Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Imperial Guard - Strengths and Weaknesses

By Suneokun.

Further to Ron at FromTheWarps request for Imperial Guard posts, I've felt inspired to have one last look back over the performance of our outgoing codex over the last two Editions of W40k.

So please feel free to browse my analysis of the outgoing Imperial Guard codex, with some potential insights, gripes and suggestions.

Codex: Imperial Guard - a codex review.

This Codex was really born out of a surprisingly revelation to the GW ranks. This is plainly clear in how unprepared they were to release this codex. For example, look at the variety of models or the number of tanks available in this codex compared to the launch of say, the Orks or the two Space Marine itterations between then and now.

Codex: Imperial Guard was released as a 'ground tester' for a new unproven army. Anyone looking back through old copies of White Dwarf can see the woefully expensive beginning of the Imperial Guard in the beautifully detailed Cadian, Valhallan and Mordian metal models. But field a whole army of them? No thanks, my pockets aren't deep enough.

It was only with the release of the Catachan (and subsequently the Cadian) plastic boxsets that this codex really got underway. Beyond that, the selection of model choices or tanks was very limited.

Powered by its own formidable fluff, the undeniable 'Gaunt's ghosts' effect of Dan Abnetts work and some cracking models - gamesworkshop prepared to launch the Imperial Guard. But what they released as a minor quickly became a major leaguer to compare with the sales of Space Marines.

Inspite of being puny humans with rubbish flashlights and no morale and the tenacity of a small beetle, player chose a human army over all the nids, eldar, orks or superhumans available.

For the most part most guard players played guard exactly for this reason.

Playing Guard: 4th Edition.

There was often ongoing jokes about how Guard players really appreciated the wins, becuase they lost so much. In the confines of 4th Edition, with weaker vehicles, rubbish shooting skills, abysmal close combat and iniative, no cover saves (comparatively), consolidating 'roll up' close combat and negliable saving throws - Guard just sucked.

They were the gunline who'd left all the decent guns at home. Despite having counterassault units (Rough Riders and Ogyrns), they were either feeble one shots or so overpriced you were better off buying basic guard units and throwing them to the dogs...

Guard could only win via attrition or a 'surprise' factor, and then only with a good tailwind and some nice 4+ to hit rolls, and that was if they didn't kill your leaders - so why the weaknesses?

  1. Elites, what elites? The elites options in the Imperial Guard Codex are good, don't get me wrong - but they are very limited and anything that comes with fun toys is outrageously overpriced. Veterans are fun, but are essentially pricey speedbumps with a slightly higher BS. Stormtroopers are interesting, but need to spend even more points on deepstrike or infiltrate. Ratlings are well-priced and essential, Ogyrns and Techpriests - oh dear. While at Apolcalypse these models had their place, they were woefully outclassed in normal games. Especially when you consider the next problem...
  2. Doctrines - a brilliant concept, applied uselessly. The idea was similar to the 'buy Khan, get Smurf bikes as troops' idea. The concept was that through the use of doctrines you could 'personalise' your army, making it unique and surprising. The problem was that the cost was so high. Effectively, you could choose 5 doctrines. However if you used doctrines you automatically forfeited any decent unit in your codex. Anything from storm troopers to special weapon teams would require 'buy-back' to include, further reducing your choices. This led to enormously skewed army lists. Entire armies adopting 'Drop Troops' and dropping everything bar the tanks because its free. This is brilliant for the guard player - but ultimately dissapointing as the only way to win was by 'surprising' your opponent as your army was so second-rate.
  3. Sentinels - don't get me started on sentinels: see here
  4. Tanks - for a treadhead army, we often came incredibly light on tanks...
Anyhow I digress. In Fourth Edition we were the kicking boys of the armies... but things were about to change.

5th Edition Resurgence

The old Guard codex got buffed to a high shine by the new edition of Warhammer 40k. The better cover saves, true line of sight, template weapons scattering, tanks being tougher, running, non-consolidation into another unit AND more lethal combat (meaning your boys usually died in their turn and you can shoot them!), deployment rules, deep striking, and flanking all gave the Imperial guard options that never happened before.

Finally one single option dominated all, only Troops could capture objectives. Guard can do troops, guard can do troops really well.

So while the Tyranids suffered badly, the necrons withered and the Tau flummoxed - the Guard were resurgant and ranked 4th overall on the BoLs listing (even before the new codex). This listed them above Space Marines! Under the new rules only a few armies could stand toe to toe with guard for fire power, making the guard dominating.

New Codex thoughts...

With a new codex a bare few months away my palms are already itching. There are too many NEW options to really consider the technicalities of playing this army. The new codex, while adopting the same models and similar points values has exploded with multivarious options that truly astound!

Like the Space Marine or Ork Codex before it, with are moved from choosing a limited list and using it in an innovative way to being given a treasure trove of options and asked to sherry-pick the best options.

Guard have particularly benefitted from the continued sponsorship of ForgeWorld, without their guidance (like an independent film or music arm to a big enterprise) GW wouldn't have realised just what a following Guard have and given it its due. So what's for the future?

I wrote the following recently on the Imperial Guard Message Board, as a longtime member and contributor I'd recommend it as the first resource for all you budding Guard players out there.

Tell RollingThunder and AddictiveWoz I say Hi!


Re: IG Codex Leak
« Result #2 on Mar 25, 2009, 4:11pm »
[Quote] [Modify] [Delete]

The new codex appears to follow the ork and smurf codex's and provide an army to all comers. You can field 18 fast attack and heavy tanks alongside your chimera'd up grenadiers squads and command squad.

You can deploy a lightweight 'catachan-esque' infiltration force (using veterans etc) and upgraded Sentinels.

You can deploy 18 lightweight skimmers (9 Valkyrie in fast, 9 Vendetta in heavy) and flummox you enemy.

You can deploy the most troops your enemy has ever seen, ignore intervening squads in platoons and gain twinlink against antitank and antimonster, plus gain a free bladestorm for your lasguns.

You can deploy 9 usable 'light tanks' including anti-GEQ, anti-MEQ and anti-tank variants and completely dominate the close range. (BTW: I don't think NERFing the hellhound is a bad idea, the current Inferno cannon is one of the best in the game. Subsequently, few hellhounds survive beyond turn 2.)

Backed up by 9 indirect firing monster weapons.


What's your opinion?