The humble guardsman

Hi guys,

So it occurred to me that its been a while since i actually wrote anything about 40K! Most of my posts these days seems to cover my miniature painting exploits, so i figured it was about time i got back to the nitty gritty of 40K gaming. Handily, Ron has just sent round an email asking for articles about the Imperial Guard, so i though i would use this as an opportunity to write about gaming with the guard, and my tips and techniques to win with them! So lets get started with a few bullet points about playing with the guard...

  1. Always remember, Imperial guardsmen are the worst trained bunch of cowards in the universe. Their weapons are poor, their marksmanship even worse and they run away at the first sign of danger. So take lots of them! For a unit of 10, you have 66% chance of missing. Once you have hit, the likely hood is that you will fail to wound your target (especially when playing against well armoured troops, such as, well pretty much everything else in 40K!). So rather than firing with one squad at one target, make sure you do your shooting en-masse. Generally i will fire an entire platoon at a single target, and will keep doing that until the enemy breaks or is destroyed. The same applies to combat. Never commit a single squad to combat (well maybe against gretchin, but nothing bigger than that!), as they will get slaughtered. But if you commit an entire platoon, they stand a much better chance, plus it looks ultra cool to have 50+ models charge another unit!
  2. Given point 1, make sure that you always take the heavy and special weapon options for infantry. Especially the special weapons will make an enemy think twice about getting too close. Personally im a big fan of Plasma weapons. They tend to turn expensive enemy units in to molten slag! Especially when you fire six of them at the same target...
  3. Remember the way that real soldiers move - they dont just charge in blind (no matter what you read in a 40K book, thats not the way people normally do things!). Make good use of squads to cover other moving squads. Remember the rules about Rapid fire, and make use of them. In the example diagram below, you can see how as one squad moves the other covers it, then the favour is returned. Leaving your guardsmen sitting in one place is an excellent way to have them killed very swiftly by well placed mortars or other guess range weapons (yes i know there are no more guess range weapons in 5th ed, but i still think of them like that!)
  1. Orgyns are underrated! Nothing else in your army has S6 / W3 / Ld8 (Ld9 if you take a Bone'ead), so make use of them! I usually take 2 squads of five, and use them mounted in Chimeras to harry my opponents shock troops. Generally they dont win, but it holds up the shock / elite troops in my opponents army for long enough either for me to get the big guns trained on them or to move precious troops to another location!
  2. Tanks! Now we come to the meat of any discussion about Imperial Guard, namely the use of tanks. Tanks are every guard players best friend - make sure you take as many as you can. By using them to screen your troops (i.e. have the tanks at the front soaking up fire and move the troops up behind them, effectively blocking line of fire to the troops) you can get much closer to your enemy than you normally would be able. Make sure when moving tanks that you always orient the vehicle so the tougher frontal armour is pointed at an enemy and never, ever expose the rear of the tank to the enemy!
  3. Dont waste valuable points cost on snipers. Generally, unless there is a specific objective that requires snipers they simply end up taking pot shots and not being effective. I usually prefer to spend the points on more standard guardsmen.
Now all of the above may change in the new codex (I've not seen it yet, but i have high hopes given some of the rumours floating around the internet!), but in general the key point to remember is that the humble guardsman when used en-masse will often outmatch opponents much better equipped. Never forget that a guardman is much more expendable than for example a space marine!

I thought i would finish by showing you my current guard army - The 101 Mobile Infantry, 2nd Company (101MI/2c). The army was a test for myself to paint an army quickly and enjoyably, hence the use of dipping as a technique to paint. Hence the models are not up to my usual standard, but it does allow me to have a reasonably large army in a very short period of time (the entire army was about 6 weeks work, painting a couple of hours a week). Hope you like them :)


Admiral Drax said...

Great - thanks, Paul!

I can't say I take the same approach, but I can certainly agree with the theory of it!

Paul Chana said...

Hi Drax,

Im really interested, what tactics do you use for guard? Ive found that they dont stand up in a firefight well, and tend to get smashed up by anything tougher than them, so the tactics outlined in my post seemed to me to be the only way to use them effectively... but, im always on the lookout for new ways of using my guard, so if you have any alternatives im all ears :)

Admiral Drax said...

For the last couple of years I've mostly played an infantry-only army; mostly at c1500pts.

It's main advantages are the Light Infantry doctrine (allowing some infiltration) and the fact that it doesn't have any of the tanks that most opponents come prepared to face.

I noted most of my thoughts down in post 090 (below):
and the previous post (089) too.

I've also enjoyed some success with a purely mounted force - maybe for the polar opposite reason (Post 066; Dec. '08).

Your fire-and-manoeuvre tactic is one I've used with considerable success, but mostly a combination of tons of lasguns and special weapons with heavy support from fire support squads has done the trick. A solid vox-network and well-placed officers helps.

Most of all, playing an inf-only list is really fluffy and enjoyable!

Mind you, all this could well change come May...

That post above (090) is worth a look.


- Chris.

PS: I played a fully mixed list recently and had a whale of a time!

The Inner Geek said...

Those are definitely some valid points you make about guard. And, your dipped guard came out pretty nice in my opinion!

Peter said...

Even if you're not as pleased with your guardsmen I still think they look pretty good, but basing heavy weapon teams is vital... otherwise they look... well yeah :P

Great tactics evem if they don't have a cool name like Draxtics but hey! both are totally useless to me so what does it matter anyway?

Sidestreaker said...

I'm just about to start on my IG and your article is valuable for a newbie like me. Thanks!

Never give Orgyn much thought really until now!

I'd love to read more on any tactics you might have on guards.

Roger said...

Great stuff

You should put your site here

King's Standard Bearer said...

Can we see some more close up's of your HQs and more up close of some individual models? they look brilliant from 2ft and judging by your other work they must be top notch
Craig @ cadian8th

Paul Chana said...


I will post more photos soon (Real Life is unfortunately getting in the way a lot atm). Although i have to say, they are absolutely horrible - I really hate my guard :(
But now the new codex is out, im filled with renewed vigour for my humble guardsmen. Now if i could just find a GW store with a copy of the codex in stock,...