Thursday, April 24, 2014
Imperial Guard Tactics: Company Command Squad
Alright, time for more tactics. Sorry for the break, work was busy last two days so no time or energy for blogging. As I continue through the book, its time to talk about the main squad that the MoO and friends belong to, the Company Command Squad. This is the backbone of many IG forces, and will continue to be so with this book. So you know about the advisors and what they do now. What is up with the new squad?
Well the short answer is complicated, its a lot and just a little. Its a little because the squad itself has only seen minor tweaks in points, its base is ten points more, but the medipack is half the cost, heavy flamer is cheaper, you pay for individual upgrades not the whole squad. So it can be more or less expensive depending on how you kitted your CCS's out before. For the most part it works out to be cheaper, unless you were toting a carapace plasma squad, then its about the same if not a little more. Now the changes are a lot, because the little tweaks make a huge difference to what this squad can do. Orders have changed and with them, these guys are now even better in what they can do for your infantry. The medi pack is reasonably priced now, I would recommend your warlord CCS take one, if only for the benefit of surviving a little better against small arms fire. With advisors being cheaper too, the fully kitted out CCS is better than before and cheaper.
And then there are the warlord traits that are all good. And then there are the Heirlooms that are good too. So you see, you are quite spoilt for choice when it comes to making your warlord and your own home brew special character if you want to.
So what does a command squad do? To start off with it is a company commander with four veterans. All have BS 4, the commander has WS 4 and 3 Wds and Ld 9. The commander is a senior officer and can issue orders (2) within a 12" radius. He has access to the senior orders (Tank/monster hunter, ignores cover, regroup) and all of the other 6 orders. So what this unit does best is support your main infantry through orders and the wargear and weapons they bring. With that in mind, you need to decide how you want your CCS to support your troops and how they will all mesh together. There are essentially two ways to build a CCS and each has their merits. The first is what I call the Battle Staff. The battle staff is entirely focused on supporting your army and bringing force multipliers to the table. Less on weapons and more on the gear and units that make the rest of yours better. The second is the Combat Command. This is more oriented towards dealing critical damage to your opponents needed units and shoring up holes in your line. The focus is less on buffing and more on damage output.
So the Battle Staff. Here you are not going to be focusing on weapons but on how to increase the effectiveness of your army. The first choice should be the regimental standard, it gives rerolls to morale, pinning, fear, and regroup tests. Then you want a vox, for rerolling orders. Now that is two of your weapon options gone, so as you can see, your focus is not going to be on firepower of the unit itself. Now the advisers come in, the first that is critical is the Officer of the fleet. He modifies your or your opponents reserve rolls. The next should be the Master of Ordnance, he makes up for lack of damage output from the squad and with the split fire order you can target different units if need be. The astropath should be taken in my opinion but is not a must take either, he adds a deny the witch bonus and a wound to the squad, keeping your commander alive longer. Telepathy is a great table and when it goes off it will help you by decreasing your opponents effectiveness. When it comes to weapons for the last two, it is up to you but keep note that this squad is not going to be running around a whole lot, so short range weapons should be overlooked. Sniper rifles, plasma guns, grenade launchers, lascannon, autocannons, mortars are good choices. A heavy weapon is a good choice here as it gives your last two veterans a solid long range and powerful weapon that they will be effective with BS4. Now that is only if you do not bring some other upgrades such as the medipack. With its price decrease I think it is a solid choice now and with more models in the squad you will get a lot more mileage out of it. With T3 models its only so effective so bear that in mind, but against small arms it will prove its worth in keeping your squad alive longer.
Now other choices to consider is the Chimera, it is a command vehicle and a very solid choice for the battle staff. It protects your command squad and allows it to still issue orders and shoot if necessary. It is key to remember that none of your orders require line of sight anymore, and with the MoO he does not either though it pays to keep him targeting stuff you can see. Carapace armor is a solid upgrade as well, it again keeps you alive longer against small arms and if you have a medi pack, you will be saving a lot of wounds. The idea with this squad is to keep it alive as long as possible to keep supporting your army. If not taking a chimera then camo gear is another good choice to boost your cover save. If you are not in a transport then you need to be in cover. Krak grenades are an option to pass on for this squad, its goal is not to fight directly.
