Friday, July 15

The Old Guard Perspective vol. 4

The Old Guard Perspective Vol 4.  Tuning

    Everyone who has any serious intention to do well in a tournament, spends time (sometimes a LOT of time) taking a list they are comfortable with and making it as nasty as they can. People have all sorts of names for this process, but for myself I will borrow a word from the collectibles gamers and call it "Tuning".  So how exactly does tuning differ in the old and new schools of Imperial Guard thought?
       Lets take a moment to recall the main differences between old and new guard thinking:

    New Guard - These lists tend to be heavily mechanized, and favor Fast attack choices over the older Heavy Support options. New guard tends to be more elite, preferring veterans and multiple HQ's that are very well equipped over a more mass based force. When going to tune such lists, new school thinking encourages upgrades such as improved armor saves and fancier equipment. The player will do everything they can to make each unit as awesome as it can be, making the units as effective at their tasks as humanly possible.

    Old Guard - Old school thought has a tendency to take something that's not working, the player will often look for ways to take the points away to get more of the units that are doing well, equipping those units to the minimum standard for their task. That doesn't mean the old guard don't buy plasma guns when it’s called for, but old school thought has a strong incentive to buy a melta-gun instead, because of the reduced cost of that weapon.

    For complete clarity, I will say that I am firmly a member of the old school. I have an unreasonable distaste for many of the new list ideas that have come out in the last 2 years. However, I will admit and recognize that new ideas are important to the game in general, and the strategic evolution of the Imperial Guard is good. New ideas come about for a reason, and usually that reason is that the new ideas are easier or more effective than the older ones. This is particularly true with the IG book, as I will admit that the "new" is hideously and brutally effective at dismantling opponents.
     That is not to say old school thinking is unable to do well, but I will be the first to tell you that going to a major event with an old list backed by an old attitude is a short path to a very long, hard day. No, even the old school must adapt, and come up with new ways to implement its’ doctrines. I have chosen to run an almost purely Infantry force as Imperial guard for this upcoming Feast of Blades, and here is how I intend to do it. To save space, here is a link to the list we are starting from:

    Now, this list did fairly well, placing 2nd in a local tournament. It could've done better if I'd been a little more patient. It is far from a perfect expression though. Applying old school thought to this list, it becomes clear that there are certain things that just don't perform well enough for the points. Creed sticks out, as do the special weapons squads in Al-rahem’s platoon. Let's start by removing those. This makes the Company Command Squad far more expendable, so let’s put that higher ballistics skill on the bodyguard to better use by giving them melta-guns instead of the grenade Launchers.

     Also,  Al-rahems platoon is lacking a little on punch from the lost men. So I’ll give them another squad with flamer and power weapon, to make a thirty man group with.  The outflankers are also looking a little weak against tanks. Let's fix that by replacing the plasma guns with melta guns, and giving the five squads some Krak Grenades. That should make this a very dangerous group of individuals regardless of target or army faced. Looking around, some trimming can take place here or there for better point use. Making 2nd platoon into one big blob eliminates the need for one commissar, increases order efficiency some, and frees up some points add another squad to the 1st platoon assault team. We'll also upgrade that 1st platoon assault blobs’ flamers to melta guns. Giving the platoon command squads the grenade Launchers taken from elsewhere helps rebalance the points and capabilities I’m looking for.

     Now we have done well. We have increased the manpower of the list slightly, and cut out inefficiencies, and I have 135 points left to spend. So far I have a large infantry force with backfield threats, a strong fire base, and a good buffer/aggressor force to deploy from the get-go. Looking around, I can rearrange some of the special weapons to fit a little better, but I'll cover that in a minute. Right now, we need to assess what's missing. Some test games clearly show that I am lacking two things: Blast templates and the ability to threaten things that are hiding. There are a few things I can throw into the list that can remedy that very quickly. My options are as follows:
     1. Master of the Ordnance. This one is the cheapest option, but is very quickly and easily dismissed. Adding a model that must stand still to fire in a squad of melta-guns is terrible synergy. Taking away the melta guns in the first squad removes a useful tool from my arsenal and replaces it with an unreliable one. Buying another command squad to put him in defeats the cheapness he can be had for.
     2. Manticore: This is a good choice. Multiple high strength blasts with indirect fire. It is, however, AP 4. If I can, I'd like to be able to scare marines with something that bypasses their armor save. The piece is also a touch more expensive than I was looking to pay, and will attract more attention than I am prepared to deal with. We'll not discount this option out of hand, but let's see what else is out there.
     3. Collossus/Griffon: I group these together because they are being dismissed for the same reason. They are strength 6. Even with the advantage of hitting side armor, this just doesn't reliably generate penetrating hits against the vehicles I expect to face. Since hitting is far from a guarantee, I want to make the hits I get, hit hard.

