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Astra Militarum – The Conventional Wisdom – Pt. 1

11 Minute Read
Apr 23 2014
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I love the smell of promethium in the morning.  It’s time to run through this codex and seperate the men from the boys!

a codex synopsis by Katharon

OK folks, so here is an opening disclaimer, statement, or what-have-you regarding this article. It’s as comprehensive and objective as I can make it in reviewing a codex that I’ve been looking forward to for about two years now. I will say in advance that I am heavily disappointed in Games Workshop for discontinuing the practice of telling us who wrote the rules. If, as some have speculated, they’ve moved towards crowd-sourcing to brainstorm their codices, then I can only fear for some and be happy for others. The format and style of this review will be in accordance to the unit description pages that give you the background details and special rules for models, if any are given. 

Company Command Squads

  • Not very much has changed the core of the Company Command Squad. The Captain-grade senior officer and his four cronies do their usual thing. The upgrades that they formally had access to remain, and in some places received improvements – such as with the Wargear Relics. Where things get really interesting is the Regimental Supervisors.

    The Regimental Supervisors got cheaper across the board and a few of their rules changed, making them even more versatile and interesting to take. The Master of Ordnance remains the awesomeness that he is, basically now being the cheapest way to take a Strength 9 AP3 Ordnance, Barrage large blast in your army. The Astropath got a huge buff in the fact that he is now a Level 1 psyker and can take his powers from the Telepathy table of powers – a huge thing for those that love “Puppet Master.” The Officer of the fleet got more versatile in that he no longer simply gives a -1 modifier to your opponent’s reserve rolls; true he now has to do a leadership check to activate his abilities, but he has two of them to choose – either boosting your own reserve rolls or reducing your opponent’s. That’s a lot of nice buffs.

    Only sad thing of note is that you can now no longer take normal bodyguards with your Company Command Squads. Instead, if you want some extra meat shield going on you’ve got to pay those points to get Nork Deddog.




Tank Commanders

  • Possibly the greatest thing that has appeared with this new codex and something that has tread-heads the world over making a mess of themselves, is the Tank Commander. You are now able to field a bonafide tank army….well, sort of anyway. For a relatively cheap cost you can take a tank heavy army. Boy oh boy does it deliver too. While you no longer have access to the normal Senior Officer orders that the ground-pounders are forced to use, the Tank Commander himself has his own set of special orders that can be given to his own tank and the squadron he is with.

    The only thing really missing from all of this is that GW didn’t take it that extra step further, like Forgeworld did, and allow the Tank Commander to do his real job and actually give orders to other tanks outside of his immediate unit. It’s a rather large gap in their efforts here, but at least we finally have a tread-commander to field.




Commissars

  • The boys in black & red are back and boy oh boy…they’re pretty much the same. In the new organizational method that GW has developed for the IG, Commissars are now able to be taken – one for each Company Command Squad and Platoon Command Squad in your army. Now, they did get a bit cheaper – five points to be exact – which is nice, but we are also now limited on how many we can take. I once fielded twelve commissars in a single game with ten infantry squads from two separate platoons and two lord commissars, with the old fifth edition codex. That list is now impossible. But at the same time, the new organization means that I can put a regular commissar in with a whole host of new units that they previously could only be part of if they had a “lord” hanging with their title of commissar. So…taking with the right and giving with the left is the general feeling here.

    Summary Execution, that exciting method of keeping a unit from breaking or failing a morale, pinning, or fear test has gotten a lot more interesting. Formerly it meant that your unit’s leader, whoever happened to have the highest leadership (that meant ICs as well), would take a bolt round to the brain pan. Now, ANYONE can be the bolt-magnate and the level of randomness enters with the rolling of a D6 to determine whether you or your opponent get to choose who dies and who doesn’t. This is much more interesting, as it means that your normal grunts can take up the slack and protect your leadership models – but it also means that if your opponent doesn’t like your squad sniper, then he will most likely be taking the fall.




Ministorum Priests

  • These guys got a lot of cool new stuff and lost a bit of their old bling. First up, they did lose their ability to take the Eviscerator, that nice chainblade style sword that could cut through just about anything. In exchange they can now tote around with a plasma gun. You decide whether or not that is a bonus. They are now much cheaper than before, but are also limited 0-3 per army whereas before they were 0-5.

    They did receive Zealot – which helps *a lot* with people that like to be a bit nutty and have an entire 50-man blob squad go charging at something with bayonets.

