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Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 18:48   #1 (permalink)
Zen
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Default Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad
By Colonel-Emir Zenai ‘Power Klaw’ Dxakurnain

[hr]

It is the 41st Millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the Master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.

Yet even in his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon-infested miasma of the warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomican, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor's will. Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds. Greatest amongst his soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their comrades in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and countless planetary defence forces, the ever vigilant Inquisition and the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants - and worse.

To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.

[hr]

Introduction
The Infantry Squad is the mainstay unit of the Imperial Guard where millions upon millions of Guardsmen are recruited and sent to fight the enemies of the Emperor. They’re equipped with Lasgns and Flak Armor. Weak, you say? Now, look at the amount of Special and Heavy Weapons carry. Then look at the amount of Armored Support they can muster. But that’s a whole other Tactica. I’ll be talking about my favorite Infantry unit in the Imperial Guard; the Infantry Squad.

What is an Infantry Squad?
A 10-man squad that usually consists of 1 Sergeant and 9 Guardsmen who are equipped with Flak Armor and Lasguns (Sergeant has Laspistol instead) as well as Close Combat Weapons and Frag Grenades. A squad can be equipped with one Special Weapon and one Heavy Weapon; this is where the strength of Infantry Squad lies. They’re cheap thus you can sacrifice a lot of them and not even blinked. Being a very cheap Troop choice, you have loads of points to spam Guardsmen to carry the Special and Heavy Weapons. Yes, the Guardsman is just there to carry weapon and the weapon itself is much more valuable than the Guardsman carrying it. Infantry Squads are usually in an Infantry Platoon which can have up to 5 Infantry Squads in a single FoC.

What is the role of the Infantry Squad?
The Infantry Squad can fulfill multiple roles such as Objective-Seeker, Gunline, Meatshields, Counterattack and whatever else you need. Their strength lies in their Special and Heavy Weapons though the latter is much more important than the former. Being equipped with Heavy Weapons, this leaves little room for movement but why are you leaving your trenches and cover before you make sure all threats and enemies are annihilated. Some say Guard are too static especially in objective base missions. I say you need to make it safer for your Guardsmen to waltz out in the open to take that objective. It’s a foolish assumption that your numbers will protect you from the hail of fire and ice. You have an easier time conquering ground if you destroy the enemy on the ground itself. In summary, the Infantry Squad is your Scoring unit to capture and holding objectives as well as they’re dang good at sitting and shooting. They’re also good at taking the shot for the team e.g. Guardsmen with no Special and Heavy Weapons are shielding the Sergeant, Commissar and the Guardsmen carrying the Special and Heavy Weapons but don’t tell them that. Bad for morale.

What are the Special/Heavy Weapons available to the Infantry Squad?
Flamer – One of the cheapest Special Weapons available to the Guardsmen, the Flamer is very good against Light Infantry such as Tyranid Gaunts, Ork Boyz, Eldar Guardians and other Guardsmen. The Flamer’s Template range is very short range (around 6”-8”) but it makes it by not having to roll to hit to use it which is pretty good when your Guardsmen have crappy Ballistic Skills (BS). Against Medium and Heavy Infantry i.e. Space Marines and Tau Empire Fire Warriors, they’re not that bad.

Grenade Launcher – Another cheap Special Weapon and in contrary to the Flamer, the Grenade Launcher has a longer range as well as 2 firing modes. The Frag mode allows you to fire a small blast template but its strength and AP leaves something to be desired. Against GEQ (Toughness 3 and 5+/6+ Armor Save) units, it’s okay but when it comes to tougher units like Ork Boyz and Space Marines, the Grenade Launcher is quite lacking. The Krak mode is a single middle strength and AP shot. You will probably use this less often than the Frag mode as the Guardsmen’s BS will probably see most of those shots missing their intended target (which might be a GEQ Multi-Wounded unit that you can instant kill like a Farseer or the rear Armor Value of a Rhino).

