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40K Tactics: Leman Russ Tanks

5 Minute Read
May 18 2010

With the imminent release of the new Leman Russ kit, for the first time we have seven different Leman Russ variants available in plastic. But, which one to choose?

The ‘mainstay’ tank of the Imperial Guard now has the most varied loadout capabilities of all the different tanks in the 40K universe. With this in mind, here is a brief rundown of the different variants. I am looking at them in isolation, so your thoughts might be very different based on your own list. I won’t cover the secondary weapons in any great depth, as this really is a matter of personal choice as well.
A few things to remember. There are normally only two occasions you should stay static with a Leman Russ. First, if you are 100% sure you cannot be assaulted. Second, if you simply have to fire all your sponsons. You can always move 6” and fire the turret and one other weapon, so make use of that move to ensure you are only hit on a 4+ in combat. Also, remember that Ordnance weapons roll two dice and pick the highest for armour penetration, it’s obvious I know, but I have seen lots of people forget and only end up glancing a Rhino. Leman Russ do not have the all-round armour of Land Raiders, and are highly susceptible to being blown up in combat, or from rear-armour shots, keep this in mind with your deployment.

Leman Russ Battle Tank – Battle Cannon

The ‘standard’ pattern Russ is exactly that, standard. It can mow down power armoured troops, but being ‘only’ AP3 is not good against Terminators. It is good against most vehicles, but not against AV14. It has a 72” range though, so it is rarely out of range. For your first tank, it is a solid choice, but you need to ensure you have other options available to cover for the heaviest armour.

Leman Russ Exterminator – Autocannons

Do you remember when these were available for Space Wolves players? In their list it filled a niche being a killer of light-mid vehicles. In the IG list, this role is now normally filled by Hydras, who are better against skimmers. This isn’t the best choice, it is overshadowed by the Hydra.

Leman Russ Vanquisher – Vanquisher Cannon

The original vanquisher was could fire normal battle cannon shells as well as the AT rounds, but now they are limited to this, I really feel they aren’t that good. Firstly, unless you upgrade to Pask, they will only hit 50% of the time, and you can be sure that when you get a clear shot on that Land Raider, you’ll miss! If you must take a Vanquisher, the Pask upgrade is very useful, but highly expensive. However, it will turn your Vanquisher into a prime vehicle hunter.

Leman Russ Demolisher – Demolisher Cannon

By far the most destructive of the options, and only one that is able to threaten any target, including terminators and AV14. The downside to this is the highly short range, but against any enemy trying to get close to your lines, this is not usually a problem. The sight of a demolisher is often enough to make opponents hesitate in their attack and this is the true power of the Demolisher, as area denial, funnelling your opponents into exactly the areas you want.
There are ways of closing in without major loss though, T6 monstrous creatures for instance can only take a single wound from this each turn, so beware.

Leman Russ Eradicator – Nova Cannon

A new addition, inspired by the Hellhammer super heavy tank. There are two main targets for this, troops in cover and light skimmer/bike squadrons. Troops with a 4+ save (or worse) who usually rely on cover (eg SM Camo Scouts, IG Camo Vets, Eldar Pathfinders, Kroot, even lictors) are prime targets, as they shrug off a lot of other firepower. The alternative is flamers, but this tank can achieve the task from a much greater distance. If your opponent likes using squadrons of Vypers or Land Speeders, then this is always a secondary target, but my favourite target is Ork Bikers, who for some reason look genuinely shocked when they don’t get their 4+ save. Unfortunately, that’s about the limit for this tank, and it’s low strength and lack of Ordnance means that I feel it will often get sidelined for Battle Tanks.

Leman Russ Punisher – Gatling Cannon

When the codex was released, this seemed to cause the biggest stir, simply from one short phrase, “Heavy 20”. An unprecedented number of shots for non-Apocalypse 40K meant that people seemed to think it would break the game. It is closest to the Exterminator, so to compare, here’s some mathhammer on it, the facts favour the Punisher against infantry, and the Exterminator against vehicles:
Penetrating hits on AV10: Punisher = 1.6, Exterminator = 1.5
Penetrating hits on AV11: Punisher = 0, Exterminator = 1.0
Penetrating hits on AV12: Punisher = 0, Exterminator = 0.5
Kill MEQ: Punisher = 2.2, Exterminator = 0.8
Kill TEQ: Punisher = 4.2, Exterminator = 2.5
Kill GEQ: Punisher = 5.5, Exterminator = 2.5
Is it worth the extra 30 points for this, and an extra pip of rear armour – I would say so, unless you are facing a lot of armour 11/12 (eg Tau/Eldar), but then I would probably go with a Hydra anyway.

Leman Russ Executioner – Plasma Cannon

This variant has one key target, armoured troops. This has surely got to be one of the scariest weapons against Terminators and other 2+ troops, and the three templates help negate the chance of missing your primary target. The only problem is, that’s about the only target where you would take this over a standard Russ, as the S8 of the battlecannon is a massive boost. Unless you are expecting to face a lot of termies/obliterators/broadsides/meganobz etc, then I would not bother paying the hefty price tag of the Executioner. However, I think the model is the best of the lot, so I might just get one for that reason alone.

So I want to hear how your use the Leman Russ variants on the tabletop.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  the floor is yours generals.

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