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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, Troops Units

Let's analyse the Troops options available to Astra Militarum. This review is from a competitive play perspective, at around 2000 pts scale.

Troops Options

The Troops options we're reviewing are the:

  • Infantry Squad (Astra Militarum)
  • Conscripts (Astra Militarum)
  • Tempestus Scions (Militarum Tempestus)
  • Death Korps Infantry Squad (Death Korps of Krieg)
  • Death Korps Grenadier Storm Squad (Death Korps of Krieg)
  • Elysian Drop Trooper Squad (Elysian Drop Troops)

Infantry Squad

A mere 40 pts buys you a 10-man squad of Guardsmen. Upgrade options include a Vox (nearly mandatory), a single special weapon (Plasma is the clear best) and a single heavy weapon (Lascannon is the marginal best, but Heavy Bolters may be an acceptable cheaper alternative). The Sergeant can take a cheap Plasma Pistol, and nearly always should.

That's all there really is to say about Infantry Squads! You don't really need to make any hard choices in their configuration, just decide if you want to buy them a Lascannon or not. Even pimped-out with a Lascannon, Plasma Gun, Plasma Pistol and Vox they are only 77 pts per unit, and are a very decent backfield Objective camper squad.


Starting at 60 pts for 20 models, and scaling up to 150 pts for 50 models, Conscripts may be the largest model-count unit in 8th Ed. Their stat-line is unimpressive, and they have no wargear options, but as an infamous 20th Century dictator once said, "quantity has a quality all of its own".

There are two ways to run Conscripts: defensively or offensively. Defensive Conscripts are a literal human shield for higher-value units, such as the many excellent artillery options available in an Astra list. Bubble-wrap your good stuff with Conscripts and your opponent will be forced to either shoot them dead from afar or grind through the Conscript wall to get close. Defensive Conscripts really only need a Lord Commissar to babysit them, but a cheap bare-bones Company Commander for the FRFSRF Order is probably worthwhile.

Offensive Conscripts, on the other hand, require a much larger investment in supporting elements. A Lord Commissar (or Commissar Yarrick) is still essential to keep them from fleeing, but other options for improving their offensive output include:

  • Colonel Straken for Orders and +1A
  • Uriah Jacobus or Ministorum Priests for +1A

And options for improving their resilience include:

  • Celestine for a 6++ invulnerable save
  • Astropaths for +1Sv

If you are willing to sink all those points into buffing Characters, then you can enjoy the power of dozens of A3 Conscripts swinging twice per turn in close combat, or simply rapid firing 200 Lasgun shots at close range. But I really hope you're a speed-painter...

Tempestus Scions

A 5-man squad with up to two special weapons costs 45 pts, and a 10-man squad with up to four special weapons costs 90 pts. Compared to Infantry Squads, Scions have improved BS and Sv, Aerial Drop for 9"-away mid-game deployment, and Hot-Shot Lasguns. Scions cannot take heavy weapons.

There are two ways to run Scions: expendable suicide squads or as a substitute for Infantry Squads in your battle-line. Suicide squads will typically be 5-man with two Plasma Guns and a Plasma Pistol. Line squads will typically be 10-man with four Plasma Guns, a Plasma Pistol and a Vox, and will be supported by Tempestor Primes.

The problem with Scions is that their Hot-Shot Lasguns do not synergise with Aerial Drop—you have to deploy them over 9" away from the enemy, but they can only double-tap within 9". Furthermore, in Matched Play, the Tactical Reserves rule makes having Aerial Drop on all your line squads mostly a waste.

Unfortunately, I just don't think Scions are very good (cue internet rage). Not because they're objectively bad, but because there are simply better options for performing both their potential roles. A Tempestus Command Squad with four Plasma Guns is a strictly better suicide squad. If your line squads are not using Aerial Drop, then Death Korps Grenadier Storm Squads are cheaper; if you do want Aerial Drop on all your line squads then you are probably better off using Elysian Drop Trooper Squads instead.

Death Korp Infantry Squad

The DKK version of Infantry Squads are 10 pts more expensive but have a very powerful rule in Cult of Sacrifice, which makes them ignore shooting phase casualties when they take Morale Tests. They can (and should) be configured identically to normal Infantry Squads, and have an additional option to take a Platoon Standard (6" buff aura of +1Ld) which is probably worthwhile taking on some squads (not all squads, since it doesn't stack).

The only downside with DKK is that they have slightly different Orders to other Astra Militarum, notably lacking Take Aim which makes their Plasma significantly more suicidal! On balance, this makes DKK slightly tougher at the cost of some offensive output.

Death Korps Grenadier Storm Squad

The DKK version of Scions are 1 pts-per-model cheaper, so if you're running 10-man squads then the price difference between DKK Infantry and DKK Grenadiers balances out with their Astra Militarum counterparts. Compared to Scions, they lack Aerial Drop and can only take two special weapons per squad, instead of four special weapons in a 10-man squad.

The most significant upside of DKK Grenadiers is that they take Orders from DKK Officers, just like every other DKK unit—so there is no need to run a mix of Company Commanders and Tempestor Primes if you want a hybrid Guardsmen/Stormtroopers list.

Elysian Drop Trooper Squad

The Elysian version of Infantry Squads are 10 pts more expensive, cannot take heavy weapons, but get the Aerial Drop rule. If you've decided that your Infantry Squads are too expendable to bother buying them Lascannon, then you're probably better off running Elysian Drop Trooper Squads instead—especially if you're playing Objective-based missions, since being able to drop in your Objective camper squads later in the game is very advantageous.


I'm looking forward to seeing what other Regiment-specific rules GW will give to Astra Militarum in their eventual codex. Until then, we have vanilla, DKK and Elysian to choose from

If you want to run a Conscript horde then you have only one choice at the moment: vanilla.

If you want to run a Stormtrooper army then you're probably best off taking DKK, so your Officers can issue Orders to your Grenadiers and supporting units alike.

Both DKK and Elysian Troops are useful additions to a combined arms style vanilla list, since DKK are great backfield Objective campers due to Cult of Sacrifice and Elysians are great as mid/late-game Objective snatchers due to Aerial Drop. While there are no real Regiment-specific bonuses, you may as well play the mix-and-match list building game—just don't get your Officers mixed up!


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