Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Common sense rules/ models? Pt 1 Vendettas and Orders

This may turn into a little rant but here it goes.

In recent years I've noticed some really stupid rules and models coming from GW. They've been bugging me for a while but I've kept my doubts to myself. But after an incident involving Orders recently, I've decided enough is enough. In this series of articles I'm going to be covering some of my (huge) bugbears about 40k

First up to face my scrutiny is the Imperial Guard

OK here it goes...

The Vendetta

For those few of you that don't know it, it's a variant of the Valkyrie, filling the role of an anti-tank gunship - something especially important in the mech-heavy environment of 5th edition. The thing mounts 3 twin-linked lascannons, a very heavy weapon outload for something that needs to be able to fly. In my opinion, a little too heavy.

Now remember a few years back when Apocalypse was released? remember the Terminus Ultra pattern Land Raider? The thing mounted 3 twin linked lascannons and two single ones. It also had a tiny chance of blowing itself up if you rolled too many ones.
This is the heaviest tank the Space Marines can bring to bear, sacrificing it's not-insignificant transport capabilities for the space to store the powercells, cooling systems, etc so it can fire its huge arsenal of weapons.

So how in the hell can a light aircraft, which can also carry 12 men in its hold, support three twin-linked lascannons and the appropriate systems to support them?

The idea that the Imperial Guard, which are all about mass production over efficiency, would have sufficiently more advanced technology than marines to mount virtually the same outload of weapons on a vehicle about half the size of the marine one is just ludicrous to me

Now the cynical side of me says it's all to sell the shiny new Valkyrie model, but that doesn't excuse badly thought out rules.
Even three non twin-linked lascannons would have had people snapping them up like hot cakes, but as usual, GW only thinks about how many plastic kits they can sell.

Think about it, 3 lascannons are easy to come by from your average bitz box.
However, 3 twin-linked ones are a whole lot harder, meaning people would be buying the Land Raider Terminus bitz pack (ironic, don't you think?) which was released near the time and had all the lascannons you'd need, or splash out for the Forgeworld conversion kit six months later.

And to top it all off, they could have easily included the parts to make a vendetta in the Valk box, especially considering the Leman Russ Demolisher box released just the next month, with parts for half the Russ variants in. It just bugs me big time. But not as much as this next one...


The much-praised Orders system came as part of the ruination of the Guard codex that was 5th edition. I could write pages upon pages of my dislikes about the IG codex, but I might come back to them at a later date. For the purposes of this article, i'm focussing on the Orders system.

The idea being that at the start of the shooting phase (the 'Orders Phase' as i quickly came to call it), the Officers in the army shout, curse and generally inspire their men to great deeds. In reality it opens up a whole can of worms both rules and fluff wise, for me at least.

First up is the abilities they grant. These men, for the most part are trained soldiers. They would've at least gone through basic training and learnt to shoot straight, while the vast majority will have survived several war zones. Why is it they need their officers to tell them how to shoot a tank accurately? Is it like they don't try their hardest to deal with the big scary death machine in front of them unless they have a junior officer yelling in their ear? I can understand abilities like rallying and running faster, as the officers are shouting encouragement to their men. I just can't stand the idea of granting re-rolls to shooting or magically giving their lasguns an extra shot.

Then we come to vox. Consider the fluff for them. Fluff-wise they're long-ranged radios designed to let frontline units stay in contact with their superiors. In the Gaunts Ghosts books, the vox casters are shown to work over entire continents (one the scouts specifically states this fact in 'His Last Command') so why is that in game, it doesn't work on anyone further away than their own arse?

Vox should increase the range units can take orders from, not grant re-rolls to failed ones. Better yet, go back to the old system of a vox network keeping the army together, where taking out the master vox could cause huge problems for a guard player

The sheer ridiculousness of the newer rules was highlighted in my latest game.

Picture the scene, bullets are flying, artillery crashing overhead.
I gave the 'run, run, run' order to my company command squad with my count as Iron Hand Straken who was in the unit, aiming to cover ground before the marines shot again. They failed the order check. I shrugged and was about to move on when i remembered his squad had a vox-caster, hence granting me a re-roll. This resulted in the ever-so-slightly stupid situation where he's bawling into his own headset, trying to get his own order through to himself.

