The tanks of the Imperial Guard are some of the most feared and dangerous in the entire galaxy. Rugged and sturdy they can fight in almost any condition, ice, deathworld or desert. You name it they can fight in them all. Extremely powerful they contain the power to help the poorly armed Guardsmen to smite the many numerous foes of the Imperium of man.
It is said that if they could, the Imperial Guard would smash a nut with a sledge hammer. This is perfectly represented by the firepower and survivability of their Leman Russ battle tanks. This tactica will look at the two Leman Russ variants shown in the current codex: Imperial Guard. This tactica will not look into the many other variants in the Imperial Armour volumes yet, as there are just too many variants and their many tactics to be able to fit so much information into one article. Sorry but that's just the way it is. Rights, lets get on with this tactica then shall we?
The Standard Leman Russ's Guns:
Turret weapon - Battle cannon, no option about this, it's a fine gun anyway so don't cry, it'll work its pay with any luck.
Hull weapon - Either a lascannon or a heavy bolter. Most players advise a heavy bolter as a) it's cheaper and b) a Leman Russ will should be pounding away with ordinance so won't need these weapons and c) a Leman Russ is primarily an anti-infantry platform. Choice for hull weapons also depends on your sponson guns (if you buy any).
Sponson weapons - Either heavy bolters or heavy flamers...or nothing. I'd advise on heavy bolters to compliment on your hopefully wise choice to get a hull heavy bolter too so if the battle cannon snuffs it you still have almost 10 anti-infantry shots a turn. Nice. Heavy flamers mean you get within melta gun range and risk getting cooked prematurely. Not nice.
Pintle mounted gun - Bah why get these when they are over-priced and when you should be firing ordinance the whole game. Bit of a waste of points if you ask me, though looks nice. If you really need to get one then get a heavy stubber to compliment the heavy bolters range. They have their uses, like when you can't use your pie-plate there are friendly forces nearby that if you plan properly, that should never happen.
Other options - Smoke launchers and maybe even extra armour are all you need if you need to put pedal to the metal away from melta guns or simply need to re-deploy. Other options such as track guards and dozer blades are commonly seen as a waste of points as they only work half the time, for the former, and are only really needed in cities of death games, for the latter option.
On to the actual tactics then:
The Standard Leman Russ Tactics:
This is the most common variant of the Leman Russ tank. It is armed with a cumbersome but no less deadly battle cannon and a variety of hull weapons. Let's look at their best tactics:
Fish in a Barrel:
This is how most Imperial Guard commanders use their standard Leman Russ tanks. Just as a simple weapons platform to pound the enemy with several power armour obliterating, krak missile strength weapons battle cannon shots for the whole battle. While this isn't bad, in fact it's quite good you must realise that more can be garnered from this tank if you know what to do. The next tactic is a little more advanced. Though more specialised too...
The Big Shield:
Best used against horde assault armies such as Tyranids and Orks. This relies on the rule that no model may move within 1" of an enemy model without assaulting it. Put your Leman Russ tanks (needs these as they are toughest) just over 2" apart and have the special and heavy weapons of your infantry units firing through the back. Works well with a refused flank tactic and forming a quarter circle on one quarter of the board. Though this is perhaps a bit too static. Make sure you have some mobile units like deep strikers or rough riders to snatch objectives and mission critical stuff or you will loose through not moving!
Make a big show of shooting with your Leman Russ though only when the enemy can only target the front armour generally. Never use this tactic against enemies with lance weapons! Your enemy will shoot loads of shots into if and most won't do anything, even if it's stunned keep at it. You enemy will be wasting shots that way as a stunned vehicle is useless till the next turn. Even better deploy smoke when you employ this tactic or when the tank is obscured
The main weakness of your Leman Russ is the side to some extent but the weakest is the rear. This tactic helps solve that weakness and there are two things you can do to stop sneaky enemies sneaking round behind you or deep-striking just behind your exhaust pipes. Here's what you can do:
Use terrain to your advantage. Plonk your Leman Russ in front of a cliff or something similar and the enemy won't have a hope I hell of being able to legally target your rear armour. You could also back our Leman Russ up against a table edge too come to think of it...
Have guardsmen immediately behind the tank spread out 12" away to stop deep-strikers dropping in with melta guns or what not and blasting it to the warp. Just make sure the guardsmen with heavy and special weapons are in such a position that they can see past the tank and shoot the enemy.
Does not work against deepstriking units with long range anti-tank guns such as sentinels with lascannons. Just like the Big Shield tactic if is quite static but you need only use it once the tank is threatened. Generally the first way is better though you can have to work hard to get a decent piece of terrain that's large enough.
Well that's the end of that now lets look at how to use a Leman Russ Demolisher shall we?
The Leman Russ Demolisher's Guns:
Turret weapon - Demolisher cannon, short ranged but very powerful and excellent at hunting the most armoured of enemies. They scare terminators and the usual toughness 5, "I'm so tough you can't instant kill me," units.
Hull weapon - Either a lascannon or heavy bolter. Depends on your choice of sponsons (if you get any).
Sponson weapons - Quite a few choices here including heavy bolters, plasma cannons, multimeltas and heavy flamers. I'd advise heavy bolters if you have a hull heavy bolter. They are cheap and cheerful, great against Tyranids and Orks, and even other Imperial Guard! I'd advise plasma cannons if you have a hull lascannon as this combo is especially effective against MEQ armies. And with so many armies Space Marines... Multimeltas along with the hull lascannon are only a viable choice if you need more antitank in your army. Don't choose a heavy flamer for the same reasons as not using them with the standard Leman Russ Though remember that you should be using your ordinance most of the time and only using these lesser weapons when there are allies within the scatter area.
Pintle mounted gun - Just like the standard Leman Russ, don't get them if you ask me. Look at the pintle mounted gun choice for the Leman Russ for the reasons.
Other options - Exactly the same as the Leman Russ but remember that just because this tank's armour is better doesn't mean it will survive longer. Your enemy will strive to kill this tank (even more so then a standard Leman Russ) as it can demolish anything in his army.
The Leman Russ Demolisher Tactics:
Most of the tactics the standard Leman Russ can utilise can also be used by a Demolisher, to an extent. With this tanks short range cannon you have to be aggressive, move it around a bit, to get it in range quickly, this means you will be using your sponson and hull weapons more so it is prudent to choose the long range choices. Thus the tactic in this article named fish in a barrel cannot be used without moving and thus compromising the main cannons accuracy. This is the time to make use of your expensive sponson and hull guns. In some ways the tactic shoot me is also made redundant with the Demolisher as most players see an enemy one too dangerous to be left shooting.
A large blast template terminator armour busting gun? Huzzah! This is a simple tactic, perhaps even obvious, but it is something the Demolisher's main cannon is specialised in doing in an Imperial Guard army without resorting to Imperial Armour tanks or plasma gun spamming. Simply watch your opponents face drop when he has to use his invulnerable and not his amazing tactical dreadnought armour save! The weapons I'd use with this tactic are a hull mounted lascannon and sponson plasma cannons.
Well that includes my humble tactica on two of the most common variants of the Leman Russ main battle tank. Happy hunting!