Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Astra Militarum: Still Going Strong

As a big fan of the codex, I was sad to see my friend trade his well painted IG army for a collection of Tyranids, but it did get me thinking about the Codex a little bit.

One of the problems as new codex's tumble out of the chute, especially at the pace they have been, is that we stop looking for the gems in the codex's and even stop playing them in favor of the new hotness.

I was looking through the Astra Militarum book and thought "this book really has something to deal with everything"!

Let's run through it.  Anti-aircraft?  They have a tough well equipped anti-air flyer, access to the usual goodies everyone has access to and they have the Hydra Flakk Batteries.  Check!

Imperial Knights?  No problem.  They have enough STR 9 and Meltagun or meltabomb access even in their basic squads to scare any number of Knights.  From Veterans all armed with Meltabombs, to blobs sporting 5 meltaguns apiece, with Lascannons to boot and then you have the barrage weaponry to get around their shields if it all fails.

Need help cracking bikes?  Without their Jink saves they aren't so tough and the Psykers can help a very large number of angry Guardsman plow a bike Squad at a time completely off the table unless they are bike squads of unusual size.

Speaking of Psykers, you can afford to have the Psykers to offer protection to your main units, and a 5+ Deny the Witch ain't nothing.  Relic Plating helps protect the vehicles as well, at only three points per vehicle.  Why wouldn't you have the Psykers around since their powers are incredibly valuable to the ever present Imperial Guard blobs.

Having Ork issues?  Hordes had better really come with a plan because if there's one thing an Imperial guard force can do, its to wither an ork force to the bones.  The sheer volume of fire is enough to terrify.  The Priests and Psykers as well as Powers axes you can hide in the blobs are like a nuclear deterrent to almost any unit, horde or otherwise.  While certain units are very good at milling the blobs, such as Flayed Ones, the number of units that can truly break one is small given the priests Zealotry.

Monstrous Creatures just mean less models to kill and a LOT of high strength shots to get it down.

Need mobility to get to objectives late?  They have several units that can deep strike, outflank, infiltrate and even more that can drop out the back of Vendettas.  Deployment options are just so good for an Astra Militarum player who wants flexibility to be a part of his early game strategy.  Then there are the ubiquitous Chimras.

I tried to think of an army that this one could not adapt to and it was a hard thing to identify.  I think short of a boatload of Paladins and their crazed leader bashing into them, or as i mentioned, the Flayed ones getting enough into combat, there's just a lot of good things the blobs can handle and their steel sidekicks pick up the slack.

The Warlord Traits and the Special Order add even more versatility.

All in all I think the codex has really good legs, and always has just because of how adaptable to its meta that it can be.  Yet I hear them getting mediocre reviews from many and aren't seeing a ton of high level competitive play.  One wonders why.

For some reading on Militarum Tempestus, click here!

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love my IG/AM army. They're a very satisfying army to play for a number of reasons, not least because I am human myself :)

    Wall of Text incoming!

    I think you're right that the codex has units to counter everything, but that doesn't mean that they all work well in a list together. I played StarCraft for years, and one of the big things I picked up from that was army composition, and army focus. They play a much lesser role in 40k, but I think it's still important.

    Space Marines make an easy example for this. Drops pods are good because you can get some dakka close on turn 1, the thunderfire cannon is a fantastic ranged unit, the storm raven is a solid flyer, and a land raider storming up the middle gets great "map control" (or whatever the 40k equivalent is, maybe "board control"). Put those all in a list together and you have a pretty poor unfocused list; too few drop pods come down turn one and get annihilated, the land raider is an expensive zone control for an unused part of the board, the thunderfire cannon is a support weapon with nothing to support, etc. A pure drop pod list, with no AA or anything, would perform so much better.

    In my opinion this is why spam lists exists. It's less to do with people taking as many of an OP unit as they can, and more to do with it being an intellectually cheap way of getting a focused unit composition. Of course if you're going to pick a unit to spam it helps if it's strong, like the jetbike, but a jetbike list can also all hide in cover at the same time, engage at the same time, can all focus down the enemies ignores cover ap3 unit at the same time (same weakness > same threat > threat removed more quickly), etc. Basically it's a really easy way of getting an army list where every unit wants to play the same strategy.

    That doesn't really work as well with guard because you normally have to play a little more reactively, with most lists anyway. The enemy is the one drop podding you, or rushing up the board for CC, or JSJing about. Guard strength most often lies in weight of ranged firepower, which rarely means being the aggressor.

    So one thing I've been playing about with recently was a fun list which was basically just artillery and infantry platoons with embedded autocannons. That's clearly very focused, and hit hard, except I struggled a little bit with capturing objectives. So then it gets improved by adding some vets in a chimera. I then also need some AA so hit two birds with one stone and have a PCS with 4 flamers drop out of a Vendetta. As in your blog post these extra tools make me more versatile, but they've also watered down my original list and I'm no longer hitting so hard turn 1.

    I don't believe any other army has these list building issues to the same extent. You've got to write an an all-comers list for a reactive army, whilst trying to keep it somewhat focused and cohesive.


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