    What can make these Priests really shine, and what may cause you to start seeing a lot more of them on the game board, is their special ability called “War Hymns.” Re-rolling failed armor and invul saves; giving his close-combat attacks Smash; or re-rolling failed to wound – this guy helps to pack a real punch.




Primaris Psykers

  • Likely the cheapest way to get a Level 2 psyker in the game and having access to all the best ability tables for psykic powers, it’s hard not to like these guys. They became baseline cheaper, and only five points more expensive for that upgrade to Level 2. Having the ability to take 0-3, instead of the old 1-2 is a nice addition as well.

    Expect to see a lot of these guys on the field as well.




Enginseers

  • An independent character that is already creating waves amongst the community, the Enginseers are probably going to be seen on the field now far more than they ever have before in the history of the Imperial Guard. Not only are they cheaper (including cheaper servitors), but they are also able to bestow ‘Power of the Machine Spirit’ onto a friendly vehicle. What is even cooler, in some respects, is that the Enginseer can perform that little magic trick from inside of a transport, since it replaces his normal shooting attack.

    Highly advisable to take these guys.




Infantry Platoons

  • The Bread & Butter of any standard Imperial Guard army, the infantry platoons are a classic. Far from receiving any downgrades, this particular choice of Troop seems to have received several buffs. The standard platoon command squad and infantry squad remain largely unchanged (minus the ability to take a commissar as an upgrade…yeah, it’s a sore note for me), while the Heavy Weapon Squads got cheaper. Even though autocannons are five points more expensive, a heavy weapon squad can still take three autocannons for the same price as they did back in 5th edition. Have no fear for those that love to spam them. Another added benefit is that, like all subsequent codices after the CSM codex, the IG now have access to flakk missiles. Not a big surprise, but an added bonus for those ground pounders that don’t take a lot of flyers.

    Biggest thing of note is that Conscript squads now became much cheaper. You’re now able to field an entire blob of fifty conscripts for fifty points cheaper than before. So that’s good news for anyone with a fetish for throwing cannon fodder across the board.




Veterans

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  • The even better Bread & Butter for IG players that like to be versatile and hit more often with their weapons at range, Veteran Squads are back and with a new set of blue suede shoes. Cheaper on the base cost (due to no longer having stock krak grenades), they are now able to take their precious Doctrines for an even cheaper price and can still take multiple doctrines at the same time. Wargear options remain pretty much the same except as noted above.

    Sergeant Harker is making a comeback this edition as well, wielding his beloved ‘Payback’ heavy bolter just as he always did. The only drawback would be the loss of Feel No Pain, Stealth, and Move Through Cover USRs. Makes quite a bit of difference in how you play his specific unit, but he does come with Relentless this edition and his own particular heavy bolter has the Rending USR. Point wise, he remains the same. Going to have to say that, due to the loss of FnP and Stealth, Harker lost a lot of the shine that made him useful to camo-cloaked Veteran Squads.



Dedicated Transports

Chimeras

  • The workhorse transport of the IG. It got more expensive and fewer models can fire out of the top – those are its downsides. The upside, it has “lasgun arrays” that can be used by models inside the transport to fire (like the Necron transports), except that these are a bit more special.

    According to the rules as written, you’re able to fire at up to four different targets with a Chimera. You can first fire with the Chimera’s main weapons, the multi-laser and hull weapon at one target. The unit inside can fire at one target from the top hatch. The two laser arrays, one to each side, can each fire at a separate target from the rest.

    Whether or not this multi-tasking makes up for the points increase and losing the ability to fire three Veteran plasma guns & a heavy weapon out the top hatch is up to you to decide.




Taurox

  • The new transport that everyone loves to bash on – and well deservedly I believe. The best way to look at the Taurox is as a more expensive and less well armored Rhino. The only pluses it has is that it comes tock with a twin-linked autocannon (main reason to take it) and it’s 15 points cheaper than the Chimera. It also has a cool feature of being ‘all-terrain’ and can re-roll failed Dangerous Terrain checks.

    Based on the fact that its cheaper than the old Chimera and a lot cheaper than the new Chimera, you might see a lot of the old Mech-IG players spamming these things to take advantage of a 50-point twin-linked autocannon.




Taurox Prime

  • The one shining jewel of the new transports, the Taurox Prime comes in at a hefty thirty points greater than the normal Taurox. But it also carries a lot more weaponry and is manned by Veterans – as it has a nice Ballistic Skill 4. It’s stock weaponry, the Taurox Battle Cannon and twin-linked hot-shot volley gun, are rather nice. It can be further upgraded to more interesting weapon choices, of which the Taurox Missile Launcher is superb.

