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How To Play Astra Militarum In Warhammer 40K 9th Edition

7 Minute Read
Mar 04

Today take a look at some basics of how to play Astra Militarum, aka the Imperial Guard in Warhammer 40,000.

The Astra Militarum is one of the largest and most popular factions in Warhammer 40K. They are an army with a massive amount of variety and a huge number of units, boasting an impressive array of tanks. They are a somewhat complex army, that relies on using a lot of low-quality troops and their support, to good effect. Playing them is no easy task, and getting into 40K at all can be a daunting task. So below we will offer some tips on how to play Astra Miliatrum and get started with them.

What Is The Astra Militarum?

The Astra Militarum, also known as the Imperial Guard, the IG or the Guard, is Humanity’s’ shield. They represent the bulk of the military forces used by the human Imperium. Unlike the Space Marines, the Astra Militarum is in the main made up of baseline humans, average men and women sent out face the unimaginable horrors of the galaxy. Commanded by noble officers and watched over by stern Commissars the Guard is the largest fighting force in the galaxy, made up of not just countless ground forces, but super heavy vehicles, aircraft, and a massive logistics structure.

At the heart of the Guard is the humble Guardsman, armed with a lasgun and clad in flak armor. They are supported by iconic tanks like the Leman Russ and the Baneblade. While Space Marines may get all the glory, true fans know that without the Astra Miliatarum the Imperium would have long since fallen.

Why Play Astra Militarum

Do you like tanks? Not just one or two, but massive forces of tanks of all sizes? How about WWI or WWII style armies and looks? Do you want to field something close to the real-life military? Does the idea of ordinary women and men, armed with a basic gun and guts, going off into space to fight superhumans, aliens and unimaginable horrors from the pits of hells, and winning excite you? Then Astra Militarium is the army for you.

Strengths of an Astra Militarium Army

  • Massive roster of units, the largest in the game.
  • Able to field hordes of cheap infantry for board control and holding ground.
  • A large number of powerful and deadly tanks.
  • One of the best shooting armies in the game.

Weakness of an Astra Militarum Army

  • Limited number of truly elite units.
  • Generally poor in close combat.
  • Important characters are weak and vulnerable to being killed.

Signature Rules

The Astra Miliatrium have a number of special rules, the key ones to remember are:

  • Voice of Command – This allows Officer units to issues powerful orders to select targets.
  • Grinding Advance – Common to all Leman Russ tanks, this allows them to fire their main weapon twice if they move less than half their movement speed.
  • Regimental Doctrines – A wide suite of rules tied to which Regiment you chose to play. Each Chapter Regiment with its own army-wide rules that can greatly affect how you play them.



Astra Militarum has a large number of sub-factions, called Regiments, to chose from. Every Guard unit must belong to a Regiment, and you will generally want to pick whole armies, or at least detachments, from the same Regiment. Your Regiment will determine what Regimental Doctrine you have access to. In addition, many of the major regiments have their own additional rules, stratagems, relics, warlord traits, and orders. To play these to the fullest you will need both Codex: Astra Militarium and Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good. 

In addition, the Astra Miliatrium are divided between regular Astra Militarum, the Militarum Tempestus and the Militarum Auxilla. While these can all be combined in the same army, many of them are only affected by certain army-wide rules.

Key Units of Astra Militarum

1. Company Commander

Astra Militarum has a massive unit roster and knowing what units to take can be very hard.

Commanders are an important part of most Guard armies. On their own, they are not particularly deadly, especially when compared to characters from other factions. It is possible to give them good weapons, so they can contribute but it’s not their main role. Their main reason for being in the army is to use Voice of Command, which thanks to Senior Officer they can use twice to bolster your infantry with powerful orders.

2. Infantry Squad

At the heart of most Astra Militarium armies are the Infantry Squads. These troops are cheap and versatile. While individually they are poor troops, in mass numbers, and with the right supports from characters and rules they can become quite deadly. They can be fielded with just their basic lasguns, or be given a wide variety of special and heavy weapons. Unless you are playing a specialist force, you’ll want a number of these.


3. Ministorum Priest

Another powerful buff character the Priest plays a key role in a Guard army. Individually they are, like other Guard characters, fairly weak, though a 4+ invulnerable save makes them harder to kill than you’d think.  They are taken for their War Hymns rulewhich grants Guard infantry within 6″ +1 attack. This is a massive force multiplier for Guard, doubling a Guardsmen’s attack and is part of a combo allowing a unit to go from 1 attack a model to making 6 attacks in one turn.

4. Bullgryns

In an army that lacks good close combat units, the few it does have stick out. Bullgryns are massive mutant humans, that along with the lighter armored Ogryns excel at close combat. These guys are tough and hard to move and can pack a real punch. They are by far the best close combat unit in the army, and useful for either breaking enemy lines or acting as a strong counter assault unit. They may not match up to the most elite units in the game, but they can fight through even Marines with relative ease.

5. Leman Russ Battle Tank

 The Russ is the quintessential Guard tank. It is slow, but tough and very deadly. There are a large number of variants of this tank, reflected in a massive number of weapon options. It can pick a deadly turret weapon, able to fire twice, with both the Battle and Demolisher Cannons being excellent choices. It can also take a flew of secondary weapons, including multi-meltas, heavy bolters, and plasma cannons. They are deadly vehicles. For an extra powerful option,  the Tank Commander is an upgraded version that is not only deadlier but can issue orders.

Sample Starter Army for Astra Militarum

Army: Astra Militarium 

Chapter: Catachans


Patrol Detachment 

HQ:  Company Commander . 1 Model. They are armed with a laspistol and frag grenades-  35 pts

Troop:  Infantry Squad. Ten Models. They are armed with lasguns and frag grenades. The Sergeant is armed with a laspistol, chainsword and frag grenades. 55 pts.

Troop:  Infantry Squad. Ten Models. They are armed with lasguns and frag grenades. The Sergeant is armed with a laspistol, chainsword and frag grenades. 55 pts.

Troop:  Infantry Squad. Ten Models. They are armed with lasguns and frag grenades. The Sergeant is armed with a laspistol, chainsword and frag grenades. 55 pts.

Elite: Bullgryns. 3 Models. They are armed with Bullgryn Mauls, Frag bombs and Brute Shields. 105 pts

Heavy Support: Leman Russ Battle Tank . 1 Model. It is armed with a Demolisher Cannon, 3 heavy bolters and a heavy stubber. 195 pts

Total: 500 pts.

How To Play Astra Militarium

The Astra Militarium are a complex army that favors a methodical playstyle. Individually their units are weak. They rely on teamwork, over-lapping buffs, and good support to work. Concentration of firepower is a must. They are primarily a ranged army, and will want to allow their heavy units, such as tanks to be the primary damage dealers. The army should use their hordes of infantry to screen the more important units, while also controlling the table and grabbing objectives.


They can also be used to tarpit enemy units. Enough basic infantry with the right support can be deadly. At the same time, they can use more esoteric support units to carry out needed roles, such as Bullgryns for counter attacks or Sentinels for fast objective grabbing. They are a hard to play, but rewarding army.

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