Astra Militarum Post Chapter Approved 2018

Top 10 in the ITC & multiple Major winner Brandon Grant, Astra Militarum wunderkind and current #2 ITC ranked AM player, brings us his take on how Chapter Approved will impact the venerable Guard!

Now that Chapter approved 2018 is out, the competitive meta will be shaken up! Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers for the Imperial Guard. For more great articles, check the Tactics Corner!

To keep things simple I’ll be rating units before and after chapter approved 2018 between 1 and 5 stars. The rating will refer to how often I expect that unit to appear on the table for imperium armies in ITC events. The ratings are:

  • 5 Stars: Meta defining unit. Expect to see nearly every faction primary army to have these, and to see them taken in allied detachments for other armies.
  • 4 Stars: Excellent unit. This unit is the best overall in its battlefield role (HQ, troops, etc.), and best at what it does overall. Will sometimes be taken in an allied detachment or mixed army.
  • 3 Stars: Good unit. Useful in some situations and not in others. May only be viable with certain sub-factions, or might only be viable when filling specific battlefield roles in a detachment. Will see play in competitive events but won’t be spammed very often.
  • 2 Stars: Sub-par choice. Will rarely be seen outside of themed lists in competitive play, better options are available in the same battlefield role and/or at performing the same task.
  • 1 Stars: Poor choice. Will almost never see competitive play, other choices perform the same role with no significant drawbacks compared to this choice.

There are a lot of small adjustments, so I will try to remain focused on the most relevant changes. That said, let’s get started!

Armored Sentinels / Scout Sentinels

Before: 1 star

Sentinels have struggled in competitive 40K for all of 8th edition. They have been reasonably tough for their points, reasonably fast, but with pathetic damage for their cost. They also tend to be easily surrounded by infantry, often rendering their scout move as more of a liability than an asset. Now a plasma cannon armed armored sentinel is only 40 points, when before it was 55 points, while a multi laser armed scout sentinel is only 35 points when it used to be 45. Even with the changes, sentinels will still struggle to deal damage efficiently compared to other guard units and be out-paced by other fast attack choices such as hellhounds and rough riders. They will still be a severe liability against melee armies as well, though their toughness will be above average. After this change I see them being taken largely to fill fast attack slots cheaply in a brigade.

After: 3 stars

Chimeras

Before: 1 star

Loaded with heavy weapons on a platform which generally needs to move has severely limited the damage output of Chimeras except for double heavy flamer builds, which have been worse than simply taking hellhounds instead. With the new changes a double heavy flamer Chimera is 88 points before upgrades, while previously it would have cost 109 points, a 19% decrease. The Chimera is now very tough for its cost. With this change, I see the Chimera as being a good choice for protecting special weapons, veterans, characters, or ogryns while still being a scary unit in its own right, unlike the taurox which is cheaper but may only take 2 autocannons. I expect to see some guard armies take at least one Chimera again and a few armies to be built around 3 of them.

After: 3.5 stars

Hydras

Before: 1 star

The hydra has struggled with not doing the job it’s supposed to do very well. Many armies with fly are able to strike the hydra before it has a chance to shoot due to line of sight blocking terrain. Against armies without the fly keyword its damage is terrible compared to other fire support options, making it unreasonable to take multiple Hydras in a diverse meta. With a 10 point drop in cost, it is about 10% cheaper than before. It will suffer from exactly the same drawbacks as before, but if the meta moves in a direction where fly is extremely common (but not wave serpents, as wave serpents don’t care about hydras) it may see more play.

After: 1.5 stars

Manticores

Before: 2 stars

The manticore got a points increase in the last chapter approved, and this chapter approved has reset the manticore to its original cost. The manticore was fine at this cost before. It offers slightly higher damage output than a basilisk but slightly worse defense per point than a basilisk. After the change I think more people will take manticores, but not in every list.

After: 3 stars

Leman Russ / Tank Commanders

Before: 1 star / 1 stars

A Leman Russ has a long list of disadvantages when compared to similar units: no invulnerable or feel no pain save, extremely slow, sponson weapons that are worse if you move, no indirect fire, relatively short ranged weapon options, and vulnerability to melee units (unlike super heavies). Chapter approved has reduced the cost of many turret and sponson weapons, with the venerable demolisher cannon having its points cost cut in half! The tank commanders’ base cost has been reduced by 25 points. I see some room for a tank commander on the table again. Indirect fire, fast units, and melee units will still be necessary to deal with line of sight blocking terrain and a Leman Russ will never be good (due to speed) at dealing with line of sight blocking terrain. Thus, while a Leman Russ is now reasonably more efficient for firepower, it’s still slow and relatively easy to destroy or tie up for its cost compared to other options, even with the new campaign formations from Vigilus.

