Treads grind through the mud as the Hammer of the Emperor goes to war. There are a million Space Marines in the galaxy, stretched thin across a million worlds; they form the Emperor’s elite*, but they cannot be everywhere at once. Instead that burden is shouldered by the Astra Militarum, formerly the Imperial Guard, whose fighting forces number in the billions and pervade every corner of the Imperium. Ordinary people with tanks and guns, facing off against a universe of horrors they barely understand – that’s life in the service of the Emperor.
In 9th edition, the Militarum were all but last to receive a codex (with only the ‘new’ World Eaters coming after them), and it had a hell of a lot going on. The core concepts of that codex remain in this index, but like everything else in 10th the fat has been cut away; let’s take a look at what the men and women of the Guard are working with now.
Before we begin we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a review copy of the Index for review purposes.
*except all the other elites
Voice of Command (VoC)
Welcome to the Guard, you get orders. It’s the thing Guard always has, and always ought to do. In your Command Phase, your Officer units provide inspiration and leadership to their subordinates; boosting their effectiveness throughout the duration of the Battle Round. Don’t sleep on this – having extra attacks or boosted stats through your opponent’s turn and into your next Command Phase will do a lot for unit survivability, objective control, or sheer lethality.
This mechanic has been greatly simplified from its 9th Edition predecessor. Where we used to have access to 18 unique orders, we now have access to six:
- Move! Move! Move! (MMM)
- Improve model’s Movement characteristic by 3”.
- Fix Bayonets! (FB)
- Improve your melee weapons’ Weapon Skill by 1.
- Take Aim! (TA)
- Improve your ranged weapons’ Ballistic Skill by 1.
- First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire! (FRFSRF)
- Improve [Rapid Fire] weapon’s Attacks characteristic by 1.
- Take Cover! (TC)
- Improve model’s Save characteristic by 1.
- Duty and Honour! (DaH)
- Improve model’s Leadership and Objective Control characteristics by 1.
We’ve retained our most foundational orders via MMM, FB, TA, and FRFSRF, but I imagine we’re probably going to miss what was formerly known as Get Back in the Fight!, and Remain Vigilant! Luckily, if you’re really committed to retaining these effects in your army, you can get them via other means. You also may have noticed we no longer have vehicle-specific orders, but we’ll manage. Just imagine the crew is fixing some bayonets on their Leman Russ.
Other than that, VoC functions as you might expect. Officers choose eligible units within 6” in the Command Phase, choose an effect, to apply it to the target unit. The unit gains the benefit of that order until your following Command Phase, or until that unit becomes Battle-shocked.
Looking ahead a little bit, most Officers can only issue a single order per turn, and this index no longer has an ability akin to Regimental Tactics out of the 9th Edition book; allowing multiple units to benefit from a single order. As a result, most Guard players are going to want to pay special attention to getting the maximum benefit from their orders, particularly with larger units. We’re going to feel a lot more hungry for them in this book than we did in 9th Edition.
Detachment Rules – Combined Regiment
Each time an Astra Militarum unit Remains Stationary, until the end of the turn, ranged weapons have [Lethal Hits].
Oof. This is a pretty crushing downgrade from the 9th Edition version of this rule. However, what’s more frustrating about this iteration of it, is that it encourages you to build a static Artillery park in order to benefit from it.
Unfortunately, even more frustrating than that is that an Artillery park looks very doable due to 10th Edition’s handling of [Indirect Fire].
Editorializing a bit here: This was a bad move. If your design goal was to tone down the current version of Born Soldiers for some reason, you could have put a ‘half range’ rider on it or something to that effect. For players that want to push up the board and meaningfully interact with their opponents, this rule is largely wasted ink. As far as I can tell, there’s no way for mobile units to act ‘as if they had Remained Stationary’ to turn on this rule. From an external perspective, Guard becomes a hated matchup for many players when the Artillery park becomes the go-to build for this army and that’s exactly the kind of list-building this rule encourages (hint: I think Artillery park may very well be a go-to build for this army). So enjoy that, non-Guard-playing nerds.
Anyway… for all the skilled and good-looking Guard-playing athletes out there… Dig out your Basilisks and Manticores! In combination with TA, [Indirect Fire] is back on the menu.
SRM co-Editorializing a bit here: Anything that encourages static play ain’t great. I get the desire to have your dudes bravely holding the line (they are the Imperial Guard after all) but 40k’s a much more interesting game when units are encouraged to move around.
Of the four available Enhancements, Kurov’s Aquila, and Grand Strategist are the only two that really catch my eye.
Both are pretty straightforward. Once per battle when your opponent uses a Strategem, Kurov’s Aquila can be used to increase the cost of any subsequent usage of that Strategem by 1 for the rest of the battle. Grand Strategist allows an Officer to issue an additional order.
