamers and heavy flamers. Also, units hit by these weapons don’t get the benefit of cover to their saves.
  • Valhallan: Fire on My Command! – Allows you to shoot targets that are within Engagement Range of friendly units, but any 1s you roll to hit scores a hit on one of your friendly units within Engagement Range. You can’t use this to shoot with a unit that is itself in Engagement Range of an enemy unit.
  • Vostroyan: Repel the Enemy! – You can fire your weapons into units that are within Engagement Range, regardless of their type, but you have to shoot at a unit within Engagement Range.
  • Armageddon: Mount Up! – You can fire your weapons and embark in a transport if every model in the unit is within 3″ of the transport. Can be pretty cheeky, especially with Special Weapons Teams or Command Squad coming in off of Strategic Reserve. You can’t do this if you also disembarked earlier in the same turn.
  • Tallarn (Tank Order): Get Around Behind Them! – This is the most useful Regiment Order of the bunch. You get to move 6″ and fire, or fire and then move 6″. Given 9th edition rules changes, this is a Normal Move, so you can’t use this to make a Fall Back move… sorry. The upside is that this absolutely lets your fire and slink away with Tank Commanders. It’s pretty great and that’s the suggested use for most occasions.
  • Militarum Tempestus: Elimination Protocol Sanctioned – A pretty slept-on order. Allows you to re-roll failed wound rolls against MONSTERS and VEHICLES. Pair this with Laurels of Command and go to hope to roll hot.
  • Mordian: Form Firing Squad! – You can effectively ignore Look out, Sir! with Rapid Fire weapons.

Generally, you want to be issuing as many orders as you can every turn. For the most part, you’re going to be tossing Move! Move! Move! or First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire! onto your Guardsmen units and Gunners, Kill on Sight! or Strike and Shroud! to your Tank Commanders. The other orders pop up from time to time, but usually, their usage is pretty obvious. Do I want to Fall Back and toss 10 grenades into these Orks with the Grenadiers Strategem? Do you play Tallarn and have Tank Commanders?

The other orders will often come into play if you’ve built a specific army around them. I’ve found myself rolling with Elimination Protocols from time to time on Scions and I’d love to see some cheeky use out of Mount Up!, but so far I’ve only seen it executed to great effect in my dreams. Orders are a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting the most out of your Astra Militarum units. It’s one of the mechanics doing the heavy lifting of keeping the Codex alive. Use your movement to put Guardsmen in inconvenient places for your opponent, use them to make your Tank Commanders a little more survivable with a -1 to hit. It’s great.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Regiments

There are seven core regiments available to Astra Militarum armies, and seven options for the Militarum Tempestus. In addition, Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good introduced options for designing your own <REGIMENT> on top of those. In this section we’ll be looking at the core and custom ones, then we’ll tackle the Tempestus Scions in their own section.

If every unit in a detachment (other than the ones specified in the two special rules above) has the same <REGIMENT> chosen for it then all units in that detachment gain a Regimental Doctrine – this army’s version of faction traits. In addition, each main book <REGIMENT> has a Stratagem that can affect their units plus a relic and warlord trait that its characters can use, and finally a special order that can be issued by one of their kinds of an officer.

The core book regiments have stood the test of time pretty well – there are two that sit head and shoulders above the rest for pure guard armies, but two of the others have decent competitive uses, two let you pull off some interesting tricks and there’s really only one dud. The custom traits have some appealing options too, and there’s been some experimentation with several choices since TGG landed, but haven’t yet supplanted the best two main book choices in winning lists. We’ll have a look at what each core choice offers, ticking off the good ones first, and then move on to custom traits at the end.

It’s worth saying upfront that while some of this stuff has held up well, the Warlord traits are universally kind of garbage. You can basically ignore them, especially now that Tank Aces are available as replacements. With a few exceptions, most of the relics are pretty bad too, though a couple has their uses.

Retro Cadians. Credit: SRM

Cadian

  • Regimental Doctrine – Born Soldiers: Stationary units re-roll 1s to hit in shooting, and stationary INFANTRY re-roll all failed hits if they are issued the Take Aim! order.
  • Stratagem – Overlapping Fields of Fire – 2CP: After a CADIAN unit inflicts an unsaved wound on a unit in the shooting phase, you can add +1 to hit for other shooting attacks from CADIAN units against that target this phase.
  • Warlord Trait – Superior Tactical Training: Roll a dice when your warlord issues an order. On a 4+, they can issue the same order to another valid target within 6″.
  • Relic – Relic of Lost Cadia: Once per battle you can activate this at the start of the turn, and re-roll hits and wounds of 1 for CADIAN units within 12″ of the bearer. Against CHAOS, they instead re-roll all failed hits and wounds.
  • Order – Pound them to Dust!: Tank Order. The target can re-roll the dice determining the number of shots for a turret weapon in this phase.

The bread and butter trait that enables a fearsome Guard parking lot, The Cadian Doctrine gives you a great efficiency boost across the board, while their stratagem lets them obliterate any single large target in their sights. Their Tank Commanders also get a great order to use (important since they often don’t need to use Gunners Kill on Sight!), significantly increasing the reliability of their main guns. Finally, the relic is pretty decent generally, giving you a turn where you can mosey up the board a bit while keeping re-rolls, and outrageously deadly against any flavor of Chaos. A good, clean choice for any Tank Commander heavy build. Cadians also get some neat special characters, most notably Knight Commander Pask, a super Tank Commander.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Catachan

  • Regimental Doctrine – Brutal Strength: INFANTRY get +1S and +1Ld if they are within 6″ of an officer. VEHICLES can re-roll one of the dice used to determine a random number of shots for each weapon they fire.
  • Stratagem – Vicious Traps – 1CP: After an enemy charges a CATACHAN unit wholly on or within a terrain feature, deal d3 MWs to the charging unit on a 4+.
  • Warlord Trait – Lead From the Front: The warlord has 6″ heroic and re-rolls hits in the first round of combat.
  • Relic – Mamorph Tuskblade: Relic power sword with +2S and D2.
  • Order – Burn Them Out!: Target unit can re-roll shot counts for flamers and heavy flamers, and they ignore cover.

Their stratagem sucks, and their order sucks, but who cares. +1 strength on Guardsmen, +1 Leadership for units within 6″ of officers, and re-rolling random shots for their vehicles are like 3 traits rolled into one. +1 strength dudes allow Guard to actually be aggressive and charge units. 12 swings from a 10 man unit aren’t bad and with Colonel Straken and a Priest that can turn into 32 swings! It’s not good quality, but it’s a lot of quantity. Catachans also have access to Sergeant Harker, so you can re-roll 1s in the Shooting phase for stuff within 6″ of him (usually a large number of tanks).

Cadian and Catachan can replicate each other’s main stuff to differing degrees, and your choice between them comes down to what parts you value more, with Catachan having the edge for infantry and Cadian leaning better for vehicle builds.

Valhallan Imperial Guard. Credit: SRM

Valhallan

  • Regimental Doctrine – Grim Demeanor: INFANTRY units halve the number of models that flee, rounding up. VEHICLES count as having double their current number of wounds remaining for profile purposes.
  • Stratagem – Send in the Next Wave – 2CP: At the end of your movement phase, set up a VALHALLAN INFANTRY unit that was wholly destroyed earlier in the battle again, within 6″ of a board edge and more than 9″ from any enemy units. You have to pay reinforcement points for this.
  • Warlord Trait – Tenacious: 5+++ FNP for non-VEHICLE, 6+++ for VEHICLE.
  • Relic – Pietrov’s MK 45: Relic bolt pistol with AP-1 and D2, but more importantly prevents more than one model fleeing from VALHALLAN units within 6″
  • Order – Fire on My Command!: Target unit can shoot into combat, but each 1 to hit lands on a friendly unit of your choice that’s within 1″ of your target instead.

Valhallans don’t see much play, but have a unique capability in their Relic, being the only remaining way to make big squads of conscripts or combine-squad infantry (essentially) fearless since the great commissar debacle of ’07. These days that’s still not enough to put them on the table – the metagame is set up to deal with pure horde lists and that’s the only unique thing they bring to the table.

 

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Vostroyan

  • Regimental Doctrine – Heirloom Weapons: Add 6″ to the range of rapid-fire and heavy weapons with a base range of 24″ or more.
  • Stratagem – Firstborn Pride – 1CP: At the start of the shooting phase, pick a VOSTROYAN unit and give it +1 to hit for the phase.
  • Warlord Trait – Honoured Duelist: Re-roll failed hits and wounds in the fight phase.
  • Relic – The Armour of Graf Toschenko: INFANTRY model becomes T4 and gets a 2+.
  • Order – Repel the Enemy!: Target units can shoot even if they’re in combat, as long as they target an enemy unit within 1″ of them.

Vostroyans are very appealing as a smaller guard contingent in a soup army. Their stratagem is exceedingly good on many builds of Tank Commander, with the extra range also good on several key weapons, so a detachment of two or three of those plus some infantry can be a decent bolt-on to an Imperium list. Because the stratagem is only for a single unit there are considerable diminishing returns on this regiment, meaning smaller contingents is generally the only place it’s seen, but it can be good there.

 

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

Armageddon

  • Regimental Doctrine – Industrial Efficiency: INFANTRY can rapid-fire at 18″ instead of half range. VEHICLES ignore AP-1.
  • Stratagem – Armoured Fist – 1CP: At the start of the shooting phase, give an ARMAGEDDON INFANTRY unit that got out of an ARMAGEDDON transport this turn re-rolls 1s to hit in shooting.
  • Warlord Trait – Ex-gang Leader: +1A and +1 to wound in the Fight phase.
  • Relic – Skull Mask of Acheron: Enemies within 3″ get -1Ld, Orks get -2Ld. Oh, dear.
  • Order – Mount Up!: The target unit can immediately board a transport within 3″ after shooting this phase, as long as they didn’t disembark this turn.

Armageddon has the gimmick of being the transport guys, and Chimera spam lists occasionally pop up where you can get some value out of their stratagem and order. It’s a mark of how good Catachans are that such builds might still sometimes use them, but if you find yourself wanting to put together an armored company this is an OK place to look.

 

Credit: Anders Nordenskjöld

Tallarn

  • Regimental Doctrine – Swift as the Wind: Infantry can shoot non-heavy weapons after advancing, and ignore the assault penalty for doing so. VEHICLES can ignore move/shoot penalties for heavy weapons, and TITANIC VEHICLES treat heavy weapons as assault after advancing.
  • Stratagem – Ambush – 3CP: During deployment, you can set up three units (only one of which can be a VEHICLE) in Ambush. They can deep strike within 7″ of a table edge at the end of your movement phase and count as having moved their full movement (important for Grinding Advance).
  • Warlord Trait – Swift Attacker: Your warlord and friendly TALLARN units within 6″ can charge after falling back.
  • Relic – Claw of the Desert Tiger: Relic power sword with D2 that grants +2 attacks.
  • Order – Get Around Behind Them!: Tank Order. The target can move up to 6″ before or after shooting, and this doesn’t affect the distance moved for the purposes of Grinding Advance.

Tallarn gets a bunch of movement tricks that help both INFANTRY and VEHICLES and a potent stratagem letting them deep strike multiple units, which can even include a Baneblade. Effective use of movement is a massive part of competitive play, so while they lose a little of the brute force of Catachan or Cadian, they’re definitely a credible third choice for a pure or heavy guard army. Like Cadians, they want lots of Tank Commanders to take advantage of their (very potent) order.

Also objectively the coolest looking infantry regiment. This is just a fact.

Credit: Greg “Klobasnek” Narro

Mordian

  • Regimental Doctrine – Parade Drill: INFANTRY gets +1Ld  +1 to hit on overwatch if every model’s base is touching at least one other model’s. VEHICLES get +1 to hit on overwatch if they’re within 3″ of another MORDIAN VEHICLE. Note: Yes, modifiers don’t work on overwatch, but there’s an FAQ for this that basically runs to “this works as intended because we say so”.
  • Stratagem – Volley Fire – 1CP: Use when a MORDIAN INFANTRY unit in your army shoots in the Shooting phase. For each hit roll of 6+ you can make an additional attack with the same weapon.
  • Warlord Trait – Iron Discipline: Whenever a model would flee from a unit within 6″ of the warlord, they don’t on a 4+.
  • Relic – Order of the Iron Star of Mordian: INFANTRY model gets a 4+++ FNP.
  • Order – Form Firing Squad!: Target unit can shoot CHARACTERS with rapid-fire weapons even if they aren’t the closest target.

Sadly, someone has to bring up the rear, and here it’s the Mordian Iron Guard. They’re just kind of bad – none of this is anywhere close to the power level of the good regiments (or honestly really any of the others).

Credit: Colin Ward

Krieg

The Death Korps of Krieg don’t have as many rules as the other regiments but have their own Doctrine in the Imperial Armour Compendium that’s worth pointing out here. You’re never taking this trait unless your force to for playing Death Korps, which is great news because it’s really terrible.

  • Regimental Doctrine – Cult of Sacrifice: Each time you take a Combat Attrition test for a unit with this doctrine, ignore any or all modifiers. If a CHARACTER or VEHICLE with this doctrine is destroyed and doesn’t explode, roll a D6. On a 4+ it can either shoot with one of its ranged weapons or make one attack with one of its melee weapons before being removed (treat it as having one wound remaining). This isn’t particularly good and there’s no compelling reason to go Krieg outside of wanting to run their models.

