Imperial Guard HQ Tactica

Submitted By: Polonius Date: September 19, 2005, 05:49:37 PM Views: 7285
Summary: An Analysis of HQ options under the 4th Edition Codex.

Command Platoon:

The Command Platoon is a required choice for IG, meaning that you must take one in any scenario that doesn't waive codex restrictions.  The command Platoon is divided into a Command Section and up to five support Squads.  The Command Section consists of your commanding officer, 4 guardsmen, and any advisors you assign to him.  This command section is identical to the command sections for infantry or Heavy Weapon Platoons, with three key differences:
  • the ability to take Senior or Heroic Senior Officers
  • the ability to take a Company Standard
  • the ability to take a master-vox caster
There is a reason that HQ sections are incredibly useful.  This is because of the standard bearer, the best 11 pts any IG player can spend.  Providing a re-roll to all Imperial Guard Infantry morale checks within 12", this gives your line units a much better chance of holding their positions.  It's important to remember that this only applies to IG Infantry, a technical definition which does not include Rough Riders, Ogryn, Ratlings, Storm Troopers, Conscripts, or Techpriests.  In all but the smallest games, I don't include heavy weapons in this squad, allowing the standard to move to where it's needed.

The second specialist in the list, the medic, is less obviously useful.  Ignoring the first wound in the squad sounds great, but this doesn't work in the medic is in base to base contact during assault.  This ability doesn't work against Instant Death attacks, or power weapons, but does kick in against shooting attacks under S6 that penetrate the models armor.  This includes bolters, heavy bolters, and Whirlwinds, all notorious IG killers.  Even though most players keep their HQ in the rear, it's not difficult to get a lucky shot at them, especially since they can no longer be screened, and when an opponent does, a bonus wound to the HQ can be a real life saver.  Note that even if the squad is in HtH, if the medic is kept out, he can still do his work.  This may help a glorious counter charge against higher Initiative enemies.

The key decision, however, to the command section is which of the three officers to use.  Each officer has his use, so there is no simple answer.  There are three options, ranging from a glorified Vet. Sergeant (Junior Officer) to the three wound, LD9 heroic Senior Officer.

The Junior Officer brings economy and thrift to the table.  For a mere 40 points, you can have the leader of your army with his four aides.  He's still LD8, he can take Iron Discipline and a Company Standard, and his squad can take a full load of Heavy/Special weapons.  I'd recommend the Junior Officer for small games, where taking another shooting unit is more important than a solid leadership node.  In games with limited IG Infantry, such as Grenadier or Armor heavy forces, the Junior Officer can fulfill the HQ requirement neatly.  The Junior Officer is a good choice for a mixed Leadership/ firepower section.

The Senior Officer brings another wound, attack, and +1 WS, BS and I over the Junior Officer.  The Senior Officer is great for countercharge in small and medium games.  While his additional wound and attack are nice, they're of little use outside of HtH, so using him in a firepower or pure leadership section is a bit of a waste over the Junior Officer.  The senior officer should be used only in smaller games where the command squad will end up in HtH.  Any larger game really demands the HSO.

The Heroic Senior Officer packs the highest leadership, 9, in the army and has a third wound.  Obviously the best leader in the army list, the HSO is the ideal choice for providing solid leadership to your army.  As with the Senior Officer, the HSO can be wasted on a fire support HQ section.  I'd generally recommend using this section as countercharge unit, but if you simply want the LD, you can still shoot with this squad.  A common thought with the HSO is to tool him and a commissar up, and take them into HtH.  This is a decent idea, but I'd wait for the fight to come to them.  As with all IG countercharge, a command section is fragile, and the HSO/Commissar/Company Standard is very useful outside of combat, providing a re-roll able LD10 to all Morale checks.

Vox-Casters are only really useful if you have a Commissar and/or HSO in your command section.  This is due to the fact that all line squads can simply take a Veteran Sergeant for +6 points that provide LD8.  While the Vox can provide higher leadership to your far-flung units, this is often of minimal usage.  In most battles, your line units stay close to an officer, or are so exposed that they generally draw enough fire to wipe them out.  If, however, you play with a high Leadership HQ, and several mobile units, than consider investing the 5 points per squad for Vox-Casters.  The Master-Vox is a tempting upgrade for +20 more points, but one should ponder how many Leadership checks you're actually going to be taking.  It's a reasonably cheap insurance policy, but 5 points a squad can add up quickly.

