Hey there everyone, Learn2Eel here and today I am continuing my Astra Militarum Tactica with a look at Company Command Squads.
These are the units that amplify the effectiveness of your regular Guardsmen ten-fold through Orders and a helpful array of codex-native Warlord Traits, while offering a nice buffer for Slay the Warlord because of their squad status. No competitive Astra Militarum codex army should do without Command Squads of some kind, and Company variants are easily the best available.
A note before we begin – I am covering the Regimental Specialists in a separate article.
Company Command Squads
Perhaps the most obvious example of the “drown them in bodies” approach of the Astra Militarum is that their traditional “Commander” option – equivalent to a Space Marine Captain or Ork Warboss – is actually a squad and not a single independent character model. While the Warlord him or herself is just the Company Commander, it is interesting that you the bodyguard is already factored into the (low) base price of the general.
At its core, a Company Commander Squad consists of five models, these being four Veterans and one Company Commander. The Veterans are as per the Troops choice unit and thus are essentially Ballistic Skill 4 Guardsmen with a heavily expanded array of options, while the Company Commander is a three wound model with weak stats befitting their nature as more of a leader than a fighter. While you can upgrade the Veterans in the unit to have nasty ranged weapons while giving the Commander better saves and deadly melee options, the fact remains that they are Toughness 3 models with mostly sub-par stats outside of their Ballistic Skill and Leadership. You do not want these in a direct engagement because of this and their low numbers so I would rarely recommend you kit them out for close encounters.
On the flip side, however, comes some amazing support abilities that really distinguish the Company Command Squad as a premier HQ choice for an Astra Militarum army, and these are manifested as Orders. These act much like psychic powers but with no direct way for the opponent to stop them and no actual risks for failing to manifest them, while the effects of each are generally rather strong. Being able to confer Precision Shots on fifty individual Guardsmen models as part of a blob squad can lead to some hilarious character sniping shenanigans, while firing an extra shot per model for ten Tempestus Scions armed with AP3 hot-shot lasguns at rapid fire range will often be devastating against Space Marines.
What distinguishes the Company Command Squad from a standard Platoon Command Squad is not only the improved profile of all models involved, but the additional functionality in regards to Orders. The Company Commander gains the Senior Officer special rule which is the capability to manifest two Orders a turn rather than just one, though it also unlocks three exclusive Orders that can be insanely powerful with effects like giving Monster Hunter to a squad of Veterans armed with plasma guns or instantly rallying a fleeing Guardsmen unit. Pair all this up with a very low cost across the unit, items like the Regimental Standard that are a literal god-send for your lower Leadership forces and a nice Leadership 9 Warlord option and there is little doubt the Company Command Squad is one of the highest value HQ choices around.
How to Equip Them
This one really depends on whether you transport them and if so what transport you purchase for the squad. If they are on foot and part of an infantry-centric gunline, maybe give them a heavy weapon team with a lascannon that makes full use of their Ballistic Skill 4. I also consider Carapace Armour a must for a Command Squad on foot and especially so if the Company Commander is your Warlord choice, while a Regimental Standard is a good and cheap option for making sure your various Infantry Squads and Heavy Weapon Teams don’t flee.
Conversely, a unit mounted up in a Chimera will probably want either meltaguns or plasma guns, with the former being my preference for Command Squads given you can’t really afford to lose them as a HQ choice. If you are playing Elysians or otherwise mount your Command Squad in a Valkyrie or Vendetta, between two and four flamers or a heavy flamer thrown in are great for clearing objectives but those options are generally better suited to the Ballistic Skill 3 Platoon Command Squad. Again, I would have to recommend melta or plasma weapons here, though melta weapons would probably edge out the plasma weapons in a flying transport because of the sheer mobility.
