"You are a man of extraordinary magnitude."
What a treat for both me and my readers, a second Wednesday Night Gaming report, one week after the other!
In this week’s outing, the inglorious Cadian 512th meet in the face of battle, again, for the first time, Doug and his Chaos Space Marine army! (Our previous first, and only meeting was a three-way 800 point battle also featuring Tyranids pre-5th edition Codex).
Having not learnt a lesson from last week’s utter, abject thrashing, once again I brought yet another gimmicky novelty list, to stretch the gaming potential of the 5th Edition Imperial Guard Codex, in the grimdark ruin-strewn landscape that is 5th edition Warhammer 40K. Read on true believers!
Due to the state of the current Chimelta-dominated metagame, often I get asked by my other regular opponent, Laur, to bring my best infantry-heavy army to the tabletops of 40K, methinks (with great suspicion) for the point of being tabled, or playing the role of ego-boosting punchbag. See previous edition Imperial Guard outings here, here, and here. Here are some articulated arguments by my esteemed opponents on why I should play an infantry-heavy Imperial Guard list:
“But it’s fun!”
“Try it, you may like it!”
“Mechanised Imperial Guard is boring!”
“Mechanised Imperial Guard is cheesy!”
“But massed infantry is supposed to be the fluffy way to play Imperial Guard!”
As an avid tank player, and having adapted to liking a win more than once-in-a-while, it is true that my Imperial Guard playstyle is often of a combined-arms cavalry nature, relying on cheap, effective, and powerful Veteran troops, shielded in Chimeras, backed up by the bristling weaponry of Leman Russes and the odd artillery section. As I had discovered that even with previous-edition doctrinal fixes, IG get penalised when it comes to small, fragile squads giving away Kilpoints, and even the new edition quick-fix of Combined Squads for the lowly guardsmen hasn’t resolved issues of gambling –for-Objective-based missions-oh-drat-I-got-Annihilation I-shouldn’t-have-sunk-so-many-points-in-Heavy Weapons – Special weapons teams.
For me, an all-infantry, or infantry-heavy list, seems a one trick pony that is unsuited to the 5th edition game, and the innate and indisputable advantage that is the 5th edition vehicle damage chart, even when you add the twist of an all-flanking platoon structure with the addition of Al-Rahem.
Or is it?
I had to find out, and the only way to do so was by bringing a 4th-edition style list to this 5th-edition game. So for my first outing against Chaos, I brought my attempt to see if the lowly infantry platoon has a place in the 1250 point wargames of the 41st+ millennium.
Taking a cheap Primaris and a single Chimelta squad as my core (I got to have BS 4 3no. meltas in the list somewhere! Give me a break), I proceeded to invest in a 30no. men combined infantry Blob squad, with Commissar, and a Platoon command HQ (again in a Chimelta variety) with 4no. tank and armour-busting heavy weapons squads, backed up by 3no. Sentinel Squads. So not really a 'true' horde, but an attempt to build a competitive list, using elements of the infantry platoon.
See Ma! No Tanks! (Not counting my Chimelta transports of course. Got to have me my manoeuvrability in the list) So no Al-Rahem in this list, but at least infantry is the very heart of this army.
On Doug’s part, he’s limited to what he actually has in his (growing) Chaos collection, so he’s brought a fearsome Daemon Prince, 3no. troops in Rhinos (1 Bezerker Squad), 2no. Terminator Squads, an Obliterator and a Defiler for heavy support.
In hindsight, Doug has brought a balanced list ready to take on all-comers, and I have brought a novelty army which on paper, will require against-the-odds luck and great generalship to finesse me a win. We shall see!
Terrain is set up.
Rolls are made, and the deployment is yet again Pitched Battle, with the mission being Annihilation. Doug and I roll off, and I get to go first. Yes!
IMPERIAL GUARD DEPLOYS
At this moment my deployment takes up a big chunk of my time as I agonise where to place my masses and masses of men. I choose to outflank with 2 of my lascannon-equipped Scout Sentinels, but there is still the matter of which side of the board I’ll be taking.
