Saturday, 11 November 2017

Regimental Reporting: Something for the Tread Heads

Welcome back to the Regimental Mess my fellow Officers! In previous posts we have examined the Orders available to the various Infantry Officers, and today it's the turn of the not so humble Tank Commander.

That's right; that rumbling in the distance is the grinding advance of the fearsome Leman Russ Battle Tanks! The Russ is one of the most iconic units in the Imperial Guard army; they are effective in 8th edition, and the Tank Orders can make them even better.

Open fire on my mark! 

The Tank Commander is to the Leman Russ Battle Tank, as the Company Commander is to the Infantry Squad; that is they provide buffs to nearby units in the form of Orders.

Before we go into the details of the Tank Commanders, it is worth covering the basics of the Leman Russ Tank:

  • Each Tank is equipped with one of a variety of turret weapons:
    • Battle Cannon: A long range gun, effective against infantry and light vehicles
    • Demolisher Cannon: A short range but very powerful cannon
    • Eradicator Nova Cannon: Very effective against infantry, it negates the benefits of cover
    • Executioner Plasma Cannon: A powerful but temperamental energy weapon
    • Exterminator Auto Cannon: A twin barrelled large calibre cannon
    • Punisher Gatling Cannon:  A multi barrelled machine gun, capable of horrendous rates of fire
    • Vanquisher Battle Cannon: A long range tank/monster hunting gun
  • Grinding Advance: The Russ can sacrifice movement to fire it's turret weapon twice, and does not suffer the penalty to shooting a heavy turret weapon if it moves.
  • Is equipped with a hull mounted weapon (Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer, or Las Cannon) 
  • May take sponson weapons (Heavy Bolters, Heavy Flamers, Multi Meltas, Plasma Cannons)
  • Each Russ is pretty tough (respectable Toughness, Wounds, and Armour statistics), and comes equipped with Smoke Launchers (you can sacrifice shooting to blow smoke and make your tank harder to hit).

A Tank Commander is essentially an Officer who rides in a Leman Russ tank; he can issue a Tank Order each turn to a Leman Russ (including his own). There are a number of generic Tank Orders, and then some Regiment specific ones. As my guard army hails from Cadia, we will have a look at that Cadian Tank Order!

The stock Leman Russ with Battle Cannon and Heavy Bolters
The generic Tank Orders are:

Gunners, Kill on Sight! Re-roll shooting hit rolls of 1.  As the only generic Tank Order which affects shooting this seems like a no-brainer, but you need to consider the Cadian regimental doctrine which grants this buff automatically if the Russ has remained stationary. This is a good order to use if the tank has moved, particularly to enhance the hull and sponson weapons, otherwise consider Pound Them to Dust! below. This Tank Order is very useful if your Russ is equipped with plasma weapons, allowing you the chance to avoid the dreaded self-inflicted Mortal Wounds if your supercharged energy weapons blow up.

Full Throttle! Sacrifice the tank's shooting to make another Move and Advance. A lot of the time a Russ will be moving slowly or not at all to maximise the benefits of their shooting, but if you need to move your tank (say to move to a better firing position, or to take an objective) then this Tank Order will make it incredibly fast, moving an average of 27" and potentially further.

Strike and Shroud! Allows the ordered Russ to shoot and then use its Smoke Launchers. Situational, but each tank wants to be firing as often as possible, so definitely worth considering if you need to go into defensive mode.

Finally we have the Cadian specific Tank Order:

Pound Them to Dust! The ordered model may re-roll the dice when determining the number of attacks a turret weapon makes.  This is really good; being able to potentially turn a terrible 1 or lack-lustre 2 shots from a Battle Cannon into a much more terrifying 4, 5 or 6 shots is excellent. Just don't get greedy!  Combined with the Cadian regimental doctrine (re-rolling 1s to hit remember) makes a stationary Leman Russ capable of terrifying amounts of firepower.

Of course, not every turret weapon has a random number of attacks; your choice of Leman Russ variant should therefore consider how to best exploit these Tank Orders.

Sorry Exterminator Russ; no Pound Them to Dust benefit for you!
The Cadian Regiment are lucky to have access to a Tank Commander special character; the indominatable Knight Commander Pask in his trusty Russ, The Hand of Steel. For a measly few points more than a regular Tank Commander he has an improved BS and can issue two Tank Orders per turn. Well worth considering if you are taking more than one Leman Russ; the only negative that I can see is that he can't be issued with a Relic (but that's not a big loss).

Following regimental tradition in these Orders posts, it is now time to look at War gear, Warlord Traits, Relics and Stratagems which might affect Tank Commanders and their Orders.


The War gear options for Leman Russ tanks are fairly limited, and whilst not directly affecting the ability to issue Tank Orders, these can impact how effective those Tank Orders are:

Storm Bolters/Stubbers: More guns to benefit from Gunners, Kill on Sight!

Augur Array: A once per battle re-roll of a failed to hit roll; this emulates Gunners, Kill on Sight! (sort of, once). This item is worth considering on Russes with single shot weapons (Vanquisher Battle Cannons, Las Cannons) as some insurance when taking vital shots since it works on any failed value, not just 1s.

Track Guards: This gear allows a Russ to always move at full effectiveness. Situational, but maximises the benefits of Full Throttle! when you really need to get somewhere. Plus Track Guards look cool.


Tank Commanders are characters, and can take Warlord Traits if they are an armies' Warlord!

Old Grudges: Tank Commanders don't have access to re-roll failed to wound Tank Orders; this Warlord Trait grants this as an ability against a key enemy unit. Brutal when combined with re-rolling to hit tank weapons!

Bellowing Voice: Apparently tanks in the 41st millenium don't have radios. This warlord trait increases the Tank Commander's range to for issuing Tank Orders. Useful if you have multiple Russes and plan in splitting them up.

Master of Command: Allows the Warlord to issue a second Tank Order each turn. Very useful if you don't want to run a second Tank Commander, or want to create your own version of Pask!

Superior Tactical Training: This Cadian specific Warlord Trait allows the Tank Commander to potentially issue a second Tank Order on a 4+. Generally Master of Command is better on a generic Tank Commander, but Pask (who issues 2 Tank Orders) must take this Trait and definitely benefits from it.


The Relics which could benefit a Tank Commander are fairly marginal. The Relic of Lost Cadia allows the Tank Commander and nearby units to re-roll hits and wounds; this is useful if the tank(s) are moving, still effectively granting the combination of Gunners, Kill on Sight! and Pound Them  to Dust!


Do our Leman Russes fare any better with Stratagems?

Crush Them! Can this be combined with Full Throttle!? Unfortunately, I'm leaning towards it not being legal; the Tank Order says the unit can't charge, but the Stratagem says a vehicle can charge even if it advanced. I'm not sure when it would be actually useful to do this, but seeing a Russ rocket nearly 3 feet across a table in one turn would be really funny.

Jury Rigging: Keeps your Tank Commander alive for longer so he can actually issue Tank Orders. (Side note: hiding a Tech Priest Enginseer behind a Tank Commander for a similar purpose isn't a bad idea).

Inspired Tactics: Allows an extra Tank Order to be issued. Handy if you don't want to run a second Tank Commander, or have lost one.


So this concludes our little series on the Imperial Guard Orders, and how we can make use of them. I've learnt a few tricks as I've reviewed the Codex to write these posts, and I hope you have found them enjoyable and useful as well.

What do you think? Have I missed anything, or got anything wrong? Do you enjoy these style of posts or are they bit too basic/obvious in their content? Feel free to leave a comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment