Leman Russ Battle Tank
"What I cannot crush with words I will crush with the tanks of the Imperial Guard!"
- – Colonel Joachim Pfeiff, Krieg 14th Armoured Regiment
The Leman Russ Battle Tank is the most common tank in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and the product of a drunken three-way between an old British Mark-V, a Char B1, and a T-34 that can go as fast as 70 kilometers per hour ungoverned (Or 35, depending on the source).
The biggest pain in the ass, points for points, a player will encounter when fighting the Imperial Guard; the Leman Russ Battle Tank is so reliable and hard-hitting that it is named after the rapetastic Space Wolf Primarch, Leman Russ. The Leman Russ is widely considered one of the most religiously useful vehicles the Imperial Guard have on the tabletop, boasting both heavy firepower and good utility; it is easily one of the best tanks for cost in Warhammer 40K tabletop, with the ability to rape Necron and SPESS MEHREEN players through judicious use of ordnance and weapons fire. Heavy armour and the ability to fire their main gun twice if they move slowly makes them capable of delivering serious punishment - and that's before their capacity to pack on Heavy Bolters, Plasma Cannons, and Multi-Meltas is factored in.
It looks older than the Emperor's toilet-dreadnought, however. One could argue that the Leman Russ' design elements are obsolete even by late 20th century standards, yet they're significantly more modern than the Imperium's quasi-Napoleonic navy.
It's little wonder that the Leman Russ is one of coolest tanks in 40k; it just oozes with the rugged badassery that the IG are known for. With a relatively low point cost, armor that makes it a real bitch to kill, and a massive amount of variants and upgrades, the Russ is the go to vehicle for almost every Imperial Guard player. If you play IG for tanks, the Leman Russ is going to be your bread and butter.
- 1 "Empty" Leman Russ
- 2 Tank Commanders
- 3 Genestealer Cults
- 4 Flavor of the Week
- 5 FORGE WORLD LOVE
- 6 Wargear/Configuration Breakdown (Out of Date)
- 7 How to Use It
- 8 How to Kill It
- 9 At 500 Points
- 10 Alternative Modeling Options
- 11 An Interesting Development
- 12 Gallery
"Empty" Leman Russ
The Leman Russ packs a pretty awesome profile. Toughness 8, 12 wounds, and a 3+ save give it fantastic durability. Only a few models have Toughness 8 considering the size of 40k, and to get it so cheaply is awesome. 4+ BS is average for Guard but considering Grinding Advance and the sheer amount of firepower it has(one turret weapon, one forward weapon, and two optional sponsons), this is acceptable. Wrapped up in a package that costs around a 154 points on up to boot- your enemies will curse your cost-efficiency in both durability and killing power. While it lacks a lot of the kookier special abilities we see in this edition, Grinding Advance is one of the more useful ones. Pick your turret weapon, move under half, watch your enemy cry as he gets hit with double the shots of your main guns. The definition of human badassery in vehicle form.
Tank Commanders may be taken as a HQ choice. They increase their tank's BS to 3+ and can issue three special orders to other Leman Russes (or to themselves), which includes making a Russ pop smoke after they shoot, better shooting, and better moving.
Knight Commander Pask A special character Tank commander for the Cadians, Knight Commander Pask Russ has a BS of 2+ and can give 2 orders to boot, making the tank more accurate and more versatile. Widely considered conditionally broken against some factions when paired with a Punisher, Executioner, or Exterminator variant. Pask is known for killing Titans with a Leman Russ and refusing to drive a Baneblade in favor of one. His balls-of-steel rating is thus considered somewhere between Vance Motherfucking Stubbs and Colonel "I tore a Landshark's throat out with my teeth" Straken.
With the latest release of the new revamped Genestealer Cult, our favorite gubbly Genestealers are now able to get their own Leman Russ Tanks as well! In terms of Fluff, these Cults manage to gain access to these tanks via infecting guardsmen/pretending to be regular old Imperial Tank Commanders, and then 'borrowing' the tanks.
Fortunately, the Genestealer Cults only gain access to the vanilla battle cannon, the Exterminator, the Vanquisher and the Eradicator.
Flavor of the Week
There are a dizzying number of Leman Russes with tons of different payloads. The current rulebook alone has seven, with several others being available through Forge World. There is an ongoing joke that if something exists in the grim darkness of the far future, there is a Leman Russ build specifically to kill it. The variations seen in the tabletop game are as follows:
Leman Russ Battle Tank
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is especially true given how much the Adeptus Mechanicus has forgotten by the 41st millennium. The basic Leman Russ Battle Tank is a simple, brutal machine built out of almost any metal, running on almost any fuel, sporting no complicated auto-targeting or driving systems -- every gun is operated by a person inside the tank, and the controls are simple enough that a crew only needs minimal training before going into battle (which the Departmento Munitorum really likes, though commanders on the ground tend to prefer more seasoned crews). Though it gets loud and hot inside, and it is not usually a fast machine, it is tough as nails... from the front and sides -- the back is much less heavily armored, to save weight and let the engine breathe. Even so, it's been getting the job done since the Great Crusade.
The original boasts a hull-mounted Heavy Bolter and a Battle Cannon in its turret, the latter of which is highly regarded for its ability to fuck up squads of MEQs. It can swap the Heavy Bolter for a Lascannon and take a pair of Heavy Bolters, Plasma Cannons, or Heavy Flamers for sponsons. Apparently the optional sponson gunners don't get patched in to the internal tank comms or something, because the mounted sponsons will suffer accuracy issues if shooting on the move. It's still a very good tank for blasting the fuck out of just about anything that pisses it off -- it's hard to go wrong with the vanilla Russ.
