Back in June, Warhammer 40K finally received the 8th edition of its ruleset. A new edition means new army lists – or Codexes by Hams parlance. And while there are chances that orks are going to get shafted again and not receive a dex until 9th edition, the Imperial Guard (or Astra Militarum) is the next one to get a Codex. While we are assured to receive some neat stuff like Vostroyans getting 6” range to any weapon that matters, there is stuff that we're unlikely to see, even if we really wanted to. Here's the list of the stuff I think would be the grimdark bee's knees.
1. Command Squad Package Deals
You're selling those miniatures together, so put them on the battlefield together, too.
Previously, heroes/independant characters were a pain in the ass in 40K, bringing along such horrible idea like Challenges. They have been majorly rewamped: heroes can no longer join units – instead, they provide a buff aura to units that have the required keywords. Heroes can't be shot at if there's a regular unit from their army between them and the shooter.
This works with Space Marines and other big dudes that joined other units to have a pool of ablative wounds (and to make horrible combos). Imperial Guard, however, is made up of regular dudes, so even their commanders of are not that special. In fact, named characters aside, Imperial Guard commanders used to come with their own command squads. They mostly provided leadership bonuses for when Guardsmen start feeling the not-that-irrational need to run away, as well as shouting orders (a unique Guardsmen mechanic). So, you know, they weren't really these combat power houses that needed nerfing.
I'm sure this dude is about to solo a Daemon Prince and win. Gotta nerf him.
Yet here we are. Company Commanders stayed in the HQ slot, while Platoon Commanders and Command Squads now separated from CO's are now in the Elites spot. This has lead to shitty WAAC assholes making armies of just Command Squads (they're an economical way of bringing small, veteran special weapon teams into the field). This has also made building guardsmen lists really uncomfortable, especially if you want to recreate the previous structure of command.
Well, this is a shitty situation which could be remedied wby taking inspiration from previous Imperial Guard codices. As a single troop choice for Space Marines is a Tactical Marine squad, while a troop choice for Imperial Guard was usually a platoon: a platoon command squad and two Imperial Guard squads. The whole structure could then be expanded to some crazy heights with more squads, special weapon squads, heavy weapon teams and more. .
So give us back the “platoon” deals! Make a single HQ choice contain both a Company Commander and his Command Squad. They can still act separately once on the table – Space Marines Leutenants are bought the same way: you buy one or more as a single HQ choice, but they can all run off and do their thing on the battleflied. The same approach could apply to Troop choices: a Guard platoon could be a Platoon as a Platoon Commander, a Command Squad and zero-to-more Imperial Guard squads. Presto, problem solved!
2. Create An Actual Chain Of Command
It's kind of like that, but managers can call in artillery.
Movie writers, game developers and pundits know shit all about war. Therefore, the Orders system for Imperial Guard is kinda gamey and boring: an order might allow a squad to shoot twice, or shoot after running, or shoot inside melee. A Company commander can issue two a turn, while the Platoon commanders can only do one. Previously, you needed to pass a leadership check for them to work – now, they're automatic.
Meanwhile, Stargrunt II, a good setting agnostic ruleset you can download for free from Ground Zero Games' website has officers issue soldiers an another turn of acting. And if they successfully give the order to a junior officer, those can radiate the order to more squads. This makes the chain of command an interesting system of increasing the efficiency of your army that's also succeptible to what is called friction (in military stuff that means that shit goes sideways on the battlefield). It would also make sense for enemy players to target the chain of command for reasons other than kill points.
If a Guard Company Commander could give orders to Platoon commanders that would then radiate the effects to the squads in their platoon, that would be super amazing. Returning a leadership test would mean you wouldn't be guaranteed to have your free round of shooting. And radiating the orders would make it all more economical, as well doing wonders for people who want to represent Guard's strength in numbers without going back to the indignity of Combined Squads.
