“Oooooh a’reaving we will go!!!” Imperial Guard vs Dark Eldar 1500pts Battle Report

Hello there fellow warmongers!  I got in another casual game against my friend Dan last week, but have only just got around to writing it up due to a severe case of boneidleitis (Oh woe is me!  why does it afflict me so?!).

Anyway, Dan once more bought his beautifully painted Dark Eldar in the ‘Realspace Raiders’ formation,  but this time with more of a focus on mobility and speed.  Sporting three raiders, a ravager, four venoms, two reaver jetbikes squads and a butt load of trueborn, kabalite warriors and wracks inside them, they were also led by Lelith Hesperax and a contingent of wyches.

I decided to give the local gaming store’s underused Imperial Guard Astra Militarum an outing, blowing the dust off the models and settling on a Combined Arms Detachment!  Here is my list:

Astra Militarum: 1,500pts


Tank Commander, Punisher variant, Heavy Bolter, Pintle Heavy Stubber
– Eradicator variant, Heavy Bolter, Pintle Heavy Stubber


Infantry Platoon
– Platoon Command (5), Flamer
– Infantry Squad (10), grenade launcher
– Infantry Squad (10), grenade launcher
– Infantry Squad (10), grenade launcher
– Infantry Squad (10), grenade launcher
Veteran Squad (10), Heavy Flamer
– Chimera
Veteran Squad (10), Heavy Flamer
– Chimera
Veteran Squad (10), Heavy Flamer
– Chimera

Fast Attack

Rough Riders (5)
Rough Riders (5)
Rough Riders (5)

Heavy Support

Leman Russ Battle Tank (1), Heavy Bolter, Pintle Heavy Stubber
Leman Russ Battle Tank (1), Heavy Bolter, Pintle Heavy Stubber
Wyvern Battery (1)

A few proxies today – the Hellhound is in fact a chimera, the Executioner is the Command Punisher, and the Griffon is a Wyvern. The Cadians are the Vets, while the Catachans are the cannon fodder *strikeout* rank and file troopers.

So once more I have tried to keep my list quite fluffy in that there are no death stars or units I would consider OP – luckily Guard dont really have any of these anyway, but I avoided the seemingly ever present Pask on account of him being the most well fielded commander in Imperial History and therefore probably busy somewhere else. I also wasn’t really sure how orders work so I didn’t bother with them during the game.

I tried for a balance of Big Tanks to provide the firepower, elites in Chimeras and Rough riders for a bit of speed to grab and die on hold objectives, and a blob of MSU ObSec units to try and litter the field with their bodies  not die too quickly  help with objective scoring and denial.  I also went for a mix of Leman Russ variants as this is very much a ‘try before you buy’ game for me.


We decide to play ‘Maelstrom of War’ before hand and rolled on ‘deadlock’ from the BRB, which is the one where you start with 6 objectives and count down to 1 as the turns go by.  This one should be quite good for the Imperial Guard as they will have a lot of bodies at the beginning of the game but probably not very many at the end.  It will also force the Dark Eldar to deploy most of their troops at the beginning to make the most of the scoring opportunities.

The setting was a ruined Imperial city, blanketed in a snow white canvas awaiting the paint of battle of be daubed upon it. Game on, For the Emperor lads!


Dark Eldar won the roll off and decided to go first.  They set up in two main blobs, the first in the ruins at the opposite corner from the Guard deployment zone, while the second was on the Guard left flank behind a large LOS blocking industrial building

The Imperial Guard deploy to counter – Command Tanks, a Leman Russ, a vet squad in a chimera (hell hound) and a couple of infantry squads go on the left flank, with platoon command and wyvern lingering in the rear.  On the right flank the other Russ, two vet squads in the chimeras and the remaining troops.  The Rough riders were placed in the space left over, trying to find a route around any dangerous terrain in order not to kill themselves

Imperial Guard roll to seize – and are successful!  Praise the Emperor!

Turn 1:

The infantry and tanks move up to secure objectives and get better lines of sight and take advantage of the successful seizing of initiative.  One unit of vets disembarks to capture objective 3, while another chimera capture objective 2.  Unfortunately, I have lost the record of what maelstrom objectives were needed and when, but these must have been important as I photographed it :)

If the Imperial Guard are going to win the day, they are going to have to make their shooting phases count.  Unfortunately, they get off to a bad start and almost completely whiff this key phase.  Despite having caught a number of Dark Eldar units out in the open by seizing the initiative, they only manage to put a single glance on one raider and kill one reaver jetbike.  The Dark Eldar also made an impressive amount of jink saves – a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the game.