Eventually I settle for the Southern section, with it’s 2no. buildings to the right, and debate over the merits and pitfalls of castling especially considering the aftermath of an assault, and sensing my own inability to capitalise on the first go with a ‘leafblower’-style first turn barrage, I settle for a ‘spread’ deployment reasoning that should any of my forces fall to an assault, at least their location will force Doug to either spread likewise, or go for a ‘refused flank’ concentrated push charge, which I would hopefully still be able to counter with the long range of my weaponry.
That’s not a Daemon Prince.
I place a lascannon team on the far right building, with an autocannon team ready to enter into the adjacent one. Chimeltas in the middle for flexibility with Armoured Sentinels and their plasma cannons for quickfire support and Marine-killing, the rest of the heavy weapons team on the left for long range cover, with my infantry blob ready to move into another ruin. All in all, I feel this was the best way to deploy to make use of the available cover, granted that there were plenty of LOS-denying buildings that Doug could slip his men in and out of. It would be up to the dice gods to see if I could crack any vehicles he would be tabling, as per previously, we are unaware of each other’s lists until deployment.
Doug reveals his forces, stating 2no. Terminator squads are in Reserve, no doubt Deep Striking, he places his Obliterator and his 3no. Rhinos behind cover, with his Daemon Prince as far forward as he can, undoubtedly relishing in the prospect of a scuffle with my soft squishy men!
Khorne-worshippers pride themselves on their parking technique.
We begin play, with Doug failing to grab the Initiative, and I go first.
TURN 1 IMPERIAL GUARD
1. My men get into position, with Chimeltas rushing forward and popping smoke, keeping one in range with the blob (hint hint).
2. Weapons team on the far left can tenuously see the Obliterator, but with his one-man arsenal being 50” away from them, I fall short of 2” and fail to shoot the walking Swiss Army Cannon.
3. Lascannon team fire away with only 2 being able to see a part of a Rhino track giving Doug a cover save, but miss anyway. BS 3? Cest la’ vie!
Bursting at the seams.
TURN 1 CHAOS
1. Doug sends his Rhinos forward popping smoke. Only the Emperor knows what’s in those tin-cans, but I’m certainly hoping they won’t be blood-curdling spit-snarling geneseed enhanced madmen killers, with mechanised axe weapons.
2. His Obliterator splurts out a lascannon from its organic mass, fires and misses. KANEDA!
3. Daemon Prince flies into the fray, assaulting the Chimelta and destroys it, the ensuing blast killing 2 Harakoni veterans and inflicting 1 wound on the Psyker but hold their nerve, not being pinned.
Daemon Prince of Khaine. I mean Khorne.
Score is now 1KP to Chaos.
TURN 2 IMPERIAL GUARD
1. My turn now and finally something to shoot! As per the Orders rule, my Platoon HQ barks out FRFSRF and a volley of laslights, along with the rest of the blob fire out an impressive range of 6 heavy bolters shots, 3 Krak grenades, and 32no. flashlights, resulting in 6 saves that the Daemon Prince has to take, which he passes 5 and suffers a wound.
2. I move my Armoured Sentinels and Chimera in position, and a new squad of Sentinels arrive from reserve from the table edge I wanted.
3. The remaining Chimelta fire 4no. Meltashots at BS3 at the Prince, hitting all shots, and inflicting 2 more wounds on the Favoured of Khorne.
4. Harakonis move a bit further away to put some distance between themselves and the Daemon Prince, while the Primaris passes his Psychic test and fires a blast of Lightning Arc, scoring 5 hits, and wounding the Prince one last time. He’s down! My mass of men whoop in delight, but my Harakonis now realise they have nothing to shoot at.
5. Weapons teams and Sentinels try to take down the Rhino up front, reasoning that if I could just wreck it I would seriously put a stop to Doug’s mechanised assault tactic, creating a traffic roadblock to my advantage. 3 autocannon shots and 5 lascannon shots later and with advantage of Smoke cover, the best I can do is a single Weapon Destroyed result.
