Astra Militarum Start Collecting – Astra Militarum Getting Started – Part 11
Let us take a deep dive into the Astra Militarum Start Collecting box...
An Astra Militarum Start Collecting Box is a perfect way to begin your long and joyful journey into sending millions of soldiers to die for the one true Emperor of mankind. But even this purchase can be fraught with indecision and gotchas. This article will try to help ease your journey into starting an army the Astra Militarum. If you are very new to collecting Warhammer 40,000 and the Astra Militarum then the start of this guide might be more helpful.
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I bought an Astra Militarum Start Collecting Box specifically for this article. My thought was that I know what the box should contain but having the actual box would be a good idea and see for myself. I say specifically, but of course, I’ll use them! A Valhallan Leman Russ and more Cadians of course.
One reason for this article is to help you get to grips with the box and make the most out of it. But I also want to make sure you do not make a mistake – or at least make as few as possible.
Part of this hobby could be making mistakes and learning the hard way. Emperor knows we’ve all done this. But if you want to make fewer mistakes, read on.
One issue many of us face is that you could build your models and end up with an invalid unit. This is very possible, especially if you only have the Astra Militarum Start Collecting Box and not the Codex. Or we could end up building models that are valid but we’ve missed out on certain unit compositions. E.g. building loads of Guardsmen but not using any Special Weapons or Heavy Weapons. You have valid models, but you’ve missed out on Plasma goodness.
Astra Militarum Start Collecting Box Sprue Overview
For those of you who already have an Astra Militarum army and just want to know what you get – then these photos will be useful.
If you’re completely new to the Astra Militarum then this is also for you too. This short gallery will show you what you get and that’ll feed nicely into the rest of the article.
- Guardsmen Sprues – ten Guardsmen
- Commissar Sprue – single Officio Prefectus Commissar
- Heavy Weapons Sprue – for a single Heavy Weapons Team
- Leman Russ Battle Tank Sprue – for a single Leman Russ Battle Tank, Eradicator, Exterminator or Vanquisher
- Bases – 11x 25mm bases and 1x 60mm base
These are all pictured below for you to review.
A Note on Legs & Torsos
Legs and torsos are the limiting-factor when building your Astra Militarum Infantry. Keep this in mind when you expand your force in the future and remember what you have spare.
If you end up with a spare torso, for example, then all you need is a set of legs to get an extra Guardsman. The legs/torsos can be obtained on eBay relatively cheaply, but postage can be a killer. I tend to buy ten or more at a time and then gradually use them to make an extra special weapon or two.
This is very handy when considering those little one-off infantry units which you might not have considered when you started your force. For example, if after finishing building the models you want, you have a spare torso and the Medi-Pack arms all you need is the legs to get a Medi-Pack Guardsmen. No need to shell out for a while new Command Squad box.
It may seem ridiculous that you should end up with a spare set of legs if they are a limiting-factor? But it can happen. Maybe you get given some, maybe you find some from 20 years ago when you first started playing or maybe you buy some models cheap of eBay and break them apart to harvest their good bits because it’s cheaper than buying new models. Also, some kits contain torsos, but no usable legs e.g. the commander on the Leman Russ has a torso you can saw off the legs as the legs have no feet. Now you have yourself a unique Company Commander body! You just never know where these spares pop up from…
A Quick Final Gotcha About Legs & Torsos
The Five Man Guardsman Sprue contains no legs and no torsos. They are the “Easy To Build” models and come as just two pieces – see below – the arms and then the legs, head and torso as one piece. So do not buy these if you want a quick extra set of legs to make an extra Guardsman from your spare torso and arms.
With the unit of ten Guardsmen, you have a few options for their build and there are a few gotchas in there too. You have ten torsos and ten legs to use, so you can only make ten models.
There are a fair few options of what you can do with this, I won’t list them all because I think it’s a fun exercise to discover the builds you can do based on the Codex. I will instead cover the limitations of an Infantry Squad so you don’t get trapped with an invalid squad.
The infantry sprues come with two Flamers and two Grenade Launchers. But an infantry squad can only take one Special Weapon. So if you go and use all four you will end up having an invalid squad. Veterans can take up to three Special Weapons – they could also take zero Special Weapons. Building three Special Weapons and taking these guys as Veterans is certainly viable – there are no Veteran models, you just use whatever you want and maybe model them differently from your regular Guardsmen.
Veterans are however an Elite choice and not a Troops choice. The differences between these two options are hard to describe without some prior knowledge of how Warhammer 40,000 armies are structured. My Ways to Play Astra Militarum explains this a little bit more. But essentially Troops will make up the backbone of your army; they are cheap (points-wise) and make up a large part of the Detachments you’ll find yourself using.