Leman Russ Vanquisher
The Leman Russ Vanquisher has a variant of the Battle Cannon that "usually" one-shots enemy vehicles at long range (overconfidence killed the Guardsmen). If a Lascannon or Battle Cannon just isn't doing it for tankhunting, and you don't really feel like grabbing a Melta, this weapon can fill the need. Unfortunately, the Adeptus Mechanicus only made the Vanquisher Battle Cannon on one Forge World, which got taken over by Orks, so the only way to make new Vanquishers nowadays is to take the guns off of ruined Vanquishers and fit them on new Leman Russ chassis -- which happens a lot, because enemies who make use of tanks have learned to make Vanquishers a priority target. Because this is so onerous to do, especially for long campaigns, only the very best tank crews get to use Vanquishers, and they only deploy to zones where there are lots of tanks to be killed. The Mechanicus is trying to alleviate the shortage by
getting Mars to release its intellectual property commissioning other Forge Worlds to reproduce the old cannons (see Forge World Patterns below), but progress is very slow.
The Vanquisher is so specialized as an anti-tank weapon that it can be argued that it's more a Tank Destroyer. A tank is a multi-purpose weapon, and the Leman Russ is a general purpose tank, equally adept at blowing tanks or infantry apart. The Vanquisher, though, only tears apart tanks. Normal Leman Russes are like Shermans, this is a Firefly. The downside of this tank, from a tabletop perspective, is that it doesn't have any blast effects from its main gun, so consider the Plasma Cannon options for this thing to make it a beast at killing Space Marines. However, when adding Pask, this tank can cause some definite rage (you're better off putting Pask in a Punisher, give a Vanquisher the standard Tank Commander).
If you are having problems with those pesky tyranid MCs, consider going for the double cheese and cheddar routine on Vanquishers; Forge World now allows Command Vanquishers to take beast hunter shells: specialized Vanquisher shells with the solid penetrating core replaced with a canister of weapons-grade toxic acids. In gameplay, it's a small blast that has the instant death special rule. Booo, you wanted even more Leman Russes? Take said Vanquisher as HQ tank in allied armoured battlegroup. With squadron of Leman Russes as allied Troops detachment. Yes, you read that right. 13 Leman Russes in one battle.
Due to only having a single shot, the Vanquisher is actually mediocre at tank killing on the tabletop, and has remained this way for a long time. Sure it will deal a hefty blow if it hits, but chances are you're going to need to fire both the Lascannon and the Vanquisher Cannon to gimp a vehicle. Even this double-down is likely to leave most actual tanks in the game alive if injured; not ideal for what you're paying. You can alleviate the accuracy through a number of means but nothing save driving into Multi-melta range will augment the killing power (why Russ tanks can't fit sponson Lascannons is a mystery for the ages) and getting that close has its own issues, like being in Wraith Cannon range. An interesting note is old Forgeworld rules allowed this tank to fire a Vanquisher shell or a standard battle cannon shell identical to one fired from a Standard Leman Russ.
The fluff is inconsistent on this tank. Some mentions in canon claim it was solely produced on the Forgeworld Tigrus, which was lost to the Orks and all remaining Vanquishers are rare examples that are now Irreplaceable. Forgeworld's Imperial Armour Volume 1 mentioned this, however stated two rival Forgeworlds started production shortly after to fill the shortfall: Stygies VIII, and Gryphonne IV (the same Gryphonne IV that was later written as destroyed by the Tyranids in the 4th edition codex for laughs by the Gameworkshop writers). Then Forgeworld (the company) produced the Mars pattern Vanquisher, along with the Macharius Vanquisher, Implying new Vanquisher cannons are in production. Although, All Forge Worlds give all knowledge to the Temple of All Knowledge on Mars (guess what it contains, yeah). So, Mars is capable of producing anything and simply chooses either not to due to space and resource limits and/or doesn't share the data with other Forge Worlds. Because cyborg politics are more important than not letting knowledge be lost or taken by hereteks forever. Morons. And hereteks. Since protecting knowledge and using it for humanity are part of their religion. And leaving knowledge to be solely posessed by hereteks or destroyed is extreme heresy. So, the Mechanicus is, by its own laws, practicing the worst heresies at all levels. Ooooh Inquisitor! I’ve got some blackmail for yoooou!
Leman Russ Exterminator
This tank is so awesome that it was first introduced as part of the Third Edition Space Wolves army list (the Imperial Guard only had the regular Russ and the Demolisher at the time), as the Wolves wanted to have a few tanks named after their Primarch. The Exterminator uses a twin Autocannon as its main gun versus a Battle Cannon, so is a little faster (in the fluff) than the original Russ at traversing the battlefield.
Though the Hydra Flak Tank is better suited toward ruining Flyers and Skimmers now (with its higher ballistic skill), heavy infantry and light vehicle rape is still applicable with the Exterminator's superior skillz against ground targets. One of several vehicles capable of driving Ork or Tyranid players into a frothing, white-hot RAGE when used with Heavy Bolter Sponsons, the Exterminator's main drawback is that it relies on its sponson/hull weapons to deal with enemy heavy armor (unless you're using Pask, in which case the Autocannons will often suffice).
Although it does not have the advanced anti-air targeting mechanisms that the Hydra Flak Tank does, its equal primary firepower along with added sponson fire makes it a useful stop-gap air defense. Combined with its characteristic toughness and a pair of Multi-melta sponsons to deal with heavy vehicles, this tank can be a threat to anything and everything! Though it's not quite as effective against larger targets as the standard Battle Cannon equipped model, since a jack of all trades is commonly a master of none.
Leman Russ Eradicator
Once upon a time, some Forge World in the Imperium decided they had too much nuclear material on their hands, and that they needed to do something with it. After some wacky hijinks and hilarious mishaps, the result was the Leman Russ Eradicator, a tank with a short range cannon that lobs "sub-atomic" charges at enemies in cover. So, basically, fuck your cover saves.
The percussive shock (and probably the *radiation*, too) neutralizes cover saves, and although it's a little weaker than the Battle Cannon in every way, the Eradicator is still a respectable gun, especially against Eldar or anything that likes to abuse cover. It's otherwise basically the same as the regular version, meaning it also has laughable rear armor; Scouts with shotguns could kill this tank if they got behind it. That's only a problem for the Eradicator because its range is so short; it needs to be up close and personal, and paper-thin rear armor plus urban combat equals one dead tank.
