Mrs Bun: Have you got anything without SPAM?
Waitress: Well, there’s SPAM, egg, sausage, and SPAM; that’s not got much SPAM in it.
Come Wednesday, there will be another 2000 point Planetstrike game in which the roles have been reversed. Will Laur and his Ultramarines gain his revenge? Will the Ultrasmurfs defend, repel and overcome the invading Imperial Guard? Will the Imperial Guard be doomed to failure?
Short of relying on certain stratagems, I’ve been pouring through the Imperial Guard codex and with the unorthodox FoC setup of Planetstrike for the attacker’s role, have discovered some tricks I’d like to talk about. Read on further if you’d like to know more of my preliminary thoughts on building an efficient IG Planetstrike attacker list.
Note: If the mere thought of ‘spamming’ certain units in a friendly game makes you feel queasy, please look away now! Understandably, spam is not to everyone’s taste, as to some it may not be as fun-loving, silly, or as tasty as one may like. Also, be warned as you may get slapped if attempting any of these. To others, enjoy the savoury goodness and read on reader.
Unlike the defender setup, the Planetstrike attackers get 1no. compulsory HQ slots, and optional 2no. HQ, 6no. troops, 6no. elites, 6no. fast attacks but only 3no. heavies.
If there’s something IG are good at, it’s the heavies. I’ve always felt IG can be a difficult force to defeat, especially in a defensive role with the 6no. heavy slots that can be taken advantage of with a tank spam list. I would think the deck is further stacked in IG’s favour if they get to choose the lie of the land as previously demonstrated.
If there’s something IG are NOT good at, it’s most definitely elites. They way I see it for the bunker-busting, bunker-clearing game of Planetstrike, in terms of points, cost-effectiveness, survivability, and overall usefulness Ogryns, ratlings, and maybe Psyker Battle Squads are out the window. That leaves Storm Troopers.
STORM TROOPER SPAM
We fear nothing, except Ewoks!
There is much to be said in the derision of Storm Troopers. Overpriced and underperforming, why take Stormtroopers (18 points for the first 5, 17 points for another 5), with only 2 special weapon slots, when you can take a Grenadier Vet, also with BS4? (7 points each, add 3 for the carapace, and they come with 3 special weapon slots).
Oh, right! An extra 7 to 8 points for the ability to Deep Strike, and with Special Ops, to Deep strike well (re-roll to deep strike). Also, they come with both Ap3 hotshot lasguns, AND hotshot Laspistols/close-combat variety.
Now, far be it for me to delve into the Mathhammer aspects of this (in fact, that will be another future subject for a future post. So watch this space), but my gut feeling for this impending Planetstrike game in which I play the role of attacker, with 6no. elite slots available and the ability of Storm Troopers to re-roll deepstrike with the Aerial Assault special ops ability, I may very well consider trying out a Storm Trooper spam list!
Stormie spam is not something usually seen in a normal game of 40K as there are definitely plenty of other better Elite choices (Marbo, Psyker battle squad, maybe arguably the Ratlings), but I bring to my mind the lessons learnt during the previous Scouring of Boros Planetstrike-esque game, in which the Legion of the Damned, for that particular scenario, seemingly gained the aerial assault ability. This has brought about warning bells in my mind that for in a game by which Deep Striking is a primary attacking element, the ability of re-rolling deep strike, once at available at a premium of 7 points, is now seemingly a bargain especially with the economies of scale (re: spamming them).
Of course, units that can Deep Strike in Planetstrike also gain the ability to assault, great for contesting purposes! (as occupied buildings count as immobile enemy vehicles, hence require an assault to contest). It’s a real pity Stormies don’t get melta bombs, but then even Meltabomb-equipped Vets can’t assault as they do not have Deep Strike in their profile, so utilising Guard to assault then melta bomb a building at the get-go on the turn they land is really a false economy, plus Vets don’t get to re-roll their deep strike.
So, the ability to deepstrike, re-roll, plus 2 melta shots, THEN assault (purely for contesting), OR being able to deepstrike, 3 melta shots, but NO re-roll and NO assault (hence no contesting)?
Seems me there is much to be said for 6no. squads of Elite Storm Trooper deepstriking ‘one-shot fire-and-forget’ squads (due to the fact that as soon as they are deep struck and ‘used’, they are at best forgotten). Due to the high premium of points for further Stormies to bulk the squad, I’d deep strike them each at half-squad strength (5 men), thus a total of 85 points, + 20 for melta, x6no. slots for a grand total of 630 points in a 2000 point game. Not bad even after maxxing out my Elite slots, especially considering these will be one-shot distraction weapons to really unnerve my opponent, and I could use the remaining large block of points to buy other Planetstrike-efficient units as well!
