Astra Militarum – Orders

Posted: April 25, 2014 by The Master of the Adeptus Administratum in Rules, Tactica, Uncategorized
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As Imperial Guard players transition to the new Astra Militarum codex, while much may seem the same, many things have changed.  I’ll be posting a series of articles about some of the units which have seen changes and hopefully provide some insights, tactics, and general information about how the unit has evolved.

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Next up: Orders

History: Orders are a relatively new thing for the Imperial Guard, first appearing in the recent Codex: Imperial Guard (IG) and now continued in Codex: Astra Militarum (AM).  Since their inception they have been a welcome addition to the Guard and many a victory has come about as a result of a well timed order.

There have been a number of changes to orders in the new Astra Militarum codex, both in the number of orders, how the orders work, and the restrictions around giving them.

Issuing an order:  The basic mechanic of how orders are issued are unchanged.   At the start of the shooting phase, select an officer, an order, and an unit in range to receive the order.  The target unit must pass a leadership test and if successful the order is immediately carried out.  The important changes with the new orders system, are that there is no longer a required sequence for officers to issue orders.  In the old codex, a Senior Officer had to issue their orders before junior officers.  Now all officers fall under the Voice Of Command rule.  This change while subtle, is an important change as the sequence orders are issued and resolved can impact the game.  Under the old system the way orders had to be issued was much more rigid.  This new flexibility will be a slight advantage.  Another advantage of the Voice of Command rule is that all officers have a command range of 12″ where junior officers only had a command range of 6″ previously.

The restrictions to giving and receiving orders remain unchanged.

The units that can issue orders has expanded somewhat with the new codex. Company Commanders can issue two orders and Platoon commanders can issue a single order as they have previously. New additions to the Voice of Command are Tempestor Prime characters which can issue a single order, Commissar Yarrick which can issue two orders, and Tank Commanders which can issue a single order, from their own unique list of three orders.  I’ll cover the Tank Commanders in a future article, and focus on the standard orders for this one.

Inspired Tactics: This rule has changed for the better in that if a double 1 is rolled for the ordered unit’s Leadership test, all further orders issued by any officer are automatically successful for the remainder of the turn. While this occurrence isn’t common, when it does happen it has the potential to be quite advantageous. In the old codex, the officer giving the order was entitled to issue another order.   Often when the roll came up, there would be no viable unit to give that order to. These new changes are definitely an improvement.

Incompetent Command: This remains unchanged. When a double 6 is rolled for the ordered unit’s leadership no further orders can be issued for the remainder of the turn.

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Here is the list of the orders in Codex Astra Militarum with some commentary on what’s changed and some tactical application.

‘Take Aim!’: This is a new order, giving all models in the ordered unit the Precision Shot special rule. This has the potential to be a very powerful order. The Precision Shot ability allows all wounds generated by the shooting unit to be allocated to models in the target unit.  Characters, specialists, and other targets of interest can have wounds allocated to them. All of the wounds need to be allocated before any saving throws are made, so it is possible that if you allocate more than one wound to a model that if it fails its saving throw and is removed as a casualty before all of the allocated wounds are saved that these extra wounds are lost.

This seems simple, but there are a couple of rules (Rulebook P. 63, Precision Shots) that need to be addressed:

  • Snap Shots and shots from weapons that scatter, or do not roll To Hit, can never be precision shots.
  • A character that has a Precision Shot Wound allocated to it can still make a Look Out, Sir roll.

With this in mind, it can become confusing as to how to resolve a unit’s shooting attacks.  In fact, the rulebook does not detail how to resolve a Look Out Sir! situation with multiple precision shots.  When combined with shots that cannot be precision shots it gets even more murky.

The most straightforward way to resolve this complex shooting is to differentiate between the precision shots and the ones that are not.  Now here is where it gets tricky, and there are no official rules with how to proceed.  If at one of our events I was asked as a judge to rule on how to resolve this situation, here is how I would have the players resolve this:  (NOTE: This has revised from the original publishing.)

  1. Create two wound pools, one of the precision shots and one for the normal wounds.  Split out the wounds by differing AP and strength as normal.
  2. Choose a wounds from one of the pools with wounds remaining and allocate it.  If chosen from the normal pool, the closest model must have the wound allocated to it.  If the wound is chosen from the precision shot pool allocate it to a model of your choice.
  3. Resolve any saves, including any Look Out, Sir rolls.
  4. Continue allocating wounds and making saves following the steps above until all wounds have been allocated or there are no more valid targets in the unit.

While an official clarification from GW may still be forthcoming, I’ll look to use this method until then.

The “Take Aim” order becomes useful if you need to eliminate specific models in a target unit. If the specific models you want to eliminate are close to the front of the unit, you may want to consider a different order.

