Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Imperial Guard Tactics: New Space Marines

Well the new space marine codex has been out for almost a month and its time for an anlysis of it, but from a guardsman's perspective.  The guys in the above picture are very hot now, among others, but they are not the only thing to watch out for in the new codex.  Over all I love the new codex, but they are certainly making it harder for gaurdsmen.  The major changes are in the points, the relics, and chapter tactics.  The main issue for a guard player is the breadth of options and possible army combinations that can be brought to the table.  The difficulty is in figuring out how these units can be combined together, and how to counter them.  With different Marine armies and tactics, there is no longer a single answer to how to defeat space marines.

Tactical Marines:
The mainstay of the Space Marines, they bring the shooting and can assault when needed.  For some reason I could have swore they did not have a pistol in the last codex but I was corrected, oh well I'm a guard player.  Tacs have changed in that you do not need a full squad to have the special or heavy weapon, giving flexibility that they lacked.  Where they really shine is with the Ultra or IF chapter tactics, making best use of their boltguns.  Other chapter tactics have made them more mobile by giving them scout through one ability or another.  This codex has truly brought back the usefulness and flexibility of the tactical marine.  They are good in shooting and can assault weak units if needed.  The only major difference between the stats of an assault marine and a tac is 1 attack, not huge.  But what the Tac gives the marine player is flexibilty.

Luckily the tools for defeating the Tac marine are already in place and only need slight changes to be effective.  The short answer is time and space, keep them at range as long as possible.  Tac marines cannot win a war of attrition, but two marines can easily wipe a squad of guardsmen so never get too confident.  The guard excells at mid range, keeping the tacticals between 18-24 inches is ideal, you can make up shots with orders and number of guardsmen, they can't.  Destroy their mobility first, a squad of tacs in the open is just waiting for their death at that point.  Then keep them at arms length, never let them able to get close enough to concentrate fire and get into assault.  Now drop pods make this difficult, but many times that squad will be on its own for a turn or two.  See what your opponent is trying to do, he may want you to shoot that squad apart so the rest of his army can cross a turn free of shooting.  The final part is to never let them concentrate, focus on one squad and destroy it as early as possible, then move on to the next.  A SM player will feel the loss of a squad much more than you will.  The key is to not let them make use of the Tacs strengths, and focus on its weaknesses.

Bikes The Other Troop Choice:
Well now, these babies are quite popular now, with the Great Khan being so great.  I watched a batrep with white scars vs tyranids, short story the tyranids were wiped first turn.  Now bikes themselves have not changed, they are a little cheaper and can have grav weapons, but are otherwise the same.  What has changed is Chapter Tactics, namely White Scars with Khan, they can ignore cover and have an improved save plus scout and hit and run.  This is gnarly, but they aren't so scary as they first seem.  To counter them will require good generalship above all else.  If you are going first, deploy in such a way to force your opponent to counter, keep enough of a reserve to plug any holes left by the bikes, and don't try and out maneuver them, you can't don't bother.  Now I have had great success against bikes, this is where my blob of 20+ guardsmen has done their job time and again, but this requires you to be able to get your opponent to do what you want him to do.  I did this in the battle report, though not explained as well as could be.  I know that is fluffy and not very math hammery, but thats how I play.

The blob squad is always out in the "open", with my line infantry behind my aegis, the point is to present the blob as the obvious target.  This doesn't mean it is literally sitting in the open with los to every enemy unit, just that it is positioned as the "easy" target.  The bikes still have to cross the board, this is where you need to pay attention to distances and keep them in the right spot where the bikes will be out of range for their charge.  Then you move up the blob, while dropping pie plates on them.  I have two master of ordnance's and this is one of the few instances where the fire on my target order is useful, they have to re-roll successful cover saves.  Now the master of misses has to actually hit, but with two you have some good reliability.    If you are real lucky the enemy has taken the bait and sent one bike squad after your blob thinking it will be enough, that is where they are wrong.  Concentrate enough fire, including the above mentioned master of misses,  to whittle them down and ideally break cohesion.  Then your blob charges, with For the Honor of Cadia if you brought Creed (why didn't you?), and should have no problem cutting the bikes down.  The sarges have power axes, how many times are you really going to hit first anyways, and the commissar has a power weapon of your choice, I like to have something that swings at initiative to counter the axes hitting last, that way I can deal with multiple threats.  Most bike squads will be around 6, depending if attack bike is being taken.  Knock the bikes down to 4 with shooting, then finish the rest off with the blob in the charge, you'll lose only a few guardsmen and will most likely wipe them.  The key is to not let the bikes charge, they aren't anything special in close combat on their own.  If they have khan or a special character, this squad will also do a great job of tying them down and maybe even killing them through sheer number of wounds.  Keep the commissar alive, he makes this squad have the ability to last and will at the very least keep the bikes tied up and not doing what they do best, moving and shooting.  And grav weapons, scary for other armies, not scary for guard, other than the cannon, don't worry too much about them.

