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Leadership and Morale

Submitted By: CheeseThief Date: April 20, 2007, 02:15:28 PM Views: 2874

1-0   Introduction

In the midst of genetically engineered super beings, alien killing machines, warrior- mystics and technology that approaches sorcery in its sophistication, the Imperial Guard are mere soldiers. As it turns out, most of them are cowardly little girly men when it comes down to it; but there are a few ways for you to make them fight to the bitter end and not give it a second thought.

This article will discuss the ways in which an Imperial Guard commander may utilise all the morale-improving options available to them in Codex: Imperial Guard. Including all Doctrines, wargear and character options, this tactica will arm any Guard player with the knowledge they need to make a rock-hard army that will never flee for a minimum number of points.

2-0   Characters

2-1   Officers
The Junior Officers are where most of your morale will come from in any game that you play. Being the most common and the cheapest Officers, they are the poorest Leadership-providing Characters in our codex. Having the same Leadership value as Hardened Veterans or Storm Troopers, in the end the Junior Officer is a Guardsman with an extra point of Leadership. They do however still remain an Officer and so benefit from all the Doctrines and wargear. Not only that, but being an Officer lets the Junior Officer spread his Leadership and added bonuses over a 12" radius around him.

The "command bubble" surrounding the Officer in effect gives all your units in the surrounding area Leadership 8 or higher, depending on how you equip the Officer. The command bubble will cease to work when the Officer is either in close combat, pinned, or dead. Since one usually leads to the other, you will more often than not lose your Officer and any Leadership he provides should your Officer reach close combat.

There are two types of Officers that you will be using for morale purposes: the Junior Officer and the Heroic Senior Officer. You will almost always have a Junior Officer somewhere in your army as they are mandatory choices that need to be taken with every Infantry and Heavy Weapons Platoon. The Junior Officer is cheaper and provides less Leadership but is always around, and as you will usually have more than one, is expendable. The Heroic Senior Officer can only be taken in the Command Squad of your army and is superior to the Junior Officer in every way, having a higher Leadership value and more Wounds to keep him alive longer.

The amount of wargear which can boost the Leadership given to the surrounding troops is staggering, but most of it is worthless. Equipping your Officers will be gone into in section <i>4-1   Selecting Upgrades and Doctrines.

Senior Officers have the same Leadership attribute as Junior Officers and are mainly used for close combat support. Since the command bubble does not work in close combat, a Senior Officer should never be taken for morale purposes.

2-2   Commissars
Commissars are Characters which should always follow morale Officers into battle to improve their effectiveness. As a Commissar is someone who administers beatings to improve morale, you do not want to take more than are required. Taking more Commissars than required will become very expensive and reduce the effectiveness of your army, so take no more than one Commissar, attached to your Command HQ. Attaching Commissars to Platoon HQ units dilutes their effectiveness.

The key to using a Commissar effectively is to not have him blow the Officer away whenever he fails a Morale check. This can be achieved with good placement behind cover and the usage of a vox network, or simply by getting the Command Squad lost in a huge mass of Guardsmen somewhere. While a Commissar can be equipped to be strong in close combat, the Officer he is attached to will lose the command bubble in assault and so close combat Commissars are not applicable to this section.

When choosing an Officer to assign a Commissar to, the price for the additional point of Leadership should be noted. It is cheaper to upgrade a Junior Officer to a Heroic Senior Officer - either through plain purchase or a Honorifica Imperialis - than it is to buy the Junior Officer and attached Commissar. Due to the cost difference a Commissar should only ever be purchased for a Heroic Senior Officer, not for a Junior Officer. Assigning a Commissar to a Heroic Senior Officer will improve the Officer's Leadership to a mighty fine 10. How we use and equip this  will be discussed in 4-1 Selecting Upgrades and Doctrines.

2-3   Psykers
A Psyker is a very limited means of improving an Officer's Leadership output. If a Psyker is lucky enough to roll a 2 for his Psychic power selection and obtain "Telepathic Order", he is very beneficial to an Officer by increasing the command bubble to an 18" radius. The chances of this happening are very poor, so one should not rely on a Psyker to improve an Officer's morale output. A cheap extra wound to keep the Officer alive is always welcome though.