Score is now tied with 1KP each to Imperial Guard and Chaos.
TURN 2 CHAOS
1. Doug charges his Rhinos forward, popping more smoke, as a squad of Termies materialise, scatter, and end up wrecking one of my two lascannon sentinels, shaking the other.
2. Obliterator grows a plasma cannon, and the blast incinerates 4 Harakonis and kills my Primaris, breaking the squad. TETSUO!
The edge of the tabletop Universe, the Chaos Warprealm that is, the Kitchen!
Score is now tied with 1KP to Imperial Guard, with the advantage of 2KPs to Chaos.
TURN 3 IMPERIAL GUARD
1. My last remaining Sentinel squad outflanks on the left edge, running forward to close the distance between them and their targets.
2. Vets fall back while the Armoured Sentinels manoeuvre past them and their AP2 plasma cannons make 2no. direct hits with the bunched up Terminator squad, impressively vapourising the lot as they fail all their invulnerable saves.
3. The long reach of my Chimera’s Multilaser destroys a Rhino, while my Autocannons immobilise another. Lascannon team miss their shots again.
Sir, we have reports of sightings of the enemy bedecked in red & gold Bunny Rabbit Ears. Emperor’s Teeth! WE’RE DOOMED!
Score is 3KPs to Imperial Guard, with 2KPs to Chaos.
TURN 3 CHAOS
1. The Defiler arrives, as does Doug’s last Terminator squad, scattering northward. The Obliterator and Termies fire at the Chimera, stunning it.
2. One Rhino rushes forward, when both fire their meltaguns at the buildings, shaking the Lascannon team and failing to penetrate the Autocannon team’s bastion. Bezerkers rush forward but are out of distance for assault.
3. Defiler fires it’s Havocs and Battlecannon, managing to wreck an Armoured Sentinel.
Score is still 3KPs to Imperial Guard, 2KPs to Chaos.
TURN 4 IMPERIAL GUARD
1. Now that the Defiler and Doug’s termies have revealed themselves, I begin to move my men and Sentinels on the far left closer to the action as it could all end next Turn, while my remaining Vets flee closer to my table edge.
2. My last lascannon-Sentinel succeeds in stunning a Rhino, while autocannons immobilise it.
Score is still 3KPs to Imperial Guard, 2KPs to Chaos.
TURN 4 CHAOS
1. Doug’s Defiler and obliterator fire all they’ve got at my remaining Armoured Sentinel but to no avail as it shrugs off the blasts.
2. Doug’s ‘tactical’ squads disembark from their stuck transports, choosing to melta the occupied buildings, succeeding in wrecking and destroying them.
3. My lascannon team ‘disembarks’ from the wreckage, and are promptly slaughtered by the Bezerkers. Meanwhile, my autocannon team are assaulted by the Termies, lose 1 man, and bugger off the board in terror.
Score is now equalised, with 3KPs both to Imperial Guard and Chaos.
TURN 5 IMPERIAL GUARD
1. Fleeing Vets and Autocannons give away easy Kill Points, while my Platoon HQ issue an Order of FRFSRF, where the blob fires half it’s available weaponry at the ruin-hidden Termies due to lack of distance, but fail to scratch any.
2. Everything else fires at an Immobilised Rhino to try to claw back a much needed Kill Point. A Multilaser, 2 Autocannons and 3 Lascannons later, the best I can muster is a Shaken and Weapon Destroyed result, while a Plasma Cannon shot fails to scratch the Rhino but as a consolation, kill 2 Chaos Marines.
Major malfunction meets General Disarray
Score is now 3KPs to Imperial Guard, and a deserved 5KPs to Chaos.
TURN 5 CHAOS
1. Doug’s men start scurrying in their Khorne-like manner for cover, as he unleashes his ranged weaponry at my Armoured Sentinel, but only managing to Shake it.
