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    Default Space Marines Tactica

    Howdy guys, this is going to be the collective thread for my Space Marine articles, including the stuff regarding the Badab War books. Cheers! Just a note that I'm still going with the Space Marine Tactica; progress is much slower than I had hoped due to really bad writers block at the moment. I am also not going to include my usual Initial Impressions article here as it has already been covered on the BoLS front page; instead, you can view it here if you haven't seen it yet

    A big FYI to anyone wondering about Black Templars; I am covering each of their unique units in a separate article after I have reviewed the rest of the codex!

    To minimize on post numbers, I have put more than one article in this post, and will clearly mark the separate articles.

    GENERIC CHARACTERS

    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at the lesser known but certainly no less zealous or worthy heroes of the Space Marines; the commanders, purifiers and psykers that lead the many thousands of Chapters into glorious conflict. I hope you enjoy this article!


    The Space Marines have a large array of generic characters to choose from, with characters that have distinct roles in an army list and fulfill them admirably. The Captain and Chapter Master are combat-oriented heroes that can allow army list manipulation when certain wargear options are chosen, while Librarians, Chaplains and Masters of the Forge are primarily geared to varying forms of support. The addition of Chapter Relics and the streamlining of wargear costs leads to tougher choices than previously for which character to lead your army; gone are the days when a Librarian was a default choice due to Null Zone and the like. Now, there are intrinsic benefits to employing a Chapter Master in place of a Captain, and so on, rewarding your choices in a considered fashion. As well, the differing Chapter Tactics certainly boost the viability of individual choices by considerable margins!

    Part One of the Generic Characters section covers the Chapter Master, Honour Guard, Captain, Terminator Captain and Command Squads. Part Two will cover the remaining generic HQ choices.

    Chapter Master

    Overview - Chapter Masters are the most expensive generic commander choice for a Space Marine army, and with good reason; they are the toughest, most deadly and have the most potential as a true Warlord. For a rather hefty price increase over a regular Captain, the Chapter Master gains an extra wound, an extra attack as well as the option to take the much improved Honour Guard squads as opposed to the somewhat less cost effective (in a melee role) Command Squads. Additionally, the Chapter Master has access to an Orbital Bombardment, allowing for an imprecise but deadly Ordnance Barrage large blast weapon with Strength 10 and AP1 with an infinite range. The lack of scatter-reduction means that using an Orbital Bombardment is hardly guaranteed to work, especially considering it also disallows the Chapter Masters' movement, though it must be said that when it hits something, that thing dies almost without fail. For such reasons, many prefer a Bike or Terminator armour to gain the Relentless special rule and not disallow movement with the Orbital Bombardment.

    The Chapter Master is your ideal combat character, and now that he also unlocks Bike squads of five or more as Troops choices much like a Captain or Khan, you can employ him in a White Scars or mostly bike-mounted force with little penalty. If you want a Warlord that doesn't sacrifice secondary objectives easily, and puts out the most damage by far, then a Chapter Master with equipment to taste should be your first choice for a Warlord. However, the cost difference between one and a Captain is significant, so I would typically reserve their use until you reach games of at least 1500 points or more.

    How to Equip Them - There is no "best" way to equip a Chapter Master due to the limitless permutations of wargear and how each choice works into a given army list. In this sense, you should always model a character's equipment to best benefit both themselves and any unit they will join or work with. For example, a Chapter Master in a bike-heavy detachment will likely want to join his comrades in the "saddle", particularly due to the efficient mobility and durability bonuses it grants as well. Overall, if you have the points spare, I would usually give the Shield Eternal to your Chapter Master - particularly if they are both your Warlord and are expected to get into the thick of things. The bonus to Deny the Witch and granting Eternal Warrior are well worth the significant increase in points over a regular Storm Shield.

    The choice of melee weapon for any character is largely dependent on what you expect to face, but for a character preparing to face any foe - and this goes double for one with the Shield Eternal - I would recommend a thunder hammer. The Chapter Master should be tough enough already to tank the wounds, and the thunder hammer combines sure hitting power from four or more attacks with the Concussive special rule to even the playing field with high Initiative characters such as Phoenix Lords. Artificer Armour is always a worthwhile upgrade given the potential of a "wound tank" when combined with units such as Devastator Centurions or Vanguard Veterans. For ranged weapons, I would recommend a combi-grav weapon or similar to make use of Relentless if he is on a Bike or in Terminator Armour; otherwise, the Primarch's Wrath is actually a cheap and useful weapon.

    Where to Put Them - As you are already paying for an expensive combat character - and have likely upgraded them to maximise those abilities - it is probably best to put them with a unit that is itself a decent combat threat. Depending on wargear choices, Assault Terminators, Vanguard Veterans and Bikers all make apt choices for the more "elite" forces out there. However, an Honour Guard squad is almost the perfect unit for a Chapter Master to accompany; they are very cheap considering they each have Artificer Armour and power weapons stock. Combined with a cheap or expensive means of delivery - such as Drop Pods, Rhinos or Land Raiders - and you have yourself one nasty melee unit for a reasonable price.

    Honour Guard are effectively discount Assault Terminators; though they are more vulnerable to AP2 weaponry due to the lack of an invulnerable save, the Chapter Master himself - if equipped with the Shield Eternal - should make a more than acceptable 'wound tank'. If you want to save yourself points on both models and their transport though, I feel Bikers make the best choice for a Chapter Master, due to their versatility, mobility and innate durability. Provided the Chapter Master has Artificer Armour, they can laugh off some of their deadliest foes - such as Heldrakes - and they add an extra, cost effective Troops choice to boot.

    Best Uses - Because a Chapter Master pays quite a few points for boosted stats not only over a Captain, but over the other generic HQ choices, it goes without saying that you should invest in their melee abilities. Any other use of a Chapter Master can usually be better performed by a Librarian, a Master of the Forge or even a Chaplain for less. As well, they are not as suited to smaller games as a Captain; while the price increase is certainly justified, 6th Edition is very much about "boys before toys", and thus you should focus on getting as many properly equipped units into battle as possible early on.

    I would reserve going all out on a major combat character build for very large games due to the insane cost of building one up to the levels possible with the acquisition of chapter relics; it must be noted though that these characters are insane when kitted out for bear. Personally, I would keep their cost low with gear such as a bike, a power weapon or thunder hammer, perhaps the Shield Eternal, and maybe Artificer Armour, and leave it at that. Anything more becomes a colossal investment over a large one, and the returns start to diminish long before that. Keep them as cost efficient as possible by not going overboard with the wargear, but give them enough so that they can be a combat beat-stick that doesn't give up Slay the Warlord so easily.

    Chapter Tactics - Chapter Masters benefit most from which Chapter Tactics meshes best with their wargear. If you went all out on a crazy combat character with the Shield Eternal and preferably mounted on a bike, take Iron Hands and enjoy having a nigh immortal Warlord that crushes anything in his path. Otherwise, Black Templars and Salamanders should prove very useful, with the addition of re-rolls to hit in challenges and Rending, or master-crafting a free weapon, respectively.

    Honour Guard

    Overview - The Honour Guard are elite soldiers handpicked to be the Chapter Masters' personal bodyguard, and have received a major points reduction since 5th Edition that has announced them as a strong contender for the top melee unit in the codex. Compared to a Veteran from a Command Squad, the Honour Guard pay only minimally more per model to gain a power weapon of their choice as well as Artificer Armour; never mind the boost to the Leadership or the downright scary Chapter Champion!

    When put next to Assault Terminators, Honour Guard dish out either the same number or more attacks, have the same armour save, lack an invulnerable save, can perform Sweeping Advances - which is incredibly important against Necrons and securing subsequent assaults in your own turn - and have access to two different Standards. And they end up being a wealth of points cheaper per model than Terminators of either variety to boot! This has led to many referring to Honour Guard as 'discount Assault Terminators', which is certainly true to an extent; unfortunately, you cannot take an Honour Guard unit without employing a Chapter Master, nor you can take more than you have Chapter Masters themselves. This limits the uses of the unit, while the lack of any ranged weapons of note means that a wrecked transport early in the game - excluding a Drop Pod - can ruin their otherwise bloody day. Unlike Terminators, they have little real defence against cover-ignoring over-charged Ion Accelerators, but they do make up for it with more ablative wounds for less points that effectively pay for a Chapter Master himself. They are a devastating unit if you can get them into combat with almost anything.

    How to Equip Them - Unlike most Space Marine units, particularly regular Command Squads, the Honour Guard have very little variation with their equipment; they can all take relic blades, while the Chapter Champion can take a thunder hammer. These come at the cost of their regular power weapons, and are expensive upgrades to boot; I wouldn't bother with the relic blades aside from one or two, as similar roles can be filled through having free power axes. Besides, a regular power sword with four or more attacks on the charge per model is nothing to sneeze at. The thunder hammer on the Chapter Champion is a handy choice, but you need to weigh up whether striking last for a character that will likely be in a challenge - they must issue and accept challenges after all! - is worth the increase in damage potential against vehicles and higher Toughness models. Honour Guard come stock with boltguns in addition to their bolt pistols and power weapons, allowing them to at least contribute some anti-infantry shooting in case they are left out in the open and away from an assault.

    The two Standard choices are interesting, but will ultimately come down to spare points and personal preference; the Chapter Banner is very useful with the re-rolls on Leadership-based tests it provides, as well as the extra attack it gives to the Honour Guard - five power weapon attacks per model on the charge? Yes please! As for the Standard of the Emperor Ascendant, it provides the re-rolls for morale and pinning tests much like the Chapter Banner, but loses out on the attack bonus to instead give friendly Space Marine units within 6" the Hatred special rule and a +1 bonus to combat resolution in an assault. While this can be quite useful, it really promotes a slew of assaults resolved in the same phase; the 6" range doesn't really cover too much ground, and given Space Marines new-found vulnerability to template and blast weapons in 6th Edition, I question whether this will be utilized much at all. Additionally, the bearer's unit causes Fear, though this is a very situational special rule - as Chaos Space Marine players have learned - and probably won't be that useful against the units you actually need it against.

    Where to Put Them - Generally speaking, you purchase Honour Guard to provide a Chapter Master with a fluffy and quite powerful bodyguard unit; for such reasons, you can probably guess where I recommend sticking them. Where exactly this leads to on the battlefield is probably a choice of army list; a drop pod assault list would probably allow the Honour Guard to pop in without stirring up as much of a fuss as they would if they were in a Land Raider. It is also the cheapest and most reliable method of getting them into the enemy battle line, though you need to make sure other priority targets - such as Ironclad Dreadnoughts and Sternguard Veterans - are dropped in simultaneously to strengthen the chances the Honour Guard will survive return fire. Alternatively, you may want to reserve them for the second wave to promote your alpha strike as much as possible; that is, of course, the whole point of a drop pod assault. In a mechanized army list, a Rhino would probably be your best bet simply because it is cheap and, combined with various Chapter Tactics, able to get close to the enemy very quickly.

    I would avoid a Razorback as it is expensive and will likely be sacrificing moving as far as possible each turn to fire its expensive turreted gun. While fire support is nice for a unit lacking in ranged options, it ultimately will just slow down the unit and be too expensive compared to a cheap and reliable Rhino. The final and most expensive option is to put them in a Land Raider, and Honour Guard are one of the few units that I would definitely put in a Land Raider if I was employing one. Whether you are employing Land Raiders or not will likely depend on your Chapter Tactics - Iron Hands are best suited to this sort of army by far - as they are too expensive too simply "throw in" to an army list. Remember always that you can get a Rhino for the Honour Guard and a tooled up secondary unit such as Sternguard Veterans for the points the armoured behemoth would eat up.

    Best Uses - Honour Guard have two purposes; the first is to act as ablative wounds to a Chapter Master and any other attached character, and the second is to be a very nasty and cost-efficient melee unit that can eat almost anything it touches. Provided you are performing one or both of these roles, you really can't go wrong with Honour Guard; the question then becomes which transport to put them in, as running an expensive melee unit without an invulnerable save or natural cover save up the field is tantamount to suicide. For squad sizes, you can get away with ten of them and beam with pride that they cost only slightly more than a bare-bones six-man Terminator unit of either variety. The damage increase and general durability boost against anything that isn't AP2 is simply astounding for the cost, and so if you want to make the most of Honour Guard, I would encourage taking larger squads if you are expecting some truly nasty melee units to put up resistance against them. Otherwise, a stock standard five man unit should handle most enemy units well enough in combat with the sheer amount of power weapon attacks they bring. Trying not to kill an entire unit on the charge is key to keeping your assault units alive, particularly in a shooting-oriented edition, and so keeping the unit smaller will probably lead to them living longer.

    Chapter Tactics - Honour Guard receive hefty benefits from all but two of the Chapter Tactics, and they are a good enough unit to make up for any lack of free benefit besides. A once-per-game pseudo fleet bonus from Ultramarines is very handy if your transport didn't get you into the perfect position for an assault, while White Scars provide the useful Hit and Run ability to make sure you get out of combat when you need it. Overall, I think it depends on the Honour Guards' transport choice; in a Rhino, Honour Guard benefit hugely from Raven Guard Chapter Tactics due to Scout. Otherwise, the other Chapter Tactics all provide decent advantages.

    Captain/Terminator Captain

    Overview - Though split into two different units, to save space and time I combined the two entries with specific references to terminator-armoured characters. Anyway, Captains are the midpoint between a Chapter Master and one of the support characters; they are designed to be a less points-intensive combat character that also provides some potential force organization manipulation with the right wargear choice. Given the significant cost difference between a Captain and a Chapter Master, the adage is very much true that the smaller investment works better in the smaller game, while the larger investment conversely functions more effectively in the larger game. While this may not strictly always be true - a Chapter Master does get a lot of bang for their buck, though saving so many points may allow for an extra unit to be included in the army - it is nonetheless a good principle to model your characters after.

    The Captain is designed with smaller games in mind due to their cost, though at games of about 1500 points or more, the Chapter Master gradually becomes a more intriguing option due to the lesser likelihood of them conceding Slay the Warlord due to the extra stat boosts. Aside from this comparison, the Captain is very much as you would expect; decently hard to kill for a stock commander, can be made quite killy with some rather cheap upgrades, and generally does the job they are expected to do. Just don't expect them to do much outside of tanking wounds for more vulnerable and possibly valuable models, or performing strongly in melee, otherwise.

    How to Equip Them - Considering that Captains are probably best used as a "Chapter Master on the cheap", I would probably be careful with the gear you equip them with; for example, a Captain does not gain nearly as much benefit from the Shield Eternal or the Burning Blade due to the loss of a wound and attack compared to a Chapter Master. On the other hand, cheap upgrades such as a Storm Shield or a power weapon will seem much more valuable if you want to make a nasty melee character without breaking the bank. In that sense, I would typically shy away from the Chapter Relics and more towards standard wargear that still allows them to best other melee characters of a similar cost in combat. There is no denying that a Captain in Artificer Armour with a storm shield is seriously hard to put down outside of massed Strength eight or higher attacks, and the addition of a power axe or thunder hammer can lead to the induction of a junior combat monster.

    As with a Chapter Master, a Bike is always a very smart choice provided he has Bikers to accompany him, whether in the form of a very useful Command Squad - massed Relentless grav rifles! - or the regular guys, particularly considering the Captain also makes them Troops. As Bikers are arguably the most cost effective Troops option Space Marines have access to, this is an option you should really consider, particularly in a White Scars force. A Jump Pack may fit better in a Raven Guard themed force, but generally doesn't provide as many benefits as a Bike does for a similar cost. The choice of ranged weapon isn't as important, as the point of a Captain is usually to wallop enemies up close; however, a Ballistic Skill 5 combi-weapon is never a bad thing, nor is the rather cheap Primarch's Wrath Chapter Relic. On the other hand, an upgraded melee weapon is almost necessary; a power weapon works well with any configuration, while a power fist or thunder hammer is a more risky option that won't be able to hide behind four wounds like a Chapter Master, or the Shield Eternal in smaller games.

    For a Terminator-armoured Captain, I would probably maximise their defence and offence simultaneously by taking the vaunted thunder hammer and storm shield option; not to mention, you can make a Lysander equivalent for less (though probably not as good, of course). A pair of lightning claws will shred through most infantry, but can be trumped easily by 2+ armoured enemies or most kinds of monstrous creatures and vehicles. Be aware of what his bodyguard - whether it be either kind of Terminator or a Command Squad - is equipped with when you are picking his loadout, as a pair of lightning claws can work fine in a unit already packing storm shields as stand-in guardians.I feel that for either the Terminator Captain or the regular Captain, the thunder hammer and storm shield combined with other equipment to taste - such as a Bike, a Jump Pack, Artificer Armour, and so on - keeps them cheap and provides a nice balance between offence and defence that is unlikely to even break the 160 point mark.

    Where to Put Them - Captains are ideally placed either in a melee unit to boost their total damage potential and provide him with a nice escort, or in elite ranged units to ward off potential aggressors in melee. Much as Lysander was often used as a defender for Sternguard Veterans in the 5th Edition codex, so too can the Captain be employed to scare off those pesky, mobile melee units you don't want to deal with. He can sit with Devastators, Sternguard Veterans, or even Tactical Marines in such a role. However, you are probably best suited getting them to where they can do the most damage, which will usually be either with Bikers, Assault Terminators, Vanguard Veterans or Command Squads. In fact, one of the nastiest places to put one is with a bike-mounted Command Squad; give them all grav guns, and the Captain a combi-grav weapon, and watch the carnage as you slaughter hapless Riptides and Wraithknights within the first two turns and scoot away through your Jink saves and boosted Toughness. Employ a storm shield so that Heldrakes can't hit you back, and you have yourself arguably the best unit with which to employ a Captain.

    Best Uses - Given the expansion of Chapter Masters into their own defined role, Captains are now effectively your budget combat characters; this means that you typically want them either in smaller games or in an army where you want to maximise the points spent on regular units rather than characters. Captains thus find their own niche while still being a melee-oriented character; you want them to fight enemies up close, because outside of a combi-weapon, they can't really help out much in shooting. However, unless you take the Shield Eternal, you typically don't want them fighting against enemies which a Chapter Master might otherwise be able to handle, such as nasty monstrous creature characters or abusive melee units like Death Cult Assassins. You should be able to handle most enemies in close combat, but it isn't a bad option to take a Captain alongside a mixed or mostly ranged unit to keep themselves safe; they concede Slay the Warlord more easily than a Chapter Master, importantly. While drop-podding them in with Sternguard to dissuade charges or another such unit is a viable use of them, I think the afore-mentioned Command Squad kitted with special weapons on bikes will likely be the Captain's safest and best destination overall; that he also makes the cost-effective regular Bikers Troops is just the icing on the cake.

    Chapter Tactics - Similar to the Chapter Master, a Captain is best served by the Chapter Tactics that benefit melee characters specifically, such as Black Templars, Ultramarines or Salamanders. For an assault unit, White Scars and Raven Guard provide nice overall benefits - particularly the latter when embarked on a Rhino - and so there is no real clear cut winner here for the Chapter Tactics best suited to a Captain. Be mindful that while you can pull off the godlike Iron Hands build with the Shield Eternal, you are probably best served maximising its durability with a Chapter Master. After all, you must pay for greatness!

    Command Squad

    Overview - Much like the Honour Guard of a Chapter, Command Squads are only available in an army featuring a Captain, Librarian or Chaplain; as with Chapter Masters, the potential inclusion of this awesome unit is often an important decision when choosing your HQ units. Priced similarly to Sternguard and Vanguard Veterans, each model in a Command Squad is an elite model with two attacks base, two combat weapons - with the option of a bolter - and Leadership 9. Though they don't come stock with power weapons or Artificer Armour for the only slightly more expensive Honour Guard, they instead have access to a greater slew of options; with bikes, storm shields, melta bombs and even special weapons (per the most recent codex FAQ) to choose from. Though they might not jump out as much as Honour Guard do in terms of outright melee capabilities, it bears mentioning that Command Squads can be so much nastier overall when given some particular wargear combinations.

    How to Equip Them - This is entirely dependent on what transport you are putting them in, or if you are taking Bikes; I think it bears mentioning that running five expensive Space Marine models up the field, even with expensive storm shields, is a bad idea, so I won't go into that. You don't have to worry about squad size as it will always consist of five models, though the permutations available in the squad can be rather staggering. With each model able to make their own individual wargear selections, you can have schizophrenic combinations of storm shields, bolters, combi-plasmas, power mauls and pairs of lightning claws. Of course, if you want a unit that either makes its points back or at least actually fulfills a particular purpose in your army list, I would avoid mixing and matching like that and instead keep them focused on the one particular role. Space Marines tend not to do very well if they aren't specialized to destroying a specific type of enemy, and the same is no different for Command Squads.

    First up, if you are taking them in a Drop Pod, give them all guns dependent on their Chapter Tactics; a squad led by Vulkan or with Salamanders in general would be best served by taking meltaguns or flamers for a brutal alpha strike, while any other special weapon would work for the different Chapters. A unit in a Rhino or Razorback will probably want either plasma guns to fire out of fire points in the midfield, or melee weapons to take advantage of the fire support a Razorback provides. A Land Raider is best suited to a squad equipped for combat, but at this point, you may want to think about investing in Honour Guard instead if your HQ choices allow it. If you take Bikes, you needn't worry about the Chapter Tactics - though White Scars are probably preferable - as you can deliver five grav guns straight into an enemy formation on a relatively cheap unit that is also quite decent in combat. Paired up with a wound-tanking character of some form, and you will regularly enjoy the sweet scent of terror exuding from your opponents. Riptides, Wraithknights, Terminators, Dreadknights, and so on; beware!

    For general use, the character and standard upgrades for a Command Squad should be taken mostly based on personal taste, as though they generally provide strong returns, they can be expensive for an already costly unit. The Company Champion is actually quite cheap and very much worthwhile for any melee-oriented Command Squad; if you want to provide massed special weapons though, I would probably avoid the upgrade. An Apothecary is very cheap for what he brings, and is definitely a good inclusion if you have the points spare; unfortunately, he still can't take the weapons Veterans can. Melta Bombs are cheap and allow the Veterans to engage monstrous creatures and vehicles with varying degrees of an effectiveness; obviously, a Trygon or a Wraithlord is likely to eviscerate most of the unit in return. I probably wouldn't bother with more than one or two Storm Shields in a Command Squad due to their high cost; generally speaking, you probably only need the two 3+ invulnerable saves to tank the AP3 or AP2 wounds you will encounter. As for the holy standards, the Standard of the Emperor Ascendent is probably not worth it in so much as the Company Standard will prove to be more useful for so much less points. Both provide re-rolls to units of the same Chapter Tactics for Pinning and Morale tests within 12", while the former provides a mini-bubble of Hatred, as well as conferring Fear on the bearers' unit. If you want to take one of the standards, concern yourself only with the Company Standard; the small unit size and lack of great durability for Command Squads really limits the use of such an expensive relic.

    Where to Put Them - I honestly think that there is no "right answer" if you want to use them as a "special weapons team", and so where you put them largely depends on their special weapon. Grav rfifles are best suited to bike-mounted Command Squads, while meltaguns and flamers work better in drop pods - particularly with Salamanders and even Vulkan thrown in. On the flip side, you probably want massed plasma guns either in a drop pod or a rhino, with Raven Guard particularly favouring the latter due to Scout.

    Best Uses - Command Squads actually aren't cut out to be a dedicated assault unit as they aren't the most cost effective unit you can bring for the role; instead, you want them to deliver high strength firepower on elite models, all with surprisingly high efficiency. Arm them with flamers or meltaguns, combine them with Vulkan and you have a phenomenally destructive alpha strike unit that embodies the term "overkill"; obliterating any single tank or one or more - depending on their placement - infantry unis in one deadly salvo. I think the best overall build for a Command Squad is on Bikes and armed with grav rifles to make full use of their Relentless; plus, the Bike upgrade averages out to less than ten points per model, which is actually quite cheap given their Veteran status.The unit will slaughter Riptides, Wraithknights and other really nasty monsters and high armour units, while dealing quite well with Wave Serpents due to to the wording of the graviton rule. They can then rely on their high Toughness, mobility and Jink saves to save themselves the return fire; White Scars benefit this build the most due to the pseudo Skilled Rider they provide.

    Chapter Tactics - I don't think any of the Chapter Tactics in particular stand out for most kinds of Command Squads, though certain types definitely get stronger advantages from certain Tactics; White Scars hugely benefit bikers, while Salamanders work very well with "drop and pop" units.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Cheers! If you have any feedback for me, feel free to post a comment here or speak to me over on Bell of Lost Souls. Happy hunting!

    "They will be bright stars in the firmament of battle, Angels of Death whose shining wings bring swift annihilation to the enemies of Man."
    - Roboute Guilliman


    ARTICLE 2


    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at the lesser known but certainly no less zealous or worthy heroes of the Space Marines; the commanders, purifiers and psykers that lead the many thousands of Chapters into glorious conflict. I hope you enjoy this article!


    The Space Marines have a large array of generic characters to choose from, with characters that have distinct roles in an army list and fulfill them admirably. The Captain and Chapter Master are combat-oriented heroes that can allow army list manipulation when certain wargear options are chosen, while Librarians, Chaplains and Masters of the Forge are primarily geared to varying forms of support. The addition of Chapter Relics and the streamlining of wargear costs leads to tougher choices than previously for which character to lead your army; gone are the days when a Librarian was a default choice due to Null Zone and the like. Now, there are intrinsic benefits to employing a Chapter Master in place of a Captain, and so on, rewarding your choices in a considered fashion. As well, the differing Chapter Tactics certainly boost the viability of individual choices by considerable margins!

    Part Two of the Generic Characters section covers the Librarian, Chaplain, Master of the Forge, Techmarine and Servitors. You can view Part One here.

    Librarian

    Overview - Librarians are the cheapest HQ choice a Space Marine player has access to, and it is rare indeed that one would say they don't justify their comparatively minimal investment. Each is a psyker that can be upraded to Mastery Level two, with access to four of the main rulebook psychic disciplines; the only exception, sadly, being Divination. This limits the Librarian to comparatively mediocre primaris powers, while disallowing Space Marines from gaining ease of access to a reliable and incredibly useful form of twin-linking. It goes without saying though that the other disciplines can be quite strong as well; Biomancy and Telepathy can provide some strong blessings or maledictions each, for example.

    Each Librarian comes stock with a force weapon of your choice - all of which have their various uses, to be discussed later - though they lack the number of attacks, Initiative or Weapon Skill to truly worry most monstrous creatures and characters. You should never rely on a Librarian to provide a strong melee presence, though some builds can be quite cost effective and durable in combat - notably a Terminator-armoured Librarian with a storm shield that runs just on the triple-digit mark. They are otherwise rather fragile with a mere two wounds and no access to an invulnerable save outside of terminator armour and subsequent upgrades, or an expensive Shield Eternal that is most definitely wasted on a two wound model. The Librarian is your cheapest means of unlocking the devastating Command Squads filled with special weapons; massed flamers or meltaguns in a drop pod with Salamanders Chapter Tactics, or massed grav rifles on bikes with White Scars Chapter Tactics? That cheap Librarian on a Bike gives you some good love here.

    How to Equip Them - Unless you plan on running them in a Rhino, or you want to save points and aren't too concerned for their safety - running them bare to get a Command Squad is not unheard of - I would generally recommend either the Terminator armour or Bike upgrades to give them extra potential mobility and durability at a low cost. Taking the former also allows the Librarian to take a storm shield, which is laughably cheap for a model with a mere 5+ invulnerable save or lack thereof otherwise. Adding a combi-weapon of your choice bumps the Librarian up to a respectable low triple digit cost, but makes them a versatile, decently tough, and even quite nasty HQ choice that also provides extra random effects in the form of psychic powers. Remember that even Terminator-armoured Librarians can fit in Drop Pods provided there are two spots free for him; factor this into taking units such as Sternguard or Command Squads and the like.

    Where to Put Them - The best aspect of a Librarian is their versatility; they provide any unit with a decent force weapon, a probable good armour save and thus a miniature wound tank, as well as one or two powers from differing disciplines. That a Librarian can choose from one of four different tables when determining their powers allows you quite a deal of freedom to adapt to enemy armies and tactics. Terrify, Invisibility and Hallucination are always great powers from Telepathy, but Fire Shield or Enfeeble can change the game in a pinch by either providing a unit with a strong, reflective cover save or reducing the instant death threshold of pesky monsters and infantry. For these reasons, there are very few "bad" places to put a Librarian, particularly if you gave them either a bike or Terminator armour. Generally speaking, they work well for drop-podding units by providing some extra alpha strike potential in the form of either a combi-weapon or a nasty power such as Psychic Shriek. Similarly, you can use them on foot to provide bonuses such as Endurance or Invisibility to ground units that require it.

    Best Uses - Generally speaking, with the lack of access to Divination and thus having less reliance on a great Primaris power, I would keep the Librarian cheap and don't focus on a particular strategy with them specifically. Instead, think of how they can provide either a nasty Command Squad toting some special weapons on Bikes or in Drop Pods, or whatever you fancy, and of how cheaply you can fill up your Warlord slot. Of course, a two-wound character is unlikely to survive any real punishment, so this is a risk you must consider when determining whether a single Librarian fills out your HQ choice acceptably. I would usually either mount a Librarian on a Bike or put them in Terminator armour, and attach them to a unit of your choice to match the wargear selection. Librarians aren't amazing and it is unlikely they will do anything ground-breaking, but they provide some potentially great psychic support powers, some extra melee punch with two or more force weapon attacks at Weapon Skill five, and even a clear target for enemies afraid of a psykers' potential. For an army that wants a cheap support commander and isn't too afraid of the big bad monsters inflicting instant death on him, I think a Librarian is the HQ of choice - particularly in smaller games where their abilities are more pronounced.

    Chapter Tactics - Unlike say the Captain or a Chapter Master, Librarians don't really benefit as much from any specific set of Chapter Tactics. They don't have enough wounds to capitalize on It Will Not Die from Iron Hands, nor are they truly suited for challenges where Black Templars ply their trade - not that you will ever see one in those colours, Abhor the Witch and all. Salamanders give them a free master-crafting which can be certainly helpful for a combi-weapon or their force weapon, while a Bike-mounted Librarian obviously gets a bit of a kick from the White Scars detachment rules.

    Chaplain

    Overview - Billed as the intermediary between the combat-oriented Captains and support-oriented Librarians, Chaplains combine some watered-down elements of both choices into an affordable but generally less than spectacular package. A Chaplain has slightly boosted durability compared to a stock Librarian as he has a 4+ invulnerable save, though he still has a mere two wounds and a 3+ armour save. His higher base cost than the Librarian means that this bonus evens out, as the Librarian can get a 2+ armour save and 3+ invulnerable save for quite a bit less than a Chaplain. Instead of a force weapon, a Chaplain has an inferior power weapon, and though some might complain that it is specifically a power maul, these are statistically the best power weapons overall. The Chaplain is intended as more of a combat support character than the Librarian; though his damage output will usually be similar or less than a Librarian, the Chaplain actually buffs his unit in combat with the Zealot special rule. Fearless isn't that big of a boon on Space Marines who already have And They Shall Know No Fear, as there are always some units you do not want to engage, or combats you want to get out of on specific turns.

    However, re-rolls to hit on the first round of combat due to Hatred can be quite helpful for a dedicated melee unit. Of course, this presents an obvious issue with the Chaplain that the Librarian does not share; a Chaplain needs to be attached to a dedicated melee unit to really make the most of his Zealot special rule. This is then compounded by the fact that Space Marines lack great dedicated melee units aside from Honour Guard; Assault Terminators aren't so great in 6th Edition due to mini-Rending Eldar shooting, massed high Strength firepower from every army, and more AP2 than has even been seen before. Even with storm shields, there is simply too much rate of fire to put them down quite quickly; besides, getting them near an opponent without investing in an expensive Land Raider can be difficult enough as it is due to deep strike scatter. Vanguard Veterans and Assault Marines certainly aren't bad choices, but probably not the kind of unit you would really want a Chaplain joining. The two jump units really aren't cut out to compete with units such as Screamers, Flesh Hounds or the flying monsters that popularize the 6th Edition meta. This leaves the much improved Honour Guard, though you have to sacrifice a HQ slot anyway through a Chapter Master to access them in the first place. This leaves Chaplains without a great unit to really benefit, and the Chaplain doesn't even provide such stellar benefits as a Librarian potentially would anyway; their sole advantage is that their abilities are guaranteed, not random, and thus far more predictable in the army list creation stage.

    How to Equip Them - Seeing as Chaplains already come stock with a 4+ invulnerable save, Terminator armour isn't as worthwhile an upgrade on them as it is for a Librarian; that they pay more for this upgrade is rather silly, indeed, as they make less benefit of it overall. Like any other HQ choice though, a Bike is always a great upgrade - particularly in a White Scars army - this gives any commander a welcome boost to their survivability, as the extra point of Toughness can function more or less as an extra wound against most enemies. Besides, the mobility alone allows your melee-support Chaplain to get into combat that much quicker, and while Bikers may not defeat "hard" melee units in combat, the addition of Zealot should let them overpower typical enemy forces in Troops and so on. You can add a cheap combi-weapon on to the Chaplain to give him a one-shot chance at crippling a key enemy formation, though I feel this is an inefficient use of a dedicated melee HQ - or at least one that wants to make you believe it is one. Much like Librarians, they have access to the Chapter Relics, but I would advise against them as they are still two wound models without great saves unless you pay through the nose for it. This will merely leave you with a points inefficient character that would simply make you wish you had invested a similar amount of points in a pair of cheap Librarians or a kitted our Captain. Either keep the Chaplain stock, or put him on a Bike to make the most of his rather mediocre abilities.

    Where to Put Them - A Chaplain suffers from its focus on boosting melee units; he wants to be with your best melee unit, or with a unit that could really use the boost. While it is fair to say Tactical Marines sure would like to be better in combat, taking a rather expensive and comparatively fragile HQ choice to fulfill this purpose for such a unit is not conducive to building an effective overall army list. You need to maximise the effectiveness of each unit as much as possible, and this means attaching the Chaplain to a strong assault unit. With the changes to the meta in 6th Edition, players are moving away from Terminators and the like simply because torrent of fire and massed AP2 weaponry dissuade even storm-shield wielding Terminators from taking the field of battle. For dedicated melee units, this leaves you with Command Squads, Honour Guard, Vanguard Veterans and Assault Marines. Assault Centurions are too expensive, slow and reliant on an expensive transport to make an effective melee unit in any sense, particularly with a costly character add-on factored in. Bikers can't really be classed as a dedicated melee unit, but are ironically one of the best units for a Chaplain to join overall because they provide the Chaplain with a tough and deadly bodyguard - Relentless grav rifles! - while he gives them an added melee boost and Fearless to reduce the risks with their close assault tactics.

    Vanguard Veterans can be deadly, but incredibly expensive, and either require a transport or jump packs which boost the price of a unit up quite quickly. Even then, they don't compare favourably to some of the alternatives. Assault Marines are one of the cheapest options, but lack the real punch to deal with opposing dedicated assault units. Realistically, a Command Squad is best served in shooting due to the recent FAQ changes, particularly as Honour Guard are quite simply the most points-efficient melee unit in the codex that doesn't really shoot either. This leads you with some pretty tough choices to make, though they really aren't the good kind; the fact of the matter is that the Chaplain simply doesn't provide the kind of bonuses an army such as Space Marines would like to have. Though assault is hardly dead, Space Marines aren't an army that does it particularly well in any sense; though they are utilitarians, they are far more apt at shooting and more likely to do great damage there. Besides, a Librarian offers more potent direct combat support, particularly in protracted combats; the option to still flee as necessary from enemies such as Wraithlords, and random albeit stronger potential abilities through their psychic powers.

    Best Uses - Chaplains are yet another method of getting a Command Squad into the fray, and it can be argued that the advantage Chaplains have over Captains is that they don't need any more wargear aside from maybe a Bike. They are there to give a unit Fearless and Hatred, while providing some additional power weapon attacks. There is very little to change from that generic mould, and thus this limits the uses of Chaplains quite severely; they cannot do much except be decent combat support characters. Compounding the issue is the lack of units that really benefit from a Chaplain's ability; if they were in an army that included assault units of similar offensive capabilities to, for example, Flesh Hounds or Wraithblades, this wouldn't be such an issue. While Assault Terminators and the like are hardly bad units, there uses in game are limited by the very nature of 6th Edition; it punishes elite armies, particularly elite assault units, like few others. For this reason, you are best attaching a Chaplain to a Biker unit or a 'hard' assault unit of your choice; I feel the former is a more effective use of the Chaplain to ensure the Biker units can destroy their chosen targets. The latter, however, will still work in themed lists and will at least provide those melee units with some potential boosts to even the playing field.

    Chapter Tactics - Like the Librarian, the Chaplain isn't really geared to get a lot of personal benefit from any of the Chapter Tactics, though when combined with his power maul, the Accept Any Challenge special rule for Black Templars can be quite handy, if uninspiring. It won't elevate them to higher levels of combat prowess, but it helps; much as Salamanders will help them out with a free re-roll to hit. As it is, you can comfortably take any of the Chapter Tactics and not feel like you are wasting the benefits of any particular choice.

    Master of the Forge

    Overview - One of the hidden stars in a codex filled with glorious heroes, a Master of the Forge is far more than a simple lord-styled Techmarine. Rather than charging head-first into combat or casting psychic powers to prove his worth, the Master of the Forge is truly a ranged character that, helpfully, doesn't compromise on melee capabilities either. He provides your army with a welcome defensive boost by upgrading a single piece of terrain to provide a bonus +1 cover to its regular cover save. For these reasons alone, a Master of the Forge is well suited as the Warlord or supporting commander to a gunline-oriented force. He boosts cover for Devastators and the like to ply their deadly trade in safety, or even your scoring Tactical Marines and Scouts. Additionally, as you would expect of any form of Techmarine, he can repair vehicles of any kind with his servo-arms; restoring one of a lost hull point, a destroyed weapon or an immobilized result. Obviously, this is an invaluable asset in any army featuring a handful or more of vehicles, particularly for Iron Hands who both provide the Master of the Forge with bonuses to Repair rolls, and the vehicles themselves with It Will Not Die.

    The Master of Forge, while primarily a support character that is already useful enough, can be quite damaging as well in the right circumstances; probably in a well protected bodyguard unit and out of base contact with enemy models. With three power fist attacks base at Weapon Skill four, as well as the ability to fire two weapons if he doesn't try to repair a vehicle, the Master of the Forge is as likely to do some decent damage as a Librarian or Chaplain. Their servo-harness affords them with a twin-linked plasma pistol, effectively, and a flamer. Add a standard boltgun, combi-weapon or even a Conversion Beamer to the mix, and you have a character that can really worry light vehicles, light infantry and even heavier units at range, depending on wargear choices. That the mechanical genius himself has a 2+ armour save and two wound stock is pretty handy, especially considering his price, as he can be used to soak up troubling AP3 wounds for power-armoured units as necessary. Additionally, he can tank power swords and the like quite well in challenges, though the lack of an invulnerable save can be irritating against enemies such as monsters or plasma weaponry; not that you should ever willingly engage these, of course.

    To add to the Master of the Forge's already rather extensive list of traits, he allows you to take Dreadnoughts and Ironclad Dreadnoughts as both Heavy Support and Elite choices, significantly freeing up the Elites slot to allow you to take strong units such as Sternguard. This works best for a drop-pod assault based army, due to most of the Heavy Support units either being invalid or not really conducive to the effective use of such a force. Otherwise, you may find your Heavy Support choices more contested than your Elites, due to the sheer strength of the units available there. Regardless, that the Master of the Forge allows you to change up the army list in such a way, while already being a very cost effective commander, seals him as one of the best HQ choices that you have access to.

    How to Equip Them - Though you would logically think that a lord of the armoury would be one of the best equipped models in the force, you really don't need to upgrade a Master of the Forge that much to make them more effective. A conversion beamer is very much a preferential choice depending on whether you want a static Master of the Forge, though I would think it relies a bit heavily on deployment type and the size of a game board to make the most out of its evolving profile based on range. I would avoid the power axe as the Master of the Forge already has a free power fist in the form of the servo arm, unless it is for model purposes. Putting him on a bike is about the limit I would push the Master of the Forge to, as he really doesn't need anything else to be a great choice that supports your army in an ideal fashion. If you have the points spare, giving him the Primarch's Wrath while mounted on a bike is a smart and fluffy choice to add to his decent assortment of ranged weapons. Of course, a smarter choice would be to take a conversion beamer on a bike to make the most out of being mobile and Relentless! This makes the Master of the Forge so much nastier at range and removes the restriction on being forced to fire or move. Keep him as cheap as you can, as he already gives you some sizable boosts just through his inclusion in an army.

    Where to Put Them - There are a few primary methods to utilize a Master of the Forge, and each works well in their own associated army list variant. The most commonly seen is to mount them in a vehicle or on a bike riding just behind a vehicle, using them to repair it as necessary. Land Raiders are ideal for this, particularly in an Iron Hands army list due to boosted repair rolls and It Will Not Die. You can even put them in a Drop Pod as a means of getting an extra combi-weapon into the alpha strike, and to repair your already rather tough Ironclad Dreadnoughts. Another is to simply put them in a squad on foot or on bikes and provide either static or mobile ranged fire support as well as making full use of Bolster Defences.

    Best Uses - I think that a Master of the Forge is ideally used in a vehicle-heavy Iron Hands army list led by a trio of Land Raiders of some variety, or any other kind of list featuring more than five or six tanks. The sheer utility and damage control provided by the Master of the Forge is simply priceless. In an edition where stripping hull points remains the primary method of dealing with vehicles of all kinds, safeguarding them from such damage by giving those units two chances to recover hull points in the same turn can be utterly ridiculous if exploited. Maximising its potential is best served by employing as many high-armoured vehicles as possible whom massed strength seven attacks would struggle to put down in one salvo, such as Ironclads in Drop Pod lists, or Predators, Vindicators and Land Raiders in mechanized lists.

    Chapter Tactics - Though there may be a clear winner here, it is pertinent to point out the advantages of the various other beneficiary Chapter Tactics. White Scars help out any Bike-mounted Master of the Forge - even allowing him to grant Scout to allied units! - while Salamanders give him free master-crafting and re-rollable saves against template weapons, making them an awesome wound tank against Heldrakes. Still, it needs to be said; Iron Hands are tailor made to make a Master of the Forge into an incredible commander at dirt cheap prices. They give him a bonus to repair rolls, the ability to grow back wounds, a slight Feel No Pain save, and, most important of all, they provide immense benefits to the same vehicles a Master of the Forge is best suited to supporting. They really are the master artisans amongst the Loyalist Astartes.

    Techmarine

    Overview - The cheaper, more generic equivalent of a Master of the Forge, a Techmarine doesn't provide the same bang for your buck potential Warlord choice, but makes up for it by not taking up an HQ slot. You can take one for each other independent character - excluding Techmarines - HQ choice you take, and as independent characters, they can be joined to a wide variety of units. The differences between them and a Master of the Forge are quite significant, as the Techmarine has but a single wound, only a servo arm and not a full servo harness, and reduced access to wargear such as conversion beamers and the Primarch's Wrath. That the Techmarine is also Leadership 8 as opposed to 10 lessens the benefits they provide to a typical Space Marine squad, as even despite And They Shall Know No Fear, sticking in a particular combat or passing a given Pinning test is still very important and can change the game. Basically, you take a Techmarine(s) either as the cheapest Repair option you have, or because you don't have a spare HQ slot to fit in a Master of the Forge. Generally speaking, they are also a cheap method of adding Bolster Defences to an army, which can be quite useful in limited numbers; you don't want to spend too many points on abilities that may not see use on terrain-light game boards, after all. They become far more effective in a mechanized army list so as to spread out the repair rolls that receive the handy +1 bonus in an Iron Hands list - the favourite of mech Space Marine armies.

    How to Equip Them - You are probably off leaving a Techmarine bare if you want them to support vehicles, as they can stick inside transports until their servo arms are needed; otherwise, you can put them on a bike to give them some much needed extra durability. With only one wound and a 2+ armour save, they are very easy to kill and as such you shouldn't invest any more points in them than absolutely necessary. You can replace their servo arm with a servo harness, but it leaves them only marginally cheaper than a Master of the Forge that has a wide range of advantages, so I would leave such gear for them unless you are playing in a list that requires multiple 'mechanics'.

    Where to Put Them - Techmarines are, like Masters of the Forge, best placed either in a transport or on a bike to support vehicles and make the most out of their Blessing of the Omnissiah special rule. Unlike the Master of the Forge, you can't really get away with using them in a bunker unit as effectively as they lack a servo harness, and are too close in price to a Master of the Forge when upgraded with one.

    Best Uses - I would keep Techmarines reserved solely for a mechanized list, as unlike a Master of the Forge, the Techmarine doesn't really have much utility outside of reparing vehicles, particularly as he doesn't potentially eat up your mandatory HQ slot. A Master of the Forge does this and more, including moving Dreadnoughts of all kinds to Heavy Support and being quite a bit tougher to kill. When paired up with Iron Hands Chapter Tactics and moving around with Predators, Vindicators, Land Raiders and the like galore, there aren't too many better investments than a Techmarine.

    Chapter Tactics - Though I feel like I am beating a dead horse, having the Iron Hands Chapter Tactics really benefits Techmarines - and by extension, Masters of the Forge, vehicles and so on - the most given their role in a typical Space Marine force. Making full use of those abilities really demands the use of Iron Hands, and so that would be my stock recommendation. Other handy choices are Salamanders to master-craft a combi-weapon, or, indirectly, Imperial Fists to give tank-hunting Devastators a nice 3+ or 4+ cover save in your deployment zone.

    Servitors

    Overview - The cheap companions to Techmarines and Masters of the Forge, Servitors are a unit specifically designed with Blessing of the Omnissiah in mind; each has a servo arm, providing large bonuses to repair rolls and, hilariously, providing cheap ablative power fist attacks and wounds. With a 4+ armour save and stats befitting a typical Imperial Guardsmen, Servitors are cheap for what they do and useful to maximise your repair rolls. They can even be used to add heavy weapons at low prices to your force, though these are unreliable and pale in comparison to only slightly more expensive Devastator Marines. Where Servitors start to shine is an Iron Hands army, or more loosely, a mechanized force; the sole purpose to take them is to make sure your repair rolls are successful, as any other use of them is inefficient compared to regular Space Marines or even Scouts.

