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5th Edition Imperial Guard Codex HQ Review (Polonius)
Redirected from IG Codex Review HQ

Company Command Squad

The very first entry is the Company Command Squad, hereafter the CCS. First, I want to applaud GW for finally making clear names for HQ and Platoon level command squads. Secondly, the BS jump for a CCS was something I never even considered, yet makes eminent sense from the current GW idea that command squads are just veterans. It makes sense from every level, as why would the best troops not be with the commanding officer, or at least be available to the commanding officer?

In one of the least lamented losses of options in GW history, the old three tiered system of Commanders has disappeared, replaced by a single “Company Commander”, who has a built in refractor field. I like the idea of simply bundling war-gear like that in with a character, as nobody would ever pay any price for a refractor field in anything but the fluffiest lists, especially now that the Commander is not an IC. It does allow a CCS to allocate a power weapon wound to him, and hope to shrug it off instead of simply losing a model. The big loss to the Commander is the Leadership rule, which used to hold the IG together, especially when combined with Iron Discipline. While not utterly absent from the list, as the Commissar Lord has something similar, the role of the Commander is no longer to sit put with a standard and leadership and prevent troops from breaking. With the new orders system, coupled with exciting new options for the squad itself, the CCS is now a more integrated part of the armies function. The Commander is a bit more of a fighter than before, as he’s no longer an IC and can take a 15pt fist or a 10pt plasma pistol. Both are fun options, but it is a shame they bumped power weapons up to 10pts while dropping fists down. Anything that can take the fist will, for five points more. Its sloppy rules, and I guess I don’t see why power weapons couldn’t have simply been made 7pts (which is about what they’re worth) and been done with it. The final nail in the power weapons coffin for Commanders is his new Initiative of 3, meaning he’s swinging last against nearly everything anyway, making the fist the clear choice for a combat oriented officer.

Orders have been discussed at length, but there are a few key points to remember. The CCS gets two orders a turn at 12” range, and can give any of the six orders. While the squads most likely to benefit from orders, like heavy weapon squads and Special Weapon squads are only LD7 and pass only about 55% of the time, the twin linked order is very strong, and the cover save order can be a huge factor. Get back in the fight is either very good or nearly broken, depending on what the final phrase “may shoot and assault as normal” means. Does that mean as normal of a unit that regrouped, or as normal of a unit that was never falling back or shooting. If it is the latter, being able to have a heavy weapon team go to ground, then still shoot in the next shooting phase can be fun.

Aside from Orders, the CCS has a plethora of weapon and war-gear options. They can finally take Carapace or Camo Cloaks as an upgrade, and one model may take a voxcaster which raises the YMDC question of “does a CCS with a vox get to re-roll a failed order?” It’ll probably not matter, as the only order a CCS is likely to give itself would be Bring it down, and a fourth melta gun is better than the vox. The medic, like the new apothecary, simply gives FNP to the unit, which is a fine upgrade I feel, but a classic Half-Price Rule example at 30pts and giving up a special weapon slot. The CCS can take a heavy flamer, which I guess is nice but at 20pts when compared to 5pt flamers, it seems like a real afterthought. The squad can take a heavy weapon or a full load of specials, including the newly promoted sniper rifle, and the new 5pt Krak grenade option might actually be taken in a game.

The other big change to the CCS is the ability to take advisers. The Bodyguards are the odd men out, as you can take up to two, and they simply transfer wounds allocated to the CC (up to two per turn) unto them instead. At fifteen points they’re a good upgrade for a combat oriented CCS, and more wounds on a valuable squad are always nice. Like many things, cost can add up quickly, so I’d imagine these will be used in a limited fashion outside of Apocalypse, but having options that excel in multiple gaming variants is in no way a bad thing. In another entry for YMDC, the look out sir rule states that “up to two wounds allocated to the CC are instead resolved against the Bodyguard(s).” Does that mean if the CC takes two wounds, each bodyguard takes one wound, one takes two, each takes two? If there is only one, and the CC takes two wounds, does one still take both? I’m guessing the answer is that the collective pool of bodyguards can absorb up to two wounds per turn, and they are allocated amongst any bodyguards as normal, i.e. on a piece if there is two, and both on one if not. It does limit the need to take more than one, though. If

The Master of Ordnance is a very interesting upgrade. Like all of the non-bodyguard advisors, he’s 30pts, but adds a potentially powerful weapon to the IG arsenal. If he doesn't move, he can drop a an Earthshaker round anywhere on the table, except that it always scatters 2d6” on a hit, or 3d6” on a miss. The pessimist in me realizes that this is so wildly inaccurate as to actually make it useless against all but massive hordes or a parking lot of vehicles, and has almost no chance to really hurt the threats to the IG. Then a part of me remembers: it is a 30pt upgrade! This little guy seems to belong in any stay at home CCS, perhaps one anchoring a gun-line, and should be avoided in any front line Squad. Running only 30pts makes this guy a prime candidate for becoming a Pro-am Special. One note is that he’s a great way to get indirect fire in an all infantry gun-line, which is a fun build to run from time to time.