After: 1.5 stars/ 2 stars

Valkyries

Before: 1 star

A bare-bones Valkyrie now costs 117 points, down from 140. At 117 points it is tough and fast for its cost but with pathetic damage output. It would best be used for transporting a hard hitting unit while also tying up enemies in melee, just like a wave serpent. For its price I still consider the Alaitoc wave serpent to be the 5 star transport of choice, and compared to the wave serpent the Valkyrie has better speed, worse toughness, and similar shooting, so overall slightly worse than the wave serpent. In the right build it could work well (such as a flyer themed army), but I don’t predict that ground pounding guard armies will take any most of the time.

After: 2.5 stars

Veterans / Command Squads

Before: 1 star

While veterans shoot better and have better weapon upgrade options than infantry squads, they are still guardsmen in toughness and speed. Typically a 2000 point army could be expected to be able to clear between 10 and 40 guardsmen per turn, so when those guardsmen have expensive weapon upgrades and cost 50% more before upgrades that loss hurts much more. Tempestus Scions can simply appear where they are needed, while veterans are best when protected, such as inside of a transport. As both the Chimera and the Valkyrie are significantly cheaper than before, veterans have gotten a boost in viability. Weapon options are also slightly cheaper for bs 3+ models, and veterans have dropped 1 point per model each. The sum of these changes sees veterans and their transport costing about 15-20% less overall. I expect veterans to remain a second line or outflanking unit not commonly found in competitive games, but sometimes found in lists that have several of them in transport heavy lists, especially with the right regiment bonuses.

After: 2.5 stars

Ogryns

Before: 1 star

Ogryns are slow, close ranged, and were not particularly tough for their cost, having only a 5+ armor save and 3 wounds. With the points reduction they are now 20% cheaper than before. Even after the cost reduction guardsmen will tend to be tougher per point. Their biggest drawback is that they perform the same role as infantry squads but are in the elite slot, so you’re usually better off just taking more infantry to gain more command points. Generally Bullgryns are still better for pushing the middle of the board and defending your own firebase units from enemy melee as they can absorb some punishment before being slain.

After: 2 stars

Tempestus Scions

Before: 1.5 stars

Scions were possibly too good at the start of 8th, but chapter approved 2017 slapped them with some high points cost increases. Now hot shot guns are free and both plasma and melta guns have seen their costs reduced slightly. They should cost about 10% less than they did before. A small number of scions could be useful for harassing an enemy backfield or making a push up the middle of the board, once enemy screens have been removed. As they don’t require a transport they are easy to drop into existing armies as a support unit, not just as part of a themed army. I predict that more players will take them, but that they will almost never be taken in large numbers.

After: 2.5 stars

Artemia / Hellhounds

Before: 4.5 stars / 3.5 stars

Artemia hellhounds are now the same cost as their non-forgeworld brethren. In addition, chem cannons (for the bane wolf variant) have now been reduced from 15 to 7 points. This allows for a bane wolf to be as cheap as 88 points, making it more resilient per point than the traditional hellhound and similar in cost to the Artemia pre-chapter approved 2018. The damage output of the chem cannon is extremely weak however, with only 8” of range and d6 hits. Overall I would rate the inferno cannon equipped hellhound as a balanced choice, most likely the best choice in fast attack for an Imperial Guard army as it provides much needed auto-hitting attacks against armies with a lot of penalties to hit. It should remain a common choice in brigades that can afford to take them over sentinels.

After: 3.5 stars / 3.5 stars

Shadowsword

Before: 2 stars

After the release of Codex: Imperial Knights, the Shadowsword stopped doing what it was supposed to do: knocking over models with the Titanic keyword. Most Shadowswords that remain are in triple superheavy lists where sheer volume of fire can be used to take down a Titanic model, particularly with the use of support vehicles to increase ballistic skill.

The Shadowsword is now 20 points more expensive than it was before. I don’t see this change altering the competitive meta, as the Shadowsword was already nearly absent. Other superheavies have changed cost slightly as well, particularly those that had demolisher cannons, but I don’t expect these changes to alter the meta significantly.