    Unfortunately, the unit proves to be rather less useful than initially thought as they preclude the Techmarine or Master of the Forge from joining another unit. Though they are cheap, with their middling Toughness (that extends to the character if two or more are taken due to majority toughness rules), mediocre stats and 4+ armour save, they do not protect already comparatively (to Captains and Chapter Masters) fragile characters all that well. That their squad size is a mere five means that you can't even provide that many ablative wounds for the characters, and outside of some power fist attacks at Weapon Skill three, they really can't do much else. Additionally, if you want to make your repairs on the fly, taking Servitors precludes your character from being mounted on a bike. As an unlocked unit available to Techmarines and Masters of the Forge, Servitors aren't anywhere near as impressive as Command Squads or Honour Guard. This is not just because they can't do as much damage or protect them well enough, but because those characters already have a high enough success rate with repair rolls to not really need the help of Servitors. When Iron Hands - best pals to the Omnissiah's servants - are thrown in as the chosen Chapter Tactics, the need for Servitors is almost completely eliminated due to the +1 bonus to repair rolls already gained, and the vehicles all gaining It Will Not Die for free.

    How to Equip Them - If you are taking Servitors, do yourself a favour and leave them bare, and take them in maximum sized squads. As they cannot repair vehicles themselves, may potentially do nothing if left alone, and are generally taken just to boost repair rolls, you should always take four or five and always leave them with the Techmarine or Master of the Forge. Any other use of them is simply a waste of points; if you want heavy weapons, you are far better off paying less than five points per model more for better damage output, survivability and adaptability from Devastators.

    Where to Put Them - Given that they cannot take any kind of mount wargear, and are quite fragile themselves, I would always place them in a transport, preferably the one you most want a character with Blessing of the Omnissiah to keep in the battle. Land Raiders are good uses for such tactics, though it does bring into question the viability of using a Land Raider to ferry a unit of Servitors and their master.

    Best Uses - Ignore the heavy weapons, and use them in transports, or hide them behind cover, so as to best repair either mobile or static vehicles. These are the sole reasons you take Servitors; even despite their power fist attacks, you can't even really use them as a counter-assault unit in the backfield due to how mediocre their profile is.

    Chapter Tactics - Ironically, you probably don't want to see Servitors in an Iron Hands army list simply because a Master of the Forge with those Chapter Tactics already fixes vehicles on a 3+, and that is even before mentioning the It Will Not Die rolls those vehicles obtain. This leaves them best suited to bodyguard duties for Techmarines in other Chapters, as you can have four plus the Techmarine himself for the price of a Master of the Forge and have a guaranteed repair roll.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Please let us know in the comments section below - we appreciate any and all feedback. Cheers!

    "They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them."
    - The Emperor
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 11-17-2013 at 06:15 PM.
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  2. #2

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    To minimize on post numbers, I have put more than one article in this post, and will clearly mark the separate articles.

    UNIQUE CHARACTERS

    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at a handful of the greatest heroes amongst the Adeptus Astartes; warriors and leaders that have scribed their names into legend through valour and skill. I hope you enjoy this article!


    Space Marine players have access to the most extensive roster of unique characters in the game, providing so many diverse play-styles and inherent advantages that encourage players to experiment with a wealth of differing army lists. Unlike some other codices, few of these characters are solely based around damage potential; instead, they provide ground-breaking support abilities and potential for thematic army creation that you simply can't find anywhere else. Though they are restricted to their own Chapter Tactics now, the advice given in the previous Space Marines codex very much rings true to this day; these are templates for mighty heroes to lead your forces, built to give you something you simply cannot find from a kitted out regular character. Where Marneus Calgar allows you to control the morale aspect of Warhammer 40000, Kor'sarro Khan provides free early movement to an entire force, allowing them to dominate positioning and deployment. As Helbrecht is the lynchpin for an army-wide massed and devastating assault, Vulkan He'stan gives you the means to make a Salamanders army the true masters of anti-vehicular warfare. It is such that you cannot judge these characters on the merits of combat or martial prowess alone, but on how they allow for incredible strategic flexibility in the army list creation phase, and in tactical adaptability through their considerable, palpable aura on the field of battle. These Space Marines count themselves amongst the finest heroes in all of the Imperium, and each has their own mark to leave on your army.

    Due to the extensive array of unique characters in the codex, Part One of the Unique Characters section solely covers Marneus Calgar, Cato Sicarius and Varro Tigurius. Part Two, Part Three and Part Four will cover the remaining Unique Characters. A note here that as Unique Characters have pre-defined wargear selections, I have instead included 'Maximising their Abilities' as it also relates to the army list creation phase; to rid the article of arbitrary information, I also combined 'Where to Put Them' and 'Best Uses' with 'Maximising their Abilities'. That these characters also have preset Chapter Tactics means that I eliminated the section to save space and time. Let me know if you like or dislike the changes - remembering that these are only for Unique Characters.


    Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines

    Overview - When hobbyists are asked who the most iconic character amongst the Astartes is, there will be dozens of unique responses; such is the rich tapestry of history that Games Workshop has woven about its flagship creation. But few Space Marines have been given more voice than the Lord of Macragge himself, Marneus Calgar; and not without good reason, either! Calgar is the almost obligatory "super hero" character in the codex, with insane combat prowess, some truly ridiculous support abilities, and all the while being one of the toughest nuts that can be found in the game. He is the most expensive unique character available in the codex by the length of the straight, but it is not without justification. First of all, as a Chapter Master with Eternal Warrior and either Artificer Armour or Terminator Armour, he has four wounds, a Toughness of four, a 2+ armour save and a 4+ invulnerable save, and the cherry on top is his immunity to instant death. Wow! To add to this, he hits like a steamroller in combat, with five power fist attacks base due to his Gauntlets of Ultramar; he can even swing with four attacks base with a power sword, and all at Weapon Skill six! His Initiative of five is great for sweeping advances and for striking before enemies with the power sword, giving him a lot of flexibility in dealing with different kinds of enemies. To add to the ridiculousness, he is still able to sweep up enemy units even when equipped with his Armour of Antilochus, unlike every other Terminator-armoured character in the game. There aren't too many characters to be found that hit as hard as Marneus Calgar, nor soak up damage quite like he does. He can't match someone like Abaddon or Skarbrand for pure damage potential, but he makes up for it by providing your army with some incredible advantages that extend beyond his personal contribution.

    Provided you include Marneus - and be aware that he has to be your Warlord if you take him - all of your Space Marines with the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics can choose to automatically pass or fail and morale check they have to make. Before I dig into this, I'll just say here that his ability to roll up three times on the Space Marine Warlord Traits table and then pick one is awesome, giving you a 50% chance to get something like Storm of Fire or, unfortunately for your opponent, Champion of Humanity. Marneus Calgar with six power fist attacks on the charge who gets D3 victory points plus Slay the Warlord when he kills the enemy leader? Ain't nobody got time for that! Now, some might say that an army brimming with And They Shall Know No Fear and above average Leadership values doesn't really get much benefit from this ability, but I can personally guarantee that they can't be further from the truth. Think of the potential this ability brings in an edition with random charge lengths and a focus on objectives. Say your opponent softens up a squad of Space Marines before launching an assault with a nasty unit, such as Daemonettes or Tyranid Shrikes, forcing them to take a Leadership test. They expect that due to your high Leadership, the squad won't fall back and you will be forced to sit there and accept the probably successful charge, proceeding to lose the entire unit in a fusillade of blows and bloodshed.

    With Marneus leading your force, the squad can automatically fall back out of assault range and, with And They Shall Know No Fear, rally without requiring a test. You can then move them up to nine inches in any given direction, and launch a devastating counter attack - whether through bolt or through blade - against the enemy unit that is now stranded in no mans' land. When faced with heavy fire on the last turn, you are forced to make a clutch play with your Tactical Marines so as to stay on an objective and secure it to either achieve victory or tie up the game. The Sergeant is dead, and thus there is a pretty high chance the squad will fail and fall back, losing you the clash. Inspired by Marneus Calgar, the squad holds firm against the onslaught, and keeps you in the battle. In an edition where the advent of Terrify, Fear, Leadership-bombs (Fiends of Slaanesh and their ilk) and the like are becoming increasingly popular, being able to effectively ignore an entire, and major, aspect of the game is simply astonishing when put through its paces. Though it isn't necessarily the easiest ability to make full use of, a skilled player can easily adapt their army and force through otherwise risky tactics to secure a victory against detrimental odds. I think this ability alone justifies Marneus' cost, but there is even more to this god amongst super-humans to speak of.

    The Ultramarines Chapter Tactics have seen some backlash from the community, with many players displeased that the three Doctrines are each only available once per game. While I personally feel that such criticisms are unjustified due to the sheer tactical flexibility and incredible boosts to effectiveness the Doctrines provide, it is irrelevant to the fact that Calgar provides you with an extra use of one of them. In a standard six-turn game, this means that your army can benefit from a Doctrine four out of the six turns; that doesn't seem like too much of a downside to me, does it? Given that the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics really encourage a mixed army list that favours the Space Marines themselves, it is no surprise that Marneus benefits this kind of force better than others. In a drop pod assault army, how will your opponents feel about facing two turns of the Tactical Doctrine, or even the initial alpha strike including Relentless Devastators - one of the more daring and brilliant uses of the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics, if I do say so myself - ? Massed Sternguard with re-rolls of ones to hit on special ammunition and combi-weapons, or even the standard Tactical Marine effectively having Prescience cast on themselves with special, heavy and bolt weapons? I can guarantee those opponents won't be happy, not for one turn, and certainly not for two turns. Regardless of how you use the Combat Doctrines, the extra use of one provides your force with a lot more potential to really devastate the enemy and get into your favoured positions, particularly with Fleet and the like as you need it.

    Adding to his extensive array of abilities, Marneus even throws in an Orbital Bombardment, like other Chapter Masters, that no longer prevents him from launching an assault in the same turn. Add to that his Gauntlets fire a nifty AP two storm bolter and you have yourself a character with a lot of pluses and very few minuses. To add to the carnage with his fists, he can re-roll failed armour penetration rolls against vehicles, allowing him to effectively annihilate almost any vehicle in the game in a single round, short only of Land Raiders and their ilk. Heck, he even allows you to take three squads of the now vastly improved Honour Guard as opposed to just one, which is awesome especially for thematic and modelling purposes. Though I probably don't see much value in this in smaller games due to the sheer cost of such a force, anything that allows you to take arguably the best assault unit in the codex in greater numbers is undoubtedly a bonus.

    And on that note, the only real downside to Calgar is his exorbitant cost; though I feel he is definitely appropriately costed for what he brings to the table - remembering that no generic character you make can replicate his God of War special rule - there is no doubt that he should be reserved for larger games. In games of 1500 points or less, he is simply too much of a points sink to really make back his points or maximise his potent abilities, as you will have too few models comparatively to truly capitalize on them. Once you throw in an escort unit, whether it be Honour Guard or even Tactical Marines, and a transport - he pays to be a hammer in the assault phase as well, so you don't want to waste that by leaving him in the backfield - you are talking a huge amount of points for those kinds of games. For that reason, I would reserve him up until you get to the 1850 point mark or thereabouts - the tournament standard - as that is when I would feel comfortable with his investment due to the number of units you can field alongside him. He isn't solely a unit crusher, but a unit buffer, and to really maximise his abilities, you want as many units benefiting from them as you can.

    Maximising their Abilities - I will preface this by saying that between a choice of stock Artificer Armour and the Armour of Antilochus, I would honestly keep Calgar with his basic armour. The reason for this is that the Terminator armour really doesn't give Calgar too many benefits aside from a Teleport Homer, given that he also loses frag grenades for his power sword, so I would just save the points - unless of course you bought his amazing Terminator-armoured model! Moving on, getting the most out of Calgar invariably involves giving him a melee-oriented bodyguard to get him into combat and crush things, such as Honour Guard or Assault Terminators, or a shooting-oriented bodyguard for him to babysit, such as Sternguard or Devastators.

    Ideally though, you want him to get into melee combat as often as possible, so I would preferably go with assault units in a transport of your choice - or restriction, in the case of Terminators - so that he can get there safely and quickly. Honour Guard with Calgar in a Land Raider Crusader is incredibly expensive, but also near unstoppable - Land Raiders can be quite hard to crack in 6th Edition with the general shift to Strength seven weaponry, so even though it is a big points investment, it does provide you with the best guarantee that he will survive to get into combat. Of course, this chunk of points should only really be used up in bigger games of 1850 or more, so you need to always consider that Calgar should be reserved for those larger forces. This basic principle applies to all of the unique characters in the codex, as they are primarily unit buffers and force multipliers more than anything else; that is the genius behind them, and why they justify their inclusion over regular characters. So, to get the most out of Calgar's particular abilities, given his cost, you want to reserve him for those larger games where he can benefit more units than he would otherwise. Where God of War is concerned particularly, those clutch morale checks become more pronounced in larger games where the devastation is so much more involved.

    Given that the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics favour mixed infantry-centric army lists, with great buffs to Tactical Marines, Sternguard Veterans, Assault Marines, Devastators and the like to name but a few, this is also understandably, and thematically, the kind of army Calgar excels in. His God of War ability obviously doesn't affect vehicles, and the Combat Doctrines provide massive boosts to your infantry. With that in mind, that being him providing control over the Leadership-based portion of the game, as well as an additional Combat Doctrine use, it is best to take a mostly infantry heavy army, with a mix and balance between Tactical Marines, Assault Marines and Devastator Marines primarily, and supporting elements of Sternguard and Vanguard Veterans to taste. For Calgar himself, you can employ him in a Rhino-rush or Drop Pod assault list, either in a Rhino, a Land Raider, or Drop Pod to match the list and get him to combat while preserving the mostly ranged advantages Ultramarines have. Realistically, he can turn the tide of combat involving almost any unit, so your choice of where to put him isn't as much of an issue as I may have previously made out - the key is that he is better suited in an assault unit so that he can have a cushion against other armies' melee specialists, such as Flesh Hounds and Assault Terminators. He is best used as part of the spearhead in an assault unit, though baby-sitting expensive Sternguard Veterans certainly isn't a bad use of him either.


    Cato Sicarius, Captain of the 2nd Company

    Overview - Heroes amongst the Ultramarines seem to be countless, but Captain Sicarius truly stands head and shoulders above most others; a skilled tactician and great warrior both, he is a very strong all-rounder to lead any Space Marine army. Clocking in at just under the two hundred point mark, Sicarius is a well equipped Captain with some very handy unique special rules that boost his forces. As a Captain, he has three wounds and a 4+ invulnerable save, but also the distinction of Artificer Armour. This makes him decently hard to kill in most cases and, importantly, allows him to be used as a "wound tank" against Heldrakes, Hammerheads with Ion Cannons and their ilk. Additionally, his mantle provides him with the Feel No Pain special rule, which boosts his durability well above pretty much any other Captain of a similar cost. In that sense, he is a Warlord that is quite tough to kill, but what use is that if he can't slay those nasty opponents first?

    Handily, Sicarius has a power-sword that functions as normal for the most part, though in any round of combat, Cato can forfeit his attacks to make just one at Strength six with the instant death special rule. This coup de' grace attack is hilariously effective at slaughtering hapless enemy commanders with a 3+ armour save or worse, and can also be used as a situational last resort against monstrous creatures like Trygons or Tervigons. Be wary of monsters that either strike before you or have a Toughness of six though, as missing or failing to wound with a single Weapon Skill and Strength 6 attack at Initiative five, while usually unlikely, is still very possible. In general, any character lacking Eternal Warrior should try to avoid those simply brutal character monsters like Daemon Princes and Greater Daemons wherever possible, though it is handy to know that you do have a means of slaying them outright if the need is dire.

    Maximising his damage output in melee can come from the help of a friendly psyker such as Tigurius or a Dark Angel Librarian providing his unit with Prescience; re-rolls to hit with five power sword attacks on the charge is quite nasty. To really spice things up, you can use Sicarius' Warlord Trait, granting Furious Charge for a single assault phase, to turn him into a meat-grinder, or to really threaten those pesky monsters and characters. Like a Berzerker Champion of old, Sicarius can strike with five Strength 5 AP 3 attacks at Initiative 5 and Weapon Skill 6 on the charge, guaranteed to weave like a blender through anything without a 2+ armour save. Besides, that coup de grace attack with his Tempest Blade becomes a lot tastier at Strength 7, though I would only ever save this for such opponents where you really need it; always remember to ask yourself if it is worth risking a character like Sicarius in such a fight. Generally speaking though, Sicarius is pretty strong in combat for his points, giving you both a good character killer and unit hunter. To add to the carnage, he has a Ballistic Skill 5 plasma pistol that gives him that all-important bonus attack for two combat weapons. And besides, a plasma pistol is always nice for taking wounds off of monsters, or slaying Terminators before they can get too close to you.

    However, like Marneus Calgar, the real value of Sicarius comes through from his support abilities and special rules. First up, he provides a free upgrade to any single Ultramarine Tactical Squad; you can give them one of Counter Attack, Infiltrate, Scout or Tank Hunters. Ultramarines already have some of the best Tactical Marines owing purely to the Tactical Doctrine and their synergy with characters such as Tigurius and Calgar, and any one of these additional boosts can be quite useful indeed. Infiltrate and Scout give you some added tactical flexibility, allowing the unit and their dedicated transport either to Outflank, get a free movement, or start very close to the opponent and leave them guessing as to where you will put them. Though Tactical Marines are by no means game-winners by themselves, they are still power-armoured bodies that will likely be carrying a special weapon and a combi-weapon. Being able to get that close early on, or pop up in the flanks in later turns to put pressure on the enemy backfield, adds some important strategic depth to the game that, much like the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics themselves, rewards a skilled player. Sicarius also provides your army with a bonus of +1 to reserve rolls, and this manages to be distinct from a similar rule that Tigurius possesses. Unlike the Chief Librarian, Sicarius doesn't allow you to re-roll successful rolls to try and keep your reserves off the table, but his bonus extends to your entire force, not just an Ultramarine detachment. This means he synergizes particularly well with a reserve-heavy allied or primary detachment, favouring lots of drop pods - such as Salamanders or Crimson Fist Sternguard - or deep-striking units, like a Farsight and Shadowsun "bomb". Keep in mind though that Sicarius needs to be on the battlefield for you to benefit from this ability, meaning you should probably keep him either on the field or as part of a turn one drop pod assault.

    Perhaps the most important advantage Sicarius provides is not in his overall combat prowess, buff to a Tactical Squad or the reserves bonus, but in the Leadership aura he provides for all of your Ultramarines. While he is alive and on the field of battle, all Ultramarines share his Leadership of 10 for morale and pinning tests. In a word; wow! This effectively invalidates any and all need for taking Veteran Sergeants; though it can be argued that you should plan for Sicarius' loss, any plan that involves giving up Slay the Warlord probably isn't a good one. This saves you a lot of points and dramatically reduces the odds of failing those key checks to stay on an objective or not be forced into immobility and snap-firing. The difference between Leadership 8 and Leadership 10 may not seem too significant, especially for Space Marines with And They Shall Know No Fear, but passing these checks at critical moments relieves so much pressure on you.

    Late-game objective holding with a few Marines left after surviving a salvo from a Riptide? Needing to fire your Devastators' lascannons at full Ballistic Skill to be rid of that annoying Wave Serpent? Trying to keep a Daemon Prince of Nurgle in combat for another turn so that he slays the unit and is then shot down in the subsequent shooting phase? These are but a handful of situations where Sicarius' ability becomes absolutely invaluable; rarely will it prove to be a downside, though there are situations, such as with Daemon Princes referenced earlier, where you want to get out of combat on a particular turn and the high Leadership may prevent that. Still, it effectively solidifies Sicarius as the spiritual successor to Marneus Calgar; he is pretty hard to kill, he is pretty nasty in combat, he provides your army with a very important buff in regards to Leadership, and he has some cool extras to taste. He is much cheaper than the big man, but justifiably less effective as well; as such, I feel that Sicarius is our 'Marneus Calgar' in games of 1500 points and lower where the Chapter Master is likely to be points-inefficient. Sicarius is a great choice for an army that wants an all-rounder, as he is arguably one of the best the codex provides, making him a perfect choice as the Warlord to a beginners' army.

    Maximising their Abilities - Sicarius benefits most from being a character that benefits your force so much even outside of combat, and unlike Marneus, he doesn't cost so many points that you really want to make the most of his considerable melee capabilities. However, that is still a very good temptation; putting him with a Command Squad or Assault Terminators isn't a bad idea in the least. He is quite a nasty melee character and should best most generic commanders he faces in a duel, while also mulching through infantry. However, realistically, you probably want to avoid spending too many points on a dedicated assault unit, particularly as Sicarius isn't quite the combat character Marneus Calgar and Darnath Lysander are. Instead, he is probably best served with a forward moving Tactical Squad or Sternguard Veteran squad in a Rhino, or as part of such a unit in a Drop Pod list. This allows him to protect that unit from pesky AP3 template weapons and even enemy Sternguard with Vengeance rounds, and even dissuade a lot of units that would otherwise salivate at the thought of charging Space Marines lacking power weapons. Putting him with a Tactical Squad that he confers Tank Hunters or Counter Attack on certainly isn't a bad idea either!

    Sicarius' reserves ability is an extra that you won't always need, though it is quite helpful even when taking three or so drop pods or outflanking Scouts in Land Speeder Storms. That both it and his Leadership aura only affect units while he is on the battlefield means that you should plan on him starting on the board or arriving from reserves on turn one if at all possible, ideally in a strong firebase unit or transport. As far a his Battle-forged Heroes are concerned, one of the best uses I can see is to give Tank Hunters to a five-strong (or more, if you wish) Tactical Squad with a meltagun and combi-melta in a drop pod. Paired up with other drop-podding units and perhaps even the Tactical Doctrine if you are feeling you need to maximise an alpha strike consisting of multiple units, you can deliver a pair of tank-hunting meltas for quite the low cost into the enemy backfield. Guaranteed to cause some pain, this can be a cheap throwaway unit designed to destroy a Land Raider or other valuable vehicle in one go, or a larger unit that actually serves a role beyond making its points back in one volley. Taking a larger squad with an added multi-melta or lascannon, while not really providing much to the alpha strike, can give your squad a lot of punch in subsequent turns - provided they survive the inevitable counter-attack - when their combi-melta runs out of uses.

    Other viable uses involve Scouting a Tactical Squad in a Rhino with a combi-plasma and plasma gun right to the enemy doorstep, and unloading a salvo of Strength 7 AP 2 fire into a key target. Make sure to support this unit by moving your forces flat out or combining them with a drop pod assault, as you never want to leave a unit isolated in a game as vicious as Warhammer 40000. There are many more uses to be had, some fun, others nasty, and all of which are a free extra boost to help you adapt your tactics. This really is the beauty of the Ultramarines special characters, Tigurius included; they provide your army with so many additional options that you otherwise wouldn't have. I feel they reenforce the theme that Ultramarines truly are the army for a skilled player, unlike the simpler Imperial Fists or Iron Hands.


    Varro Tigurius, Chief Librarian of the Ultramarines

    Overview - Few have survived the grip of the psychic entity known as the Hive Mind, and fewer still have kept their sanity after such an encounter. But there is one amongst humanity who has seen into the great maw, and knows more deeply than any other the horror that lies beyond the galactic rim. Varro Tigurius is a master psyker of the Ultramarines, and considered by many to be the most powerful of his kind amongst the Adeptus Astartes - at least, of those still loyal to the Emperor anyway. Though the previous codex didn't represent these rules that well, the new book has done so tremendously and catapulted him to the top of the tree in terms of competitive HQ choices. He is arguably the premier psyker in the game right now and should always be in contention to be either your Warlord, or the commander of an Allied Detachment of Space Marines; like a Dark Angels Librarian, the ubiquity of Tigurius is simply invaluable.

    So first up, remember that Tigurius is not a combat psyker, unlike Ahriman or Mephiston. With only three Strength 6 AP 4 melee attacks base at Weapon Skill 5, he isn't going to harm too many serious melee opponents. Of course, that his staff is a force weapon, has master-crafting, is concussive and even causes soul blaze makes it quite useful against certain medium armoured monsters and squads of light infantry; those extra burning wounds are quite nice to thin down hordes! This makes him quite a bit better than regular Librarians, but again, he can be quite easy to kill unless he rolls well for his psychic powers; don't try and take on Abaddon or someone of such status! Despite having three wounds, Tigurius only has a 3+ armour save and lacks any invulnerable save whatsoever, meaning that unless he rolls up Forewarning or Endurance from Divination and Biomancy, respectively, AP3 weapons will tear right through him very quickly. Being a character means you also take a massive risk any time you accept a challenge with someone that can inflict instant-death on him; keeping him out of harm's reach is the key to success. Decline any challenge that you think may bear even a slight chance of failure for Tigurius, as the main reason you take him anyway is for his psychic powers, which work regardless of where he is in combat.

    Unlike any other Space Marine psyker, Tigurius not only has access to the four regular psychic disciplines, but Divination as well. Probably the most powerful psychic discipline, due in no small part to its amazing primaris power that gives free twin-linking to nasty units such as Sternguard Veterans, this is often reason enough to take Varro. That he is also the only Mastery Level three psyker you can get makes him both unique and very valuable. Amazingly, Tigurius has more control over what psychic powers he gets as he can re-roll the dice to determine what powers he has access to. Combined with knowing all five psychic disciplines, and having three unique powers to roll up, and you have Warhammer 40000's most consistent psyker, and only just behind Fateweaver in terms of sheer versatility. You can plan on getting any single power, such as Invisibility or Hallucination, with far greater reliability than any other psyker in the game; though you still shouldn't bank on innately random rolls, it is nonetheless a great boon.

    As to what psychic powers to choose, that is the beauty of Tigurius; knowing every discipline, having three powers and being able to re-roll his powers means you can adapt him to almost any situation. Plan on drop-podding him with Sternguard? Take Prescience to capitalize on his Warlord Trait one turn and then psychically buff them on the next turn, giving them re-rolls to hit from minute one to maximise their alpha strike. Want to make the most of Calgar and his Honour Guard in a Land Raider? Try for both Invisibility and Endurance to turn that death-star into an immortal flurry of doom. This is the sheer beauty of Tigurius and why I think he really is the best psyker in the game, and probably the best special character Space Marines have access to. Ridiculously, I haven't even mentioned the fact that Tigurius can re-roll failed psychic tests, giving him an incredibly low failure rate. Though he will still take wounds from Perils on a double one, as it isn't technically a failed psychic test, the chances of this are so low, and the Perils from double sixes almost completely avoidable, that it shouldn't be a worry at all.

    His potential as an Allied commander is just insane for those reasons as well. While Eldar already get easily accessed Divination and Telepathy, they don't really get access to Biomancy. Taking Tigurius to give a Wraithknight Endurance for Feel No Pain and It Will Not Die is downright cheesy, as is Enfeebling Terminators and their ilk so that Bladestorm and Monofilament guns can shred them almost twice as fast. Allying him to other Space Marines as part of a cheap detachment involving a squad of Scouts or Tactical Marines, plus perhaps Sternguard in a Drop Pod or even Devastators as a fire-base, is an invaluable method to provide your force with unparalleled psychic support. Giving tank-hunting Imperial Fist Devastators, or entire Crusader squads (sorry for the fluff destruction!) re-rolls to hit alone should justify his inclusion.

    But where Tigurius really shows his value as an allied commander is for a Tau force. Between a Support Commander providing re-rolls to hit and ignores cover to their unit, and Tigurius giving re-rolls to hit and stuff like 4+ invulnerable saves to another, you can take two Riptide or Broadside 'stars' and just annihilate everything you see. Anyone who has seen Broadsides with high yield and smart missiles combined with a Support Commander in action can attest to their sheer brutality; imagine now that same unit, minus guaranteed ignores cover, but potentially plus a 4+ invulnerable save - saving them from enemy Riptides and melta weapons - ignores cover, or even overwatch at full Ballistic Skill. Remember Supporting Fire for Tau? Yeah, watch the tears flow when twelve Fire Warriors, or three Crisis Suits, or six missile drones plus their Broadside controllers all Overwatch at Ballistic Skill three (or higher with Markerlight support) rather than Ballistic Skill one. Ouch!

    Adding to his already considerable abilities, Tigurius also allows reserves in his own detachment - meaning he won't benefit Allies, importantly - to re-roll the dice to see if they arrive. Like the Autarch, this even stretches to successful rolls, allowing you to control when your reserves come down to fit your battle plan. Against armies that you know will move to counter your flyers or outflanking units with quad guns or intercepting Riptides, ensuring they don't arrive until turn three or four will allow your starting forces to better deal with those pesky units so that your reserves don't suffer. Particularly, it will allow your Stormtalons and the like to ply their trade without fear of losing their meagre two hull points to interceptor weaponry with skyfire.

    On top of this, Tigurius has arguably the best Warlord Trait Space Marines have, Storm of Fire. Like Prescience, it targets a friendly unit within twelve inches and gives them re-rolls to hit for a single shooting phase; though it isn't as good overall, as it doesn't affect Overwatch fire and close combat attacks, it is effectively a free extra Prescience on a turn that you really need it. Advantageously, it also works on the turn Tigurius arrives from reserves, allowing you to give a squad of Sternguard with combi-weapons re-rolls to hit, followed up by Prescience on the next turn. Can I say, cheese? Nasty, nasty! Reasonably, you would expect a character of Tigurius more than considerable support abilities to be in the 200 points range, but amazingly, he comes out much closer to the 150 mark. Though he is still relatively easy to kill outside of some key psychic powers, what he provides for any army, primary or allied, is simply too much to pass on in any sense competitively. As well, for those budding Blood Ravens players out there, he makes a more than acceptable Azariah Kyras!

    Maximising their Abilities - Tigurius is best placed in a unit where he can benefit multiple units, not just one. Ideally, that means either placing him in a defensible position as part of a larger squad in a gunline, or in a Rhino or Drop Pod as part of a concerted strike force. If you want him to boost a turn one alpha strike from the skies, you should have other units in a Drop Pod Assault as well so that Tigurius' unit isn't isolated and destroyed with ease. You want to make the most of his psychic powers - usually blessings with a medium range from Divination or Biomancy - and his Warlord Trait. I feel that you should save the Storm of Fire for when you aren't using the Tactical Doctrine in game, as it effectively wastes the use of it. I would also see if you can cast Prescience on a unit that isn't a Tactical Squad in the turn you use that particular Doctrine. As far as which psychic discipline to choose, while Ultramarines do have the Tactical Doctrine to give them re-rolls for a single player turn, I would always take at least Prescience from Divination. This gives you an extra twin-linking to any unit that needs it for a turn; prioritize heavy hitters first before your Troops squads, ideally Devastators and Sternguard Veterans, as either unit is simply brutal with re-rolls.

    After eating up a power from Prescience, taking the last two rolls on Divination, particularly with the re-rolls, is always a safe bet; literally one or perhaps two of the powers aren't helpful for Tigurius. Otherwise, Biomancy is helpful to try and get Endurance or Enfeeble, while Telepathy and Telekinesis offer great powers in the form of Telekine Dome, Objuration Mechanicum, Invisibility and Hallucination. With the re-rolls and three powers, you do have room to spread out your powers over disciplines, but be warned; the chances of rolling all three powers you need are still slim unless each is taken from the same discipline. Try to reduce dependency on particular powers, like Invisibility, when writing up an army list; relying on random mechanics that will usually not bear the fruit you seek is tomfoolery. I must also emphasize the importance of his reserves manipulation for a lot of army list variants, such as drop-pod lists or those involving an allied Farsight and Shadowsun bomb. These lists really need to have their reserves come down at the right moment, so never forget to take full advantage of this great ability Tigurius provides.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Cheers! If you have any feedback for me, feel free to post a comment here or speak to me over on Bell of Lost Souls. Happy hunting!

    "They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns shall they be armed."
    - The Emperor


    ARTICLE 2


    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at a handful of the greatest heroes amongst the Adeptus Astartes; warriors and leaders that have scribed their names into legend through valour and skill. I hope you enjoy this article!


    Space Marine players have access to the most extensive roster of unique characters in the game, providing so many diverse play-styles and inherent advantages that encourage players to experiment with a wealth of differing army lists. Unlike some other codices, few of these characters are solely based around damage potential; instead, they provide ground-breaking support abilities and potential for thematic army creation that you simply can't find anywhere else. Though they are restricted to their own Chapter Tactics now, the advice given in the previous Space Marines codex very much rings true to this day; these are templates for mighty heroes to lead your forces, built to give you something you simply cannot find from a kitted out regular character. Where Marneus Calgar allows you to control the morale aspect of Warhammer 40000, Kor'sarro Khan provides free early movement to an entire force, allowing them to dominate positioning and deployment. As Helbrecht is the lynchpin for an army-wide massed and devastating assault, Vulkan He'stan gives you the means to make a Salamanders army the true masters of anti-vehicular warfare. It is such that you cannot judge these characters on the merits of combat or martial prowess alone, but on how they allow for incredible strategic flexibility in the army list creation phase, and in tactical adaptability through their considerable, palpable aura on the field of battle. These Space Marines count themselves amongst the finest heroes in all of the Imperium, and each has their own mark to leave on your army.

    Due to the extensive array of unique characters in the codex, Part Two of the Unique Characters section solely covers Ortan Cassius, Torias Telion and Antaro Chronus. Part Three and Part Four will cover the remaining Unique Characters, and you can view Part One here.


    Ortan Cassius, the Master of Sanctity

    Overview - Where one sees purity, another sees the stain of corruption. Where one sees faith, another sees only a mask of lies. Such is the fate of a Chaplain, and few are more venerable than Ortan Cassius, the Ultramarines' Master of Sanctity. A veteran of the Tyrannic Wars, Cassius is one tough nut to crack, and really, that is the main reason you would want to bring him over a regular Chaplain. The difference between the two is the price of a Terminator, and one must always ask if taking the cheaper option would be more worthwhile, as Cassius is less adaptable and doesn't quite bring the same game-changing army-wide support abilities that Calgar, Sicarius and Tigurius do. Chaplains are by no means a great choice in 6th Edition, due firstly to their cost, their relatively low survivability and damage output, as well as the generally mediocre benefits they provide specifically to Space Marines. They don't compare at all well to the cheaper Librarians or similarly costed Captains, fulfilling a rather iffy middle role between the two divergent characters. Space Marines lack great assault units, and often even those expensive units - such as Honour Guard or Assault Terminators - still don't stack up to Flesh Hounds, Daemonettes and monstrous creatures, regardless of the addition of a Chaplain or not. Still, in this case, Cassius does have a lot of perks that disassociate himself from regular Chaplains in a pretty big way, and first up his survivability. With a Toughness of six - no joke - and the Feel No Pain special rule, on top of power armour and a 4+ invulnerable save, Cassius is truly a tough nut to crack for a lot of enemies; many blows will simply bounce off his Toughness, and getting through his saving throws isn't easy. He is immune to the most common form of Instant Death, though it must be said that with only two wounds, you can't afford to throw him against tough opposition with little thought. Most monstrous creatures will still slay him in a single round of combat, and many nasty combat characters - such as Chaos Lords with the Axe of Blind Fury, or even fellow Chapter Masters with the Burning Blade or a Thunder Hammer - that are seen commonly will smash him to bits with ease.

    This is the illusion that must be broken with Cassius; he is tough enough to wither a lot of blows from low Strength sources, such as regular power swords and the like, but trying to use him as a combat beat-stick simply will not work. Four attacks on the charge with a power maul and similar stats to a regular Chaplain do hurt quite a bit overall, but not as much as a Captain kitted out with a thunder hammer and artificer armour for a similar price would be. Cassius has the advantage of survivability, but the Captain will still beat him to death in record time. Importantly, what really undermines his Toughness is the majority toughness rule, effectively dictating that any squad he joins will imprint him with their Toughness of four (or five, in the case of Centurions). While he still benefits from Feel No Pain, any benefit to that boosted Toughness he pays for will be lost when outside of close combat, and trust me, you don't want him to be out in the open or left with but one ally in the unit either. This makes it a bit harder to justify for his cost, as that boosted Toughness looks great, but doesn't help all that much unless you can join him to a unit with lots of mixed Toughness values. When that is also what he really pays for, it makes me very iffy on taking him in a competitive sense; if you wanted a Chaplain in the first place, keep them cheap and save yourself 40 important points. Outside of causing Fear as a guaranteed Warlord trait - which is mediocre at best - his damage output and boosts to a unit are no different to a standard Chaplain, save that he also has Preferred Enemy against Tyranids. Of course though, if Cassius gets into a challenge with a monstrous Tyranid character, or even a Tyranid Prime, there's a good chance he will be butchered anyway; they are one of the few armies that don't care about high Toughness values through all of their poison! Against a non-character monster like a Trygon, or even generic Warriors and the like, this is obviously quite useful though and should not be forgotten.

    Still, it must be repeated that outside of his higher Toughness only working in challenges - where he admittedly wants to be, though not many Space Marine units really want to - his advantages over a cheaper Chaplain really are quite few indeed. However, it would be unfair not to mention the Chapter Relic he bears into battle; Infernus, a master-crafted flamer that also incorporates hellfire rounds into the bolt shells. The combi-flamer is very handy as a defensive weapon, or to help soften up an enemy unit before a charge. His combi-bolter, on the other hand, while certainly nice with its hellfire rounds has the big issue of preventing him from charging, unless he is joined to a Slow and Purposeful unit such as Centurions. In that sense, it isn't really a great tool, and certainly not one that redeems him from mediocrity, but it is nonetheless quite useful for those instances where a flamer comes in really handy; in 6th Edition with the changing meta and shift to light infantry, these are becoming more common by the day.

    However, I simply cannot justify Cassius in a competitive sense. As good as he was compared to a regular Chaplain in the previous codex, between the majority toughness rules, the nasty combat characters that will simply eviscerate him, the ridiculous melee units that will eat whatever he is giving Zealot to, the general lack of improvement from And They Shall Know No Fear to Fearless, and his high cost, I would mostly avoid Cassius outside of Tyrannic War Veteran army lists. Even then, you must always ask yourself; why pay so many more points for a Chaplain that doesn't even really get that much benefit for the rules he pays for? Even then, why take such an expensive support character when Tigurius can be had from the same Chapter Tactics for only a pittance more?

    Maximising their Abilities - Cassius' main uses are to be found in dedicated melee units transported in Land Raiders, Drop Pods and so on, or as part of midfield ranged units like Sternguard to give them the extra punch needed to ward off mediocre enemy combat units. He won't give even Honour Guard the buff needed to save them from massed Seekers of Slaanesh or a 'Screamerstar', so don't bank on his unit charging right into the enemy formation and causing havoc wherever they go. Instead, use Cassius' unit to take out vital enemy units that require similar attention to those nasty combat units, such as Broadside Battlesuits and Riptides. Be wary of Fearless and its applications, so be sure to stay away from Wraithknights and Great Unclean Ones with Iron Arm who will eat Cassius and his squad for breakfast as they can simply tie the squad up and soak up any damage they cause. Otherwise, Cassius can be used in a less risky fashion by joining up with Tactical Marines or Sternguard, giving them the edge against lesser melee units such as Plaguebearers or other Space Marines.


    Torias Telion, Veteran of the 10th Company

    Overview - With characters such as Karanak becoming fully-fledged HQ choices, unique upgrade characters to units such as Telion are becoming increasingly rare. In a 6th Edition context, you don't see such models often because you are usually better served with just the regular sergeant so as to invest more points into upgrades such as heavy weapons for the unit, or other units instead. This is, unfortunately, largely the case with Telion, but he does have his uses that make him quite a bit more valuable than at first glance. The way he is purchased means that you don't have to pay for a Veteran Sergeant first which is quite handy; when you look at his gear and profile, you take away the Veteran Sergeant and Camo Cloak costs from him to see just what you are getting. He has an extra point of Weapon Skill - not that it will really matter, of course, as he lacks any real close combat weapon - and a nasty Ballistic Skill of six. He holds a stalker boltgun that is a two-shot sniper rifle at 36", he gives Stealth to his unit, he has the equivalent of a Signum from Devastator Sergeants, and his shooting attacks are always Precision Shots. That is a lot of extra taste, but how much of it is worth your time over simply keeping a regular Sergeant? First up, that he provides Stealth to his unit means that you don't need to bother paying for Camo Cloaks on them, though if you do, it gives them 5+ cover saves in the open and 3+ cover saves in area terrain. This is a great buff to the durability of Scouts and pays off more for larger units, where his boosted Leadership really comes in handy to keep them fighting.

    The Ultramarines Chapter Tactics don't really benefit Scouts more so than most others, though the re-rolls of ones to hit for a turn as well as the re-roll assault ranges if you use them in a Land Speeder Storm are really quite helpful. In that sense, taking Telion doesn't really restrict them anyway, as the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics are arguably one of the strongest overall when taking a mixed force. Now, as for Telion's shooting capabilities, they actually aren't all that impressive; but there is a big catch that you will really want to look at. A two-shot sniper rifle with a good range is not at all a bad thing, though you get the sense that - as with Illic Nightspear - such a character might have a better gun to really make the most out of Precision Shots all the time. With Look Out Sir! rolls able to be taken against those shots, it does mean that he is better off trying to get rid of plasma gunners and so on in squads, neutering them so that they can't harm your vehicles or Terminators as handily.

    However, the catch I mentioned earlier rears its head when you see that his Eye of Vengeance does not specify he has to use Quietus to get the Precision Shots. See that Aegis Defence Line with a quad gun or Icarus lascannon? Grab it as an Aegis Line is always useful, put your Scouts and some other valuable units behind it, and make sure Telion mans the gun. A lascannon or four-shot autocannon that always allocates their wounds to models you pick? Though it usually won't work, how does sniping an Ethereal out of a Fire Warrior squad and thus leading to massive reduction in efficiency for so many enemy units sound - just use a quad gun and force those bodies to get in the way! Or killing a Chaos Lord in a single shot with a lascannon when they roll that inevitable one? Hilariously, if Telion's squad paid for Camo Cloaks, they will have a permanent +2 cover save behind the Aegis Line - no need to go to ground! This gives you a tough scoring unit, and a pretty damaging and reliable shooting array as well that provides you with some handy Skyfire goodness. Make sure to give this squad sniper rifles so that they can all fire at long range.

    Telion's Voice of Experience is generally best used to boost the Ballistic Skill of an Initiate wielding either a heavy bolter or a missile launcher, though given what Scouts usually are armed with, I would probably go with the former as Scouts lack Split Fire. A Ballistic Skill 6 heavy bolter either bare or armed with hellfire shells is nothing to sneeze at whatsoever. However, are these uses worth that pretty hefty tax you pay over a regular Veteran Sergeant? Generally speaking, the answer is no as Scouts really aren't the kind of unit to put extra points into; you want to keep them cheap as they are not designed as your main front-line scoring bodies. However, if you want to integrate Telion into your list through one of the above strategies - preferably the one involving an aegis line - then I definitely think he is a worthwhile purchase. The key with any upgrade character is to give them the means to use their tools most effectively, and those two afore-mentioned areas are where Telion truly makes his mark.

    Maximising their Abilities - Telion is best used in long-ranged Scout units that want to sit in cover, either from a fortification or in regular terrain. This is due to his two key special rules that give him permanent Precision Shots and the ability to boost the Ballistic Skill of an Initiate by sacrificing his own shooting attack. These are best served with gun emplacements found on aegis defence lines and bastions, or with missile launchers and heavy bolters that want to keep the enemy at a safe distance. Even with his boosted Weapon Skill, Telion is no melee expert and so you should still keep the squad safe out of combat; if you want them there, save the points on Telion to instead get a Land Speeder Storm. I think Telion will find best use in a sizeable Scout squad with sniper rifles behind an aegis line with a quad gun, giving you an all-round solid firing unit that is very difficult to shift without AP4 or AP3 ignores cover weaponry. Give them camo cloaks and pray you don't face those pesky Tau!


    Antaro Chronus, Spear of Macragge

    Overview - Inspiring such characters as Knight Commander Pask and Longstrike, Antaro Chronus is a decently expensive tank commander that gives you a lot of advantages for his points. Available only to Ultramarines - not that it really matters in the case of vehicles - Chronus is very valuable, providing a host of beneficiary rules to his chosen tank. He can command any tank in the army list provided it is part of an Ultramarines detachment; Predators, Vindicators, Land Raider variants, even Razorbacks or Rhinos - though you should probably shy away from that last one when as a tank for Chronus to command. Like Telion and other upgrade characters, you need to maximise his abilities as much as possible to really justify his cost over a standard tank commander - i.e. not Chronus!

    Now, he gives his vehicle It Will Not Die, ignoring both the Shaken and Stunned damage results, while also letting it use his Ballistic Skill 5. Obviously, this means he is far better suited to a battle tank rather than a straight transport. It Will Not Die provides a pretty big survivability boost to more heavily armoured vehicles that are less likely to suffer frequent glancing or penetrating hits, such as Land Raiders or backfield Predators with adequate cover for their side armour. Ignoring Shaken and Stunned is quite useful on a battle tank, though it is usually far more important for your expensive transports that absolutely need to deliver their cargo as quickly as possible. Again, the Land Raider is a prime choice for this ability, though it also greatly helps Vindicators that are almost useless if they can't fire. As for giving out Ballistic Skill 5 to a tank, this is obviously best suited to a Predator more than anything else; Land Raiders carry almost exclusively twin-linked weaponry, while one inch less on scatter probably won't make too much of a difference for a Demolisher Cannon. Predators, however, typically put out lots of shots and very few if any of them are twin-linked. Overall, this leads me to the conclusion that Chronus is best served being put in a Predator, preferably the Annihilator variant; triple lascannons is nasty as hell, and for anti-infantry you are generally better served with Thunderfire Cannons or Whirlwinds than a Destructor variant. However, a Land Raider Crusader would probably be my second bet; it is the best of the three Land Raiders as far as transport goes, where ignoring Shaken and Stunned becomes absolutely pivotal, while Ballistic Skill 5 on so many shots does actually help quite a bit more than it would on a standard Land Raider.

