Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Imperial Guard Tactics: The Bloody Infantry PT2
Alright so got through the first part and now its time to keep on going. This time the focus is going to be on veterans, some of my favorite guardsmen. These guys are hands down your most versatile unit that you can field in terms of war gear and options to make them fit any role. They do have some disadvantages though in that you can only ever bring ten, no more no less, and they do not benefit from the platoon command structure. It would be great if the new codex would allow 0-1 veteran squads per platoon, and still allow them to be taken on their own of course. But their are ways to work around that which I will talk about later. The last thing that limits them is that you can only take 6 squads of them (Yes I said only), which limits their effectiveness. The fact of the matter is that they are still guardsmen and 60 guardsmen are not that hard to kill. Suffice it to say that veterans really only downsides are minor compared to their utility.
So what are you getting in veterans. First and foremost is krak grenades and BS4 right off that bat, which is a huge deal, and this is for 70 pts base. So you are paying 20pts more for the krak and BS upgrades, which is about right. They are fairly priced at this point and their weapon upgrades are the same as regular infantry squads with a few exceptions. Every one of them can exchange their lasgun for a shotgun, they can take three special weapons, one of which can be a heavy flamer. This really lends to a huge flexibility to how you can bring them. They can bring a heavy weapons team on top of this and a vox as well.
Lastly is the doctrines. First you have grenadiers which gives them carapace armor, second you have demolitions which gives everyone melta bombs and one demo charge, and last is forward sentries which gives camo cloaks and defensive grenades. Each of these top out at 30 pts a pop and is in my opinion a little overpriced. Dropping each 10pts would be about right as you are only getting a few wargear upgrades, though technically the melta bomb one is a steal since they are normally 5pts a pop, meaning it should cost you 50pts for that doctrine. But it still is expensive upgrades to a squad that is just a little better than regular guardsmen and I hope they will be a little cheaper in the next codex.
Now what this all means is that you have huge options in how to play these guys and what you can take to fulfill any role you have. One build is to give them all shotguns, two meltas and a heavy flamer with the demolitions doctrine and have a nasty assault/anti armor squad. These guys can get up close and shoot everything and then kill MCs with their melta bombs in cc or do the same to vehicles this is not a cheap unit and your hardest task will be making sure they survive to get into range with their weapons. These guys work well in valkyrie, dropping out to punish an unsuspecting vehicle or MC that got to close.
As they are not a true dedicated assault unit, be wary of units that you can't wear down with your shooting. You can use the demo charge and meltas on tough units like terminators and charge the survivors, which will most likely be only a couple of termies. Not saying you always should but the need arises they are capable.
The doctrines really do bring them up a level and I would recommend taking them if you are going to be bringing veterans. If you are looking for some troops to dig into cover and be great objective campers, take the forward sentries, as you will have +1 to cover for the cloaks and another +1 if the enemy is within 8" when firing. This means if you stick them behind an aegis, you will have a 3+ cover standard and a 2+ when they get close, making some weak little guardsmen as hard to remove as terminators and marines. Yes the ignores cover weaponry will get around that, but you can get rid of those weapons an abilities through good target priority. And sometimes you just won't get a save, but generally the units that do that (helldrake) do that to almost everyone so the playing field is even in that case. You can kit this squad out to be anti infantry or anti tank and it will do well in this capacity.
I personally like going the anti infantry route with heavy bolter and sniper rifles, they will do well with just about any weapon, except mortars. I love mortars but take advantage of it being barrage and take them in mortar squads. Not saying they are bad in vets but that there are better weapons they can take that provide more utility.
Carapace is seen as probably the least bang for your buck, and in a sense this is partially true, you only are getting a 4+ save out of this. But this I have found to be enough of an edge to make it worth it. I have based my army around this and have 5 vet squads with carapace. This is mostly because I like the shock trooper army and its what I like to roll. By having carapace though you now have guardsmen that are going to survive against most of the small arms in the game now. Where before you just die. Now your guardsmen get a save and can move a little more freely on the board.
Yes AP4 is out there and is no rare thing, but many of the weapons that cut down guardsmen are AP5. This also gives you something against the ignores cover shenanigans, as again you will get a save against a lot of the weapons that will be firing at you. You can also force your opponent to wast heavier firepower than it is worth to remove that unit. For example a riptide may be used against that squad to try and remove it, using their markerlight counters to get rid of cover and plus up the BS. But now that Riptide is shooting at 10 guardsmen rather than something more valuable. It allows you to hang in that one more turn, which is often the deciding factor in victory or defeat.
Now there are two last things that a Veteran squad can take, and that is two special character upgrades: Sgt Bastone and Gunny Sgt Harker. Bastone is....over costed. He is 60 odd points and what you get is a hot shot laspistol(worthless), carapace armor, a power sword, and the ability to issue one order to his squad. Now this is not bad on its own. However you could bring a kitted out infantry squad for his points. He just doesn't quite bring enough to the table to justify his cost. If he was around 35-45 point range, he would be much better. His squad can always regroup at his leadership also, which means that unless they get wiped out they are going to be sticking around. He works well with a squad that has grenadiers or demolitions as he can maximize the effectiveness of those weapons with his orders and they will be sticking around long enough through casualties that they can get to their objective unless they are completely wiped. They work well as a unit that is on its own and if you are taking creed this can be a good squad to use his tactical genius on to outflank them.
