Guard Doctrines - The Bad, the Worse, and the Mandatory
Hello one and all,
I've been asked a number of times to put this up as an article, and now I've finally gotten around to it.
The topic of discussion is of course the Codex: Imperial Guard Doctrines system, a vibrant, character-building and wonderfully unique concept executed in GW's typical ham-fisted manner. There is far more junk in the Doctrine list than there is gold, and there are so few Doctrines worth considering that it would have been easier just to list those rather than writing out the rest. However, as I have said many times in many threads, there's no point in simply doing what someone else tells you as that way you never learn for yourself, so it generally a better idea that I explain my reasons for the choices I make in my Guard lists, so that people can see why I've done what I've done and make informed decisions based on that.
So this article is called 'The Bad, the Worse, and the Mandatory' because it really does some up the Doctrine system. Most are bad, those that aren't bad are usually worse, and what's left is often so good that you really shouldn't take to the field without most if not all of them. This isn't flashy; it's just the experience I've picked up in the years since the Guard Codex was written.
DISCLAIMER - TIMELINE: As you'll see from the text, this document was written not long after 4th Edition's release, so there are a number of retrospective comments comparing 3rd to 4th that may seem outdated, but are nevertheless as true now as they were back then. Also, as a point of contention, my notes on Tech-Priest Enginseers mention that Servitors count towards their Wargear limit. It is my understanding that the current (3rd, I believe) printing of the Imperial Guard Codex fixed this error (ie. GW changed their mind, it wasn't an error), but they have an FAQ stating the complete opposite of the printed word, meaning we don't know which one is correct. This is typical of GW, who are a miniatures company first and a rules company last. Why they can't be more like the guys who run [www.classicbattletech.com], a dedicated group of writers who even went so far as to playtest a set of rules for a simple April Fool's Joke, I will never understand.
Anyway, enough griping over GW's constant and consistent shortcomings, let's get on with the show!!!
this needs to be updated for 5th ed.
To be fair, if you are to look at the whole Doctrine system you have to take a brief look at the restricted troop types. I don't want to go into to much detail with these units, as that's better saved for a full tactica, but I will take a look at each one quickly:
Priests are interesting units in that they're not actually that bad. They're over costed, of course, but their profile is halfway decent, they can get an S6 Chainfist, they can (for lots of points) get a Holy Relic which will work on the charge effectively when combined with the Priests best rule, the rule that allows you to re-roll failed To Hit rolls when charging.
Still, when considering what units to take in an army it's no good just looking at a single unit on an individual basis - you have to look at the unit in relation to the rest of the army and what role that unit plays in the army. This is where the Priest fails, as it's a character centred entirely on HTH fighting in an army centred entirely on shooting. He doesn't fit; therefore he is not a good unit to take. He's also extremely hampered by the Advisors rule meaning that you have to put one with your CHQ and you may not want that!
The Priest is a waste of a Doctrine Point.
Single most useless model in the Codex, and a fair contender for one of the most useless choices ever! Why? 'Cause his Servitors count towards his pathetic 50-point Wargear limit. His only real up side is that he is one of the few ICs who can just buy a transport (Chimera, in this case) for himself without needing a retinue. In 3rd Ed this was great as it was one of the few ways to get Grey Knights into a transport that wasn't a Land Raider, and it gave you another unit to cause havoc with. But in 4th Ed, since Chimeras lost about 50% of their worth as they're no longer scoring units, and because you can't assault out of Chimeras, there's no point to that option either. Leave this guy at home, always.
The Tech-Priest Enginseer isn't just a waste of a Doctrine Point - he's a crime against nature!
Edit: Per the IG FAQ for 5th edition, the servitors do not count against his wargear limit.
On one hand, they're only 12 points each. On the other hand, they've got a horrible profile and can't do anything well.
On one hand, they will make a Command Section an even numbered squad. On the other hand, their powers are random so planning their use is impossible.
On one hand, Telepathic Order is a really cool power. On the other hand, of the other powers the Sanctioned Psyker can get, 'No Power' is the next best one - that's just how bad his other powers are (Lightning Arc, the '6' result (ie. best result) is nothing but a Heavy 6 Lasgun!).
Then you factor in that he's Ld8. Then you factor in that a Commissar (if you have a spare 40 points) will kill him if he suffers a Perils of the Warp. Then you factor in that Marines (the most common army) are now taking Librarians in all their forces, meaning lots of Ld9 Psychic Hoods, meaning that you'll soon realise that your Sanctioned Psyker, even if you're lucky enough to roll Telepathic Order, probably won't be casting it all that often.
To get use out of your Sanction Psykers (that is, in order to increase the odds of rolling Telepathic Order), you need to buy 5 of them (60 points) and get all 5 rolls. The problem is, that's 5 men for 60 points. I'd rather have another 10-man squad for the same points, wouldn't you?
Sanctioned Psykers are a waste of a Doctrine Point unless you have absolutely nothing else you want from the Doctrine list and a spare 60 points floating about.