Sniper Rifle – Instead of being a Heavy Weapon (Refer to the 4th Edition Codex: Imperial Guard), it is now a Special Weapon. Again, the BS of the average Guardsmen and the single shot of the Sniper Rifle will see this weapon left to the professionals; Ratlings and Veterans. Pretty good at wounding Monstrous Creatures (MC) as you just need to wound on a roll of 4 or higher (4+).

Meltagun – A short range Anti-Tank weapon that’s very destructive (if it ever hits any vehicle), the Meltagun is the weapon of choice when you know you’re going to get close and you’re going up against something big like a MC or a vehicle. It can also instant-kill a multi-wounded MEQs (Toughness 4 and 3+ or better Armor Save) i.e. Space Marine Captain if the opportunities arises.

Plasma Gun – All-rounded weapon that is favored by most Imperial Guard players as most of their opponent are running around in Power Armor (or similar protection). Good range as well as strength and AP, the Plasma Gun is favored above others (despite the hefty point-cost) as it is a Rapid Fire weapon which can dish out twice the amount of shots that can kill (though it’s an overkill) GEQ units as well as kill multi-wounded units i.e. Imperial Guard Company Commanders. Of course, the main concern of the Plasma Gun is that they’re quite expensive and the Gets Hot! will probably kill the Guardsmen carrying it.

Mortar – Cheapest Heavy Weapon available to the Imperial Guard, it’s favored by those Imperial Guard players that want their units, i.e. Command Squads, to stay out of sight so they won’t get shot at. A respectable piece of Anti-Infantry, the Mortar is Barrage weapon with good strength (against Infantry anyway) and can pin (though I find this overrated and you’re better off killing off the unit entirely).

Autocannon – An all-rounded Heavy Weapon that’s favored by Imperial Guard players for its versatility and point-cost, the Autocannon is employed when facing Light (AV10) to Medium (AV11-12) Vehicles and to a certain extent, taking pot-shots at AV13 vehicles (You need to roll a 6 for Armor Penetration) such as the Space Marine Predator. Autocannons are the bane of Skimmers because of the fact the Autocannon can dish out 2 shots per turn thus able to bring down a Skimmer through the sheer weight of heavy weapons fires despite their protection i.e. Eldar Holofields and Tau Empire Disruption Pods.

Heavy Bolter – Another Anti-Infantry weapon available to the Imperial Guard, it is able to take out Light (5+ or worse Armor Save) and Medium (4+ Armor Save) Infantry. The Heavy Bolter is usually favored above Mortar for Anti-Infantry work as it has a higher strength and better AP though how many hits you get from either Mortar or Heavy Bolter is debatable.

Missile Launcher – Another versatile weapon that’s available to the Imperial Guard, the Missile Launcher, like the Grenade Launcher, have 2 firing mode; Frag and Krak. Frag Missile is obviously used for Anti-Infantry while the Krak Missile is usually employed to destroy vehicles, Heavy (3+ or better Armor Save) Infantry and Monstrous Creatures. However, some might find the Missile Launcher lacking in strength especially when compared to Heavy Bolters (for Anti-Infantry) and Lascannons (Anti-Tank/MC/TEQ/MEQ). But it is a good weapon nevertheless especially when it’s comparatively cheaper and can instant-kill multi-wounded MEQs.

Lascannon – Being of higher strength and lower AP, the Lascannon is much preferred over the Missile Launcher for killing big targets such as Tyranid Carnifexes and Space Marine Land Raiders. Of course, the Lascannon is the most expensive heavy weapon available to the Imperial Guard but it shouldn’t be too hard to have a battery of them.

