Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Starting an Astra Militarum Army: Armored Army Core

Ok I talked about building a general core for your imperial guard army, but as I mentioned this really didn't apply to an armored one. The tank based army is significantly different so its core is much different and how you should start building. Your end state is to have a lot of tanks that can function as a nearly whole army and fight effectively. To do so your going to have to start somewhere.

Your basic core is again going to revolve around your HQ and minimum troop choices. Here though it varries from other IG armies. Obviously your HQ choice is going to be a Tank commander. When it comes to choosing which russ to take, it comes down to user preference. I am fan of vanquishers, some are punisher fans. Just keep in mind that you want to take advantage of BS4 and the orders, notably split fire being the most used. A vanquisher command squadron is good as you can have the commander shoot at one tank, and the other two target another. To start off with though you can get away with only two tanks in the command squadron.

Weapon wise you want the two tanks to be similar or the same. The point is to be still able to threaten the same targets and at the same time take advantage of being able to split your fire. Punishers and exterminators and executioners work well here. Being able to hit similar targets without losing effectiveness and still being able to split their fire effectively as well. The goal is to have a unit that is not too specialized, with only a few exceptions. The main one is with vanquishers. If you are going to have a tank hunting unit, then you are taking three and they are very good at it and can still pop armor with AP2.

The next part is going to be your troops base, some may call it a tax. I would encourage you to not look at it that way as they are very useful and best to not simply be ignored before moving to more tanks. Here you really do not want to take platoons. Simply because they will take up too much models and points once things start adding up. What you want is 2-3 veteran squads in chimeras or tauroxes. The choice between the two is minimal and really up to what you like. Tauroxes are a little cheaper so have that slight advantage if you are looking at keeping points lower. Chimeras are slightly more durable and have more firepower. Most time tauroxes will do fine, but I would lean towards chimeras.

The vet squads are your clean up crew and close protection. They are good so don't feel like you have to purchase the base unit and pass on. They are prefect for protecting your tanks from dangerous units. Since they are going to be mounted, you don't need three special weapons. My advice is to purchase two and then move on to the rest of your army and then come back and take the third if you still have points. A plasma squad is very good here for dealing with tough targets that are moving on your tank line. A heavy flamer is good, as well as melta guns, though not as much as this army will generally be fine dealing with tanks. The vet squads need to be mobile and capable of dealing with priority threats. Most times I would recommend plasma guns on them as they are very useful. When it comes to doctrines, they can be very good, but make sure they fit into your army and you aren't sacrificing points on a leman russ.

The last part of your core is a normal leman russ squadron. To start with two tanks is what you are looking for. Here you want a solid all rounder and the LR MBT is not a bad choice, yeah ordnance hurts them but your still are thowing S8 AP3 large blasts around and there are few things they won't hurt. Vanquishers are great as well if you didn't take any in your command squadron. What you want is to fill a role that your army is missing. Generally go with anti tank or infantry. Based off what you chose to go with for your command squadron, the standard russ squadron should supplement them by being able to perform in a different role. So if your command squadron is anti infantry focused, your standard one should be anti tank focused or vice versa.

What your core should look like is 4 leman russes and two vet squads in chimeras/tauroxes. This gives you a solid base to add more tanks to, as well as supporting units to fill in the gaps in your armored force. Hope this helps and gives you a good start.


  1. Nice post as all ways. I have always been a fan of the Leman russ executioner as am I am a plasma nut and when I saw, what you could do with pask now with that super shot I had a smile from cheek to cheek. Plus the points reduction for it I think it will be a lot more used tank. The tanks in the new codex I think really got some loving imperial steel I'm loving it.

