Sunday, 16 March 2014

Imperial Guard Morale Hopes for 6th Edition

The Imperial Guard are unique in how they deal with leadership. Most armies ignore it and many have a high tolerance for battle. However the Guard being predominantly human means there are many things (and with good reason) put fear into our soldiers. Luckily for us many humans have the charisma to instill hope in the soldiers, these generally make up the officers and command of the Imperial Guard and will be found on the front lines reminding the men of their goals and bringing out the motivation to fight and die. But its not just the officers, no the men have plenty of other organisations dedicated to keeping up their moral and discipline. Commissars, Priests, and some times inquisitors can be pivotal to keeping your army functioning. 

I think that a willingness to fight is among the most important aspects of any war. If your men dont want to fight then they arent gonna perform well. There have been a huge number of instances where the morale of a fighting force have shaped the world we live in today. For example Alexander the Great had to stop his breathtaking conquest because his men simply refused to fight. America was brought to its knees in Vietnam largely due to the enemy going to any means to achieve victory, whilst many Americans simply wanted out. Of course these are put simply but moral is a huge factor in how well your men will perform. This phrase sums it up nicely:

"Do not keep asking too much of your men, otherwise you will no longer ask yourself, can they do it? Instead you will be asking, will they do it?"

I cant remember where I read a quote like that and a quick Google search wont help me, but I think its important for any Imperial General. When Tyranids are tearing the innards of your men in a gruesome melee you will be asking yourself if they will hold or break. Them holding can tie up the unit for an extra turn or keep that extra objective contested. May seem minor but one day it can save you. It has certainly saved my force before. 

The current codex (5th edition) offers us much in the form of gear and units to keep our fragile units on the field. Off the top of my head I can think of Commissars, Priests, Company and Platoon Standards, many special characters and Vox casters (for orders). But there is a slight problem with all these that would be nice to have altered in the upcoming codex release. 

Vox Casters: So we all know whats wrong here. The radio waves travel as far and fast as human voice. So instead of radios being used as a communication device, its used as a voice amplifier. I really hope this changes as I love the idea of Vox Casters on my men. Every squad that can has one. But its usefulness is limited. I think we all want to see Vox Casters work over long distance or at least a longer distance. 

Commissars: I love Political officers. In many armies in history these guys would write letters for their men as he could read and write properly. Sometimes these guys would be used as a disciplinary force watching over every officer in an army. Unfortunately the ruthless kind are only available on the tabletop. I dont like that my beefed up sergeant will die straight away if he fails a leadership. I personally would like it if there was a way of Commissars affecting the battlefield without killing expensive models off the bat. So maybe there should be a 50/50 chance of letting it go or punishing the officer. After all a Commissar should know when and when not to execute men. It just seems the duty is taken a bit too lightly. 

For a rank that was about more than just shooting those who lacked discipline. They where about monitoring the morale and discipline of the soldiers and more importantly making sure officers and men alike where dedicated to the cause. If they had to kill so be it. But I think they kill a bit too much on the table top. 

PriestsI love the idea of having these guys. But unfortunately They are very pricey and can only work in a few units ideally. But for their price I (as casual as I am) have decided to avoid them this time around. They die a bit too easily and cost a bit much. I have no idea how I would fix them but I think they need something. 

Banners: I like the Company Standard a lot. I think the radius of bonus it offers is pretty good. But the Platoon Standard doesnt quite cut it. It feels a bit wasteful mainly due to it only affecting the Platoon command and nobody else. I personally would give it a smaller radius than the company command squads option. I would take one straight away if that where the case. 

Morale is important, but on the table top its just very pricey for what you get. After all for the points spent on these upgrades I could have an extra squad or 2 of men who would probably do more over the course of the battle. This is a pity really as it reduces the amount of character in an army. Banners will not be customized to fit the regiment for example. It all gets left behind for more guns and nameless bodies. 

Unlike other armies we have these as a unique option. I cant think of any other army that has as many leadership based options like ours do. So lets hope in the next codex this gets a bit of a makeover and we may see them on the battle field a bit more. 


  1. Your right, i cant remember moral ever being a issue with any of my 40k armies. Most armies seem to have ways to effectively ignore it either through high LD or special rules. Meanwhile in fantasy moral often makes or breaks a army and games often hinge on a single moral test

    1. Yea its a bit disappointing. In flames of war its vital too. Its what makes my army exceptional in that game. But in 40k my men, even without buffs are very very brave haha. Oh well such is the game style.

    2. And just for grammatical correctness replace the word moral in my comment with morale. Grammatical correctness helps keep morale up!

    3. Ohhhhh..... I have some proof reading to do!

  2. I don’t use vox casters or priests, I really take banners and I’ll only pull a commissar out if a squad numbers more than 30. I like having morale an issue in my army because, as you said, they are humans! I like not knowing if they will run and when they don’t victory is so much sweeter. If they run sometimes they survive sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they will unexpectedly find their courage and rally. Sometimes orders are received and followed, and other times in the confusion of battle things go astray. If I wanted super humans I’d play Space Marines but I want the vulnerable ordinary man. Why is it disappointing to have morale an issue?

    Some questions.
    What did you mean that you would prefer that Vox Casters work over longer distances? There is no limit to their range.
    You say that Commissars kill Sergeants too much. But the Commissar grants the unit Stubborn and a boost to Leadership 9. I see this as the Commissar doing his job. In game terms I hardly ever have a commissar execute a sergeant and, after all, if he fails a leadership test at LD 9 (with no negative modifiers) maybe it is warranted!