What Special + Heavy Weapon Combo is best?
Flamer + Heavy Bolter – A cheap Anti-Infantry combo; the Heavy Bolter will mow down the oncoming Gaunts or Boyz as they traverse across the tabletop to reach your Gunline while the Flamer will douse any survivors in ignited promethium (40K’s version of petroleum). But the problem lies in the Flamer’s short range; you may or may not have the chance to fire those Flamers. Role: Anti-Infantry

Grenade Launcher + Heavy Bolter – Another cheap Anti-Infantry combo but this time the Grenade Launcher can aid the Heavy Bolter in cutting down the enemy as they charge. Contrary to the Flamer, the Grenade Launcher has an extended range (up to 24”) but it may lack the strength (its Frag mode is strength 3) to wound much tougher targets like Ork Boyz. Role: Anti-Infantry

Grenade Launcher + Autocannon – Overkill against Infantry units but in addition to it, its role extends more to destroying Light and Medium Vehicles. The Autocannon’s longer range (compared to the Heavy Bolter) and still somewhat good rate of fire (RoF) can cut down infantry as well as shooting down Light and Medium vehicles. Grenade Launcher can add more firepower in both situations as well. Role: All-rounded

Plasma Gun + Autocannon – My personal favorite; it combines an all-rounded Special Weapon with an all-rounded Heavy Weapon. Since they’re both strength 7, they’re able to cut down all manner of Infantry, though for the Plasma Gun to be effective as well as being used at optimum efficiency, Heavy Infantry (and everything else for that matter) have to be closer (within 12”), as well as Light and Medium Vehicles especially Skimmers. Role: All-rounded

Grenade Launcher + Missile Launcher – Both being able to fire Frag and Krak, this combo has the same role as the above but is able to damage Heavy (AV13-14) Vehicles better though lightly more expensive comparatively. Role: All-rounded

Plasma Gun + Missile Launcher – Marine-Killer combo; it can also kill TEQs and MCs that get close enough and to a lesser extend kill GEQs especially Horde Armies. Role: Anti-MEQ

Meltagun + Missile Launcher – Cheaper of the 2 Tank-Buster Combo but it’s quite lacking when it comes to popping Space Marine Land Raiders and Imperial Guard Leman Russes at long range (as you need a 6 to penetrate and leaving those kind of vehicles unscathed is detrimental to your battle plans) and TEQs as well as MCs (Most of them are going to be equipped with a 2+ Armor Save and the AP3 of the Missile Launcher won’t cut it). Role: Anti-Tank

Meltagun + Lascannon – The other Tank-Buster combo but this time, it is fully capable of threatening Heavy Vehicles (as well as TEQs and MCs) and crippling them and if any survive to reach your Gunline then the Meltagun can surely finish the job. Role: Anti-Tank

Plasma Gun + Lascannon – Most expensive Special + Heavy Weapon combo, its sole purpose is to destroy your enemy’s most lethal and powerful units whether if it’s a Land Raider with Terminators on board, a Tyranid Vanguard of Carnifexes and Tyrants or an Iyanden Ghost Warriors Warhost. Role: Anti-TEQ/MC

What other stuff I can give to an Infantry Squad?
Commissars – My most favorite model in the entire Imperial Guard, for 10-man Infantry Squads, it’s a waste but it’s when you combine 2 or more Infantry Squads together then it’s worth the investment as well as make full use of the Commissar’s capabilities to reinforce morale and orders. Commissar confers a Leadership (Ld) of 9 (Equivalent to Space Marine Sergeants) as well as the Stubborn Universal Special Rule (USR). The Stubborn USR will ignore all Leadership modifiers whether it is from Combat Resolution in the Assault Phase (which is usually where Guardsmen will lose out) or whatever else that lowers the Leadership of the Infantry Squad e.g. Imperial Guard Psyker Battle Squad’s Weaken Resolve Psychic Power. The Commissar also allows to re-roll any failed Leadership Tests thus your Infantry Squads are less likely to run off the tabletop. For conferring Ld9, Stubborn and allowing to re-roll failed Leadership Tests, it’s not a bad buy. So highly recommended that I demand you always take a Commissar.

