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    Guard Tactics 101

    The Harbinger

    Posts : 13
    Join date : 2010-11-20
    Location : The Immaterium

    Guard Tactics 101

    Post  The Harbinger on Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:00 am

    I've been an avid Imperial Guard player for years (Imperial Guard: We're Born to Die!) and have noticed that far too many players have clung to the old mantra . . . "Gun Line". While we've all seen the Psychic Battle Choir and Leaf Blower lists, I'm here to talk about several other key choices for the guard, several do's and dont's, and the possible future of Guard armies in the face of the upcoming Grey Knight's codex. Over the next several weeks, I'll be adding to this discussion and explaining the options for Imperial Guard armies in defeating the heretic, the mutant, or the xenos.

    Old Gun Line
    Gun Line was the staple in 4th addition before the changes to Army Doctrines, heavy weapons teams, deep striking junior officer squads, expensive transports and limited vehicle options. A traditional gun line . . . even a hybrid traditional gun line simply runs the risk of being overwhelmed with the overall move toward more mobile mechanized infantry that we see throughout the new codices. A drop pod based Space Marine unit can now field more drop pods and simply lay down that many more flame templates on your troops. Worse, they can field that many more melta guns on the table. More importantly, with two-thirds of all missions being objective based, a static line is hard pressed to do it's job while still having time to claim key points on the board. The new paradigm is to adopt a more mobile Guard list that utilizes speed and special weapons over it's heavy weapons. Such a move is reinforced by the drastic lowering in point cost of Chimeras and the introduction of Valkyries and Vendettas.

    Heavy Weapons were the backbone of any old school 4th addition Gun Line. However, they have lost a significant portion of their punch as they have been defined as a single model with two wounds. Any double strength weapon (Strength 6+) simply insta kills them. No longer is a heavy weapon team 6 wounds against double strength weapon but only 3 wounds. Yes, we can hide them in terrain (which means opponents spend a few extra shots to force a morale test or still simply obliterate them) or place them in Chimeras but that has problems of it's own (to be discussed later). In addition, with the removal of sharp shooter the overall effectiveness of such units has drastically dropped. It is true that command squads can issue orders that boost their effectiveness but that requires baby-sitting them. In the end, the teams are simply too fragile and/or eat up too many points for something that lost some of its combat effectiveness. This doesn't mean that a heavy weapons team shouldn't be taken, but that the way an Imperial Guard player uses them, places them and thinks about them needs an adjustment.

    The loss of Combat Doctrines has proved a major problem as well. The traditional Gun Line relied on several key doctrines that no longer exist: mainly Close Order Drill, Drop Troops, and Sharpshooter. Close Order Drill, in combination with the way in which Vox Casters used to work, meant that the majority of Imperial Guard armies were less likely to fail a morale test from shooting than Space Marines. We could literally take a beating, pull regular troopers, and leave the Vox, the special weapon and one wound on the heavy weapon barely diminishing the unit's firepower potential (losing 70% of a squad and not fleeing as Guard is something to behold). Likewise, it allowed us to at least add a casualty or two to I4 units when we were charged as our squads struck simultaneous with the enemy (every wound wears down your opponent that much more). Equally important was the inclusion of drop troops. Strong Gun Line armies used Junior Officer platoons as a deep striking counter-punch. Nothing is more frustrating than eating 9 plasma gun shots as a Terminator or Obliterator squad from a 90 point unit. It also forced your opponent to often fire away from your main gun lines to deal with annoyingly small squads that even as they fled back toward your table edge (from a shooting phase) could still cause serious damage. It was even better if you had to force them to charge away from your main lines (oh well, now I have an extra round of shooting pirat). Sharpshooter was equally key because it gave every squad in your army 3.5 BS for the low price of 10 points per unit. Who didn't want heavy bolters that could re-roll ones? I can't tell you how many times Sharpshooter turned ordinary Guard las-cannons into death dealing machines of carnage. The removal of all three has dealt Gun Line armies a serious blow that I'm not convinced can be overcome at a tournament level or even in stiff casual play.

    Gun Line also limits your ability to flood the field with cheap, reliable transport vehicles, which are required for winning current objective games, without sacrificing heavier vehicle choices, which Gun Line desperately relied upon. The staple of any Gun Line was to simply blow your opponent off the table in the first three turns and then, if needed, march forward to claim enough objectives to win (this was also bolster by deep striking troop choices). With the current vulnerability of Gun Line and the potentially shorter length of games (turn 5 conclusions), Guard players do not have the time left to move across the table.

    Finally, Gun Line was simply not fun for your opponent (trust me, I've been cursed out more than once for statically sitting and shooting a close combat army off the table before it can ever actually charge). All in all, the old model is no longer viable. Gun Line is dead and Imperial Guard players need to recognize it as such. Having said that, the new FAQ ruling on transports may revitalize a "Hybrid" Gun Line as transporting troops in fast vehicles has become significantly more dangerous.

    Next Week I will talk about unit selection and some strengths, weaknesses and myths of Imperial Guard units.

    Week 2
    If old Gun Line
    is dead, what does that leave us with? Before we answer that, the best option is to review the codex with units its units and their various uses.

    Psychic Battle Choir: The Psychic Battle Choir is currently the frontline standard for tournament Imperial Guard lists. While the potential to throw around pieplates of doom is handy, their real utility lies in the ability to force units to fall back by making enemy squads Ld 2. Even units with They Shall Know No Fear can still be pushed back and buy your squads an extra round of shooting (then simply keep one of your own squads within 6 inches of them and they never rally). This is particulary handy for targetting units that are sitting dangerously close to deployment zones. Remember, the negative Ld modifier sits on the target even if it is testing on another model's Ld value (think of the Ld modifier to close combat). With multiple Battle Choirs sitting on the field, the enemy has to contend with multiple units falling back after every shooting phase. However, the squad is fragile and requires some form of "baby sitting". The most versatile answer is to simply place them in a Chimera, providing them with both physical protection and mobility.

    Last edited by The Harbinger on Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:19 am; edited 4 times in total

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