The Eradicator has the distinction of being the cheapest tank in the arsenal, and as such are often used as the ablative shield of Pask or a regular Tank Commander. While their main gun is useful, taking them with Plasma Cannon sponsons is generally the best way to field them, especially if you can turbo-charge it with warlord traits, wargear, or faction bonuses. This is also one of the only times the heavy flamer sponsons will be useful on a Russ, so take it to make your Tau friends cry tears of pure cheese.
Leman Russ Demolisher
The first of the "Reinforced" or "Siege" patterns of Leman Russ (additional rear armor), the Leman Russ Demolisher packs a short range gun that is much stronger than the normal Battle Cannon. It combines the explosive firepower of artillery with the speed and durability of a tank, for situations where the Guard can't wait for a proper artillery barrage but needs to take a heavily guarded or fortified position. It excels in such an environment - in fact, it is a better line-breaker than the Space Marines' Vindicator tank (which is silly, because Space Marines are all about cracking defenses with overwhelming firepower...)!
However, the Demolisher Cannon's short range means that it'll be unable to do much else and will likely draw massive amounts of firepower in its direction, meaning there is a risk that the Demolisher will be wrecked before it can even fire a single shot. Expecting this tank to survive to Turn 3 precludes an urban battlefield, and using terrain to limit the amount of ordinance coming the Demolisher's way is paramount. On an open battlefield, use long-range support to ensure it remains in one piece, or send it straight up the center of the field eating colossal amounts of punishment before exploding in a massive fireball while the rest of your army maneuvers into position. Either way, it's done it's job.
On the table, just like the Battle Tank, the Demolisher is one of the two Russ variants that should be left without its sponsons; since the Ordnance shot forces snapshots on everything else fired that turn, your plasma cannons/heavy flamers will never fire, and your 20 points of heavy bolters will average 1 or 2 hits at most. Save the points for elsewhere, the tank doesn't need them.
Leman Russ Punisher
The Leman Russ Punisher is the second "Siege" pattern Russ, and about as close to "enuff Dakka" as the Imperial Guard can get without fielding Titans or members of the Baneblade family. Like the Demolisher, it has the increased rear armor of a Siege Tank, though its main gun, the S5 AP- Heavy 20 Punisher Gatling Cannon, is meant for pulverizing infantry and light vehicles. It has poor range for a vehicle weapon, but one of these things can crank out more firepower than an entire squad of guardsmen under a Rank Fire order, which is absolutely hilarious; normally only Orks with Shootas, Combined Squads, and Hormagaunts get to roll this many dice. When backed up with other weapons, the Punisher BRRRRRT Cannon can destroy huge numbers of troops at once, though it is hampered by its operators' low ballistic skill and its inability to penetrate armor.
This multi-barreled weapon allows the Punisher tank to achieve a rate of fire unmatched by all but a few other vehicles, though at a loss of anti-tank effectiveness, and Punisher tank crews have a reputation for being trigger-happy with this potent weapon. Indeed it is typical for Punisher crews to strip out all non-essential items in order to cram in as much ammunition as possible before setting off for battle. Often squadrons of Punishers will operate ahead of the main Imperial force, scything down the enemy to at the very least more manageable numbers for follow-on forces. It is predominately an infantry support vehicle however, and it's lack of sufficient anti-tank weaponry makes it vulnerable when facing enemy armored forces.
In addition to it's main weapon the Punisher carries a hull-mounted Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer or Lascannon. It can also be outfitted with two sponsons which mount either heavy bolters, heavy flamers, Multi-meltas or Plasma Cannons. Standard equipment also includes a Searchlight and Smoke Launchers and it can be upgraded with Camo Netting, a Dozer Blade, Extra Armour, a Hunter-Killer Missile and/or a pintle-mounted Heavy Stubber/Storm Bolter.
Knight Commander Pask turns it from a fun toy to an absolute wrecking ball. Between all of his various buffs he's likely to get nearly all hits and make them all hurt. Light tanks get torn to shreds in one burst, Medium tanks take a beating, and even Land Raiders or other Leman Russes can get thoroughly tenderized through volume of dice.
Leman Russ Executioner
The last of the "Siege" pattern Russes, the Leman Russ Executioner was deployed in large numbers during the Great Crusade, when the Imperium used to field them by the regiment. Unfortunately, due to the post-Heresy drop in manufacturing capacity for complex plasma mechanisms, even most Forge Worlds can't build an Executioner Cannon these days. Although strangely the Imperium has no difficulty making *other* plasma technology, and since most Forge Worlds barfed out advanced plasma weapons by the bushel during the Great Crusade, the only possible explanation for how this specific technology could be lost while everything else remained is the Grimdark (despite there being three different patterns of Executioner cannon for Leman Russ tanks made: Ryza, Mars and a third generic pattern found it the plastic kit).
The Executioner's Plasma Destroyer is a powerful if temperamental weapon with an extremely high energy output. Due to the unstable nature of the weapon the Ryza-pattern Executioner incorporates several safety features. Emergency vents in the turret help disperse the heat produced by each shot while protective heat shielding screens the crew and allows enough time to escape the vehicle in the event of a minor containment field failure. Many also include an emergency chemical coolant tank in the rear of the vehicle which connects with the weapon through two coolant lines running across the top of the turret. However these exposed lines can be severed by enemy fire, a contributing factor to many green Executioner crews abandoning the tank at the first sign of trouble since a catastrophic failure can result in the destruction of the tank and anything else in a large area around it. Those who are found to have abandoned their tanks can expect to face harsh punishment, even death, for such a crime from their regiment's Commissar.
Jokingly called the "Leman Russ Trollface" or "Leman Russ Blast Template Dropper" by some players, the Executioner is the bane of Space Marines everywhere, for it packs a Plasma Cannon that fires in 3-round bursts. For maximum hilarity, pair with Plasma Cannon sponsons and dump 5 Plasma Cannon shots per turn from one vehicle, and try not to laugh when killing about double the tank's point cost in heavy infantry every turn. This used to be the bane of Terminator-heavy armies that had gotten used to being nigh-on invulnerable to conventional weaponry; but when this tank reared it's head, it dethroned the kings of the battlefield.