Storm Trooper Squads
I have a whole 5-page Tactica Storm Troopers written up maybe I should... yeah, what the hell. Here's my Stormy tactica:
The weapons you give Stormies are all dependant on what type of Stormies you're going to use. Stormies come in various different forms:
- Storm Troopers
- Ordos Malleus Inquisitorial Storm Troopers
- Ordos Hereticus Inquisitorial Storm Troopers
The basic Storm Trooper is quite a flexible unit. 10 points gets you a model with good BS, good Leadership and a decent armour save, not to mention a better-than-average Lasgun. Not only that but all the models - the very old ones with the Berets, the old metal ones, and especially the new Kasrkin - are all excellent models and just look good on the table.
For 1 point per model Storm Troopers can Infiltrate. This is most useful in the counter-assault role, which I'll discuss in a moment. Other than that, the Infiltrate is surpassed by Deep Strike as Deep Strike always works the same way in every mission that it's allowed, whereas Infiltrate varies from mission to mission, never allowing you a unified strategy with which to use it. (Note: This was written for 3rd Ed, and Infiltrate has improved quite a bit since then)
For 1 point per model Storm Troopers can Deep Strike. This is a bargain. Small squads (or even large squads if you feel like it) can Deep Strike into enemy lines and cause all kinds of havoc their high BS special weapons, and they're great for putting the hurt on the backs of vehicles like Basilisks, Predators, Whirlwinds and the like.
If, however, you are playing a Guard Doctrine Force, you will get better use from Deep Striking Command Sections w/4 Meltaguns or 4 Plasma Guns or Deep Striking units of Hardened Vets w/3 Meltaguns or 3 Plasma Guns. The former fires more shots, so has a greater potential to do damage, and the latter has the same BS as the Storm Troopers, but has more guns (3 as opposed to 2). Both units are, of course, far more fragile than the Stormies, but these types of units often don't survive long anyway.
As far as weapons go you have to look at what you want the squad to do in relation to the rest of your army. These mostly apply to all types of Storm Troopers, but some are better than others at it. For instance, Ordos Malleus Inquisitorial Storm Troopers are better with flamers than standard Storm Troopers, whereas normal Stormies are better with Meltaguns.
First and foremost, forget the Grenade Launcher as an option right now! Grenade Launchers are terrible weapons by themselves and require large numbers to be effective. 2 Grenade Launchers isn't enough to cause significant damage. 3 or 4 Grenade Launchers are what's needed, and Stormies cannot get that. More important than that, Grenade Launchers are a complete waste of the BS4 Stormies come equipped with. You're paying a lot of points for BS4, why not take a weapon that will give you good results? Meltas & Plasmas are the same cost in Stormie units as they are in the rest of the army (barring Special Weapon Squads), so take advantage of that and your BS4 and avoid the Grenade Launcher.
The Plasma Gun is an interesting choice and is best for a general-purpose unit of Storm Troopers, specifically the ones that are Deep Striking. Its high-strength and low AP combined with the good BS of the firer makes it a very good weapon for popping the rears of tanks, or putting a few wounds on low-number HW units. It's overheat is less of a problem to Stormies as well, as they'll save that 1/2 the time rather than 1/3 of the time like regular Guardsmen. S7 is sufficient to knock over AV10, 11 & 12, and combined with a Vet Sergeants Plasma Pistol (if you want to go to the cost), you can put out 3 S7 AP2 shots at BS4 on the turn you land.
- 5-Stormies w/2 Plasmas & Deep Strike - 75 points.
- 10-Stormies w/2 Plasmas & Deep Strike - 130 points.
- 5-Stormies w/2 Plasmas, Sergeant w/Plas Pistol & Deep Strike - 91 points.
- 10-Stormies w/2 Plasmas, Sergeant w/Plas Pistol & Deep Strike - 146 points.
- 5-Hardened Vets w/3 Plasmas - 75 points.
- 10-Hardened Vets w/3 Plasmas - 115 points.
- 5-Hardened Vets w/3 Plasmas, Sergeant w/Plas Pistol - 85 points.
- 10-Hardened Vets w/3 Plasmas, Sergeant w/Plas Pistol - 125 points.
- Command Section w/JO + 4 Plasmas - 80 points.
- Command Section w/JO + 1 Plasma Pistol + 4 Plasmas - 90 points.
The Meltagun is the best specific weapon they can get. It must be pretty much used as a Deep Strike unit, and will probably die soon after landing, so don't fill the squad out as that's just a waste of points. 2 Meltaguns at BS4 should be able to roast most things if you land correctly. If you play your cards right and land somewhere where the enemy won't be able to see you for a turn, you can afford to bring a Vet Sergeant with Melta-bombs so you can cause more destruction the turn after you land. I would suggest against it though, because, as I said, small Melta units die quickly, as people are afraid of them. Still, this is definitely the best use for standard Stormies as it gives them a very defined role. But, as I said before, if using a Doctrine Army with Deep Strike, leave the Stormies at home and use cheaper and more expendable Command Section units with Meltaguns.