    Downside is that you can only take these models if you take the new Tempestus Scions, which ups the point requirements to field them. I kind of feel that GW’s aim for this transport was to make it good enough and just cheap enough (point wise) to make you want to take Tempestus Scions as an army or as the majority of your regular IG force – just so you can take these bad boys.

    If you have someone near your area that has fallen in love with the Scions and their supplemental codex, then expect to see a lot of these – and be prepared to weep.




Wyrdvane Psykers

  • The new Combat Psyker Squad with a name to match their shiny new rules. They’re fairly much the same as before except oh-so-much-better. Thanks to the writer(s) of this codex, you can now take a different psykic power from Biomancy, Divination, Pyromancy, and Telekinesis one for each individual psyker in the unit.

    That plethora alone makes them powerful. If you have players that love to use as much psykic power as possible, then expect to see these on the battlefield much more often.




Ratlings

  • An old favorite and constantly underrated by players (including IG players), the Ratling snipers are back and better. They remain the same point cost and retain their special rules, but they received a new rule that makes them absolutely excellent: “Shoot Sharp and Scarper.” This lets the Ratlings make a normal shooting attack and then run immediately after in the same phase. Eat your hearts out Eldar Rangers.




Ogryns

  • We finally have a plastic model for Ogryns! Hip-hip-horray!

    Ok, now back to a reality check. While it was nice to see these guys finally get their own plastic kit, they suffered a bit on the rule side of the scales. They remain expensive point wise, retaining the same cost as a 2+/3++ power-fist totting Terminator; they lost their Furious Charge USR and instead gained Hammer of Wrath (not that good a trade in this writer’s opinion); and every ogryn apparently went to the gym to work out because they changed from ‘Bulky’ to ‘Very Bulky,’ which means that fewer can fit into a single transport.

    The one bright point in this rather dark tale is that Ogryns can now ride in the back of a Valkyrie – which they were forbidden from doing in 5th edition. So your merry band of Shrek-look-alikes can go parachuting into combat – which is admittedly a rather interesting tactical choice, but expensive as explained above.




Bullgryns

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  • For those times when regular Ogryns just aren’t enough smash-bang in close-combat, GW was nice enough to give us some purely close-combat oriented ogryns.

    Coming in at fifteen points *more* expensive than normal Ogryns, these guys can become a bit of a point sink. But boy oh boy do they hit like a slab of metal (aren’t I punny?). Their standard wargear is a bit better than normal Ogryns, being equipped with carapace armor instead of flak. They also have a ‘slabshield’ which when base-to-base with another Bullgryn-model gives them all a +1 to their armor save. So, as long as you have two bullgryn with slabshields alive and touching each other’s bases, then they’ve got power armor.

    What’s even more, you can change out their base weaponry, the slabshield and some grenade gauntlet (I dunno, they might have been running dry on creative names), for a ‘brute shield’ and a power maul. Now, that’s pretty cool because the brute shield gives the wielder a 5++ invulnerable save.

    The one mistake (and I believe it is a mistake) that GW made with this particular unit, is that you are not able to take a slabshield with a power maul. If you want the power maul then you’ve got to take the brute shield with it. Because Bullgryn’s are apparently just picky like that.




Rough Riders

  • The last gasp of the old chivalric ways within the grim dark of the 40th millennium battlefield…and GW decided to kick them in the nuts, but we’ll get to that in a moment. As it stands, these guys are identical to what they were last edition. Which is a shame really.

    The nut-kick that came in for the Rough Riders, is that their glorious and barbaric leader Mogul Kamir is no longer in the codex as an available upgrade. Now maybe we will see him again in a dataslate – who knows – but I can tell you that without his presence Rough Riders are just not as useful or strong as they could be. A nice compromise would have been to increase the weapon skill of the Rough Riders in exchange for Mogul Kamir’s absence – but alas, we’re stuck out in the cold clutching the family jewels in pain.

    Anyone who was a fan of this unit and fielded it often will be sad to see Kamir gone but at least satisfied in knowing that the base unit is not devastatingly changed in any way.




Scout & Armored Sentinels

  • One of the more underrated units in the Fast Attack Choice section of the army book, the Sentinels are back with a few nice buffs. The points are now cheaper for the Armored Sentinel (the one worth really taking). The only real problem is that several Vehicle Upgrades became more expensive, such as the camo-nets. So price-wise, if that is a standard upgrade for you, it can be about the same in price as before.

    A good solid Fast Attack choice however.


Part 2 covering all the other units coming soon!

Cadets – dismissed!

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