The Fleet officer and Astropath enable the IG player to manipulate the reserves battle. The astropath is obviously only good in IG armies with reserves, but in those, he’s worth every penny, IMO. The +1 to reserves is nice, but the re-roll to outflanking is money in the bank. With the best units in the codex (valk/vendetta) having scout, anything that makes outflanking better is useful. The rules specifically apply if the Astropath is alive, not on the table, so even if he’s in reserve, he’s helping you out. The Fleet Officer is less generally useful, if you’re opponent doesn't have reserves he’s wasted space. I think that the Fleet Officer’s use will be highly environmental, based solely on local metagames. Combine armies with no reserves with those armies that don’t mind delayed reserves, and he becomes a very shaky upgrade.

If the basic Company Commander is too boring for you, consider upgrading him to the Lord Castellan himself, Creed. Creed is a man’s man, and commander’s commander. At 90pts, he nearly triples the base cost of a CCS, but brings a lot to the table. He may utilize four orders a turn, has a 24” order radius, and gets a bonus order. In addition, one unit in the army may scout. So, is he worth it? The answer, as always, is maybe. The four orders can be very clutch, combined with the larger range. In addition, his special rule makes a unit fearless and furious charging for a turn. Make a squad fearless, have it charge an enemy unit, tie it up, and then have it break and run in the opponents turn to shoot it up again. If successful, that combo alone can save a gun-line from a massive combi-charge. Going another way, a large combined platoon with power weapons and attached commissars with power weapons becomes very good when furious and fearless.

In addition, one 24” radius circle is better, in terms of area, than two 12” radius circles. What’s unspoken there is that in the builds that will include Creed (gun-lines), most of the guns are in the DZ anyway, making the two much closer in practice.

That brings up Creeds fatal flaw, which is that he alone costs more than second CCS with standard and three grenade launchers, which can spit out the same number of orders and shoot reasonably well, as well as help hold the leadership together. If you add Kell, his value goes up, but so does the total cost of the CCS in question. In general, I think there are better places for the IG player to spend the points in all but the largest games.

Speaking of the big guy, Kell adds the rule that most people expected with the orders system, namely the ability to test for them on the officer’s, not the squad’s, leadership. He also gets the bodyguard special rule, and includes the standard, making him really only a 70pt upgrade. In a large enough game, Creed and Kell allow up to four anti-tank squads to be twin linked against vehicles or monstrous creatures, which is pretty good until you realize that they do so for the cost of two more anti-tank squads. Doing the math, twin-linking four squads adds three hits per turn, which is exactly what two more anti-tank squads would add. In the end, with the IG in no way lacking ways to spend points effectively, spending 225pts simply to make other squad better seems unproductive.

If hand to hand hotness is your preferred brand of Company Commander, the legendary Iron Hand Straken is back; saved from the minor league that was the Catachan Codex. Straken does everything a normal Commander does, but adds two key things: vastly improved combat performance from his CCS, and Furious Charge and Counterattack for everybody in 12”. Now, nothing is going to turn basic IG squads into Hand to hand powerhouses, but those rules work on Grey Knights, Sisters of Battle, or in apocalypse, any friendly unit. The combos that can be created are endless, and furious charge really, really helps S3 models with power weapons. The old man himself makes his squad fearless, and is WS5, S6, I3 with a power weapon and four attacks. Toss in a plasma pistol, a 3+/5++ and an extra d6 Armor Pen against vehicles, and he’s the easy choice for a close combat oriented CCS. He’s clearly expensive at 95pts, but if you view him as a counter-charge unit that also makes the rest of the army a little bet punchier, or you build your list to really take advantage of his bubble of rage, he’s a very solid little guy.

