Tactica Imperial Guard: Heavy Support

Ladies and Gentlemen ... the moment you've all been waiting for:  Tactica Imperial Guard, Heavy Support!!!  The fifth and final episode in the Tactica Imperial Guard series, we're now going to look at the big beasts of the Imperial Guard.

We sat through silly horses, we sat through puny weapons teams and we sat through weak infantry.  Space Marines laughed, Eldar mocked and Necrons just ignored us.  Now they shall know fear, for it is upon them!

Sorry, got a bit carried away there.  Here we go ...

Heavy Support
Leman Russ.  The standard Leman Russ, point for point, is the best tank in the game.  End of.  Best possible front armour and appreciable side armour, massive long-ranged ordnace gun and powerful sponson options.  Its only real disadvantage are its poor rear armour and high profile, and at 150pts a squadron is going to take up a large chunk of your army.

But that's fine - this is why you've been saving your points!  The Imperial Guard do tanks well, so all things being equal you need one squadron of these beasts.  Before we consider the many many variants, a quick word on the models.  The kit has had a fairly extensive upgrade but the actual model remains pretty much the same.  It's a timeless design, if a little pricey now, and the kit now comes with a range of weapon options which gives you some of those valuable extra bitz.
  • Exterminator - an excellent choice for those facing light infantry or massed armies, of course (especially kitted out with extra Heavy Bolters).  But those autocannons also give it decent punch against targets up to and including Space Marines.  Use it defensively where it can select targets at leisure rather than rushing in and getting surrounded, where it can't shoot its way out.
  • Vanquisher - Wow!  My favourite Guard armoured unit.  Although they've lost their versatility a bit, since now they can only fire Vanq shells - before they could still use an ordnance shot.  No matter - the Vanq will automatically at least glance Av 10, and you'll be unlucky if you don't regularly get 13 or 14 with it.  Dependable AT sniping - a good choice as a 'sergeant' in a squadron - two others and one of these.
  • Eradicator - Hmmm.  My first instinct is to say 'no' since the Hellhound does the same job for cheaper.  But it can be useful for clearing buildings since its armour makes it a bit more suitable for close-in support.  Consider it if you're on a Cityfight board - otherwise flamers and Hellhounds can probably do the same job, and you'll need the Eradicator's space for other tanks.
  • Demolisher - Second favourite tank.  A perfect gun (except for its short range) and a nicely buffed rear and side armour,  ideal for leading charges.  At least two are required to cover the possibility of scatters (I have one Vanq and two Demolishers, all with sponson and hull Heavy Bolters.
  • Punisher - Looks impressive (and cool) but only really useful against other Guard.  That lack of any AP is really annoying - consider it a toned-down Exterminator.  (Although, it can be used effectively against (very) light vehicles where the AP doesn't matter, you can just riddle a Grav-Tank with 5-6 glancing hits.
  • Executioner - Super plasma cannon, a bit like a Demolisher with more range and less oomph.  That triple shot really helps though - I'd be inclined to stick with the Demolisher though, just to give me the capacity to Insta Kill any regular infantry on the board.
Lethality/Effectiveness *****
Value for money ***
Model coolness *****

If you don't like any of the above, trade in your army and try Eldar or something.


Ordnance Battery.  Prepare to outmatch your opponent.  No other army in 40K really comes close to besting us in this field - if you want you can lay down a whirlwind of fire such that your infantry won't really need to get their hands dirty (it's a viable list).  That's not to say they're invulnerable - oh no, mounted on generally puny chassis, it's worth protecting them against sneaky drop troops, scouts and cheesy lascannon shots.

All the models here are really beautiful pieces (no bias) and are likely to terrify your enemy to death, even before he's blown to atoms.  They suffer the same problems as the Leman Russes in being about £30 each, making a battery's worth rather pricey.
  • Basilisk - My impartial tactical overview is going to be marred here, this is one of my favourite units so I'm struggling to say something bad about it.  The long minimum range is a pain, however, but that's no real drama.  It can be used as a direct fire weapon (in the hope that Leman Russes and the rest of the army will mean your enemy can't spare them any shots).  Its cannon is almost as good as the Demolisher so will comfortably eat power armour.  Of course, protect him from those nasty deep strikers.
  • Colossus - Never used this.  From a glance at its codex entry, I'm pretty sure the Basilisk can do almost everything this can, along with DF which the Colossus can't.  The cover saves thing can be useful, but like with the Eradicator it's something your Hellhounds should really be doing.  Again, however, in a Cityfight game they could be invaluable.
  • Griffon - The Colossus' smaller, more sensible cousin.  A heavy mortar, cheap as chips, in a carrier with an accurate shot.  Nice short minimum range - I would take at least one, to use as forward heavy weapons teams (like with Sentinels).  Always worth it.
  • Medusa - You might think 'ah, super-Demolisher?' - no.  If you think like that it will get killed.  In short, its longer range is more than compensated for by the fact it has to sit right at the back.  Nonetheless it is a hugely powerful gun and a potentially devastating AT weapon.  Again, I think the Basilisk can do most of this chap's jobs (how often do you actually need S10 AP2?  Doesn't 9/3 do fine most of the time?), but undoubtably a devastating weapon.
Lethality/Effectiveness ****
Value for money ***
Model coolness *****

If you listen to me, read 'Basilisk battery' here - but still, lots of flexible options for any force.