- 5-Stormies w/2 Meltas & Deep Strike - 75 points.
- 10-Stormies w/2 Meltas & Deep Strike - 130 points.
- 5-Stormies w/2 Meltas, Sergeant w/Meltabombs & Deep Strike - 86 points.
- 10-Stormies w/2 Meltas, Sergeant w/Meltabombs & Deep Strike - 141 points.
- 5-Hardened Vets w/3 Meltas- 75 points.
- 10-Hardened Vets w/3 Meltas - 115 points.
- 5-Hardened Vets w/3 Meltas, Sergeant w/Melta Bombs- 80 points.
- 10-Hardened Vets w/3 Meltas, Sergeant w/Melta Bombs - 120 points.
- Command Section w/JO + 4 Meltas - 80 points.
- Command Section w/JO + Meltabombs + 4 Meltas - 85 points.
For both the Deep Striking Melta & Plasma units, the higher Ld Stormies have is useful as they'll be away from the Leadership Radius of your command units.
The Flamer, like the Grenade Launcher, is a total waste of the BS4 you're buying with your Storm Troopers. However, unlike the Grenade Launcher, the Flamer is useful pretty much all the time. Flamers can be used in conjunction with Deep Strike, landing and torching something in the back lines. This isn't the best idea though, as other units do it a lot better.
The other alternative is giving a Stormie unit Infiltrate and arming them with 2 Flamers and giving the Vet Sergeant a power weapon. This is a make-shift counter-assault unit that can run up, flame something, then charge in with their 4+ armour save and use that S3 power weapon until there's nothing left. The Infiltrate ability allows you to set them up last (in missions that allow it), meaning your Stormies should be in the right place right from the start, as you place them opposite or near where you think the enemy assaulters will go. Of course, H-Vets do this better as well, except for the higher armour save, but they have access to an a third flamer and an invisible power fist, something Stormies cannot get. Command Sections also can get 2 more flamers than Stormies, although won't last in assault afterwards and should never have a power weapon on the JO.
- 10-Stormies w/2 Flamers, Sergeant w/Power Weapon & Infiltrate - 133 points.
- 10-Hardened Vets w/3 Flamers, Sergeant w/Power Weapon - 108 points.
- 10-Hardened Vets w/3 Flamers, Sergeant w/Power Fist & Honorifica Imperialis - 148 points.
- Command Section w/JO + 4 Flamers - 64 points.
- 5-Stormies w/2 Flamers & Deep Strike - 67 points.
- 5-Hardened Vets w/3 Flamers - 63 points.
- Command Section w/JO + 4 Flamers - 64 points.
Clearly, in the Deep Striking department, the Command Section reigns supreme, as it's only 1 point more than the H-Vets, isn't wasting BS4 on flamers, has an extra flamer, and there are always numerous Command Sections in an army to do this with, whereas there aren't with Stormies & H-Vets.
There is also the Chimera transport, and you can use that as a flaming death unit.
- 10-Stormies w/2 Flamers & Chimera w/X2 Heavy Flamers, Smoke & EA - 205 points.
- 10-Hardened Vets w/3 Flamers & Chimera w/X2 Heavy Flamers, Smoke & EA - 196 points.
- Command Section w/JO + 4 Flamers + Chimera w/X2 Heavy Flamers, Smoke & EA - 157 points.
Grenadiers are just Storm Troopers without Infiltrate or Deep Strike. Other than that they're exactly the same. Because of this they don't have much use. The strength of Stormies is in their flexibility. Grenadiers have no flexibility.
Their benefit of Grenadiers however is that they take up Troops slots rather than Elites slots, meaning that for smaller games you can bring several Troop units without having to use big Infantry Platoons.
Ordos Malleus Inquisitorial Storm Troopers:
Much like Grenadiers, these guys can't DS or Infiltrate. They do, however, have two other options to make them worthwhile.
Firstly, they can get Rhinos. This gives you a very cheap, highly mobile unit that can deliver 2 flamer templates of 2 melta shots where you need them, and they can fire from the Rhino! These units are called "Drive-By" units.
- 5-Inquisitorial Storm Troopers w/2 Flamers & Rhino w/EA & Smoke = 118 points.
- 5-Inquisitorial Storm Troopers w/2 Meltas & Rhino w/EA & Smoke = 128 points.
Secondly, Malleus Stormies make better counter-assault units than either normal Stormies or Grenadiers. Why? Their Sergeant has access to some very nice weapons, specifically the Thunder Hammer.
10-Inquisitorial Storm Troopers w/2 Flamers & Vet Sergeant w/Bolt Pistol & Master Crafted Thunder Hammer = 161 points.
Basically if you want cheap mobile units to kill infantry or tanks, or want a better counter-assault unit than most other Stormy units, Malleus Storm Troopers are for you.