Another thing to note is Deep striking units being a one-shot weapon should ideally be brought about on the table as early as possible in the game of Planetstrike. A command squad with an Astropath is thus a must Must MUST have, causing the Planetstrike first turn 3+ reserve roll into a 2+ roll now. Also, note that bringing an Officer of the Fleet to force your opponent to roll 4+ for his first turn reserve roll is a pretty good deal and can really mess up the best laid of plans!
Thank god for the rain to wash the trash off the sidewalk.
Meltataxi, or ‘Chimelta’ spam, involves exploiting the 6no. Troop slots with taking 6no. Vet squads, equipped with 3no. meltaguns (or maybe even flamers or heavy flamers) to trundle them off the drop zone which depends on how the enemy is setup, e.g. if in a crossfire defence position, take the long table edge to instantly knock out 2 bastions, or if in castling all your juicy targets are within easy reach, just point and shoot!
Vet squads at 70 points, +10 for a power weapon, and 3no. meltaguns at 30 points, with a Chimera (Multilaser, heavy flamer & heavy stubber defensive) at 65, gives a 175 point melta taxi. Multiply by 6 and you’ve spent a bargain 1050 points that any opponent will rightly fear and find a tough time to handle as these hard, survivable, flexible, mobile, and hard-hitting APC’s run roughshod over the bastions and the opponents within.
Moving them fast and popping smoke will extend your reach, but also don’t forget even when moving a chimelta at cruising, you can always take the risk of disembarking the 2” within the access point, and a further 12” for the gun to shoot, or be near a building at 6” for melta range, giving an effective threat range of almost 26” just to be able to get a shot off, or almost 20” to get a cracking melta shot off.
Obviously the risk is once you disembark they’d be shot to pieces, but chances are they’d have done their job, blown the building to smithereens, then once turned into a ruin, cruise that chimera up to touch the ruin to contest, and be a right b@stard to dislodge by your opponent.
I also note the same technique is applicable with Vendettas/Valkyries, filling up the 6no. fast attack slots and bringing them on as early as possible with an Astropath, but for my impending game I only intend to use the models I already have or can proxy approximately, so flying skimmers/air cavalry combo are out the window but certainly worth exploring in a future stage.
My dream garage
Another idea is to go crazy with the Leman Russ Vanquisher, you know which one I mean? The one with the crazy 72” long melta gun that nobody seems to take, and everyone forgets. Page 49. Yeah, that’s the one.
With its Str 8 AP2 72” weapon (which allows 2D6 for armour penetration), bastions are easy prey for this baby. Mind you, you gotta hit on a 4+! So, take more of them! The only issue really is the limitation of the 3no. Heavy slots (you are the attacker after all) which is a real drag for IG, but vehicle squad rules can help one get round that and you can always put a few in each slot to really max out the damage capability of this baby.
The benefits going for the Vanquisher is it’s range, the fact it’s a Heavy weapon (as opposed to a shot fired from an ordnance barrage, which neuters it if you want to bring it in on the first turn and fire away, thus with an ordnance barrage weapon you’d not really get to enjoy it’s benefit of being behind cover and popping potshots, unless of course you’re willing to wait the next turn after bringing it in) and it’s 8 + 2D6 armour penetration means bastions are pretty much toast. The only issue is that these are really bunker-busting weapons ONLY, but not bunker clearing weapons especially when faced against MEQ-occupied bastions/ruins. Should Vanquisher spam be selected, one can re-consider changing the loadout of support elements into one more inclined towards bunker-clearing (swapping meltaguns for chimeltas/stormies with flamers).
The new Head & Shoulders formula needed more Selenium.
An alternative to Vanquishers are the Medusa artillery platforms. Though AV12 and with a lesser range, they are 20 points cheaper per Medusa and have the advantage of purchasing bastion breacher shells to take down the buildings/bastions, and rely on their siege cannon to clear out any MEQs trying their best to hold the ruins of their objective. Again, many of the considerations of the vanquisher apply here, but to me range is a non-issue, as with careful counter-setup on the part of the attacker, you’ll probably don’t need to rely as much on long-ranged weaponry when medium-range is all you need to do the job.