Finally, because every giant entry needs a truly awful option, Nork Dedogg makes a long awaited return to the ranks of the IG. Nork brings next to nothing to the table, adding three wounds with FnP to a squad, but lacks a power weapon, an invulnerable save, or any way to actually protect his charge. A true half priced rule special, Nork would be tough call at 50pts. At 110pts, he’s more expensive than any of the officers he’d protect, and is truly one of the worst options in the book. It’s a shame, because Nork has some of the best background in the game, and is really one of the few heartwarming aspects of 40k, as he ends up retiring back in his Ogryn village. In the game though, he’s terrible.

In general, I think there will be two main builds of CCS: the mechanized or air mobile variant with four meltas, maybe an astropath, built to blow stuff up and support equally mounted vets; and the gunline anchor with standard, astropath and/or MoO, possibly creed/kell, and a chimera to increase order range. Both are pretty fun and useful units, and help to hold together two very different kinds of armies. Even viewed as a cheaper, non-scoring alternative to veteran squads, the CCS will be a big part of many, if not most IG armies. Add in the ability to take two, and they’re very punchy units for not a lot of points.

CCS: Highly Competitive

Bodyguards: semi Competitive

Master of Ordnance: Competitive

Astropath: Highly Competitive

Fleet Officer: Semi-Competitive

Creed: semi-Competitive

Kell: semi-Competitive

Straken: Competitive

Nork: Casual

Lord Commissar

As the diligent reader may have noticed, in the list of regimental advisors the old favorites, the Commissar, priest, and sanctioned psyker were all missing. All are still in the list, just no longer available to the CCS as upgrades. Rather, they are all independent characters (although low level commissars can be added to platoons), able to roam at will, but also costing a key HQ slot. Were before IG rarely, if ever, used their second HQ slot, the ability of a CCS to act like a turbocharged Veterans squad makes the HQ slots have a bit of a premium. That all said, the various IC’s all add something new to the list, or in the case of the Lord Commissar, something old, just shifted to a new model.

The Lord Commissar seems to have two roles: as a sort of low rent combat character, and as Morale booster to an IG fire base. In the second role, he arguably does pretty well. Lords have the Aura of Discipline rule, which is essentially the old Leadership rule only with a 12” range. As Lords are LD 10, that makes them pretty good at preventing LD7 heavy weapon squads from running away. The lord also makes any squad he joins Stubborn. I’m very leery about the abundance of Stubborn in the IG list now, as Stubborn really doesn't help the IG that much. There are no real negative modifiers in shooting anymore, with 5th edition rules and no more Fear of Darkness, so Stubborn only is useful in combat, where half the time you want your guardsmen to run anyway. Sure, it’s nice to charge into the enemy, and hold for a turn to deny him a monster charge, but it takes a deft touch. Rather than a universal positive, it’s at best a 75% positive.

As a close combat guy, have you ever feared an Eldar autarch on foot? No, right? Now, imagine the Autarch cost the same, had a 5+/5++ instead of a 3+/4++, was only WS5, couldn't take a melta gun, couldn’t get a bonus attack, was only I3, and to make up for all of that could take a powerfist. That unit would be pretty hilarious. That, alas, is what the Lord is like in combat. While not terrible, he’s just not really good, and as an IC he’ll get picked out. Oh, and he can buy Carapace armor for 10pts, or half of what an entire CCS costs! I know you can’t compare models across codices, but GW has never even come close to figuring out S3 T3 Independent characters, and they haven’t started now.

In the end, the Lord will be a big feature in Apocolypse games, keeping heavy weapon squads in line. In anything else, he’s simply too costly in both points and lost HQ slots to feature in anything but fun lists.

Lord Commissar: Casual

Commissar Yarrick

My goal with this review is not to critique the codex, but sometime it’s really hard to, when there are just baffling aspects to the writing. Yarrick’s Bale Eye, one of the coolest pieces of wargear in the game, has a new rule that gives Yarrick a hot-shot laspistol, as well as giving him an extra attack. The rules then go on to state that it’s already included in the profile, which sure enough, lists Attacks: 3, meaning that Yarrick absent his bale eye has fewer attacks than a normal Commissar Lord. Noticing stuff like this is what kept me out of the really good schools.

Yarrick is 185pts, or 80pts more than a similarly equipped Commissar Lord (only with a plasma pistol instead of a hotshot laspistol). For those 80pts, you get the force field, which forces the enemy to re-roll any wounds laid on Yarrick, T4, Eternal Warrior, the ability get back up from death with one wound on a 3+, litanies of hate and fearless for himself and any unit he joins, and a 12” stubborn bubble. That’s a lot of rules for only 80pts, but considering the basic Lord Commissar is a pretty bad unit, it’s probably better to analyze Yarrick on his own merits.

