Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Astra Militarum Tactics: Leman Russ Battle Tanks

Ah and now its time for the last one, the Leman Russ.  Though really this is more than one tank, its the unit that rolls it all together.  The leman russ variants are some of the best heavy armor in the game and when used right can steamroll any opposition.  There really aren't any bad choices, though there are better ones.  How you want to see your leman russ squadron function is critical to deciding what you are going to take in that squadron.  Even though the tanks are ponderous, they can be brutally effective and great in just about any army.
For the guard players unfamiliar with the leman russ, it is a nice big tank.  It has AV14 front, 13 side, and rear ten, with three variants having rear 11, but I'll get to them later.  It has 3 HPs, is BS 3, and is a heavy tank.  This has a few affects to it.  The first is that they can only move 6".  The second is that they can always fire all their weapons, whether they moved or not.  There is one exception to this though and that is ordnance weapons, which cause other weapons to fire as snap shots.

 Upgrade wise, the leman russ variants can swap their hull heavy bolter for flamer for free, or a lascannon for 10pts.  They can also take side sponsons, heavy flamers are 10, bolters 20, multi meltas 20, and plasma cannons 30.  They have access to all the vehicle equipment, of which a dozer blade is not a bad choice, camo netting is great for the long ranged variants.  Fire barrels are good as CC is the best way to kill leman russes so it gives them good protection. 

The first is the trusty ole LR MBT.  At 150pts she is not the cheapest nor most expensive, sitting just about the middle of the variants pts cost.  Its armed with a Battle cannon, which is 72" range, S 8 AP3, ordnance large blast.  Because it is ordnance, that means other weapons will snap fire.  Really this isn't that big of a deal.  You keep this guy stock, keep the heavy bolter and just run with that.  While the some of the others are cheaper base, once you start upgrading they often end up more than the MBT, so its a great choice for fielding AP3 large blasts that can still put a hurt on vehicles and infantry alike without a large investment.  I like these in squadrons of twos or threes, just to lay down large blast love.

Tactics wise, the MBT is good starting back, using its long range to punch targets, and then move forward later, slowly advancing.  Its hard to go wrong with them as they can threaten just about anything, even occasionally glancing a land raider.  Use them to put pressure on your opponent and draw them away from your infantry.  These are also one of the best backfield objective holders, they can sit back and pummel just about anything and be extremely hard to remove without significant firepower or CC flankers.  The MBT is one of the better generalists, not great at anything, but can deal with just about any situation you have.

The demolisher is the next old one that has been around for many years.  It is one of the most expensive now at 170.  It is one of few leman russ variants that has rear armor 11, which is a nice boost as their rear armor is one of the leman russ's biggest weaknesses.  It has a demolisher cannon which is S 10 AP 2 with 24" range, large blast, ordnance.  Like the leman russ MBT, keep this bare, maybe swap the standard heavy bolter for a heavy flamer, but again its best not to add points to this one.  The Demolisher cannon will do more than enough work. 

Because of the high cost of the tank, its often left by the side for other tanks, which is understandable.  But it is still a good tank and has its place when used right.  Its a line breaker tank, and while being a heavy tank slows it down, it still is best when moving aggressively.  This works well because it will draw fire away from the rest of your army as it moves up putting out large S10 blasts. Its 24" range is short, but will usually have little trouble finding targets, and rarely is there a target that its cannon is wasted on.  I wouldn't go with too many demolishers though, as its high cost is a bit of a draw.  It works well in a squadron of eradicators, where they can deal with medium infantry in cover and the demolisher can support them when they run into heavier infantry.  If you throw lascannons on the eradicators, they can also deal with vehicles and the demolisher delivers the knock out blow.  A pair of demolishers is good as well for a hard hitting punch to drive into your opponents line. 

The demolisher is a good tank that brings the hardest punch of any of the leman russes, but its short range does require careful placement and smart maneuvering.  It won't be a mainstay, but throw a couple in and they will bring the pain and take hits.  I like it, and its a good thing to consider if you are looking for the high strength attacks.

Now that the ordnance tanks are done, its on to the rest, the first being the Eradicator.  It has the standard leman russ stat line and has the Eradicator Nova Cannon.  It is a 36" range S6 AP4 Large blast, ignores cover.  The best part is that it got a huge drop in pts and only costs 120 base.  This is dirt cheap for AV14 front armor.  If you are looking to bring some heavy armor and don't want to break the bank, this guy is a great choice.  It can deal with medium infantry and ignores cover so its  great for that, and even at S6 it can still deal with vehicles.  Depending on how you kit it out it can deal with a lot of situations. 

