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Astra Militarum Codex Review - Imperial Guard 40k

Updated on May 5, 2014
Astra Militarum Codex Review
Astra Militarum Codex Review

Introducing the Astra Militarum

Welcome back to another codex review! Murphy, here, and it feels like we've been waiting a long time for this release: the Astra Militarum. It still feels weird to type those letters . . . so many vowels! With the drip, drip of new information from White Dwarf Weekly, we've knows that the new Imperial Guard book was about to drop for some time now, and we even have seen a preview of the new models. If you hadn't seen the latest news, you can certainly read my original article here:

Now that we have the codex, let's look at what the preview articles didn't tell us. First up, Astra Militarum Special Rules.

Astra Militarum Codex Review
Astra Militarum Codex Review

Astra Militarum Special Rules

Every 6th edition codex has introduced army-specific Warlord Traits, new rules, and special wargear. The Astra Militarum is no different, and their Warlord Traits are continuing the trend of shifting more flexibility or power to units, rather than buffing an individual model.

Astra Militarum Warlord Traits

  1. D3 units gain Outflank
  2. Choose an enemy codex; warlord and his unit have Preferred Enemy.
  3. Friendly AM units within 12" do not take Morale checks for losing 25% of unit in a turn.
  4. Warlord and unit have Relentless.
  5. Gains the ability to give Orders, or extends his orders range to 18".
  6. Warlord may issue one extra order per turn.

A couple of notes. An AM HQ unit can either roll on this chart or one from the main rulebook. Also, AM now includes a Tank Commander option, which is an HQ tank! If a tank commander is your Warlord, then he only rolls d3 on the Warlord chart. Looking at the list, every entry can be useful. Outflanking some Helhounds could be fun!

Voice of Command

Astra Militarum officers can issues Orders. These orders are given at the start of the Shooting Phase. You resolve the effects of the order and then move on to the next officer and his order. Continue resolving the effects of orders until every officer has issued one.

Officers can issue an order to a friendly AM unit within 12", unless he is in melee, in a vehicle, building, fleeing, or gone to ground. The target unit must then pass a Leadership test, or else the order is wasted. Units in vehicles, melee, fleeing, in melee, or gone to ground cannot receive orders.

If a unit rolls double-1's on their LD check, then ALL orders automatically pass for the rest of that turn! However, if a double-6 is rolled, then no further orders can be issued by any officer that turn!

  • Take Aim! - All models in unit gain Precision Shot.
  • Smite At Will! - Unit has the Split Fire rule.
  • First Rank Fire! Second Rank Fire! - All lasguns and hot-shot lasguns in the unit gain an additional shot.
  • Forwards, for the Emperor! - Unit may make a shooting attack and then Run.
  • Run, Run, Run! - Unit must run but rolls 3d6 and picks the highest die.
  • Suppressive Fire! - All weapons in the unit gain Pinning.
  • Bring it Down! - All models in unit gain Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter.
  • Fire on My Target! - All models in unit gain Ignore Cover.
  • Get Back in the Fight! - Senior Officers only! Units that are Falling Back or Gone to Ground immediately regroup (but do not gain 3" move) and can act normally (shoot, assault, etc).

Notice any changes? There are some fantastic orders here, and we see yet another army that can now ignore cover! It isn't all the time, but I bet it will be a popular option. It really seems like there is an order for every situation and the fun (and tricky) part about commanding an AM army will be to know when to use which order!

Astra Militarum Codex Review
Astra Militarum Codex Review

Astra Militarum Tank Commander

A new option for Astra Militarum armies is to take a Tank Commander. This basically allows you to make an armored column. It does not make tanks Troops choices, but by maxing out your tanks and then giving dedicated transports to your infantry squads, you can create a fast-moving army encased all in armor!

The tank commander is bought as a Leman Russ tank squadron just like it is in the Heavy Support section (but it counts as HQ, not Heavy Support!). Any version of the Leman Russ can be taken, as well as any upgrades. One of the tanks must be nominated as the tank commander. This tank remains as the HQ for the rest of the game and he cannot join other squadrons, even if the rest of his unit is destroyed. Note that you must buy at least 1 more Leman Russ for your commander's squadron.

The tank commander upgrades his BS to 4 and he may issue orders. Since a tank has no LD value, you must roll a 9 or less on 2d6. If successful, you can choose from these three orders:

  1. Tank Commander's unit moves Flat Out, moving 6 + d6".
  2. Tank Commander fires at a different unit than his own unit does.
  3. Tank Commander's unit may fire and then pop smoke.