Ordos Hereticus Inquisitorial Storm Troopers:
Poor-man's Malleus Stormies, Hereticus Stormies will never be as good as the best weapon the Sergeant can get is an Eviscerator. They're nice, but Thunder Hammers are better (and get the +1A bonus for being one-handed). Hereticus Stormies can get Shotguns, and act like Adeptus Arbites, but that's not much of a bonus, especially considering that for 1 point more per model you can get a squad of Sisters of Battle, who have Bolters & Power Armour.
Stormies can be a very flexible unit, but, due to their cost, must be one of the most focused units in your army. If you take them, ensure that they have a single role, are good at that role, and stick to that role. Remember, at the end of the day, they're still just over-priced Guardsmen, so use them wisely and don't waste them.
Storm Trooper Squads are not a waste of a Doctrine Point, but if you take them ensure that you know what you're going to do with them. They're too expensive to be taken as a 'just in case' unit. And Grenadiers (while I'm here), are a waste of a Doctrine Point because, as I said, the strength of the Stormy squad is their flexibility, and Grenadiers have no flexibility, making them just overpriced Guardsmen.
And, sadly, at the end of the day, Hardened Veterans are better at everything Storm Troopers do, so take them first.
Edit: As of 5th Ed capturing objectives takes up 2 out of 3 standard mission. Whats more only TROOP choices may capture objectives (though any unit may contest). If you're planning on taking Strom Troopers in a Chimera or on foot then taking them as Grenadiers is 10 times more useful then as Elites.
Umm... Sniper Rifles are terrible weapons. You need 10 of them (110) points to get some use out of the Sniper Rifles and even then they're only good against Wraithlords, C'Tan and the odd big Daemon Prince or Greater Daemon.
I'll tell you what else you can get for 110 points - 3 Lascannon AT Squad. I think that's a better use of 110 points than 10 Ratlings could ever be.
Next factor in that Ratlings are 0-1. Is it worth wasting an entire Doctrine Point on a 0-1 unit that isn't very effective and costs over 100 points to be even marginally useful.
Ratlings are a waste of a Doctrine Point. They shouldn't even be taken in normal Guard armies!
EDIT Ratlings now benifit from rending.
Junk. They'll do well against lighter troops (Tau, other Guardsmen, Gaunts) but otherwise fail against everything else. They're big targets, they can't charge out of a Chimera any more, and, worst of all, they're T4 so they're power fist bait and (with the new Rapid Fire rules) bolter bait.
Plus their shooting is worthless.
Ogryns are a waste of a Doctrine Point. There are better counter-assault units out there that are faster and cause more damage.
Special Weapon Squads
Don't buy Special Weapons for Special Weapons! They're too expensive. For example:
- SWS w/3 BS3 Meltaguns = 80 points
- Command Section w/4 BS3 Meltaguns = 80 points
- H-Vet Squad w/3 BS4 Meltaguns = 70 points
- SWS w/3 BS3 Grenade Launchers = 71 points
- Command Section w/4 BS3 Grenade Launchers = 72 points
- H-Vet Squad w/3 BS4 Grenade Launchers = 64 points (not that you'd ever take GL's in an H-Vet squad)
There are only two real ways to use SWSs, either Infiltrating via Light Infantry (so they can set up last inside your lines as a counter-assault unit), or Deep Striking. In both cases there is only one type of armament that they should ever have:
2 Flamers + 1 Demo Charge = 63 points.
This squad will murder any unit preparing to charge you. 1 S8 AP2 Ordnance blast plus 2 flamer templates will hurt a lot, and can even gut a Terminator squad, or take out a few Tyrant Guard. People sometimes say that you should take Meltaguns... but you'll be paying 30 points for a pair of guns that will hit once and miss once. I'm sorry, but for 30 points I want something that's a little more consistent.
Special Weapon Squads are worth a Doctrine Point, but think very carefully about how they fit in with the rest of your army (if you're not taking either Light Infantry or Drop Troops, leave them at home) and only take them if you think you can get some good use from them. They also have some use in MechInf armies, but again, remember to use them correctly, they are not a 'just in case' unit.
Conscripts have lost a lot of their worth in 4th Ed. With the return of the Wipe-out rules and loss of Screening, the major utilities of Conscripts (to protect your units and act as a tar-pit counter-assault unit) have vanished.
I'm not too sure how to use Conscripts in the current rules. I think I'd rather put the points into equally as expendable Heavy Bolter/Flamer Infantry Squads. At least they can shoot for a bit before being charged, and I won't lose 35+ of them to a lucky ICs who runs them down...
Conscripts are not a waste of a Doctrine Point, but think long and hard how you are going to use them and if you'd be better served just buying more Infantry Squads. Damned 4th Ed.
Edit: As of 5th Ed if you fire through a unit, friendly or otherwise it grants a +4 cover save. While the massive advantage of screening is gone Conscripts have now become a massive portable 4+ cover save. It's also worth pointing out that 50 Conscripts cost 180 points and take up 1 Troop slot. If someone has paid 300 points for an assault squad and you keep them tied up for the entire game with them trying to kill 50 models at 4 points a model they wont be pleased!