FORGE WORLD LOVE
GW's specialist subsidiary Forge World made a couple of their own Leman Russes. They also pimped out the appearances of several types.
Leman Russ Conqueror
The Leman Russ Conqueror was built to be a faster Leman Russ tank -- its cannon fires smaller shells with less recoil, which allows the tank to be more mobile, store more ammunition and sustain a higher rate of fire. The smaller cannon also allows the installation of a co-axial weapon, which helps the gunner keep the main cannon on target.
Forge World created the Conqueror back in Third Edition, when a Leman Russ had to stay still to fire its battle cannon. The main point for a Conqueror now it's mobility. In standard games on a 4x6 foot table, the shorter range doesn't matter. For an extra three points over the vanilla, you get a 48" battle cannon (compared to the 72" regular one) and a co-axial storm bolter. Co-axial weapons provide a hit reroll to the cannon if sharing the same target. If you're playing on a small board, a regular one with lots of intervening cover, or an urban one, this will serve you better than the vanilla. Otherwise, just grab the vanilla for the two feet of range.
When introduced it had a weaker cannon lacking AP and with a smaller blast radius but had rules allowing it to fire its gun and sponsons on the move. After all, it is intended to be a cavalry tank: a faster, more lightly armed vehicle designed to exploit breakthroughs that slower, more heavily armed tanks could create but not exploit. Once it broke though, it would then overrun the enemy's rear areas, causing trouble behind enemy lines while the infantry tanks and regular infantry keep pressing the advance and securing ground behind it. Now five editions later everything can move and shoot (with a penalty) and it's just more dakka and a reroll paid for through shortening the cannon range.
Leman Russ Annihilator
the Leman Russ Annihilator began as a field conversion: An Imperial Officer found his armoured units constantly losing to renegade armour, so he decided to replace his companies Leman Russ' battle cannons and replace them with the companies lascannons. This ultimately won them the battle, but the officer responsible for these conversions was convicted of tech-heresy and executed. However, the supply of Leman Russ Vanquishers is ever-dwindling after the loss of Tigrus, and the Imperial Guard's demand for anti-armor tanks is ever-growing, so the Techpriests eventually sanctioned it in order to try to meet demand; Forge Worlds took the twin-linked lascannons off the Predator Annihilator and put them in the Leman Russ's turret. Because the lascannon is easier to make, maintain, and use, the Annihilator is the preferred armour-hunting tank of armoured regiments expecting to sustain lots of damaged and lost tanks (like the Death Korps of Krieg).
Forge World rolled this tank with the Death Korps of Krieg army, and was very popular before 5th edition changed the way a Leman Russ works. Since moving and shooting Ordnance weapons was no longer a problem, the Annihilator lost much of its appeal, but after sixth edition changed which weapons can be fired when a vehicle moves, its utility has risen some: because its cannon is not an ordnance weapon, and the Annihilator is a heavy vehicle (unlike the Conqueror), it can fire all of its weapons at full ballistic skill on the move.
It'd be pretty awesome if they gave it the Exterminator treatment where they not only made the weapon twin-linked but doubled its rate-of-fire, which in this case would mean making its lascannons heavy 2 twin-linked. But alas, it's fairly underwhelming at the moment. You're better off just getting a Vanquisher at the moment, seeing as the Vanquisher only costs 5 more points and has a much better gun, it's not twin-linked though, but it could get that from other means.
8th ed. - Since twin-linked got scrapped, this is the only Russ to have an increase in firepower. Mathhammer-wise, it's on par with the Demolisher for anti-vehicle capabilities (putting out 1.94 wounds against another Leman Russ), but it has double the range, and the turret still costs 40pts. Obviously you're going to put a hull lascannon on it, since you'd have to be lobotomised not to. Also fares slightly better with sponson meltas. The shorter range of the turret means that there's a greater chance of you being in range to use them, unlike the Vanquisher (which scores 0.94 wounds against another Leman Russ by the way)
Leman Russ Incinerator
A Pre-Heresy Russ variant armed with a massive Volkite cannon in the turret. Only available to Solar Auxilia, it is twin-linked, and has an additional point of strength and shot than its smaller regular culverin. Can cause a lot of damage at great range to infantry, but it cannot take sponson weapons, and the more vanilla variants can do the same job more efficiently.
Because of the downsides of the Incinerator, take it only if you're a huge fan of Volkites. It's limited to causing a maximum of only 10 wounds per round (If your opponent fails its first 5 armor saves, and Deflagrate succeeds in wounding 5 more times). It also (For some reason) shares its AP with every single Volkite weapon smaller than it on the table, including the fucking pistol.
If you really need to bring Volkite weaponry to vaporize Tyranids or other blobs, you're MUCH better off putting some Veletaris in an Arvus or a Dracosan. They can cause up to 40 wounds through Deflagrate, compared to the Incinerator which can only cause up to 10. To maximize its effectiveness, you could double down on the high-strength high-AP attacks with multilasers on the hull and pintle, making a fairly decent hunter of Mechanicum automata.
Destroyer Tank Hunter
The Destroyer Tank Hunter is basically the tank equivalent of a sniper. It's the
Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G (StuG III G) (the Jagdpanzer IV) of the 40K universe, it loses the turret and swaps out the hull-mounted heavy bolter for a massive laser destroyer -- basically, a twin-linked Ordnance lascannon, all the better to penetrate armor with. Like a sniper, its job is to hide in a defensive position, kill a high-valued enemy, and move on -- it has the same armor as a Russ, but its only secondary weapon is a pintle-mounted heavy stubber or storm bolter, making it all but defenseless against enemy anti-armor. Fortunately, as it lacks the increased mass and stabilization requirements of the turret, it moves substantially faster than the Leman Russ Battle Tank, which helps it evade pursuit. The lower profile can also be of some help when it comes to putting it out of line of sight.
