Faction Focus: Astra Militarum

Here’s my article from the Warhammer-community page about Astra Militarum and how they play in 9th ed 40k!

The Astra Militarum are on parade today, as it’s time for their Faction Focus to tell us how they will fight in the new edition of Warhammer 40,000. What’s more, we’re joined by playtester Reece Robbins, who’ll be giving us a rundown of what the Imperial Guard armies of the future may look like. Let’s take a look…

Who Are They?

The Astra Militarum are the unsung heroes of the Imperium, without whose inexhaustible armies the God-Emperor’s realm would have succumbed to the endless cycle of war and death millennia ago. Almost every world in the Imperium is tasked with raising an Imperial Guard regiment, not only to protect their home world but to travel to war zones across the breadth of the galaxy fighting all manner of alien horrors and dread heretics.

Against such terrible foes, courage and faith is their only shield, yet they march dauntlessly from one battle to the next without complaint – lest they receive a bullet from their Regimental Commissar! Yet the Astra Militarum have one distinct advantage over every foe they face – numbers. Be it rank after rank of disciplined soldiery or mighty armoured columns of battle tanks and heavy artillery, there is little that the Imperial Guard cannot grind down through the relentless application of attritional warfare.

The Morale Phase

While we’re on the topic of Commissars, we thought we’d take a closer look at the new rules for the Morale phase before we go any further. Morale affects every warring faction, from the most stalwart Space Marine to the most cowardly grot. In the new edition, the Morale phase has undergone a subtle change with a big impact…

Combat Attrition

The process of a Morale test works the same way as before…

The difference is what happens when you fail your Morale test – you make a separate Combat Attrition roll for each model in the unit, meaning that any number of them (or if you’re lucky, none of them!), may also flee. What’s more, the morale of a heavily depleted squad will already be wavering due to the losses they’ve suffered, so units that are below half-strength suffer a penalty to their Combat Attrition rolls.

With this change to Morale tests, any abilities that help mitigate further losses from Combat Attrition can be incredibly valuable. For example, a Commissar’s Summary Execution rule means that a nearby Astra Militarum unit that fails a Morale test has a much better chance of avoiding this eventuality.

How They Play in the New Edition

The Regiments of the Astra Militarum are as varied as the million worlds in the Imperium, so for this bit, we needed an expert – someone with the strategic genius of Ursarkar E. Creed and the oratory skills of Jarran Kell. We needed Reece Robbins! Thankfully, Frontline Gaming guru and official playtester Reece was more than willing to help out, so over to the man himself…

Reece: The Astra Militarum are set to crush the new edition of Warhammer 40,000. The changes to Vehicles via the Big Guns Never Tire rule make our iconic battle tanks more dependable than ever and able to peel those pesky infantry units off (via the medium of point-blank firepower) to let the cannons sing! Remember to use the amazing Hail of Fire Stratagem from Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good to maximize the firepower of your Leman Russ.

Likewise, one of my favourite units to use for grabbing objectives – Scout Sentinels with heavy flamers – can (literally) fire away even if it Advances or is engaged in melee. Their pre-game movement and Stratagems like Go! Recon! make them fantastic for scooping up victory points in missions in which points are scored at the end of each player’s turn.

If you prefer Armored Sentinels, remember that you can use the Deft Manoeuvering Stratagem from the Greater Good to halve the Damage the unit takes to ensure they hold on to those key objectives.

Hopefully, some of these ideas will inspire you to roll out your Guard and join the good fight against the enemies of the Imperium!

Key Units

Reece isn’t done yet – he’s also got some thoughts on three units that he suspects will really come into their own in the new edition, as well as some combinations you can use to make them even more effective!


Reece: The Hellhound (one of my all-time favourite tanks) is now a lot easier to use effectively, as the ability to fire into combat is very useful for them – particularly against large units of Infantry. With the Splash Damage Stratagem, they can easily overcome units in cover taking advantage of the new Terrain Traits too!


Reece: The mighty Bullgryns, easily one of my top units in the game, are still just as meaty as they were and able to plaster enemy units with their mauls while also taking a beating. Making use of the Take Cover Stratagem (for +1 to their saving throws) and, if you have an Astra Militarum Psyker in your army, the Psychic Barrier power can make them absolute beefcakes.