Kurov’s Aquila is probably worth considering for any army that has the points to spare, and Grand Strategist is probably going to cost less than another Officer in most cases.
Neither of these are really things to build your list around, but they’re certainly nice to have if you have the points for them.
You get access to six Strategems with the Combined Regiment. Of the six, Reinforcements! and Expert Bombardiers seem to be the most powerful. Reinforcements! has already been previewed though, so we’ll sneak in a third with Armoured Might.
Expert Bombardiers is a 1CP Strategem that allows the user to target an enemy unit within Line of Sight of a friendly vox-caster equipped Astra Militarum unit. All Astra Militarum units that make an attack against the nominated enemy unit for the rest of the turn with [Indirect Fire] weapons add 1 to the Hit roll.
Holy smokes, for 1CP this seems like a bargain. Notably missing, this doesn’t require the firing units to be incurring the [Indirect Fire] penalty in the first place. Getting this to work in practice may not be quite so easy, but using vox-equipped Deep Strikers like Tempestus Scions might be a decent way to get at units your opponent is planning on hiding.
Armoured Might will be a familiar rebranding and democratization of Ablative Plating (which is itself now an ability on the Rogal Dorn Battle Tank). For 2CP, in your opponent’s shooting phase, one Astra Militarum Vehicle gets to subtract 1 from the Damage characteristic of incoming attacks until the end of the phase.
Damage reduction is always a nice-to-have floating around, and the fact that it’s also eligible to be used on any Astra Militarum Vehicle means getting random non-Baneblade Super-heavies functioning in your list might be less of a burden.
There are a ton of Datasheets here, which we’ll cover more in-depth in our 10th Edition version of Start Competing: Astra Militarum, but in an effort to keep this article at a readable length we’ll highlight what we think are some of the core units and combos with a few vanity picks sprinkled in as a treat.
Core and Competitive Units
The biggest change to Guardsmen squads is that they can now be taken in units of 10 or units of 20 (henceforth referred to as double-wide). Otherwise, their equipment options and composition haven’t changed at all from their 9th Edition counterparts. They all share the Vox-caster ability, which allows you to gain 1CP on a roll of a 5+ if you target the unit with a Strategem; this roll is improved if Officers are around. The difference between them generally comes from their abilities, where you have four flavors to choose from:
- Cadian Shock Troops
- Provides “sticky” objectives if they control an objective in your command phase.
- Infantry Squad
- Gains the Benefit of Cover if it is within range of an objective maker you control.
- Death Korps of Krieg
- Adds 1 to their hit rolls if below starting strength. Also adds 1 to their wound rolls if below half strength.
- Restores D3 Death Korps troopers to your unit in your command phase.
- Catachan Jungle Fighters
- Scouts 6″.
- Improves Strength and Armor Penetration of melee weapons by 1 if they successfully Charged or were charged this turn.
- Cadian Shock Troops
These still come in two variants, again with their equipment and composition being unchanged from their 9th Edition counterparts. Cadian Command Squads grant the Cadia Stands! ability, which allows you to ignore any or all modifiers to characteristics, rolls, or tests made for models in this unit (excluding saving throws). Platoon Command Squads grant the Command Structure aura, which allows you to target friendly Platoon units within 6” with Strategems even if they are Battle-shocked. Between these two abilities, I like the Cadian version much more. Unfortunately, Cadians can only be attached to Cadians, so I’ll probably still largely end up running Cadian Shock Troops, unless I have a specific use case to not do so.
Both versions of the Command Squads come with the following special equipment options:
- Master Vox
- Officers in the bearer’s unit can issue orders to eligible units up to 24” away.
- The bearer’s unit gains 6+ Feel No Pain.
- Regimental Standard
- Add 1 to the Objective Control (OC) characteristic of models in this bearer’s unit.
Right off the bat, I generally think I’m going to be leaving my flags at home in favor of another Special Weapon. Your Guardsmen Squads are already going to be rolling in with a whooping 25 OC with attached Command Squad, and can always receive a DaH order if they need that extra OC in the Command Phase.
Otherwise of note, the Master Vox and Medi-pack apply to the entire unit. With Guardsmen Squads allowing two attachments, this is going to allow your Epic Heros to reach out much farther with their extra orders.
Lord Solar Leontus
Lord Solar “Horselord” Leontus hasn’t had too much of a change from his 9th Edition iteration. He has similar combat abilities, with some improvements on his datasheet itself. For current users transitioning to this 9th Edition iteration, the biggest difference will be a simple fact that this Guard index no longer offers 18 different orders for him to issue.
