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Guest Article: Welcome to the Jungle!

Gregory Vettese returns with his magnum opus: the definitive breakdown of the Catachans faction!

Congratulations on your new commission, Major! Is this your first time on a deathworld? Ha! The first time is the worst time. Rule number one for you soft-worlders: watch your step and don’t touch anything that didn’t come in a box. Follow that rule and you’ll live long enough to learn rule two.

Listen up: if you’re going to command Catachans, you must understand that we’re not like any other regiment of the Astra Militarum that you’ve had the privilege of leading.

You’re gonna learn how to command the apex predators of the Milky Way. If you came all the way here, it’s because you already know that Catachans are like no one else in the Emperor’s service. 

If you want to command tidy parade columns of tanks from your secure bunker while sipping an aperitivo, then you should catch the next transport to Armageddon. Some regiments have heavy artillery, but every Catachan has big guns! You think it sucks to live in a steaming jungle where everything is poisonous? I wish it sucked more! 

Deathworld Slide Shows 

Follow me to the briefing room. They say here on Catachan, our slide shows are like strangleplants: they pull you in without warning and then kill you slowly. Ha ha! 

Anyway, the first question you need to ask yourself is: do you want to fight with Catachans, or do you want to fight as Catachans? Many commanders in the Emperor’s service have fought with Catachans on thousands of warzones. They know the strengths of our units: hard-hitting assault infantry and cunning officers. Catachan infantry may not have much armour, but our command lines help us pierce the defences of the most heavily armoured foes. 

Then there is the Catachan way of war. Compared to other Imperial Guard armies, we deploy differently to better exploit our principal advantage over the xenos and the heretics: numbers. Look at Figure 1 below to see the average deployments per turn (ADPT) numbers for ‘vanilla’ Imperial Guard—no disrespect to you soft-worlders! They only get two cards for their first wave deployment, which is only as much as Blood Angels, Chaos, or Dark Eldar.

Vanilla Imperial Guard do get an extra first wave deployment when they capture a sector, which may give them the numbers they need to keep winning. If vanilla Imperial Guard takes sectors quickly, then they can absolutely flood the enemy. It sounds nice in theory, but do you see the problem? Other Imperial Guard armies only get the superior numbers they need to win after they take sectors, so good luck taking that first sector shorthanded! We guardsmen do not serve a subtle or delicate organization – we are the Emperor’s hammer and the bigger we are, the harder we hit! 

Figure 1

On the other hand, Catachan Lord-Generals give officers like you the units you need when you need them, which is to say from turn one. That means Catachans are reliable, Catachans are grinders, and we are there for the long haul. If you have the right force composition, then Catachans have the same initiative as a First Wave 2 army, but with the superior numbers of a First Wave 3 army. Praise the Emperor for blessing Catachan with the best of both worlds! 

As I said, Catachans are more consistent than vanilla Imperial Guard, but only if you have plenty of real Catachans! If p is the probability of drawing a Catachan card for your first wave deployment, then basic math says the odds of you getting a bonus deployment are: 

Probability of bonus Catachan deployment = 1−(1−p)2

Figure 2: The odds of getting a bonus Catachan deployment increase with the number of Catachans, but with diminishing marginal returns. Find balance. 

The more Catachans you have, the more likely you will make your bonus deployments. Not to mention, but your bonus deployment can go to any sector, so don’t be afraid to double up. On the other hand, Figure 2Figure 3, and Figure 4 show there are declining marginal returns on the number of Catachans. Your ideal force composition is approximately 2/3 Catachans to get consistent bonus deployments. If you have too few Catachans, then you should just fight like vanilla Imperial Guard. If you have too many Catachans, you will not have the necessary support, armour, and artillery to complete your mission. They taught you combined arms warfare at the academy, right? 

Figure 3: Expected values of Catachan bonus deployments. This is what you would see over many games. 
Figure 4: The odds of getting bonus deployments in a single game. The more Catachans you have, the more likely you are to get 3 or 4 bonus deployments. If you miss more than one bonus deployment, then you are probably wasting your time with Catachans. 

Force Composition  

Imperial Guard armies live and die on synergy and Catachan armies are no different. You will need shooters to mow down the enemy’s grunts, artillery to lock down targets, assault units to rip out the enemy’s guts, and support to hold your army together. 

Shooting 

Whenever the enemy reacts, the Headhunters are ready. And if your opponent reacts often, the Headhunters will collect a lot of heads. With solid stats for Imperial Guard, they only require a little firepower boost to kill Space Marines. I hear Chaos is green with envy, so keep a close eye on them. 

There are other units with similar stats, such as Deathworld Infantry Platoon, Constrictors, and Swamprats, but they are also roll 2 and are sadly not Headhunters. Heavy Support Squad may not have impressive stats, but they have a good roll, a good command line, and they give you command cards when your Catachan units start taking hits. However, shooting is not the dominant arm of a Catachan army. We prefer to get up close and dance or rely on our friends in artillery to flatten the enemy. 

Artillery 

Artillery is the killing arm of the Imperial Guard. All Imperial Guard armies need artillery to lock the enemy’s deadliest units, flatten their fortifications, and destroy locked units if there is nothing better to do. Artillery does not care about armour, cannot be counterattacked, and cannot be blocked. When combined with Plasma Mines, the enemy has nowhere to hide. 

