Start Competing: Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard Tactics

Astra whatsit now? You are in the Imperial Guard, son. Forget power armor, magical space elves, terrifying space bugs, or weird fish people. This is the faction of the brave men and women of the Imperium, going out into the war in the stars armed with nothing but a lasgun, a flak jacket, and faith in the Immortal Emperor, and Naramyth and Corrode (and, as of the latest update, Wings) have combined their powers to tell you all about it. Like the rest of the articles in the Start Competing series, this is not intended to be a breakdown of every possible unit in the Guard line. This range has been around forever, ever since the days of the Imperial Army in Rogue Trader, and it shows. There are a ton of options and a bunch of them are semi-to-mostly-useless, but we will cover what you can realistically expect to see and use on the table, equipping you to take up arms for Him on Earth and face down the horrors of the galaxy.

Additionally, this is mostly a review of the Astra Militarum codex, rather than “Imperium” as a wider faction. We’ll pull in the key Forge World units, but we’re not going to do a deep dive of the Death Korps of Krieg or Elysians, or get into the finer details of Imperial Soup lists, although we will discuss the “loyal 32” since it’s sometimes still relevant on the table. We’ll also take a look at the fancy new toys Guard got access to in The Greater Good and how that impacts on list design.

Table of Contents

Army Strengths

  • Effective shooting and lots of it
  • Tons of bodies for cheap
  • Ability to act in every phase of the game
  • Orders make the basic unit of Guardsman extremely flexible

Army Weaknesses

  • T3/5+ saves everywhere
  • Vulnerable vehicles
  • BS4+ almost everywhere hurts against targets with hit modifiers – Alaitoc planes are not your friend
  • Tons of similar options makes for some real trap choices for a new player

Competitive Rating

Medium

Guard’s strength has been gradually ebbing from the heights they once held (they were the first codex to really get the internet up in arms about the game being broken), especially as a pure list, though The Greater Good (TGG) has given them some strong new options that are helping them get back into it. There’s still lots of power here, but there are lots of popular lists out there that pure guard doesn’t line up super well against, and some matchups got hurt bad by Chapter Approved nerfs.

Guard still have the tools to make it to the top tables in the right hands, but it’s tougher going than it used to be and where once you frequently saw a small amount of Guard added to other Imperium lists to boost their CP, recent lists have often been the other way round – mostly guard with a small amount of something else (often Blood Angels since Blood of Baal) added to shore up their weaknesses. We’ll mostly be talking about pure guard in this article, but will cover the key Blood Angels choices briefly in the introductory souping section.

Army Rundown

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Guard’s big strength is quantity – whatever they’re put on the table (usually guns and bodies), there’s probably lots of it. Guard are usually aiming to overwhelm the opponent’s defences 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 specialised 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.

It’s very common to see lists containing double or even triple battalions, and brigades are also very common (the latter especially in soup). You normally see a core of a large number of Infantry squads and supporting characters, backed up by Tank Commanders, Leman Russes and/or Basilisks as the basic gunline. There’s then a huge variety of more niche 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, and can be dropped into an army to fill a brigade slot or because they’re a player favourite. The important thing is to bring the volume – if you’re buidling a competitive list and don’t have at least 60 Infantry Squad bodies and 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 more 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

Compared to more recent armies like Adepta Sororitas, Guard have relatively restrained lists of special rules, with most of the depth here coming from their regiments and the orders mechanic.

Defenders of Humanity

Normally here’s where we say “this is the standard objective secured rule” but Guard’s version is actually slightly better. All Troops in ASTRA MILITARUM detachments gain Objective Secured as normal – but so do any LEMAN RUSS units in Spearhead detachments specifically. This latter point sounds cool, but unfortunately doesn’t come up much. Tank Commanders are more common than vanilla Russes, which while they do have the keyword to work with this are less handy for filling out a Spearhead, and especially after the addition of juicy new strats from TGG, Guard can and should generally be packing Battalions or Brigades where possible. An upside is an upside though, so if you do find yourself with a Spearhead containing a Russ you can catch your opponent out bad with this!

Voice of Command

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

A special rule that every INFANTRY OFFICER model (generally Company Commanders, Platoon Commanders and Tempestor Primes) has. These are functionally spells that cannot fail and provide a lot of the secret sauce for otherwise lacklustre units. At the start of the Shooting phase, for each use of this rule an officer has they can choose one matching <REGIMENT> INFANTRY unit within 6″ and have them immediately do one of the following:

  • Take Aim!: Reroll 1s to hit until the end of the phase.
  • First Rank Fire! Second Rank Fire! (FRFSRF): Change all lasguns and hot-shot lasguns to Rapid Fire 2 until the end of the phase.
  • Bring it Down!: Reroll 1s to wound until the end of the phase,
  • Forwards, for the Emperor!: The unit can shoot even if it advanced this turn.
  • Get Back in the Fight: The unit can shoot even if it fell back this turn.
  • Move! Move! Move!: The unit immediately move agains (and must advance), but cannot shoot or charge this turn.
  • Fix Bayonets! (only units in combat) The unit immediately fights as if it were the fight phase

In addition to these generic choices, six of the Regiments gets an additional order that only they can use (with the remaining two getting a special Tank Order).

Each unit can only be affected by a single order each phase (unless a special ability specifies otherwise).

All of these are extremely solid options which further support units that are basically mandatory anyway.  The ones providing the biggest swings are FRFSRF and Move! Move! Move! Doubling the amount of shots even out of a 10-model Infantry Squad really allows them to punch above their weight, and additional movement can allow game-winning board control and movement blocking. The ability to throw a unit of infantry a minimum of 14″ away is bananas, and it’s also worth remembering that officers can order themselves, so in a pinch a lone commander can fire themselves onto an objective at high speeds. The others will all sometimes be useful though. Rerolling 1s to hit can be good for Veterans squads, mortar teams or Scions with special weapons. Bring it Down! and Forwards, For The Emperor! are a bit more niche, but both have their place – in particular, Bring it Down! can be great as a follow-up order on the aforementioned Veterans or Scions when using the Laurels of Command relic (of which more later), and can be good if you’ve brought Heavy Weapon Squads with spicier loadouts.

Using this ability correctly is key to doing well with guard, as squeezing the maximum efficiency out of your troops before their probable violent death is crucial. For the lucky souls in the Militarum Tempestus, these instead tune up their already considerable damage output, turning them into very cost effective killers.

Make sure you’re careful in positioning your officers and units so you can allocate these where needed, and remember (especially for Move! Move! Move!) that you only need to trail a single model into range to use them. Don’t forget to do them straight away at the start of shooting too – many opponents will be forgiving about this, but you don’t want to lose a game because you missed them and weren’t allowed the takeback.

Tank Orders

Valhallan Leman Russ. Credit: SRM

The Tank Commander’s answer to Voice of Command. There are three orders available to Tank Commanders, which can be used in much the same way as above except that they target <REGIMENT> LEMAN RUSS instead. Back in the bad old days of 8th edition Indexhammer, they weren’t allowed to target themselves with this for some reason, but post-Codex they are and so the most common usage of Tank Orders is for the Commander to order himself. This might sound curious, but everyone needs to give themselves a pep talk every now and then, even if they’re commanding ten tonnes of Imperial steel.

The three orders are:

  • Full Throttle!: Instead of shooting, the model can move, must Advance, and cannot declare a charge this turn.
  • Gunners, Kill on Sight!: Re-roll hit rolls of 1 until the end of the phase.
  • Strike and Shroud!: If the Russ has not used its smoke launchers yet (see the Russ entry below), it can shoot and then immediately launch smoke.

Of the three, Gunners, Kill on Sight! is by far the most commonly used, since it directly buffs the shooting efficiency of these already powerful tanks. The other two have application though; sometimes you just need to move, particularly late game where claiming an objective might be the difference between victory and defeat, and Strike and Shroud can be dead handy for lessening some of the counterpunch from whatever your Russes are firing at.

A very common shortcut used by Guard players for these is to declare, at the start of the game, that all their Tank Commanders are using Gunners, Kill on Sight! on themselves every turn unless specified otherwise. Don’t forget to consider your other options though – sometimes a super speedy Russ is what you need, and if you’ve got another source of re-rolls lined up for a turn then Strike and Shroud! is a good choice.

Grinding Advance

A special rule that has been copied by elves and now Marines, this allows Leman Russes and Tank Commanders to shoot their turret weapon twice (at the same target) if they remain stationary move under half their movement, and ignore the penalty for moving and shooting for that weapon. 2d6 shots from a battle/demolisher cannon or the 40-shot fistful of dice from a Punisher can be extremely valuable, especially on a Tank Commander’s BS3+ or, even better, Pask’s BS2+. You basically want to be doing this every turn with all your Russes unless they need to be hauling ass somewhere for a specific purpose.

Advisors and Auxilia

This rule outlines a list of units that can be included in an Astra Militarum detachment that won’t prevent <REGIMENT> units in the detachment from getting a Regimental Doctrine (which we’ll be looking at in a moment) despite not having a <REGIMENT> themselves. The list is long, but it’s basically everything in the book that isn’t either <REGIMENT> or Militarum Tempestus.

Militarum Tempestus

Units with the MILITARUM TEMPESTUS keyword can also be included in a <REGIMENT> detachment without breaking Doctrines (though don’t gain one themselves if taken this way), but as of TGG it’s much more likely that you’ll want to include them in a dedicated detachment to take advantage of the Tempestus Regiments rules, which we will again look at shortly.