I would say though, avoid going crazy on the upgrades, its a great cheap tank, you can put too much on it and not get the return on investment.  At its cost its one of the best for bringing lots of armor, remember IG is about quantity not quality.  For me the first upgrade though would be a lascannon, to give it some extra punch targeting light vehicles.  I wouldn't try and turn it into a tank hunter, the lascannon helps it deal with targets that its main gun can deal with and give it an extra shot to help out, plus can deal with tougher infantry.  This becomes more apparent once you add more to the squadron.  A squadron of three with lascannons can deal with just about every threat and will murder any medium and light infantry and with three S6 large blasts can cover a lot of ground.

As already stated, the Eradicator works well with demolishers, and it also works well with the executioner (plasma death tank).  Really it works well with any of the blast/large tanks, and still works great with the anti infantry tanks as well.  The Exterminators are another good tank to pair with, as the other is better at dealing with vehicles, and the other can hurt infantry in cover.  They supplement each other and make for a very balanced squadron. 

With a 36" range, the tank doesn't have to get too close, but its not going to be able to sit back either.  It works well in concert with other units to make up for its short comings.  Mounted vets work very well here, either to deal with heavy infantry with plasma guns, or tanks with melta guns.  This also works as objective clearers, using the eradicators to kill whats on the objective, with the infantry dropping out to take it.  You can throw heavy flamers on the eradicators to give them additional anti infantry fire, though it will limit how much they will be able to use that weapon.  Overall they are a good cheap heavy tank that can fit into a lot of roles if supported.

The Exterminator is one of my old favorites.  It has its special autocannon, which is 4 shots twin linked.  And its only 130 pts.  Its another great cheap tank that you can pile three together and just go hunting.  You can add a lascannon to help with vehicles or keep the heavy bolters and add side sponsons for some serious anti infantry fire power.  I love this tank just for its reliability.  It hits a lot and works great in numbers, where the shots really start adding up.  While the punisher can put out more shots, the Exterminator can deal with a lot more threats.  They are great for dealing with wave serpents and other medium and light vehicles and can even deal with air threats in a pinch.

This is a tank that I like to keep simple, it doesn't need a whole lot of extras, throw a lascannon or some more heavy bolters on it and call it good.  I like the lascannon as it helps with light vehicles, and the heavy bolters are great for adding fire against infantry.  Its a multi role tank, so its best to keep that in mind and let it fit into that role.  You can throw an executioner in with two exterminators to give the squadron some punch against heavy infantry.  They also work great with Pask in a punisher as the other two tanks in his squadron.  Otherwise I would say they are a great tank that can answer a lot of problems that you have and do it cheap but will do better if you throw a few extra weapons on them.

The Punisher is the other anti infantry tank, and it is one of the tanks that has rear armor 11.  Otherwise same leman russ stats.  Its gun is the punisher cannon, its a 24" S5 AP- Heavy 20 gun.  Its 140pts, not bad, but its not the cheapest either.  I like this tank better in the tank commander role, as it makes great use of BS 4 on this tank.  That being said, throwing a couple of these into the same squadron will just mow infantry down.  A full squadron can really bring a lot of pain to infantry squads.  This one is honestly fine left as is, it doesn't get as much from upgrades as some of the other tanks, other than swapping the heavy bolter for a heavy flamer as it is going to be getting close to the enemy.

This tank is a specialist, its job is to kill hordes of infantry, and it does that well.  Works great in a pair and just go hunting infantry.  Its a pretty straightforward tank as it can't hurt a whole lot of other things.  It can bring pain on MCs through the number of shots it has.  I would recommend supporting this tank/s with prescience to get as many shots in as possible.  Its not required but really pays off.  I like this tank, its not my personal choice, but is still really good, though I think its better in the Tank Commander role than the standard squadron role.

The Vanquisher is one of my favorites and is another specialist tank.  It kills other tanks.  It has the same leman russ profile and is armed with the vanquisher battle cannon which is 72" range S 8 AP2 Heavy 1, armorbane, and the tank comes in at 135pts.  It is really good a penetrating armor, it rolls 2D6 for penning so it is not hard to hurt just about any vehicle in the game.  You want to add a lascannon to it to help it with tank hunting.  You can really go anti tank and add multi meltas on it, but it starts to add up fast.  I would keep it simple.

