Astra Militarum Beginner's Guide - Warhammer 40K 10th Edition
Getting Started
Posted By Jake

Astra Militarum Beginner’s Guide – Warhammer 40K 10th Edition

Getting started with an Astra Militarum army - you have come to the right place...


Approximate Reading Time: 18 minutes

With so many new players coming to play Astra Militarum and Warhammer 40K, plus returning players for 10th Edition… I should revisit the Astra Militarum beginner’s guide. If you are new here, my name is Jake, and I have been playing Imperial Guard (Astra Militarum) for a decade, since Warhammer 40K 7th Edition. Welcome to the Guard!

If I have missed something or made a mistake, please message me on… Instagram, Twitter, Reddit or Facebook.

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FAQs – Astra Militarum Beginner’s Guide

I have started this Astra Militarum Beginner’s Guide with some FAQs.

Further down, this article offers high-level advice for those starting with the Astra Militarum.

Where can I get the data cards from?

From this link on the Warhammer Community site. No Astra Militarum Beginner’s Guide would be complete without that link!

Those data cards will become invalid once the Astra Militarum Codex is released sometime after Spring 2024. See below.

How can I include 2 Leaders in a unit? Isn’t the limit 1?

All Astra Militarum Battleline units can include two Leaders. But only one can be a Command Squad.

This detail is in the Unit Composition portion of the Warhammer App and on the back of the physical data card.

Cadian Shock Troopers

Cadian Shock Troopers Data Card

How can Lord Solar have a 24” order range?

Including Lord Solar with a unit of Infantry and a Command Squad with a Master Vox increases the range of Orders in that unit to 24”. The Master Vox increases the range of orders for Officers in its unit from 6″ to 24″. Because Lord Solar is an Officer and is in the unit, he gains this benefit.

When does Lord Solar Redploy occur?

Lord Solar’s redeploy is covered in the Rules Commentary on the 40K Downloads page.

This rule is well buried, so you can be forgiven for not knowing it.

This means the units are removed after deployment and then placed back on the battlefield once you know who is going first, which makes Lord Solar’s redeployment worthwhile.

What is with people constantly talking up the Reinforcements Stratagem?

This Stratagem allows you to place a destroyed Regiment unit into Strategic Resreve for 2 Command Points. This includes all Battleline units and both types of Sentinel.

For example, if you use it on a unit of three Armoured Sentinels, you get back a 210-point unit. Plus, their Hunter Killer Missiles, even if they have been fired.

You can also do it on units of 20 Cadians, of course. As you can imagine, this is useful for grabbing objectives and being a nuisance.

Finally, the Levithan Cards change the rules for Reserves… they state;

Reserves units cannot arrive during the first battle round and any Strategic Reserves or Reserves that have not arrived on the battlefield by the end of the third battle round count as having been destroyed, as are any units embarked within them (this does not apply to units that are placed into Strategic Reserves after the first battle round has started).

Note that despite units not being able to come in after Battle Round 3, this does not apply to units placed into Strategic Reserve during the game. So, that means units can be put into Strategic Reserve in Battle Round 4 using the Reinforcements Stratagem to come in during Battle Round 5.

How many Leman Russes can I take in an army?

The way to figure this out is via the following rules;

  • You can take up to three of each Datacard.
  • There is no “Leman Russ” Datacard.
  • There are 7 Leman Russ Datacard variants in the Astra Militarum Index Cards at the time of writing.
  • And 1 Tank Commander Datacard.
  • Each Datacard contains 1 Leman Russ, not 1 to 3 as used to be the case.

The Variants are;

  • Tank Commander
  • Battle Tank
  • Demolisher
  • Vanquisher
  • Punisher
  • Executioner
  • Exterminator
  • Eradicator

So the answer is 8 x 3 = 24 Leman Russ.

Which Leman Russ is best?

There is no correct answer to this. Only more questions;

  • What are you shooting at?
  • What other supporting units have you got?
  • Have you got any Orders for the Leman Russ?
  • Who is your enemy?

An axe is a pretty awesome cutting utensil. But it is not the best tool for chopping a carrot.

The Battle Tank is a great all-rounder, with multiple shots, Rerolls and flat 3 Damage. But is it the best against something with a 2+ Save? It has an AP of just one.

The Vanquisher can delete an enemy tank in one shot. But is that a good idea vs a horde of Pox Walkers?

Some tanks are good all-rounders because they can do well against various enemies. There are suitable supporting variants like the Exterminator and good tanks with one task, the Vanquisher, which might need support to get the best from them. The Vanquisher performs best Remaining Stationary, with the Take Aim Order and using Daring Recon from a Scout Sentinel. This allows it to hit one 2s, rerolling 1s.