Vox-Caster – This little piece of equipment allows you to re-roll Leadership when receiving Orders from Commanders but like the Commissar, it’s more efficient to be used in a Combined Infantry Squad.

Krak Grenades – By the time you equipped them all with Krak Grenades, the squad itself will be more expensive than they’re worth. I suggest you take those points and invest them into Special and Heavy Weapons that can actually kill tanks better.

What can I equip my Sergeant and/or Commissar with?
Bolt Pistol – Commissars are already equipped with it but unless you really have points to spare, I suggest you live this gun alone especially when you want to squeeze the points to buy an extra Special Weapon.

Melta Bombs – Only available to the Sergeant though I think we can live it back at armory for the same reason as the above.

Power Weapon – The only upgrade that I would consider on either the Commissar or Sergeant but the price tag leaves me a little uneasy. But it does add more umph! when you need to charge out of your trench to meet your opponent head-on. Especially good when combined with Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken or Lord Castellan Creed’s For the Honour of Cadia! Order.

Plasma Pistol – Again, I would invest the points in Plasma Guns instead. Also it might kill the wielder and that’s not good at all especially if it’s the Commisar and the Sergeant (unless the there’s a Commissar in the squad already then the Sergeant is expendable as well).

What’s Combined Squad Special Rules for?
It allows the Infantry Squads in the same Infantry Platoon to be combined into a bigger squad e.g. 5 10-man Infantry Squads can be combined into a 50-man Combined Infantry Squad. This has several benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits:
1) In KP-base games, it allows your potential 5 KPs (from 5 10-man Infantry Squads) to be just 1 KP (from 1 50-man Combined Infantry Squad).
2) Orders are used efficiently as you just need to give 1 Order to a 50-man Combined Infantry Squad (which can include 5 Special Weapons and 5 Heavy Weapons) instead of handing out 5 Orders to 5 different Infantry Squads.
3) Some of the Infantry Squad’s upgrade can be used efficiently; Commissars and Vox-Casters. You just need 1 Commissar and 1 Vox-Caster in a 50-man Combined Infantry Squad thus saving you points and making efficient use of the Commissar’s Ld9 and Vox-Caster’s ability to re-roll Leadership Tests for receiving Orders.

Drawbacks:
1) If you kill more than half of the 50-man Combined Infantry Squad and they failed their Morale Test, they will be destroyed (either in Sweeping Advance or running of the tabletop) unless you have something that allows them to regroup even if they’re below half of their squad’s strength.
2) 1 big target instead of 5 smaller targets; so your opponent just need concentrate all his strength and firepower one big easy target like shooting a whale in a barrel.
3) Hard to give cover to a 50-man Combined Infantry Squad; this is especially true when you have lack of terrain but if you’re like me (experienced and such), this shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance.
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 18:48   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad


Which Orders are useful to an Infantry Squad and in what situation?
Author’s Notes: Orders are best used in Combined Infantry Squad whose Infantry Squads are equipped with the same Special and Heavy Weapon thus their role is clear and you can give the proper Orders. For example, 5 Infantry Squads equipped with Meltagun and Lascannon are combined together thus their role is Anti-Tank is best combined with the Order Bring it Down!

Bring it Down! – Obviously to be used against Mechanized and Armor-heavy opponents as well as those who have MCs i.e. the Tyranids. This can blunt of your opponent’s ‘Hammer’ blow, i.e. Terminators in Land Raiders or Eldar Skimmers laden with whatever, thus dismembering your opponent’s strategy. If taking down Tanks and MCs is your first priority, then Bring it Down! is best choice. Role: Anti-Tank

Fire on my Target! – Unfortunately, Bring it Down! only works on Vehicles and MCs, and not TEQs and MEQs like Terminators and Crisis Suits. That’s why Fire on my Target! is best in this kind of situation where your Lascannon/Missile Launcher shot is hindered by Cover Saves but don’t limit yourself to these targets. Fire on my Target! can work on any unit who are either hiding from your low AP weapons, i.e. Leman Russ Battle Tank’s Battle Cannon against Space Marines, or have very bad Armor Saves and are dependent on Cover Save for protection, i.e. Ork Boyz.

