Tuesday, 5 May 2009

OPINION: Digesting the new IG codex ... Infantry

By Suneokun.

I picked up the Imperial Guard codex on Friday... I've been reading it all weekend, trying to get my head around the changes... we'd been warned.

I'm fairly experienced with codex changes ... after all I've been into Warhammer since before the codex was invented and statsline were just released in WD - now THAT was a reason to buy the mag! The recent codex releases have been examples in point.

Codex: Orks

The new Ork codex release produced a bit of a stir, but it was still just a stir of the old material and codeci. Effectively, certain units had received a quick buffing (like Nob bikers), while other were simplified. Overall the Codex represented two distinct departures:
  1. Standardisation: relying on 5th Edition universal rules (like Feel No Pain or Stubborn) rather than 'special' army list specific rules...
  2. You can have everything ... at a cost. No longer would lists be restricted by selecting a particular 'flavour' of codex (Like Bad Moons/Deathskulls) - you could have anything in your 'deathskulls' army - it was up to you how fluffy you make it.
Codex: Space Marines

With the release of Codex Space Marines, another key ingredients came to the fore. The impact of the fifth edition rules was really biting, and this was feeding through to the codeci ... this resulted in the following two rules:
  1. Expansion of the Troops: No longer would troops be just a 'leftover' necessity. This was reflected in the space marine codex not so much in the troops themselves, but the pricing (tactical squads were made essential) and also the transport options...
  2. Balancing Act: in forth edition 'max-min-max' armies were rife. But different armies also played to certain flavours. IE: the army was only effective if ... space marines maxminmaxed or Imperial Guard gunlined... et cetera. This led to either very predictable or extremely weird builds...
So what's all this got to do with the new Codex, Suneokun?

Well, everything really. As some commentators have pointed out, the Imperial Guard Codex is the first 'true' 5th Edition Codex (although I think the other two above both had 5th Edition in mind). Before we get to the detail, it worth saying that it's a brilliant piece of work. Just like the Ork and Smurf codeci, it revels in the different elements of the Guard, presenting the armies in detail and offering exciting options. Just like the Space Marine codex, it offers the most options on the cadian and catachan armies (since these are the boxsets most widely available), but leaves things wide open with a special nod to 'characters' like the Rough Rider Mogul Kamir.

Balancing Act

Guard can be accused of one very common build under the previous codex ... castling up! The ability to field a tonne of heavy weapons has been guards staple, and this has led to a lot of 'heavy' armies, barracading their three 2 lemon rusks and a bassie lists behind a field of highly durable and highly lethal heavy weapon teams.

The new codex Nerf (an american term - to weaken and make soft) these units by combining the individual 6 man team (with 6 wounds) into 3 2 wound units) - suddenly all those autocannon, multilaser, scatter lasers and other weapons S6-7 will be gunning for instantkills on your heavy weapon team. A scatter laser will become a weapon of choice for the Eldar as a team of war walkers can kill an entire heavy weapons team with ease ... I'll get onto the tactics to prevent this in another post.

The focus of the writers and designers seems to be to move away from static guard armies towards a more aggressive footslogging footing. Ignoring shiny new toys like the Valkyrie, the Imperial Guard have gained awesomely in the mech division. The new Imperial Guard army is all about one thing - tanks. (As it ruddy well should be!)

Taking the fight ... to the enemy

First up, the Chimera is now cheap as chips at 55pts with all weapons and smoke. To add insult to injury the chimera is now the best mobile gun platform par excellance with a unit able to fire 5 of any weapon from the tank without it becoming open topped. This means that 'Chug Drive-by' will be the operation of choice. Also the Chimera acts as a 'mobile command post' meaning you juicy and valuable command squads can sit inside the Chug and batter down the hatches while actually expanding their 'sphere of influence' (orders range) by 3-4".

