With all of Drew’s great Imperial Guard content on our blog lately, it inspired me to poke back with some guard info of my own—mostly on how to SMASH THEM! This post will kick off a new series for me, “vs”, where I’ll give you some battle-tested techniques for taking down enemy lists.
Know Your Foe. Guns and tanks, that’s about it. Guard armies are one of the easiest to plan for because you know, with only the most bizarre of exceptions, that you’ll be up against these two things. Guard rely on a massive amount of artillery to get the job done, and the have easy access to huge templates en masse. While the fusillades of heavy weapons are devastating, their large infantry platoons can be just as effective due to their numerous special weapons and model count.
However, the guard does have a few Achilles’ heels that you can exploit:
- Feebs. The only thing that dies faster in close combat are gretchin. Guardsmen are like lambs to the slaughter for almost any army, which means that if you can get into assault—you’ve probably won.
- No Psychic Defense. Let those powers loose. Blood lance, lash of submission, jaws of the world wolf, fortune… any and all will give you an edge, especially those which provide cover saves to protect you from the hour-long shooting phase you’ll endure.
- Swarms. Units of guardsmen may as well be swarms, because even a standard flamer will take a huge bite out of their numbers. Since they love to hide their huge squads behind vehicles or area terrain, flamers are a handy tool to wipe out their scoring units, of which they can field countless.
- KP Heavy. All those vehicles the guard will bring can catch up with them in the long run; their lists sometimes offer you a KP ratio approaching 2:1!
Beware. When you’re staring down the barrels of a dozen tanks, it can be intimidating, but some things are definitely meaner than others.
- Company Command Squad: This HQ will be buffing up the entire army throughout the game, and it’s usually very tough to do anything about it. Guard players love to keep their HQs very will protected, because their almost as easy to kill as regular infantry. In my experience it is better to leave them be because of the difficulty in getting to them and the certain counter attack to follow if you invest in a tactical strike against them via deep strike, etc. Work on taking down things you know you can get instead.
- Infantry Platoons & Chimeras: While easy to kill on both accounts, guardsmen can surprise you if they catch you in the open. Their transports are rugged and versatile, while many guard players can manipulate the structure of their platoons to wiggle in a variety of special weapons.
- Valkyrie/Vendetta. Probably the best all around vehicle in the guard codex because of their reliable, precision firepower and their speed. A big priority because if anything is going to get a shot on your vehicle’s side armor—it’s this.
- Hydra Flak. These suckers can run in squadrons and put out huge light-armor shots, easily chewing through monstrous creatures and transports.
- Executioner. Do you play marines? Then take this thing out quickly. One round of it shooting will wipe the floor with your toughest, most badass, and expensive unit with massive amounts of plasma!
Tactics. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned to send the guard packing up early.
- Turn order? Unless you have tricks that bring in reserves fast, I recommend that you always take the first turn with the opportunity. A full round of guard shooting will not only give them an early edge, it takes FOREVER! You could instead decide to go second and keep everything in reserve, but unless you’ve got tricks to bring them in quickly I don’t recommend it. Guard shooting at your whole army is bad, but the guard shooting at only a few units as they mingle onto the board is worse.
- Speed! Get in close as fast as you can. In every game against the guard I’ve played it’s been like trying to storm a castle wall; as soon as the line breaks, they fold.
- Target Priority. This is probably the most important aspect to being a general against a guard army. You will have so many targets that it can be hard to pick and choose. In general, it’s useful to take down the things that will keep you from getting to the guard’s front lines, because once you’re there you’ll be in fine shape. Know where you’re vulnerable, and kill whatever the guard has that will exploit that weakness.
- Parking Lot. This is a great tactic to screw with guard players because it uses their tools against them. Position your army in tight formations so that the guard’s gunline becomes less effective. In general, you’ll want to go in the direction that his big guns aren’t, this way he’ll bunch up in an attempt to get line of sight to hit you. You’ll get easy cover saves, and in the best case find all his weak units in a row for a multiassault.
- Outflank. Guard players will usually have their heavy ordinance sitting in their backfield, where it shoots over anything to deny cover. They rarely move these vehicles, since their range is so huge and they don’t need line of sight—which means that they are vulnerable to sneaky assaulters.