On the table, it's quite close to a Vanquisher in intended use, and generally does a better job for 25 more points; it's more mobile, grabs more cover (terrain with 25% cover gives this tank nearly 50%, which becomes a 3+ save with camo netting), it's built-in Twin-Linking gets in more hits, and the S9 Ordnance shot damages anything with a toughness value and any AV lower than 14 more reliably than the Vanquisher's S8 Armourbane shot. Unfortunately Forgeworld has discontinued this model.
Thunderer Siege Tank
The Laser Destroyer is a rare weapon, so units with Destroyers whose main cannon is destroyed will seldom be given a replacement; A Demolisher cannon is installed the laser destroyer's mount, resulting in the Thunderer Siege Tank. It is essentially a faster, discounted Demolisher, except its stuck with a fixed forward casemate (though if your Demolisher is in a position where it has to shoot something behind it, you are in a bad place) and it cannot take any secondary weapons besides a pintle-mounted heavy stubber or storm bolter (not that it needs any more firepower than S10 AP2 5" Blast, though when the Vehicle Damage table comes calling you may be glad you took something else to lose on a Weapon Destroyed result). The reduced versatility means that most commanders would rather use a proper Demolisher, but as vehicle reserves run low, any Demolisher cannon is a welcome addition to the line of battle.
In practice, it's gone from a tank destroyer to an assault gun; it functions like a more expensive (by 15 points), but much tougher Vindicator (which is rather hilarious, since Space Marines love the Vindicator, while the Thunderer is a second-line Guard assault gun usually passed over for the Leman Russ Demolisher). Don't mention this around Space Marines -- they're still bothered that the Imperial Guard have what amounts to a Vindicator with better armor on every facing and access to camo netting, which in turn inspired them to make the Land Raider Ares. But that comes with the price tag of a Land Raider, so...
8th ed. Functions just like a Demolisher Leman Russ with one extra wound but without the hull mounted Lascannon option, Forgeworld Leman Russ were considerably more expensive than GW in 8th but Chapter Approved 2017 normalised them to the GW price cost.
Forge World has also released variant turrets and hulls for Leman Russ models.
- Mars Alpha Pattern Hull
- The Mars Alpha hull has more internal space and a larger engine, resulting in a slightly bulkier hull overall (especially noticeable with the engine sticking further out the back of the tank). The hull-weapon's mount is slightly different, with a more streamlined joint than the boxy sponson-like mount of the standard pattern. The increased internal space is used for ammunition storage on battle-line tanks, or for extra communication equipment on command tanks.
- Ryza Pattern Turret
- Ryza is most known for their work on plasma weapons, but the tech-priests realized that their Executioner turret looked really cool, so they made turrets for the regular Battle Tank, Annihilator, Demolisher, Exterminator, and Vanquisher (with co-axial autocannon) turret variants. It is a sleeker turret than the original, with straight sides angled forward and a searchlight or scanner on the left side, while the weapon is contained in a slightly more sensible-looking elevation joint. Ryza turrets are often mounted on Mars Alpha hulls.
- Gryphonne IV Pattern Turret
- Before it got overrun by the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Leviathan, Gryphonne IV made turrets for the Conqueror, Exterminator, and Vanquisher (with co-axial storm bolter) tanks. Gryphonne IV turrets are much more "greebled" than the standard turrets, and are distinguished by the flared-out sides and the searchlight mounted to the right of the commander's hatch.
- Stygies VIII Pattern Turret
- Stygies VIII also produces a Vanquisher turret with a co-axial storm bolter, and is also a rather greebly turret (though its searchlight is mounted on the left side, like the Ryza turret), but their variant of the Vanquisher cannon is shorter than the Gryphonne IV's (which is ridiculously long, to be honest), and it is unrifled, to bring the muzzle velocity back up to that of the Gryphonne IV cannon.
Wargear/Configuration Breakdown (Out of Date)
In the newest codex, Multi-melta sponsons share the same cost as Heavy Bolters, so seriously consider taking them if you want to mercilessly slaughter tanks.
The Hull Heavy Flamer and sponson Heavy Flamer should be avoided. There are dozens of better ways to get cover hate on the battlefield (ie Chimeras and Hellhounds),and it removes your Heavy Bolter, which is free and a lifeline to your main weapon it's destroyed. The hull Lascannon is a good addition to a Vanquisher, both are used for the same battlefield role, both long ranged and high strength/low AP. Again, if you really hate cover, you have the Leman Russ Eradicator; I mean, it's why the thing exists.
Sponson Bolters are generally a "take 'em or not" option. It's only 20 points for the pair, and the worst case scenario is that they add to the hull Heavy Bolter in slinging shots downrange, which can help a lot against Tyranids and other blob armies and is especially nice to have with Pask in play. It's as much as 6 extra shots, so it's not bad. They're less useful on the Punisher (which already sprays 23 shots by default) and Demolisher (which doesn't need much to help the Demolisher Cannon), and many players scream with irritation if they're used on them, but they remain effective and they're not a huge investment, so use them if you feel like it. It's not like the Dozer Blade is a better use of those points. Bear in mind that, due to the changes to the Leman Russ's "Lumbering Behemoth" rule, a Russ can only fire its sponson weapons as snap shots if it fires an Ordnance weapon (Battle Cannon and Demolisher Cannon), so your vanilla Russes and Demolishers should have heavy bolters (plasma cannons and heavy flamers cannot be fired as snap shots, and you get more chances to hit with heavy bolters than with lascannons) if they are given any sponson weapons at all.
The Plasma Cannon Sponsons are a different story. These need to be on the right tank or they're a waste of points, so make them count. They're best mounted on the Exterminator and Vanquisher to give blast effects to tanks that otherwise wouldn't have it, and is especially good on the Executioner, adding 2 more Plasma Cannons to the existing 3-round burst of the main gun and adding yet more raep to the firestorm. There is possibly no tank better at blasting Tyranids and Necrons than this configuration - and god help anything in its way if it has Pask as well. They aren't very good on the standard Leman Russ, its S8 AP3 basically eclipses anything a Plasma Cannon can do. The Eradicator can make some decent use of it. Its Nova Cannon doesn't pack the AP of the Battle Cannon and makes a nice support weapon for dropping into a crowd that would otherwise be able to deal with the Nova Cannon. Games Workshop has a notoriously raging hard-on for equipping them on Demolishers and Punishers, but this is a fairly bad idea; these two tanks are almost invariably better off charging headlong into the enemy's face, where they won't be firing the Plasma Cannons anyway;the Heavy Bolter sponsons can work with the hull Heavy Bolter and pick off stragglers after the initial -gun-into-face manoeuvre. However In sixth edition, plasma cannons can now 'get hot' on vehicles so they are less useful.