In terms of combat, Yarrick simply isn't that durable. Without an invulnerable save, it still only takes 12 S4 power weapon hits to drop him, which many armies can bring. In addition, his 4+ armor save means that non-power wounds still wound half the time. With only three powerfist attacks a turn, he’s not going to do enough damage to really balance out his vulnerability, and while boosting a friendly combat unit is useful, Priests do it for far cheaper. The only real use for Yarrick, as far as I can tell, would be in leading a squad of Ogryn. That’s an expensive squad, but fearless, furious, and can re-roll hits on the charge.

Yarrick: Casual

Primaris Psyker

In 40K, there are two kinds of good units: those that do something really well for a reasonable price, and those that do something reasonable for a really good price. Elite armies live and die with the former, but IG players love the latter. The Primaris Psyker doesn’t do much, but he does it for cheap at 70pts. A LD9 Psyker, he’ll only really get to use his powers if there is no psychic defense, and at S3 his force weapon is mostly for show, but on the off chance he can pop off Lightning Arc he’s throwing 2d6 S6 shots at BS4, at 24” range that counts as an Assault weapon. The secondary power, Nightshroud, forces any unit that shoots at the Psyker or his unit to pass a Leadership check. Anybody that lived through 4th edition remembers how little protection that was, and thus will probably be rarely used expect when the Lightning Arc is out of range. Toss in a random refractor field for a 5++ save and you have a very nice little unit. While probably not good enough to really challenge the CCS for a slot, the Psyker could be a contender in a list that includes any of the furious charge granting characters. As fluff goes, having one and a few Psychic Battle Squads would make for fun theme.

Primaris Psyker: Competitive

Ministorum Priest

Few things are as comforting as knowing that GW is essentially incapable of fixing bad units. For every inspired re-write, we have to endure a dozen false starts and dead ends. In the old codex, few units were as maligned as priests: expensive, fragile, and adding very little to a squad they were attached to, they simply did nothing and cost too much. In the new codex, they cost more, do less, and are more fragile. To be fair, they are now independent characters that can be attached to any unit, but that simply means with their new one wound profile they will be smeared pretty easily. Oh, and in case you think attaching them to ogryn for re-rolls would be cool, it’s not allowed.

On the positive side, they have a built in rosarius, they don’t take an HQ slot, and they can take an eviscerator for only 15pts. Because we all know that chainfists on T3 W1 Independent characters are great ideas.

The best use I can see for these guys is to add to a bloated CCS that is also a counter charge unit, maybe with Straken for extra punch. The re-rolls are nice, but at the cost of a nearly guaranteed KP and no combat punch absent the eviscerator, I think this unit is far too risky and costly for what it offers.

Priest: Casual

Techpriest Enginseer

Another universally loathed unit in the old codex, the new Techpriest is very, very different. Instead of being a 2 for 1 elites choice, they’re now a 2 for 1 HQ choice that doesn’t use an HQ slot. Oh, and they now fix a weapon destroyed or immobilized result on a 5+, not a 6+, and do so in the shooting phase, not at the beginning of movement. Seriously, that’s all they changed.

The servitors are a little different, in that technical and combat servitors are combined into one basic servitor type that have a single power fist attack and add +1 to the repair roll. Up to two can have heavy bolters, multi-meltas, or plasma cannons. Now, servitors are 15pts, and the heavy bolter upgrade is 20pts, and servitors are BS3, and don’t have relentless. That means you can pay 35pts for a T3 4+ save model with a heavy bolter. Good times. The Plasma cannon or Multi-melta upgrade is 30pts, making a Techpriest with two plasma cannon servitors only 125pts less than two scout sentinels with plasma cannons. Guess which one I’ll be taking.

The best use for this guy would appear to be to actually fix vehicles, as a techpriest with four servitors can follow a tank squadron, and fix a weapon destroyed every time. The problem is that this costs 105pts, and another tank starts at 150pts. Of course, in Apocalypse, he can hang out near a Baneblade, which makes him much better.

Techpriest: Casual

Further Reading

IG Codex Review

IG Codex Review Elites

IG Codex Review Troops

IG Codex Review Fast Attack

IG Codex Review Heavy Support


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