Making a competitive Warhammer 40k army list is not a simple endeavor. I’ve been gathering intelligence on possible opponents, and also trying to nail down my own capabilities. The first thing that needs to be dealt with are my limitations. My primary limitations are time and money. I am limited to units I already have for the most part. This prevents me from adding an Imperial Knight, or more realistically, a pair of Wyverns. I do have enough of a budget to purchase a Techmarine and a Ministorum Priest, both of which have been on my wishlist for a while. I’m checking under my couch cushions to see if I can make those Wyverns happen, but for now I need to be realistic.
On the IG side of things, I have 3 Regular Leman Russ hulls, and 1 Assault hull. I have 2 Basilisks, 3 Vendettas/Valkyries, a couple of Chimeras, and about 5 squads worth of IG infantry. I also have some Heavy Weapons teams and a couple of Sentinels. I can draw on a number of Dark Angels units for my allies. I have a couple of Deathwing units, a couple of Ravenwing units, some Black Knights, a couple of Dreadnoughts, a couple of Land Speeders, some Veterans, and 2 full Tactical Squads with Rhinos.
Process of Elimination:
Certain units can be ruled out. They are simply not versatile or cost effective enough to warrant serious consideration. The first round of cuts removes the Dreadnoughts, Basilisks, Deathwing, Chimeras, and Sentinels. These are all either too immobile, too expensive for what they do, or too fragile. Ravenwing units are very tempting, as IG suffers from a severe lack of mobility. However, they are expensive, and unless I make Dark Angels my primary, they are not available as troops. Land Speeders, Black Knights, and Tactical Squads both get some consideration. Knights and Speeders because of the punch and mobility they provide, and Tacs because I have to take a troop anyway.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Imperial Guard in 7th Edition:
Before I move on to what makes the final cut, I thought I’d take a second to talk about where the meta is at, what the strengths are that I need to exploit, and what weaknesses I need to cover. Things look a little bleak right now. Despite having what most people consider to be a good codex, IG just aren’t winning at the moment. This could be a case of people trying to play their 6th edition style with the new book, or it could just mean that these “good” units are difficult to get synergy with. There were some subtle changes when the new edition came out, and they might be tripping people up.
7th edition ripped the crutch of Prescience away from IG. The Psychic phase can still be a factor, but it requires a lot more investment to work now. Unless you are going to go all in, you have to find another way to increase that fire power. Another change was the introduction of the Maelstrom missions. Mobility suddenly became a lot more important. Unfortunately, mobility is one of the main weaknesses of the Imperial Guard. There were also a couple of buffs. Vehicles got harder to kill, and IG has a lot of powerful vehicles. The two that stand out to me are the Vendetta gunship and old reliable, the Leman Russ Tank. The new vehicle damage table also makes light armor marginally more difficult to kill. With the damage output IG artillery has, getting one more shot can make a big difference.
There is no real way, outside of allies, to mitigate the lack of mobility. IG simply doesn’t have the units for that. There also isn’t anything that can really replace the loss of cheap and easy Prescience. However, there are some other things I can do. Adding Azrael to a guard blob is nothing new. Upgrading the save of 30 or 40 guys from 5+ armor to 4+ invulnerable is a major upgrade in survivability. Azreal also makes them Fearless and his Leadership 10 means that orders given to the blob are very likely to take effect. Adding a Priest makes this blob troublesome in close combat as well, since he makes that 4++ re-rollable and gives the unit Hatred. Another way that DA can help out with survivability is to bring in an Independent Character with a Power Field Generator. Adding a Techmarine with a PFG can make those already difficult to kill Leman Russes a real pain in your opponents behind. AV 14 with a 4++ is a tough nut to crack. He also cuts the chances of loosing a hull point to Get’s Hot in half, from 1/12 to 1/24. With a servo harness, he also has a 50% chance of restoring a hull point each turn.
A trickier question comes into play when deciding what to do with the command section, but I’ll save that for my next post. What I am looking at so far is Azrael, a Techmarine with a PFG, a blob, some tanks, a couple of Vendettas, and maybe some Artillery or some Black knights if I can fit them in to give some maneuverability to the list.