Regiments

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

There’s seven core regiments available to Astra Militarum armies, and seven options for the Militarum Tempestus. In addition, The Greater Good introduced options for designing your own <REGIMENT>. In this section we’ll be looking at the core and custom ones – the Tempestus are their own deal that get their own heading.

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 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 up front 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 Tank Aces are a thing. WIth a few exceptions, most of the relics are pretty bad too, though a couple have their uses.

Cadian

Retro Cadians. Credit: SRM

  • 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 number of shots for a turret weapon 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 flavour 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.

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 a 6″ heroic and re-rolls hits in the first round of combat.
  • Relic – Mamorph Tuskblade: Relic powersword 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 rerolling random shots for their vehicles is like 3 traits rolled into one. +1 strength dudes allows Guard to actually be aggressive and charge units. 12 swings from a 10 man unit isn’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

Valhallan Imperial Guard. Credit: SRM

  • 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 a VALHALLAN INFANTRY unit that was wholly destroyed earlier in the battle up again, within 6″ of a board edge and 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-squadded 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.

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 unit 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’s considerable diminishing returns on this regiment, meaning smaller contingents is generally the only place it’s seen, but it can be good there.

Armageddon

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

  • 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!: Target unit can immediately board a transport within 3″ after shooting this phase, as long as they didn’t disembark this turn.

Armageddon have 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 armoured company this is an OK place to look.

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 grands +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 get a bunch of movement tricks which 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.

 Mordian

  • Regimental Doctrine – Parade Drill: INFANTRY get +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).

Custom Traits

Custom faction traits have been very hit and miss. Outside of Marines, you pay an implicit cost to take them of losing access to faction traits, relics and strats, so they have to be pretty great to compete. Some factions (Craftworld Eldar and Tau) get there but some don’t.  As with most sets of these, to build a custom trait you pick two of the abilities from the list. 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 to it. B+

Gunnery Experts is the winner of the lot, but suffers from having no clear and generally applicable partner that pushes it above the core choices. Spotter Details works well with some Russ loadouts, but doesn’t help really good things like the Hammer of SundranceJury-Rigged Repairs (below) is maybe interesting in a very chassis heavy list, but like all vehicles without invuln 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 as a combo is probably the most appealing, as it does give you a combo that leans in to 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 wihtin 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, slowly grinding up the board with many squads, but bear in mind that it immediately switches off if you use MMM, which often means the unit your opponent most wants to kill is your most vulnerable. 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 mechanised list. C+
The Rest
  • Disciplined Shooters: INFANTRY can rapid fire at 18″. It’s fine, and if you’re havy on infantry you want to push gradually up the board the combo with Wilderness Survivors makes for an acceptable if relatively unexceiting trait C
  • 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 get +1AP on their attacks within 9″ of an officer. Guard do 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, strat and warlord trait that you could get for a dedicated detachment of them, but the Greater Good has blown that wide open with a bunch of new rules for MILITARUM TEMPESTUS detachments (any where every unit is either MILITARUM TEMPESTUS or covered by Advisors and Allies).

Any unit with the MILITARUM TEMPESTUS keyword now gets a <TEMPESTUS REGIMENT> keyword added 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 Auxilia rule), <TEMPESTUS REGIMENT> units get a regimental doctrine. Each choice also comes with 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 worth noting that there’s currently some rules clarity issues around exactly how selecting a keyword and trait works. The wording in the book accidentally implied you got to keep the original Storm Troopers doctrine as well as their new ones, and also gave you no actual way of accessing the Storm Troopers doctrine if you wanted it. An FAQ came along and, unfortunately, hasn’t totally fixed this. It can now technically be read as implying that you can take a keyword you want the relics from but apply a different doctrine.

This is almost certainly not the intent, and we’re working on the assumption that you choose one keyword and that applies all the way through, and that Storm Troopers is an option. The relic, trait and stratagem from the main codex are currently available to Tempestus detachments with other keywords, because they all key from the MILITARUM TEMPESTUS keyword rather than STORM TROOPERS as it would be now.

We expect this to get a big tidy up whenever the spring FAQ lands, so do check back here after that.

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 strat, 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 Servent 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.

We think there is at least some chance these will end up gated behind the Storm Troopers doctrine post-Big FAQ, but for now enjoy them.

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 (perhaps unsurprisingly for bleeding edge rules) none of these are terrible, and you can have fun with all of them.

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. The only unique draw is that currently the Tempestus Drop Force specialist detachment is locked to this.

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 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 emblamatic 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 an inbound scion drop force a real pain to shift. Coupled with the fact that their weapons are operating at a mighty 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, favouring 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 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.

Specialist Detachments

Thought we were done with customisation after 14 different regimental doctrines? Nah. As well as the regiments, Guard get five specialist detachments in the Vigilus Defiant book, and among them are some of the better ones. Of the five, three have seen reasonable amounts of play, with a fourth having bursts of popularity and really only one miss. These are your options.

Emperor’s Blade Assault Company

Credit: BuffaloChicken

  • Affects:
    • Company/Platoon Commanders
    • Command, Veteran, Special Weapon and Infantry Sqads
    • Chimeras
    • Tauroxes
  • Stratagem 1 – Mechanised Fire Support – 1CP: One of the transports can fire overwatch when one of the INFANTRY units is charged within 6″, and hits on a 4+ while doing so. Cute, but none of the vehicles really has the guns to make this worth it.
  • Stratagem 2 – Rapid Redeploy – 1CP: A unit can disembark after a transport moves at the end of your movement phase, and cannot move further. More interesting, but outclassed for this trick by what Scions can do.
  • Warlord Trait – Mechanised Commander: Warlord can issue orders from inside a Chimera, and is treated as being in voxcaster range while doing so. THe voxcaster bit isn’t super relevant, as the target needs to have one too, but overall this is probably the most compelling sell here, as just the size of a Chimera will help get orders where they need to be.
  • Relic – The Shield of Mortwald: Gain a 3++ that can’t be re-rolled and goes away when failed.

It says a lot about how good these are that this is pretty clearly the weakest but probably still does have occasional fringe uses. Especially in non-ITC formats, Chimera spam rears its head and does OK every now and then, and in a list going deep on units in transports there’s some value to the warlord trait and Rapid Redeploy. Not good enough to be a draw in its own right, but worth a look if you’ve decided that a list that works with it is a good way to attack the metagame.

Emperor’s Wrath Artillery Company

  • Affects:
    • Company Commanders
    • Masters of Ordnance
    • Basilisks
    • Hydras
    • Wyverns
  • Stratagem 1 – Suppressive Fire – 1CP: Choose one of the VEHICLES. It can’t shoot this turn, but one enemy INFANTRY unit in range of its weapons halves their move and cannot overwatch until your next turn. This is one of those things where the target choice is sufficiently restrictive that it doesn’t come up that often, but can occasionally be clutch. Luckily, you basically want this for the second strat by itself, so you get access to this when it’s relevant for free
  • Stratagem 2 – Pounding Barrage – 2CP: Use at the start of your shooting phase. Choose one of the tanks and one of their weapons – they can fire it twice this phase. Yup, this is what you’re here for. It isn’t cheap, but both Basilisks and Wyverns are pretty great at what they do, and getting to fire one twice (especially a Full Payload Basilisk post Greater Good) is pretty sweet. Like with a lot of Specialist Detachments, this paradoxically has often lead to people making a detachment with a single target for this a Specialist, and that’s definitely a reasonable way to use it (though Wyverns went up in cost a bit so are slightly less attractive).
  • Warlord Trait – Lord of Ordnance: Add +1AP on a 6 to wound for friendly EMPEROR’s WRATH units within 6″. This is a reward for going a bit wider on these tanks. Doesn’t tend to quite justify the cost of a CP when you’re most likely using this with a single Basilisk, but is definitely OK in themed lists.
  • Relic – Agripinaa-Class Orbital Tracker: Pick a friendly EMPEROR’s WRATH tank within 6″ to ignore cover once per shooting phase. This is a decent flex choice against some units – Space Marine Eliminators, in particular, are going to have a very, very nasty surprise if you pop this on them.

The first one of these that’s seen a lot of play, the Emperor’s Wrath detachment is great at making a single Basilisk or Wyvern (Hydras are rarely seen) add a lot of extra value to your list. With the gradual reduction in Eldar flyer spam, which was a good counter to them, and the advent of Tank Aces (more on them shortly), expect to continue to see this pop up in serious lists here and there.

Emperor’s Conclave Infantry Company

Credit: BuffaloChicken

  • Affects:
    • Company/Platoon Commanders
    • Command Squads
    • Infantry Squads
    • Conscripts
    • Ministorum Priests
    • Crusaders
  • Stratagem 1 – No Quarter Given – 2CP: Pick an EMPEROR’s CONCLAVE unit at the start of the fight phase. Models from that unit can pile in and fight on death, even if they’ve already fought. Pricey, but can be a real headache for some armies in a pinch – once you’ve stacked up all the buffs to make Guard good in combat, a full squad will take a decent bite out of some Orks, Tyranids or Genestealers with this, making your opponent’s trades look rough.
  • Stratagem 2 – Sanctimonious Charge – 1CP: After a priest makes a charge, all other CONCLAVE units within 12″ get +1 to charge. This is fine sometimes, though don’t get baited into throwing a priest into Overwatch they can’t take.
  • Warlord Trait – Fiery Denouncer: 6″ re-roll 1s in the fight phase aura. Good if you’re going in on this.
  • Relic – Litanies of the Holy Synod: Nearby CONCLAVE units roll 2d6 and take the lowest on morale, and when the bearer dies you make one unit within 6″ +1A and fearless for the rest of the battle. The kind of armies that want this make the morale trick actually not totally worthless, but the buff is generally too tricky to use, and this overall ends up as a miss.

