Infantry Platoon

Rating: Excellent


Command Squad: Although you are restricted to using 'only' a Junior Officer in an Infantry Platoon's Command Squad -- which also means no company standards or MasterVoxes-- otherwise all options are identical to your Command Platoon's Command Squad. (see the appropriate section for more)

These units are useful as little 'weapons platforms' behind your lines, providing both a modest leadership bonus and extra Heavy Weapons fire. If given a Commissar, your Junior Officer will have a very slick Ld9 in a 12" radius! Of course, this does get moderately pricey, due to the cost of the Commissars, so it's most useful when your Senior Officer intends to move forward (and thus take his superior leadership away from your lines).


Infantry Squad: This is the heart of your army -- or at least its outer layer. Your infantry squads not only provide screens for your "shootier" elites, heavies, and HQ squads, but they also act as the first line of defense, slowing enemy assaults and keeping off the pricier 'core' of your forces.

Of course, the one thing to remember is to always, always, always upgrade your weapons! It is always worth upgrading your infantry squads, for the extremely simple reason that if you don't, you're wasting their potential to field additional dakka for your army, for very little extra cost. The reason infantry squads rank so highly is not only because of their utility as 'human shields' for the rest of your foot troops, but also because your 'human shields' can put out impressive firepower of their own!

Quite honestly, a 6-pt Guardsman with a lasgun is a very pathetic creature; there are few troops in the game that, point-for-point, are inferior. Almost every basic troop type you will face, in fact, will be superior to your 6-pt Guardsman with lasgun.

Relative firepower ratios of basic 'shooty' troops in the 40K universe

X Guardsmen to kill a Y

Y things to kill a Guardsman



4 per Grot (3 pts)

9 Grots



6 per IG Conscript (4 pts)

9 Conscripts



6 per IG Guardsman (6 pts)

6 Guardsmen



9 per Mutant (6 pts)

6.75 Mutants



4.8 per Termagant (7 pts)

4.5 Termagants



4 per Kroot (7 pts)
4.8 per Kroot (8 pts)

4.5 Kroot



6 per Traitor (8 pts)

6 Traitors



7.2 per Ork Shoota (8 pts)

6.75 Orks



6 per Eldar Guardian (8 pts)

1.5 Guardians



6 per Dark Eldar Warrior (8 pts)

3 Warriors



8 per Tau Fire Warrior (10 pts)

2.4 Fire Warriors



12 per Sister of Battle (10 pts)

3 Sisters



12 per Marine Scout (13 pts)

2.25 Scouts



18 per Space Marine (15 pts)

2.25 Marines



18 per Necron Warrior (18 pts)

2.25 Warriors



36 per Plaguemarine (19 pts)

2.25 Plaguemarines



36 per Terminator (42 pts)

1.125 Terminators



Take a look. Your 6-pt Guardsman can outshoot only a very few things, even if you take into account the points difference between the different units, and remember that some units can't rapidfire. Basically it comes down to: Orks, Gretchin, Chaos Traitors, Kroot, and Tyranid Gaunts. They will be outshot, in some cases badly outshot, by everything else (Eldar, Tau, Sisters of Battle, Necrons, every type of Marine -- and even Chaos Mutants!). And that's just the basic trooper!

Now, think about the unit types that Guard can outshoot. Theses are not units in 'shooty' armies. These are units in assault armies that will be rushing toward your guardsmen ASAP. You'll have at most two or three turns of shooting before they tear you apart, and it's important to remember that Imperial Guardsmen do not do well in close combat.

This is why you desperately want to get as many weapons upgrades as possible. If you're playing a 'shooty' Imperial Guard army, you will end up having to take at least a few Infantry Squads. True, their primary purpose is to act as a 'screen' for your shootier units, but if that's all you do with them, you're not taking advantage of their low-cost weapons upgrades. Take a look at the stats above -- 10 Guardsmen with nothing but lasguns are useless for any purpose except as a screen. And screens become worthless when they're reduced to just one or two models.

But, if you give the squad a low-cost heavy weapon, and add a special weapon, your Infantry Squads suddenly become much more versatile! They can add their firepower to other units, and remain a ranged threat to your opponent so long as even one or two models remain alive!


Remember that it's important that you stay as cost-effective possible even when upgrading your infantry squads, however, because ultimately you will be using them as expendable screens. No point in spending a fortune in points on them -- so accordingly, I'm recommending only a heavy weapon and special weapon upgrade, and nothing else. I've even gone through all the options and rated them all in terms of cost-efficiency, starting with Heavy Weapons:

The Autocannon is the best heavy weapon available to Infantry Squads, because it has two shots, a decent S7 hitting power, and is custom-designed to take out light transports. Remember that enemy assaults are the Imperial Guard's #1 weakness. With excellent 48" range and a position in the front ranks, it will be in place to do plenty of damage from the first turn of the game. Furthermore, Autocannons are the weapon you can most afford to lose to enemy shooting and assaults -- they can shoot transports early on, but really aren't essential shooting at most infantry units (except swarms), because their AP4 will bounce off Marines and similar elite units (3+ armor save), and with two shots it won't do much to large hordes.

