BATTLE REPORTS - PUBLIC GAME - REFLECTIONS - 5

This first appeared as a topic on the forum 40konline.com. To return to my batrep registry, click here.

Hey, everyone. I am writing this to be a reflection of my fifth 10 games that Iíve played with guard, containing lessons learned, along with some other ideas, as well as a request for input as for how I should continue from here.

THE STATS

My record after the first set was 8-1-1
My record after the second set was 4-3-3
My record after the third set was 8-2-1
My record after the fourth set was 5-3-3
My record after the fifth set was 6-2-2

In all of my public games, I have 31 wins, 11 draws, and 10 losses.

- I think it's more apparent now than it was before, that there are two distinct classes of players at the store where I play. There is the group comprised of people roughly my age (if not a little older), against whom I win about as many times as I lose about as many times as I draw. The other is a group of mid-teenagers who have a tendency to take way too many upgrades and get killed by my tanks.

THE LIST

For most of the time this set, I was using list 3g.

A little bit of my thoughts concerning this list can be found in my final thoughts thread.

Basically, my feelings go like this:

My tactic with my guard thus far is taken from a line on the first page of the codex that says "While the infantry of the Imperial Guard is its anvil, the tanks are its hammer, and with the right coordination of the two arms there is no enemy that canít be battered into submission." Following the advice of the codex, I decided to work a strategy whereby my infantry held the enemy at bay (and helped take out anti-tank stuff if they could) and the tanks would then absolutely smash to bits their army while it was wasting it's energy thinking about killing my infantry.

Problems started creeping up with this strategy starting around turn 11. In this game, I found my self facing off against a team of devastators in hard cover. This was a unit that the hammer of my tanks simply couldn't crack. Thus began the slow and steady mutation of my list as I put in things to counter the things that countered my strategy.

It began with my adding a priest to my command squad. The idea was that cover doesn't save devastators against close combat weapons like it does against shooting. The shock continued when I came to my new gaming store when I played my first loss against space marines. Marines with meltaguns and drop pods are simply unstoppable. The anvil of my infantry doesn't distract them, and even a pair of meltaguns could stop my demolisher cold before it would get a chance to use it's hammer ability against them.

This caused me to drop my demolisher (which made a bad hammer anyways, given it's ridiculous points cost) in favor for some plasma vets and another vehicle. After waffling around for awhile, I wound up remembering the point of my strategy and adding back in a normal leman russ, which has behaved absolutely abhorrently since I've added it in.

As well, I've had problems with Tau over this time. The proliferation of railguns on 2+ save 4+ cover save 2 wound units has made it very difficult for my strategy, as I really needed my tanks to be able to smash his units, while my infantry fumbled to take down the railguns so that my tanks could have freedom of movement.

Tau crisis suits have also given me a lot of trouble (causing me to do some dubious things like spamming mortars), as their MSM ability combined with their ability to get in under my basilisks's range, and the immunity from gunfire from my infantry further threw a wrench in. I could handle the problem by charging the suits with my tanks, but not if my tanks would come under railgun fire, which was needing to be taken out by my infantry who were being taken out by his suits.

This mobeus strip of death, along with the absolutely terrible performance of my vehicles (especially towards the end) eventually lead me to one conclusion: There are some things (like the above) that my strategy just can not beat.

So, I would now need to abandon my balanced force (if you don't believe me, look at page 171 of your BGB under "Balanced Imperial Guard" and compare it to my list 3g), and the default strategy presented in the codex and start to forge my own way of war.

After thinking about it for awhile and bantering ideas around, I decided to base my new army off of the following axioms:

1.) Infantry in cover is difficult to rout from cover (more difficult than killing AV14 tanks).

2.) Assuming intelligent use of terrain, if I bring enough guys, an opponent will not have enough turns of shooting to kill all of my firces.

3.) more scoring units are better than fewer, faster scoring units (especially when combined with the above two axioms).

Does this sound sane? Should there be something better?

Anyways, my basic idea is this: I'm going to capitalize on the last two points by forming big groups of dudes into teams consisting of (as of now) 2x infantry squads, an officer + retinue with close-in killing power, and a sentinel. The idea is that I'd give each of these teams an objective (usually corresponding to mission objectives, but also including such things as "kill that unit", or "be a screen for those guys"). Hopefully the shear volume of dudes will cause #2 to kick in, and if I can get one of the squads into cover, with everyone else behind them, I'll cash in on #1 for the total result of winning by #3.