 

Custom Regiment Traits

Custom faction traits have been very hit and miss. As with most sets of these, to build a custom trait you pick two abilities from the list. Outside of Marines, you pay an implicit cost to take them, losing access to faction traits, relics and stratagems, so they have to be pretty great to compete. Some factions (Craftworld Eldar and T’au Empire) get there, but some don’t. Guard sit somewhere in the middle of the pack – there’s some decent stuff here, but although there’s been testing and interest in it the winning lists between this book landing and the lockdown commencing were largely still on the originals. Overall, there’s basically no slam dunk combo here that you look at and can definitively say it beats out all the originals on a wide range of units.

The Good Ones

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Gunnery Experts: When you roll to determine the number of shots for a weapon on a VEHICLE, you can re-roll one of the dice. This is the VEHICLE half of Catachan, and obviously good with tanks. A
  • Spotter Details: Increase the range of heavy weapons with a range of 24″ or more by 6″. This is a partial version of the Vostroyan trait, and it can be combined with Gunnery Experts to give a vehicle-boosting trait that’s a bit more applicable to a full army, at the cost of losing access to the stratagem. However, isn’t needed for lots of the guns in the army, so taking this can be wasteful unless you tailor it to it. B+

Gunnery Experts is the winner of the lot, it’s a generally applicable partner that pushes it above the core choices is Spotter Details which works well with your most important Russ loadouts, the Demolisher cannon. Jury-Rigged Repairs (below) is maybe interesting in a very chassis-heavy list, but like all vehicles without invulnerable saves, guard tanks tend to get fully eliminated one at a time by savvy opponents. Still, Gunnery Experts and Spotter Details is a good enough combo that it has seen play in competitive lists, with named regiments filling out detachments that are sporting infantry, so it is worth knowing about

If you want an “army-wide” trait things become trickier. Adding Agile Fighters or Wilderness Survivors to Experts is probably the most appealing, as it does give you a combo that leans into what we established Guard want to do – use their infantry as mobile board control while the tanks pound away with their guns. Is this actually better than going for Catachan or Tallarn for a mixed force though? Not convinced, but the community might surprise us on this.

The OK Ones

  • Agile Fighters: Advancing INFANTRY can re-roll their advance. If you are solely planning to use your Infantry to move around the board at great speed this is worth a look – remember that squads will often be advancing twice in a turn thanks to Move! Move! Move!. C+
  • Wilderness Survivors: If an INFANTRY unit with this doesn’t advance in its previous movement phase, it gains the benefit of cover. OK if you’re aiming for the opposite of the previous, and slowly grinding up the board with many squads, but bear in mind that it immediately switches off if you use M!M!M!, which often means the unit your opponent most wants to kill is your most vulnerable. C+
  • Disciplined Shooters: INFANTRY can rapid-fire at 18″. It’s fine, and if you’re heavy on infantry you want to push gradually up the board the combo with Wilderness Survivors makes for an acceptable if relatively unexciting trait. C
  • Jury-rigged Repairs: At the start of your turn, injured vehicles get 1W back on a roll of 2-4 and d3 back on a 5+. This is a pretty aggressive version of this effect, and could plausibly be OK in a mechanized list. C+

The Rest

  • Fire From the Hip: Advance and shoot rapid-fire weapons at -1. As a worse version of Tallarn, it’s difficult to ever see this making it. C
  • Combined Auspex: As long as you have two vehicles within 3″ of each other, they hit on 5+ on overwatch. Meh. C
  • Pyromaniacs: Re-roll wounds of 1 with flamers, heavy flamers, or twin heavy flamers. Too narrow and honestly underwhelming even on the stuff it targets. D
  • Lord’s Approval: INFANTRY gets +1AP on their attacks within 9″ of an officer. Guard does not want this. Well, Catachans want this, but they implicitly cannot have it. D.
  • Monster Hunters: Heavy Weapons inflict a mortal wound on a 6 to wound against MONSTERS. The winner of “should have been a stratagem” goes to this one, because this is a worthwhile effect against the right targets, but something you utterly cannot afford to commit to in an all-comers list.
  • Slum Fighters: Extra hit on unmodified 6 to hit in melee. See Lord’s Approval. D

 

Tempestus Regiments

Tempestus Scions. Credit: SRM

You might be thinking that’s enough faction traits but you’d be very wrong. In the original Guard codex, Tempestus Scions had their own regimental doctrine, stratagem, and warlord trait that you could get for taking a dedicated detachment of them, but Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good has blown that wide open with a bunch of new rules for MILITARUM TEMPESTUS detachments (anywhere every unit is either MILITARUM TEMPESTUS or covered by Advisors and Auxilla).

Any unit with the MILITARUM TEMPESTUS keyword now gets a <TEMPESTUS REGIMENT> keyword added to their datasheet as well, working just like a normal replaceable keyword with six additional choices added in the book. As long as all units in your detachment share a <TEMPESTUS REGIMENT> (excluding units covered by the Advisors and Auxilla rule), <TEMPESTUS REGIMENT> units get a regimental doctrine. Each choice also comes with a relic, warlord trait, and stratagem, and there’s also a generic set of stratagems you unlock by having a MILITARUM TEMPESTUS detachment in your army, granting special abilities for both these units and some of the advisor and auxilia options.

It’s also worth noting while reviewing the options here that there’s a stratagem to hand out an extra warlord trait to a MILITARUM TEMPESTUS CHARACTER, making all the options go up in value as they’re not really competing with Grand Strategist.

All MILITARUM TEMPESTUS officers have access to the following order:

  • Order – Elimination Protocol Sanctioned!: Target unit can re-roll wounds against MONSTERS and VEHICLES.

This is really, really good – if you’re packing special-weapon-heavy squads then it can let them reliably punch something out, and with some of the new Doctrines and Stratagems can also let even the humble-ish hot-shot lasgun do serious damage to bigger targets. Very nice.

The following are the generic choices for stratagem, keyword, and relic tied to the main keyword:

  • Stratagem – Superior Intelligence – 1CP: Lets an INFANTRY squad intercept fire at a deep striker coming in within 12″ at -1 to hit.
  • Warlord Trait – Faithful Servant of the Throne: Your warlord gets a deny.
  • Relic – The Tactical Auto-Reliquery of Tiberius:  The bearer can issue an additional order per turn on a 2+.

The trait here is pretty whatever, but both the stratagem and relic are decent. Combined with a Tempestus command rod, the relic lets a single TEMPESTOR PRIME cover three units for orders, which is spicy, while the stratagem is definitely useful – especially on the Iotan Dragons, where it’s more likely that enemies will be dropping in rapid-fire range.

As for the other choices, at the moment three of them sit ahead of the rest – the Iotan Dragons, the Kappic Eagles, and the Lambdan Lions. We’ll cover why as we go through them. It’s worth saying though that none of these are terrible, and you can have fun with all of them.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Storm Troopers

  • Regimental Doctrine – Storm Troopers: When shooting at a unit within half range, each hit roll of 6+ lets you make an additional attack with the same weapon against the same target.

The OG Tempestus Doctrine is fine, especially on plasma guns and the weaponry mounted on Tauroxes, but has a fatal flaw – most of your models are packing hot-shot lasguns and want to deep strike, and have to be just outside the range to benefit from this doctrine in order to do so (unless you use the new version of Precision Drop). Post-Greater Good, this means that you’re probably better off looking elsewhere unless you’re planning to bring exactly spammed plasma guns on your Scions, and even then there are other choices.

54th Psian Jakals

  • Regimental Doctrine – Death From Above: Enemy models slain in the shooting phase count as two for the purposes of morale.
  • Stratagem – Elusive Hunters – 1CP: When one of your units is targeted, give your opponent -1 to hit it unless they’re within half range.
  • Warlord Trait – Skilled Tracker: You can redeploy three of your Jakals units at the start of the first battle round. Note that this doesn’t have the extra spicy wording that the Emperor’s Children version gets, so you can’t pull units from the board into deep strike.
  • Relic – The Hounds Teeth: Relic chainsword with S+1, AP-2, D2, +3A and re-roll wounds against AELDARI.

While none of the regiments are outright bad, this is one of the slightly weaker ones simply because it doesn’t lean in that well to what Scions are trying to do. The redeploy is cute, but given it doesn’t allow you to pull units into deep strike it would mostly be good on Tauroxes, which are overpriced at the moment. The strat is mostly aimed at them too. The doctrine is extremely swingy – sometimes it’s actually great, but will also sometimes do nothing, and you generally want an ability that’s going to be useful most of the time from a faction trait. The relic is hilarious but doesn’t ultimately pull these up for competitive play.

32nd Thetoid Eagles

  • Regimental Doctrine – Predatory Strike: When shooting a unit within half range, an unmodified 6 to hit scores an additional hit.
  • Stratagem – Full Charge – 1CP: When a unit shoots, they get re-rolls to hit against targets within 12″
  • Warlord Trait – Uncompromising Prosecution: THETOID EAGLES units within 6″ of the warlord that fire hot-shot weapons get AP-4 on a 6 to wound.
  • Relic – Fire of Judgement: Relic hot-shot pistol. Pistol 2 that just immediately inflicts a MW and ends the attack sequence on a hit.

These guys are fine as a generic upgrade on the baseline. Their doctrine is a better version of Storm Troopers most of the time, as there aren’t that many ways to get hit bonuses on Scions, while their stratagem is just generally potent, and the warlord trait can add a good spike in some circumstances. It isn’t quite as good as the top three ones but is very much emblematic of there being no terrible choices here.

133rd Lambdan Lions

  • Regimental Doctrine – Prized Weaponry: Improve the AP of all weapons by 1.
  • Stratagem – Gifts from the Mechanicus – 1CP: When a unit shoots, hot-shot weapons do a single mortal wound on a 6 to wound instead of their normal damage.
  • Warlord Trait – Keys to the Armoury: Re-roll shooting hit rolls of 1 for LAMBDAN LION units within 6″ of the warlord.
  • Relic – Refractor Field Generator:  LAMBDAN LION models within 6″ have a 5++.

Off the strength of their relic, these are one of the better choices here. Although it only affects models within the aura rather than any unit tagged, it can still make a Taurox train a real pain to shift. Coupled with the fact that their weapons are operating at a mighty AP-1/AP-3 by default, that makes these a potent option. The stratagem is mostly pretty eh, but can suddenly become very good against a unit with a decent invuln, especially a MONSTER or VEHICLE in combination with the Tempestus order. Finally, the warlord trait leans further into that by removing the need to throw around Take Aim! orders. These guys are a very good choice.

43rd Iotan Dragons

  • Regimental Doctrine – Crack Shots: Add 6″ to the range of rapid-fire weapons.
  • Stratagem – Drilled to Perfection – 1CP: When one of your units fires overwatch, they hit on a 4+.
  • Warlord Trait – Precision Targeting: Choose an enemy within 18″ of the warlord at the start of your shooting phase. IOTAN DRAGON units within 6″ ignore cover when shooting that unit.
  • Relic – Emperor’s Fury: Relic plasma pistol with three shots.

The second of the strong choices, pretty much entirely on the back of the strength of the doctrine. The main problem with scions is that when they drop normally they aren’t in rapid-fire range because their guns are only R18″. An extra 6″ immediately fixes that, and while the rest of the stuff here is so-so, if you’re just packing a small detachment of these to provide some board control, these require very limited support to be decent.

55th Kappic Eagles

  • Regimental Doctrine – Mobilised Infantry: Infantry ignore the move/shoot penalty for heavy weapons, and add 1 to their hit rolls on the turn they disembark from a TRANSPORT.
  • Stratagem – Tactical Misdirection – 1CP: When one of your units destroys an enemy unit, your opponent gets -1 to hit when shooting against anything else if your unit is their closest target.
  • Warlord Trait – Master Vox: Warlord can order units within 24″, and can issue orders from within a transport, measuring from the transport.
  • Relic – Distraction Charges: When a model within 3″ scores a hit on overwatch, the unit that was hit halves their charges (rounding up).

These have the distinction of being the only regiment to make it into a top-four list between the book dropping and lockdown commencing. It’s very narrow, favoring doing pretty much exactly one thing – dropping squads with as many hot-shot volley guns as possible. It appears, however, that it does that one thing so very well that it’s properly competitive. The list that succeeded with these was configured with two ten model squads packing four hot-shot guns each in a deep strike, and one 10-model squad with Plasma in a Valkyrie. That seems like a strong loadout. The Warlord trait is also good here, letting a Tempestor provide support in a wide area while staying safe in a Valkyrie.

9th Iotan Gorgonnes

You have no idea how annoying it is as a pundit that they decided to have two “Iotan” regiments.

  • Regimental Doctrine – Resolute Heroism: When shooting at the closest target, an unmodified hit roll of 6 scores an additional hit.
  • Stratagem – Daring Descent – 1CP: When one of your units deep strikes it can drop anywhere more than 5″ away from the enemy instead of 9″.
  • Warlord Trait – Sanctity of Spirit: Enemy psykers within 24″ suffer perils on any roll of a double.
  • Relic – Blessed Bolt Pistol: Relic bolt pistol. Pistol 2, S5, AP-2, D2 and can snipe characters and has D3 against PSYKERs.

