You've hit my sentiments more or less on the head, but since I like to put things into numeric form, please forgive my self-indulgence. Also, if I sound bitter it's not directed at you. Just the game / internet in general.
My main issue with the formation is that it forces you to put a LOT of points into a block of units that will, in all probability only secure one objective. At best. I've had many games where due to the way 7th is different from previous editions
prevent me from stacking objectives in my deployment zone. In earlier editions, I could ENSURE that objectives were in my deployment zone, which meant investing in a block like this would have been much more useful in winning a game.
So how many points?
180 - CCS with Volkov's Cane, Lascannon, MoO and a Vox, in a Chimera [Ensure those orders work!]
250 - 2x Basilisk [The others don't really benefit from the Ig-Co order, and that's why were running this!]
170 - Manticore [Or Deathstrike, but I'd prefer the Manticore, to be honest.]
40 - Tax
235 - Minimum Platoon, 3x Lascannons, 2x Plasmagun, 3x Vox [Presumes you're taking a CAD with this.]875 - Total
While one could take Wyverns instead of Bassies, the Wyvern really gains NOTHING AT ALL from being part of this formation. Same with the Hydra, really, so Bassies it is. Wyverns could come from the CAD, again presuming you're taking one.
Notice how there's a Tax on nearly all half-way decent formations? New model, and no-one was buying it? Formation required!
And I agree entirely on the requirement for infantry support. I've run it without, wanting to squeeze points for elsewhere, but they were wrecked on the double without the bumps to get in the way. So yeah, also agree with the need for infantry. I tried a corner deployment, which I know is supposed to make them magically immune to damage, I guess, but they still got smoked in the side armour somehow. 7th edition being a mobility game, I guess I was utterly unsurprised. But you know... magically protected from everything. And they didn't have an objective to hold, which was another kind of kick in the pants. Can't have everything though, I just need to git guuder.
If you aren't against allies, Dreadnoughts make great babysitters. You could even trade out the Minimum Platoon for a couple Dreads, instead. They've got guns, and are one hell of a Melee deterrent. If someone wants to get close to the Bassies, they'll need to deal with the Dreads first, which at a minimum will draw fire from the Artillery. Having recently been crowned the All-Knowing Master of all things Guard, I can say that this could also solve your Lascannon issue. Personal preference would be for AC's, but that's because I VERY rarely see anything with a high enough AV to properly justify the points, but also because if something gets close you can just Hulk-smash them with better-than-lascannon fist. Of course, as you'll see below, that bastard of starting on allies is that you stop playing guard and start playing the allies. It happened to me. It could happen to you! *oooOOOooOOoOoo*
My concern with supporting this with a knight: You might as well take two Knights, instead of this block, then you could take the "support" knight and instead take a 3-Knight formation, and really be laughing. You're racking up the Earthshaker-like shots if you use the Paladin, and you can still maim things with the D-Weapon and stomps, plus you don't have to worry about objectives in your deployment zone... or much else? I'm having a hard time envisioning a scenario where 2 Knights aren't the better way to spend your points than this.
It's ok though, I just need to git guuder! I mean, Knights have better mobility, better toughness, better shooting damage output, better melee / stomps... and I would say that this is one of the IG's better formations. They'd also be better support for advancing Chimerae, being a direct reason to not get close to those Chimerae and their occupants. But that doesn't matter, ammirite?
So yeah, my beef with the formation is that by the time you make it "workable" you've spent more than half your points on something that will hopefully
secure one objective. And then you've got to spend the rest of your points on things that can go out and take ground. Since Russ are meant to sit back, and most definitely NOT advance with your units, you no longer have points for Russes, ammirite? So, uh, what do we spend our points on then?
I'm going to go against "conventional" wisdom, and say that a CCS in Chimera with Dozer Blades [I want a cover save!] with a couple Vets in Chimera with Dozer Blade, all with Carapace and a couple upgraded guns would be in order. To fill out the minimum for the CAD we're presumably taking. We want voxes for the Spotter rules and just in case our Chimera explode
and we wind up on the ground, as unlikely as that is. Gonna need those orders. Same deal with Carapace, you know, just in case our Chimera explode
. Mine seem to, but I just need to git guuder and that won't happen. That would cost about 540 points
Up to 1415 points, and I really don't think this will work well at 1500, since I think we need to be able to send more units forward, so I'll also agree this formation probably won't work at 1500 points. My local is 1850, for the most part, so let's see where another 435 points could take us.
Presuming the IG codex is up to snuff, we shouldn't need allies to make a functional army, right? So I think we should stick to in-codex choices.
If we were to buck traditional wisdom, and have Russ that advance with the Chimera, we could put some "tough" units forward that could take a beating and still drive towards an objective, bearing all kinds of deadly guns to try to smack stuff out of the way so our units could take some ground. 'Cause I'm told we just need to shoot the amphetamine parrot out of stuff and then we winz. We could maybe afford a couple of Armoured Sentinels to advance with them, again their primary purpose being to intercept close-range enemies. They could also carry Lascannons, which could be helpful as we're short on "effective-for-the-points" anti-tank weaponry.
Assuming we add Kurov's Aquila to the advancing CCS [and assuming you agree that it can help with gets hot] to leverage the firepower of the advancing block, we'd have 375 points left, and a Plasma-Cutioner would fit the bill nicely. I also think that an Exterminator with Lascannon and Multi-Meltas makes a great tank-cracker. That would only leave us with 30 points, so not enough to get another squad without re-tweaking things. The Plasma-Cutioner could be subbed for a less expensive variant, which would free up enough to buy a single Armoured Sentinel, but really, unless they're in a squadron they'll be picked off. So I'd want to scrape together another 60 points at least, but I wouldn't want to sacrifice the leverage that Kurov's can give. Put the Russ up front, Kurov behind in the middle, and two Vet Chims on the flanks of Kurov and you're leveraging a whole lot of firepower. Ideally, something like Sentinels to give a cover save to the "inner" Chimera's side armour [whichever side is more vulnerable to close range attack].
So I haven't quite put a "complete" army list together that the Artillery formation would fit into, but I think that's more or less the way it would be best
played. And since I'm the All-Knowing something-or-other, my word is like that unto Gawd's. The flexibility comes in my "Russ and Sentinels" points, where another player might prefer some other strategy. Emperor's Talon springs to mind, but at a significant firepower cut-back. Using a Psykanna Division as a Daemon Factory could also work, and would provide us some handy shock-troops to clear objectives, bubble wrap tanks and potentially help the mobility issue by summoning "fast" Daemons.
But I'm sure someone will point out that I need to git guuder, and explain to me how I as a general simply don't understand Guard's nuances, and how they're totally the same as they were for the last 10 years.
It's got some good shooty power, but it's hard to win a game when you use it.