Monday, 27 April 2009

110 First Cut is the Deepest

Okay, so the title sounds negative than I intended.

A couple of you have been kind enough to enquire, so here are my first thoughts about the new Codex: IG and the future of Drax's forces.

1) Guard are weaker...and stronger as a result.

The thing that really hit me with the latest Space Marine codex was that the marines were way harder; more-or-less across the board. Man for man, Guardsmen are now weaker, and this is a Good Thing. Sure, they're cheaper and better equipped (auto-frag! half-price krak!), but they're far less likely to stick around once the bullets start flying than they were up to now with their almost ubiquitous Ld 9.

So I hate the fact that a lot of my guys are likely to have Ld 7 or 8 a lot of the time (yes, I know there are ways round it, but see below) but I absolutely love the fact that they're more likely to run away: they're more like how I want Guardsmen to play! A couple of months ago I had a heavy weapon squad sit through five rounds of being shot at by terminators and a dreadnought: taking cover saves, constantly re-rolling Ld9 and shrugging off the occasional wounds to loaders 'til they were down to only one man. Sure this is still possible, but - importantly - it's slightly less probable, and Guardsmen are cheaper as a result. Rightly so.

2) Officers are not bulletproof.

The mainstays of my last inf-only army were my officers. Now (though folks seem fairly impressed with the new 'orders' and I expect to be too) they can't share their Ld and their radios now have less range than Ursarkar Creed's body odour. This is a shame, but not insurmountable. I shall simply be forced to rely on them less. As with the reduced efficiency (and effective Ld...and survivability...) of my beloved heavy weapons teams, I shall simply have to embrace the fact that despite the loss, they are cheaper and therefore more plentiful and more expendable.

3) Avoiding the hard stuff.

Loads of stuff in the new codex is pretty damned hard. I'm not out to win, so I'll probably avoid that which doesn't really sit well with me. This includes muchos psykers, conscripts and penal troops. Some of the vehicles too (see below).

4) Structural re-organisation.

Over the last couple of years, I've build my forces up as separate forces: light infantry, armoured infantry and a tank company. The new codex really seems to reward a combined-arms approach (and rightly so), so although they're cheaper and not too much more flimsy than before, my light infantry (only) are likely to seem expensive and less effective by comparison to a mixed force.

If you're wondering, here's how I'm currently considering their re-organisation (for fluffiness: power-gaming and too many special characters can go hang, for now):

Two companies, each comprising:
1Pl with 3 inf sections (spec wpn); m/launcher sect; a/cannon sect; mortar sect and (probably) a special weapon (flamers) sect.
2Pl with 3 inf sections (spec wpn); l/cannon sect; h/bolter sect; mortar sect and (probably) a special weapon (flamers) sect.

With my current equipment (voxs for all who can; medics (NOW AT 30 POINTS!) and g/launchers in HQ sects) each platoon costs about 550pts...which seems a lot until you realise that it can hold its own pretty well against most foes (certainly if my old experiences with light infantry are anything to go by) - and is well equipped. Obviously, elements could be removed from platoons for different purposes.

My armoured infantry are likely to remain mostly unchanged - except that I may take Al'rahem, just because I like the compulsion of his 'flanking' special rule. I feel the urge for another griffon.

Max, over at 'Defending Humanity' has been waxing lyrical about the use of triple-melta vet squads in chimeras flying into the enemy's flanks, and this has caught my attention...especially if I get around to making my 'front-loader' chimera! We'll see.

5) The new vehicles are as pricey as they are sweet...but not all to my taste.

I am so hugely happy about chimeras being given a decent price I could weep, but I don't think the talented Mr. Cruddace really thought the vehicles through quite as well as he might have. Noted anomalies include:
++ That the melta-y hellhound (devil dog? - I don't have my codex in front of me) has a main weapon that's potentially less useful than the new hull-mounted multimelta option, which has the same range and no chance of scattering or hitting at a frustrating half strength;

++ The 20-shot 'punisher'. Really?

