Astra Militarum thoughts – updating the Rebel Grots

Rebel GrotsHello all,

I haven’t had a chance to play using the new Astra Militarum codex but I have had it in my hands long enough to give it a decent read through.  I won’t give a full unit by unit but I’d like to talk about how it affects my Rebel Grot army now and in the near future.  It brings a modelling set back for me personally but overall I think it’s going to be a boost for me and most other IG players.

First off, here’s the 1500 point list I’ve been using:

I was going for something that would match the basic character of the Rebel Grots and give me a solid list that would be fun to play.  The basic plan is that the Infantry Squads blob up and camp with the Company Command Squad who orders them to bring down priority targets while holding a rear objective.  The Platoon Command Squad, Veterans, and Penal Battalion head out to score other objectives.  The vehicles are all there to screen and blow stuff up.  The Armored Sentinels also act as a counter assault unit when necessary.  From a model standpoint I have all of the infantry for this list painted.  All of the tanks are built (only some painted) and I’m currently building the sentinels.  I’m trying to get the whole army built and painted for the Fratris Salutem on June 21st.  So how is all of this affected by the new codex?

First off, the new orders system is better!  The PCS now has a 12″ command radius instead of 6″, the CCS remains the same with two orders per turn at 12″.  All of the orders from the last book remain, mostly unchanged.  ‘Fire on my Target’ has been improved from forcing the target to re-roll successful cover to ignoring cover all together.  ‘Bring it Down’ has changed to granting Monster Hunter or Tank Hunter instead of twin-linking, making it better in some cases but worse in some others.  There are some additional orders granting benefits like pinning.  I don’t think I’ll get as much use out of the new orders but it’s good to have options.  Overall the updated orders system makes my command squads a bit better.  The CCS is 10 points more expensive, but can get carapace armor for less.  PCS is pretty much the same.

The new Warlord table is probably going to be better than the stock ones in most cases.  New possible results include a 12″ bubble that prevents friendly AM units from taking morale tests due to casualties, +6″ range on orders, an extra order per turn, or preferred enemy for the warlord and his unit.  I don’t think there were any results on the table that won’t be helpful.  I’m very happy with that!

Infantry squads remain about the same points and options.  Sergeants can now upgrade their laspistol to a bolter for an extra point.  This is great for two reasons.  First of all, this makes him more useful in a squad the mostly sits and shoots by giving him the same range as the rest of the unit.  Secondly, I modeled both of my sergeants with bolters thinking it was an option and was disappointed when I realized it wasn’t!

Veteran squads are now 10 points cheaper and can still take 3 special weapons plus a heavy weapon.  The Grenadiers and Forward Sentries options are much cheaper now so I’m more likely to upgrade the veteran squad.  Being pretty much the same as before but cheaper means Veterans are even better now!

Ratling Snipers are the same points but they’ve gained the ability to run after firing.  It could be useful in some situations and it’s free; I’ll take it!

The chimera keeps the same standard equipment and options as before but has gone up by 10 points.  They number of models that can fire out of the top hatch has gone from 5 to 2 so they lose some effectiveness for units with more than 2 special/heavy weapons.  The lasgun batteries are now counted as separate weapon systems that can be fired at separate targets from the rest of the chimera weapons as long as there are models inside to man them.  This means the chimera is more effective against infantry as long as it’s full of dudes.  Overall I think the chimera isn’t really better or worse than before and the points increase was fair.  At 65 points they’ll still see heavy use.

The devil dog went up by 15 points but the multimelta upgrade dropped by 5.  At 10 points more than before I am still happy to include it.

I have had good luck with Autocannon armed Armored Sentinels but I still felt they were a little over priced for 2 hull points and one weapon.  Now they’ve lost Extra Armor from their standard gear and came down by 15 points.  I have not found the Extra Armor to do me any good so I’m extremely happy to make that trade!  The missile launcher, lascannon, and plasma cannon upgrades have also come down in price so I’m much more likely to give those a shot in the future.

