Greetings fellow commanders, and welcome back! This time, we’ll be analyzing the Imperial Royal Guard, looking at their role on the battlefield and at different tactics they can employ.
The Unit Card
The best I can figure, the Imperial Royal Guard (Hereafter referred to as IRG) are aggressively costed at 75 points. Two health a model is nice,
made even sweeter with the red defense die. Taking just one damage won’t hurt your damage output at all. Two courage is even better, making it rare the IRG lose an action.
They have two very powerful keywords, charge and guardian.
Charge – After you perform a move action, you may perform a free attack action.
Luke Skywalker came out with the core set, so I don’t think I need to explain the threat range of a unit with speed of 2 and charge. (its approximately 12 inches or range 2) Unfortunately, the IRG can’t jump over terrain.. Bummer
Guardian 2 – While a friendly trooper unit at range 1 and in line of sight is defending against a ranged attack, you may cancel up to 2 hit results. for each result canceled, roll 1 of your defense dice. Convert any surges, then suffer 1 wound for each blank result.
For anyone that played X-Wing 1.0 knows, being able to take damage off of friendlies is very powerful.. Looking at you Biggs Darklighter. Guardian 2 opens up an unique role for the IRG in your army, more on this later.
The disciplined keyword removes 2 suppression from the IRG when they are issued an order during the command phase. This synergizes nicely with Emperor Palpatine and his entourage keyword, which gives the IRG a free order if they are in range.
The heavy weapon upgrade, Electrostaff Guard, costs 25 points, bringing total cost to 100. The weapon adds two black dice to a melee attack, rather than the normal red and black die. Which is fine, as you’re paying 25 points for immunity to pierce while in melee. This pierce immunity in melee make the IRG unique and give them another role to serve.
The only units with melee piercing attacks currently are Luke, Darth Vader, and Palpatine. While any of these three may still beat the IRG in a melee, it may take multiple turns, and they will likely receive their lumps. Its a very inefficient use of Luke or Vader to fight IRG in a melee.
If you’re already putting 75 points into IRG, this upgrade is highly recommended.
You should figure out what upgrades you like to take on the IRG, and it will largely matter how many points you have left. I can’t say any upgrade is absolutely necessary, as IRG are quite efficient bare.
Grenades are probably better left behind. Usually if you’re in range 1 and shooting, you’re in charge range. If you need impact grenades, you’d likely be better off attaching them to any of your corp units. You could take frag grenades, and make a range 1 attack using 1 grenade and 6 black dice, converting surges to crits. This sounds fantastic, but again, this is an edge case and you’d likely be better off charging into the melee.
The IRG can take emergency stims for eight points. You could do some shenanigans with keeps the electrostaff alive another turn, useful if Luke is tied up in melee with them. However, eight points is a lot for an edge case. You’d more likely be using E-stims to preserve a model to make your attack stronger next turn or keep a unit tied up in engagement another turn.
Recon intel comes in the box with the IRG expansion. This 2 point upgrade is good always, on everything, but not necessary. Add this if you have the two points to spare.
A priority upgrade should be tenacity. Adding one red die when you have a wounded guard or have lost a mini, is very strong for four points. It makes the IRG a highly effective melee fighter through attrition. Even with only one model remaining in a melee, you would be rolling 2 red and 1 black. Not required by any means but if you have four points to spare in your army building, this should be a high priority.
A second useful upgrade to consider is environmental gear. This will depend largely on the type of battle fields you often play on or what terrain is available to you at home or in the game shop. Allowing the IRG to get their full move through difficult terrain is very important for the last role, discussed below. Read on!
Role in the Army
The IRG can serve different roles depending on what your opponent’s list is running. When putting your list together, your IRG won’t be locked into one of these roles, as the role is fluid and ever changing. I’m going to discuss three different roles. One thing can be certain however, that these are ‘Guards’.