Another possible application that I've thought of would be to sprinkle a couple of squads around in terrain around the board, and then have an absolutely massive pile of dudes form together to complete a single, multi-faceted objective. I mean, consider my left and my center being held by a squad of troops in good cover while the remaining 850 points of guys plow through the right hand size of the board.

And of course, we still have the SAFH option with this list, if that's where I want to go. I think I'll shy away from this, though, as I'd rather get some of the movement back into my army that was lost when people started figuring out how to kill my tanks.

Anyways, I've already bought a box of dudes, and have an eye for getting rid of my tanks (although, given that my basilisk won 18/50 of the "MVP" award for my army thus far, I'm starting to get cold feet with the idea of getting rid of them.

Any thoughts or help that I could get on this note would be very much appreciated.

All of that being said, the following is a rundown of my units with regard to how they've done so far, and how they could be applied to the above.

HQ

My HQ set up, as-is, has provided a critical use to my army. While I haven't always used it properly (game 50 is an example), it usually is able to do something useful, and has been absolutely necessary in some of the games that I've played.

I'm starting to get concerned, though, about it's future application. This squad is very expensive, violating rule #2. If I dropped my priest, and took away the SO's powerfist, I could afford to give my command platoon 3 meltaguns and take a 2-plasma group of stormtroopers. This option sounds better for axioms #2 and #3. I'd hate to lose Sanario, though, but I'd consider it if there was a good reason.

ELITES

Unlike my fiasco with stormtroopers, I feel that my gaming has matured to the point where I've been able to make some good use out of this unit. Given it's firepower to price ratio, I don't think I'll be dropping it soon, and I've been able to find some handy uses out of its infiltrating ability.

That being said, one facet of this unit has been absolutely ridiculous. In the 19 games that I've had my vets, they've scored 27 overheats. I've made 5 successful armor saves. It's like they only have 6+ armor against their own weapons. I'd rather they just make the rule where you can't make armor saves against plasma guns and then make them a couple points cheaper...

In any case, I see this unit as having a purpose in my new strategy. Basically, I intend to have them work with one of the objective teams, being the forward unit to clear out any resistance that might be quickly moving towards my stuff. That, or they could be a gret distraction, or a much-needed non-infiltrating addition to any group. I think if I had my 3x plasma vets along with a 3x melta officer squad and a sentinel, there would be a lot of punch packed.

TROOPS

Platoon HQ: For the 50 turns of soul searching that I've had with this squad, I can now say one thing for certain: I only like this squad when it carries high strength weapons. The matter, then, is if I want to field this with it's old configuration with a lascannon, or if I want to keep it with it's new configuration of at least two meltaguns. I can see the merits in both. What do you think?

Infantry squads: I've still liked the strategy with these troops, but after awhile, it became apparent that they just didn't have the "oomph" required to lubricate my strategy properly. In the end, I decided to drop the grenade launchers and heavy bolters for the cheaper, yet more powerful missile launcher with no special weapons combo. In brief, it was so that I could insta-glib crisis suits, but there are some other things that the missile launcher does that I like. My only concern is the decrease in heavy bolters as, without tanks, that number will go from 8 down to 0. Will I still have enough anti-light infantry? Even if I add a few more squads of dudes?

Armored fist: As my tanks have been forced into more conservative play, the armored fist has gone with it. It's bright light has now dimmed to the point where I basically treat them the same as a normal infantry squad. The only real specialized use that I get out of them anymore is the ability to sneak over into a different table quarter starting turn 1. While I will miss my chimera, if I don't have other tanks around, there really doesn't feel like there's a use for this vehicle anymore...

FAST ATTACK

My sentinels do what they do, and they do it well. I think the fact that they come in second place for both "MVP" AND "Hero of the Game" is a testament to how much I like them, and how well I can use them.

I'd love to add in another, but so far, I can't figure out where the points would come from.

As well, I'd have to consider how to use them. On the one hand, I could bring them along with the teams, on the other hand, I could just sort of keep them back and shoot at stuff, or form a team of their own.

Also, I've started having dark fantasies about taking 3 heavy flamer sentinels for just over 100 pts. If I took them individually, they would DEFINITELY fit the plan of lots of mobile, cheap, scoring units.

HEAVY SUPPORT

I have not been more disappointed with my heavy support choices. My disappointment runs so deep, that I'm considering dropping them alltogether. Neither my battlecannon nor my earthshaker cannon have hit NEARLY enough, and their fairly consistent trend of rolling half of their wounding dice as ones makes me want to puke.

