Monday, June 6

The Old Guard Perspective.

 The Old Guard Perspective: 
Guest Post by Dragoon 6

     I have been playing Imperial Guard for a going on eight years now. In may of 2009, mere weeks after the arrival of the latest version of the IG Codex, I went to Basic Training
(USAF). Ever since I have been forced to be a casual player, but remain an intense observer. I am looking to get back in again after two years away, and I have no real desire to try a new
faction. This series of articles will be an in-depth look at how and why I choose my build. Hopefully the thoughts I share will give other players a new perspective on Imperial
Guard, the people who play that faction, and perhaps 40K in general.
     One of the most critical things to understand when going through and revisiting ideas is that you must know as much about where you've come from as you do about where
you are. So in that Spirit, we will go through the recent history of the Imperial Guard in the context of 40K in general.
 One of the best places to start, I think, is with my old list.

  Codex: Imperial Guard (4th Ed) 2000 pts.
  Heroic Senior Officer
   -power Weapon
   -4 guardsmen
    + Veterans
    + Las-pistol and Close Combat Weapon (CCW)
 4 Heavy Weapon Squads
   - 2 anit-Infantry Supports Squads: 6 Autocannons
   - 2 Anit-Tank Support Squads: 6 Missle Launchers

Troops:  Infantry Platoon 1
   Junior Officer
    4 guardsmen
    - Flamer x4
  Infantry Squads x3
   - Grenade Launchers x3
  Infantry Platoon 2
   as 1st platoon
  Veteran Squad:
   Veteran x5
    -Plasma gun x3
    -Plasma pistol x1
  Veteran Squad 2
    as VS1

  Veteran Squad 3
    as VS1
Heavy Support Leman Russ
 Lemas Russ
  - Heavy Bolter Sponsons
 Leman Russ Demolisher

Veterans: Allows more than one unit of veterans to be selected
Close Order Drill: When all models in a unit are in base to base with themselves, the unit gains +1 Ld. and Init
Light Infantry: Units may not have Heavy Weapons, but may infiltrate
Sharpshooters: A unit with this Doctrine may re-roll to-hit rolls with  a "1" as a result during the shooting phase
Camo-Cloaks: The Unit gains +1 bonus to cover saves.
 To some of you, this list is incomprehensible, but for now that's ok. The next step is to take a good look at what has happened. I remember like it was only yesterday... 
  JULY, 2008
     It is the waning of the 4th Edition era. Amid the speculation and anticipation about the upcoming 5th Ed core rulebook, Orks have a taken a codex released a few months earlier and riden from the bottom all the way to the tippy top of the metagame. On the shoulders of lootas, Nob Bikers, reduced costs for boyz, and the Power of the WAAAAGH, they have cut a huge,  bloody swath of victories across tournaments everywhere. At the highest levels, Necrons take top honors at the first annual 'Ard Boyz finals. Meanwhile, life as a Guard commander is difficult. The 4th ed codex has a few shining points to it that have allowed particularly canny players to eek out semi-consistent wins. However, the book has an inflexible HQ section, rigid and wasteful troop requirements, and Fast Attack options that are weak and overcosted. This forces an over-reliance on Heavy Support and strike team style Elites play which expose glaring weaknesses in guard commanders' battle plans. This renders them vulnerable to bad luck, a mis-match, or skillful enemy exploitation.
    Imperial Guard are consistently rated as one of the most difficult armies to build and play. Those that can win with them are ruthless and calculating folk that spend every single point they are allotted in a miserly fashion. They make every move with care, knowing the consequences of their actions. To be a Guard Commander during this time is to know that you start every game behind, and that you must play faultlessly to achieve victory.

     The new Space Marines codex has arrived, along with the new and much talked about 5th edition rules. The latest power builds coming out of the Space Marines book  vie for dominance against honed and established Ork, Eldar, and Demon builds. Out of the spotlight, the IG community quietly learns to exploit the critical rule changes, while rumors begin circulating of great and terrible things in a new IG book. Many rules changed in 5th ed, bringing easier victory to some, and total ruin to others. The Necrons, who just six months ago were kings of the mountain, are struggling desperately to keep up after losing effectiveness in nearly every aspect of the game. These are the rules that most promise a brighter future for the Guard:

  1. True Line of Sight.
Even today terrain struggles to keep the advantage gained by this change in check. Three years ago, no store or tourny was remotely prepared for this
change.  While a mere blade of grass can grant a cover save, IG gains the opportunity to shoot at it's opponents through almost any terrain piece that can be mustered
at the time. Allowing the guard to engage their enemies at range, where they are without peer, proves a decisive advantage.

