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Astra Militarum Tactics
Posted By Jake

Astra Militarum List Review & Tips – 2,000 points 

Astra Militarum List Review - here goes!


Approximate Reading Time: 17 minutes

Welcome to an Astra Militarum List Review – this is a first for me! Thanks to @evilkipper for the heads up on this – @bptyates (Ben) it turns out was sick of losing with his Guard.

I asked Ben for his list and he obliged via email. I was hoping to give him a new list using the models I knew he had as well as review and constructively critique his current list. I didn’t want to just give out a list without seeing what Ben had already, nothing worse than being told you need to spend £200 on minis you don’t own in order to win! So onwards, lets get Ben out of his losing rut!

Please do comment, critique, feedback, discuss and leave your own thoughts. It will all help I am sure!

Current Astra Militarum List

  • Punisher Pask as Warlord with Heavy Bolter Sponsons, Leman Russ buddy is an Eradicator with Heavy Bolter Sponsons (HQ)
  • Company Command Squad with 3x Sniper Rifle Veterans, Kurov’s Aquila, Vox Caster, Carapace Armour and Camo Gear (HQ)
  • A Priest – joins one Veterans Squad (None)
  • 2x Veteran Squads with Camo Gear, Snare Mines, Plasma Gun and Grenade Launcher (Troop)
  • Veteran Squad with Carapace Armour, 2x Plasma Gun, Heavy Flamer, Sergeant with Bolter, Vox Caster, Krak Grenades and all in a Chimera (Troop)
  • Valkyrie with Multiple Rocket Pods (Fast Attack)
  • Armoured Sentinel with Lascannon (Fast Attack)
  • Leman Russ Battle Tank with Heavy Bolter Sponsons (Heavy Support)
  • Leman Russ Battle Tank with Heavy Bolter Sponsons, Lascannon and Dozer Blade (Heavy Support)
  • Eradicator Leman Russ with Plasma Cannon Sponsons (Heavy Support)
  • Knight Errant
Astra Militarum List Review - A battle of Ben's, thanks for the pic Ben!

Astra Militarum List Review – A battle of Ben’s, thanks for the pic Ben!

Deployment Thoughts

The above pictures shows Ben’s deployment. Leman Russ up front with the Knight to cover the advance of a blog of Guardsmen. The Guardsmen are ready to pounce on objectives as the Leman Russ roll up the battlefield. A Vindicare is on the hill behind the Knight on the left flank. My first thought with this method is that its sound in theory, the tanks move up, covering the infantry, who take objectives. But I have a feeling that this method will collapse as soon as anything gets into the assault with the Leman Russ Tanks. In the assault the enemy will be hitting their rear armour of 10, so now their front armour value of 14 has been ignored and they can be hacked apart as easily as a Scout Sentinel. Once this happens the whole line will be broken and the Guardsmen will be exposed to assaulting units too.

Its just a thought, I would have deployed with my Troops first and then the Leman Russ behind them, forcing any enemy assaulting units to first get stuck in my Guardsmen giving me time to react and counter with my tanks before they too are assaulted. The Leman Russ can still take objectives, they just can’t take them away from other scoring units.

But having said all that I do not know the full story of this game, it was just a side though.

List Summary

My overall feeling was that the list makes exactly the same mistakes I was making when I first started playing Imperial Guard over 2 years ago. The force does not seem to have an overall purpose and its constituent parts do not feel like they have a specific purpose either. Without a clear and specific purpose for a unit then that unit will become ineffective because….

  • its weapons cannot fire at anything
  • certain weapons are useless against certain targets
  • certain weapons are out of range
  • it has no meaningful purpose in terms of completing mission objectives – often related to movement

Lack of Purpose

A good example of this can be found by breaking down the purpose of a Leman Russ within this list. The Leman Russ Battle Tank with Heavy Bolter Sponsons that is a HQ choice is going to have a tough time selecting targets and ensuring that all its weapons are being used to their maximum effect. Its main Battle Cannon wants to hit vehicles as its Ordnance and high Strength. If you do this then the Heavy Bolters are Snap Firing and at the same target. The chances are the target you want to destroy with the Battle Tank may not be even scratched by the Heavy Bolters. So the 20 points spent on the Heavy Bolters are going to be useless a lot of the time. The Lascannon on the second Heavy Support Leman Russ is a better option as its anti-tank too with a high Strength and low AP – but again its Snap Firing if the Main Battle Cannon also fires, so again perhaps a waste of 20 points. I try and avoid Sponsons altogether although there are exceptions, more on that later.

