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Master-Level Imperial Guard

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#1 venkelos



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Posted 21 August 2013 - 06:50 AM

I really do rather like the method of the stat blocks in OW. BC, and DW being designated as Master, Elite, and Troop type stuff. Is there anything in IG though that could ever qualify as a Master-level entry? Even their best soldiers, their most tactically-capable officers are still just flesh and blood, maybe with some better gear. I built my military leader/Gov. Mil. NPC as a Master entry, but that was mostly because he rules a planet, for the most part, and has the highest-end gear available, as well as smarts, skill, and the respect of his men.


So, in a "real" entry, can IG hope to sport anything like a Master? Tau use their suits, while Space Marines and CSMs use their "better than average" entrants, and those who have been changed. Ork Warbosses are big and powerful, while an Eldar Farseer, or DE Archon are just unhittable. Is there something? Could a CCS, consisting of several joes, but moving as a unit, sort of like a Horde does, manage, or are they just Elite and lower troops? Even one of the greatest Guardsmen of all time, like Lord Castellan Creed (Cadian fan ;)), I don't know, would seem like an Elite.

#2 Spinner



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Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:20 AM

Probably just a few high-ranking individuals, honestly. Powerful Commissars, Primaris Psykers, maybe a feral world Colonel, that sort of thing. Imperial Guard don't tend to rise in the ranks because they're exceptionally dangerous one-on-one, and most of the heavy lifting is done by their vehicles.

#3 Lynata



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Posted 21 August 2013 - 09:13 AM

I'd say it's a question of who you compare them to, and how you define "Master". With the Imperial Guard, experience generally does not result in extremely buffed combat stats, but rather social influence gained from rising in rank as well as making powerful friends and becoming a living legend amongst the troops. There are some exceptions to this, though.
The way I'd see it ...
Troops: The rank-and-file, with a regiment's homeworld resulting in various sub-levels of difference in quality and combat prowess.
Elite: Special forces with above-average combat experience and sheer grit. Storm Troopers, Cadian Kasrkin, maybe Veteran squads. I'd also put individual Commissars and Officers here due to their training and wargear access. For example, officers may well carry refractor fields, carapace breastplates and/or heirloom boltguns.
Master: Named heroes and heroines of exceptional importance to the background. People like Yarrick, who eats Orks for breakfast and, in spite of having suffered grievous injuries, apparently just doesn't die. Or like the Catachan Colonel Straken, who managed to strangle a Chaos Marine Lord with his bare hands. Maybe even Guardsman Marbo.  ;)

#4 Magnus Grendel

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 01:21 AM

Aside from Straken/Yarrick types, guardsmen shouldn't really be master level for fighting power. Even with the best of intentions, the most dangerous are going to have stats which are the equivalent, not superior, of a single marine or legionary, and 'best quality' rather than 'astartes' weaponry.


Even with fate points up the wazoo, they're not a fair fight for groups of player characters.


That said:

Raw damage output isn't the only thing which makes someone an elite or master foe. Ability as a leader of troops matters, too.

Give a Dominate officer the ability to issue something that looks like the sweeping order Get Them! and suddenly those six or seven lasgun wielding mooks look a lot scarier, no matter the officer's own statline. The Stormtrooper sargeant in Oblivion's Edge could rally and direct his squad, repairing magnitude damage at a scary rate, and the Stormtrooper entry in Dark Heresy: Ascension (who is admittedly much scarier than his basic Only War equivalent) can give nearby troops the ability to reroll misses when shooting.


Abilities like this are what I would use to push a guard officer up to Master-level. Creed, to use your example, is not a Master-level foe by himself. He should, however, be able to lead/support a squad of generic Troops to the point that they behave more like Elite foes, and that's what makes him a Master-levle threat.

#5 Ghaundan



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Posted 11 September 2013 - 05:34 AM

There are master level dominate officers in Enemies of the Imperium. They wouldn't last long against say... a warboss or archon in a fight, but they'd do a real damn good job leading his men.

#6 venkelos



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Posted 12 September 2013 - 11:31 AM

Trying to figure out what makes him "Master"; how he is "better", or more imposing than a Chaos Space Marine. His stats are meh, even the "boss you around" ones, and the Command score is good, but still. TbtF can't be that great, and I am confused. Seems my "made from the start" Sergeant, or at least any Commander character I might play would then qualify as a Master-level threat.


I'm rather sure I am reading a bit too much in, and if the SD Comm is present, he should have a  lot of other SD troops to back him up, and maybe a base with artillery to hide in, but he doesn't seem as impressive as most any Elites, and certainly no Master Nid, Crisis Suit, Seer, etc. I guess it must mostly depend on strategy. Being a higher Officer, I might also add in a refractor field, just because I am a firm believer that most Officers should maybe have a field protection.

#7 bogi_khaosa



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Posted 14 September 2013 - 08:17 AM

He's not a Master on his lonesome. He buffs the troops nearby.


OW isn't a game of single combat, characters fighting one lone warboss, say. They're always surrounded by other troops, naturally enough, it being about war.


And no way should he be out in the front charging the enemy like a moron.

