Imperial Guard Heavy Support Tactics

Warhammer 40000 Imperial Guard Basilisk

In this section we will be looking at the tactics for the Imperial Guard Heavy Supports choices.

> Also see the 40k Tanks tactic page

General Imperial Guard Heavy Support Tactics

With all the infantry heavy weapons moved to the Troops section, the Imperial Guard heavy support choices are left with the tanks and gun batteries – and a lot of them too. Not only does the new Imperial Guard Codex list a lot of new variations, or borrowed Forge World tank variations, but now you can have many more tanks in a standard army because you can field a squadron of tanks as a single heavy support choice. This means that you could field up to three squadrons of three tanks per army, that adds up to 9 tanks on the table! (points permitting) in a battle forged army.

Leman Russ Tank Squadron Tactics

Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard Leman Russ Tank

Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard Leman Russ Main Battle Tank

A Leman Russ tank squadron is made up form one to three of the Leman Russ battle tank variations. Seven variations are listed in the codex, and you can mix and match then in your squadrons.

Leman Russ Tanks have the Tank (Heavy) status. This means that they cannot move during the shooting phase (going flat out), or move at cruising speed. So 6″ a turn is your maximum speed. During the shooting phase a heavy tank is treated as being stationary, even if it moved during the moment phase. This means that if you do not fire an ordinance weapon you can move and fire all your other weapons with your full ballistic skill. If you do fire an ordinance weapon then you can still snapshot with your other weapons. You can find the rules for vehicle shooting on page 73 of the rule book, and the rules for heavy tanks on page 88.

Tank Squadrons, Good or Bad?

As I mentioned above you can take tanks in squadrons of up to 3 tanks per squadron. However this does not mean that you have to take 3 tanks at a time if you not want to. You can take just one or just two tanks per Heavy support choice if you wish.

The bonus of a tank squadron is easy to see, you get the chance to take more tanks in a battle forged army. However there are some downsides that are not so easy to spot. The down sides are that the tanks need to stay in formation, and that hits on one tank can roll over to the other tanks if the first one blows up!

Tank Squadron Formations

Tanks in a squadron need to keep together. The only exception is if one tank is immobilised or destroyed. The good news is that you can have up to 4 inches between tanks. However in a built up area you will find this restricting.

So what happens if you can not get somewhere without breaking formation? Well basically that option is not available. What’s more, if your opponent knows this, and they should, then they can block off areas forcing you to use other routes where their anti-tank weapons may be waiting for you!

Sponsons or No Sponsons?

The Leman Russ Battle Tanks can have side weapons attached using sponsons. Normally problem with these are that if the main weapon is an ordnance weapon, and you use it, you can only fire other  weapons as snap shots that turn. This will mean that for most of the time they will miss. This in turn means that some of the weapons you paid points for will either be idle or inaccurate each turn. The last, but minor issue is that sponsons make the tank wider. This may be an issue if you are going to be fighting in heavy terrain.

In summary, sponsons are not worthwhile on tanks with ordinance main weapon, but may be worthwhile for tanks with none-ordinance main weapons.

Leman Russ Battle Tank

Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard Leman Russ Tank

Leman Russ Battle Tank

The Leman Russ is the standard Imperial Guard battle tank. The main ordinance weapon has a good 72″ range and a moderate S8 punch. S8 sounds like it can take out other tanks however it does struggle to take out armour of 13+. I usually use the Leman Russ to take out light vehicles and troop formations and leave the armour busting to the Lascannons.

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Leman Russ Exterminator

Leman Russ Exterminator replaces the battle cannon with a twin linked autocannons. This means that the Leman Russ is much more mobile and suited to anti-infantry roll. The Exterminator works well with heavy bolter sponsons.

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 Leman Russ Vanquisher

The Leman Vanquisher has an extended battle cannon barrel. this gives The Leman Russ Vanquisher ‘Armour Bane’ and AP2. This gives the Vanquisher an extra punch when it comes to knocking out enemy armour.

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 Leman Russ Demolisher

Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard Demolisher TankThe Leman Russ Demolisher is a great tank. It’s range is a bit short at 24″, but the main gun is a S10 5″ ordinance template! The shorter range means that the Leman Russ Demolisher is better suited to smaller gaming tables or games where the line of sight in blocked by a number of tall objects like multi floor buildings.

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Leman Russ Punisher 

The Leman Russ Punisher is another Leman Russ variant that comes in the Leman Russ Demolisher kit. If you are careful you can attach the main weapon using Blutack (or similar sticky putty) then you can swap the main weapons depending on your needs for that game.