 Now these guys are a whole other animal, especially with relics.  The shield eternal is awesome with a chapter master.  You really have nothing in the IG that can tango with these guys.  Tactically your options are dependent on loadout, but don't focus on killing his HQ, kill his army around the HQ.  Isolate him from the rest of his army and then  when he is alone unload flashlights at him, see how many 2+ saves he can make.  The thing here is to not get psyched out over the HQ and whatever awesomeness it is bringing.  No matter how great he is, he isn't going to kill your whole army on its own.  Destroy what the HQ is supposed to support and buff up.  Khan isn't much if the bikers he is rolling with are all dead.  Use positioning and barrage weapons to achieve this.  You really have to be paying attention to how wound allocation works and use this to your advantage.   I won't go into detail on every different HQ since they all want to punch your face one way or another.  Sacrificing a guard squad to keep them in the open for another turn of shooting is an option if you have no other.   Now psykers are different since they are there to support the army most of the time, not as much of a fist fighter as the rest.  Do what you can to snipe their ass as early on, they aren't that tough, fire weapons that can insta-vape them or will ignore their armor.  Or just plant unload on them.  They are one of the few HQs that I would say to target directly because of the buffs they can give to their army.  Know when to stop though, there is the rest of the army to fight as well, don't get tunnel visioned on that one model, shoot what you want at it, if it doesn't work oh well try again next turn but don't neglect the rest of the marines.

Sternguard: murder these fuck faces asap, their special ammo will destroy you.  To be honest not much else in the elites section truly scares me, other than hammernators fuck those guys too.  Vanguard are better assault marines but can be dealt with the same way, either kill their transport or blast them while they are coming at you.  Regular termies aren't bad but they will rarely be in the numbers that would make them truly scary.  And dreadnoughts, well I'm sorry but this edition has really decided to neglect walkers, they don't require much to deal with (iron hands excluded).  Hammernators, well run away and shoot the hell out of them, don't wast ap 2 on them, go for number of shots, they will roll ones, its a long and slow process against these guys.  Get them to a manageable number and then swamp them with bodies and drag them down.  Sternguard, well they are regular marines with really good guns.  Focus fire on them whenever possible, and if they are in the open drop ap3 pie plates on them and watch them go away.  These guys are one of the few I would say to assault as their shooting will do much more damage than they will ever do in assault, anytime they aren't shooting is a good thing.  If come in a drop pod, take it on the chin and then take them out.  Centurions, well I haven't played agaisnt them but they really don't impress me, lascannons and plasma will deal with them easily enough, get them in the open and then kill them.

well dealing with SM fast isn't a major issue, nothing new here in itself.  Don't chase them, let them come to you.  Knock them out after the other priority targets are eliminated, besides bikes, the rest of Fast attack is their to support the main marine army, destroy the core and these guys will be left in teh breeze with little they can do. If you have hydras or vendettas, nothing here will really trouble you too much.  Hydras just make a mockery of land speeders.

The big one here is the Thunderfire getting barrage.  Now I would like to say thunder fire's have always been amazing and I don't know why so few marine players ever took them, The few guys that brought them bloodied me plenty.  And now they are better, because you don't need line of sight and the big one, wounds come from the center hole and not direction of fire.  This makes these guys deadly as hell, and to top it off they cause pinning.  If you have snipers and can see the techmarine, kill him once he is dead the TF is gone.  The other unit to kill is the Centurions, the devi version is deadly and mean.  Catch them out of cover with low ap weapons, if you have a demolisher cannon in your army, this is the first target for it, they have no invuln and really can't hang against low ap weapons.  As for the rest, well if you have played against marines before you know that land raiders are hard to kill, focus on the rest of the army first, or at the very least don't get tunnel vision on it and waste a turn of shooting to only knock a hull point off it.  If you have a reliable way of killing it, then go ahead, if not, the rest of the army is far more important to kill.  Predators are nothing special and devastators aren't either, though watch out with your flyers.  Now the new AA tanks, well if you have vendettas, kill them early and if any are remaining they are the first target for the vendetta's when they come on.  The stalker esp will hurt very badly.  But it is nothing that won't die to lascannons, make it a target priority early on if your plan depends on your flyers.

All in all  the new codex is going to be tough to beat.  The different CT's are going to make so very different armies to play against.  Use the weakness of the marines to your favor, they will never have enough bodies to match you, focus on small parts of the army at a time.  Killing a squad a turn will win you the game most times, most marine armies don't have enough squads to last a full game if you can pull this.  Tacticals are far meaner and flexible, watch out for the aggressive rush and keep them out of rapid fire as long as possible.  Good luck and let me know how you fare and what works for you.  As time goes on I will add more as I play these different army styles.



  1. Tac marines had pistols back in 5th edition too

    1. Thank you for that, for some reason I swear they didn't have it. Looked it up and you are right. Will correct

  2. Great article, love your sternguard appraisal, ha ha!