    One of Chronus' unique traits is that unlike some other such tank commander characters, if his vehicle is destroyed then Chronus himself actually jumps out - provided you have a suitable model - and gets to run around with a servo arm. Though he is only a power-armoured character with a single wound, it is still something to remember; laughably, he provides three power fist - effectively - attacks on the charge against a vehicle or enemy character. As he is an Independent Character, he can join units to save you a potential victory point in Purge the Alien or Big Guns Never Tire where he is classed as a kill point, and even issue challenges to provide a nasty surprise to those poor challenge scape-goat Chaos Champions. Though it isn't anything special, you can think of him as a 'free' Techmarine that can't repair vehicles or provide a boost to cover saves in a particular piece of terrain.

    The big question is, of course, if he is worth it, and I think that while he probably is worth his points, you should only take him if you actually have those points spare that you can't put anywhere else. The reason for this is that most Space Marine tanks do their job pretty darn well without the need for a tank commander; like Telion, he is only really best used in specific circumstances when you have those points spare. Otherwise, you should probably just save the points for other units.

    Maximising their Abilities - Chronus should probably go either in a Predator sitting at a comfortable 36" range or so, depending on its weapon configuration, or a Land Raider Crusader to really make the most of his three key abilities. Giving It Will Not Die and Ballistic Skill 5 to his vehicle obviously suits tougher vehicles that are less likely to lose all their hull points - or be destroyed in one shot - such as the AV13 front tanks or Land Raiders. Ignoring both Shaken and Stunned is quite a bit more useful for assault transports than it is for battle tanks, as you can't really afford to lose a turn of transport movement as opposed to shooting. The best overall tanks for Chronus to command are thus the Predators - lacking in twin-linked shooting - and the Land Raider Crusader, the latter of which gets the best of all three abilities overall.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Cheers! If you have any feedback for me, feel free to post a comment here or speak to me over on Bell of Lost Souls. Happy hunting!

    "They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines such that no foe will best them in battle."
    - The Emperor


    ARTICLE 3


    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at a handful of the greatest heroes amongst the Adeptus Astartes; warriors and leaders that have scribed their names into legend through valour and skill. I hope you enjoy this article!



    Space Marine players have access to the most extensive roster of unique characters in the game, providing so many diverse play-styles and inherent advantages that encourage players to experiment with a wealth of differing army lists. Unlike some other codices, few of these characters are solely based around damage potential; instead, they provide ground-breaking support abilities and potential for thematic army creation that you simply can't find anywhere else. Though they are restricted to their own Chapter Tactics now, the advice given in the previous Space Marines codex very much rings true to this day; these are templates for mighty heroes to lead your forces, built to give you something you simply cannot find from a kitted out regular character. Where Marneus Calgar allows you to control the morale aspect of Warhammer 40000, Kor'sarro Khan provides free early movement to an entire force, allowing them to dominate positioning and deployment. As Helbrecht is the lynchpin for an army-wide massed and devastating assault, Vulkan He'stan gives you the means to make a Salamanders army the true masters of anti-vehicular warfare. It is such that you cannot judge these characters on the merits of combat or martial prowess alone, but on how they allow for incredible strategic flexibility in the army list creation phase, and in tactical adaptability through their considerable, palpable aura on the field of battle. These Space Marines count themselves amongst the finest heroes in all of the Imperium, and each has their own mark to leave on your army.

    Due to the extensive array of unique characters in the codex, Part Three of the Unique Characters section solely covers Kor'sarro Khan, Vulkan He'stan and Kayvaan Shrike. Part Four will cover the remaining Unique Characters, and you can view Part One here as well as Part Two here.


    Kor'sarro Khan, the Master of the Hunt

    Overview - When you need a grim and viscious super soldier, few fit the description more than the great man himself, a Captain among the White Scars. Infamous for his name - which is also a catchphrase - few can escape the wrath of KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! I'm sorry, I don't know what brought that on. Anyway, Khan (cough) is one of the best special characters available to a Space Marines player for a wide number of reasons, the first of which being that he makes an all-biker White Scars army - feared enough at a competitive level as it is - so much better. Added to some pretty nifty melee capabilities and being the only special character that unlocks Bikers as Troops, Khan is a great choice at quite the low price. This arguably makes him the most valuable and points-efficient character in the codex just behind Tigurius.

    When taking a White Scars army, one tends towards a fast style of play; all non-bulky models get Hit and Run, while the bikes themselves get an improved version of Skilled Rider. This generally leads towards Rhino or Bike based forces due implicitly to the benefits each force gets, even though points-efficient assault-based units can be hard to come by for Space Marines. When you add Khan into the mix, every unit mounted on a Bike, or any unit that can take a dedicated transport - from Terminators in Land Raiders to Tactical Squads in Rhinos - gains the Scout special rule. This is pretty insane for a number of reasons; you get a better version of the Raven Guard scout ability as it actually applies to units like Bikers and Centurions, and then your basic Rhinos and even Land Raiders get a free twelve inches of movement to start the game. Given the mostly medium to short range of Space Marines, this is an invaluable ability that allows you to close with the longer-ranged forces - such as Tau and Eldar - to deny them their usual advantage at range. It also allows your dedicated assault units to get into combat a turn earlier generally, and there are some truly nasty tricks you can play with this; in larger games, scout two or more Assault Terminator units in Land Raider Crusaders into advanced positions alongside your Rhino-mounted Troops. Press the red button. Win!

    Truly though, this is most deadly when paired with the already incredibly strong White Scars Bikers. Bikes combine the best of all three worlds in terms of damage output, mobility and durability; Toughness 5 wounds with good armour saves, strong 4+ Jink saves, twin-linked bolters and 12" movement. One of the nasty new tricks that Bikers have is the option to take one or two grav guns and potentially a combi-grav on a Sergeant; grav guns are very powerful against deadly units like Riptides and Wave Serpents who dominate the meta, but are handicapped by their short range. Combine them with the already fast Bikes and Khan's free Scout moves, giving your Troops a 42" effective range with their grav guns on the first turn. This is easily the most devastating use of Scout that can be found in the codex, and perhaps even the game, as it allows you to deliver incredibly damaging special weapons right where you need them while relying on the boosted version of Skilled Rider that White Scars enjoy. It allows you to deliver precision strikes at key enemy targets that would otherwise give your forces a lot of pause, such as those pesky Riptides paired up with Support Commanders or even Pathfinders. Wraithknights, Paladinstars and so many other units will flee in terror from a hailstorm of Scouting grav guns! This is before even mentioning the applications of delivering a kitted out combat Chapter Master with the Shield Eternal into combat so much earlier.

    Khan's Master of the Hunt ability makes him a worthwhile choice alone, but he also happens to be a very appropriately equipped Captain as well. He has a slightly boosted version of a power sword that inflicts instant death on to wound rolls of a six, and has access to a slightly more expensive bike that brings his cost up to a reasonable one and a half centuries. He has a stock standard stat-line as well as a default Warlord Trait that awards D3+1 victory points if he slays the enemy warlord instead of the usual one. Between Furious Charge and two combat weapons for five Strength 5 AP3 attacks on the charge, in addition to D3 Strength 5 Hammer of Wrath hits if he takes Moondrakken, Khan has a pretty decent chance to kill enemy Warlords; hilariously, if he rolls a six against those Iyanden Wraithknight Warlords, he gets the goods and a lucky wound through at the same time! He can cleave through 3+ armoured and worse units pretty reliably, though he should definitely stay the heck away from 2+ armoured opponents or monstrous creatures who can laugh his attacks off and Smash him (literally) in the face. He's a pretty nifty combat character but nothing to write home about; still, that he costs so little and also gives you the almost army-wide Scout - specifically in a White Scars army - is nothing short of ludicrous. He's also fairly hard to kill between Hit and Run, Toughness 5 if you take him on Moondrakken - which you should as he gets so many benefits from it - a 3+ armour save and a 4+ invulnerable save. On that last point, though Moondrakken is an option rather than included in his base wargear - which may have something to do with the fact that he only has a model on foot - you really should always take him on one unless you have a specific strategy in mind regarding foot-based Command Squads or a Rhino list. Between the boost to Toughness, the addition of a twin-linked bolter, the boosted Hammer of Wrath and unlocking those nasty White Scars Bikers as Troops, I would always recommend taking Khan on Moondrakken to make the most of his Chapter Tactics.

    Maximising their Abilities - When it comes to choosing between going on foot or taking Moondrakken, I would almost always take the latter provided you are taking at least a few squads of White Scars Bikers. Given that you really should be taking those Bikes, it makes a lot of sense to put Khan with them; he gets a lot out of the extra points, most importantly that he becomes a lot tougher to kill which, if he is your Warlord, can be absolutely pivotal. When taking Khan, you use him primarily because he provides Scout to a lot of units; if you want a super combat character, you should really look into a Chapter Master instead. In that sense, you need to design your army around Khan so that all or most of the force gets the most benefit from Scout; Bikers are the obvious choice, as are bike-mounted Command Squads, especially when armed with grav guns that usually suffer a range handicap. If you don't want to use an entirely bike-mounted army, then Tactical Squads with a plasma gun and perhaps a combi plasma work really well in squads of ten with Rhinos; use them en masse for a white flash of the classic Rhino Rush lists. Taking Assault Terminators in a Land Raider Crusader is also really cool to add to the force for larger games, particularly if you can fit a Chapter Master - or Khan himself - in with them. The idea with White Scars is to get up close to the enemy where Marines really come into their own and do so as fast as possible; Khan allows you to do this like no other, at least outside of Drop Pods anyway. Maximise on shorter ranged weapons - such as grav guns and meltaguns - or the popular medium range choices like plasma guns so as to really boost their effectiveness and maximise your damage up close.


    Vulkan He'stan, the Forgefather

    Overview - In reverence of their Primarch, the Salamanders constantly have a single Forgefather that forsakes their original name for that of their sire and pursues his ancient artefacts across the galaxy. Vulkan He'stan is the latest of these most honoured Space Marines, and he is predictably one of the best equipped characters in the army; his mastery of wargear is such that it even extends to those he leads. Name plagiarism aside, He'stan is a great leader for a Salamanders force, even if they - and every other Chapter in the galaxy - no longer need his services to be a competitive army. He has a standard Captain stat-line (how many times must I say this?) which means he is a very well rounded commander even before most wargear options are included. Of course, such characters are very prone to instant death from power fists, smashing monstrous creatures and so on; this is a weakness that you always need to be aware of, so don't send Vulkan into a fight he cannot win! Trygon Primes, Wraithlords and so on can all single the Forgefather out and slay him in a heartbeat, so always be aware of those enemies and try to avoid them as much as possible.

    Now, this isn't to say Vulkan is fragile; in fact, he is far from it with a meaty 2+ armour save and 3+ invulnerable save. He can serve as a wound tank against Heldrakes and, if you feel game enough - but I wouldn't recommend it - those cover-ignoring Ion Cannons on Hammerheads. On that note, Chaos players will hate you here if you position Vulkan well; against flame weapons, he gets to re-roll his failed armour saves, meaning a 2+ re-rollable armour save against baleflamers! He also shrugs off a lot of AP2 weaponry, but again, having only three wounds and no Eternal Warrior means that while he will tough it out against a lot of enemies, those that force massed invulnerable saves or inflict instant death really need to be watched for. This is of course easier said than done if you are using a standard Salamander build involving lots of drop pods, but if you aren't, I do advise Rhinos or Razorbacks to transport Vulkan with a regular squad. He doesn't need an expensive bodyguard as he isn't really a dedicated melee killer like Marneus Calgar for example, Vulkan is very much an all-rounder who is there mostly to buff your army. Keeping him safe, as such, should really be your top priority, provided of course he is your Warlord.

    As tough (or not) as Vulkan may be, his damage potential is suitably impressive to match the theme of the Salamanders; he really is one of the best equipped Captains you can get, especially for his points cost. He has a master-crafted relic blade that lets him swing at non-2+ armoured characters with ease while tanking through his strong saves, and provided he isn't challenged out, he can help even a Tactical Squad to victory over monstrous creatures like Carnifexes with his Strength 6 attacks. This also lets him destroy most non-walker vehicles really easily, as most have rear armour of 11 or 10; Vulkan's four attacks on the charge alone can destroy a pesky Wave Serpent. To add to the pain and promote his effectiveness in a drop list, Vulkan has a heavy flamer that, combined with Salamander Chapter Tactics, has re-rolls to wound all the time. Paired up with a Sternguard squad or even Tacticals with a flamer and combi-flamer, and Vulkan's unit can dish out some crazy anti-infantry damage to destroy units like massed Fire Warriors protecting Etherals or Pathfinders and their ilk. Those twenty Guardians performing the role of home objective sitters aren't going to be so arrogant when they get their faces melted off by a swathe of promethium flames! Just be wary of his limits; he can't really harm vehicles outside of combat, and 2+ armoured enemies will simply shrug his blows off. Walkers will also usually laugh at him; don't ever get him and a squad of Marines into combat with an Ironclad or Soul Grinder if you can possibly avoid it, as he hasn't got the fists of Calgar to save them! His heavy flamer is best suited in a squad dedicated to anti-infantry to maximise both the alpha strike and the defensive benefits of template weapons through Overwatch, but it is also a smart move to pair him up with combi-meltas and meltaguns to keep his squad versatile against some truly nasty threats. If you can pop those walkers before they charge you, Vulkan will already be a long way ahead in the race to survive.

    And on the subject of melta weapons, there really is one major reason to take Vulkan over a Captain, Chapter Master or Master of the Forge. He is equipped very well for a Captain and all, but he still suffers the limitations of the stat-line; instead, you want him for his amazing support ability. By including Vulkan as your Warlord, all models in the same detachment - even those without Chapter Tactics - get master-crafting on their meltaguns, multi-meltas and combi-meltas for free. Basically, your melta weapons all get twin-linking which, combined with all the twin-linked flame weapons in the army, means your force will truly fit the bill of masters of fire. In gameplay terms, this leads to a severe effectiveness and reliability boost for such weapons in your force; typically, melta weapons suffer a lot from being single-shot weapons with little reliability outside of Ballistic Skill 4. Too often you will see drop-podding suicide Dreadnoughts with multi-meltas miss their quarry, or a lone meltagun in a Tactical Squad fail to hit the mark. Adding in Vulkan's upgrade means that all of these weapons you take, all of these risky tactics you employ become far more efficient, almost completely removing the element of chance from the equation. Generally, melta weapons have very high damage-to-shots ratios against vehicles and even monstrous creatures; maximising those few shots makes them all the better. It gives Space Marines incredibly reliable sources of anti-tank even outside of their heavy support slots. A nasty trick many have noticed is that the master-crafting also applies to the special issue ammunition employed by Sternguard Veterans; it is the gun itself that gets the re-roll after all!

    Of course, with the short ranged nature of such weapons and Vulkan's focus on them comes a forced hand for Salamanders players wishing to employ the Forgefather; you need to use Salamanders led by Vulkan either in massed Rhinos or massed Drop Pods. This is because of those short ranges, and the added benefits that Salamanders get for using template weapons; the Chapter Tactics and the commander all favour army builds that maximise those weapons. Using such a force either on foot or without melta or template weapons simply wastes the competitive reasons for taking Vulkan and Salamanders in the first place. Like most of the other Space Marine special characters, you really need to build your army around these important force-changing models to get the most out of what they provide. Otherwise, why not just a combat monster Chapter Master or a supporting Master of the Forge instead? So again, I must stress the point; as good as Vulkan is overall, you are best off using him in a highly mobile mechanized force. The choice of delivery system for your melta and template weapons will generally come down to preference, though I am a firm believer in drop pods for a Vulkan list. They get the short-ranged guns into range immediately, and give you the best possible alpha strike of any Space Marine Drop Pod list.

    As an aside, Vulkan does have a few little tricks up his cloak to keep in mind. First up is his guaranteed Warlord trait, Iron Resolve, which gives his unit a +1 bonus to combat resolution when he is involved. This is handy, particularly as Vulkan will often be right up in the face of enemy units anyway if you are using him to the fullest of his abilities; it is certainly a lot better than causing Fear! Additionally, his heavy flamer gives him a set of digital weapons, allowing him a free re-roll to wound in the assault phase. This is nifty for maximising his damage with his relic blade, that along with a single re-roll to hit, gives him quite the edge over similarly equipped enemies. Though these are only minor advantages to Vulkan, they nonetheless contribute to what is an incredibly strong special character overall. He is better equipped than almost any Captain you could find that is worth their salt, and he provides a crazy army-wide boost favouring a specific list build. If you utilize him and his force in the appropriate manner, which involves either massed drop pods or rhinos as well as a load of melta and flame weapons, then you will have an all star and one of the premier HQ choices in the codex.

    Maximising their Abilities - Like Khan, taking Vulkan means taking as many units that get the most out of his special rules as possible. Ironclad Dreadnoughts with meltaguns, Dreadnoughts with multi-meltas, Tactical Squads with a meltagun, Sternguard Veterans with three or more combi-meltas, Command Squads with meltaguns; when put in Drop Pods, all such units are viable and important choices in a Vulkan list, because they get so much benefit from those re-rolls. Rhinos do work alright as well, but they don't deliver your Salamanders into the fray as quickly as the Drop Pods do; as well, it doesn't give you that all important and ridiculous alpha strike. A mixed force also works fine, but I do prefer massed Drop Pods, as a few of each won't work nearly as well due to enemy units being able to pick and choose their targets if they go first. Make sure to include anti-infantry units in such a list as well, with five-man Assault Squads in Drop Pods armed with two flamers being the most popular choice; Sternguard are also very helpful here. Having too many meltas will lead to overkill and saturation on anti-tank, leaving you more vulnerable to massed infantry such as Fire Warriors, Termagants and the Daemonic Troops choices. For Vulkan himself, I recommend a Command Squad and a Drop Pod as his personal escort, and I would probably reserve him for the second wave if you feel confident in your other units providing a deadly alpha strike. This will keep him safe, get him close to the action quickly where he can ply his trade, and give you a lot of control over what engagements to pick; remember, you don't always have to drop in near the enemy army if you really want to preserve your secondary victory points! A friendly tip here; in a Vulkan Drop list, if you fail to get First Blood, that probably means you are in a lot of trouble.


    Kayvaan Shrike, Captain of the 3rd Company

    Overview - In ages past, Shrike was one of the crazier characters you could get, unlocking such combinations as ten infiltrating thunder hammer and storm shield Terminators. This fit very well into a themed Raven Guard army (hurr hurr) as many competitive players would tell you. Jokes aside, Shrike was often taken not because of his stealthy tactics, but because he could deliver any nasty melee or ranged unit into short range immediately. In an understandable effort to limit the fluff-breaking potential of Shrike conferring Infiltrate to his unit, this has now been limited to jump pack equipped units. In fact, Shrike can never join any unit that isn't a jump unit during deployment, meaning that if for some reason you don't include Vanguard Veterans or Assault Marines, Shrike has to sit all by his lonesome before the game starts! Annoyingly, Shrike's ability also has not been clarified to specifically affect his attached unit as well, much like characters such as Karandras or Shadowsun that may or may not confer it to the unit - a raging debate that I choose to avoid, personally. Honestly though, it seems like the rules as intended do favour Shrike infiltrating a unit forward, but that is something to work out with your opponents. Additionally, Shrike also has the Stealth special rule which is thus conferred on to his unit; this makes up for the Raven Guard tactics not giving Bulky - including Jump units - units Infiltrate and Stealth, which again appears to fit into Shrike's function.

    So just how valuable are those abilities? Assault Marines and Vanguard Veterans all got a welcome and hefty price drop in the new codex, and the ability to use their jump packs in both the movement and assault phases gives them a very large reliable threat range. Paired up with Shrike giving them a slight defensive boost and - probably - a better deployment, these units should feasibly be able to pull off either a first player turn or second turn charge with little or no risk of failure attached. As it is, this is a big boost to one of these units, though like any good force, army composition is key to success; you can't just throw one large or small unit of jump pack-equipped Marines at the enemy early on. You need to pair these up with Infiltrating Tacticals and Sternguard in Rhinos to overload your opponent with threats in the first game turn, but no matter how you press it, there will always be a noticeable deficiency. This is due to Marines lacking many infantry units that can keep up with Shrike, leaving the oppositions' anti-infantry fire with one or maybe two probable and easy targets to deal with. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the fact that Shrike cannot be used as a wound tank like Vulkan or Sicarius; with only power armour and an iron halo on top of the regular Captain profile - sigh - to protect him, he can soak up some wounds but not many. Certainly, he cannot be used to save a squad from the greedy maw of a Heldrake, or those crazy Colossus' barrages. For what will likely be an expensive unit kitted out for melee, given that they lack Hit and Run and few real good ranged options, this can be a real deterrent to even employing such a unit. Even with Stealth, that so many AP3 template or blast weapons also ignore cover - particularly when Markerlights are thrown in - means that the unit simply won't survive long with Riptides, Ion Cannon Hammerheads, Heldrakes, and even massed firepower from Fire Warriors or Imperial Guardsmen around. This leads to a highly mobile and quite dangerous melee unit that simply doesn't have the durability to survive for very long outside of incredibly picky deployment using large line-of-sight blocking pieces of terrain. In a force that is naturally strapped for points due to its elite nature, having a Captain that can only join a specific type of unit that itself cannot take a dedicated transport while using its' jump packs leads to a very limited range of deployment options. You are forced to be aggressive or waste the melee talents of Shrike and his unit, but it leaves you too vulnerable to a first or second turn barrage to really worry the competitive army lists.

    And this then really starts to tie in with just why Shrike is a mediocre at best commander for your army. As a Warlord, he concedes Slay the Warlord easier than most or all other Captains, while his abilities for being a Warlord aren't even that great. His guaranteed warlord trait is arguably the worst of the bunch, as giving both he and his unit the Fear special rule is unlikely to really make a difference most of the time. Against Tau and Imperial Guard, you don't need Fear to beat them in combat, and against the forces where you could really use it - such as Daemons, Space Marines and monstrous creatures - they are always immune to Fear anyway! The few times it might be useful are when trying to fight units such as Raveners out of Synapse range - who are as fast as Shrike's unit anyway - or Chaos Marines without Fearless. But then, most don't even take such units, at least not for their melee capabilities; you may see Raveners, but it is rare indeed that they show up and are also outside of Synapse range when they need to be. So between being relatively fragile compared to Captains that have artificer armour or a storm shield and having one of the worst Warlord Traits you could possibly ask for, taking Shrike as a Warlord really shouldn't happen outside of a themed army list.

    Now, you might be thinking that despite the downsides, Shrike at least makes up for it in combat. Thankfully, this is partially true; he can be quite damaging against most opponents, but he really doesn't work as a character killer of any note. His twin lightning claws afford him an extra attack, giving him four base at Weapon Skill 6 and Initiative 5 which, with frag grenades, means he will be striking at Initiative on the charge with five attacks. His attacks are AP3, he re-rolls failed to wound rolls, and to wound rolls of a six are also Rending; this does apply to vehicles as well, but outside of strong luck it really doesn't outshine a mere krak grenade that much. Rending lightning claws are pretty decent, particularly as each is master-crafted, giving Shrike two re-rolls to hit in each combat. This means he is very reliable against most enemies, as he will almost never need 5s to hit outside of a charge from Jain Zar and the like, re-roll his misses - meaning he will usually hit four or five times with five attacks depending on the opponents' Weapon Skill - and he re-rolls all failed to wound rolls at a decent Strength of 4. Not bad at all! This makes Shrike a bit of a blender against enemies such as Fire Warriors, power-armoured Space Marines and 3+ armoured HQs. Unfortunately, even with Rending, he can't really engage 2+ armoured enemies with a great deal of efficiency, and despite his re-rolls to wounds, he isn't going to harm monstrous creatures like Trygons or Wraithknights any time soon - something to note is that with Rending, Shrike actually can harm the latter without using a krak grenade. Besides, most commanders either sport a 2+ armour save or a decent invulnerable save, so while Shrike will do quite well against a lot of enemies, he isn't that much more effective than a regular Captain would be when equipped similarly.

    And therein lies the issue; for a staggering half a century of points more than a Captain equipped in the same way, Shrike really doesn't give you that much value for the price increase. His melee capabilities are only boosted slightly by the additions of two re-rolls to hit and potential Rending, but the difference really isn't noticeable enough to justify such a cost, nor are his rather mediocre abilities. The kicker here is to compare those abilities to someone like Khan or Vulkan, both of whom provide far more for the army - rather than a single unit - and really affect the way your army list is written and how it plays. Where Shrike gives a single unit Stealth and Infiltrate, giving them a slight defensive boost against shooting and some extra deployment shenanigans, Vulkan master-crafts all melta weapons in your army and is a stronger overall character for shooting, durability and melee. In the same breath, Khan gives most of a force - or all of it depending your unit composition - the Scout special rule and, with a Bike, is as mobile, tougher and almost as decent in a combat, as Shrike. The former of these is only marginally more costly than Shrike, and on top of having superior special rules, he is far harder to kill with stronger saves across the board and the ease of being able to really choose what unit or transport to deploy with. The latter is quite a bit cheaper and provides large boosts to his own 'Chapter Tactics', whereas Shrike has to make up for deficiencies in his own 'Chapter Tactics' so that they can affect but a single jump unit. This contrast in fortunes between White Scars and Raven Guard, for example, really highlights the lack of value in Shrike in contrast to other special characters in the codex. He isn't cut out to be a dedicated combat monster like Lysander, but nor can he provide the amazing support abilities of someone like Tigurius. Instead, he tries to ply both trades and fails pretty badly at both, leading to an over-costed and pale imitation of the other more specialized characters.

    Does this mean that I think Shrike is terrible though? No, I don't think so; he is too expensive by far for what he does, particularly as Vulkan and Sicarius are both almost identical in price to him and offer so much more to your army. He also doesn't really get that much more over a similarly equipped Captain when it comes to combat; when those Rending hits matter will often be against enemies who will squish Shrike anyway due either to his lack of a 2+ armour save or no Eternal Warrior. In practice, he isn't even a well equipped Captain; a jump pack, even for Raven Guard, is almost universally inferior to a Bike, particularly for a costly multiple wound model that is likely to be the army Warlord. A pair of lightning claws isn't terrible, but it pays a lot for an extra attack; often a power weapon, preferably a maul, with a pistol is better overall for the points. It also leaves the Captain quite bare when it comes defence, with no storm shield or artificer armour. Essentially, you really pay through the nose for decent buffs over a regular Captain which doesn't work at all when representing a themed Raven Guard force is likely easier done, both ironically and sadly, with a White Scars force led by Khan. That a Captain equipped like Shrike really isn't worth it in the first place seals his place as a themed choice to play on the hopes that your opponent doesn't have potent first turn shooting, or that you can find a lot of terrain on your game board to hide them. Even then, Shrike just isn't the melee monster you would want him to be; why not instead take Lysander in an Allied Detachment with a group of Assault Terminators or a Command Squad? Shrike really needed to be a good twenty or thirty points cheaper, that or his special rules really needed to be more pronounced and affect more than just one unit. As it is, I would only ever take Shrike in a themed list; outside of those, you are probably just wasting your points.

    Maximising their Abilities - When using Shrike, you really need to make the most out of his See But Remain Unseen special rule; this means taking a large and decently equipped Assault Marine or jump-pack equipped Vanguard Veterans squad. As Shrike must join a jump unit in deployment and only one of either units' dedicated transports can carry bulky models, this means your deployment options are quite limited. Taking a transport will also limit the number of models you can transport due to Bulky, so I probably wouldn't advise that outside of maybe a Land Raider Crusader. If only Shrike could join non-jump units and only take up two slots in a transport instead of everyone in the squad doing so as well! Depending on how generous your opponents are, the ideal deployment scenario is to Infiltrate Shrike with his unit to close with the enemy for a first turn charge - if you go second - and hide from as much enemy firepower as well. With Stealth, even sitting in cover may be ideal, but you really need to be wary of your problem units; Riptides, Hammerheads, Colossi, Griffons, Basilisks and the like should not be able to draw line of sight to you on the first turn. If any such unit can, then you are in a lot of trouble; in the case of the last three units, of course, it may not matter, but it boosts your chances of avoiding their shots.

    Infiltrate does give you a lot of leeway for deployment though which always helps, allowing you to get as close to ideal targets and away from those problem units as you need to. That the unit can re-roll their assault moves while moving 12" in the movement phase - provided Shrike is attached to a Raven Guard squad of course - means that they have an incredible threat range early on, which few other dedicated assault units can lay claim to. This doesn't make them invincible though; even with a power weapon or a few more, depending on the squad, they simply can't handle some units in combat. Trygons, Wraithknights, 'Screamerstars', Flesh Hounds led by a Herald, Spawn with a Khorne Chaos Lord, Nurgle Bikers and the like are all deadly melee units that are often seen in a competitive sense, all of which are easily capable of tearing apart Shrike's unit. For how to equip Shrike's attached unit, I would definitely take a power weapon on a Sergeant if you can manage it so that Shrike doesn't stick out like a sore thumb on an opponent's list of "models to kill first", but only if you have the points spare as it is expensive and probably not very efficient. For an Assault Squad, I recommend flamers over plasma pistols due to the cost difference and the real lack of reliably for the latter; the former also lets the squad effectively engage massed infantry that can harm them greatly in Overwatch, like a bunker of multiple Fire Warrior or Kroot units with a nearby Ethereal. A graviton pistol is an ideal purchase on the Sergeant as its' Concussive effect and lack of Gets Hot! make it an ideal replacement for a plasma pistol, as well as giving the unit a better chance against high Initiative monstrous creatures like Daemon Princes. In the case of Vanguard Veterans, as 'alluring' as it might be, I would avoid giving them a lot of power weapons. While it is cheaper than before, the cost increase is so significant that it effectively leaves your force a unit short; given how important target saturation is to support a dedicated assault unit, I really recommend only taking one or two at most. In the same breath, storm shields are in a bit of a similar boat; they are cheap for what they do, but you still get left with Toughness 4 models with only 3+ saves, meaning they can and will be gunned down by massed firepower. This does make them a lot less vulnerable to the weapons that are usually their bane - the AP3 cover-ignoring variety - but it also makes them a good deal more expensive. Adding in a handful is a safe bet, but no more.

    To the choice between each unit, this is pretty tough as while Vanguard Veterans will have more flexibility and the important option to multi-charge in such large numbers with no loss of charge bonuses, they do get a lot more expensive very quickly. I'm really undecided on which unit will prove to be more effective in the long run, so I would leave this to personal preference. Regardless of how you choose, be very aware of their limitations, and prioritize units that you can engage without suffering too many casualties. There is nothing worse than losing a likely 200+ point unit in the space of a few turns because of exposing your unit to firepower it otherwise should have hid from. Your unit is very mobile with a 12" movement and has natural Stealth; never forget either of these, as they are key to their survival and chances of reaching combat in repeated turns. On Shrike himself, I would avoid making him the Warlord simply because he has the worst of the Warlord Traits by far, though this is obviously only if you are taking another HQ. On that note, don't just "take" another HQ, even one as cheap as a Librarian, just to avoid using Shrike as the Warlord; those points are almost always better spent on more bodies if you don't have a clear cut purpose for the character.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Cheers! If you have any feedback for me, feel free to post a comment here or speak to me over on Bell of Lost Souls. Happy hunting!

    "They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines...and they shall know no fear."
    - The Emperor


    ARTICLE 4


    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at a handful of the greatest heroes amongst the Adeptus Astartes; warriors and leaders that have scribed their names into legend through valour and skill. I hope you enjoy this article!


    Space Marine players have access to the most extensive roster of unique characters in the game, providing so many diverse play-styles and inherent advantages that encourage players to experiment with a wealth of differing army lists. Unlike some other codices, few of these characters are solely based around damage potential; instead, they provide ground-breaking support abilities and potential for thematic army creation that you simply can't find anywhere else. Though they are restricted to their own Chapter Tactics now, the advice given in the previous Space Marines codex very much rings true to this day; these are templates for mighty heroes to lead your forces, built to give you something you simply cannot find from a kitted out regular character. Where Marneus Calgar allows you to control the morale aspect of Warhammer 40000, Kor'sarro Khan provides free early movement to an entire force, allowing them to dominate positioning and deployment. As Helbrecht is the lynchpin for an army-wide massed and devastating assault, Vulkan He'stan gives you the means to make a Salamanders army the true masters of anti-vehicular warfare. It is such that you cannot judge these characters on the merits of combat or martial prowess alone, but on how they allow for incredible strategic flexibility in the army list creation phase, and in tactical adaptability through their considerable, palpable aura on the field of battle. These Space Marines count themselves amongst the finest heroes in all of the Imperium, and each has their own mark to leave on your army.

    Due to the extensive array of unique characters in the codex, Part Four of the Unique Characters section solely covers Darnath Lysander, Pedro Kantor, Helbrecht, Grimaldus and the Emperor's Champion. You can view Part One here as well as Part Two here and Part Three here. In the interests of time and my failing health (ha!), I've tried to keep this article shorter than the previous gargantuans!

    An important update; due to the length of the article and the loss of a codex, I will cover each Black Templar-specific unit, as well as their Chapter Tactics, in a separate Black Templars article. This is to give a former codex army the justice they deserve. Sorry for any inconvenience!


    Darnath Lysander, Captain of the First Company

    Overview - One of the most cost effective melee monsters in the game in 5th Edition, many will be happy to see that Lysander has changed little, save for an expected points increase. Given how he compares to a regular Terminator-armoured Captain, this is a justified increase that only serves to highlight how under-costed he was in the 5th Edition codex. Even now, he is still a far better alternative to any Captain build you could conceivably make at a similar cost, with Lysander's unique abilities and extra wound really tipping the scales in his favour. First off, he is a Captain and all that entails, but with the unique distinction of four wounds - but not four attacks, like a Chapter Master - that give him quite a bit of extra survivability. Paired up with Eternal Warrior, Terminator Armour and a Storm Shield, and you have one of the hardest nuts to crack in the codex, period. The only character that even compares to Lysander in this way is a Chapter Master with the Shield Eternal, and only really on a Bike does he edge the Captain out. The crazy survivability of four wounds, a 2+ armour save, a 3+ invulnerable and Eternal Warrior makes Lysander both the perfect tank against hard-hitting enemies like Wraithknights in combat, but also a wound sponge for your expensive Marines. Sticking him in front of Sternguard Veterans, Devatator Marines or Tacticals, either in Drop Pods or on foot, is a good way to give many opponents a break out of hives; those poor, poor Heldrakes will hate you with a passion!

    Survivability aside, Lysander also brings the pain in the form of a special thunder hammer that strikes at a whopping Strength 10 and AP 1. Even with only three attacks base, this allows Lysander to absolutely tear through almost any unit or character in combat that you can imagine; even Hive Tyrants with Iron Arm will be scared to death of him! He is also one of the few models in the codex that can reliably smash through almost any vehicle that gets thrown at them, alleviating the need to take chainfists in your Terminator squads or meltabombs on your power-armoured Marines. The AP1 on the thunder hammer gives Lysander a 50% chance to outright destroy any vehicle that he inflicts a penetrating hit on, and this comes in real handy against those AV14 vehicles such as Land Raiders and Monoliths were those few damage results you get are really important. Besides, having S10 means that Lysander will inflict instant death on any model with Toughness 5 or lower, meaning most characters - from Daemon Princes to Khorne Lords on Juggernaughts - will simply evaporate when he appears. Between Weapon Skill 6 and his crazy hitting power, Lysander is one of the hardest hitting characters Space Marines have access to, and certainly of any in his price range or with the billing of a 'Captain'. What really makes him such an amazing character hunter on top of his thunder hammer is his Warlord Trait, giving him an extra D3 victory points if he slays the enemy Warlord in a challenge. With how hard he is kill and how hard he hits, 99% of Warlords in the game will do their best to hide from him; use this to impose yourself on the game! Be aggressive with Lysander by putting him with a drop-podding Sternguard unit or with Assault Terminators in a Land Raider Crusader, and watch with glee as your opponent is forced to deal with one of the toughest nuts to crack in the game.

    With Bolter Drill becoming an army-wide trait for Imperial Fists, it was always a curiosity of mine to see whether Lysander would retain a special ability that made him unique outside of combat. Thankfully, Robin Cruddace did not disappoint, as Lysander is such an inspirational hero to the Imperial Fists that any unit with their Chapter Tactics within 12" of him can re-roll their failed Morale and Pinning checks. Much like Marneus Calgars' God of War ability, this may not seem like the best ability for an army that consists exclusively of units with And They Shall Know No Fear, but being able to keep your scoring units and other important squads in position is often key to victory in a game. Being shot off an objective by failing a Morale check, or being forced to snap-fire by failing a Pinning test are some of the worst results imaginable, especially for a low-model count army like Space Marines where you really can't afford any of your units to be rendered ineffective for a turn. This is also key to staying in a combat that you want to remain in; this is generally best used to tie up nasty enemy assault units for a player turn longer so that they destroy your unit on their turn, giving you a free turn to shoot at them rather than letting them charge again immediately.

    What few downsides Lysander has tie more into his high cost more than anything else, as at his level you can start to invest in a similarly equipped Chapter Master with his own advantages and disadvantages. Generally though, if you want the hardest hitting character possible while not compromising on durability, Lysander is probably your best bet as at his price point no generic character can really match the package he brings to the table. A Strength 10 thunder hammer simply murders almost any character you can find and even some monstrous creatures, as well as laughing at those annoying Wraithknights. Those extra few points of Strength can make all the difference against characters like Typhus or Heralds of Khorne on Juggernaughts, characters who can give your other melee monsters a bit of pause - the latter mostly if they have the Grimoire activated on them. Added to his Icon of Obstinancy special rule and giving Imperial Fists the best equivalent to the "eternal monster" Iron Hands Chapter Master they can find, and I think Lysander is one of the stronger HQ choices for a Space Marine army. He gives you devastating melee prowess and a hilarious Warlord trait considering his abilities, incredible survivability that is only bettered by a specific Chapter Master build, a bubble for re-rolling key Leadership-based tests, and one of the hardest Slay the Warlord victory points to concede. For his points, you will find few better than Lysander in an Imperial Fists army.

    Maximising their Abilities - I feel that Lysander is best used as the army Warlord rather than a supporting character, first up. He is insanely hard to kill, he mauls characters like few others, and his Warlord Trait is perfect for hunting enemy leaders. What's not to like? Given that Imperial Fists work well through a combined static gunline and mobile bolter force, Lysander is probably best off being used as a wound tank to a valuable unit - such as Sternguard with combi-meltas - in a drop pod. This gets him close to the enemy, allows him to detach and hunt units in melee at his leisure, and gives the expensive but deadly Sternguard a very capable and apt bodyguard to soak up wounds for them. This is one of the scariest units the Imperial Fists can employ, as it forces the opponent to divert far more attention to them than normally due to Lysander's presence; no one can ignore a Strength 10 thunder hammer in their back-line! Otherwise, the most common and popular use for Lysander involves sticking him with a nasty melee unit in a Land Raider Crusader - or Redeemer, though I prefer the former - to deliver a crazy death star right into the midfield at full speed. I'm not a huge fan of this setup as though it does make the most of Lysander and a melee bodyguard - preferably Honour Guard if you run a Chapter Master as well, or Assault Terminators with thunder hammers and storm shields - it is insanely expensive and outside of a teleport homer it really requires a Land Raider variant. I personally prefer using Lysander in a Sternguard unit as I feel that using him as a wound tank for a valuable unit, safeguarding them from potential early assaults and subsequently being able to charge units at his leisure allows him to perform to the fullest of his capabilities. He is hardy and damaging, and I feel this setup makes the most of these traits; he can quite capably solo most enemies, units or no, in combat with little to no support whatsoever, after all.


    Pedro Kantor, Chapter Master of the Crimson Fists

    Overview - Vote for Pedro! Anyway, Pedro is another support-oriented HQ in a very hotly contested slot filled to the brim with similarly constructed characters. What makes him one of the most valuable is not the game-changing mechanics he brings - such as Vulkan's master-crafting of all meltas or Khan's gift of Scout - but in the sheer number of differing abilities he has. From his equipment to the subtle way he affects your army list composition or the combat-based buffs he gives, Pedro seems very much like another junior incarnation of Marneus Calgar - at least without the pomp and scars. Though each individual ability isn't as great as those offered by the other Space Marine characters, Pedro has so many of them that combine to make him one of the premier HQ choices in the codex; he packs value through the roof and doubles as a pretty nasty melee character to boot, as long as you protect him from monstrous creatures and crazy monsters like Abaddon. When you throw in that he is the Chapter Master of the deliciously awesome Crimson Fists, and is regarded as one of the greatest heroes of the Astartes, what's not to like? Nothing, that's what! I'm not biased at all.....

    First up, Pedro is equipped decently well for a Chapter Master, though he hardly has what one would call an optimal configuration. He comes on foot and without Artificer Armour, a Storm Shield or Eternal Warrior, making him incredibly vulnerable to Strength 8 attacks bandied about by units such as Riptides with Ion Accelerators or any Smashing monstrous creature. His 3+ armour and 4+ invulnerable save do give him better saves than most characters of other armies, but for a Marine leader, he is a bit lacking. He can't be used as a wound tank against the deadly Heldrakes like Vulkan or Sicarius can be, nor can he be thrown into a challenge with any sergeant or nob wielding a power klaw. This is in no small part due to his melee weapon, a power fist, that while definitely great for protecting a squad against non-character monstrous creatures, slaughtering Terminators and threatening most vehicles, leaves him very vulnerable to Unwieldy double-strength or high Initiative AP3 or AP2 attacks. As such, despite four attacks base and four wounds, he can't be expected to take on someone like Karandras or any similarly costed combat-oriented character; however, he can beat other Toughness 4 or lower characters without really nasty weapons into a pulp through his own Strength 8 attacks. This means you really need to pick your engagements with Pedro, and ensure that you have one or two other characters - even just a sergeant will do - in his unit to soak up those challenges and give Pedro a chance to win the main combat. Pedro himself aids in this effort even without considering his attacks, as his guaranteed Warlord Trait is Iron Resolve, giving his attached unit a +1 bonus to combat resolution provided he is alive. If you can avoid characters like a Khorne Chaos Lord on a Juggernaught, Necron Overlords with mindshackle scarabs, Phoenix Lords and others of such prowess, Pedro should comfortably help even a mere Tactical Squad to victory.

    Pedro doesn't assist in your melee efforts just through his fist or his Warlord Trait, however, as he also acts as a living Chapter Banner; he gives all of your Crimson Fist models within 12" of him +1 attack. This turns Tactical Squads and Devastator Squads into the cheaper Loyalist equivalent of flailing Chaos Marines, and actually makes them a decent enough threat in an assault. When paired with the deadly Honour Guard or Assault Terminators, this creates a blender of devastation; Honour Guard in particular need not pay for a Chapter Banner themselves, and will each have a ridiculous five power weapon attacks on the charge. If they can't slay whatever gives Pedro pause, then surely nothing will anyway. That it affects any Crimson Fist within 12" increases its value two fold, allowing Pedro to provide a significant defensive boost to a friendly gunline. The popular use of this ability, and for Pedro, is sticking himself and a bunch of Sternguard squads in Drop Pods to make the most of their scoring status; add to each of them a bonus attack, and even assault oriented armies will be given pause, particularly when they have to endure Overwatch with Special Issue Ammunition. Sternguard Veterans with four attacks each on the charge, or three in subsequent rounds, can actually lead to some pretty surprising assault results.

    Oh, that's right. Scoring Sternguard. Pedro makes all Crimson Fists - this is important as it doesn't specify units with the Chapter Tactics like other special rules, so you can't just have scoring Imperial Fist Sternguard for example - Sternguard scoring units, but not Troops. Sternguard are already a scary enough unit, particularly with combi-meltas and drop pods; add to their repertoire the capability of capturing objectives, and you may start asking yourself if you ever need more than the bare minimum of Tactical Marines. This allows Crimson Fist armies to operate off of a deadly orbital assault in addition to a strong defensive gunline; Tactical Squads and Devastators can hold the home objectives, while the Sternguard mop up the backfield and claim the opponent's objectives. This will force most armies to either split their fire or focus on one side at a time, leaving both or the other to inflict as much damage as possible through a reprieve. In terms of an army list, the choice to load out on Sternguard usually comes down to points, particularly in regard to having enough Troops choices to viably compete in an objective heavy game system. Pedro is your sole source of alleviating this issue, and on top of - for example - twenty Tactical Marines as Troops, you can easily add in twenty or more Sternguard to give you a very good forty scoring bodies for games of 1500 points or more. Obviously, some players will not want to employ that many - if any - Sternguard in their army, which does limit Pedro's usefulness; unlike some other characters who manipulate the force organization chart, whether subtly or no, I would still recommend Pedro just for his utility alone.

    One of the perhaps more controversial rules Pedro has gives both he and any friendly Crimson Fist model - again, it won't apply to Imperial Fists and the like, even if they are part of the same detachment - Preferred Enemy against Orks. The reason this is a somewhat contested rule is because these kinds of army-wide buffs against specific enemies are largely falling by the wayside in 6th Edition; Daemons hate their opposing gods, but aside from them, these rules have mostly disappeared. Farsight used to do the same for Tau as Pedro, but his ability was instead changed to only affect himself. That Orks are a very popular army - and soon to be much more I expect in the middle of next year - doubles the issue here; giving free Preferred Enemy, or re-rolls of 1s to hit and wound with both shooting and melee attacks, for an army that focuses on Sternguard Veterans is incredibly nasty. Hellfire Rounds with re-rolls to wound? Dragonfire Bolts with boosted efficiency? Hell, Sternguard that actually get Bolter Drill with their special ammunition!? This gives Crimson Fists a very strong advantage over almost any Ork army, as even mechanized lists will be afraid of the tank-hunting, lascannon-wielding Devastators that the Crimson Fists will likely be employing. Nonetheless, whether you like it or hate it, it is a very strong buff and one that is very likely to swing any game to the Crimson Fists' favour against their sworn enemies.

