This is a quick-fire review of the 25 Stratagems that the Imperial Guard / Astra Militarum gained with their new 8th Edition Codex. It might also be the first chance some players have to see them, so take a look and find out what cunning trickery, explosive bombardments and off-table firepower those wily guardsmen have ready to activate at the punch of a button.
I’m going to grade them quickly from 1 to 5 stars based on a simple scale: to be 5 stars, it has to be as good as the amazing Reroll a Dice per phase that all armies and races have access to. That one is often under-rated, and frequently squandered, but used right it is $Money$.
Mobile Command Vehicle 1 CP
Issue an order from inside a Chimera. If it was permanent change to give a Chimera the classic Command Vehicle rule, maybe it would be well worth it. But 1 CP each time? I can think of a fringe case where I must get an officer into a chimera that then blazes across the field and issues an order to a distant squad, but it’s slightly more likely most of us will go through the entire 8th edition without ever using this Stratagem.
Preliminary Bombardment 2 CP
Hit the enemy with MORTAL WOUNDS from invisible guns! Before the game even begins! AWESOME.
However, those of us who can do maths might want to pause for a moment before hitting the big red button. If the enemy has 12 units on the table for example, you’re going to cause 1 Mortal Wound to an average of 2 of them, for 2CP.
Inspired Tactics 1 CP
An extra order or tank order. Now in general, if you think you need more orders you should probably buy more officers (infantry orders appear to be priced at around 10pts + model profile).
However, there are cases where this can be worth it; the one that comes to mind first is a Stormtrooper drop of 3 squads, where the more expensive Tempestus Commander has already discarded ranged weapons to be able to do 2 orders, and you really want a 3rd order way behind enemy lines.
After Kadeton’s comment on tank commanders, I think it’s worth more if using TCs as the cost of obtaining each Order is much higher:
Defensive Gunners 1CP
A Vehicle overwatches on 5+. This isn’t always going to be terrific, but it gets a good rating because when it is useful it will be very useful. It may be overpriced when used on a Manticore or a Battle Cannon, but when you whirr up those Punisher Gatling Cannons or your Baneblade guns before receiving a charge, doubling the amount of expected hits can be extremely powerful. Even just the chance you might use the CP might cause some charges to pause.
Spend 1 CP to fix 1 wound on a Vehicle. 1 wound isn’t a lot, but I have been finding this more useful than it sounds because it is ideal for a vehicle that JUST dropped down by 1 level.
Consolidate Squads 1CP
Everybody wanted to be able to merge Infantry Squads into a single unit. Nobody wanted to pay for it.
This is of limited usefulness, only works on the troop infantry squads and costs 1 CP each time. The most common reasons people give for wanting to use it are to reduce Kill Points (fair enough), make orders more efficient (bring more officers), to increase ablative wounds before losing valuable guns, and to create a better screen (erm… conscripts).
Imperial Commanders Armoury 1 / 3CP
This one is fun; you can get more access to the officer’s Candy Store if you pay 1 CP for a bonus relic or 3 CP for 2. There are some great treats in there, so if you have a legitimate reason to use more than 1, this is a great stratagem.
Don’t over use it though.
Officio Prefectus Command Tank 2CP
All friendly AM units within 6″ of this tank have a Leadership of 9 (unless higher). This is a cool, thematic way to run a commissar tank, but as there are real ‘Character’ class commissars available for 31pts and since it doesn’t have the key ‘BLAM! Squad’s Happy Again!” rule, it is hard to justify spending 2 points on it.
Take Cover 1CP
Take Cover to add 1 to saves of a nominated unit in the enemy’s shoot phase. How useful this is depends on your army build. If you have 6 Leman Russes, protecting one is not going to do much for you (although note, you know it’s being shot at before you spend the CP, so it is rarely a waste).
However if your army contains an irresistible target (a warmed-up deathstrike? lol, more likely your new Super Heavy) that is likely to take several volleys, this is just pure gold.
10 models can throw grenades instead of using normal weapons, in Shooting or Overwatch. A lot of people love this, but IMHO it’s over-rated. AM models have Krak or Frag grenades, and a lot less have Krak than in previous editions. For the frag armed units, they will do more damage with this than lasguns (D6 S3 AP- shots each for an average of 3.5, as opposed to 2 S3 AP- shots from rapidfire lasguns) BUT they would do more damaged with a simple FRFSRF order (4 S3 AP- shots) and to use Grenadiers each individual model will need to be in very short range of 6″.
It could be useful for an Bullgryn unit that only has grenades and doesn’t carry ranged weapons, but if you’re rocking a lot of Bullgryns is this really where you want to spend CP?
GO! Recon! 1CP
A Sentinel moves 2D6 in shoot phase, but cannon shoot or charge. This is not great. It’s the sort of thing that appears to justify itself for that last turn objective grab (that you aren’t doing with MOVE orders on troops for some reason?) and only applies to Sentinels (at the end of the game? they are not known for their longevity) but fails hard due to it being 2D6 instead of 6+D6 or something with some level of reliability.
When I am spending CP and missing out on shots, I’d like to know I am getting to where I want to be.
Fight to the Death 1CP
Fight to the Death! Take a Leadership check on D3 instead of D6. It’s not as useless as it might sound to players who form static gunlines with Commissars, because it has a real use for squads behind enemy lines (esp Stormtroopers and Tallarn). The most this can do for you is save 3 models, and the least is make no difference when you roll a 1 anyway.