     4. Medusa: A demolisher shot with an improved range and Indirect Fire. This is looking pretty good! My concern here is that it will have a difficult time living. As an open-topped chimera chassis, this is a pretty fragile thing. One of things that made the demolisher so good was that it can live long enough to deliver its’ deadly ordnance. That's far from a sure thing with this vehicle. On the plus side, the price is right. Upgrading the shot for bunker buster shells is a good buy, but ceases to meet the requirements. I need to threaten hidden units, and a direct fire small blast does not do this. This is another promising choice, but I'm not sure it's better suited to my needs than the Manticore. Next.
     5. Basilisk: An old standby to be sure. The second cheapest option, though not by much, the Basilisk has all the things that I am looking for. It has a high strength, AP:3, is a Large blast that fires indirectly, and has enough range to threaten any place on the table (or the neighboring tables for that matter). This option is not without its’ flaws, particularly the large minimum range for indirect fire, but it fits the criteria I had set out for myself better than the other options.

  I had several long discussions with a couple of different people to make this particular decision. Duke advised the medusa with the buster shells, for dealing with some of the scarier vehicles out there. He believes that they are need to address those types of super-hard targets is a higher priority, reasonably pointing out that an enemy in hiding is an enemy that is not an active threat.  A couple of older members of the guard community (far older than myself) had a big fight over whether to take the basilisk or the manticore. In the end, I have concluded that for this list, the basilisk is the best choice. This was a choice that, after several hours of thinking and talking and soliciting ideas, I realized could not be made by theory-hammer. I have gone with my gut on this one.  Not the best method for going to a tournament with, but I have confidence in myself at this point that I know my army well enough to make a call like this once in awhile.
    So, that leaves a few discretionary points to play with. I'll use those to give a melta-bomb to one sergeant in each of the fire-support squads, to provide some meager defense against tank shocks. That leaves us with the  following list:

     - Company Command Squad
       -melta gun x4

   Heavy Support:

   Troops: (Summery in brief)
    2 deployed platoons
      - 30 man group with Commissar, 3 melta guns, and 4 power weapons
      - 40 man group with commissar, 4 grenade Launchers, 4 Autocannons, 1 power weapon, and 1 melta bomb
      - 20 man group with commissar, 2 autocannons, 1 power weapon, and 1 melta bomb
      - 2 Platoon Command Squads with 4 grenade launchers each
      - 3 Heavy Weapon Squads with 3 lascannons each

    1 outflanking platoon (Al-Rahem)
      Al-Rahems squad with 4 melta guns
      30 man squad with Commissar, 3 flamers, 4 power weapons, and Krak Grenades
      20 Man group with commissar, 2 flamers, 3 power weapons, and Krak Grenades

I also want to take the opportunity to address 2 related questions I've gotten a lot recently from tournament goers.

    Why are you doing this? What makes you think this could ever work?  The answer to the first question is easily answered by quoting others. When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, explorer George Mallory answered "Because it is there".  JFK says it more eloquently though. "We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure our best energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."  A little cheesy inspiration goes a long way with me I guess.
    The answer to the second question? Well.....nothing, to be perfectly honest. I have no reason to believe that this will be able to compete. George Mallory went on to die on Mt. Everest. While I doubt my failures in a Warhammer tournament will result in my death, defeat is a possibility I am willing to court for the sake of the experiment.

     This list is still not perfect, but it is the best I can come up with for now, within the goal that I have set for myself. Feel free to give suggestions, if you are so inclined, but I will not be adding any vehicles, at this time. If you want to weigh in on the artillery piece debate, I am always open to ideas!

What do you guys think? Does he have a chance here? Do you see a place he can improve on his list without going all mech?


  1. just a few points (and incidentally, i am an extremely old 'old guard' player). the Medusa is never an indirect fire weapon, even before it is upgraded it can only direct fire.

    secondly, in this army, i would seriously recommend you take a Manticore over a Basilisk. i say this for a couple of reasons:
    1) Multiple templates. The Basilisk has only a single shot per turn. The Manticore averages 2 per turn for 4 turns.
    2) Think about the last time you shot any marines who were not in cover. AP3 means very little any more.
    3) S10. simple, it instakills T5 beasties and is more effective at penetrating armour. Horribly effective actually.
    4) not open topped. in any army with this few tanks, those you have will be targetted pretty damn soon. this lends it some much needed survivability.
    5) i don't know how much research you have done on common army lists (seems like a fair bit) but there are a few very good reasons why artillery (Medusas, Basilisks, Collossus', Griffons) are only taken in pairs (not squadroned). firstly, if one dies, you still have one for the enemy to deal with (redundancy) and secondly, they can be placed in opposite corners and can therefore hit everything on the board, all the time. this does not apply to Manticores to the same extent because of the points above regarding multiple templates, and because they don't mind direct firing every now and again.

    in all honesty, regarding your final point, i cant see either of them doing well in this list. In this edition most people are tooled up to deal with mech, and in an infantry force, any single tank is going to vanish in a puff of smoke on turn 1.