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‘Smite At Will’: This is a new order that gives the ordered unit the Split Fire special rule.  This can be a handy way to direct a heavy or special weapon at a different target than the rest of the unit’s firing. The important thing to remember is that the Split Fire special rule only allows one weapon to shoot at a different target – and only if the unit passes a leadership test. Note that the leadership test needed to accept the order and the leadership test to activate split fire are two separate rolls. So, the unit will need to make two leadership tests before it can gain any benefit from this order. This order can come in handy for a unit equipped with a missile launcher an flakk missiles letting it split fire against a threatening flyer. Deep Striking Scions with a melta gun could make use of this order to take on an armoured vehicle while the rest of the unit attacks a nearby infantry unit.

This is a very situational order, which has a lower chance of success than other orders, due to that nature of Split Fire.

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‘First Rank, Fire! Second Rank, Fire!’:  This is the iconic order of the Imperial Guard, allowing a unit to fire an additional shot with their lasguns, giving two shots at long range, and three shots when within rapid fire range.  The big change is that Hot-Shot Lasguns now also benefit from this order. This gives Scions a boost when taken as Elites in the Astra Militarum codex as opposed to being allied Troops from the Militarum Tempestus book. As Allies they can only take orders from a Tempestor Prime HQ choice.

This order is a force multiplier and is more effective when issued to large units.  Combined infantry squads and units of Scions with plenty of hot-shot lasguns are optimal choices for this order.

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‘Forwards, for the Emperor!’: This is a new order, allowing the ordered unit to Run after it has performed a shooting attack. This is similar to the old ‘Like The Wind’ order that the now missing in action Captain Al’Rahem had in the previous codex. As this new order specifically says it is a Run move, the unit cannot assault after completing this order. This will help keep units mobile as they move toward an objective, or away from potential threats. A crafty general will definitely find uses for this order.

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‘Move! Move! Move!’: This is an order carried over from the previous codex. It allows the ordered unit to make a run move using three dice and using the highest result. This order will now be very situational, where the need to maneuver the unit the greatest distance possible outweighs the ability to shoot then run with the Forwards, for the Emperor! order above. Don’t expect to see this order used very often, but in those rare occasions where a unit must get to a point on the battlefield, then this order is your best bet.

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‘Suppressive Fire!’: This is another new order, allowing the ordered unit to give all of its weapons the Pinning special rule. While this looks like a handy order, it suffers from having to compete against other orders for being issued. Pinning weapons are best utilized against units with lower leadership, but these sorts of units are generally more susceptible to shooting and a different order may be a better choice. But in the event that a unit fails its pinning test it becomes a huge momentum swing. Sequencing orders can also come into play with this order, for example using another unit to take out a synapse creature before issuing this order to shoot at a low leadership unit now out of synapse range. Heavy Weapon teams with heavy bolters would be a decent candidate for this order. Another tactic would be to use this order to shoot at a unit you are preparing to assault. Should the unit fail its pinning test, you may be able to delay the assault for another turn allowing your forces to move to a supporting position for a more decisive shooting and assault phase in the next turn.

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‘Bring it Down!’: This order has evolved over from its previous incarnation. It can only be issued by a model with the Senior Officer special rule, and if successful, the ordered unit gets the Tank Hunters and Monster Hunters special rules for their shooting attack.

  • Tank Hunters allows the unit to re-roll failed Armour Penetration rolls and can re-roll glancing hits to get a better result.
  • Monster Hunters allows the unit to re-roll all failed To Wound rolls against Monstrous Creatures and Flying Monstrous Creatures.

This is a big change as the old order gave re-rolls to-hit against vehicles and monstrous creatures. This can be seen as a bit of a downgrade, as the biggest challenge to dedicated heavy weapon units in the army is the fact that they have a BS of 3, and a leadership of 7. Their low leadership used to be able to be mitigated by having a Lord Commissar nearby as their Aura of Discipline could be used to boost the leadership of these heavy weapons teams when receiving orders. This has been removed from Aura of Discipline in the new Astra Militarum codex, so joining a Commissar to a heavy weapons team would be needed.  This order also favors units with a higher chance of passing the order, be it a Veteran Sergeant’s leadership, or by way of a vox-caster.

BS 4 units like Veterans or Company Command squads with multiple special weapons like plasma or melta guns could really do some decisive damage with this order. Massed infantry squads with their sheer volume of fire could also prove effective against monstrous creatures. For those that make use of gun emplacements with either a Quad-Gun or Icarus Lascannon, units manning them will become an even bigger threat to flyers with the ability to re-roll armour penetration rolls. Quad Guns especially become dangerous when the unit manning them successfully receives this order being both able to re-roll hits and armour penetration rolls.

Another important and often overlooked change is that the officer issuing the order no longer needs line of sight to the target unit.