++ The massive one-shot missile of death that may or may not fire and will have an 8-12" diameter blast. Why on Earth would he include this in a normal Codex?

++ Or the manticore, for that reason? Why not simply keep them for apocalypse?

++ And the acid-firing hellhound contraption seems really really too powerful (it'll kill marines on a 2+).

However, the chimeras are smashing, as is the 'lumbering behemoth' rule (very clever) and so are the nice little rules for griffons (re-rolls are great, and I love that they can't fire direct now). The sentinels march on, and I like the improvements to the exterminator's autocannon (though they seemed a little unnecessary they're certainly welcome).

Due to current lack of funds, valkyries will not be appearing soon, sadly. I'm determined to paint up my old FW baneblade first!

6) And finally, characters.

The lack of tactical options available to Guard now does sadden me a little - I thought the 'doctrines' system was a great idea for Guard, albeit flawed; and it's a shame that one now has to take special characters for 50, 70 or 90 pts a pop just so that one unit can outflank. I love some of them, but they're just too specific: I don't want to be held down to heroes for tactical flexibility in a 1000pt game!

And I know I'm not alone.

So. Thoughts continue. It'll be an age beofre I get to try many of my ideas out, so all ripostes gratefully received.


- Drax.


  1. Although I haven't gone through the new codex yet I think the main reason for including things like the manticore are to mainly two-fold: give the people who already have those models a chance to use them outside of Apocalypse and also a reason to spur model sales for those who might want them.

  2. Cracking review, Drax - some very interesting observations! I'm interested to see how the vox network has been altered, knowing that it's no longer used for the Ld bonus bubbles.

    "for fluffiness: power-gaming and too many special characters can go hang, for now"

    Amen! I'm somewhat disappointed that there appears to be such a predominance of characters to give the army flavor. Granted one can always do the "remaned guy for my army who uses the Creed rules", but having to go that route just doesn't feel right to me.

    Still a week to go for my copy. Curses!

  3. "A couple of months ago I had a heavy weapon squad sit through five rounds of being shot at by terminators and a dreadnought: taking cover saves, constantly re-rolling Ld9 and shrugging off the occasional wounds to loaders 'til they were down to only one man. Sure this is still possible, but - importantly - it's slightly less probable, and Guardsmen are cheaper as a result. Rightly so."

    Waitasec. You don't like this?

    While I love the "expendability" of Guard, there are times when I liked being able to stick around, especially with my heavy weapon squads. That's why I always took Iron Discipline. I could have a squad break like I wanted, but not have to sacrifice it. I like reliability (for fluff reasons) and the Veterans were great for that.

    I played with the new codex yesterday. Tanks are nice and powerful now, though I made the mistake of thinking they could move and fire everything. Oops. I liked the Griffon and the rerollable scatter die; I didn't miss with it all game, and my very first shot wiped out a Scout squad. Orders are useful but not game-breaking; I stopped a unit running off the board and used Move!Move!Move! to race a squad towards an objective.

  4. I'm anxious to get my hands on the new codex, only another week... damn and double damn.

    I think it's great that they put so many vehicles in the book. While I agree with both reasons Mordian7th mentioned, I'll add to them. With more vehicles people have more choices for making an unusual or unexpected force. I don't think you'll be facing the same old combo in every game... except with the hard core gamers who will decide the ultimate combo and that's all they'll play. I know I for one would like to get beat by a myriad of new and interesting guard armies!

  5. Thanks for the shout out Admiral!

    As for the Codex, I have no experience with the old Guard on either side of the battlefield (a shame I know, but that's what newbness does...) but most of it feels delightfully warm and fluffy. I mean, you get to yell at your troops and it has an effect on the game! Amazing! I think it was that rumor alone that got me to go Guard, and I'm glad that it panned out.

    It is pretty lame that you have to take special characters to use different army builds, but at least we aren't the anomaly, what with the other 5th eds getting the same treatment.