Then their are the Heirlooms to consider. These are good but a few stand out for the battle staff to increase their effectiveness. The tactical auto reliquary is your most solid bang for buck item for this squad. The reason being is it causes inspired command to happen on all doubles (as long as the order succeeds) if a double 1 is rolled, it still passes but the reliquary shuts down for the rest of the game. Inspired command means all of your following orders automatically pass. This is really good and affects your entire army. Now if taking this, you want to make sure that you have enough order givers in your army to make this worth it. If you only have a single platoon and CCS, this isn't as effective. If you have multiple CCS and platoons, then the effectiveness increases dramatically. The next heirloom is the laurels of command. This allows units within 6" of the bearer to choose to pass or fail morale checks. This is good but if you are taking a regimental standard I would say you can leave this one behind. Kirov's aquila is the last one to consider for the battle staff. It gives friendly units within 6" preferred enemy and the bearer a single reroll of any leadership check per turn. Its expensive at 60pts but if you build your army to make use of this then it can be very much worth it. Now its all IG units, not infantry so plasma armed vehicles can make great use of this. If you are looking at plasma vets and plasma armed vehicles this is a great choice and allows you to spread prescience to other units as well. The other heirlooms are not bad, just not useful for this loadout you are going for.
Tactics wise, location is critical. You need to be central to the units that need the buffs and orders most, while being in a location to keep the squad alive. With orders no longer having to follow chain of command, you can use this to save your critical senior orders for when they are needed. Use your command squad take out your opponents critical units through orders, such as using ignores cover to take out wave serpents or other units hiding in terrain. With a chimera you can move your squad around rapidly if needed to adjust for holes in your order radius and keep your units effective. If you are going for a more mobile army then the Chimera is highly recommended to keep up and keep the orders flowing.
There is one special character that should be considered when building a battle staff and that is Creed. Now I would only take him if you are making him your warlord as that is half of what he brings. I will do a full run down of creed later, but suffice it to say he is an order machine with 3 and has to reroll failed orders, so no need for vox's here. With two rolls on the warlord table you can potentially increase his order range, add an additional order, outflank d3 units. So you can sort of get the old creed back if you roll well, but really the warlord table is darn good so getting any two of them will help your army out. He is best in the staff role as he has more orders and automatic rerolls. He is a buffer, not a fighter.
Now the other thing to consider is your second Hq choice. A very solid choice is to go with a second command squad, this gives you more orders and flexibility and you won't have your eggs in one basket. Plus you can go with another full staff if you want to, but most times you want to keep this a cheaper choice, so a standard and a few weapons and maybe a MoO or OoF to add to your effectiveness. This will force your opponent to think about what to shoot at and you won't have one CCS as your lynch pin. Now there are other choices when choosing your second HQ but often a second CCS is something to strongly consider.
You also have another way to use the CCS that is completely different from the Battle Staff and that is Combat Command. This squad is focused on fighting and destroying key targets of your enemy. The orders are still important and play a part. Carapace armor is important for this squad as it is going to be in the thick of things more often than not. The next thing to consider is weapons. Plasma is a great choice here as with some of the heirlooms, you can almost guarantee you'll never get hot. This squad also works well with assault weapons. This squad is going to be moving around and putting out fires so have weapons that will complement that, sniper rifles are not a great choice (unless you have relentless).
Some of the same heirlooms that are already mentioned work good here but there are a couple others to consider. The blade of conquest is a good improved power sword with a +1 to strength and is master crafted. The other is the death mask of ollianus that gives It will not die, 4++, and fear. This is one to strongly consider with this squad as you want to be fighting with it and if supported properly it can deal with many threats in CC if not the heaviest hitters. Where this starts to get good is with he support units you are going to want to add to this squad, namely priests and commissar. The commissar is a solid combat character and adds another power weapon to the squad and has good number of attacks. I would not take a lord. The priests are good and you want two, one to give you rerolls to armor and invul saves and the other for rerolls to wound. A medic is also recommended as well to give FnP as most combats will not double out your Toughness.
The key to getting to most out of this squad is timing your orders and shooting right. Lets say you are hit by a drop pod assault and have a hole in your line. Use the fire power from the command squad to bring down the numbers of the enemy marine squad and orders to increase your chances or do things such as hit them with pinning or shoot and run to get closer into range or farther away. Weaken the squad first then hit it in CC to finish it off. Now if you can finish the squad off with shooting then always go that route first. But if you are being hit with multiple threats and need to focus your fire on what is coming across the board but also have to deal with that dropped squad, you can use the Combat squad to finish it off. The key is to not attack assault oriented squads unless you absolutely have to and only then when you have an advantage in numbers and the right weapons to bring them down.