I laughed and joked about it at the time,putting it down to the unhinged nature of the Blood Pact, but it highlighted to me just how bad the 5th edition rules are for Guard and the main reason I'm writing these articles. I know it's a science fiction game, but it still needs a grounding in realism - something the GW writers seem to be forgetting recently.

So what do people think? Am I wrong? Am I talking crazy?

I'm also open to suggestions for rules to look in the future at if you want to drop me a line.


  1. A lot of what you say makes sense. I take exception to one of your statements about the bring it down order not being grounded in reality. I did a decade in the U.S. Army, so I think I know what I'm talking about.

    Bring It Down is an approximation of shifting priorities of fire to a specific target or target type from the a free fire environment. I know when we got information from the officers over us about something nasty coming our way, getting a good grid and a target description made us much more effective in bringing it down. Same goes for Fire On My Target.

  2. I see your point. As someone who's never been in the military, this information makes things a lot clearer to me.

    Thinking about it more, i suppose the officers are more likely to have faced that particular brand of enemy vehicle before, so know the weak points.

    I'm guessing though that your officers were often more than about twenty away from you? I say this because that's about what the orders range would be in real terms. From your experience, in the heat of battle, how hard is it to communicate long distances via radio?

  3. I agree with you on the Vendetta and the Voxen... the former should not have transport capacity and the latter should do what you say- increase orders range. It would also go a long way to making the CCS more than a more heavily armed, non-scoring Vet squad, which I would like.

    As far as the orders, I was going to say a similar thing to what Tom M said. BID could be the commander (since he has to have LoS to the big baddy) pointing out weak spots, making the gunners aim much more carefully and resulting in more hits. FoMT is the commander calling out the units coordinates, making fire more deadly. FRFSRF is the commander exhorting his troops to not abide by their training in ammunition conservation but to take a certain target down right quick RIGHT NOW!

    I'd be interested to hear what other problems you have with the Guard codex. The only ones I can think of at the moment are the skimmers in general and the ability to use an ICBM in a front line skirmish... though the latter is hilarious enough to be excused.

  4. I don't like the orders system anyway. It just detracts from playing the game for me. That's why I gave up with playing IG not long after the codex came out.

  5. Radios are a crap shoot. Things like solar flares (yes, really) can affect range and clarity. Individual, man-carried, radios can carry out to the double digits in km. However, in combat, guys are focused on the fight and getting someone on the horn is hard, but a good leader on the ground runs up and down the line shouting commands and designating fields of fire, targets, and giving updates to higher.

    A Platoon Leader travels with is men on the ground, often dismounted. The reality is range of command and control is dependent on mission, enemy disposition, time, terrain, troops available, and weather. The same usually goes with the Co. Commander and since he is higher up on the chain he gets information more quickly, is responsible for multiple platoons, and his experience carries more weight.... Colour Sergeant Kell is the quintessential NCO though, he makes sure the Soldiers understand what the hell they need to do.

    You are absolutely accurate about Straken ordering himself to run faster, I think the internal HQ order should be a given.

  6. seem to be taking orders too literally. As I see it, the reroll to yourself isn't so much he shouting at his own unit, but maybe he has received some sort of info down the line that helped. Still vox's are piss poor though. Why my army despite being based on cadian models, who are somewhat high tech regiments, have 0 vox's.
    Orders also represent the co bringing his leadership and expertise to a specific scenario. Any team with a strong leader is going to be far better than one without.

    As for vendettas. They're not imperial guard vehicles, they are navy ;) I'm guessing the navy has more clout than the guard when it comes to tech. Still shouldn't be better than marines.
    I'm not overly keen on them. The best thing about valykrie is it's gets troops where you want them to be. Having 3 lascannons means you aren't using the transport for it's better task. Rather have 3 melta guns in my valkrie vs 3 tl lascannons sitting around with av12 and no cover.