: Excellent

Commissars have many, many uses, making them great additions not just to units that will get 'stuck in' close combat, but also to Command Squads that plan to hang back and shoot. You can take up to five of them without spending a single Doctrine Point, and as an added bonus, they aren't Independent Characters, so they can't be targeted in close combat -- and because they can take officer weapons, that means that Commissars are a great place to put Powerfists (yes, Power Weapons, too, but why settle for less?)

But the best reason to take a Commissar is that his mere presence gives an Officer or Sergeant in the unit an effective +1Ld bonus -- one which according to the Official GW Q&A DOES work in conjunction with the officer's Leadership ability. This makes Commissars near-essential in all Guard armies, regardless of their actual design and orientation. Not only does this provide an additional bonus to your officer's leadership, but it also means that, even if he kills that officer (or sergeant), or the officer (or sergeant) gets killed, you still have solid leadership in the unit -- Ld10! (see the tables on Morale Check failure in the Command Squad entry for evidence of how effective Ld10 really is)

By the way, there are some drawbacks to using Commissars. For one, there is a 1-in-18 chance per turn that you use a psychic power, that a Commissar in the same squad as a Sanctioned Psyker will kill him (as a result of the Perils of the Warp rule). The more Psykers and Commissars you have, obviously, the greater the odds of a Psyker getting killed during the course of a game. Also, the presence of a Commissar in a squad will help keep it in combat -- even if you don't want that to happen! So, buyer beware.

Marginal Doctrine Combo:
Independent Commissars are an interesting Doctrine choice, but seem rarely worth it -- for one, it makes the commissar a target in close combat! It does allow him to lead a unit that he normally can't join, however, like Ogryn (and there are plenty of fluff-based reasons for this), or Conscripts -- so long as the unit doesn't already have a leader-type model (like a Sergeant or Officer...or Bone'ead). If there's already a leader-type model in the unit, the Commissar simply becomes an advisor; including killing the leader and taking over if the unit ever fails a Morale Check. D'oh!

On the other hand, imagine a 50-model unit of cheap Conscripts acting as a screen for the rest of your army -- and led by a Ld10! The biggest disadvantage is that Commissars then become a 0-3 Elites choice that DO take up a slot in the Force Organization Chart, whereas otherwise they are a 0-5 HQ choice that does not. This could cause problems in Reserves missions, or make it difficult to take as many Elites choices as you otherwise might have wished.

Created by: system. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of January, 2009 11:52:32 AM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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