2. Khorne Bezerkers take out the remnant of the Lascannon Sentinel squad, destroying it. It explodes, but all 8 Bezerkers stand triumphantly in the ruined blast crater.
3. We roll a die, and it’s Play on! For a further Turn.
Score is 3KPs to Imperial Guard, Chaos now far ahead with 6KPs.
TURN 6 IMPERIAL GUARD
1. An extra turn! Without a target due to poor LOS and having not fired a single shot all game, I push my lascannon team even further hoping for a final Turn 7.
2. He who dares wins! I cruise my Chimera forward 12”, do a risky doughnut turn, disembark men as far forward as I can (but still behind a degree of cover), and try to shoot their melta guns at the immobilised Rhino, but at 14” away they are outwith the required distance. Drat!
3. Blob squad fire again at the Termies, and my remaining weaponry try once more to crack that Rhino, but everything either misses or fails to put a dent into them. The end is nigh!
Score is still 3KPs to Imperial Guard, 6KPs to Chaos.
TURN 6 CHAOS
1. Bezerkers fall back to stay out of sight, and Doug’s Chaos infantry huddle together to swap stories and exchange phone numbers.
2. The Obliterator and Defiler push forward to punish my mistake, flaming the squad down to a man, where the Defiler proceeds to make mincemeat out of him. Blood for the Blood God!
3. We roll another dice, but the game ends there.
Risky longshot gets spanked!
Final score is 3KPs to Imperial Guard, 7KPs to Chaos.
While not an absolute duck-in-a-barrel shoot like my last outing, my infantry Imperial Guard where squarely defeated by Doug’s army.
Like any bad workman, I proceeded to blame my tools with the usual party lines:
“Imperial Guard give away too many Kill Points!”
“Imperial Guard’s poor leadership let them down when I needed the most!”
“I had nothing to shoot at!” (My own fault)
Laur, who had been observing the game, proceeded to wind me up with the usual suspects: Poor tactics, poor deployment and bad generalship. Bad generalship? What an insult!
Still, we got serious and thought it over a bit.
Perhaps it may have been one of those games in which, the fact that I went First, as opposed to Second, meant that Doug was able to react to my ‘spread’ deployment and capitalised on my weak spots (lone heavy weapons teams). Also, despite Laur willing Doug to play more aggressively to give me a more Khorne-like thrashing, we conceded that Doug’s cautious playstyle and his successful delivery of his mechanised squads to their target meant that unless I had the better luck in shooting his advance down mid-table and bogging his squads down, it was always a given expectation that Khorne’s favourite warriors would slaughter any that stood in their way. It was up to me to minimise and mitigate this, so all credit to Doug for his masterly Chaos win!
By advancing his men solely on the far right-side of the board, this had neutered my weapons teams and infantry blob, which were deployed in a defensively flexible manner as to expect and support one another in the face of a Defiler and deepstriking Termie attack, the threat of which had deterred me from advancing them far too late on my Turn 4 (or as in the case of the Infantry blob, not moving them at all which was a mistake as I had misgivings on their survivability, hence I refused to move them from their dug-in position, reasoning I had to minimise giving away Kill Points), as opposed to moving them out on Turn 3 at the latest!
Putting my weapons teams in AV13 is certainly a strategy that improved the survivability of my weapons teams, but in the end my spread deployment proved my undoing as my flanks were unable to sufficiently provide support to one another, and also Doug played cleverly when manoeuvring his vehicles in and out of cover to exploit LOS blind spots. Oh how I wish in my last game, the cover was as plentiful as this game!
Doug may have made some mistakes (e.g. unsupported Daemon Prince that was played fluff-wise as it charged the enemy where it could) but his forces could cope, while my infantry-based list could not. Looking back at the Battle Report Graphics (a useful tool I have since found, working them up and playing them in a slideshow Turn after Turn to see where I went wrong, where I could’ve gone right, etc) I think I was too reliant on wrecking Doug’s advance on my Turn 2, and I failed to capitalise on my long range advantage on Turns 4 & 5.