After: 2 stars

Overall Impressions:

Chapter Approved 2017 had a lot of points increases for the Imperial Guard that brought them closer to other armies with a few units that were just too points efficient. The latest Chapter Approved has focused more on bringing sub-par units to being in line with the other entries in the codex and allowing more competitive choices and builds to be available. With the new changes Guard players could build flyer or transport based list that would be far more competitive than before.

To get your creativity going, here is a sample list with some newly points cost reduced units based around transported veterans and the new Vigilus campaign book formations.

Cadian Spearhead (Emperor’s Wrath Artillery Company) (+0 CP)

  • Company Commander (warlord, relic: Orbital Tracker) 30
  • 2 Manticores 266
  • 1 Wyvern 103
  • 2 Basilisks 216

Valhallan Brigade (Emperor’s Blade Assault Company) (+11 CP)

  • Company Commander, Boltpistol 31 (Relic: Petrov’s MK 45)
  • Company Commander 30
  • Company Commander 30
  • 30 Conscripts 120
  • 2 Infantry Squads 80
  • 3 Infantry Squads, flamer each 138
  • 2 Veteran squads: 3 plasma guns, 1 heavy flamer, boltgun each 196
  • Special Weapons squad: 3 flamers 42
  • 2 Astropaths 52
  • 3 Chimeras: 2 heavy flamers each 264
  • 3 Hellhounds 303
  • 3 Heavy weapons squads: mortars 99

2000 points, 14 starting CP.

This list wouldn’t have been viable before chapter approved in a competitive game. Rather than focusing on melee directly, it relies on indirect fire to deal with units hiding out of line of sight and on the Fire on my Command! order unique to Valhallans which allows them to shoot enemies who are within 1” of friendly models. When combined with veteran squads’ solid close ranged firepower, enemies who are tying up your infantry or tanks can still be targeted in the shooting phase. I think it would be a fun yet competitive list for anyone who wants to play an infantry and vehicle heavy army style with lots of special weapons.

There’s a lot more to the codex than has been covered here. Don’t be afraid to try out new concepts! Army styles that you’d prefer to play may now be viable when before they were not.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

secondhandhsop

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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

22 Responses to “Astra Militarum Post Chapter Approved 2018”

  1. Charlie A. December 20, 2018 7:55 am #

    Man oh man, I would have ranked some of these a bit higher…maybe I should just get better at the game 😛

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 20, 2018 8:14 am #

      Yeah, same! But, I always like getting Brandon’s take on things as he’s such a good player.

    • happy_inquisitor December 20, 2018 8:34 am #

      Yes that seems like such a downbeat set of rankings for a faction that is pretty strong with very decent tournament averages. I feel pretty sure something in that codex must be better than “situationally useful”.

      I have only come up against that Fire on my command order once but I can confirm it was pretty strong at clearing out things I used to try to tie up the big guns in combat.

      • Reecius
        Reecius December 20, 2018 8:38 am #

        Well, remember too that Brandon is an engineer by trade and so comes at things from a very math driven perspective.

      • rvd1ofakind December 20, 2018 8:41 am #

        Well that’s the difference between a top player and just your average competitive player. Nick for example hates obliterators and bloodletters while most players consider them great, even one of the best units in the faction.

      • Icoop December 20, 2018 8:47 am #

        Remember he only commented on things that were adjusted in CA, and most of CA was bringing down points on things that were already situational. I doubt he’d rank Heavy Weapons Mortar Squads as situational. 😛

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 20, 2018 9:17 am #

          Good point.

          Although, I have to disagree on Scout Sentinels, they are excellent tactically. I always got great results with them even if they didn’t even shoot anything.

          • abusepuppy December 21, 2018 8:58 am
            #

            Yeah, that one surprised me with how low he ranked it- although, to be fair, for most people the ONLY reason they are taken is to fill a brigade; if they were in the HS slot, for example, they would be completely ignored.

  2. Brandon December 20, 2018 9:24 am #

    Icoop has the idea. CA overall brought a lot of lesser-used units into the “situationally useful” range. Guard still has plenty of 4 and 5 star units. For example: based on my definition the humble infantry squad is a 5 star unit, as is the company commander. Remember though that troop units are generally going to be in the 4 or 5 star rating range more often due to being able to take a lot of them, generating lots of cp, and generally having some kind of “objective secured” rule. This is why veterans and ogryns weren’t rated higher for example, as they are elites and not troops.

    • Yarium December 20, 2018 9:33 am #

      I think I would revise that as “Remember though, that the cheapest troop unit available to the soup-groups will always be a 4 or 5 start rating, since you can spend the least amount of points to cover space on the table, while generating valuable CP.”

