Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tactics: The 7th Edition IG Light Infantry Squad

I've held off making recommendations for the new IG codex until now, given that potential changes to the 7th edition rules set could have invalidated my advice. Luckily, the changes were between 6th and 7th were minor in nature (with the exceptions of wound allocation in shooting and the psychic phase). I'm starting my Tactics series with the core of the IG army, the humble light infantry squad.

Armamaent: So many options, so little time!
Infantry Squads remain essentially the same as in the previous codex. Points values for weapons options are different (and standardized across the codex YAY!). With my infantry squads, I like to be a threat to an enemy unit regardless of range or composition.

Multi-threat: The squad can engage vehicles, MCs, and infantry with its heavy and special weapons.
Multi-range: Every squad gets a heavy weapon. You want your units to contribute every round of the game. Also, the enemy WILL get close: either close enough to assault your lines or close enough to hit with flamers.
Modular: You should be able to swap your HW/SW combo for another without adding or subtracting points. I'm not talking about tailoring your list for your opponent, I'm talking about having the flexibility to make changes without reworking your whole list.

I like the following three 25 Point Options (my favorite): Plasma Gun + Autocannon, or Melta Gun + Missile Launcher, or Flamer + Lascannon. The grenade launcher is loved by many IG players, but its a bit of a throwback to 5th Edition days when Plasma Guns couldn't move and shoot 24". My 12+ models with grenade launchers are currently enjoying their retirement in foamville. The Melta + Missile Launcher is a new combo for this edition that I haven't run much before. I'm predicting a rise in AV 14 vehicles being used, and think the Autocannon will be of less use. Glancing vehicles to death is more reliable than getting a penetrating hit this edition.

I like keeping weapon option consistent in a platoon. This way if you blob up, all your weapons will be able to hurt the selected target with the same probabilities, making target selection easier.

Sergeant Options: Power Weapon (axe) vs Bolter

Unfortunately, power weapons for sergeants are prohibitively expensive for a GEQ model's statline. Yes, I know power axes add to the STR of a sergeant, and through buffing you can make your sergeants reroll hits the first round of combat and wounds if a priest gets his buff off. This just isn't points efficient. A power weapon is the same cost as a plasma gun Which one does more damage, especially in an edition that continues to favor shooting over assault? The age of the power weapons IG blob is over.

Instead, make the wise choice of giving your sergeants bolters. Yes, bolters. For a single friggin' point, you get the same STR as a power axe, two "attacks" at 12 inches, and the modeling opportunity to make some cool conversions. You can get 15 of these things (enough for all your sergeants and officers) in an IG army for the price of one power weapon. You tell me, what's the points-efficient choice?

The Blob: How Many is Too Many?

When IG squads gained the ability to blob up several codexes ago, there was much rejoicing, because of the MSU-crushing mission type known as Kill Points. The KP concept was a great equalizer and a necessary design element to reign in abuses by space marine players, but it hit IG armies hard, to the point where games were un-winable.

Blob Basics: 
You decide to blob or not to blob right before warlord traits are rolled. This means that you will usually know if KPs will be part of the mission before you have to make this decision. If you are running a single 50 man blob and KPs aren't the mission objective, it might be worth it to split up. For small games, smaller blobs or individual squads might be the way to go, especially if there are many objectives that need to be claimed.

Running a Battleforged Army makes your blobs super-awesome objective claimers. Even if the enemy has 10 WTF Elite Terminators with Abaddon next to your objective at the end of the game, you still get to claim the objective and make Ollanius Pius proud.

Blob Trade Offs: 
As blob size increases from 20 to 50, the blob gets better in several ways, and worse in several ways:
Positive correlations with Blob Size: Efficiency of orders, war hymns, and psychic buffs, survivability and resistance to 25% morale tests, raw attacks in close combat, volume of fire on a single target.
Negative correlations with Blob Size: Greater size means more enemy units will shoot at it (a blob of 50 becomes a huge fire-magnet), susceptibility to a small assault unit tying up many points in a protracted close combat, reduced ability to claim distant objectives, reduced number of enemy units that can be engaged in a single turn.

A IG commander can deploy 20, 30, 40, and 50 man blobs. Each size has its advantages and disadvantages. My advice is to try each size out and see what works for you. I've tried all sizes and prefer the 30-man unit, and can run 2 blobs in a 1000 point game and 3 blobs in a 1500.

Leadership: Voxcasters, Commissars, Priests, and Primaris Psykers
Blobs need buffs to go from good-to-great. The cheapest way to improve a blob is to make sure they follow orders by having a robust vox caster network. More expensive options are the addition of commissars and primaris psykers for higher leadership values.

Commissars are the classic infantry squad buffer. Since last edition, they transferred stubborn to their blob, and that continues in this edition of the codex. You can't go wrong with adding a commissar to a blob for his LD 9. A commissar might be the one place to take a power weapon in your blob, as his WS 4 makes him better at chewing through WS 3 enemies.

Primaris Psykers are the new hotness, allowing IG to play in the Psychic phase both offensively and defensively. Attaching them to your blobs protects them from many attacks, and makes sure they are in range to cast prescience, forewarning, or perfect timing on your blob. If you already have a commissar in the blob, don't fear the "It's for your own good." Perils is far less of an issue this edition, especially if you manage your warp dice well across multiple psykers. And if the commissar does "BLAM" your psyker, at least he saved some guardsmen from the potential of D6 STR 6 AP 1 hits. The Primaris has LD 9, helping with orders and morale should your commissar buy the farm. His Force Staff (using the GW model) makes him acceptable in close combat with STR 5 and AP 4, instant death if you charged it. I haven't experimented with Mastery level 2 on Primaris Psykers yet. Obviously you get more warp charge and another power in your arsenal. In games above 1500 points its probably worth it.

Priests completes the Emperor's Trinity of blob attachments. They bring fearless, a 4++ personal save, and rerolls-to-hit the first round of combat to the blob, all without taking a check. They also stop you from going to ground. If you think you'll need the blob to go to ground, to hunker down on an objective or whatever, just detach the priest from the unit (he's an IC) in your turn. In close combat, the priest can try to buff your blob (and attached commissar and primaris) with re-rolls to wound. This is very handy for STR 3 models. The other hymns are very situational, as rerolling your 5+ armor isn't going to help you much against power weapons, chainaxes, or MCs. Smash is interesting and could be helpful against a MCs, but on balance the re-rolls to wound are the best bet. The downside of hymns is that in the 7th edition rules (page 13), the test is taken on the priest's LD 7, not the highest LD model in the unit (LD 9 if you have a commissar or primaris). So your hymn may not go off when you need it most. Having a regimental standard in a nearby CCS won't help much either, as you can't get a reroll on that type of test.

The Best Troops in the Game?

I think that IG Light Infantry squads are the best troops in the game. They are points efficent, durable, reliable, can threaten all types of enemy units (even flyers with prescience!), modular, and flexible. Their ownly weakness is their statline, armor, and weak basic ranged and melee attack, all of which have never been something guard players have worried about. Now go forth and overwhelm the enemy!


Next time we'll look at Platoon Command Squads and Veteran Squads.

1 comment:

  1. Read your comment down at CC, liked it, stumbled over your blog, bookmarked it - love it! You've got one reader more, eager for the articles to come. Keep up the good work! :)