The stratagem here lets you pull off some nasty stuff, and much like the Iotan Dragons lets you start rapid firing with a squad straight away. However, locking that ability behind the stratagem makes it a bit less good as a general-purpose option, though the doctrine on these guys is also good. Not seen much yet, and probably behind the top three, but could surprise as a surgical tool once people start experimenting further. Squads of these guys hanging around in your Guard lists is absolute gold for objective play in 9e. Great for getting your last Octarius activation. Note that they have to be in an actual Iotan Gorgonnes detachment to actually be targeted by stratagems from TGG, because GW wanted to make Guard as difficult as possible to understand in the list building portionn of the game…

 

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

Tank Aces

As with several other factions, Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good gives Guard an alternative use for their Warlord Trait pick – making one of their vehicles a Tank Ace. If you do this, you choose a VEHICLE that fits in to one of the categories below, and give it an ability chosen from the list. You can also, once per battle before the game, spend 1CP to hand out an extra Tank Ace ability with the Tank Ace stratagem.

Each model can only have one Tank Ace ability, and you can’t give them to Named Characters. Sorry, Pask.

There’s some cool stuff in here, with a few standouts that see regular use in 9th edition games.

Credit: Scott Horras “Heresy”

Main Battle Tanks

LEMAN RUSS models only

  • Master Mechanic: Reduce the damage from incoming multi-damage ranged attacks by 1, to a minimum of 1. We’re starting off pretty spicy – this makes any Russ into a pseudo Wave Serpent, and can be good on a vehicle with one of the shorter-ranged weapons that you’re planning to send into the maw of your opponent’s guns. B+.
  • Slow and Purposeful: Re-roll 1s to wound in the shooting phase if the model moves half its move characteristic or less. This is OK, but it’s a bit too marginal compared to some of the other options here, and can’t be combined with things like Unyielding Advance the way the basic Grinding Advance bonus can. C
  • Weapon Expert: Improves the AP of turret weapons by 1. This is a nice improvement on most weapons. Also good on a punisher, helping make up for their price hike by charging them up. This has been downgraded a bit from our last update of Start Competing since it was hit particularly hard by the loss of Hammer of Sunderance (RIP 2019-2020). B
  • Armoured Rush: This lets you shoot your turret guns after advancing. It’s pretty cool, and honestly only loses out because there are other ways to boost your mobility, and because other choices do more. B
  • Up-armoured: Gives a 2+ base save. Loses out against Master Mechanic as a general-purpose defensive tool, but a lot better in some matchups. Assuming tournaments end up ruling this similar to Exarch powers and you end up being able to “flex” one added by a stratagem, this will sometimes be worth taking. B
  • Steel Commander: Gives a TANK COMMANDER an extra Tank Order per turn. Basic Russes are seeing a bit more play than they used to, but this ability was already straight-up available as a warlord trait, and I don’t see myself passing on one of the better ones here to take this. C

Weapon Expert is the clear winner here, but the defensive options will occasionally be what you want.

Credit: Scott Horras “Heresy”

Support Aces

Basilisks, Hydras, Manticores, Wyverns or Deathstrikes only

  • Full Payload: Multi-damage weapons the model fires automatically do maximum damage. This is great, but it does paint the world’s biggest target on a T7 model, so hopefully there’s terrain you can hide behind! Also it’s pretty cute on a Manticore. In order to effectively play Guard at the competitive level right now it’s nearly mandatory to play with two Full Payload Manticores. A+
  • Shatterer of Wills: The morale ability siren is sounding! This gives one enemy unit you hit -2 Ld for the turn! That’s not nearly enough to justify the slot here! That’s why we have the siren! D
  • Well-stocked Magazines: You can re-roll any number of the dice used to determine number of shots on this model’s weapons. This is OK on a Wyvern, again especially if you’re planning to double shoot them, but on anything else this is overkill, especially as you can get a lot of it by being Catachan. OK, yes, technically it’s quite good on a Deathstrike, but you still shouldn’t take them. I’m also not clear on how a Deathstrike can have a well-stocked magazine. Missile is either there or not. This isn’t hard. ANYWAY. C

Full Payload is far and away the winner here, the only real question is whether, in the long run, it beats out just taking two Weapon Experts.

Super-Heavy Aces

TITANIC only

  • Inspiring Might: Roll 2d6 and pick the lowest for morale tests for friendlies within 6″. There goes the siren again! You know what that means! D
  • Hull-Down Deployment: The tank gets the benefit of light cover until you move. Interesting, and would be more so if any of the super heavies had weapons that ignored the need for line of sight. As it is, with the prevalence of double-L deployments this is mostly just alpha strike defence against armies with middling AP guns. That’s not the worst place to be, but this is unlikely to reliably be enough to stop a determined opponent popping your precious tank, and the fact it flat doesn’t work against some popular trait choices like Masterful Shots is a further strike against it. C+
  • Steadfast Leviathan: A vehicle in a Super-Heavy Auxiliary detachment gets to keep the doctrine. This is probably the best of the bunch – all of Cadian, Catachan and Tallarn have appealing abilities to stick on a Baneblade (the most popular choice right now). It’s still only “decent” rather than “great” though. B

Steadfast Leviathan is the one doing some legwork here, giving a bit more motivation to take a lone super heavy.

 

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Psychic Powers

Like most factions, Guard get their own psychic discipline, and in an admirable show of restraint compared to everything else we’ve just been through no more were added in TGG. There is one additional power tied to a specific Blackstone Fortress model, but we’ll talk about her separately.

These powers trend a little weaker than in many armies, but the tradeoff is that access to them is outrageously cheap. You can add an Astropath to your list for the princely sum of 35pts, and while they get a weakened chance of casting smite, they cast these normally.

The powers are as follows:

  • Terrifying Visions – WC7: Pick one enemy unit within 18″, that unit has -2 Ld until the start of its next turn. Hahahaha no. Technically, knowing that this exists is important because it means if any effects that key hard off leadership appear in either Imperium or Tyranids (via Brood Brothers) it can become part of a combo (and was sometimes with pre-nerf Mental Onslaught) but it’s awful on pure rate and has no current serious uses. D
  • Gaze of the Emperor – WC6: draw a straight line 2D6″ from the psyker; for each model the line passes over, roll a dice and on a 4+ that model’s unit takes a mortal wound. Absurdly hard to set up and packed with failure cases. An extremely bad alt-smite. D
  • Psychic Barrier – WC6: Pick a friendly ASTRA MILITARUM unit within 12″; until the start of your next Psychic phase, add 1 to that unit’s saving throws. Here’s the good stuff – this is a big part of making Bullgryn great (especially as it affects invulnerable saves) and is also pretty decent on pure rate if you fill a Brigade slot with an Astropath and drop it on your most tooled up Tank Commander or a superheavy. A
  • Nightshroud – WC6: Pick a friendly ASTRA MILITARUM unit within 12″; until the start of your next turn, ranged weapons shooting at that unit are -1 to hit. As above. Slightly less critical to the combo and slightly less good on pure rate, but still good for both. B+
  • Mental Fortitude – WC4: pick a friendly ASTRA MILITARUM unit within 12″; until the start of your next Psychic, that unit automatically passes Morale tests. Noooooooooooooooo. D
  • Psychic Maelstrom – WC7: pick an enemy unit within 18″; roll a D6 and on a 2+ it takes a mortal wound. Unless the wound is negated, roll again and on a 3+ that unit suffers another mortal wound, adding 1 to the dice roll until you either fail to cause a mortal wound or the enemy unit is destroyed. A better alt smite than Gaze of the Emperor, but still pretty bad overall, especially as there are no two-cast psykers in the list (which is where alt-smites shine). C

Cheap though accessing them is, really only two of these matter – you aren’t going to put guard psykers in your list if what you want is psychic firepower, certainly not now that Inquisitors exist. Psychic Barrier and Nightshroud are both good stuff though – if you’re bringing Bullgryn or a Super Heavy you want these in your list, and even if you just have Tank Commanders or Pask being able to access them via a 35pt elite slot is such a low cost (while giving you a deny in your castle) that it’s frequently worth it.

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

 

Warlord Traits

We’ve already talked about a lot of warlord traits from the various regiments, but there are some generic ones too. Two of them are even pretty good!

  • Grand Strategist: One of the most notorious warlord traits in the game thanks to being part of a broken CP farm before the tactical restraint rule was added. Refunds CP you spend on a 5+, and gives you an extra once-per-battle re-roll for a hit, wound or save while your warlord is alive. Even after the nerf, this is still fantastic, and very much the “default” Guard trait even above the regimental ones. A
  • Old Grudges: The other commonly seen trait. Lets you pick one enemy unit at the end of deployment, and gives your warlord a 6″ aura of re-roll failed wounds against that unit. This is incredibly good if your opponent has big targets like a Knight, and OK even against less powerful targets to help your alpha strike go off well. Particularly notable since the addition of Progeny of Conflict (extra warlord trait strat for tempestus), as the aura is ASTRA MILITARUM rather than <REGIMENT>, so in key matchups, you can stick this on a Tempestor Prime and put them next to your Russes. A
  • Implacable Determination: Your warlord and one unit within 3″ of them can auto-advance 6″. I’m honestly surprised, reading this, that it’s never received wording clarification on trigger timing, especially as Guard has a trivial way to advance out of phase. The fact that this is the first time I am noticing this should key you into the fact that it’s probably not that great. Another one that does, to be fair, probably merits the occasional second look with progeny, but not much of one. C
  • Draconian Disciplinarian: Re-roll failed morale within 6″. It is utterly trivial to get access to this effect at a much cheaper price by taking a Commissar, so it isn’t worth using a slot on. D
  • Bellowing Voice: +3″ to the range of any abilities on the datasheet. There’s nothing super exciting to combo with this beyond making your characters slightly better. It’s sort of fine, but will never edge out the good choices. C
  • Master of Command: Either gain Voice of Command or extra use of it/Tank Orders. Another one that’s kind of fine but just so vastly below the power of Grand Strategist that it doesn’t get used. C

Guard warlord traits are pretty easy – if you don’t know what you should be taking, Grand Strategist is a very safe bet. If you have more of a plan, Old Grudges looks good. Despite the absolute avalanche of options outside this table, you can’t go too far wrong with that.

Credit: Skails

Relics

Sadly, the core relics for Astra Militarum are a bit underwhelming. The six choices here are:

  • The Emperor’s Benediction: A 3-shot AP-1 D2 bolt pistol that can character-snipe for a Commissar or Lord Commissar. Cute, but underwhelming, and the short-range makes the sniping pretty irrelevant. C
  • The Laurels of Command: Officer with voice of command only. When they order a unit, they can roll a 4+ and order that unit again, for free. One of the better core ones – it’s a coin flip, but double-tapping on orders into a tooled-up Scion unit or a Heavy Weapon team has real upside, and it isn’t unsalvageable if you fail. B
  • The Deathmask of Ollanius: Gives an INFANTRY model a 4++ and lets them heal d3 wounds at the start of your turn once per battle. Used to have a busted combo on an Ogryn Bodyguard, now doesn’t really have a role. D+
  • The Dagger of Tu’sakh – the bearer (an INFANTRY OFFICER) and one ASTRA MILITARUM INFANTRY unit (from the same <REGIMENT> if the bearer has one) can be set up off the table, and then at the end of the Movement phase deploy anywhere within 6″ of a battlefield edge and within 3″ of each other. Used to be takeable on a Tank Commander, but that died in the FAQ. You can sneakily use this on Bullgryn by giving it to an Officer of the Fleet, but these days that’s the only trick that’s worth much of a look. Most other uses pale in comparison – theoretically, you can bring Veterans on to use their new stratagem, but I’m not massively convinced that’s worth it. C+
  • Kurov’s Aquila: Another tool from the broken CP farms of yore. An OFFICER can carry this, and each time your opponent uses a Stratagem you roll a D6 and gain a Command Point back on a 5+. This has made a comeback since folks largely want to use their Warlord Trait on a Tank Ace. A-
  • Blade of Conquest: +2S AP-4 d3 damage power sword. That’s a heck of a power sword, but tangling in melee still isn’t what you want your commanders doing. C

Kurov’s Aquila is still just about the winner here, but go grab the Relic of Lost Cadia if you’re playing Cadians.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Stratagems

There are three sets of these (outside the regimental ones we’ve already covered) because of course there are. The basic codex had the standard crop, but then TGG added both an additional set of generic ones and a set you only unlock by including a full MILITARUM TEMPESTUS detachment (which, confusingly, contains stratagems aimed at other types of auxilia as well). For the sake of clarity, we’ll split these up by their source, but to be clear there’s no difference in how you unlock the first two sets – every AM army gets both.