3. Tank Cover!
Back in 7th edition, when formations (which gave certain combinations of troops special rules) and detachments (which gave certain combinations of certain combinations of troops special rules) ran rampant, even the Start Collecting! kits had their own formations. Those starters didn't have legitimate forces and were hardly balanced, so they needed to have something going for them.
The Commissar is there to add a bit of dashing.
The Guardsmen Start Collecting! kit had a fun rule where tank provided cover for the infantry hiding behind them (or vice versa). This would be wonderful for mechanized guard armies! Tanks giving cover to infantry could symbolize the infantry taking cover behind the creeping tanks (which may or may not be realistic) Meanwhile, infantry giving cover to tanks could mean that the Guardsmen are on the lookout for tank-hunter teams and other shitheads that want to harm their heavy metal friend.
And the mean time, this rule – and maybe the radiating order rule – could not apply to conscripts, since they aren't trained and/or experienced enough to carry that out.
4. Carapace Veterans
The only non-Tempestus carapace armor models a Guards player can access now.
I think it was the 4th edition Imperial Guard codex that gave us make-your-own-regiment rules. But it was too fun/hard to balance, so it was axed almost immediately. However, Imperial Guard Veterans (Guardsmen with the same shooting skill as Space Marines) had doctrines or tactics that let you modify them, for a price. The one I liked the most was Grenadiers: giving the dudes carapace armor.
Back in the day of... June 17th, 2017, hits either outright ignored armor, or didn't affect it at all. The natural Guardsman armor save of 5+ (on a D6 dice) was unspectacular to begin with, only saving your bacon 1/3 of the time. However, as power creep set in (to offset or bolster Marine sales), Guardsman players forgot what it meant to roll an armor save. No joke, one of my friends was surprised to roll it when we tried a Guard-on-Guard fight.
Carapace armor gave you a 4+ or a 50/50 save. However, the same power creep that made Power Armor largely irrelevant made Guard players (especially power players) not want to make the pricey investment. However, 8th edition now has modifiers to armor rolls, with many guns losing the ability to go straight through flak armor (and even AP -1, probably the most popular AP mark, “only” takes it down to 6+).
One of the most popular AP -1 sources is the heavy bolter. DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA.
Which makes the 4+ armor all the sweeter, since you'll be using it more often. Plus, I like the idea of keeping your most experienced guys in the force safe, especially if they get forward deployed to capture objectives. A Veteran squad with 4+ armor camping in cover would be rolling Space Marine level saves!
However, Games Workshop doesn't have any Carapace Guardsmen models, and the new policy seems to be to not leave any business for third party bits producers (a pointless fight). So boo!
5. Give Us Back Psykers And Priests
Hey, look at me, I have a chainsword... and a bell...
Dawn of War teaches us: Guardsmen are kinda weak, but you can fix that by attaching specialists to their formations. Commissars inspire men to hold the line (and shoot the ones who don't). Psykers provide them with psychic back up, while priests inspire them to RIP AND TEAR for the Emperor!
Or at least they used to, before being separated into Adeptus Astra Telepathica (for the psykers) and Ministorum (for priests) “armies.” Telepathica has three unit entries and there's no way in hell that will ever become a real faction. Meanwhile, the priest is a squishy, badly armored zealot that has to hide behind power armored Sisters of Battle, who have more faith in the Emperor than he could ever muster.
A good HQ shoots bullets without a gun.
And considering how keyword faction powers (like Chapter Tactics and Regiments for Imperial Guard) supposedly work, you have to take Priest and Psykers in separate detachments. And even if you don't, you still wouldn't do it any other way so as not to lose access to regiment rules. So now, you're just being inconvenienced for no good reason.
All those tiny, never-gonna-be-anything factions just remind me of those rump factions in Age of Sigmar. Yes, I'm sure they're going to release a full book for your faction made from two units that Games Workshop doesn't want to cancel yet, but has no further plans for. I'm sure Switfhawk Agents will be expanded into a real faction, just you wait!
That's that, folks! Let's hope that the real Codex will be good.