Command sections may take up to four special weapons  and/or one heavy weapon.  Note that no veterans, including Standard Bearers and Medics, or vox-casters may carry one.  These options allow a command HQ to act as very compact fire support unit.  In smaller games, one can field it as a standard command section with a heavy weapon and two specials, or four special weapons.  In larger games, the slot taken by the Standard and possibly the Medic usually restrict the number of special weapons taken.  Assuming at least the standard, here's a rundown of options:

Three Flamers are a brutally cheap and hard hitting unit, capable of annihilating light infantry, or softening up even Power Armor.  Best matched with a power sword for the officer, this squad can make a decent shoot ‘n assault squad.  This squad tends to be a “suicide" squad, however, and one shouldn't risk losing the leadership core of their army casually.  In addition, platoon command sections can readily take four flamers, making them a far less valuable slot for fiery death.

Three Meltaguns or Grenade Launchers are bland and mediocre options.  A combination of better choices to field these weapons, and far better options for the Command HQ mean that almost nobody fields these.  In small drop troop armies or other niche armies, these can provide some anti-armor punch.

Three Plasma Guns or two plasma guns with a medic to soak up the self inflicted wounds are a strong, long range, anti-power armor unit.  This unit is versatile in that it can send plasma 24", or move and double tap at 12."  The medic is nearly essential now, since the odds are good that you're going to overheat once or twice with the move and shoot.  Plasma guns may not fire and then assault, so keep any wargear on your Officer on the shooting side.  Plasma pistols may seem like overkill, but they're not a bad way to spend an extra 10 points if you've maxed everything else out, especially on a BS4 Senior Officer.  This is one of the strongest options, allowing your command section to stay out of fire, keep a standard, heal one wound a turn, and eventually try to plasma a terminator squad or the like to death when they reach your lines.

Before buying a heavy weapon for a command HQ, ask yourself if a line squad or a heavy weapons squad could provide better fire support.  Command HQs tend to move and assault, so having a heavy weapon often hinders these aspects.  More importantly, your HQ should try to stay out of LOS to the enemy.  Having a heavy weapon only makes them more vulnerable.  In a section you plan on never moving nor mind losing, buying a heavy weapon may be a good way to add another gun to your army, but in all but the smallest games, the IG's problems are seldom lack of firepower. Buying a Mortar for 10pts gives this squad the possibility to become annoying for almost no points, in a squad that would do little during those turns anyway.  Many players are trying this new option, which is unique in that the expectations on the mortar are zero, and as long as the HQ stays alive, it's doing its job.  Plus, it's a good way to use those Mortar teams everybody has in spades.

Another option for Command sections, Grenades, are of limited usage.  Frag Grenades for power weapon wielding officers can be bought as wargear, so unless you're really excited about your guardsmen hitting at the same time as the covered unit, pass on them.  Krak Grenades, the most useless pieces of kit in any list, are laughable for the IG.

Command Sections may buy Chimeras to ride around the battlefield in style.  There are three good reasons to buy a Chimera for a section: you want the additional armored firepower, you seriously plan on moving your section, or you want to protect your section from barrages, ordnance, etc.  There are no rules that say you're Leadership radius or Company Standard doesn't work if within a transport, so don't let that stop you.  The additional firepower is not to be ignored, as the Chimera throws up a decent amount of shots for a mere 85 points.  Also, armies with limited anti-tank weapons often have trouble with a wall of armor, so stacking a lot of tanks is in itself a good thing.  As a transport, the Chimera's main weakness is what it's carrying.  Five or six guardsmen seldom justify such an expensive transport.  The main exceptions are tooled up countercharge units on large boards, and close fire support units with many flamers or meltaguns.  In cases like that, they are useful, but a lot of the time, you'll deploy the section dismounted, and simply use the Chimera as a light tank.  The other problem with small, expensive squads inside transports is that if the transport is destroyed, odds are that small squad will be devastated as well.  In all but the largest games, it's simply safer to keep the command HQ in some cover, and Chimeras aren't the greatest expenditures in any case.

With the cornucopia of options available, it can be overwhelming when trying to design a command section.  To begin with, decide on what you want your HQ to do for your army: Leadership, Countercharge, or Fire Support.  Adjust the contents of the squad based on what you need.  Since Leadership eats into the slots for weapons, most players lean away from shooting as a goal of their command HQ.

Using your command section to provide Leadership support is the most evident use of these squads.  With the Leadership rule and the Standard Bearer, a Leadership "Bubble" is projected around the squad.  When combined with Iron Discipline, this allows squads to test on a higher leadership, ignoring casualty penalties, and with a re-roll.  It also allows squads under half to re-group.  In most missions, the Command HQ should stay out of LOS if at all possible, in cover if not, keeping the grunts steady under enemy fire or assault.  Platoon sections can support the flanks, allowing units to advance under the Bubble, or simply to extend the main line past 24".  Using Commissars to add to the LD of your officers gives you a vital +1 to those checks, and the Vox-Caster can project across the entire battlefield.