Codex

  • Vortex Missile – 3CP: Substantially soups up a Vortex Missile fired by a Deathstrike with hit re-rolls, a better chance of splash damage, and a chance to do extra damage to any survivors. Exists in a weird rating spot – Deathstrikes are still terrible even with this, but if you’ve taken one it potentially is worth saving this to go with it. I’m going to go with a D+
  • Fire on My Position – 3CP: When a unit with a Voxcaster is wiped out, deal d3 MWs to each enemy unit within 3″ on a 4+. This should cost 1CP, early 8th was a tripD+
  • Crush Them! – 1CP: Use at the start of the Charge phase and pick a vehicle. That unit can charge even if it Advanced, and in the following Fight phase, its attacks hit on a 2+. Unfortunately, a Leman Russ hitting on 2s is still terrible in combat. Worth noting it’s outright okay on something on a Baneblade chassis, which suddenly has a potential 9 attacks at S9, AP-2, Dd3 hitting on a 2+. D+
  • Aerial Spotter – 2CP: Use at the start of the Shooting phase on a Basilisk or Wyvern, that unit can re-roll failed hit rolls. Handy for squeezing a bit more efficiency out of these units, and especially great if you’re also going to double shoot them with the Vigilus stratagem. However doing that does get very expensive, and unless you have an absolute ocean of CP the ceiling for that combo is a bit low for 4CP spent. Still OK, but not great. C+
  • Jury Rigging – 1CP: Use at the start of your turn. Pick a vehicle, heal 1 wound, but you can’t move/charge/pile in.  The top tip here is to look for opportunities to bring a vehicle back above a degradation threshold to bring its shooting effectiveness back up. That’s pretty much the only time you should use this – 1CP is not worth it otherwise. B
  • Consolidate Squads – 1CP: Use at the end of your Movement phase. Choose an Infantry Squad within 2″ of another Infantry Squad from the same <REGIMENT>. They merge into a single unit and are treated as such for the rest of the battle. Handy for creating bigger blobs where needed, or denying victory points – for example, in an ITC game where your horde of Guardsmen might give up kill more easily. Also magnifies the effect of buffs. One of those things that aren’t always useful, but is super important to have lodged in your brain as a thing you can do in emergencies. B
  • Preliminary Bombardment – 2CP: Use before the first battle round begins. Roll a dice for each enemy unit on the battlefield, and on a 6 they suffer 1 mortal wound. The impact here is tiny for the cost, and this just isn’t worth it. D
  • Imperial Commanders Armoury – 1/3CP: Standard extra relic trait. There are lots of things you want out of various regiments and detachments, so good. A
  • Officio Prefectus Command Tank – 2CP: Choose a Leman Russ and give it a 6″ bubble of granting Ld9 to ASTRA MILITARUM units. Cute and flavourful, but not in any way good. D
  • Mobile Command Vehicle – 1CP: Lets an OFFICER issue orders from inside a Chimera. Not super relevant most of the time, but if you go in on a CHimera spam list it’s suddenly promoted all the way to OK. C+
  • Inspired Tactics – 1CP: Use after an officer has issued an order or tank order. That officer may immediately issue an additional order. This is great for squeezing utility out of your officers, whether that’s getting a 3rd FRFSRF out, or getting them to order 2 units and then order themselves to scurry off to safety, or whatever else. Very handy in a pinch B
  • Defensive Gunners – 1CP: Use when firing Overwatch with a vehicle. That unit hits on a 5 or a 6 instead of just a 6. Doubling your number of hits with a vehicle being charged can be clutch, particularly if it’s something a Manticore, and hitting a few times could legitimately expect to kill the charger. Also great on something like a Russ with a punisher gatling cannon, where this can make for a very swingy burst of fire which could well cripple a light unit intending to tag it and tie it up. Great combo with the Emperor’s Fist warlord trait too. Unfortunately, with the advent of 9th, you ALSO have to pay for the stratagem to overwatch in order to use this. C
  • Take Cover – 1CP: Add 1 to saving throws for a unit targeted by Shooting. At the start of the edition you could Take Cover on anything, including a Baneblade, but it’s since been errata-ed to be INFANTRY only. Should you care to combine this with Psychic Barrier you can get a basic squad of Infantry in cover down to a 2+ save, or Scions to a 1+, or of course use the Bullgryn stack described above for an utterly ridiculous -1+ save – at which point it takes some seriously heavy weaponry to get rid of them. One of those lovely strats that’s both useful on pure rate and builds into powerful combos. A
  • Grenadiers – 1CP: Use this before an infantry unit shoots or fires Overwatch. Up to ten models can throw grenades instead of only one model. Great for when there’s something lasguns just can’t deal with, and particularly hilarious on a big block of Scions which can throw out 10 krak grenades at BS3+. B
  • Fight to the Death – 1CP: Use when taking a Morale test. You can roll a D3 rather than a D6 for this test. Dead handy for keeping a unit around when it’s sat on a crucial objective. In 9th, this has gone up in value as you can only use Insane Bravery to auto-pass morale once per game. A
  • Go! Recon! – 1CP: Lets Scout Sentinels move 2D6″ in the Shooting phase but not shoot or charge this turn. Another handy little objective grabber and a way to get some extra utility out of your Brigade-filler sentinels, or a unit that you’ve included for Strike First, Strike Hard that’s still kicking around mid-game. B
  • Vengeance for Cadia! – 1CP: Confusingly not Cadian-Specific. Use this before an infantry unit shoots or fires Overwatch. Re-roll failed to hit and wound rolls against CHAOS units. This one doesn’t have the broadest utility, but the buff here is wild. Situational, but powerful enough when it’s “on” to get a B+ overall.

The generic guard strats are notoriously underwhelming – there’s some OK stuff here, but nothing you reliably want to be using all the time, and one of the reasons Cadians have always been popular for pure Guard is having a very powerful faction-locked strat to sink CP into. Luckily, The Greater Good (plus a bunch of ways to spend CP pre-game that have built up over time) has improved this somewhat.

The Greater Good – Generic

  • Relentless – 1CP: A non-TITANIC vehicle can act on top profile for a turn. Not being able to use it on your superheavies is a bit of a shame (but does at least suggest that they’ve learned from the catastrophic error that was Machine Spirit Resurgent), but because of the number of ways in The Greater Good to make one of your tanks somehow superior this is still helpful – if your opponent takes a swing at your Tank Ace and narrowly misses being able to run a full reprisal is good. A
  • Direct Onslaught – 1CP: A Manticore or Wyvern gets +1 to hit against targets it can see. This is a decent buff when it’s on, and especially good if you’ve got a source of re-roll 1s or have powered the unit up somehow. A
  • Experienced Eye – 1CP: Gives a VETERANS squad +1AP. Veterans, unfortunately, aren’t in a great spot right now – there’s very little reason you’d take them over Scions. That, sadly, leaves this largely irrelevant despite being a powerful buff on paper. C.
  • Furious Charge – 1CP: After charging with an OGRYN unit, roll for each of your models within 1″ of the enemy and deal a MW on a 4+. Not a bad boost, and could be helpful to get the ball rolling if you’re sending your Bullgryn into something very tough or numerous, but can be a little challenging to set up with their large bases. C+
  • Splash Damage – 1CP: A HELLHOUND can re-roll wounds against a unit in cover with its main gun. The boost here is just way too small – it’s conditional and isn’t going to affect enough shots to be worth the point most of the time. D+
  • Concentrated Fire – 1CP: A Heavy Weapon Squad gets +1 to hit and wound against a single target but all have to target it. Boy is that a hefty boost, yowza – the obvious place to put this is on a Lascannon team, where it leaves them wounding anything they shoot on 2s, and probably hitting on 3s re-rolling 1s (or even better if they’re Cadian). Heavy Weapon teams with good guns have always been unreliable glass cannons and thus not appeared in lists, but removing the “unreliable” from that equation is a serious draw to include one squad. Any strat powerful enough to make a bad unit good has to get at least a B+ and that seems like a good spot for this – the three model cap still puts a ceiling on it, but the power is there.
  • Strike First, Strike Hard – 1CP: A unit of Sentinels gets +2 to hit in the first battle round. Continuing the theme of making ropey units good, this has seen an explosion in the inclusion of full Sentinel squads packing hunter-killer missiles and either lascannons or missile launchers in lists. +2 to hit is an outrageously huge bonus at the price when attached to 6 big shots, and this appears to be a real player. The drawback to this is that you have to take Sentinels, and again, in 9th the +2 to hit has been somewhat mitigated by the maximum -1/+1 modifier cap. C
  • Shield of Flesh – 1CP: When your opponent shoots at an INFANTRY unit within 3″ of a Bullgryn unit that’s closer to them, they get -1 to hit. It’s a little hard to set up and there aren’t a tonne of things this is worth it on, but since good lists exist that use both Bullgryn and full Scion squads (the place this would be valuable) it’s probably only a matter of time till someone combines them. B
  • Hail of Fire – 2CP: A LEMAN RUSS automatically fires the maximum number of shots from all its guns (instead of rolling) while targeting a VEHICLE. This is preposterously powerful – like it’s true that Cadian or Catachan Russes hover around the 8.5 average shots range from their big guns anyway, but being able to lock in 12 shots, is totally outrageous. Also plausibly interesting on the rarely seen all-plasma Russ. A
  • Rolling Death – 1CP: A Taurox gets +1 to hit if it moves under half it’s speed. This does not make the Taurox happen. D
  • Head First  – 1CP: A unit that disembarked from a Chimera this turn gets +2 to their charge. Only being able to fit four Bullgryn into a Chimera caps the relevance of this substantially, but it’s at least OK on paper. Also not keyword locked, so you can theoretically use it on an Inquisitor, which is definitely relevant and definitely not random trivia. C
  • Focused Bombardment – 1CP: Makes a Master of Ordnance’s once-per-game barrage heavy 6 instead of heavy d6. This is actually pretty OK, and increases the draw to include one of these guys if you’re bringing a bunch of Basilisks. B
  • Deft Maneuvering – 1CP: Use when your opponent shoots at Armoured Sentinels. Halve the incoming damage from multi-damage weapons (rounding up). A strong reason to use the Armoured flavour for your Strike First, Strike Hard squad as it makes alpha-ing them off the board if your opponent goes first a real pain. B.
  • Psychic Conclave – 1CP: Gives a unit of Weirdvane Psykers and a Primaris Psyker within 6″ of each other +2 to casts and an extra cast each. This is a preposterously huge bonus – that almost makes me consider whether Weirdvane Psykers might be good, but then I remember that they are literally one of the worst units in the entire game. It’s such a spectacular bonus that I keep looking at it and wondering if you can make it work, so I guess I’ll give it a D+ and move on with my life.

This stuff gives you a bit more to play with, and leans the army as a whole towards having an even more nasty alpha strike – there’s a real argument for packing both a Sentinel and Heavy Weapon squad to make use of their big strats. Finally, it gives you a real CP sink in Hail of Fire – pretty much as long as you have a demo or battle cannon russ you’re happy to slam this button every turn.

The Greater Good – Militarum Tempestus

You only have access to these if you have at least one Militarum Tempestus detachment in your army.

  • Point-Blank Efficiency – 1CP: +1S to hot-shot weapons in half range when a unit shoots. Starting off strong – if you can get a decent-sized squad firing within half range with this (whether using Precision Drop or the Iotan Dragons) this is a big boost to efficiency – S3 is one of the sweet spots where +1S equates to +1 to wound against the vast, vast majority of relevant targets. B+
  • Unquestioning Obedience – 1CP: Gives a Commissar or Tempestor Prime a 12″ fearless bubble for MILITARUM TEMPESTUS units. While armies with 10-model squads of Scions do exist, they still don’t really have enough of them to make this super great, but it is still a cheaper Insane Bravery when you need it, so OK. C+
  • Precision Drop – 1CP: Lets a squad grav-chute out of a plane 5″ from the enemy rather than 9″, and ignore the chance of dying. This is super powerful, and if any version of “Scions in planes” works, this will be a part of it. A
  • Hammer Blow – 2CP: When an AERONAUTICA IMPERIALIS Flyer unit destroys a model, pin that model’s unit. This halves their advances and charges and subtracts 1 from their hit rolls in shooting. This is a niche tool but very potent when it lands in a useful spot. If you want to use it, make sure you consider at what point in the shooting sequence to fire your plane – if you’re going after something like Primaris Marines, try and make sure there’s a 1W model before you shoot. B
  • Advanced Counter Measures – 1CP: Upgrade a Valkyrie pre-battle so that it can hover without losing Hard to Hit. This is a very useful ability that goes mildly down in value because you often won’t see value from it till turn 2, giving your opponent a chance to “waste” your CP if they pop the Valk straight off (which they will often want to). Still a pretty hefty upgrade, and maybe worth trying out. C+
  • Tactical Air Control – 1CP: Lets an Officer of the Fleet draw LOS and range from any MILITARUM TEMPESTUS unit with a vox-caster rather than themself for their Air Raid or Strafing Coordinates ability, and also gives +2 to the rolls for the air raid. This guy is pretty far towards the back of the queue for Elite slot fillers and while this is cute, it doesn’t really bring him near the front, especially now the punisher Vulture is no longer really a thing. D+
  • Progeny of Conflict – 1CP: Extra Warlord trait for a MILITARUM TEMPESTUS character. Extremely good – several of the faction ones are decent, and as discussed in the traits section just being able to stick Old Grudges on a Tempestor on demand is fantastic. A.
  • Killing Zone – 1CP: Use after a  <TEMPESTUS REGIMENT> Infantry unit kills a model from a unit. Other <TEMPESTUS REGIMENT> infantry get +1 to wound against that unit. +1 to wound is always one of the spiciest abilities in the game, and this lets you do some really dirty things with Militarum Tempestus against horde armies, especially if you’re on the Kappic Eagles volley gun build. Also, don’t forget to gamble on wasting a guy with your Tempestor if he’s dropping with your units – that minimizes the number of un-buffed shots you have to fire. Definitely worth taking a bolt or plasma pistol on them to try and set this up. A

This list has some good stuff that helps build up the Tempestus’ ability to throw out deadly surgical strikes in the early-mid game. At their recently reduced prices and with these tools to help them punch up, they can be a real headache for opponents.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Units

We’re going to go through each battlefield role and look at the units within it, and how to get the most out of them.

The Core Units

(Not units with the CORE keyword. We mean it in the traditional sense here)

As previously mentioned, Guard has a goddamn lot of units, and a bunch of those units has a plethora of options. It’s not as bad as the 100+ datasheet Space Marines, but it’s close. The list flatters to deceive because there’s a bunch of irrelevant ones in there, including the overstuffed Elites section, the interchangeable Russ turrets which might as well say “take a demolisher cannon and ignore the rest,” and of course the different variants on the Baneblade chassis. And that’s not even accounting for the giant pile of things Forge World has made for the Imperial Guard, because if Forge World has any mission statement besides upsetting Wings it’s making endless boxes for Guardsmen to drive.