3-0   Wargear and Equipment

3-1   Armoury and Upgrades
There are three items in the Imperial Guard Armoury that relay and/or improve morale: company standards, trademark items and the Honorifica Imperialis.

Company standards are the most common morale-improving piece of wargear you will be taking. It is effective and cheap enough to be taken in small games and still provide enough of a boon to be useful in bigger ones too. The company standard allows you to re-roll any failed Morale checks within 12" of it: the same distance as the Officer's command bubble. Note that not all units benefit from this. The inclusion of a company standard can make a Junior Officer superior to a Heroic Senior Officer in rallying troops.

Trademark items allow units equipped with them to re-roll any failed Morale checks or Pinning tests. While equipping most Command Squads with these can become quite expensive and worthless, Hardened Veterans led by a Sergeant can make good use of this upgrade, essentially giving them their own mini company standard when they are away from the actual one.

The Honorifica Imperialis, when used as a morale-boosting upgrade, should always be issued to an Officer to make full use of the command bubble. This upgrades any model's attributes to those of a Heroic Senior Officer, and can be used to get you a cheaper Heroic Senior Officer for your Command HQ, or a second Heroic Senior Officer to help cover your Infantry squads.

Squad upgrades are a bit more common and mainly revolve around the Sergeant upgrades or a vox-caster, but due to prohibitive costs only one or the other should be taken.

Sergeant upgrades improve a squad's Leadership by one and usually increase the Sergeant's other attributes in the process. Usually this brings the squad up to a Leadership value of 8 which is not much better than the base number and does not justify its cost. However, with the addition of a few Doctrines this can be raised to higher levels.

Vox-casters are individually cheaper than all the Sergeant upgrades and on their own give the same Leadership boost of 8 when attached to a Junior Officer. The vox network however requires a much larger investment to become productive, up to 90 points more in fact. But it gives access to a much higher value for your squads than the Sergeant upgrade is able. The downside to vox-casters is that, other than the Commissar who directly affects the Officer's base Leadership, no doctrines or wargear item effects are carried down the vox network. So tooling a vox command squad up for more than it's worth is in the end, only wasting points. An important point to note about vox networks: a vox-caster in a Command Squad can only send the Officer's Leadership to a single squad, but that squad can draw on that Leadership as many times as required. The master-vox upgrade for the network however lets as many squads as needed contact the officer, but only once each.

3-2   Doctrines
While Doctrines are not required to get the highest Leadership levels in your army, they can help in smaller games where you cannot afford to take over 150 points of vox network or upgrade every Platoon HQ with a Commissar. Most Doctrines do not boost the overall Leadership at all but allow other ways for you to stop your squads running off the board. Doctrines which provide a boost to the general Leadership and morale of your squads are: Die-Hards, Iron Discipline, Independent Commissars, Close Order Drill and Chem-Inhalers.

The Die-Hards Doctrine lets your units ignore all negative modifiers to their Leadership for being outnumbered in close combat. The problem with this Doctrine for the purposes of morale is that if you are outnumbered in close combat as the Guard then you won't be needing morale for very much longer anyway. This is generally not a very good Doctrine to take for any decent boost to morale.

Iron Discipline is one of the best ways to improve the overall morale of your army. Available to any Officer for a very low price, this Doctrine lets you ignore the modifier for being under half strength and lets you regroup regardless of being under half strength. While it offers no additional morale, it allows your squads to continue fighting even when they are depleted and have begun to fall back.

Independent Commissars is a Doctrine which replaces the Advisors rule for Commissars and makes them a 1-3 Elites choice. While you pay extra for the Commissar, it allows you to place them where you were unable to before. In Conscript Platoons for example. Good if you are taking Conscripts, but not that good for anything else.