Get Back in the Fight! – Most useful especially when your 50-man Combined Infantry Squad suddenly got under half unit strength and got the bloody guts to run in the midst of the battle. You may have to get your Commander to chase after them though.

First rank, FIRE! Second rank, Fire! – Also known as FRFSRF, Lasguns (not the silly Hot-Shot Lasguns) are able to add 1 more shot to their volley. You normally use this when you wanna make sure your target is dead (Yes, Lasguns can kill things like Terminators and Carnifexes). 2 fast rules when it comes to using this Order; 1) The target is not in cover and 2) The target is not a Vehicle or a MC. These 2 conditions usually fall under Terminators (Assault or otherwise) that are out in the open (Yes, they’re that arrogant and confident. More of the former).

Incoming! – Used when you just need to sit on an objective and nothing else thus you have a 2+ Cover Save but you can’t shoot.

Move! Move! Move! – Late game (5th or even 4th Turn) Order; where you just want to reach that objective out in No Man’s Land so you can either capture or contest the objective. Or you just need to run away from something scary e.g. Carnifex.

What other units come with an Infantry Platoon?
Platoon Command Squad – A compulsory unit that relays utility-type Orders such as First rank, FIRE! Second rank, Fire!, Incoming!, and Move! Move! Move! I suggest you keep them cheap as your opponent will likely aim at it (for some reason) and you want to invest more into your Company Command Squad (which is more valuable) and your Infantry Squad’s Special and Heavy Weapons.

Heavy Weapons Squad – This is the unit you want especially when you need extra firepower at a better point cost-to-number of Heavy Weapons ratio but it comes at a cost; you don’t have normal Guardsmen taking the bullet for them and they’re especially vulnerable to strength 6 weapons that can instant-kill them. Furthermore, they’re stuck at having Ld7 (unless you got a Lord Commissar or Primaris Psyker to join them to boost their Ld).

Special Weapons Squad – Special Weapons Squads suffer the same problem as Heavy Weapons Squad: 1) Squad size is too small and 2) Only having Ld7. But they’re at least 3 Guardsmen that can take the wound before it reaches the Guardsmen that are carrying the Special Weapons. It’s recommended that you hide them until your opponent comes within optimal range (within 12”).

Conscripts – The perfect Meatshields; cheap and just durable enough when you really want your Infantry Squads to fire at something rather than hiding in their trenches. They’re the unit you want to sit on an objective and given the Incoming! Order (for that 2+ Cover Save) or charge out and contest/capture an objective. They aren’t half bad at killing (CC or otherwise) if given the right kind of Orders (For the Honour of Cadia!) or accompanied by the right kind of people (Colonel ‘Iron Hand’ Straken).

Summary
The Infantry Squad is best all-rounded unit available to the Imperial Guard. Given the right equipment and people, they’re a force to be reckoned with. As an Infantry Commander, I’ve always drawn to have massive formations of Infantry ready to receive my orders and sacrifice themselves to achieve what I’ve set for them and Infantry Squad is that unit. But saying that, even the Infantry Squad needs Armored and Air Support as well as specialists such as Company Command Squad or Storm Troopers. So, when make sure both Infantry elements as well as Armor, Air and Specialist elements complement each other in the best way possible. As always, C&C is always welcome!
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 19:02   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

One of the things that stood out to me as an option was combining a Sniper Rifle with a Heavy Bolter in a squad, considering that they both have the same range and will usually fire at similar targets. Also, the ability to use Combined Squads to give you a unit with 5 Sniper Rifles in it cannot be overlooked.

Any thoughts on this?
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 19:06   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masked Thespian
Any thoughts on this?
Let's see...