E.g. the Battalion Detachment requires three Troops and the Brigade requires six. Also, the smallest and most easily used Detachment when starting is the Patrol Detachment, this requires one Troops choice. So by going down the route of Veterans and having three Special Weapons – you might be making your task harder later down the line when you want to create a Patrol or Ballation Detachment.
We will revisit this later though so bear with me…
A quick note on the Vox-Caster. The box comes with two, you will not need two at this point because a single squad can only take one Vox-Caster. Sometimes I take Vox models and run them as just regular Guardsmen because I do not have enough regular Guardsmen. So consider doing that. It means you have the model for the future and when you do use the Vox model as a regular guy – just tell your opponent.
When I do this and proxy in Vox-Casters for regular guys I often take no Vox-Casters at all. It’s then easy to declare…
All Vox-Casters are regualr Guardsmen, I have no Vox-Casters at all in my army.
It is then clear for the whole game that your Vox-Casters are just normal guys. No need to remember or markdown which ones are Vox-Casters and which are not.
So this guy comes with just a Laspistol, but he can also take a Chainsword (0 pts) or a Power Sword (2 pts), but there is no Power Sword on these sprues. The Laspistol can also be swapped for a Bolt Pistol, Boltgun or Plasma Pistol. None of which are in this kit.
The Heavy Weapons sprue covered a little more, later on, gives you the option to swap two Guardsmen out for a Heavy Weapons Team. Your unit of ten Guardsmen can become a unit of eight Guardsmen plus a Heavy Weapons Team. There are still ten guys in the squad, eight as normal on 25mm bases then two manning the Heavy Weapon on the 60mm base.
This small detail of the Heavy Weapons Team gives us some great flexibility for our squad and whether we want it to be an Infantry Squad or a Veteran Squad – or both…
Veterans, Infantry or Both?
Now we can consider the following with our infantry squad, knowing what we now know…
- A single Sergeant model with Laspistol or Lasgun – Chainsword optional
- Three Special Weapons e.g. two Flamers and one Grenade Launcher
- A single Vox-Caster
- Five Regular Guardsmen with Lasguns
- A Heavy Weapons Team from the other sprue
By building the models in this way we have a valid Infantry Squad with a Heavy Weapon and a Special Weapon…
- Sergeant – 1 man
- A Special Weapon – 1 man
- A Heavy Weapon – 2 men
- A Vox-Caster – 1 man
- Five Regular Guardsmen – 5 men
Giving us a total of ten! By having the Heavy Weapons team, we can make up with the extra Special Weapons we now have. In this unit, two of the Special Weapons cannot be used, as we can only take one in an Infantry Squad. But those two Guardsmen models are replaced with the Heavy Weapons model. Still giving us a squad of ten, despite leaving two models out.
You can also change the unit composition to the following to maximise Special Weapons and use them as a valid Veterans Squad…
- Sergeant – 1 man
- Three Special Weapons – 3 man
- A Heavy Weapon – 2 men
- Four Regular Guardsmen – 4 men
With the Veterans, the Vox-Caster and a regular Guardsmen are removed and replaced with two more Special Weapons.
Did Games Workshop plan this magic for us?!
Easy to Build Benefits
Thanks to Hallofstovokor on Reddit for this suggestion. Two of the Easy to Build boxes that contain five Guardsmen can be used to make two new full squads of Guardsmen. The sprues in the Start Collecting box allow you to make two Sergeants, two Vox-Casters, two Flamers or Grenade Launchers and then four regular Lasgun Guardsmen. If you add on the ten Guardsmen from two boxes of Easy to Build Guardsmen then you can make two squads of the following models;
- A Sergeant
- A Vox-Caster
- A Flamer
- 7 Guardsmen with Lasguns (2 from the Infantry Sprues and 5 from an Easy to Build box)
Now you have two squads with a Vox, Sergeant and a Special Weapon each.
Heavy Weapons Build
This is the easiest model to build and make a decision on. You get all the Heavy Weapons available to the Astra Militarum…
- Missile Launcher – bipod
- Mortar – bipod
- Lascannon – tripod
- Heavy Bolter – tripod
- Autocannon – tripod
Note the different mounts for each. These are what the instructions will show you to use to mount your weapon. You can, however, convert the tripod slightly and mount the Missile Launcher onto it.
The Mortar is harder to make work on the Tripod whoever. Just because of the nature of the weapon. It needs to be angled upwards and the tripod doesn’t support that.
In summary, you can use multiple Heavy Weapons on one base. Don’t glue the weapon on. Then just pop it on and off as you need for your games. It takes a little bit of converting and ensuring you can remove it from the base once the Guardsmen are glued in place – but it’s possible.