Rough Rider Squadron
Rough Riders are good. They make excellent counter-assault units and can tear apart most things. They only work once though, and RRs are big models, so you'll have to hide them until they can be assured of getting that charge.
And never ever let RRs be charged. They need to charge to be worthwhile.
Rough Riders are a very good use of a Doctrine Point if you need a Counter-Assault Unit.
Heavy Weapon Platoons
Their worth is considerably less in 4th Ed thanks to the removal of screening. It's not hard to kill 6 Guardsmen and with the ever-present Space Marine Master giving Ld10 to everyone on the whole fracking board the chances of your most common opponents (SM players) failing their target priority check are quite small.
The benefits of HWPs is that you can take LC or AC units, stick them on your baseline (48" away from the enemy) and make good use of that long range. They also give you another Command Platoon, and they're always useful.
The real downside to HWPs though is that they're Heavy Support choices, meaning they set up first in most missions, meaning that in order to get good use from them you need to buy the HW units inside the HWP Light Infantry so that they can infiltrate, and then pray you roll a mission that has Infiltrate...
Heavy Weapon Platoons are a risky use of a Doctrine Point since 4th Ed came about. They'll either do absolutely nothing, or cream the enemy. I don't like inconsistency, so I tend to stay away from them 'cept in All Infantry Guard armies where you need some extra guns.
Alternate Regimental Organisation
Ok, now I'll just go through each section of the Doctrines one by one.
One of the most useful Doctrines you have access to. Drop Troops is free, can be applied to most normal squads, and gives the Guard an extra bit of mobility (especially useful for All Infantry Guard armies).
Drop Troops should be on your 'Always Take' list unless you have a very specific plan for your army that precludes Deep Striking (ie. you're taking Mechanised for example).
I've already covered them. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
Edit: The original view seems out of date for the following reasons: 1) In 5th Ed only Troop choices can capture objectives and objectives feature in 2/3 standard missions (so you'll be playing objective games 66% of the time). If you are taking Storm Troopers in a Chimera or on Foot the ability to capture objectives is priceless. 2) In a recent Errata it said you do not need to take Storm Troopers AND Grenediers to use Grenediers. Therefore, with aforementioned objective capturing ability, if you're taking <3 squads of Storm Troopers this doctrine essentially gives you 3 high quality objective taking squads.
Choosing this Doctrine will dramatically alter the way your Guard army plays. I could write an entire Tactica on just Mechanised armies and how they work, but I don't have the time to do that now so I'll just say this:
Mechanised is a good use of a Doctrine Point but changes the way the army works on a fundamental level. You won't have the numbers you're used to having (making Conscripts an interesting way of bulking up your numbers) and the amount of Scoring Units you'll have will be significantly reduced (thanks to the idiotic rule that Transports can't score, even if they're a fracking Wave Serpent or Chimera - thanks a bunch GW!). Taking Mechanised will dictate what other Doctrines you take (ie. you can't take Light Infantry and Drop Troops is no use). Mechanised has lost some of its power from 4th Ed (mainly because of the whole scoring thing and because vehicles suck in 4th Ed), but it's still a viable army type.
Skills & Drills
A real mixed bag. Skills & Drills range from useless, to utterly useless, to "Oh my God that's so fracking useless" to "Must take all the damned time".
Die-Hards allows you to ignore outnumbering modifiers in HTH. This is an example of throwing points at a weakness to make it go away rather than concentrating on the strengths of your armies.
EDIT- in 5th ed. there is no more outnumbering. Even more useless!
If you're a competent Guard player you'll know how to use Command Radii and your Standard Bearer to keep all your troops at a constant state of Ld8 or Ld9 with a re-roll. If you're a competent Guard player you'll also have Iron Discipline so that your men will always remain at full Leadership unless they're outnumbered. If they're outnumbered then they're losing assault, and Die-Hards, at 5 points a squad, isn't going to change that.
If your men stick around because of Die-Hards during his turn, then get wiped out during your turn, he'll be free to move that squad again. You do not want this to happen.
Die-Hards is a bad use of a Doctrine Point. It doesn't do anything you need!
The single most important Doctrine in the entire Codex, Iron Discipline is an absolute steal at 5 points per officer. No negatives for being under 50% and the ability to regroup even when below 50% is worth quite a lot, especially when it's one of your Heavy Weapon Squads that still has 2 guns in it running away from the enemy.
It's even more mandatory in Mechanised armies, where the model count is lower therefore every Guardsmen you can keep on the table and keep fighting counts.
Iron Discipline is the best use of a Doctrine Point in the Codex. I would put this as first choice in pretty much any Guard army, without fail.
edit-as of 5th ed, there are no longer any 50% modifers. You are buying it only for the ability to regroup.