      I firmly believe that the less expensive the models, the more expensive the full unit should be. If you had to pay 100 points for an Infantry Squad of 10 models (so, 10 points per model, for math simplicity), then a Tactical squad should cost 90 points, but you only get 5 of them (in this example, 18 points per model). The Infantry models are weaker and cost less, but you’re paying less points overall for the Tacticals.

  3. Aurelio December 20, 2018 3:51 pm #

    I agree with you Reece. When I was running guard brigades I always preferred scout sentinels as my FA slots. Spending a little on heavy flamers always seemed to work out and if they were targeted that meant less important things were dying and if they weren’t they became a nuisance. After CA I think a mix of 1 Armored and 2 scout all with missile launchers has a place. Cheaper than the old heavy flamer config and provides area denial or slight tankyness that might get buffed by prepared positions. Flexibility in d6 shots or d6 damage is also nice. The plasma cannon is a trap due to them not having plasma vents, so a single hit roll of 1 that is overcharging kills your own model and if you move it’s a 1 or 2 and then any other mods.

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 20, 2018 4:56 pm #

      Yeah, Scout Sentinels have always been great for me. Particularly if you go first, you can run up and tag a key enemy unit and stop them form moving.shooting/charging/etc. Can be game changing.

      When I go second, they scout into a defensive position and then play for objectives. Never been upset I brought them.

      • imafrog December 26, 2018 9:56 am #

        Seems like Brandon’s major concern was them getting wrapped too easily in CC therefore preventing him from shooting at some key enemy unit. I doubt he’d have such a negative attitude toward the unit if he hadn’t experienced this personally in trial runs.

  4. robert niederkorn December 21, 2018 9:08 pm #

    I really cant believe front line gaming has this kind of down imperial guard army. Really you got have such high option about game could or should be played but felt really dum reading this article. So how front line gaming really feel man they really should get out more.

    • Steven Pampreen December 22, 2018 9:28 pm #

      this article made you feel dum? Really?

      Great Article Brandon, hope we get to play at LVO (hopefully not until later rounds though!)

    • abusepuppy December 22, 2018 10:40 pm #

      Given your grammar, punctuation, and inability to differentiate words from each other, I’m gonna hazard a guess that it wasn’t the article that is making you “dum.”

      • Zweischneid December 23, 2018 6:57 am #

        Admittedly, I wouldn’t have expected Brandon Grant of all people to take 4 Company Commanders in a “competitive” (presumably to be played in tournaments?) list 🙂

        (still an interesting list and article though)

        • abusepuppy December 23, 2018 8:06 am #

          Yeah, I don’t necessarily agree with everything Brandon says, but he’s a smart guy and great player and just dismissing the whole article without… any real reason seems bad to me.

          The Company Commander is a surprisingly good buy, though. As a 30pt force multiplier, if you can actually make use of both his Orders then he is very much worth the almost-trivial number of points you spend on him.

          • Zweischneid December 23, 2018 8:29 am
            #

            Sure, company commander is great.

            Most tournaments, in Europe at least, tend to use the rule-of-three though, precisely to limit the “very, very good stuff”.

            Not knowing him personally, Brandon Grant has been “advertised” as the very detail-oriented, meticulous guy.

            As I said, great article.

  5. Paul B. December 23, 2018 6:13 am #

    Chimarae have the “Dedicated Transport” battlefield role and are not bound by the Rule of 3.

    The article makes it sound like they *are*, with phrasing such as
    “a few armies to be built around 3 of them.”
    And only putting 3 in the Brigade example.

    I run 5 in my newfound Emperor’s Blade, which really helps up the number of T7 wounds the enemy has to chew through before getting Catachan (in my case) heavy flamers to the face.

    Additionally, though it doesn’t matter for Valhallans as much, adding Track Guards to the twin heavy flamer Chimera means you get immunity to degrades, except in number of attacks.

    • Zweischneid December 23, 2018 12:44 pm #

      Don’t think so. Merely that 2-3 might be a good number to use. I doubt spamming 9 Chimeras is going to make much of a list.

      It also seems this list wasn’t made for tournaments using the rule of 3, as it does have 4 Company Commanders.

  6. NinetyNineNo December 23, 2018 8:15 pm #

    …I gotta ask, if LRBTs are 1 star then what would you put stuff like Hammerheads and Predators and Fire Prisms at?

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