It's important to note that any Imperial Guard unit may use the Leadership rule, but unlike the old rules, the unit in question must be within 12" of the Officer, not merely his squad.  Still, it only takes one model from any given squad to be within range to gain the benefit.

For the Command HQ, bear in mind that the Standard Bearer takes a slot from a special weapon gunner.  However, the Standard bearer is still a Veteran, so has two attacks, as well the option to take a CCW and Pistol.  If buying a Commissar for the +1LD, then seriously consider giving him some close combat wargear.  It's almost always worth it to be a power weapon for five points.

Close Combat is a reality of Warhammer 40000.  Even the Imperial Guard can't hope to shoot every unit before it reaches their lines.  While the rank upon rank of troops should slow enemy assault units, a strong counter-charge unit or two can actually break or destroy the offending squad.  Command sections are able to provide a certain amount of punch, often at the right time.  Before you get too gung-ho, there are a few realities that need to be faced before you hurl your officers into combat.  At T3 with a 5+ save, they're not exactly durable, and with only 5 men to a squad, can't absorb losses.  At S3, they inflict few wounds.  At I3, they'll seldom attack first.  Despite these set backs, the IG can assault effectively, and even win every now and then.  The key is to understand what you hope to accomplish in any given assault.  If a current assault will likely end on your turn, allowing your opponent to charge a new unit on his turn, assaulting him may tie him up long enough to give you a turn to shoot that unit.  An enemy unit weakened through fire can possibly be overwhelmed.  Charging an enemy keeps the combat further from your main lines, preventing him from consolidating into your units.  If an enemy unit holds an objective, then assaulting them allows you to try to wrest it from him.  And last of all, there is sometimes glory in attempting the impossible.

For the HQ Section, there are a few options for assault.  What's more, a lot of the tooling is useful for Leadership purposes as well.  The Heroic Senior Officer is 30 points more than a Junior Officer, and gains WS, BS, I, two wounds and an attack.  He also gains +1 Leadership, crucial for holding the line.  A commissar adds serious punch in an assault, yet he also adds +1 LD to his officer.  A standard Bearer is a Veteran with multiple attacks, yet allows the Morale re-rolls.  As I've mentioned earlier, except for smaller games, your HQ shouldn't be counted on to do a lot of shooting.  This frees it up to move around, and eventually charge.  Taking a HSO, Commissar, Iron Discipline, and Standard Bearer weighs in at 126 points, grants a re-roll able LD10 within 10", and is freely able to advance, retreat, or support a flank.  In games above ~1500 points, this bedrock of leadership will often pay for itself, as even Conscripts can use the LD10 if not the re-roll.  Once this is taken, however, why not add two power fists?  This gives you some serious punch in close combat, and the unit can still provide crucial Morale Bonuses when not fighting.

Why not, indeed?  Well, the number one reason not to tool up your Officer is that he is an Independent Character, which means any model in base to base with him may pick him out.  This isn't a deal-breaker, of course, as it can be worked around.  First off, it's seldom wise to charge your opponent's best close combat unit with your HQ.  His will almost always win, and your finely honed HQ will die as quickly as any other meat shield unit.  If you instead shoot his most dangerous close combat squads, his second stringers such as Tac Squads, Necron Warriors, or basic Slugga Boyz may still reach your lines. These are the units to charge, especially if they are already damaged.  Also, if you charge carefully, and avoid your opponent's power fist wielding maniacs, than you can inflict serious damage with your Officer/Commissars.  In general, with your HQ, you should only charge when you have to, since you have a legitimate chance of winning a combat against many.

When equipping your HQ section, there is no rules limit to how much you may spend, though reality sets in really quickly for the spendthrift.  While I favor stripped down units (HSO, Commissar, Fists, Standard), you can add Carapace armor, refractors, replace the fist with power swords, etc.  I'll cover all this in the Wargear section.  As a general rule, quantity overrides quality for the IG, so a cheaper squad may be preferable to one fully tooled up.  The subtleties of wargear are more personal preference than science, so further advice is probably of little use.  One final option is to buy Hardened Fighters for your Section.  Gaining +1 WS is nothing to sneeze at, as most enemies will now only hit on a 4+, and your officers will hit on 3+ against most targets.