Sure, it's just bad luck, but when nearly a third of my forces can't do anything, I have no real choice but to replace the offending units. The only unit that I hold out any hope for is my basilisk as it still provides a degree of psychological weaponry, even though it can't kill anything. Plus, long ago, it DID rack up a bunch of MVP's.

The question then becomes "what do I replace this with?". Given that I already replaced some of the points of the demolisher with the plasma vets, I think if I replaced the rest of the points with a 3x mortar team and a line squad that I'd get better firepower, and better survivability, all while having more options and more scoring units.

I'd even start to consider taking the IF off of my basilisk and turning it into a lascannon somewhere, or for half the points of another sentinel, or for a pair of melta or plasma guns somewhere.

Anyways, thatís a quick runthrough of my list, and what itís generally done. I'd love any thoughts on the subject. The following are a few changes that Iíd like to make, and would really appreciate your advice on.

Things to Drop: LRBT, Chimera

Things to possibly Drop: Basilisk (or just it's IF), The Priest + Melchoir's power fist, my JO's storm bolter.

If I dropped just the top two things, I'd have 248 pts. If I dropped everything, I'd have 375 points. I definitely think that this is enough to completely restructure an army.

In order for me to do this, there are a few necessary expenses: Namely, I need to buy another infantry squad, and another JO in order to keep two troops choices legal. This costs, at base, 135 points (assuming that I have a few points to spare for weapons). This would give me 113 points to play with, which I'd probably give to a mortar set, and some more weapons somewhere.

The big problem with this is that I'm not really getting any more units than I lost. This sort of negates the point of #3. In the end, I think this might be too timid of a step towards a new strategy.

Assuming that you do the above, and then drop the basilisk, I'd have 238 points. This is good as I'd spend the points on two more infantry squads with missile launchers, and another JO with a pair of meltaguns. The remaining 28 points could be spent to fortify my now 6 squads and 4 officers. This definitely is jiving more towards my strategy. The only downside, of course, is that not only am I losing my basilisk, but I would have virtually no general support, and each team would have to do their objective on their own without any reserve help. Definitely a trickier thing to do.

And what if I lost Sanario? Basically, I'd have enough for another group of something. In this case, my list would look like this:

HQ: Melchoir with power weapon, retinue with 2 meltaguns

3x plasma vets (infiltrating)

3x lascannon sentinels

2x JO's with 2x meltaguns

6x infantry squads with missile launchers

2, 3x mortar squads

Basically, I'd have 3 teams consisting of 2x squads with missile launchers, 1 officer with two meltaguns, and a sentinel. All of this would be backed up with a squad of veterans that I'd put somewhere, and two barrages of mortars landing somewhere every turn.

THE OVERVIEW

So, Iíd like to impart a few of the lessons that Iíve learned in my fifth set (to help noobs, and to compare it to vets' advice).

- Imperial guard tanks, as tragic as it is, are the worst in the game. They don't have the speed like other races to get their objectives done in a timely manner. They don't get SMF, demonic possession, or a machine spirit to let them get out of harms way (and, indeed, sometimes keep shooting). Them not being as survivable wouldn't be so much of an issue if they were able to do a lot of damage quickly, but guard ordnance runs at BS2, all while still needing to roll to wound, and being ineffective against units in cover, just like anyone else. I think that they can still serve a purpose, but being the "hammer" that they're advertised as only really works against people dumb enough to charge out into the open against you.

- I don't know if it's possible to concentrate fire too much with guard. If you can get your whole army to be effective against one unit, and be able to hit that unit, all the better. As it's sort of difficult to get a monstrously overwhelming amount of firepower in one place, I think that any commander, most of the time, wouldn't be amiss to bring an extra unit somewhere. Definitely one of those times when the Tactica Imperialis is right.

- Close combat has continued to serve me at least decently thus far. The shock factor of imperial guard charging something still hasn't worn off yet with most of the people who go to my local store.

- Cover is incredibly important. Being able to make "armor" saves against bolters and heavy weapons, and, most importantly, being able to keep units out of LOS until you want to shoot seems to me to be a way of separating men from boys, so to speak. Every game where I've just absolutely slaughtered someone was when they just marched straight at me, and in all of the games that I've lost, people have been able to use cover to devastating effect (like bringing their own in the form of drop pods).

Anyways, thatís it for the reflections on my fourth set of ten games. I hope that you have enjoyed reading the reports (and trust me, there will be more), and I look forward to comments that you may have on either the games themselves, or what I should do with my list, or things that you have found to be true on an abstract level when commencing field strategy (especially with this new strategy I'm thinking of.

Thanks for reading my reports. I couldn't have done it without you guys.