  2.Close Combat: Moving to engage and Sweeping Advance.   By allowing units that are assaulted to move back against the assaulting unit, the guard can ensure that either they get a chance to try and inflict a little damage in
 return, or more often, make sure the whole Guard unit dies. Since enemies can no longer engage a new unit in close combat, this allows the guard to "bump and shoot" dangerous close combat enemies in a more controlled manner, allowing more resources to engage other, later threats. This forces enemy commanders to find ways to get multiple units into melee, but this is very difficult for them because of the True Los rules.

  3. New Vehicle Damage Chart.   The new found survivbility of all tanks is a boon to nearly everyone.  Because IG still has to rely on their Leman Russes to carry them to victory,
the boost benefits them more than most other factions. This is especially true since guard normally have more chances than the average army to get shots at range. The boost to others is mitigated somewhat by the volume of fire the guard players are able to put out. This frees up commanders' target priority a little, allowing for longer term game plans and better strategic leverage of their Heavy Support selections.

  4. Run  At this time, IG has extremely limited access to troop transports. Because of this fact, the run rule becomes critical in allowing the now all important troops choices to get to the objectives that dominated the game surface.  
     Armed with these new powers, the elite cadre of the IG community begin to make strong showings at the mid and higher level tournaments.
There are some in community, myself included, that believe the 5th edition rules have more to do with the emergence of IG as a dominant force than the new codex did. It is difficult to conclusively argue this case, because there were few guard players to collect data from, and the new Codex came out so quickly after the core book. Speaking of...

  MAY 14, 2009
     Codex: Imperial Guard hits the shelves of hobby stores. For the IG Community, this is the culmination of over 8 months of wild speculation and excitedly whispered rumors. While there is general disappointment at the loss of the Doctrine system and enormous contention on certain units, as a whole the codex is everything the community had dared to hope for and more.
    For the very first time in faction history, there is a flexible troops selection. The Fast Attack section has benefited from new, improved, and potent options. There is more than one HQ choice. The officers, which had previously been viewed as mostly dead weight and wasted points, now provide a valuable support function.The Heavy Support section, always the mainstay of a guard army, has been expanded from three vehicles to almost two dozen. However, one very crucial unit has been changed that will effect the entirety of 40K: The Chimera.
       Previously, access to these "ubiquitous" vehicles was sharply limited, and were costly for the benefit provided. Mine were minimally equipped and came in at
112 points each. It was common to see them hit with 135 points. Today those same vehicles cost a mere 62 when built as mine were, and even have a few extras on top of that.
What used to be half a dozen hull-mounted las-guns, becomes five fire-points, allowing you fire what you have the squad equipped with without the risk of making the blasted thing open-topped. And most critically, you can give one to just about anybody, without needing to fill in any other prerequisites. Cheaper, more effective, and now widely
available. This is an extremely potent change indeed.
     Now Guard players suddenly had the tools to fully exploit the rules changes they had found in the 5th edition book, and were suddenly a powerful force to be reckoned with. Just how powerful, was revealed far sooner than any of the IG community ever anticipated...

  SEPTEMBER 19. 2008     A mere 4 months after the books' release, Darkwynn bucks conventional old IG wisdom to shock the entire 40K community. By leveraging the new artillery options in the heavy support section and making use of the cheap and easily acquired chimeras to move troops around the table, he creates a list that decimates his opponents at the second
'Ard Boyz finals. The next year, he repeats this feat with the very same list. The now infamous build, dubbed "The Leafblower", is so potent that it eventually prompts a public
apology to the 40K community from it's creator. Popular opinion, which only a year earlier had been of sympathy if it acknowledged IG at all, now sharply swings against
the IG community. This causes some long-time members to shelve the army entirely, and attracts large numbers of gamers wishing to benefit from Darkwynns' success with successes of their own.  
Present Day, Spring 2011
     As time has passed, new armies have shown up on the scene. While Imperial Guard have remained a strong force in the game, I believe the average skill level of it's players has been diluted, and much of the community wisdom lost; that success has softened the old players and attracted the lazy. It is my intention to take this year, and do things the old way. To remind everyone I play that not every guard player is the same, and in a sense, try to remember and revive the spirit of the Guard I loved 7 years ago. The old list at the beginning of this article is still just as good as it was the day I won the local tournament with it, four years ago. It has, in fact, improved in almost every respect.
I want to learn why it isn't used anymore; why miserly point spending has been replaced with extravagance and expense. And with a little luck, I'll meet a fellow old guy to tell me. 

  Dragoon 6


  1. I salute you, sir.

    I first picked up Guard during the Armageddon 3 campaign, so I'm no stranger to the Chimera phenomenon both before and after the new codex was released.

    If I could give you one piece of advice, then it would be this: Hybrid builds are still beautiful things. The humble infantry platoon is great even without Chimeras courtesy of combined squads and 'upgrade' Commissars. Unless I'm rocking the 'Legion, then the only units who get Chimeras in my lists are Veterans and Command Squads.