Deathstrike/Manticore.  Bit of an odd one - feels very shoehorned in to be honest but still a rather impressive model.  For something that feels like a last-minute addition to the codex it's a very nice kit that's bound to attract a lot of attention on and off the battlefield.  It's expensive but the potential for destruction is incredible - avoid squadroning because you can't split its fire, and you don't want to sink too many points into it.  If I seem a bit negative it's because (like with the PBS) I'm not a fan of those random units that sometimes work and sometimes don't.
A bit unreliable for me, I need dependability.  If you have points left over for one tank this could well be it.  But why not get another Leman Russ?

Lethality/Effectiveness ***
Value for money **
Model coolness ****

A bit random - potentially game-winning but potentially a total waste of points.

Hydra.  One that's suffered badly with 6Ed - I've had problems with the rules and shooting at ground targets etc.  Time was this was a perfect way of getting a toned-down Exterminator that could reliably chew up ground units.  

But why oh why didn't it get Interceptor!?!?!?!?  GW gave it Snap Fire on ground targets, probably thinking that an AA tank can't really engage ground targets (obviously never heard of FlaK 88, Flakvierling 38, etc ... )  But then it didn't get Interceptor?!

Come on GW, get your act together!  Unfortunately, I have to score this very poorly because of GW's oversight.  But me and Headologist play with the 5Ed rules for my Hydra and that makes it an awful lot better.
Lethality/Effectiveness *
Value for money ***
Model coolness ****

So frustrating - should be an amazing unit.

And that's it!  Thanks again for putting up with my opinionated ramblings for five posts.  I'm back to modelling now and have a couple of nice posts with lots of pictures coming up.  Thanks again!

The Colonel


  1. I like my 'Big Guns' - but I'm still working on assembling and painting the artillery I really want.

    The Colossus being able to ignore cover at AP3 is a huge deal if you're ever dealing with Marines and an Aegis Defence Line - it was also top comedy in dealing with Tau Disruption Pods under their old Codex (not tried it against the new), and Ravenwing weep bitter tears as their jinking also counts as a cover save...

    With the Medusa, the psychological impact of reaching out to 36" with bastion breacher shells will cause people to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to kill it - and if you're feeling mean, squadron it with two Griffons who park in front of it as cover.

    Finally, I really need to get me Deathstrike. Or possibly three. But I think that's the burgeoning evil genius in me wanting to cackle over my slow to fire doomsday weapons...

    1. Hmm, I suppose the Ageis defence lines are a slightly different matter. I've never used or fought any, hence why I'm quite dismissive of it. Most of our games are Cityfight as well, but I tend to find ordinary squad flamers give me all the flamey death I need.

      As for the Deathstrike, if it's squadroned together can you not only fire at the same target? Then I suppose you could make three squadrons, each of a Deathstrike and two Griffons? Ah I need more Basilisk :(

      Doomsday Deathstrikes do add a lot to the game, almost an extra secondary objective for your enemy!

  2. Leman Russ' all the way. It's named after a primarch. That's why I have a dozen of them. If a company of Imperial MBT's can't kill it, then it must not be killable.

    1. Ha yes, celebrity endorsement is the way forward. That's why I knew my George Foreman grill wouldn't let me down.

  3. Thanks for sharing this great content, I really enjoyed the insign you bring to the topic, awesome stuff!

    Flame cut steel

  4. Awesome series, Mate! Was definitely looking forward to reading your thoughts on the best part of the guard!

    I'm a huge fan of the Vanquisher, and it is a mainstay in every one of my army lists. The executioner gets a fair bit of table time as well, especially when I know I'll be facing off against Terminators.

    Similarly, of all the artillery pieces, it is the Medusa that is an auto-include for me. I personally love the FW Medusa Emplacement, it's slightly cheaper, and has the added hysterical option that it can DEEP STRIKE. I'm in the process of painting a traditional mobile Medusa to add to the army as well.

    The Manticore has never quite lived up to expectations on the table top for me, so I usually think of is more as a psychological terror weapon. The fact that it hs such a huge potential for devastation makes one's opponent react to it out of proportion to what physical damage it is actually likely to do. :)

    I'm one of the small minority who feels the change to they Hydra was a right and proper thing. I despised the 'leafblower list' using Hydras as anti-ground weapons and really feel it ought to be a dedicated anti-flyer unit. Several of the descriptions suggest that, in a pinch, its weapons can be turned against ground targets which I think is perfectly represented by the current rules. An unpopular opinion, but honestly in today's flyer-heavy world it remains incredibly useful and a pair of them in a squadron have made short work of almost everything they've faced off against.

    Great series - I've thoroughly enjoyed reading 'em!

    1. Cheers Mordian, and thanks for the extra comments as well. If this ever gets used as reference it's the comments and discussions that are the best.