    Sure, there will be power builds, especially involving the psyker battle squads and vendettas and whatnot. But there are TONS of options out there for a budding guard general such as myself, and many will be viable builds that will win their share of games on the backs of good generals and brave men. And for me at least, that's what the Guard is about.

    That and laughing hysterically as I pick up several hundred dice and prepare to FRFSRF at point blank range. Can't forget that.

  6. The new character driven lists are horrible in my opinion. Why does a person change the tactical doctrines of the army, rather than the army doing it itself?

  7. Thanks for the quick review Drax. I've got to agree that I think they have moved the Guard in the right direction, toning down the infantry and allowing us more & then giving us more armoured options.

    However, as more and more battle reports come in, I am starting to worry the book has gone to far and the IG really are a level above. I know you don't intend to abuse the book like that but, what are your thoughts? Is this a power gamers dream?

  8. Thanks for sharing the review! I haven't got the codex yet, so these reviews are very valuable!

  9. Isn't there a rule that you aren't allowed special characters unless your opponent agrees? What about tournaments, from now on they are going to have to allow all special characters all the time otherwise both the SMs and the guard (and I assume all armies in future as GW are going down this route wholesale) will end up being generic only with no ability to customise.
    Things'll have to change somewhere.

    Nice review as well, very inciteful.

  10. Why does everyone hate the characters so much ... doctrines never worked as a method of 'personalising' your army, as in taking doctrines you had to sacrifice every interesting unit in your army - it was broken and just produced a bunch of identikit 'light infantry', 'deep strike spam' or mechanised armies... yawn.

    The new codex simply does away with that by offering us ALL the options ALL the time, with the only downside in deciding if a Valkyrie is really worth a slot for 3 more hellhounds?

    On the special character side, I kinda like that ... it offers us the option to 'buff up' a particular unit, company or hero. The combination of these and the 'orders' - which are a better direct equivilent to the game challenging aspects seen with Eldrad, Tau pathfinders and the like - give you a imperial guard army that is more variable and more capable of surprising the enemy.

    I like the concept of the orders. I doubt they'll be as brilliant as expected, but anything that offers a reroll to hit on three lascannons is ok in my book.

    The combination of indestructable heavy weapons teams and leadership bubbles lent the guard player toward castling up his gunline and weathering the fire power... all these new options are just far more interesting and varied...

    I'm hoping to get my codex tomorrow.


  11. Looks good for guard - a lot of toys to bring to the table now. plus quite a bit of outflanking as well.

    Be interesting to see how guard and orks match up - Green tide!

  12. It's really giong to be interesting to see how these guys play. I've been getting pasted by orks for a while now--it'll be nice to see how the IG stand up to them now.

  13. There's still a horrible ammount of options without the special characters, really.

    Too many options, all equally good. It just makes your head hurt as you can't decide which of the awesomness to take.

    Ld 8 with a re-roll as apposed to Ld 9 with a re-roll? Not much of a difference there, really. Sure, there are sergeant-less squads (SWS, HWS). If you like command bubbles, Commisar Lord still gives everyone Ld 10, which is even better than before. And he costs as much as old bare command squad.

    Triple-melta Vets are awesomely deadly. So are triple-plasma. I however have an idea of fielding two COs, one being quad-melta (ALWAYS in range of twin-linking order...)

    Punisher sucks, honestly. Heavy 20 sounds awesome, but S5 AP- makes it rather meh at BS 3. Not really going to field that one. Banewolf can sound awesome, but don't forget it's a template, not an inferno cannon - has to be attached to the turret. If it doesn't wipe out it's enemies it'll eat a power fist in the behind. And to be honest other codices have their awesomely powerful toys. Our turn!

    Manticore seems fun, but not quite set on it. It costs 190 pts with camo-netting and that's an awful lot for something that fragile. D3 templates are powerful, but the enemy won't let them live for long..