On to orders. These look like a lot of fun. None of the orders are game breaking, but a reroll to hit on antitank is nice, as is a reroll cover save roll (This looks fairly effective for guard, reducing the cover save from 50% saved to only 25%!) on high AP weaponry, this is a godsend and makes a mockery of gretchin bullet shields.

All the orders are focussed on making Guard more effective in close quarters (for the platoon commander) and long range (for the Company Commander). They won't work all the time, but with the application of a vox-caster, they should. The shorter ranges of these orders also means that commanders must run with the flock to get their full effectiveness.

Next up, the weapons options are tasty. Suddenly Heavy Flamers are available as a 'special weapon' option in both Command Squads and Veteran Squads. The Infantry Platoon is bristling with options, I personally cannot wait to try some of the orders out on a 30 man squad with heavy bolters and plasma ... oh and commissars.

Getting up close and personal: Special Characters and Squad Upgrades...

Out of all the special characters, only Creed and Kell is built for a "stand off and shoot 'em" command style. All the other named characters are similar to the upgrades available across the Smurf Codex as they significantly upgrade the unit they are with/Platoon they command/mini's they're standing close to.

First up are commissar's, these are an upgrade option for platoon command and infantry squads.. at first glance it looks like these models have taken a serious Nerf - they've lost a wound afterall... however on closer inspection the new price tag comes with a definite benefit, a one that pretty widespread... Commissar's give the unit they're with the 'stubborn' rule - meaning that they now ignore negative moral modifiers in close combat.

Ogyrns are stubborn too, combined with their T5 and furious charge - they are a lethal combination (although they cost as much as terminators!). For platoon command Squads, a stubborn commissar may be a blessing or curse (he'll still execute your valuable leader!), however stubborn plus Ld8 is a pretty tough combination. Plus if there's a Regimental Standard in the area - you get a reroll.

Iron Hand Straken is a close combat monster comparable with a broodlord (if he had a plasma pistol and a shotgun), with a 5 S7 I4 furious charge attacks, he ignores saving throws and rolls 2D6 for armour penetration! Oh and he is fearless and gives every unit within 12" counter attack and furious charge ... er buffed?

And he can take Nork Deddog (yey!) along with him ... who has FNP, stubborn and a strength 6 attack. I'm thinking Nork and Straken will be the anti Ork Warlord-Chaos Commander-Terminator option of choice?!

Harker and Lukas are cheap. The Catachan is a walking relentless BS4 heavy bolter platform that gives his veterans squad catachan devil bonuses (move through cover, infiltrate and stealth). While you cannot take Carapace armour if he's attached, you can take meltabombs and an additional Demolition charge (on top of the heavy weapon team and three special weapons, and harkers heavy bolter) ... ouch. Lukas bring his own orders to his vets squad - which gives you a reroll to hit with three plasma or melta guns - nice.

Sly Marbo is interesting, but I think he'll struggle just like Techpriest did to get on the FOC with so many other options. His best weapon on arrival is the demolition pack - but at 6" range it could be a really unlucky Marbo if it backfires and that's 65pts wasted...

Ratlings have lost their 'silly' go to ground rule (everybody can do it now), and they now run just as well at Ld6 (best put them next to Yarrick, or not), however they are a point cheaper...

Finally there's Yarrick. He's sat on the shelf a lot recently, however no more. He's the most expensive character (at twice the price of Creed or Straken), and rather than being an upgrade he's an independent character. That said he brings:
  • Yarricks unit is Fearless (blessing and a curse)...
  • All units within 12" of Yarrick are Stubborn...
  • Unit on charge with Yarrick gains reroll to hit (but not prefferred enemy, unfortunately).
  • All units within 6" of Yarrick use his leadership for pinning, leadership and orders tests.
  • He can move where he likes!
All this means that while the individual rules for Yarrick are nice and fairly useful (he's really hard to kill now, with a shot cancelling shield, saving throw, T4, Eternal Warrior and a 3+ FNP roll... he's a flank turning monster for transforming Guardsmen into psychopaths.