The HQ's ability to fight can also be bolstered by adding advisors, namely Commissars, Priests, and Sanctioned Psykers.  This is a mediocre way to add a bit more punch to your countercharge unit.  Eventually, every IG commander needs to take a hard look at what their HQ costs, and ask whether they'll be upset if that squad gets nailed by a Whirlwind on the first turn.  Remember that no matter how much you spent on your HQ, it's still fragile beyond belief.  And if you're spending 200pts or more on a countercharge unit within the IG codex, than you might benefit from looking at Kroot Allies or Daemonhunters to add the punch.  I'll examine both of these options to a certain degree later, but keep them in mind.  An HSO, Commissar, Powerfists, Refractors, Priest and Holy Relic, Psyker with Honorifica and Force Weapon, Standard, Medic, Veterans, Iron Discipline, and Hardened Fighters adds up to 366 points.  All that for eight models that'll collapse under a Heavy Flamer, Whirlwind, or Sub-munitions.  This concludes the Command Section.


Support Squads

The second part of the Command Platoon, Support Squads, are a bit more straightforward, with each one having a specific purpose.  As a general rule, within heavy weapon squads, keep the weapons similar.  While there may be tactical reasons I'm not aware of to have one heavy bolter and two autocannons in a single squad, its usual preferable to simply pack three of what you need.  For all squads, Sharpshooters is a great buy.  Even with Sharpshooters, don't count on hitting with more than one weapon a turn, and the odds of zero hits from three Lascannons is only 1 in 8.  If you expect these squads to pop a vehicle or squad a turn, you'll only end up disappointed.  These squads simply give you more shots without wasting points on Lasguns.  The strength of these squads is that they cost you less than half of what three squads each with a heavy weapon would cost you.  These units are also targets right from the get go.  With few men and no ability to be screened, they're extremely fragile.  When deploying, make sure to reserve spaces in the best cover available for these units.  Some claim that without screening, these units are worthless.  I'm a bit more moderate, in that I think these units now need to be carefully weighed against their fragility and the cost of putting heavy weapons in your Platoons.  In the end, few armies that I've encountered pack the sort of long range, high rate of fire anti-personnel weaponry that could knock a squad like this out on turn one.


Fire Support Squads

Being able to take Autocannons or Heavy Bolters, these squads excel at mowing down light/medium infantry, or knocking about light/medium vehicles.  Heavy Bolters are a great buy, and throw out a lot of fire.  The key to these is their sheer economy, and effectiveness against horde armies.  Even against power armor, they should knock one down a turn.  When playing Space Marines, Heavy bolters can also be turned against Rhinos and Land Speeders.  The only race they are really weak against are the Necrons, and even then, they do all right when gunning against Wraiths or a Necron Lord with Resurrection Orb (if they're getting up anyway, might as well us your AP3 shots against stuff that stays down).  When facing an army that is simply too durable to really damage with Heavy Bolters (Deathwing, some Chaos, Iyanden), don't be afraid to use them to grab some objectives or a quarter.

Autocannon squads are oddly specialized.  They are extremely good against a range of targets, and not horribly good against the rest.  Autocannons main targets are:

  • Transports (Raiders, Rhinos, Chimeras, Wave Serpents, Devilfish)
  • Light Vehicles of any stripe (anything up to AV12)
    bikes (AP4 handles all but Marine armor, and wounds on a 2+)
  • Demons, and other high toughness low save models (Avatar, Great Demons)
One of the keys to the Autocannon is that it's range of 48", allowing it to smite many foes from great distance.  As a general rule, however, I'm not wild about the Autocannon squad.  While I respect the weapon, I think that I'd rather keep the Autocannons in my line squads, where they can be used for other purposes after their prime targets are destroyed.  The other thing to remember is that Autocannon squads are the same cost as Missile Launcher Anti-tank squads, and only 15 points cheaper than Lascannon Anti-tank squads.  Those squads are good against a more commonly encountered range of enemy units.


Anti-Tank Squads

Missile Launchers, I believe, belong in line squads.  The reasons for this are many, but the main reason is that Lascannons are only 5 points more a piece in Anti-tank squads than Missile Launchers.  This is not to say that Missile Launcher squads aren't strong.  The option of Krak or Frag Missiles lends versatility to the squad that the Lascannon lacks.  That said, the Missile Launcher is seldom used for Frag missiles.  The abundance of Lasguns, Heavy Bolters, etc. in the list makes a few S4 blasts no more than a nice bonus.  While others will disagree, I'm going to assume that 90% of the shots will be Krak, making the debate a more cut and dry Krak Missile vs. Lascannon debate.  While the point difference in most squads favors the Missile, in Anti-tank squads, the sheer economy of the Lascannon makes it the big winner.

