Friday, 4 March 2011


Imperial Guard Mortar Platoons were used to stealing any bit of transport they could...

Ok, so you may have got the message that I'm a bit keen on using mortars in 40k. They are the single most effective weapon in the game for the points (IMHO). Let's break it down and then unleash a different kind of beast!

20pts each, 2 wounds T3, Ld7, troops. Ok, so the leadership ain't nothing to write home about, but in essense you have in front of you a model that can fire from a secluded location with no direct line of sight. It can fire from turn one, and dice allowing will continue to fire unless someone goes over there and stops them firing. This is an evil, evil 20pt unit, and the evil just got better.

It's shots work in barrage. Let me break this down for you. Your average 'spread' unit (in expectation of an indirect shot) will cover approximately a large blast template. You are then dropping a small blast template onto that large blast template. The template may scatter, but with an average scatter of 7" (minus 1.5" for the small template, you have an approximately 50/50 to hit rate WITH THE FIRST SHOT. I'm guard, I'll take those odds.

Second shot is scatter only and you have a 1/3 chance of scoring a hit. At this point you can place the template in any position as long as it touches the original template, this includes a position which OVERLAPS the original template (I'd opt for the one touching the most models). So even with a 'miss', you have a 50% chance of scoring 7 or so hits. With a hit on the first roll that could rise as high as 15.

On bunched up mini's say leaving a vehicle or deepstriking, this can rise to levels of 20+ hits with just one barrage. 3 hits will happen, and there goes 24 kroot!

Added to this, you are dropping ordinance into the enemy's back yard. You can hit 'hidden' crisis suits and even attempt to 'scatter' on to Harlequins, Stealth teams and other hindrance's. And the scatter you do raise the chance of hitting other units, scoring other single wounds and exponentially increasing the chance of pinning multiple units.

It is indirect, so cover saves are irrelevant unless you are in area cover or in base to base with a piece of terrain. Screening (tyranids and Orks listen up) is irrelevant as I don't care what's in between, hiding behind a tank is irrelevant as I'll blow up your multimelta combat bike anyway.


Everything outside of a tank will take devastating casualities form this weapon. Any tank with an AV10 on the side will take a glancing hit 25% of the time from each 3 mortar team. 50% to hit, plus 3*1/6 chance of glancing.
  • TACTICALLY - it is a weapon that can hit indirectly anywhere, every turn without comeback.
  • STRATEGICALLY - it will disrupt your opponents charges, advances, 'hidden' troops, defenders every turn. We bang on about the value of 'shaking' a unit, but this weapon can do that to every non-fearless infantry unit in the game!
  • PSYCHOLOGICALLY - every plan your opponent brought to the board will be sabotaged from turn one ... he will HATE these mortars.
  • CONVERTEDLY - They are the easiest models to build out there.
Conclusion to the rant - my cunning plan.

So we've had Chimeltavet spam and Vendetta spam ... where's the mortar-board spam. Here's my list of Pure Indirect Delight at 1500pts

Command HQ with a powerfist, regimental standard and a mortar @ 85pts
Commissar Lord with powerfist @ 85pts

Infantry Platoon @ 500pts
HQ with 4 grenade launchers
2 Squads with lascannon and one commissar with power weapon
5 Mortar teams (15 mortars)

Infantry Platoon @ 500pts
HQ with 4 grenade launchers
2 Squads with lascannon and one commissar with power weapon
5 Mortar teams (15 mortars)

3 x 5 Roughriders with a meltabomb each @ 180pts

2 x Griffons @ 150pts

The Mathhammer

I calculate a single mortar has a 60% chance of hitting a unit. This is based on a 33% chance of rolling a hit, combined with a just less than 50% chance of scattering onto said target. On average that hit will score between 4-15 wounds per weapon team (3 mortars), so across 10 teams you are looking at 24-90 hits a turn.
  • Against Marines: 4-15 dead marines a turn.
  • Against Orks: 12-45 dead per turn*
  • Against Guardsmen: 11-40 dead per turn*
  • Against Gaunts: 16-60 dead per turn*
*Assuming no cover (remember only area terrain really counts here).

Against metal boxes, the lascannons and continual 'bring it down' orders should do the trick. The grenade launcher platoon commands are throw away units, bringing S6 firepower to bear. Finally the rough riders go in to 'finish off' anything that gets too close.

Ironically, the Griffon's add little in the way of difference to the mortars, they do however offer the option to drop very accurate S6 Ordinance against tank side armour - which could prove useful for dealing with Whirlwinds and other concerns.

One final thought

I've used mortars to 'clean' a group of assaulting terminators off the front of a DoomHammer tank ... it wasn't pretty, and no - they didn't get up. 15 mortars fired and scored something like 55 hits. Getting bunched up, ducking out of line of sight, assaulting vehicles, disembarking, moving 'around' terrain instead of through it...

Just try it!
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