Friday 6 March 2015

Second Edition: Imperial Guard vs Space Marines

Another one of my best mate's leave days coincided with mine this week and so of course we marked this momentous occasion with a well-deserved game of second edition 40k. He's been working on his rather impressive Imperial Guard army for the best part of a decade and it was finally time to give them a fight in the world of 1993 gaming. Not being used to playing with these retro rules I didn't want to blow his mind by making things too complicated and so I deliberately kept the forces small, coming to a grand total of 850 points per side.

I'm proud to say I own a copy of every Codex from second edition...these are two of my favourite front covers!

Being a generous sort I had already bequeathed him a copy of the 1995 Imperial Guard Codex some time ago so that he could familiarise himself with his force and how they are supposed to work. Whilst I chose my own forces from the original Codex Ultramarines from the same year.

Mission Cards showing...well...the missions!

I let him set up the terrain and then I chose the table edges in order to keep things fair. Keeping with the full-retro theme we used a green battle mat, authentic card terrain and some multi-coloured lichen transporting us into the Games Workshop battles of yesteryear! With the table set up we drew our mission cards: the guard were tasked with 'Take and Hold' while my own Crimson Fists drew 'The Assassins'. 

My friend's very impressive Imperial Guard's taken him ages to achieve their unique look and I'd say they look pretty cool...kinda like the troopers from the appropriately old-school DOOM computer game!

The Imperial Guard were led by a Colonel along with his command squad equipped with a lascannon and plasma gun. His 'regimental units' consisted of two ten man squads both issued with missile launchers and plasma guns, these were supplemented with a heavy weapons squad equipped with three autocannons. His sole 'additional unit' was the imposing form of a Leman Russ Destructor...the Guard get some real bang for their buck; this was a lot of troops and materiel compared to the meagre forces my Astartes could muster for the same points cost! The heavy weapons squad were upgraded with the 'slick drills' veteran skill, meaning that if they hit their target with their initial shot then they would automatically get another shot...potent stuff, meanwhile the infantry squads were given the 'street fighters' ability which granted them some enhanced protective abilities whilst in cover. 

I had a Space Marine Captain, a tactical squad and a terminator squad...only sixteen models! Wow...pretty heavily outnumbered! 

Let battle commence...

'Form up maggots!' Bellowed Lieutenant Rock as he shouldered his shotgun and moved slowly forward through the rubble of the ruined town. It had been seven months since his platoon had defected from the Imperial Guard and established themselves as a mercenary force within the Oborealis sector and in that time his force had prospered, gathering a reputation for both victory and brutality in equal measure. Unfortunately this success had also drawn the attention of the Planetary Governor and Rock was aware that he was now a man with a price on his head.

He smiled as he glanced up at 'Old Painless', his men had liberated the tank from a Cadian armoured squadron a few weeks back and since then the venerable war machine had enhanced their firepower substantially. The presence of the Leman Russ comforted him, if there was a bounty on his head then at least he had some heavy firepower to deter anyone from coming to collect it.

Whilst Rock enjoyed the freedom of being a soldier of fortune the one issue that his force suffered from was any tangible logistical support. Without the grinding power of the Munitorium's logistical chain behind him he had become reliant on looted supplies to keep his force going...and that need was what had brought him to this wrecked township, a recovered map from a dead enemy officer had revealed the possible location of a Planetary Defence Force ammo cache nearby. 

'Objective sighted!' Corporal Clayton's voice came over the vox-net, '200 metres north of our current location... but it's guarded; I'm trying to get eyes on the sentries...wait out.'

There was a momentary pause before the NCO's voice returned, notably tenser than before, 'Throne...they're...they're Space Marines...'

'Shit!' Muttered Rock shaking his shaved head, this wasn't part of his plan, not at all...But he had no choice, he needed those supplies. With the decision made he pressed the transmit stud on his own comm link; 'Bring up the damn tank!'

The Astartes split themselves evenly between the two flanks

My small force of the Emperor's finest warriors set themselves up on each flank clearly hoping to use the assorted cover to allow them to pincer the mortals that dared oppose them. A combat squad was co-located with the Commander on the left flank whilst a second combat squad set up on the right flank with the Terminators to their rear.

The Imperial Guard spread out along the battlefront, the assorted heavy weapons squads setting themselves up in the buildings

Meanwhile the Guardsman spread across the entire front, the full heavy weapons team occupied a building on one flank whilst the command squad with the lascannon established themselves on the other side of the battlefield, also in hard cover.

With the fire support in place the tank and the infantry squads rolled up the centre of the line...and then the first shots rang out...