That said, three Missile Launchers is still not a bad buy.  Good against all vehicles but light skimmers and armor 14, the Krak missile is also the bane of Power Armored units.  Sending Krak against light skimmers (AV10) can be wasteful, as only being able to glance makes the higher shot count of the Autocannon preferable to the Missile Launchers strength.  For a similar reason, Armor 14 is a tough nut to crack for the mighty Missile Launcher, and you should only burn Krak Missiles on Land Raiders and Monoliths when there are no other viable targets, or you're extremely desperate.  Easily the most versatile weapon in the armory, the Missile Launchers value in line squads seems to almost make taking them in Anti-Tank redundant.

The queen of the Imperial Guard armory, the Lascannon is the greatest spot removal available in the game, and the IG has unparalleled access to them.  Their cost to most squads, 10 points higher than Missile Launchers, makes them an expensive proposition for line Infantry.  Taken as an Anti-Tank squad, however, they're the same cost, unlike all other weapons.  This seems to be an obvious hint from GW to take Lascannons as Anti-tank squads, and I agree with them.  The main problem with Lascannons in platoon squads is the possibility for wasted shots.  When shooting at a tank, Wraithlord, or even terminators, the Lasguns in the squad have extremely little to no chance of doing any damage.  When the squad shoots against light infantry, the Lascannon is overpowered, and is effectively a waste of points.  Between the power differential, the price break, and the beautiful fit of Missiles in platoons, I highly recommend Lascannons in Anti-tank squads.

What's more, I recommend taking such an Anti-Tank squad in all but the smallest games.  Any game above roughly 750 points will have something worth blasting with the honorable Lascannons, and there is no worse feeling than looking at a unit and realizing nothing can stop it.  While this squad isn't cheap, it has the possibility of gaining back its points in stunning fashion.  No squad in the IG is as good at knocking out armor at range, at least not for the price.  Land Raiders, Monoliths, Wraithlords, Hive Tyrants and Greater Daemons all are great targets for your artillery.

While the benefits of Anti-Tank are apparent to most, there are some things to bear in mind.  With only six men, these squads are fragile, and a good blast from a Whirlwind or Shuriken Cannon, etc. can wipe them out.  Rest assured, your opponents will respect three Lascannons, and will go to great lengths to wipe them out.  The other problem is simply to be blinded by the strength of the weapon.  Remember, with only one shot, Lascannons are not designed for anti-infantry work.  If you ever find yourself consistently turning Lascannons on infantry, you may have too much anti-tank in your army.  Obviously, when fighting an opponent with no tanks you may need to select new targets, but don't go overboard.


Mortar Squads

With no options available, this is a take or leave it pick.  You get three mortars.  The following are reasons mortars are good:

  • Indirect fire lets you shoot at any unit within 48"
  • Any unit that takes a casualty must take a pinning test
  • Cheap!
  • Can be hidden behind any terrain
However, Strength 4, AP6.  Those numbers are why mortars are bad.  Almost irrelevant against vehicles, and cagy at best against power armor, Mortars simply don't do a lot of damage.  At the very least, they need to be compared to the venerable Griffon, which is cheaper, Ordnance, and far more powerful.  As far as I see it, there are a couple of decent reasons to drop the Mortar Squad:

  • You play a lot of horde armies: Orks, Bugs, Dark Eldar, IG
  • You're playing a huge game, packed three Heavy Supports, and still want indirect fire
  • You're incredibly lucky, and love pinning your opponents.
When all is said and done, Mortars are still over priced, under-powered, and have just enough juice to make the gambler in us want to try them.  In 2000pts or more, go ahead.   In smaller games, they're simply points that could buy another squad, or even 8 Ratlings.


Sentinel Squadron

While the meat of Sentinel Tactics will be covered in their own entry, there are good reasons to take Sentinels as an HQ, and so deserve to be discussed here.  First off, the old “four squadrons of one sentinel each" trick is a time honored way to cover the board with walkers.  Second, Sentinels are a viable alternative to Fire Support and Anti-Tank squads.  For only 55 points more, you can take your three Autocannons or Lascannons mounted on Sentinels.  While that sounds like a lot, their resistance to small arms and increased mobility make this worth looking into at least.  In general, the ability to always take at least one sentinel regardless of Fast Attack availability make this option an appealing one.


Special Weapons Squads:

Take a great idea.  Make it so that it is inherently vulnerable, fragile, and small.  Make it expensive for no really obvious reason.  Make it less useful than a cheaper option, add a really nice plum.  You now have Special Weapon Squads.  When Codex: Eye of Terror came out, people jumped all over these guys.  In retrospect, they haven't aged well.  These six man squads can carry up to three special weapons, which include sniper rifles, and up to one demo charge (the plum).  While this is a great theory, jacking each weapon cost +50% makes them less useful than Platoon Command Sections.  Ratlings are better snipers, and while the demo charge is great, I'm not sure it's worth taking a squad of chumps and burning a doctrine to get it.  For comparisons sake, take a Special Weapon Squad (SWS) with 3 meltas, and a SWS with three sniper rifles.  The first is 80 points, the same as a command section with FOUR meltas.  The second is 65 points, the same cost as six Ratling snipers.

