Tactica Remnants Squads

Submitted By: PaxImperator Date: December 20, 2005, 11:42:33 AM Views: 3906


Imperial Guard infantry platoons have the option of including up to one remnants squad instead of a normal infantry squad. This represents the infantry platoon having been in action before, and having suffered some attrition. After the fighting dies down, men are moved between squads and some squads are disbanded in an effort to keep as many squads as possible at full strength. There may be troops left over from this process, and these are organized into a remnants squad.

But what is the use of such a squad? The great strength of the Imperial Guard lies in its numerous heavy weapons. Remnants squads have no access to these, so they are useless at first glance. However, the opposite is true. They can in fact be a crucial part of many an Imperial Guard army, and this article explains how.

Tactical Roles:

Assault Squad:
A somewhat deceiving designation, as this squad's role is certainly not to engage the enemy in close combat and come out on top. Instead, their job is to die in assault. The reasoning behind this tactic is that you're going to get charged no matter what, and it's better to lose a cheap remnants squad than a full strength infantry squad with precious special and heavy weaponry. This is by far the best way to utilise a remnants squad in my opinion.

This type of squad is deployed at the very front of the army, between your own infantry squads and dangerous enemy assault units. A long wide line is a good formation to deploy the squad in, as it is the most prohibitive of enemy movement. The sergeant and special weapons trooper (if present) should be placed as centrally within the unit as possible. This is the best way to keep them safe, and it prevents them from being on the wrong flank of the squad if the enemy somehow attacks from the side.

The assault squad is to move to interpose itself between the enemy assault squad and your own troops, and tempt them to charge. Whatever you do in the turn prior to the enemy assault hitting your assault squad, always position the squad in such a way that not all of your models will end up in base to base contact with an enemy. A formation of three men spread out in a long line with two more the maximum distance behind them is good here. Ideally, you want as many of your models as possible to end up in the kill zone, but as few as possible actually in base to base contact. Any models that are particularly important should usually agglomerate near the back. The remnants squad must always be a considerable distance away from any friendly troops. Over 3" is usually enough, but over 6" is preferable. Don't take any risks here. It is absolutely imperative that the assault squad is far enough away from any friendly troops.

In the assault squad's last shooting phase before the enemy reach them, you will usually be within 12" of the enemy. Give them hell with all the firepower your squad's got. In some cases, it may instead be preferable to assault the enemy before they get their turn. Enemy anti-tank squads with melta weaponry that are within range of your tanks come to mind, or jump pack or bike assault squads that have enough movement to reach one of your more valuable squads. In these cases, you absolutely want to deny them use of the movement, shooting and assault phases of their turn. Launching an assault of your own is a risky choice however, and should only be done in the above cases.

If you do launch the assault, make sure that you will not run away or get wiped out in your own turn's assault phase, but that you will run away or get wiped out in the enemy's assault phase. Running away or getting wiped out in your own turn not only gives the enemy some bonus movement, but it also allows them full use of their own turn, with potentially fatal results for your other troops in the vicinity. If you run away or get wiped out in the enemy's  turn however, you will then have your turn, and the opportunity to blast the exposed enemy assault unit to smithereens.

Surviving your own turn's assault phase if you launched the assault can be achieved by positioning your own assault squad with as many of your own models as possible within 5"-6" of as few enemy models as possible during your own movement phase. You'll only reach a few enemies this way, and you'll suffer minimal casualties. Beware squads with the counterassault special rule, because they are more than capable of wiping you out during your own assault phase. A pre-emptive charge just doesn't work against them.

Assuming you didn't launch an assault during your own turn, the enemy assault squad will have several options. They can either move around you, shoot you or assault you. The first two will be sure to leave them stranded and wasting their time within line of sight of your main firing lines. As sure a way to die as any. Most will opt to assault you.

If your opponent is foolish enough to shoot before assaulting, it may be possible for you to remove models in such a way that the enemy will be out of assault range. If you opted to upgrade your sergeant to veteran status, it can be beneficial to remove him at this stage, making it more likely that the squad will fail their 25% shooting casualties morale check and run away out of assault range.

If the enemy successfully launch an assault, you will be able to dictate the outcome through careful casualty removal. There are two basic philosophies here: conserving lives and safety.

To save lives, you should first remove casualties from base to base contact. While this means you won't be able to strike back at the enemy, any slower enemy models won't be able to attack you either. You should have one or two models still alive at the end of the assault phase, and everything comes down to their leadership test. You really want to fail it. Remember that you don't have to use a company standard's re-roll or officer's leadership rule. You must, however, use the highest leadership within the squad. That means it's a good idea to remove the veteran sergeant (if you've taken one) to lower the squad's leadership. Given the likely outnumbering and understrength leadership modifiers, you'll probably fail your test. You run away without the enemy being able to pursue you and all is well. If you passed the test, you'll have to throw another squad into the assault in your turn, to prevent the assault from ending during your own turn. As you can see, conserving lives can be risky. The advantage is that you'll have a few models left, hopefully with a special weapon that can shoot at the enemy assault squad during your own turn. You're also saving a few victory points.