  2. Nice one! I can totally relate. One of the things I like about the new IG codex is the Tank Commander. I run 9 Russes, 2 Chimera w 20 vets and a Hydra in my 1850 tank themed army. Command Squad is for tank huntng, with 2 Vanqs and an Exterminator (not really tank hunter, but he fits in). I have an anti-infantry squadron made up purely of "assault" (rear AV11) tanks - Exterminator, Punisher, Demolisher. And a general-purpose squadron of 3 standard Russes (just the battle cannon and hull heavy bolter). The Hydra has camo-netting. Didn't have much points left over for the vet infantry, and they each get 2 flamers to help them do their work with clearing ruins for the tanks. One of the Chimera also has a hull heavy flamer.

  3. Vanquisher HQs, Vets in Chimeras and other LR in the heavy slot is pretty obvious. You are looking at ~800 to 1000 points here. You'll probably want tech marines to keep your LRs alive because your playing kind of an elite army here (low model count). Another option would be camo nets and an aegis for your hq squadron. Because cover saves are the only real layer of security between your AV value and the enemies weapons. And sure they are costy

    But lets adress some problems here as you need to build an all comers list:

    - Flyers: If you take an aeigs defence line you can have the autocannon for 50 but need a crew for it. Vets are good for 60pts and BS4 but are only 10 dudes. All other sitting in vehicles, these are the first to die of small arms fire, having no other targes. Or you take (shitty) hydras, which complement fine with the rest of your armored company.

    - Drop Pods / DS units / cavellery / beasts / necron phantoms / scarabs will ruin your day no matter what. Even if you have 2 hellhounds or such. If you take vets you can't have those cheep recruits to bubble wrap your tanks. And good luck driving away from phantoms or my nemesis dread knight or an horde of angry orks which are hitting your rear armor. Major problem.

    - How much hurt are you going to deal out. Vanquisher plus las is tank only. Against jink and with BS3 mostly, cover here and there you won't kill that many vehicles. MSU will be a problem because of target saturation. You are lacking a body of troops shooting autocannons and such in rhinos and such. Its vanquisher shoots (overkill) or pie plates - coming to the next point, killing infantry.

    - Taking standard LR for being allrounders is a viable argument. But... you gonna need horde control. May it be 50+ orks or guardsmen, zombies, cultists, kroots, or even heavy infantry like marines. If your enemy is clever (and he will be after 1-2 games with am pie plates) you'r gonna kill 2-3 models with the battle cannon (2'' spacing) which is pretty unimpressive. And some more with snap shot bolters. Or you take eradicators but can't deal with transports...

    Long story short, I badly want to play heavy mech armies with the new AM codex. But you need backup to cover your holes and mech vets don't cut it.Not when your enemy is sending his army across the board in 1-2 turns. AV14 is nice and such but damage output is low. And with maelstrom missions you are facing alot of problems - your vets will die pretty quick, even or because of being mounted in chimeras.

    How you gonna deal with these problems?

    - Best Friend Tabitha

    1. Well first off this article was meant to give people a starting point, not the full army.
      A tank company is a harder army to play in that there are lot of counters to it. That being said you can build your army to do well and deal with a lot of threats. AA is the biggest one and here you have two options, one is to take two hydras, yeah they are not as great as before, but they are still cheap and still kill flyers. Other option is two leman russ exterminators, giving you 8 TL autcannon shots, and if they have HBs, they can shoot those at weaker flyers as well. They work in a pinch.

      For an armored army, the quad gun is not as cost effective, its easy to kill and it forces you to leave a squad on it to be useful, leaving them in the open to die. To create standoff you want to bring cheap units like scout sentinels or armored and rough riders, they can move forward, protect your flanks, and engage units that are threatening your tanks. Supporting them with vets gives you enough to mass on critical targets. You don't have to kill everything.

      Also 2 vets is the minimum, not the max. If you don't care about doing a themed army, then taking platoons is fine, but this is more about taking a themed armored army.

    2. If you want to build an themed army you can go unbound. Otherwise your themed army has to handle some threads or you will be disappointed - even if you value fluff above efficiency.


    3. Yeah but you don't need to. I've run an armored army with vets, faced a DP army and necrons and beat both. An army can have weakness and still perform very well as long as you know them and mitigate them on the board. You do not have to have a combined arms force to have a good army.