    When you add up all of Pedro's abilities, even the situational Preferred Enemy bonus against Orks, it wouldn't be a surprise to think that he is left well enough alone. But no, he has a foot-friendly version of the Primarch's Wrath; his special Storm Bolter, Dorn's Arrow, fires four assault shots with a Strength of 4 and AP of 4. With his Ballistic Skill of 5 and potential precision shots, this makes him ideal for singling out heavy weapon platforms in Guardian squads or simply slaughtering Fire Warriors and Dire Avengers. Though not the best gun in the world, it is certainly one of the stronger ranged weapons wielded by any Space Marine special character; that it also fits very well into the aesthetic and theme of the Crimson (Imperial) Fists with their Bolter Drill just adds to the strength of Pedro's current representation in the rules. On that note, this might be something to watch in an FAQ; per the rules, Dorn's Arrow does not benefit from Bolter Drill, despite being described specifically as a modified storm bolter. While it is understandable that it might not benefit from Bolter Drill, much like special issue ammunition for Sternguard, it is nonetheless an interesting debacle that I hope is resolved in Pedro's favour. But aside from this, Pedro also has an Orbital Bombardment; just be aware that as he is not Relentless, he cannot move and fire it much like a terminator-armoured Marneus Calgar or a Chapter Master on a Bike. In terms of Chapter Masters, Pedro isn't the best equipped, nor is he really the most impactful in terms of a single rule - like Calgar's ridiculous God of War ability. However, unlike the identically costed Shrike, Pedro actually does have a very decent wargear selection that makes him a strong all-round fighter, and his wide array of special rules perfectly compliment the common Imperial Fist Chapter builds you are likely to see. He gives strong benefits to any army list, and is pretty cheap in terms of just what he brings to the table. Not to mention he has an awesome model. Did I mention vote for Pedro?

    Maximising their Abilities - Pedro is great in the sense that he really works in pretty much any army list; he gives a strong melee boost to any nearby unit to him, he can ward off most aggressors for his own unit, he gives a strong army wide buff against Orks, and he provides scoring Sternguard. He is a toolbox character that is great value for points no matter where or how you employ him. However, it is a good idea to build around his strengths and weaknesses; for one, he belongs either in a sturdy ranged unit, such as Sternguard or Tacticals, to protect them from nasty melee attackers. On the other hand, he needs to stay away from characters that will slice him in half with little difficulty, such as Trygon Primes, Abaddon and the Phoenix Lords. As such, he can also do really well with my favourite new assault unit for Space Marines, Honour Guard, who can dish out so many power weapon attacks - particularly with Pedro's bonus attack buff - to swarm such enemies in AP3 and AP2 wounds, allowing Pedro to more comfortably deny challenges. That Pedro provides scoring Sternguard does make them an even more valuable unit for your army than usual, and also emphasises their use in drop pods; this gives Space Marines a very potent backfield objective-grabbing unit that is devastating at range with a reliable delivery system. I would build a 'Pedro list' around the theme of scoring Sternguard, allowing you to minimize on Tactical Squads or Scout Squads - whichever is your preference. That Sternguard themselves work best with combi-weapons - usually meltas - and drop pods really boosts the viability of a drop pod assault list, though it does still work with some ground-based elements such as Devastators and Thunderfire Cannons that are always valuable in an Imperial Fists army list.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Cheers! If you have any feedback for me, feel free to post a comment here or speak to me over on Bell of Lost Souls. Happy hunting!

    "To the darkness I bring fire. To the ignorant I bring faith. Those who welcome these gifts may live, but I will visit naught but death on those who refuse them."
    - Chaplain Grimaldus
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 11-12-2013 at 08:07 AM.
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  3. #3

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    To minimize on post numbers, I have put more than one article in this post, and will clearly mark the separate articles.

    TROOPS

    Hey there everyone, I'm Learn2Eel and today I'm continuing my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! This time, I'm going to be focusing on the Troops choices. These stalwart warriors of the Astartes form the back-bone of all Chapters, giving you a good core of elite units that are amazingly flexible in their design and applications. I hope you enjoy this article!


    Space Marines have long been an army built focally around two Troops choices; Tactical Squads and Scout Squads. Both fit the bill of utilitarian with varying degrees of effectiveness, and both can be specialized into more niche roles as you so choose. However, in the case of Tactical Marines, no matter how you try to equip them they will always be primarily a generalist anti-infantry unit; there will always be at least seven bolters in a ten man squad, or three bolters in a five man squad. Scouts, on the other hand, can opt to take sniper rifles instead of their usual ranged armament, built more for neutralizing special weapon carriers in squads or racking up more reliable wounds on monstrous creatures. Either way, the Troops choices for Space Marines are hardly 'stars' like those of some other codices; they have restrictions that limit their effectiveness in comparison to, for example, Battle Sisters from the new digital Sisters of Battle codex, at least in the role of cheap special weapon delivery units. Similarly, Scouts get some cool abilities to make up for a weakened profile and worse armour, but are - in most cases - typically inferior as an overall Troops choice to Tactical Squads and the 'infiltrator' equivalents of other armies.

    Ultimately, the big issue is that paying more for Troops choices, no matter how much better they are point-for-point than those of other armies, is very much a negative in an edition where the firepower is so ridiculous that it really doesn't matter what you are paying for. If you pay more, you just lose more; power armour, aspect armour, flak armour, what difference does it make against a cover-ignoring Strength 8 AP3 large blast? When such weaponry is in abundance throughout competitive army lists, it really highlights just how the current meta punishes elite forces above almost any other. Regardless, Space Marine Troops choices - Tactical Marines in particular - have so much flexibility in terms of potential builds and differing abilities from their Chapter Tactics that they actually can prove to be good, even great Troops choices with the right support. The key to Space Marines is buffs provided from characters and Chapter Tactics; these define the army in such a way that almost no army list will ever be entirely similar. A note that due to extensive article length, I've separated the two Troops choices into separate articles.

    Tactical Squad

    Overview - The bread and butter Troops choice of almost every Space Marine codex out there, Tactical Squads are cost-effective elite warriors that, while lacking specialization, make up for it with sheer utility. That the basic Space Marine has a better mix of equipment than the elite infantry of other armies - such as Orks or Tyranids - allows them to adopt a wide range of roles with varying degrees of effectiveness. They pay to be utilitarians, and this generalist focus means that while they can do a number of roles decently - such as ranged anti-tank with two melta weapons, ranged anti-infantry with bolters and flamers, and a durable scoring unit with power armour - they aren't specialists in any of those roles. They lack the number of anti-tank guns to destroy vehicles as effectively as the armour-stripping Necron Warriors, they aren't quite as deadly to infantry as Dire Avengers, and nor are they as good an objective holder as Plaguebearers. This is due in no small part to their restrictions on one special and one heavy weapon when taking a ten man squad, or one of each at five. This narrows the chosen role for the squad, leaving them either wanting to sit at home so as not to waste a heavy weapon, or moving abroad so that their special weapon can get into range. That the special and heavy weapons simply don't mix well for the most part, as the latter is pretty much a waste if the squad employs a transport for the purpose of being a mobile firebase, support and scoring unit, is the real kicker for the squad. Outside of maximising the potential of their massed boltguns, you really can't make them as strong a specialist as you would want them to be; even with a plasma gun and a combi-plasma with a Rhino, they are still good mostly for situational shots at light vehicles or monstrous creatures. And even combined with Vulkan and both a meltagun and a multi-melta, they won't be that godly tank-hunting unit you want them to be in an army with cheap flamers from Assault Squads, or specialist ammunition from Sternguard. Invariably, lacking the option of a second special or a second heavy, particularly at five-strong, dually limits their usage in a multiple-small-unit (MSU) role, and forces them to keep the generalist tag and stick mostly to gunning down enemy infantry.

    Now, for some players this will not be an issue whatsoever obviously; having a unit that does many roles but doesn't really excel in any of them can pay off in a number of situations. Though the strongest army lists are invariably given to some form of spam, there is always variety in any good list so as to effectively deal with any potential threat. Where a Tactical Squad comes in handy here is through practical application, and to prove this we will use an Eldar opponent as an example. First up, everyone knows how phenomenal Wave Serpents are, how ridiculous Bladestorm on basic Troops is, and the sheer durability of monstrous creatures such as Wraithknights. A Tactical Squad with a standard load-out - a combi-plasma, a plasma gun and a rhino - might not be looking so pretty against any of these targets, but they fare quite a bit better than any single choice of those would against the others. Let me explain; a Tactical Squad - if it can get close enough - will obliterate a Wave Serpent in melee through their krak grenades. Dire Avengers, even with their guns, can't hope to take on a Wave Serpent in any meaningful sense. Dire Avengers are crazy hard to deal with for elite infantry, but using a Rhino for protection means that a Tactical Squad can ideally be deployed within close range of the Avengers and put out a large numbers of wounds, forcing those Toughness 3 bodies to take lots of casualties before they can fire. A Wraithknight, on the other hand, isn't as Fearless as it seems when faced with massed pseudo-Rending weapons. While a Wraithknight is very scary and almost impossible for any unit to deal with, Tactical Squads can offer a speed-bump to it and hold it up for a decent amount of time through a combination of And They Shall Know No Fear, potential wounds from krak grenades and that combi-plasma and plasma gun, and potential buffs from characters such as Marneus Calgar. The reality here is that a Wave Serpent, for example, is scared to death of a Wraithknight as being a vehicle when faced with two Strength 10 AP2 shots per turn and a very fast melee monster is pretty much the sole standing to throw the towel in. Are Tactical Squads so afraid of them? Not really, as the guns don't really kill them quickly enough, nor are the Wraithknight's melee capabilities that prominent to wipe them out quickly. Just fail a Leadership test, fall back, and continue to annoy it or the opponent's other units.

    This is the key to understanding how to use Tactical Squads effectively; though trying to align their special and combi-weapon - or another combination, if it is viable - is certainly important, few Troops choices in the game can match their staggering utility. This is where putting them in situations where they can potentially fulfill any one of these roles will both provide you with a lot of options, but consequently some tough decisions as well. Do you employ your squad to put some wounds on those Terminators through mass rate of fire, or take a risk and charge that allied Leman Russ Demolisher with rear armour eleven? Usually, there is a 'right' decision, but it is entirely dependent on circumstance; if those Terminators are in a position to charge and knock off another of your squads from an objective, they will likely be the larger threat, particularly if it is the second last or last turn. On the other hand, that Leman Russ may be staring down your Hunter with a single hull point remaining, which given the imminent return of an opposing Stormtalon, really needs to be saved it at all possible. In that sense, the Tactical Squad really rewards the use of the most basic tactics and tricks available to a Warhammer 40000 player; effective use of target priority to determine the most immediately important threats, and reactionary tactics to change your strategy on a per-action basis. Moving up in a Rhino to clear that devastating Dark Reaper squad in the enemy deployment zone may seem a smart tactic early on, but if your other scoring units have been cleared from the Relic and it is turn four or five, moving to the key objective will likely be necessary for victory, no matter how much damage those Reapers are likely to inflict. Don't be afraid to switch targets rapidly throughout the game as Tactical Squads are versatile enough to actually reward this type of play, but always make sure to combine the firepower of the Tactical Squad with that of other units to focus down those targets one at a time. Against Necrons in particular, nothing is worse than leaving a handful of survivors in a bunch of squads as opposed to completely annihilating a few of them.

    The best aspect of Tactical Squads is undoubtedly their versatility, and as far as sheer points-to-ability ratios go, they rank very high when compared to other Troops choices. Of course, as mentioned earlier, paying more for better Infantry isn't necessarily the best idea when they still die just as quickly against Riptides and Heldrakes, but that doesn't mean one should ignore the advantages Tactical Marines do have. Their superior equipment overall gives them a good edge here, with both frag and krak grenades alone making Warp Talons blush; they can assault into cover without Initiative penalties, and they can take on vehicles - including walkers - in combat. Though Tactical Marines aren't really a classy melee unit, it is still important to remember that their profile consisting mostly of 4s does make them generally better than the Troops of other armies, who counter the better stats and gear through greater numbers. Hell, being one of the more threatening units to Wave Serpents simply because of possessing krak grenades is a big plus in my books. Added to this, each Space Marine has both boltguns and bolt pistols, giving them a decent anti-infantry gun for medium range encounters, as well as a nice little pistol if you do want to risk an assault. Many other Troops choices don't enjoy the utility of having both decent rapid-fire guns as well as pistols when they need to get stuck into an assault; after all, being stuck in combat with Fire Warriors is much better than being shot at by cover-ignoring Ion Cannons! Last of all is what gives Tactical Marines both their biggest edge and their key weakness when compared to those enemy units; your basic Troops choice has a 3+ armour save, which is naturally the realm of expensive elites for other armies. On the one hand, this is great as it means your scoring units are very hard to kill through conventional firepower - and it does make a difference, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. On the other hand, unfortunately, it doesn't matter much against Strength 6 or higher and AP 3 weapons that are so commonly found through the 6th Edition codices; the Tacticals die just as quickly as Cultists, for example, but pay significantly more per model. For such reasons alone, I think a Drop Pod or a Rhino is almost mandatory for Tacticals, but I'll cover that in further detail later.

    Where Tactical Marines really start to come into their own, and what chiefly makes them so valuable, is the oft derided 'And They Shall Know No Fear' special rule. This special rule lets them ignore the danger of being on the end of a sweeping advance, and they never have to test to regroup as they do so automatically. In addition, it lets Space Marines make the usual regroup move of three inches, but still fire normally unlike any other regrouping unit in the game - whom are forced to snap-fire - and they even count as being stationary for the purpose of shooting heavy weapons. Did I forget to mention the free six inch move after the usual three inch regroup move, that neither disallows further shooting or even launching an assault? The cherry on top is that Space Marines are completely immune to the increasingly-seen Fear special rule, and are thus singly responsible for most players abandoning tactics based around it. The infantry units of other armies almost universally wish they had And They Shall Know No Fear, and few more keenly than the Chaos Space Marines. When you throw in Chapter Tactics and the wide range of potential buffs that they provide, it is really easy to see just why Tactical Marines are such cost-effective models. Really, their biggest issue is the ubiquity of AP3 cover-ignoring templates and large blasts, and while it is a critical factor, it doesn't stop Tactical Marines from being a strong Troops choice. They won't slaughter elite infantry and monstrous creatures quite like Dire Avengers, they won't annihilate vehicles as well as the scoring Sabre Defence Platforms, they won't sit out the storm on an objective with the same ease as Plaguebearers, and they can't match the sheer specializations of Imperial Guard Veterans. But what they will do, and do so well, is perform all the roles those units can with reduced effectiveness, and all the roles those units can't by themselves.

    How to Equip Them - Because of the restriction on only one heavy weapon and one special weapon in a squad, I tend to favour one or the other based on where the squad will be on the battlefield. If the squad is in a Rhino or a Drop Pod, I like a combi-weapon as well as a special weapon. If it is a unit that is sitting behind an Aegis Defence Line or in cover without a transport, I like a heavy weapon and maybe a special weapon with a good range. Generally speaking, you don't want to mix the two fields, as invariably one of the weapons will be wasted; taking a heavy weapon on a mobile squad will be a waste as they will need to keep moving to take objectives. Consequently, taking anything other than a flamer or perhaps a plasma gun on a back-field squad probably won't be used to good effect due to the lack of range. In the latter case, a flamer is helpful for any kind of squad simply due to the defensive benefits it brings, as is a plasma gun because of its wide threat range. I generally don't recommend plasma cannons or heavy bolters, the former due to its unreliability, and the latter due to its limited damage output, but using Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics with the latter may be decent. Missile Launchers are ok, though I generally prefer lascannons for heavy weapons due to the minimal cost difference and the highly superior damage output against vehicles.

    For special weapons and combi-weapons, I usually prefer plasma for Rhino squads due to the range, and melta for Drop Pod squads because it is the best delivery system for short ranged weaponry. There is no real "right" way to equip Tacticals; if there is, it is based solely on whether they are drop-podding, in a Rhino or razorback, or on foot. I'm not sold on grav weapons for Tactical Marines, as their Salvo profile and 9" range on the move leaves them with too short a threat range to really be useful even inside a Rhino. As for the Sergeant, I would usually leave the Veteran Sergeant upgrade alone as the boost in Leadership isn't as important for the squad as it would be for Troops lacking And They Shall Know No Fear. I would only really give them a combi-weapon in all cases, as even with power weapons and the Veteran upgrade they are still mediocre at best in an assault when put up against the nasty melee units dominating the meta.

    Where to Put Them - This ties hand in hand with what weapon upgrades you want to give to your Tactical Marines. If you equip them with a plasma gun and a combi-plasma, stick them in a Rhino and make sure to take at least three such squads for target saturation. If you have a meltagun and a combi-melta, take a Drop Pod and either put them in the first wave to take out a tank, or keep the risks for a scoring unit minimal and leave the alpha strike to someone else. With any heavy weapon as well as either a plasma gun or flamer, I would keep them on your home objective - preferably in cover - and not bother with a transport. Minimal squads with a special weapon and a combi weapon are also feasible in a Razorback.

    Best Uses - I think the best uses for Tactical Marines are based around the cheap and under-rated Rhino for the most part; as easily as they might die, the mobility and protection - particularly from Riptides and Heldrakes - is more than enough to justify their low cost. When inside a Rhino, I favour a plasma gun and a combi-plasma with no other upgrades; this keeps the squad cheap, focused and maximises on their versatility with two upgrade weapons that have a good selection of reliable targets. However, some players may find a melta or flamer combination works better based on other sources of anti tank in their army. Other than this, I am a massive fan of drop-podding Tactical Squads with either flamer weapons or melta weapons, particularly in a Salamanders army - that is also further boosted exponentially by Vulkan - due to a cheap and reliable delivery system to pretty much any spot on the battlefield. A Tactical Squad with a Razorback either for mobility in a small unit or fire support does decently well, but Razorbacks tend to be too expensive and fragile to work unless taken in great numbers for target saturation. A squad that wants to solely sit in the backfield on home objectives will want a heavy weapon and probably nothing else, as adding any other points to the unit may just be a waste. Still, I prefer the Rhino-mounted ten-strong squad as it provides the best number of mobile scoring bodies that are able to engage a staggering array of targets effectively. This is my favourite aspect of a Tactical Squad; even if they aren't a particularly outstanding Troops choice, they can engage more threats than the more specialized choices of most other armies.

    Chapter Tactics - Tactical Squads are one of the few units in the Space Marine codex that receives readily apparent benefits from every single available Chapter Tactic, and it is incredibly difficult to really say one is more valuable than the rest. The reason for this is the sheer diversity of roles with Tactical Marines and their uses within an army, rewarding experimentation with each of the Chapter Tactics. For this reason, I'm going to be dividing the Chapter Tactics into sub-divisions. A note here that I won't cover the recently updated Forge World Chapter Tactics here as this is a Codex: Space Marines review only, but I did cover them elsewhere.

    Ultramarines - Tactical Marines get a lot of benefit not just from the Chapter Tactics, but also from the Ultramarine Special Characters. First up are the three Combat Doctrines, one-use abilities that last for the duration of a single game turn. The first gives Tactical Marines re-rolls to hit with all their shooting, which is obviously a very large bonus; maximising this comes from using, for example, a combi-plasma and plasma gun at rapid fire range with the bolters on the turn they jump out from a Rhino. The second gives Tacticals re-rolls for their random assault length, and while this can be cool, I generally recommend keeping them out of combat anyway; if you want to hide from nasty shooting though, then this is very useful. The third gives Tacticals re-rolls to hit on Overwatch which, as more of a generalist unit that wants to stay out of combat, does give them a very handy defensive boost. Where the value of Ultramarines really starts to shine is through characters such as Marneus Calgar, who gives Ultramarines a superior form of the much beloved Combat Tactics from the previous codex. Taking Calgar and lots of Tactical Marines for this reason is not a bad idea at all, particularly when Calgar lets you use that nasty Tactical Doctrine twice in a game. This is my personal pick for the best Chapter Tactic with Tactical Marines, but only if you really focus on it by using Calgar and masses of Tactical Squads.

    White Scars - There are two main benefits for Tacticals in a White Scars army, and the first is that they gain the Hit and Run special rule. Hit and Run is an amazing ability for any unit, including those that want to get out of combat as quickly as possible and on their terms. For a unit like Tactical Marines, this makes it an invaluable ability against more assault-oriented armies such as Chaos Daemons and Tyranids, and even the gun-line armies; charge into Fire Warriors to get out of sight of a Riptide, then Hit and Run out on their turn if you don't just kill them. Nice! The second benefit comes from Kor'sarro Khan, who gives them all Scout provided they took a dedicated transport. This won't affect Drop Pods obviously, but it gives Tacticals in Rhinos or Razorback a huge boost to mobility and potential for counter-deployment; a free twelve inch move before the game starts and after deployment is an amazing ability. Though White Scars armies are usually better served with Bikers as their mobile scoring units, they nonetheless give great advantages to their basic Troops.

    Imperial Fists - The Fists give Tacticals the most obvious benefit through Bolter Drill; re-rolling 50% of your misses with bolt weapons, provided that the Tacticals aren't snap-firing, is a pretty good boost in offensive effectiveness. It also gives Tacticals a decent reason to include Heavy Bolters, and it combines best with the more gun-line focused Devastators who get the most benefit from the Chapter Tactics. If you want to include Tactical Marines with a heavy weapon as back or midfield objective sitters, I definitely recommend Imperial Fists.

    Black Templars - Though a Black Templars army list is probably better served with Crusader Squads - who receive greater benefits from the Chapter Tactics due to their stock melee focus - the Tacticals do nonetheless get some decent buffs. Characters with re-rolls to hit and Rending on their melee weapons when fighting in a challenge gives you the best reason to take Veteran Sergeants with power weapons. As well, Crusader and Adamantium Will do help quite a bit for getting into position, sweeping advances and denying enemy psychic powers; of course, as has been proven, the best psychic powers are generally blessings, though it is still a helpful defensive boost. Overall, I think Black Templars don't really give Tacticals as much benefit as the other Chapter Tactics due to favouring melee units most of all - of which Tacticals really aren't - and also because the superior and exclusive (both for Black Templars) Crusader Squads are available in the same slot.

    Iron Hands - Tactical Marines get the biggest defensive boost from (codex) Chapter Tactics with the Iron Hands. Giving each model Feel No Pain (6+) isn't that much to write home about, but much like Shield of Faith for Sisters of Battle, unit-wide 6+ saves can make a big difference, particularly where Heldrakes are concerned. Otherwise, Tacticals don't really get much benefit from Iron Hands.

    Salamanders - The army-wide 'master-crafting' of flame-based weapons is useful only for combi-flamers and flamers in regards to Tactical Marines, which means you aren't very likely to see much benefit from them most of the time. Re-rolling failed saves against such weapons is certainly useful, but given that the scariest of those is AP3 anyway, it isn't quite the saving grace you would want it to be. For a Sergeant, however, a free master-crafting to any single weapon they have can be a really handy ability, particularly when using a very much recommended combi-weapon. Hell, it even gives melta bombs a big boost in reliability. But where Tactical Squads get the biggest benefit from Salamanders is through Vulkan He'stan, who master-crafts all melta weapons in the army. Add a combi-melta and a meltagun to a Tactical Squad - and perhaps even a multi-melta if you have spare points - and put them in a Drop Pod for a ridiculously cost effective anti-tank alpha strike unit. As befits their fighting style, Salamanders are the best Chapter Tactics for a highly aggressive short-ranged army, particularly a Drop Pod list.

    Raven Guard - There's a bit of conflict here for Tactical Marines; Raven Guard gives them the aforementioned very useful Scout special rule without paying for a special character, but the Stealth benefit on the first turn won't help a mounted squad. A Scout redeployment is always useful, whether it is six inches or twelve inches, though I would definitely recommend taking massed Tacticals in Rhinos to make the most of the mobility boost. Along with White Scars, this is best for mobile, mechanized Tactical Squads.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Cheers! If you have any feedback for me, feel free to post a comment here or speak to me over on Bell of Lost Souls. Happy hunting!

    "Let them bestride the galaxy like the gods of old, sheltering Mankind from destruction at the hands of an uncaring universe."
    - Roboute Guilliman


    ARTICLE 2


    Hey there everyone, I'm Learn2Eel and today I'm continuing my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! This time, I'm going to be focusing on the Troops choices, and best of all, I don't need to split the article up into two or more pieces! These stalwart warriors of the Astartes form the back-bone of all Chapters, giving you a good core of elite units that are amazingly flexible in their design and applications. I hope you enjoy this article!



    Space Marines have long been an army built focally around two Troops choices; Tactical Squads and Scout Squads. Both fit the bill of utilitarian with varying degrees of effectiveness, and both can be specialized into more niche roles as you so choose. However, in the case of Tactical Marines, no matter how you try to equip them they will always be primarily a generalist anti-infantry unit; there will always be at least seven bolters in a ten man squad, or three bolters in a five man squad. Scouts, on the other hand, can opt to take sniper rifles instead of their usual ranged armament, built more for neutralizing special weapon carriers in squads or racking up more reliable wounds on monstrous creatures. Either way, the Troops choices for Space Marines are hardly 'stars' like those of some other codices; they have restrictions that limit their effectiveness in comparison to, for example, Battle Sisters from the new digital Sisters of Battle codex, at least in the role of cheap special weapon delivery units. Similarly, Scouts get some cool abilities to make up for a weakened profile and worse armour, but are - in most cases - typically inferior as an overall Troops choice to Tactical Squads and the 'infiltrator' equivalents of other armies.

    Ultimately, the big issue is that paying more for Troops choices, no matter how much better they are point-for-point than those of other armies, is very much a negative in an edition where the firepower is so ridiculous that it really doesn't matter what you are paying for. If you pay more, you just lose more; power armour, aspect armour, flak armour, what difference does it make against a cover-ignoring Strength 8 AP3 large blast? When such weaponry is in abundance throughout competitive army lists, it really highlights just how the current meta punishes elite forces above almost any other. Regardless, Space Marine Troops choices - Tactical Marines in particular - have so much flexibility in terms of potential builds and differing abilities from their Chapter Tactics that they actually can prove to be good, even great Troops choices with the right support. The key to Space Marines is buffs provided from characters and Chapter Tactics; these define the army in such a way that almost no army list will ever be entirely similar. A note that due to extensive article length, I've separated the two Troops choices into separate articles.


    Scout Squad

    Overview - When one looks at Scouts and compares their points cost to Tactical Marines, seeing their value really isn't an easy task. They are a unit with weaker stats, a worse armour save, and a slew of useful but not obviously game-changing special rules, as well as fewer wargear options in regards to special and heavy weapons. However, you will quickly find that Scouts make for ideal scoring units and also provide a Space Marine force with cheap melee harassment units. First up, even though their stat-line isn't as impressive as that of Tactical Marines, they still compare incredibly well to the Troops of other codices. They have Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 3, Strength, Toughness and Initiative 4, and a handy 4+ armour save. For only a few points more than a Fire Warrior, they are more durable, far better in combat, and even come armed with grenades, pistols and the gem of all special rules; And They Shall Know No Fear. This special rule really reviews itself - it is quite possibly the most defined and iconic special rule in the game - but it nonetheless bears mentioning; Scouts are a cheap Troops choice that will absolutely stick around to the last man, which can be so pivotal in objectives games. They have good Leadership to back this up, and will never be swept up in combat; handily, their good Initiative means they will often do the sweeping against their opponents anyway! And then you throw in their bolt pistols to fire a salvo before they charge, and - perhaps most importantly - their frag and krak grenades to assault into cover without penalty, and provide a really strong threat to non-walker vehicles. From Rhinos to Wave Serpents - the latter in particular fear assaults above all else - having unit-wide krak grenades incorporated into the basic cost of the squad is simply awesome, and a trait that few other Troops share.

    Now, you might be thinking to yourself; "well that's neat, but Tactical Marines do all that and more". Well, yes that certainly is true, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Scouts have a mind-boggling array of special rules on top of those they share with Tactical Marines, including Infiltrate, Move Through Cover and Scout. For a squad that is as likely to be carrying weapons with the heavy classification as it is to be kitted out for melee, having these extra mobility and deployment options is a huge boon. Having both Scout and Infiltrate gives Scouts (haha) unparalleled flexibility when it comes to deployment, allowing them to effectively deploy 12" away from an enemy unit even in their line of sight if you so choose. They can hide in cover and then scout move into better positions with firing lanes while staying in the terrain, or they can freely move closer to a specific target vulnerable in a melee, such as Fire Warriors or a light vehicle. With Move Through Cover, Scouts don't suffer as much by moving through terrain as most other units, giving them the added incentive to stick to terrain with little downside. What really makes all these rules so crazy is that the ever frowned upon Land Speeder Storm has finally been changed into a dedicated transport for the Scouts, giving them one of the cheapest open-topped - and thus, assault - transports in the game. Combine that with above average - as far as Xenos are concerned - melee capabilities, such as the likelihood of destroying Wave Serpents and squads of Fire Warriors on the charge, even with a five-man limitation to the transport, and you have yourself the basis for an assault-oriented Space Marine army. The Land Speeder itself combines very well with the Initiates, as it too has the Scout special rule (I win!) and combines light firepower in a heavy bolter with a cerberus launcher. That the Storm can move up to twelve inches and fire both of its weapons is very handy, as well as being able to move 6" and afford a standard disembarkation move to its' occupants. This allows for almost guaranteed assaults on the first two turns, even if the Storm is destroyed. Of particular note though is the Cerberus Launcher, which with its' Blinding effect compliments the Scouts extremely well.

    Initiates can take locator beacons on their Sergeants, giving your reserves some added reliability; having locator beacons on a unit that can Outflank, Scout and Infiltrate is just crazy good, especially given that they still are Space Marines and all that entails. Scouts also have access to unit-wide sniper rifles, extra close combat weapons and even camo cloaks. This gives the unit a sense of unity that can't be found with the more diverse Tactical Squad; the unit need not retain a measure of bolters, meaning that they don't compromise their specialist weapons. Scouts even have access to shotguns and come stock with boltguns, though I generally would recommend switching them out for other options depending on how you want to employ the unit. Still, Scouts aren't the be-all end-all Troops choice that Space Marine players would be hoping for; they are good value, certainly, but they are still quite fragile when the big guns come hunting. The advantage they have over Tactical Marines in this regard is that Scouts are cheaper per model and thus aren't as concerned when they are targeted with those big weapons; as well, you will likely be using them as your support Troops anyway. This is perhaps the key issue to running them en masse; while cheap in almost every variation, they don't quite provide the same utility and damage output as Tactical Marines do. Though I don't really see either of the main Space Marines Troops choices as damage dealers, it is nonetheless a sticking point that also ties hand in hand with their slightly more noticeable fragility. However, Scouts make for ideal scoring units in all situations; as snipers with camo cloaks, they are a strong and cheap defensive unit that can ward off light melee resistance, and as a mobile assault unit they are quite good at clearing out opposing Troops choices with a weaker profile. For this reason, I recommend employing them as the supporting elements of your main force for the most part, though there are certainly quite a few good reasons to run them as your primary scoring bodies as well. This is one of many tough choices that further characterizes the brilliance of this new codex; you can rarely say one unit is flat out better than another overall, promoting a wide range of army builds.

    How to Equip Them - Scouts are a much more versatile unit than many army lists you can find would have you believe. Contrary to what you might see, Scouts armed with sniper rifles and camo cloaks are not the only build available to the unit. That isn't to say such a unit isn't viable, of course. It comes back to what you expect from your Scouts; do you want an objective camper, or an objective grabber? Objective camping units are best suited with that aforementioned load-out, mixing sniper rifles for light generalist firepower with camo cloaks and, ideally, cover for a cheap and pretty durable scoring unit. Combining Camo Cloaks with sniper rifles and ruins, for example, gives you a unit with a 3+ cover save and a 36" range gun that is viable against light vehicles, monstrous creatures and all kinds of infantry, and at the same points cost per model as a Tactical Marine. As each member of the squad can have the same gun, each bearing a long range, this unifies their firepower far better than what can be found with Tactical Marines, though they do also have access to heavy weapons.

    There is a missile launcher that can be upgraded with flakk missiles, or a heavy bolter that has access to unique hellfire shells. Generally, I'm not at all sold on missile launchers even for Tactical Marines, and as such I don't really recommend them for Scouts at all; they are an expensive generalist weapon that simply isn't that good at either of the roles it tries to fill. And besides, if you do take a missile launcher, I would avoid the flakk missile upgrade at all costs; as with every other army featuring them so far, we have yet to see a really good use for flakk missiles. The heavy bolter is actually a good weapon option for Scouts, as it complements both the range and viable targets of sniper rifles perfectly, it is relatively cheap, and it can even take the nasty hellfire shells. The optimal size for the unit, regardless of the heavy weapon choice, is pretty much based on how many points you want to spend on the unit; a small unit is a perfect, cheap objective sitter, while a large unit earns its keep as well. Taking a locator beacon on the sergeant is also a good idea if you plan to employ deep striking units such as Terminators or Drop Pods; being able to drop precisely close to your target is always a bonus!

    The other build that is rapidly increasing in popularity in the new codex involves Scouts armed with either shotguns and close combat weapons, run in units of five and with a Land Speeder Storm as a dedicated transport. This makes for an incredibly cheap little unit that fills a Troops slot, is guaranteed to be launching assaults into the enemy deployment zone on turn one or two provided they survive, and is quite capable of taking on most other Troops choices due to having Space Marine stats. Strength and Toughness 4 Troops with three attacks each on the charge at Weapon Skill 3 and Initiative 4 beats out most other Troops, particularly those of the dominant Eldar and Tau. Due to having a Scout deployment or Infiltrate, depending also on whether they get in a transport or not, this is an assault unit with crazy mobility that benefits hugely from its access to an open-topped fast skimmer transport. That the Land Speeder Storm also provides decent light firepower to complement the Scouts makes for an incredibly well rounded unit, but perhaps the biggest draw of this unit comes from their frag and krak grenades. That these units can be taken en masse due to their minimal cost and have both kinds of grenades actually makes them a rather strong counter to Eldar Wave Serpents, tanks that fear krak grenades above almost all other attacks. Such a unit really doesn't require upgrades at all, save that they be run five-strong in a Land Speeder Storm, or even ten-strong on foot. They are a cheap assault unit with incredible mobility that retains that unique Space Marine flexibility through their grenades and good stats.

    Where to Put Them - This ties directly into how you equip the Scouts. Scouts with sniper rifles and heavy weapons want to be camped in cover on your home objective. Scouts with boltguns or shotguns want to be Infiltrating close to provide light fire support and counter-assault potential. And lastly, Scouts with close combat weapons want to be loaded in a Land Speeder Storm or in large units of ten, and sent right up to the enemy. Due to their mediocre armour save, keeping Scouts in cover is definitely the soundest strategy no matter how you intend to run them; that they have Move Through Cover eliminates most of the penalties to deploying them or moving them through terrain.

    Best Uses - Scouts are such a cheap Troops choice unless you waste points on them that they can either be used as your primary scoring units or your supporting Troops. In large numbers, they can actually prove to be pretty decent, particularly when you take four or more units of them in Land Speeder Storms, or in large units that Infiltrate forward to launch turn two assaults. These provide cheap, decent assault units that are otherwise unavailable to Space Marines and don't care nearly as much as Tactical Marines do when a Heldrake gives them a call. Scouts with sniper rifles, on the other hand, are best served as your supporting Troops; they are designed to sit on an objective, survive and stay out of range, not to do damage. Tactical Marines do damage at range and in combat far better than 'Sniper Scouts', so I would use those as your primary Troops instead. In general though, as cheap and versatile in deployment and mobility as Scouts are, I feel they are usually suited to being your supporting cast rather than being the primary scoring units. This is because they don't quite have the general staying power and damage potential as Tactical Marines more than anything else.

    Chapter Tactics - Scouts find a lot of benefits from most of the Chapter Tactics, much like Tactical Marines. Unlike Tactical Marines though, it is quite easy to see which give stronger benefits to Scouts than others due to the more varied ways to deploy them.

    Ultramarines - Scouts get decent mileage out of the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics, but mostly due to the Assault Doctrine. Re-rolling snap shots and ones to hit with their guns from the other two Doctrines are nice, if slight, boosts, but giving them a turn to re-roll their charge distances is simply awesome. This gives an already very decent melee unit that much needed boost to hopefully ensure they make it into combat.

    White Scars - Quite possibly the best of the Chapter Tactics for Scouts, giving the already Scouting and Infiltrating Space Marines Hit and Run, on top of already having Move Through Cover, is just crazy. Sniper Scouts got charged? Get them out. Assault Scouts wanting to get out of a nasty combat, or leave to re-charge their opponent? Hit and Run! This benefits assault Scouts the most by far as they are more likely both to use it and to require its' use.

    Imperial Fists - Bolter Drill for Scouts, while certainly nice, doesn't enjoy the same boost as it does for other Space Marines. Their Ballistic Skill of 3 means that they are a mediocre ranged unit, and Bolter Drill doesn't really alleviate that issue.

    Black Templars - Between Scout, Infiltrate, Land Speeder Storms as dedicated transports and potentially two close combat weapons, adding Crusader into the mix can be quite fun, particularly against the run of the mill Eldar and Tau forces. Adamantium Will is also useful, but as most psychic powers you will really worry about are Blessings, it is limited. These are actually pretty decent for assault-oriented Scout units.

    Iron Hands - Having Feel No Pain (6+) isn't as useful here as it might be on the more valuable per model Tactical Marines, but it is nonetheless a slight defensive boost that can save Scouts against Baleflamers and general anti-infantry firepower.

    Salamanders - Scouts gain some mixed benefits from these; the free master-crafting on the Sergeant is useful, particularly if they have a combi-weapon. On the other hand, re-rolling failed saves against template weapons won't work against the increasingly common AP4 or better templates, though it is handy against AP5 and AP6 templates - such as Doomweavers - of course. That Scouts themselves can't get template weapons outside of a combi-flamer on the Sergeant rather limits these Chapter Tactics for them.

    Raven Guard - Rather surprisingly, unlike Tactical Marines, Scouts don't get much benefit at all from these Chapter Tactics; they already have Scout, and having Stealth on the first turn is a rather conditional ability, although certainly a useful one. Ultimately, Raven Guard Chapter Tactics don't really change Scouts as much as one would hope.


    Did you find this an entertaining and insightful read? Cheers! If you have any feedback for me, feel free to post a comment here or speak to me over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Happy hunting!

    "We are the Space Marines. The champions of Humanity. The Emperor's chosen warriors.
    For every one of us that falls in battle one hundred enemies will die."

    - Anonymous
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 11-13-2013 at 05:40 AM.
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  4. #4

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    DEDICATED TRANSPORTS

    Hey there everyone, I am Learn2Eel and today I'm going to be bringing you some slick rolling tactics. Space Marines have a satisfyingly large number of dedicated transports for use with a wide range of units, giving them a lot of deployment flexibility and options for mobility compared to most other armies. All but one of these can be taken across most of the force organization chart, allowing you to build entire forces of one or more variants of transport. They are universally cheap and great value for delivering your mostly medium-ranged infantry straight into the thick of battle. I hope you find this an entertaining article!

    Space Marines are better off than most other armies in the sense that they have so much flexibility for deployment options. Between Infiltrating or Scouting units provided by characters or Chapter Tactics, orbital transports and ground armoured personnel carriers of two varieties, the Emperors' Finest can attack the foe from a staggering amount of angles. This flexibility innate to the entire army list allows for widely varied forces, and that is before even considering the utilitarian warriors themselves. Typically, their transports are both cheap and fragile while offering minimalist firepower, providing perfect synergy with the more expensive and valuable warriors they carry; an opposite to the situation offered by Eldar with their Wave Serpents, for example. In other words, though they are hardly 'amazing', Space Marine dedicated transports do the job and do it well at a cut-throat points cost. That there are three readily available to your basic squads gives Space Marines quite the edge over other armies, notably their fallen brethren!


    Rhino

    Overview - Rhinos are one of the most under-rated transports in the game, and though the fears surrounding them are often justified, one must remember that Space Marines pay so little for these mobile carriers that it rarely matters that much. Rhinos are incredibly cheap, they are immune to most small arms fire from the front and side arcs, and they are as fast as your other standard transports. On a typical 6x4 board, having your tank move up to 18" a turn after deploying 12" on will often provide you the movement you need to get your units into position where they can unleash their nasty firepower, all in the space of a single turn. If they manage to do this, they have already done their job - your medium-ranged infantry are already close enough to the enemy. If the Rhinos manage to survive the first turn, even better! You can then use them to provide a nuisance through tank-shocking low Leadership units - such as Fire Warriors - and blocking line of sight to your own units after they have fired through clever positioning and flat out moves. With the probable 18" move on the first turn and deploying 12" on, you should be able to get away with disembarking the unit before the Rhino moves, moving up beside them and then blocking them with a Flat Out move after they have fired. This will depend on deployment type though, and obviously being that aggressive with Rhinos can be a mistake in certain cases. Now, obviously they aren't nearly as quick, durable or deadly as the amazing Wave Serpents, or even the very strong Ghost Arks. But does it matter? For Space Marines, not really; their units are durable enough to survive - for the most part - outside of their transport, so paying more points for a more survivable transport probably wouldn't work very well for an already expensive unit anyway. And besides, though they don't have pseudo-rending guns, Space Marines are still pretty decent ranged units. However, it does need to be said; Rhinos are darned fragile. A salvo from a three-strong Crisis team armed with dual missile pods will statistically put a Rhino down - assuming no cover saves - for the count without any markerlight support whatsoever. Again though, they are so cheap and can be taken in such large numbers to a point that your opponent simply can't target them all - which is exactly what you want!

    How to Equip Them - Rhinos really don't need any upgrades to do their job; ideally, you want to keep them as cheap as possible. Most of the options, sadly, just aren't worth the points anyway, and that goes doubly so for a fragile transport that really needs to be taken in large, inexpensive numbers to work best. Dozer Blades are perhaps the only upgrade I would bother with as they are cheap and do serve a good purpose; going second with Rhinos on the board can be rather dangerous, so hiding behind terrain and using the dozer blades to ignore movement penalties is very advantageous.

    Where to Put Them - On the front-lines! The first turn will affect your deployment in that, if you go first, you can be relatively care-free with the Rhinos and deploy them in the terrain-free movement lanes so as to maximise their early mobility. If you are going second, though, it may be smart to employ terrain to your advantage so that if the transport does blow up, the squad can at least get some cover from the probable ensuing fusillade of blast weapons. This can be risky though, as you need to minimize the turns taken for your transports to reach the opposing battle-line where they can do their job to the full extent. Rhinos should always be used aggressively; they are cheap and thus losing them isn't as much of a blow if they explode halfway across the board. But losing them when they are slowly rolling through your half of the table? Unacceptable.

    Best Uses - Using Rhinos demands that at least three of them be taken at pretty much any points limit; running one or two is just far too few, presenting very easy targets for your opponent to neutralize your ground mobility. Even three I would say is the bare minimum; tanks tend to work best when there are lots of them so that your opponent has to spread out their anti-tank firepower. They are best run in a more aggressive army list, or at least one that wants to play to the strengths of Space Marines; they are an army that favours medium-ranged engagements above all else, as they are lacking at long range compared to forces such as Imperial Guard or Tau. Rhinos fit perfectly into these tactics, providing a bullet-sponge for your expensive Space Marines that is both fast and cheap. Keeping them around for line of sight blocking and tank shocking units really boosts their value, allowing them to remain useful even after they primary function has been fulfilled. Remember also that transporting a unit to one location is rarely the case; this is very much a random and objective based game, and remembering to transport your units to other locations quickly can change the game. Additionally, using Rhinos to support your mobile fire-base is integral to success against other strong ranged armies. This is done by jumping a unit out, firing, and then having a Rhino use its' flat out move in the shooting phase to drive a line of sight-blocking wedge between your unit and their target.

    Chapter Tactics - As a dedicated transport, merely saying "Iron Hands are the only tactics that directly benefit the Rhino, take those" would be rather obtuse. As such, this needs to be looked at in the context of the squad inside. A Rhino will naturally favour a unit that is designed to be more aggressive, which favours White Scars, Black Templars and Imperial Fists for the most part - the last of which mostly applies to boltgun-armed units such as Sternguard Veterans or Tactical Marines. Raven Guard also find great benefit from mounting their power-armoured infantry up in Rhinos due to the Scout moves.


    Razorback

    Overview - I'm going to be perfectly honest; I don't see Razorbacks being that worthwhile for the most part, not in the context of 6th Edition. Space Marines are designed around medium ranged firepower, and Razorbacks simply don't offer you the mobility needed to capitalize on this without wasting what makes them distinct from Rhinos. Their increased cost without any boost to fragility makes their loss much more keenly felt, and the firepower they offer isn't that great in the first place anyway. This isn't 5th Edition where you could score while inside transports and multiple-small-units was the name of the game; the shots on offer from Razorbacks won't do too much against monsters like Riptides and Wraithknights. Their lack of fire ports and reduced transport size also don't really favour most Space Marine units that generally want to be firing - they have access to special and combi-weapons for a reason - and want to be in decently sized squads so as to have a greater chance of surviving all the nasty shooting on offer. I'm probably wrong, but I just do not see a valuable 'transport' here; you are far better served taking the cheaper Rhino for larger Space Marine squads, and using Predators, Hunters and Vindicators as vehicular fire-bases. However, there are a few very good uses for Razorbacks that a Rhino can't perform. They are the natural transport choice for a five-strong Sternguard Veteran squad that doesn't go in a Drop Pod, providing good fire support and that needed mobility. They also work very well in tandem with Rhinos by garrisoning the short-ranged elements of other units, such as Devastators. By themselves, I don't rate them too highly, but when transporting the right units or run as part of a mechanized force alongside Rhinos, they can definitely make the most of themselves.

    How to Equip Them - Much like the Rhino, keeping the Razorback as cheap as possible so that you can take them in greater numbers is the key to being successful with them; they aren't as cheap as Rhinos, but if you are taking five-man units in them - and not a combat squad - you will still be saving points. While I don't see Razorback 'spam' combined with multiple-small-units working nearly as well in 6th Edition as it did in 5th Edition due to the greater vulnerability of vehicles and the focus on objectives, it is still a viable tactic and one of the few that really maximises on the effectiveness of this particular transport. Again, I would leave any upgrades to dozer blades, as even the extra armour is just a bit too expensive and will see a Razorback with an upgraded gun getting a bit too close in cost to a Night Scythe! As to the choice of which gun, this can largely depend on your meta. The increased base cost of a Razorback has reduced the value of its' stock twin-linked heavy bolter, while the increasing numbers of both light infantry and - for some armies - light vehicles does favour the assault cannon, it raises the question as to whether a lascannon would be better due to range. A Razorback needs to make the most of its opportunities to be worthwhile, and an assault cannon can be out-ranged incredibly easily in the current meta. However, a lascannon isn't going to do all that much in an edition dominated by monstrous creatures; while sniping wounds off here and there is obviously helpful, paying so many points for it doesn't seem wise. The lascannon and plasma gun combo doesn't work as it should given that by moving 6" a turn, one of them is forced to snap fire. As a transport first and foremost, a Razorback cannot afford this no matter how much you want it for the guns. Ultimately, I think this is a tough choice with no easy answer, though I would favour the assault cannon if I knew the Razorbacks would have Scout.

    Where to Put Them - Unlike a Rhino, you don't want to "rush" a Razorback forward, as by being a lot more expensive with a heavy weapon, it is also quite a bit more valuable. You don't want to compromise its firepower, but you also don't want to remain stationary with a unit inside that has no fire ports to shoot out of. Deploying them with greater care and behind available cover is always smart, even if you are going first, as you really can't afford to lose them early on.

    Best Uses - A Razorback is designed to provide fire support to small units of Space Marines, and using it as such is really all you can do with it without wasting points. Razorbacks just aren't as valuable as they used to be, particularly when you need a lot more scoring bodies to really be successful in an objective-oriented edition. There has never been a time in recent memory where they have been so easily destroyed, and yet they remain one of the more expensive transports you can get. Their fragility means that you should really move them up from cover to cover 6" a turn - unless they are out of range with their guns - though if you feel their firepower will be ineffective, moving 12" plus the flat out move is obviously worthwhile. At that point though, you might start wondering; "why buy this tank in the first place if it won't shoot?" This is why they do work reasonably well with a twin-linked lascannon supporting a five-man squad with a heavy weapon - or four, in the case of Devastators - to maximise on your long ranged fire output while providing a transport in a pinch. However, it still doesn't justify their inclusion as much as you can get another squad like that for about the same price. Taking them in numbers of four or more is recommended to provide target saturation to your army list.

    Chapter Tactics - While It Will Not Die is certainly a bit more helpful for a Razorback than a Rhino in the sense that you actually really want it to live for more than a turn, it doesn't change the fact that most opponents will be bringing enough firepower to level them in a single volley anyway. However, unlike the Rhino, Razorbacks favour a somewhat different approach with the unit inside. The firepower they offer and the reduced transport capacity means that you should rarely be moving flat out or more than 6" in the movement phase, reducing the mobility of the transport pretty severely in comparison to a Rhino. When taking this into account, the unit inside will likely have a less aggressive purpose, though it stands to reason that they would still be given a plasma gun and combi-plasma to offer that crucial fire support in tandem with the Razorback itself at medium range. In that sense, the Razorback's unit probably benefits from the same Chapter Tactics as Rhinos, but you can get away with the others as well and not notice too much of a difference. A Scout move for a Razorback can be more important than it is for a Rhino though if you don't want to compromise its' firepower, giving Raven Guard and - in a Khan list - White Scars some impetus.


    Drop Pod

    Overview - Space Marines really like rubbing it in to their traitor brethren, and in few places is this more apparent than having access to so many transports, notable among them the Drop Pod. This AV 12/12/12 open-topped transport allows for safe and reliable deep strikes anywhere on the battlefield with very little risk of mishaps. They allow their associated unit to disembark immediately, giving the Space Marines almost unparalleled alpha strike potential as, barring their heavy weapons, they get to deliver their short ranged payloads at full Ballistic Skill. That really is the long and short to a Drop Pod; it gets your unit into the thick of things instantly and without needing to worry about reaching the target, allowing for maximum devastation at short to medium range with specialist weapons such as flamers and meltaguns. There are some unique traits to keep in mind though, as while they are identical in points cost to a Rhino, they do have their fair share of downsides to go with the obvious transportation advantages they bring. While giving your unit a virtual guarantee to shoot at close range without fear of not making it to the fight, Interceptor weaponry can ruin your day, particularly from its masters; the Tau, with their multiple AP2 and AP3 large blast weapons. Broadside Battlesuits, Riptides and more with Interceptor can wreak untold havoc on your orbital assault forces, and even the Drop Pods themselves - as relatively harmless as they are after the drop. Additionally, intelligent opponents can counter your reserves play by placing their forces such that your deep striking units won't be able to get as close as you would like to high value targets, such as battle tanks and the like. Imperial Guard, in particular, when played by a general of any decent worth simply will not allow you to get anywhere near their precious artillery batteries or Leman Russ squadrons as long as they have infantry platoons to spare.

    Countering this ultimately comes down to mixing up your units so that you can have units drop with anti-infantry weapons or anti-tank weapons as necessary; don't bring a bunch of flamers to a fight against the Armoured Battle Company! There is also the issue of your force entering piece meal depending on how many Drop Pods are employed; if you only use one or two Drop Pods, this likely won't be too much of a concern. However, if those Drop Pods are mixed with a mostly static foot-based element, or if you take an entire force mounted in Drop Pods, you are quickly going to find that you won't be able to engage your opponent in a fair fight. The Drop Pod Assault rule is great, of course, but it will leave up to half of your army as prey to the enemy while the rest are either in reserve or in the back-field. This forces you to maximise your alpha strike as much as possible to deny your opponent this advantage; after all, this is the key theme to a Drop Pod list. You need to kill as much as you can in the first turn, or risk losing too much of your forces in retaliation to sustain a fighting chance for the rest of the game. This leads to most armies entirely mounted in Drop Pods being of the Salamanders variety and led by Vulkan, giving them maximum damage potential against both medium to light infantry and heavy vehicles. As tempting as it is to run such an army list, the risks can outweigh the benefits against certain armies and thus I would strongly consider a mixed approach. A few Sternguard Veteran squads with combi-meltas will be enough to devastate most heavy tanks as necessary, while your mobile scoring units in Rhinos can do the mop-up job on any infantry jumping out of transports or foot-slogging. Your static battle tanks and Devastator squads can then focus on other priority targets to supplement your other forces. Of course, this is just simple strategy and plays on an ideal scenario, but it is nonetheless an important piece to remember when using Drop Pods.

    How to Equip Them - Drop Pods literally don't need any upgrades, at all. Ignore the Deathwind Launcher as you can't even fire it on the turn a Drop Pod arrives; though it is superior to a storm bolter in pretty much every other way otherwise, it takes a bit too much of a risk that the Drop Pod will survive. And besides, like Rhinos, you really want to keep these cheap so you can take more of them; when a pair of deathwind launchers cost almost as much as a third drop pod, you know there's a bit of an issue. As you really want to be taking Drop Pods in odd numbers, adding either upgrade is really unnecessary. In regards to the locator beacon, this is useful for the first wave of Drop Pods only, such as those that carry Ironclad Dreadnoughts or five-man Assault Squads with two flamers. It provides more reliable deep strike scatter for units such as Terminators and subsequent Drop Pod landings, though it must be said that other Drop Pods don't really need the boost due to their internal scatter-reduction system. Leaving Drop Pods bare really is the way to go, though if you do plan on using Terminators, it isn't a bad idea to give two or three of them Locator Beacons.

    Best Uses - I've added in 'Where to Put Them' here as it pretty much overlaps with the best uses anyway. Undeniably, the best use of Drop Pods is as a delivery system for valuable short-ranged units such as Ironclad Dreadnoughts and Salamanders infantry armed with melta and flame weaponry. After all, you are paying the same points as a Rhino for a transport that delivers your unit far more reliably to where you need it; unless you play risky with your deep strike, it is probably the safest transport you can take. That no other transport is guaranteed to get your units in short range for maximum effect not only gives it a distinct role, but makes it quite valuable for particular army builds. Sternguard Veterans, Salamanders Tactical Marines, Ironclad Dreadnoughts, Command Squads with massed special weapons and so on make for ideal units to deliver. As for actually using the Drop Pod itself, unlike a Rhino it can't really do anything other than hopefully provide cover saves through good positioning of your other units and maybe kill an infantry model here or there. Really, you pay for that initial deployment and that is it. I would take them in odd numbers to make the most of the drop pod assault, so three or five and so on. Taking entire armies mounted in drop pods is certainly a viable strategy as it leaves your opponent with no targets to fire upon if they go first and can play some pretty nasty mind games on them as well. It allows you to capitalize on deployment mistakes better than Rhinos or Razorbacks ever could. Try to deep strike your units in relative proximity to each other where possible so that they can't be isolated and destroyed by your opponent too easily while the rest of your forces arrive - whether by ground, air or reserves. In turn, you will typically want to focus on enemy units that your opponent has left relatively isolated; gang up on units to give yourself an unfair advantage. As to the deep strike itself, try to stay 12" away from any table edge before resolving the scatter so that you don't need to worry about mishaps.

    Chapter Tactics - Drop Pods have always favoured close-assault units; those with meltaguns, flamers, combi-weapons and so on. This unparalleled deployment option for such units heavily favours Salamanders above all given the affinity they have for both flame and melta weapons - the latter if Vulkan is employed. It also helps out Black Templars for getting into combat quicker, as well as Imperial Fists to make the most of their Bolter Drill. Of course, armies such as White Scars and Ultramarines who naturally have assault boosts of some kind also get a lot of mileage out of Drop Pods.


    Land Speeder Storm

    Overview - Typically, when one sees a two hull point AV 10/10/10 vehicle, they look the other way out of sheer pity. The irony is so delicious, though, when one sees how popular Venoms and War Walkers are. So how does the Land Speeder Storm hold up? Quite well, actually, as it effectively allows Space Marines to run dedicated assault units in their Troops section. Yes, it is incredibly fragile, even with a Jink save and line of sight blocking terrain - Griffons ahoy! And yes, it doesn't have the firepower to match those other glass rodents. So what does it do well? Firstly, it is an open-topped transport, allowing its embarked unit to both shoot out of it and assault out of it with little penalty. Though it only carries five models, those models are Space Marine Scouts; armed with krak grenades and the typical 'Marine' profile, they are nasty damage dealers in the right circumstances and useful against all manner of vehicles and light infantry. If that wasn't enough, it provides a 12" Scout move to boot, allowing it to reach the enemy lines without a hitch on the first turn. Though it isn't delivering an assault unit of the status of Honour Guard or Assault Terminators, it is nonetheless a very handy trait to exploit, particularly given the general meta shift to light infantry squads. Chuck in a large blast weapon that is unlikely to kill, but causes Blind tests against all those low Initiative enemies, and you have yourself a potent little combination that just keeps on giving game after game. The low price of both the Storm and its Scout unit lends itself very well to the 6th Edition mantra for multiple scoring units; pair them up with some beefier Scout or Tactical Squads, and you are well on your way to some very nice objective capturing potential.

    How to Equip Them - Storms have access to a few weapon upgrades over their stock heavy bolter, though I would generally advise against them. You want to use the Storm as an assault transport which does give you a reason to take a heavy flamer and specialize it against infantry, though being able to move 12" each turn and fire both of its guns at full Ballistic Skill is also nice with the heavy bolter. Given that a Land Speeder Storm will effectively cover 36" of the game board on the first turn - deploy 12" on, Scout 12" up, move 12" - it likely will never need to make a flat out move, unless you want to get that boosted Jink save to give it a better chance of surviving. I would avoid the multi-melta as Space Marines have much better access to anti-tank weaponry elsewhere - even on the Scouts themselves to an extent - such as from Attack Bikes or Biker squads armed with special weapons. Additionally, it wastes the Cerberus Launcher as both weapons obviously want to shoot at two entirely distinct targets. The assault cannon is strong, definitely, and it compliments the Cerberus Launcher decently, but it is expensive, and for an AV 10/10/10 two hull point open-topped vehicle, that really is not a good idea. Honestly, I would keep Land Speeder Storms stock with either the heavy bolter or the free heavy flamer; remember that the firepower isn't important, so much as just delivering its unit.

    Where to Put Them - Regardless of whether you have the first or second turn, I would be aggressive in your deployment with Land Speeder Storms - ignore the terrain in your deployment zone and instead focus on those in the midfield. The reason for this is that Storms have a 12" Scout move before the game starts, giving them a huge initial movement buffer that also allows you to counter-deploy against an opponent going second. If an opponent has left a flank bare with mostly light infantry covering objectives, Scout your Storms in that direction to give your Scouts ample targets to destroy. If the midfield has even a few line of sight blocking terrain pieces, use your Scout moves to position your Storms behind or near them to limit as much of your opponents' firepower to them as possible. This is the ideal scenario for using Storms as it also lets them maximise on the crazy mobility they have, but obviously this won't always be the case. Some game boards are often left bare in the middle - heavily favouring gun-line forces - which means that you are going to have be a lot more daring with the Storms. You take the risk when moving up that your opponent will simply blast them to bits with little effort, but if you are too cautious with them, they may just end up being wasted points. If you expect to play on such a game board, Storms are going to be a bit of a weak point for your force unless you have an entirely mobile army presenting lots of target saturation. In this case, you can use the Storms to deliver counter-assault units against fast moving enemy assault Troops; Scouts aren't a premier melee unit, but they can feasibly add to an existing combat and help swing the tide. Besides, they are a cheap unit that can also act as a roadblock and put your opponent in the unfavourable position of getting shot at for another turn if you play your cards right.

    Best Uses - Storms are best used not only as assault transports for melee-oriented Scout units, but as fire support for other melee forces. This is due mostly to the Cerberus Launcher and ability to fire both guns even after moving and disembarking its unit. A large blast weapon that causes a Blind check simply by hitting a unit is very nice indeed, particularly against all the low Initiative Tau, Necrons and Orks out there. While it obviously won't work so well against other Space Marines and Eldar, it is nonetheless a very handy tool to give Scouts an even better chance of surviving or winning an assault. While the Storm can be used to transport bolter or shotgun Scouts right into the fray where they are in their natural element, their limited effectiveness compared to assault Scouts makes them somewhat redundant, particularly when the Storm is used. However, it must be noted that as an open-topped transport, Scouts can fire out of the Storm at Ballistic Skill 3 provided it only moves 6", giving a bit more of a boost for boltgun Scouts than anything else. Realistically, the fragility of the Storm doesn't make this a great tactic, and it also means that you really need quite a few Storms in all cases so that your opponent doesn't easily isolate and destroy your Scouts. Using them aggressively is a given as otherwise you waste the potential of the Space Marines' only open-topped transport, but given their sheer mobility, being cautious is not unwise. They cover such ground with their Scout move and being able to fire after moving 12" that you can and should use terrain to your advantage on that first turn - unless you go second and are confident of a game turn one charge - to block line of sight wherever possible.

    Chapter Tactics - As Land Speeder Storms are tied directly to Scouts and don't really get that much benefit from Iron Hands Chapter Tactics due to their fragility, this is easily determined by which Chapter Tactics work best for assault-oriented Scouts. This means that White Scars in particular give you the best possible unit in such a role, where most of the others, barring the more redundant (for Scouts) Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, give them decent boosts.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "Plunge into the enemy's breast like a blade, cut out his heart, and you will know fulfillment.
    The Emperor has given us strength. In return, we give him victory!"

    - Jaghatai Khan
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 11-19-2013 at 06:20 PM.
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  5. #5

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    ELITES

    Hey there everyone, I am Learn2Eel and I am excited to bring you the latest segment of my Space Marines Tactica series! When the battle turns against the forces of a Chapter, they press their most seasoned veterans into the conflict; warriors with few peers among the dozens of factions in the galaxy. I hope you enjoy this article!

    The Space Marine Elites provide some very interesting options, most of which are quite specialized to certain roles. Sternguard Veterans are ranged specialists through and through, while Ironclad Dreadnoughts and Centurion Assault Squads - obviously - excel at close quarters. Then you have generalist units like the Legion of the Damned and regular Terminators that can perform either role rather well. While there are a few less worthwhile units here, such as Dreadnoughts, the Elites section still preserves that great internal balance key to any successful Space Marines codex. A note here that this is the first part of a series of two articles.


    Vanguard Veterans

    Overview - When one looks at Vanguard Veterans in their newest iteration, they will likely lament the changes to Heroic Intervention. After all, launching an assault from deep strike - or reserves at all - has become an increasingly rarer ability in 6th Edition with each new codex release, and it was admittedly what made Vanguard Veterans unique. Now, it allows them to launch simultaneous assaults without losing the bonus attack for charging, and the Veteran Sergeant also automatically passes Glorious Intervention tests for 'saving' other characters from challenges. While cool in theory, it doesn't hold up as well under pressure. Launching multiple assaults against Tau, for example, while obviously ideal if you can actually get there, will often result in a good chunk of a squad getting obliterated by Supporting Fire. And typically, Tau offer the kind of units you would want to launch multi-charges against; of course, there are many situations against other forces where it would be useful, but it isn't as great an ability as it could have been.

    A Vanguard Veteran Sergeant, even despite access to some cool gear, is still just a Space Marine Sergeant; he isn't going to do better than any of your HQ characters in combat. Still, it is nice to have, especially as Heroic Intervention in its old form was never going to stick around. Add in a handy points decrease and some boosted options - grav pistols are a great addition in pairs - and Vanguard Veterans are still a handy unit, if uninspiring. Compared to Assault Marines who fight for a possibly less contested Fast Attack slot - depending on whether you have Bikes as Troops - Vanguard Veterans pay quite a bit for an extra attack, point of Leadership across the squad, additional options and Heroic Intervention. I'm not sold on whether they are strictly speaking comparatively superior to Assault Marines, but that isn't really what I am interested in. The key here is that all the expensive weapon options and storm shield upgrades for Vanguard Veterans are still as pricy as ever, and still come on the same Veteran stat-line with 3+ armour. This wouldn't be such a bad thing, but the reality is that equipping them as so immediately puts them into the points range of Terminators who sport a lot more survivability. What really seals the deal for me though is how amazing Honour Guard are now with their significant cost drop. This doesn't mean Vanguard aren't a good unit though, just that they aren't really as ideal a front-line combat unit as their profile might suggest; they are ideal counter-assault units and intended to support your less combat-centric forces, such as Tactical Marines and Sternguard Veterans.

    How to Equip Them - Unless you aren't running a Chapter Master, I would almost always give Vanguard Veterans jump packs; the reason being that, as regular infantry, they are completely out-classed by Honour Guard as an assault unit. Giving them jump packs distinguishes them from both Honour Guard and Assault Terminators and thus allows them a more defined position in an army list. After this, I recommend making the most of being able to take 'hidden' special melee weapons in your squad; while giving the Sergeant a power weapon obviously works well for challenges and his Heroic Intervention special rule, not letting your power weapons get challenged out can be a big bonus. I would avoid giving each Vanguard Veteran a power weapon though, as by paying the same price as Captains and other HQs, they quickly become incredibly over-costed by not matching the durability or combat prowess of those models. The same is true of storm shields, even though they are handily discounted for Vanguard Veterans compared to characters. A unit of ten with power weapons, thunder hammers and power fists everywhere sure is fun, but from a competitive stand-point, it is a massive no-no as they simply eat up too many points, particularly if you want to give them any kind of boosted durability through storm shields.

    Instead, trim the fat on Vanguard Veterans and compromise on their awesome kit; hand out a few power weapons and maybe one or two a power fist or thunder hammer, and give two or three - perhaps more or less depending on squad size - storm shields to soak up AP3 and AP2 wounds. Vanguard Veterans aren't the best choice to begin with, and spending too many points on them is, quite simply, a trap. They remain power-armoured models with Toughness 4 and a single wound each, and giving them power weapons puts them very firmly in the price range of Terminators - to whom Vanguard Veterans are realistically inferior, and that is even accounting for Terminators being over-costed in the first place! The one upgrade that actually is worth taking on the entire unit is melta bombs; paying between 25 to 50 points give each model a melta bomb can prove for a very nasty surprise against most monstrous creatures and any vehicle. As an aside, though I don't recommend plasma pistols, grav pistols are quite valuable on Vanguard Veterans, if only for Concussive. Combine all those melta bombs with a concussed Wraithknight and you may actually find a suicide mission to be anything but.

    Where to Put Them - Vanguard Veterans have a few deployment options available to them, but mostly you want them somewhere so that they can reach combat quickly, being an assault unit and all. As I noted earlier, I wouldn't bother with Vanguard Veterans without jump packs in the first place as Honour Guard and Assault Terminators are far superior to them in that role, so I won't cover them. With jump pack units, deploying can be a bit of a nuisance. Jumping from cover to cover is ideal, as well as starting 12" on, but it isn't always possible. When a game board has little terrain or a 'death zone' with no terrain in the middle of the board, you will have to weigh up the risks of deep striking versus being shot at while you advance. Vanguard Veterans are always a juicy target, as they are quite a nasty melee unit but one that is both expensive and, compared to the other two assault units mentioned previously, fragile per model. In that sense, you can't really rely on target saturation to save them as they can and will be slaughtered by mass anti-infantry firepower.

    Vanguard Veterans can't bring combi-weapons, and as they lost the "assault from reserves" special rule they had, deep striking them isn't always the obvious answer. All it takes is for a bit of scatter to land them out in the open, and a Riptide can just guzzle them up with Interceptor fire. However, moving up the board will see you subjected to those nasty weapons anyway, and more often! What works here is combining Vanguard Veterans with a character or Chapter Tactic that can provide them with Scout or Infiltrate. Shrike's rules do seem to indicate he is supposed to confer Infiltrate, so that is a viable option - even if Shrike himself is over-costed. The Raven Guard Chapter Tactics won't confer Scout to the Vanguard Veterans, and sadly, neither can Khan. This does sadly limit their options a bit more than one would like, but with ingenuity and - hopefully - an acceptable amount of terrain, jumping from cover to cover and abusing line of sight should be enough to get Vanguard Veterans where they are needed.

    Best Uses - I can see Vanguard Veterans fulfilling a niche of a strong and multi-purpose counter charge unit that, when equipped with melta bombs across the unit, can deal with any potential threat in an assault to your battle line. They should never move off by themselves despite their high mobility due to their inherent fragility per point; an elite melee unit with only power armour and a few costly 3+ invulnerable saves is not designed to be an anvil and should never be used as such. They aren't the best character escort for this reason, though when moving up behind or near your transports and Bikes or other jump infantry units, they work very well to hold up potential melee threats. Their lack of penalty for multiple charges can be very useful, but the fact that units that you generally would want to counter charge can put out so many shots - take Tau for example with Supporting Fire - it can quickly become a mistake and thus I would recommend against it unless you are sure of your chances. You can't afford to be careless with them as they are very expensive, so make sure to abuse cover and line of sight as much as possible. Though the allure of power weapons is admittedly great, don't spend too many points on them; a few should be enough, especially as they can't be singled out in challenges.

    Chapter Tactics - I feel that White Scars have the best Chapter Tactics for Vanguard Veterans; what is not to love with a big, expensive assault unit with mobility having Hit and Run? Raven Guard obviously gives out a big boost through re-rolling charge distances, while the Ultramarines doctrine provides a one-use version of this ability. The rest are mostly situational, though Crusader can be useful to make the most of their threat range.


    Sternguard Veterans

    Overview - While expensive power-armoured bodies are falling out of favour for the most part in an edition where AP3 has never been easier to come by, Sternguard remain one of the premier Space Marine choices due to the raw devastation they bring. Each has the typical veteran profile with Leadership 9 and two attacks base, though their biggest draw is undoubtedly the special issue ammunition on their boltguns and bolt components of combi-bolters. These allow Sternguard to fire either AP3 rounds with Gets Hot!, 30" range AP4 rounds, AP5 Ignores Cover rounds or Poisoned (2+) rounds. This allows them to fire at long range and trade blows with Fire Warriors or out-range most other medium-ranged units, cut through 3+ armoured enemies such as other 'Marines on the fly, devastate light infantry and Nurgle Daemons through ignores cover bolts, and even lay mass wounds on monstrous creatures. Wraithknights, Trygons and really any manner of monstrous creature - barring those with a 2+ armour save - are rightly fearful of the sheer number of wounds hellfire rounds at rapid fire range can bring on.

    Simply put, before any upgrades are taken, Sternguard are essentially a toolbox unit that can easily counter almost any unit with a Toughness value; realistically, only multiple wound units with 2+ armour saves in large numbers can survive the prolonged fire of Sternguard Veterans. They even have krak grenades, like other Space Marines, to destroy most vehicles in close combat, with the option for melta bombs on the Veteran Sergeant. However, their main tool against vehicles are their combi-weapons; through combi-meltas, combi-plasmas or combi-gravs, Sternguard can reliably engage pretty much any target in the game. So how do you use this crazy damage output to its' fullest extent given that Sternguard are highly expensive elite models with the same durability as regular Tactical Marines? Give them a transport, preferably a Drop Pod, and send them flying at the nastiest targets at any given point; watch the carnage, and sit back and enjoy the show. This is what defines Sternguard in a nutshell; highly damaging, risky due to their lower survivability in terms of points-per-model than other Space Marines, but incredibly rewarding and versatile.

    How to Equip Them - In the previous codex, many players - understandably - took squads of Sternguard armed solely with combi-weapons, chucked them in a Drop Pod and called it a day. With the increase in cost for combi-weapons, despite the points decrease for the Sternguard Veterans themselves, this load-out has generally fallen out of favour. Ultimately, you only really need five combi-weapons to annihilate the target of your choice, regardless of squad size. In that sense, I recommend a maximum of five combi-weapons and a minimum of three when using them in Drop Pods. The choice of which specific combi-weapon to use depends on what the rest of your list does well; a list saturated with anti-tank may want to try combi-flamers for slaughtering light infantry, and consequently, combi-meltas will annihilate any expensive vehicle you point them at.

    I wouldn't bother with special or heavy weapons on Sternguard for one reason alone; you pay the points on Sternguard mostly for their special issue ammunition, even above their extensive array of options. Sacrificing the special issue ammunition just to fire more than one salvo with specialist weapons doesn't seem like an even trade to me, particularly as Sternguard don't get any price cuts on specialist weapons to compensate. Realistically, taking combi-weapons will give you all you need for the drop, and afterwards, krak grenades and the special issue ammunition should be more than enough for the Sternguard to handle most targets. They don't need combat upgrades, particularly not on the Sergeant; they are designed for ranged combat, after all, and are expensive without those upgrades anyway. Trying to keep the cost on Sternguard Veterans down is always ideal. If you use Sternguard Veterans on foot - or in a ground transport - then obviously the special weapons become more valuable, of course. Just be aware that this is naturally a riskier usage for Sternguard Veterans, and taking heavy weapons or special weapons has them encroaching on both Devastators and Command Squads, respectively.

    Where to Put Them - So I'll address the elephant in the room; yes, Sternguard Veterans are almost always best used in Drop Pods. Now that we have that out of the way, where else can you put them? Even despite having access to two heavy weapons and their own 30" kraken ammunition, running them on foot isn't strictly wise due to their high vulnerability; they have the same durability as Tactical Marines despite costing slightly over half as much per model, meaning that you need to take extra steps to protect them. As they can't quite put out the long range firepower of Devastators, Sternguard on the ground should be employed either in Rhinos or Razorbacks; the former is cheap, allows them to take larger viable units and also use fire points while they close on their target. The latter provides additional fire support and naturally supports a smaller unit, which for one as expensive as Sternguard Veterans, is quite an important consideration. I would avoid Land Raiders as they are designed for assault units first and foremost - any other use of them is usually a waste - and Storm Ravens aren't ideal as, if they crash, it is all but guaranteed that the entirety of the Sternguard Veteran unit will evaporate. Stick to Drop Pods, but Rhinos and Razorbacks are good if you don't want to go the orbital assault route - and if you can get Scout, even better!

    Best Uses - I feel that Sternguard Veterans, while certainly best employed in Drop Pods to provide a brutal alpha strike, can make the most of themselves either in transports or - in rare cases - on foot. Scouting a bunch of Rhinos, a few of them packed with Sternguard Veterans, through either Khan in a White Scars list or Raven Guard Chapter Tactics is a great tactic that puts a lot of early pressure on your opponent and effectively gives you an extra 'first turn' where your opponent can't shoot you. The reality is, Sternguard are a high damage unit that has lower durability in points-per-model than Tactical Marines; this means that you need to get them in range as quickly as possible to justify their high cost. Whether through Rhinos, Razorbacks, using a cover-laden game board to 'hide' through smart positioning on foot, or with the staple Drop Pods, Sternguard are - ironically, next to Vanguard Veterans - about speed above all else. They don't need it once they get in range, but they sure as heck need it to get there in the first place. Otherwise, Sternguard are your high-value-target hunters that specialize in obliterating anything with a Toughness value; in a Drop Pod, a mix of combi-meltas is always advisable so that they can even contribute against vehicles. Popping a Land Raider in one turn and, if they survive, unloading into its' contents with hellfire or vengeance rounds is simply delicious. Don't be afraid to target monstrous creatures with them; the higher the Toughness value, the less valuable it becomes against Poisoned (2+) bolt rounds!

    Chapter Tactics - In a perfect world, Bolter Drill would apply to Sternguard using special issue ammunition; sadly, it doesn't, and thus the Imperial Fists' tactics don't benefit these Veterans. Salamanders give combi-meltas and combi-flamers a massive boost through master-crafting - the former when Vulkan is employed - that further applies to the special issue ammunition even after the melta or flame shot has been used, and would thus be my primary pick for Sternguard. For your average Sternguard unit in a Drop Pod, having Hit and Run can be useful in case they are charged once they arrive so as to get out and shoot some more. For others on foot, Scout is quite useful too, while the rest of the Chapter Tactics provide minor - if any - boosts.


    Dreadnought

    Overview - Walkers are very much a by-product of 6th Edition in that, through various rule changes, they simply aren't as valuable as they otherwise used to be. They generally aren't durable enough, they lack focus or they are too expensive for what they do; particularly compared to their non-vehicular rivals, monstrous creatures, who received irrational buffs in the edition switch. Dreadnoughts are often at the fore-front of such critiques, and despite a minor points drop and the significant price reduction of the 'new' Venerable upgrade, this is still largely the case. They try to be a multi-purpose unit but can't quite do as well in such a role as you would like. This is due both to their relative fragility for the points cost compared to other vehicles such as Predators, and their rather low damage output overall unless you focus them on a specific kind of death-dealing. If you want them in melee, their greater vulnerability in combat through easier-hitting krak grenades and melta bombs and low number of high Strength attacks make them less than ideal, particularly given their average stat-line and lack of assault grenades. At range, outside of the 'rifleman' configuration featuring two twin-linked autocannons, they don't offer enough fire power to really warrant their points cost against other battle tanks in the Space Marine armoury. When you mix and match a ranged weapon and a close combat weapon, the Dreadnought's damage output in either case is reduced rather largely. Unlike the more competitive walkers in this edition - such as Soul Grinders or War Walkers - Dreadnoughts don't offer one of the sheer firepower, extreme mobility, melee prowess or durability to really be a stand-out choice. They pay to be a utility vehicle, and though they aren't by any means bad, they aren't great either. Try to specialize them at long range shooting, or deliver them as a suicide anti-tank unit, and they should do just fine. Otherwise, I feel your Elite slots are better used elsewhere than on these mighty, fallen warriors.

    How to Equip Them - Dreadnoughts do have lots of options, but these generally boil down into two main 'builds'. The first is the classic 'rifleman' Dreadnought, armed with two twin-linked autocannons. It is a decently durable and damaging generalist unit with long range and reliability, providing solid damage output for the points and a strong solid choice for an Elite slot. Taken either in a pair or trio will lead to the best results, as one is a bit too much of an odd duck and consequently an easy target for your opponent. This also allows the Dreadnought to stay away from melee and not get tied up with its low number of attacks and increased vulnerability to krak grenades. The popular alternative build is to take a multi-melta, slot the Dreadnought into a Drop Pod, and call it a day. This provides your force with a relatively cheap suicide unit that, as an AV 12/12/10 walker, is decently durable and can ignore small arms fire while having a good chance of destroying a valuable vehicle on the first turn. Dropping on the second turn against Eldar, for example, makes it likely their Wave Serpents will have used the Serpent Shields, leaving them highly vulnerable to an AP1 melta weapon. And besides, taking the chance to destroy a Land Raider or other such high value target - particularly when it is a transport - is well worth the risk and price of the Dreadnought. This tactic is further boosted by the use of Vulkan in a Salamanders primary detachment, but it isn't necessary for the unit to be successful.

    Generally speaking, melee Dreadnought variants don't perform well at all in 6th Edition as, despite the obvious deployment edge provided by a Drop Pod, they are too easily destroyed on a turn after the drop if your opponent is worried about them getting into combat. Additionally, trying to 'run' a Dreadnought up the field is tantamount to suicide in an edition with so much high strength shooting, cover or no. As a gun platform, the only really worthwhile build is one the 'rifleman' variety, as the other weapons cannot be doubled up on and thus leave the Dreadnought in a mixed, and less useful, role. Dreadnoughts realistically don't need extra armour as they are often in a long range role anyway or, in the case of one in a Drop Pod, it has likely already served its purpose or will be destroyed regardless - they almost never survive past the drop, I've found. The under-slung guns need not be changed, as a drop Dreadnought should have a multi-melta anyway, wasting the heavy flamers, while an Ironclad - as an actual assault walker - benefits more from them anyway. As to the Venerable option, this is a matter of preference and points. Statistically, a 'rifleman' will hit four times at Ballistic Skill 4 anyway due to the re-rolls to hit. However, making a Dreadnought with a multi-melta Venerable pretty much eliminates any need to take Vulkan, going from a 1/3 chance to miss to a 1/6. I've found that as AV 12 vehicles tend to die to massed glances from Strength 7 or 8 weaponry anyway, the Venerable upgrade isn't really as good as it was in 5th Edition and is mostly an unnecessary upgrade.

    Where to Put Them - If you are running a gun platform variant, I recommend keeping them in the rear or middle of your deployment zone where - on a typical 6x4 gaming board - they should have range to most of your opponents army, provided you took the autocannons of course. Realistically, 48" allows them to out-range most units, so try to maximise on this by using your deployment zone to stay out of their range but keeping them in range of your guns. They work pretty well in close proximity to objective-camping squads so that either unit can provide fire or situational melee support for the other, and can even sit out on the flanks unsupported if you so choose. As for melee or close-range builds with a multi melta or assault cannon, I recommend taking a Drop Pod; it is a cheap transport that gets the Dreadnought as close to its targets as possible to maximise its' short ranged damage potential.

    Best Uses - I feel that Dreadnoughts sadly are quite limited in terms of viable builds at a competitive level, but that isn't to say they can't be useful outside of those builds, just that you will likely get more mileage from them. Keeping a 'rifleman' Dreadnought in your back-field to hunt light transports and even other AV 12 or lower walkers is ideal, and make sure to keep them out of assault range; they make for ideal targets for spawned Termagant broods that can easily tie it up in combat for the majority of a game. Keeping counter-assault units such as Vanguard Veterans or Assault Marines around for this purpose can be an astute tactic; just be aware of course not to waste those units' offensive potential. Though opponents will often ignore these Dreadnoughts because their damage output doesn't scream "kill me", be sure not to leave them unsupported as they are quite easily destroyed or neutralized by concentrated fire or melee. Dreadnoughts in Drop Pods armed with a weapon of your choice - preferably a multi melta - are quite distinct in that they don't require support whatsoever; they are there to provide an immediate threat to your opponent on the first turn and turn their attention away from the advancing bulk of your army. If they manage to pop a tank or get in engaged in combat with a fragile unit on the way, all the better! Just try not to drop them in a position where your opponent can easily neutralize them - don't expose your rear armour if it is possible - and focus most of their firepower on the main army if at all possible, though as a suicide unit, this isn't as big a worry as it would be for other more valuable units such as Sternguard Veterans.

    Chapter Tactics - As vehicles that aren't dedicated transports can only get tangible benefits from two of the codex Chapter Tactics, covering this is almost pointless. However, it goes without saying that Iron Hands benefit Dreadnoughts the most; however, a Salamanders army led by Vulkan gives a suicide Dreadnought with a multi-melta much greater reliability.


    Ironclad Dreadnought

    Overview - When a unit claims to perform the role of "assault walker", a handful of questions immediately come to mind; how durable is it, how mobile is it, what is its damage output like and so on and so forth. The Ironclad has some interesting answers to these. It is an AV 13/13/11 vehicle with three hull points, immediately giving it a huge boost in the mass Strength 7 meta we commonly see, as well as immunity to a lot of the Strength 6 firepower thrown out by armies such as Eldar. It isn't quite the anvil a Soul Grinder is, but it is certainly close. While not inherently mobile, it has access to a Drop Pod as a dedicated transport, giving it a mostly safe and incredibly rapid deployment option that should see it in combat by turn two. As for damage output, while not too much of a boost on a regular Dreadnought, the Ironclad benefits from special melee weapons designed for taking out other vehicles; these give it an edge against the units a Dreadnought typically excels against in combat.

    Really, the biggest advantage it has in combat over a regular Dreadnought is not the damage it does, though, but its immunity to krak grenades; it is far less likely to be bogged down and wrecked by Guardsmen blobs armed to the teeth with krak grenades and power fists, for example, and it is no danger of losing its last hull point to a Chaos Space Marine squad lacking melta bombs or a power fist. Paired with the option to take assault grenades, as well as light additional firepower, and the Ironclad feels far more like a walker designed with 6th Edition in mind. And really, the boosted armour values are what gives it this massive edge; for a walker in particular, front armour 13 is just delicious on so many levels. When you add in Move Through Cover to the mix, it starts to get rather lop-sided, even as minor as Move Through Cover might seem. No dangerous terrain tests, ever - not that you will usually take them, mind - and not being slowed as much as other units which, for an assault unit, can be a much bigger boost than most would realize due to random charge lengths; those extra few inches are absolutely pivotal. Factor in extra armour included in the base cost which makes sense for an assault walker, and a points cost that really isn't as high as you would think, and the Ironclad provides great value and, while not seemingly providing too much of a change from a regular Dreadnought, is far better in practice as a melee unit due to its increased survivability.

    How to Equip Them - Ironclads are in a unique situation in that they are a melee walker that can actually perform its stated role quite well. Though they are AV 13/13/11 walkers and thus highly resistant to the usual high rate-of-fire Strength 7 weaponry used to take on light and medium vehicles, putting them in Drop Pods is a cheap and very effective way of getting them into combat so much quicker. Ironclads aren't exactly fast, so giving them that important speed boost is crucial. Besides, AV 13 melee walkers with heavy flamers or meltaguns, and Move Through Cover are absolutely brutal in Drop Pods; having two or three of them drop in the first turn is sure to give most opponents hives! As to weapon configurations, this is a bit of a tough one. The choice between a chainfist and a seismic hammer can be a bit difficult, but as I find AV 14/14/14 vehicles becoming rarer and rarer, I feel the AP1 on the seismic hammer wins out overall.

    I would avoid the hunter killer missiles personally as even though they do add to its drop alpha strike potential, they suffer the same fate as elsewhere; expensive one-shot wonders that really don't do too much anyway. Ironclad Assault Launchers are a smart investment if you have the points spare just to strike at Initiative when charging into terrain - which can prove pivotal against small units with melta bombs or low Initiative monstrous creatures, for example - but hardly necessary. I would never take the hurricane bolter exchange as the Ironclad is a melee Dreadnought first and foremost; if you want a walker that provides a fire-base, take a regular 'rifleman' Dreadnought instead. And besides, trading out a power fist with an in-built storm bolter for a twin-linked hurricane bolter just doesn't seem like a worthwhile choice at all in any situation. As to the meltagun, storm bolter and options for heavy flamers, this should depend on your other 'drop' units - if any. The Ironclad threatens any vehicle well enough, but having two heavy flamers lets it annihilate entire squads of light infantry when it arrives in a Drop Pod provided your scatter roll is decent. This does raise its cost, but I feel it is worthwhile anyway.

    Where to Put Them - Ironclads are naturally suited to Drop Pods; the two go together better even than Beasts of Nurgle and dog treats. Though they can be run up on foot and reasonably expect to survive a few turns due to being AV 13/13/11 walkers - especially when paired with Iron Hands Chapter Tactics - being primarily an assault walker means that they need to make combat as quickly as possible to make the most out of their points investment. Taking a Drop Pod for an Ironclad Dreadnought does give it a bit of a price hike, but it is worth it every single time. If you do run one up on foot, make sure to use terrain and mobile cover from Rhinos, Razorbacks and Land Raiders to your advantage; cover gives them an irrational durability boost, and they have Move Through Cover to boot!

    Best Uses - I feel that Ironclad Dreadnoughts are best used in pairs at the very least, attached to Drop Pods and given whatever under-slung weapon option you prefer. Keep them cheap, simple and multi-purpose; heavy flamers mixed with their close combat weapons allow them to engage and destroy almost any enemy threat with ease. The Drop Pods give them the mobility and 'alpha' advantage so as to reduce both the turns that the enemy gets to stop them, and the turns needed to reach combat. They can engage almost any unit outside of a monstrous creature - though one that is heavily wounded with a lower Initiative than the Ironclad is fair game - and expect to succeed, even against Land Raiders, and as such choosing which target to engage may depend on what is the most threatening at the time to either the Ironclad itself or the rest of your forces. Missile-spam Broadsides make mince meat of most other Space Marine units, but mostly ping off of Ironclads - unless they have one of those highly irritating support Commanders attached granting Tank Hunters, Ignore Cover and re-rolls to hit - and thus make a prime target for the Ironclad. Conversely, a Wave Serpent may be an ideal unit to engage due to its high value and vulnerability in combat, but those nearby Dark Reapers would probably present a greater immediate threat to your Space Marines running up the board. Remember that an Ironclad can charge into most infantry units and expect to win simply because it has front AV 13 and is thus immune to krak grenades; don't be afraid to charge it into a big squad of Devastators and the like if it means tying up a unit that would otherwise devastate your forces!

    Chapter Tactics - Unless you really want a master-crafted meltagun shot, Iron Hands is always the best choice for Ironclads. Between AV 13/13/11 and It Will Not Die, Iron Hands Ironclads are ridiculously tough. In fact, rather unsurprisingly, quite a few army lists have been popping up featuring six drop-podding Ironclad Dreadnoughts - via a Master of the Forge - in Iron Hands colours. Here's a hint; it is brutal.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "Only when the last xenos has been scoured from the galaxy shall the Imperium know peace."
    - Captain Do'tharri of the Iron Lords


    ARTICLE 2


    Hey there everybody, I am Learn2Eel and today I have some more awesome Space Marines to discuss! The Space Marine Elites are some of the finest warriors in the galaxy, and fighting both with or against them is always an interesting experience. I hope you enjoy this article!

    The Space Marine Elites provide some very interesting options, most of which are quite specialized to certain roles. Sternguard Veterans are ranged specialists through and through, while Ironclad Dreadnoughts and Centurion Assault Squads - obviously - excel at close quarters. Then you have generalist units like the Legion of the Damned and regular Terminators that can perform either role rather well. While there are a few less worthwhile units here, such as Dreadnoughts, the Elites section still preserves that great internal balance key to any successful Space Marines codex. A note here that this is the second part of a series of two articles, the first of which can be viewed here.


    Legion of the Damned

    Overview - I remember reading the 5th Edition Space Marine codex just after I had started up my Thousand Sons army, and I recall thinking to myself when glancing over Legion of the Damned, "gee, these seem like better versions of my Rubricae!" With the new codex, that opinion (sadly, in one sense) hasn't changed. With a hefty points drop, some extra special rules and some neat interactivity with Vulkan, Legion of the Damned are now a unit not only with a clear purpose, but one that is quite valuable at that as well. Each Damned Legionnaire has your usual kit and profile as expected of a Veteran; Leadership 9, two attacks, frag and krak grenades, the works! Before I go any further, I just need to add how great it is for any unit to have this; two Weapon Skill, Strength and Initiative 4 attacks each is pretty darn good, as is having both assault grenades for assaulting into cover and krak grenades for dealing with most vehicles, such as Wave Serpents, in a melee. This makes them so versatile before you even add in all the other juicy stuff. The Legion of the Damned are Fearless, first up, instead of having And They Shall Know No Fear; this can be both good and bad, as it means they can't get out of combats they don't want to be in, but they will also never be Pinned or fall back at a pivotal moment. For a unit that is probably more likely to get close to assault units than Tactical Marines, the value of Fearless may vary depending on just what unit tries to engage the Legionnaires, and this is where one has to mention their invulnerable save. Each Legionnaire has a 3+ invulnerable save, allowing them to laugh off AP2 and AP3 wounds with contemptuous ease; they can tie down monstrous creatures in a combat if you want to stop them attacking your scoring units or vehicles, for example. This means that enemies really need to use massed fire on them and hope that you can fail a lot of 3+ saves, making Legion of the Damned a very tough unit indeed.

    Legion of the Damned don't disappoint in the damage category either, as all of their ranged weapons benefit from the Ignores Cover special rule. This is amazing for a lot of reasons, the first of which is that even their stock boltguns will simply laugh at cover-camping light infantry. But where it really starts to get crazy is the fact that you can take a special weapon, a heavy weapon and a combi-weapon or specialist pistol in a unit of five Legionnaires. Plasma Guns, combi-plasmas and plasma cannons with Ignores Cover for hunting elite infantry, like Broadsides or Crisis Teams, and monstrous creatures? Meltaguns, combi-meltas and multi-meltas for taking down vehicles and monsters of all classifications? These are good weapon choices already for such a unit, but add Ignores Cover to the mix and you can immediately see Legion of the Damned providing a nasty surprise for unsuspecting opponents. Some of the best applications I have seen for this is delivering melta weaponry to the rear armour of advancing Wave Serpents, ignoring their boosted Jink saves - Holo Fields be damned - as well as their Serpent Shields, or taking out a Tervigon that is hiding from your other heavy weapons in a ruin or area terrain. It is such a great ability that gives them so much potential use of specialist weapons, even if it does diminish the fact that they are one of a very select few infantry units in the codex that can use heavy flamers. Now, Tactical Marines tend not to get too much use out of heavy weapons when used in Rhinos, Razorbacks and Drop Pods due to their lack of Relentless. Well, Damned Legionnaires found another way to one-up Tactical Marines as they are Slow and Purposeful! Of course, that does mean they can't fire Overwatch at all, nor can they Run. This is usually a downside for most units, but as Legion of the Damned can - and must - Deep Strike, it makes them into an awesome heavy weapon delivery unit.