    Anyway, i hope that didn't bore you too much. as i said at the start, i have played guard for a long time, and those are my own observations based on hundreds of games :) i hope they helped a little!

  2. I really like this "blast from the past," but after playing in WargamesCon last weekend I can see where this list style is going to struggle. For example: This list will make your day very very rough.

    HQ: Baron Sathonyx
    HQ: Haemonculi with Shattershard and Crucible of Malediction

    Troop1: 5x Warriors with a Blaster inside a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Troop2: 5x Warriors with a Blaster inside a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Troop3: 5x Warriors with a Blaster inside a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Troop4: 5x Warriors with a Blaster inside a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Troop5: 5x Warriors with a Blaster inside a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Troop6: 9x Wyches with Haywire Grenades inside a Raider with Torment Grenade Launcher, Grisly Trophies, and Flickerfield
    Elite1: 4x Trueborn with 4x Blasters in a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Elite2: 4x Trueborn with 4x Blasters in a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Elite3: 3x Trueborn with 4x Blasters in a Venom with Dual Splinter Cannons
    Fast Attack1: 3x Beastmasters, 5x Khymerae, 4x Razorwing Flocks
    Heavy Support1: Ravager with 3x Dark Lances and Flickerfield
    Heavy Support2: Ravager with 3x Dark Lances and Flickerfield
    Heavy Support3: Ravager with 3x Dark Lances and Flickerfield

    Also, one thing to note is that terrain is changing and it is becoming much harder to draw line of sight across the table. Meanwhile you opponent will only ever have to capture 3 objectives to claim a "seize ground objective." Id love to hear how you plan on fighting against that Dark Eldar list.


  3. @ Atreides: Huh. I could have sworn it was indirect for the unupgraded version. whoops.

    every single point you make in your artillery discusion is correct and eloquently made. To the point that I think if I find a way past the qualifiers that I will be buying two Manticores and fielding my demolisher at the final event, and then filling in with infantry after that. But for now, I don't have the manticores in my collection, and simply can't afford them on such short notice.

    @ Duke: Well.......Shoot at them I guess. That promises to be either a very bloody battle, or a massacre one way or thw other. Venoms are made of paper, if I recall.

    There's really only two possible responses my list can have against any given army/tactic

    1. Shoot at it. a lot.

    2. Move aggresively to take away thier good positioning.

    If niether if these two options works then I'm well and truly screwed.

    I don't honestly know what a splinter cannon does (presumably put out a large amount pain) but I think once the Venoms are gone, a huge amount of the army's punch is gone. Every unit in my army can do SOMETHING against a light vehicle. I just need to find a way to make sure I leverage that properly.

    And last I checked, I was pretty good at holding three objectives myself. :)

  4. Life is Strange sometimes. Money fell out od the sky at me today, just in time for me ne able to claim for my own use in whatever fashion I saw fit. Taking Atreides advise for this list, 2 Manticore kits were bought with this money, and the list now incorporates three heavy support options. It now looks like this:

    Company Command Squad w/4 Grenade Launchers

    Platoon Command x2 with 4 Grenade Launchers each
    2 30 man squads with power weapons and melta guns led by commissars with power weapon
    2 20 man squads with power weapons and melta guns led by commissars with power weapons
    2 Lascannon heavy weapons Squads
    2 Autocannon Heavy Weapons squads

    Psker Battle squad with overseer and four psykers

    2 Manticore
    1 LR Demolisher with lascannon and PLasma Cannons.

    I have effectively traded my ouflanking potential in this list in favor of really, really bug guns. A big thank you to you guys, for reminding me that Guard aren't the only ones that are taking a sick number of transports, and guiding me in making that less dangerous.

    Dragoon 6

  5. Good luck old timer, your gonna need it with a list like that.

  6. glad i could help, and i hope the manticores prove to be a success. i am also a big fan of the demolisher by the way, especially with no upgrades and a heavy flamer on the front. they scare the hell out of people!!