Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Guest Article: Irish Gaming and the Guard Psychosis

Firstly I'd like to thank Paul for writing this for me, he didn't have to, but the fact he did shows why he’s one of the loveliest gentlemen around in Ireland. I proudly present his article on Guard in the Irish tourney scene:

Or put another way….why do we not see guard in the current Irish meta game.

Hey Guys, Mandragoran here with a guest post for my good pal Duce on why I reckon the good gamers of Ireland have taken a pass on using the IG in the frequent tournaments on the Emerald Isle. This is based on my own opinions and chats that I’ve had with people over the last year, some of it may come off as being somewhat obvious and some of it a little strange but hopefully you guys can at least take something away this nonsense

I’m going to avoid real world concerns like guard being a pain in the bum to transport or the fact that you might have to turn over a Swiss bank to be able to afford a Guard army; this is a gaming blog so let’s stick to that. I will be limiting my discussion here to mechanised Imperial Guard as they are what I have most experience with, plus they seem even less popular than this Blog’s Beloved Blob (alliteration FTW). So here goes!

Plug and Play…Not so much

There seems to be the misguided notion in the Irish Gaming scene that Imperial Guard is something of a plug and play type of army. You pick a standard list from the Internet (Mech IG being most popular) paint it up and head to a tournament and proceed to roll over all before you…it being a foregone conclusion that you’re going to do well. This my dear friends isn’t even close to the truth.

The Imperial Guard Mech company has some particularly horrible match ups floating around out there. Kan Wall Orks, Tyranids and Daemons would all be happily rubbing their hands together at the prospect of Guard, Space Wolves as championed by Tony “The Future” Kopach internationally and Mervyn Murphy and Philip Johnston locally would be quite happy to clean house with some Guard (wolf scouts for the win). Armour 13 wall Blood Angels (Caolan Gibbons and David Coleman being conspicuous exponents of said) don’t mind the Guard too much….and that’s excluding the current big bad on the Irish gaming scene, The Grey Knights! Who are as solid at dropping armour 12 boxes as anybody else I’ve mentioned! These are all common in the Irish Meta at the minute. Rolling everyone doesn’t seem quite so easy now does it!

Shootings Great and all but...

So what IG does in their mech variety is shoot….a lot! The Imperial Guard plan is to in early turns cripple you’re speed so you can’t get to them, then to quietly pick apart your firepower over the next two turns before moving to midfield in turns 4 and 5 to grab objectives and win the game. Sounds easy right (or plug and play…see what I did there?!!!). It my dear friends is not so. This works in exactly one type of mission, “seize ground” which will mean you are max efficiency in one game type. The rest you’re going to have to work for in a major way. In case you haven’t noticed you have a crap tonne of kill points floating around and how often have you successfully shot units off a Capture and Control objective if the enemy is dedicated to holding it? In my own personal experience you need a strong assault element to really stake a claim on somebody’s home base objective, which mech IG simply don’t have access to at all (Ogryns and Rough Riders don’t count) What they do is shoot and while they do it well it’s no longer so overwhelming as it once was, there are now armies that exist that can not only take it but dish it back in spades.

Lets also not discount another factor, this style of play can be extremely dull for all concerned. I’ve played shooting heavy armies (Dark Eldar venom heavy) but the boredom inducing element of shooting my opponent through the floor was mitigated by the entertainment factor or my entire army’s armour being constructed from tin foil, cling film and false promises. So when they took fire in return they dropped like flies. This made for an interesting game for everyone concerned as no matter what you had you had a chance of dropping one of my units. The arm 12 box brigade is upsetting in their tried and tested resilience, a little white bread for a lot of folk.

Speed is the key…

A lot of top tournament players will tell you that the most important attribute to your list is speed. Rightly or wrongly the ability to get around the board at speed should be underestimated at a player’s peril. The Imperial Guard are blessed with a lot of transports for sure, in the form of the humble Chimera and the Vendetta/Valkyrie. So on paper you’re in good shape right?

We have two big problems, firstly you can’t hide a vendetta…it’s almost impossible because of its sheer size and base height coupled with the nature of three twin linked lascannons and you’re probably going to end up putting it in harm’s way more often than not to get all important shots off, so one shouldn’t try and rely on it exclusively to provide the late game speed (colourfully referred to as “the gypsy contest”. So we then have the Chimera as our “go to” bus! The issue here is this, if you move them on mass you give up a lot of firepower, also you can put them in harm’s way from assault heavy hitters (terminators for example) who will wreck them up and defeat the purpose of having moved them in the first place. Fine so we move them singularly or we try the old leap frogging Chimera trick. We then end up exposing our considerably less burly armour 10 side armour to the perils of the 41st millennium. This will lead to blown up chimeras and general sad panda moments. So while doable don’t expect it to be infallible, transport capacity doesn’t automatically equate enough with real in game speed to get it done.

Right I reckon three gaming reasons are enough at least for now, I might like to save some for later after all. From this you may think that I’m not a huge fan of guard, incorrect! I think they are an excellent army with great shooting and great armour all over the shop. What they are not is auto win. Winning with Imperial Guard actually takes a rather huge dollop of finesse as well as top of the line shot selection! Move too early you’re dead, move too late and you won’t get there. It’s a knife edge game of weighing up the consequences of your actions. If you get it right there won’t be much to beat you, get it wrong and spend a life bemoaning the limitations of the humble guardsman. So if you have a guard army in the cupboard, man up and bring it out to play. It’s not game breaking but could be game winning if you’ve got the stones to learn how to use it.

Signing off

Paul hard at work dictating the article to my Secretary.

Once again a big thanks to Paul for this article, I wanted to see how one of the top Irish players viewed IG in this current age and why he felt they were not appearing at tourneys, he didn't disappoint with this reply.


  1. Yeah, the man has a point.

    Objectives, my trick is to get about 20-22 inches from the objective and sit and shoot before rushing forwards the last turn - 12(move)+2(disembark)+2(width of HW base)+4 (average run)+3 (contest range)= 23", a lot of people don't actually expect it.

    But KP games make me sad panda. Except when I play ther guard of course.

  2. Maybe I should purchase my ideal IG list, start showing you chumps how to REALLY play Guard... :p

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