The Imperial Guard has yet to win a battle against the ork invaders on Hegira. So I’ve been searching for a strategy that will improve my odds in a toe-to-toe with the xenos.
To that end, my future battle plans involve the deployment of a veteran squad of Guardsmen, equipped for the task of launching a counterattack.
As a novice to Warhammer 40K, my musings must be taken with a grain of salt. If anything, this article is simply a celebration of one of the most interesting aspects of 40K gaming: How you prepare for a 40K battle is as important as how you actually fight the battle.
It is stating the obvious that, particularly for novice players, once the orks charge into melee against the Imperial Guard, it’s all over. With S4 attacks–and, depending on their weaponry–as many as 4 attacks on the charge–a 10-ork squad will utterly destroy a 10-man Guard squad. Usually in the first round of melee. My Guardsmen are lucky to kill one or two orks.
Now, I realize it’s common to deploy larger ork squads–but as our recent Hegira battles have been small (400-600 points)–my tabletop experiences have been against 10-ork squads. And I have to start somewhere. So my calculations are based on small ork squads.
I’ve considered several options to deal with an ork assault. One of my first practical steps was to deploy a mortar squad–which has proved useful–and to add more lascannon teams to my force, as my opponent, The Gaffer, tends to race his orks across the table in battlewagons. If I don’t stop those battlewagons early, his orks get to my line far too quickly.
I’ve also tried speed bumps. Charging forward with a Sentinel can lock an ork squad in melee–and buy my firing line some time to target another ork squad and attempt to wipe it out.
I’ve just acquired some ratlings for the same purpose. I’m also considering some ogryns with ripper guns–for a more forceful matchup against a charging ork squad.
But, in reviewing the Imperial Guard Codex, there is an interesting option: A veteran squad can be outfitted with as many as three flamethrowers–and the rest can be equipped at no extra cost with shotguns (Assault 2 weapons). Put them in a Chimera equipped with flamethrowers, and you’ve got a potentially dangerous counter-assault force.
I won’t bore you with all the math, but as I see it: My Chimera moves up to 6″ to get in charge range of an ork squad. The veteran squad disembarks and moves into position for a charge. I now can fire four flamethrowers (including the Chimera’s) and 7 shotguns.
Now, let’s assume I can hit three orks per flamethrower–counting overlaps–and then add my 14 shotgun shots. I have 26 separate chances to kill an ork. The AP value of both weapons mean there are no armor saving throws.
So the flamethrowers should kill six orks; the shotguns should 3.5 orks (on average).
Should one or two orks survive, my veterans can charge–with two attacks each. Although Strength 3 against Toughness 4, they will have 20 melee attacks–which should, on average, kill 2.3 orks.
As Imperial Guard will have the higher initiative on a charge, the ork squad will likely be eliminated with no chance to fight back.
Of course, it’s not going to be quite as easy as I make it sound. First, the orks have to move close enough to my Chimera–without closing–so that I can get within charge range with 6″ movement (and still fire my flamethrower and disembark my squad).
Also, if there’s a powerful Nob or Warlord in the squad, I could easily find myself locked in combat with a neigh-on unbeatable opponent–a very bad situation if another ork squad is around.
But is it so bad? If I can take out an ork squad (or everyone but the leader) while serving as a speed bump, I may give the rest of my Imperial Guard firing line time to put its firepower to work.
There’s another option: I move forward with my Chimera and fire my vehicle flamethrowers–along with three flamethrowers and two shotguns firing out the top hatch–and that will do some damage. It also will likely draw the attention of nearby orks. They stop to shoot–or they charge in with krak grenades.
Well, again, if nothing else, I serve as a speed bump. Or, if not locked in melee, I charge forward with my Chimera after an objective and force the orks to chase. Or, if my Chimera survives the ork shooting or melee (or just one or two infantry members disembark from a flaming wreck), I might keep the orks busy for a second round. (Can any ork resist the urge to finish off my survivors?)
As I see it, there are three possible uses for this assault squad:
1. It wipes out a small ork squad.
2. It serves as a speed bump, disrupting a solid line of orks charging my firing line.
3. It roars past the orks and seizes an objective, hopefully drawing off an ork unit in pursuit, as well.
4. Sitting in reserve, the squad rushes up to a breakthrough and counterattacks to stabilize the line.
Still unclear is how this theory will play out on the battlefield. I’ll know soon enough–I’ve just completed my assault squad, and I’ve primed by flamethrower-equipped Chimera.
If nothing else, contemplating new stratagems is fun–and it may be my only hope if the Imperium is to hold Hegira. So far, I’ve lost four battles against the orks and managed one draw.
So I need an edge. I’ll let you know how my plan fares on the battlefield.