      Vanquisher is the best for me as well, especially with Pask it can just give you an AT edge that other armies will find hard to match, and the modelling opportunities are great as well.

      Never gone with the Medusa myself, I think that's because my double-Demolisher-deathdealing-duo get most of the smashy action in and given the small scale of our games, I tend to run out of points. There's a lot to be said for that psych-out factor in the IG superweapons as well.

      Me and H never really use flyers which is the big one for me - so as much as I bemoan the lack of Interceptor its the ground targets I really miss. I guess too much Company of Heroes as the Luftwaffe company has tilted my brain. I expect all my flak to be able to mince infantry too.

  5. Squadrons are cheaper without sponsons. Hull mounted HB and possibly the pintle .50 cal for a little local AA; makes the squadron affordable. If you're playing higher points, two squadrons. or three.

  6. Nice write up.
    You are spot on with the Leman Russ- it is all-round the best tank in the game.
    I agree with you assessment of the Vanquisher, Exterminator, Eradicator, Demolisher and Punisher but I feel that you may be underestimating the Executioner. I have 3 of them and they are more useful than my Demolishers. With sponsons I can score 5 blasts on a unit and rack up a tally of AP2 hits far higher than a demolisher could even dream of. Instant death becomes irrelevant in that case. Also 5 strength seven hits on an armoured vehicle are not to be underestimated especially in 6th Ed. If you really want to spend some points add Pask to it and make the shots effectively strength 8! Overall the Executioner is more points because it is the best all round Russ gun (in my opinion). If you don't believe me take one for a spin. For me it is the gun that can take on all comers. That and my demolisher always misses!

    I agree with your assessment of the Basilisks. I have always loved that gun.
    For the Medusa I am running one with bastion breached shells and am having a field day with armour! 48” S10 AP 1 Blast. It is pure joy. Takes out Land raiders with one shot every time. I think the The Responsible One has the same idea. yeah it dies, but only after it has caused its share of havoc.

    On the Manticore I think your assessment is a bit off. I think you are underestimation it, a lot. I didn't like it to start with but saw that a lot of tournament guard players used them. So I thought I'd give one a bash. In quite a few games I have had a Manticore (160p) and a squadron of 2 Basilisks (250p). The Manticore always does at least as much damage as the basilisks and usually more. Now I have taken to running two of them because they are so scary. I wanted to get a third but my regular opponent said he would refuse to game with me if I ran 3. It is a strength 10 hit (or 3) that nothing can hide from. If you want to beat your opponent in turn one take this little baby! Well it might just be that mine always has lucky rolls.

    Also, you can’t squadron a Manticore or a Deathstrike by the way.

    Hydra- totally agree. What is GW thinking!

    All in all I liked this evaluation. It just goes to show that experienced players can play the same codex very differently. It totally makes sense that different combinations will make some units perform differently in a game and so will change our attitude towards them.

    Now I get to work backwards thought your other tactica articles :)

    1. Thanks my dear Colonel, for your insightful comments as ever. It sounds like the Executioner may be a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and kicking ass big-time with a triple squadron. I may ask if Headologist minds a bit of counts-as and I could try another run of them.

      I'm tempted to stubbornly defend my position on the Manticore (tactics wise_, since I feel very strongly that the Basilisk is a great all-rounder that can do the jobs of any other arty unit. Yes, there are things that each of the individual arty units can do better than Bassie, but she does everything okay, rather than a few jobs well. Having said that - I've only played one game with the Manticore and two with Deathstrikes, and it's hard to argue with that setup you described. May have to give it a second chance.

      Woops re: Deathstrike squadrons.

      That's the key here, rather than being all preachy (I'm hardly the most experienced gamer about, usually about one game every month if that) but it shocks a few long-held perceptions to read the comments and spurs me into trying something new!

    2. The Heavy Support is so strong in the Guard codex that every unit is a potential winner. So my belief is that any of the units are worth taking. Its the part of the codex that I'd be happy for my opponent to choose for me, because as long as they choose a diverse selection, you will end up with a solid rock to base your army around.

      Don't get me wrong with the Basilisk, it is my favourite gun of all time, and you are right about it being reliable. Just don't write off the Manticore is all I'm saying. I may be a little biased from my last few games. I have managed to drop 3 large templates on the enemy in turn one.... from each of them. Few gamers can come back from an opening salvo like that!

      I don't usually run my Executioners together in a squadron. Just one of them can dish out 5 plasma blasts (3 from the turret, 2 from sponsons)and that is enough to take out most units. Oh yeah, that's the other thing. Having a turret weapon that is not ordinance means that you can fire your sponsons at full BS, unlike the Demolisher which can only snap fire.

      This is a really good post for everyone to hear how 'they do it'. I had a game back in January vs DkoK played by a very good guard player. That game shocked a lot of my long-held perceptions. It influenced me to try out lots of other units and change my playing style. I'm no 'expert' either, but since I started trying out everything in the codex, if have realised that there really isn't any poor units.

    3. Well said. Debate starting is what I aimed for here and there are a few new things I'll be trying now!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts