A walking tank that looks like it came straight out of Star Wars or 20XX, (complete with world war two inspired aesthetic and function) the Sentinel is one of the Imperial Guard's most recognisable vehicles. With its long legs that allow a superior field of view and fast movement through nearly any kind of terrain, the Sentinel serves as the primary scouting and light support vehicle in the Guard. Kind of like this thing
There are two common patterns of Sentinel: the Scout Sentinel and the Armored Sentinel, both with comparable, but different goals and three Forge World variants, the Drop Sentinel, Support Sentinel, and Sentinel powerlifter
The Scout Sentinel is outfitted with a number of devices and modifications to make it more adapt at scouting: gyro-stabilisers to navigate the most inhospitable of terrain, noise reducing modifications to avoid detection, and sensor and auspex systems to detect the enemy. It is rather vulnerable to small-arms fire due to its open crew compartment.
The Scout Sentinel can field a variety of weapons. Standard armament is the Multilaser, which can be replaced with a heavy flamer, an Autocannon, a Missile launcher, or a Lascannon. Earlier versions could also field an Assault Cannon, but due to munitions problems this design has been abandoned.
Due to its ease in construction and its reliable nature, there are multiple patterns of Scout Sentinels, from the common Mars Pattern with its iconic open canopy, to the more heavily armored (But not too armored!) Cadia Pattern, the Tallarn Pattern which has wider feet to prevent it from sinking and the more assault and jungle orientated Rambo-Sentinels that is the Catachan Pattern.
On the tabletop, they are the squishier, slightly faster version of the Armoured Sentinel that can scout 9". Not usually considered very good. You can give them heavy flamers, but be prepared to wade through fire first, and infantry weapons CAN hurt these guys. Bolters will struggle to drop them, but nothing else will. Mass lasguns/s3, plasma, melta, shuriken, gauss, pulse weapons, ANY heavy weapon that isn't a heavy stubber. These guys will have a hard time getting that close, so choose your moment or expect them to be nothing but a distraction.
With the other weapons, they can quickly get into a firing position with scout, and if necessary run away. Multilasers keep them cheap, and unlikely to draw much heavy firepower once the HK have fired. Hit them early then kite infantry if you have to. Giving them cannons essentially turns them into turrets and DO take hunter-killers as these are a cheap source of them.
Forgoing its stabilisers for recoil compensators and its detection systems for additional power cells and cooling systems, the Armored Sentinel can fire its weapons while charging at the enemy. The Armored Sentinel has a fully enclosed, heavily-armored canopy. Thus, its superior armor compared to the Scout Sentinel allows it to shrug off small-arms fire, and protects its pilot even if hit with a heavy weapon.
The Armored Sentinel can carry the same weapons as the Scout Sentinel, with the addition of the Plasma Cannon. Still retaining some of the Scout's movement capabilities, the Armored Sentinel is perfect for flanking the enemy and hunting enemy vehicles. Armored Sentinels are basically there if you want some mobility and better protection than your standard Heavy Weapons Squad for a hefty price.
They are far better armed and armored than the Cadia Pattern Scout Sentinel, even though they look similar in appearance. Although the Scout Sentinels has an Autocannon, it lacks the overall penetration that a Plasma Cannon has and is not as fully enclosed as the Armored Sentinel.
The most famous pattern of Armored Sentinels is the Armageddon Pattern Sentinel, originating on the world of Armageddon as tank hunters, in which the toxic and corrosive atmosphere makes it quite lethal to unprotected Sentinel Pilots.
Crunchwise, despite the fluff stating it could fire on the move, in reality, it cannot mitigate the penalty for moving and shooting a heavy weapon (unless you're Tallarn), so the whole recoil compensators ended up being a lie. Unless they take flamers you're going to treat them like armoured turrets that can redeploy fast. With flamers and the humble sentinel chainsaw they become quick, durable shock troops. As such, taking anything but the multilaser (plus hunter-killer) is recommended because a weak load-out is a waste of this unit's fair durability. Up to 3 T6 6W 3+ Save models are rather hard to bring down quickly.
They have generalist armour, meaning they can be hurt by anything, but they don't really have hard counters. Anti-tank seems effective, but they'll usually waste a few overkill wounds, and sentinels have high wounds-for-cost for a vehicle so it doesn't scare them as much as other vehicles, but beware meltaguns and strong assault units if you take the flamers. Remember many vehicles took a hit to their firepower, so a group with las, plasma, or flame (with HKs) is nothing to scoff at. They could also be used as an alternative to Heavy Weapons Squads as unless armed with Mortars or other 'weak' weaponry they tend to die turn 1 as a result of the enemy prioritizing them. Armoured Sentinels have a potential to survive several Battle Cannon shots and don't degrade so your heavy weapons will be sticking around until the end of the game if used that way.
A.K.A the "Suprise Buttsecks Sentinel", drop sentinels are normal scout sentinels with Deep Strike and the option to take a Multi-Melta. They come with heavy bolter as default but if you don't take meltas then you are doing it wrong. Unlike other patterns, Drop Sentinels are generally not used as scouts, instead filling the role of mobile heavy support for drop regiments that otherwise lack ground-based armored vehicles or heavy weapons.
Drop Sentinels as such, are every Stormtroopers best friend, because what kind of sensible glory boys want to get into to a middle of a warzone without some fire support?
Drop sentinels also get the Sky Talon as a dedicated transport. For this purpose they have modifications made to their power plant and cab to allow it to fit inside a transport once its legs are folded away. This allows the Sky Talon to carry up to two Drop Sentinels with the average Valkyrie carrying up to one. Take that and rocket pods for 80 points valkyrie that does not take force organization slot.
There was also the Jump Sentinel, which was a variant of the Drop Sentinel equipped with Jump Packs. It is known to have been used by the Imperial Army during the Horus Heresy.
In-game use drop sentinels to deep strike/grav chute behind enemy artillery/heavy vehicles and melt them from behind. BS3 is going to piss in your cornflakes a lot though, since every shot has 50% chance to completely miss. Not a unit that you should consider building your strategies on.
Basically a Whirlwind on stilts or the unholy lovechild between a Manticore and a Scout Sentinel.
As its name implies, this pattern is a heavily armed variation designed to stay behind to provide fire support rather than be up at the frontlines, acting as support units for armored companies, Sentinel companies and fire support for infantry regiments. It's typically armed with a rocket pod for anti-infantry work, or a grenade launcher capable of firing frag or krak grenades for mass groups of infantry or armored vehicles respectively.
In addition, the Support Sentinel is equipped with an targeter mounted on a periscope and an armored screen to protect the pilot from rocket back-blast. Some Support Sentinels are even equipped with the features of a Drop Sentinel, allowing it to be dropped. Support Sentinels are uncommon and greatly valued by Imperial commanders lucky to have them under their fold.
Support Sentinels are definitely the artillery of the Sentinel family and should be treated as such. If you want to have a very fast, cheap and light artillery, the Support Sentinel brings more bang for your buck.
Its small size also makes it quite decent in fitting small or tight areas in which a normal Imperial artillery could not possibly fit as well as having enough armor to prevent it from collapsing like a wet cardboard that is prevalent within Imperial Guardsmen Heavy Mortar Teams.
The Sentinel Power-lifter is a logistics platform and is equipped with two large power claws that are used to grip and hold heavy objects like missiles and other ordnance and transport them short distances or lift them into place, usually are a common sight on airfields, space ship flight decks, and artillery positions. However, the power claws can be used as extremely effective melee weapons against enemy infantry should the power-lifter's unlucky pilot somehow find himself in the midst of combat.
The 5th Edition ultimate troll machine. Take these things in squadron of 3 and throw them into TEQ/MEQ's for lols since they can tie them up for remainder of game, or buttrape said MEQ's with sentinel's powerclaw attacks that strike at S8 AP2 A2. After 6th edition hit, Powerlifters main tactic got nerfed to hell since most MEQ's now carry grenades which can blow them up in an instant.
Trying to shout, "GET AWAY FROM HER YOU BITCH!" is sometimes a recommended war cry used to channel one's inner role play and is mandatory when attacking any Tyranid Synapse creature as well as Broodlords and Patriarchs.
Sentinel Powerlifters are the CQC capable cousins of the Sentinel family. Although its slow and awkward frame makes it incredibly poor and ill-suited for smaller and more nimble targets like Space Marines.
Due to this, it is quite situational to use the Sentinel Powerlifter, and it is far more effective to just have the Catachan Sentinel which actually has range with its Flamer and Chainsword.
Use on the Tabletop
Although cheap, the Sentinel suffers the obvious handicaps of a Guardsman's ballistic skill. As a gun platform, its hits are massively unreliable, even in squadrons of three (yet another reason why it's best to stick to weapons with multiple shots, like the multi-laser or autocannon, or the old reliable template of the heavy flamer), and there are generally more useful things you can buy for the price of three Sentinels. Scout Sentinels have the advantage of Outflank, but with their low armour, they will survive only as long as your opponent is gracious enough to ignore them. Factor in their BS, and they won't do much damage before bolters pick them off. In 5th edition, Armoured Sentinels made excellent tar traps, too weak to kill anything in close combat, too armoured to take any damage. You could tie up an entire squad of Chaos Terminators for an entire game with ease. 6th Edition allows players to choose to fail their leadership and retreat from close combat, nullifying this one beautiful piece of trolling (but you can still chase them off the table afterwards). It should be noted that sentinel that is in cover at least knee high and has camo netting (which is a must for sentinels, if you don't take it for every one of your sentinels for every battle, the Emperor shall smite you down and laugh at your corpse) gets +3 cover save. Combine this with plasma cannons and heavy sentinels for 3 blasts at S7 AP2 and you have terminator/light vehicle/spehs mehreen melt squad. Or get Leman Russ Executioner for same price. The new codex has the cost of armoured sentinels down to just a few points more over scout sentinels. Scout sentinels can no longer take plasma cannons, but all their weapons had point reductions to them in turn. So a lascannon costs as much as a plasma cannon. With vendettas no long the default take in the fast attack slot, there is room and points to bring in this slot. Going from a fluff only choice for an army to something to consider to fill certain weapon gaps. Of note: they are by far the cheapest way for a Guard player to get Plasma Cannons onto a table, which also mitigates their mediocre accuracy.