That and 20% of my forces (Sentinel lascannons, autocannon & lascannon team) I had overcautiously ‘underplayed’, meaning I shouldn’t even have bothered with them at all unless I started moving them out from the get-go when I realised Doug was solely concentrating his advance from the far right.
INFANTRY STATE OF MIND
In short, would I play an infantry-heavy Imperial Guard list again? Maybe someday, again, in the future. But not anytime soon. Why not, you ask?
1. Was it not fun?
Sure it was. At times. And if I was a masochist, I would be more than happy to play it again. But sadly for Laur I’m not. I find winning more fun than losing. Or at the very least, I find trying to win more fun than trying to scrape together a draw.
2. I tried it, did I not like it?
Again at times I did. But at many times I did not. One thing I do not like with infantry-heavy lists is that without heavy range weapon support (e.g. tanks), it is a slow, clumsy, lumbersome beast that is difficult to negotiate against an enemy that can outmanoeuvre you. To some, that is an excuse from me to deny being outplayed, but I would posit to any who make such claims is try to bring an infantry-heavy or dare I say, ‘Footdar’ list, to any mechanised force (e.g. Chaos in Rhinos, Marines in Rhinos, Meltavets in Chimeras, Orks in Trukks, etc), and see if that argument stands up.
My findings are that Infantry will always be ‘outplayed’ by the flexibility, survivability, long reach, and power packing punch of Mechanised. And that is why I do not like Infantry.
3. Is Mechanised Imperial Guard boring?
To me, it is as no more as ‘boring’ as an infantry-based list is... ‘interesting’. When I mean ‘interesting’ I mean ‘novelty’, and when I mean novelty, I mean: This may work under an extreme situation, e.g. all outflanking, or facing a heavy anti-mech list (e.g. lance-heavy, melta-heavy non-template weapons), or digging deep into an objective mission, yes I mean that kind of novelty.
If mechanised Imperial Guard is boring in that it means I am harder to beat, and my opponents would prefer it if I ditch my 5th edition IG codex for that of the previous edition, let’s just say it’s a case of the Ultrasmurf calling a Tau blue!
4. Is Mechanised Imperial Guard cheesy?
Depends on the definition of cheesy. If one means competitive, colour me Stilton!
5. But massed infantry is supposed to be the fluffy way to play Imperial Guard!
Maybe in the days of yore that is Rogue Trader, but the bountiful plethora of differing Guard regiments both fluffwise and rulewise has long since disproved this. If one means fluffy as in ‘traditional’ way to play Imperial Guard, then yes I have no disagreements with that statement. But traditions are reinvented with each new Codex release, but if my previously-drop trooping Cadian 512th orbital support specialists a’la Elysians now have to scrape a living playing Eldar-in-Drag, hey a man’s gotta eat!
Make no mistake, I had a great time playing Infantry and it was certainly refreshing to have a change of scene, push the metagame a different direction.
But from what I have learnt, and this battlereport will now serve testimony to, is that STILL, in 5th edition, Imperial Guard infantry are harder to master as an overall playstyle, not as adaptive to the fast-paced 40K metagame, and it has merely re-confirmed my opinion that Infantry-lists, as a pretender-to-the-crown trying to steal the throne occupied by Imperial Guard Mech, or Combined Arms lists, it most certainly is found wanting.
1. Do you think massed infantry Napoleonic-style formations best left for Tyranid and/or Ork armies only?
2. Is there a place for Infantry, Heavy Weapons & Special Weapons teams in 5th edition 40K, or are they at best, a novelty? At worst, dead ducks before they even hit the water?
3. Are infantry-heavy lists just too static for 5th edition? Or do you play them aggressively, and does that work for you?
4. Even with Infantry-Commissar Blobs, Al-Rahem Out-flankers and Chekov-Conscripts SITNW Combos, are they ever really competitive/effective, or just good for laughs as they are too reliant on above-average dice rolls?
5. Does anyone actually play Imperial Guard 5th edition infantry lists at all? I would love to hear of their experiences.
Thanks for reading!