For wargear, it's generally a good idea to avoid the pintle mounts. They aren't of use on a vehicle that is bristling with weapons in the first place, and it's extremely hard to envision an environment wherein a player screams "Man, a Storm Bolter on my Leman Russ would have been the absolute BOMB right now!" The Stubber can be somewhat useful if only due to its range, but generally isn't simply because - again - every reason you'd use one is already covered by its baseline weaponry. If you're looking hard to find a spot to drop a few points (why are you doing this), I guess you could put one on a bullet-spewing tank and add a few more shots, but again, probably more efficient ways to spend those points.
Firebarrels is a new wargear option added in the 6th edition
(looks around to make sure I do not get BLAMMED by Commissar)*BLAM*Cowardice! You will say this with pride! Codex Astra Militarum. In layman terms it is a one time use wall of death that deals D6 amount of damage. More of a scare tactic then anything, it does allow the Russ to protect itself in close combat. For ten points, it is cost effective. Though not a auto include, it should not be overlooked. Especially when you take a squadron of three and give each tank these barrels. That's going to hurt.
Recovery gear is virtually a autoinclude in any build for the Leman Russ. For 5 points you can roll to remove a immobilized result, and don't have to worry (as much) that your tanks will be stopped due to a lucky roll or failed dangerouse terrain test. You will not always use this gear, or even de immobilized the tank, but compared to dozer blades, you can obviously see a winner.
Relic plating is.....controversial. Its the cheapest wargear the Russ can take. And it does give Adamantium Will to this giant machine of death. The problem comes with formations. Depending on how one sees the rules, this upgrade either A, gives the entire squadron Adamantium Will when just applied to one tank. Or B, Only applies it to the tank that takes the wargear. Either way, best to give all tanks in the squadron this upgrade. (The second the opponent hears one of the tanks has Adamantium will, that tank is a target. Might as well give all tanks this upgrade just to be safe).
The Hunter-Killer Missile is... questionable. Its unlimited range can be a good surprise against players not expecting it, which, when combined with its good strength, makes it a good option for destroying artillery (this is actually a halfway decent choice with Pask by the way), but Chimeras and Sentinels are considered the best platform for this secondary weapon, whereas the Leman Russ is rightly considered a somewhat wasteful (if potentially useful) platform for the weapon. Pask abuse aside, the Hunter-Killer missile generally isn't useful for Leman Russes simply because you don't need a Krak missile when any of these tanks can pack anti-vehicle punch in the form of its turret weapon or Lascannon (the latter of which any Russ can get).
The new codex grants us tank commanders. They have to bring another tank in a squad, which you would do anyway, and gives the tank they are commanding BS4. They can be a warlord and only roll on the first three choices of the codex warlord table, and their unit is moved into the HQ force org slot. So you can take up to 12 Leman Russes in a battle forged army! They also have three orders they can give their unit. They can move flat out in a heavy tank for 6+D6 inches, a form of split fire for the commander to shoot at a different target from the others in his unit, and an order that its unit makes a shooting attack then uses smoke launchers if it has not already. The commander has to roll a 9 or less on 2d6 to get these off. Good for a mechanized army list specializing in tanks.
Whilst he's pricey, Pask himself deserves special note - he is a great upgrade to a command tank, since he makes a Russ BS4, gets to reroll to hit with most weapons, adds rending to punisher and exterminators, rerolls penetration against vehicles, and turns the executioner into a large single blast with blind. Naturally starts out with Old Grudges as his warlord trait giving him preferred enemy of your choice. He is an expensive upgrade for a tank commander, so again, make sure that whatever you put him in, it gets used.
How to Use It
First and foremost, note the tank's armor ratings. It's dirt cheap, its BS is average, but its armor value on the front is 14 and its side armor is hefty at 13. Its rear armor, however, sucks and can be damaged by many regular infantry weapons. Keep them facing the enemy at all times and do your best to keep their backs covered - you can't afford to let some jump infantry Deep Strike behind one and play catch-the-fucking-meltabomb. Treat them well and they'll treat you well.
Second, three of the Leman Russes - the Demolisher, Punisher, and Executioner - have additional rear armor. This is not enough to make them invulnerable but what it does mean is that it's no longer threatened simply by being completely surrounded by regular infantry (Hormagaunts for example). This is important for the Punisher and Demolisher, which have to get close, but the Executioner is just more survivable since it generally shoots from afar. AV 11 still isn't very good, so bear in mind the first example on this list and keep the front facing the enemy.
It is also important to remember that the Guard is like an army from World War II. Learn from their tactics and apply them wisely. All nations had some way to make sure infantry are mobile enough to keep up with tanks (as tanks without infantry support and with infantry around them tend to go BOOM), so transports (obviously Chimeras) are generally necessary. If defending, they would employ dedicated tank destroyers (Vanquishers or Destroyer) to deal with enemy armor. If sieging, assault guns (Thunderer) and massed artillery would be used to handle fortifications.
(History Note: Tank Destroyers(TD) have wandered in and out of development and use since their practical deployment in WWII, and are still in use today.
In general, TDs were initially based on obsolete or marginally unrepairable chassis that a government had about and needed for the war effort (for example, for Germany the JgPzI was a rework of the PzI, while the Marder was a PzII rework with captured Soviet 76mm guns; The Soviets turned the T-34 into the SU-85 and SU-100s), usually by ripping off what's was left of the turret and upper deck, and welding a casement cover and gun mounting over the resulting hole. Later on, purpose-built ones were developed, usually for defensive fights (the JagTiger and the more modern Swedish line of STRV-103 TDs, for example). Even now, some are still either in use or being developed (the Russian 2S25 Sprut-SD is a 125mm gun-armed TD going into main production in 2018).
