Countering the Meta: Imperium soup

John Lennon, one of the Art of War coaches and a fervent servant of the Emperor, is here to talk about a new army concept in today’s article!

Hello, Warhammer 40k fans! I’m back with another article in my Countering the Meta series, where we break down an army that is a little unconventional, but is still positioned well to succeed in 9th edition! After last week’s foray into Imperial Knights, we are staying loyal to the Emperor and talking about the Astra Militarum, with their faithful Sororitas allies! Sisters certainly will not feel like a surprise to anyone who has been following the meta, but I think that the Imperial Guard are severely underappreciated in 9th edition.

With all of the 9th edition armies (and sisters!) gaining benefits for being a single codex army, I feel like the classic imperium soup has been a little neglected. Luckily, sisters and guard is a classic pairing with plenty of support in the lore! Before we dive into what makes the list tick, let’s look at what is actually in the army!

Image result for ministorum priest art
Credit to Games Workshop

Astra Militarum battalion: Gunnery Experts, Disciplined Shooters

Company Commander (Warlord: Tank Ace, Kurov’s Aquila) 35
Company Commander 35

10x Guardsmen 55
10x Guardsmen 55
10x Guardsmen 55
10x Guardsmen 55
5x Scions 45
5x Scions 45

Command Squad (4x Plasma) 65
Command Squad (4x Plasma) 65
Command Squad (4x Plasma) 65
Platoon Commander 25
Special Weapons Team (3x plasma) 49
Special Weapons Team (3x plasma) 49

Manticore (Full Payload, Augur Array, Hunter Killer Missile) 155
Manticore (Full Payload, Augur Array, Hunter Killer Missile) 155

Sisters of Battle Spearhead: Bloody Rose

Canoness (Blessed Blade, Litanies of Faith, Beacon of Faith) 60
Missionary 45

9x Repentia 144
9x Repentia 144

5x Retributors (3x Multi Meltas, Simulacrum, 2x Cherubs, hand Flamer) 145
5x Retributors (3x Multi Meltas, Simulacrum, 2x Cherubs, hand Flamer) 145
5x Retributors (3x Multi Meltas, Simulacrum, 2x Cherubs, hand Flamer) 145

Rhino 80
Rhino 80

Image result for cadian plasma gun
Credit to Games Workshop

The Imperial Guard

This list is an almost perfect split, with just over 1000 points of Guard. The Astra Militarum are essential to the function of the list however, and are what I will focus on first! This list uses a custom regiment, and is built to get maximum efficiency from these traits! With Gunnery experts, you can reroll one of the dice when determining the number of shots for the Manticores, and with Disciplined shooters, you can get an extra shot on your rapid fire weapons at 18″ instead of the normal half range. One of the most notable elements of this guard detachment is the weight of plasma weapons, with several command and platoon squads packing 36 plasma shots with a low power level that is easy to outflank and hard to screen. With 18″ rapid fire, screening becomes a much more difficult prospect than normal!

Another key element is the Manticores, who are both kitted with full payload. This makes all of their weapons maximum damage, instead of needing to roll! With -1 damage starting to become more popular, and marines still a common element in tournaments, having high strength flat damage 3 indirect fire is great for punishing key enemy units that try to hide from your shooting! Even the Hunter Killer missile makes a great shot to pop off late, with flat damage 6 and one free reroll to hit from your Augur Array if you need to punch through heavy targets. With a host of short ranged threats, the Manticores are key to interacting with enemy units that try to outrange you.

Image result for manticore warhammer 40k
Credit to Games Workshop

Besides their considerable firepower, one of the strengths that guard bring are their mission playing elements. With cheap troops that can deepstrike, and fast moving infantry squads thanks to Move Move Move!, the guard detachment will be well suited to both scoring and denying primary while helping with secondaries. Guard are not without their weaknesses however, with a severe lacking of high ap melee units, and some unreliability in their shooting that comes with a lack of rerolls. To compensate for that, let’s meet the sisters!

Sisters of Battle

While sisters are powerful in a mono-codex list, I did want some long ranged elements and a certain weight of fire that they usually can’t muster, so I was free to focus on the most powerful sisters units rather than try to dilute this detachment with mission playing elements. Very simply, this detachment is made of Repentia and Retributors, and all of the support needed to make them tick. Repentia are, obviously, still one of the premiere melee units in the game and absolutely savage to deal with, a great unit for poking holes in screens and killing valuable units behind them. A ministorum priest actually helps a bit with the morale issues of guardsmen, and is ready to lend an extra attack to the girls when they need it.

Image result for repentia 40k
Credit to Games Workshop

Retributors, meanwhile, provide tons of melta shots thanks to their cherubs and miracle dice. I have found that Miracle dice are best spent on the wound rolls for Retributors, unless I have some kind of buff or reroll (like the holy trinity stratagem for +1 to wound when the hand flamer gets in range). This really helps solve some of the reliability issues of Imperial Guard shooting. While their weight of fire solves many problems, sometimes you just have a bad turn where the dice don’t agree with you. A simulacrum in each squad means you can potentially use four miracle dice in one shooting phase while melting heretics!

How it plays together

At first glance, this army is a hodge podge of random units with tons of stuff and a lot of damage output, but the list has great synergy between its many parts, and is designed to play the missions quite well! The first priority when I wrote this list was to have an absolute ton of damage output. With strong indirect fire, weight of plasma, and a ton of melta shots, this army is capable of wiping out about as many space marines as your opponent can put on the table in one go. No one wants to take a direct hit from this many guns! Just to keep the foe honest, there’s a healthy counter punch element in the Repentia as well. One of the best ways to guarantee that 24″ guns are in range is to actually force your opponent to screen, with the potential to outflank several of these threats at once, and force your opponent to screen in all directions. In a meta where many armies are focused on jank and tricks, this is absolutely capable of killing anything it sees.

Image result for cadian shock troops
Credit to Games Workshop

But, I would be remiss if I didn’t try to play the mission too! Guardsmen are excellent at contesting objectives, while this list likes to score primary by planting several of its many units on one objective while threatening to obliterate anyone who is even close to taking it away from you. Like all good lists though, it is built to score secondaries as well! Two manticores naturally want to hide, while also forming two of your While we stand we fights, and with so many small units flying around the board, you can quite easily deploy scramblers and engage on all fronts with small units in every corner of the board! If anyone tries to rush into your lines and cripple the manticores, the Repentia and Retributors are sure to give them a warm welcome.

Final Thoughts

One of my favorite 40k lines is that big guns never tire! While shooting can be fairly easy, target priority is key in a list like this, where the best thing you can do is focus down the mission playing elements of the enemy and limit their ability to interact with your own scoring units to make sure that you achieve victory. The sheer amount of guns here is enough to even dissuade the likes of death guard from trying to weather the storm, and by spreading around the table after forcing your opponent to be conservative for a few turns, you can score great secondaries while restricting their primaries and get to a comfortable high score!

Want to hear more from John? Check out the Art of War on YouTube and in the War Room!

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