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Rough Riders

Submitted By: Captain Spaff Date: September 15, 2005, 11:38:04 AM Views: 3199


Outside of Hardened Veterans, Rough riders are one of the most customizable units you will ever get in the Imperial Guard. The most obvious equipment choice for Rough Riders will just be to take the hunting lances option, which is an exclusive choice for this squad. A squad full of power weapons that hit at a respectable Strength and Initiative can be simply devastating, even though they are one use only.

Melta-Gun, Plasma Gun, Flamer, Grenade Launcher, Krak grenades, Melta-bombs, Hunting Lances, Shotguns, Lasguns

Note: If you upgrade a squad to have hunting lances you may not take any special weapons what-so-ever, but you are still permitted to use melta-bombs and krak grenades. You also must be sure to buy every member of the squad a hunting lance, not just a few models of your choosing.

Special Weapons

Melta-Gun Spaff Rating: 3
Passable as an anti-armor weapon in the hands of small and maneuverable Rough Rider squads. Suggested unit size for this weapon would be minimal, and without doctrines.
Plasma Gun Spaff Rating: 2
Even with the 4+ save, and a possible 3+ you will not generally want these on Rough Riders since your goal most likely is to get into the assault as soon as possible. You won’t be sitting around idly waiting to rapid fire. Not entirely useless, but not really useful either.

Flamer Spaff Rating: 4
Useful in the hands of Rough Riders due to the Assault capability, and the fact you can lay dual templates to encompass an enemy squad. A very nice choice when used in combination with shotguns, and laspistol/CCW’s.

Grenade Launcher Spaff Rating: 3
This is typically a standard infantry squad weapon due to its respectable range, and assault ability. It is nice for Rough Riders for the ability to drop dual blast templates, but you will typically only get a turn of firing it before you can assault so the flamer will top it in that area.
Melta-bombs Spaff Rating: 2
If you don’t go the Xenos-Mount route this choice can give you an unexpected anti-tank source that can work hand-in-hand with the Melta-gun option. Not an entirely sound choice on its own though.

Equipment Variants

Hunting Lance Spaff Rating: 4
This is the primary reason people take Rough Riders. A squad full of one-hit wonder power lances that offer increased initiative and strength. This choice will maul any 3+ save force into the ground on the initial charge, and still be fresh and ready for another go. Unfortunately, they are expensive, you cannot take any special weapons when using lances, and the lances themselves can only be used once. If you opt for these, which you most likely will, be sure to upgrade the Sergeant to a Veteran, and toss him a power sword, and if you have the extra points an Honorifica. This will give the unit quite a bit more bite after the lances have been tossed aside.

Shotgun Spaff Rating: 4
Against forces with low armour saves this option can mow through units systematically only ever losing effectiveness as they take casualties. Statistically, they are the same as a regular Rough Rider with a Close Combat Weapon + Laspistol in terms of attacks on the first turn of the assault. They will trade in the extra close combat attacks in future turns for a preliminary barrage of shells. If the force has a meager 5+ there’s a fair chance you can destroy them outright before the assault ever begins.

Lasgun Spaff Rating: 1
If you take Lasguns with Rough riders report immediately to the nearest commissar for summary execution >_> <_<! It is absolutely pointless to take this “upgrade”.

Die-Hards; Carapace Armour; Cyber-Enhancement; Chapter Approved: Xenos-Mounts
Suggested Doctrines
Carapace Armour
This thing is magnificent for Rough Riders since it is one of the few Special Equipment Doctrines that you don’t have to purchase for your entire force.  You can purchase this doctrine specifically for your Rough Riders, and no other units (ref. IG Codex pg 57).

This doctrine works fine alone, but can work extremely welll when used in conjunction with the Chapter Approved: Xenos-Mounts which also confers a +1 armor save permitting you reach a 3+ save. A save like that is practically unheard of out of an Eldar, Space Marine, Chaos, or an =][= force. This can lead to some initial shock when your opponent finds you shrugging off both Heavy Bolters, and Autocannons.

This doctrine isn’t always necessary though. The main issue is surviving long enough to at the very least deliver a lance charge, and if you can provide effective screening via vehicles or terrain than you may not need it. The only added benefit is that as a dedicated assault unit they will likely get a lot more survivability in melee against any units that don’t have a Power Weapon concealed in them.


See above.


Rough Riders are (can be) very resilient compared to most other Imperial Guard troops. They are one of the most maneuverable units you have and can be used to take portions of the board that your opponent leaves open. They are also fantastic because you can structure them in almost anyway to counter a specific force. Against Space Marines use hunting lances, against Orks and Tyranids use shotguns + flamers or grenade launchers, and against Tau bring a spatula since anything that could do more damage would be an act of malicious cruelty.

You have to also keep in mind that fielding Rough Riders can be a very expensive choice of doctrines since you will have to spend at the bare minimum 1 Doctrine to field them, and 1 Doctrine if you want to get Carapace, and finally if you want Xenos-mounts it adds up to a total of 60% of your total doctrine choices. You might as well make that two or three squads to get the most out of all those doctrines you spent purchasing them.


“Onward, March”

Rough Riders who have a 4+/3+ save provide you to do something new. Soak up fire power without having to be hiding behind a 4” piece of steel. With such a high natural save it makes using terrain redundant if it doesn’t block line of sight entirely.

Rough riders configured in this manner are probably the only infantry unit in your entire army that can soak up a barrage of rapid firing bolters, and heavy bolters and still come out of the smoky haze charging forward with their lances lowered ready to impale some of the Emperors “finest”.

You can use Rough Riders as a firepower sponge to draw almost all the enemies’ firepower onto them since any force that knows what the hunting lance is capable of will be tempted to ignore even the most deadly threats just to make certain that they never reach it into an assault. They will be forced to aim those lascannons at your rough riders in a vain attempt to down a few models that will cost a little bit less than a standard Marine. Meanwhile your Leman Russ’, and other vehicles can roll around unscathed.

Yet using these guys exclusively as decoy fodder is definitely not the wisest idea though, since they are also some of the most expensive single models you will ever field besides Ogryns. They are all about the assault, and the entire notion of them being a sponge for bolter rounds is just a side-effect of the pure ferocity they can unleash when in melee. Try to use them smart, but don’t be afraid to let a Rough Rider unit with a good save prance around in the open to draw your enemies’ attention from some of your more sinister plans.

Vehicles + Shielding

Vehicles work well in conjunction with Rough Riders who are pretty bare-bones (no Carapace, and Xeno Mount) as an effective way to create a screen where they cannot be targeted, and of course work well for high save Rough Riders if you're not willing to let them do what is listed above. An ideal formation for protecting Rough Riders would have some sort of heavy tank (or tanks if points are willing) like a Leman Russ Battle Tank, but preferrably a Demolisher at the vanguard. Supporting vehicles such as a Chimera or a Hellhound should make up the sides of the formation with the Rough Riders hiding in the midst.

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