    As for Priests and Banner I agree with you wholeheartedly.
    I’m interested (and a little apprehensive) about how all this will work in the new codex. But I know that I always feel this way about a new Guard Dex… sooo now we play the waiting game!

    1. * rarely take banners... I meant to say!

    2. Very good points. While id rather things like banners and so forth give non leadership style bonuses (like long range orders or similar to the priest with its bonus on round 1 of melee), like if the banner charges into melee then the humans can reroll the distance to charge if they charge the same unit (after all, its very common for company colours to never be allowed capture or being lost etc) and vox casters giving bonus range to order casting and so on. But I know that this wont happen as it will remain leadership based. With this in mind I would rather they make them a bit more useful or effective.

      Vox casters themselves dont have a range you are right. But what use do they have if they are 13" away from an officer that can only cast orders at 12"? Well no use at all. They only work when they are next to the command squads. Which I find a bit odd.

      Commissars to me shouldnt just be about the slaughter of sergeants. I use them but I personally rather they didnt kill instantly such an important member of the squad. In reality if you saw your sergeant shot right in front of you after who knows how long of fighting and training together the effects would be worse. I guess you are right though it doesnt happen as often as I think I guess.

      Morale isnt an issue its just the current guard set up in regards to morale thats an issue. The banners, vox casters and commissars are in every squad I can put them, because it adds something to my army. I just feel I have to pay a lot for something that barely does anything at the end of the day unless everyone is in a 12" or so bubble of the leaders. In reality these expensive upgrades affect only a handful of men unless you blob them of course.

      This is the first time a codex I play is going to be updated so I eagerly await whats coming too. Its so close to being released!

      I do concede a little bit on the commissars though, I forgot they had stubborn.

    3. Well said.
      Yes, I totally get what you are saying about the Vox casters now!! In the older edition a Vox (or Comm-Link as they were called) did remove the range restrictions on orders so being that I don't use them I forgot about that!
      You are totally right by the way, all those expensive upgrades really could do more and effect aspects other then leadership!

    4. Thanks man, I personally will settle for at least better ranges with the current set up for most of them. But like you said we shall see. Judging by other codices I have seen I actually expect a fair amount of cool rules to be made fluff wise. Just how good or how much is a bit of a gamble. Such is the fun of a new Codex I guess.

  3. Agree with your post.

    Vox casters should go back to the old rules of removing distance, i would rather have that than rerolling orders. That would fix them, though I still take them as that reroll can be very important sometimes.

    The company standard is great, and I try to have at least one in an infantry heavy army. Those rerolls help so much, especially on a stubborn squad with a commissar, you get the reroll first before he executes your sarge, two chances of living at least. As for the platoon, yeah it just needs something else, providing a bonus to cc to a 5 man squad that will get roflstomped in cc is not really a boon, especially since you are sacrificing a posible special weapon. A toned down version of the company standard would be about right, that or just add a few more things to the company standard and give the platoon the current rules with less range

    Speaking of commissars, if they all had the aura of discipline, that would pretty much balance them out, giving you the Leadership bonus of them being near, but also having the chancae of your sarge being executed, albiet less likely now as their Ld would be higher.

    I'm feeling pretty good on preists actually, they are not that useful now, but the ministorum priest in Inquisition and Adept Sort is awesome. I am expecting IG to either get a straight copy of the misnistorum priest, or a toned down version of him. And if that is the case, my god that will be amazing. Battle Hymns are awesome.

  4. Agreed, the platoon banner was my main concern as it only affects the minor command squad in an extremely useless manner.

    Commissars would be great as you wouldnt need to buy 6 per platoon if you dont combine them haha. More like a platoon commissar over a squad commissar would be cool with the aura.

    Ill have to check out what the other codices priests do I havent looked at them yet. If they are decent I then hope for those ones haha.

    1. They are really good. From memory: you roll Ld check, if passed choose one of three hymns. One is a reroll for to hit and wounds in combat for the unt. one is reroll of all saves(amor,invul, feel no pain) for the unit. the last the priest has the smash special rule. Its really nice.

      The platoon standard is pretty worthless, if you could combine them with infantry squads then it would something, or if you could plus up a command squad, otherwise a five man squad with one cc weapon is not something to give a crappy cc bonus too.

    2. If the Company Command one was buffed and then the Platoon one was a lesser command one then it would be great.

      Hmmm I like the sound of those priests a lot better!

    3. yeah the priests are pretty nice, so if we get them it will be a nice bonus. They would be a good alternative to commissars as well, having a guy that gives a simliar but different bonus to squads. That way you have a good reason or the other, each doing a slightly different role.

      Yeah it really would. Since the marine codexs got nice banners and special ones, I would expect IG to get our own "super special" standard, then regimental, then platoon. Actaully now that I am thinking, a good fluffy thing for the platoon would be providing the crusader USR, it gives a bonus to run moves, that would in my mind make them useful plus more fluffy to the role they would be in, ie leading the charge forward

    4. Oh yea a selection of banners would be very cool. And the priests would be the option for those who dont wanna risk their officers deaths haha.

      In fantasy banners are very varied. If I recall correctly each faction has banners to choose from and then there are generic ones. Its very cool I think.

      So many possibilities its hard not to get your hopes up haha.

    5. I know, have to be realistic :(. Wishlisting is great and all, but you shoot yourself in the foot when you start believing your own wishes are real

    6. I am definitely feeling that. Im trying not to think about what could be as I have been warned so much about how dangerous it is.