Monday, December 2, 2013
Imperial Guard Tactics: The Bloody Infantry
Ok so time to go back to tactics and its time to go through the most important part of the Imperial Guard army, and that is the bloody infantry. These are the guys that win you the games, take your objectives, and die for the emperor. I will admit I am biased, I love playing infantry guard and I know tread heads see these foot sloggers as a mere unfortunate requirement, but they are more than that. An all armor army would be nice, but alas the current codex still requires you take infantry. That being said you have the most flexible and useful troop choices of any codex that I can think of, in terms of gear you can equip them with and unit composition and their playability. You have three choices: The Platoon, The Veteran Squad, and The Penal Legion Squad. Now of the three, the one you will see the least is hands down the penal legion squad and its not hard to see why, they have no upgrade options and are dependent on a dice roll for their abilities. They are far from useless though and I will talk more about them in a sec. All in all this section is where you will be spending a lot of your money and points on and its where you will bring victory through. There are so many ways to play with them too that you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to the guard.
Now I think I will talk about the Penal Legionaries first, the underdogs of the IG troops. Well first off they are 80pts, which sounds like a lot but since you can't buy them anything they aren't too bad as you will quickly surpass them with gear and weapons for veterans, and after you do the same for your infantry squads in platoons, they will be only a little more. So they could be a little cheaper and I think if they were the same cost of veterans that would be about right. But they are not. What you do get with that 80 pts is ten guys with lasguns (custodian has Pistol and CW) and here's the kicker, stubborn and scout and the random penal legion ability. This is really what makes this squad nice, they are stubborn, which is such an important thing for IG infantry I cannot stress it enough, and scout. This means you have a unit that can redeploy after your opponent has deployed (or place them in spot to get your opponent to counter them, and them move them after and smile evilly) or outflank them. This really is a big deal, the flexibility of this squad due to these rules means you have a cheap unit that can move in to the back field or act as an advance speed bump. Their random ability boils down to turning their lasguns to assault 2, having furious charge/Counter attack/Fleet, rending and an extra attack (Corrections made). Neither of these are that bad and you will like them based on how you like to play them. The rending is awesome as you have cheap guys to throw at termies that can strike first (if they have unwieldy weapons) and have chance of rending a few (with 3 attacks on the charge this is not unlikely). If you look at it from a pure points perspective, they only have to kill 2 termies to pay their points back. Don't seem so bad now do they?
You unfortunately can't rely on getting that roll every time(unless you have one of those dice), but each of their abilities add to their utility. Of all the infantry units, these are your best base assault ones, no they are not amazing but when compared to naked infantry squads and veterans they do the job better. This doesn't mean you should charge that assaulty deathstar and expect victory, but if your opponent has gotten careless you can punish some of his weaker units for underestimating your little psychopaths. I would say that 2 squads is about right, you can get more if you want to but you start losing some utility in the lost special and heavy weapons that the other troops can bring. With 2 you have a couple of flexible scoring units that you can outflank with and reposition. Depending on their ability they can be very mean in CC and can advance out to draw blood and hold down your opponents squads or MCs early on, with stubborn they stand a good chance of holding on in the fight. They can buy you an early speed bump that has a possibility of doing some decent damage to other basic units, and if you get rending you can hurt some small elite units as well. They are still cheap enough that a few squads of them are still expendable and you won't have to build your army around them.
Penal Legionaries make for a fun unit that really doesn't hurt you to add and make great fluff allies for armies like chaos or orks. They are a great spoiler and disruption unit and also work very well with scout sentinels. They can screen each other and move into good fire positions in cover and the sentinels can bring the heavier weapons that the penal troops lack. Since both units are cheap you have a small investment for a great early screening force that your opponent must invest a significant amount of fire power and/or troops to remove them. You can outflank both and make a great mid game flanking move into the rear of your opponent and grab objectives. If ogryns were cheaper I would say to go with them as well, but as they are they are way too expensive to take. I have found that the Penal Legionaries play the best when you are cautiously aggressive with them. What I mean by that is using LoS blocking and other terrain to move them into a position to strike, draw blood, and then get behind cover again to draw units after them. I used them to advance forward, assault a gaunt squad, wipe them and then consolidate back towards my fire base. My opponent chased after them to get revenge and more of his nids were gunned down in the sights of the rest of my guardsmen. In the end remember that they are expendable and fun to use and a great excuse to model up a crazy or special squad. I wouldn't get a lot of squads of them, but if you wanted to and brought other things to make up for your anti tank and large volume of fire weapons then you could make it work. They are only 480pts to max out your troops so you have plenty left over, even in small games, to make up for their weaknesses.
I like them, I don't play with them a lot, but I like them. I have always had fun playing with them and sometimes even throw my rejects and failures from my last games together into a "discipline" squad to go out and learn their lesson. They are a small investment and can be very useful so don't discount them. But if you don't want to bring them, that is more than ok, the troops of the IG are all useful and playable so you can never bring them and still have a very good troops section. I personally like veterans. I like having a more elite IG army and the feel of the shock troop regiment has always been my favorite for a long time. They are certainly not the only way to play and what you choose to bring for IG will really come down to your limit of models. I have lots and still don't have enough. How you want to play will really decide what you are going to bring and do with the other troop choices.
Veterans and Infantry platoons are both really good and the platoon is such a wonderful tool for the IG that you almost have to bring at least one, and I would argue that you always should have at least one lying around in your army. You certainly don't have to though. Bringing lots of platoons is great in a large light infantry army, you can bring so many guardsmen with just a few platoons that it is hard to argue with it. The only thing that will limit you here is models, as you certainly aren't limited by the codex. If you are going the light infantry route, creed or straken are musts for these armies as their buffs bring your infantry that much better and give you a needed edge. I know many are fans of large blobs, I am personally not as I like to have more flexibility but if you like them and run them well keep on doing it. When it comes to Mech it can go both ways. If you want a cheap mech army with lots of guys, the platoons are great for getting you there, if not veterans are great for a smaller and more elite mech shock force. I would say this is one of the cases that you have to choose veterans or platoons and invest totally in one. A vet squad or too will be fine in the mech platoon list but any more and you start getting diminishing returns. The same goes for taking all veterans, for that to work you really need 5 or 6 squads of them in chimeras to get the most out of that. Once you go to the middle you lose effectiveness.
There are many other ways to play the IG infantry and I will continue through till I get them all done. Next I will focus on veteran squads and their many wonderful uses as they are prob one of my favorite units. Then I will go over the platoons and if needed will do a last article that brings it all together and goes over more army wide tactics. Penal was a good way to start it off as they are often forgotten and really shouldn't be as you can bring one of them for no real downside for your army other than they take up one of your 6 valuable troop spots.
Let me know of other ways you have used them and tales of their exploits in battle :).