So its finally time to get back to looking at the humble Infantry Platoon and how it fares now under a new codex and edition. There are a lot of little changes that have a big effect, though overall they still function as before. These are the back bone of many a IG Regiment and will be what most will be relying on to carry the day. I think that the Infantry Platoon is hands down the best single troops choice in the entire game. It has the advantage of large hordes, multiple squads, heavy weapons, special weapons, and conscripts. The sheer number of models you can field in one troop choice is staggering. You can have 137 models in a single troops choice that is just mind boggling in the amount of men you can bring to the field. Added to the fact that this is all damn cheap, being 865 pts for all of this (no upgrades). This means if you are looking to field endless waves of guardsmen, you have found what you are looking for. The other rule that is important is combined squads, which is sort of the reverse of combat squads for SM, you can combine infantry squads together at the start of the game, they then act as single unit. This is where the often mentioned blob squad comes from. Now for this one I am going to break it down by the individual units within the platoon and then go over unit tactics.
Please note this is a longer read
Overall there is a change that is quite big but is really not that bad. Before you could deploy, roll for reserves, etc all the squads in a platoon as one unit. No longer, so if you have a platoon in reserve, you must roll for each individual unit to see if it comes in. Its not a hug deal as with some of the special characters gone, its utility isn't as great as before. You can though deploy a platoon piece meal and start with some on the board and bring others on later. In practice this will not make a big difference, as you can stack reserve rolls in your favor quite easily if you still want to keep whole platoons in reserve.
Platoon Command Squad
The PCS for short, starts at 30 and you can give it all the options an infantry squad can take. Only major differences are that all the guardsmen(4) can take special weapons and one can take a heavy flamer, they can take a vox, a medic, and a platoon standard. The standard is worthless, it counts as scoring a wound in CC, rarely will that matter. Either you lose combat and are most likely wiped completely, or you already won combat and defeated them. PCS's are not cc monsters and are good at targeting weak units but nothing more. The medic upgrade and is 15, for Feel no Pain, which you will get to use situationally as guardsmen are T3. While it was definitely a no go before, its a somewhat appealing option now, though much better on a CCS. What they really are good for is all the special weapons.
How you use them is similar but different than before, they are good to follow behind a combined squad, support them with their special weapons, and take objectives while your opponent is busy dealing with the blob or other units. They are a good support unit and have a lot of useful orders to issue now, plus having an additional 6" order range(12"). They are small and can get lost on the board with the other bigger or more threatening units. Their main use is really to just provide the extra fire and that order. Play them to that strength and its good to supplement the platoons infantry squads this way, by adding weapons they lack to the PCS so the platoon as a whole can deal with multiple targets.
The PCS is really a big winner in the new book and has so much more utility than before. That being said, they still function pretty much the same. You want 4 special weapons, you can maybe take a vox if you really want to make sure orders go off and it is not a bad choice. That really comes down to your preference, better chance of orders succeeding or more shooting, in most cases it isn't a huge loss as most of the weapons a PCS can take are one shot. If you take a heavy weapon, then a vox becomes more appealing. Heavy weapons you can take with a PCS that they will be able to utilize well is Heavy bolters, autocannons, and mortars. You want to stay away from one shot weapons with BS3, the mortar is an exception because it is blast and cheap. When it comes to special weapons, grenade launchers are one of the top choices, they are flexible and cheap. They fire a S3 blast, or a S6 AP4 single shot. With 4 you can do a good amount of damage for very cheap and they will always have targets. Flamers are good as well, though their range limits their utility.
What makes PCS's far better than before is that they have access to 6 orders, they still have move move move, and first rank fire. Now though they have other very good orders that they can issue, take aim gives precision shot (note now they do need 6s to hit to be able to allocate wounds), smite gives split fire (no ld check), forwards lets the unit shoot and then run (great for ogryns and deep striking units), and suppressive fire which gives pinning. Using a PCS is much harder now as its not just issue first rank fire and then shooting at something. First rank is still a very solid order, but the others have great utility and should be used. If you are looking for tactica on orders, check out the orders post. Suffice it to say, PCS are great and can really help your platoons and other units do far more than they normally can do. A platoon is often worth taking just to have a PCS.
Now its time for the bread and butter of the platoon. Well what do you have here? For 50 pts you have 10 guardsmen (1x SGT), frag grenades and lasguns, no changes here from the . Nothing special here but 5 pts a model is a very good thing. For the platoon you have to have 2 at a minimum and can take up to 5 total. Additional equipment for the squad is krak grenades, a vox, all of the special weapons minus the heavy flamer. The Sgt has access to all the usual upgrades in power weapons and fists, plasma pistol, melta bombs, and the still infuriating 1 pt bolt pistol. Seriously, I have to take fucking five no so I can have it all add up correctly!