This is one of those 'Oh my God that's so fracking useless!'. Commissars are junk normally. They're worth 20 points, not 40, and that was when they still had 3 attacks base in the old Guard 'Dex. Now they only have 2 base attacks, yet their cost didn't change? And now, to make them Independent, they want you to pay a further 10 points per Commissar for this ability? This makes them fifty points before weapons. Fifty!
GW cannot write rules.
If costs you 60 points (only 10 more) for a 10-man Squad, so why spend FIFTY points on a T3 W2 Independent Character?
For starters, how is being Independent a benefit in ANY way except to be put with Conscripts to give them Ld10 (which you don't want, as sometimes you WANT them to be Ld5 and run away, specifically during the enemy's turn!)? The only thing of any worth a Commissar can get is a power fist, and that was because he remained hidden inside units. Making him an Independent Character means that he's no longer invisible inside units, so he'll be killed before he can swing!
Independent Commissars is, without a doubt, one of the worst Doctrines in the Codex and is a complete waste of a Doctrine Point. There is just no reason to EVER take this Doctrine. EVER.
Edit: The point of the doctrine is probably to give players the option of moving commissars from squad to squad mid battle depending on who needs "encouragement" to stay fighting. 3 Independent Commisars can essentially mean the effect of a Commissar (i.e executing the sergeant to stop them from running) being available to 3 squads instead of 1 per commissar.
Close Order Drill
From completely useless to virtually mandatory, Close Order Drill is one of the best Doctrines in the Codex. It is the perfect example of having an option to help combat a weakness in the Guard army without having to pay any points for it!
That's right folks - COD is free. Platoon Squads and Conscripts can take it for FREE. It makes them I4, so they get to swing with everyone before the Marines kill them all, and the +Ld is a little bonus.
Now, there are some things to consider RE: 4th Ed when it comes to COD. First and foremost is the nerfing all blast weapons have suffered at the hands of the GW rules writers. You don't want to be bunched up, you want to be a full coherency so that blast marker weapons never kill more than 2 of you per shot. Of course, COD requires you to be bunched in order to gain its effects.
Not to worry though, as it's only used in assault, so you can wait until the enemy is about to strike and then move your front units into formation (which is fluffy really, with Guard fixing bayonet’s just before the enemy charges them!).
Close Order Drill is a fantastic use of a Doctrine Point and it, along with Iron Discipline, should always be the first two Doctrine choices you ever make.
Another completely useless Doctrine, Hardened Fighters is the best example of 'throwing points at a weakness so that it'll go away' I can think of.
One should always play towards their Guard army's strengths (shooting) and never try to make up for its weaknesses (HTH) by paying points for marginal increases in HTH ability. Lemme just find what I wrote about Hardened Fighters the other day at Dakka so I don't have to retype this.
'You're not giving them a chance by taking Hardened Fighters, you're just making the squad 15 points more expensive for not much gain. In order for the unit to have a chance it has to be able to swing before the unit is completely gutted. COD does that, giving them I4. It won't help against Aspect Warriors or Super-Gaunts, but against most Marines it's enough to give you 10 or 11 WS3 S3 I4 attacks whenever you get charged. And, most importantly, this ability doesn't cost you a single point.
Spending 15 points per squad to make yourself slightly harder to hit (remember HF doesn't improve your combat ability, it only slightly hampers theirs) is a bad idea.
Guard should not be fighting in HTH combat, and any points spent on improving your HTH ability is extra VPs your enemy can claim. Always remember, play to your armies strengths, not your weaknesses (that's your opponent's job). Don't spend points in a feeble attempt to plug up a weakness, spend those 15 points a squad on more guns (a strength). Yes you're going to get into HTH eventually, but your opponent is going to find it much harder to make back his points against 60 points + equipment squads than against 75 points + equipment squads.
HF is just making the squad 25% more expensive for no real gain. When your Guard fight in assault their aim is not to beat the enemy but to stall the enemy, either by allowing the rest of your troops to get away or giving you time to swarm an enemy unit with a few extra squads. Spending 15 points a squad for no real gain just means you have less warm bodies on the table, less ability to swarm, and each squad gives the enemy more VPs.
Also keep in mind that Guardsmen are expendable, and wars of attrition vs high-class (and low number) assault troops can often go your way. You should have 90+ of them on the table in a normal game (1500+ points) and losing 80% of them isn't a big deal if you complete your objectives. Points from Guard armies come from Command units and the bigger non-troop units, not from the infantry units. If his 180 point Marine squad kills a 85 point Guard squad, who really cares? He's still got to kill another 85-point Guard unit + another 5 points to break even! In the meantime you've charged 30 Guardsmen at his squad, netting you 20-21 attacks per squad (let's just say 60 total), at Initiative 4, giving you 3 and a bit Marines, 4 with what you killed the turn before, and that's 60 points you've killed - the cost of a full Guard squad before weapons - and you've only killed 4 of his models!
What's his remaining 6 or so Marines going to do against 30+ Guardsmen who are all swinging at the same time? Not much.