In their defense, they can take melta bombs, as well as pistol/CCW.  While I'm not sold on melta bombs, taking six pistol/CCW troops with a single demo charge is 45 points of sheer fun. If you have the points, models, and doctrine slot available, it'll be fun to watch.<br /><br />
Otherwise, you're usually better off with other choices.  Their great moment emerges in Drop Troops armies, where a SWS with a demo charge is only 45pts, and can radically swing a game with a direct hit.  Some go further to include two plasma guns, making it 75 points.  In an 1850 drop troops list, these guys are 45 pts that are completely worth spending.


Commissars

One of the units that make the Imperial Guard fluffy, Commissars are an interesting phenomenon.  While they are expensive for a T3, W2, 4+ save character (Compare to Inquisitors, Kroot Shapers, or Canoness), the Commissar has a couple of quirks that make it a little more worthwhile.  First off, they are not Independent Characters.  This means they can take fight until the bitter end with their power fist.  On a personal note, I don't value this too highly, as your HQ shouldn't be charging your opponents elite HtH unit anyway.  The other major ability of the Commissar is that he adds +1 LD to your Officers.  Combined with the Heroic Senior Officer, this is LD10 with 12" radius and possible re-roll.  This is simply not to be underestimated.  This level of leadership will keep your firing line stable and solid under all but the most horrendous of conditions.  For this reason, in any large game, I'd seriously consider taking a single Commissar for your Command HQ.  Unless it's a huge game, however, more than one Commissar often doesn't add much for its cost.

Once you've purchased both a HSO and a Commissar, there is often little reason not to drop the points and buy Power Fists for them both.  While this is expensive, it makes the command HQ a threat in assault for only 40pts more.  In most games, though, simple power weapons are a far better buy, especially if your army already has some strong countercharge.  As mentioned earlier, the wargear options for Commissars in the Command HQ are many and varied.  Carapace Armor is a bit of a bargain, while the Refractor Field is a boon when facing power weapons and Instant death situations.

One finale note on Commissars: the dreaded “Summary Execution" Rule.  Most players see this is a drawback to the Man in Black, but I think it's actually a great safety net for your leadership lynchpin.  By this, I mean that if your Officer fails his re-rollable morale check (at LD9 or LD10, thanks to the Commissar), than your situation would be pretty dire.  The ability of the Commissar to simply stop the flight, and regroup the squad makes him highly beneficial.  If failing morale in the middle of HtH is a fear, than buy a Trademark Item for your Officer (and possibly one for the Commissar).  This means that even in the Standard Bearer dies, you'll get that crucial re-roll.  Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men might still end up with a dead Officer.  In times like that, you merely have to accept fate for what it brings you.

In the end, the final verdict of Commissars is a bit mixed.  While stronger in HtH than most characters in the army, the cost isn't exactly a bargain, making multiple Commissars a bit of a luxury.  Unless you're playing a large game on a large board where you plan to split your forces and need every scrap of Leadership you can get, I'd restrict Commissars to the Command HQ, in the Leadership bonus and Countercharge facilities.

Note: I'll discuss Independent Commissars under the doctrines section.


Sanctioned Psykers

Psykers are sophisticated and complicated units with a variety of options and uses, and they are all bad.  Ranking IMO as the third worst unit in the codex for their inability to actually ever do anything useful, I'll nonetheless explain how to best attempt to wring your 11 points back out of these “gifted" individuals.  The other significant cost to them is the doctrine point to make them available.  For their cost, they provide two key functions to your Command Sections: Adding and extra body to a small and fragile squad, and possibly having a useful psychic power.  While there are some useful psychic powers, none of them are to be counted on.  There are three basic approaches to Psykers.  The first approach is to buy one Psyker, possibly give him Carapace armor, and let him catch bullets for the command squad.  The second is to buy three to five Psykers, and hope to get some useful powers, and assign them as you see fit.  The third is the classic Force Weapon/Honorifica combo.

If you're using the Psyker as an extra body for your command HQ, there isn't much strategy, simply kill him off when you take a wound (or two if you have a medic.)  The only times he'll be useful is if he gets a useable psychic power.  Keep the Psyker if he gets a power you intend on using, but remember that a psychic test is only passed on an 8 on 2d6, or 26/36, or just under 3/4 of the time.  Even after passing the test, several powers only work on a 4+.

