Seeking Alternatives - Constructing a List that Works for You

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The Thought Process

After playing with my guard for a few months now, I've begun to identify what I believe to be keys to my army's success on the table. So let's see what we can identify as necessary elements to a balanced list. Bear in mind that I'm attempting to break down all the different elements that crossed my mind that led up to the final iteration of my list. The process can be applied to building any list of course but here I'm dealing with what I consider to be - keep in mind it is only my opinions - the building blocks of a decent guard army.

The Four Keys

Light Anti-tank fire
You can use Autocannons, Vendettas, Hydras, etc., for taking out transports and other light armor. You want the ability to kill at least 3 light tanks on turn one so that you force your opponents troops to advance on foot. Dictating the pace of your opponent's advance is very important. Of course, there are ways to avoid the Alpha Strike ... coming in from reserves can mess with your plans. However, you need to at least have the ability to deal with mechanized lists.

Heavy Anti-tank
Manticores and Meltas are great for taking out AV13/14 reliably. A few lascannons can or missile launchers can help but are just not reliable. Melta, of course is still king. You need a way to hit tanks both in front of you and in the other guy's backfield.

Dealing with Infantry

Blast and Template weapons like Heavy Flamer, Demo Charges and Mortars are all good. Grenade Launchers can also be used and plasma is for MCs and Termies. You need to kill enemy infantry up close and at a distance. Even SM Definition: Space Marinesfear massed demos and mortars when spammed.

The  Alpha Strike 
Again it is always nice to start to do damage from turn one on. You want to attack your opponent's mobility from the outset. You want to get in those large template blasts when your opponent is grouped together. Range becomes an issue. Have weapons that have range from turn one onwards. We must also consider that we do not seize the initiative and cannot expose ourselves to the opponent's alpha strike tactics. We now have to have at least the capacity to outflank a few squads and bring in some squads from reserve just as out opponent would do if we went first. So we need enough balance in our lists to prepare for either scenario.

The best laid plans of mice and men ...

Now this is hardly a fool-proof plan. I want to alpha strike my opponent crippling his forces. I'm building a list that likes to start on the table and not come in from reserves. I find that you can never be sure when your troops will arrive from reserve and it works only if you want to protect a scoring unit - think DAVU Falcon or a Tac squad or Sniper squad sitting on a home objective. Generally I want to deploy most of my force on the table. But when I end up going second I sometimes never really recover my game plan and can lose against a force that is designed to do maximum damage early. I want to remove your opponent's capacity to move quickly early by taking out his mobile elements. But you end up going second. Now you're forced to either come in from reserves yourself ( not good if you arrive piecemeal ), set up in a defensive posture instead of an aggressive posture or gamble and hope that you do not lose more than a squad before you get to retaliate in force.

How do you cope?

I did try an Astropath but was not all that impressed with the 30 points spent. I found him better in theory then in practice. I can see the point about reserving normally though and I use it only when I fear drop pods or deep strikers. Then I want to dictate terms of engagement. Going second has quite an effect on my strategy. So going second does not automatically mean I'm outflanking or coming in from reserves. It is dependent upon my opponent's list.

I play to a few principles that served me well in the past. I bolster my platoons by using reserves, a strong strike force (in my case Vendettas and demo charges) and deception (in my case trying to expose a weak flank when my opponent thinks I'm castling up - I do this with Vendettas, Harker and Legion backed by Mr. Rambo). I try and force decisions on my opponent so he cannot fixate on my autocannons and Manticores.

And having said all that I win at a much higher percentage going first then second!

How do you set up with this list?

Well you need to start something on the board, yes? You could in theory have everything arrive from reserves but that is usually not the best setup. I like my tanks fairly central away from the board edges. I will have them flanked by HWS teams and deploy my Platoon and Command squads in front of them. My Vendettas will start on the flanks and either scout forward towards a prime target or move centrally and disembark my squads near cover. If I go second i might bring the Demo sqiuads and Vens in from reserves. The meltas in the PCS should discourage any tanks from trying to shock and I want distance if anything wants to unload and assault. So the Autocannons will target skimmers. I want decent LoS for my Autocannons but my Mortars and Manticores can use cover and should. My SWS teams hop into those Vendettas and Penal Legion either outflank or more often will just scout forward to tie up any squad I want slowed down. Harker's squad will find a nice piece of terrain by an objective and snipe. I will only use those plasmaguns when it is safe.

A few tips

Setting up is all about denial and opportunity. You are denying your opponent choices and creating opportunities for yourself. The most important thing is to create and keep clear fire lanes. Place terrain that blocks line of sight in your opponent's deployment zone so that he has to emerge nad be vulnerable. Use just a few pieces in your zone to hide squads capable of indirect fire. IG are primarily a shooty army designed to kill the enemy at range. We are not winning to many assaults. Sure, I do have demo charges but I want to be judsicious in opening up any of my skimmers or tanks to early fire.

