Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Pity the Guard! - Thoughts on Guard in the Current Environment

Well I said I was working on a few random articles and this is one of them. I’ve recently closed out the summer “season” of tournaments which included 3 GT’s that totaled 27 games, several RTT’s, and the Ard Boy Prelims/Semi’s. Oddly I’m not burned out on the hobby. I will say I’ve been looking at Fantasy as a way to change things up a bit but that’s beside the point.

The point of this article is that I’m starting to feel a little pity in my heart for the Guard players out there. Bear in mind this is purely off what I’ve run into and seen in events in Virginia, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Texas as well as lists I see being written up online on blogs and several forum communities. Some guard players still do very well for themselves but in general also aren’t posting their lists and aren’t taking the top spots in tournaments anymore(I said in general Mike since you’ve got 2 events coming upJ). Why aren’t we seeing IG in the top spots anymore? Why has their representation dropped (not back to pre-5th ed. codex levels but pretty close) so much?

We’ll start with the second questions first. Some have jumped ship for the newest, shinniest thing which does happen. Some have probably become bored with running 12 AV12 Hulls, Vets, and maybe an AV14 here and there. I’m sure some players have shifted because their win totals have dropped rather significantly as the newer books came out. And, probably a fairly significant one, the amount of shit that people were catching for running mech IG. Honestly there are probably a lot of reasons why their representation has dropped but the above are the reasons that stand out the most to me.

Now I’m guilty of thinking Guard could get boring to play pure Mech after a while but then most armies get boring to me after a while. I’ll also admit to being part of that group that gets tired of seeing the same list from the IG players over and over again. But I think the reason I get so annoyed at seeing the same lists over and over again for IG more than any other army is that I feel like they aren’t adapting. More than any other 5th edition books most IG players seem to be locked into a single template of a list and it makes me crazy. I nearly crapped myself (in surprise, not fear) when I saw some Ratlings at Ard Boyz but I was happy to see something a little different. And it did have a purpose in his army. Kudos to him for running something slightly outside the norm.

Now I’m not saying that you have to run subpar units just for diversities sake. I’m saying that as the tournament environment shifts based on new books coming out some units utility shifts and they are no longer subpar. But that does mean you’ll have to look outside the bog standard units and combo’s.

About 3 months ago I wrote up an article on Ogryns that included their utility and how I thought they fit into the current game environment. I feel it’s even more applicable now than it was then. It can be found here: http://hulksmash-homeplace.blogspot.com/2011/06/ogryns-shunned-abused.html

That’s just one of the underused units in the codex that I think has shifted from subpar (if they ever were) to a solid choice. What are the others you ask? Well there is the Colossus, the Hellhound, and Armored Sentinels for a start. Granted I’d throw Stormtroopers in there for me as well but since I want people to keep reading past this point I’ll leave them out for now J.

So why these units? They all provide something that the IG codex lacks in its standard form. I know most people see IG as an army with a massive amount of shooting. But what it really has is a solid amount of quality shooting. What this means though is that its more at risk against abnormal rolling that it needs to be. How many times has a Long Fang squad lived through far more shots that it should have because a dude made 4/5 cover saves? How about units w/cover and FnP? Or units of DE with Stealth and/or FnP? How often have you, as an IG player complained about Long Fangs or other ranged support hiding in cover across the board? Let’s look at each:


This is a tank that fires a large blast St6 AP3 no cover save shot. Now we’ve all seen the way that Long Fangs generally deploy, especially on tables with LoS blocking terrain. So why aren’t these units used? In all honesty I have no idea. The ability to pop a tank and then wipe out every model inside seems a little silly not to take. It does have a minimum range but that’s not that likely to be an issue honestly. What you have here is the ability to use a quality shot to eliminate something you have trouble with as an IG player.


This is more for the rise in the Dark Eldar I’m seeing around. It negates armor, FnP, and cover saves against anything that isn’t an MEQ and it does it with a range of 24” since its fast. It’s not too shabby for clearing out scoring scouts or units that go to ground either. Another quality shot that saves you pooring tons of firepower into an opponent. A Hellhound does compete with a Vendetta but I feel that it serves enough of a purpose to include one in your list.

Armored Sentinels

This fills some of the same rolls as Ogryns can as a line blocker. This is a unit that you can throw into small squads that lack a powerfist and forget about them. It also adds some firepower support and can be used as mobile cover if you need it. And the fact that you can get 2 for the price of a normal dreadnought isn’t bad either. Is it on my own personal list? Nope, I’ll be using Ogryns. They are also harder to want to pick for a mech force vs. a Vendetta but it’s an option that people never seem to exercise.

And this is just the beginning. People complain about new books being more powerful regularly. People claim there is codex creep and that the newest and shiniest is the bestest. In previous editions like 3rd they probably had a bit of a point but in the Era of 5th I think it’s pretty dang balanced and that all 5th edition books are solid against each other (though Nids are a little more hampered in choice). I personally think most of this complaining stems from the inability to adapt to the changing gaming environment.

I encourage the IG players out there to take out their book, sit down, analyze where the holes in their list are, and start tweaking. Take dice out of it. Take going first out of it. Just sit down and honestly look at what you might be lacking and use the tools your codex has.

I hope this didn’t come off as elitist or Learn2Play since it’s not how I meant it. It just something I wanted to talk about since I might finally be getting my IG to a painted state in the near future and have really been diving deep get a list that works well in the current environment (right before Necrons make me change it again J). As always feel free to comment and provide your thoughts. I look forward to them.