List Building Gymnastics: Tourney Guard Edition

In a previous post, I mentioned that someone’s been tearing up my archives in preparation for a local tournament!  This is awesome stuff!  After a brief discussion in the comments section, I resolved to write a list review, and provide advice, comments, and constructive criticism.  So:

I’m prepping for the Lords Of War Warhammer 40k classic tournament in Mississauga on August 20. It’s 1500pts, one codex, no allies, no special characters, no formations, no supplements, no fortifications, and only troops scoring.

I have since clarified that only infantry that are troops choices score, their dedicated transports do not score.  oooOOOooo….  This makes things tricky, and not just for the guardsmen.  Here’s a non-comprehensive list of cheap fast things that can no longer bolt onto an objective in the last possible juncture of the game, or are otherwise a pain in the ass to remove from objectives once they get there:

  • Drop Pods
  • Wave Serpents
  • Venoms & Raiders
  • Devilfish
  • Rhinos and Razorbacks
  • etc. etc. etc.

Conversely the mainstay of the Imperial Guard, the venerable Chimera, is also going to be kicked to the curb and is less useful than the troops it is designed to carry.  Typically this is the other way around, wherein you take as many troops as you can to wedge them into as many transports as you can.  This presents a very interesting design challenge.

Before I get into any list building shenanigans, I think it’s important to consider what you think you’ll be running up against.  I figure there will be 2 types of lists present:

  1. Those which control the objectives and generally be difficult to remove from the table effectively (Marinespam) or in the case of xenos, you’ll see a lot of fast, heavy hitting troops choices (Farsight Enclaves XV8’s and Scatterbikes immediately come to mind).  The highest priorities of these types of armies are durability and board control.
  2. Those which are designed to simply wipe you off the table.  “Objectives?  PFEH!  We’ll secure the objectives just as soon as we can clear their corpses off of them.”  In this category, you’ll find damage output has been prioritized.  Thunderwolf Cavalry, Riptides, Wraithknights, regular Imperial Knights, you know all the tricks here I’m sure.
Pictured: All the Scatterbikes.
Pictured: All the Scatterbikes.

Given this is a tournament, I doubt you’ll see a horde army present.  They’re difficult to transport, set up, move around, and they’re not very considerate of the time it takes to shoe-horn as many games as you can into a day.

It should be noted that I don’t actually know what the objectives are for this tournament.  If they’re WTC style it’ll be a healthy combination of ‘Maelstrom’ and ‘Classic’ WH40k, but if you’re only using Maelstrom you might see a different playstyle result…

Anyhoo: Back to Pyrad!

Here’s my tentative list:

  • Company Command Squad: Boltgun, 2x Plasma Guns, Medic, Astropath (131 pts)
    Chimera: Dozer Blade, Heavy Stubber (75 pts)
  • Lord Commissar: The Emperor’s Benediction, Carapace, Melta Bombs (80 pts)
  • Primaris Psyker (50 pts)
  • Ministorum Priest (25 pts)
  • Techpriest Engiseer with 2 servitors (60 pts)
  • Veterans: Boltgun, 3x Meltaguns (91 pts)
    Chimera: Hull Heavy Flamer (65 pts)
  • Platoon Command Squad, Boltgun, 2x Flamer, Heavy Flamer (51 pts)
  • Infantry Squad: Boltgun, Flamer, Autocannon (66 pts)
    Chimera: Hull Heavy Bolter (65 pts)
  • Infantry Squad: Boltgun, Flamer, Autocannon (66 pts)
    Taurox: Twin-linked Autocannons (55 pts)
  • Conscripts Squad: 50 conscripts (150 pts)
  • Vendetta Gunship: (170 pts)
  • Wyvern (65 pts)
  • Hydra (70 pts)
  • Leman Russ Exterminator: Hull Lascannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsors (160 pts)

I don’t have all the conscripts painted yet, and may not get around to it in time.
I’m leaving A LOT on my shelf, including 2 hellhounds, 2 Sentinels, Leman Russ Punisher with Multi-Melta Sponsors, Leman Russ MBT, Bullgryns, Wyrdvane Psykers, Scions, and a Basilisk.

Any advice is very appreciated. I’d love to bring a much more mechanized force, but this troops scoring business has me concerned.

First off, that’s a pretty healthy list.  You’ve got the ability to deal with just about every threat that someone might throw at you.  Particularly anyone that’s throwing a horde onto the table, with 50+ well supported lasguns on the table at any given time.

My initial thought was: “holy cow that’s a lot of support characters”.  You have a fully kitted CCS (including the astropath), Lord Commissar, Priest, Primaris Psyker and Engineseer.  That’s 420 points of stuff that may not directly affect the outcome of the battle.  I can definitely see the temptation to use all of these characters because in concert it could be devastating.  Stick the priest in with the conscript blob and you’ve got a mega-tarpit (assuming the priest isn’t sniped in some way).  But then, I’m not sure if you want to use the conscript blob as a shooting array, playing off of First Rank, Second Rank when combined with something like Prescience.  If you roll particularly well, those 50 bodies may have a re-rollable 4++ in assault.  Frankly, I don’t have much success with Psykers in general, but I can understand their appeal.

Where would the Lord Commissar live then?  His stubbornness and aura of authority would have a bit less value in any of the other units, and he runs the potential of BLAMMING (automatically) either of your psykers if he’s in the same unit.  The enginseer would be busy repairing hullpoints on things or giving Power of the Machine Spirit (but what needs it?), but this may require your relevant armour to be clumped up to maximize his effectiveness.

Too many hands in the leadership pie?
Too many hands in the leadership pie?

I guess what I’m getting at here is that while having support synergies are definitely a good thing, things could go south in a hurry if those synergies are disrupted in some way, or if you don’t get the psychic powers that you want.  In that case, you may have been better paying for the biggest gun possible in the first place.

Relying on these synergies sometimes hamper your tactical flexibility and board control, as your characters need to stay around a particular area in order to dish out their sweet buffs to troopies adjacent.

Something that I’d be specifically concerned about as well, is having that priest in with 50 bodies with 4++ re-rollable locked in combat with a single armoured Sentinel for 6 turns, unable to fall back because of Zealot.  The other issue with 50 bodies is that they take up a lot of space, it takes forever to move them all, and they can still only control one objective at a time.

The last thing I’m not a fan of is the Hydra.  I find the platform underwhelming.  You already have skyfire in the Vendetta, and it’s much better at its job.  Hydra losing interceptor and the ability to ignore jink saves was a huge nerf, and it didn’t get any price reduction to go with it.  It’s now significantly outperformed by an Aegis quad-gun with a Platoon Commander on it but I digress.


  • Less (fancy) Characters
  • More (Big!) Guns
  • More Speed

I might suggest taking what you already recognize and dialing it up to 11.  Focus on intimidation, mobility and a lot of redundancy. (I know that’s a lot of things to focus on)

Oakenlist: LOLFIRE (1498 pts)

  • CCS: Carapace Armour, 4x Plasmaguns
    • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • CCS: 4x Meltaguns
    • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Vet 1: 2x Flamer, Heavy Flamer, Camo Gear & Trip Mines
    • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Vet 2: 2x Flamer, Heavy Flamer, Camo Gear & Trip Mines
    • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Vet 3: 2x Flamer, Heavy Flamer
    • Chimera, Hull Heavy Flamer
  • Infantry Platoon:
    • Platoon Command Squad, 3x Flamers, Heavy Flamer
    • Squad 1 (totally naked)
    • Squad 2 (also, totally naked)
  • Vendetta
  • Basilisk
  • Wyvern
  • Leman Russ Demolisher

“Oak…” you’re probably saying about now, “What the Christ is this mess?”

First off, your deployment is going to be significantly faster.  You’ve got about half the models on the table at the start of the game.  20 bubble wrap troopies and 8 tanks.  Not bad.

Second, you’ve got the same number of scoring units, they’re just wrapped differently.  Rather than relying on psychic shenanigans, you’re using cover and orders to do the work for you, plus a bunch of sacrificial Chimeras.  While both Psykers/Commissars/Priests and Chimeras significantly increase the durability of your troops The Chimeras do things for you that support characters can’t: Get your troopies where they need to be.