The second use is to buy several Psykers, and hope to get some useful powers, then assign them as you see fit to their squads.  The rules are vague as to when the Psykers are assigned vs. when they're power is rolled, but unless you hear otherwise, you can assign them after rolling their power.  A rundown of their powers:

No Usable Power: Obviously this is a duff.  Throw this guy in a command section that needs an extra body, or in an Armored Fist, etc.

Telepathic Order:  Actually pretty useful.  Extending your command range 50% is a nice bonus, and it lasts for an entire cycle of turns (IG turn and opponents turn).  Note that this does not extend the Standard Range, so the re-roll is only usuable within 12" as normal.  Stick this Psyker where extra command range is most useful.  Since you roll before deployment, you can keep your enhanced command range in mind when placing Psykers and the command squads they belong to.  Depending on the situation, you may place this Psyker with you Command HQ, to boost the main line, or place him with a flanking Command Section to aid far flung group of units.

Psychic Ward: While it only has a 50% chance of blocking an enemy psychic power hitting his squad, this may be enough to deter enemy Psykers from targeting your important squads.  If your opponent has no Psykers, this power is useless.  Even if your opponent has a Librarian or Farseer, I wouldn't count on this ability to accomplish too much.  With just over a 1/3 chance of succeeding  (26/36 chance of casting power, 1/2 chance of power working), you shouldn't rely on Ward to block Fear of the Ancients, Fear of Darkness, or Mind War.  However, if you have no other good powers, you might as well toss him into a squad that you don't want to run off the table.
 
Psychic Lash:The obligatory close combat power, Psychic Lash isn't a complete loss, as virtually all command sections find their way into HtH eventually.  That aside, it's pretty mediocre.  A random, small number of power weapon attacks at S3 aren't really exciting.  The one redeeming quality is that the power lasts for two full assault phases.  The downside is that the test must be made at the beginning of the Imperial Guard assault Phase, so make sure to make that test if you think you'll be charged this turn.  One bonus feature is that the power, with all attacks, applies even if the Psyker is not in base to base contact with an enemy model.  Keep that in mind, as any Power Weapon attacks are better than none.

Machine Curse: This power got a lot of hype when Codex: Eye of Terror was released, and everybody was impressed.  On further reflection, the power simply isn't nearly as good as any of the myriad other anti-armor weapons available to the Imperial Guard.  The Power has a pretty arcane set up.  First you make a psychic Check (26/36 odds).  Then you make a single close combat attack on the vehicle (odds vary, but assume 1/2 as the average, for a total 13/36 odds).  After that, you roll a d6, and on 4-5 you get a glancing hit, and on a 6 you penetrate.  This means you have a 13/72 chance of doing anything, or 18% chance.  While I'm no statistician, this isn't a really good percentage, and that's simply to get a hit, not even to actually do any damage.  Comparing this power to the 5pt Melta Bomb, which the Psyker may buy, shows that this ability is a touch underpowered to be competitive.  However, if you gain it, throw the Psyker in a squad with Melta gunners, or any front line Section, and roll the dice.

Lightning Arc: A shooty power, Arc effectively gives the Psyker d6 shots at S3, AP6.  While not bad, this is a Heavy weapon, so he can't move the turn he shoots it.  Considering that the Psyker is BS2, you'd be lucky to get a single hit all game.  Compare to the Storm Bolter for laughs, and place him in a squad that doesn't plan on moving much.

Of the powers, the real winners are Telepathic Order and Psychic Lash, both in versatility of squads that can take them, and actual strength of power.  Machine Curse and Psychic Ward have the potential to be clutch, but are both low probability of success.  Lightning Arc is simply weak.

The third, and by far the most talked about, usage for Psykers is to give them an Honorifica and a Force Weapon, and let them try to kill enemy characters.  This option does make the Psyker someone that the opponent will avoid with his Characters, as the possibility of auto-killing their Force Commander scares a lot of players.  The Honorifica give the Psyker 5 attacks on the charge, giving a reasonable chance of wounding even a T4 character (5A*1/2*1/3 = 5/6 or ~83% chance of a wound.)  After a wound is done it's only a simple psychic test, and the enemy boss is dead (5/6*26/36 = ~60%.)  With a base chance of around 60% of killing a character in base to base right out, there isn't anything not to love about this combo, is there?