The Missile Launcher is the next-best heavy weapon. It has a higher top-end strength (S8) than the Autocannon, so is capable of hurting any vehicle, and also has a S4 blast for horde-busting (or when firing at clusters of 2+ armor save creatures!) -- this is nearly as good as a heavy bolter when targets are packed closely together, sometimes better! The Missile Launcher also has excellent 48" range and an AP3, which will worry Marines -- and Marines make up about 99% of all 40K armies. That's only a slight exaggeration. It's not quite so good as the Autocannon, however, because it only has one shot per turn, and Guardsmen aren't great shots. Statistically, the Autocannon will do better (2x S7 shots) against light transports than the Missile Launcher (1x S8 shot).

The Heavy Bolter is the #3 option. It's cheap, has a high rate-of-fire, is excellent against hordes and marginal against light transports. It only has a 36" range, but in infantry squads will be in the front lines, so closer to the enemy. This is NOT an optimal choice -- I would put my Heavy Bolters into dedicated Fire Support teams -- but it's not horrible, mostly because it's the cheapest heavy weapon option.

The Lascannon is the King of heavy weapons! But in an Infantry Squad, it's the priciest heavy weapon by far (10 points more than any other), particularly when being fired by a gunner with BS3, and it's a poor choice for screening units that will be the first ones to take losses (particularly if your opponent has a choice between shooting at a unit WITH a lascannon, and shooting at a unit without). Unless you know that you will need lots of Lascannons in your army (for example, you're playing against a Deathwing army with lots of Land Raiders and Terminators), save the points and put your Lascannons elsewhere, like Command Teams or Anti-Tank teams.

The Mortar...I'm sorry, it's hard to type when I'm laughing so hard my fingers are shaking, and my eyes are so full of tears that I can't see the screen. At least 10 points is an improvement over 15 (what they cost in the previous codex), but remember:

  • It's only a S4, AP6 blast. Even if your opponent graciously clusters his units together to make your mortars more effective, this is still only slightly better potential damage than a heavy bolter. And Pinning is never very reliable.
  • Because it's a guess-range weapon (and thus scatters), it's only about as accurate as a direct-fire weapon, anyway.
  • If you shoot at something out of LOS, the rest of the Infantry Squad will be able to do nothing more than sit around and contemplate their navels.
  • It's only S4 AP6. That's not a heavy weapon, that's barely a longer-range storm bolter.

    If you want Mortars, then you need to design your entire list to do Mortars -- meaning Mortars in your Command Squads, Heavy Weapons Teams full of Mortars, etc. In that case, this might be a good choice in an Infantry Squad. But in every other case, you're just wasting 10 points. Pick another heavy weapon instead.


    When it comes to Special Weapons, things are much more straightforward: basically any of the four options is a good choice, although for a stationary Infantry squad, the meltagun is probably the least useful. Your four choices are ranked below:

    The Plasmagun is pricey and overheats (and there's a good chance you'll lose your gunner if it does), but is the Ultimate rapid-fire weapon, and probably the best option for a screening unit. It's designed for units that intend to sit and shoot, and with S7 AP2, will hurt virtually everything in the 40K universe short of vehicles with AV14.

    The Grenade Launcher is not one of my favorite weapons, but the new codex made the launcher a 'cheaper' choice by making all the other special weapons pricier. With S6 AP4 and a 24" range, it will provide some extra firepower against light transports, and it has more range than either the flamer or melta, making it a decent choice in screening units. The S3 blast is almost never worth using, however, unless you can hit at least four models at once.

    The Flamer is cheap, but you'll rarely get an opportunity to use it in a screening squad, simply because you'll rarely have an opportunity to get close enough. If you do, however, you'll do some serious damage, and having a few flamers will make your opponents think twice about move up close to your lines but not assaulting (either by falling short, or having just disembarked from a close-topped transport, if using the Trail Vehicle Rules). This is a good choice for a screening unit.

    The Meltagun is pricey and short-ranged, and only one-shot. In fact, in most cases your screening unit will literally get no more than one shot off with it, before getting assaulted or shot to pieces. Still, it's a S8, AP1 weapon, and having a few in your lines will definitely discourage tank-shocking by your opponent, as well as threaten any lone characters or models that try stupid heroics!


    There are a number of other options available to Infantry Squads, which are worth going over for the sake of completeness.

    The Vox-Caster is not worth it, period. Stay close to an officer instead. Stay close to a Senior Officer and Company Standard if you can.

    Grenades are a complete waste of points, as you'll practically never use them, and at +10/+20 points per squad, the cost will never be worth the return, anyway.

    The Veteran Sergeant isn't worth the cost. Save points and stay near an officer instead. There's nothing worth taking from the Armory, anyway, not for a 1-wound, WS3/BS3 model! This is a marginally useful upgrade in conjunction with the Close-Order Drill doctrine, but only barely. Usually it's much easier and cheaper just to keep the Infantry Squad near a Ld9 officer instead.

