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40K: My Beef With Astra Militarum

4 Minute Read
Oct 5 2017
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The Astra Militarum have always been the Armored Fist of the Emperor, but the codex may have gone too far.

For decades the enemies of the Emperor have hated the firepower of the Astra Militarum.  The army is a complex machine with many interlocking parts, wrapped arout the beating heart of the Order system.

But this was traditionally a blunt instrument.  The Militarum lacked in mobility what is had in firepower.  It lacked in heroes what it had in sheer bodies. It wasn’t a fancy subtle force.  It was the closest 40K ever got to an Napoleonics army.  It had obvious strengths and obvious weaknesses.


Until 8th Edition

The new codex is very powerful – perhaps too much so.  Here’s my thoughts on the previous shortcoming the Astra Militarum had and they have all been shored up in 8th.

Unreliable Shooting?

The Doctrine system (Cadians, Mordians, Catachans), and orders can give quite a bit of rerolls, or just increase the volume of AM firepower.  Leman Russes’ Grinding Advance rules doubled their turret firepower when moving 5″ or less.  Combines with those Regimental doctines and the affordability of the tank means you should be prepared for heavy incoming firepower, and Armored company lists to gain a following.

Easy to Kill?

Things like Nightshroud, Psychic Barrier, and Take Cover combine to give the AM something I think was a grave mistake – easy cheap ways to increase their cover saves or degrade enemy shooting.  The AM always had the weakness of being easy to mow down, but made up for it in the sheer bodies department.  Now you can get 3+, or even occasional 2+ or 1+ saves in the proper situations with AM units in cover.  A big surprise when facing an army that throws out such volume of fire.

Slouches in Assault?

Ogryns , Priests and Crusaders help a lot.  A relatively inexpensive unit with Stormshields and power swords augmented by Acts of Faith and Priests really help to blunt the ineveitable assault when it does hit the AM’s lines.




8th Edition has already made the Fast Attack concept somewhat quaint.  When lumbering units like the Tallarn Baneblade can move 22″ in a turn under ideal conditions – the army is hardly slow.

AM is an Army that “fits” with 8th

Last but not least is the overall design of the army.  The AM is an army that plays the numbers game and plays it well.  It doesn’t rely on super characters or vehicles that can do amazing things and soak up 200-400 points.  Instead the entire army is focussed on tossing out buckets of dice, and buffing them as needed via orders, doctines and Strategems.  The AM toolbox is now very large and general-purpose.

More importantly it interlocks perfectly with 8th Edition – an entire ruleset focused on sheer weight of dice to get things done.  With the alterations to the Strength VS toughness chart and the homogenization of vehicles and infantry into the same statlines – things like Conscript squads throwing out 120 lasgun shots can and will eventually take down big elite units.  Throw enough dice at a threat and it’s going down.

And that is exactly what the Astra Militarum army is and does – it plays the numbers game.

In a meta already gravitating away from elite armies to hordes of cheap bodies to maximize dice – the Astra Militarum’s time in the sun has come.

~ What army do you think can best take on the AM and win?


Author: Larry Vela
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