The Sons of Rogal Dorn survey the battleground before them

The first turn was relatively uneventful with both forces sacrificing much of their shooting in order to allow them to more effectively maneuver their troops into better positions.

The lone survivor of the weapons team trembles in fear as he operates the autocannon
However in the second turn the Terminators proved the sheer ferocity of the assault cannon as it unleashed its wrath upon the guard heavy weapon teams hidden in the building. The hard cover and walls meant little as the mighty shells shredded both brick and man alike. By the time the heavy weapon's barrels had stopped spinning five guardsman lay dead, and only one gunner remained in situ his face covered in the bloody remains of his fallen squad mates.

Even the might of tactical dreadnaught armour isn't proof against the Guard's heavy weapons
Nonetheless the men of the guard proved their mettle in the next turn as their heavy weapons retaliated... butchering a Terminator and two tactical marines...

...including the heavy weapons trooper...ouch!

The might of  'Old Painless' in the centre of their force bolsters morale amongst the guardsmen
Whilst their heavy weapons were keeping the Space Marines pinned in cover the Leman Russ rolled forward and the infantry squads scuttled around in hiding.

Strangely the shrubbery wasn't sufficient to conceal a group of giants in Terminator armour
Having never faced Imperial Guard heavy weapons before I was suddenly beginning to realise the potency of their kit and even my Terminators took the opportunity to snuggle up to a nearby bush in order to get some respite from the bullets and laser rounds that were flying their way.

A template that was bigger than most dinner plates covers the Terminators in fiery death
However this proved to be of little use as the Leman Russ unleashed it's terrifying volley of weapons at the noble first company veterans. Plasma rounds, lascannon blasts and the horrendous power of the Demolisher Cannon shredded Tactical Dreadnought armour and the men within as though they were wicker dolls (just look at the size of that template!)

As the flames lapped their ankles and the smoke cleared only two of the azure terminators were left on the battlefield...

And they quickly took the opportunity to move forward into some hard cover...


Bigger Ow...
In the next round of firing the Space Marine Commander 's combat squad were hit first by a small template from the missile launcher and then the huge template from the Demolisher cannon...

Five marines with one gotta be kidding me
Which resulted in the death of five Crimson Fists! That f*+king weapon is so powerful!!!

Another Terminator falls to a heavy weapons shot
The Imperial Guard infantry squads then took the opportunity to jog forwards and seize the ammo cache that Lt Rock had tasked them to secure. The lone autocannon operator gave these troops covering fire to protect their advance, accounting for yet another Terminator. gotta love 'em .... unless you wear shitty flak armour

The Space Marines were now heavily on the back foot, but the Emperor's Astartes are nothing if not stoic in the face of adversity and so the lone Terminator and nearby combat squad leveled their bolt weapons and unleashed hell, taking full advantage of the 'Rapid Fire' special rule. Round after round of mass-reactive death pumped into the bodies of the Imperial Guardsmen, killing nine of them and causing the survivor to flee in terror.

However the Terminator's celebrations were cut short as a lascannon shot slammed into his ancient faceplate. The anti-tank weapon punched through the ceramite of the armour, incinerating the veteran warrior's skull. He stood still in place for a moment before toppling forward in a heap of blue and crimson armour.

The Leman Russ and the Space Marine Captain battle for final control of the objective

In the final turn both the Leman Russ and Astartes Captain rushed forward to try and seize/deny the central objective. However the speed of a main battle-tank proved to be superior to that of a genetically enhanced post-human and it finished the game fractionally closer to the ammo cache thereby wringing out vital victory points for Lieutenant Rock and his men.

As my mate popped on the kettle I tallied up the score, though I already had a fairly good idea of who had won!

Overall the scores were:

Imperial Guard: 9
Space Marines: 2

Wow...what an absolutely brilliant game that was (even though I lost)! I rarely play against a Guard force and so this was a real learning curve. The firepower these guys can bring to a battle is amazing, from individual heavy weapons squads to tanks and orbital bombardments. I looked on in horror as their heavy weapons cut down my men like wheat! Remember what I said in the last post about Terminators being nigh on indestructible.... I was wrong, the Leman Russ Demolisher is the perfect antidote to these venerable veterans, and the sheer massed firepower of heavy weapons squads comes a close second.

My tactics for facing these guys failed right from the start ...namely at the point of initial army selection, my force was too slow moving meaning that they had to weather more time in the line of fire than they should have. In hindsight the tactical squad was shit for the points cost, and the Terminators were just too slow. I should have taken a devastator squad to secure the firing line, with lascannons to kill the enemy tanks and heavy bolters for the infantry. The Terminators would have been replaced with an assault squad, their jump packs would have allowed them to close the distance rapidly and the assorted close combat weapons would have made short work of the Infantrymen.

