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A Codex: Imperial Gua- errr… Astra Militarum Review by Patrick Eibel
This far into Sixth Edition, we know what to expect from a new codex.  The question is not whether the new codex will be full of pretty pictures, offer the occasional new rule or unit, or generally adjust point costs, but whether it is competitive with the top-tier codices (Eldar, Tau, and Space Marines).  So, let us take a look at the new Codex: Astra Militarum.



What?  You say you’ve never heard of the Astra Militarum?  Well, apparently someone over at GW got tired of having Star Wars Stormtroopers and Palpatine’s Imperial Guard figures come up whenever they did a search on eBay, so we now have to deal with rebranding.  For the purposes of this article, I will still refer to them as Imperial Guard, Guard, or IG, because I just can’t think of a good way to shorten Astra Militarum. 

This does not explain why anyone thought basing a supplement (the Astra Tempestum) around Stormtroopers (now called Scions) was a good idea.  You might use them if you were planning a Star-Wars themed army using the Inquisition updated dataslate, but otherwise, you are better off just getting the full Guard codex. 



What’s New and What Is No More
There are a few new units, several changed units, and some units that have been eliminated. 


Hello, big fella....

There are three truly new units: a Tank Commander HQ, Bullgryns, and the Wyvern Battery tank.  The Tank Commander, and by extension Commander Pask, are almost essential if you want to do an Armored Company.  The Tank Commander rides in a Leman Russ tank (any type), and must have a squadron of one or two more Leman Russ tanks, which all count as an HQ unit.  That’s right, your Warlord can be cruising in an Armor Value 14 ride, baby!  And he can give Orders to his unit.  So, so, so good! 



Bullgryns are Ogryns with shields.  Meh.  May be an OK counter-attack unit, but I am not impressed.  The Wyvern is the alternative build from the new Hydra kit and has a blast weapon that ignores cover.  They come in groups of up to three, but, as you might expect, the Heavy Support section is chock full of choices. 

 Several Special Characters did not make it into the new book.  Sly Marbo, Commander Chenkov, Captain Al’Rahem, Sergeant Bastonne, and Mogul Kamir all go bye-bye.  This reinforces that, while the Codex has pictures of all the different regiments GW has produced, the book is really about Cadians and Catachans.



Oh, you can still buy him, you just can't use him

What I Like, and Why
In addition to the Tank Commander HQ, there are a few other units and items to like.  Such as Slotless HQ: Commissars, Priests, Primaris Psykers, and Enginseers are all HQ options that do not use up a FOC slot.  Even better, they are Independent Characters who join other units and make them better.  I really like Priests a lot, as they now are cheaper and offer a variety of buffs.

Not Much Changed.  The previous version of the codex was not that bad under the Sixth Edition rules.  The new book dings units that competitive players were overusing (Vendettas, Manticores), but most everything else stayed the same or got better.

Company Command Squads.  The Swiss Army knife unit can do everything.  Still has Regimental Advisors, still can get Nork Deddog (who got cheaper), still the least expensive way to field a Senior Officer.



"Whatchu lookin' at?  Huh?  HUH?"

Ratlings.  I have always had a fondness for the little guys, and now they can move after they snipe thanks to the Shoot Sharp and Scarper ability.

Cheaper Russ Variants.  Point drops to everything other than the basic Russ means that you will be seeing a lot more of these on the table.  Did I mention I have already worked up a 2,000 point list that allows me to field all six of my Leman Russ-type tanks?

 

What I Don’t Like, And Why
Vendettas. 
I know that they were ripe to be smacked down given how ubiquitous they had become (even though there wasn’t even a freaking model available,) but 40 points more for half the transport capacity?

 
Taurox.  
Okay, so they are about the same cost and effectiveness as a Rhino, except that they don’t self-repair.  And the models are butt-ugly.  At least the Taurox Prime can get a battle cannon or gatling cannon, but by then, you have too many points invested in your poorly-armored transport.



Are you kidding me?  Are you [deleted] kidding me?

Where’s the Imperium?  GW has been belaboring how the Imperium is this big, happy, fighting force.  In the fluff, it is not unusual to find Inquisitors, Space Marines, Sororitas, Guard, Tempestum, and Imperial Knights all fighting alongside each other.  Given the popularity of Imperial Guard as Allies, you would think some mention would have been made of the “friendly” codices.

Missing “Big” Unit.  While I appreciate that the new codex does not deviate wildly from the old one, I was surprised at the lack of a big, “sexy” unit.  After Riptides and Wraithknights, you would think there would be something.  Yes, I know technically, the Imperial Knights are the go-to Big Sexy for the “good-guy” armies, but the rules need to make it more clear how they are integrated.  The general sameness of the new codex to the old codex does feel a little underwhelming. 

Conclusion
While not a radical departure, I like the new Codex: Astra Militarum.  I do have concerns on how it will fare as a stand-alone army against top-tier lists, but there is enough in it, and even more when considering Allies, to make the Guard a viably competitive Sixth Edition army.

           

Posted April 2014.  Images copyright Games Workshop 2014; used for review purposes

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