Being adaptable

Just as an aside, it is important to be flexible as during the game opportunities and disappointments will inevitably pop up. I like to keep my PCS a little forward, as an example, against some lists. When I drop off my SWS I can use their Vendetta to pick up my PCS and go after a tank that is becoming problematic. I also try to be open to tank shocking, grabbing or contesting late objectives etc. with the same Vendettas - assuming any survive, lol.  consider also ... If I start on the board, am I likely to lose a skimmer or two to long-range enemy fire or drop pods? If so, I'm definitely starting off the board. Valkyries and Vendettas can't hide behind much of anything. So I wait for the reserve gods to approve or I scout, move my Vendettas flat out get a 4+ cover save, and next turn unleash my demos.  The vendetta is slow-moving once you start firing, but with first turn and a scout move you can line that sucker up for nice, side armor shots and force your opponent to take the hits, move away, or deal with the threat. In any case, it helps to keep your opponent off balance. Remember that you have to stay over 12" away from an opponent after your scout move. There are tables where you opt to outflank to make sure the Vens survive turn one. It is a risk if you fail a reserve roll you are down 33% of your army or more. This hurts. When you do scout you can move 24", then drop the troops and use flat out to run right back and pick up your PCS if you need to.

My latest list tries to incorporate this type of thinking and I've been pleased lately with the results. My 1500 list incorporates all the dakka I deem necessary for a semi-competitive list.

Weapon Loadout

Seven Autocannons
Six TL Lascannons
Five Demo Charges
Four Meltaguns
Three Grenade Launchers
Three Mortars
Three Plasma Guns
Two Flamers
One Heavy Bolter
Two Manticores w/ random pie plate numbers - average four

Now I tweaked this list quite a bit from my original Deathstrike list. This still has elements that some might find a little suspect ... Harker, Penal Legion and a Mortar squad but used in conjunction with the whole each element has a defined purpose. A Mortar squad can fire indirectly and hold objectives in your deployment behind cover and often pin key squads with any luck at all. . Harker and his squad can hold an objective in terrain in a more forward position and snipe all game. Penal Legion, while hardly devastating, can but you time tar pitting crucial elements of your opponent's attack. I have long range artillery, scouting Vendettas loaded out with demo charges and even Marbo to pop out and destroy any deep strikers or flankers.

So what is my core list?

1500 IG Prototype List

Company Command Squad 65
Autocannon, Grenade Launcher

Guardsman Marbo 65

Infantry Platoon 530

Platoon Command, 4x Meltagun  70

Commissar, 35
Combined Infantry Squad (2), 2x Autocannon, 2x Grenade Launcher 130

Special Weapon Squad, 2x Demo Charges, Flamer 80
Special Weapon Squad, 2x Demo Charges, Flamer 80

Heavy Weapon Squad 3x Mortar 60
Heavy Weapon Squad 3x Autocannon 75

Veterans Squad 180
Harker, Autocannon, 3x Plasmagun

Penal Legion Squad 80

Vendetta Gunship 130
Vendetta Gunship 130

Manticore 160
Manticore 160

Exapnding the list

Expanding the list

Interesting to note that against most armies you can safely bet on three things ...

1. Pie plates are always needed.

2. More dakka at reasonable strength is better than few shots at high strength but you need both.

3. Prioritize enemy transports over everything else. You do not want CC specialists or melta that those vehicles are carrying hitting your lines.

Now the Executioner is best at point one but it does have a lot of high strength dakka to supplement all those autocannons and demos.

At 1750 I could also consider adding a Valkyrie and some melta Vets with demolitions. This covers all three points but is not as intimidating on the table. Don't discount the psychological edge an Executioner brings to the table. 

At 2000 I would add both of the above.

In both building an expanding a list their are certain intangibles that cannot be quantified. A unit can be useful without making its points back, eg., a Mortar squad that can hold an objective in cover or a Penal Legion squad to slow down an advance. Also the psychological effect of certain units also messes with your opponents tactics, eg., an Executioner or Sly Marbo.

Final Thought

There is nothing all that radical with the list but it uses a lot of squads not commonly seen supporting each other. Here is the rub. There is 'conventional' internet wisdom on what constitutes competitive units. It is somewhat elitist - no offense intended and  I'm not aiming the comment at anyone in particular. The notion that a competitive would not include certain squads or units needs to be examined closely. Every time a list that does not fit the mold wins a competition the justifications start to swell up ... ' must have had some poor missions', 'probably got all favorable matches',  ' that list would be raped around here ... wonder what 4th edition lists are played in his neck of the woods' and on and on.

Now the list I present is by no means the best list on the net. I'm more thasn sure a number of experts will call the list the poorest example of competitive IG they have seen in awhile. And yet, I've had good results against rhino/razor SM Definition: Space Marinesspam, seer council Eldar and crisis suit Tau.

I'm interested in other lists that do not conform that you are playing now and competing with. I'm sure not everyone is playing pure Air Cav  or all Vet/Chimera spam. What are using that breaks the mold?

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