I personally think the humble Company Command Squad is one of the most under-rated units in the game.  The key factor for me is that it carries it’s own buff with it.  AND it has one additional buff to give to an adjacent unit.  Being able to hop out of a Chimera and lay down 8 BS4 S7AP2 shots that ignore cover is not something to ignore.  It makes Riptides a bit nervous.  It makes just about anything nervous.  I gave them Carapace to help out with those inevitable 1’s on the to-hit.

Similarly, with the 4 tank-hunting meltagun shots.  Great for doubling out battlesuits or similar, knocking out that troublesome land-raider, or other utility roles.

Remember that orders are much more reliable than psychic powers, and as of the present codex, a lot easier to implement.

All of your units feature mobility and a measure of durability with the Chimeras.  Don’t forget that you have smoke launchers, so you can carry a 5+ cover save with you into Turn 1.

Roll up and lay down a truly epic amount of flame.  Position the vets in a place of good cover (which could be as low as 3+ in ruins, because of Camo!), and dare your opponent to charge you with your 3D3 auto-S4+ hits in overwatch (which you’ll note is statistically comparable to a 50 man conscript blob opening up with 100 lasgun shots).  In the unfortunate circumstance that your chimera blows up, your troopies bail out behind their doomed transport and instantly feature a 4+ cover save.  3+ if they go to ground.  Which you shouldn’t be afraid of doing, because you have 2 Company Command squads cruising around in Chimeras.

Your heavy hitters are bait for deep-strikers.  The Wyvern and Basilisk are no-brainers.  These’ll wreck house pretty quickly if left alone.  So hide it somewhere (ruins?) to protect it from shooting, and if deep strikers are a threat then bubble wrap them in the 20 extra(!) bodies that you have.  If you’re really strategizing and using them as bait, consider the value in splitting them, and forcing your opponent to pick their poison.

I like the Basilisk here because S9 AP3 and the Large Blast make marines weep as you wipe out a combat-squad per turn.  The Demolisher is in a similar vein, but designed to keep Tau honest.  If they want to stay out in the open with their Broadsides, they should understand this will have a price.

You may also be noticing there’s practically nothing here for morale control.  This is by design.

If you’re locked in combat, you cannot SHOOT your opponent the next turn!  You want them to charge you (because overwatch) and you want to lose the combat so your Demolisher and artillery can pack their shit in.

Brute Force

If you have any concerns of being able to keep your artillery alive on Turn 1, keep it in Reserve.

Last but not least, you’ve got late-game speed provided by yet another flame squad jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.  This is also important, because they’re a troops choice, and can score.

Frankly, I don’t know if I’m crazy with all of those flame templates.  Perhaps I’ll playtest this and get back to you.  Right now I’m still in the conceptual phase.

Something I’ve missed?  Got a critique for me?  Post up in the comments below and we can get this party started.

19 Replies to “List Building Gymnastics: Tourney Guard Edition”

  1. Great read, great lists! For what its worth…. my 2 pence…..

    • I agree with all Oak’s points, too many characters, not enough big guns and lack of speed. The latter you all always struggle with in a Guard army.

    • My first thought it get rid of all the Plasma, I never find them worth it. With Gets Hot and a 4+ save only you are going to lose men to your own weapons. Avoid it where ever possible. Just like not sticking Psykers and Commissars together.

    • Templates, too many? No. Its a great idea given that scoring units are infantry only. Hose down those objectives commander!

    • I would take the Grenadiers upgrade where ever possible over the Camo cloak upgrade. The Camo is useful, but its too circumstantial to be really useful. You have to be in cover to benefit from it really to go from a 5+ to a 4+ or a 4+ to a 3+. Plus with Grenadiers upgrades means your armour is a 4+ so you will get armour saves against Firewarriors and Marines.

    • I am a big fan of the Wyvern (or three) but I think its not needed here. You have too much anti infantry with flamers and Lasguns that a Wyvern might not be needed. I would replace it within something that can take our vehicles effectively. The Basilisk is OK, but its AP3, so you’re only going to be shaving single HPs off vehicles. Demolisher is good for anti armour, but only 24” range. This just leaves the flyer (how will be hunting other flyers) and the Meltas for raking out vehicles. I would go for something AP1 or AP2 to insta pop some vehicles.

    • Finally, take Volvo’s Cane for 10pts in one of the CCS – with it your orders only fail on a double six. But your Commander needs to be within X inches of the unit you’re ordering.

    Thats all for now!