The Leman Russ Battle Tank (the battle cannon variant) remains the same, but the other variants have come down in price.  I’ve been using Exterminators and thought they were good, at 20 points cheaper they’re even better!  The lascannon upgrade has also been reduced by 5 points.

The basilisk has the same rules, for the same price.  Still awesome!

There are also some new upgrades for vehicles.  Relic plating grants +1 to Deny the Witch.  Recovery gear grants immobilization repair similar to the repair rule on marine Rhinos.  Fire barrels can be deployed the first time the tank is charged to deal d6 flamer hits to the charging unit.  I am definitely going to give those a try!

My one gripe about the new codex is that they’ve dropped the Penal Battalion, leaving me a scoring unit short!  I was using Necrmunda gangers as human mercenaries to represent the Penal Battalion but they aren’t a great representation for any of the other units in the codex so whatever I replace them with will have to be modeled soon.  They’ve also dropped the non-basilisk artillery options.  That is unfortunate but since I hadn’t built any yet it doesn’t impact me much.  They are all available through forge world rules so most of the people who’ve been using them can still find a way to keep them.  There are some cool new units as well but right now I want to focus on how the new book impact my current army so I’ll move on to that.  If you’d like a decent list of the changes from the old codex to the new you’ll find one here.

Taking into account the increases and decreases in points cost across my army I have a net reduction of 50 points.  The lost Penal Batallion was 80 points so I have 130 points to put back into the army.  That’s enough for quite a few different options.  My first priority is to replace the lost scoring unit so that rules out adding any of the pricier tanks or anything from the elites slot.

I could go the cheapest route and add another infantry squad.  I could give them a grenade launcher for a little extra punch on the move and they could take the chimera from the CCS to make them mobile.  This would leave me 75 points to play with.  That’s enough to buy them a chimera of their own (for four in the army) or maybe I could give the Wyvern a try.  4 twin-linked blasts with strength 4 and shred could be fun.  Or throw in another infantry squad for a total of four in the army.  The Combined Squads rule means I could build a lot of flexibility to tailor my deployment towards each mission.

I could add a squad of melta vets and give them the chimera currently attached to the CCS.  Mobile scoring with melta is pretty handy.

The option I’m leaning towards the most is a squad of conscripts with a priest.  60 points gets me a starting sized squad of 20, plus 25 points for the priest to give them fearless and rage.  He also brings battle hymns with the chance of adding re-rolls to wound, re-rolls to saves when the squad is in close combat.  He also has a hymn that grants himself smash.  A mob of frothing rabble is a great fit for the Rebel Grots theme and they’d be an effective scoring unit or tarpit on the table.  I would have enough points left over to add a commissar or another priest to bolster the infantry blob too.

In any case, I have some options to consider and more modelling to do!  I think the new Astra Militarum codex will be a good one with a lot of options to play with.  Most of the units from the outgoing codex have made it intact into the new one so most IG players should be able to continue with the models they have, but there are some new options to explore as well.

  • Seems like overall you made out well with the update. More modeling is never fun with a deadline but what can you do?

    I’m intentionally avoiding the codex to stay focused. I have the feeling the codex will suck me in and make me lose focus on getting my army ready for FS with thoughts of getting my IG allies finally useable. I just with Chaos could ally with Tempestus. I love the look of those models and an elite Guard army is more up my alley.

    • Yeah, other than the deadline issue I think I am going to be very happy with the new codex.

      For an elite allied contingent you could take a Lord Commissar or CCS in carapace and Vets in carapace for your compulsory slots. Cadian heads and arms on Scion bodies would make nice armored veterans. Scions come as a platoon so your single allied elites slot gets you 1-3 scion squads and 0-1 scion command squad. The scions won’t be scoring but they can deep strike in to assassinate units and deny objectives.

      In any case, you are probably wise to wait until after the Fratris to put any work into it.

  • JD Brink

    I played against some new IG last weekend and I think they probably did make out pretty well in this edition. Overall, more bang for your buck. But I agree whole-heartedly about the Penal Legions. Those were my favorite guys! I am gravely disappointed in that decision.

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