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‘Fire on my Target!’: This order has also evolved from the previous codex.  Where in the previous codex successful cover saves needed to be re-rolled, they have removed the re-roll mechanic and have given the unit the special rule Ignores Cover for their shooting attack instead. This is a major change with potentially devastating effects. It doesn’t take a big stretch to imagine what a veteran squad with a plasma load out could do when issued this order.

Beyond the obvious, consider that units behind defence lines or in area terrain would not be able to gain any benefit from their cover, including going to ground. Further, when shooting at vehicles or bikes with a jink save, these saves are not allowed as they count as cover saves.

Units benefiting from stealth and shrouded do not get the benefits of these cover save improving abilities. This also extends to situations like Night Fighting but does not allow them to shoot beyond Night Fighting’s maximum of 36″ range restriction.

Units which rely on cover for their saves and to discourage being shot at are left very exposed with respect to this order.

Another important and often overlooked change is that the officer issuing the order no longer needs line of sight to the target unit.

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‘Get Back in the Fight!’: This final order is a carry-over from the pervious codex. The clarification that the unit does not make a 3″ move when regrouping thanks to this order is a tidy bit of rules writing. This order has the benefit of allowing a unit that has gone to ground to have this effect immediately cancelled, allowing the unit to act normally. The tactic of going to ground behind a defence line for a 2+ cover save then having the order issued to that unit (as an exception – normally orders cannot be issued to units that have gone to ground) to allow them to get up and shoot back is still a viable tactic.

Orders continue to be an important part of getting the most out of the Imperial Guard. Positioning both officers and units to receive orders are important tactics which must be considered carefully. Equipping units to get the most out of these limited orders is also key, but not as important as having the order received successfully. Vox-casters are important pieces of Wargear, allowing a unit to re-roll the leadership test for orders when both the officer’s squad issuing an order and the squad receiving the order are equipped with them.  Due to their importance in getting orders to work, vox operators will become targets for precision shots so to protect them try and make good use of cover and line of sight blocking terrain when possible. An important change to the vox-caster is that it has no effect when the officer issues an order to his own unit equipped with a vox-caster. This change while a downgrade for the unit, makes good sense and probably should have been part of the previous codex anyway.

There are other characters and items of Wargear which can help with orders. Commissars and Primaris psykers both have a leadership of 9 which will boost the leadership of units they join. Lord Commissars boost the leadership to 10. Good candidates would be units like heavy and special weapons teams which only have a leadership of 7 and no access to vox-casters or veteran sergeants. Ogryns also benefit from having characters attached to them for this reason among others.

Chimeras have the Mobile Command Vehicle rule, which allows officers embarked in them to still issue orders to squads, with their command range measured from the hull of the vehicle instead of from the officer model itself. This also helps improve the survivability and mobility of an officer allowing them to get to positions where their orders are most effective. Also note that moving in a transport does not stop the officer from issuing orders!

Another interesting item is found in the list of Heirlooms of Conquest. The Tactical Auto-Reliquary of Tyberius is a 25 point piece of Wargear that causes Inspired Tactics when orders issued by that officer have the leadership test passed and come up as a double. In the event that a double 1 is rolled, the device is shut down for the remainder of the game. This can be a good points investment in an army that is designed to maximize the number of orders it can issue each turn. The Tactical Auto-Reliquary of Tyberius (TARoT – I’ll coin that phrase now, thanks) increases the chance of getting Inspired tactics from a normal 1/36 (2.78%) chance to 4/36 (11.11%) chance for each order when issued to a unit with a leadership of 8. Double 5’s will only be a success if issued to a unit lead by a model with leadership 10, and double 6’s will result in a Incompetent Command result.

It is a significant improvement to get inspired tactics working. The chances improve when you factor in the re-roll from a vox-caster.  Note: Only failed leadership tests can be re-rolled. If you’re able to combine this Wargear with the Warlord Trait Master of Command, the officer will have three chances to get that double.

As I mentioned above Warlord Traits can also impact the ability to issue orders. The first Warlord trait, Bellowing Voice gives the Warlord the Voice of Command special rule. This allows a Lord Commissar if he is your Warlord to be able to issue an order. If your Warlord already has the Voice of Command special rule, their command range is increased to 18″. The other Warlord trait, Master of Command like Bellowing Voice allows a Lord Commissar if he is your Warlord to be able to issue an order. If your Warlord already has the Voice of Command special rule, they can issue one additional order each turn.

In closing, orders are an even more potent addition to an Astra Militarum force. Careful choice and application of these orders will confound opponents and help you along the path to victory.

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Comments
  1. After some constructive feedback, I have updated the article with a revised procedure for how to resolve precision shots as part of the ‘Take Aim!’ order. Thanks go out to Keith Kovacs for his input into this matter.

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