So this comes as a guest request, and once I got thinking about it, became hard not to want to write about. So Sjb, here you are as requested, tactics to use against a Drop Pod/ Deep strike heavy army. These armies are very hard to face as IG, they are prob one of the best hard counters against the IG, one of the reasons blood angels in 5th did so well against IG. They bypass the deployment and come down right in front of you and don't allow you time to attrit them down to a manageable number. They tend to be 3+ drop pods coming down turn one, and bring lots of firepower and can be devastating alpha strike. However they have a few weaknesses, the first being only half of the drop pods can arrive turn 1, the rest have to wait in reserve. The other is the fact that they have to commit fully to the drop pod list, spending points on this to make it effective. This makes it strong, but also means that it is limited in what it brings. What you will find is these armies have a critical mass they have to achieve, if they don't they peter out and lose quickly. Now all is not lost, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the drop pod armies strengths and turn it to your advantage.
First off, starting with your army, there are a few things you should be taking that are going to help you out a lot. The first is the Officer of the Fleet, he makes your opponent have minus 1 to his reserve rolls. This is huge against a drop pod army, as they really need their second wave to arrive intact turn two to seal the deal for them. By keeping more of their army in reserve, you have another turn to deal with what dropped in turn 1. When they start coming in one at a time, you can play the attrition game, and then they are playing the guardsmen's game and will lose that fight. You can then mass your troops on theirs and bring the weight of fire on them before they can bring their whole armies on yours. The second is the astropath, as he gives bonus to your reserves, and against a drop pod army, it can be good to place some units in reserve, depending on what you are bringing and on what is going to be dropping turn one. The key is this combo almost guarantees your reserves arriving turn 2 and giving you a good chance that only a few of their will be arriving. This sets the stage for success for you. The third is a fortification, I personally love the aegis, but many of the others are great choices, the key is to pick one that complements your army and not to spend too many points on. If you are infantry heavy, go with the aegis, if vehicle heavy, the bastion is another great choice for your few troops to hide in. The fortification is key because it gives you an anchor point for your army for you to begin building your standoff which is key playing against drop pod armies which I will talk about in more detail.
So those are prob your three must takes, including some good AP3 in there is also a great choice, me I take Master of Ordnance's but there are plenty of options for that in the IG codex and you should be bringing that anyway in a TAC list anyways. Note I don't believe in building against a certain army type, and the units I have listed are great to take in general but are extra effective against DP armies.
Now what is prob the most important part of fighting a DP army or a deep strike list is how you deploy. An easy mistake, especially with IG, is to just find a corner and castle up. Here is the problem with that, you have now concentrated your forces to maximize the effectiveness of his first turn alpha strike with his limited number of units coming in. You are nice and bunched up with no room for maneuver against his army coming in. What you need to create is standoff. Now in a normal game you have that because you each start across the board from each other. Against D Pods, that is bypassed and they come down right in front of you. So how do you create that stand off? Well you do it with your units to prevent your opponent from concentrating his drop pod units in a way that maximizes their damage output. Now with an armor heavy army this can be done as well but is not as easy to do. The key to this is having sacrificial units that are going to take that first turn punch.
Place your core units in a good location, this is terrain dependent, but you want to be looking at limiting the drop and canalizing their deployment into a killzone for you. Force them to risk their drop pod to going off the board or into terrain. Use buildings and terrain along with fortifications to anchor your army and key units. In your back field, use heavy weapon squads or vehicles to give no room for the drop pods to go unless its right next to the board edge, give them that option and you may get lucky on the mishap and have one less unit to deal with. This takes practice, to get an eye for terrain and also to know how close you need to be and not be too condensed. You don't want to smash everything together, you just want to leave no options for your opponent to drop except for in the places you want to him to be.
Fortifications are great for this. The aegis is wonderful for the save it gets you and also gives you a great way to build your strong hold and the anchor for your stand off units. So after you have picked good ground and have set up your core units and can now start setting up your stand off and your kill zone. As the IG you have access to lots of units that can do this. The first and foremost is the platoon, you can blob it up and have a great way to create standoff. So what you don't do is form them into a giant blob, well you can sometimes but most of the time that is counter productive. With one platoon you can form it into two 20 man blobs and one regular squads, and there is your standoff. You place them in front of and on your flanks of your aegis/terrain/anchor. Now again you want to spread them out some, remember how big a drop pod is and that it has to be an inch all around from your units before it rolls to scatter. Leave no room for that to happen, but only barely so you can spread out still but they can't deploy the drop pods within it. Think of it like rings, the blobs are the outer rings, you want your opponent to have to go through them and not be able to bypass them into your inner rings. Your core is where the most part of your firepower is based at and what you are going to be counting on for the most of the game. Now don't just deploy in a circle and call it a day. Use terrain and your units to create a kill zone that they have to drop into in order to get at your army. Your stand off units are throw away and are going to die, thats ok, its better than your key units getting waxed the first turn. See Below:
If you are taking armor, then you should still be taking at least one infantry platoon for the same reason as above, you can bring them in chimera's and use both as your standoff. One thing that makes this work great is you can place the infantry far out enough that when your opponent drops, he will be out side of the half distance needed to make a melta effective. And if you are really good, out of range all together of your vehicles. The other thing this brings you is the Chimera's, use them as a wall, place them sideways, they are going to die to meltas and krak grenades anyways, let them take the first blow, they will block LoS and give your units the chance to stay alive to answer back. So he drops three squads in, well thats 3 dead chimera's (OH NO!), and if he combat squads and is really lucky he can kill a few more, or place a few shots on your squads behind the chimera's, but it will only be half a squad and they won't be in range with flamers or other deadly anti infantry weapons. If you are real lucky he will only wreck them and then he will have to still get around them while you can lob barrage at his marines while they make their way through the breach. A few AP3 pie plates will do more than enough damage to counter that attack and keep your opponent from rushing through the breach and turn it only to a trickle.
I really can't stress how important deployment and maneuver the first few turns are to countering these type of armies. This is by far more important than list building will ever be against them, because you can never get around the fact that meltas will destroy your tanks and flamers will destroy your infantry. You counter this by deploying your units in such a way that your opponent can only drop in the kill zone you want him to or near the board edge and risk losing the unit. This is also good to note that you don't want to place your army right against the edge, leave a little room, most opponents won't risk it, and if they do they have a surprisingly high chance of scattering off. You have to set the conditions for your victory. Give your opponent the option to make bad choices, eventually he will choose one of them and give you the opening you need.
Now you have survived the drop, what next. Well you have to retake the momentum, if you don't then turn two it is all over, he brings reinforcements in and nails your coffin shut. So he shot up your standoff units, prob wiped one of them and or inflicted casualties in them. Now don't get discouraged that its turn one and you have a pile of dead models, your guard, its part of life, deal with it. This is the other part of drop pod armies that are so successful, is the psychological piece, they make you feel like you are losing right off the bat. Get over it. Now fight back, you are more than likely going to have one of your blobs relatively intact, and if you have a lot of infantry, then you will have your second wave ready to go. Now barrage weapons are great here, especially with pysker battle squads, you weaken resolve one squad, then barrage it, as long as they take one wound, boom pinning check, and now you have one more turn to deal with that unit. Now barrage weapons in general will still do this without the psyker squad, they are just really effective with it. Now you also want to counter charge at this point, not all of his squads, but the biggest or the most dangerous one. What you are doing is to tie that unit up for a turn, so you need to charge it with a unit that is stubborn(commissar), and has enough bodies to survive at least one round of combat. What this allows is for you to focus your fire power on the other squads, and tie the other down so you can deal with it later.
This works really well if it is the lead squad, as you can create a bottle neck and force him to have to munch through those guardsmen before getting to you. Another great way to push them into the kill zone and away from you is with tank shock. Use that to push their squads back or into the kill zone you want them to be in for your big blast weapons. This is a great way to force them to bunch up. The key on your first turn is to tie up one unit, destroy one, and do some damage (preferably pin) to the others. You don't have to wipe him, you just need to prevent him gaining the momentum and delivering the knock out punch turn two. Now he is going to have to drop his remaining reserves to try and regain momentum in support of his main attack instead of delivering the knock out blow. And if your officer of the fleet does his job correctly, you will only be facing a small portion rather than most of them. Now you can start trading units, and when you get into the attrition game you are playing the guards home turf. I will say this prob many times over the course of my blogging experience, but if you are IG and don't like losing models, find another army. You need to embrace it, the army works best when you build it to die, because no one can hope to match you in that arena.
Now I kinda skipped over this, but another thing when playing against DP armies is that you don't want to go first. I know that sound crazy, but it really isn't, as your first turn will be wasted as his army is in reserve. If you lose the roll and he wants to go second, well I'm sorry you are playing a shrewd player and are in for a tough fight, but most will choose to go first if they win the roll off. If you win it, go second, that way he has to deploy his few guys, you counter deploy and then receive his first strike and then get to answer back with all of your shooting (minus the dead ones). The other thing is that this gives you the advantage late in the game, where these armies are at their weakest, as you get the last chance to take the objectives. I know I haven't really touched on it, but this game is all about objectives and never forget about them. Always remember it doesn't matter how many you have turn one, but how many you have at the end of the game.
Really what this all boils down too is setting your self up for the long haul. You need to be able to out last this army. Break their momentum, that is all they have, if you get them over that critical mass point, they will lose steam and start having to feed units into the grinder, where they will lose. Create the stand off to give you time. Sometimes it is just one more turn of shooting that you need to tip it into your favor. Never discount assaults, no you are not going to be overrunning marines, but you can tie them up and remember that a marine is half as effective when charged vs him charging you, plus you are getting the extra attacks and not him. You won't win the combat in the end (unless you are really lucky) but he will lose marines in the process and more importantly lose time. It allows you to focus fire on the few units that you can kill and you can take his army apart one piece at a time, vs trying to take it all on at once.
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