The Leman Russ Punisher gets the Punisher Gattling Cannon. This is a 24″ S5 20 shot weapon. Even using the guardsmen’s BS3 score, this weapon will dole out a lot of hits! Expect about 10 hits a turn. Up against a horde army?  Then the Punisher is the tool to thin out the ranks.

The Punisher Gattling gun only has a 24″ range. This means that the Punisher is susceptible to close combat counter strikes. The best defence against this is to assign a squad of  Guardsmen to keep the enemy at a distance.

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Leman Russ Executioner 

If the Megga-dakka of the Punisher Gattling gun is not enough for you then welcome to the Executioner Plasma Cannon!

The Leman Russ Executioner Plasma Cannon is not a weapon to be used lightly. First off it is a blast weapon so it can scatter. The second issue is that it gets hot! In the 7 edition of the Warhammer 40k rules tanks and vehicles now can suffer a glancing blow 1:12 (8.333%) times you use the weapon. As the Executioner Plasma Cannon is a H3 weapon you can expect this to happen 3 time as often ( 3:12 or 1:4 or 25% of the time).

If you do get the 3 shots off without blowing your self up, then the results can be quite spectacular! AP2 S7 blast markers can make a mess of the heaviest armoured troops. Terminators make a nice target. Monstrous creatures suffer badly against this type of weapon too! One of the best attributes is that the Executioner Plasma Cannon has a 32″ range. This means that you can pull back a bit further from assaulting troops.

> Also see the 40k Tank tactic page
> Also buy: Discount Leman Russ Executioner Tanks from Wayland Games

Ordinance Battery Tactics

An alternative to a Battle tank squadron is to have an Ordinance squadron. Historically ordinance squadrons are designed to place one spot and not moved during the game. In return for the mobility you get a bigger ordinance weapon at less cost. However in the 7th edition of Warhammer 40000 most of the batteries can be quite mobile and still be effective. This means that you may be able to shift position to get a better line of sight on your targets.

Be aware that the ordinance tanks have weaker armour that the battle tanks and they tend to be open topped so you will want to keep them behind cover when you can. Also that most of the Ordinance Battery choices have a minimum range. This is important because it may mean that you will not be able to target your enemy on smaller tables.

Basilisk Battery Tactics

Warhammer Imperial Guard Basilisk

Imperial Guard Basilisk self-propelled artillery gun.

The Basilisk has a huge range, and a S10 5″ Ordinance shell, but it has a 36″, or 3 foot,  minimum range. I would recommend it for larger tables ( like Apocalypse games).

Hydra Flak Tank Battery Tactics

Got a pesky air support problem? Get a Hydra Flak Tank Battery! It gives the enemy air support something to think about.

The Hydra is an anti aircraft weapon placed on a Chimera  body. If you are expecting to be facing a number of aircraft or flying Monstrous Creatures then a Hydra could come in handy. The Hydra Autocannons are twin linked  H2, so you can expect an average of 1.5 hits per turn against fliers.

The Hydra Autocannons have a respectable 72″, or 6 foot range. This should allow you to give good anti aircraft support for much of your army without moving. However you may want to move to keep the weaker side and rear armour from attack.

It should be noted that the Hydra Autocannons always have skyfire. This means that you can only take snap shots against ground targets.

All together I would recommend taking an anti aircraft static defence platform in preference to the Hydra as these provide adequate protection at a lower points cost. 

Manticore Rocket Launcher Tactics

The Manticore comes with four ‘Storm Eagle’  rockets. These are D3 S10 large blast barrage weapons. !   Note that you cannot fire these rockets directly so they will scatter the full 2D6 if you don’t roll a hit.

Unlike the Hydra, Basilisk and Wyvern, you can only have one Manticore in a Battery. Personally I think that this is a shame and we often allow a house rule letting a player have up to 3 Manticores in a battery. Obviously the battery have to fire at the same target as each other each turn and follow all the other squadron rules, but it can make for a fun game too

Death Strike Missile Launcher Tactics

The Death Strike missile is a truly one shot wonder. Looking like a WWII V2 missile it has a 12″ minimum range ( like you would want to land this missile on your head!) but an unlimited maximum range.

The unlimited maximum range gives an interesting dynamic if you are playing a multi table campaign in a club as you could land your missile on another table! ( house rules and mission rules are needed to allow this).

The Death Strike Missile uses a 10″ Apocalyptic blast marker. If you do  not have one of these ( or forgot to bring it), then one option is to get a piece of string and place 2 knots in the string 5″ apart. Now if you place a pin in one knot to hold it fast, you can swing the other knot around to see what would be in the blast zone!

> Also see the 40k Tanks tactic page