The Dark Eldar explode out of the traps and go after a number of objectives

Despite all the jinking, they show the Guard how shooting is done.  The veteran squad is shot off objective three and breaks, despite having gone to ground.  Elsewhere, one Chimera is reduce to 2 HPs and another reduced to 1

Turn 2:

A bad start for the Guard, but they did manage to score some points – now the gunners need to get it together!  The Guard continue to move towards the enemy, with both remaining veteran squads disembarking to use their heavy flamers.  One unit of rough riders moves towards the Dark Eldar table edge for ‘behind enemy lines’, while another lines up the charge (yes, charge) on a raider full of kabalite warriors

Shooting is once more a bust for the Guard, thanks mainly to lots of jink saves by the Dark Eldar. Two raiders take a glance each, while the wyvern manages to wipe out a unit of reaver jetbikes.  The veteran squad also manages to kill two more reavers with its heavy flamer, but the last biker holds. In combat, the rough riders charge the raider but lose four of their squad to overwatch!  He does manage to put two glances on the raider though, but fails his morale check and falls back to his doom

The Dark Eldar retaliate by moving up and disgorging assault units into the fray.  Lelith and her wyches go after the rough riders in the centre, while the wracks go after the vets and an infantry squad in the ruins.  Shooting blows up both damaged chimeras, and puts a glance on the other one

Combat goes equally badly for the Guard, with both units of wracks and Leliths wyches destroying their prey with ease, with the lucky survivors falling back and off the table

Turn 3:

The game has certainly turned against the brave Guard, but a miraculous turn around is on the cards this turn if they can pull it off!  If they can capture objective 2, 4 & 6 this turn they will score a butt load of points (multiples of capture objectives 4 & 6 plus Ascendancy!).  Time to be bold.  The Infantry and tanks maneuver to get angles on Lelith and her wcyhes, while the last rough rider squad grabs objective 2

Make or break time.  The chimera declares a double ram against both venoms in between it and objective 4.  It needs some great dice rolls to pull this off… and falls at the first hurdle.  It fails to even penetrate the first venom and is stopped dead in it tracks, ending the Guard comeback dream


Elsewhere though, the combined shooting of the surviving troops and tanks does manage to kill Lelith and the wyches, the latter going down to the last heavy stubber shot that the Guard could muster.  This gives the Guard ‘slay the warlord’, a rare ray of sunshine on this hitherto gloomy day


The Dark Eldar are infuriated (or possibly ecstatic) at the death of Lelith, and look to exact their revenge/vent their euphoria.  Venoms, raiders and wracks close the net – they destroy the last chimera as they advance as well as taking out the rough riders stranded out in the open.  In combat the wracks also clear the infantry platoon off of objective 6, leaving just two depleted infantry squads alive for the Guard

Turn 4:

The Brave Guard suspect the end is nigh, but are determined to go down fighting. The command tanks take down Leliths raider, the jink saves finally failing the Dark Eldar, while the platoon command squad move up on objective 6 and roast the wracks with their flamer

Turn 5:

With the result all but inevitable now, the Dark Eldar move in to finish the job.  A raider and Venom move in to take care of the command squad, while the same combo on the other flank target the command tanks.  Shooting from the raiders dark lances puts a glancing hit on the command tank, while the command squad are well and truly beaten in the ruin, removing the last infantry squad for the Guard

With the only human survivors cowering in their metal tombs, and no chance of clawing back the points deficit,  the Guard concede the day and turn tail from the field of battle, leaving the Dark Eldar to their grizzly task of collecting unpleasant trophies and luckless survivors for the long journey home to Commorragh


The Dark Eldar win something like 16:12 in the end, having picked off all the Imperial Guard Infantry and Chimeras, but unable to crack the Leman Russ’s armour.  Not that they care though, having got their fill of poor souls for the fighting pits they gladly depart for the webway gleeful of the sport to come.

Decisive moment:  Turn two shooting for the Guard.  Some fantastically poor dice rolling combined with some great jink saves by the Dark Eldar really hurt the Guard.  It left the Dark Eldar with their much needed mobility and speed intact which they used to dominate the field and get into multiple assaults early on.

Imperial Guard MVP: Command Punisher.  Not much stood out today, but it was he who put the hurt on the wyches and finally slayed Lelith with the heavy stubber.  Best 5 point upgrade ever.

Dark Eldar MVP: A lot of good displays, but it would probably be best going to a group of units – namely the Transports.  Usually they are fragile and easily brought down to hamper the Dark Eldar mobility, but today the jink saves kept almost all of them alive (only 1 destroyed in the entire game, and that one was already empty!) which allowed the Dark Eldar to establish almost complete board control.

So, am I sold on Imperial Guard?  Well despite the defeat, YES.  Regardless of my appalling dice rolling I really love the way the Guard played – waves troops and big tanks lumbering forward to grind down the enemy, taking heavy losses in the process.  The losses are also easier to take than they are on smaller, elite forces when there are just so many of them.  If I want more success though, I guess I will have to get to grips with the orders system and build the list around the mechanic to maximise its effectiveness. I also tend to prefer infantry force to tanks with my Tau and Space Marines, so this will make a nice change to playing styles and hopefully keep the game fresh for me.

  • Great report, and some tough luck there. Losing 4 guys on the charge to overwatch is painful. I once lost a Prince to overwatch from Longstrike in his Hammerhead – instant death.

    Guard are a good army. They have a lot of versatility, and no shortage of bodies, which of course is great for Maelstrom. The commands are a great mechanic, and definitely something you’ll want to tackle for sure. It’s not something you build a list around, it’s just something that can enhance any unit.