This detachment favours one strategy and one strategy alone – going deep on punchy Catachans. Packing Straken and a Priest gives them 3 S4 attacks each, and adding re-roll 1s to that via the warlord trait is actively great for you, and comes at the price of CP rather than having to plow points into Yarrick (the other available source of the ability). Catachan spam is a little less popular than it used to be, and this wasn’t always used even when it was, but if you decide you want to unlesh hordes of swole, angry men this is worth a look.

Emperor’s Fist Tank Company

  • Affects:
    • LEMAN RUSS units (so Tank Commanders as well)
  • Stratagem 1 – Unyielding Advance – 1CP: You can fire twice with Grinding Advance even after moving more than half your speed. Increasingly relevant – this lets a Russ with one of the shorter range guns such as the recently improved demolisher cannon catch the enemy out with a sudden burst of speed. Even better with Tallarn.
  • Stratagem 2 – Steel Phalanx – 1CP: Designate an enemy unit at the start of your charge phase. Each time one of your EMPEROR’s FIST tanks charges them, deal d3 MW on a 4+. Charging with your tanks is a big risk most of the time, and multi-charging with Russes is extremely rare (quite apart from being spatially challenging). You really want to be putting 2+ tanks in before this is good on rate, and you shouldn’t let it lure you into bad choices just to pull it off.
  • Warlord Trait – Unflinching Resolve: You can re-roll hit rolls for your warlord and friendly EMPEROR’s FIST units within 6″ on overwatch. Can be OK if you think getting charged my elite infantry is a real prospect, and combos well with Defensive Gunners, but not the main draw here.
  • Relic – Hammer of Sunderance: The good stuff. A damage 3 battle cannon. A+ tier relic that lists are frequently happy to pay 2CP just to get access to, and even better now Weapon Expert and Hail of Fire exist.

This is mostly all about the relic, and is frequently and enthusiastically taken just for that. Put it on a Tank Commander, (literally) sit back and pound your enemies into dust. Unyielding Advance is actually high value too though, and the prospect of a Tallarn demolisher Russ moving 18″ and still double tapping is a big old headache for your opponents. The most commonly seen of these and basically the best of the bunch.

Tempestus Drop Force

(Strong independent detachment that don’t need no Emperor is immediately executed for heresy)

  • Affects:
    • Within MILITARUM TEMPESTUS detachments with (currently) the Storm Troopers doctrine only.
      • Tempestor Primes
      • Scions
      • Scion Command Squads
      • Valkyries
  • Stratagem 1 – Precision Drop – 1CP: Use when a Valkyrie does a grav chute drop. Don’t roll to see if the passengers die – they automatically make it out OK. If you’re using this detachment you are likely to be interested in this – but Greater Good gives you a better version for free.
  • Stratagem 2 – Aerial Fire Support – 1CP: Similar to the Emperor’s Blade, a Valkyrie can overwatch on 4+ when a nearby friendly drop force INFANTRY unit is charged. A fully tooled up Valk is a bit more interesting to overwatch with than a Chimera, but still suffers from poor BS and not quite enough guns – especially as more often than not you probably don’t fully tool them up.
  • Warlord Trait – Grave-Chute Commando: 6″ aura of +1 to hit on the turn you got out of a Valk. This is what you’re here for – this is extremely good with tooled up plasma squads dropping out hot, especially thanks to the Doctrine.
  • Relic – Cypra Mundi Null Emitter: Negate any psychic power’s effects on the bearer on a 2+. Maybe not totally useless in a world of Grey Knights – you could get cheeky and sacrifice a character with this to ward off a bunch of smites from a direction for a turn or something. Tricky to use though.

This is currently in a strange place thanks to new rules rendering an old FAQ (probably) wrong, but it hasn’t been updated yet. As of the Greater Good we have some rules for what a Militarum Tempestus detachment is – but the Vigilus FAQ says that for the purpose of this detachment it refers to a detachment with the Storm Troopers doctrine. In addition, Greater Good brings a flat out better version of Precision Drop that’s available to everyone, and can’t be used in the same phase because it has the same name.

That being said, the warlord trait here is very good, and does combo specifically well with Storm Troopers. The new version of Precision Drop also powers it up a lot – being able to drop Scions 5″ away rather than 9″ is a big deal, because it lets them rapid fire their hot-shot lasguns, and with the +1 to hit from the trait and exploding 6s, what’s suddenly a lot of shots, which you can improve further with Point-Blank Efficiency or (maybe) Killing Zone. This detachment has reliably been nearly good enough, and it’s just about possible the spicy warlord trait plus the new stratagems get it over the line. Alternatively, if/when this gets opened up to the new regiments it seems like there’s a decent shot of someone finding a way to make it good with them as well.

Tank Aces

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

Last one before we get to the regular stuff. Promise.

As with several other factions, Greater Good gives Guard an alternative use for their Warlord Trait pick – making 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, one time pre-game, spend 1CP to hand out an extra Tank Ace ability with the check’s notes 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 were already seeing heavy testing straight out of the gates.

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. Starting pretty spicy – this makes any Russ 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 it’s move or under. OK, but a bit too marginal compared to some of the other options here, and can’t be comboed with things like Unyielding Advance the way the basic Grinding Advance bonus can. C
  • Weapon Expert: Improves the AP of turret weapons by 1. You know how we said the Hammer of Sunderance was an A+ gun? This makes it better. Nice. Also good on a punisher, helping make up for their price hike by charging them up. A
  • Armoured Rush: Lets you shoot your turret guns after advancing. 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 ool, 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.

Support Aces

Basilisks, Hydras, Manticores, Wyverns or Deathstrikes only

  • Full Payload: Multi-damage weapons the model fires automatically do maximum damage. Proving a popular choice on Basilisks, and is especially good on one that double shoots with Pounding Barrage. It does paint the world’s biggest target on a T6 model, so hopefully there’s terrain you can hide behind! Also pretty cute on a Manticore. A
  • Shatterer of Wills: The morale ability siren is sounding! This gives one enemy unit you hit -2Ld 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: Cover until you move. Interesting, and would be more so if any of the super heavies had weapons that ignore LOS. 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.

Powers, Relics, Traits and Stratagems

Psychic Powers

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

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 15pts, 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 15pt elite slot is such a low cost (while giving you a deny in your castle) that it’s frequently worth it.

Warlord Traits

Obviously 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 have a trivial way to advance out of phase. The fact that this is the first time I am noticing this should key you in to the fact that it’s probably not that great. Another one that does, to be fair, probably merit 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 Commisar, 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 an 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 aboslute avalance of options outside this table, you can’t go too far wrong with that.

Relics

Sadly, the core relics for Astra Militarum are a bit underwhelming. That doesn’t super matter as there are plenty of regimental ones and/or the Hammer of Sunderance to spend your points on, but this main list is pretty weak 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 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+. These days it still sees play, but in much-reduced form following the addition of the Tactical Restraint rule, which hs lead to it mostly being made redundant by Grand Strategist. Potentially primed for a comeback if people want to use their warlord slot on a Tank Ace. B+
  • 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 Aquils is still just about the winner here, but the real answer is to go find the Hammer of Sunderance or the Relic of Lost Cadia elsewhere.

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, better chance of splash damage and a chance to do extra damage to any survivors.. Exists in an 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 trip. D+
  • 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+. Surprisingly relevant – handy on a Leman Russ to make it into an ok counter-charger, and outright nasty on something on a Baneblade chassis, which suddenly has a potential 9 attacks at S9, AP-2, Dd3 hitting on a 2+. B
  • 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.  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 int o 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 Guardsman might give up kill more easily. Also magnifies the effect of buffs. One of those things that isn’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 regiements 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. B
  • Take Cover – 1CP: Add 1 to saving throws for a unit targeted by Shooting. Briefly at the start of the edition you could Take Cover on anything including a Baneblade, but it’s since been erratad 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. B
  • 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 hit and wound rolls against CHAOS units. This one doesn’t have the most broad utility, but Chaos is a strong faction right now, and 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 super heavies is a bit of a shame (but does at least suggest that they’ve learned from the catastrophic error that was Machine Spirit Resurgant), but because of the number of ways in TGG 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. B
  • 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. B
  • 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 powerfull 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 and 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. A
  • 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 prepostorously 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, including from the Hammer of Sunderance is totally outragous. Also plausibly interesting on the rarely seen all-plasma Russ. A+
  • Rolling Death – 1CP: A Taurox gets +1 to hit if it moves under hald 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 Manoevring – 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 alphaing 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 prepostorously 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 Commisar 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 wtih the 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 dropped out with your units – that minimises 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.

The Units

Core Units

As previously mentioned, Guard have a goddamn lot of units, and a bunch of those units have 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 battle cannon or a punisher gatling 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 have 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 59 extra datasheets listed in “Forces of the Astra Militarum”, let alone Death Korps of Krieg or Elysian-specific units. 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”). Rough Riders are also noted as being an index unit, mostly so you know where to find them.