3 Medusas in each heavy slot is enough to put a good deal of hurt, and with vehicle squadrons if you really went for it and had 9 Medusas, you’ll still have over 800 points to spend on the prerequisite HQ and optional cheap troops and you’ve got yourself an Artillery Company that would make any and every opponent sweat as they see them trundle cheerily off your drop zone edge.
The Bassets wear Prada.
Hot dogs! The cheapest of the Hellhound cousins, perhaps equip it with a cheap multi-melta and for a bargain 135 points X 6 (total: 810), or leave as is with heavy flamer (total: 780) you’d have a squad of 6 Devildogs that can really put the fear and the hurt into any Planetstrike defence. Bunker-busting AND clearing on the cheap, and with AV12 front AND side it could be a great substitute for Chimelta spam. A S10 AP1 blast template can unnerve the hardiest of opponents, and can double up as great anti-tank/anti-dread/anti-heavy defence when the inevitable counter-assault ensues.
The only real downside is BS 3 and the likelihood of the blast template scattering, so really this is dependent on the type of objective/bastion your opponent is using in his game, e.g. large, flat, chunky bastions preferable. Tall, slim towers = avoid!
Marmaduke really needed some Listerine.
Beware of the dog breath! Of all the Planetstrike attacker IG ‘tricks’, this one really appeals to me and if I use it successfully, could be my new favourite load-out against MEQ enemies that like deploying in buildings.
This fast-moving tank, like the Devildog, should ideally cruise up to the enemy bastion and let rip with the template. BS 3? Who cares! The mere act of touching the enemy with a template weapon equates to 1+D6 hits, being Poisoned (wounds on 2+) and AP3, it means this is the nastiest of all bunker-clearing weaponry that the IG have in their arsenal. Personally, I think don’t bother equipping them with a multi-melta (leave that up to the professionals, e.g. chimelta/stormies with their BS4) but give them smoke launchers just in case.
And forget about the Hellhound, as a ranged, ‘shot’ template isn’t really necessary due to the Planetstrike setup rules as you’re bound to get in contact with a bastion on the get-go. Also, an AP3 template means on average ‘hit’, one should kill about 3-4 marines, and compound this with spam Banewolfs (say max out 6 for 810 points spent on Fast Attack, and again combine with an Astropath to increase the likelihood of their arrival) you’d easily clear out, or at least neuter a tactical squad of 10 marines in a bunker (3-4 kills per Banewolf and an average of 5 banewolfs arriving on the first turn means an average of 15/20 kills).
Due to Planetstrike, with Banewolf spam you’re bound to be as happy as a pig swilling in mud, as there will be plenty of bastions occupied by Marines with their 3+ save, suddenly rendered useless. Also, you can count on your opponent NOT putting terminators in buildings, as they’ll rightfully be put to better use in a counter-assault deep strike manner. Exploit your defender/opponent’s hopefully poor terrain placement with the Banewolf, and hopefully you’ll only need 2no. Banewolfs, directed per bastion, to stand a good chance rendering a bastion unoccupied for your chimeltas to taxi up to them, disembark, and occupy later to contest that building, and contest it real hard too!
STACKING THE DECK?
As with my previous Planetstrike game in which I advised any Imperial Guard player in the defender role to tailor one’s terrain to exploit and accentuate the advantages of a defensive army list (in my case tank spam), I believe the ideas above can, as before, stack the deck towards the role of the Imperial Guard Attacker.
By understanding, then exploiting the innate and subtle advantages of the the Planetstrike FoC, the Deepstrike rules, the Terrain set-up and counter-setup, and the overall objective of the game (bunker-busting, bunker-clearing, and finally contesting!), what I believe you can do is realise what works, and what doesn’t, in the Imperial Guard codex, and really push every advantage you have in your arsenal and bring it to play when carrying out your planetary invasion. I stress the importance of this, as every attacker knows in Planetstrike, the Defender will do his best to outfox you by placing objectives and terrain in such a way as to give himself an advantage, so my advice is to just go for it, experiment with your list and find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Most of all, have fun!
What I’m not advocating is to pursue a spam route each and every time in Planetstrike, or even a normal 40K game as it would quickly get boring, predictable, and ultimately defeatable! Rather, the bulk of the article is an exploratory piece looking at the strengths of certain units with the role of Planetstrike in mind, and open up the possibilities and potential of these units in such a game to really mix things up.
I end this piece by asking, anyone else have any advice/experiences with Planetstrike, in the role of the Imperial Guard attacker?
Thanks for reading!