    • iapedus

      Yeah, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how the Guard played. It is a style that is very different to any of the other factions I play, and it has an fluffy sort of versatility built into the structure to keep list building interesting. I just wish rough riders were better – here’s hoping for a decent formation to give them all skilled rider or something!

      • I also think Rough Riders are cool. It’s a unit I’d certainly want to have in an IG army, but of course I also know they’re not great either. Still, that doesn’t stop me from fielding sub-par units with CSM ;)

        • We are Chaos we have a lot of terrible units to pick from ;)

  • Oh wow your luck was pretty bad and to be fair I think your opponent out played you but then they knew their army a lot better.

    Cheers for writing up the report though. Nice even style for it.

    • iapedus

      Oh yes, my luck was bad but your are absolutely right that my opponent deserved the win for knowing how to take advantage of it and exploit my vulnerabilities at the right moment – a classic dark elder win

      • The fiend!
        Still as a learning game it worked.

  • How did the lone Rider who put two glances on a Raider fail a morale check? There’s no morale when in melee with a non-walker vehicle. Overwatch doesn’t count towards combat resolution either.

    • iapedus

      I was just working on the basis that the squad had taken more than 25% casualties in the phase and had to take a morale check. Having just read the morale section in the RBR you are right, I had no idea there was a specific exemption for the assault phase! Oh well, it would have made no different to the result as I think he was actually shot before falling off the table anyway.

  • Replicant253

    Was a great game again. There were a few rule hiccups but i don’t think they affected the result. We were also playing pre recent FAQ so my Kabalite warriors in raiders, with splinter wracks, were still firing with full affect after the raiders were jinking (and jinking very well!). So that was a major bonus and did impact the result and not sure I would take a list like this if we were implementing the FAQ. Also kudos to Simon for taking rough riders; as a long time guard player myself I love their theme but they have sucked since forever rules wise so i knew they were relatively easy meat to wrack up the VPs from the various maelstrom cards.

    • iapedus

      Cheers Dan, it was a great game as you say and very cinematic – wrecked and burning vehicles littering the ruins, no sign of the slain imperial guardsmen and the haunting sound of eldritch laughter echoing through the silent streets as they headed home with their holds full to bursting!

  • Turkadactyl

    Nice batrep. Good to see two armies that don’t see the light of day too much.

    • iapedus

      Indeed – in many ways I think these two are classic adversaries fluff-wise, with the Dark Eldar praying on one of the numerous Imperial worlds ripe for the plucking. The game also went the way of the fluff too, with the Guard’s blind faith in the Emperor’s protection being sorely misplaced :)

  • JD Brink

    It’s been a while since I came ’round, but this was a fun reminder of why I should visit more often! Great battle report. Awesome pictures. Love all the color and paint on those DEs! And I thought the “snow” on the board looked more like fog, which I think is a great image.
    I’m also still convinced that Guard would not be for me. I love playing them on Dawn of War for the very reasons you mention, but it seems to me even their cool characters still suck in the scheme of things. I too prefer infantry over tanks, and just sending mediocre waves to die… well, okay, there is some appeal, but not enough for me. :)
    Although I was excited to see some rough riders in use. I always thought they’d be fun (while they lasted).
    Nice bat report, sir!

    • iapedus

      Glad you enjoyed it! Guard are certainly interesting to play, and I like the fact that you can make all or nothing lists with them – massive armoured columns or waves of infantry, an anything in between – but I quite like the characters too. They are very sub par when compared to other factions, but then they are just normal humans trying their best in the face of great adversity after all!
      I will also be keeping the rough riders in my lists, I’m sure there is a good way to use them and I just need to find it. If only they could outflank….

      • JD Brink

        They don’t outflank? I thought that was their thing! Or maybe that’s if you take the Gengis Khan character with them, which is the way I’d want to go. Or did that character not make the latest codex? (Which would be a crime!)

        • iapedus

          Alas no on both counts – they don’t get outflank as part of their basic rules (because cavalry have never outflanked. Like ever…) and no Genghis Khan style character made it into the latest codex as far as I can tell :(

          • JD Brink

            What a crock of POOOOO! I’m pretty sure that guy was in there for multiple generations on the codex. And he was one of the cool ones!

            • iapedus

              Yeah, all they guys with a non Cadian/Catachan flavour are gone I think – the Tallarn guy moved to a FW book while the Valhallan / Mordian / Attilan dudes just disappeared (although I think a lot of the Attilan blokes may have resurfaced in the White Scars fluff :)

  • ming2005

    Second battle report I’ve read today at lunch. Great job with the Astra Militarum. Your warlord trait and using orders are key, and are important force multipliers. The models you used seemed organized in a CAD, but you might have been able to use them as a CAD led by a company commander and a separate formation of tanks led by a tank commander. The tank commander formation adds additional special rules, and your infantry units would have benefited from an additional officer. Two keys for an improved AM lists are to get ignores cover (ends the jinking), and twin-linking, for key units. Without them you will just be points bait to any skimming/biking army (which are legion)….

    • iapedus

      Thanks man, glad you enjoyed reading it. Yeah you are right, having just read through the orders properly I can see how the ignores cover one would have come in very handy!

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