HQ

Units available:

Company Commander
Lord Castellan Creed (NC, Cadian)
Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken (NC, Catachan)
Tank Commander
Knight Commander Pask (NC, Cadian)
Lord Commissar (Auxilia)
Commissar Yarrick (NC, Auxilia)
Tempestor Prime (Militarum Tempestus)
Primaris Psyker (Auxilia)
Sly Marbo (Catachan)
Aradia Madellan (Auxilia, Blackstone Fortress)

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 favour of their cheaper juniors in the Elites slot. Looking at the rest, then, we have:

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 (hi, Tau Commanders). The statline is distinctly unimpressive – WS3+ and BS3+, S3 T3, 4 Wounds, 3 Attacks, Ld 8 and a 5+ armour save (and Invulnerable save). Probably the critical stat there is Wounds, because if you’ve read Wings’ article on Imperial Assassins you’ll know that 4 is the break point where you’re more likely than not to survive a Vindicare shooting at you. 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 30pts, and they give out 2 orders per turn. Orders are the engine that make 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.

Lord Castellan Creed

Creed is, more or less, just an upgunned 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 55pts vs. 30pts 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 him is never a bad choice, but it’s also not necessarily the optimal choice. It really is up to you.

Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken

Unlike Creed, old ‘Iron Hand’ Straken is very different to 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. 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″ in the Fight phase (including Straken himself) and extra attack. Like any other senior officer, he also dishes out two orders a turn, and has a 5+ invulnerable, and of course since he’s CATACHAN INFANTRY himself he gains an extra +1 Strength such that his real profile is 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 75pts!

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.

Tank Commander

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

The Tank Commander is, more or less, a straight-up better Leman Russ (though after the point cut on the basic Russ there’s more of a place for them too). 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 choices here are the battle cannon (usually on the first taken and upgraded to the Hammer of Sunderance), demolisher cannon or the punisher gatling cannon. The first is just the all around best, but you can only have one of that and after that the brutal anti-tank power of the demolisher cannon or anti-infantry capacity of the punisher (still OK after its nerf) are good choices. You might possibly also consider sponson weapons to add more dakka, and point cuts have made a lot of these look decent. Heavy Bolters are a nice default choice, and if you’re Catachan or Gunnery Experts the plasma can be pretty nice as well. Don’t be afraid to run them bare bones though – the base rate is good.

Knight Commander Pask

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 tanks 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. You can’t argue with that BS2+ though, even if he is 35pts more expensive for the privilege, though since the addition of the Hammer and Tank Aces he’s now far from mandatory.

Commissar Yarrick

 

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Yarrick is the Commissar’s Commissar, a special character from the early days of 40k. In 8th edition he has WS2+ and BS2+, T4, W4, and A3 with a 4+ armour 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 Ld9, has a 3+ Feel No Pain on his last wound (the best in the game except for the Contorted Epitome), and a 4+ invulnerable. He can also summarily execute models in a unit which flees, 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 100pts, 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 that excellent FNP he gets, but at least he has the BS and WS to make good use of them.

Tempestor Prime

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

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.

Primaris Psyker

Once upon a time Primaris Psykers were very cheap, whereas these days they’re just regular old “quite cheap.” Coming in at 46pts, 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 and Nightshroud are your best picks, though if you want nothing but those two 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 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.

Aradia Madellan

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 40pts, and with no option to take other powers, Aradia thus doesn’t really see any play.

Sly Marbo

Credit: BuffaloChicken

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, violence machine. At 55pts including wargear, he’s a pretty great choice to take up an HQ 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 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 55pts, that’s pretty great.

Troops

Units available:

Infantry Squad
Conscripts
Militarum Tempestus Scions (Militarum Tempestus)

Thank God for the Troops slot and its svelte 3 unit choices. Of these, Infantry Squads and Tempestus Scions are the 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.

Infantry Squad

Astra Militarum Squad

Astra Militarum Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter

The humble Infantry Squad is the basic, bread and butter unit of the Imperial Guard – just 10 guys and their lasguns. At an astonishingly cheap 40pts, 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 key 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 – the same as a Space Marine! – 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.

Tempestus Scions

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

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 7pts per model, but pack a lot of bonuses in. These are threefold – first, a 4+ armour 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 shot guns.). Right at the start of 8th edition, mass drop Scions supported by Tauroxes was a top-tier list, but meta changes – in particular, the evolving Tactical Reserves rule – caught up with them.

These days, there’s several ways to use them. First up, a minimum battalion of these plus Tempestors is now cheap, actually coming in 5pts cheaper than the famous loyal 32, 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’s three main tricks:

  • Lambdan Lions dropping in force with a Refractor Shield Generator making them hard to shift.
  • Tempestus Drop Forces throwing them out of Valkyries toting hit-boosted plasma to ruin people’s day.
  • 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 is discussed in the Tempestus Regiments section earlier, but all indications since TGG landed are that a Scion Battalion is likely to be a common sight in Guard lists going forward.

Conscripts

Conscripts have had a wild ride in 8th. Starting the edition as 3 point models in blocks of 50 guys, backed up by a Commissar that made sure only one ever ran away, they now 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 still exists in a Valhallan relic (and technically the Death Korps of Krieg Commissar, but don’t do that because the reasoning is intensely lame). Still, in today’s meta people have come to expect to kill 100+ Boyz or 60ish Plaguebearers, so now that people are loaded up to take vastly tougher hordes down, the drawbacks of these heavily outweigh the benefits.

Dedicated Transports

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 with a couple of cute tricks such as cutting down on the number of army drops,and the aforementioned infantry mobility with the Emperor’s Blade Assault Company strat.

Units available:

Chimera
Taurox
Taurox Prime (Militarum Tempestus)

Neither Taurox is really relevant. The basic Taurox is just underwhelming on all angles and only T6, while the Taurox Prime is still labouring under some heavy handed early nerfs.

Chimera

Credit: SRM

The Chimera is the only one of these really worth looking at. It’s still underwhelming compared to the transports more pointy-eared or power-armoued get, 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 well-performing lists is now pretty common, 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 76 points is basically just fine.

If you do use them, one neat trick is that you only need a single model inside to fire their lasgun array, so keeping a cheap character inside (and maybe letting them issue orders via Mobile Command Vehicle) ups their anti-infantry firepower considerably. How this works logistically is unclear – presumably all Astra Militarum commanders are given training in firing six guns at once in multiple directions. They are heroes of the Imperium, I guess.

Elites

Units available:

Master of Ordnance
Platoon Commander
Command Squad
Colour Sergeant Kell (NC, Cadian)
Special Weapons Squad
Veterans
Sergeant Harker (NC, Catachan)
Militarum Tempestus Command Squad (Militarum Tempestus)
Ministorum Priest (Auxilia)
Crusaders (Auxilia)
Tech-priest Enginseer (Auxilia)
Servitors (Auxilia)
Commissar (Auxilia)
Officer of the Fleet (Auxilia)
Wyrdvane Psykers (Auxilia)
Astropath (Auxilia)
Ogryn Bodyguard (Auxilia)
Ogryns (Auxilia)
Bullgryns (Auxilia)
Nork Deddog (NC, Auxilia)
Ratlings (Auxilia)
Rein and Raus (Auxilia, Blackstone Fortress)

Goddamn, that’s a lot of units. With 22 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. Special Weapons Squads sort of exist, but their job is done better by either Veterans or Tempestus Scions. Wyrdvane Psykers are long past their heyday as Battle Psyker Squads in 5th edition. We’ve never yet seen an Officer of the Fleet on the table (Editor’s note from Wings: I have – it was surprisingly OK), despite Corrode owns=ing two. 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 favour 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 13 units to talk about. Oof.

Sergeant Harker

The Schwarzenegger in Predator 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 reroll 1s in Shooting bubble for Catachan units. An extremely efficient buff unit for 50 points, especially for making an artillery park just that bit more effective.  If only he was an HQ so he could fill a slot you really cared about, he would truly be top tier.

Commmand Squad/Tempestus Scions Command Squad

Both flavours of command squad have the gimmick of being able to load up on a lot of special weaposn, but Yu 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 a relatively cheap unit that can throw a nasty punch. Watch out for intercept abilities though – 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.

Astropath

The Astropath is like a baby, extremely cheap version of the Primaris Psyker, coming in at a mere 15pts if you swap their near-useless staff for a laspistol. 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 on something 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.

Fundamentally, lots of guard lists are looking to fill elites slots in Brigades, and these are so cheap while toting useful buffs that they’re often worth taking. If you’re packing Bullgryn they flip over to being an active part of your plan. Just keep them safe from snipers – a modest breeze will kill one instantly.

Master of Ordnance

Master of Ordnance

Master of Ordnance by Corrode

Provides a reroll 1s to hit bubble or Basilisks, Wyverns, Manticores, or Deathstrikes should one ever make it to a gaming table, but only at targets over 36″ away which makes it difficult to use effectively. He also has a once per game Basilisk shot, hitting on 3s if he has not moved and can see the target, which can be trivial to setup with him being a character. At 30 points that is almost good. You probably aren’t dying to include him, but as slot filler in a Brigade there’s worse choices, though also much better ones.

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.

Veterans

Once upon a time these were Troops and every Guardsman was a Veteran, hiding in a Chimera with 3 meltaguns and powersliding 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 flavours of Scion bullshit.

Ministorum Priest

Adeptus Ministorum Priest

Adeptus Ministorum Priest by Corrode

A fairly straightforward unit here. Priests on their own are fairly weak characters, but their 35 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 – 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. A cute trick is to skip the Codex entry here and pull in a Sisters of Battle Preacher as an Elite, since he won’t break the detachment and brings the same bubble for 10 points less.

