Part 3: The All-Rounders

A continuation of the Leman Russ Tactica, this time looking in more detail at the Exterminator, Eradicator and Punisher patterns of Leman Russ Tank.

The Leman Russ Exterminator

Leman Russ Exterminator with a Hull-Mounted Lascannon
Leman Russ Exterminator with a Hull-Mounted Lascannon

The Exterminator is a great tank because it can theoretically deal with everything. The Heavy 4, twin-Linked Autocannon can scythe through infantry and light vehicles with contemptuous ease so it especially scary to Tyranids, Orcs and Tau who have a lot of tough but low armour infantry (warriors, battlesuits and Nobz) and fast but generally weak vehicles.

Perhaps the best thing about the Exterminator though is that because it can deal with almost any unit type it has a justifiable reason for taking any of the sponson options! It’s far less limiting in terms of battlefield role so you can take the extra firepower without worrying it’ll be wasted or have nothing to shoot at.

So, if you’re facing a vehicle-heavy or power armour heavy force then Multi-Meltas and Plasma Cannons are your friends, but if you’re facing infantry hordes or fast/mobile armies then Heavy Flamers and Heavy Bolters are the way to go. You’ll still have the problem of not being able snap fire if you’ve been stunned/shaken, but at least you’ll always have one weapon that can shoot. Snap fire’s not so bad when you’re twin-linked.

An Exterminator is cheap too; at only 185 points with Heavy Bolter Sponsons and a Hull-Mounted Lascannon (My preferred configuration) it fires 13 AP4 shots, the lowest strength of which is still 5! Even if you tool up with Plasma Cannons/Meltas you’d still be just shy of 200points, a bargain by anyone’s measure.

And that’s before you meet Knight Commander Pask. He not only increases the BS of all his weapons to 4, he gives you +1 to armour penetration rolls and lets you re-roll to wound against Monstrous Creatures. What was painful before suddenly becomes lethal and you’re still cheaper than a Land Raider.

Another viable use of the Exterminator is as an AA tank. Because the Exterminator Autocannon is twin-linked, you stand a reasonably good chance of scoring at least 1, if not 2 solid hits against an aircraft with it even when needing 6s to hit. Twin-linked helps, and it’s wise not to rely on it as an AA vehicle, but it’s better than nothing and Hydras are expensive to buy.

In terms of disadvantages then, the only real ones are those that all Leman Russ share. In summary it may not be as good at killing marines as the Executioner or some of the old school tanks, but against anything not in Power Armour it’s the best tank in the book.

The Leman Russ Eradicator

Leman Russ Eradicator
Leman Russ Eradicator with Hull-Mounted Heavy Bolter [sponsons unidentified]
The Eradicator has many things in common with the standard Leman Russ. It has a single high strength (6) large blast with an AP of 4 and a range of 36’’. While this obviously lacks the sheer power and range of a Battle Cannon (and is not as potent against marines) it has two specific attributes that make it a unique and fantastic vehicle.

First of all it has the “Ignores Cover” rule. So while it may only be AP 4, all those units that love to hide in terrain and shoot you from a distance have a lot more to be scared of, especially Eldar units such as pathfinders; you’ll be killing them outright on a 2+ and they won’t get a save. strength 6 isn’t to be dismissed either, as it’s still perfectly capable of glancing, if not penetrating, light vehicles and causing Instant Death to enemy characters.

The other big benefit is that unlike the larger Battle Cannon, the Eradicator Nova Cannon is a Heavy Weapon rather than Ordnance. Consequently this means like the Exterminator above you can easily justify taking sponsons. I favour the Heavy Bolters again here (sponsons and Hull), as they have a high fire rate and tend to be most effective against the same sorts of targets as the nova cannon, i.e. low toughness/armour units that rely on cover. Having three heavy bolters and 9 shots also means you stand a fairly good chance of hitting/grounding flyers.

The only big weakness of the Eradicator in my opinion is that it lacks weapons to deal with Heavy Infantry like marines or tanks whereas the others all do to some degree. Sure, giving it a lascannon or multi-meltas helps, but actually this tank is best supported by another Leman Russ dedicated to hunting tanks and heavy infantry, like a standard pattern or a Demolisher.

As a final point I really like the way this tank have evolved in usefulness. It was a new invention along with the Punisher for the 5th edition Imperial Guard Codex and I’ll happily admit that at first I didn’t rate it at all. The battle cannon was always the better choice, it was both cheaper and more powerful, units didn;t tend to hide in cover very much either. Now however, with the changes in 6th ed to the way Ordnance affects heavy vehicles, the ability to fire other weapons stands it apart from its more famous and iconic cousin and it becomes a much more tempting prospect.

When playing in my local gaming group and I know I’m likely be facing marines I’d probably opt for the classic Battle Cannon, but against anything else an Eradicator is a muct have on my army roster. At the time of writing this Tactica I have at least 1 tournament coming up, and I am strongly considering taking an Eradicator with me, working alongside an Exterminator and Demolisher I’ll have a tank to deal with all comers.

The Leman Russ Punisher

Converted Punisher with Hull-Mounted Lascannon and Sponson Heavy Bolters
Converted Punisher with Hull-Mounted Lascannon and Sponson Heavy Bolters

This is the final of the three all-rounders and one of the most popular in the gaming community. The reasons are twofold.

Firstly it’s because the Punisher Cannon is a Heavy 20 weapon. No other single weapon in the Imperial Guard fires as many shots (excluding Vulcan mega Bolters, but you only get those on a super heavy). At strength 5 it will be wounding most things on a 2+ or 3+. Fine it doesn’t have an AP value (just a ‘-‘), but against armies who rely on 5+ saves it doesn’t really matter, the amount of wounds you’ll be causing will offset the enemy getting a save.

While it’s not a common occurence, like it’s partners in this category it is quite capable of causing problems for light vehicles and even flyers. Most flyers are AV 10 or 11, and it’s not unheard of for 2 or 3 Punishers firing together to blow planes and Monstrous Creatures out of the sky.

The second biggest appeal of the Punisher is how effectively they work in squadron. A solitary Punisher is quite capable of dealing a serious blow to most units, but 2 or 3 are capable of shredding hordes of models. However at a base cost of 180pts (200 minimum with sponsons) it’s the second most expensive vehicle in the imperial guard armoury, and when you consider how it compares to the Exterminator (which for only slightly more gives you a better all-round tank, complete with sponsons), well, I’d rather have the Exterminator.

As a final point, this is another vehicle that benefits immensely from the Knight Commander Pask upgrade. By making the tank BS 4 you’re suddenly getting about 4/5 extra hits per turn, which when you consider the re-roll versus Monstrous Creatures that he gives, is an amazing advantage. However if you then want sponsons on your Punisher you’re going over the 250 point mark….