Another example is the Veteran Squads with Plasma Gun, Grenade Launcher and Camo Gear. I only use the Camo Gear option when they will be static, in the back field. This way their 5+ in a ruin becomes a 4+ cover save. Its as effective as Carapace Armour but 5 points cheaper. A unit set up like this with Camo Gear has a single job; sit in the back field, receive Orders and hit vehicles hard with a Lascannon on a 3+ (and with a re-roll if I have Prescience). Whereas a Plasma Gun, Grenade Launcher wielding Veteran Squad in Camo Gear only has a 24″ effective range and ideally wants to be in 12″ for a Rapid Firing Plasma Gun. They need to be mobile and so will not be in cover, they would benefit more from Carapace Armour.

Having a purpose for each unit ensures that it is focused on a task and that you are focused on getting them to complete that task. Its easy to equip a squad with everything or add all manner of trinkets to a vehicles, but if it doesn’t serve the primary purpose don’t bother and use the points elsewhere. Using the above examples we could save 40 points by removing the Heavy Bolters from the two Leman Russ Battle Tanks and then plough some of those saved points into giving all the Veterans Carapace Armour instead of Camo Cloaks. Doing that would still leave us 30 spare points for elsewhere.

Complexity

Ben noted that forgetfulness also forms part of his frustrations with losing at 40K – who doesn’t suffer from this with so many rules! Unfortunately the list does not do much to mitigate this frustration. I find that when list building it helps to keep units (that you have multiples) of the same. So if you have a Leman Russ with a Dozer Blade give them all Dozer Blades. This way you ensure that when a Russ gets stuck you know you have the re-roll, you won’t forget and you don’t need to check – you just know because you always take the Dozer Blade. Again, by saving on the Heavy Bolters above we now have spare points to Dozer Blade up all our Leman Russ Tanks.

The same can be said for the Veterans – either give them all Krak Grenades or none – this way when you make a charge into a Rhino you know you have the means to hurt it rather than being caught short because you charged with the incorrect Veteran team. There are of course exceptions to this, if you know a unit is going to be using Camo Gear and be stuck in your deployment zone probably best to save the 10 points and not give them Krak Grenades.

Ineffective Upgrades

This issue is related to the first, lack of purpose, but really its a separate matter. If you’re spending points on upgrades for a unit then ensure that those upgrades enhance that unit’s ability to complete a specific task. In Ben’s list the Veterans in the Chimera have a Vox Caster, so does the Company Command Squad – no other Veterans do. The Chimera suggests the unit will be mobile, moving up the board and putting their 2x Plasma Guns and Heavy Flamer to good use at shorter ranges. The Company Command Squad, I imagine, will not be joining them on their rampage and so the Veterans may fall outside of effective Order range – thus rendering the Vox Caster for both units useless – a waste of 10 points.

The Company Command Squad also feels a bit too bling. It has Camo Gear, Carapace Armour, 3x Sniper Rifles, a 60 point Relic and a Vox Caster taking its total points cost to just over 160. That is a lot. Of course the squad can give out orders, which is a good thing. But for 160 points you can get a whole Leman Russ. I would save the Relic, Camo Gear, Carapace Armour and Vox Caster points and simply deploy the squad in a very safe position in line of sight of my Veterans who are staying back. Then the Commander can just throw out orders without the need for all the extra gear and weaponry – the latter of which forces you to put your unit in the enemy’s line of sight. By dropping this equipment we save 86 points, 10 of which can be spent on Volkov’s Cane. Volkov’s Cane is an Heirloom of Cadia from the Mont’ka book, orders from a Company Commander with the cane only fail on a double 6 – yes, wow! This leaves us 76 points to use elsewhere, perhaps giving all Veteran Krak Grenades or an extra 2 Scout Sentinels.

Synergy of Units

This is a quick and final point. There is one small change that can be made to this list that will help without spending more points, or less points – but just by moving one unit selection. If the wingman of Pask takes Plasma Gun Sponsons and the other Russ with them removes them then we have improved the wingman’s survivability. Pask automatically gets the Old Grudges Warlord Trait which gives him and his unit Preferred Enemy. The Plasma Cannons therefore now get a re-roll on their Get Hot rolls of 1, thus improving its survivability. Even after you write a list, double check it, there may be just one final amendment you can make to further improve it.

