Warhammer 40,000 Faction Focus: Astra Militarum

Who is Reece, and why should I care?

Reece helps runs some of the biggest independent Warhammer 40,000 events in the world, including the Las Vegas Open and the recently announced Southern California Open. Like Frankie, he’s also been part of the playtest team for the new edition of Warhammer 40,000, putting in hundreds of hours to make sure this new edition will be great for all you gamers out there (Thanks Reece!).

He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Warhammer 40,000, so let’s see what he has so say…

Listen up, Guardsmen! Reecius here to talk to you about the Astra Militarum in the new version of Warhammer 40,000. If your heart beats to the rhythm of boots marching and you love the smell of promethium in the morning, then this article is for you.

The Astra Militarum have a long and storied history. They’re comprised of the nameless, faceless billions of brave souls that take up arms in defence of the Imperium. You have to love the idea of a human having the guts to go toe-to-toe with the myriad horrors the 41st Millennium has to offer, armed only with a trusty lasgun and faith in the Emperor.

Currently, Astra Militarum forces often take to the field with big, sprawling infantry platoons sporting numerous attached Characters to give them bonuses or, at the other end of the scale, as largely mobilised tank armies firing massive guns and obliterating the enemy. This combination of hordes of men and powerful machines is a distinctive aspect of the Astra Militarum playstyle.

However, at the moment, they don’t always play on the tabletop the way they’re represented in the background. Wouldn’t it be awesome if some of those units you so rarely see like Scout Sentinels were suddenly not only good, but great? What if Bullgryns and Rough Riders were actually scary in combat? How about Heavy Weapon Squads that actually provide covering fire to the rest of your men instead of just acting as distractions for enemy units? I am here to tell you that all of these things are true in the new edition!

And the hype train just rolls on! Veterans now are truly seasoned warriors that–while no Adeptus Astartes–are soldiers to be respected. Your squads will no longer pop out of their Chimera, shoot one thing, and then die or run away immediately after the enemy returns fire. Nope, now, with the added “encouraging” presence of a nearby Commissar – which limits the losses of a bad Morale test – Astra Militarum are downright stalwart. Even Ratlings – with their sniper weapons allowing them to pick out and target Characters – will now be reaping a tally on your enemy’s leaders in the name of the Emperor!

But it’s not all about the ground pounders. The tanks of the Imperium have had a rough go of it in the current version of the Warhammer 40,000 ruleset, prone to getting destroyed in one shot or ingloriously throwing a tread going over a bush. But no longer. The tanks are back and better than ever. Leman Russes, for example, have Toughness 8 and a 3+ save, so they won’t be slowing down until they’ve lost half of their 12 Wounds. The tanks of the Imperial Guard will definitely be making their mark on battlefields across the Imperium.

There’s so much more to say! Those of you who are long time Astra Militarum players, like me, are going to be thrilled with what is coming. Models you haven’t used in ages, or perhaps those you’ve had your eye on for years, will now be shining stars in your collection.

But here’s one last little tidbit for you, as no conversation about the Guard would be complete without mentioning Orders. One of the Astra Militarum’s most well-known rules mechanics, Orders work automatically now and provide a variety of bonuses. You have 7 to choose from, but the one I want to discuss is ‘First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire!’. This now makes a unit of Astra Militarum infantry treat their lasguns and hot-shot lasguns as Rapid Fire 2; that’s 4 shots per Guardsman at half range! Combined with the fact that every weapon has a chance to hit any target, the much-derided lasgun can now be the deadly laser weapon the Emperor’s armies need.

That’ll be all! Dismissed.

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