Have you ever rerolled a one into one? Use a Vanquisher, because that is the best way to get this result.

Can Creed use the Reinforcements Stratagem for free?

This has been discussed a lot…

Can Creed use the Reinforcements Stratagem for free on a Regiment removed from play within 6” of her model?

Some say no because the unit has been removed; therefore, it’s not within 6” of Creed. It’s dead and gone.

Others say yes because activating that Stratagem and removing the model are separate acts. The Stratagem is activated before the removal of the unit.

The answer is now NO. This is from the latest Balance Dataslate… the Reinforcements Stratage is not a Battle Tactic. Therefore, its CP cost cannot be changed.

How many sponsons can a Baneblade have?

All Baneblade variants include two pairs of sponsons in their points costs.

Two pairs are four sets, two on each side. So yes, that is 4 Lascannons in total on sponsons.

These are included in its points cost, so if you are not taking them, you are losing out on free firepower.

How do Tank Commander orders work?

A Tank Commander can issue one order to Squadron units.

This excludes Baneblade variants and Tank Commanders, as neither has the Squadron keyword. It does include Leman Russ tanks, though and Basilisks, for example.

The range of these is 12″, not the normal 6″.

The Grand Strategist Enhancement can be used on a single Tank Commander to enable it to issue an additional order.

Can I order units in Reserve?

Sometimes, it is the answer.

Kasrkin can order themselves while in Reserve. This is because the interaction is from themselves to themselves.

Gaunt’s Ghosts also fall into this category. They can order themselves.

However, a Platoon Command Squad could not order a Cadian Shock Troops unit while they are both in reserve. That interaction requires them to be within 6″ of each other, and because they do not exist anywhere yet – they are not within 6″ of each other.

Can I proxy or kitbash Lord Solar?

Many people want to proxy Lord Solar or adapt his model because they dislike it. This is a normal feeling. It’s a terrible model. :-)

When doing so, try to keep it in the same proportions as the original.

  • Lord Solar’s Base is 80mm.
  • Lord Solar’s height is 4.5 inches / 12cm from base to sword tip.

The more competitive the scene, the less likely a wild proxy or kitbash will be accepted.

I changed my Lord Solar with a head swap, added a Cadian, and added two Cultists. It was not a significant change model-wise, but it greatly changed the overall look and feel. A dirtier paint job helped, too.

Lord Solar

What is the maximum model count at 2,000 points?

This is 335 models at the time of writing in November 2023.

  • 6x units of 20 Catachans = 120 models = 660 points
  • 6x units of 20 Cadians = 120 models = 720 points
  • 4x units of 20 Infantry Squad = 80 models = 480 points
  • 1x units of 10 Infantry Squad = 10 models = 60 points
  • Platoon Command Squad [Warlord] = 5 models = 60 points

660+720+480+60+60 = 1,980 points

120+120+80+10+5 = 335 models

When will Astra Militarum Codex be released?

Games Workshop has published the roadmap for Warhammer 40K up to Spring 2024. And there is no mention of an Astra Militarum Codex in this timeframe.

Therefore, it’ll be at least the Summer of 2024 before we see an Astra Militarum Codex. This wait could be significantly longer, however.

The 9th Edition Codex was released 5 years after the 8th Edition Codex. It was only valid for three months before Warhammer 40K 10th Edition was launched.

So don’t get your hopes up.

40k roadmap

40k Roadmap

What happened to the old regiments?

The old regiment rules and many models have gone completely. There are no longer rules for Steel Legion, Valhallans, Mordian, etc.

These rules and models were removed from Warhammer 40K 9th Edition. And in Warhammer 40K 10th, they’re entirely gone.

When a new Astra Militarum Codex is released, we will unlikely see a return of these rules. What’s more likely are Detachments with army-wide rules that may match the way we think of those older regiments operating.

For example, a melee-focused detachment would fit Catachans. However, such a detachment will be void of any wording about Catachans. The same goes for a tank-focused detachment; it won’t be named after the Steel Legion.

Valhallans / Snow Krieg

Valhallans / Snow Krieg

What’s a Battle Force box?

These are boxes sold by Games Workshop, which contain multiple models. They’re usually between 30% and 40% cheaper than buying the models individually from Games Workshop.

Once they are sold out, they are sold out. Because of the savings, they can go very quickly, especially in the USA and Australia, where Warhammer models cost proportionally more than in the UK.