Given all that, then, we’ll be doing the following. Each slot will list out the options available to it, then will follow a brief paragraph highlighting anything which is an outright trap or otherwise irrelevant for the level we’re pitching at here (which is, roughly, “you want to take this to a tournament or other competitive event”), and then fuller discussion of the merits of things which actually matter.

In terms of Forge World stuff, there’s no way we’re adding the 38 extra datasheets. If anything is extremely relevant we’ll bring it in, but don’t expect to see much of this. If you disagree with our assessment of what’s relevant or not, feel free to @ us and generate click-driving engagement. More seriously, if you can point us to a successful list that included a Forge World unit we haven’t covered, we’ll add it.

In the list of available units, we will note which ones are named characters (denoted “NC”) and, where units are regiment-specific, what regiment they belong to. We will also note “Auxilia” units as described in the Regiments section above, as well as Forge World units (denoted “FW”).

HQ

Units available:

  • Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken (NC, Catachan)
  • Commissar Yarrick (NC, Officio Prefectus)
  • Company Commander
  • Knight Commander Pask (NC, Cadian)
  • Lord Castellan Creed (NC, Cadian)
  • Lord Commissar
  • Primaris Psyker
  • Tank Commander
  • Tempestor Prime
  • Aradia Madellan (NC, Auxilia, Blackstone)
  • Gaunt’s Ghosts (NC, Tanith, Officio Prefectus)
  • Death Korps Marshal (Death Korps)
  • Death Rider Squadron Commander (Death Korps)

The HQ slot is stuffed full of good options. Note that Marbo isn’t in the core book, but has a separate datasheet that comes with his model. Every single one of these has turned up on a tournament table in 8th edition, with the possible exception of Lord Commissars which tend to be left aside in favor of their cheaper juniors in the Elites slot. Looking at the rest, then, we have:

Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken (NC, Catachan)

‘Iron Hand’ Straken is very different from the basic Company Commander. A glance at the stats alone will suggest this – WS2+, S6, T4, W5, A4, and a 3+ save all combine to make him a lot beefier than your average soldier. He’s also loaded down with weaponry – a plasma pistol, a shotgun, frag and krak grenades, and a bionic arm with “devil’s claw” which grants him AP-1 and D2 attacks. As well as all this, he has two key abilities – Been There, Seen It, Killed It, which lets him re-roll failed wounds in the Fight phase when attacking MONSTERS, and Cold Steel and Courage, which grants all CATACHAN units within 6″ – including Straken himself – an extra attack in the Fight phase. Like any other senior officer, he also dishes out two orders a turn and has a 5+ invulnerable save, and of course, since he’s CATACHAN INFANTRY himself he gains an extra +1 Strength, making his real profile in combat S7, 5 attacks. If he’s your Warlord, he also takes the Catachan trait, giving him an extended Heroic Intervention range and re-rolling failed hits on the charge. All that for a mere 80 points!

Straken is about the only respectable combat character that the Guard can offer. He is also a central element in the “combat Guard” or “Straken blob” build – taking a pile of S4 Guardsmen, a Priest, and Straken, and running them into things for an absolute pile of S4 swings. If you’re running Catachans, he’s a very good pick, since he brings something genuinely different over a Company Commander.

 

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Commissar Yarrick (NC, Officio Prefectus)

Yarrick is the Commissar’s Commissar, a special character from the earliest days of 40k. He has WS2+ and BS2+, T4, W4, and A3 with a 4+ armor save. He also carries a bolt pistol, storm bolter, and power klaw, as well as the Bale Eye, a S3 AP-2 D1 pistol with a short-range. He shares the Aura of Discipline with other Commissars, letting them use his Ld 9, has a 3+ Feel No Pain on his last wound (the best in the game except for the Contorted Epitome), and a 4+ invulnerable save. He can also summarily execute models in a unit that fails a morale test, which post-FAQ allows them to re-roll the Morale test rather than the much more effective ability printed on his datasheet. Finally, he has the Hero of Hades Hive ability, which allows ASTRA MILITARUM units within 6″ to re-roll hit rolls of 1, or re-roll all hits against Orks. If you make him the Warlord, he can also give orders like an officer.

Yarrick isn’t cheap at 105 points, but his re-roll bubble is fairly unique in the Astra Militarum – It’s a straight buff to allow your shooting and combat. To an extent, you’re overpaying a bit for all the weapons and the FNP he gets, but at least he has the BS and WS to make good use of them.

Credit: Charlie Brassley

Company Commander

Unlike HQs in many other armies, the Company Commander’s strengths are not its combat ability, or an especially powerful aura, or being a platform for a mass of accurate guns. The statline is distinctly unimpressive – WS3+ and BS3+, S3 T3, 4 Wounds, 3 Attacks, Ld 8 and a 5+ armor save (and Invulnerable save). All that said, you don’t really care about the stats that much. This guy’s purpose is simple – being cheap as hell, and giving out orders. They only cost 35pts, and they give out 2 orders per turn. Orders are the engine that makes Guard infantry work, so these guys are vital. Besides these, a Company Commander Warlord with the Grand Strategist trait allows you to recover CP, or they can take Old Grudges to allow for re-rolling to wound against a specific enemy unit. Cheap, cheerful, and perfectly efficient at what they do, it’s hard to argue with the Company Commander’s utility. If you’re Catachan and stacking attack boosts it can be worth tacking on a power fist, as it doesn’t break the bank and gives you a dude who can break a few Primaris faces in an emergency.

Knight Commander Pask (NC, Cadian)

If a Tank Commander is best described as a better Leman Russ than Knight Commander Pask is a better Tank Commander. As with other Tank Commanders, he can take any weapons he fancies, but unlike them, he boasts a base BS2+. He can hand out two tank orders per turn, handy if you have any regular Russes who could use the order which would normally be reserved for the Tank Commander itself. The only real strike against him in this regard is that as a Cadian, he already gets the regimental trait to re-roll 1s to hit if stationary, so the orders are consequently less important than they otherwise would be. Because of this, you’re typically going to be taking weapons that roll the number of shots on him for maximum use of POUND THEM INTO DUST. You can’t argue with that BS2+ though, even if he is 25 points more expensive for the privilege. Pask is good but since the addition of Tank Aces, he’s now far from mandatory.

Lord Castellan Creed (NC, Cadian)

Creed is, more or less, just an up-gunned Company Commander. He has a couple of good weapons, but his main features are popping off 3 orders per turn at 12″ range rather than 6″, and giving a bonus 2 CP if he’s your Warlord. At 60pts vs. 35pts for the basic Company Commander, it’s up to you whether you think making him your Warlord for 2CP and the extra order + order range is worthwhile over simply having (nearly) 2 guys. The warlord rider is less of a downside than it used to be, as he no longer has to end up with the Cadian Trait – you can just choose to use your warlord trait on a Tank Ace instead.

He can be dead handy if you want to take just the one officer and fill your other slot in a Battalion with a Primaris Psyker since he can handle the order duties of 2.25 Commanders (once you account for the bonus orders from his Warlord trait); on the other hand, he’s defensively identical to a single Commander, so he’s precisely half as durable as having two.

Basically, taking Creed is never a bad choice, but it’s also not necessarily the optimal choice. It really is up to you.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Primaris Psyker

Once upon a time, Primaris Psykers were very cheap, whereas these days they’re just regular old “quite cheap.” Coming in at 50pts, they have a similar profile to the Company Commander, though they lack the 5+ invulnerable. They tote a force stave, which grants them 3 S5 AP-1 Dd3 attacks, which at WS3+ can be an occasional surprise for an unwary opponent, but their main usage is casting powers. They can only cast one and deny one per turn, but they know two plus Smite. Psychic Barrier, Nightshroud, Psychic Maelstrom are your best picks, though if you want nothing but those three powers you’re best off picking an Astropath. The Primaris has one other handy rule – if he dies of Perils within 6″ of a Commissar, he doesn’t blow up, instead of being executed immediately. As list design has evolved these have more and more been competed out by the Astropath option, as people have been building multi-battalion lists that actively wanted to use their HQ slots for Company Commanders and Tank Commanders, and generally just want access to the powers at the cheapest possible cost.

 

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

Tank Commander

The Tank Commander is, more or less, a straight-up better Leman Russ. It can take whatever guns the Russ can, has an improved BS3+, and can give out orders, usually to itself as discussed in the “Orders” section. It also fills up one of your mandatory HQ slots. Your best choice is the demolisher cannon or plasma executioner cannon. Generally, you ought to be running these as cheap as possible to get that sweet sweet demolisher cannon since the sponsons on these really push the price up quickly (minimum 30 points for 2 Heavy Bolters). You might possibly also consider sponson weapons to add more dakka, if you really really need it. If you’re Catachan or Gunnery Experts the plasma can be pretty nice as well. This is probably the unit that needs to do the heaviest lifting for you in the codex right now. Never leave home without them and never expose them unnecessarily to shooting because it feels like they’re made of tissue paper these days.

 

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Tempestor Prime

The sole HQ choice of the Militarum Tempestus, a Tempestor Prime is a Company Commander which costs 5pts more and gives 1 order fewer. This sounds like a crap deal, but now all the Tempestus regiments exist he’s basically his own thing. First up, you can (and often shoot) spend 5pts more to give him a command rod, bringing him back up to two orders a turn, and he’s needed to hand out orders to Scions and, more importantly, get you access to the various juicy warlord traits and relics their regiments bring. Since the Militarum Tempestus are much more combo-based than regular guard he’s very important in this slot, and Scion detachments should take them.

He does have one other specific use – as long as you have a Tempestus detachment you can buy him an extra warlord trait, and that trait can be Old Grudges, which isn’t <REGIMENT> locked, so having an extra one of these kicking around that you can use to apply that to your gunline in emergencies is sometimes handy. This guy is also going to be key when we’re talking about lists later, as he can do some serious work when paired with Lambda Lions.

Aradia Madellan (NC, Auxilia, Blackstone)

More of a curiosity than an actual top-tier unit, Aradia is a special psyker with a unique power – Psychic Augment. This is a WC8 power that gives an ASTRA MILITARUM INFANTRY unit +1 to hit.

That’s theoretically cool on, say, Bullgryn, but at WC8 it’s super unreliable and they don’t really need the help. You could also try her with Scions, but they’re very much looking to do a combo alpha strike, so you don’t want to introduce the unreliability of a WC8 case. At 45pts, and with no option to take other powers, Aradia thus doesn’t really see any play.

Gaunt’s Ghosts by Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

Gaunt’s Ghosts (NC, Tanith, Officio Prefectus)

Gaunt’s Ghosts are an extremely interesting unit. They’ve got character protection on the entire unit and have some neat special rules that make them ideal for some neat objective holding and action completing shenanigans. Notably, they can complete actions and still shoot, have a fight last ability, can reduce cost of a CP by 1 (when used on them), come with a 5++, and have infiltrate. Furthermore, being Officio Prefectus, they can be included in other Guard detachments without messing up Regiment Tactics. Haven’t seen them used in the wild yet, but we’re on the lookout for it!

Troops

Units available:

  • Infantry Squad
  • Conscripts
  • Militarum Tempestus Scions

Thank God for the Troops slot and its svelte 3 unit choices. Of these, Infantry Squads and Tempestus Scions are the most relevant ones. Once upon a time, Conscript blobs were feared throughout the meta, thanks to their ability to stand around and die but take a long time about it, but a succession of nerfs (including the stupid and reactionary errata to Commissars which, with the hindsight afforded by history, turned out to be unjustified) made them more or less irrelevant.

Credit: Scott Horras “Heresy”

Infantry Squad

The humble Infantry Squad is the basic, bread and butter unit of the Imperial Guard – just 10 guys and their lasguns. At 55pts, Infantry Squads offer not much in terms of their pure stats – the fragile T3 W1 5+ save defensive stats are nothing to write home about, nor is the lasgun’s base profile. What they’re great for, however, is existing, offering cheap screening, surprisingly fast objective grabbers when supported by Move! Move! Move!, volume of shots to get rid of hordes with First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire!, and objective secured. The effective use of Infantry Squads is one of the keys to playing Astra Militarum well.

Besides scooting around with orders, there are other tricks available here. The Grenadiers stratagem can offer surprising firepower, letting all 10 Guardsmen pile grenades into something. As mentioned in the Regiments section, the Catachan trait can make the humble Guardsman S4 and with support from Colonel Straken and a Priest they can throw out a high volume of attacks which will usually do something. “Everything counts in large amounts” might as well be the slogan of the Guard, and nowhere is that truer than with Infantry Squads.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Conscripts

Conscripts  cost the same per model as Infantry Squads yet have a WS/BS 5+ and only pass orders on a 4+. The advantage of them of them is that they come 20-30 models per blob, so they are great stratagem/spell targets, and the Commissar effect of automatically passing morale by summary execution still exists in a Valhallan relic. The drawbacks of these usually heavily outweigh the benefits. 30 obsec bodies can still have some play in the brave new world we live in. These guys also give you the option of running over 300+ bodies in a list if you really want to… don’t do it though, we don’t think it’s particularly great and it’s not gonna be fun for anyone involved (also good luck playing it on a chess clock).

