A Thought occurred to me during the recent stalemate. Despite the poor performance of the Imperial Guard tanks against the floating Eldar one, it's now my opinion that the Imperial Guard tanks are some of the best in the game - as it should be! It's a constant irony, floating around the Imperial Guard blog sites that while the imperial guard are supposed to be the ultimate "tread-head" army, they actually have fewer variety of tanks available in 40k than SMurfs, Eldar, Chaos - well everyone really... This of course has been well addressed on the Imperial Guard's true calling - Apocalyse - but the variety of tank hunting and anti infantry tanks are remarkably small in standard 40k.
With this point established, why am I arguing that Imperial guard tanks are the best? Well it comes down to two simple points:
RETURN OF INVESTMENT
The Imperial Guard have some remarkably fearsome and ridiculously cheap (points wise) tanks like the Basalisk and Hellhound which are frequently voted the most feared on online polls. Here's my top three.
Hellhound: At 115pts, or 130pts with a heavy stubber and smoke, the hellhound is a bargain. Why would you want to take three Sentinels as a fast attack option? Take three hellhounds and watch every army sweat. Even Smurfs should beware as these boys are the ultimate entrenchment killer, and with the new rules on cover and objectives, the inferno cannon rules. Just a note, take at least two.
Chimera: Under the new rules, who wouldn't want to field a chimera, bring one with the stormtroopers, the command squad and the armoured fist unit. Oh blow it, take mechanised and have a ball. At 100pts for a multilaser (useful light anti vehicle weapon) a heavy bolter (or heavy flamer, hmm the choices?) a heavy stubber (dakka dakka) and smoke, the Chimeras formed a hedge of mobile pillboxes. Don't forget that your armoured fist crew can also fire from the top deck of this platform, giving you extra punch on the move and fire grounds - definitely a job for the vets toting a autocannon. That's 11 shots of S4-S8 on a hundred point tank and 8 shots on the move - rock and roll. Oh, and did I mention that the Chimera is the luckiest tank in the game? No, try and kill one then - just like the evil dead, they JUST WON'T DIE?!?
Basalisk: S9 AP2 pieplates from hiding, who wouldn't wanna? Pick your spot carefully and make the opponent sweat. Rubbish in the open but hellish in cover, this beauty is for the true howitzer connoisseur.
Skimmers: Anyone else noticed all the non essential "wings and things" hanging off Eldar vehicles? After playing my last battle against the Guard, one thing played true, despite the whole board being littered with cover, it's now impossible to hide a skimming vehicle. Line of Sight (LOS) being so essential to the new rules, there is nowhere to hide for the fearsome skimmers. Put simply, the previous bow-wave benefit has been downgraded to a 5+ save, but trying to hide a skimmer is impossible. They're too high to even register for level one cover and poke up quite happily over level two. Any heavy weapon team or battle tank with a slight elevation robs all Eldar tanks of hiding anything but their ridiculous tailcoats, in essence - just don't bother. This is generally ok for falcons with holofields, but for wave serpents it makes things tricky and for jetbikes its a pain in the posterior.
Imperial Armour: For Imperial Guard the options are better. The Leman Russ still packs the most punch for it's modest size, and behind a level one cover it can still count a 4+ or 5+ save. With the battle cannon in full array it can squeeze out any shots to it's frontal armour only, and it can still drop a pie plate on your head. The Chimera and Russ based variants all succeed in the following format:
- Short: offering excellent turning ability as well as exploiting "hiding" ability from elevated opponents. NB: Always model a Chimera chassis with a plow, it looks great and gives you an additional 1" onto the table when your reserve charge begins. Long Eldar tanks are very vulnerable to elevated fire and find it hard to hide.
- Wide: No, really this is a benefit, because the more width you have the more likely the enemy are to hit your tougher frontal armour. This means that a well supported battle tank or troop transport has better then even odds to make it. Plus when (not if) your hellhound is destroyed, you've gained a nice big pillbox to run around.
- Armament: Ok so the Guard aren't the best shots, but its quantity not quality which dominates the battle front. Guard can chuck out enough high strength pie plates to make an Avatar blink. Just don't forget your heavy stubber, hunter killer missiles and smoke. At 22 points, why not?
- Capacity: 12 in a chimera. Ok so we haven't got a falcon or landraider, but am I bothered, at 100pts, nah!
- Toughness: I bring this to the table last because it is often overlooked. But we have a cheap (ish) AV14 tank armed with a S10 AP1 weapon? Errm, the defence rests?
The fifth edition rules have balanced up many parts of play, the risk of drop troops and infiltrators flanking has increased remarkably, but vehicle survivability has pushed into new realms. The guard may not have the widest variety of tanks (in 40k normal anyway), but a new codex should put paid to that (Due either Christmas 2008 or July 2009). They may not have the Landraiders ridiculous all round armour. But they do have a selection of very cost effective tanks which all complement the roles of each other, each is unique and plays very differently. And after field a wave serpent, a falcon and a fire prism in the last battle I had to ask - what's the difference except price?
They all have the same armour armour values, their weapons, while various were a mishmash of choices, they were all alright at troop killing and alright at antitank (well ok, thanks to my rolls absolutely awesome!), they all floated about with the same movements available. And were, well, a little monotonous to play. Don't get me wrong, they were remarkably effective - but not very interesting.
With Eldar, the mini's are varied and complex - interrelated and interesting. The tanks a bit dull.
For Imperial Guard the reverse is true. The troops are uniform, the tanks are great fun.
Give me Guard.