The models within the box are often sold individually, so it is possible to acquire them. But of course, without that saving.

However, purchasing them from an independent store, such as Firestorm Games or Element Games,  will give you a 15% to 25% discount over the price listed directly from Games Workshop.

Astra Militarum Cadian Defence Force Battleforce

Astra Militarum Cadian Defence Force Battleforce

How good is my list?

While list review posts are frequent on Reddit and the Astra Militarum Facebook Group, I have seen them receive poor responses.

Why, I’m not sure exactly. But there could be a few reasons contributing to a lack of engagement.

Warhammer 40K 10th Edition and the data cards are new; maybe some people don’t have valid feedback or strong opinions on lists yet.

The new data cards are two-dimensional compared to previous editions, so there isn’t much to comment on. There is one army rule now, instead of the mix-and-match approach of Doctrines. Similarly, points are all but gone. There is no longer any finesse to taking wargear or not because it’s all included.

Finally, because the data cards are two-dimensional, many lists are very similar and include the same units as an auto-include.

End of the FAQs

That is the end of the FAQs in this Astra Militarum Beginner’s Guide. If I have missed something or made a mistake, please message me on… Instagram, Twitter, Reddit or Facebook.

Astra Militarum Beginner’s Guide

This portion offers high-level advice and tips to those just starting. If you are very new to Warhammer 40K, let this Astra Militarum Beginner’s Guide start here… what is the Astra Militarum?

Astra Militarum Background

The Astra Militarum, commonly known in Low Gothic as Imperial Guard, is the primary fighting force of the Imperium of Man, so numerous in size that even the Departmento Munitorum cannot place a figure on the number of Guardsmen under arms at any one time; the lists of recruits and toll of casualties can run into the millions in a single day.

From the Lexicanum site.

There are many resources for reading up on the lore surrounding the Astra Militarum. A.K.A. the Imperial Guard. The Lexicanum site is an excellent place to start.

This is my take on why I collect and play with the Astra Militarum;

It is the most realistic fighting force in the 41st millennium. No fancy suits, alien tech or major psychic powers. Hordes of manpower and tanks taking on the might of the galaxy.

Getting Started – 1,000 points

The Astra Militarum, Combat Patrol box is probably the best starting point regarding value for money. It will give you;

  • A Cadian Command Squad
  • 2x units of 10 Cadians
  • A Field Ordnance Battery unit
  • A single Scout or Armoured Sentinel

~375 points in total for the main Warhammer 40K game.

These models, however, are a perfect fit for the Combat Patrol game described below. The box costs £95; if you bought all the models individually, they would be over £150.

So, while this is a great deal, this force is a long way off what you need to play a 1,000-point game of full-blown Warhammer 40K. This force is also not very effective at the time of writing. The Field Ordnance Batteries are not very good and suffer from a recent points increase and the nerfs that firing indirectly brings. The infantry will always be helpful, as will the Sentinel.

You will probably want to add to this force something like the following;

  • 2x Leman Russ, ~200 points each
  • Another 10 infantry, ~60 points
  • Another two Sentinels, ~70 points each

That will get you most of the way to 1,000 points of Astra Militarum, with some decent options. The Sentinels give you a lot of different weapon options in the form of;

  • Lascannons for anti-vehicle
  • Multi-Lasers and Heavy Flamers for anti-infantry
  • Autocannons and Plasma Cannons for taking on elite infantry
  • Missile Launchers for an excellent all-round option

The same is true for the Leman Russ, and the sponsons give you lots of options;

  • Plasma Cannons and Heavy Bolters for anti-elite infantry
  • Heavy Flamers for anti infantry
  • Multi Meltas for anti-vehicle

The turret options also do the same, with each turret doing a different task on the battlefield.

That is just one way to get your force up to 1,000 points. There are others, of course. Such as adding three Leman Russ rather than two. Or adding no Leman Russ and going for infantry, Bullgryns and artillery.

You should check out my deep dive into Field Ordnance Batteries and Astra Militarum Artillery for further reading.

Astra Militarum Combat Patrol

Astra Militarum Combat Patrol

Growing Your Army

This is where things get a little trickier. The direction you take may depend upon the type of games you want to play. If you are ultra-competitive, the models you buy, paint and play with will vary vastly from if you want to throw dice and do narrative-style missions.

If you are competitive, you will have a decent grasp of the game after playing it at 1,000 points and will know what works and what does not. For example, adding 15 Ratlings to your force is probably not the way to go.