The second upgrade is Harker and he is a little better, he has feel no pain(only him), gives the squad stealth and infiltrate, and has a little bit better stats than a regular guardsmen. He also is relentless and a heavy bolter as his personal weapon. He is also on the expensive side but has more utility in my opinion than bastone. He works great with a forward sentries squad that has another heavy bolter and sniper rifles or other anti infantry weapons. This makes for a great squad that can be popped into terrain and mess up infantry and put wounds on the smaller MCs (Can still hurt the big ones but its harder) and will be hard to dig out with stealth and camo cloaks giving +2 to cover. Another way is to go assaulty and take demolitions and bring the meltas and heavy flamers, pop them into a good position and send them after your biggest threat. Now they are really expensive as a suicide squad so don't use them as one. They have to actually accomplish their objective for them to be worth it, so use terrain and take advantage of stealth and harkers other special rules to get into a good position to take out your primary threat.
I personally like the first option better as you are more likely to get your bang for your buck. Both of these guys are expensive upgrades and can work in a very narrow way. Not saying not to take them, but they are a points sink and when it doesn't work then you have thrown away not only the squad but the other guardsmen you could have brought had you not taken them. That is another point that I would like to bring home. When you are getting upgrades and weapons and wargear, you need to always be thinking in the back of your mind "Is this worth the guardsmen I won't be bringing now" for every 50 pts you spend, that's 10 less guardsmen that can take the field. This may not seem like a big deal, but you are going to need those bodies to win your battles and those 10 more men may be what brings you victory over the upgrades you bought. This is not to say that you shouldn't buy anything except more guardsmen (its not bad advice though), but that you need to be always weighing the effectiveness of what you are paying for. Its the reason storm troopers are not worth it, because you can take veterans with carapace armor and weapons for half the price, why wouldn't you take them. So when you are taking veterans and getting their load outs, don't fall into the trap of dumping points on them. In the end they are still T3 guardsmen that will die to just about anything.
Now you can go a couple of ways with veterans, either you can take one or two squads that have highly specialized roles or you can base your army around them and max out most of your troop choices on them. As a player that bases my army on veterans, I will say that it is more than doable to take 5 to 6 squads of them and have your army composed primarily of veterans. There are a couple of ways that the veteran heavy force plays well with. The first is mech heavy with chimera's and other armor to support them. This army works well in an in your face way, getting across the table quickly and getting close in and blasting them apart at mid and close range. As such you need to have units to support your advance, hellhound variants work well here to give you that close in punch, vendettas are good as well for their mobility and also giving some anti air and armor to the army. As for doctrines, grenadiers and demolitions are your best bet, giving your guys the needed armor boost or damage out put, and mixing this up is not a bad thing.
The other option is to save your points and not take any doctrines and rely on your chimeras to give you the extra durability. As you are already spending points on the chimeras this is not a bad option to go with and instead spend your points on other units to bring more to the table. Leman russ demolisher work very well as they other units that move forward initially will take the first fire to allow your russ to make if forward and into range and to support your assault. This is also the few armies that I would consider bringing the eradicator variant, as it synergizes well with it. The goal is to have units massing your fire power early and quickly since this army can't really play the attrition game very well, so you need to hit hard and get into position early in the game to stick it out to the end.
The light infantry version of the veteran army is a different beast all together, this one revolves around an aegis defense line or other large fortification. This is to make up for the lack of armor plating and give your guys cover to last much longer. This army is going to be sitting back and drawing the enemy at you early on and then moving out later in the game to grab objectives. Carapace armor is a something you should seriously consider. I use it on all my veterans and find it makes such a big difference, they have just that little bit higher durability that keeps my infantry in the game. This also give so you back up to ignores cover and barrage weapons. The name of the game here is long ranged fire power and with this list you really need one platoon, the reason being to give you some ablative wounds for your veterans in regular guardsmen, and the heavy weapon teams to give a much needed boost to your firepower. The platoon will also all you to bring a decent sized blob that can tarpit an enemy unit and save your vets from being massacred in CC. You also are going to need a CCS, if not two of them, the reason being is that you need the regimental standards for re rolling morale and pinning checks, the regimental advisers to bring needed boost (Master of Ordnance) and most importantly the orders that they bring. The CCS's also act as pseudo Platoon Command Squads for the veterans.
Creed makes this army that much better and I wouldn't leave home without him if you go this route. This is not an easy army to play as it has many vulnerabilities, but it as a very effective army once you get the hang of it and can really suffer brutal casualties and still carry the day. Opponents not used to carapace armored guardsmen will not devote enough firepower to remove them and will spread to much fire around. I have won games with 70% casualties but I still had almost every squad on the board, even if they only had two models left, they were still in the fight and taking objectives. This is why this army is very effective, it is more durable than regular guardsmen and has enough men in it to still play the attrition game. Added to the fact that most of the army is BS4 means you really can put a lot of shots into the enemy effectively. Vendettas are great for this army as it brings much needed mobility to it. You don't need them but I like the play that it gives me.
As single squads I would say that the sky is the limit when it comes to how you use them. I would pick a specialization and run with it, they work very well as close in tank hunters, though the glory days of melta vet drive bys are long gone, they are still effective in this roll. They also make great marine and MC hunters, kitted out with 3 plasma guns, up close you can deliver 6 plasma shots into a target, making them really mean. Yes you will lose some guys to gets hot, I am notorious for rolling ones with plasma, probably why I like meltas over them but that's me. The idea is that you are only taking one or two of these guys for their specialty, so go for it. Don't sink too many points but get the to their effective point. Something I would like to note, you don't have to give them 3 special weapons. Yeah if you have the points you should, but you don't have too, and sometimes the points can be better spent elsewhere.
Its really hard to go wrong with these guys, they start off decently cheap and can be as expensive as you want them to be. Remember you don't have to get doctrines if you don't want to but its something that I would encourage in general practice. What you get out of them is a squad that can shoot with some of the best units in the game and given the right gear can out last many of them. If you have a problem, there are very few that a veteran squad cannot answer.
As always, share your thoughts and what you like and don't like about them.