I was recently in attendance of Wargames Association Corks (WAC) annual event "Astronomicon" held in University College Cork.
Due to the event being primarily a fun weekends gaming, yet featuring some of the best local gamers, I was quick to sign up, but with a twist. I took the opportunity to take an Imperial Guard army that Dave Chambers was nice enough to lend me.
Not only are the models beautifully painted but Dave is one of the unsung heroes of the local scene, for when he isn't ensuring that friends can borrow either his Guard or his equally beautifully painted Space Marines, he will be playing the "by" list in either 40K or Fantasy (in which he also has several gorgeous armies) or helping to organise the event.
List was as follows:
Company Command Squad: 4 Plasma, Astropath, Bodyguard, Chimera, H. Flamer
Company Command Squad: 4 Plasma
10 Vets, 3 Melta, Chimera, H. Flamer
10 Vets, 3 Melta, Chimera, H. Flamer
10 Vets, 3 Melta
10 Vets, 3 Melta
Leman Russ Executioner
Game 1 was against Colin and his standard Codex Marines list using Daves other beautifully painted toys. This list has 3 Drop pods. I got first turn, he reserved, I moved around my Vendettas so as to boost back in turn 2 and get saves for my Vendetta's, block most line of sight to my army and prevent him from dropping too close to my list. Seems sensible right?
His turn one two pods came in and I realised I was obviously still drunk for having made such a school boy error. Cue to the loss of a squad of hydras and 2 Vendetta's. His Ironclad bagging the former and his combat squaded Sternguard the latter. This led to an uphill battle from here on in but I managed to get the draw with VP's making it an 11-9 in his favour.
Game 2 was against Hugh and his Templars. I got first turn and deployed aggressively. He decided to reserve all but a 5 man squad who camped on his objective. I killed them and then everything that came on as it came on till I ran out of rounds. Had I played a turn six I would have tabled him. He did 0 to me but was left with a wounded Marshal and a Land Raider so I got a 19-1.
Game 3 was against Merv and the first of his Space Wolves lists ( he played a second list on the Sunday, the one that he submitted to the ETC). He got first turn and I deployed in cover, using my Valks to soak up as much of the firepower as I could by scouting them into his face.
Cue me failing every cover save and armour save from exploding tanks I was called on to take and I was pretty much doomed from turn one. I clawed back some points by baging a few Razorbacks and Long Fang squads but not enough to matter. I had a draw in turn 5 but it wasn't to be and by the end of turn six he had me beat.
Had the game ended in turn 5 I could have got another 11-9 but the extra round and my having exposed myself to get the draw resulted in an 18-2 to him.
Game 4 was against Little Dave and his double storm raven and Descent of Angels Blood Angels list.
I got first turn and deployed surrounded by terrain, spaced out so as to make his DoA hard even on one D6" scatter. As described earlier, I Scout moved and set up my Vendetta's so as to move them back and provide more cover for his arrival from turn 2.
This worked quite well. He got two troops and a squad of HG in on turn two. One of the squads Deep Struck onto my models and went back into reserve with a lucky 6. The remaining troops and HG landed in plain sight of my Executioner and decided to run out of template formation rather than shoot down something. My plasma squads disembarked and combined fire left him 2 marines from the HG. His Ravens turned up in turn 3 and I bagged them both using orders to make him re-roll the cover saves. I finished off the remaining HG who had killed one of my CCSquads.
Meph and one Dread shot into a Chimera hoping to bring out the contents but did so only in the assault phase, leaving me ready to pummel them with all of my fire power, while the other Dread charged the vets that had killed his Raven. He killed 1 Vet; they held. His other squad also arrived taking out a Chimera on the other side of the board that had been heading for his objective lest Meph survive and contest mine.I proceded to shoot everything and Meph made a stupid amount of cover saves only to move onto my objective. Daves remaining squad moved back to snag his objective as the time was running out. Game ended before anything else could happen.
One more turn and I could have wiped Meph but prob not all of his marines so it would have been a draw, as it was I got a 13-7, killing Meph would have made it higher but I was happy enough.
Game 5 I played Merv again with his ETC list.
He got first turn in Dawn of War. I rolled on most stuff in turn 1 with a Valk and a Vet squad and a CCSquad staying in reserve to deal with his scouts. I deployed two empty Chimeras so as to use their Searchlights to pop a few tanks as I rolled on.
This didn't work out though with his rolling boxcars twice to see my chimera's and stunning both. My stuff came on and got killed. I just could not stand up to the firepower of 3 LF squads and 9 TLLC Razbacks. 19-1 to Merv. Less said the better.
So what did I learn? Chimera's get in the way of shooting. Using this to your advantage is a key to blocking the already slow mobility of the Guard. Side armour shots against Armour 10 mean that even a plasma will get through and if you blow up a transport the chances are he is loosing 5/10 Vets minimum and they can easily be pinned.
Vendetta's are cool and all but can be taken down fairly easily by combined firepower. Remember that they are not Storm Ravens and are susceptible to Melta and have weak rear armour. If you can take away the save they go down easy.
Hydra's are simply awesome. Tricks of the trade are hiding one so that both get cover saves, be careful of that. Also as a squadron they get to fire smoke once, as each one does it separately and the unit counts as obscured. Once you have silenced them, move on.
If they are not shooting they are useless and chances are there are other things to take care of. While the executioner is seriously threatening, it tends to miss, a lot. I mean I averaged about 2 in 5 on target each time I shot it.
This list was not optimised. I went with stuff I thought was good and left out stuff like Manticores, Platoons and other staples that I thought were superfluous. I was wrong. Simple things like lining up 25 marines in an "L" shape in your back field prevent Wolf Scouts "Operating Behind Enemy Lines" and other suck infiltrators, The Manticore will Instant Kill big characters and take down tanks that your lads will not be in a position to deal with.
I have to doff my hat to lads who get this army to work how I have seen it play against me over the years. I honestly didn't think that it was as complicated as it is. It is not Point and Shoot. I am sure it can become that way after playing it for a few years, but it is not as forgiving as I had thought.
Interestingly it is not as boring to play with as I had thought either. This does not mean however that I think it is the best Army in the game or that those who use it well are the best Generals. They are not. Because put simply, if you loose, you loose badly regardless of who you are. Marines can claw back a win out of a loss better than anyone provided they have the right man at the tiller and someone who knows his toys.
Playing guard also increases your awareness of Target priority too. You must identify and deal with a threat much quicker than with other armies, simply because if they get too close they are all of a sudden hitting side armour and able to get flamers into range and charge your tanks/infantry. Good experience, not likely to do it again for a long time.
If you get the opportunity, do it.