If, on the other hand, you are into telling stories, then Ratlings might be perfect for telling the story of how a Cadian Battle Force came to rescue 15 Ratlings from the centre of the battlefield, along with the vital intel they had retrieved.

Just bear in mind;

  1. The core and unit rules will change, so that fantastic unit now that costs 100 points may not be 100 points next month.
  2. The Codex release, whenever that is (see below), will change things again, both in terms of points and unit abilities.
  3. The Rule of Cool always wins. If you find a unit/model incredible and like it, you will consistently win on the inside, even if its rules are not 100% optimal.

I am very much in the Rule of Cool mindset.

2v2, 3,000pts per player battle

2v2, 3,000pts per player battle

Synergies & Must-Takes

There is always talk of the auto-take units in an army. These are those units that you cannot do without. They must be included to stand a chance of winning.

While I think this is true if you are playing at high-level tournaments against other lists built to win tournaments with tournament players, I do not think this is true day-to-day for the Astra Militarum.

With his 24″ order range for vehicles, Lord Solar was/is considered an auto-include. But I have found he is not after winning two games without him. I just changed how the list worked, removed the reliance on him and built a different list.

Maybe Leman Russ tanks are auto-includes for their staying power and firepower – but if you are going against an infantry-heavy army with lots of bodies and Objective Control, then Leman Russ tanks may not perform as well as you would like.

I guess what I am saying is;

Find your own way, learn, play and learn again. Finding the best units online (the must takes) and including them to get the best results is not always the best way to play and learn.

Things to Avoid

If you are new to the Astra Militarum and especially new to the hobby of building and painting models, avoid a Baneblade. It is a massive undertaking and cannot be efficiently utilised in the smaller games you will likely experience as a new player.

Avoid buying lots of models; building and painting take time. Having a huge pile of grey plastic can be hard work to stare at for weeks and months on end. It can ebb away your enthusiasm for the hobby. Go steady.

Try to avoid playing ultra-competitive games with competitive players to start with. Some people will crush you completely on the tabletop and think nothing of it. That, too, can eat away at your enthusiasm, question your unit choices and generally is just not fun. Play with new players or players you know want to give you a great first experience of Warhammer 40K.

Forgeworld/Resin Models

Another thing to possibly avoid is Forgeworld models, which are no longer on the Forgeworld website – and are now harder to spot. They are now all on the Warhammer Web Store.

The Hades Breaching Drill is an ex-Forgeworld model. Notice under the photo and price, it states;

This resin modelling kit is a collectible item and construction should only be undertaken by expert Warhammer hobbyists aged 15 years and over.

Also, under Age, it says;

15+ This is not a toy.

And, under Warning:

Avoid breathing dust. Harmful.

Resin is harder to work with than regular plastic kits. The pieces can be heavily warped, cracked, or bent and must be washed before glued and primed.

Hades Breaching Drills

Hades Breaching Drills

Legend Units

The mention of Forgeworld units brings us nicely to Legend Units. These units have rules, but their rules will not be actively updated. They are usually for models that Games Workshop no longer produces.

You can use them in games, but they are unlikely to be accepted in tournaments because their rules are not being updated.

Legends Gorgon

Legends Gorgon

Combat Patrol, Open Play, Narrative Play & Matched Play

  • Combat Patrol is the quickest and most straightforward way to start collecting and playing Warhammer 40,000.
  • Open Play gets you playing quickly and easily.
  • Narrative Play is about telling a story. This type of game can use the Crusade System.
  • Matched Play aims to make the battle as fair and balanced as possible.

Combat Patrol

I have never played this version of Warhammer 40K. There are free rules for it online, including free rules for the Astra Militarum.

Open Play

Open Play is easy to start; you need no prior planning, and you can throw models onto the table and play. It’s an excellent way to start because it removes some layers of complexity and lets you start playing a game.

Narrative Play

Narrative Play is more like Open Play than Matched Play. For me, at least, it’s not midway between the two.

Narrative Play puts more emphasis on telling a story than the other two methods. And because of that, it’s more open than balanced. If you’re telling a story, it’d be boring if both sides were perfectly matched, right?

The missions can be one-sided, and one side can expect to lose, but the how, why and how badly are all to play out…

Matched Play

Matched Play aims to give both sides an equal chance of victory. It does its best to make the two sides equal.

As you’ll learn in 40K, this is a challenging task. As Codexes are released, and players find new ways to get the best out of their units, existing rules need modification to ensure they work as expected and are not abused.

Nearly all the Warhammer 40K Battle Reports I publish on this 40K blog are Matched Play.


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