I'll say it again:
Play to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Your strength is shooting, so put your points into that. Don't try and make up for deficiencies in your army by throwing points at the problems. Pandering to your weaknesses in assault by giving up on more models and more guns just for a slight increase to WS is not to the way to deal with enemy assaulters.
Hardened Fighters is a complete waste of a Doctrine Point. It is one of the worst Doctrines in the Codex.
Jungle Fighters looks good on paper, but it has no benefits. Light Infantry is superior in every respect. Jungle Fighters' special abilities only work in Jungle, but lets look at them:
- Can see 12" through forest - When's the last time you needed to see through a 12" forest? Edit- in 5th ed. its all true line of sight, no use!
- Receives a 4+ cover save in forest - And? You can receive a 4+ cover save in all standard terrain except forest without buying any Doctrines!
- Move at full speed in forest terrain - Light infantry allows you to roll an additional Difficult Terrain D6 in any terrain.
- May Infiltrate into forest terrain - Light Infantry allows you to Infiltrate into all terrain.
- Can take Heavy Flamers - Oh wow! Replace a indispensable heavy weapon with a short ranged flame template weapon.
- Can't take Lascannons - Yeah! Real good benefit there!
- 5+ save becomes a 6+ save - Why am I taking this again?
- 10 points a squad - So is Light Infantry
Avoid this one. The disadvantages are something you don't want to have, and the advantages are done better with Light Infantry.
Jungle Fighters is a waste of a Doctrine Point.
One of the best Doctrines in the Codex, Light Infantry is a cheap and easy way of giving a few key squads Infiltrate. You'll never use the useless Sniper Rifle option, and the move through cover bit is a nice bonus, but the Infiltrate thing is why you buy this one.
Of course, Guard commanders never Infiltrate their units forward, what they do is use Infiltrate to give you a strategic advantage over your opponent. Give it to units you want to set up last, and then after the enemy has finished, set up your infiltrating units accordingly. This is great for SWSs, Command Platoons with flamers, heavy weapons units and things like that as you can place those units right where they are probably going to need to be (ie. placing 3 Lascannons right opposite that Predator 48" away from it).
Light Infantry is a very good use of a Doctrine Point, but could get a bit expensive if you buy it for everyone. The Sniper Rifle option is useless - never take it.
Sharpshooters is a 'just in case' upgrade. When I bring it I usually only ever give it to a couple of squads (namely HW units and 4 Melta Command Sections), never to general squads. +10 points per squad isn't worth re-rolling 1's for some Lasgun shots.
Sharpshooters, as I said, is good for those units with lots of the same weapon. 4 Meltas, 4 Grenade Launchers, 3 Lascannons, 3 Heavy Bolters or 3 Autocannons. Also good to give to a few Infantry Squads with single Lascannons but only if you have the points - find other places to spend the points first (Searchlights, Extra Armour, Macharian Crosses etc.).
Sharpshooters is a good 5th choice for a Doctrine, something you'd take when you don't really want any other Doctrines beyond the 4 you've already chosen and the one you'd dump first if you realised you needed something else.
Ranking up there with the 'Oh my God' category of useless Doctrines, Xenos Fighters is a complete waste of time. It's another 'throw points at a weakness in the hope it'll go away' upgrade. It's not expensive, so that's a 'benefit' I guess, but do you really need your Infantry to hit the enemy on a 3+? Wouldn't you rather spend those same 5 points on Iron Discipline for an Officer and ensure that your army isn't running away?
The biggest problem with Xeno-Fighters is that it's so specific. In a tournament situation you have to pick a type of enemy and stick with it.
Against Orks you've got Buckley’s of killing any of them, and the bastards have each got 4 attacks on the charge so killing any in HTH is going to be quite difficult.
Against Eldar they're either Guardians who you have a fair chance of defeating (but only if you have COD) or Aspect Warriors which are going to swing before you anyway, so what good is hitting on 3+?
Against 'Nids, well they're I5 most of the time anyway, so you'll be dead before swinging.
And considering that there's no 'Marine Fighter' option, what's the point?
Xeno-Fighters is a terrible waste of a Doctrine Point. Never take it.
Another good choice for a 5th Doctrine, Veterans allows you to take another 2 Hardened Veteran Squads. I like H-Vets. They make great Deep Striking suicide units with Meltaguns. Bringing more than one is always a bonus.
Veterans is a good use of a Doctrine Point, one that most people take fourth after Iron Discipline, Close Order Drill and Drop Troops, but ensure that if you take it you make the most of it. No sense in not taking the full 3 squads if you can afford it.
The Special Equipment section is a great example of what GW is always failing at - great concept, bad execution. The idea of giving squads a bonus for a few points is fantastic, but the fact that you have to apply which ever ones you choose to your entire army makes them prohibitive. If you applied them on a platoon by platoon basis, then they'd work, but they don't.
To add insult to injury, most of these you will never use anyway as they're junk options.