 

Tempestus Scions
Tempestus Scions. Credit: Corrode

Militarum Tempestus Scions

Scions are a different beast that, thanks to repeated buffs, are now easily the best they’ve ever been. They’re more expensive than regular guard at 9pts per model, but pack a lot of bonuses in. These are threefold – first, a 4+ armor save makes them a little more durable; second, BS3+ makes them much more accurate; third, they can Deep Strike, which is great for getting the special weapons they can mass (2 for every 5 guys) into position (and with some of the tricks from TGG can even get into rapid-fire range for their hot shotguns.).

These days, there are several ways to use them. First up, a minimum patrol of these plus a Tempestor is now cheap and giving you lots of emergency objective grabbers that aren’t totally trivial to shift. For these, the Iotan Dragons regiment is a good choice, as it just generally makes them a bit more dangerous when they drop.

More excitingly, there are now several ways you can set up some decent combo punches with these thanks to their various strats and traits. Broadly, there are three main tricks:

  • Lambdan Lions dropping in force with a Refractor Shield Generator making them hard to shift.
  • Iotan Gorgonnes using their regiment’s unique stratagem to deepstrike at 5″ is a sneaky way to flip objectives, accomplish secondaries, and drop within melta range.
  • Kappic Eagles mixing up full deep striking or Valkyrie Squads leveraging their ability to ignore the move/shoot penalty on the otherwise very potent hot-shot volley gun.

More about these strategies are discussed in the Tempestus Regiments section earlier, but all indications since TGG landed are that a Scion Patrol is likely to be a common sight in Guard lists going forward.

 

Dedicated Transport

RIP 5th edition.  Long gone are the days of shiny metal boxes lined up on the deployment line full of Veterans armed with plasma and melta ready to shoot from the safety of their beautiful rides. Now to shoot those glorious special weapons they need to get out of their transport, before the transport moves, and use their guns on foot, like animals. Guard transports now are gunboats that protect your folks inside.

Units available:

  • Chimera
  • Taurox
  • Taurox Prime (Militarum Tempestus)

The basic Taurox is just underwhelming on all angles.

Mechanised Infantry. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Chimera

It’s still underwhelming, but does at least have the upside of being T7 and carrying 12 models, making it a cheap, modestly hard to shift bumper car that can bring your buff characters too. Having long been maligned, seeing a couple of these in decently-performing lists isn’t uncommon, and they’re cheap enough that armies going all-in on spamming them turn up sometimes as well. A bit of extra resilience and mobility for 65 points is basically just fine.

One of the more useful things you can do with these is take Expert Gunners (re-roll shots) and Pyromaniacs (re-roll 1’s to wound with flame weapons) and staple 2 heavy flamers onto these guys. They’ll net you 2d6 (re-rolling both, or either) s5 ap-1 d1 auto hits per box. This raises them to 75 per model, but you get some reasonable value out of them. In theory this is another unit you could skew into, but much like Conscript spam it’s probably not going to get your very far.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Taurox Prime (Militarum Tempestus)

Besides the Tank Commander, this is probably the second most important heavy lifter in the entire Codex.

Step 1: Make this bad boi a Lambda Lion. Step 2: Equip it with gatling cannon, storm bolter, and 2 hotshot volley guns. Now you’re kicking out 30 s4 ap-1/-3 d1 shots at BS3+ for a cool 123 points. These kinds of numbers get scary pretty fast when you’re taking 4 or more of these guys. Combine that with a 5++ aura offered by a  Lambda Lions Tempestus Prime Refractor Field Generator, and re-roll 1’s offered by Keys to the Armory Warlord Trait, and you’ve got yourself one angry jeep.

Elites

Units available:

  • Astropath
  • Bullgryns
  • Colour Sergeant Kell (NC, Cadian)
  • Command Squad
  • Commissar
  • Crusaders
  • Master of Ordnance
  • Militarum Tempestus Command Squad
  • Ministorum Priest
  • Nork Deddog (NC, Auxilia)
  • Officer of the Fleet
  • Ogryn Bodyguard
  • Ogryns
  • Platoon Commander
  • Ratlings
  • Sergeant Harker (NC, Catachan)
  • Servitors
  • Special Weapons Squad
  • Tech-Priest Enginseer
  • Veterans
  • Wyrdvane Psykers
  • Sly Marbo (NC, Catachan)
  • Commissar Severina Raine (NC, Officio Prefectus)
  • Gotfret de Montbard (NC, Blackstone)
  • Rein and Raus (NC, Blackstone)
  • Combat Engineer Squad (Death Korps)
  • Death Rider Command Squadron (Death Korps)

Goddamn, that’s a lot of units. With 27 Elites available, Guard have the heaviest Elites slot outside of vanilla Space Marines. You can see how much has been stuffed in here over the years without much rhyme or reason. It’s also chock full of Auxilia units – in fact apart from a couple of HQs, I think they’re all in here. In short, if it’s weird and loosely Imperial, it’s in the Elites slot.

Luckily for us, and for you reading, not all of this merits much discussion. Servitors have no purpose whatsoever here. Veterans sort of exist, but their job is done better by either Special Weapons Squads or Tempestus Scions. Wyrdvane Psykers are long past their heyday as Battle Psyker Squads in 5th edition. Masters of the Fleet see little, if any play. Nork Deddog is a rare sight, with most of his role being occupied by the Ogryn Bodyguard, and basic Ogryns themselves tend to be absent in favor of Bullgryn and their much superior offensive and defensive output. Ratlings, as much as their models are insanely characterful, are usually absent. Even in lists with Creed, Kell rarely appears.

That sounds like we’ve eliminated a bunch of things, but there’s still 11 units to talk about. Oof.

Credit: Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

Astropath

The Astropath is like a baby, extremely cheap version of the Primaris Psyker, coming in at a mere 35pts. They only know 1 power, and cast Smite on 1D6 rather than 2D6, so they’re much less versatile, but if you really just need something to cast Psychic Barrier and Nightshroud you can’t really argue with them. The Astropath does bring one other handy ability, Astral Divination, which lets you pick one unit within 18″ of the Astropath and stop it from benefiting from cover for attacks made by units within 6″ of the Astropath. It’s a useful little thing to have in the back pocket, although setting it all up can be difficult to achieve.

If you’re packing Bullgryn they flip over to being an active part of your plan. Just keep them safe – a modest breeze will kill one instantly.

 

Credit: Evan Siefring

Bullgryns

One of the better reasons to play guard. 315 points gives you 9 bodies with a variety of 2+ or 4++ saves. You always want to mix slab shields and brute shields, and swap their grenadier gauntlets for their clubs so they can beat stuff to death. The mix of invulnerable saves and 2+ saves is good at baseline, as you can allocate wounds from small arms fire to the 2+ guys and bigger guns onto the invuln guys.

Things get sillier when you start adding buffs. Take Cover in combination with being in cover or psychic barrier gets the save on the slabshield guys to an effective 0+, while the brute shields have a 3+ invulnerable in the unlikely event that your opponent shoots you with something that can pierce that. Add on Nightshroud for a -1 to hit against ranged attacks and these guys can confidently stride down the center of the board like a bowling ball and just kind of exist while your opponent tries to shift them. 4 autocannon swings per Bullgryn on the charge – which can go to 5 with a nearby Priest – makes these guys also reasonably dangerous to tangle with in melee. Taking these means you’re going to need a Ministorum Priest and Astropath at minimum, bringing the effective cost to 380 which is a sizable chunk of change. The issue with these guys is that they’ve got no way to advance and charge, so have an effective influence range of 18″ (more reasonably… 15″) so they tend to get kited a lot. They also can’t really tangle with dedicated melee units and because of their low movement speed, tend to get charged first. If you can park them in some defensible and heavy cover though, they might not be too upset about it.

The only thing you need to watch out for with these guys, especially in today’s metagame, is mortal wounds. If you’re up against Grey Knights or Thousand Sons (and even some Eldar lists) you need to be much cagier about how you use these and be careful to use your vastly more expendable infantry to screen them.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Command Squad/Militarum Tempestus Command Squad

Both flavors of command squad have the gimmick of being able to load up on a lot of special weapons, but you can only take one Command Squad per <REGIMENT> OFFICER or Tempestor Prime in the detachment.

The Scions have the advantage here since they can deep strike natively, have a 4+ rather than 5+ save, and these days have a tonne of ways to up their output on the turn they appear, making them relatively cheap units that can throw a nasty punch. Watch out for intercept abilities through – 4+ or not, they’ll melt to a stiff breeze. Regular Command Squad can hang out with a Platoon or Company Commander with the Dagger of Tu’sakh to outflank and achieve much the same goal, but it’s just harder work than taking Scions at this point. You can also hand out various bits of wargear like a flag to these guys, but don’t bother – in competitive terms they’re a special weapon caddy.

Adeptus Ministorum Priest
Adeptus Ministorum Priest by Corrode

Ministorum Priest

A fairly straightforward unit here. Priests on their own are fairly weak characters, but their 40 point gets you +1 Attack in a 6″ bubble for all infantry, and it stacks with Straken. 3 attacks per model can make even the lowly Guardsmen dangerous to some of the tougher targets out there – the sheer weight of numbers can overwhelm almost anything. They also help Bullgryn, not being regiment locked, allowing your big thicc men to smash things even better than normal.

Platoon Commander

The junior officer to the Company Commander. Only 1 order and 3 wounds, but only 10 points less expensive and an Elite choice, which can be nice if you are filling HQ slots with Tank Commanders. You can often just squeeze this guy into a weird points gap to get a bonus Order on the table and a handy character for sitting around on an objective being unthreatening.

Sergeant Harker (NC, Catachan)

The Schwarzenegger in Commando stand-in. Harker is a lean, mean, fighting machine; in tabletop terms, he’s a Catachan S4 muscle man with an assault-heavy bolter that hits at BS 3+. More importantly, he provides a bubble of re-rolling 1s in shooting for Catachan units. An extremely efficient buff unit for 55 points, especially for making an artillery park just that bit more effective.

Adeptus Mechanicus - Tech-Priest Enginseer
Tech-Priest Enginseer. Credit: Pendulin

Tech-Priest Enginseer

A vehicle repair guy from the Adeptus Mechanicus. Cheap and cheerful and handy for keeping the motor pool running if you’ve gone vehicle heavy, but entirely missable as well.

Veterans

Once upon a time, these were Troops and every Guardsman was a Veteran, hiding in a Chimera with 3 meltaguns and power sliding around the table firing from the safety of their metal boxes. Those days are gone, and now they’re in the much less useful Elites slot. Veterans cost 1 point per model more than an Infantry Squad but can take 3 special weapons and have BS3+. Being Elites is a pretty big blow for making a mechanized Guard work since they do not help towards a battalion, but there is some play with these guys being stuffed into Valkyries, Chimeras, or outflanked with the relic dagger or via the Tallarn strat. These days, however, it’s really tough to justify the tricks you can do with them over the various flavors of Scion bullshit.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Sly Marbo (NC, Catachan)

Marbo didn’t make it into the Guard book, but he emerged a little later in 8th edition when GW released his new model. Sly is a lean, mean, violent machine. At 60pts including wargear, he’s a pretty great choice to take up an Elites slot. His base profile is reasonable, but not substantially better than a Company Commander. He can’t be ordered, either. However, he comes with some solid weapons – a S5 3 shot pistol that wounds infantry on 2s, and an envenomed blade for +1S (making him S5 with the Catachan trait) that also wounds infantry on 2s. On top of that, if he’s in cover he gets +2 to his saves rather than +1, for a very reasonable 3+.

The real winners here are his ambush abilities, though. He can ambush natively, hiding off the table and setting up later in the game, and when he does so he can immediately pick 1 of 3 options – move D6″ and add 2 attacks until the start of your next turn, immediately shoot (targeting enemy characters when he does so), or pick a unit on the table and do d3 mortal wounds to it on a 4+ (modifiable by +1 for units of 10 or more, or -1 if targeting a character) which can also do d6 wounds on a 7+ i.e. a roll of a 6 with the modifier. These are all handy abilities and give him a lot of flexibility to appear somewhere crucial and impact the game immediately – and also, assuming he survives, then once per battle you can pick him up at the beginning of your Movement phases, and then he can reappear and do the same thing again. If nothing else, he’s a cheap way to get two bites at seizing a far-off objective, but realistically he can be a lot more than that, and your opponent has to deal with him or he’ll do it again. For 60pts, that’s pretty great, he probably has some interesting objective play.

 

Fast Attack

Units available:

  • Armored Sentinels
  • Hellhounds
  • Scout Sentinels
  • Death Rider Squadron

There’s not much in the Fast Attack slot for Guard, but what’s there is still relatively important, especially if you’re taking a Brigade. Sentinels are the cheap option for just filling the thing out, but everything here has some function.

Armoured Sentinels/Scout Sentinels

Scout Sentinels have always seen occasional play, usually filling out Brigades, as they’re only 35pts at their cheapest and could use their scout move to get into some cover in a corner somewhere. While they were pretty fragile, T5 at least meant that random small arms fire wouldn’t instantly kill them, so they had some utility on the table. Armored Sentinels weren’t really seen.

It turns out, however, that giving a unit an ability to alpha strike at +2 to hit, cutting the points of their bigger guns, and letting them halve incoming damage changes the maths a little (with the addition of TGG).

So yeah – turns out that the combination of Strike Fast, Strike Hard and Deft Maneuvering, plus the previously rarely considered option of strapping hunter-killer missiles to them, makes a full squad of Armoured Sentinels a real thing after TGG. Weighing in at 165pts with missile launchers or plasma cannons, it throws out some decent shooting and is pretty tricky to alpha off the board in response thanks to halving the incoming damage. Once the initial payload is fired off, they can switch to being a pesky objective grabber, and picking off infantry with a hail of frag missiles or plasma.