Special Weapon teams are now playing a much more central role, offering move and fire grenade launchers, three flamer anti horde options or even anti-tank melta death... combined with the twin-linked front lined orders.

In fact, everything in this army is a lot more assault orientated...

"I like to keep this handy ... for close encounters..."

The big news is that the stormtrooper have had a significant boost to their AP. All stormies can now get up close and personal and have a 9" assault weapon (hot-shot laspistol) and close combat weapon, giving them real close combat potential. The AP3 now means that the majority of armour classes are now unmade rather than being a paltry AP5... this combined with their two close combat weapon/firing charge option gives them huge potential. The new AP3 weapons are also a perfect completement to the plasma/melta combo's preferred in these units ... all good news.

However the big news should be this. Most Imperial Guard units are now automatically equipped with frag grenades. When combined with the propensity of 'stubborn' USRs and Ld8 Sergeants as standard, the guard are not to be sniffed at for staying power in close combat.

Veterans are another unit that benefits from frag grenades, and thankfully they've still got access to shotguns for assault goodness. One thing that is missing is their 'infiltrate' ability as standard. Veterans are now coming in with the other troops.

Penal Legion Squads... I'm not convinced by this one. Each of their upgrades are cute, allowing them to have 24" assault lasguns, furious charge, fleet or even two weapons and rending depending on a three way roll, but at 8pts each - they're pricey. That said they do come with scout as standard... and I love their 'rogue trader' nod ... I'd take one for fluff reasons if nothing else.

Techpriest Enginseer and Priests have become divorced from the FOC, and are now fairly handy. They've also done away with the Technical/Close Combat Servitor option and simply said that each Servo Arm has one S8 I1 no save attack in addition to their normal attacks. This means that 4 Servitors and a techpriest have 5 S8 attacks in close combat. I can see a lot of squads dropping their Heavy Bolters and Plasma Cannons and adopting this approach. Every servo-armed Servitor add +1 to the 5+ vehicle recovery roll. Plus the Techpriest is not an independent character, meaning he cannot be singled out to trigger a mindlock in the servitors. Suddenly there's a new favourite for Tank escort...

Finally, one of my favourite close combat units are struggling to fit. The Rough Riders are even less likely to arrives than in last codex. Hemmed in by Squadrons of Sentinels, Hellhounds and the shiny new Valkyrie - we're unlikely to see them. However they have some nice features ... like other units they've gained from the frag grenade upgrade. Plus they can have a psychopath leader in Mogul Khan - he might be fun!

"I got a bad feeling about this..."

Psykers have seen a significant boost in this codex. Has anyone actually thought through the danger of having a Chimera with a Psychic Choir and a Primaris Pyker along for the ride. This tank would cost 255 pts and do the following:
  • Move 6"
  • Fire 3 Multilaser (or Heavybolter/Flamer shots)
  • Fire a S9 Ordinance blast 35" with ap?
  • Fire 2d6 S6 AP5 shots or trigger a shroud which forces all opponent to take a leadership test to shoot at them...
However I can see a real powerful use for the 9 psyker squad. Easy to hide, this ten man squad can reduce any units leadership by -9 within 36". This makes them a lethal anti character or anti uber unit slayer (Apart from taking Straken, Nork and Commissar Yarrick in the same Unit that is!). Combine this potential of Hydra (ignore jetbike turbo boost cover saves) and Collossus (ignore cover saves and AP3) and your jetbike seer councils are going home, very very fast ideed!


I've been working hard on digesting all this as I've been tasked with drawing up a 3000pt army list for an apocalypse battle with the new guard army.

Needless to say - I'm a virgin to Apoc! With a new army list! and I'm gonna die badly. But at least it's been an interesting and exciting excuse to plunder the codex for it's titbits!

I hope you enjoy reading this codex as much as I have... and ready your knifes and paint brushes, you WILL need to completely rebuild your army!