The other basic philosophy is safety. Instead of immediately removing all casualties from base to base contact, you hold off on removing anybody who's engaged with an enemy that hasn't struck yet. These tend to be power fist equipped, so your own models' chances of surviving should be minimal. If all goes well, your squad will be wiped out and you won't have to worry about failing your morale check. The enemy gets a D6 massacre move and your turn follows, with an enemy assault squad in plain view of your main firing lines.

Which of these two philosophies to use depends on the circumstances. If you don't have any useful special weapon, there is less need to conserve lives. If the enemy assault squad won't be outnumbering you badly by the end of the assault phase, you'll be less likely to fail your morale check so it may be more beneficial to try to get wiped out. If the enemy assault squad contains models with different initiatives and the slower ones aren't very lethal, it may be better to immediately remove casualties from base to base to make sure the enemy won't be able to pursue you when you fail your morale check.

In summary, an assault squad's task is to leave enemy assaulters stranded in the open in front of your main firing lines. If that means the assault squad must die, so be it. Some may point out that by moving forward, you're effectively speeding up your opponent's advance by granting him assault and consolidation moves. This need not be a problem however, because any squad that accepts this bonus movement must also accept being rapid fired at by a very significant part of an Imperial Guard army. Massed rapid fire is far more devastating than any long-range shooting. Luring one or a select few enemy units into your kill zone at a time is the key to victory. This prevents a scenario where multiple large, dangerous assault units make it into your kill zone, where you don't have the firepower to stop them all in one single turn. Using remnants squads as assault squads allows you to take the rapid fire annihilation part of the game and stretch it out over multiple turns, ensuring you'll neatly butcher enemy units one by one.

Special Weapon Squad:
Not to be confused with the special weapons support squad from the command platoon. A special weapon squad aims to throw firepower downrange at a bargain price. It's not as cost effective as a veteran squad, command squad or a full strength infantry squad, but it's cheaper. In the 13"-24" range and on the move, it can actually throw out more firepower per point than a normal infantry squad. Command and veteran squads are even better at this, but you can only have so many of those, and the need to keep them safe may make the inclusion of a special weapon squad desirable. Their small size makes it possible to hug cover or stay out of sight of enemies you don't want to engage in a firefight. Their excellent mobility and low ranking on your opponent's target priority list also mean that you can use them quite a bit in front of your main lines without too much risk, potentially getting some nice side shots at enemy vehicles. Alternatively, you can keep them with your main firing lines and just let the squad watch the special weapon trooper go about his business. You should not factor the casualties they cause into your gameplan. Rather see their main role as that of harassment, and consider any casualties inflicted as an added bonus.

A popular and specialised variant of the special weapon squad is the flamer team. It's a minimum sized remnants squad with a flamer and a sergeant equipped for assault. This unit's task is to stay behind frontline infantry squads and wait to use their flamer until the enemy has assaulted and broken the front unit. A remnants squad is perfect for this task because its low cost makes it more expendable, an essential characteristic of any squad intending to use a flamer. If the need arises it can also charge into assault itself, for example when the assault is likely to end in your own turn rather than the enemy's. In this scenario it is the perfect choice as well. Its cheapness means it won't be missed too badly and it's generally just large enough to hold on in your own assault phase, and just small enough to get wiped out or chased off in the enemy assault phase.

Scoring unit:
Remnants squads make for great scoring units. They're dirt cheap and the firepower you waste by moving them is negligible, but they are just as capable of contesting a table quarter as any other choice available to the Imperial Guard commander.

Shooting Screen:
This is the least useful role, and should generally be seen as a last resort if there are no other roles to perform during the particular game you're playing. It's only of use against predominantly shooty enemies like Tau, other Imperial Guard or some space marine armies. A shooting screen will advance towards the enemy at all possible speed, trying to pose a threat to them as quickly as possible. You should always make use of cover to increase the squad's survivability. If you happen across a nice solid piece of cover between your own and the enemy's army, you can opt to either continue the advance or to hunker down.

Keeping up the advance gives you a chance, though small, at engaging one of the enemy's shooting units in assault. In a best case scenario, you'll perhaps tie them up for an assault phase or two. In the more likely worst case scenario, your shooting screen will be wiped out by close range enemy shooting as they break cover.

If you decide to hunker down, you are now forcing most of your opponent's army to take target priority checks to shoot at anything but the remnants squad. The advantage you gain is two-fold: your opponent is wasting shots at a unit he didn't want to shoot and the remnants squad will be in better cover and therefore more survivable than the squads it's protecting.

As you can see, some of these tactical roles can be combined. You could use a special weapon squad to perform the role of shooting screen, or you could use your assault squad as a scoring unit against an enemy that won't assault you.

Unit Options:

What you give to your remnants squad should be dictated by the role you want it to perform. Try not to multi-task. You'll just waste points to make your squad less good at every role while you should be using fewer points to make your squad better at the one role you want it to perform.