Guard defined by Google
Verb – “watch over in order to protect or control”
Noun – “a person who keeps watch, especially a soldier or other person formally assigned to protect a person or to control access to a place.”
There you have two roles the IRG may be serving in your army, being a noun or doing a verb. Lets start by looking at the ‘verb’ role.
Role: The “Stay off my lawn” IRG
As I mentioned already, the keyword charge, means the IRG can move approximately 12 inches, or a range of two, engage into a melee and get a free attack action after the double move. The IRG are not pushovers in melee, even being able to take on Vader and Luke. (assuming they have the electrostaff guard)
Engaging into melee with with IRG should be feared by your opponents and they will have to make careful steps to move in the area being guarded by IRG. The IRG being engaged means they can’t be targeted by ranged attacks, allowing them to go 1v1, toe to toe in melee, with their opponents.
Your opponent will have to leave their troopers in the engagement to 1v1 the IRG or ‘waste’ a turn withdrawing. They may throw more units into the melee, which is often a good trade for you. As most troopers and commanders usually throw more and better dice at range, than they do melee.
This is the role the IRG should fall into if they are not fulfilling any of the next roles. I have to stress the importance of the ‘guard‘ part. This role means the IRG does not charge forward 12 inches headlong into your opponents forces. It means you’ve got your objective in or space you want to control, and they are sitting in it, waiting, and maybe making ranged attacks from heavy cover. You may sitting behind a building, out of LOS, protecting a vaporator, or the center supply crate. Whatever position, the IRG should be a dangerous presence to your opponent.
Role: The “I Live Only to Serve” IRG
The noun version of the IRG take advantage of the guardian keyword. The IRG may take this role if you bring Palpatine, Darth Vader, or if another unit is key to claiming your victory, such as objective and bounty grabber Boba Fett.
Taking a unit of IRG with Vader or Palp keep help keep their commanders alive and healthy, so that they can get in there and do the work. If your unit of IRG perish after taking multiple wounds away from Vader, so that he can get engaged into your opponent’s forces with full health, then the IRG served their role.
This role means deploying the IRG near Vader or Palp and lingering around until the close battle starts. Keep in mind, the IRG can use guardian, even if they are engaged, as long as they are in range one of the guardian target.
Your opponent may have a very ranged list, maybe with an AT-ST, and you are playing sabotage the vaporators. In this situation maybe there isn’t anything worth charging your guards in for, so you just hang back, and soak wounds for your snipers, or important ranged units.
The next role is a little more specialized…
Role: The “No Farmboys allowed” IRG
This is a mix of the “stay off my lawn” variety of IRG. If your opponent has Luke or Vader in their list, this is the role your IRG may take. I wouldn’t say Palpatine, because he’s not as reliant on his melee attack, and usually kills himself in a death blossom. However, if you can catch Palp in the melee with IRG, more power to you.
When you put IRG in your list, I highly recommend taking the electrostaff guard upgrade as well. Its worth it if nothing else to make them more of a threat to Luke Skywalker, deemed as many as the best model in the game of Legion. When I planned my season 2 invader league list, this role was the reason I was sure to bring IRG. You can read about that here if you missed it.
To become the hunters of Luke, does not mean you charge out to him, but rather you screen him, and wait for him to move into you. If you can, wait to deploy the IRG until after Luke has been deployed. Try to picture where your opponent wants to send Luke in at and move to intercept and screen.
To screen means stay between Luke and the rest of your forces. If your opponent puts Luke out on a flank, stay on the inside side of Luke, rather than going on the board edge side of Luke. You want to make it so that if Luke charges in, he’s getting thrown into melee with IRG as well.
Watch out for height 1 terrain! A clever opponent will jump up to height 1 and shoot the IRG. If the IRG are not in heavy cover, this is very potent to them, as Luke will likely remove 1 IRG mini with each attack. This is however, still a win for you as it beats having Luke mow down your storm troopers.