    1. Great thoughts. If you take out the wyvern you can buy 6 melta guns to replace the Flamers on the vets. Personally, I like the psychological effect of the wyvern, but different strokes. Keep in mind for anti armour you also have 5 multi lasers you can bring to bear.

      Camo is situational, you’re right. Your results may vary depending on table composition and terrain layout, but it’s crucially important to remember where you want to do most of your fighting with your scoring units. When you place objectives, absolutely bury them in cover. If there is something out in the open, consider sacrificing a chimera to make a wall and provide another speed bump for the enemy. If you’re in ruins with carapace you’re rolling 4+ regardless, with camo you’re rolling 3’s. So…. Yeah… Everybody forgets about the snare mines also….

        1. Almost. They force the charging unit into a disorderd charge. But it doesn’t get the benefit of being a grenade you can throw to cause blinding.

            1. it is. But if you want to see someone fielding a unit with Rage throw a temper tantrum, this’d be a great way. Again, situational, but takes the edge off of power-fisting Death Company or similar…

    2. the more I think about it the more I think keep the Wyvern for clearing those back-field objectives. You know that unit of 20 cultists that does nothing except stand on top of something? Like that 20 man blob that I have specified as ‘bubble wrap’ in the above list? The wyvern would make minced meat of that without the requirement of line of sight, and ignores their cover…

      More meltas could be achieved by swapping the plasmas directly in the other CCS, saving 20 points that could put camo on the last squad, or grenadier on most squads…

    3. I have the Mont’ka supplement and would LOVE to bring Volkov’s Cane. Regrettably, since Mont’ka is a supplement, and from that supplements – including their heirlooms – aren’t permitted in this tournament 😦

    4. The Carapace is VERY tempting. AP5 will shred through my troops, so maybe that gives them a little better resiliency. Just need to find 15 points somewhere…

  2. A massive, MASSIVE thank you for this post Oakenhawk! I am so grateful for the advice! And thank you to the other commenters who are also giving me advice!

    I suppose I should have given you more details like a link to the tournament website and their rules:

    I also have pictures of my army on my own blog that would have gone nicely with this post:

    I notice a lot of fire (lolfire) on this list, but I also see that as a good thing because a lot of guard shots wind up whiffing a lot.

    The conscripts seemed like a good, intimidating idea, but I see how veterans in Chimeras are more durable, and useful. My idea was to stick both the the Lord Commissar and Priest in the massive blob, but you’re right, they could be easily tarpitted.

    I like the idea of the Leman Russ Demolisher more and more. With a little shenanigans I think I’ll shorten up the barrel on my Leman Russ MBT and call it a Demolisher.

    And I’ve been working on a Rhino/Chimera kitbash into a “Repressor” that I should comfortably be able to call a Chimera for this tournament.

    I love the idea of plasma, but I have caused myself more wounds than given out with them.

    Thank you again Oakenhawk! I will definitely let you know how things progress!

    1. Holy crap! I haven’t seen these missions since 3rd edition (when I played Dark Angels and Orkz)!!!!!

      The only mission where I see the list I suggested being a problem is the one based on Kill Points. You’ll have to protect your Chimeras in some way shape or form, Similarly with the Artillery and HQ… The problem with the Guard is that they tend to bleed kill-points pretty aggressively given how many dedicated transports, individual support characters, and small, delicate squads they field…

      Often for the Demolisher I just take the barrel extension off of the MBT/Vanquisher. No need to magnetize. In the end, looks somewhat similar to a Churchill AVRE Petard Mortar. It kind of fits the bill.

      The other thing as well, don’t consider my suggestions as gospel. You can loadout the squads however you feel like, based on the flavour and experiences you’ve had.

      Personally, I’ve had some really good experiences with plasma (wiping a unit of Centurions including their Libby or one-shotting a Riptide, to name a few). If you need more melta in there, it works out to be a bit cheaper. Cadianshock (trooper) had a couple very valid suggestions above in the comments that you can take a look through. He’s pretty experienced himself, and you should check out his site if you haven’t already.

      Anyways! One of my favourite quotes is that a battle plan never survives contact with the enemy. Another of my favourites is that having a plan is useless, but planning is absolutely essential. Given the amount of thinking you’re doing leading up to this, I think you’ll be alright at this tourney.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s