Close Order Drill is a mandatory Doctrine if you are going to make extensive use of the Sergeant upgrades to improve your squads' morale. When in appropriate formation Close Order Drill will provide a bonus to Leadership and Initiative. Coupled with the Sergeant upgrades, in Infantry Platoons your basic squads can have a Leadership of 9 and are not dependant on an Officer or an expensive vox network. Close Order Drill is a free Doctrine but makes your squads more susceptible to Blast markers. Close Order Drill only works on the squad that is in the correct formation itself, so don't get any ideas about keeping your Officers in formation to get an extra point on the command bubble.

The only Special Equipment Doctrine to have any effect on morale, Chem-Inhalers is the best morale-improving Doctrine available but comes at a very steep price. Chem-Inhalers weighs in at almost twice the price of every other option available and, being a Special Equipment Doctrine, must be given to every squad which can take it. It however lives up to its cost: squads given this Doctrine will ignore all Leadership modifiers for any Leadership test they make, and if they fail a test from shooting casualties they will be pinned instead of falling back. This means you effectively have to kill the whole squad to get rid of it, as it will almost never fall back. This Doctrine's main claim to fame is that it makes your army nigh immune to the Space Marine psychic power "Fear of the Darkness". If psychic hoods, troops dispersal and transport vehicles provide no solution to that Psychic power, Chem-Inhalers might just be for you. Chem-Inhalers will not appear in section 4 because it is more of a fluffy choice than a straightforward piece of wargear. As it can be added to any of the equipment suggestions listed in section 4, it is left to your discretion whether to include it in your army or not. Chem-Inhalers cannot be taken with the Die-Hards or Iron Discipline Doctrines.

While not part of the codex, the White Dwarf Doctrine Afriel Strain will be included here due to popular demand. As with Chem-Inhalers, it can be issued to any squad on top of other wargear and morale equipment listed in section 4. The bonuses conferred by Afriel Strain are very powerful, conferring the once exclusively Space Marine rule of "And They Shall Know No Fear" to your Guardsmen, along with some very negligible downsides, and at an incredible price. While it does require two Doctrine points to field, this Doctrine is superior to even the mighty Chem-Inhalers.

Due to the fact that you need UK White Dwarf Issue #303 (US #302) for this Doctrine, it is not normally allowed in tournaments. An opponent's permission must be granted in friendly games. This section is only here due to popular demand and no further details will be gone into.

4-0   Selecting Upgrades and Doctrines

How you should equip your Officers for morale highly depends on what style of army you are playing. A Mechanised army would fare better with either vox networks or Sergeant upgrades with Close Order Drill. Infantry-heavy armies would fare better with a company standard and Iron Discipline, or if morale is really a thorn in your side, a vox network and Chem-Inhalers will see you never need to fall back again. This section will go through how to equip your Officers to suit as many situations as possible.

For games that are less than 1000 points in size you will want to go with some of the cheaper options.

Stick Close to the Sarge!
Veteran Sergeants will let you upgrade every squad for less than 10 points each. When taken with Close Order Drill this will allow for a nice high Leadership of 9 when in the correct formation. But it will get confusing when every single one of your squads has  different Leadership attributes. While it is possible to use this at higher levels of points the more expensive options will become available and possibly better for you.

Keeping your troops in Close Order Drill formation all the time will make them very susceptible to Blast markers, especially Ordnance. As Close Order Drill is a free Doctrine you are not losing anything by not using it. You are however not gaining the bonuses either so it's a tradeoff: lower Leadership but fewer Morale checks due to troop dispersal.

While without Close Order Drill the Sergeant upgrades are worthless in Infantry Squads thanks to an Officer's Leadership bubble, squads that will be operating away from Officers, like Armoured Fist squads, can make great use of these upgrades.

Beatings will continue until morale improves!
Iron Discipline is the easiest and cheapest way to improve morale in a small army. For very few points you can equip all your Officers with this Doctrine and then use them to cover your army to regroup any who begin to fall back. With all your squads under the Officers' command bubbles they will have the Officers' Leadership to improve their morale. Leadership however stays low with this tactic, using the Officers more to catch those who begin to fall back than to prevent them.