You may be thinking, “Luke will just force push the IRG off and continue on the next turn”
True, but would you rather Luke charge in, remove a unit of stormies, and force pull another unit of stormies into melee with him, giving him protection from ranged attacks? We all get it.. force push is great. He doesn’t have master of the force, and that force push is going to do something dirty during the game. The least you can do is control what gets pushed, and fight on your terms.
Get the IRG in there, and tell that farmboy to stay off your lawn!
Role: The “Onward! Into the Breach!” IRG
Finally, the last role of the IRG and this time, they drop guard duty and take the fight to your opponent’s house to punch them in their face! When I first saw the IRG, this is how I wanted to play them, as aggressive, charge into your opponent’s forces units.
I myself, have not had much success playing them as aggressive pieces. Take that with a grain of salt however, as I’ve also not used them aggressively, as often as I have defensively. If you charge IRG into your opponents forces, its very easy for them to withdraw their units from the melee, and have the entirety of their forces in range to shoot down your IRG. For the points you spend on the IRG, (100 or more), you need to wipe two full squads of troopers to get an up trade of points.
Combos to Give Your Opponent the Business
A few good combo’s for aggressively played IRG are Darth Vader, Palpatine, and bringing two or three IRG units.
Darth Vader brings, “New Ways to Motivate Them” to the mix. Giving the IRG a wound for a third action can trigger the tenacity upgrade, and allow you to move 18 inches, or range three, to engage with your opponents. Draw back of course being if you do this triple move charge, you may leave Darth Vader behind. Take into account how isolated the IRG may be, after moving such a distance. This is very strong on recover the supplies.
Palpatine brings the pull the strings keyword. I already touched on this synergy in the Palpatine guide found here. I learned how strong this combo is from being on the defending side during my match against R1H4.
The IRG killing a unit they are engaged with means they are in the open and able to be shot at. On his turn, Palpatine can allow the IRG to move again, hopefully getting into another engagement and making another charge attack.
With the two combos above, it is possible on battle lines deployment, to triple move and be in your opponents face turn one. Maybe you can melee snipe a commander like Leia?
If you want to go ham, bring 3-4 IRG. Similar to the ideology of, speeder bikes are best brought as three, bringing multiple IRG can overwhelm your opponent. I’ve actually not tried this but you can watch a match between Clontrooper and Bushfacts streamed on Twitch by Yavinbase here. Clontrooper brought 4 IRG and Palpatine and came out with a win over his rebel opponent.
Cohering for Guardian
An important thing to remember for making the most of guardian is how you are cohering the IRG. Guardian requires a friendly trooper to be at range 1 and in line of sight. Range measures from each individual mini, so by cohering a single IRG outward at maximum cohesion range, you can effectively increase the range on your guardian. See picture below.
IRG are guards – Think of the IRG as a defensive unit and I think you’ll be much more pleased with their performance.
IRG are troopers – 100 plus points is a lot to spend for just one unit, however, with all the the roles mentioned above, its easy to see how they can find value. Keep in mind they are troopers, so even if you do drop a corp unit to fit in an IRG, that’s okay, as the IRG can contribute to objectives just as well.
Don’t be afraid to shoot – IRG have a better attack in melee, however their range 1-2 attack, is not too shabby either. If you have the option of A) charging in a precarious situation, or B) staying in heavy cover and shooting, you may consider guarding your ground and shooting. Especially if your in the defensive position you want to hold.
IRG are best friends with Palp and Vader – Go back and try Vader again with the IRG. Vader has been out since the beginning of this game, and never before did he have a tool under his belt like the IRG.
Take the electrostaff always – Take it first as a Luke counter. But even if you know your not going against Luke, it is an effective use of 25 points for guardian wounds. You get two wounds, about 12.5 points for each wound. This means soaking a wound off anything other than snowtroopers and storm troopers, is, by points, value town.
Thanks for reading this IRG guide! If you learned something, let me know in the comments! If there is something I didn’t bring up, tell me in the comments! And lastly, let me know how the IRG have performed for you!