The vox is a must have for me, the re rolls on orders is essential, and if you are planning on combining the squads, then you only have to pay for one for the whole blob to benefit from it, so that makes a big difference and can pay for your special weapons. In most cases I would recommend the basic weapons such as the flamer or grenade launcher, both are versatile and the flamer is great in defending against assaults and in supporting your own. The grenade launcher can threaten vehicles and infantry alike and has helped win me many games. The sniper rifle is cheap, and is great when it gets lucky, but most times it won't. Unless you are fielding it en masse in all or a lot of your squads, I would not recommend it, especially with the nerfs it has recieved in 7th and the fact that you can order pinning, which is the most useful part. The melta gun and plasma guns are good and you all should know what they do, one kills tanks and the other kills marines and MCs. There is nothing wrong with the weapons themselves, its just that they can only bring one and its a guardsmen that is firing it. 50/50 is not great odds when you really need that one melta gun to hit. I recommend these weapons if you are planning on combining squads, otherwise stick to the cheaper and more effective special weapons. Taking krak grenades is a strong recommendation, and if the choice is between a melta gun and krak grenades, take the grenades. Why? Well because you will have 10 grenades that will be hitting on 3s on rear armor, instead of 1 melta hitting on 4s. Your odds of killing a vehicle is far higher. You have to get there but that comes down to you and your opponents maneuvering.
Heavy weapons can be taken by infantry squads, these can be a good option, but be careful to supplement the squads fire and not leave the rest of its shooting useless. There are some good weapons though that you can take and I would recommend the Heavy Bolter, Autocannon, and Mortar. These are all flexible and multi purpose weapons and will suit the roles of your infantry squads. The lascannon is too expensive and good of a weapon for one BS3 shot. And combing squads to get more of them together is counter productive, your wasting the 30+ guardsmen that now have to sit back and act as wounds, and will still be useless because the lascannons will be targeting tanks that they cannot hurt. In the same squad they conflict roles too much and do not support each other. Apart they do the opposite and support each other wonderfully and complement the strengths of each. I would never take them in an infantry squad. A missile launcher is ok, but really only useful if taken in masse in a blob unit. Generally the autocannon is your go to heavy weapon.
Combining squads is a whole other thing and there are many out there with differing opinions on it. I personally like the options that it brings though I do not often bring large 50 man blobs to the table. The reason combining squads is used so often and so successfully is it allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your guardsmen and increase the units durability. You only have to buy one vox, one commissar, then you have extra to buy things like krak grenades and weapons for your Sgts. Combined squads are best when tooled to do a specific thing, especially when it comes to weapon load outs. If going anti tank bring along meltas and melta bombs for the sgts and krak grenades for the squads.
Combined squads work great as a tarpit unit that can bring down some of the toughest MCs and units. The sheer number of bodies and with a commissar giving them stubborn means you have a huge amount of ablative wounds for your sgts with power axes or whatever other weapons to get the hits and kill the monster. Now when it comes to the size of a blob, that's where things get tricky. I personally like to go with 20-30 man squads, it keeps the model count manageable and is still quite durable, but I have more flexibility with two large blobs than one super sized one. This also means that your enemy has to target multiple units now to kill the same number of guardsmen. With the rise of highly effective mass shooting, esp in Tau and eldar, that can easily put enough wounds out to kill an entire guardsmen blob in one round of shooting. By splitting your blobs up you force your opponent to split their fire and to waste wounds in over kill, causing more wounds than is necessary to kill the unit and the excess being wasted.
Why I also like having smaller combined squads is that it allows you to do multiple things at the same time, one unit can advance and the other can stay a little behind to support them. That way you are not committing your whole platoon and if they all are lost then you are left with a big hole in your line. This way you can last longer as with target saturation, your opponent will have more units to shoot at then he even has and will be ineffective at bringing your army down fast enough. Once you get into the attrition game that is where other armies, especially Tau, start to lose. They cannot take the hits and even small losses significantly reduce their firepower.
You don't have to combine squads and I would not recommend that you always do, if you are not bringing a large number of infantry then you should keep them separate or in small combined squads. If you are building a mech list the keep them individual squads (obviously). When the squads are kept small, and especially when going the mech route, then it is good to bring heavy weapons, again though lacannons are going to be a waste and bring those in heavy weapon squads instead. The heavy weapons will add to your chimera's firepower and help you early on with your shooting.
There are many ways to build your IG army around and it its my opinion that you should have at least one of these in almost every army. You can also go all in and build a massive army of infantry. This can be a great fluffy army with lots of expendable infantry. I will caveat this in saying that it can also be tedious to play with so many guardsmen. However with practice, good orders management, and use of reserves you can play this army superbly well to be almost unbeatable with the amount of men almost impossible to kill. If you are going to go this route, go all in you cannot go for half measures. Forget about tanks and just about everything else, you are going to be spending a lot on infantry.
