Rough Riders

Rating: Marginal


This is a very disappointing choice for the Imperial Guard. Although the new Rough Riders were made a great deal more effective at assaults, point-for-point, they became far less versatile overall as a result. Given that Rough Riders were a pretty piss-poor choice in the old codex, it's a toss-up as to how much of an improvement in total this is, but let's run down the options available to Rough Riders first, to see what I'm getting at.

One small problem, which hasn't been adequately resolved, is the question of whether you can upgrade individual Rough Riders with Hunting Lances or not. The way the entry is written (and compared to other army list entries in the Codex), I would guess that it's an all-or-nothing thing: either the whole squad gets Hunting Lances, or none of them.

This means that Rough Riders that actually are a threat in assaults, that is to say with lances, are useless as 'shooting' units because they cannot take Special Weapons upgrades.

Even if you can mix Special Weapons with Lances, however, there's still another problem: the Hunting Lances are one-shot weapons. The 'Fleet of Hoof' rule means that you're much more likely to get all your Riders into base-to-base contact, and you can count the +1 for assaulting when attacking with lances, meaning that you'll have two S5, I5 attacks power-weapon attacks per Rough Rider (with lance) when you assault, but the down-side is that you'll do this once. Then you're down to ONE attack per 11-point Rough Rider because you gave up the extra close-combat-weapon when you took the lance. That bites.

Naturally, this trade-off is fine if you're facing Space Marines or Terminators, or something similar with excellent armor saves and solid close-combat ability, because there isn't much in the Guard army that can stop these guys once they get into melee, and the points-differential means that you're willing to sacrifice the Rough Riders. But that also means that Rough Riders are far less useful against armies that are not made up of assault-oriented Marines or Terminators. In fact, without special weapons upgrades, a unit of Rough Riders ends up being a highly specialized, and rather pricey, unit that definitely does NOT fit into the tactical agenda of your average Imperial Guard army (in other words: army shooty, but horsies not).

There are some other problems, as well. You really want to take a Veteran Sergeant, both for the extra Hunting Lance attack and the Leadership increase (Ld8), and the Veteran Sergeant also can take a power-weapon for use in the second and subsequent rounds. But Ld8 is still a bit fragile for an assault unit that WILL be taking casualties, and the only way around that is to take a Vox-Caster and have someone with a rock-solid Leadership (Ld9, or preferably Ld10) on the other end. That means you have to take Vox-casters, or a Master-Vox if you have multiple Rough Rider Squadrons, and then it just snowballs from there...

And you can't give Rough Riders any Advisors! The only dedicated assault unit available to the Imperial Guard cannot take a Priest (which would allow rerolls on missed hits!), or a Commissar (who would give you a Leadership bonus!), meaning you'll have no 'hidden' powerfists in the unit. S5 power-weapons are decent against marines and terminators, but if your Rough Riders get caught up fighting Swarms, then you've just wasted your investment...S5 doesn't overkill T3 swarms, after all. And forget about trying to fight horde units (Hormagaunts, Ork Sluggaboyz, Kroot Mercenary units, etc) on equal terms.

Still, Rough Riders are a very flavorful unit choice, and one thing they have plenty of is Coolness Factor. If they weren't so one-dimensional, and competing for Fast Attack slots with Hellhounds and Sentinels, they might rank a little higher as a unit choice.


There are several other ways to use Rough Riders, of course, which are reasonably viable alternatives.

One is to simply take small 5-man units, give them two special weapons and three lasguns, and keep them behind your lines. It'll be more effective to take small units of Hardened Veterans instead, because of the BS4, but one thing Rough Riders can do is move quickly to plug holes opened in your screens -- and they have big, wide bases that can 'fill' those holes far more easily than smaller 1" wide infantry bases.

Another is to take 10-man units with only special weapons upgrades and veteran sergeant, and use them as 'mobile' units that can take and hold objectives -- similar to what Armored Fist units are called upon to do. One obvious drawback, of course, is that Rough Riders are far more vulnerable to enemy fire (and to difficult terrain) than Chimera transports.

Good Doctrine Combos

Unfortunately, you can't give Rough Riders useful assault-oriented Doctrines like Hardened Fighters, Jungle Fighters, or Xeno-Fighters.

However, one particularly useful Doctrine for Rough Riders is the Die-Hards skill. This will help keep Rough Riders from fleeing instantly from combat, and will also make it less necessary to use Vox-Casters.

A number of Special Equipment Doctrines can also be applied to Rough Riders -- the advantage here being that Special Equipment Doctrines can be applied to just Rough Riders, instead of having to be applied to all the Guard Infantry models in your army.

However, among all your options, only Chem-Inhalers seem worth the effort. They are like the Die-Hards skill, only better -- and worth the extra +5 point cost. The only problem is that it's not at all clear whether this is permissible. The Official GW Q&A 'clarifies' that you should 'assume that the normal Guard Infantry restriction applies' to Chem-Inhalers. Very likely this means that Rough Riders cannot take advantage of this otherwise useful option.

The other two Special Equipment Doctrines available to Rough Riders (Carapace Armour and Cyber-enhancement) are far less useful, simply because the added points value of the equipment rarely is reflective of the marginally improved protection they provide. The idea is very cool, but in this case it probably isn't worth the cost.

Created by: system. Last Modification: Sunday 25 of January, 2009 12:06:44 PM EST by ZiggyQubert.

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