There definitely are other things you could validly spend the points on, suitably tooled up Russes being one, but for a decently accurate point and click killer turn 1 that’s much harder to just pick up than a single Tank Commander, they’re a legitimate choice.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Hellhounds

Hellhounds are an OK midfield presence. Providing 2d6 S6 AP-1 d1 shots at 16″ off the main turret is extremely good for clearing trash, putting wounds on units with -1 to hit, and just providing decent midfield presence with T7 11W hulls for 110 points.  Hellhounds are an OK unit, but the gradual power creep of 8e and 9e while they’ve stood still has left them looking a bit lackluster, and you’d probably rather scrimp on points here and spend them on something else.

The Bane Wolf and Devil Dog variants are trash.

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Death Rider Squadron

After a brief moment in the sun – primarily gained by being horribly under-costed at 15ppm – these bad boys have been brought more in line and will now be costing you 20ppm. All in all, they remain a decently okay option but aren’t much to write home about anymore. They’re still rough to shift being 3w models with the ability to shrug off wounds on a 5+. They also come with the added benefit of kicking out a decent amount of S4, AP-2 D1 attacks in combination with their rider’s Hunting Lance. The real downsides here are that they’re not ObSec and have to be tossed into another detachment to not mess up your regimental tactics. However, they are fast and can fight twice per turn if already in combat thanks to being eligible for orders from Death Korps Squadron Commanders.

Flyers

Units available:

  • Valkyries
  • Arvus Lighter (FW)
  • Avenger Strike Fighter (FW)
  • Thunderbolt (FW)
  • Vendetta Gunship (FW)
  • Voss-pattern Lightning (FW)
  • Vulture Gunship (FW)

Most of these fliers are FW trash. They’re just too expensive for what they bring to the table. There may be some cheeky big brain play with an Arvus Lighter or something, given it’s a 85 point flying transport with a 12 model capacity (sidenote: if you load these up with Cyclops Demolition Vehicles and actually play a game with it, I need pictures).

There’s really 2 relevant units here, and one unit we need to talk about because of what it used to be.

Genestealer Cults Valkyrie
Genestealer Cults Valkyrie

Valkyries/Vendetta Gunship (FW)

The Valkyrie has an actual role that it’s good at. It can hold 12 models and is armed with a multi-laser and 2 hellstrike missiles (S8 AP-2 D2d6 pick highest) for 120 points on a 14W T7 flier chassis. If the Valk chooses to hover it gets +1 hit against targets that do not have FLY, which combined with not having to move any more makes them reasonably accurate. Its biggest trick though is “Grav Chute Insertion” which allows units to disembark after the vehicle moves. Once upon a time, they could also move after dropping, but no more- but luckily a whole host of Scion tricks now key off dropping out of these, and they’re an important part of several potent builds we’ve mostly already talked about. Don’t bring these expecting to kill stuff, but Scion and Special Weapons-based tricks are a real thing.

The Vendetta looks and acts a lot like a Valkyrie with the exception being that it comes equipped with 6 Lascannon shots at BS4+ for 210 points. It, unfortunately, misses out on the Roving Gunship rule, which might make it a decent shooting threat, but otherwise, it’s horrendously over-costed for a BS4+ model.

Vulture Gunship (FW)

The Vulture needs to be mentioned in case people have been reading older strategy guides and aren’t aware that it’s caught a big nerf. It used to be that the build of these with heavy bolters and two punisher gatling cannons was one of the more cost-efficient anti-infantry units in the game, used to fill the role both in guard and GSC armies. Sadly, both the costs of the guns and the chassis were raised considerably, pushing the whole package up to 190 points and leaving them largely irrelevant. This thing kills 10 GEQ infantry on average in the open now. Compare that with the Taurox Prime mentioned earlier and you’ll see why this no longer has a place in the game. RIP.

Heavy Support

Codex units available:

  • Basilisks
  • Deathstrike
  • Heavy Weapons Squad
  • Hydras
  • Leman Russ Battle Tanks
  • Manticore
  • Wyverns

Forge World:

  • Armageddon-pattern Basilisks (FW)
  • Armageddon-pattern Medusas (FW)
  • Carnodon (FW)
  • Colossus Bombards (FW)
  • Cyclops Demolition Vehicle (FW)
  • Earthshaker Carriage Battery (FW)
  • Heavy Mortar Battery (FW)
  • Heavy Quad Launcher Battery (FW)
  • Malcador (FW)
  • Malcador Annihilator (FW)
  • Malcador Defender (FW)
  • Malcador Infernus (FW)
  • Medusa Carriage Battery (FW)
  • Rapier Laser Destroyer Battery (FW)
  • Thunderers (FW)
  • Valdor Tank Hunter (FW)

For treadheads around the world, this is the big one: Guard Heavy Support. The slot is actually thinner than you’d expect, with just 7 choices in the base codex, but then again you can take 9 Leman Russes all differently equipped so there’s still a dizzying number of options.

In terms of good and bad, this section of the Guard has unfortunately not kept up with the power creep of 8th and 9th whatsoever and there are really only a few options that make sense in the context of competitive play these days. The common issue with almost all of these options is that the battle tank-style units here just don’t stand up to shooting from any remotely anti-tank unit in the game right now, point for point. Couple this with the fact that many of these options (battle-tank-style and artillery-style) are uniquely designed to kill a specific kind of target, and almost none of them even do that efficiently. The numbers get much worse when comparing them against things that aren’t their intended target.

The Forge World Units can largely be grouped into their codex equivalents or disregarded completely because their codex equivalents beat them out on every axis.

 

Credit: SRM

Basilisks/Armageddon-pattern Basilisks (FW)/Earthshaker Carriage Battery (FW)

To clear the waters here, the Earthshaker Carriage Battery is a never-take when compared to the standard Basilisk, and the Armageddon-pattern Basilisk is just the same thing as a Basilisk with +1T for +10 points. If T7 vs T6 is something you value on your indirect fire platform, go nuts.

Seriously though. At 125pts these give you 2d6-pick-the-highest shots that can land anywhere on the table with decent AP and d3 damage. They can be upgraded the Full Payload tank ace to make them flat damage three (D3), and in a world ruled by Primaris marines and similar, they’re basically just a fine inclusion in lists – they aren’t your payoff units as such, but add to your weight of fire. They’re also impossible to hide from, meaning they’re one of those units that put your opponent on a bit of a value clock – they can ignore them and go after better stuff, but the Basilisk is probably going to more than pay for itself over the course of the game, or they can go for the Basilisk, which is tough enough to need real killing, and leave better stuff alone.

The real issue with Basilisk right now, is that given the shorter game length of 9th (5 turns vs. the 6 game turns of 8th) the value on these guys is much much lower than they used to be in comparison to Manticores and their points haven’t dropped accordingly. So in almost every circumstance, the Manticore is a better pick for your points.

Heavy Weapons Squad

Heavy Weapons Squads (HWS) are made up of 3 Heavy Weapons Teams, 60mm bases with a couple of guys on them plus a heavy weapon. There’s a wide variety of options available to them, including mortars, autocannons, heavy bolters, missile launchers, and lascannons. These used to be everywhere with mortars, as they provided some extremely (probably too) cheap no-LOS firepower that could sit out of sight on an objective somewhere. Sadly, like a lot of things when the nerf finally came it was probably too extreme, going up four points a model. With power-armour heavy armies (against which they’re pretty weak) also being common, that’s been enough to massively reduce the prevalence of that build in the metagame.

What does, suddenly, have a slight place for those given to a bit of a gamble is a single missile launcher/lascannon squad. Both of these now have access to the Concentrated Fire strat that lets them do mean things to a single target. It’s only 65pts to pack a squad toting missile launchers, and frankly that investment is pretty low if they get blown off the board straight out, and starts to look pretty good if your opponent can’t just snipe them and you get to shoot with +1 to hit and wound. Don’t lean your entire anti-tank plan on these, obviously, and probably just bring the one squad, but at this point, it’s genuinely a consideration. One of the larger issues with this unit is that with the change to 9th, HS slots are a bit harder to come by, but if you’ve got the slot and a few points sitting around… they really might not be a terrible option.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Leman Russ Battle Tanks

For a long time, the main problem with the Leman Russ was that it wasn’t a Tank Commander, and we’ve largely returned to that era. You lose out on orders, and trade BS3+ for BS4+, which sucks.

The particularly relevant build is bare-bones demolisher cannon Russes in Gunnery Experts/Spotter Details (or just Catachan) detachments. These run relatively cheap at 160pts for the base build, and can’t really be ignored if your opponent has any armored targets of note, because even at BS4+ the average 8.5 shots these put out are going to blow vehicles the hell up. These come at a cheap enough price tag to be worth it. Their new price also makes it decent when you have Harker shouting at them in Catachan, as if you really want you can go deep on these and deploy 9.

Plenty of the variants are still basically trash – you ought to be taking the demolisher cannon 95% of the time, and unlike Tank Commanders there isn’t even really a use case for the Executioner.

Credit: Corrode

Manticore

The Manticore comes in as the third most important unit in the Guard codex. Smaller and easier to hide than a Basilisk, this bad boy does 2d6 board-wide shots at S10, Ap-2, Dd3 damage. It’s a very solid platform against most useful targets as everyone who is anyone has an invuln and high AP can be wasted, and with the number of possible shots, it tends to be a bit more effective against higher model counts compared to the Basilisk. However it shares the same downsides as almost all units in this section: high variance BS4 shooting can be a real letdown, and you can’t even shoot twice with it, though the same discussion about Harker and the Catachan re-roll applies here. It’s also paying for S10 over the Basilisk’s S9, which in today’s game is fairly big with T5 being a more and more common characteristic.

The big number of shots does also make these another good choice for Full Payload, especially as Catachan or with Expert Gunners. Two Full Payload Manticores is somewhat of a cornerstone for reasonably successful Guard lists these days as they really help you put pressure on your opponent early. Don’t forget to strap a Hunter-Killer Missile to these guys for a cheeky flat 6 damage shot!

Armageddon-pattern Medusas (FW)/Medusa Carriage Battery (FW)

The Medusa is one of the sneakier good options in the HS slot. It looks and smells a lot like a better version of a Basilisk if you take it with Expert Gunners or Catachan. This isn’t eligible for Tank Aces, but if you’ve already spent them on your Manticores, these are probably the second-best artillery you can take.

Cyclops Demolition Vehicle (FW)

This isn’t competitive, but it’s so cute and I love it. So it has to go in. Put em in transports, run them around, try and explode on things, it’ll be great. Weirdly you can also use these to kill your Guardsmen squads out of combat or something if you’re not allowed to Fall Back for some reason (looking at you Wyches).

Malcador (FW)/Malcador Annihilator (FW)/Malcador Defender (FW)/Malcador Infernus (FW)

What if Leman Russ Battle Tank, but worse? By the numbers, that’s what you get with most of the variants of the Malcador. The Infernus is an interesting option but just doesn’t seem like it’s worth its points given the prevalence of -1D in the game right now.

Rapier Laser Destroyer Battery (FW)

Another “almost good” unit. This is the one D3+d3 weapon Guard has access to right now. If you take a squadron of 3, this gets you 9 S10 AP-4 D3+d3 shots for 255 points. The biggest downside is that this is a BS4+ unit with pretty restrictive re-rolls, but it’s really not bad if you have a way to make it Vostroyan (for Firstborn Pride) and are willing to toss it into Strategic Reserves.

 

Credit: Jay (Steel Mentor). Please do not pay too much attention to the extremely loyal insignias.

Lord of War

Units available:

  • Baneblade
  • Banehammer
  • Banesword
  • Doomhammer
  • Hellhammer
  • Shadowsword
  • Stormlord
  • Stormsword
  • Crassus (FW)
  • Macharius (FW)
  • Macharius Vanquisher (FW)
  • Macharius Vulcan (FW)
  • Marauder Bomber (FW)
  • Marauder Destroyer (FW)
  • Minotaur (FW)
  • Praetor (FW)
  • Stormblade (FW)

Okay, this section is easy. Don’t take these, they’re criminally over-costed, difficult to get into your army to the point where you’re actively paying CP to put them in, they suck up one of your precious Tank Aces, and in every circumstance… just take Expert Gunners or Catachan Leman Russ Demolishers. You’re gonna get sooooooo much more value for your points. Trust me. All ye who enter beware. Turn back now.

(Rob’s saying I still have to write about this) If you’re still here… listen. There’s one way to run any of these because they’re all criminally uncompetitive, but if you reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally wanna try because they’re cool big tonk… here you go.

You’re gonna take your big dumb tonk. You’re gonna put it in a Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment. You make it a Tank Ace with Steadfast Leviathan to give it: Vostroyan, Expert Gunners/Jury-Rigged Repairs/Spotter Details, or Catachan. Take Astropaths or whatever, cast your Nightshroud and your Psychic Barrier, and don’t forget an Enginseer to repair it. Every turn you slam that Firstborn Pride button (if Vostroyan) until you die ingloriously because some Eradicators looked sideways at you and shot you through Obscuring terrain. I’m done, you can’t make me write any more about this Rob.

That being said, if you manage to place in a GT with one of these, I’m going to be really pumped about it. Expect a very long article about your performance if you do.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Lists

It wouldn’t be a Start Competing without some sample lists that show off the competitive prowess of the army and give you some examples of how you can build.