Vengeance for Cadia! 1CP
It’s purely an anti-Chaos stratagem, but in that match up it could help make up at least somewhat for their anti-imperial rules. 1 unit rerolls fails to hit and wound for shooting or overwatch. You’ll usually want to use this on the single nastiest unit in your army, and let it rip.
Note – despite the name this is not a Cadian Stratagem, and can be used by all AM.
Vortex Missile 3CP
Crush Them 1CP
A vehicle hits on 2+, and can charge even if it advanced. This is frankly amazing when used on something big and nasty; Bane Blade level, or perhaps a much less impressive Macharius. Leman russes can use it (3 attacks, S6) but believe it or not, the humble Griffon mortar is S7 for some unknown reason so could make use of it.
Note that I expect many people to want this to get a full 5 stars, but I give it just below that for two reasons: First it is at the start of the charge phase which is great (you can use it in the enemy’s too!), but it also means when it’s not your turn you can spend the CP and not get charged. Not the end of the world, but a cunning opponent might help you waste CP by feinting an assault.
Second, it will tempt you to do stupid things. You will charge things you shouldn’t, leaving cover, and putting valuable units at risk. I know, I did this myself in a game last night lol.
But when you use this right, it can be a game-changer.
Fire on My Position! 3CP
This is one of the most thematic of all the stratagems! When the last man in a Vox-Caster equipped unit dies, he uses his final breath to call in a massive artillery strike on his own location. LOVE IT!
Unfortunately hardly anyone uses Vox Casters, this is expensive, the 3″ radius is small and only hits half of the units it covers.
Aerial Spotter 2CP
Reroll to hit for 1 Basilisk or Wyvern model. It sounds like a 1CP stratagem, but costs 2, and must be used BEFORE you find out if you even missed.
Volley Fire 1CP
Each time a Mordian infantry unit shoots in the shooting phase, a roll of 6 causes it to shoot again with the same weapon at the same target. This is similar to the Militarum Tempestus trait, and not at all bad, especially if you can boost accuracy in some way to make 6s more likely such as orders or something special like a Sabre Search Light.
Overlapping fields of Fire 2 CP
With overlapping fields of fire, after a Cadian wounds you can use this to add 1 to hit for any other Cadians targeting the same enemy this shoot phase. This is terrific, and if used at the right time (early) agains the right target (something hard to kill that is in range of most of your guns) it will boost your damage output dramatically.
Send in the next wave!
Bring back from the dead a non-combined Valhallan infantry squad, and place it within 6″ of the table edge of your own deployment zone, at least 9″ from enemy. How much value you get from this depends on the nature of your army.
Best part is, you can bring them back from the dead again. And again.
The problem is that while the fact its a Regiment’s special bonus rule, and it costs 2 CP, and it has restrictions on placement and what can be revived, it feels like it should be free and just cost the Command Points. However, unless it is FAQed otherwise later, it will cost both CP and require points to be set aside. Since the positioning options are very limited why not just buy the unit to start the game on the table?
If this is later FAQed to be done without spending reserve points on top of the CP: ★★★★✰
If this continues to require reserve points on top of the CP ★½✰✰✰
One Vostroyan unit gains +1 to shoot this phase. This only affects 1, unlike the Cadian ‘Overlapping fields of Fire’ stratagem, but it is automatic to trigger and cheaper to use. Getting full value means having something really powerful to shoot with, which could be a Manticore or Baneblade or tooled-up Leman Russ, but having used it a few times I can confirm that +1 to hit on demand is really useful.
Superior Intelligence 1CP
Fire at -1 BS on a unit arriving from reserve that appears within 12″ of a MT Infantry unit. The range band is narrow; enemies will appear a minimum of 9″ away, and they have to be a maximum of 12″ away to trigger it. Shooting at -1 will mean you aren’t triggering the MT signature ‘exploding 6s’, and that overcharged plasma will be risky. This is almost worth as much for its threat as its real chance of killing enemies.
This is an expensive stratagem, but well worth it. Up to three Tallarn units can come in from any reserve within 7″ of any edge; that can be tanks, infantry, hellhounds, baneblades (if they fit) etc.
Add in Tallarn’s Relic if you want to have 2 units if infantry do almost the same (coming in within 6″ of any edge), and you can pull off a massive surprise attack from any angle, hitting where your opponent least expects it.
This can also help you keep fragile/valuable units off the table and away from enemy alphastrikes, which in some cases will be just as useful.
Armoured Fist 1CP
An infantry unit that disembarked from a SL transport can reroll 1s to hit. Not terrible, as it frees your order for FRFSRF or Bring it down, but this would be more exciting if there weren’t so many easier ways to get reroll of 1.
Vicious Traps 1CP
When an enemy successfully charges a Catachan unit that is wholly in terrain, roll a dice and on a 4+ they suffer D3 wounds. Thematic and cool sounding, but D3 will average you 2 wounds, every second time. If spending a CP to cause an average of 1 wound sounds worthwhile due to special circumstances, go for it.
And that’s the end of the list!
It’s an impressive array that may vary in power, but GW have done a great job of supplying gamers with a wide range of thematic, fun stratagems likely that will help players forge a narrative.
All of the above is IMHO and viewed from the perspective of more competitive gaming, and I am well aware that no two people are likely to judge them the same. They are all brand new, so feel free to share your own experiences. If you’ve tried any of these out and discovered ways to get more out of them, join the chat below.