The other important part is to not attack alone whenever possible, this squad should always be nearby troops and do not be afraid to throw their bodies in front to ensure your command squad gets to strike home. Alone a command squad is not hard to deal with. But with even only a ten man squad backing it up in CC, they can finish off threats that are in position to do damage. I know many don't like to assault with IG, but don't be afraid to, just understand that it is never about one on one fighting, but massing your troops and characters onto weak units and finishing them off while they are isolated and unable to support each other. You are going to fight in CC many times, it is always better to charge than be charged and even against a CC oriented unit you will at the very least take away the number of attacks they will bring to bear. If you cannot get away or kill the unit with fire, then you might as well charge, you'll stand a better chance than waiting for his turn to do so.
This squad does need a strong balance though between shooting and cc weapons so make sure to not neglect the shooting. And always make sure this squad has meat shields to take the brunt. You want to be mobile always consider the chimera but remember to time our dismount right if you have a unit you wish to punch. A good way to do it is to dismount and have a blob squad (the one sticking close to the CCS) assault that turn to soak up the brunt and hold that unit in place for your CCS to move in for the kill.
There is one character that must be considered when building this type of CCS. That is straken. He is on his own a beast and importantly passes out counterattack and furious charge to IG units within 6". Plus his squad is relentless if he is warlord. Hmm plasma assault squad anyone? It may seem like you don't want to charge stuff, but don't be afraid to. Straken has to issue a challenge if able, but he can actually deal with a lot of things and if you have priests in there (you will) he will be rerolling and upping his chance of staying alive. He is only T4 though and not ET, so do watch out for S8 cc weapons. On that charge he is dealing out 5 S7 AP2 attacks at WS5. With priests he can even reliably deal with terminators, though not the SS TH types, though if you need to go after them you can, just make sure to bring soe extra bodies to die for the emperor so straken can keep on punching. And you really want to have guardsmen nearby, a 30 man blob with furious charge may not sound like much, but with your third priest in it it is going to be hurting a lot of things with S4 and extra attacks on the charge.
Now there is the ridiculous version of this that is expensive and probably not worth it, but here you go. You have straken, yarrick, nork dedog, two priests, a commissar (maybe two) and what ever weapons on the veterans you want. Then punch stuff. Its super expensive to run this, but I could see this somehow working, if you can keep it alive. A medic is actually important here as nork can soak up wounds with FnP being T5 and being a character can look sir off of him if needed. He has it himself but you still want a medic as nork is going to soak the high S wounds and the medic for the rest of them. Even then you'll want to keep this squad somewhat protected, but it would be hilarious in a cheap ass human wave army with blobs and conscripts rushing up the field and the beef cake squad moving around punching crap to death, and of course yarrick can break off if needed. Now I want to try this out, just for giggles.
Back on track. The point of the Combat Command is to be a mobile unit that covers the holes in your line when needed and still passes out orders that are needed to the front. They have firepower to deal with high priority threats and if needed weapons to deal with in CC. It needs to be supported by your troops as well as it cannot win many fights on its own.
Now of the two to run, which should you choose? Well depends on your army and play style. The battle staff works best with a more static gunline army that is going to be back behind and aegis for most of the game and hold the line against enemy attacks. The Combat Command works best in more mobile and aggressive IG armies, that provide multiple threats that your opponent has to deal with and cannot just focus on the command squad. It can work in a static army but is less effective. In my experience the Battle Staff often works best as your primary CCS with a muted Combat Command as your second, this is not a full blown Combat Command, just one that is more weapon focused and less on sitting back and throwing orders out. If going the Battle Staff route, creed is a strong character to consider for what he brings, but only if he is going to be your warlord.
Now some will be tempted to throw a CCS in a vendetta with weapons and go hunting. Sure this sounds like a good idea. But when you do this you are losing the most important part of a CCS and that is the orders it has. PCS are far better in this role as they are more expendable and almost as effective. Orders are what make the IG at the top so make use of them, if you want a gun squad you have scion command squads and PCS for that now that are far better in that role. Truly a Scion command squad will be far better than a CCS in the drop out of vendetta role. It can only give one order and it will most likely be on itself so it doesn't have to worry about sticking close to your army for support.
Keep your CCS doing what it need to be doing, supporting the rest of your army. Luckily the new IG have other HQ choices to consider but this is still going to be something to bring even if you have only a small force of infantry.