    That is the other main trait for Legion of the Damned; they must deep strike, and they can even re-roll the scatter dice if you so choose to give them a much better chance both of not risking a mishap and landing in the general area you want. When you combine that with Relentless heavy weapons, as well as being able to take a special weapon, heavy weapon and combi-weapon even at five-strong, you can obviously see why many are touting Legion of the Damned as cheaper alternatives to Sternguard Veterans. This is certainly true, and it is indeed a fantastic use of a previously non-competitive unit. However, this isn't the sole use of Legion of the Damned. As expensive as they are compared to Tactical Marines while not offering too much firepower, you can see them as Tactical Marines that don't need to pay for a Rhino to get into the midfield or enemy deployment zone and, with 3+ invulnerable saves, laugh off much of what would usually slaughter Tactical Marines. Legion of the Damned ignore Heldrakes like few others, and can tie up or even beat monstrous creatures simply because they are both Fearless and have that crazy save. They also find greater value than most for putting a melee weapon on the Sergeant such as a power weapon because he has Weapon Skill 5; additionally, they don't have to pay any extra points whatsoever even despite him being a 'Veteran' Sergeant. And hell, as situational as it is, Legion of the Damned even cause Fear. Overall, they are a unit that has gone down in price, has gained so much in terms of potential uses, and is just flat out a strong unit for use in multiple roles. They are, surprisingly given their previous incarnation, one of the stronger units in the Elites section and can work well in almost any army list.

    How to Equip Them - Damned Legionnaires are much like Tactical Marines in that they can only take one heavy weapon, one special weapon and a combi-weapon or special pistol on the Sergeant. Unlike Tactical Marines, though, this isn't really a limitation as they are both Relentless and have semi-accurate deep striking. In that sense, you can look at Legionnaires as either a more 'elite' Tactical Squad, or as a special and heavy weapon delivery unit at short ranges. Generally speaking, making the most of them, especially given their high cost per model, means delivering short ranged weapons such as meltaguns and grav guns as other units cannot do so as well or as cheaply. When paired with Vulkan, they become more efficient sources of deep-striking melta weaponry when armed with a meltagun, multi-melta and combi-melta.

    I think the plasma gun and combi-plasma combination is better suited to Tactical Marines as they are primarily a mid-ranged unit in your Troops slot anyway, and I don't really rate plasma cannons that highly due to the 2" spacing that most players use to its' fullest extent, neutering a lot of blast weapons. That isn't to say these aren't good weapons to use though, just that they aren't using the semi-accurate deep strike of the Legion of the Damned as well as flame or melta weapons otherwise would. Heck, having Ignores Cover reduces the value of flamers, heavy flamers and combi-flamers on the Damned Legionnaires even while the semi-accurate deep strike benefits them, in contrast to the plasma weapons. That leaves my preferred option being a meltagun and multi-melta, and while I would avoid a plasma pistol, a grav pistol on the Sergeant is very useful if you elect not to take a combi-weapon. I would keep the Sergeant bare otherwise to save points on an already expensive model, though his Weapon Skill 5 does provide an extra incentive to take a power weapon. On squad sizes, you can have up to ten Legionnaires in a squad, though I would prefer smaller squads given that having Relentless heavy weapons and semi-accurately deep-striking special weapons, all with Ignores Cover, is a priceless ability and isn't really benefited by taking larger units.

    Where to Put Them - As a unit that must deep strike in every mission, Damned Legionnaires obviously can do very well in an army with locator beacons and teleport homers either through Drop Pods or units inside Drop Pods in the first turn assault. However, this isn't as necessary as you would think due to being able to re-roll their scatter. On that note, you can afford to be decently aggressive with your deep strike positioning; with that said, I would still avoid placing a squad regardless of size within 5" of an enemy unit or impassable terrain, for example. Depending on how you equipped them, I would probably have five-strong melta squads dropped within 8" to 12" of your quarry while trying to find a decent middle ground between one or more vehicles. An example of this would be if two Rhinos are 12" apart, trying to deploy about 6" or 8" in front of or behind them in the centre should get you a good chance of landing in range for both your meltagun and multi melta to fire, even if the former won't be in "melta" range. For squads with a grav gun, grav pistol, plasma load-out and so on, deploying at 10 to 16" is probably a good idea to hopefully ensure you don't drop out of range and have a decent chance of getting in rapid fire and avoiding potential counter-charges.

    Best Uses - I've always felt Legion of the Damned were somewhat analogous to Thousand Sons in that they quite a limited unit that falls to small arms fire just like any other unit, and I feel happy to say that, with their new iteration, only half of that statement is true. Having Ignores Cover on all of their guns makes them very effective against light infantry right off the bat as boltguns are more than enough to slaughter units like Cultists and Guardsmen, even if their high cost per model does mean they aren't as good at it for the points as, say, a Whirlwind. But then you add to that how Ignores Cover functions with their specialist weapons; ignores cover plasma guns make mince meat of Broadsides, while meltaguns and multi meltas will laugh at skimmers and tanks of all kinds. Adding in Relentless because of Slow and Purposeful makes heavy weapons far more appealing than they are for Tactical Squads, and Legion of the Damned don't even require a transport due to their ability to re-roll scatter from deep striking. While the 3+ invulnerable save obviously won't give you much joy against Fire Warriors, it certainly will against Dire Avengers, Guardians, monstrous creatures and so on. You can use this, as well as their krak grenades, to make Legion of the Damned a downright annoying unit that, by trying to deeps trike them away from your opponents' infantry fire base, can do so much damage due to their versatility. Deep strike them away from massed shooting, and use their ignores cover to its best effect by destroying elite infantry, monsters or vehicles with melta, plasma and even grav weapons to get the most out of their unique traits.

    Chapter Tactics - Though the Legion of the Damned don't actually get any of the benefits of Chapter Tactics, a certain unique character actually does affect them. Vulkan's "Forgefather" special rule grants master-crafting to all meltaguns, combi-meltas and multi meltas in the army; even those carried by the Damned Legionnaires themselves. This gives Salamanders access to a cheap, durable and very reliable melta squad that, with Relentless, can actually make great use out of multi meltas in particular. Though they can't arrive on turn one like half of your drop pod units, they are a nonetheless an awesome delivery system for your anti-tank needs.


    Terminator Squad

    Overview - Terminators are a solid unit but one that has suffered quite a bit due to 6th Edition changes rather than any fault of their own. Terminators have always been expensive and have remained so, paying so much for their durability and significantly boosted melee capabilities. The issue now is that most other Space Marine units have gone down in points, causing a knock-on effect and reducing the inherent value of Terminators, though this is again more due to 6th Edition than anything else. Storm Bolters aren't as good as they used to be now that you can move and shoot rapid fire weapons with their single shots. 2+ armour isn't as tough when your basic Eldar infantry all have semi-Rending guns. The ability to deep strike is hamstrung by the introduction of out-of-sequence shooting in your turn by an opponent through the Interceptor special rule. The dramatic increase in numbers of monstrous creatures, even if most other dedicated assault units aren't seen as much, can lead to hard counters in melee popping up very often in many armies. As well, delivering heavy weapons at close range isn't as good now that you can get much cheaper Devastators, particularly Imperial Fists who can do far more damage against vehicles, monsters and other tough targets than Terminators ever could at range. And then you add that many competitive armies feature lots of light infantry, units that really don't care that much about power fists as the more elite multiple-small-unit Space Marine armies of 5th Edition would. Then there is the fact that you can take three Tactical Marines for only a few points more than a single Terminator, and the three Tactical Marines will always win at range and even in durability.

    This wouldn't have been such an issue if Terminators of all kinds got points drops but, as we saw with Deathwing, they either got points increases or stayed the same rather than really dropping at all. As unfortunate as it is, Terminators just aren't as valuable as they used to be and are, realistically, an over-priced unit for what they bring. Of course, this doesn't mean they aren't without their uses. Unless you bring Drop Pods and want to risk your scoring units in that way, Terminators can actually deep strike and shoot up vulnerable units at close range and provide a tangible melee threat against most units. Even if hordes don't care about power fists, five power fists are statistically better than ten close combat weapons, and power fists obviously have both a Strength and AP advantage over krak grenades, making Terminators a far more credible threat in combat. With storm bolters and access to one heavy weapon per five models in the squad, they are hardly a bad shooting unit, just one that needs to make the most of deep striking to actually compare in any way to Tactical Marines. This gives Terminators an edge when trying to deal with vehicles such as Leman Russ Demolishers and Vindicators that actively need to move forward to fire, giving Terminators a possible deployment window to deep strike behind them and destroy their vulnerable rear armour. Terminators are Relentless and thus can make good use of any of the heavy weapons, giving them a unique edge over drop-podding Tactical Marines. You can even combine them with locator beacons or teleport homers - the latter of which is specific to Terminators - to give them a more accurate deep strike and, as an expensive unit even at five-strong, this is never a bad idea as you don't want to lose over two centuries worth of points on a deep strike mishap. For me, the real value of Terminators is their flexibility, providing deep striking ranged support to shoot up exposed or un-supported units, while having a good melee edge that lets them overpower vehicles and put wounds on monsters.

    How to Equip Them - With standard Terminators, I generally want to have one chainfist for every five models in the unit as a precaution for dealing with AV14 tanks and AV13 walkers. By the same token, you can take a heavy weapon per five models in the unit, and the choice of which weapon isn't so simple. On foot, the cyclone missile launcher is easily your best bet due to the range and general lack of mobility of foot-slogging Terminators. If you deep strike the Terminators, however, I believe the assault cannon is the best bet due to its flexibility, as well as its mediocre range being mitigated by arriving from reserves. I feel that heavy flamers, while certainly a great defensive tool and very good against all kinds of infantry, are limited in the sense that trying to use them from the deep strike is far too risky for an expensive unit like Terminators. Similarly, using them on a foot-slogging unit generally won't benefit them much due to their limited range. Given that I feel standard Terminators are best used in small squad sizes of five with one heavy weapon and a chainfist, I prefer the assault cannon for its flexibility, though there are certainly good uses of the others. On that note, standard Terminators are best used in conjunction with locator beacons and teleport homers from models such as Drop Pods or Marneus Calgar, respectively, and are there to provide precise firepower and strong melee prowess at a moment's notice. With that in mind, I would keep their squad sizes small as, unlike Assault Terminators, they don't need those extra wounds to start doing damage as Assault Terminators naturally need to make it into combat before they can hurt your opponent physically rather than just psychologically.

    Where to Put Them - If you take cyclone missile launchers on your Terminators, I can definitely see using them on foot, even if you do need to be very wary of all the long-range AP2 firepower that is so readily available nowadays. That and with their medium ranged guns, they can work well as support elements to other units, such as Devastators, and contribute some ranged fire while making for a fine counter-assault unit. I've found the best use for Terminators to come from deep-striking them off of a locator beacon or teleport homer, though, which obviously works incredibly well in conjunction with a first turn drop pod assault. From there, they can provide accurate and precise firepower with a short-ranged heavy weapon like the assault cannon and pop up in the enemy backfield as a nasty melee unit that can easily destroy most vehicles. If those pieces of wargear aren't present, however, then you can still deep strike in relative safety due to their general 24" bubble of ranged firepower. In that sense, you can afford to be more reserved or aggressive with Terminators as you see fit and as the options are presented before you, such as attempting to take on the rear armour of a Wave Serpent after a Drop Pod unit was unable to complete the job. Similarly, you can gun down Fire Warrior teams pretty well at 18 to 24", the 'safe' deep strike zone, but be aware that Fire Warrior teams can and will outgun you in high numbers.

    Best Uses - I feel Terminators are best used as that ranged support unit arriving from deep strike, as running them up the field just leaves them far too open to return fire. At least when Riptides fire at them with Interceptor, they won't be benefiting from markerlights and as such you can deep strike into cover or even out in the open and feel pretty confident about your chances of survival. Use them in conjunction with locator beacons and teleport homers to deliver precision strikes against the rear armour of vehicles, or to slaughter light and medium infantry. Once they are down, they already start playing mind games with your opponent; they might not be as hard to kill as they really should be, but they are still Terminators. They all have power fists, they put out two or more shots per model at 24", and they can be just flat out mean if you are lacking either mass fire or AP2 weaponry in range of them. Don't run them in large squads as I feel that this wastes their firepower, as much as they aren't cost effective in that category compared to Tactical Marines. Ten Terminators shooting at one unit might be more guaranteed of a kill, but two squads of five can still do a lot of damage and are far less concerned by AP2 large blasts or being tied up in combat by fast melee units. They also provide target saturation by forcing your opponent to deal with one at a time which can be rather humorous; those power fist swings are sure to annoy the lest combat-savvy monsters, and will cleave through most vehicles as well.

    Chapter Tactics - Terminators benefit from almost every Chapter Tactic in some way as they dually fulfill the roles of ranged support and heavy melee unit. Ultramarines gives them a wide range of one-use benefits that have strong applications anywhere in a game. The only ones that don't give them some tangible benefit are the Raven Guard and White Scars Chapter Tactics - unless you want to Scout them in a Land Raider - while the others provide more minor boosts such as re-rolling hits of a one with storm bolters or having Feel No Pain (6+).


    Terminator Assault Squad

    Overview - When one thinks of Assault Terminators, the image of thunder hammers and storm shields likely pops into their mind before anything else, and with good reason. In 5th Edition, it was a pretty easy choice to make between paired lightning claws and the above combination; one gave you a 3+ invulnerable save and let you destroy vehicles, monsters and multiple-wound models such as Tyranid Warriors with ease. The other gave you more attacks and re-rolls to wound, ultimately only giving it real use against infantry. Nowadays, this is no longer a free exchange, and it actually leads to many using paired lightning claws on at least a few of their Assault Terminators; after all, the name of the game is masses of infantry for scoring objectives, is it not, as is saving points wherever you can. Regardless of your weapon choice, Assault Terminators are one of the most feared melee units in the game and have been for several years. With two attacks each with the usual Space Marine profile, all of which are either made with lightning claws or thunder hammers, they hit very hard against most targets and they also have the durability to match. Toughness 4, 2+ armour and either a 5+ or 3+ invulnerable save gives them more than double the overall durability of a Tactical Marine. However, this is before you take into account that you can take three Tactical Marines for every Terminator you field, which balances out the equation against most any weapon that isn't AP3. So, as much as Terminator Armour looks so shiny and hard to break, you can't afford to throw Terminators into any situation carelessly; there is so much AP2 weaponry in 6th Edition, and Terminators can and will fall prey to massed shooting, particularly with storm shield-equipped units.

    Being a dedicated assault unit obviously limits the damage potential and uses of Assault Terminators; they lack guns entirely, and thus cannot contribute anything in the shooting phase other than to stand idly or run towards their quarry. This means that you cannot really afford to deeps strike them outside of a 12" or 13" bubble in relation to enemy units; you need to make the most of your movement to get into charge range by turn three at the latest. This also dramatically increases the value of an assault transport such as a Land Raider - which they can take as a dedicated transport - as compared to regular Terminators. You need those bodies to get into combat to justify their inclusion, where killing most units is an inevitability rather than a chance. For lightning claw Terminators, you need to be wary of the fact that the unit lacks assault grenades or krak grenades, and thus needs to be careful both of charging into cover and of engaging vehicles. As much as paying the points for them is annoying, taking thunder hammer and storm shield Terminators is more important than ever, even if only for the fact that an Eldar Guardian laughs at their 2+ armour save. When you consider that monstrous creatures are becoming increasingly common through the Chaos books and both Tau and Eldar, thunder hammer swings are invaluable, as they also solve the units' issues against vehicles. Don't bring lightning claws to a fight against a Soul Grinder! What really gives Assault Terminators a big edge over a lot of other assault units in the game is the combination of Leadership 9 and, most important of all, And They Shall Know No Fear. This amazing special rule means that Assault Terminators can never be swept, and are incredibly unlikely to run off the board which, as a melee unit, can be absolutely imperative. There are no real penalties for a lost combat, and even one model can be used to tie up or destroy an objective-camping unit of Fire Warriors, Cultists and so on.

    The only issue with Assault Terminators is getting them into battle, as unlike the most competitive assault units - such as Screamers, Flesh Hounds and Daemon Princes - Assault Terminators lack an in-built delivery system or high mobility. You can either risk a deep strike - which shouldn't be so bad as long as you don't place the first model within 6" or so of an enemy unit before scattering - or pay for a Land Raider; I advise against Storm Ravens for them, generally. Paying for the Land Raider is the more reliable, but also easily the most expensive. Regardless, Assault Terminators aren't 'guaranteed' to get into combat, and can actually be one of the more 'fragile' melee units as compared to some of the examples above. This makes them less valuable as a 'death star' unit to splurge all your points on, and more valuable in smaller squads to make the most of the fact that, hey, five dudes with thunder hammers can rip through almost anything and survive quite a bit. Shoot them, opponent, shoot them! Play mind-games with your foe and use them as terror squads to hopefully draw firepower so that the rest of your army can perform their turn two movement and shooting with less attention. This is the beauty of Assault Terminators; even if they aren't as valuable or durable as they used to be with the edition switch, they are still a scary unit for most opponents that they often can't afford to ignore.

    How to Equip Them - Now that you actually need to pay for the dreaded thunder hammer and storm shield combo, taking an entire unit of them armed with that obviously isn't as simple as it once was. For a ten-strong unit, you are looking at another half a century of points just to equip them all in that way. Given how easily 2+ armour saves are ignored in this edition, having those storm shields in particular is more important than ever, while the influx of monstrous creatures certainly gives thunder hammers a good reason to stick around. In that sense, the value of thunder hammers and storm shields has actually increased since 5th Edition in a lot of cases, so I would still recommend taking a lot of them in your squad. The lightning claw dudes are pretty helpful with the extra attack for clearing out large squads of light infantry such as Guardsmen 'blobs' or sizable Termagant broods, but generally, they aren't as useful overall as the hammer-time brothers. I think a mix is very viable, as is going entirely with thunder hammers and storm shields, but I would avoid having exclusively lightning claws making up the unit. The reason for this is that lightning claws - obviously - won't do much of anything against vehicles and most monstrous creatures, even with re-rolls to wound, and will fall over in a heap when a Wraithknight comes calling.

    Where to Put Them - There are two generally used delivery methods for Assault Terminators, and neither is ultimately 'better' than the other. The first is to pray to the Emperor for guidance and deep strike the squad, preferably at 12" or 13" away from any enemy unit and table edge, though this isn't always possible. The reality is that you will always need to weigh up the risks with this deployment option due to the shifting battle lines almost every army uses. Thankfully, unlike Centurion Assault squads, Assault Terminators can run after deep-striking to shave a few inches off of their future charge length. This is always going to be risky, but provided you play it reasonably safe - say, staying about 9" away from enemy units on the deep strike - you should be rewarded more often than not with a decent scatter and only a turn or two of getting to the enemy. Just be aware that using them in this way leaves them incredibly vulnerable to interceptor weaponry, most notably Riptides with Ion Accelerators, so always make sure to have mostly thunder hammers and storm shields when using a squad to deep strike. The other commonly accepted deployment method involves a Land Raider variant - and again, I prefer the Crusader - and banking on its durability to get into combat by turn two or three. This is obviously the much more expensive option when you factor in any extra squad members, but it is also by far the most reliable and safest use of Assault Terminators. The strategy works best with other mechanized or just mobile units to provide target saturation so that the Land Raider isn't the only target your opponent focuses on.

    For squad sizes with these tactics, taking more than five 40mm base models for deep striking tends to be very risky, though you can take more to make up for not purchasing a Land Raider. Ultimately though, if you have free Elite slots, it might be better to take two separate five-strong squads so that your opponent has to split their fire, and leave the Terminators less vulnerable to deep strike mishaps. The choice of Land Raider variant will likely determine how many Terminators you employ. In Land Raider Crusaders, for example, you can take up to eight Terminators and, as one of its' main draws over the Redeemer and the standard pattern, it isn't a bad idea to make the most of it. Just remember that adding any extra members will push the squads' cost over 500 points in record time, though this is also where I feel most comfortable putting melee monsters such as Lysander or Marneus Calgar if you want to have them with Assault Terminators. You can take Assault Terminators in a Storm Raven, of course, but as with Centurion Assault Squads, they don't get the best benefit out of Skies of Blood - that and they are reliant on the Storm Raven's reserve roll - and they run the heavy risk of being obliterated if the Storm Raven is shot out of the sky. Otherwise, I would never run them up the field, simply because they can't compliment your ranged damage output in any way and their durability in 6th Edition is not really equal to what you pay for with Eldar and Tau running amok.

    Best Uses - With Tau and Eldar in the fray, running Terminators up the field is very much asking to be punished, while deep-striking them can often go astray particularly against Tau and Grey Knights. For deep striking, you need storm shields more than ever because of the ease with which AP2 weapons can be fired on you, whether through Interceptor or the subsequent shooting phase from your opponent. You cannot just take masses of Terminators, deep strike them in forward positions and expect them to win the game for you; they need to be supported, and they need to be serving a goal other than "kill everything" as they are comprehensively out-gunned in 6th Edition and, for the most part, cannot score in an objective-oriented game. Using small squads as speed bumps or counter-assault units isn't a terrible idea, but it is a waste of points and an Elites slot when you could get Bikes, Scouts or Assault Marines to perform the same role at a smaller investment. If you don't deep strike them, not only do you not need to take as many storm shields, but you also require a Land Raider of some kind. This is where I favour the Crusader most of all because of its' transport capacity; Terminators are easier to kill than ever and need ablative wounds to make it to combat at full effectiveness, especially when considering subsequent charges.

    But this is the rub, if you don't want to wipe a unit in one turn so as to not get shot, taking less works, but then you leave yourself a bit too vulnerable. Besides, most units will crumble in a heap when faced with Assault Terminators anyway, regardless of squad size. If you are investing in an expensive unit with an expensive transport, you may as well make the most of it and attach a combat monster as well, and I think this is where Assault Terminators can shine. Give a lot of them storm shields, attach a Chapter Master with the Shield Eternal, or Lysander, or Marneus Calgar, and watch the carnage that unit spreads against anything you can think of. It isn't the best investment of points, but remember that once you get them into position, you can begin to separate those characters to take on other units solo while the Terminators can deal with other threats. Given how strong the combat monster characters for Space Marines are, this actually isn't a bad use of Assault Terminators; they get a character to get them out of trouble against hardcore melee units, and the character gets both a bodyguard and transport to ferry him to the fray. If you aren't a fan of spending so many points on one combo though, then I would use locator beacons on Drop Pods or teleport homers to get Assault Terminators into position right near the enemy with little or no hassle; it saves a lot of points on the transport, and it is safe. Again, make sure you have those storm shields handy to weather the inevitable return fire from AP2 weaponry. Whatever you do, do not drop near a mas of infantry like Fire Warriors or even Guardsmen; massed fire kills Terminators unbelievably quickly, so don't give your opponent the obvious opportunity to kill your expensive elites with their cheap throw-away units.

    Chapter Tactics - Unlike regular Terminator Squads, Assault Terminators obviously don't benefit from ranged boosts with the Chapter Tactics, such as Imperial Fists or the Tactical and Devastator Doctrines from Ultramarines. However, as a truly dedicated assault unit, they find greater mileage out of Scout from Kor'sarro Khan with White Scars, while Crusader and boosts for the Sergeant from Black Templars are also handy.


    Centurion Assault Squad

    Overview - Centurions of either variety have been rather controversial since their release, and it is pretty easy to say that the "weaker" of the two choices are the Assault squads. This is because, unlike Centurion Devastators who can bring grav cannons and grav amps, Centurion Assault squads aren't bringing something that is unique enough to justify their inclusion, nor can they put out the insane damage output. With siege drills, each Centurion has two Strength 9 AP2 attacks at Initiative 4 that, with Ironclad Assault Launchers as standard, allows them to charge into cover and strike at Initiative. They hit very hard and will make short work of any vehicle, walker or otherwise, that gets close to them. Additionally, they can take on almost any monstrous creature that is Initiative 3 or lower, though they need to be wary - depending on their numbers - of six wound beasts that can Smash and reliably kill two or more Centurions in each round of combat, such as Tervigons with Biomancy. They don't want to be in combat with combat-oriented monsters like Trygons - who while suffering a lot of damage, will reliably kill three or four Centurions on the charge through Smash, paired Scything Talons and Toxin Sacs - or even generalists such as Wraithknights who bring crazy Strength 10 attacks at Initiative 5. They can't take on the equivalent points in thunder hammer and storm shield Terminators as well as one would hope, and combat monsters such as Abaddon can and will slice through them very quickly. They also want to avoid hordes like the plague, as with only two attacks each they can't really get past sheer numbers of bodies, particularly if they are Fearless or Stubborn.

    So what do you actually get aside from their strong, if limited, melee capabilities? As Centurions, each model has a pretty crazy Toughness 5, two wounds and a 2+ armour save. This makes them incredibly tough against non AP2 attacks, particularly small arms fire, and they laugh at a lot of high strength weaponry as well due to their two wounds each and 2+ armour. Just be wary that Strength 10 attacks or shots from units such as Wraithknights - who seem tailor made to slaughter Centurion Assault squads - can and will put them down in short order, as will a Vindicator or Medusa. If they take hurricane bolters, they can make full use of their Decimator Protocols to fire two weapons in each shooting phase; regardless of the shooting phase limitation, Centurions - sadly - cannot fire Overwatch anyway as they are Slow and Purposeful. Each Centurion comes stock with a twin-linked flamer to mitigate that horde issue, but be very wary of the fact that they cannot fire Overwatch with them and as such, unless you get close enough to use them - which is unlikely unless they have just disembarked from a Land Raider - your opponent will just side-step the issue and charge you afterwards. Centurions can replace these twin-linked flamers with twin-linked meltaguns to boost their anti-vehicular destructive capabilities, which helps a lot for taking out transports to charge their contents, effectively killing two birds with one stone. Suffice it to say though, Centurion Assault squads really aren't there to shoot your opponent to bits, but rather to just help them get out of potentially tough situations against hordes or to ensure they destroy a vehicle or monstrous creature. Centurions are equipped with Ironclad Assault Launchers which allow them to charge into cover without penalty, certainly a useful tool to have for a dedicated assault unit.

    Now, the reason that most dislike Centurions of either kind is their exorbitant cost. I don't feel that either unit is worth their points overall because they are slow; they can do a lot of damage and they are quite tough, though the deluge of AP2 weaponry does work against them. Basic Eldar infantry want you to take all the Centurions! Centurion Assault squads require a transport, preferably a Land Raider, which jacks their price up to ridiculous levels even if you only take three 'bare' Centurions. Added to this, you are paying Assault Terminator prices for a unit that isn't as damaging or 'versatile'; you have to be incredibly wary of any source of AP2, whether it be monstrous creatures or Bladestorm guns, while storm-shield wielding Terminators are nowhere near as fussed. This leaves Centurion Assault squads as more of a one-note unit that competes, points-wise and in terms of role, with Honour Guard and Assault Terminators. The sad truth is that, unless you need to destroy an AV 14/14/14 vehicle, Assault Termninators are stronger in almost all cases, and Honour Guard are simply exceptional for the points and can take on anything short of an AV12 walker. These units also don't rely on an incredibly expensive transport, giving them more flexibility and ultimately eating up far less points to actually deliver a strong assault unit. In the context of 6th Edition where everything dies so quickly, taking cheaper units is usually your best best and Centurion Assault squads certainly don't fit that bill. This isn't to say you shouldn't employ them, as they are the best 'siege' units you can get for ripping apart any vehicle you want in combat. But for a general purpose melee unit, I feel they are a bit too limited and expensive to really compete with units such as Honour Guard.

    How to Equip Them - I would always keeps the Ironclad Assault Launchers, even despite the option to swap them out for hurricane bolters. Having S9 AP2 attacks at Initiative 4 is not something that should ever be wasted, especially for firepower as 'light' as adding in hurricane bolters. Though obviously there can be quite a few good uses of these guns, Centurion Assault Squads have the distinction of being one of the few units that can reliably destroy vehicles and low Initiative monsters in combat. Tactical Marines, Sternguard Veterans and the like already bring you lots of bolter fire, so why waste the deadly potential of the siege drills on Centurions? You can upgrade the twin-linked flamers to twin-linked meltaguns for a pittance, and given that Centurion Assault Squads are obviously designed for destroying tanks, this is a decent upgrade that increases the chance of them destroying their quarry. It also very handily lets them blow up a transport in the shooting phase and then assault its contents, and as a bunch of T5 W2 2+ armoured suits with three S9 AP2 I4 attacks each on the charge, this should generally lead to two dead units in the space of a single player turn.

    However, what Centurion Assault squads really struggle against in this configuration are hordes; those S9 attacks don't count for much when you don't have enough to pile through twenty or more Termagants, after all, giving the flamers a lot of potential usage. Ultimately, either choice is useful in its own way, and you should give consideration as to what you expect. I can see hordes becoming more popular soon with the imminent release of Tyranids and the probable update of Orks to come in the next year, so keeping the flamers definitely isn't a bad option, though I still feel most enemies will exploit their lack of Overwatch and just stay out of flamer range and charge them afterwards. Oddly, the Sergeant can take an Omniscope just like a Centurion Devastator Sergeant, but it is rather useless here as Centurion Assault squads don't have the guns to make any real use of either Night Vision or Split Fire, unless you have meltaguns and want to risk destroying two vehicles at once at close range. Even then, I think you may as well just save the points. As to how many to run in a squad, three of them with a transport - such as a Storm Raven or Land Raider variant - is expensive enough and bordering on 'death-star' points ranges, and given that running them on foot is a massive no-no, I probably wouldn't put too many more in unless you plan on adding in either Tigurius or Lysander to make them a bit ridiculous. Just remember that they aren't exactly the be-all end-all assault unit you would hope for with the price tag, so going all out on them can be an issue. If you think you can survive all the firepower that will inevitably be thrown your way, then running a larger squad of up to six on foot might be appealing. My personal recommendation is to avoid this though, as even despite Toughness 5 and 2 wounds each, 2+ armour is becoming increasingly less valuable given how most of the six 6th Edition codices - particularly Tau and Eldar - laugh at armour saves of any kind.

    Where to Put Them - I'm a firm believer that Centurions of both varieties can be good units, they just require an efficient delivery system to make up for their almost painfully slow advance. As a natural fire magnet, they need a dependable transport or one that is highly durable. As Land Raiders of any kind are Dedicated Transports for Centurion Assault Squads, you can probably guess what I am going to recommend. A Land Raider Crusader is generally the best 'assault' transport of the three, particularly for a hard-out dedicated melee unit that is both expensive, and deadly if it picks its battles. However, the Storm Raven actually firms as a decent transport for Centurion Assault Squads as well due to the Skies of Fury special rule, allowing a unit to disembark from it using a deep strike move even if it is zooming. Taking Dangerous Terrain tests for scattering is pretty much a non-issue due to the 2+ armoured, two-wound Centurions, while this also - provided it comes on in turn two - gets them very close to the enemy early on. However, this option isn't nearly as valuable for Centurion Assault Squads as it is for Centurion Devastators as they are unable to run after disembarking and naturally want to be closer, meaning you really need to weigh up the risks of deep striking closer to the enemy with such an expensive unit regardless of squad size. In that sense, I still think the Crusader is your best bet, used to get as close to the enemy as quickly as possible and using AV 14/14/14 and four hull points to ignore most damage. Deploy it in conjunction with your Rhinos or other mobile elements and use the Centurion Assault Squad as the spear-head of your assault force.

    Best Uses - I feel that while Centurion Assault squads can certainly hit hard enough to put wounds or damage results on any unit in the game reliably, they don't have the attacks, Weapon Skill or durability to really rank among the best assault units in the game for the points. That they require an expensive transport such as a Land Raider or a Storm Raven really makes them an "invest or die" kind of unit as running up the field is tantamount to suicide in most games, and a waste of their potential. You can't expect them to take on a lot of monstrous creatures; Wraithknights and other six wound monsters such as Trygons will statistically beat three of them in a fight with ease while staying in a similar points bracket. Hell, a Trygon on the charge with toxin sacs that Smashes can kill four of them statistically even though they strike at the same time and still live with at least two wounds left! However, low Initiative monsters like solo Carnifexes and Talos Pain Engines are much easier prey. What really kills any chance of them being an elite melee unit, aside from the exorbitant cost needed to get them anywhere, is their lack of an invulnerable save. They will have to rely on their Toughness 5 to take on units like Incubi, while characters and true melee death stars such as Abaddon, the Swarmlord, and thunder hammer and storm shield Assault Terminators will beat them in a fight.

    This is a unit that also wants to avoid hordes at all costs, which can be a major issue against most Tyranid builds; they do not have the number of attacks to get out of combat with Fearless hordes quickly. Still, this isn't to say they aren't a hard hitting unit; they will devastate any vehicle and a lot of units they come across and are only really beaten out by the more combat-oriented monsters and characters. Just be aware that they do have their limitations, they are expensive, they lack mobility and they require a transport. When considering all of this, I would keep Centurion Assault squads as your heavy anti-vehicle duty unit, and one that can crush monsters such as Riptides at a moments' notice - if you can catch them, of course! They will make short work of ten-strong or less squads of units such as Fire Warriors, Dire Avengers and so on, but make sure not to put them in a fight they can't win or win quickly. Stick them in a Land Raider - preferably a Crusader or Redeemer given they are Very Bulky - and use them as the tip of the spear. Your opponent typically won't want to engage them in combat with any of their units, so use them as aggressively as possible, even if it means sacrificing the shooting of their transport on the first turn to get them up in the face of the enemy. Of course, you should generally be using Crusaders and Redeemers with such tactics anyway because of their medium-ranged guns and the fact that they are assault transports.

    Chapter Tactics - Centurions don't get anything from Imperial Fists or Raven Guard, while having Crusader with Black Templars is almost worthless as a Slow and Purposeful unit. Like other assault units, I feel White Scars and maybe Ultramarines offer the best benefits; if the Centurions are in a Land Raider, they can get Scout from Khan to make up for a lack of Hit and Run.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "In the darkness, all men are equal, save those that embrace it."

    - Kayvaan Shrike of the Raven Guard
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 11-24-2013 at 04:49 PM.
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  6. #6

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    FAST ATTACK

    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel, and I am here today with a look at the Fast Attack slot for Codex: Space Marines! The loyal progeny of the Emperor have always been masters of all aspects of warfare, and when the big guns and over-powering strikes aren't enough, they can rely on mobility and precise counter-strikes to cripple and destroy the important cogs of any enemy war machine. I hope you find this to be an interesting, or at least helpful, read!


    Space Marines have access to a pretty diverse Fast Attack slot, even if it isn't quite as heavy as the Eldar equivalent. It provides you with one of the most cost-effective flyers in any of the 6th Edition codices, used well as either an escort gunship or a primary anti-air fighter, and a great harassment unit that has fantastic synergy with deep striking elements in the form of Scout Bikers. And then there are the tougher choices, the ones that provide heavier firepower albeit at greater expense; Attack Bikes with their potent anti-tank or anti-infantry guns, or regular Bikers that are amazingly cheap, versatile and tough and can receive irrational advantages from certain Chapter Tactics. Land Speeders and Assault Marines round out the slot, providing somewhat more fragile destruction either at medium or close ranges, but they are still good options that are a bit more specialized in their usage. There is a lot of value to be had here, particularly as Bikers make for such a fantastic Troops choice in a more mobile army list that isn't based around vehicles. A note here that this is the first part of a series of two articles.


    Assault Squad

    Overview - The leaping predators born from the Space Marine Chapters are above average close quarters fighters that have the benefit of being quite cheap for what they bring. Compared to Tactical Marines, they lose a lot of options and their boltguns, but gain both a close combat weapon and a jump pack to compensate. Throwing in that they are only a scoring unit in one of the five objective-based missions is important to note, but it is unnecessary to the role you will be using Assault Squads for. Assault Squads pay for substantially increased mobility without the use of a transport, as well as all the extra rules jump packs provide such as Hammer of Wrath or re-rolling charge distances based on how many inches you covered in each movement phase. They can even take their jump packs off and take a free dedicated transport, including a Rhino, Razorback or Drop Pod. The former two have their uses for larger and smaller squads respectively as part of a target-spam mechanized list, while the latter is best reserved for deep striking beefy melee or suicide units. Added on to all of this is the always awesome Space Marine stat line with fours across the board, albeit with two attacks base from their extra close combat weapons for three each on the charge. When combined with Hit and Run from White Scars or the ability to move 12" and still re-roll their charge distances from Raven Guard, this turns a decently cheap melee unit into a nasty and reasonably tough annoyance for your opponent.

    Where Assault Squads fall down a bit is in their durability when juxtaposed against their role. An assault unit in 6th Edition has to contend with more mobile gunlines, higher rates of punishing firepower, and the defensive boosts provided by Overwatch and the loss of bonus attacks with a multi-charge. The best assault units in the game, such as 'Seerstars', 'Screamerstars', Flesh Hounds and flying monstrous creatures all have both the durability and speed to make it to combat without suffering significant losses on the way, as well as the flexibility to engage and destroy most targets. Assault Marines certainly are quick, but they can't reach the same bracket as any of the aforementioned melee units. They also aren't any tougher than your regular Space Marine, outside of a greater movement range that allows them to jump behind or in intervening terrain with greater ease - though that of course carries the risk of dangerous terrain. A Riptide that locks horns with them through the barrel of an Ion Accelerator buffed by Markerlights will still annihilate them just as easily as a Tactical Squad, and Assault Marines are more expensive than the Tacticals to boot. And unlike Tacticals, Assault Squads can't afford to sit at range and out of the more intensive rapid fire and defensive shooting. As a dedicated melee unit, they really need to be charging to get the most out of them, and suffice it to say, Assault Squads still are a strong melee unit against most front-line infantry simply because they are Space Marines with a boat load of attacks.

    Their krak grenades as well as And They Shall Know No Fear give them melee capabilities beyond what many others could hope for, combining reliable weapons to crack vehicles with a more well-rounded alternative to Fearless. If you can get them into combat or use them as a decently priced cog of a mostly mobile army list - consisting either of Bikes or transported infantry as the bulk of the force - they can be a strong and, most importantly, flexible assault unit that can still take quite a bit of punishment. Just don't throw them into a fight they can't win, use clever positioning instead of being overly aggressive, and they shouldn't let you down.

    How to Equip Them - If you are using Assault Squads as small or large units in Drop Pods as part of a suicide drop, I recommend two flamers every time as the damage they can do in the Drop Pod Assault against Infantry is pretty crazy. In general though, I've never found plasma pistols to be worth the points; paying the same price for a plasma gun has always rubbed me wrong, especially on an already costly unit that can take up to three when including the Sergeant. If you want to take those optional weapon upgrades, I would advise sticking to the flamers and think instead about a grav pistol for the Sergeant. The reason for this is simple; if you are forced to charge a monstrous creature or solo character, knocking them down to Initiative 1 is priceless for a high-cost assault unit that has the potential to severely damage or even kill a monster on the charge. Melta Bombs are always an upgrade that I would take if you have the points spare, particularly for an Assault Squad that is more likely to get close to vehicles in the first place, though they are hardly necessary. A Combat Shield, similarly, is cool for a bit of extra defence - particularly in challenges - but it is more of a points-filler than anything else, I've found. Of course, combining its' 6+ invulnerable save with a 6+ Feel No Pain roll from Iron Hands is actually quite decent. Additionally, you can take a special melee weapon on the Sergeant, though I would reserve this for a Veteran Sergeant because the extra attack is always worthwhile. I recommend a power weapon over a power fist simply because the Sergeant can be challenged and singled out, though I've not found an Assault Sergeant even needs a special melee weapon simply because the unit puts out more than enough attacks on the charge anyway, particularly if Hammer of Wrath is thrown in.

    Where to Put Them - I would be most comfortable putting Assault Squads in Drop Pods to act as a suicide unit, but that probably isn't satisfactory for most. Rhinos and Razorbacks make good transports for them as well, it just so happens that they synergize so well with a Drop Pod and provide one of the codices' best sources of Pathfinder-clearing. Really, that is their main duty! If they can latch some krak grenades on a Fire Prism or a Manticore, that is a bonus more than anything else. For traditional Assault Squad builds with jump packs, I tend not to deep strike them simply because the Drop Pod is far better for that reason; you trade having a 12" move the turn after deep striking for reliable, safe scatter and a guaranteed first turn drop. On foot, I keep them behind or in terrain such as forests or ruins at the start of the game; Dangerous Terrain tests really aren't that bad anymore given you can take your 3+ armour saves against them. On that note, a squad of ten will statistically lose one model for every eighteen dangerous terrain tests the unit makes. Just something to remember. As much as AP3/2 Ignores Cover is the name of the game for some armies - like Tau and Colossi-heavy Imperial Guard - you still don't want to forfeit your Space Marines if you can avoid it. Keep to cover when moving up; you have a 12" jump pack move, or a re-rollable charge distance. You can afford to wait an extra turn to charge if it means you don't run out in the open and get promptly slaughtered by a pair of Vindicators.

    Best Uses - The best use of Assault Squads by far is, unfortunately, one that doesn't really conform to both their noted role and standard models. When you exchange their jump packs for a Drop Pod with no cost, you are left with the happy situation of being able to get yourself an incredibly cheap melee unit with safe deep striking. However, what really abuses this is giving the Assault Squad a pair of flamers; put them in the first turn Drop Pod Assault and watch the hilariously cheap carnage they bring, particularly in a light-infantry dominated meta-game. Salamanders make the most of this tactic, obviously, especially when you combine other suicide melta units with Vulkan. It makes for one of the more brutal and efficient alpha strikes in the game. If you don't want to go this route though, I've found that trying to run Assault Squads up the field mandates them jumping either into or behind terrain. Sure, Tau don't give a rats about cover, but it makes a big difference against Eldar and other armies.

    Small units of Assault Marines are too easy a target and will die from both reactionary shooting on the opponents' turn and through Overwatch, though you don't want to make them too obvious a focal point. This is where they work best as part of a target saturation mechanized or scouting list; combine them with several other beefy units, such as scouting White Scars Bikers, Tactical Squads in Rhinos, Honour Guard or Assault Terminators in Land Raiders, and so on, and just explode your opponents' plans through sheer mass of units to shoot. Assault Marines are still quite cheap, and though they aren't the best assault unit, they will still beat down most enemies you run into in a fight anyway. They can't take on 'Screamer-Stars' or 'Seer-stars', but they cost significantly less. Use that to your advantage to flood the board with mobile units and beat those death-stars down through attrition, or ignore them completely; Assault Marines are quick enough to at least force the death star to chase them, provided you threaten their support units early on. The reality is, Assault Marines aren't that expensive at all to take, particularly if you skip the needless upgrades. Use them to put pressure on your opponents' support units and flanking units, notably units with Markerlights, as well as any vehicle with a rear armour of 12 or lower.

    Chapter Tactics - Assault Marines get the largest direct benefit from Raven Guard, where they can dart 12" in the movement phase and still use their jump packs to re-roll their random charge lengths. For a dedicated assault unit, this is a really big boost and one that combines exceptionally well with Shrike who can Infiltrate the squad forward. Ultramarines also give them the same benefit, albeit for one turn, though I would suggest that even having 'Fleet' for a single turn is usually enough to get the Assault Squad where you need them, usually on the second or third game turn. White Scars provide a significant advantage with Hit and Run, simply one of the best special rules for any melee unit to have, even if the Assault Marines can't benefit from Khan's Scout move unless they lose their jump packs and hop in a transport. The others provide more minor boosts, though the Salamanders in particular allow for the most effective use of 'suicide' drop-podding Assault Squads. Take a squad of five, arm them with two flamers, and launch them into a Drop Pod Assault. The re-rolls to wound with their flamers, as well as a few pistol shots, should ensure some incredibly cheap carnage on the first turn.


    Land Speeder Squadron

    Overview - Fast Skimmers are all the rage in 6th Edition due to the numerous benefits they gained in the new rules, particularly those that either transport units or bring extreme firepower. Land Speeders operate on the latter end of the spectrum, being affordable sources of heavy anti-tank or anti-infantry firepower at the cost of latent fragility. To address the elephant in the room, yes, Land Speeders are almost laughably easy to beat down from afar or up close. AV10 on all sides with only two hull points each - though they thankfully aren't open-topped - means that anything from boltgun fire to krak grenades or Serpent Shields will spell their doom, and the last of those in particular are their ultimate bane. There are few things scarier for lightly armoured vehicles than Wave Serpents or Tau, and Land Speeders - who rely on their Jink saves and positioning to survive - are outdone both by the long range and Ignores Cover that both provide. Anything that gets into melee with them can and probably will destroy them, though as Fast Skimmers that can fire all of their weapons at full Ballistic Skill when moving 12" a turn, this should almost never happen unless you are being chased by jump units or are using the Land Speeders in a suicide role.

    To make up for this, Land Speeders bring you cheap sources of heavy weapons that can be taken in squadrons with the option for Deep Striking. They have a multitude of gun options, including doubling up on heavy bolters, heavy flamers and multi meltas, or taking one of a typhoon missile launcher or assault cannon. Land Speeders can be used to savage effect against highly valuable enemy vehicles such as Land Raiders and Leman Russes when loaded out with multi-meltas that, provided their owning player goes first, have an effective melta range of 36" on the first turn, or a 48" regular shot range. This obviously factors in their deployment, and unless you are mostly certain of going first, keeping the Land Speeders hidden or at least giving them a static cover save is almost mandatory due to their fragility. Their speed means that it shouldn't be much of an issue, and this is particularly true of long ranged builds featuring a typhoon missile launcher. They are a good unit that stays cheap provided you don't mix and match conflicting weapon upgrades, and they tend to work best in pairs rather than singles so as to not so easily give up First Blood. A squadron size of three is certainly viable, but just be aware of the ticking points cost for the unit.