Crusaders

These aren’t really Guard units at all, being Ecclesiarchical infantry (right up to having the additional ADEPTUS MINISTORUM keyword and appearing in the Sisters codex) armed with power swords and storm shields. They can get down to one of the few remaining 2++ invulnerable saves left in the game by having Psychic Barrier cast on them, but what with only being T3 simple volume of fire can take these guys down. 8th has moved past the point where making an unthreatening unit super tough really helps, so these guys don’t really have a role any more.

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.

Commissar

Commissar

Commissar by Corrode

At a mere 15pts, plus 1 for his mandatory bolt pistol, this guy is very cheap and a great slot filler for a Brigade. The Commissar has a Ld8 bubble which can stack with the Catachan Officer +1 Leadership bubble to have Ld9 infantry, lets you re-roll failed Morale (after killing a guy with that big old bolt pistol) and executes periling psykers so they don’t blow up. Like many of the other cheap characters here, he’s also dead handy for sitting on an objective somewhere not bothering anyone and scoring points.

Ogryn Bodyguard

Generally clocks in at 52 points with a Bullgryn maul and a 4++ save from his brute shield. For another 5 points you can drop the invulnerable and get a 2+ save. This guy has been the source of some hilarious interactions in the past, including the endless Bodyguard chain and, for much longer, the invincible Ogryn using a relic to get a 2+ invulnerable. That stuff is gone, but this guy is still useful, providing some extra wounds for the squishy characters in a world where every Imperium player can have a Vindicare in their pocket. He’s reasonable in combat too, with 5 S7 -1 2D swings on the charge and 6 wounds.

Bullgryns

Bullgryn by Corrode

Bullgryn. Credit: Corrode

One of the better reasons to play guard. 378 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 invulns 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++ 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 that can go to 5 with a nearby Priest makes these guys also incredibly dangerous to tangle with in melee. That is a lot of resources, but all of the supporting pieces are things you probably want anyway: Primaris Pskyers or Astropaths and a Priest are all already great picks in almost any Guard army.

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.

Nearly, Maybe

Credit: BuffaloChicken

  • Nork Deddog/Ogryn Bodyguard: A bunch of abilities and bodyguard capabilities for a not-too-bad price. You don’t need them, but if your local metagame is obsessed with sniping out your characters then you could consider it.
  • Ratlings: These are awful on the table but also very cheap and have a bad version of scout deployment. These days I don’t think you’d take them over adding a Scion squad somewhere, but they could just about fill an elite slot.
  • Rein and Raus: A pair of Ratling characters. Fundamentally you’re taking these because they’re multiple objective holders for a low low price (they split up after deployment), but guard don’t struggle to fill that role so they’re not inspiring.

Everyone Else

  • Colour Sergeant Kell: Weirdly specific bodyguards and random morale effects are a no-no.
  • Special Weapons Squad: There just isn’t a niche for these that isn’t done better by any of command squads, scions or veterans.
  • Servitors: Unlike Space Marines, guard do not occasionally have a need to randomly fill an elite slot for 20pts, because they can already do it for 15.
  • Officer of the Fleet: Just brings nothing relevant to the table.
  • Wyrdvane Psykers: I don’t even know where to start with these so I’m not going to.
  • Ogryns: Were already never played. Appear to have picked up a nerf intended for Bullgryn due to a communications failure. This is hilarious, and also makes them utter trash.

Fast Attack

Units available:

Hellhounds (including Devil Dog/Bane Wolf)
Scout Sentinels
Armoured Sentinels
Rough Riders (Index) RIP Horse Bois 2017-2019.

There’s not much in the Fast Attack slots, but they’re important in the world of cheap Guard Brigades. Sentinels are the cheap option for just filling the thing out, but everything here has some function.

Hellhounds

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Hellhounds are are an OK midfield presence against hordes. Providing 2d6 S6 -1 1D 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 just over 100 points. You do have to be careful with infantry hordes which can tag you and stop you shooting; even with the overwatch a large squad of infantry can get into combat and wrap up the tank to be effectively immune to shooting.  The Forge World Artemia pattern variant loses d6 shots (although you can re-roll your one dice) to gain flat 2D and it blows up on 4s for d6 mortals. Naramyth has had a series of Artemia Hellhounds chain explode and wipe out multiple Hive Tyrants and the Swarmlord. Hellhounds are an OK unit, but the gradual power creep of 8th edition while they’ve stood still has left them looking a bit lacklustre, and you’d probably rather scrimp on points here and spend them on something else.

The Bane Wolf and Devil Dog variants are trash.

Sentinels (Scout or Armoured)

Credit: Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

A major contender for “most improved unit out of TGG”. 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. Armoured 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.

WHO COULD HAVE FORSEEN THIS?

So yeah – turns out that the combination of Strike Fast, Strike Hard and Deft Manoevring, 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 138pts with missile launchers, it throws out 6 extremely accurate d6 damage shots early on (even better if you give them re-roll 1s) 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 pesty objective grabber, and picking off infantry with a hail of frag missiles.

There definitely are other things you could validly spend the points on, suitably tooled up Russes being one, but for a really 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 now.

Heavy Support

Units available:

Heavy Weapons Squad
Basilisks
Wyverns
Hydras
Manticore
Deathstrike
Leman Russ Battle Tanks (inc. FW variants)
Trojan Support Vehicle (FW)
Like a thousand others, seriously, it’s a lot (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, 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, the only units to be outright dismissed here are Deathstrikes and Hydras. Hydras are just kind of irrelevant the world over, offering anaemic firepower for their cost, which is sad when you think of the terrors they were when they came into existence in 5th edition. Deathstrikes are firmly in the category of joke inclusion, and the joke isn’t even very good – for all the set-up required and the unreliability of the thing even firing, the actual effect is a bit of a damp nothing. Regular style Russes aren’t up to that much either, but they’re worth talking about just to contrast with Tank Commanders, and to also get into the details of why we’ve only talked about battle cannons and punisher gatling cannons so far, plus make mention of the Forge World options.

Other than that, the only other Forge World unit we’ll discuss is the Trojan Support Vehicle, purely because it has a little utility when taken with superheavies. Don’t expect to see this very often, but it’s occasionally relevant, so here it is.

Heavy Weapons Squads

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 went down in cost 5ppm in the latest CA, and now have access to the Concentrated Fire strat that lets them do mean things to a single target. It’s only 48pts 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.

Basilisks

Credit: SRM

The Basilisk has had a wild ride this edition, swinging from being declared game breakingly good and having lists with nine show up, through to being viewed as trash when Eldar flyer spam ruled the roost and now coming all the way back to being….drumroll please…pretty decent. Nuclear hot takes right here on goonhammer dot com.

Seriously though. At a reasonable 108pts these give you 2d6-pick-the-highest shots that can land anywhere on the table with decent AP and d3 damage. They can be (and often are) upgraded with the Vigilus detachment to let them double-shoot and/or more recently the Full Payload tank ace to make one flat damage three, and in a world ruled by Primaris marines, which they chew up nicely, they’re basically just a fine inclusion in lists – they aren’t your payoff units as such, but add to your weight of fire and alpha strike. They’re also impossible to hide from, meaning they’re one of those units that puts 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.

Do watch out for Crimson Hunter Exarchs, which are basically precision-designed to brutally murder these, but against anything else just stick them on your backline, keep a light screen around them, pound away, and kind of just shrug if your opponent takes them out.

Wyvern

4d6 shots indirect! Rerolling wounds! The Wyvern can put out a real silly amount of shooting to shred infantry cowering behind line of sight blocking terrain, and since the targets this model wants to shoot at tend to not have any -1s it can be pretty effective. Sadly GW spotted that these were probably just a teeny bit too efficient in their role (especially as Catachan or Cadian) and slapped them with a point hike, and like mortars probably went slightly too far. One of these is still fine, and having the option to double shoot them in an Emperor’s Wrath detachment can be pretty good against some armies, but you probably don’t ever want more than the one these days. They’re also another unit that suffers from the heavily power armoued metagame we’ve been in for a while, but they’re at least efficient at blowing up Marine scouts early game.

Manticore

Credit: Corrode

The Manticore has a soft spot in this Naramyth’s heart, since he had two of them terrify his group for most of 5th and 6th edition. Smaller and easier to hide than a Basilisk, this bad boy does 2d6 board wide shots at S10, Ap-2, d3 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 amount 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 the Wyvern: 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, but the list of units that’s relevant against isn’t enormous – T5 multiwound infantry like Kataphrons or other people’s Bullgryn is the main place you’ll see a benefit and maybe Drukhari Raiders.

The big number of shots does also make these anove good choice for Full Payload, especially as Catachan.

Leman Russ Battle Tanks

Credit: BuffaloChicken

For a long time the main problem with the Leman Russ was that it wasn’t a Tank Commander. You lose out on orders, and trade BS3+ for BS4+, which sucks. GW spotted this going into Chapter Approved 2019 and a great balance coin was flipped – would they nerf TCs or buff basic Russes?

Luckily for the fans of armoued might, they chose the latter, and while Tank Commanders are still more prevalent, basic Russes are creeping back into lists. The particularly relevant build is bare bones demolisher cannon Russes in Gunnery Experts/Spotter Details (or just Catachan) detachments. These run really cheap at 135 pts for the base build, are a pain to kill thanks to T8, and can’t really be ignored if your opponent has any armoured targets of note, because even at BS4+ the average 8.5 shots these put out are going to blow vehicles the hell up. That really helps you add some pressure going up the board, something some guard lists struggle with, and comes 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 (probably just packing battle cannons) and deploy 9.