A Lean Astra Militarum List is a Mean List

If we take all of the above little amendments for saving points and ensure all our units are lean and fit for a specific, single purpose, then we can save perhaps 120 points or so. While that does not seem like a lot, especially in a  2,000 point list, it really is. What if your opponent rocked up the table and said;

I know we said 2,000 points, but I brought 2,120 points – you stick with the original 2,000 points, OK?

You would say NO, MATE! But this is what happens when points are sprinkled into units that do not need the upgrades. They’re points that cannot be effectively used on the table top, they’re wasted points and you’re handing your enemy an advantage before you even open your miniatures case. I know I did (do) it too!

A New 2,000 point Astra Militarum List

So I have taken Ben’s list and just rejigged it a little to give everything a purpose within the list. I have removed unnecessary upgrades so that units are leaner and have a specific task they can carry out really well without being distracted by all their extra gear. Removing extra gear and standardising units also reduces the complexity of your list and helps you to gain all the advantages you paid for in your list. You remove the complexity and the chances of forgetting about that awesome thing you paid 50 points for. Anyway, Ben’s new Astra Militarum List;

  • Pask in Punisher with Heavy Bolters, his wingman is an Eradicator with Sponson Plasma Cannons – both with Dozer Blades (HQ)
  • Company Command Squad with Volkov’s Cane and Lascannon (HQ)
  • 2x Veteran Squads with Lascannon and Forward Sentries – Snare Mines and Camo Gear (Troop)
  • Veteran Squad with 3x Meltaguns, Chimera (with Dozer Blade), Grenadiers – Carapace Armour (Troops)
  • Veteran Squad with 3x Meltaguns, Grenadiers – Carapace Armour. This unit is in the Valkyrie (Troops)
  • Valkyrie with Multiple Rocket Pods (Fast Attack)
  • Scout Sentinel with Lascannon (Fast Attack)
  • Eradicator Leman Russ with Dozer Blade – (Heavy Support)
  • Eradicator Leman Russ with Dozer Blade – (Heavy Support)
  • Battle Tank Leman Russ with Dozer Blade – (Heavy Support)
  • Knight Errant
  • Ministorum Priest to join the Valkyrie Veterans (None)

This list comes in at 1,920 points, seems to be more focused and leaves Ben 80 points left for upgrades to further focus his units to complete specific tasks. These can probably be spent by Ben really well to ensure that he has the special weapons and equipment to deal with this local enemies. But if I had those 80 points I would go for some combination of the following;

  • Another Ministorum Priest or a Commissar for the Chimera Veterans to try and keep them in check when they inevitably get assaulted (25 pts)
  • Another Scout Sentinel with Lascannon as these can put a lot of hurt into a unit that does not expect it (45 pts)
  • A Pysker to gain Prescience for use on your Veterans (50 or 75 pts for Mastery Level 2)
  • A smattering on Sponsons on the Heavy Support Eradicators as it’s weapon are not ordnance (20+ pts)
  • Officer of the Fleet to help with the Reserve roll on the Valkyrie or reduce your opponents Reserve rolls (20 pts)
  • Medi-Pack or Regimental Standard for the Company Command Squad (15 pts)

New List Summary

HQ

Punisher Pask with Heavy Bolters, because Pask re-rolls 1s and he can fire them alongside his main weapon they have a similar range and should be fired at similar targets as the Punisher Cannon. Always remember to split fire the unit using Pask’s orders. The Eradicator with Plasma Cannon Sponsons can re-roll the 1s you get on your Gets Hot rolls, its weapons again would be targeting similar types of unit and have similar ranges. Thus its weapons can be fully utilised against the same target and not wasted.

The Company Command Squad has been stripped down, given Volkov’s Cane and a Lascannon. This unit should sit back and order the other 2 Squads of Veterans with Lascannons. Give them the Tank Hunter/Monstrous Creature order, Ignores Cover order, Back In The Fight order and the Run and Shoot order. I forget all their proper names but this will help you bring down big targets, ignore the jink saves on skimmers plus move and then shoot to gain ground where needed. And finally you can go to ground and then get back, mixed with Camo Gear in Ruins you will get a 3+ cover save. And remember your orders only fail on double 6s with Volkov’s Cane.