As their role dictated a tank-hunting role, they tended towards heavy frontal armour and a bigger gun than a tank of the same weight (as turrets are surprisingly heavy, when you take into account the weight of the turret ring, the armour that the turret covers by necessity and the mechanisms needed to turn the turret, so by not having them, you can add more weight elsewhere). Some historical tanks, like the SU-152 and the JagTiger had cannons big enough to be used effectively as artillery, or could kill a tank behind hard cover, as Otto Carius proved by using the 128mm cannon on his JagTiger to kill a Sherman tank by shooting through an entire brick building). As anti-infantry backup, most TDs had at least one machinegun (the German Ferdinand was one notable 'oops' on that part, which is why it got a machinegun and anti-magnetic paste later and they called it the Elefant to distinguish between old and new models).
So why aren't they more common? Well, TDs excel in ambush-predation of tanks and in infantry support against prepared positions. The former is inherently defensive and static, as you wait for your target usually. The latter means you're assaulting a prepared static position with infantry support and using your big gun to suppress your enemy. Neither of these are very mobile, and coming out of WWII, the major focus of tank-use strategy was (and still very much is) as a fast and well-armed assault or reaction force (possibly why they're still called cavalry, and used much the same as in previous wars). Tanks are mobile, infantry is usually mechanized, and even artillery is often self-propelled. Add in that many tanks, IFVs, APCs, utility vehicles (and likely mobile outhouses) can and have sported ATMs of varying lethality, being static or assaulting in a direct line can have "unfortunate" outcomes if the attacked party has a steady hand or a good laser pointer.
Ed. Note: If you ever wonder why the monster tank ideas like the Maus never really took off in the modern era, mobility is pretty much it. The Maus got 14mph maximum by doing horrible things to the electric drive and drank gallons of fuel per mile. All your armour doesn't mean anything if you can't outrun, outrange or at least dodge heavy artillery fire and strike aircraft. Then again, the Baneblade moves as fast as a Leman Russ does, so if you could get a modern Maus equivalent sporting feet-thick slabs of CHOBHAM armour, some sort of auto-loading 155mm cannon, backup 20mm chainguns/autocannons, a plethora of heavy remote-turreted MGs and god-knows how many pop-up-celled HATM to do 40mph off-road, I suspect modern warfare would collectively give a panicked 'WUT?' for a bit until they worked how to dangle a Exocet off a Predator drone...)
Generally, it is a good idea to keep your tanks behind your infantry, with the exception of Demolisher and Punisher. Their longer range and the fact that they're more expensive/useful than basic infantry makes the cover save valuable. Combine with Camo-netting to get a 4+, like a walking, shooting aegis. If you're running gunline it's not a bad idea to use them as gun emplacements, by flooding your deployment zone with bodies you can stop any pesky deep strikers, and combined with the 4+ save (potentially 3+ if you get an aegis) can make it nigh-unkillable. Combined with reasonable point cost and the ability to take squadrons, you can flood the field like Mega-MEQs.
In addition, the Leman Russ, due to its renowned toughness, is likely to draw a lot of fire, so it can pair well with weaker glass-cannon type units like Basilisks.
Now, each country had outstanding tank tactics - Germany for example would make good use of 'Blitzkrieg' shock attacks, seeking to break through a weakpoint on the enemy lines and drive deep into the rear area and rampage around, forcing the enemy to pull back to prevent being surrounded and to protect squishy REMFy objective points. For said tactical style your will need Leman Russ Conquerors for speed (or if you are willing to go slower then normal ones will do) backed up by mobile infantry (Chimeras, anyone?) On defense, they tended to dig in their tanks/TDs and snipe (Vanquishers and Destroyers), so look at uprating your tanks armour and camo. Germany also had a bit of a hard on for super heavy tanks and assault guns, so feel free to liberally splash Baneblades and Thunderers into a German style army list.
Early British and French styles were massed foot-infantry supported by
anti-fortification 'infantry' heavy tanks (Eradicators, Punishers and Demolishers) pinning in place and eliminating enemy forces first, while faster 'cavalry' vehicles (Sentinels and Tauros/Venators) would flank around to hunt tasty lone units. (Early Soviet was just massed infantry without the heavy tanks, but then you wouldn't be doing that now, would you?) After all, if the enemy's not on the table, they can hardly contest objectives, can they?
American (and later the collective allied forces) tactics would be on using one mainstay tank (normal Russes), but would also field as many as possible so their massed firepower could support infantry on assault or defense, then exploit breaches in enemy lines to drive deep wedges into enemy lines (yes, the Americans and Russians shamelessly copied the Truppenführung, but had the material support to stuff their entire leg down the German throat, while early German could only afford the boot) while dedicated tank destroyers (Vanquisher and Destroyer) wait in support to react to enemy tanks counter-attacking. America also had air supremacy for the most part, so air support (Valkyries, Avengers and Marauders) was usually available. The Soviets tended to go for massed artillery more-so on assault, so feel free to load up on the Basilisks and recreate Verdun's 'lively' atmosphere. In short, flexibility is key. Don't just bend like the willow. Bend, recover to whack them on the nose, then shove yourself up their ass for good measure.
Regardless of the details, it's always a good idea to use infantry to kill things that can kill your tanks since lascannons don't really do a lot of damage to a squad while you have your tanks kill things that can kill your infantry, heavy bolters don't bother Russes. Counter enemy units with the unit they themselves can't counter. Maybe have a Chimera (or variant) acting as an IFV to help protect the infantry, too, which takes a bit of strain off the Leman Russes so that they can focus on killing bigger fish.
