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

6 Minute Read
Dec 2 2022
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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 Militarum 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, amongst 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 Militarum have a number of special rules, the key ones to remember are:

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  • Chain of Command – This means Officer units will take priority over other characters for Warlord selection.
  • Regimental Orders – The classic IG rule. Depending on the unit type of the character, they are allowed to issue different orders to units.
  • Regimental Doctrine: Born Soldiers – This very powerful rule applies to almost all of your units and means that ranged attacks auto-wound on a to-hit roll of ‘6’.
  • Regimental Doctrine – You have the choice to decline to take Born Soldiers and instead take two choices from this list of 15. This allows considerable customization.

Key Units of Astra Militarum

Astra Militarum has a massive unit roster (0ver 50 Dataslates!) and knowing what units to take can be very hard. Here are some key ones to get you on your way.

1. Cadian Castellan

Characters, and Officers in particular, 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.

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.

3. Cadian Shock Troops

These chaps do everything an Infantry Squad does, but their lasguns also score two hits on rolls of ‘6’!

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4. Death Korps of Krieg

Another versatile Troop unit, the Death Korps pack a lot of specialists and can never be wounded on a ‘2’, making them a little tougher than the other TROOPS choices. Neat!

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,  you can take an order issuing Tank Commander as an HQ choice, or even take a Tank Ace upgrade.

6. Rogal Dorn Battle Tank


The Rogal Dorn is the Leman Russ’ big brother, and the new kid on the block.  This new kit is everything the Russ is on steroids. Even tougher, packing more firepower, but with a higher point cost. You will have fewer of these in your army, but they will keep your enemies worried and on their toes.

Sample Starter Army for Astra Militarum

Army: Astra Militarum 

Patrol Detachment 

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HQ:  Cadian Castellan . One Model. They are armed with a laspistol, frag grenades, and a powerfist-  55 pts

HQ:  Cadian Command Squad . Five Models. They are armed with a lasgun and frag grenades (and various wargear)-  75 pts

Troop:  Cadian Shock Troops. Ten Models. They are armed with lasguns and frag grenades. The Sergeant is armed with a laspistol, chainsword and frag grenades. 65 pts.

Troop:  Cadian Shock Troops. Ten Models. They are armed with lasguns and frag grenades. The Sergeant is armed with a laspistol, chainsword and frag grenades. 65 pts.

Troop:  Cadian Shock Troops. Ten Models. They are armed with lasguns and frag grenades. The Sergeant is armed with a laspistol, chainsword and frag grenades. 65 pts.

Fast Attack: Armoured Sentinel. One Model. They are armed with a lascannon. 45 pts

Heavy Support: Field Ordnance Battery. Two Models. They are each armed with a two lasguns, heavy lascannon . 130 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.

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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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