Epic: Armageddon Factions 101 – Part 3 Imperial Guard
The Imperial Guard are the most diverse human military forces in the galaxy, covering trillions of fighters from cultures and worlds more diverse than anything seen today. As a general trait they lack many of the table entry and mobility options of other factions, have few special rules or exceptions and instead they bring the gear. With a broad range of weapon options and different chassis to deliver them as well as bulky formations and lots of customisable upgrades the Imperial Guard play as almost the ‘core’ experience of Epic: Armageddon. Using the core game rules with few exceptions and few of the exotic tools they are fantastic as a beginner faction and are very easy to find proxy models for, have huge options for conversions and unique colour schemes.
There are five different lists available for them in EpicUK, with each one focussing on a different style of warfare giving you options to pick the one that favours your style. Further with much of the equipment being shared you can often reuse your models to play as numerous different lists. If in doubt the Steel Legion list functions as a great ‘all-rounder’ that can be readily built to approximate the style of other Imperial Guard lists.
The grandaddy of all Imperial Guard lists in Epic: Armageddon. It has been barely changed since the original printing (mostly changes to how commissars are provided and the price of Griffons going down). This list has great potential with the core formations allowing for infantry hordes, armoured lists, artillery companies and so on to let you build the lists you want. The list also epitomises a core Imperial Guard design conceit in Epic: Armageddon. Rigid flexibility. The list requires taking the large, often expensive core formations to allow you to take the small, cheaper specialists. Then you can add on lots of upgrades but only to the already large expensive core formations. This tends to mean you will end up with a few big, powerful companies and a cloud of smaller supporting elements and the trick to using this well is to know when and how to deploy your hammer blows and when the specialists should step to the fore to do their jobs in concert with the rest of the army.
One key detail to remember. Imperial Guard Infantry in the open is rubbish. Imperial Guard Infantry in cover is a nightmare to shift.
The Steel Legion list, despite the allrounder potential, specialises in Mechanised Infantry and has access to some very good formations. The basic Mech. Inf. Co. plus a single Hydra upgrade is 450pts and gives you 8 tanks, 1 commander and 12 infantry for 21 models. Add in a Commissar. This now gives you a powerful, fast formation that brings its own anti-air cover with it. Get these guys forward, get the infantry into the hardest cover you can find and sit on objectives. Use them as the engaging hammer blow to drive enemies off the objectives. While it also has a lot of firepower in the volume of dice it can throw the to-hit rolls aren’t great, especially against armour. If you really must smash the enemy then an Engagement with proper support (and placing blast markers on the enemy first!) is often a better option than sitting back and hoping for 6s.
Another little trick when attacking with these Mechanised Infantry Companies is to make your Engagement move to get as many models into 15cm of the enemy as possible but always place the Chimera as the front rank closest to the enemy and not the infantry. the Infantry has no save while the Chimera have a 5+. That can make a big difference to the combat resolution when you’ve taken 1/3 fewer casualties than if you had the infantry at the front!
You will be taking the Regimental HQ. It’s just so essential to have the Supreme Commander ability for the Initiative 2+ guardsmen, that reroll can win you games or lose them at the critical moment. It helps that the Regimental HQ is also a fantastic mechanised infantry company!
The steel legion list has issues getting the number of activations it wants onto the table. The high cost and necessity of the core companies means fewer points for support formations (and some of those aren’t that cheap either!) and even fewer points for upgrades. Generally you’ll want to aim for 10-11 different activations at the start of the game so some of those cheaper formations are very helpful for this (as well as being good in their own right). It is a rare Steel Legion list that doesn’t take at least 2 sentinel formations deploy them forward early, hidden as best you can but covering as much width as possible. This should give you space to rush up to the half way point with your attacking elements while the opponent spends time and activations clearing away the sentinels. Where possible take Warhounds as solo machines, not as a pair, solo they work much better as a mobile strike piece and are really good at supporting your Engagements by running to the enemy, shooting them and sitting within 15cm, then you engage with the Mech. Co.
Basically every formation on the list is great. Taking the Regimental HQ, another Mech Co. or two (substitute in the Leman Russ for a Mech. Co. if you prefer) a few sentinels and that will be a strong, reliable core then whatever else you choose will be a good, strong investment.
There are, however a few duds in the list. The Artillery Company (not the small battery, the big company) and Baneblades. the Artillery company is very, very powerful but is also very vulnerable to any passing shot and can only hit one area at a time. For the cost it’s vulnerable and needs even more points to babysit it and while it has huge damaging potential it is fickle with a failed activation ruining its day and being one big hit. Multiple smaller batteries can be more successful. The Baneblades suffer from a lack of focus. They have guns for all ranges but really need to get within 30cm to make that worthwhile but they also only have a speed of 15cm so they need to do a lot of marching (which means no shooting!) or doubling (which cripples the firepower output with to-hit rolls) to ever really get a chance to use those guns. They’re no tougher than the Shadowsword (hint: put a commissar into a Shadowsword or Baneblade!) and the Shadowsword brings a unique and extremely potent weapon along as well as great range. The issue isn’t that the Baneblade is particularly bad, the issue is that it competes against the Shadowsword.