Reece: The Wyvern will be even more of a menace to hordes of light infantry. With the new rule for Blast weapons, you can get a whopping 24 shots! With the Direct Onslaught Stratagem for a +1 bonus to its hit rolls, a Wyvern can cause absolute devastation in short order. 

Thanks, Reece! Are you looking to grind your foes into the dirt beneath the treads of your mighty battle tanks, or overwhelm them with unstoppable volleys of lasgun and heavy weapons fire? Maybe both! In any case, let us know how you plan to use your Astra Militarum in the new edition on the Warhammer 40,000 Facebook pageInstagram and on Twitter using #New40K.

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



About Reecius

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

21 Responses to “Faction Focus: Astra Militarum”

  1. Paul Winters June 24, 2020 11:59 am #

    Does the new morale phase seem like the new “overwatch”? Where you are going to roll some dice and nothing is going to happen.

    Penalties to leadership look less impactful than in 8th? Unless there is more to the phase that hasn’t been revealed yet.

    • Reecius June 24, 2020 3:56 pm #

      IME morale comes into play more frequently but it’s not as devastating.

      • Brakhal June 24, 2020 4:24 pm #

        I don’t understand why it should be more frequent. If the morale roll is the same, and only the results vary, it should come into play as often as before. Is there some modifiers we haven’t seen yet, or how?

        • Paul Winters June 24, 2020 5:12 pm #

          So think about 10 Guardsman with LD7.

          1 Guardsman dies.

          They are next to some Nightlords doing Nightlords things and are suffering a -3 LD penalty.

          The Guardsman LD is now LD4 after penalties. On a 4+ they will fail the moral test.

          Say a 6+ is rolled for fun.

          Under 8th rules, 3 models are removed as casualties.

          Under 9th rules, 1 model is removed and the remaining 8 models roll a d6 each. So like another 1.33 models are removed, for a total of 2.

          It doesn’t really change anything for MSU of 5 because most of those are LD8 which mostly makes them immune to morale.

          However, for larger units, like 10,20,30,40, in size it blunts the linear scaling of the 8th edition morale phase, where large amounts of the unit are removed by morale checks.

          A more extreme case takes 30 cultists with LD 6.

          15 cultists are killed.

          Under 8th rules, between 10-16 additional cultists will die in the morale phase.

          Under 9th rule, 1 cultist will die and 14 more will each roll a d6. Which kills another 2.33 cultist. For 3 total dead cultists.

          In 9th if you can fail that morale test by 2+, you are introducing the CHANCE of killing a lot of models. Where previously in 8th you had to focus enough to get over that LD threshold where a lot of models would be killed.

          Larger units will probably be hanging around longer on the table which means they will be experiencing more than 1 morale check, they often get now.

          • marandamir June 24, 2020 9:18 pm

            I wouldn’t think it would be more frequent, just requires more pointless rolls for a nerfed result on avg. Dont forget though it’s still a stupid random chance. Those 4 casualties could lose you 10+ more on a bad die roll.

          • abusepuppy June 25, 2020 2:33 am

            The difference would be that it is less punishing to larger units, such as Conscripts or Ork Boyz or daemonic troops. If you lose 15 models from 30 Pink Horrors, currently you’re going to lose d6+8 more of them when the morale phase rolls around. Under the new system, you’ll lose one of them to morale, and then ~3 more from the Attrition check. You can, of course, get unlucky, but the chances of an entire unit running off the table when you’re not down to 1-2 models are actually quite low.

          • Rob Butcher June 25, 2020 2:57 am

            According to GW play-testing, this flattens the curve between good/bad morale reactions (watch the 40K Daily Show, as it illuminates this brief section of the article).

            And please explain to my dice how to roll 0.33 – theya re looking confused.

          • Paul Winters June 25, 2020 9:02 am

            I was just taking the fraction of the 14 models divided by 6. Which is 2/6 = 0.33~.

            So if I need to roll 14 dice and 1’s remove the model. 14 * (1/6) = 2.33.