Alan Blakeborough’s List

Alan took this list to a 1-loss, 2nd place finish at the Waaagh Fest GT in late June 2021.

++ Brigade Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [89 PL, 11CP, 1,570pts] ++

Regimental Doctrine: Regiment: Catachan
Stratagems: Tank Ace [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken [4 PL, 80pts]: Bionic Arm with Devil’s Claw, Frag & Krak grenades, Plasma pistol, Shotgun

Company Commander [2 PL, 40pts]: Frag grenades, Laspistol, Power sword, Relic: The Blade of Conquest

Tank Commander [12 PL, 200pts]: Battle Cannon, Lascannon, Warlord

+ Troops +

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 60pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol, Power sword

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 60pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol, Power sword

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 60pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol, Power sword

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 60pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol, Power sword

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

+ Elites +

Master of Ordnance [2 PL, 35pts]: Laspistol

Ministorum Priest [2 PL, 40pts]: Frag & Krak grenades, Laspistol

Platoon Commander [2 PL, 30pts]: Frag grenades, Laspistol, Power sword

Sergeant Harker [3 PL, 55pts]: Frag grenades, Krak grenades, Payback

+ Fast Attack +

Scout Sentinels [3 PL, 35pts] . Scout Sentinel: Multi-laser

Scout Sentinels [3 PL, 35pts] . Scout Sentinel: Multi-laser

Scout Sentinels [3 PL, 35pts] . Scout Sentinel: Multi-laser

+ Heavy Support +

Basilisks [7 PL, 125pts] . Basilisk: Earthshaker Cannon, Heavy Bolter, Stat Damage (HS)

Manticore [8 PL, 145pts]: Full Payload, Heavy Bolter, Stat Damage (HS), 4x Storm Eagle Rockets

Manticore [8 PL, 145pts]: Full Payload, Heavy Bolter, Stat Damage (HS), 4x Storm Eagle Rockets

++ Patrol Detachment -2CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [22 PL, -3CP, 430pts] ++

Regimental Doctrine: 9th Iotan Gorgonnes

+ HQ +

Tempestor Prime [3 PL, -1CP, 45pts]: Frag & Krak grenades, Progeny of Conflict, Tempestus Command Rod, WT (9th Iotan Gorgonnes): Sanctity of Spirit

Tempestor Prime [3 PL, 45pts]: Display Astra Militarum Orders, Frag & Krak grenades, Tempestus Command Rod

+ Troops +

Militarum Tempestus Scions [5 PL, 90pts] . 9x Scion: 9x Frag & Krak grenades, 9x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Hot-shot Laspistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [5 PL, 90pts] . 9x Scion: 9x Frag & Krak grenades, 9x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Hot-shot Laspistol

+ Elites +

Militarum Tempestus Command Squad [3 PL, 80pts] . Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Plasma gun
. Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Plasma gun
. Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Plasma gun
. Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Plasma gun

Militarum Tempestus Command Squad [3 PL, 80pts] . Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Meltagun
. Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Meltagun
. Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Meltagun
. Tempestus Scion: Frag & Krak grenades, Meltagun

++ Total: [111 PL, 8CP, 2,000pts] ++

 

The Standout Features

  • Ranged support battery of two Manticores and a Basilisk
  • A trio of Scout Sentinels
  • Lots and lots of Catachan infantry squads
  • A pair of Miltarum Tempestus Command Squads sporting plasmas and meltas, respectively

Why it’s Interesting

The first reason this is interesting in 9e is that… it’s a freaking Guard list, huzzah! Alan has brought along a regiment that has stood the test of time: Catachan. While our custom regiments might be better for tank-focused, or infantry-focused lists, Catachan gives you some great benefits to both your tanks and your infantry while also giving you access to a fantastic lineup of special characters. The pile of Catachans gives you pretty good board control in this list and the classic combination of Straken and a Ministorum Priest get those muscly bois tossing 3 dice apiece. I think the value of this classic tech has gone up in recent days as SoB, DE, and Admech are the major players in town now; notably all T3 armies. Alan sprinkles in a little of your base in 9e by including the double Full Payload Manticore for some strong indirect shooting and doesn’t leave home without his Tank Commander; two units I consider absolutely necessary for competing with Guard in 9e. Scout Sentinels seem like the natural pick to fill out this Brigade, and when equipped with multi-lasers, I presume their job was primarily to score unthreatened objectives or score secondary objectives. I’d be tempted to smack some heavy flamers onto them if the points were there, but at 35 points they’re a pretty decent pick to hold uncontested objectives, and you don’t feel too bad if you have to sacrifice them to score.

Onto his patrol detachment. Alan’s brought along my second favorite Tempestus Scions regiment: Iotan Gorgonnes. The Gorgonnes are cheeky lads with a very potent Stratagem – Daring Descent, which allows a Scion unit to deep strike at 5″ instead of 9″. Not only is this Stratagem exceptionally handy for sneaking onto loosely held objectives and scoring secondaries; for Alan, it allows him to drop that spicy melta command squad within melta range off of the deep strike, or drop one of those full-strength hotshot lasgun squads within rapid fire range. This detachment is just a fantastic utility pick that allows Alen to score secondaries, threaten targets directly off of the deepstrike, and lean harder into board control. I will admit, I’m genuinely confused by his pick of Sanctity of Spirit on his Progeny of Conflict, I think I’d reach for Old Grudges before that, but it’s clearly worked out for him.

This is a list that clearly built to lean heavily into board control and bring just enough killing power to push those 120 bodies over the edge into a reasonable list. I’ve been considering a list like this for a while, but I’m very glad to see an examplar of it in the wild. It’s a shame he took a loss in round 1; we’re still looking for that coveted first TiWP in 9e! You’ll see a very different take on 9e Guard once I get to typing up my tournament own report for Waaagh fest!

Imperial Knight Castellan
Imperial Knight Castellan. Credit: Jack Hunter

Adam Green’s Imperium List (Astra Militarium + Knights)

Adam took this list to a 4-1 finish at the 2021 Alberta Classic in August, losing only in the final round to Orks.

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [68 PL, 12CP, 1,365pts] ++

Regimental Doctrine: 133rd Lambdan Lions, Astra Millitarum

+ HQ +

Commissar Yarrick [6 PL, 105pts] Tempestor Prime [3 PL, 45pts]: Tempestus Command Rod, Warlord, WT (133rd Lambdan Lions): Keys to the Armoury
Tempestor Prime [3 PL, 40pts]: Hot-shot Laspistol, Relic (133rd Lambdan Lions): Refractor Field Generator

+ Troops +

Militarum Tempestus Scions [5 PL, 110pts] . 5x Scion: 5x Frag & Krak grenades, 5x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Hot-shot Volley Gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Hot-shot Volley Gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Hot-shot Volley Gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Hot-shot Volley Gun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [5 PL, 130pts] . 5x Scion: 5x Frag & Krak grenades, 5x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [5 PL, 130pts] . 5x Scion: 5x Frag & Krak grenades, 5x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 65pts] . 2x Scion: 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Meltagun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Meltagun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 65pts] . 2x Scion: 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Meltagun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Meltagun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 65pts] . 2x Scion: 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Meltagun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Meltagun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

+ Elites +

Crusaders [2 PL, 32pts] . 2x Crusader: 2x Power Sword

Crusaders [2 PL, 32pts] . 2x Crusader: 2x Power Sword

Crusaders [2 PL, 32pts] . 2x Crusader: 2x Power Sword

Militarum Tempestus Command Squad [3 PL, 80pts] . Tempestus Scion: Plasma gun
. Tempestus Scion: Plasma gun
. Tempestus Scion: Plasma gun
. Tempestus Scion: Plasma gun

Tech-Priest Enginseer [2 PL, 35pts]

+ Dedicated Transport +

Taurox Prime [7 PL, 133pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Autocannons
Taurox Prime [7 PL, 133pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Autocannons
Taurox Prime [7 PL, 133pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Autocannons

++ Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment -3CP (Imperium – Imperial Knights) [32 PL, -5CP, 635pts] ++

Household Choice: Questor Mechanicus
. House Vulker

+ Stratagems +

Exalted Court [-1CP]: Exalted Court: 1 Extra Warlord Trait
Heirlooms of the Household [-1CP]: Heirlooms of the Household: 1 Extra Heirloom

+ Lord of War +

Knight Castellan [32 PL, 635pts]: Character (Exalted Court), Character (Heirloom of the House), Character (Knight Lance), Heirloom: Cawl’s Wrath, Warlord Trait: Ion Bulwark
. Two Siegebreaker Cannons and Two Shieldbreaker Missiles: 2x Twin Siegebreaker Cannon

++ Total: [100 PL, 7CP, 2,000pts]

The Standout Features

  • A Knight Castellan really brings back memories of summer 2018, when Castellans and guard were best friends
  • A trio of Crusader squads make for cheap action units
  • 6 units of Scions armed with special weapons
  • 3 Taurox Prime

Why it’s Interesting

This list is a big old 8th Edition throwback here as a force of Tempestus Scions teams up with a Knight Castellan (here running as House Vulker to squeeze extra hits against hordes) to bring both board control and terrifying anti-tank firepower to the table. The knight has recently become an interesting off-meta choice and adds some strong heavy support to the more fragile scion squads.

Credit: Scott Horras “Heresy”

Scott Horras “Heresy”‘s Astra Militarium List

I literally haven’t done anything of note this edition yet because I haven’t really been playing too much, but I’m writing this so I get my vanity callout! I think I have some decent ideas here, so here you go…

++ Battalion Detachment -3CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [63 PL, 7CP, 1,065pts] ++

Regimental Doctrine: Disciplined Shooters, Gunnery Experts

Imperial Commander’s Armoury [-1CP]: 1 additional Heirloom of Conquest

Tank Ace [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Tank Commander [12 PL, 195pts]: Heavy Bolter, Turret-mounted Demolisher Siege Cannon

Tank Commander [12 PL, 195pts]: Heavy Bolter, Turret-mounted Demolisher Siege Cannon

Tank Commander [12 PL, 195pts]: Heavy Bolter, Turret-mounted Demolisher Siege Cannon

+ Troops +

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Chainsword, Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 55pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Chainsword, Laspistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 45pts] . 4x Scion: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

+ Elites +

Platoon Commander [2 PL, 25pts]: Chainsword, Laspistol, Relic: Kurov’s Aquila

+ Heavy Support +

Manticore [8 PL, 150pts]: Full Payload, Heavy Bolter, Hunter-Killer Missile

Manticore [8 PL, 150pts]: Full Payload, Heavy Bolter, Hunter-Killer Missile

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [55 PL, -2CP, 935pts] ++

Regimental Doctrine: 133rd Lambdan Lions

+ Agents of the Imperium +

Inquisitor Coteaz [5 PL, -1CP, 95pts]: 6) Castigation, Malleus – Warding Incantation, Stratagem: Arbiter of the Emperor’s Will

+ HQ +

Primaris Psyker [3 PL, 50pts]: Psychic Barrier, Psychic Maelstrom

Tempestor Prime [3 PL, -1CP, 40pts]: Chainsword, Hot-shot Laspistol, Progeny of Conflict, Relic (133rd Lambdan Lions): Refractor Field Generator, Warlord, WT (133rd Lambdan Lions): Keys to the Armoury

+ Troops +

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 45pts] . 4x Scion: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 45pts] . 4x Scion: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 45pts] . 4x Scion: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Plasma pistol

+ Dedicated Transport +

Taurox Prime [7 PL, 123pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Hot-shot Volley Guns

Taurox Prime [7 PL, 123pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Hot-shot Volley Guns

Taurox Prime [7 PL, 123pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Hot-shot Volley Guns

Taurox Prime [7 PL, 123pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Hot-shot Volley Guns

Taurox Prime [7 PL, 123pts]: Storm Bolter, Taurox Gatling Cannon, Two Hot-shot Volley Guns

++ Total: [118 PL, 5CP, 2,000pts] ++

The Standout Features

  • 3 Tank Commanders
  • 2 Full Payload Manticore (with the Hunter Killer on top)
  • 5 Taurox Prime
  • Nifty support characters and some dudes to hang out on objectives.

Why it’s Interesting

Taurox go brrrrrrrrrt. In Start Competing: Astra Militarum, we’re pretty familiar with what Spotter Details/Gunnery Expert Demolisher Tank Commanders and Full Payload Manticores do. What I’ve been finding really really nice playing with this list is the firepower and mobility the Taurox Primes bring to the table. Can’t complain about 30 S4 SP-1/-3 D1 shots coming out of these little hate trucks. At that kind of volume, they’re not only good at the obvious task of clearing hordes… when 2 or 3 or their firepower is combined, they can really put the hurt on almost any target that’s less than T8. Their effectiveness and survivability are further buffed by the Prime’s 5++ and reroll 1’s aura, which is really really nice. Lastly, we’ve got some objective Scions and a couple of support characters for some CP regen (Platoon Commander) and a way to get a 4++ on some Consolidated Squad Guardsmen with a combination of Warding Incantation, and Psychic Barrier. If the need ever arises, you can always kick out 3d3 MW from the Psyker and Coteaz.

Anywho, with our Ork overlords coming down the chute, this ought to be a pretty easy swap to Commissar Yarrick in this list if that becomes necessary!

Wrapping things up

That’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and found it informative and helpful, and so on. Inevitably with the sheer number of unit options and other choices available to the Astra Militarum – there are going to be things we missed. As always, if you have any feedback or questions, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.