Overall we had a great time and both took a lot from the game. I have learned that I will need to tailor my approach for facing non-space marine armies in future...especially those with access to über tanks of doom! 


  1. Hi!

    Its utterly fantastic to see 2nd edition being played again! Its also rather heartening to see the lowly Imperial Guard trounce the Emperors finest.

    Its getting to the point where I may have to start collecting a 2nd edition force of my own!

    All the best!

    1. I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying getting in so many games of second edition, it is so much more playable than the current iteration! And I find small scale skirmishes much more fun than arduously pushing hundreds of tanks forward...

      I will freely admit that I was surprised at how badly whacked the Space Marines were...bad times for the Astartes.

      You definitely need to get yourself a second edition force on the go!! You'll never look back

    2. Hi!

      Thanks for the inspiration! I have decided to take the plunge and paint up some Eldar I have had kicking around unpainted or sat in dettol for a few years now!

      Hopefully I will be able to get some updates posted as I go...

      All the best!

    3. Mate; I will look forward to seeing the results! That one on your blog looked great and I reckon a whole army like that will be very impressive! Are you going to go aspect warrior heavy?

  2. Ouch!

    Another great read Legio, what a beatdown.
    Very bold taking on that tank with only an assault cannon able to hurt it at range- a missile launcher instead of heavy bolter in your tac squad might have helped but then again a missile launcher isn't much use when the marine holding it is toast, haha!
    Obviously at 850pts options are tight.

    I've never faced Guard before, I think our next game over here will have a Brood Brother Leman Russ in it, and I'm glad it will be on my side after reading this!

    1. Cheers Bruno!

      I have to was pretty emotional! I was relying on the Terminators Power Gloves and Chain Fists getting close enough to tear the tank to shreds... Alas that ridiculous uber cannon stopped that plan!!

      I'm currently building a Genestealer Cult army too, and after this experience I am pretty sure it's getting a Russ!

  3. Fantastic battle report, you've got me itching to play some more 2nd ed.

    1. Cheers mate, it was great fun to play! You should definitely get a bit of 2nd Ed action going on!

  4. Your reports are always so encouraging! I've enjoyed it pretty much and only makes me want to play 2nd Ed again! Keep it up!!

    1. Cheers Suber;
      I'm glad you're enjoying them mate! Surely youust have someone in your area who would love to play second edition with you. I know I say it all the time but your Ultramarines need to get in on the action; they really are too beautiful not to see some fighting soon.

  5. Great stuff.

    I have to say I always avoid tactical squads, you just can't get enough out of them to make them worthwhile -- devastators always seem to be a better choice -- though for 2nd edition you can't get much better firepower than a twin linked lascannon predator with heavy bolter sponsons...unless you go Wolf Guard all with assault cannons and cyclone missile launchers....

    I look forward to seeing more 2nd edition battle reports; really enjoying these!


    1. Yeah; I have now learned that unless I am fighting one of my perfectly matched 'identical space marine' army games that the stalwart tactical squad is in fact... Dog shit!

      It just doesn't do anything particularly well for the massive points cost.

      Yep I reckon I'll be rocking a predator again next time.

      Hahaha! I had completely forgotten about the Wolf Guard; man they were ridiculously over powered!! I might churn out a small contingent of Space Wolf allies next time!

    2. Wolf Guard were actually an example where Ian Pickstock, in a White Dwarf article, admitted they had made a mistake and made them too overpowered (you wouldn't get that these days!).

      I always thought assault squads were capable of doing the most damage to both infantry and vehicles, though the points cost can be horrendous if you deck them out properly (I used to favour them all being armed with powerfists and chainswords, with a few plasma pistols and chainswords mixed in....).


    3. A GW employee admitting they made a mistake.... My God; that sounds almost mythical. One of the drones was still trying to convinced that terrible hobbit game was a good idea the other day; what a farce!!

      They may be over powered... But I want some now you have reminded me of them! :-)

      Yeah; having revisited the codex today the assault squad does seem a pretty sound investment, but your right about the expense...they could become very costly, very quickly.

    4. I have to disagree on the tactical squads. I swear by them in 2nd ed, I think they are one of the most versatile units in the game. My Dark Angels were always built around a solid core of at least 2 tactical squads, more if points allowed.

