8th Edition Imperial Guard…er Astra Militarum Codex

Well, the Astra Militarum are back! Back with their first Codex¬† in four years, in fact it was the last of the 6th Edition 40k Codex’s…

So let’s have a look at what’s changed for the Astra Militarum, what’s new and what’s gone and if…if…they’ve regained some of there former glory.


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First Impressions

Well, well, well what do we have here? It’s still in the early days of 8th Edition 40k and the Astra Militarum are getting some love. OK, we’re not getting any new model kits (c’mon Games Workshop, I want updated plastic Cadian Troops!!) and we’re loosing Rough Riders completely, but on the other hand we’re getting Regimental Doctrines for the first time since 3rd Edition 40k!

First impressions are that the Games Workshop development team wanted to give players a lot more freedom to build more flavoursome armies, and allow for players to build their armies to match their collections. Want a Steel Legion tank army or a Mordian infantry based army? Here’s their rules, now go for it!

The sheer amount of available builds and options available now are a real breath of fresh air into a somewhat stale army. The last year of 7th Edition, I don’t think 90% of my Cadian’s ever saw a table top…and now I’m buying Sentinels….

From what we saw in the Index: Imperium 2, the army got a pretty good overhaul, with some major rules changes that quickly saw a number of tournaments get bogged down in Conscripts and Command Squad spam. This new Codex has taken it a step further and fixed a few of the early problems and “massaged” a few points issues here and there. Not only that, but they’ve made some units incredibly good value and almost auto includes for some builds.

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Astra Militarum – The Winners

With only having a few games under my belt it’s probably a little early to say definitively. But what I can say is that having a Shadowsword arrive from reserves turn 1 in your opponents deployment zone, absolutely eviscerate a target with it’s Volcano Cannon then charge into a unit with 9 attacks hitting on 2’s at Strength 9, – 2 AP, D3 damage each is a little much! In fact, it’s pretty dam solid!

They’ve overhauled all the Lord’s of War from the Index (apart from the Stormlord) and allowed them to be far more powerful than they were. They’ve done this by basically rewriting the Steel Behemoth which now allows them to move and fire all their heavy weapons using there normal Ballistic Skill, most have had an extra D6 added to there main weapons too which drastically increases there damage output. Combined with an average 40pts reduction in cost really makes them worthwhile, we just need Forgeworld to update their Lords of War…looking at you Mr Stormhammer

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and you’ve not seen the news, Leman Russ’ got a major boost. Now with the Grinding Advance special rule they can fire twice if they move under half there maximum range. That’s right, you have a Punisher Russ, it moves 5″ and now fires 40 Strength 5, -0 AP, 1D shots! That’s a lot of shooting, and all for 150pts, yes, they got cheaper too!

Manticores, Hellhounds, Tuarox Primes, Basilisks and Valkyries all got either better or stayed powerful enough to almost be auto includes in certain builds.

Other early winners would have to be the Regimental Doctrines themselves, they take normal, fairly average units and turn them into killing machines. I can’t applaud Games Workshop enough for giving us old Guard players our doctrines back!!

As mentioned in the intro they give you a chance to really add some flavour to your whole army. I won’t go into them all now, they deserve to be fully broken down in a future article.

Also the Stratagems and Orders really add to the feeling of freedom and diversity to the Codex, offering some truly unique tactical options that even the Ultramarines would be jealous of…

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Astra Militarum – The not so good

Well, after bursting on to the stage in the last Codex, the Wyvern just feels outclassed in the Heavy Support slot. Sure it gets 4D6 shots that re-roll wounds, but three humble Mortar Squads cost almost the same, do 9D6 shots, and can get re-roll 1’s to hit and wound very easily. That and the Leman Russ is just more durable and flexible in it’s load outs.

Other not so goods, having to pay 13pts for a Plasma Gun on any model with a 3+ Ballistic Skill hurts some builds and units. In fact, at this stage I’m not sure why I’d ever take Veterans. I’m sure theirs a build¬† in the Codex for them, but not right now. In fact theirs a lot of disappointing points across the Codex, we’re still paying 20pts a Lascannon and 15pts an Autocannon across the whole army, which still seems a little too high when you consider most units are only hitting on 4+ and are incredibly squishy…

The Exterminator and Eradicator Leman Russ variants also seems a little under powered, why does the Space Marine Predator Cannon get 3 Damage, but the Exterminator doesn’t? And the poor Eradicator seems woefully under powered in an Edition where cover saves aren’t as game breaking as under 7th Edition and Strength 6 just seem, well…meh.

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Astra Militarum – The Poor and MIA

Not a long list, seeing as most of the Regimental Doctrines can alter most units significantly, but the Deathstrike is still almost unusable. It’s just too unreliable. In fact if your game finishes Turn 5-6 it may not fire at all, and that’s just not good enough! Sure, it’ll hurt and probably kill what it hit’s, but it’ll be too late into your game to have any real impact.

Also, why does the Primaris Psyker only get to cast one psychic power per turn? Why can’t he have a points option to cast more? We’ve got some pretty good psychic powers available to the Astra Militarum.

Crusaders seem like an odd choice to add in to the Codex, why them and only them?

Also, the Astra Militarum now have probably the smallest Fast Attack section within the main range of Codex’s. they get three options, two of which are types of Sentinels. Surely Games Workshop could’ve produced some new Rough Riders? Or anything new for that matter, heck even if they’d thrown Taurox Primes in there!

Also where’s Marbo??

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Astra Militarum – Wrap it Up

Overall, as first impressions go, it’s quite a deep and solid Codex, however I’ve got my reservations as to how well the Army will be able to deal with big bad characters like Mortarion or Magnus. Sure they can throw a massive amount of shooting downrange, but they’ll struggle to put serious wounds on them. In fact the Codex is very light on dealing out mortal wounds, they just try and solve the problem with more shots!

The Astra Militarum can also struggle at scoring in Maelstrom Games, as it did in previous editions. Sure there vehicles can move quicker and their infantry can advance too, but as per the old Guard, we prefer not to be too close to our enemies….kill them at range! It’s what they do best, two solid turns of Astra Militarum shooting should win you a game, any more than that and you’re starting to struggle.

That may sound too negative, but it’s experience talking. However, with this still being early days of the Codex, I’m hopeful I’m wrong. The Regimental Doctrines and Stratagems are our best bet at keeping up with the big boys without having to rely so heavily on allies. This Codex is going to be with us for at least the next two years before we might get another one, so it need to be solid.

Now, if Forgeworld could just update there Index and give them the extra tools to really punch hard…

As for me…it’s back to painting another 30 Conscripts and finishing this Macharius Omega…the Objective Secured 2017 Masters is just four weeks away…




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