Let's take a look at some of the Imperial Guard's Strengths and Weaknesses.
- The Imperial Guard boasts an incredible amount of men and material to the battlefield. The standard Guardsman costs a mere 4 points. Conscripts are even cheaper and come in bigger unit sizes of 20-50 Conscripts per squad! A host of 12 squads of 10 Guardsman per squad will only cost you 480 points. This is before any upgrades like Special Weapons such as Plasma Guns and Grenade Launchers. You will be outnumbering most other armies out there. And you will still have points left over for multiple Leman Russ Battle Tanks, even in smaller games!
- With a wide variety of tanks to choose from, the Imperial Guard can boast an incredible amount of firepower specialized for any job. Need to take out hordes of Infantry? Consider a Punisher Leman Russ Tank with three Heavy Bolters or a Wyvern to mow down infantry. What about something specialized against other Tanks? Take a Vanquisher with a Lascannon and two Multi-Meltas or some Sentinels with Lascannons to deal with them. They even have the very powerful Baneblade variants of Tanks available that boast an incredible amount of firepower!
- Their Characters provide army wide buffs and are cheap as chips in points and power level. Commanders give the basic Guardsman some impressive maneuvers, like a free movement phase, better chance to hit/wound a target, advance and still shoot, even Fight again in the Shooting phase! Best of all, they are incredibly cheap in terms of Points and Power Level. Commissars give quite a bit of staying power in terms of Morale for Guardsman, only losing a single model should they fail a Morale Test if nearby. Munitorium Priests give Astra Militarum Infantry units an extra Attack if nearby. Astropaths and Primaris Psykers provide cheap psychic power denial and some nice psychic powers like a +1 bonus to the save for a unit.
- With access to Special Weapon Teams, Command Squads, and Veterans, the Imperial Guard can take an impressive amount of specialized firepower with multiple gun options. From the Meltagun for Tanks to Flamers to deal with horde based armies, each of these squads can be custom tailored to take on any threat.
- The standard Guardsman is not the toughest and accurate unit in the game. With only a Toughness of 3, Ballistic Skill of 4+, and an Armor Save of 5+, they are not that impressive of troops on their own. Conscripts only hit on a 5+ and don't come with the luxury of taking anything but a Lasgun. Cover does help their durability in the Shooting phase, but not as much as in previous editions. This makes things like Heavy Weapon and Special Weapon Teams juicy targets for concentrated fire.
- Your Characters can be picked off by Snipers pretty effectively as they do not have the best armor and Toughness as previously mentioned. If unanswered, your Commissars that are holding the line or Senior Officer that is giving Orders to your Guardsman can be quickly taken out in one round of shooting. Keep a bodyguard handy like Nord Deddog nearby to soak up some of that Sniper fire.
- While their Tanks can be numerous and varied, they can also be quite pricey in points. A standard Leman Russ will cost you 190 points. This is as much as 4 Infantry Squads. And this is not including the variants of the Leman Russ. Their most powerful tank, the Baneblade, is at least 500 points minimum. Also, keep your distance as even a single unit of Grots can shut down a Leman Russ's firepower by simply charging it.
- The Guardsman's trusty Lasgun is the weakest basic guns in the Warhammer 40k arsenal. Weighing in at Strength 3, no AP, and Rapid Fire 1 at 24", you are wounding typical Space Marine armies on a 5+ and anything with a Toughness of 6 or higher on a 6+. Statistics is a Commander's best friend. Weight in number of shots and concentrated fire can counter this weakness, but it is still something to keep in mind. Definitely consider taking some sort of special or Heavy Weapon with your Guardsman squads.
- The Imperial Guard is not known for its close combat prowess. Senior Officers are built for giving orders, not fighting Chaos Lords. Guardsman do not have much in terms of close combat options if anything at all. They are not designed to hold their own against dedicated Assault units like Khorne Berserkers and Genestealers, even with the benefits from Astra Militarum Characters. Units like the Ogryn and Rough Riders can fill a close combat role, but not very well compared to other units dedicated to close combat from other factions. Don't expect your Guardsman to win any close combat engagements.