      I think it really depends on using them to their strengths to really get the best out of them:
      - A 3+ armour save is great, but not getting hit in the first place is the best save. So using cover to move up the field is a must.
      - Within 12"? Rapid fire with the Bolt Pistols for +2 to hit, effectively making the enemy hard cover useless, or shooting fish in a barrel if they're out of cover.
      - Within 10"? Consider the humble Frag Grenade on the enemies in cover, if that blast marker doesn't fit entirely inside the building it is considered a confined space turning those explosions into strength 4 -2. If you're rolling all your "to hits" together for those grenades instead of one at a time, the enemy unit could be taking 20-30 or more hits from that barrage before rolling to wound.

      I really wouldn't like to build a Space Marine army without them. They've carried me through so many tough battles.

      You know what, I said it the other day... But now thinking about these old tactics again has really got me hungering for a game of 2nd ed.

    5. Prior to this battle I was very pro tactical squad but I think that's been sullied somewhat. I think in a slightly bigger they would have fared a bit better, but as it was they were the only real troops choice on the table so they took a butchering. Next time we'll go bigger and hopefully use them to best effect!

      You should definitely do it, once you start playing it's like just need more!!

  6. Great battle report, you've really captured the essence of 90's 40k.
    The backstory of Sgt. Rock was quite enjoyable, mini narrative campaign of their rise (and perhaps fall) as mercs in the sector would be great, if you have the inclination.
    Looking forward to more.

    1. Cheers mate. I'm really loving the retro vibe. I was thinking the same thing, hopefully I can get my mate around for a few more games to find out the eventual fate of this shady mercenary!

      If you're reading this Jon... Look... Your warriors are in demand... People want to know what becomes of them!

    2. Ok...

      Where to start..

      The Imperial Guard, thoroughly pissed off with the recent pension reforms and travel costs opted to go AWOL and fight for the highest bidder, forming a mercenaries guild. -The name of which was pending agreement at the next committee meeting. The uniform had however had been agreed to resemble that of Lt Rock's favourite retro gaming marine....

      This plan was a shit one and was not properly thought out. That is however, until the AWOL esteemed pilfered a tank and managed to collect some beer tokens whilst venting their frustrations on the surprised Crimson Fists.

      The result of which allowed for Lt. Rock to use some rare initiative and regain the shifting favour of his cut throat heretics whilst also promoting himself to Captain (complete with additional shiny badges).

      All in all, this game was great fun and allowed for the Imperial Guard to use range and cover to effect.

      I loved the 'Hidden' and 'Overwatch' rules which allowed the use of cover and ambushes.

      The imperial guard autocannons did sterling work prior to succumbing to a wave of boltgun/autocannon death.

      The missile launchers and Leman Russ Weapons found their targets, forcing the remaining Astartes to advance.

      The remaining guard screened the Leman Russ with a wall of flesh, allowing for the tank to steal the day by taking the ammo dump objective whilst also mopping up the remaining brothers....

      Great fun, gaming as it should be!

    3. Hmmm.... That story sounds remarkably close to reality!!

      Yeas, it was a good game mate!! I think next time we will have to increase the points value so we can get a few more units on the table!!

  7. I'm not so sure?

    I think the smaller points values allowed the game to flow as the turns were shorter, allowing for a quicker tempo. This kept us both interested as opposed to a mass apocalyptic battle of attrition, which we often lose interest in by turn 2.

    This also meant that we valued our 'privilege' weapons a bit more and use them to effect- such as your autocannon terminator.

    1. I am not talking about apocalypse style games. They hold little interest for me except as the odd one of extravaganza. However 2nd Ed works best in the 1000-2000 points mark which we were just shy of, whilst the I like the game being smaller than current interactions of the genre I feel that as a space marine player only being able to field a couple of squads is tactically limiting.

    2. This is why I enjoyed it.. Another tank might be nice though!

    3. You've had enough tanks!! You'll be pleased to hear I have sourced my own 1994 Leman Russ and a squad of wolf guard (you can thank Warburton for reminding me about those)! ;-)

    4. Oh dear.....


  8. Hi

    I loved this report. I've just got into 2nd edition myself and am planning multiple small forces for various armies. Before I bought the Guard Codex I was under the impression that each type of guardsman (Cadian, Tallarn, Catchen etc) would have thier own stats and special rules, but in realisty it seems they all function the same on the tabletop? I've searched the book for an answer to this, but can't see anything that suggests otherwise. Is this correct??


    1. Hello mate!

      Yeah that is correct; the differences are purely cosmetic as all the guardsman have the same stats and function the same.

    2. Thanks for confirming my thoughts! I was almost convinced I'd missed something due to the requirement to take command squads appropriate to the regiment units even though there is zero impact on the game! Sure, visually it makes sense, but it seems an odd rule to include.

    3. No; the rule as otnwas was purely cosmetic; in fact it's almost entirely superfluous