We have one artillery unit from our world: the Catachan Mortar Squad. It may not have the biggest booms, but it is Catachan, hits on a 3+, and if it kills a unit, you can charge a ready Catachan assault unit for sweet, sweet tempo. 

The rest of your artillery will not be from Catachan, but you need at least two more types. I highly recommend the Desert Bomber. It is a fast blocker, has two 5+ shots, and it will charge a ready assault unit when it lights up the enemy.

Tempo, tempo, tempo! Sadly, it has no flag, but what did you expect from aviation? The Desert Bomber fights better with Catachan because we use more assault units than a soft-world army.  

For your other artillery units, I suggest choosing from among Mortar SquadBasiliskManticore, and Earthshaker CarriageMortar Squad has a high roll and hits easily, Basilisk boosts your infantry’s firepower while locked, Manticore can self-rally, and Earthshaker Carriage has a high roll and – this is important – combo potential. Yet, because we Catachan don’t focus on shooting nor do we have many fortifications, we prefer our Earthshakers. 

Earthshaker Carriage paired with Sentinel Power Lifter rallies them every time the Earthshaker Carriage destroys an enemy unit, then it can lock the Sentinel Power Lifter to rally itself.  If you’re the type of officer that does not leave anything to chance, combine Earthshaker Carriage with Sentinel Squadron and Kane’s Squad to destroy enemy units over and over. They say big guns never sleep. Like the Headhunters, this combo shows that we Catachan have almost Chaos-like rallying abilities, but we are more numerous too and have better artillery. 

Kane’s Squad are the artillery spotters you didn’t know you needed. They simply make artillery barrages into killing magic. In case you didn’t notice, Kane’s Squad is not unique because Kane is a common name on Catachan. 

Assault 

Catachan has the hardest-hitting assault units in the Imperial Guard. Pay special attention to Blackblade’s PatrolCatachan Squad, and Graxugg’s Grunts. Even Space Marines aren’t safe from them! Jaeger’s Deathworlders are one of the few multi-kill units we have in the Imperial Guard.

They excel at hunting the toughest enemies, because the bigger they are the lower they roll. If you have enough infantry units, requisition a Hellhound and combo them with Sentinel Power Lifters to kill an enemy unit on a 2+ test every BADeathworld Sentinels are always worth a second look if your enemy runs a lot of heavily armoured assault units like titans, avatars, or greater daemons. 

Support 

Support comes in many forms. One of which is transport, which sadly is the primary way Imperial Guard gains tempo for our assault infantry. Even sadder there are only two choices of transport: Chimera or Cadian Chimera.  I prefer Chimeras due to their roll of 5 and infiltration ability, but Cadian Chimera can be considered if you have a high proportion of infantry assault units. 

Catatchan infantry are still Guardsmen with lasguns, so fire support is crucial to get the lasers on targets. Bring along Sentinel Squadrons or Fire Support Squads to boost the firepower of even the lowliest grunts. Sentinel Power Lifters are crucial to combo with Earthshaker Carriage or Hellhound. If three Sentinel Power Lifters get together, their tag team of destruction is a beautiful sight. 

Fortifications have a role in Catachan forces, though not a prominent one. 

Sawgrass Fields protect your charging assault infantry and give the enemy a nasty choice. If the enemy targets the Sawgrass Fields, then the assault infantry gets through, but if the enemy targets the charging assault infantry, there will be no change in flags and Sawgrass Fields can possibly rally your assault infantry later. 

The Imperial Guard is known across the galaxy for the high quality of its officers, and Catachan is no different. Iron Hand Straken will make your units fight twice as hard by rallying often. If your enemy kills a Catachan unit, another will get back into the fight on a 5+ test. If your enemy wastes a BA to lock your units, Straken will get them back into the fight as fast as any Traitor Marine with an easy 4+ test. Rallying as a reaction is as good as having an additional unit. 

Firepower-focused armies thank Lt. Koffman for infiltrating the right unit at the right time and guaranteeing shots on target every time. Colonel Grimm is the living saint of synergy. When backed up with just two of the right units (for example an assault infantry and a vehicle artillery), he can destroy any unit without locking any of your own units. He is a true-born killer among deathworlders, so don’t let him down! 

Example Catachan Deck List 

Conclusion 

Some of the things in this briefing apply to all Imperial Guard armies – you can pass those on to your buddies back home – but remember Catachans are made different. Catachan raises fine soldiers led by tough officers. With the right amount of off-world support and artillery, Catachan armies destroy the enemy with combined arms. You won’t have to spend as much time infiltrating units as vanilla Imperial Guard, because while Catachans are tactically like vanilla Imperial Guard, we are strategically stronger because we start and finish the mission with the superior numbers we need to win. We have killers like Colonel Grimm and Jaeger’s Deathworlders that are worth their weight in gold. 

I hope you see the Catachan advantage and will submit your transfer papers soon. Sound off in the comments if you have anything to add about Catachan’s finest. 

2 replies on “Guest Article: Welcome to the Jungle!”

Thanks for the strangleplant presentation! Catachan gives one hope that it’s actually possible to win a game with IG. Grimm, Hellhound, Deathworlders are just brutal to play against.

Liked by 2 people

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