#8 Magnus Grendel

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 05:26 AM

Agreed. As I said, it's all about armies working as...well...armies.
The fact that your sergeant buffs a few guys by a couple of points of damage makes him useful, but not necessarily a master by himself. There's a question of the scale of bonuses.  
Here is a quick, narrative thought experiment:
He is not more physically imposing than a chaos marine. But, if you've got fifteen Dominate Guardsmen and a Dominate Commander, versus fifteen Stigmartus Troopers and a Chaos Marine, then if the former force beats the latter force without breaking a sweat, then logically the Dominate commander is a higher threat than the marine, which means he must be a master-level opponent.
Assuming the fight starts at the edge of standard range - 200 metres or so. You're not going to start any closer as with a high Per and Int, and good Tactics skills, you're not going to sneak up on this guy.
Chaos marine sets off towards the guardsmen at 5 metres a turn, firing semi-automatic bursts as he does so. He's going to pulp a guardsman every other turn with a bolter hit. Stigmartus shoot a little and miss a lot, winging three of the Dominate troopers, but are extremely disconcerted to find that suppressing automatic fire actions from their autoguns do next to nothing, as thanks to the Dominate Officer's  Into The Jaws Of Hell talent the Dominate Troopers ignore fear and pinning.
Dominate Officer declares Front Rank Fire! Second Rank Fire!* giving nearby Dominate Guardsmen Lasgun Barrage, pinning, +4 damage, +5 BS and the ability to reroll failed BS tests**. Thanks to a Fel bonus of 6 and appropriate orator-type talents, this affects the entire squad, and the command test to trigger it is a formality. A third of the stigmartus are vapourised in a blizzard of overcharged lasgun fire, and most of rest are cowering on the floor having failed pinning tests.
After a couple of turns of this, the Chaos marine realises that the stigmartus are useless and incompetent (they aren't, he is). Bellowing a challenge to the sky, he breaks into a dead run, covering 30 metres towards the officer.
The officer repeats his last instruction, indicating the marine.
The marine will take about six turns to cover the distance to the guardsmen, taking an average of just shy of three quarters of a wound per firing Dominate Soldier (who thanks to the above bonus is firing at BS30 with a reroll even against a running target, and doing 1D10+9 Pen2 damage per hit). That's fifty-one wounds past armour and toughness. Realistically, before he's even got halfway, Marine falls over, ventilated.
Yes, the marine could have tried to shoot the officer, but between a refractor field, a decent agility, dodge and fate rerolls provided by Touched By Fate, he's unlikely to hit him. Besides which, even with a legion bolter, the officer can probably survive at least one hit. For that matter, the situation is probably even worse, because I've assumed none of the lasgun hits are criticals affecting the marines ability to move or see - which is quite likely as a high proportion of lasgun wounds on a marine will be righteous fury. Also, the Dominate Officer probably has Combat Formation and/or Combat Sense, which means he and the Dominate Troopers use his Int/Per bonus for their initiative - meaning they're definitely shooting before the Stigmartus and probably even before the marine.
Yes, in a one-on-one fight, the marine probably wins (although don't underestimate an officer with refractor field, decent dodge and a standard officer-issue power fist, especially when he has Fate points and the marine doesn't). But through an equal number of supporting troops into the picture and the marine genuinely doesn't have a prayer. Hence, the officer is a Master-level threat.
If you want a genuine, doesn't-need-support master-level threat from an Imperial Guard/Stigmartus/Dominate force, then the way to build the officer is like this:

* I always felt there was an important element missing from that standard order; Front Rank, Kneel! Otherwise it's just going to be messy.
** Okay, I'm making this up as I go along but it's not a totally unreasonable thing to see for a master-level opponent, is it? It's the Get Them! Sweeping Order, Suppressing Fire and Volley Fire comrade abilities and the Ascension Stormtrooper Battlefield Command ability used together.

Edited by Magnus Grendel, 17 September 2013 - 05:52 AM.

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#9 venkelos



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Posted 17 September 2013 - 02:50 PM

See, now that helps. Thanks for the explanation. With a lot of the Sergeant's stuff that i can immediately think of being "affect your pawns", rather than affect your PCs, I sometimes forget about the legit squad-wide boosts SOME officers can use. This is a nice narrative for that.


Also, yes to the Baneblade. I can totally see the Officer in there, safe as can be, murdering everything.



I do wish, however, that their variant of the Officer above was as good. HE seems inferior to his Legate, with kinda crap Fellowship, and shite Talents for bossing; maybe more an assault-commander. Oh well, that's when you can make your own, right? Where is your above order from? EotI has one with mostly that name, and it's Severan, but it sucks, by comparison.

Edited by venkelos, 17 September 2013 - 03:13 PM.

#10 Magnus Grendel

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 12:58 AM

Front Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire! is an order that guard lieutenants can issue in the 40k tabletop wargame. The name just seemed appropriate.


As to the rules effects; whilst I made it up as I was typing, all of the component elements are from Only War or Dark Heresy talents that do exist and would be well within the scope of a ten-thousand-plus XP officer or priest type character, smooshed together into a single rule. As ever, if the unit, character or item you need doesn't exist, feel free to invent it.

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