    As for special characters.. No, thanks. Maybe once or twice for the heck of it, but normally nobody plays with specials around here at all.
    Though for Apocalypse, yep, sure! Creed, Al'rahem, Chenkov, Straken. All very characterful (love the flavour of Al'rahem's and Chenkov's orders) and strong. Pask is quite awesome too.
    I just think it's nice to have characters that actually work and are useful to field, like the other armies do. The old codex didn't offer pretty much anything. (Well. Last Chancers, maybe).

  14. Whoa! Loads of ripostes (weak 're-posts' pun, anyone?) - thanks!

    Here are some reponses for you:

    @Dave D and Geek: very true in both cases, though in my experience those who buy FW models (as I believe these vehicles are/will be) are far more likely to play with them regardless of codex-published rules...

    @ Jennifer: Great comments and thanks. I forgot to mention my love of 'Iron Discipline' in my post, and that was most remiss - I'll really miss it.

    @ Max: Thanks, and again, I neglected to mention that we are - of course - simply falling in line with the new direction of codexes. So be it: that's what we've signed up for with GW plastic-crack. I'm not kicking the habit quite yet!

    @ Sovietspace: I think this codex will be HUGELY open to abuse by power-gamers - even from the few lists we've already seen online. Luckily for me, I've not yet played a power-gamer, and I'm in absolutely no rush to do so.

    @ bG: I'm sure I read somewhere that this usage of special characters is no longer verboten. I don't think it was 5th Ed rules, but I can't be sure. Surely somewhere official: I know I've read it. CAN ANYONE SHED ANY LIGHT?

    @ Suneokun: You do me a small injustice, mate: I don't hate characters! I agree with you that doctrines were limiting and could be abused and that the new system grants far, far more flexibility. The downside of it is that you can't give an army a holistic identity - only individual units. An example from my army being that (game impact aside) I'd love for my vets to be able to infiltrate. They can't now...but one squad can if you take character X. So my vets (or whoever, for that matter) will have to take different battlefield roles if any of them infiltrate.

    @ Haljin: Thanks for the ideas - and good point about the Cmsr Lord. Interesting...


    Thanks again. I'm really not a lover of static gunlines and personally I try to take the firefight to the enemy, but I'm still not a great fan of using Guard as an effective assault force.

    Ineffective human waves? - great!

    Heroic last stands on a pile of traitorous marines? - splendid!

    But a tooled-up phalanx of twenty fearless and frothing bayonet-wielding guardsmen charging stark-bollock-naked at an Eldar warhost just because they've got Officer Bob with them on loan from the nearest deathworld doesn't quite scan.

    I'm here all week.

  15. "for fluffiness: power-gaming and too many special characters can go hang, for now"

    Bless you, sir, for you seem to be in the minority in that regard.

  16. Oh dear. It appears my pre-ordered Valks and codex are on their way! *does a happy guard commander dance*

  17. The special characters restriction thingy went the way of the dodo a while ago. From what I hear tell from the Grognards of eld, the SCs used to be all powerful, ridiculous god-like beings who would absolutely cream any army that wasn't running them. Now they are less ridiculous and more like expensive demigods.

  18. A good review, plenty of food for thought. Mt Codex should be arriving at my home this morning - so I shall be picking it up from the sorting office tomorrow. I can't wait to actually have a look at the specifics.

    I think the new roles for special characters is a good one, personally. When I started in 40k, the codices had uber special characters in them and there was half a dozen alternative lists for each codex published in various documents. They then started pulling all those together to give you codices whose list you could change willy-nilly, and the special characters, in general, were good, but didn't serve any massive purpose other than being a bit more killy.

    Now they seem to have integrated both those functions into one, and I think it works rather well. I suppose people would have less of a problem with using renamed versions if they were given generic titles instead of specific character names, but hey, c'est la vie.

    What this does is allow the army list itself to remain relatively simple (with no doctrines/chapter traits pages to constantly flick to), while still allowing you to customise your army to a certain degree.

    Anyway, I've rambled enough, suffice to say, I like it.


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