The standard build of power axe sgts in large blobs is no longer standard. Its a large points investment and with only situational benefits. Not to say you should not take them, but that this is no moved to a specialist blob versus standard one. This needs to be built and should be relatively large around 30-40 guardsmen, with a priest and maybe a commissar for the extra power weapon. Take either a bunch of flamers or melta guns. I like melta guns as it allows the squad to deal with heavy armor and MCs. Krak grenades are also important, allowing the whole unit to hurt heavy units. This is going to be an expensive unit, but very durable and still able to kill a lot of things and should be used as your hit squad, going after critical targets that need to die. Other infantry are there to be meat shields and distract for them.
You don't have to and platoons perform exceptionally well as part of a combined arms army and that is what most will bring. They are your cornerstone, so always remember they are what is going to win your battles, with objective secured they can really hold on to a lot of objectives.
To start it off I want to take a look at conscripts, the cheapest troops you can get and the meat shields of the imperial guard. They have become much better than they were before, first off losing a pt in price. Now commissars are free again, as you take them for every CCS or PCS in your army and since you have already brought a platoon, you have one you can take. Commissars are perfect for conscripts, they give them a great leadership bonus and if they fail, no matter what a random conscript is dying, so you don't have to worry about a special weapon or sgt getting executed. Their stats are unchanged, standard guardsmen with BS & WS 2.
The overall changes to the IG codex has really turned this unit around and it can almost be a must take. You throw a bare commissar in them and you have one of the cheapest objective secured units in the game that will never break. The shoot and run order is perfect for them, as these guys need to keep advancing forward and clogging your enemies lines. Now I would not recommend priests for conscripts, as while priests do provide fearless, they also have significant CC bonuses, and conscripts simply don't get much utility from that. A priest is much better in an infantry blob with power weapons.
What they can do is force your opponent to deal with bodies and in this they make a good sacrificial lamb and speed bump. They are great tarpit units now, with a commissar, as they are an uber cheap unit that can charge something like a wraithknight and let it sit there all game munching shitty conscripts and doing nothing. They have a very crappy weapon skill and ballistic skill that means even with their large numbers, they can't do much, but they don't need to. Conscripts are your first wave and are there to make your opponent waste shooting and cc units against them.
As to how to play them, two conscript squads are about all you will ever need, as you will be hard to have that many models left over for the rest of your army unless you really have a lot of guardsmen, and they just aren't effective enough to be worth their points at that point. You take two of 40-50 with commissars in each and throw them forward, whatever other units can follow behind and use the meat shields. They key with them is to get them as far forward as fast and as early as possible. They are there to slow the enemy and be a speed bump, spread them out enough so your opponent will have no option but to chew through them in order to get to the rest of your army. In almost all case I would say let them be assaulted, though if you can assault feel free to do so.
Really conscripts are almost a must take unit for IG now as their utility for their cost is almost criminal. I was not a fan of them in the last codex, simply for not being able to attach normal commissars, and now you can. Don't bother with upgrades on the commissar as he is there for stubborn and to shoot a conscript when they get scared.
To put them in perspective, an ork boy is 6 pts, double what a conscript costs. And while they may have lower stats, they can still shoot a lot of shots and with first rank fire, you will get a lot of htis, thats how the orks do it. They have objective secured and their foot print alone is huge, they give you board control and they are unit that simply cannot be ignored. Again I can't stress it enough that a commissar is key to getting the most utility out of them
The new codex has really turned conscripts around and I love them now. They are a something to very highly consider, even though chenkov is gone, there reliability on the board is so much higher.
Special Weapons Squads
Next is the special weapons squads, and these guys are another win for the codex. Start at 35like before and then you must purchase three special weapons. And now you can take three demo charges!!!!!!!!!! So much awesome. These guys are straight forward, give them 3 special weapons, keep them in a good position or protect them, then spring forward to annihilate whatever their target is.
Weapons that they aren't really worth taking is probably sniper rifles, as the only way to make them effective is with prescience and even then thats a waste. So in theory they are nice but in practice they don't hold up. A load out I personally like is 2 flamers and a demo charge, this is a cheap suicide assault unit that can run up and seriously blunt and attack, they will most likely die and stand a good chance of dying to their own charge, but that's ok they are only 6 guardsmen. The other way I have seen is to take them with 2 meltas and a demo, this is another good load out as you can have a nice little tank destroyer squad and use bring it down on them to ensure that demo charge hits, and the meltas too. This is another bang for your buck moment. And now you can jsut take three demo charges, throw them in a vendetta and drop a very big bomb on your opponent and cackle with glee. Marbo may be gone, but you can still get close to what he could do.
