The main underperformers in the list are the Russ twins. Anybody who knows me knows I love me some str 8 AP 3 large blasts, but I'm not sure I need two of them. While very efficient FOC slot-wise, 300 points for the pair is just a bit too much for something that is still very much up to luck to see if it will do any damage or not. Plus they take up quite a bit of real estate as they need to stick together.
On the other hand, they provide a good deal of protection to the rest of my force. Few things can reliably deal with AV 14 at range so placing them as LOS blockers to my other tanks is often crucial to success. Plus, when they hit, they kill marines like nobody's business.
But if I am determined to replace the Queens of the battlefield, what would I use to fill the void? Let's look at some options:
My list, like many IGuard lists likes going first. Some of my heaviest hitters are rather fragile with only AV 12 standing between them and total annihilation. Being able to play the reserve game if I go 2nd would be a great ability to have. The more reliable outflank could also potentially come in handy to help the Vendettas show up where they need to. The trouble with him is fitting him in, as a lot of the potential options cost exactly or very close to the price of a Russ, and I have little that I would want to take out from the rest of my list to afford him.
2. Psyker Battle Squad
I've tried resisting this particular piece of Camembert for a while but it has me hooked on several levels. First it can provide another high strength, potentially low AP blast, thereby replacing the Russ with little difference. Second, the Weaken Resolve power would, as in many Guard armies, help me knock squads easily off the table with only a minimum of casualties. I can already see TH/SS termies running for their lives because some scrawny little dudes wrapped in chains went BOOGA BOOGA... Third, the conversion opportunities are pretty fantastic.Since I've envisioned my force with a bit of a radical Inquisitorial bent these charming folks would blend right in. Not to mention my ideas on how to integrate playing cards into their design...
3. Close Combat Upgrades
I can't tell you the number of times that a power fist or even a sword would have turned the tide just enough. This isn't a really high priority, but a pfist on a vet squad or my CCS could have helped against even lone marines rushing in and slaughtering the entire squad. Again, like the Astropath, the problem is finding room for upgrades, especially since these can be seen as even lower priority.
4. MOAR MELTA!
Couple of ways we could go with this. With some upgrades we can sneak a couple of extra meltaguns onto my Vets as points filler. They do all right with just two meltaguns but three's just better. I could also spring for something like a suicide melta-Stormtrooper squad, or even afford another Chimera vet squad. I'm not sure how I like this version; if anything my list needs more long range shooting and melta's preferred enemies already fear the Manticore. Still, adding another Vet squad would give me another mobile scoring unit which is always useful.
These options so far have only dealt with giving up one Russ... the option remains to give up both, freeing up another 150 pts and a Heavy Support slot. With this, we have the following options:
Manticores are awesome. I think I might miss the AP 3 of the blast but two Manticores is a truly impressive amount of firepower. I'd probably choose this option if I wanted more antitank, as nothing cracks a Land Raider at 300 paces like str 10 rockets of doom. Plus, PRETTY.
Hydras would provide a fair bit of light anti-tank at range. Plus, as the photo above attests, fellow blogger and hero to Guard generals everywhere (despite his nautical title) Drax has a pretty cool way to convert them up, saving me money and helping me scratch that DIY itch that I wrestle with. I would probably spring for two as one just doesn't seem like enough. As my girlfriend mentioned, "Can you ever have too many Hydras? They're like potato chips." Special dear... special.
So let's look at a few possible combinations to replace one or both Russ.
- Psyker Battle Squad with 4 additional members, Chimera, and take a melta from my triple melta squad: 150 pts
- Veteran squad with 2 meltaguns, flamer, Chimera: 150 pts
- Three additional meltaguns, one to each vet squad, 5 stormtroopers with two meltaguns, Astropath: 150 pts
- Manticore plus one of the above options, plus take out 10 pts somewhere: 300 pts
- 2 Hydras, plus one of the 150 pt options: 300 pts
- Just keep the Russ!