The minimum unit size is nearly always best. Something could be said for the inclusion of a sixth man however. It'll then take four casualties to reduce the squad to below half strength. The real punch a remnants squad packs comes from its special weapon, and adding more men doesn't offer that much extra in the way of hitting power.

The sergeant can replace his lasgun with a laspistol and close combat weapon or shotgun. If it's a good idea to change weapons depends on the role of the squad. A laspistol and close combat weapon or a shotgun is obviously the right choice for an assault squad. Special weapon squads, scoring units and shooting screens could benefit from a sergeant with any of the three weapons, depending on how much they need to move around and how close they're supposed to get to the enemy.

A meltagun is an interesting choice in that it allows you to threaten even the very heaviest of enemy vehicles. The short range and single shot it fires seriously reduce its usefulness however. A remnants squad just can't get enough of them to compensate for their low ballistic skill. It's usually best left at home. If you do want to take it, its place is in an assault squad where it'll be sure to get close enough to the enemy. Its main effect is of a psychological nature, because opponents tend to overestimate its usefulness. This can lead to the remnants squad rising to the top of your opponent's target priority list, or to your opponent avoiding the squad like the plague with his armour. Whether either of those is a good thing depends on what you want the squad to achieve.

A plasma gun is an excellent choice on the other hand. It combines range with good strength, AP and multiple shots at close range. The only bad thing you can say about it is that you can't fire it and assault in the same turn. Still, there's a place for a plasma gun in any kind of remnants squad. An assault squad can use it to inflict a casualty within rapid fire range, a special weapon squad can use it to great effect and even a scoring unit or shooting screen can benefit from the presence of a plasma gunner.

Grenade launchers are most useful in special weapon squads, but scoring units and shooting screens can utilise them as well. The only reason to take a grenade launcher over a plasma gun is its assault weapon status. So make use of it and stay on the move and out of rapid fire range. If you can't do either of those, you should've taken a plasma gun or no special weapon at all.

Flamers are a great option for assault squads. They're cheap and will be sure to get close enough to be used. Not needing to hit and being able to hit multiple enemies makes them great value for points. None of the other squad types have much or any use for a flamer however.

Vox-caster & Grenades:
Upgrading a model to bear a vox-caster should almost never be done. You should either rely on officers' or a veteran sergeant's leadership. Assault squads want to run away most of the time so using a vox-caster is actually counterproductive. I could see some special weapon squads and shooting screens wanting the leadership, but a veteran sergeant can be used more than once per turn, unlike a vox-caster. And he also gives you access to some useful weapons options.

The question of whether or not to arm your remnants squad with grenades is easily answered. Did you see the words "cover" or "light vehicle hunters" at any point of this article? The answer is no. Grenades are a complete waste of points as they supply insignificant bonuses at a too great cost, and not nearly frequently enough. They should be left at home.

There are two possible reasons for upgrading a sergeant to veteran status. Leadership and getting access to some items from the armoury. Assault squads will nearly always want to run away, so the veteran sergeant would be counterproductive there. Special weapon squads and shooting screens might well have some use for the improved leadership however. Scoring units should be kept as cheap as possible because the only reason to take them in the first place is the fact that they're inexpensive. There are a few items from the armoury that you may want to give your veteran sergeant, depending on his squad's role:

A plasma pistol paired with a plasma gun can be semi-useful for a special weapon squad. It gives you another potentially crucial shot at short range that might make all the difference. Then again, it might not. It's a bit of a gamble because it certainly won't always justify its inclusion.

A storm bolter is a less risky investment. It can be useful in a mobile special weapon squad with grenade launcher. As long as you can stay 13"-24" from the enemy, you can likely make a nuisance of yourself and perhaps even contest a table quarter at the end of the game.

Melta bombs are potentially a useful item. They're effectively an inconspicuous meltagun that doesn't take up the squad's only special weapon slot and that's better against stationary vehicles and worse against rapidly moving ones. They might make back their points in the occasional game if your remnants squad is going to go after tanks anyway.


There is a great many doctrines to choose from, but I'll only mention the ones that are actually worthwhile to upgrade a remnants squad with.

Drop troops is free and adds some very interesting possibilities. Your special weapon squad could go hunt enemy tanks' rear armour, or a scoring unit could deep strike out of line of sight in a far corner of the table to capture a table quarter.

Close order drill is another free doctrine and therefore worth consideration as well. Its use is entirely optional so even an assault squad that will nearly always want to run away has a use for it.

Afriel Strain is perhaps the ultimate assault squad doctrine. Firstly, it increases the likelihood of the enemy wiping you out. Secondly, if there are some that make it out alive, they will be better able to use their special weapons to retaliate. And all of that at a very small cost. The only disadvantages lie in the allies and doctrines restrictions Afriel Strain imposes on you.


In conclusion I can say that remnants squads can be a crucial part of any battleplan, and that they are well worth your consideration. Cunning, but more importantly unscrupulous use of these men's lives can win you the battle. The assault squad role is by far the best one for a remnants squad to perform, as it takes all of an otherwise pathetic unit's weaknesses and turns them into strengths. I hope you'll give them a try in a game sometime soon to see how they work for you.

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