Jwolf here. No matter what type of Imperial Guard army you play, the Infantry Platoon should for the basis of your army. Lets talk about why cadets!
Sure, you could go with all Veterans, but then you’re paying more for some guys that aren’t going to get a chance to use that BS4 (or use it much, at least), and almost anything you can do with them you can do more cheaply with Inquisitorial Storm Troopers. Today I’ll walk through the elements of the Infantry Platoon and give my advice on their best uses.
The Platoon HQ is a Junior Officer and 4 Guardsmen. All of the Guardsmen can be equipped with special weapons, or you could give them a Heavy weapon team. My favorite build for the Platoon HQ is 4 Flamers in a Chimera. I keep this unit in Reserve and use it either for mid-late game Objective pursuit or burning enemy assault troops – or both, if I get the chance. It doesn’t matter if you have 2+ armor, 4 templates from a single unit will cause some damage.
An alternative build is the Sniper team, on foot. Give the Guardsmen Sniper rifles, put them in cover near the Command HQ, and use them to take pot shots at enemy Monstrous Creatures (or just try to pin things, if no MCs are available). The advantage of this build is that you drop to nearly zero on the Target Priority scale, and still can kill things and use the Run! Order on yourself to get to objectives as need be. Sometimes the best defense is not being worth shooting. Even if you use the squad on foot, it is efficient to buy them a Chimera.
Heavy Weapons Squads
Heavy Weapons Squads are best used as 3 Autocannon teams (Or two Autocannons and a Missile Launcher) to pick at enemy medium/light vehicles. You can go to all Lascannons, and then you can kill Land Raiders, but you also become much more attractive targets (I steal a Chimera for these guys and lose a turn, as often as not).
I also think the lowly Mortar squad does not get the respect it deserves. Yes, it is nearly useless for killing things until there are bodies outside of transports. That said the opportunity to drop pinning blasts on Marines is not to be overlooked. Mortars also have the great advantages of being low on the threat index and Troops, so they can end up being game winners even if they never kill anything. Missile Launchers are fine weapons, but not statistically better for most purposes that Autocannons. Heavy Bolters would be great if they were no cost upgrades, but paying extra points for them means they are effectively never worth taking.
Special Weapons Squads
Special Weapons Squads are good in a few specific cases. The Demo Charge is always nasty, and lumping that in with a couple of Flamers gives you a nice one-hit wonder unit to ride in your Valkyrie-chassis birds and score. They can also be used as a countering force from Reserve, and in that case Plasmaguns and Meltaguns are fairly worthwhile (just try to get them in near a Command HQ for the Bring It Down! Order). Overall I don’t find Special Weapons Squads to be very worthwhile, but they are the cheapest additional scoring units you can get in the IG Codex.
Conscripts were awesome in 4th edition. Leave them there. The best possible use of them is with Creed, Kell, and Chenkov, and to really do that right, you need at least 2 blobs of 30 (40 is better and 3 blobs is preferable). This will let you hold almost any assault army at bay essentially forever, but all your points end up tied into your anti-assault defense, which isn’t exactly a winning strategy.
The main value of the Infantry Platoon is in the Infantry Squads. You can choose from really three basic ideas:
1) Infantry Chimera Gunners – These guys have a Special Weapon (often Grenade Launcher, Sniper Rifle, or Plasmagun) and a Heavy Weapon (Autocannon or Lascannon being the most common). Their job is to ride to a location in their Chimeras and sit there and shoot, often never moving after they are deployed. The variant of these is the Grenade Launcher only unit, who spend their time in a moving Chimera heading towards objectives.
2) The Blob – Infantry on foot, with one or more Commissars, Power Weapons and Flamers or Grenade Launchers only. The Blob is used follow behind Chimera and/or Tanks and close on enemy positions OR as a counter assault unit held in Reserve. To get the most from this unit, try an attached Priest and Straken/Creed in command to give Furious Charge (Creed is especially wonderful for Blobs, as he can let them Outflank and then have Furious Charge, giving them a much better shot at doing something wonderful). I think 30 is the minimum size for a successful Blob, and 50 is too many points spent. A Blob squad can be intimidating and effective if used well, and a terrible waste of points if used poorly. Buying Chimeras for the Blob Squad gives them a moving wall of steel to hide behind and increases the firepower available to the army as a whole, so it is efficient in many cases.
A Blob Variant is the static defense Blob. This involves adding Heavy Weapons to the Blob and setting at least half of it in cover, to provide a reliable (Leadership 9) unit to give shooting orders to and a decent counter assault unit to use when the enemy come close.
3) Scoring bodies – At the end of the day, the life of a Guardsman is cheap. Keeping the squads cheap and not Blobbing them up means that your enemy has to kill a lot of discreet units to get rid of your scoring ability and you have a lot of units that benefit from First Rank Fire!, Second Rank Fire!, one of the orders Monstrous Creatures and Eternal Warriors alike just hate (a large volume of crappy fire still kills all of the toughest things in the game). You may or may not want to buy Chimera for cheap Guardsmen; only your strategy can dictate the best course here.
If I have missed your favorite use of the Infantry Platoon, or if you simply must defend using swarms of Veterans with Meltas in Chimeras, I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts. I’ll also answer questions about other Imperial Guard topics as well. Cadets, dismissed!