Being very low on points you will mainly be using the lower Leaderships of your Officers so when the Morale checks start rolling, do not expect this to go as far as some of the more expensive morale improvements. The upside to this Doctrine is that it can be taken in addition to most of the more expensive solutions to the morale problem.

Waving the flag!
This is a simple cheap way to improve your morale. Take a company standard and let squads around you re-roll failed Morale checks. Very cheap and basically an addition to either of the two listed above, this will let you make the most of your comparatively low Leadership and ensure you catch those would-be retreating squads and keep them in the fight.

The above methods are the cheapest available, making them suitable for smaller games of 1000 points and below. The following changes are recommended only for 1500-point games and above as they tend to get very expensive but will be superior to those listed above. While the following may give you a higher Leadership and keep your retreating troops to a minimum, it does not mean that those listed above should just not be taken.

The minor description doesn't do this suggestion any justice. The bonuses provided by a company standard make a Junior Officer superior to even a Heroic Senior Officer when it comes to raising the spirits of those around him and make this simple piece of wargear very powerful when used correctly. Naturally, a Heroic Senior Officer with company standard still outperforms a Junior Officer with one. It's just that a Junior Officer with company standard is better than a Heroic Senior Officer without one.

Heroically leading from the back!
This is the only vox network I would recommend since they require a rather large amount of points put aside to make them worthwhile. Taking a Heroic Senior Officer and a Commissar will give this squad Leadership 10. This is the first of two methods that will require both a Heroic Senior Officer and a Commissar. The addition of the mandatory master-vox into the Command HQ will bring this squad up to a bare minimum of 130 points. Once you have got the basic infrastructure for your vox network you then need to give all your squads a vox-caster so they may make use of the network.

A completely equipped and set-up vox network should effectively give all your squads Leadership 10. Using a lower basic Leadership in your Command HQ effectively does the same thing that the Sergeant upgrades and Close Order Drill do, except for a lot more points. The main drawback for this setup is that if your Command HQ dies, or the Commissar executes the Officer for failing a Morale check pertaining to his own squad, then this whole setup is for naught.

The most effective way to keep your vox network alive is to keep the lynchpin squad (Command HQ) off the table for as long as possible. Since the vox network does not even need to be on the table to work, taking the Drop Troops Doctrine and a vehicle with improved comms can keep your lynchpin squad off the table for quite a long while. If you are not using any Doctrines or already have a full set, hiding the Command HQ somewhere is the next best thing. A Chimera or a sturdy piece of terrain at the back of the board will usually suffice.

Vox networks are very handy against things that lower your squads' Leadership. A Culexus Assassin will lose its Leadership-lowering special abilities to a vox network as it lets the squad use the Officer's Leadership, who is tucked away safe on the other side of the table and unaffected. Psychic scream and others are all rendered equally ineffective. You don't strictly need a vox network for this, but it's a bit harder to use the command bubble while remaining out of the Culexus Assassin's area of effect.

Waving the flag higher!
This is the second use of the Heroic Senior Officer and Commissar tag team. This is just a larger version of the "Waving the flag" method listed above so I will not go into so much detail in describing this.

The basic equipment of this Command HQ should be a Heroic Senior Officer, a Commissar and a company standard. This will give all troops within the Officer's command bubble a re-rollable Leadership 10, the highest Leadership in the game. Keeping the Command HQ as close as possible to your troops is one thing, keeping it alive is another.

The best way to keep this Command HQ alive is to hide this squad, behind a sturdy vehicle like a Leman Russ or impassible piece of terrain that is still near to your troops. If you are unable to do this then making other things look extremely menacing will have to suffice. The key to knowing how and when to use this style of Command HQ is an art unto itself. But it is well worth it in armies with low numbers of troops. It is not as effective overall as a vox network in larger games but the novelty of having basically morale-immune Imperial Guard is just too good to miss.

5-0   Conclusion
So concludes this tactica about how to equip and prepare your army morale wise for whatever challenges that lie in wait for your Guardsmen. While you may never need to go into much effort outside of key positioning and tactics, forewarned is forearmed.

Besides, having basically Fearless Guardsmen is just too fun to pass up.

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