Players have been begging for a way to field a tank HQ for years now! Finally they get their chance. While you do limit yourself a bit by taking a tank commander (can't issue orders to infantry), it does increase the number of Leman Russ tanks you can take and it gives the HQ unit some buffs through tank orders. I see this being a popular choice for those gear-heads out there. Perhaps taking one tank commander, along with a second HQ of a Company Commander.

I also have to mention here that there is a Tank Commander Special Character included in the new codex: Knight Commander Pask!

Knight Commander Pask

  • Warlord Trait: Old Grudges (unit gains Preferred Enemy)
  • Tank Orders
  • BS 4
  • Crack Shot - Pask can re-roll armor penetration rolls against vehicles and buildings. Also, his main turret weapon gains addition effects depending on its type:
  • Battle Cannon, Vanquisher, or Demolisher - Re-roll To Hits
  • Exterminator - gains Rending.
  • Executioner Plasma - can opt to fire an incandescent blast instead: 36" Str 7 AP 1, Heavy Large Blast, Blind, Gets Hot.

It's an interesting choice and will give a little more character to an AM tank army.

Astra Militarum Poll

How are you feeling about the AM codex so far?

See results

Conclusion of Part One

There is so much more in the codex that we are just getting started. We have a few new units like the new Bullgryns and the Wyvern mortar-tank. Also, so many units have new options, different point costs, or new tactics when combined with the new orders. It's a detailed codex that requires more digging in to.

So for now, I'll wrap up this article by saying I'm excited so far. I've never been a primary 'Guard player. In fact, long time readers will know that I've never owned an Imperial army. This has changed with my recent purchase of some Imperial Knights . . . but I'm looking for some ground-pounders to join them. Also, I've always loved Traitor Guard and did run some of those back in the day!

Either way, I'm looking at the new Astra Militarum as a way to do both. I'll be digging through the codex more soon and posting more parts to this review. Check back soon! In the mean time, why not take the poll to the right, leave a comment below, and check out some of my other 40k article? Thanks for reading!


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    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      I will be writing a full review of the Ork codex as it drops in a few weeks :) I hope it gives them a balance of fun and competitiveness.

    • profile image

      RANDOMDUDE 3 years ago

      No problem murphy80, I hope that GW does a good job on the ork codex. I also have my boyz on standby until they get updated. Right now they have very low chances of winning :). Last time I used them I got lucky and won against the new Black Templars.

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Great comments guys! Thanks for the battle report, Radomdude! I've been away with the Easter holiday and just getting back into the swing of things! I haven't played against the new guard yet, but some guys at the shop have large guard armies and now the new book... so I can hear the tanks engines rumbling! How will my poor orks survive? I'm giving them a shot again when the new book drops this summer!

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks! I thought I mentioned that, but guess not. I appreciate the comment!

    • profile image

      Ray 3 years ago

      Like the load out, but i would rather leave my bs4 tank to tank busting with the vanquisher.

      You are also right on the balance, game workshop seems to be having a trend with that. I like it.

    • profile image

      RANDOMDUDE 3 years ago

      I started reading your post since the new tyranid book came out. Great stuff and I agree the IG codex is very good. I tested out the tank commander without pask and they did good. The cost of leman Russ went down and the ability to leave the open slot on a heavy by using an HQ for those tanks is great. The wyvern did god, I had a squadron of 3, strength 4 Ap 6, ignore covers and shred (rerolls to wound). Is not high strength, but I was doing 18+ wounds to troop units. Remember these can be shot indirect and at 48'' range. the tank load out was 2 battle tanks with plasma cannons and heavy bolter and a executioner nova cannon tank with plasma cannon sponsons. They all did good, but since it was a 2v2 game I am going to test it out on a 1v1 again. the codex has more options and I think is better balanced than before.

    • profile image

      Guest 3 years ago

      You left off that Pask can take a Punisher and get rending.

    • murphy80 profile image

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Yes, his upgrades are pretty good. Especially given his BS of 4, those giant assault cannon hits with Rending will be great! Really anything will work with him. I wish I had more than a single Leman Russ now . . .

    • profile image

      Ray 3 years ago

      Looks good so far, and love the tank hq option, and if I get guard, I am putting pask into a vanquisher. or maybe an executioner. both sound amazing with pask.