      • marandamir June 24, 2020 9:08 pm #

        It appears the rules are, once again, ineffective. The factions already have enough rules to make morale moot. Tyranid synapse, ork unit size + boss, impy guard commisars, necrons with max LD, EVERY space marine as they are unaware of fear… The times where it did come into play were nice and themed armies like night lords could stack leadership penalties to turn morale into a weapon. Now you lose 1 model and requires more rolls to kill off others adn it’s only 1 in 6? That is garbage. You need like 4-6 models dead to statistically fail a morale check on leadership 8 and everyone plays minimum size units so it’s not needed. They are either wiped or pass the test. Now it will just require more pointless rolls and negate all the time savings they got from overwatch and make all morale modifying content basically useless.

  2. Tomguycot June 24, 2020 1:12 pm #

    This sounds really convoluted. Agree with the overwatch comparison.

  3. Yeeman June 24, 2020 2:53 pm #

    For Morale, are you rolling on a per model basis or just total dice=total models left in unit?
    Ex: Do I roll for my sergeant separately and my guy with a Melta? Or if I have 5 guys, do I roll 5 dice and choose who dies?

    I think the new Morale phase helps hordes out significantly. I’m liking what I’m seeing!

    • abusepuppy June 25, 2020 2:35 am #

      Based on other, similar effects I would guess that you just roll for the unit.

  4. Carlos June 24, 2020 3:07 pm #

    Should have gone back to rolling 2D6 and comparing to leadership rather than D6 + models lost. This new change still won’t have a huge impact on the game seeing as most higher leadership units will need to lose 3 models to even take a test just like it is now.

    So if your unit takes casualties roll 2D6 and compare it to the highest leadership value in your unit. A double 1 always passes. If your roll exceeds the leadership value a model flees and then go to Combat Attrition.

    This method affects MSU’s the same as larger units and makes morale relevant again. The D6 + models lost adopted from Age of Sigmar doesn’t work well in 40k imo.

  5. Drythelm June 24, 2020 3:10 pm #

    The new morale phase is interesting. It already rarely comes up, but it made me think of an experience I’ve had fighting hordes of Orks. My friend has Da Jumped 30 boyz into my lines before, and I’ve been able to fall back and mass fire the unit so they lost enough boyz that they would auto fail morale and lose the rest of the squad since they were out of range of mob rule. Now they would only lose 1 model, and lose the rest on each 5+.

    This seems like a small buff to hordes, since you aren’t guaranteed to wipe a squad from morale, but this probably effects elite armies even more. It’s unlikely they’ll lose the 3 remaining members of a 10 man squad anymore.

    They’ve claimed to make the morale phase matter more, but I think with what we know, it might matter even less. I have a feeling we’ll have more to see.

  6. Spera June 24, 2020 4:19 pm #

    Hey, Reece, I think that you had Night Lords army. Is this morale phase change helping them much or is it small, but not supper game changing buff for them? Did you had opportunity to play test Night lords for 9th?

    • ChosenOfKhorne June 24, 2020 6:53 pm #

      Seems like another lackluster change to morale phase, the most worthless phase of the game. Continues to make any army with a morale based trait several notches below the rest. All the fearless mechanics, auto pass stratagems, mob based Ld buffs makes night lords and others of their kind like playing with a handicap compared to others of their faction.

  7. Mathieu June 25, 2020 1:46 am #

    So…regarding some sneaky bits in the article :

    – Heavy Flamers (Or Heavy Weapons in general?) can Advance and shoot if they’re mounted on a chassis in 9th ?
    – Vehicles can still hold “objectives” like they used to ?

    • Rob Butcher June 25, 2020 2:55 am #

      Generally (unless the datasheet specifies something different) ASSAULT weapons are the only ones that can Advance and Fire.

      Vehicles can hold objectives IF the missions pack says that’s how you score. Generally, GW missions favour different unit types in different missions – whether that’s troop, character etc.

    • Carol W. June 25, 2020 8:43 am #

      100% Speculating here, but it’s possible that “advance and fire heavy weapons” is the replacement Tallarn vehicle trait, since their current ability to move & fire heavy weapons without penalty will be redundant in the new addition.

  8. Butch Robber June 25, 2020 1:55 am #

    Poor Rob, now the GW article IS the FLG article

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