  4. I recently used a tank company themed army in a 2000pt game. Tank Commander in Vanquisher with second Vanquisher, Tank Commander in Executioner with Exterminator, 2 Infantry platoons, one with 25guards second with 35guards - neither had any upgrades, Devildog, 2 LRMBT, 2 Demolishers and 6 Rough Riders. Was facing Chaos with Terminator Lord, 5 Terminators in a Land Raider, 2x10CSM in Rhinos, Sorcerer, Predator, Helbrute, Forgefiend, 5 bikes and 5 Warptalons . At the end he had one champion left, I still had 15 guards and 7 Leman Russ. I also won on victory points.

    1. Good job mate. Rough Riders aren't that impressive in my opinion but fill a very important niche as countering fast melee / close combat units. But their lances are AP 3 right? How did you kill them terminators assaulting out of the LR?

      Another suggestion I read those days:
      Instead of Vanquishers use Executioners for your tank commander warlord. Tank commanders roll on half the warlord table and you get rerolls when going battle forged. You want to get preferred enemy ("old grudges") for the tank commander and his unit (a second Executioner maybe). Take some plasma sponsons to maximize the effect.
      Sure there is a chance that your (re)roll the 'wrong' traits'. But AP2 / AP3 weapons are a lot less common (or very expensive) in our codex now, and AV14 tanks are a solid base.

      - Get reliable plasma weapons when facing 2+ / 3+ armies (Marines of all kind)
      - Maximize Rerolls for more weapons/shots (when taking sponsons) than with vanquisher cannon + las
      - Squadrons shooting is better because of scatter instead of BS3. Sure BS4 is wasted on the commander than but it is just one tank.

      - Unreliable as you have to roll for it
      - AT has to come from other elements of your army (not a problem when using vendettas, las-blobs, las-sentinels or even Vanquishers in the heavy slot)
      - Split fire order less effective than on two vanquishers.
      - Shorter thread range (36'') than vanquisher and lascannon

      Overall I think you choice has to be made on army composition and enemy. If you are facing less heavy armored vehicles and more monsters, terminators, marines, HQ Executioners might be a good answer. Hell they even pop rhinos and chimeras with 5 plasma shots and you get +1 on the chart for being AP2. Not bad huh?


    2. I used the Vanquishers to take out the Land Raider then melted the Terminators with my Executioner. The Rough Riders were in there because I finally finished them off and wanted to use them. They're good if you get the charge in against a small unit, wiped out remnants of a CSM squad, but after that they'd be better off getting away from combat. I lost the squad by charging into combat again against a tooled up Aspiring Champion, he killed 2 then the survivors ran off the board. They're only mounted guardsmen at the end of the day, very fragile.

  5. *writes down notes* Very useful. I know what to focus on for my IG detachment.

  6. I'm quite partial to a Pask Punisher command tank. Assuming he's your warlord, you get Preferred Enemy, and his Crack Shot means that not only do you have Rending on the gatling cannon shots, but you can re-roll Armor Penetration as well. As an all-rounder weapon that is a threat to everything on the battlefield the Punisher is an excellent choice. Even against AV14, you're 15-16 hits will give 4-5 Rends, and you might expect 1-2 Glances. Not bad for an "anti-infantry" weapon. Stick some multi-melta sponsons on for an anti-tank flavour, plasma cannons for anti-most things, and a lascannon hull-mount for giggles, and Pask is a beast.

    1. This. Pask is a freaking wrecking ball. I hadn't considered putting plasma cannons on him. I've typically run Multi-meltas, which is very much over-kill for most armour considering Crack Shot. With Preferred enemy you're re-rolling those 1's for Gets Hot, and against armour you can re-roll so the S7 doesn't hurt as much against light armour. The punisher cannon is typically enough to get the kill against most Armour anyways...

  7. Each game when i play with my guard i get at least 3 russes, i like using platoons with lots of arnour, it really works