Vanaheim Air Cavalry
The air cavalry. By the time you’re done playing with these guys you’ll be sick of Ride of the Valkyries…
These guys are a difficult list, very different to basically anyone else out there in EpicUK land, they have some very major flaws and some very major shock and awe moments available to them. Maybe don’t expect to come away to consistent wins but to instead come away with a few glorious and uplifting victories and rather a few more of those losses that we’ll politely ignore.
The list really only has a few options and even fewer to deal with enemy armour (so take the Vendettas where you can!). Your core will be the regimental HQ again and then a few Air Cavalry Companies. These carry a hefty amount of firepower with their rocket pods, heavy bolters and multilasers, are extremely mobile but also quite vulnerable (hint: attach your free Commissars to the Valkyries not the infantry stands). You want to be able to find an optimal moment to fire your rockets which means not taking casualties before doing so and avoiding picking up blast markers too (as if the blast markers suppress your valkyries that’s a dramatic cut in firepower). Learning how to hide your Valkyries early on to be in position for a single big rocket attack to break and drive your opponent before you is a key skill.
Generally the core tactic is to use your sentinels and other light forces to buy you time and block the enemy advance. Your turn 1 should be fairly low activity, you’re trying to get your formations into a single advance+missile range of the enemy without taking any damage or coming under fire. Then early on in turn 2 you advance and fire every rocket you can to break as many enemy as you can. Then you need to keep the pressure up and prevent them from rallying and getting back into an organised counterattack. You get one shot at this and it can be vulnerable to being disrupted early and if you’re forced to double to fire those rockets you will likely find your attack power dropping dramatically.
But when it works it’s glorious. Shock and Awe in Epic form and extremely satisfying.
Defensively you also have a lot of tools with the huge abundance of scout on your forces you can cover and contest ground very easily, added to the mobility yo can bring to bear you can focus on turning a loss into a draw by just making it near impossible for your opponent to actually get to and control the objectives on the board.
Early on you want to keep your troops safe and you have a critical unit for doing this. Vultures. Any list with access to them can do this but for the Vanaheim it’s very very important. The Vultures have 2×2+AT rockets with 1 shot and 120cm of range on a skimmer chassis. Start them on the table as one of your Garrisons, hidden right at the back and popped up. Put them on overwatch. Any enemy unit with vehicles that dares come into the open (even if only briefly) can eat itself those rockets. Blowing apart tanks or transports, crippling small titans, whatever. Once the rockets are fired the Vultures remain a very fast, decently armed scout unit. A pair of formations will do nicely thank you very much!
The list lacks ground based AA and ground based AA is usually better than aircraft AA due to the passive area control effect. Instead you have access to an abundance of aircraft including the Lightning which makes a great anti-armour formation for very cheap as well as having long ranged AA weapons allowing it to snipe out other enemy aircraft outside of their own defensive AA range (it does lose volume of fire for that range though). A mix of Lightnings and Thunderbolts is advised.
Overall they’re kind of like what happens if the Imperial Guard tried to be Eldar for a day. Fast, powerful impact but little ability to sustain the attack. take them because they appeal to you, not because you’re looking to claim victory after victory.
Ulani Tank Regiment
Blitzkrieg! Struggles a bit at lower points totals, even 3k can be a stretch but as you climb to 4k they really come into their own. Designed as a very aggressive armoured assault force the idea is to get your guns into range and just drown your foe in so many heavily armoured bodies and so much concentrated firepower they wither under the hail.
The core advantage you have here is the smaller and thus cheaper Leman Russ companies that can be equipped in varied ways. They also have access to cheap, tough, tanks and tougher scouts than is common.
You still want the Regimental HQ despite the cost for the reroll on activation then probably a pair of Leman Russ Cos. Pick their armament carefully for whatever role you want them to do and don’t forget the 4+ firefight value they have making them a very effective engagement force.
Despite not being as fast as the skimmers of some factions the army as a whole can be fairly mobile, especially with the long range on the guns giving you a great deal of threat range.
In your support slots you can bring the Salamander Scouts for control and keeping people away from your Leman Russ and artillery support who should really focus on removing the smaller and mobile elements of the enemy army. On attack your Leman Russ are great, they do lack the ability to be everywhere at once though and sending something as potent and expensive as a Leman Russ Co. after a small scout formation is a waste, artillery can strike those for you without needing to expose themselves. You also have access to the Leman Russ Conquers, fairly cheap, bulky well armed and armoured make great forces for holding objectives after your core Leman Russ have rolled over them.
Particularly interesting though are the small 100pt Griffon batteries, good for bulking up the activation count but getting them halfway up the board, hidden out of sight on turn 1 means they can then spend turns 2 and 3 dropping shells on the entire table or have them double or march for 90cm of objective grabbing and contesting.