Generally speaking you want the points total to be low for this unit unless you are investing in either mobility or survivability as their main role is not to do damage but instead survive (especially if they are the Warlord unit) and buff your other squads through Orders, so try and keep the upgrades to a minimum. Camo Cloaks are a great upgrade but be wary of the fact that the Company Commander has to pay quite a bit more for them than the Veterans; otherwise, giving Stealth to a unit that will almost always be in cover is worth the points in almost any game. As far as the Regimental Advisors are concerned, the Astropath got a big buff in the new rules and is very much worth your time as – to my knowledge – (s)he is the cheapest Mastery Level 1 psyker in the game now and getting a bonus to both Deny the Witch and warp charge dice is always handy.
The Officer of the Fleet and Master of Ordnance are cheap options that either provide reserves bonuses or “free” Basilisk shots, though both are generally merely decent as only reserves heavy lists require the former while the latter is completely unreliable. Both are inexpensive though and are thus worth your time if you are playing with lots of flyers or outflanking units, or you just want an extra Basilisk shot every turn. As before, I would still recommend only taking the options you need as you don’t want to invest too heavily into between five and eight Toughness 3 models with pitiful saves.
As for the Heirlooms of Conquest, the best of these for a Company Command Squad is undoubtedly the exclusive Kurov’s Aquila. While this particular option costs as much alone as a Command Squad without upgrades, the incredible boost it provides to a stacked gunline list is more than worth the investment. That it affects units within 6″ and not individual models is the kicker as you can use this to affect multiple units at a time with ease. The prime units to use in conjunction with this are Leman Russ Executioners, blob Infantry squads and possibly plasma-wielding Veterans as re-rolling 1s for units with lots of shots or Gets Hot is a god-send. To make the most of the Aquila, keep the Command Squad behind a wall of tanks such as Leman Russ Executioners as they will be target number one for any sane opponent. If the opponent brings Barrage weapons or can otherwise get at your squad through mobility or ignoring line of sight, place them in a building such as Bastion or even a Chimera to protect them but also increase the effective range of the effect.
The other upgrades for a Command Squad are a bit more situational and less worthwhile, with the Tactical Auto Reliquary probably being the stand-out of the other two Command Squad exclusive items. Orders are fantastic and having a high chance of getting Inspired Tactics each turn is awesome, but I would only say this is really worthwhile if you have lots of Officers and Orders to spread around. The Laurels seem useful at first glance especially as the range is identical to the Aquila but when you consider that a Ministorum Priest that confers straight Fearless on a unit has the same cost, I’m really not sold on this. The Deathmask is a nice bit of wargear but you have to remember that a Company Commander already has a 5+ invulnerable save from his or her Refractor Field, while It Will Not Die really isn’t that crash hot on a Toughness 3 model lacking Eternal Warrior. Unfortunately, the Aquila really is the only worthwhile Heirloom of Conquest for a Company Commander.
I do tend to prefer Company Command Squads either hiding in a Chimera at the back of your deployment zone where they can use the hatch to dole out Orders, or just sitting in terrain behind your wall of infantry and tanks. The main advantage a Command Squad has over a Lord Commissar as a mandatory HQ choice are the significant benefits that Orders provide, particularly the ones exclusive to Senior Officers. If you just want a Warlord that hides in an infantry squad and keeps your units from fleeing, the Lord Commissar is the superior option; if you want one that really buffs the damage output of your army though, the Company Command Squad is the best option.
Using the Ballistic Skill 4 of the Veterans on a Heavy Weapon Team with a lascannon or missile launcher is not a bad idea at all so that the squad can still be useful aside from Orders, but just keep in mind that this is a unit you want to keep as bare as possible as they are incredibly fragile. Sit back, use regular Guardsmen and Veteran Squads as a buffer and proceed to give out what amounts to Astra Militarum exclusive psychic powers with all the benefits and none of the downsides. If your Company Command Squad is on foot I recommend the Camo Cloaks first of all as while the Medic is a cheap upgrade I feel Stealth is a bit more universal given the sheer weight of Strength 6 shooting most armies can dish out – Carapace Armour is also a worthwhile option on the Veterans and Commander.
Thanks guys for taking the time to read this article! I hope you found my temporary lack of a closing paragraph amusing, though mostly I am eager to hear your feedback. What did you think of this piece, and what are your experiences with Company Command Squads? Cheers, and have a good day!