Plenty of the variants are still basically trash mind – you want to stick to the battle cannon, demo cannon or punisher 95% of the time, and unlike Tank Commanders there isn’t even really a use case for the Executioner.

There’s also three Forge World options here that bear talking about; they are the Conqueror, the Annihilator, and the Stygies Vanquisher. The Annihilator is just a Russ with a twin lascannon turret, modelled on the Predator Annihilator. Two BS4+ lascannon shots are not exactly setting the world alight. The Stygies Vanquisher and the Conqueror share the “co-axial” rule, with a storm bolter attached to their turret which, if both are aimed at the same target, allows them to re-roll hit rolls. The Stygies Vanquisher also gains +1 to hit if it doesn’t move, but is otherwise the same as the regular Vanquisher, and therefore shares the low damage ceiling of its ill-fated brother. On the other hand, the Conqueror is actually worth considering if you’re going to take a battle cannon Russ in this slot, since its Conqueror cannon trades the 72″ range for 48″ but is otherwise the same – and given that 48″ is still 2/3rds of the length of the board, that isn’t too big of a trade-off.

Trojan Support Vehicle

This Forge World unit is much more along the lines of what they were originally set up to make – i.e. weird and wonderful little bits of characterful stuff which didn’t fit into 40k proper, rather than 10,000 variants on a Leman Russ or an entire range of Space Marines with accompanying game. The Support Vehicle isn’t much to write home about by itself. It has a heavy bolter, and it can take a couple of other weapon options, but they’re nothing that a Guardsman of some form couldn’t carry. It has a respectable defensive profile of T7 W10 and a 3+ save, and a small transport capacity of 6. What it’s mainly for, though, is the Support Vehicle ability. During each Shooting phase, a single friendly <REGIMENT> VEHICLE within 6″ can re-roll any failed hit rolls when making shooting attacks. This is a great little force multiplier – the Trojan itself is quite small and easy to hide, and because it’s unthreatening opponents often don’t think about targeting it. Buffing hit rolls is fantastic though, especially for an army like Guard with a flat BS4+ and no other easy source for re-rolling all failed hits. Stick one of these hidden somewhere that it can buff a Shadowsword or other super-heavy and it’s a great way to maximise the big guy’s shooting output.

The Rest

Credit: Dan “SexCannon” Boyd

  • Deathstrikes: A comedy meme unit. Save them for Apocalypse games.
  • Hydra: in theory an AA platform, but in practice not good enough at that to justify how bad it is against everything else.

Flyers

Units available:

Valkyries
Aquilla Lander
Arvus Lighter
Avenger Strike Fighter
Lightning Strike Fighter
Thunderbolt Heavy Fighter
Vendetta
Vulture

Most of these fliers are FW trash. BS4 with heavy weapons is not kind to units that have to move every turn. This would be fine if they could have a Regiment tag, but all the Guard fliers are tagged with the Aeronutica Imperialis subfaction which means the dream of Tallarn Air Wings allowing these models to be playable will remain just that. Sadly this is such a weak slot that we’re not even going to bother with an “everyone else” – there’s one relevant unit here, and one unit we need to talk about because of what it used to be.

Valkyrie

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 -2, D2d6 pick highest) for 117 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-based tricks is a real thing.

Vulture

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 most cost efficient anti-infantry units in the game, used to fill the role both in guard and GSC armies. Sadly, CA2019 hiked both the costs on the guns and the chassis considerably, pushing the whole package up by 45pts and leaving them largely irrelevant. RIP.

Lords of War

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

Units available:

Baneblade
Banehammer
Banesword
Doomhammer
Hellhammer
Shadowsword
Stormlord
Stormsword

40k unit choices, or brainstorming list of names for black metal bands? The decision is yours. They’re all variants on a theme of “big tank with lots of guns” but luckily we can almost immediatley cut it down to three relevant options – the Baneblade (currently the best), the Shadowsword and the Stormlord. The rest are pretty much universally Baneblade variant that trade raw killing power for some sort of gimmick, and none of them prove valuable trades.

It’s usually worth considering applying the Steadfast Leviathan support ace trait to one of these if you bring one in a Super Heavy Auxiliary (the main way they see play). Tallarn and Cadian are good on pretty much any of them, while Catachan is also great on a Baneblade.

All of these have some standard rules – they all ignore move/shoot penalties, they can all fall back and shoot/charge, or even just stay in combat and still shoot (and can fire their heavy bolters or flamers from sponsons at units within 1″). They also have the same basic statline – 10″ move, 26W, 3+, S4+, BS4+, with the move and BS decreasing as they lose wounds. They’re also surprisingly dangerous in melee, sporting 9 S9 AP-2 d3 damage attacks at WS5+, which you can boost to 2+ with Crush Them, neat if your opponent has been incautious with some good stuff.

Finally, all of these can take the same set of sponson options – either two or four sets of a lascannon and a twin heavy bolter or twin heavy flamer. One pair of these with heavy bolters is a reasonable add-on, two starts to put just way too many eggs in one basket as it pushes the total cost to 500pts-ish.

If you’re bringing any of these, astropaths to drop Psychic Barrier and Night Shroud on them are pretty much mandatory. Running as Tallarn so that you can Ambush them is also often the right choice, especially now that ITC runs with no seize.

Baneblade

The Baneblade is a potent all-rounder that got a big point cut in CA2019, leaving it a strong all-round reasonable option. At baseline it clocks in at 394pts, sporting a Baneblade battle cannon (3d6 S9 AP-3 D3 shots), demolisher cannon and autocannon. That’s kind of it – this isn’t a complicated unit, but that big gun is powerful, the demolisher cannon is better than it’s ever been, and if you’re planning to drop buffs on it (which you probably are) adding the sponsons can further up its output.

It isn’t exciting, but as a reasonably flexible killer at an acceptable price tag, the Baneblade breaks into lists. It’s still much riskier than just going wide on other vehicles, and you’re definitely putting yourself on hard mode by doing so, but it’s at least across the line where it’s efficient enough that it won’t be completely hateful on the table.

Shadowsword

The Shadowsword has one job – killing other super heavies, and boy is the main gun good at that. 3d3 S16 shots with AP-5 2d6 damage and re-roll wounds and +1 to hit against TITANIC units will just immediately delete pretty much any other non-invuln bearing super heavy, while giving even heavily shielded knights pause for thought. It will, obviously, frequently nuke any smaller vehicle it fires at as well, but the problem comes if you want it firing at anything else – with only six average shots on the main gun and a much higher base price than the other super heavies, you can really only justify one of these if you’re certain that super heavies are going to be everywhere in the metagame. The dirty secret, sadly, is that even then the Baneblade will usually be able to get the job done, and since including one of those in your lists is way more generally useful, the Shadowsword is largely relegated to narrative play and historical interest for being the kind of thing many of us thought was broken in early 8th. What fools we were. We didn’t know. We didn’t knooowwwwwwww.

Stormlord

The Stormlord is the answer to “exactly how many dudes can I put in a ride” and the answer is 40. The same chassis and issues that the Shadowsword has but it drops the volcano cannon for a 20 shot S6 -2 2D Vulcan Mega Bolter and gains a 40 dude carrying capacity with a 20 person firing deck. That last bit is interesting, as it allows things like 15ish unbuffed plasma guns shooting out of the back, or 9 protected lascannon Heavy Weapon Teams. If you really want to go deep, you can also stick Inquisitorial acolytes in one.

That is a lot of cute tricks, but ultimately most armies can handle an Imperial Knight or three, so a big, points-heavy tank without an invulnerable save is in a bad spot. Unlike the Baneblade this also sits at its original price, so looks pretty expensive compared to that option. Additionally, while it can be difficult GSC, Ork or Chaos hordes could also probably wrap up this tank so that when it does get killed, most of the squads inside would die. That’s obviousl bad for you. Don’t let that happen.

Introductory souping

There are a few options for bringing guard into other Imperium armies worth thinking about, and also one major thing that can come in to help them out. Guard are also among the best users of Assassins, having CP to spare and no penalty for including them. It’s probably worth having a look at our guide to them.

Loyal 32

One upon a time the Loyal 32 was one of the most common sights on an 8th edition battlefield. It consists of 2 Company Commanders and 3 Infantry Squads to fill out the mandatory slots for a Battalion, weighing in at a mere 180pts and netting you 5 CP for your trouble. This provided you with 30 fast bodies (thanks to Move Move Move) and you could spend a few extra points to make one of the commanders a Primaris Psyker, giving some deny defence.

This still turns up, but in much fewer numbers than was once the case. A big part of that is the new Marine book – Marines now get penalised and lose doctrines if they soup so they basically don’t, and if they do it’s usually for something wackier than some extra CP. There are also some serious competitors out there, with the Rusty 17 (Graia min admech battalion) coming in cheaper and providing psychic defence/knight repair options, or (now) a minimum Scion battalion (Swooping 17? Soaring 17? The incredibly boring Scion 17?) providing some deep striking objective grabbers that don’t give your opponent easy infantry targets early on.

The loyal 32 probably still has its place, and all it would take would be a rise in the stock of armies like Knights or Custodes to get them back on the board, but a lot of tournament players have 32 models sitting unloved in their cupboards at the moment.