Troop

You have 2 Squads of Veterans that should sit back most of the time with their Lascannons and receive orders. They can rapid fire incoming melee units and assault them if needed to protect your Commander and objectives. If you take a Psyker you can end up with a re-rolling to hit Lascannon, hitting on 3+ with Tank Hunter. This is a pretty nice deal with the Guard to have access to.

Your other Veterans have Carapace Armour and 3x Meltaguns each, these are your tank destroyers and monstrous creature hunters. Use the Chimera and Valkyire to get these units up the field onto objectives or behind the enemy. 3x Meltaguns will rip open a lot of vehicles with ease, plus you can fire two from the Chimera’s hatch without needing to disembark. Remember once you disembark them the Chimera is still a Troops choice so can be really handy at grabbing objectives.

Fast Attack

Scout Sentinels with Lascannons are a favourite of mine, Outflank them and have them hit the rear or side of an unsuspecting enemy vehicle. Once on the battlefield they can be a good distraction too as they rampage around your enemy’s deployment zone threatening their back field.

The Valkyrie is an excellent delivery system for your Veterans, use it, but use it safely, do not lose your Veterans to a bad scatter roll. It can be a game changer. The Multiple Rocket Pods are a good choice as I recently found out. When they hit they can score many hits and really put a dent into enemy blobs. Try not to go into Hover Mode, once this happens I find my Valkyries are lit up like a Christmas Tree and come crashing down. Instead fly off and come back next turn for another pass with your Rocket Pods.

Heavy Support

I have kept the Leman Russ Tanks from the original list, I do not own this many Leman Russ and do not know Ben’s local meta. But he has two Eradicators in there which Ignore Cover – so perhaps there are a lot of jink-ing Elder bikes? But I have just stripped them back of Sponsons and Hull Mounted weapons – oh and added Dozer Blades to them all. With the spare points there is some room here for change in terms of taking different variants with different Sponsons. The Leman Russ Executioner with Plasma Sponsons can be a nice addition for Pask’s wingman too as its main weapons Gets Hot – so you can re-roll the Gets Hot on the Plasma Sponsons and the main gun Gets Hot. You’ve basically mitigated the negative effects of these devastating weapons.

Knight

I do not own a Knight, I have never played with or against one. So I am unsure of it its effectiveness in this list, but if you own it, use it. Enjoy!

Astra Militarum List – Final Summary

While a new list I think will go some way to helping Ben, there needs to be a shift in thought when it comes to list building. Its not a criticism or a piece of harsh feedback. Its just something that needs to be practiced and realised slowly – I had to do the same over my first games too. The main issues are covered above; make sure a unit has a purpose, isn’t bling-ed up too much and is kept simple so you can remember what it does and ensure it does that job.

One final thought is that you should play a list 3 to 5 times before changing it. Changing a list each game may mean you learn nothing as you assume the list is broken. But practice with a list, re-use it and know its real weaknesses and strengths. What happens when Pask is immobilised turn 1 in your own Deployment Zone? What happens if your Valkyrie does not arrive until turn 4? How do you cope with 2 Drop Pod Dreadnoughts with Multi-Meltas on turn 1? These are all things you can learn over a few games and then change your list to plug the weaknesses.

And thats that! Go forth Ben and do the Emperor proud!

Credits

Some credits are surely due here, I have not learnt this stuff on my own over the last 2 years, I have helpers and mentors. I have read articles and watched YouTube channels to get me here. And I feel like I done an OK job in reviewing Ben’s list. But thanks to all these fellow 40Kers….

  • @ResinJunkie – Twitter, long term mentor and helper from all things rules based to all things hobby based
  • @PVasiljevic, Twitter, long term mentor and knower of all things rules based that are detailed, fiddly and in a “grey area”
  • @Wolfsherz, Twitter, long term mentor, hobby expert and 40K knowledge hub
  • @linguartisan, Twitter, long term mentor and supporter of all my crazy ideas
  • @OakenHawk, Twitter, long term mentor and fellow Guard player
  • Wargamer Fritz, YouTube, lots of tactics theory and discussion, always great food for thought
  • Tactica Imperialis, YouTube, reviews  and tactics, a great source of other little nuggets too

Thanks to all #warmongers too :-)

Astra Militarum List Review & Tips – 2,000 points 
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