How to Kill It
The Leman Russ can be a tough adversary. If you're facing a guard player there's a good chance he's taken five of them, so you need to get creative. The stock Leman Russ is the most common variant you'll be facing. It's dirt cheap, comes with the Cadian battleforce, and generally gets the job done. The main thing you need to look out for is the battle cannon; With S8 AP3, it can smoke whole squads of just about anything, and any multi wound T4 models will get Insta Death'd as well. Spamming high strength weapons(Lascannons, Missiles, etc) can work if you are lucky. Lascannons, Melta, Lance or Armorbane are the only things that reliably pen a Russ. Use skimmers or deep striking units to quickly close and unleash punishing volleys and a Russ will go down quickly, Melee is also an excellent option forcing it to retreat on its next turn if you didn't kill it, particularly if you can charge from an obscured location and not receive overwatch as unlike the Baneblade the Leman Russ melee potential rivals a Fire warrior. MEQs can glance a Russ to death with their fists, and if they have something like powerfists or melta bombs its going to be dead real quick. Get into melee with even meaner units, like a Wraithlord or Dreadnought, and it's toast. Melee in general is good against guard, the only thing to worry about is being tarpitted by conscript hordes who can keep your expensive vehicle punchers stuck.
In general, get close. With its heavy, long range guns the Russ excels at long range shooting matches. So to save your infantry blobs from getting ground down close the distance. Or alpha strike it with something that's fast or can deep strike.
Unless you're necrons of course then just spam it with YOUR BASIC WEAPON or scarab swarms.
At 500 Points
A lot of players
used to field nothing but low-level infantry squads and a Leman Russ, due to its low points cost, in 500-point games. This practice continues today (though it's more commonly seen with the Imperial Guard Manticore Rocket Launcher), and has induced ragequits. If a bit smart with list building you can try to fit 2 in a 500 pts list! Watch the fun as your tanks can get orders which make them even better. Run for the hills, heretics! No, wait! The tanks ARE the hills! Run away from the hills! Just get away from the tanks!
500 point Patrol detachment
Knight Commander Pask, Punisher gatling cannon, heavy bolter, heavy bolter sponsons
Tank Commander, battle cannon, lascannon, plasma cannon sponsons, Relic of Lost Cadia
Total: 500 points.
Due to terrible wording on tank orders which was not FAQ'd, Pask and the generic Commander can order themselves or each other. Reroll your battle cannon shots with the Cadian tank order, or Strike and Shroud if they have enough lascannons to trouble you. Likewise the Relic of Lost Cadia is not one-use only and likewise was not FAQ'd to be. Re-roll every 1 to wound every turn, or all failed to hit or wound rolls against Chaos. For Warlord trait, give the generic commander Tenacious Survivor. All the Imperial Guard-specific ones are irrelevant in this list.
In 8th Edition, they got even better. Not only can they fire their turret weapon TWICE if you move less than half their movement distance, you can take Detachments of them! And even better, Leman Russ tanks in a Spearhead Detachment gain Objective Secured! Watch that Space Marine player weep and rage when you capture that objective with a single Leman Russ tank from right under his Deep Striking Terminators' noses (who will most likely destroy your tank in close combat the next turn)! A Tank Commander and 3 Leman Russ tanks minimum, to 2 Tank Commanders and 18 Leman Russ tanks in a single Spearhead Detachment, and all of them having Objective Secured! And if those aforementioned Terminators charge your tank, spend a Command Point on Defensive Gunners and hope your plasma cannons evaporate the lot of them before they make it in.
Alternative Modeling Options
If you don't want to use GW stuff, or if you just want something to give your tanks a more unique look, there are a plethora of ways to proxy up a Russ stand-in. Perhaps most obviously and lazily, virtually every WW2 medium tank can and has been counted-as a Russ at some point or another, and models for those can be found in literally every hobby store in existence. Hell, even toys could work if you really feel like scraping the bottom of the cheapskate barrel. If you want good quality and properly scaled WW2 tanks though, suitable 28mm models of which can be acquired from Warlord Games' Bolt Action line. If you want to actually get something closer to the 40k style, there are also plenty of 3rd party kits. The Gideon Main Battle Tank (apparently discontinued) from Mad Robot Miniatures is basically a German Tiger styled Russ, including guns for a vanilla battle tank, Vanquisher, Exterminator, Demolisher, and Punisher. The Matilda tank from Victoria Miniatures is another straight Russification of a WWII tank, in this case the British Matilda, and also comes with all the guns for different Russ variants. The Gothic KV2 Tank from Maxmini technically represents the Ragnarok, but there aren't any current rules for the Ragnarok so you'd just be fielding it as a Russ Battle Tank anyway. Blood and Skulls Industry on Ebay is also a good venue for an alt Russ. They don't offer whole hulls, but they have every kind of turret, track, sponson, and gun you could want, for Russes as well as Predators, Chimeras, Tauroxes and Baneblades.
An Interesting Development
In a surprising move, GeeDubs decided to greenlight some 40k-themed shit for the online game World of Tanks, starting with the Spess Mehreen Predator tank on its mobile version. Amongst the promotional shit on WoT’s PC version, including a premium “KV-2(R)”, is a new paintjob that turns the French BDR G1 B heavy tank into what’s pretty-clearly supposed to be a Mordian Leman Russ battle tank. Of course, seeing as how Wargaming.net takes cues from the same “money-grabbing asshole executives” playbook as GW, if not more so, you end up having to pay separately for both the paintjob and the goddamn tank itself.
Apparently, enough 40k players play World of Tanks (and vice versa) in order to justify the cross-promotion materiel; in fact, the BDR G1 B’s fandom nickname was the “Leman Russ” WAY before the entire crossover was even considered to begin with, owing to its likeness to a steel potato with a massive gun on top.
Even the basic Leman Russ is better than your army's tanks. (Whatever you say, Gue'la)
When you need to fuck up a Land Raider, accept no substitutes.
The Guardsmen felt left out after the Space Marines get the new shiny toys. So they made their own.
|Members of the Genestealer Cult|
|Cult Leaders:||Broodlord - Genestealer Patriarch|
|Cultists:|| Brood Brothers - Genestealers |
Genestealer Aberrants - Genestealer Familiars
Genestealer Magus - Genestealer Primus
|Hybrids:|| Acolyte Hybrids - Hybrid Metamorphs |
|Vehicles:||Chimera - Goliath Truck - Leman Russ - Sentinel|