"An' as their firin' dies away, the 'usky whisper runs
From lips that 'aven't drunk all day: "The Guns! Thank Gawd, the Guns!"
And so might any Guardsmen echo this sentiment in the far flung future of the 41st Milennium, such is the importance of the artillery to the Imperial Guard.
The artillery is what sets the Imperial Guard apart from other armies on the Epic battlefield - no other army is able to field the sheer number of big guns (apart maybe from the Squats!) and often the enemy faces a long slog across the table in the face of withering barrage fire to get at the Imperial artillery sited on its own baseline.
As Major Barton said of his artillery in WW2 (thanks Wikiquote!), "The artillery was my strongest tool. Often it was my only reserve... I repeatedly said it was more a matter of the infantry supporting the artillery rather than the artillery supporting the infantry..."
|From left to right - Rocket Company with Sentinel support detachment, Artillery Company, two Mole Mortar detachments, another Sentinel detachment and a Deathstrike Missile battery. Two Leviathans form the Regimental HQ.|
Luckily I've managed to source two entire companies of artillery for my Guard as well as various support detachments!
The Rocket Company serves a potent anti-personnel role. Although slow loading (firing every other turn), the Manticores deliver a massive 6 Barrage Points each. They can also load on the move - very useful if you need to shoot and scoot! The Whirlwinds are less high powered but still effective against infantry concentrations. Sentinels provide a mobile defense in case marauding enemy assault troops should make it through the Imperial lines.
The Artillery Company is where the really big guns are to be found. Two detachments of Basilisks provide a massive amount of supporting fire. The accuracy of the guns and the speed of reloading enable them to fire two barrages each turn! That coupled with their -2 saving throw means they can even be used in an anti-armour role, although Warlord Paul's Land Raider Company stood up to a huge beating from my Basilisks in our last game - refusing to break even after several turns of barrages! The Bombards are the real hard hitters - by concentrating their fire you can put 9 barrage points into an enemy tank formation with a -3 saving throw modifier.
The Deathstrikes are an interesting addition - at 250 points for a detachment they are capable of raining down an immense amount of destruction on the enemy - if all goes to plan! The radio controlled (one shot) missiles are moved a random distance each turn and can be detonated anywhere along their line of movement, unless a 6 is rolled which signifies a catastrophic malfunction! However, the missiles can be shot down by enemy troops on First Fire orders - a wise move if the Deathstrikes have been loaded with Plasma Barrage missiles. They can also serve an anti-Titan role by loading them with Harpoon or Warp missiles.
Lurking in the back are two Leviathans - the Guard's massively armoured Regimental HQ's. Even with their thick armour and four Void shields, they often come in pairs to protect the chain of command - if all Leviathans are destroyed no orders may be given to any Imperial Guard troops on the next turn. The huge Doomsday cannon and banks of Battle and Lascannon make the Leviathan very effective as an additional artillery unit. If you're living dangerously, they can be used to transport an entire Infantry Company (albeit very slowly) into the thick of the fighting.
So that's the Imperial Guard army - great fun to play even if they are a rather blunt tool!