The Cadian Battle Group Detachment practically forces the integration of sentinels into an army, but the utility they get out of it definitely makes up for it. Emperor's Shield Infantry Platoons require at least one (up to three) unit of Scout or Armoured Sentinels to support the infantry, but the footsloggers get Move Through Cover while they stick within 9" of them. Emperor's Talon Recon Companies require you take at least two (and up to four) full units of Scout or Armoured Sentinels, and in return they get Outflank, Preferred Enemy, and access to "Take Aim!", "Forwards, for the Emperor!", or "Move! Move! Move!" orders from a designated officer Sentinel (which, hilariously, can be your warlord). If you bring Sentinels at all, these two formations are probably the best ways to do it now.
All in all, Sentinels are usable, given proper application. Not awful, not great, but extremely serviceable in some force groups.
The newly revamped and improved Genestealer Cult released in 2016 have seen some improvement in the Cult's armoury. No longer must they rely on Limos and Cars, this time the Genestealer Cults come in some flavours of vehicles, some indigenous while others being blatantly stolen from the Imperial Guard. In this case, the Sentinel is no exception. Needing a fast scouting vehicle to plan out their future uprisings, the Cultist has decided that the Imperial Sentinel is the best and thus, most common vehicle to be fielded by the Cult.
The Cult manage to gain access by pretending to be official Imperial Guardsmen dedicated to driving these vehicles (so next time you wonder where the hell your fire support is, now you know the answer). The Cult only manages to gain access to the vanilla variant and the armoured variant....despite the fact that the Powerlifter would make far more sense for them to have.
In Dawn of War
Dawn of War 1
In Dawn of War 1 the Sentinel is a fast and fragile vehicle good for scouting, early game harassment and can decapture your enemy's strategic points, critical points, and relic points. Sentinels do not come in any versions besides the one you can construct in game, and there are no upgrades for it; you're stuck with the lascannon (called multilaser in the game file), with crappy DPS against infantry for balancing purpose and all. But once you look further at its file's value, you'll find that it deals a monstrous amount of damage to medium and light vehicles as well as structures (up to 136 dps against medium vehicles and a whopping 660 dps against buildings!) and a decent amount to heavier vehicles (40) making the sentinel good for popping turrets, capture point defenses, and vehicles and even pinpricking relic units to death. It's also an accomplished base razer thanks to its speed and building damage and is cheap and massable enough to be spammed pretty readily. A pack of sentinels can level a base in no time if not stopped and thus they're just great for shitting all over the secondary bases of your enemies built over things like relic points and decapturing their relic points as a bit of extra salt to the wound.
Dawn of War 2
In Dawn of War 2 the Sentinel is a pretty odd vehicle by the game's standards. In essence it doesn't have vehicle armor (it's considered heavy infantry instead) so anti-infantry weapons actually pose a very significant threat to it. However it is available very early on in a game, before just about any other vehicle or monstrous creature available to any other faction and like any vehicle it can still knock apart cover to open up paths or expose enemy infantry. The Sentinel is not quite as versatile as it is on the tabletop, being significantly more limited in weapons loadout and not having a drop variant or an armoured variant and its only other weapon option is the missile launcher which can be frustratingly inaccurate/easy to dodge/blocked by the terrain (this is particularly visible in the second retribution campaign mission where one sentinel at the last area of the level will continually try to bombard you but if you're at a certain position it just hits the terrain endlessly). It does however, have the ability to decapture requisition points and as one of the fastest units in the game it is great at denying these points to the enemy if they leave them poorly guarded. It also synergizes quite well with guardsmen who can repair it while it provides some tanking and extra fire support, and can have the extra armor upgrade purchased a few times to heal it or provide some extra durability. All in all, a decent choice.
Alternative Modeling Options
If you field sentinels for their function but generally prefer tanks to chicken walkers, or you realized that these things are fucking expensive even by GW standards, or you just want a way to represent the siegfried without having to completely kitbash it, M3 Stuart light tanks from Warlord Games are the perfect size to proxy for sentinels (though they are half as tall), and are cheaper to boot. All that's really needed to pass basic WYSIWYG muster is to either replace the gun with a proper Imperial weapon, or just replace the turret altogether, in which case chimera or taurox turrets will fit with little work, though some players might bitch about it being shorter.
Recommended Sentinel Pilot Playlist