If you do decide to glue on the Autocannon and tripod, then you still have the other weapons spare. As your collection grows and you end up with more Guardsmen you can invest in a few extra 60mm bases and build yourself more Heavy Weapon Teams from your spare bits.
As noted above, having this single Heavy Weapon makes your Infantry Squad pretty flexible as you can use it as a Veteran Squad (with three Special Weapons) or an Infantry Squad.
Leman Russ Build
With the Leman Russ Battle Tank kit that comes in the Astra Militarum Start Collecting box, you can build a single; Battle Tank, Eradicator, Exterminator or Vanquisher. Also, note that the Eradicator and Exterminator have very different ways to fix their barrels to the turret compared to the other Battle Cannon and Vanquisher. The Eradicator and Exterminator are sort of housed inside the turret and once one is in and you glue the turret together you will not get it out. The Battle Cannon and the Vanquisher are easily interchangeable as the tips of them can simply be pulled out and swapped.
You cannot build the Demolisher, Punisher or Executioner with the Leman Russ Battle Tank kit in the Astra Militarum Start Collecting box. To build these variants you need the Leman Russ Demolisher kit.
Leman Russ Build Options
Other than the main turret you have some decisions to make regarding the other weapons on the Leman Russ. The Sponson Mounts can either be added or not and the hull weapon can either be a Lascannon, Heavy Flamer or a Heavy Bolter. I recommend not glueing in the Hull Weapon nor the Sponson Weapons as they can be easily changed for each battle. They simply slot in and out with ease.
I would also recommend building the Sponson Mounts onto the sides of the Leman Russ. This tank is a beast and you want to get the most out of it, so maximise its damage output by adding the Sponsons and using those available weapon points for Plasma Cannons, Heavy Flamers, Heavy Bolters or Multi-Meltas.
There is also the option for a Heavy Stubber or Storm Bolter on the tank’s cupola (top hatch) – I often do not model this or take them in games. This is because of transporting the models once this weapon is on top of the turret. But, by all means, add it yourself along with the gunner. It does add character when you do that.
If you got this far, you might like my article on building and paint my 7 Leman Russ and also my Leman Russ Full Breakdown – where I talk about each variant and its uses, or lack of uses, cough Vanquisher cough.
And finally… the Commissar build. This guy comes with a Power Sword and a Plasma Pistol. For those of you with a Codex, you’ll know what this isn’t the Commissar’s normal loadout.
His normal loud out is a Bolt Pistol and a Chainsword. So this build will require you to spend those extra points on a Power Sword (2 pts) and the Plasma Pistol (5 pts).
There is not much else to say about this dude, only that it is a great model and that he is your HQ choice for a Detachment.
An Astra Militarum List from the Astra Militarum Start Collecting Box
The following list is comprised of a Patrol Detachment and comes to 261 points. The Patrol Detachment requires a single HQ choice and a single Troops choice to be valid.
- Lord Commissar with Power Sword and Plasma Pistol – HQ (39 pts)
- Infantry Squad with Flamer, Autocannon, Sergeant and six Guardsmen – Troops (56 pts)
- Leman Russ with Battle Cannon, Heavy Stubber, Plasma Cannons, Hull Lascannon – Heavy Support (166 pts)
At 261 points you have yourself your first small fighting force. And once you double up and get a second Astra Militarum Start Collecting Box you can easily start playing 500 point games with some decent firepower presence on the battlefield with 20~ infantry models.
You could also remove the Lord Commissar and instead take the Leman Russ as a Tank Commander, HQ choice, not a Heavy Support choice. This gives the Leman Russ a BS3+ and the ability to order itself using Tank Orders. This list is 246 points. This is pure anti-infantry…
- Tank Commander with Battle Cannon, Heavy Stubber, Hull Heavy Bolter and Heavy Bolter Sponsons – HQ (190 pts)
- Infantry Squad with Flamer, Autocannon, Sergeant and six Guardsmen – Troops (56 pts)
I hope this helps! Let me know if I missed anything or if anything did not make sense!
Index of Getting Started Articles
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Summary of Astra Militarum Products
- Part 3 – Ways to Play 40K
- Part 4 – Ways to Play Astra Militarum
- Part 5 – Where to Play 40K
- Part 6 – First Purchase
- Part 7 – Playing your First Games
- Part 8 – Improving
- Part 9 – Astra Militarum Tips
- Part 10 – Painting Imperial Guard
- Part 11 – Start Collecting Box Breakdown
- Part 12 – Modelling Astra Militarum Special Weapons
- Part 13 – Astra Militarum Tactics Reset