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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, Orders

Orders remain a signature feature of the Astra Militarum Faction in 8th Ed, allowing their combat-weak characters to add significant utility to other units. Let's take a look at the new Orders and consider how they will influence list building and tactics.

Orders

Orders are used at the start of the shooting phase, and typically involve an Officer unit conferring a buff on an Infantry unit. If you have multiple characters with Voice of Command then you can issue Orders in any sequence. Orders work automatically; no tests are required unlike previous editions. Only Infantry units may receive Orders (sorry, Rough Riders!) and each unit may only receive a single Order each turn.

Orders only have a range of 6", which makes careful positioning of your characters very important. Order range can be boosted to a much easier to manage 18" if the character is within 3" of a unit that includes a Vox-Caster, and the receiving unit also includes a Vox. Note that the character does not need to be within 3" of the actual model with the Vox, just within 3" of any member of the squad. Also note that a character does not need to use a Vox in a Command Squad—any old radio will do!

There are no restrictions on issuing Orders to Officers, so your Platoon Commander could get away with insubordination and issue Orders to your Company Commander.

Take Aim

This Order allows a unit to reroll 1 to hit. This is the perfect Order for any unit firing Plasma Guns in Overcharge mode, nearly totally mitigating the risk of losing your gunners. Combined with the low cost of Plasma Guns to Astra units—and the low cost of human life to Astra players—we should expect to see plasma-spam lists as the go-to for Matched Play.

First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire

This Order changes all Lasguns and Hot-Shot Lasguns to Rapid Fire 2. This would be a great Order for Tempestus squads when they Aerial Drop, or Veteran squads when they jump out of transports, except that you're probably using Take Aim instead for their Plasma Guns. This is likely going to be the default Order for any squad that isn't spamming plasma, since Lasguns are ubiquitous and can hurt anything in 8th Ed if you roll enough dice.

Bring It Down

This Order allows a unit to reroll 1 to wound. Rerolls to wound are strictly worse than rerolls to hit except for one situation: when you automatically hit. So this is the perfect Order for any unit firing multiple Flamers or Heavy Flamers.

Forwards for the Emperor

This Order allows a unit to shoot "even if it Advanced". I quote this rule directly since it notably does not use 'as if it had not Advanced' or a similar phrase. I believe this means that this Order only allows a unit to shoot non-Assault weapons after Advancing, but it will still suffer the -1 to hit penalty for shooting Assault and Heavy weapons. This is a good Order to use if you had to Advance a squad to get it onto an Objective.

Get Back in the Fight

This Order allows a unit to shoot after it Falls Back. This is obviously the only Order to use on a squad that had to Fall Back out of combat. This is a really nice utility Order since you choose how casualties are removed in 8th Ed, so you can preserve your special weapons and get one last shot in with a squad that gets mauled in combat.

Move, Move, Move

This Order allows a unit to move and Advance in the shooting phase, "instead of shooting". If you are close to an Objective and don't want to give up shooting then you should probably use Forwards for the Emperor; but if you need to cover a lot of ground then this is a good Order to have available. A squad receiving this Order can cover 14-24" in a single turn, which is pretty damn impressive for Guardsmen!

Fix Bayonets

This Order allows a unit to immediately fight a round of close combat. Note that this does not prevent that squad from also shooting its Pistol weapons into close combat—too bad literally zero Astra Militarum squads carry sidearms! This seems like a very niche Order, since Falling Back and shooting the enemy assaulters with everything (including the squad that Fell Back, using Get Back in the Fight) will nearly always do more damage. Remember that Rough Riders are not Infantry so they can't receive Orders!

Tank Orders

Tank Orders are mechanically identical (see what I did there?) to regular Orders, except they are issued to Leman Russ tanks instead of Infantry squads. Sorry, you can't issue Tank Orders to any other tanks. Note that there is no Vox-Caster equivalent to boost the range of Tank Orders beyond the default 6".

Tank Commanders may issue a single Tank Order each turn to a non-character Leman Russ, and each tank can only receive a single Tank Order each turn. Only the Cadian special character—Commander Pask—may issue two Tank Orders each turn, but note that he can issue them to regular Tank Commanders. You could conceivably field Pask, two Tank Commanders and two tanks, then use Pask to issue Tank Orders to both Tank Commanders, and each Tank Commander to issue a single Tank Order to each tank. Would it be worthwhile? Probably not...

Full Throttle

This Tank Order is the equivalent of Move, Move, Move and allows a tank to move and Advance in the shooting phase instead of shooting. Obviously you should use this on a tank that already Advanced in its movement phase. A Leman Russ receiving this Tank Order can cover 22-32" in a single turn.

Gunners, Kill on Sight

This Tank Order is the equivalent of Take Aim and allows a tank to reroll 1 to hit. This is not good enough to justify taking Plasma Cannon sponsons on your tanks (or Executioners) since the cost of the weapon—and failed Overcharge—are both significantly higher.

Strike and Shroud

This Tank Order allows a tank to shoot and pop smoke in the same turn. Smoke Launchers in 8th Ed give all enemy units -1 to hit the tank for a single turn. This is probably the Tank Order you use on your first turn to keep your tanks moving at full speed and firing at full BS for a little bit longer into the game.

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