    How to Equip Them - There are many ways to equip Land Speeders, but generally you want to keep them as cheap as you can for whatever role you need filled considering how fragile they are. For this reason, if you want long range anti-tank, I would keep the stock heavy bolter and take a typhoon missile launcher. The heavy bolter has the big range advantage over the multi-melta, allowing the Land Speeder to comfortably sit at range without wasting a gun, and it also saves a few points as well. If you want a short-range anti-tank 'suicide' Land Speeder, a pair of multi-meltas is cheap and efficient enough, particularly when combined with Vulkan's master-crafting. Alternatively, you can use heavy flamers for a more balanced Land Speeder build, one that can toast assaulting melee infantry or those pesky light infantry from Tau, Eldar and Imperial Guard. Pathfinders won't look twice before trying to shoot them down on the first turn! There are other variations including assault cannons, double heavy bolters and so on, and they can certainly work too. The key with Land Speeders is to not over-do it; keep them cheap, specialize them, and let them do their job.

    Where to Put Them - Unless you have the first turn and are very confident of not getting 'Seized', always deploy Land Speeders where they can get a cover save. Ideally, this is done by placing them behind an obscuring terrain piece that is on or near the edge of your deployment zone. Ruins and buildings can also block line of sight completely if you are facing Wave Serpents or Hydras. If no such options are available, or the enemy can circumvent your defences - Smart Missile Systems and Hive Guard come to mind - then don't be afraid to Deep Strike the Land Speeders. If the enemy has Interceptor weapons, such as Quad Guns, then you will want to weigh up which is the safer option. There is almost never a guarantee of either player going first, and if your opponent shoots at the Land Speeders on the first turn, it could pave the way for more valuable targets - such as a Land Raider ferrying a hard-hitting melee unit - to get to the enemy instead. For this reason, I tend to prefer having the Land Speeders on the board. As much as everything seems to die so easily in 6th Edition, having target saturation is still a big part of the game, as one bad or unlucky roll can force your opponent to dedicate more anti-tank shots to the Land Speeders or risk losing their prized Skyray or other valuable tank. Land Speeders with Typhoon Missile Launchers should follow these principles, though if you have the short table edge deployment, they can afford to sit back further and abuse their 12" move-and-shoot to keep both out of sight and out of range of enemy fire on the first turn.

    Best Uses - I've not found much stock in heavy flamer Land Speeders, simply because a five-strong Assault Squad in a Drop Pod with two flamers does the job quite well and is far more likely to get close enough to use their guns. Of course, if the Land Speeders pair heavy flamers with an anti-tank weapon, it is a bit of a different story, though I haven't been a massive fan of these builds of late simply because they try too much to be versatile when really they get destroyed for the most part after popping - or trying to - a high value tank, wasting one weapon or another. If you want multi-meltas, take either just the one melta or two of them for each Land Speeder, as those extra shots are well worth it to ensure they actually destroy their target. For short range Land Speeders, you really need to focus on one thing, otherwise their fragility means you will likely just be wasting points. Land Speeders armed with Typhoons are actually quite good because of their range; they can comfortably sit outside the 36" death ranges of Tau and most other armies while still taking shots. This is an invaluable tool to have, particularly on a standard or larger than normal game board that actually takes advantage of this with an acceptable amount of terrain. If you are playing against Wave Serpents or Dark Eldar dark lance-boats, make sure to deploy out of sight if you can; Serpents will gobble Land Speeders up with zero difficulty, and Dark Eldar can easily get into range with their 36" anti-tank guns on the first turn, ignoring your 12" advantage.

    Chapter Tactics - Land Speeders are just about the last vehicle to get any benefit from It Will Not Die, even in squadrons, and - depending on their role - they have mixed synergies with a wide range of army builds. The range of equipment choices means that you can just about fit a Land Speeder squadron or more in any army list, as long as you aware of how quickly they get destroyed when focused on.


    Stormtalon Gunship

    Overview - The Stormtalon provides Space Marines with a cheap, fragile and yet reliable flyer that is far more favourable than most introduced in 6th Edition. This is not only because its' competition for Fast Attack slots isn't as fierce as in other armies - particularly with Bikes able to be moved to Troops - but because it actually performs its role quite well. With a stock assault cannon and the option to add one of three weapon options, including the skyhammer missiles, twin-linked lascannon and typhoon missile launcher, the Stormtalon provides efficient firepower against light and medium vehicles. Against most flyers, the Stormtalon does the job of a fighter more than capably, providing four Strength 6 shots and a few extra high Strength shots depending on the optional weapon choice. Though this might seem like it is comparable to the over-costed Nephilim Jetfighter, the Stormtalon has a significantly lower points cost and can actually specialize its anti-tank weapons instead of being stuck with almost exclusively Strength 6 or 5 weapons. Though a Stormtalon is unlikely to best a Heldrake or Vendetta in a straight dog fight unless it manages to get in a Heldrake's rear arc, as incredibly unlikely as it is, it should do just fine against most other flyers.

    Of course, the low points cost with decent firepower does have a downside, and that is apparent in its fragility. The Stormtalon has AV11 on all sides, which is respectable enough for a flyer, but only two hull points. This means that Evading and smart positioning become far more integral to their use as, despite being cheap, they are both flimsy and eat up enough points to ensure you can't waste them in a suicide attack run. A Ballistic Skill 4 model manning a quad gun will average two hull points of damage on a Stormtalon, either forcing it to Evade on the turn it arrives or restricting its movement and subsequent firing lanes. A cheap Night Scythe outputs slightly higher damage as well, and trying to take on something like a Crimson Hunter if it isn't already on the board is sheer folly. To actually take on most flyers, outside of most bombers or even the afore-mentioned Nephilim, a Stormtalon needs to be moved into line of sight blocking terrain if it arrives first, or arrive second to guarantee an alpha strike. This always leads me to take the cheapest secondary weapon choice, the skyhammers, to keep the cost of a Stormtalon down while maximising their firepower. The skyhammers are a very cheap upgrade and still compare quite favourably to the typhoons, so if you do expect your Stormtalons to take some flak but want them to do damage in return, keep them cheap and go from there. This also leads me to stress the obvious; don't be afraid to go into active reserves with your Stormtalons - and other flyers in general - if it means saving them from a turn of inactivity or potential destruction!

    How to Equip Them - This is an interesting topic for debate even several months after the release of the Space Marine codex; which of the secondary weapon systems do you take alongside the twin-linked assault cannon? I've not found the twin-linked heavy bolter to be too useful as a Stormtalon really wants to be kept versatile to deal with any target your opponent can put down on the table short of Land Raiders or Terminators. The cost of the upgrades does vary quite a bit, with the Skyhammers being the cheapest by a big amount, and the twin-linked Lascannon being a few points short of the most expensive option, the Typhoon Missile Launcher. So how does their damage output compare? Against AV11 vehicles - the most common for Marine armies for ground vehicles, and the standard for most flyers - assuming no open-topped or other modifiers, the Skyhammers are the best pick. Against higher armoured vehicles and models like Tyranid Warriors and Raveners, the Typhoons are stronger. I've personally found that AV11 vehicles are much more common, particularly in the case of flyers, so I always prefer to save points and take the Skyhammers. If you have the points though and expect enemies such as Necrons with their AV13 ground vehicles, then the Typhoons are likely going to be the better investment. Just remember that the Stormtalon is fragile and so keeping it as cheap as possible is always a good idea, which makes me give the Skyhammers the overall edge.

    Where to Put Them - Stormtalons are best at the 24" to 36" ranges where most of their weapons operate, though considering both their fragility and low cost, you can get away with keeping them out of range with the assault cannon simply to harass light vehicles. As much as having rear AV11 is great for ignoring annoying glances from standard infantry, you still can't afford to put the thing right near most enemy units. AV11 is not that crash hot, and neither is two hull points. Don't take chances unless you want to use your Hover Strike on the rear armour of an enemy vehicle or squadron; a good case for this would be attacking the vulnerable backside of two or three Leman Russ battle tanks, or going all out for one of those Wave Serpents. If your opponent has flyers, try to react to this by either putting your flyer in a spot that they can't shoot - the enemy backfield is valid if there aren't any units near the particular spot you want to take - or by forcing the opponent to expose the flyer to return fire if it wants to go after the Stormtalon.

    Best Uses - I've found Stormtalons to be efficient sources of medium to heavy firepower, at least in terms of a flyer, so my best bet is to put them up against enemy flyers and AV10-12 vehicles wherever possible. Those are generally their preferred targets, and make no mistake; though they are more fragile and have less total guns than a Storm Raven, a pair of Stormtalons for a roughly equivalent cost will bring a far more balanced and effective anti-air defence. In fact, a pair of Stormtalons can do very well against enemy flyers; just don't expect them to take on a fully fledged air brigade such as massed Vendettas, Valkyries or Night Scythes. Quad Guns are an obvious issue for Stormtalons though, as are other massed fire Interceptor weapons, so as a result I've always wanted to balance Stormtalons with good firepower overall against low cost. They get wrecked pretty quickly against any dedicated anti-air unit, and even with an immunity to boltgun fire, ground targets can still make a meal of them. The advantage for the Stormtalon here is its' great range on almost every weapon it has, bar the assault cannon. Don't be afraid to use this as often as you can; if you only move on 18" and can't fire the assault cannon, use your other weapon to soften a target for a ground unit to clean up. A 'living' Stormtalon is a good one, so don't waste them on some one-shot tactic that will likely result in their destruction. Their firepower is never going to be based on the principles of melta weaponry, and thus they work better as flyers in attrition wars if you maneuvre them behind line of sight-blocking terrain or out of range of most skyfire weapons.

    Chapter Tactics - Stormtalons obviously only get a direct benefit from the Iron Hands Chapter Tactics, but with only two hull points and AV 11/11/11, it is unlikely it will get to make the most out of an It Will Not Die roll.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "Your honour is your life. Let none dispute it."
    - Captain Navarre of the Black Templars

    ARTICLE 2

    Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel, and I am here today with a look at the Fast Attack slot for Codex: Space Marines! The loyal progeny of the Emperor have always been masters of all aspects of warfare, and when the big guns and over-powering strikes aren't enough, they can rely on mobility and precise counter-strikes to cripple and destroy the important cogs of any enemy war machine. I hope you find this to be an interesting, or at least helpful, read!

    Space Marines have access to a pretty diverse Fast Attack slot, even if it isn't quite as heavy as the Eldar equivalent. It provides you with one of the most cost-effective flyers in any of the 6th Edition codices, used well as either an escort gunship or a primary anti-air fighter, and a great harassment unit that has fantastic synergy with deep striking elements in the form of Scout Bikers. And then there are the tougher choices, the ones that provide heavier firepower albeit at greater expense; Attack Bikes with their potent anti-tank or anti-infantry guns, or regular Bikers that are amazingly cheap, versatile and tough and can receive irrational advantages from certain Chapter Tactics. Land Speeders and Assault Marines round out the slot, providing somewhat more fragile destruction either at medium or close ranges, but they are still good options that are a bit more specialized in their usage. There is a lot of value to be had here, particularly as Bikers make for such a fantastic Troops choice in a more mobile army list that isn't based around vehicles. A note here that this is the second part of a series of two articles; the first part can be viewed here.


    Bike Squad

    Overview - Bikes bring the pain from either the Fast Attack or the Troops slots based upon your choice of commander, and at such a low cost that you might honestly be deceived into thinking tricky Eldar are at work! You get a twin-linked bolter, the lovely Space Marine profile, the usual grenades, Toughness 5 and the beauty of 12" moves, Hammer of Wrath and Jink saves. This all comes at half again the price of a Tactical Marine, giving you exceptional value over the regular Infantry - though of course, Tacticals do have their own roles to fill. Bikes work so well in any mobile or aggressive army list due to a combination of high durability and versatility; their krak grenades and special weapons, particularly grav guns, allow them to take on pretty much any target that their twin-linked bolters can't handle. In the 6th Edition meta of high Strength weaponry, some might say Bikes are just more expensive Tactical Marines that die just as fast to Ion Accelerators with Ignores Cover. While that is true in a sense, it doesn't account for all the small arms fire and heavy damage they soak up through their higher Toughness and innate cover saves. They are actually a decently strong melee unit because they don't need to pay for a transport to get there, and they can reliably chase down Wave Serpents and other skimmers and latch krak grenades onto their rear armour. They bring inherent mobility that Tacticals simply can't enjoy, and they also make the most of grav weaponry due to Relentless as a product of their unit type. They are a great unit that receives ridiculous buffs from White Scars Chapter Tactics, and they are one I simply cannot recommend enough.

    How to Equip Them - Generally Bikes are best given weapons that your regular Tactical Marines can't make as effective use of, or at least if you aren't using them as your sole Troops choice. Bikes are more valuable models with far greater mobility than Tacticals, and thus plasma guns aren't as useful for them. When you combine them with Scout or even just their stock movement speed, Bikes work really well with meltaguns and even flamers; the latter is particularly useful for a unit charging and counter-charging enemy infantry on the fly. Combine that unit with Hit and Run and you will have a hilariously dangerous offensive unit that just sweeps any non-heavily armoured infantry before them, what with the Wall of Flame and the usual template fire. However, arguably the best weapon choice for Bikes is one that Tacticals really don't get much mileage out of; the newly christened grav guns. A squad of Bikes paired with Scout from Khan and armed with these can reliably get into range of even long-range enemy monstrous creatures, such as Riptides or Wraithknights, and take an average of three or so wounds off of them.

    Alternatively, the grav guns have a very decent chance of simply immobilizing an enemy vehicle. The best possible scenario is to have a single Bike squad with grav guns immobilize a Land Raider or other high value transport, and the fact is that no matter the vehicle, whatever their armour value or hull points may be, the grav effect does not discriminate. They are weapons that discourage high-value targets of all kinds, and the Bikes have the advantage that they can always switch to their twin-linked bolters to shoot at lowly armoured models such as Ork Boyz. Combi-weapons and power lances - particularly for White Scars with Hit and Run - are all very good options for a Bike Sergeant, and as before, I wouldn't bother with the Veteran upgrade unless you want the extra attack for a power weapon. The Attack Bike is a model I would definitely recommend adding if you can fit them in, though they aren't really necessary unless you want an extra multi-melta shot to compliment either your grav guns or meltaguns. They are high value regardless, but Bikes are good enough that you shouldn't feel compelled to make up the points to fit them in. For Biker squad sizes, I definitely wouldn't waste just how awesome a Troops or Fast Attack choice they are for the points, nor would I want to risk an easy First Blood with them. With that in mind, I find five Bikes to be the minimum squad size for a unit that actually wants to stick around and not be an easy first turn target. However, when given Scout from Khan, small three-man units with a pair of special weapons can also do really well to cause suicidal havoc in an enemy's backline, targeting the rear or side armour of Skyrays and Manticores.

    Where to Put Them - When you take a Tactical Marine, give them in-built mobility, greater durability and twin-linked weaponry, you end up with a model that does many of the same things better, and can perform other roles as well. Bikes, whether used as scoring Troops choices or as Fast Attack choices, are the more aggressive option over Tacticals; they don't require a transport to get them within a viable range for shooting, and they aren't as frightened of death from AP3 weapons due to Jink saves and Toughness 5. Simply out, like most Tactical Squad builds, you do not want to leave Bikes in the back-field; they belong on the front lines, where they can pull off charges into a wide range of targets and expect to win, or simply be a nuisance that threatens most enemies at range. You want them to be part of a hammer alongside Rhinos, Land Raiders and flyers, not a holding unit that sits back to baby-sit objectives or other precious squads. As such, for the most part, you want to be deploying them forward and their versatility means they can get away with firing or charging at most targets.

    Where you really need to be cautious with your deployment is against Tau, Eldar and Imperial Guard; each of which puts out unrelenting masses of high Strength shooting that counters your Bikes, with a spice of ignores cover thrown in for good measure depending on the army. You will want to be out of sight of Medusas and Riptides if your opponent plays first, though a well saturated army list with a Land Raider or two should provide enough targets that your opponent doesn't immediately gun for the Bikes. White Scars make the most of this with Scout from Khan as well as pseudo-Skilled Rider; they don't worry nearly as much about moving into terrain or facing down AP3 or AP2 weapons, and the Scout move lets them get into position early on. Bikes are murder for most infantry units to deal with in combat outside of elite or dedicated melee units, and their mass of krak grenades, potential specialist weapons and cheap meltabombs on the Sergeant allow them to rip apart Wave Serpents and Skyrays with ease. They are tough enough that you shouldn't be too worried about return fire, but their higher base cost than Tacticals does make their loss more keenly felt. Don't rush them out in the open and expect results; unless you have that 4+ Jink save, you should still hug line-of-sight blocking terrain as much as possible, particularly if you go second. Outflank is also a great special rule to give to Bikes, particularly those packing either flamers or meltaguns, for delivering high damage to either infantry or vehicles from an unexpected angle.

    Best Uses - I've found the best use of Bikes to ironically be as a Troops choice, not a Fast Attack choice. They are an even more flexible and effective unit than Tactical Marines, they end up being cheaper for the most part due to not needing a transport for mobile variations, and they are also quite a decent combat unit that wants to be joined by melee characters. When you add guaranteed scoring on to them, it isn't hard to see why many players opt to use Bikers instead of Tacticals as their primary Troops choices. However, to simply say "they are better" would be both ignorant and wrong, and so I will instead say that they fit into certain builds more effectively than Tacticals. White Scars give insane buffs to Bikers, particularly with Khan, while Raven Guard favour Tacticals in Rhinos more, for example. If you play a mostly static army list, Bikes probably won't be as good a fit either. What counts is that they are one of - if not the most - cost effective Bike units in the game, and given the leeway granted now by Dangerous Terrain and Jink saves, having such an honour is to be lauded. They can work as small specialist weapon delivery squads akin to Attack Bikes, save with flamers, grav guns or plasma guns. They can be bulky units designed to gun down infantry with their many twin-linked bolters and melee attacks while being a threat to vehicles with krak grenades. No matter what role you use them in, they also have their high Toughness to back them up. Grav Guns tend to be my preferred weapon choice, and using Bike squads of at least five or more with these en masse make them very cost effective threats to nearly all targets in the game. This is my preferred squad build, and if you have the points, add an Attack Bike as well with a multi melta.

    Chapter Tactics - To address the elephant in the room, yes, White Scars provide the most undeniably advantageous benefits to Bike units of all kinds. If you run Bikes, they will be best when run as White Scars, especially if you combine them with Kor'sarro Khan due to his Scout ability. There aren't any other real obvious beneficial Chapter Tactics, though Salamanders combined with Vulkan can make for some nasty flanking flame or melta-delivery squads.


    Attack Bike Squad

    Overview - Attack Bikes are an altogether different beast than regular Bikers for a number of reasons. They have all the same juicy stats and special rules that make Space Marines so great, but Attack Bikes have both an extra wound and an extra attack to account for the second rider. Additionally, instead of sporting a twin-linked bolter, they come armed with a heavy bolter that can be further upgraded to a multi-melta. They are limited by their squad size, however, with a unit limit of up to three. Like Bike Squads, Attack Bikes are very difficult to kill, particularly when you throw on that extra wound; as much as Wraithknights are a dominant unit right now, Strength 10 AP3/2 weapons just aren't that common nowadays, giving Attack Bikes a lot of value for that second wound. Even though Attack Bikes might thus seem like more expensive but 'improved' Bikers, the reality is quite different; Attack Bikes serve an entirely distinct role, serving instead as more of a support unit than one of your primary aggressive lynch-pins. They provide light firepower at cut-throat prices, much like Land Speeders, and are even commonly used to the same effect with multi-meltas; even without Scout from Khan, Attack Bikes are still quite capable of annihilating most vehicles during the first player turn. While the heavy bolter isn't commonly used for Attack Bikes, it isn't necessarily a bad weapon to have, while the multi melta is always there as a cheap upgrade. Considering the limitations of their wargear options, Attack Bikes are mostly defined as a cheap 'death-brigade' that rushes towards a high value vehicle or monstrous creature with the aim not of harassing it, but of destroying it in one or two salvos. They are relatively inexpensive for this purpose, provided you make sure not to just blindly rush them into a field of hungry, hungry Termagants and Tervigons*.

    *A notice to all Attack Bike operators; if this situation occurs, the Emperor does not offer forgiveness.

    How to Equip Them - I feel that Attack Bikes are always best used with multi meltas simply because they provide you with a strong alternative to Land Speeders in that role. Bikers provide you with a mess of twin-linked bolters, and so the heavy bolters themselves aren't really necessary; additionally, the Land Speeders with two heavy bolters each are only a bit more expensive per model. The real value in Attack Bikes comes from being an extremely mobile and pretty resilient model that can provide a multi-melta shot, and unlike standard Land Speeders, they even receive Scout benefits from Khan. This virtually guarantees they will get into "melta" range on the first turn regardless of which player won the roll off, giving the Space Marine player a very nasty anti-vehicular tool. For squad sizes, I would always recommend running Attack Bike squads either in pairs or trios; one Attack Bike is a bit too easy to kill for my tastes, even with White Scars Chapter Tactics. It is too easy a target for First Blood and won't put out enough reliable firepower; with a multi melta, for example, there is a 33% chance they will miss when going for a "suicidal shot". Those are odds that you don't want to risk for a unit that really is built around being a support unit that strikes a high value target and takes punishment for other units.

    Where to Put Them - As Attack Bikes are generally used on suicide runs, I prefer to place them either on the edge of my deployment zone or behind cover while remaining as close as possible to the enemy. This is because Attack Bikes really don't give a rats about dangerous terrain tests with two wounds per model, and as that speed for their initial strike is so crucial. Keeping them safe from your opponents' initial fusillade is a smart idea if you are going second or if your opponent has boosts to their Seize the Initiative roll. From here, don't be afraid to send them riding into a place of no return; Attack Bikes are there as a cheap distraction unit that is designed to cause havoc and soak up return fire. While not every competitive use of Attack Bikes will involve their probable deaths, they are one of few units you can afford to lose, and subsequently, to throw into the fire. Trying to be edgy or cautious with them is unnecessary unless there are no viable targets for them to annihilate. They are a road-block that your opponent can't simply speed over, so use that to your advantage by pushing them up with your other mobile elements as a hard counter to their well armoured vehicles. Outflanking Attack Bikes through the use of Khan is also a very strong option; it is sometimes more beneficial against Skyrays, Manticores and other cover-camping or barrage-hiding tanks to Outflank because they will either gun down the Attack Bikes or simply stay out of range for too long anyway, risking the Attack Bikes unnecessarily.

    Best Uses - While Attack Bikes can be used to lay down light anti-infantry firepower through their heavy bolters, the reality is that regular Bikes are a more efficient source of shooting against such targets anyway. Even then, the majority of the weapons found in a typical Space Marine army do such a role anyway. If you field Thunderfire Cannons, Whirlwinds or even masses of Tactical Marines, heavy bolters don't really provide your army with much that couldn't be found elsewhere. This isn't to say such use of Attack Bikes is bad though, as they aren't too expensive for that kind of shooting and are tough and mobile enough to be an active annoyance for your opponent because of their krak grenades and two wounds each. Still, I see Attack Bikes instead as a substitute for melta-armed Land Speeder squadrons; Attack Bikes are a cheaper and, in some cases, tougher variation to the skimmers. They can be uniquely given Scout and Skilled Rider in layman's terms from Khan and the White Scars Chapter Tactics, meaning they get a huge boost to mobility, they aren't worried about dangerous terrain tests and they are tougher to boot against weapons that don't ignore cover. A pair or trio of Attack Bikes in one squad - or multiple - can prove to be a real thorn for the opponent, slicing them just enough so that they are more than a simple nuisance and will be perceived as a genuine threat regardless of their actual performance. Even a squad that fails to destroy or even cripple their quarry on the first turn will likely serve their purpose in that the opponent will have to divert some or quite a bit of their resources to eliminating them.

    Chapter Tactics - Attack Bikes do get some great buffs from White Scars, but if you use them as suicidal melta squads then Salamanders led by Vulkan are also a great contender. Imperial Fists also provide a nifty boost for heavy bolters in the unit due to Bolter Drill.


    Scout Bike Squad

    Overview - Scout Bikers are a bit of an oddball choice that, much like regular Scouts, requires a more precise use or specialization to really make the most out of them. They share the same stat-line as a Scout, with Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill and Initiative 3, and 4s elsewhere aside from Leadership 8, albeit with the added boost of Toughness 5 from the Bike. They are only a handful of points cheaper than regular Bikes, and have a worse armour save by a pip. In a straight up fight, obviously, they aren't quite as good as regular Bikes, especially as Scout Bikers don't keep the extra close combat weapon like their foot-slogging brethren. Instead, they are stuck with shotguns that probably won't see much use because of the twin-linked boltguns mounted on their bikes. This is disappointing and while it does limit their use as a melee unit compared to a Scout squad in a Land Speeder Storm, they are still more than able to run over light infantry units simply because Toughness 5 is very hard to crack for most infantry. Just don't expect combats to go as smoothly or quickly as they might otherwise have gone. No, where Scout Bikers really find their niche is in helping out as part of a reserve heavy list based on deep-striking units, like Drop Pods or both Terminator variants, because the Sergeants can carry locator beacons. This makes them a very valuable addition in such an army list, particularly with both Infiltrate and Scout added to the mix, allowing for precise deep strikes pretty much anywhere you need them. While 4+ armour saves and Toughness 5 have arguably more to fear from Ignores Cover weapons than 3+ armoured models, Scout Bikes are still valuable enough in the right kind of army list to be worthy of an inclusion. Just don't mistake them for the all purpose regular Bikers and there shouldn't be a hitch.

    How to Equip Them - I would almost always give Scout Bikers a locator beacon as I see that being their main role next to the amazingly cost-effective Space Marine Bikers, particularly in a White Scars list where regular Bikers gain one of the Scout Bikers' advantageous traits. Regardless of squad size, they are a cheap and tough unit that, with Scout, can allow for a reliable Drop Pod Assault at a specific section of the enemy battle-line. Ideally, you could combine Scout Bikers with combi-melta armed Sternguard Veterans to reliably nuke a Land Raider on the first turn, something that would have been far less likely without the locator beacon. Deploy 12" on, Scout forward 12", the Drop Pod arrives within 6", the unit deploys 6" out, and assuming a standard game board and an aggressive opponent - you rarely keep Land Raiders back - and you should be able to guarantee "melta" range for your toys. Or hey, you could just avoid all of that and simply Infiltrate and then Scout to be 12" away from the opponent before you even move! Apply this thinking to other possible combinations with units such as Assault Marines armed with two flamers or even maximising the second turn assault range of an Ironclad Dreadnought and the Scout Bikes will more than justify their inclusion.

    I've not found booby traps to be particularly useful, as dangerous terrain is far more forgiving for both models with wounds and skimmers in 6th Edition. While having the option to choose which terrain piece is booby-trapped after deployment is certainly an advantage, I still don't see the majority of opponents really being affected by it either mentally or in terms of losing models. At best, it can slow their advance down or kill a few unlucky models, and while for how cheap it is that might not seem like a bad trade, those are points that could be put to better use elsewhere. Astartes Grenade Launchers are decent enough, though the lack of twin-linked can be a bit of a nuisance with the Scouts Ballistic Skill of 3. The reality is, to perform their stated role, Scout Bikers really don't need much in the way of upgrades or weapon options. If you have the points spare, giving the Sergeant melta bombs is a very smart choice; they have Scout stock and, paired up with lots of krak grenades, they can really put the hurt on most vehicles. My ideal Scout Biker unit size as a Locator Beacon delivery unit is five or so, sitting firmly on the lowest triple digit number. The mobility you have both with deployment and Scout means you should be able to get into or behind cover to protect them if your opponent has the first turn. However, larger unit sizes are certainly viable; just be aware that, for the most part, Bikes really are more cost effective than Scout Bikes, particularly when White Scars and Khan more severely affect the former.

    Where to Put Them - The Scout and Infiltrate rules for the Initiates allows them to deploy and counter-deploy as you see fit provided your game board has an acceptable level of terrain spread throughout. Infiltrating 18" away from an enemy unit and then Scouting into or behind line of sight blocking cover in the midfield is ideal, but just be aware that their 4+ armour save does make Scout Bikers more prone to wounds caused by failed dangerous terrain tests. This also obviously isn't always ideal or possible, what with the random nature of terrain placement and its' potential lacking; add to that the 30" bubble of "I don't need to see you" Smart Missile Systems and it can be a bit of a nuisance using Scout Bikers in such a way. Ideally though, Scout Bikers are going to be your locator beacon or cheap 'melee Bikers', and as such, their low cost combined with the nature of their roles probably means you won't be too fussed if they perish on the second player or game turn. As long as they allow for one or more accurate deep strikes, or they force your opponent to shoot them or risk letting them loose on exposed infantry - Fire Warriors despite Scout Bikes just as much as anyone - then they will have performed their role.

    Best Uses - I generally see Scout Bikers as the somewhat less efficient but more specialized equivalent of regular Bikers; the latter is tougher, better in a fight and has more specialist weapon options. However, Scout Bikers have the advantage in that they have great utility in a reserve-heavy army list; locator beacons can be pivotal for guaranteeing the success of drop pod assaults, while they also find great use with all kinds of Terminators. When you give a decent melee unit that certainly holds its own against most standard infantry from other armies a bike in addition to Scout and Infiltrate, you have yourself a recipe for success. Scout Bikes are punishing when taken in large numbers against all kinds of enemy infantry, and having krak grenades gives them a great edge against vehicles even without plasma guns or meltaguns. They are probably the quickest assault unit in the army, and they will beat down Fire Warriors, Guardians, Guardsmen and many others with little difficulty. Whether you use them solely as a cheap delivery system for your reserves, or as a cheap and more than decent assault unit - or my personal favourite, both - Scout Bikers should always impress, even if they don't quite get the same accolades as the regular Bikers.

    Chapter Tactics - Scout Bikes do still get the most out of White Scars Chapter Tactics even if Khan doesn't affect them, even if their option for locator beacons combines very well with Drop Pod Assaults, such as those provided by Salamanders or Crimson Fists.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "Give me a hundred Space Marines. Or failing that, a thousand other troops."
    - Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 12-08-2013 at 04:23 AM.
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  7. #7

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    HEAVY SUPPORT (1)

    Hey there everyone, my name is Learn2Eel and today I want to talk about the toys everyone wants, the Space Marine Heavy Support units! Space Marines have an unparalleled selection of diverse units in the Heavy Support slot, giving them far more options in the simple game of shooting than any other codex out there. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Space Marines have always been the codex with the most options, and in few places is this more apparent than in the Heavy Support slot. Each choice has been given a range of buffs over the new edition, making for a diverse and competitive line-up that will likely guzzle up your points quickly - but the choice of how is very difficult indeed! There are just so many options to choose from here. For infantry-hunting artillery, you have the cheap Whirlwind and ridiculous Thunderfire Cannon. For punishing aerial defence, the Hunter and Stalker are inexpensive and dangerous choices. For transportation capabilities you have a flying gunship in the form of the Stromraven and flexible 'battle fortresses' with the three Land Raider variants. For destruction of vehicles and monsters alike, Devastators and their Centurion contingents raise their hand with great zest. The Vindicator provides a multi-purpose siege breaker, while Predators are the "every-man" unit with multiple configurations for dealing with wildly different targets. If there are any holes in a Space Marine army, the Heavy Support slot is usually the first - and best - place to look for aid.

    A note here that this is the first article in a series of four concerning Heavy Support choices.


    Devastator Squad

    Overview - Devastators bring dedicated heavy firepower to an army based mostly upon utilitarian choices with mostly mixed weapon options. Whereas Tacticals will always have mostly bolters with a few specialist guns, Devastators can bring the pain with up to four heavy weapons. This is their defining trait, as well as their synergy with Imperial Fist and Ultramarines Chapter Tactics, that separates them from being Tacticals in the Heavy Support slot. With the option for lascannons, missile launchers, plasma cannons and more, Devastators can give your army list strong shooting to counter any high value threat you need taken care of. Want to blast Terminators apart? Plasma cannons are your answer. Want to annihilate tanks from across the board? Lascannons want a word. Want to dice up some Termagants? Heavy Bolters and Missile Launchers say "season's greetings!" and all that implies. While Predators and Centurion Devastators encroach on the little guys in this role, regular Devastators are still all stars that have a few unique advantages over those other units. They are the cheapest source of heavy anti-tank firepower at long ranges on an infantry model in the codex, while they can receive absolutely irrational benefits from Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics due to Tank Hunters' crazy application with lascannons. This truly is what defines Devastators, and sets them apart from 'bolter brothers'. Aside from this, Devastators have all that you would expect from a typical Space Marine; a minimum squad size of five and a maximum of ten, frag and krak grenades to make Genestealers envious, bolters - or heavy weapons - and bolt pistols, that awesome stat line of fours, as well as power armour to boot. Space Marines are cheaper than ever, even if their power armour is no longer as valuable as it used to be what with Heldrakes and other cheap sources of cover-ignoring AP3 shooting cropping up almost everywhere. Still, unlike Tacticals, Devastators enjoy the advantage of being able to stay out of the thick of objective clashes and merely shoot down their targets from up to 48" away. There is always room in an army list for a unit of Devastators.

    How to Equip Them - I'll set this straight; unless you take three to four heavy weapons in the unit, there is very little point in taking Devastators. Why? Because Devastators without heavy weapons are effectively Tactical Marines that aren't scoring and take up a precious Heavy Support slot, home to some of the best units in the codex. Take heavy weapons! I've found with the drastically changed points costs for the heavy weapons, lascannons tend to be the best choice for Devastators for providing the codex with solid and reliable long range anti-tank and monster hunting firepower. This gels incredibly well with the Imperial Fist tactics, leading to the most cost effective anti-tank unit in the codex. Conversely, heavy bolter units are effectively stepping on the toes of Thunderfire Cannons and even the standard Troops choices; Devastators can bring what much of the codex can't, and that is massed vehicular-destroying weapons from ranges greater than 24". However, they are certainly decent if, again, you use them as Imperial Fists for re-rolls to hit of a one combined with re-rolling failed armour penetration rolls.

    Missile Launchers have the distinction of being 'versatile', but I've found that they don't compare favourably at all to lascannons. This is because the missile launcher pays for two firing modes; the small blast is mediocre at best and easily countered through the 2" unit coherency rules, allowing at best two or three hits, and; the single shot, especially at AP3, just doesn't damage to vehicles or penetrate them regularly enough. This isn't to say it is a bad weapon, just that the price of 'versatility' is efficiency. The flakk missile upgrades are over-costed and generally not worthwhile, but when given Tank Hunters from Imperial Fists and allowing the Sergeant to man a Quad Gun, it actually leads to a more than decent anti-air unit that should destroy even a Stormraven in one volley.

    Multi-meltas don't really favour Devastators that well, and the reason for that is the 24" range. Devastators want to be out of small arms fire range, where basic Troops such as Fire Warriors and Tactical Marines can shoot at and pick off a few members at a time. This reduces their firepower very quickly, and even then, you almost never want Devastators within 'melta' range of a vehicle as that usually means they are going to be in the viable assault range of other units, or that vehicles' cargo. You may as well just take missile launchers instead of multi meltas at that point as doubling the range will lead to less frustration during deployment and trying to survive enemy shooting. The one exception to the rule with multi-meltas could be Ultramarines with the one turn of Relentless it provides, but the silly part is that this doesn't work when the Devastators jump out of a transport. Plasma Cannons suffer from the same issue as missile launchers in that small blast templates generally don't hit too much to really be worthwhile, and the plasma cannons even come with the added issue of Gets Hot. However, Strength 7 and AP2 means that they are an ok, if very mediocre, light vehicle hunter, while providing a more than decent threat to heavy infantry and monstrous creatures. Ultimately, the choice of weapon usually boils down to whether or not you are running Imperial Fists. Lascannons are easily the best weapon choice for them, and probably my pick for other Chapter Tactics as well. However, the other weapon options should prove useful provided you don't forget what they should be targeting; keep the missile launchers shooting at Crisis Teams and Tervigons, while the heavy bolters should be gunning for Fire Warriors and Eldar Aspect Warriors with a 4+ armour save. Other wargear on Devastators is almost completely unnecessary, as the Sergeant can't really take any ranged weapons that gel with the long range firepower on offer here.

    Where to Put Them - Devastators might be Space Marines, but as 6th Edition continues to prove, there are more and easier methods to kill those Toughness 4, power armoured bodies than ever. Massed small arms fire is enough to kill a few very valuable Devastators in each shooting phase, while cover-ignoring template and blast weapons will be a massive threat to them at nearly any range. Still, battle cannons and many other AP3 or AP2 weapons usually don't ignore cover, so the ideal place to deploy Devastators is as far away from the enemy as possible while staying in range with your guns, and keeping to cover. You need to take any defence you can; 30" is generally the cap of guns carried by basic troopers, while cover saves - particularly 4+ ones provided by defence lines and ruins - will save more models than you could count with so much low AP shooting in the game. You will want to deploy Devastators close to the back of your deployment zone - though certain deployment types, such as the diagonal or small table edge one, can allow you to deploy forward in cover as well - and in the best piece of cover available. Spread them out to reduce their vulnerability to large blasts and templates, and make sure to put your 'ablative wound' Devastators up the front to protect the heavy weapons.

    Because Devastators are not Relentless, I almost never recommend putting them in a Drop Pod or transport. However, using the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics in a Drop Pod list actually favours Devastators quite well. The key there is to purchase Drop Pods as necessary for the Devastators to get the 'odd number' going, but drop them empty. Start the Devastators in reserve if possible - just be aware that only one unit of Devastators can do so if the rest of your army is in Drop Pods - and use the Devastator Doctrine to give them Relentless on the turn they arrive. It isn't the best tactic all the time, but it is certainly a handy option to have if your opponent has the first turn and you have mostly reserves or otherwise believe the Devastators are vulnerable. Additionally, purchasing Razorbacks for Devastators is hardly a bad idea; you can split the squad up using Combat Squads, of course, and put ablative bodies into Razorbacks to contribute to a mechanized target saturation list filled with Rhinos and Razorbacks. Otherwise, you could just leave the Razorbacks empty and keep the 'ablative wound' models in the squad, and use the tank as extra fire support. One thing to note is that positioning against reserve-heavy lists, such as Drop Pod Assaults, where your Devastators are obvious and logical targets isn't that difficult provided you purchased extra bodies to protect the heavy weapons. Centre the heavy weapons, have the other models form a 'ring' around them, and use line of sight blocking terrain to further condense the amount of bodies blocking certain angles.

    Best Uses - Devastators should really be used as your primary sources of long ranged anti-tank if your army list does not feature Predator Annihilator variants (or the autocannon/lascannons variant), simply because Bikes, Tacticals, Thunderfires and Whirlwinds are generally far superior or cheaper for taking on infantry. As such, lascannons are my favourite weapon choice for them, not just because of how cost effective they are - particularly with Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics - but because they are the best at performing the role Devastators are best suited to fill in a typical Space Marine army list. I prefer to use two units equipped the same with at least three extra Marines on opposite ends of my deployment zone either in ruins or 'safe' (i.e. not random) area terrain. This allows me to cover pretty much the entirety of a typical 6x4 board with strong lascannon fire, devastating most vehicles and using both redundancy and cost to my advantage. Their best targets are vehicles in the AV13 and lower range, simply because plasma guns and your other heavy or special weapons should deal well enough with AV12 and lower vehicles. Lascannons aren't terrible against AV14, and might even be your only way to deal with such vehicles, but just remember that only one out of nine lascannon shots will penetrate an AV14 vehicle, though of course glancing such a vehicle is often enough as well. Adding Tank Hunters to the mix from Imperial Fists gives Devastators such an irrational boost against all vehicles that it is simply too good not to take for them if you can manage it, especially for dealing with Land Raiders, Leman Russes and the like.

    Chapter Tactics - Devastators get the most benefits from Imperial Fists, as Tank Hunters makes them an incredible anti-tank unit with lascannons or missile launchers, even so far as making flakk missiles somewhat viable for anti-air duties! They also get the very nifty usage of the Devastator and Tactical Doctrines from the Ultramarines, giving them Relentless and re-rolls of a one to hit in shooting, respectively. If they get tied up in combat, the White Scars' Hit and Run can be a big help, while Feel No Pain (6+) is always a nifty boost from Iron Hands.


    Centurion Devastator Squad

    Overview - Centurions have proved one of the most controversial additions to any 6th Edition codex so far for numerous reasons, not least of which are their background implications and the hotly contested quality of their models. Now, while Centurion Assault Squads really aren't that viable of a unit overall, Centurion Devastators seem to continue the trend of a ranged unit being 'superior' than its assault-oriented equivalent. Though they aren't really effective sources of bolter fire, they do match up surprisingly well to Devastators when armed with lascannons and optional missile launchers for sniping tanks and monsters from afar. While I still prefer regular Devastators and, by extension, Predators in this role, Centurion Devastators at least have a role that they can fulfill and do so quite well, albeit with the stipulation that the enemy doesn't have an abundance of Strength 7 AP2 shooting that the other units fear far less. However, the new grav cannons that can only be taken by Centurion Devastators - a clever choice indeed - have drawn understandable attention from all circles with their horrendous damage output against all but the 'weakest' of enemies, ironically. They obliterate Wraithknights, Wave Serpents, Riptides, Hammerheads, Bloodthirsters, Daemon Princes with armour saves, Land Raiders, Monoliths and all other manner of high value targets in but a single volley from three models, statistically. This insane damage output does come with costs, notably that they lack the range to engage such units from a safe distance.

    To be fair to Centurions though, they certainly are quite tough. Each Centurion has two wounds at Toughness 5 with a 2+ armour save, making them even tougher than a pair of Terminators. However, where they are lacking is that they have no invulnerable save and no easily accessed special rule or psychic power to provide them, making them incredibly vulnerable to the wealth of AP2 shooting out there from Eldar shuriken weapons to plasma weapons. This is a unit that, ironically, would have probably been better suited to 5th Edition where there was more Strength 8 AP3 shooting instead, and where the basic Troops of a faction couldn't 'rend'. Paired up with this is the lack of any kind of close combat weapons; as much as the models may indicate otherwise, Centurion Devastators do not have power fists and, with only one attack each in combat, are hilariously vulnerable to an unfavourable assault result against even basic melee units. Granted, And They Shall Know No Fear saves them from ever being swept, but the simple fact remains that any ten-strong Termagant unit with a nearby Tervigon can tie up a Centurion Devastator unit consisting of three models for at least four player turns. That is just ridiculous and, alongside their inability to Overwatch, makes Centurion Devastators a very risky unit to employ.

    Indeed, Centurions also have the Slow and Purposeful special rule, meaning they cannot Run, they can't sweep enemies and, again, they can't use Overwatch to defend themselves from those basic melee or ranged units that can tie them up for half of the game. This is where transports become almost mandatory for Centurion Devastators, but as they only have access - and can fit in - Land Raider variants or Stormravens, it makes taking any kind of Centurion unit with grav cannons a huge investment if you want them to survive to shoot each game. While it is less important against some enemies, such as Tyranids (this was written before the new codex!), it is necessary if they want to even get close to enemies such as Eldar and Tau with their Wraithknights and Riptides that make natural targets for the Centurions. The Stormraven, from extensive play-testing with Centurions, seems to be the best fit for them due to its generally lower cost compared to Land Raiders, as well as the usually much safer delivery option through Skies of Blood. Despite this and the damage they deal, though, Centurion Devastators are an expensive unit with a slew of weaknesses, particularly to massed AP2 shooting and fast assault units, that they can't simply be thrown into any army list and expected to do a job. You need to build the list around their usage, whether it be a transport paired up to Scouts equipped with locator beacons, or multiple characters to give them the defensive and mobility boosts they sorely need to be a viable 'all-comers' unit. They can be an incredibly strong unit, especially if your opponents lacks AP2 shooting or melee attacks, as well as cheap and fast assault units, but they are expensive enough that you really need to plan for their usage. If you can deliver the amazing grav cannons into range without a hitch, you will have yourself untold destruction.

    How to Equip Them - This is easily one of the most interesting topics regarding Centurion Devastators, and one that I feel will continue to be debated for some time. Grav Cannons are easily the most devastating weapon option available to them, making mince meat of nearly anything with a 4+ or better armour save - meaning it is incredibly damaging against all but Chaos Daemons for the most part. The issue here is the medium range of 24" and the attention they generate; any smart opponent will want to annihilate the Centurion Devastators before they can get close and, unfortunately, that isn't too difficult for many competitive armies in 6th Edition. The twin-linked lascannon is certainly a great weapon, and Centurions armed with these compare surprisingly well to regular Devastators with the same kit - provided the Devastators are doing the smart thing and taking extra models for ablative wounds. Missile Launchers are, again, a decent but ultimately ineffective - compared to lascannons - weapon that is a decently costed upgrade for a Centurion Devastator and can be combined with either the twin-linked lascannon or Grav Cannon, though it isn't twin-linked. If you want to keep the Centurions bare, they do come stock with hurricane bolters and twin-linked heavy bolters, the former which can be switched for the missile launcher, and the latter for the lascannon and Grav Cannon.