    And as for what weapons to give your Sergeant, that's not likely to make a huge difference one way or another, but it never hurts to follow through on all the little details. The Shotgun is obviously the least useful upgrade, while the Lasgun is marginally more useful for a unit that mostly will stay stationary and shoot/screen. But the Laspistol and Close-Combat Weapon combination will give you a little extra help in the inevitable melee, for very little trade-off. Honestly, very few folks will stick between 12" and 24" from an IG army for very long (the only range at which there's a difference between a laspistol and lasgun). And at 12" or less, the laspistol can rapidfire just the same as a lasgun.

    Finally, Remnants are a very cool idea, a nice way to 'fill in' points or to create small 'throwaway' units with a special weapon. So you can create, for example, a half-sized squad with a flamer or meltagun that can be sent to threaten various enemy targets. However, remember that these are basically an understrength squad of Imperial Guardsmen. In other words, not very reliable. And because Remnant squads cannot take heavy weapons, you might end up thinking about just getting more Infantry Squads instead!

    Still, Remnants do have some nifty uses. Kyoto Sensei points out that remnants make great speed bump units. How many times have you had someone assault your front line and fail to kill all 10 guardsmen? So on your turn not only is your line of fire blocked but he'll finish off the squad then and be able to move and assault your without a response. I think a 6-7 man remnant team with a grenade launcher (so they're not worth shooting up) would make a great distraction. Assaulty players pounce on them seeing easy prey and forget about the 100+ guys who will rapid fire into them next turn. An excellent suggestion! The Imperium always loves to get good use out of the lives of its loyal subjects, hehehe.

    ecclektik notes that theoretically, you can have 64 men in a full platoon (before adding advisors, etc), because the rules allow you to take a Remnant squad of 5-9 men in addition to whatever else you take in the Infantry Platoon. So, you could field a full-sized Infantry Platoon (5 men in the Command Squad, plus 50 men in 5 Infantry Squads), PLUS the Remnants. It's almost like taking a "sixth" Infantry Squad in the Platoon.

    At first thought, I had no idea how this might be useful. After years of playing Imperial Guard, I have NEVER run out of 'open slots' in a platoon for extra Infantry Squads and found myself scrambling for ways to fit in an 'extra' squad or two. Still, it's something that comes in handy occasionally.

    Kyoto Sensei notes: remnants can be useful if you're using IG allies in a DH force where it is easy to run out of troop slots (I do it all the time). Alternatively, if you use many allied Troop units in a Guard army, you can quickly start running out of Troop slots.


    To review -- each Infantry Squad should average 83 or so points, and certainly no more than 85! Keep in mind that you don't want to be spending more than about 250 points per minimal-sized Infantry Platoon (1x Command Squad, 2x Infantry Squads), or you'll quickly run out of points for your shootier stuff.


    Good Doctrine Combos:

    Note that there are quite a few Doctrines that could be applied to Infantry Squads, but a good number of them will radically change the organization, play, and flavor of your entire army. The following three Doctrines will have less of a dramatic effect, but will still prove quite useful.

    1. Close-Order Drill: This costs nothing and applies only to infantry platoon units and conscripts (so will apply to the Junior Officer's command squad as well, although it won't affect his projected Leadership value so will not matter in most cases). It's a nice one to have in situations where officers aren't near, and if used in combination with a Veteran Sergeant is even nicer (Ld9)! Still, that begs the question: why would you plan on leaving the Leadership radius of a nearby Officer?

    Close-Order Drill is more useful for the +1 Initiative bonus, giving your Guardsmen a (brief) shot at doing a little damage to enemy assaulters before being wiped out (most assault units in 40K have Initiative 4). Because screening units want to be base-to-base in most cases anyway, otherwise they won't be able to adequately screen things, the doctrine's effects will usually apply without any special effort on your part. And, you can always choose to lose base-to-base contact between your models, when removing casualties, if you need to drop your leadership value down for a Morale check you're trying to fail.

    2. Drop Troops: Another doctrine that costs nothing, this allows a good chunk of your infantry to Deep Strike (note: this does not apply to Stormtroopers, who must buy the Deepstrike ability for extra points). It's a nice doctrine to design your army around, and will make meltaguns and flamers (especially!) the most effective Special Weapons upgrades in your army by far. It's also a reasonable doctrine to take to 'fill out' your limit of five, if you're short of your full allotment, because of the tactical flexibility you're provided in games that allow you to Deep Strike.

    Kyoto Sensei adds: Deep Striking with Drop Troops should be thought of as a bonus, not something to count on, since you will only be able to use it in half the missions. I would not make too many units designed around deep striking.

    3. Jungle Fighters: This is actually a fairly costly doctrine, but if you know that you'll be able to take advantage of the terrain in a mission (and can live with the 'no lascannon' limitation), this is a heck of a good deal for all the benefits it gives you -- particularly the 12" vision through trees, and the 4+ cover save for your infantry. Plus, you can pick-and-choose which units to apply these benefits to. Apart from that, however, this isn't the most useful of doctrines.

    Kyoto Sensei adds: The Jungle Fighter doctrine only restricts las cannons to the JF units, you can still have lascannons in other units (but of course they then don't get all the JF benefits

Created by: system. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of January, 2009 12:00:40 PM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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