If you want to go the cheap route, three flamers or grenade launchers are a great option and are cheap, its a good way to add a random scoring unit that is low threat and will be forgotten about over the blobs and main infantry squads, but can still do damage in a pinch and be late game objective takers. Unfortunately they cannot join combined squads, so their weakness is simply their low model count, and if it is where you concentrated your special weapons, can be an easy target for your opponent.
This is also one of the few guardsmen squads that plasma guns can be considered on. With three they can do a lot of damage and still are not too expensive. Best to use them by throwing them in a transport first turn and zooming them off somewhere to kill stuff. In order to be effective with them though you need to get in rapid fire range as their middling BS still hurts them
For these guys, they work well and are best kept cheap, but if you are looking for a way to add cheap special weapons to your army they are a great choice. They cannot take a transport take that into account, but they can jump into someone elses chimera on turn one and use it as a battle taxi to roll up and flame a few squads. They are fun and decently priced so its up to you, I find that I can usually get the job done with special weapons in my blobs and vets, but these are another good option if you are looking for a relatively cheap way to add some special weapons in. Just steer clear of sniper rifles. With three demo charges, this is prob one of the most devastating choices you can go with and is a very high contender for special weapon squads.
Heavy Weapons Squads
Oh my favorite thing about IG is all the heavy weapons you can get, and here is where most of them reside. You can get 5 per platoon and they consist of 3 heavy weapons each. My only gripe is that they are T3 W2 model, which means its easy to lose the whole thing to one wound. Be careful, most clever opponents will realise this and if they start shooting autocannons or equivalent weapons at them, say goodbye as they will disappear quickly. The change to them is that they now start off at 45 and then you purchase the weapons, though in the end the points stay the same for the most part
They get the most expensive with lascannon squads which top out at 105 per. So the points can add up quick and its a key thing to keep your eye on when building your list. What you want to have is a good mix of anti infantry and anti tank. The main thing is you wan them to supplement your infantry squads and balance them out. If you are going anti tank go all in and get lascannons, with bring it down they can reliably kill most medium to light vehicles in one go. I would strongly recommend you get 2+ of them, they work very well with the high volume of fire and they will be a high target priority so you are going to lose some of them, having more will ensure you have enough fire to bring the whole game in spite of casualties.
For anti infantry you should consider mortars, they are the cheapest and have good utility for cost, but with the huge changes to barrage and with the wyvern competing, they are not as good as before. That being said, they are one of the few barrage weapons that you can give pinning with orders. That is not a small thing to consider, but pinning is so useful that you can hand that order out to a lot of units and get great utility. I have won so many games off these guys that I am sad that they are not as good as before. This really isn't due as much to the codex as to the changes in 7th. The wyvern is simply better, with the only reall advantage mortars have is that they can take orders. Other anti infantry choices include heavy bolter squads and auto cannons, both are good, I like heavy bolters for the 3 extra shots and for most infantry they can deal damage too. Autocannons are good for general purpose use, being good at infantry and vehicle hunting. Their weakness being lack of shots to be truly effective anti infantry killers. With the changes in codex and 7th, heavy bolters and autocannons are a superior choice when it comes to anti-infantry heavy weapons squads.
Now that the codex has flakk missiles, missile squads have a new utility that makes them quite useful. Two squads with flakk missiles add some good anti air firepower that you can hide in a bunker or good terrain to make use of them. And with tank hunters, they can still do a nice amount of HPs on a flyer. A pair of them is really useful to make up for BS 3 and with prescience not being as reliable as it was before.
For all heavy weapon squads I would say taking them in pairs is a must. That is where they work the best and you get the most use out of them. With BS 3 you are only getting 50% of your shots hitting, so in pairs you are essentially making up for the BS3 and guaranteeing that hit. No it doesn't work out that way all the time, but it is a good rule of thumb, plus I am of the mind that the more shots you have the better things are. For a good infantry heavy army you should be taking two anti infantry squads and two anti tank squads, giving you the need fire support.. Another thing to consider is they can take krak grenades, not most common to take them but it can be useful if they are charged by a dread or a MC, giving them a chance in the fight at least. Not critical but it is some food for thought as I have had it happen on a few occasions.
Really no big changes outside of flak missiles here, they are still great but have disadvantages of being easier to kill than in an infantry squad. I still like them, but they are not critical to take either. Where they work the best is in specialist roles like anti tank and anti air.
Overall the Platoon is better than ever, with units that weren't so good getting better and others not losing any real effectiveness. The loss of characters is saddening, but nothing that hurts you in game. Though I will miss Al Rahim and hope to see a supplement with him. What you really have is easy access to a shit ton of objective secured that is really cheap and can be kitted out to deal with almost any threat.
As always, comments and thoughts are appreciated and welcome.