The Vanquisher works best in pairs or in threes, with lascannons.  It is one that needs a good position in your back field with good fields of fire.  It shouldn't need to move a whole lot.  I will say that having a psyker to give prescience is also a very important thing.  It adds a lot to the units reliability.  They can pretty much eliminate a vehicle a turn when supported this why and are also great a killing monstrous creatures.  They are other wise a very simple tank to use.  They don't really play well with others so I would keep them in units and not mix and match.  Keep them in the back and start killing tanks and MCs.  They are very good in that role.

And the last is the Executioner, or I like to call it, the Plasma Death Tank.  It got a huge price drop and is now 155pts, which is great.  It has the Executioner plasma cannon, which is basically a 3 shot plasma cannon.  So 36" S7 AP2 heavy 3 blast, gets hot.  Gets hot isn't too bad here, as you have to roll a 1, and then 1-3 a second time to actually lose a hull point.  So the risk is there, but not as high as it seems. 

Its a great tank to bring AP2 for a great price.  Personally I like to add a lascannon, and usually thats it.  If I am only bringing one tank, then I would add plasma cannon side sponsons.  If I am bringing multiples then I would not and stick to their main guns.

Two of these can do a lot of damage and are great for just about any target.  They can put out enough shots to threaten MCs, light vehicles and of course heavy infantry.  They are a big target though and will need protection, as your opponent will go after them.  I love these tanks though and would always consider them as a possible unit to bring.

Overall there isn't a bad tank here, they each have strengths and weakness and will do well in the right role.  The biggest thing to always consider is that their main weakness is close combat. They are heavy up front, but weak in back and it doesn't take much to pop them in CC.  So protect them and don't get to careless when CC units start to close.  Anything with krak grenades is a real threat to them, so keep that in mind.  Otherwise they are great tanks and work great in the current game.



  1. I love the Leman Russ! All of 'em! Have you tried kitting out the Exterminator with esxtra tank-killing power - lascannon and sponson multimeltas?

  2. The nice thing about the large blast ordnance on the tried and true armor pens. Makes it extremely effective at pretty much anything but AV14.

  3. Leman russ is the star of the new codex in my opinion!HQ option(1 heavy slot free and tough to kill warlord),points drop and has SO many optionn it can face everything.Combine with prescience and techpriest for extra cheese.

  4. Haven't tried it in 7th yet, but I've always found running two LR MBTs and a Demolisher as a squadron works very well, two good shots all game with some extra punch when you close. Granted you don't always get all three shots off if there isn't a close enough target, but when there is, it's pretty much dead.

  5. Right now Im running Pask in a punisher w lascannon and multicmelta sponsons w 2 exterminators w las/multimeltas... As well as an executioner. I absolutely love it. I still like the mbt for sentimenal reasons... Just wish theyd fix ordnance on heavies. Thatd make em great

  6. I ran a punisher last game supported by melts vets and a techpriest. The punisher had sponson multi-meltas, power of the machine spirit directed the turret fire @ entrenched fire warriors while the MMs spat hot death at skimmers and battle suits. I really enjoy running sponsons that fill another role and accompanying the Russes with Techpriests to direct the turret weapons. Also a way of getting around ordnance snap firing.

  7. Even in the old codex I loved the Executioner and still do. You put Pask with it and holy crap! Large blast S7 AP2 this is the bane of all infantry and little tanks. I remember killing a 10 man squad of Space Marines and a 5 man squad of Terminators with this beast of a tank in a game not so long ago.
    But saying all that I just love plasma weapons. Real plasma guns not the Tau versions ;)

  8. Punisher gattling gun: 20 rounds.
    3 heavy bolters: 9 rounds.
    Heavy stubber: 3 rounds.
    3 punishers in a sqn: 96 rounds total ...

    Ork players worst nightmare.

    1. Unless the ork player brings a dread mob, and the punisher fellow realizes he can't even glance the rear of the gorkanauts with it! (This actually happened in our game!) Punisher killed a grot squad, then had nothing to shoot at the entire game.

  9. I'm only recently starting with playing imperial guard. These kinda guides help a lot to get a good idea of the units and their roles :). I was thinking of a frontline assault with a steel wall of tanks up front and vets or regular guardsmen following behind. Sentinels to support the flanks or scouts to attack from the sides and a decent amount of stormtroopers for taking down key targets. Perhaps build towards some sort of blitzkrieg tactic if I expand with death korps including the siegedrill with engineers. I'm not sure how to set things up though. Any tips? Much appruciated!