Like many close combat tricks in the IG codex, the Super Psyker is a bit of a luxury.  He's not cheap at 62 points, and has to kill an average character every other game to break even.  Any form of Inv. Save will reduce the odds of hurting the character, to 40% if in Terminator armor or other 5+ save, and to 30% with a 4+ save such as an Iron Halo or Rune Armor.  The other main concern is the other all points bloat in your Counter Charge unit, which can add up really quick for what's essentially a one shot unit.  To really max out his usefulness, the Super Psyker should have an HSO and Commissar, both with fists, and can really benefit from Hardened Fighters and/or a Priest, both of which jack up the cost.

If you're looking to have a fun unit to scare your opponent, than the Super Psyker may work for you.  Remember that it promises nothing, and you may never see your points back from him, and you'll be happy when he finally slays a Chaos Lord.

Priests

Priests immediately look like a unit that's over priced and under powered.  At a second or third glace, they turn out to be heavily over priced and significantly underpowered, and grab the prize for second worst unit in the IG codex.  Priests give you a basic human stat line with an extra wound and attack, and no armor.  Naked, they do little.  Their power derives from their wargear and their special rule.  Their Fanatical rule allows their squad to re-roll misses in the first round of combat if they charge.  This is a strong ability, especially if you have two Power Fists, as your chance to hit will raise from 1/2 to 3/4 (against most opponents.)  This is balanced by the Righteous Fury rule that makes the squad always count as moving and forces it to charge while able.  While a bit of a kink, this is easily handled by moving away during the movement phase, or simply charging an enemy unit.  Seeing as Priests go in countercharge units, in general, they'll probably want to charge anyway.

The wargear available to Priests is unique to them.  While they may take standard equipment like Carapace Armor and Bolt Pistols, they may also take a range of Priest Only Items.  I'll discuss them here, rather than under Wargear, since their Usage is so restricted.

Rosarius: A 4+ Inv, it's cost and general uselessness (Priests aren't ICs, so can't be targeted, so can only take on wound a turn most times), I'm not sold on the Rosarius.  If you have the points, than knock yourself out, but most of the time Carapace will do the same thing for a fifth of the cost.

Holy Relic: This piece of wargear comes with a lot of confusion.  It may only be carried by priests, and may only be used if the bearer doesn't move. but Priests always count as moving.  The current FAQ seems to allude that you may use this item if you didn't "actually" move.   Regardless, this item gives all units within 2D6 +1 attack for the turn.  This is actually pretty strong, especially in an army with plenty of Power weapons and Fists, or even Ogryn or Rough Riders.  At 30 points, it's no bargain, but if used at the right time, it can be pretty clutch.  Remember that Priests may only take 50pts of Wargear, so won't be able to take Rosarius and a Holy Relic.

The only rub with the Relic is the sheer timing of its use involves a deft touch on the hand of the player.  I can really only recommend this item in armies with one or two strong assault units in it.  When combined with a  dual Power Fist HQ, or 10 Roughriders, or Ogryn, this item can really help to break the back of an enemy assault, especially when combined with re-rolling misses.  Also note that the Holy Relic affects "All friendly units within", which includes Kroot, Inquisitors, and Grey Knights.  All in all, the Holy Relic makes sense for an all out assault simply as it helps multiple units, especially those units that really need help.

Purity Seals: Equivalent to the Space Marine mainstay, Purity Seals are a great "just in case" item.  Being able to control your fall back isn't as good as fearlessness, but still grants you a certain amount of control.  Given that the squad will most likely be wiped out in sweeping advance, planning for the fall back is a bit far sighted.

Eviscerator: A two handed chain-fist, the Eviscerator is a wonderful weapon.  While its anti-armor abilities are supposed to make up for being two-handed, this simply isn't true for the Imperial Guard, with their plethora of strong anti-tank weaponry.  If you're truly counting on the Eviscerator to deal with tanks, then you might like it, but I find it inferior to the Power fist.  Of course, Priests can't take Fists, or everybody would.  They can, however, take Power Weapons and Holy Relics.  If you're looking to save a few points, or only carry a Command HQ as your backfield assault unit, than the Eviscerator is the best option, regardless of cost.

All in all, the Priest is not exactly the fiercest fighter available, and his Wargear limit prevents him from being completely tooled up.  Much like the Psyker, the main cost to Priests is the cost of a Doctrine point, but the actual point cost can add up quickly.  As with any other unit, ask what you want the Priest to accomplish, and kit him out to do that.  If you want another Fist, than throw the Eviscerator on him. If you want to help out a larger assault force, the Holy Relic is the way to go.  A frugal addition is simply Power Weapon and Carapace armor, to add wounds and the ability to re-roll misses in combat.  The Priest is undeniably underpowered for a dedicated HtH character, but the IG needs to work with what it has.

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