All in all a fun list that grows more competitive as points become more readily available.
Baran Seige Masters
Do you like having friends? Then maybe don’t look here 😉
The Baran are an almost purely defensive force, relying on waves of infantry, bunkers, trenches and emplacements to form an impenetrable line behind which huge amounts of indirect firing artillery blast your opponent from the table. When, and only when, all enemy resistance has been blasted to the dust do the infantry climb out of their bunkers and make their way to claim enemy objectives.
It’s an appealing thought and I know many a person who dreams of running a perfect defence in this way. It however runs into the problem of often being a fairly static and dull game. You won’t be doing a lot much of the time and your opponent may well find themselves with few options aside from getting hit by artillery again and again or throwing bodies into your reinforced bunkers (guardsmen with 3+ saves!?!). If the list operates as designed it can be a fairly negative play experience. This is not guaranteed though. The highly air mobile enemy (like Marines or Eldar) or skimmer happy (Eldar, Tau) etc. can play all sorts of havoc with your carefully arranged battlelines and you’ll be facing a tense game where you have to balance chasing down those mobile forces in your backfield but having your infantry abandon their bunkers to do so.
Let’s look at the cool toys you can bring 🙂
First up the standout feature of the list is that you can buy fortifications. Giving you loads of razorwire and trenches (50cm) and bunkers for 100pts. basically these are your ‘transport’ options. Steel Legion buy Chimera, vanaheim ride in valkyries, you turn up in a dozen tonnes of reinforced concrete. Typically you’d take 4 of these fortifications (which means taking 4 core companies too) as that gives you enough width to form a line across the entire table, then you garrison your infantry (as they all move 15cm) inside the trenches and bunkers half way up the table to form your impenetrable wall. You might add the 6 additional infantry to these companies to make them bulky enough to survive and occupy the ground.
The rest of the list is really toys for you to take to spice things up. You’ll want to bring large amounts of artillery to give you the reach and threat that you otherwise lack. Scatterings of the AA guns all over your deployment to provide air cover are advisable. Siegfried as your scouts to cover ground inside your half to make it so they can stall out any breakthroughs long enough to get your guns on target.
A few things to bear in mind with the Baran. Enemies can take your entrenchments and claim their benefits too! The Hellhounds, Sappers and Bombards Ignore Cover rule can be very helpful for digging the enemy right back out again. Also be careful with stringing your formations out in a thin line in their trenches, this can make them very vulnerable to being hit by a clipping engagement, think carefully about where your formations will sit and how they will cover one another with supporting fire without stringing out and becoming vulnerable. Placing the bunkers just behind the trenchworks means you can concentrate your formation into a block rather than a thin line whilst still enjoying the benefits of all that concrete and razorwire.
There’s probably some ingenious super aggressive Baran build out there to take the world by storm but it really is designed with the intention of absorbing and repulsing any attacks and blowing the opponent away with artillery (hint: destroying their BTS scores you 1VP, controlling two objectives in your opponent’s half scores 1VP, if you place two objectives just past the halfway line you can garrison in control of them at the start and just need to make sure they remain clear end of turn 3). Then casually walking onto objectives at the end of turn 3.
Death Korps of Krieg
The list is borderline to overpowered. This is the guard in ‘siege breaking mode’ and it’s damned good at the job.
The heart of the list is the Infantry mounted in Gorgons (avoid adding the extra in the upgrade, while 30 and 3 Gorgons is great it’s also very expensive). These guys roll forward as an unstoppable tide around which the rest of the army moves. Keep them alive, keep them safe and prevent them getting bogged down by enemy scouts or other blocking units. Focus on getting them into the objectives or right into the heart of the enemy. The trick in Engagements is to make sure that your Gorgons get into base contact with at least one enemy before disembarking the infantry (arguably the infantry should not be dismounted until the last possible minute!). Because the Gorgon is in base to base it will always be the closest model to the enemy and when you assign hits in an Engagement and it’s damned tough so can weather the hits your infantry can’t. The pair of Gorgons in base to base means the first 6 hits on the formation are going to their rock hard armour which can make a big difference to winning those fights.
The support formations are filled with war engines and artillery adding to a very ‘heavy metal’ kind of feel and the list runs well when focussing on these elements.
The list can also be run as a defensive entrenched force though if this is your plan the Baran are probably better ay it. There is also a cavalry focus build available using the big death rider company and the smaller scouts, it’s a more unique build and arguably not hugely competitive but well piloted it can pull off some stunning engagements – it does suffer when it can’t get into base to base though (such as enemy skimmers of the opponent engaging you in a firefight).
An aggressive army that revolves around the Gorgon mounted infantry companies, focus the rest of the army on making a path for the Gorgons to get where they need to go and preparing the targets to get run over by a hundred tons of steel and Imperial vengeance!
Hope you found something useful here.