Simply put, every Guard player is probably going to continue including Lord Solar in their army going forward. His VoC ability allows him to order 3 Astra Militarum units. With the exception of the Tank Commander, this is unique in the index as every other Officer in the index can only order Regiment units. If you plan on improving non-Sentinel vehicles at all in your army, I’m guessing he’s going to be the only way to efficiently do it.
With that in mind, he’s picked up two abilities that bring some really nice utility to your army. The Lord Solar ability simply grants you 1CP at the start of your Command Phase if this model is on the battlefield. Nice! This is a solid improvement over the 9th Edition Grand Strategist Warlord trait he was previously equipped with. Next, The Collegiate Astrolex ability allows you to redeploy 3 Astra Militarum units after both players have deployed their armies. This is a definite downgrade from the redeploy offered by the 9th Edition Codex, but it’s nice to have it wrapped up in his datasheet. You get it for free on a model you’re probably taking anyways.
Lastly, he can be attached to Guardsmen Squads of any type, Rough Riders, and Kasrkin, but you’re likely going to be attaching him to a double-wide squad of your favorite Guardsmen Squad so he can benefit from the effects of a Master Vox from an attached Command Squad.
Basilisks and Manticores
Both of these platforms have had a huge glow-up relative to their 9th Edition counterparts due to a combination of the general changes to [Indirect Fire], very good and relevant Datasheet abilities, and 10th Edition-competitive shooting profiles.
The Basilisk is totting an Earthshaker cannon rocking: [Blast, Heavy, Indirect Fire] at AD6+3 BS4+ S8 AP-2 D2. The Earthshaker Rounds ability subtracts 2 from the Movement, Advance, and Charge rolls of an Infantry hit by the Basilisk’s Earthshaker Cannon until the end of your Opponent’s next turn.
The Manticore brings Storm Eagle Rockets to the fight with: [Blast, Heavy, Indirect Fire] at AD6+1 BS4+ S10 AP-1 D3. Furious Barrage allows the Manticore to re-roll Hit rolls with its Storm Eagle Rockets against units that contain five or more models.
Getting these platforms to hit on 3+ while firing indirectly is trivial if they Remain Stationary and receive a TA order. With the Expert Bombadiers Stratagem, this goes to 2+ with very little work. An additional option here is Scout Sentinels Daring Recon ability. Daring Recon allows you to nominate a visible enemy unit with 18”, each time an Astra Miliarum model makes an attack against that enemy unit, reroll Hit rolls of 1, and ignore the penalty for [Indirect Fire]. For those of you tracking at home, the TA order in combination with a Scout Sentinel allows your Basilisks and Manticores to hit on 2+, rerolling 1s. . Enjoy that, non-Guard-playing bozos (see Editorial Note above).
Leman Russ Variants
The Leman Russ state line has already been revealed via Warhammer Community Streams, but for those of you not paying attention, it rolls in with M10” T11 SV2+ W13 LD7 OC3. This puts it about on par with where it was in its 9th Edition iteration, with most previously T8 units sitting at T11.
The biggest winner of the variants is the ever-reliable-most-likely-to-be-clear-best-in-almost-any-edition Leman Russ Demolisher. In addition to having one of the most competitive guns in the game, it has an absolutely red-hot datasheet rule. Line-breaker allows you to target enemy units within engagement range with the Demolisher Cannon, so long as there are no other friendly units within engagement range. In addition, you do not suffer penalties to your Hit rolls for being within Engagement range of one or more enemy units. The Demolisher Battle Cannon itself is R24” AD6+3 BS4+ S14 AP-3 DD6.
The biggest loser of the variants is the ever-reliable-most-likely-to-be-clear-worst-in-almost-any-edition Leman Russ Vanquisher. Tank-killer allows you to re-roll the wound roll for the Vanquisher Battle Cannon against Monsters and Vehicles. The Vanquisher Battle Cannon itself is R72” A1 BS4+ S18 AP-4 DD6+6. It no longer ignores invulnerable saves.
Those of us who have been with the Guard for a while are probably going to feel right at home again with the Demolisher being the good one and the Vanquisher being the hilariously bad one. Don’t worry though, the Vanquisher will reclaim its rightful place in the most important format: https://www.goonhammer.com/welcome-to-blunderdome/.
Rogal Dorn Battle Tank
My sweet baby boy… The Rogal Dorn Battle Tank. The Perfect Tank™. It comes with the following statline: M10” T12 SV2+ W18 LD7+ OC5. Ablative Plating allows it to change the Damage characteristic of an attack allocated to the model to 0 once per battle. The Oppressor Cannon still looks to be the better of the two weapon options at [Blast] R72” AD6+3 BS4+ S12 AP-2 D3. The Castigator Gattling Cannon has lost its AP, and the Pulveriser Cannon looks to be the clear best-in-slot now at [Blast] R24” AD6 BS4+ S9 AP-3 D3.