Rather than running away, you are Pinned instead. I don't really see you'd want this, especially at +10 points for every squad in your army. Just stick to your Leadership Radii w/Iron Discipline and a Standard Bearer and you shouldn't have may Leadership problems anyway.
Chem-Inhalers is a waste of a Doctrine Point. It does nothing you need it to do.
Cameleoline & Carapace Armour
I'm going to lump these two together as they're the only two Special Equipment Doctrines you'll ever take so must be compared to one another pretty closely.
Cameleoline is an exceptional Doctrine and is truly the only worthwhile Special Equipment Doctrine. Cameleoline is a prime example of playing towards a strength rather than to a weakness. It can get a bit pricey though as you have to give it to everyone. Cameleoline also has a good place in Mechanised forces, where model counts are smaller and therefore each individual Guardsman becomes slightly more important. You'll have fewer squads so you'll want them to survive for longer. Guard rely on cover saves more than anything, so Cameleoline enhances that meaning that your few troops survive for longer, perfect for a Mechanised force.
Carapace Armour is extremely expensive, but does make your guys immune to Bolters. If you are playing an all Drop Troop army and you intend to Deep Strike your entire army whenever you get the chance, then Carapace Armour can come in handy, otherwise stick to Cameleoline.
Now, to compare the two:
When looking at Doctrines like Carapace Armour and even cheaper ones like Cameleoline, always weight the benefits of having 30 men with 4+ armour saves (240 points before weapons) vs having 40 men with 5+ saves (also 240 points before weapons). As I've said in the past, most Guard players will opt for the 'more men' option because it's more beneficial to have a bigger model count than expensive Guardsmen.
Another reason I don't take Carapace Armour is because, like Hardened Fighters, taking Carapace Armour is playing to a weakness rather than a strength. Guard are weak, Guard are expendable. Guard belong in cover. Carapace Armour increases their armour save when most of the time Guard are taking cover saves not armour saves. It's a 33.33% increase in the cost of the squad to make up for a weakness in the Guard army.
Now, as I said, throwing points at a weakness in the hope that the weakness will 'go away' once each Guardsman gets expensive enough is a really bad idea. What you should be doing is putting points towards your strengths. Guard, as I said above, should be in cover. Guard often rely on the strength of the cover they are in, getting nice 4+ cover saves against whatever evil nasty guns the enemy can fire against them. So, what do you do? Well, for half the cost of Carapace Armour you can give them Cameleoline. This is an example of throwing points at a strength rather than a weakness. You're in cover already, so why pay 20 points for an increased armour save? Pay half that and get an increased cover save - something you're using all the time - and make your squads even tougher.
It's also far easier to weigh up the benefits vs costs with Cameleoline than it is with Carapace Armour:
- 5 Squads w/Cameleoline = 350 points before weapons = 50 models with a 3+ cover save.
- 6 Squads w/o Cameleoline = 360 points before weapons = 60 models with a 4+ cover save.
I'll leave it to you to work out what you like more.
Carapace Armour is a Doctrine you should avoid unless you're doing that All Drop Troops army. Cameleoline is a fantastic Doctrine that should be taken if you can justify the cost. 10 points a squad will catch up to you, and if you find yourself spending over 100 points on it you must take a fresh look at your army and decide if an increased cover save is worth more than an extra 20+ men.
The last Doctrine in the 'Oh my God' category of useless Doctrines, Cyber-Enhancement is about the stupidest thing you could ever do in your Guard army. 20 points, per squad, for your entire army, for a 6+(I) save? WTF? I shouldn't have to explain why this one is stupid.
Cyber-Enhancement is a terrible waste of a Doctrine Point should never be taken. It is an insult to your opponent to take such a Doctrine as you're basically admitting to them "I'm a complete fracking moron and you're going to win this without trying". And who wants to win without even trying?
The last of the 'throw points at a weakness' Doctrines, Warrior weapons allows you to take LP&CCW combo rather than your Lasgun. This would be ok if you didn't have to pay for it, but at 2 points a model that's really fracking expensive.
To give you a good comparison, a Guardsman with Warrior Weapons costs 8 points. What also costs 8 points, a Storm Guardian. The Storm Guardian has the same profile 'cept he has a higher leadership, higher initiative and he has Fleet of Foot. Does that seem fair? Does the 8-point Guardsmen seem like he could stand up to such a foe? Of course not!
I'll say it one last time - play to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Guard are bad at HTH and good at shooting, so spend points on shooting, not on making them 'better' at HTH.
So, I think it should be obvious through this that Warrior Weapons is a big no-no.
Warrior Weapons is a terrible waste of a Doctrine Point.
And so that ends my little spiel on doctrines. Hope you enjoyed it and learnt something about the Imperial Guard Doctrine system. It's a wasted opportunity to bring some spice to Guard armies with various types of armies (much like the equally horrid Marine Trait system) and the Doctrine system is filled with idiotic options and needless crap that you'll never use. Still, thankfully, there is some gold in there (ID, COD, Drop Troops), and that makes it all worthwhile. ;)
Hope that helps.