Tank Commanders

Tank Commanders are real good, and can be a good add-on to armour heavy Imperium lists. In that context, they don’t change the target profile much and provide very cost effective firepower. The hike in the cost of punisher cannons has reduced this use quite a bit, as punisher commanders are no longer outrageously better than most anti-infantry tools, but they’re still good, and a rainbow trio of Battle Cannon (packing the Hammer of Sunderance)demolisher and punisher is a reasonably flexible detachment. They can either come along as a supreme command, or tack on some infantry squads or scions to add CP.

Blood Angels

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard

Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard. Credit: Jack Hunter

Lets talk about things that flow the other way – a medium-sized Blood Angels contingent can be a great accompaniment to guard, and has exploded back in popularity again since Blood of Baal and TGG landed. This is basically because the two forces complement each other very well – Blood Angels provide CP-thirstly mobile push threats, while guard provide a gunline, screening and an ocean made of CP. Truly love at first sight, and if the cowards at GW hadn’t nerfed mortars then the joke on my list review cover image might finally be relevant again.

Anyway, I digress – at the moment Guard armies are largely adding three things from Blood Angels:

  • Characters – Smash Captains, the named Chaplains, Mephiston and Librarian Dreads all see use.
  • Scouts – adds more CP and some board control/screening.
  • Sanguiniary Guard – the ultimate mobile killing machines. Occasionally replaced by Death Company, but Sang Guard are currently the pick.

All of this stuff is fast and other than the scouts will absolutely crush stuff in melee. It helps guard out by forcing your opponent into playing a different game – normally they can try and pressure you by cutting through your infantry to get to your good stuff, but if their pressure units risk getting counter-charged by some blood-crazed killing machines they have to think twice. Alternatively, an early redeploy with Upon Wings of Fire can leave the opponent on the back foot, giving you more time to pound them with your big guns and leaving them unable to salvage the game.

If you’re finding yourself struggling against aggressive melee threats as guard, then Blood Angels should probably be the first place you turn.

Lists

We’re going to close out this article by looking at three lists:

  • A cutting edge top four list using tools from TGG
  • A list showing off how to use a Baneblade
  • A list we’ve devised to showcase some of the other things we’ve talked about.

Luke Bumpus’s Mixed Guard

The first list here took fourth place at CAGBash XIII, one of the last big events run before the lockdown started. It’s a great one to include because it makes heavy use of some of the tools from TGG, most notably going deeper on Scions than any other we’ve seen. The list is as follows:

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [29 PL, 8CP, 516pts] ++
Regimental Doctrine: 55th Kappic Eagles

+ HQ +
Tempestor Prime [3 PL, 40pts]: Chainsword, Plasma Pistol
Tempestor Prime [3 PL, 40pts]: Chainsword, Tempestus Command Rod

+ Troops +
Militarum Tempestus Scions [5 PL, 98pts]

. 5x Scion
. 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, Hot-shot Laspistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [5 PL, 119pts]

. 5x Scion
. 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, 98pts]

. 5x Scion
. 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, Hot-shot Laspistol

+ Flyer +
Valkyries [8 PL, 121pts] . Valkyrie: 2x Multiple Rocket Pods, Multi-laser

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [48 PL, 4CP, 662pts] ++
Regimental Doctrine: Regiment: Tallarn
Specialist Detachment [-1CP]: Emperor’s Fist Tank Company

+ HQ +
Company Commander [2 PL, 31pts]: Boltgun, Chainsword, Warlord
Tank Commander [12 PL, 172pts]: Battle Cannon, Heavy Bolter, Relic (Emperor’s Fist): Hammer of Sunderance
Tank Commander [12 PL, 172pts]: Battle Cannon, Heavy Bolter

+ Troops +
Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Laspistol

+ Elites +
Astropath [1 PL, 15pts]: Laspistol

+ Dedicated Transport +
Chimera [6 PL, 76pts]: Heavy Bolter, Heavy Bolter
Chimera [6 PL, 76pts]: Heavy Bolter, Heavy Bolter

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [56 PL, 4CP, 822pts] ++

Regimental Doctrine: Astra Millitarum, Gunnery Experts, Spotter Details
Specialist Detachment [-1CP]: Emperor’s Wrath Artillery Company

+ HQ +
Company Commander [2 PL, 31pts]: Bolt pistol, Chainsword
Tank Commander [12 PL, 185pts]: Heavy Bolter, Plasma Cannons, Turret-mounted Executioner Plasma Cannon

+ Troops +
Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Laspistol

+ Heavy Support +
Basilisks [13 PL, 216pts] . Basilisk: Heavy Bolter
. Basilisk: Heavy Bolter

Leman Russ Battle Tanks [10 PL, 135pts] . Leman Russ Demolisher: Heavy Bolter, Turret-mounted Demolisher Siege Cannon
Leman Russ Battle Tanks [10 PL, 135pts] . Leman Russ Demolisher: Heavy Bolter, Turret-mounted Demolisher Siege Cannon
++ Total: [133 PL, 16CP, 2,000pts] ++

This list makes masterful use of the considerable toolbox guard now have access to. First up, let’s break down the Scion detachment. Kappic Eagles does two things for you – gives you +1 to hit on the turn you drop out of a Valkyrie, and lets you ignore move/shoot penalties generally. This list makes use of both, and has Tempestors tuned to contribute as well – the plasma squad presumably starts in the Valkyrie, and plans to drop out with Precision Drop. The plasma pistol Tempestor goes with them, and aims to make use of his pistol to line up Killing Zone as we discussed under that entry. Meanwhile, thanks to the hot shot volley guns being fully operational when they come in, the other two big squads can just pop out of deep strike when they’re needed along with the second Tempestor, who has the command rod to double order. That’s a lot of threatening firepower out of deep strike, which is going to force many lists to be substantially more cautious than they otherwise would be.

Next up, the Tallarn detachment is mainly aimed at letting you squeeze efficiency out of the Hammer of Sunderance Tank Commander while keeping them safe for as long as possible. With access to the Tallarn order, the commander can effectively Fire and Fade, allowing them to blast powerful targets (souped up by Hail of Fire) then pop back behind a big ruin. If it’s going second in ITC, and is up against an opponent with the reach to kill the tank turn one, the list can also deploy it in Ambush and then use Unyielding Advance to still double shoot on the turn it appears. Finally, as side benefit to the rest of this stuff, being able to advance and shoot makes the first wave of infantry in this list a bit more mobile, helped by the Chimeras pushing them up the board and keeping them safe against early reprisals. Fundamentally though, this detachment is built around the Sunderance commander, hammering home just how critical it is to lists.

The last detachment uses a custom trait, the Gunnery Experts/Spotter Details combo, with the big beneficiaries here being the Executioner Tank Commander and the demolisher Russes. The latter are especially important, as they give the list something to push up the board with and demand attention, keeping the opponent a bit more contained till the army is ready to deploy it’s big Scion punch. A couple of Basilisks with the Emperor’s Wrath buff round this out, ready to just sit at the back and pound away with a reliable stream of shots.

This list showcases what guard can do – there’s a lot of it, it has several angles of attack, and thanks to the combo punch of the Scions can absolutely crush an opponent on turns 2 and 3 if they don’t plan for what’s coming.

Michael Costello’s Tallarn Baneblade

Baneblade’s are fantastic models that hold a special place in many guard player’s hearts, so it would be remiss of us not to include a list that featured one. The following was played by Michael Costello at the Winter Warfare 2020 ITC major in London, going 3-1-1 and taking 14th place.

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Tallarn – Astra Militarum) [27 PL, 6CP, 458pts] ++

Battle-forged [3CP]

Detachment CP [5CP]

Operative Requisition Sanctioned [-2CP, 95pts]

Regimental Doctrine: Regiment: Tallarn

+ HQ +

Company Commander [2 PL, 30pts]: Chainsword, Laspistol, Warlord
Company Commander [2 PL, 31pts]: Boltgun, Chainsword

+ Troops +

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Chainsword, Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Chainsword, Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman
. Sergeant: Chainsword, Laspistol

+ Elites +

Astropath [1 PL, 15pts]: Laspistol
Astropath [1 PL, 15pts]: Laspistol

+ Dedicated Transport +

Chimera [6 PL, 76pts]: Heavy Bolter, Heavy Bolter
Chimera [6 PL, 76pts]: Heavy Bolter, Heavy Bolter

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Tallarn – Astra Militarum) [26 PL, 4CP, 437pts] ++

Detachment CP [5CP]

Vigilus Defiant [-1CP]: Emperor’s Wrath Artillery Company

+ HQ +

Company Commander [2 PL, 30pts]: Chainsword, Emperor’s Wrath, Laspistol
Primaris Psyker [2 PL, 46pts]: Force Stave

+ Troops +

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 44pts] . 8x Guardsman
. Guardsman W/ Special Weapon: Grenade Launcher
. Sergeant: Boltgun, Chainsword

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 44pts] . 8x Guardsman
. Guardsman W/ Special Weapon: Grenade Launcher
. Sergeant: Boltgun, Chainsword

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 57pts] . 2x Scion
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Scion w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Hot-shot Laspistol

+ Heavy Support +

Basilisks [13 PL, 216pts]: Emperor’s Wrath
. Basilisk: Heavy Bolter
. Basilisk: Heavy Bolter

++ Supreme Command Detachment +1CP (Tallarn – Astra Militarum) [69 PL, , 1,105pts] ++ Detachment CP [1CP]