I need a 4+ to hit and another 4+ to wound. Oh, it's a single-shot weapon...Yes, I've looked at it and they're just not that efficient enough when compared to a Plasma Gun. And most engagements are at 12"-24" especially when it comes to fighting Orks and Tyranids.
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 19:13   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

And yet you recommend the Grenade Launcher, another single-shot weapon?

You are correct, in terms of range, but there are times when the extra range could be useful, particularly in a Dawn of War scenario.

I'm not saying it's a fantastic combo; I just reckon it might be worth mentioning in passing.
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 19:16   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

Grenade Launcher can shoot a blast template and despite being Strength 3, it can potentially kill more than 1 model whereas the the Sniper Rifle can only kill one at the time. Anyway, the Grenade Launcher is more of Anti-Infantry weapon. The Grenade Launcher's Krak Grenade is just a bonus. And I would rather compare the Sniper Rifle with a Plasma Gun as the Sniper Rifle's purpose is, more or less, to wound high Toughness MCs.
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 19:27   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

Quote:
And I would rather compare the Sniper Rifle with a Plasma Gun as the Sniper Rifle's purpose is, more or less, to wound high Toughness MCs.
They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
The Plasmagun is three times the cost of a sniper rifle and has a chance of killing itself, rendering the 20 points you spent for it, useless.
The Sniper Rifle has little AP and is a Heavy Weapon 1 weapon.

Personally, I think it just depends on the enemy your facing. Sniper Rifles perform very well against Eldar (where they can Pin the enemy and target Wraiths) Daemons (who, in general, only have medicore invulnerable saves) and other Imperial Guard.
Against Marine Equivalents, (which is the majority of armies played) the Plasmagun certainly shines.

I will say this though, I always field a Veteran squad with 3 Sniper Rifles, Heavy Bolter, and Forward Sentries.
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 19:42   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

I still think the BS of the Guardsmen is a handicap when using Sniper Rifles. But if it was on Veterans, they would be slightly better although I still have my reservations about Sniper Rifles.
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Old 30 Jul 2009, 20:01   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masked Thespian
One of the things that stood out to me as an option was combining a Sniper Rifle with a Heavy Bolter in a squad, considering that they both have the same range and will usually fire at similar targets. Also, the ability to use Combined Squads to give you a unit with 5 Sniper Rifles in it cannot be overlooked.

Any thoughts on this?
Well, I could get a veteran squad for much cheaper, with three BS4 sniper rifles, that is more effective at hiding in cover. What happens if you're outside 24" with that huge combined squad? - that's a lot of wasted lasgun shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masked Thespian
And yet you recommend the Grenade Launcher, another single-shot weapon?
Firing a frag grenade effectively means the grenade launcher never "misses". You never role to hit, so you should be getting one hit a turn.

I think you need to work on matching AP when using heavy and special weapons.
You are wasting shots if you can't guarantee deaths after succeeding in rolling to hit. Sounds strange, but if I'm firing a lascannon at MEQ's, I don't want to be wasting the points I paid for special weapons because the AP isn't the same as the heavy weapons.

Also, try not to mix range in weapons weapons. What the hell is the point of having a meltagun in with a missile launcher or lascannon? The lascannon will fire all game, the meltagun what, twice? You'd be wasting points on the meltagun, and they're not cheap.


Aftercresent's combinations:

Grenade Launcher and Heavy Bolter
Plasmagun and Lascannon (especially in veteran squads - better BS and more plasmaguns)
Flamer and no heavy weapon




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Old 30 Jul 2009, 20:03   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Backbone of the Guard; the Infantry Squad

Meltagun + Missile Launcher/Lascannon; because both Eldar and Space Marine players are so arrogant (in my LGS anyway) with their Wave Serpents, Falcons and Land Raiders that they got the balls to drive up to my Gunline. The Meltagun is to punish them for their arrogance.
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