With these changes to the Dorn, it really doesn’t look like it’s bringing a lot to the table anymore. T12 is nice, but it seems to function more like T8.5 rather than T9 if you were to draw a comparison to 9th Edition. Getting the Dorn tagged in combat presents some major challenges now with the Gattling Cannon dropping off as a good choice, this leaves you to rely on Meltas, Heavy Bolters, and Stubbers to clear your hull or boarders. The loss of a Turret Weapon adjacent rule means that your main gun and Pulveriser are hitting on 5+ if you haven’t managed to get on order onto the Dorn, and the 10th Edition shooting downgrade seems to have hit the Oppressor cannon extra hard. I would have expected it to sit at S14 like the Demolisher cannon, another previously S10 main cannon.
I still love my 3 large-bottom-plate-lacking sons, and I’ll do everything in my power to make them work in 10th Edition. I’m not holding out hope though.
The Banesword has been a recent summer fling with me in the Sunset 9th Edition. It felt pretty slept on, with its prettier older sibling, the Shadowsword, getting most of the attention from gamers because of the hefty damage stat on its Volcano Cannon (no change there for the record).
While I loved despawning the occasional Land Fortress with 72 damage, for every time the Shadowsword did that for me, it also left me waiting for it to come to pick me up from the airport in the rain, bouncing off of an invulnerable save, or missing altogether.
The Banesword just… showed up for me, you know? It’s just been more consistent, and really I’m more comfortable introducing it to my 3 beloved Rogal Dorns, and letting them play together in the same list. The Quake Cannon still comes with that nice, comfortable, reliable, shooting profile I’ve come to love: [Blast, Ignores Cover] AD6+6 BS4+ S16 AP-4 D4. It’s also been going to the gym and working on itself. I really appreciate that about it. It’s shown up to 10th Edition with Armour Obliteration which explodes enemies with Deadly Demise on a role of a 3+ instead of a roll of a 6+. I’ve been told It does that to show you how much it loves you.
I love you too Banesword.
Biggest changes from 9th
A lot changes about Guard going from 9th to 10th Edition. Most lists are still going to include Horselord, a handful of Guardsmen, and Commands Squads, but that’s probably where the similarities end given how powerful Artillery looks to be in this Index. I’m not so certain our beloved tanks will be making it into most lists. Outside of the Horselord/Command Squad/Guardsmen Squad wombo-combo unit, getting your vehicles to have orders is a very difficult thing to pull off from a list-building perspective. I don’t trust the points to pan out in a direction where tanks are worth taking without an order riding on them every turn.
Tank Commanders are your only option to order Vehicles outside of Horselord, and they can only order a single Squadron unit per turn without purchasing the Grand Strategist Enhancement. As I begin to sketch out some theoretical armies, I find myself dropping a lot of the Muiltple-Small-Unit (MSU) play that I prefer to see on the tabletop for Guard in favor of large, cumbersome 25-man units lumbering around the board, who can order themselves.
If you don’t want to paint 75 to 95 Guardsmen and Command Squad models, I can’t really see a good way to protect your Officers in this index, and if you lose your Officers early in the game to [Indirect Fire] I’m pretty sure your army is just going to start falling apart. [Indirect Fire] looks very powerful in this index, and word around the Goonhammer offices is that Desolation Squads are still a menace. I’m sure this is going to be a theme shared across a number of indexes.
Disappointingly, I generally expect the first lists out the gate for Guard to include a pile of Artillery and [Indirect Fire] weapons that hope to pin you in and blast you out of your deployment zone before you have the opportunity to score. This is a definite gameplay downgrade from the current 9th edition book which very much tries to push out to the mid-board with tanks and Sentinels; the most Artillery adjacent thing you’d typically see being nine mortars. This index is very much giving me Siege of Vraks Artillery park flashbacks, and I’m incredibly frustrated that James Workshop has broken through that mental barrier to that particular trauma.
When the codex eventually comes out, I hope that the writers will figure out a way to bring MSU viability back to Guard. With most Officers only being able to affect a single unit with orders, getting value out of 10-man Guardsmen Squads, Heavy Weapons Teams, and smaller units of Sentinels seems like a tough prospect.
I’ll probably experiment with some tanks, but I’m pessimistic about the odds of that going well. In the meantime, dig out your Basilisks and Manticores from 8th Edition, and get to painting Guardsmen and Command Squads… you’re gonna need them. Hopefully, Guard Artillery builds don’t get to remain an unchecked menace for long. Even more, for the immediate health of the edition, I pray I’m overestimating how good these builds are.