Vigilus Defiant [-1CP]: Emperor’s Fist Tank Company

+ HQ +

Tank Commander [12 PL, 170pts]: Heavy Bolter, Emperor’s Fist, Turret-mounted Demolisher Siege Cannon
Tank Commander [12 PL, 185pts]: Battle Cannon, Emperor’s Fist, Hunter-Killer Missile, Lascannon
Tank Commander [12PL, 198pts]: Emperor’s Fist, Hunter-Killer Missile, Lascannon, Plasma Cannons, Turret-Mounted Executioner Plasma Cannon

+ Lord of War +

Baneblade [28 PL, 452pts]: Autocannon, Demolisher cannon, Twin heavy bolter
. Lascannon & Twin Heavy Bolter Sponson: Lascannon, Twin heavy bolter
. Lascannon & Twin Heavy Bolter Sponson: Lascannon, Twin heavy bolter

+ Dedicated Transport +

Trojan Support Vehicle [5 PL, 100pts]: Heavy Bolter, Heavy Stubber

++ Total: [122 PL, 10CP, 2,000pts] ++

So before we discuss the Baneblade itself, it’s worth highlighting the considerable amount of overlap between the other units in this and the previous list. Three Tank Commanders, two Basilisks and two battalions of infantry is essentially a core you can’t go far wrong with in this faction, and just like the previous one this chooses to bring a couple of Chimeras to help with on-board resilience early on. The other quick points of note are that it sneaks in a Scion squad to one of the battalions with some spare points (remembering that you can still include them in non-Tempestus detachments without breaking regimental doctrines), and that some of the Tank Commanders are a bit more tooled up than usual, which you can afford to do in Tallarn because they ignore move/shoot penalty on their non-turret guns as well.

Let’s talk about the Baneblade though, because this list brings essentially all of the relevant tools to power it up. First off, the army is Tallarn, so it has the option of Ambushing the big fellow, which in seizeless ITC is damn near essential – while the metagame has dialed back slightly from the nightmare of all alpha strikes all the time that it was late last year, there are still plenty of armies that will look at something as large and unhideable as a Baneblade and start rubbing their hands together. Being able to just straight up thwart and guarantee a round of shooting gives the unit much more play.

This list also features a suite of buffs to ensure that that round of shooting does some damage, and to maximise the chance of getting a second one. The pair of Astropaths will drop Night Shroud and Psychic Barrier on it, while the Trojan Support Vehicle follows it around granting it re-rolls to hit. Having it in a supreme command also lets it keep the Tallarn doctrine (also doable with Steadfast Leviathan), which lets it put on a surprising turn of speed – as a TITANIC unit in Tallarn it can treat its guns as Assault after advancing, and with the re-rolls from the Trojan will still be able to do some damage despite hitting on 5s.

Finally, this list takes advantage of the option to include an Assassin, something I think having the Baneblade encourages. Assassins are especially strong when your own plan has something that’s a plausible weak point, as you can pick whichever one you think is most likely to help unpick your opponent’s counterplay. Often this will be a Callidus, as many ways players will try and kill a super heavy are stratagem intensive, so you can make them pay through the teeth, but a Vindicare to punish their buff characters for leaving cover is also an option, and armies exist that are psychic-heavy enough to make the Culexus occasionally interesting (though here he’ll mess with your Astropaths casting).

If you have a super heavy in your collection that you’re dying to get out, this is a great list to iterate from.

Goonhammer’s Catachans & Vostroyans

Rounding the set of lists here out, we thought we’d include one more that shows off what a couple more of the regiments and units can do. The main contingent of this is modelled off an army played against Wings by Jamie Balcombie, a prolific Guard player in the UK, but tweaked to use some of the new tools from Greater Good and remove the Blood Angels that were in the original build (which was a soup list).

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Brigade Detachment +12CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [87 PL, 1,419pts, -2CP] ++

+ Configuration +

Regimental Doctrine: Regiment: Catachan

+ Stratagems +

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

Tank Ace [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken [4 PL, 75pts]: Bionic Arm with Devil’s Claw, Krak grenades, Plasma pistol, Shotgun

Company Commander [2 PL, 38pts]: Frag grenades, Laspistol, Power fist, Relic: Kurov’s Aquila

Company Commander [2 PL, 38pts]: Frag grenades, Laspistol, Power fist

+ Troops +

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

Infantry Squad [3 PL, 40pts] . 9x Guardsman: 9x Lasgun
. Sergeant: Laspistol

+ Elites +

Astropath [1 PL, 15pts]: Laspistol
Astropath [1 PL, 15pts]: Laspistol

Bullgryns [19 PL, 376pts] . Bullgryn: Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs, Slabshield
. Bullgryn: Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs, Slabshield
. Bullgryn: Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs, Slabshield
. Bullgryn: Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs, Slabshield
. Bullgryn: Brute Shield, Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs
. Bullgryn: Brute Shield, Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs
. Bullgryn: Brute Shield, Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs
. Bullgryn: Brute Shield, Bullgryn Maul, Frag Bombs
. Bullgryn Bone ‘ead: Frag Bombs, Grenadier Gauntlet, Slabshield

Ministorum Priest [2 PL, 35pts]: Frag & Krak grenades, Laspistol

Sergeant Harker [3 PL, 50pts]: Frag grenades, Krak grenades, Payback

+ Fast Attack +

Armoured Sentinels [9 PL, 138pts] . Armoured Sentinel: Hunter-killer missile, Missile Launcher
. Armoured Sentinel: Hunter-killer missile, Missile Launcher
. Armoured Sentinel: Hunter-killer missile, Missile Launcher

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

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

+ Heavy Support +

Basilisks [7 PL, 108pts] . Basilisk: Earthshaker Cannon, Full Payload, Heavy Bolter, Stat Damage (HS)

Basilisks [7 PL, 108pts] . Basilisk: Earthshaker Cannon, Heavy Bolter, Stat Damage (HS)

Wyverns [6 PL, 113pts]: Stat Damage (HS)
. Wyvern: Heavy Bolter, Wyven Quad Stormshard Mortar

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Astra Militarum) [40 PL, 579pts, -1CP] ++

+ Configuration +

Regimental Doctrine: Regiment: Vostroyan

+ Stratagems +

Specialist Detachment [-1CP]: Emperor’s Fist Tank Company

+ HQ +

Commissar Yarrick [7 PL, 100pts]: Bale Eye, Bolt pistol, Power Klaw, Storm bolter

Tank Commander [12 PL, 188pts]: Battle Cannon, Heavy Bolter, Heavy Bolters, Relic (Emperor’s Fist): Hammer of Sunderance, Stat Damage (Leman Russ Commander), Warlord, Weapon Expert

Tank Commander [12 PL, 186pts]: Heavy Bolter, Heavy Bolters, Stat Damage (Leman Russ Commander), Turret-mounted Demolisher Siege Cannon

+ Troops +

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 35pts] . 4x Scion: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Hot-shot Laspistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 35pts] . 4x Scion: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Hot-shot Laspistol

Militarum Tempestus Scions [3 PL, 35pts] . 4x Scion: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hot-shot Lasgun
. Tempestor: Chainsword, Frag & Krak grenades, Hot-shot Laspistol

++ Total: [127 PL, -3CP, 1,998pts] ++

This list exhibits the strengths of the Catachans, and how you might sneak Vostroyans into a list despite them generally not rewarding going wide.

Catachan-wise, we have the full suite of buffs to turn your basic guard into surprisingly deadly melee combatants, with Straken, the Priest and Yarrick’s auras turning them into three attack monsters, while the Company Commanders hit more like Space Marine Captains than regular guard characters. Another beneficiary of most of the buffs we’ve brought are the Bullgryn, who are going to push menacingly up the board, buffed to the gills by both the characters and the powers of the Astropaths. You could potentially cut the squad down to seven and spend the freed up points on something else (probably on an Assassin by finding a few more points from the TC sponsons) if you wanted to dodge Gangbusters in ITC, but my experience of playing against Bullgryn has been that trying to Gangbuster them can sometimes be a mistake – unless you have mortal output they’re incredibly difficult to shift, and committing to killing them can force you down paths you don’t necessarily want to go. The Catachan and Bullgryn component here wants to get much more in your face than either of the other lists we’ve seen, putting the opponent under intense pressure while the artillery does it’s work.

The back-line setup here is pretty similar to the other lists, but adds in Sergeant Harker for re-roll 1s on the Catachan bits, a Wyvern to help with horde clearance, and the Armoured Sentinel squad encouraged by TGG. These are especially good with Harker’s re-rolls, and in Catachan have the additional advantage that if you switch them to harrassing infantry with their missile launchers they get to re-roll their shot count.

They’ll be joined by the Hammer Tank commander out of the Vostroyans. This detachment could plausibly run as Experts/Spotters instead, but if you find yourself in a metagame heavy on Eldar planes then having access to the accuracy boost from Firstborn Pride can be critical, as it substantially reduces your chance of low-rolling and missing. The demolisher Commander wants to stay more mid-field while pounding away with their range-boosted gun. The rest of this detachment is filled out with minimum-size Scion units to give it some additional objective-grabbing capability in an emergency – more-so than some lists, this army wants to send the bulk of its core infantry contingent up the field in a single wedge, so having some scions who can drop in on a wide-out objective, or fill in a screen in emergencies, is probably more useful to it than some extra Vostroyan infantry would be (though that’s also an entirely fine choice).

This list could, inevitably, be optimised but it showcases how you can go in on Catachans on the table.

Conclusion

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 – in particular, the Forge World options we’ve not touched on – there’s going to be stuff you think we’ve missed, or areas where you think we’re wrong. If you spot any, or have any other feedback, hit us up at contact@goonhammer.com or over on our Facebook Page, and we’ll do our best to respond.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.