    A word of caution though. Being miserly with points in the current codex is unnecessary, and can be viewed unfavourably by your opponent. If you're used to the 4th edition playstyle of Guard where every single point mattered, then be prepared for a massive increase in the size of your army on the table.

    This can be a good thing however, as it does let you stick 'true' to the old mentality and lash out on more 'unconventional' things that the Tourney purists have shunned. I maintain that two of the most enjoyable units in the codex that now get next to no love whatsoever are the Vanquisher and Stormtroopers, and they always pleasantly surprise me when I put them on the table.

    Final thought: Welcome back, but if you're going to play Guard, then just know that 'regimented' thought is what got the community in to this rutt. Play with flair, and play with balls, and you will earn any opponent's grudging respect.

  2. ::Crisp return Salute::

    Thanks for welcome!
    One thing I know from the old days is that you can always change your mind. While being frugal with your points was a common thing no matter what you were doing, there were always different definitions of what was important. Thank you for reminding me that new ideas are not by definition bad ideas, but talking to some of the local guard players and looking at some of the lists that are being thrown out there, I'm shocked at just how differently the bulk of the community seems to think.
    So, more for history's sake than anything else, I am going to make this series of articles that details my journey through the new book AND the new community. I want to remind as many people as I can that this is not how it always was, and that just as new ideas aren't always bad, it pays to remember the old ways too. because frankly, we already knew that those ideas worked. :)
    I want to do this, because ultimatly, I want to guide these guard players to success in thier games. If they do it differently than I do, that's ok. But I really think the newer members of the faction need dose of old school in thier diet, to help balance out their thinking.
    I don't know yet what the end of road will be for me, but I hope the jouney turns out to be interesting, and worthwhile.

    Dragoon 6

  3. I love these kind of articles... Too many blogs do the quick and easy "look how super-awesome-mega powered my army list is."

    A quality player can win with a non-quality list.


  4. Great read, quite detailed. Its nice to know there are players out there that dont just copy/paste their force from the net.

    Good luck, Swags

  5. Terrific article, and I admire your dedication to this undertaking. No reason at all that your old list wouldn't be just a blast to play now, there seems to be far too much focus on 'optimized' lists, that is to say, lists that reach some consensus of blessing from the internet community-at-large and are magically blessed with 'optimization'.

    There have been some changes to both the game, as you have noted, but by far the biggest changes have been to the discourse surrounding the game. Two platoons with grenade launchers and a Demolisher will still get the job done, as they always have. Also- those Vets can enter the battle from an outflanking position, as I'm certain you know, which adds immensely to their tactical value.

    The only thing about your list that I would find disappointing now, as a dedicated Guard player dating back to 3rd ed. as well, is the heavy weapon teams. Becoming a two-wound model apiece means that all too often high strength weapons will instant kill them, because they need to be prominent on the battlefield to be useful. I'll look forward to your notes on how those teams perform for you.

    Also- what is the name/history of your Regiment? Don't tell me you don't have a detailed backstory, because I know you do. That's another important tradition to Old Guard play that would be great to see you carry forward into these uncertain times.

    One more thing- I'm afraid that I take issue with your characterization of 4th ed. codex Fast Attack choices as being ". . . weak and overcosted." The Hellhound was, and remains, one of the most powerful tanks in the game for its price. Also, I love me my Roughriders, but especially in the last edition when you could give them shotguns as a free swap.

    Best regards,

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. @ Slovak,

    Yes, I will admit to having a rather detailed story for my regiment, but this is not really the place for it. Maybe a future article will have it. What I will tell you is this:
    In military nomenclature for radio callsigns, the numbers 1-6 are generally reserved, 6 being for the commander. Generally, a callsign is your unit's nickname or some such relevant word to the mission at hand, followed by your (or your squads) number. Hence, the colonel commanding the 1st engineer brigade, "The Devil's Brigade", is "Devil Six".
    My little regiment has generally represented what the british forces called "Light Dragoons." Dismounted Cavalry that focused on field work and longer range scouting. I included the tanks by saying that they had dedicated Armor support from Regimental command whenever a larger engagement was likely.
    The unit is the 24th/43rd Light Dragoons.
    IT is true that the hellhound was and remains a strong selection. However, in 4th edition, it was a great deal riskier to take tanks, and what with all the points you were spending on mandatory options, it became very difficult for a serious list to take ANY FA choices. That being said, I maintain that the rest of the FA section, was not priced well for what you got. Rough Riders were pretty good, but sacrificied an awful lot elsewhere to get them. Sentinals were.....well.....fragile. And it was hard get past that a lot of times. But all of this will be reexamined later. :)

    Dragoon 6

  8. lol, I refer to my wife as "household 6," for the very reasons you mentioned here.