    My personal opinion is that Centurion Devastators are an interesting unit with key differences to regular Devastators, such as dramatically increased durability per model, but they are still somewhat analogous to them in terms of raw firepower and their basic role. What is important to note here is that 2+ and 3+ armour saves have been made naturally less valuable simply because armies such as Tau and Eldar bring insane amounts of armour-ignoring weaponry. While Strength 10 guns still aren't that common, the Wraithknight is a fixture in many competitive Eldar army lists and can reliably kill one or two Centurions a turn at long range. Couple this with the changes to monstrous creatures allowing any of them to get Strength 10 attacks in melee, and Centurions certainly aren't infallible - especially as they lack a self-generated invulnerable save. Losing such high value models so easily - only three plasma gun shots are needed to kill a single Centurion without cover - is a by-product of 6th Editions' heavy focus on massed low AP shooting. So how does this relate to their weapon options? It is quite simple; like anything else in the game, try to keep them as cheap as possible. Space Marines are amazingly valuable, but still die just as easily to a Heldrake as Cultists, losing more points per 'shot'. This isn't to say I think you should keep the stock equipment on Centurions though; if you want to spend that many points for taking on infantry almost exclusively, just run two Thunderfire Cannons and enjoy far, far better results. If you want them to sit at a range where even a Wraithknight will have to take a turn or two to be able to shoot them, and keep them away from pesky plasma weapons, you can opt either for just lascannons, or both lascannons and missile launchers. The latter is 'devastating', but brings the cost of each model up to just shy of the century mark.

    Where I think the real value for Centurion Devastators comes from is in the Grav Cannons that only they can take in the entire codex. Make no mistake; despite the medium or short range, depending on what army you play, three Grav Cannons will statistically kill a Wraithknight without cover or invulnerable saves in a single round. Yep, those three 'mini-Dreadnoughts' can slaughter arguably the toughest monstrous creature in the game in one volley, and with only one weapon upgrade. How many singular units of that points bracket can claim to do the same outside of using instant death weaponry? Very few, if any. That is before even mentioning how ridiculous they are against any unit you can find that doesn't have a 5+ or worse armour save when you give them Tank Hunters, Ignores Cover and re-rolls to hit from a friendly Tau Commander. The biggest problem with the Grav Cannons is not how valuable they are, but their range; Centurions can only be housed in expensive transports to get them close, and even then, there is no guarantee that they will be dropped off or unloaded (from an explosion) near a viable target. Mind you, even three Grav Cannons can slaughter almost an entire Tactical Squad on average, but Centurion Devastators are best used against the 'big' targets the rest of your army doesn't handle so well; units such as Riptides and Wave Serpents. This is where my favourite deployment option for the unit comes in; the Stormraven. This is because the Skies of Fury special rule allows the unit to drop out when the Stormraven arrives from reserves during the movement phase, with the risk of a mishap. However, locator beacons from Scouts, Scout Bikers and Drop Pods making a Drop Pod Assault on the first turn can remedy this issue. Regardless, it allows you to drop the Centurions near the enemy and get the first strike going, unless they have Interceptor weapons. But then, even the nastiest Interceptor weapons you could find won't make too much of a dent in the unit. Such a unit doesn't require the missile launchers and thus should just keep the hurricane bolters.

    Where to Put Them - This is a question based solely on load-out more than anything else for Centurion Devastators. If you equip them either for defensive anti-infantry firepower by leaving them stock, they can pretty comfortably advance beside or behind your transports to provide a slow but hardy fire-base against light units. For long range anti-tank purposes with twin-linked lascannons and missile launchers - though the latter isn't necessary - you don't need to worry too much about how far forward you deploy them simply because they are crazily durable against small arms fire. The most important part here is the cover save to make up for their lack of an invulnerable save; they are, after all, a natural fire magnet for plasma weaponry. However, you do need to keep very aware of fast assault units such as Flesh Hounds and Screamers that can shred Centurions with ease and even potentially assault them on the first game turn. The inability to fire Overwatch requires the use of friendly counter-assault units such as Assault Marines and Vanguard Veterans, as even if you are confident in their shooting, they can't really deal with those cheap and quick Termagant broods spawned by Tervigons for example. Like Devastators, Centurions really want 4+ or better cover saves if possible rather than the standard 5+, simply because they will be the focus of more AP2 shooting than almost any other unit in your army.

    Where the deployment really starts to spice up for Centurion Devastators is when you arm them with grav cannons. The other squad types really don't need an expensive transport, but the short range and devastating firepower on offer from the grav cannons really requires such a unit to ferry the Centurions. They are incredibly deadly and your opponent will doubtless know it well, leaving the Centurions as a giant, slow fire magnet. This wouldn't be such an issue if it weren't for the fact that Centurions are Slow and Purposeful, meaning they can't Run and gain a few extra important inches each turn, or even Overwatch to save themselves from fast assault units that they can't really deal with. A tip here is to avoid Daemon assault units such as Flesh Hounds at all costs that simply laugh at your grav cannons; you really need other units supporting the Centurions to deal with them, or to be able to avoid them through the use of a transport. Now, as to the transport itself, you have two - technically four - options; Land Raiders and Stormravens. Land Raiders are relatively safe and rather simple in application; pick a direction and valuable enemy unit. Move forward. Job done!

    The issue is their cost, and the fact that a standard Land Raider can only fit three Centurions in a unit, while a Crusader can barely fit five. This creates an obvious issue though; an expensive transport that is still quite vulnerable depending on the opponent (Hammerhead and Riptide-heavy Tau, Wraithknight-heavy Eldar, Imperial Guard, Imperial Fists, etc) paired up with an expensive unit that is hardly guaranteed to do the job. This is where the generally risky transport option, the Stormraven, comes into play. It is a durable flyer, for sure, but the key here is that despite all the Skyfire and Interceptor weapons going around, the Skies of Fury rule on the Stormraven allows the Centurions to 'deep strike' out of the Stormraven on the turn it arrives anywhere along a potential 36" move. This is done before Interceptor weaponry is fired, and as most Interceptor weaponry is better geared to taking on a Stormraven than 2+ armoured Centurions, it is very much to your advantage. It is much more of a guarantee of the Centurions getting in range without taking any fire, and it even forces an opponent with Interceptor weapons to choose between a nasty Stormraven or the destructive Centurion Devastators. Combine this with the generally significantly lower cost of a Stormraven compared to a Land Raider, and the Stormraven is very much my preferred transport option for grav cannon-armed Centurions.

    Best Uses - Centurion Devastators are surprisingly (or not) analogous to regular Devastators despite their significantly higher cost per model, as when armed with both missile launchers and twin-linked lascannons they do put out more 'cost effective' firepower than similarly-costed Devastator units. The issue here is that you can take two units of seven Devastators with four lascannons each for not too much more than three such Centurion Devastators, while providing more defence against Strength 7 and higher AP2 weapons, as well as many more wounds to spread around before losing shots. I've found that I prefer regular Devastators for these reasons, though I must say it wouldn't be nearly as much of an issue if it weren't for Devastators getting more buffs from Chapter Tactics. This includes the Devastator doctrine for Ultramarines, and even Hit and Run to get out of a combat where they don't get wiped out to shoot again. Additionally, the ability to Overwatch is a big advantage, not to mention that having two units of Devastators at a similar points level to one unit of Centurions makes them less vulnerable to being tied up in combat. 'Bolter' Centurions really aren't worth it next to Bike Squads, especially as the latter unit can take three models for roughly the same price as a single Centurion and are far more mobile.

    I've found the best use of Centurion Devastators ties in with my personal favourite load-out, grav cannons and hurricane bolters - missile launchers are, again, unnecessary points to spend on them. When you use them as a 'death star' with Tigurius, an attached Tau Commander and/or other characters, you need to be aware that such a unit is incredibly expensive, ridiculously vulnerable and weak in combat, and probably doesn't have similar returns to the equivalent points in Riptides, Broadsides and other highly valuable ranged units. I prefer to use Centurions in Stormravens to deep strike them out during the movement phase while keeping them mostly safe, and proceed to nuke a unit such as a Land Raider, Wraithknight, Riptide, Bloodthirster, and so on. This leads to your opponent focusing undue attention either on them or the Stormraven, and most lists generally can't deal with both fully in the same turn. Keep the squad sizes for Centurion Devastators at three unless you are confident in a 'death star' build, as three grav cannons are easily enough to annihilate any unit you point them at.

    Chapter Tactics - Much like their smaller counter-parts, Centurion Devastators get the biggest buffs when taking Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics; any of their guns, save the hurricane bolters, benefit tremendously from this upgrade. Few of the other Chapter Tactics give them any real boosts due to certain restrictions and rules - such as Slow and Purposeful - they share, but giving a Toughness 5, Wound 2, 2+ armoured guy Feel No Pain, even if it is only a 6+, is pretty darn valuable.


    Thunderfire Cannon

    Overview - A piece of Artillery manned by a Techmarine gunner, a Thunderfire Cannon is a nasty and crazily cheap source of long range infantry punishment that also provides a few extra support abilities. The gun itself has three firing modes, helped by a decent Ballistic Skill 4 for accuracy, though this isn't always necessary as each firing mode uses the 'Barrage' special rule and thus can be fired without need of line of sight. What is also important to note is that each fires four small blasts that, using the multiple barrage rules, can either be laughably inaccurate or hit far more models than one would otherwise expect with the 2" unit coherency rules. The first is Strength 6 and AP5 that, with the Barrage rules, is the best for 'sniping' out characters, as well as hitting 'hidden' vehicles and units sitting behind, but not in, cover - Dark Eldar often use such tactics with their Venoms and Raiders when deploying second. The second is Strength 5 and AP6, but with the added bonus of Ignores Cover; this is hilariously strong against units such as Plaguebearers, Nurglings, Pathfinders, 6+ armoured Orks, Tyranid hordes and Dark Eldar infantry. The third and final ammo type is Strength 4 with no AP and is thus the least likely to actually put wounds on units or situationally damage vehicles. However, it also has the Tremor special rule that slows down enemy units and forces vehicles to take dangerous terrain tests; it is more of an annoyance for enemies to slow assault units and objective-grabbers down, or force your opponent to risk immobilizing their transports or, better yet, scare them into leaving those vehicles immobile! While the firepower isn't 'outstanding' by any means, it nonetheless puts so many wounds on all kinds of infantry and makes the Thunderfire Cannon a true 'toolbox' unit, able to handle all kinds of scoring units effectively.

    Where the Thunderfire starts to distinguish itself further from a Whirlwind is that the Techmarine himself still provides those nifty unique bonuses such as Bolster Defences, giving you a good defensive boost just for including an already invaluable artillery piece. This is handy not only for a Thunderfire Cannon itself, but for nearly any other unit that would benefit from such cover saves; vehicles obscuring themselves from view, Devastators, home-sitting Tacticals, and so on. As well, a Thunderfire Cannon, as Artillery, is Toughness 7 with two wounds and a 2+ armour save courtesy of the Techmarine. This makes it quite durable, though the lack of extra crewmen means you need to be very wary of exposing it to return fire. It also is handy in the sense that the Techmarine can choose not to fire the cannon, and instead try to repair a vehicle if, for example, there are no viable targets on the battlefield - this is usually the case if each unit is an AV12 or higher transport. The Techmarine also still keeps his servo arm that, while only having one attack, is still handy just for defending himself if need be. The Thunderfire Cannon is just such a versatile little unit that is small and easy to hide, especially now that it fires Barrage shots, and is great for sniping out characters, harassing light vehicles, slowing enemy formations down or just dicing up light infantry. It is an incredibly valuable unit and one of the top choices in a very crowded slot, as even with all the bolters carried by your Troops, the option for sniping out characters and taking out hidden enemies is more than worth it.

    Where to Put Them - As Artillery that don't belong in combat, want to minimize shooting to them as much as possible with only two Toughness 7 wounds - even despite a 2+ armour save - and armed with a gun that has a 60" range, Thunderfires can and should be in terrain near the back or middle of your deployment zone. There's simply no reason to give your opponent the range to shoot at or potentially assault them, so you may as well limit it as much as possible and make the most of that crazy 60" range. Unlike Devastators or Centurion Devastators, you don't really require a ruin for the Thunderfire Cannon. This is because the Techmarine manning the Thunderfire Cannon gives you a single Bolster Defences, allowing you to boost a forest, crater or other piece of area terrain to a 4+ instead of a 5+ cover save. As well, you could even place the Thunderfire in the same ruin as another unit and give all of them an awesome 3+ cover save, or even have the Thunderfire elsewhere; they aren't as reliant on high cover saves as the usually higher cost Devastator units. Still, that doesn't mean you should be careless with them; they aren't that hard to kill, and though they are cheap for what they do, they are still costly enough that you should protect them as best you can. Remember that their small footprint should allow them to easily share a bit of terrain with other units.

    Best Uses - Thunderfire Cannons have one purpose; slaughtering light to medium infantry and just being an incredible nuisance to all but heavy vehicles and tough monsters. Though they can't target the bottom levels of ruins and buildings - despite one of their firing modes using subterranean shells - they are still excellent value suppression specialists, firing four small blasts with varying profiles. Unlike missile launchers, firing four small blasts with a higher Strength and similar AP, not to mention the multiple barrage rules, the fact that they are of the barrage type for allocating wounds, one of the firing modes having Ignores Cover for dealing with Nurgle Daemons, and a movement-crippling ammunition type give the Thunderfire far better value despite the small blasts. They are punishing against masses of infantry and tightly knit formations of light vehicles and infantry, such as Fire Warrior fire-bases, 'hidden' Raiders and Venoms, Guardsmen blobs, and hordes of either Orks or Tyranids.

    Barrage allows them to target those 'hidden' scoring units and light skimmers, the latter of which are mostly used by Dark Eldar. The Strength 6 blasts are the most effective against most targets, particularly light vehicles, but just remember that they aren't actually designed with such units in mind; regardless of the ammunition type, you really want to be going for infantry. The Ignores Cover blasts make a mockery of Plaguebearers, Hormagaunts and other 6+ armoured infantry units or those that lack armour altogether - such as Daemonic infantry. The 'tremor' shells are a bit more situational, simply because the assault units you see in competitive armies either ignore difficult terrain - Beasts, Jetbikes, Jump units, etc - or they are in a transport anyway. However, forcing vehicles to take dangerous terrain tests can also be handy, though I see the main use of this to try and slow down heavy units that would otherwise ignore the wounds caused by Thunderfire Cannons, such as scoring Terminators having to make a last ditch move into cover to grab an objective.

    Chapter Tactics - Thunderfires don't get any really obvious benefits from the Chapter Tactics, unfortunately, though that isn't really an issue as the Thunderfires perform spectacularly regardless.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "The roar of engines, the recoil of cannons. That is where the true joy of battle lies."
    - Antaro Chronus of the Ultramarines

    ARTICLE 2

    Hey there everyone, my name is Learn2Eel and today I want to talk about the toys everyone wants, the Space Marine Heavy Support units! Space Marines have an unparalleled selection of diverse units in the Heavy Support slot, giving them far more options in the simple game of shooting than any other codex out there. I hope you enjoy this article!


    Space Marines have always been the codex with the most options, and in few places is this more apparent than in the Heavy Support slot. Each choice has been given a range of buffs over the new edition, making for a diverse and competitive line-up that will likely guzzle up your points quickly - but the choice of how is very difficult indeed! There are just so many options to choose from here. For infantry-hunting artillery, you have the cheap Whirlwind and ridiculous Thunderfire Cannon. For punishing aerial defence, the Hunter and Stalker are inexpensive and dangerous choices. For transportation capabilities you have a flying gunship in the form of the Stromraven and flexible 'battle fortresses' with the three Land Raider variants. For destruction of vehicles and monsters alike, Devastators and their Centurion contingents raise their hand with great zest. The Vindicator provides a multi-purpose siege breaker, while Predators are the "every-man" unit with multiple configurations for dealing with wildly different targets. If there are any holes in a Space Marine army, the Heavy Support slot is usually the first - and best - place to look for aid.


    Predator

    Overview - Contrary to popular opinion, when I think of a Predator, I see a highly efficient tank that does whatever you need it to. Why anyone thinks of an ugly, masked aberration instead is beyond me, but each to their own. Predators operate on a more armoured variant of the Rhino chassis, with front AV13 to show for it with otherwise unchanged defensive stats. The boost to its front armour alone is enough though, what with the massed Strength 7 firepower bouncing off of it for the most part, while even Strength 8 and 9 weapons are no guarantee to penetrate or glance it. The key then to keeping a Predator alive is to block line of sight to its side and rear armour or at the very least count as hull down; AV11 and AV10 crumble quicker than ever in today's meta with so much high rate of fire Strength 7 or greater shooting around. While this makes positioning it rather difficult, particularly after deployment when mobile skimmers such as Wave Serpents can more easily get at its flank from afar, it doesn't erode the sheer value of the Predator overall. This is a tank that balances good firepower, good durability, standard mobility as it is needed and the sheer flexibility of choice into one cheap package. In fact, many have forsworn their Devastators in favour of Predator Annihilators simply because they are cheap and almost entirely immune to small arms fire. On that note, while Predators won't scare an opponent as much as a Vindicator, they are certainly far more reliable on the damage output front. They come only with a single autocannon which can be upgraded to a twin-linked lascannon, while the Predator can also take either sponson heavy bolters or sponson lascannons. Each of the options is naturally suited to a given role and allows a player to be flexible from game to game if they magnetize the weapons, especially as either variant is still quite cheap despite a leap in points for taking lascannons.

    As a tank hunter, the Predator is above average as far as the Space Marine codex is concerned, simply because it fears most weapons far less than Devastators, it can redeploy far more rapidly, and it is cheaper to boot. The armour, particularly the front, makes a huge difference as basic Troops such as Fire Warriors boosted to Ballistic Skill 5 can't just drown a Predator in shots, unlike Devastators who place a lot of emphasis on keeping each heavy weapon alive. With deployment on a flank or somewhere that the side armour values won't be exposed too much, such as next to one unit and a piece of terrain, the Predator Annihilator (three lascannons, or two lascannons and one autocannon) should have free reign to choose its targets with each weapon having a 48" range. There is usually little reason to move a Predator until units that can expose it through krak grenades or penetrate it with melta weapons get close, so even a single Predator should reliably get off two or three rounds of shooting before it is either destroyed or forced to retreat. It is just a nifty answer to some of the issues that Devastators possess. The other version of the Predator, the Destructor, is significantly cheaper but finds itself less worthwhile simply because bolters can be easily found everywhere else. Basic Space Marines don't struggle against other infantry - with some exceptions, of course - so where they need assistance usually is dealing with vehicles at long range where there krak grenades can't help them. This is where Devastators armed with lascannons and Predator Annihilators come in, filling the Heavy Support slots and performing a pivotal role in the army. The Destructor, on the other hand, is mostly just a beefed up version of a Tactical Squad in terms of sheer anti-infantry shooting; it provides less shots, but they hit much harder and can threaten light vehicles in a pinch. It is versatile and it can mow down Tyranid Warriors and light infantry with ease, but you often get the most valuable anti-tank units out of the Heavy Support slots for Space Marines. Still, regardless of which variant you choose, Predators work so well because they are efficient; they are very cheap for what they do, even if they don't quite reach Annihilation Barge levels of points costing.

    How to Equip Them - Unlike the other two tanks in this article, the Predator actually has distinct weapon options. There are two main builds for a Predator, both specialized either for anti-infantry or anti-vehicle duties. The former employs sponson heavy bolters and a turret autocannon to devastate 4+ armoured or worse infantry at a very low cost, while it also doubles as a light vehicle hunter. The latter instead opts for sponson lascannons and a choice of the turret autocannon and twin-linked lascannon, based usually on points limits, and provides Space Marines with one of their most efficient sources of vehicular destruction at long range. While it probably isn't as cost-effective as Imperial Fist Devastators with lascannons, a Predator is a lot more durable in some cases. Additionally, not all Space Marine armies are Imperial Fists, of course, and thus a Predator still has a place in many army lists in such a role - it saves points, it is durable and in a pinch it can be a lot more mobile as well. Considering that the bulk of Space Marine units are generally geared to killing other infantry with their bolt weaponry, I've found that Heavy Support slots are where your primary tank-killing units will come from. For this reason, I prefer the 'Annihilator' Predators; those with sponson lascannons.

    The choice between the autocannon and the twin-linked lascannon is tough; the latter is quite a bit more expensive, but is actually a threat against heavy vehicles and, by being identical to the sponson weapons, further unifies the Predators' shooting. If you are trying to cut back on points and can accept one of your weapons not being able to do too much to AV13 and AV14 vehicles, then the autocannon is fine for your needs; if you do have the points though, I recommend the twin-linked lascannon. As far as the Predator 'Destructor' is concerned, it isn't a bad choice at all when compared to other such units in the army. The issue it faces is that so many other units in the army can perform the same role and be scoring units, while Predators can be one of the few true effective sources of anti tank at ranges over 24". For vehicle upgrades, you usually don't want Predators moving too much as, with three weapons usually, moving even 1" means that two of those three will be forced to snap-fire. As such, dozer blades really aren't necessary here, at least not as much as for Vindicators and transports. I again don't recommend a Hunter Killer, but if there is one tank that might make use of it, the Annihilator Predator could use that extra Strength 8 shot - it isn't like the tank will actually be moving for the most part anyway! I would avoid the storm bolter for similar reasons to the dozer blade; not only do you not want to move much, but the long range of all the Predator's weapons means it doesn't really want to get too close either. Extra Armour is unnecessary, but it can be useful in case you have been stunned at close range and need to get away from - for example - melta weapons carried by Fire Dragons in a hurry.

    Where to Put Them - I often treat Predators as "long-range Vindicators" in the sense that you really want to cover up their very fragile side armour as much as possible, especially as - compared to Rhinos - relatively high value vehicles. However, the range of their guns allows Predators to stay out of the heat of battle for longer than Vindicators, pressuring them much less for the most part where even Serpent Shields struggle to pierce their AV13 front. Hugging a board edge and angling the tank slightly in parallel with that edge will force the vast majority of shooting to target its front armour. Predators don't really need to be used in the middle, nor do they require support as much as a Vindicator would, simply because it has long-range guns galore and, in a pinch, can just move away up to 18" a turn. An Annihilator has the range to not really worry too much about where it deploys, save against Skyrays; though they don't actually have a range advantage, the Markerlights are what you need to watch out for, especially from other units. Make sure to keep moving back - or simply dealing with them - from other units with Markerlights if necessary so they can't call a salvo down on the Predator. Of course, seeker missiles aren't that scary for Predators against the front armour, but I digress. Much of the above applies to short-range anti-tank units; the long range is nice, and not having to bunch up can save you losing two tanks to a Nova-Charged Ion Accelerator, but you still need to be aware of what can target you up close once they move into range.

    Best Uses - Predator Destructors are best used in tandem with your Tactical or Bike Squads to mop up the remnants of infantry units, though Heavy Weapon Teams from Imperial Guard and other 4+ armoured models are easy prey for them. Predator Annihilators, on the other hand, are better for sniping out the heavier tanks; three lascannons, with one twin-linked, are likely to get three hits. Those three hits should garner a penetrating hit on average against an AV13 vehicle, or a glancing hit at least against an AV14 vehicle. This, coupled with their long range, provides accurate and reliable destruction from a distance, making Predator Annihilators one of the few units that - taken in pairs or a trio - can reliably destroy a Land Raider in one or two shooting phases. However, not using them against lighter vehicles would be foolish; three lascannons might be considered 'overkill' against something like a Rhino, but being able to reliably put down a transport or light skimmer per Predator is nothing to sneeze at, simply because of the units that would then be stranded. Of course, you probably won't have much luck against Wave Serpents if their Serpent Shields haven't been fired; lascannons need a 3+ to glance and a 4+ to penetrate, and after any applicable cover save, the skimmer tanks can take their silly 2+ save to deny penetrating hits. Given that lascannons operate less on rate of fire, this makes such vehicles a right pain to deal with.

    Chapter Tactics - While Predators only get benefits from the Iron Hands Chapter Tactics, they are naturally suited more to gunline and mixed-mechanized lists for target saturation and their long range firepower. This suits typical Imperial Fist armies, Rhino-rush Raven Guard lists, and the usual mixed-arms approach of Ultramarine army lists more than others. If you have lots of tanks, Iron Hands are usually the best bet though, especially as the front AV13 of the Predator means it is more likely to actually benefit from It Will Not Die.


    Whirlwind

    Overview - I've always found Whirlwinds to be quite rare, mostly because of their natural competition with Thunderfire Cannons than any fault of their own. Though that is something to consider, allow me to judge the Whirlwind on its own merits. First off, it uses the Rhino-chassis and thus has three hull points, AV11/11/10 in addition to accessible vehicle upgrades. It is a fragile tank, but unlike a Razorback for example, it is able to hide while still firing. What gives the tank its' name is the multiple missile launcher mounted atop the hull. This fires one of two shells each turn, either a Strength 5 AP4 large blast, or a Strength 4 AP5 large blast with Ignores Cover. Both also share the Barrage and Ordnance special rules, allowing the former to stand a decent chance of getting a damage result against the side armour of vehicles such as Chimeras. For each shell though, the Barrage rule allows it to not only stay out of sight, particularly with a hefty 48" range, but to 'snipe' important models out of squads and deny them cover saves from intervening units or terrain. This is why the Strength 5 AP4 shell still has some utility even against lighter infantry, as if they aren't placed inside of area terrain or ruins, then it will work even better than the other shell would. It is a dedicated infantry killer specializing more against medium and light units, and it can also be used on a situational basis against light vehicles if it has no other viable targets. Despite being fragile - not that it will usually matter too much - the Whirlwind is very cheap, coming close to the base cost of a Razorback. This is why taking even just one as the 'odd' Heavy Support choice is hardly a bad idea, simply because it takes up so little real estate and it gets great mileage when used against most army lists.

    Of course, though, the comparisons will come thick and fast between the Whirlwind and a Thunderfire Cannon. Both fire Barrage blasts, with the Whirlwind firing a single large blast as opposed to the Thunderfire's four small blasts. With the multiple barrage rules, the Thunderfire is a bit less forgiving with a 'total miss', but when it hits, it should hit a lot of enemies. The strict damage output of either generally comes down to hits, as each has two or more analogous ammo types, and the Thunderfire is likely to get more hits. That it has four different ammunition types as opposed to the Whirlwind's two, as well as providing all the nifty benefits that are associated with a Techmarine, usually seals its place in most army lists. However, the Whirlwind is a cheaper option, and its' cover-ignoring template does have AP5 to boast of, which works wonders for clearing out massed Kabalite Warriors and their ilk. While the Thunderfire Cannon probably is the superior option, that doesn't make the Whirlwind a bad choice. It is hilariously inexpensive, it is quite effective as anti-infantry artillery pieces go and it is very easily hidden. I rate them well, but for top end competitive users, Thunderfire Cannons will probably be more to your liking.

    How to Equip Them - Given that a Whirlwind really should be hiding out of sight or behind cover, I would really avoid any weapon options on them. A Hunter Killer missile doesn't even gel well with the Whirlwind's weapons, and is a rather wasteful use of the points really. I recommend just leaving the Whirlwind stock as it simply doesn't - or rather, shouldn't - need any upgrades.

    Where to Put Them - With a Barrage weapon as their only real tool of destruction, and very fragile Rhino-class armour and chassis, having the Whirlwind sit deep into your deployment zone and out of sight of enemies is ideal. This is usually accomplished by using the open part of a ruin or other large block of terrain, such as a wall. Whirlwinds don't need line of sight to fire - though it does help - but the real issue is their AV 11/11/10 and three hull points makes them so fragile, so much so that a single salvo from a mobile Crisis Team with dual missile pods should destroy one in a single salvo. You need to keep them out of harm and live with the fact that they provide very long ranged, inaccurate artillery bombardments that specialize in devastating infantry. That is their role, and they do it quite well when hidden, and not so well without.

    Best Uses - The sole job of a Whirlwind is to devastate light and medium infantry with armour values preferably in the 4+ to 6+ range. It does this with two firing modes on its titular missile launcher, the first of which - S4 AP5 Ignores Cover - is best used against horde units like Cultists, Hormagaunts, Genestealers and so on, while the latter - S5 AP4 - prefers to target Tyranid Warriors, Space Marines and other somewhat heavier targets. The Whirlwind is obviously suited for slowing such units down rather than outright destroying them in one go, such as a Vindicator, and with a 48" range that is easily justifiable. The Whirlwind can use its Strength 5 shells to target vehicles that, with Ordnance and Barrage, actually stand a decent chance of at least glancing the side armour of a number of vehicles. However, I must stress that such use of a Whirlwind is almost universally ineffective and a waste of their horde-slaying potential.

    Chapter Tactics - Whirlwinds, as hidden barrage weapons, can work well in most army lists, even drop lists if you can guarantee some line of sight blocking terrain to hopefully guarantee it can't be attacked on turn one. However, I do prefer lists that can support it by finishing off the units it weakens, such as Bike-heavy White Scars, or lists that can protect it from incoming attacks, as your a-typical Imperial Fists gunline would be able to do. It bears mentioning that while Iron Hands are the only Chapter Tactics to give Whirlwinds an actual buff, their armour is less than impressive and they will crumble easily under pressure.


    Vindicator

    Overview - Do you want the biggest gun available in the Space Marine codex? Do you want to see opponents visibly disgruntled by the sight of such a huge weapon of war? Then give praise to the Vindicator, as it fulfills all your solo-gun vehicular needs. But seriously, that really big gun it has packs quite the punch; all of Strength 10, AP2 and Ordnance, in fact. A Vindicator shell eats through anything from Ghost Arks to Paladins with ease, and it can even instantly kill models such as Tyranid Warriors, Centurions and Daemon Princes with a bit of luck. While it doesn't ignore cover and its range is limited to 24", the sheer power of it means that no opponent will ever treat it lightly, regardless of how many ways they can counter it. Whether or not it actually does damage is often irrelevant simply because a Vindicator will draw a lot of attention away from the rest of your army; it acts as a natural fire magnet, and a rather inexpensive one at that. So just how good is the gun in practice? In 6th Edition, cover is so easy to find and so easy to boost that heavy weapons without high rate of fire such as Demolisher Cannons aren't as great as they used to be, though that of course comes with the balancing act provided by any part of the 'template' acting at full Strength. Unlike 5th Edition where you relied on the centre of the hole hitting a vehicle to achieve maximum damage, any part of the large blast marker can so much as clip a vehicle and it will be hit at full effect. When you combine that highest of Strength values with Ordnance, you are looking at a glance at the very least on average against Land Raiders, while any penetrating hit benefits from AP2 to force through more catastrophic results.

    While it devastates vehicles pretty capably and actively forces your opponent not to bunker up - and if anyone is foolish enough to bunch up against a Vindicator, be sure to teach them a lesson for their heinous crime - cover saves do reduce its uses, especially against infantry. While most vehicles tend to have a harder time finding cover, infantry get it just by having a lone tree in the way. When you factor in scatter, a maximum of 2" unit coherency and those cover saves, the damage you deal against light infantry in particular isn't that much to write home about, simply because they don't care about the S10 or AP2. Where the Vindicator really starts to shine is against Terminators, Space Marines and other elite units that will have their pants scared off by a Demolisher Cannon. A single shell can sunder an entire Terminator Squad with a bit of luck, and any smart opponent will know it well. And heck, even if there aren't any great targets to shoot at, your opponent is still likely to spread their forces out that tiny bit more than they would normally do, allowing you greater flexibility and opportunities to single out and destroy unsupported units. As far as accuracy is concerned, a Ballistic Skill 4 large blast is decent enough and should usually hit your target vehicle or three models from the unit of choice. The primary issue with the Demolisher Cannon is its range of 24". While this is hardly minimal, and it gels well with most other Space Marine units, it nonetheless means that you will usually have to spend the first turn getting into position and hoping your opponent doesn't destroy it, in whichever order is applicable. Unless it is a shorter deployment or a 4x4 gaming board, Vindicators will often have to wait until turn two to fire, what with a potential 12" regular move and 6" flat out move. Be very aware of this against opponents that love to bunker up at the rear of their deployment zone, including many Tau, Eldar and Imperial Guard builds.

    In any case, the gun is great, no matter how you slice it really. But coupled with the range, how does it fare otherwise in terms of actually getting to shoot that gun? Thankfully, Vindicators are quite durable in a sense, but they need baby-sitting on one or both of their flanks so as to not expose their weak side armour. Front AV13 gives Vindicators a lot of breathing space against most anti-tank weapons dominating the meta, particularly missile pods and Serpent Shields, but it obviously is not infallible, particularly with Imperial Fist Devastators armed with lascannons becoming increasingly popular. It survives well enough provided you take more than one, but the issue comes from side AV11 and rear AV10. If a Wave Serpent or two can move around to the sides of their deployment zone, their 60" range guns will be able to strike and likely destroy the vulnerable armour facings of a Vindicator, regardless of whether you deployed it on a flank or in the centre. This is why deployment is key to using Vindicators well, as is target saturation. Vindicators are obvious, scary targets, but they can survive if you present lots of Rhinos, Land Raiders, Predators and other frightening targets to your opponent on the first two turns. They just provide so much to an army list in terms of target saturation that even if the gun itself doesn't do much, a Vindicator should prove worthwhile. On that note, take Vindicators in pairs if you can; a solo Vindicator is just begging to be shot at regardless of what else is in your list, while three Vindicators is just overkill and could leave you quite vulnerable to a flyer-heavy list where the Vindicators become mostly useless.

    How to Equip Them - There are two main options for a Vindicator to consider; either taking a Dozer Blade or a Siege Shield. This should really come down to how many spare points you have, as I would say that one of them is mandatory because the Vindicator needs to be mobile with its 24" range. If you have 5 points spare, take a Dozer Blade; if you have 10 points spare, take a Siege Shield. The reality is that the chances of failing a dangerous terrain test twice in a row are incredibly slim - without help from enemies that force failed tests on a 5+ or worse. Taking a storm bolter is really unnecessary as the Space Marine Vindicator already has a Storm Bolter to hopefully 'soak up' Weapon Destroyed results. Remember also that if you fire the Demolisher Cannon, other weapons can only snap-fire and so taking another storm bolter really isn't worth the time. I strictly avoid Hunter Killer missiles simply because they are double the cost of a storm bolter and even though a Vindicator will take a turn or two to get in range, I would usually prefer to be moving Flat Out or at least 12" a turn to get in range on a standard game board. Besides, Hunter Killers are unreliable and I've never found them to really be worth much. Extra Armour does help a Vindicator out a lot simply because it will usually be at short range anyway, and thus still being able to move is more likely to save its' bacon than a longer range vehicle such as a Predator.

    Where to Put Them - Vindicators have a good front armour, but they are hindered by their short range, their fragile side armour, and the obvious target painted on them by the Demolisher Cannon. This usually leads me into deploying them one of two ways; the first is next to another less valuable tank, such as a Rhino, to protect one of its' side facings by obscuring it completely. This should be accomplished by keeping the Rhino about 1" or 2" away, as the way majority facing works if you move the two tanks up in unison should have most getting the front armour, and the others unable to see the side armour. By having a Rhino 'baby-sitting' next to the Vindicator instead of another Vindicator, you are less worried about Ordnance Large Blasts from units such as Riptides and Soul Grinders. The other side facing of the Vindicator should be covered by terrain if possible, forcing enemies to shoot at the durable AV13 front. Deploying Vindicators up the middle certainly works if you have lots of target saturation, especially as you are more likely to get in range by turn two.

    However, deploying on the flank is also an option; Vindicators are a terror weapon first and foremost as even statistics to the contrary don't stop people being scared to death of them, and using that to your advantage to split your opponents' fire is necessary to their effective use. Having them dedicate their shooting to one flank can open up your centre and other flank to move forward unless pressure to get into that midfield area where Space Marines naturally excel. As well, deploying in the flank makes it far less likely you will get shot on one of your side facings, meaning you only really have to worry about hiding one side facing. Vindicators are a threat to pretty much any unit in the game, so deploying them opposite a death-star - such as Paladins - is sure to draw the ire of your opponent very early on. Vindicators are a relatively cheap tool of panic that often doesn't do that much damage either because they have a few inaccurate rounds or are focused on early before they can fire. Deploying them opposite nearly any unit is a pretty safe bet!

    Best Uses - I've found that as 6th Edition has progressed, Vindicators are becoming less of a 'squad-eater' and more in tune with just being downright terrifying. Easily accessed cover saves for infantry, a plethora of skimmers and "Daemonic Invulnerability" really aren't that fussed about the gun, especially if they are cheap horde units that die just as quickly to an assault cannon or battle cannon. It does pretty well against tanks and skimmers without Holo Fields or over cover-save boosting wargear, while elite infantry like Terminators and Toughness 5 or lower multiple wound units such as Centurions really do have the fear of God put into them. Used in pairs with either dozer blades or siege shields, Vindicators have invisible "shoot me" signs plastered all over them; they are cheap for what they do in that many opponents will dedicate much of their early shooting to at least disabling them, allowing your transports to get into the thick of it. Point them at the nastiest, hardiest unit your opponent has, whether it be a Paladin death-star or a large unit of Shrikes and send them running.

    Chapter Tactics - Vindicators are really best suited to mechanized lists that provide lots of target saturation and mobility so that the Vindicators can either have only minimal firepower allocated to them, or act as 'beacons' for the shooting of your opponent, allowing your transports to get closer and hopefully unhindered. Again, this is best for shorter-ranged armies, such as Raven Guard, White Scars and Black Templars, though really any army can benefit from a really big gun! And yes, like the broken record I am, I have to mention Iron Hands. I mean, why not? Iron Hands do mechanized-spam army lists better than anyone else in the codex, and Vindicators fit really well into that.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "So ask me not to justify the Raven Guard's ways.
    The carrion worlds in our wake should make a statement eloquent enough."

    - Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 01-01-2014 at 04:59 AM.
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  8. #8

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    HEAVY SUPPORT (2)

    Hey there everyone, my name is Learn2Eel and today I want to talk about the toys everyone wants, the Space Marine Heavy Support units! Space Marines have an unparalleled selection of diverse units in the Heavy Support slot, giving them far more options in the simple game of shooting than any other codex out there. I hope you enjoy this article!

    Space Marines have always been the codex with the most options, and in few places is this more apparent than in the Heavy Support slot. Each choice has been given a range of buffs over the new edition, making for a diverse and competitive line-up that will likely guzzle up your points quickly - but the choice of how is very difficult indeed! There are just so many options to choose from here. For infantry-hunting artillery, you have the cheap Whirlwind and ridiculous Thunderfire Cannon. For punishing aerial defence, the Hunter and Stalker are inexpensive and dangerous choices. For transportation capabilities you have a flying gunship in the form of the Stromraven and flexible 'battle fortresses' with the three Land Raider variants. For destruction of vehicles and monsters alike, Devastators and their Centurion contingents raise their hand with great zest. The Vindicator provides a multi-purpose siege breaker, while Predators are the "every-man" unit with multiple configurations for dealing with wildly different targets. If there are any holes in a Space Marine army, the Heavy Support slot is usually the first - and best - place to look for aid.
    A note here that this is the third in a series of four articles concerning Heavy Support choices, Part One of which can be viewed here, and Part Two of which can be viewed here.


    Hunter

    Overview - Hunters, as dedicated anti-air units, have a bit of a stigma to deal with that has permeated through 6th Edition. The hard truth is that most dedicated anti-flyer units in the standard codices have been rather sub-par, from the Nephilim Jetfighter to Flakk-missile users. These options have generally had one fatal flaw; inefficiency at their stated role, forcing you to adopt other solutions to deal with aerial threats at a competitive or sub-competitive level. Where the Nephilim and Flakk missiles have all been over-costed quite harshly, the Hunter and Stalker have the big advantage of being very cheap. They come on a durable platform with weapons that are actually very much effective against flyers, and they even have good usage against skimmers - to which Skyfire also applies. The Hunter is an AV 12/12/10 tank with three hull points, giving it identical durability to a Dreadnought. While a Dreadnought can of course defend itself in combat, a Hunter has the advantage of mobility - it can move up to eighteen inches in a single turn without firing if it needs to reposition or avoid melee attackers that can strike its vulnerable rear armour. Given some cover, the Hunter is a pretty durable tank when it comes down to it, especially for how cheap it is.

    As to how it actually performs on the damage front, the Hunter is rather....adept for taking on the heavier flyers and skimmers. It fires a single Strength 7 AP2 Armourbane shot at a whopping 60" range, giving a Space Marine player aerial control from anywhere on the board. With a 66% chance to hit, an incredibly high chance of a penetrating hit against any current flyer, and a startling 50% chance to get a glancing hit against a Monolith, the Hunter is quite capable of annihilating vehicles in one shot, especially with the AP2 modifier. It is also handy for trying to ground a flying monstrous creature, most of which will be wounded on a 2+ or 3+ with no armour saves allowed. Where a Stalker might be more efficient against light skimmers and lower armoured monsters such as Harpies, the Hunter is the more impressive - and slightly cheaper - variation that excels even in games without fliers as a cheap AV 12/12/10 tank that can target skimmers and flying monstrous creatures with reckless abandon. Though you might want to feel at least two of your Heavy Support slots with anti-tank shooting that can target other ground vehicles, taking even a single Hunter should provide a good scare for any skimmers or flyers your opponent employs.

    How to Equip Them - I'll be right to the point here; aside from maybe a storm bolter, don't bother with the vehicle upgrades. A 60" range on the Skyspear Missile Launcher means that it really shouldn't need to move much at all, and I only mention the storm bolter so that your opponent has a chance of destroying it instead of your valuable anti-air gun.

    Where to Put Them - Hunters have a few nifty advantages over Razorbacks that many players often forget, the first of which is their boosted armour values on the front and side. While having the same durability as a Dreadnought might not seem that great judging from my earlier review of said unit, on a tank with an incredible 60" range that also has zero reasons to ever get close, it is actually quite a bit more likely to survive. Hunters will draw attention against enemies with Skimmers or Flyers, or both, while a Dreadnought is likely to bother most depending on how it is used. A handy side-effect of the Hunter and Stalker being dedicated anti-air tanks is that many forget their utility against other units and just how hard they hit. If there are no targets that it can use its gun against without snap-firing, use the Hunter as a 'blocker' and play Flat Out and movement shenanigans with it to block line of sight to your units after they have fired. Use it as a speedbump so that enemy assault units have to go through it or around it to get at your transports and infantry units. The reality is, with AV 12/12/10 and three hull points, not being able to shoot effectively at all against some opponents lets you go crazy with them.

    Of course, if there are targets for the Hunter to shoot, then stick it near some cover, behind cover - fliers have a hard time getting cover saves if they aren't Evading, and you can also use the first two turns to reposition from behind cover into open sight of a flyer anyway - and either in the middle or a corner. Those 60" on the gun give you quite a range to deploy in, so that as long as your rear armour is facing towards your deployment zone as it should be, the Hunter should be good to go. As always, don't ever put one of these out by themselves on a flank; you still need to support them with another unit, vehicular or not, so that they aren't easy target practice for whatever deploys opposite them.

    Best Uses - Hunters fit best into mixed or armoured lists, as adding cheap AV 12 tanks into any Space Marine army is a lot better than it sounds. Many forget that Skyfire allows shooting at full Ballistic Skill against Skimmers of all kinds, giving the Hunter a lot more mileage than it would initially seem. Of the armies you regularly see at tournaments, Hunters will be very useful against things like Eldar Skimmer Tanks, Dark Eldar Skimmer transports and Ravagers, Heldrakes, Tau Skimmer tanks, Space Marine flyers, Necron flyers and a good amount of flying monstrous creatures too. Deploy it as part of a mechanized gun-line and watch as it swats one of those targets out of the air every two turns or so. The reality is, with Eldar so dominant nowadays, and flyer-spam builds still quite popular especially for Necrons and Chaos Space Marines, a Hunter has so much value; point it whichever of those targets is available each turn and just enjoy the fireworks. The lack of twin-linking is a bummer, but when the Skyspear Missile Launcher hits, it is usually guaranteed of a penetrating hit against anything but a Monolith - as a side note, watching a tiny little Space Marine tank annihilate a Monolith in one shot is both hilarious and decidedly rude! If no such targets are ripe for the taking, either keep the Hunter out of sight or, humorously, use it to block your other units by making Flat Out moves in front of them after they have fired - you may as well use those points for something!

    Chapter Tactics - Iron Hands aside, Hunters don't really have any obvious synergies with most Space Marine lists, save that their good armour and vehicular status lend themselves well to providing more target saturation in a mechanized list. Always remember that Wave Serpents will be rather afraid of the Hunter if they use their Serpent Shields, as will other skimmers and flyers, and so they do actually make popular targets for an enemy depending on how many such units they employ.


    Stalker

    Overview - The Stalker shares many similarities to the Hunter, including the updated Rhino chassis, giving it armour values of 12/12/10 and three hull points. For an anti-aircraft unit, the Stalker is pretty hard as they go as it doesn't rely on being a flyer - like the Nephilim - or having expensive ablative wounds, like Flakk missile units. There are but two differences between the Stalker and Hunter that actually diversify their preferred targets - even though they both are quite eager and capable to shoot down flyers for you - and the first of those is a minimal points increase on the Stalker, so tiny in fact that it should almost never be an issue if you actually want to include either of the tanks. The second is the obvious one from the model, the gun; where the Hunter specializes in destroying highly armoured targets in one or two shots, the Stalker provides damage through weight of fire. Instead of one Strength 7 AP2 Armourbane shot, the Stalker employs four Strength 7 AP4 twin-linked shots, meaning that even when snap-firing they are likely to get at least one hit.

    Whereas a Hunter has the better chance to put a Stormraven or Heldrake down quickly, the Stalker wins through attrition against those targets by forcing one or two glancing hits through in each friendly shooting phase. Where the Stalker really shines though is against light skimmers and fliers, those with AV 11 or 10 on the front and side. Against these vehicles, the Armourbane really isn't necessary for Strength 7 to penetrate the armour, leading to a lot more damage results and probable wrecked results just through hull point damage each turn. Though it doesn't ignore Jink saves like Hydras, the Stalker does have a cool - though not very useful - ability to 'split-fire' at two targets, doubling its shots, losing the twin-linking and reducing its Ballistic Skill to 2. Obviously, this matters little if it is snap firing, and having Prescience or some form of re-roll on them can lead to some hilarious results. Still, I've not found it to be any more useful than just firing four twin-linked shots at one target on most occasions, so it is a more a foot-note than anything else. So thus comes the choice; do you build a Hunter, or a Stalker? The simple answer is a question; what do you face more of in your meta? If Dark Eldar, Daemons, Stormtalons, Tau fliers, Eldar fliers, Necron fliers, Dark Angels or Ork fliers are common for you, then the Stalker is probably going to be the better performer. If mechanized Eldar, Stormravens, Tyranid fliers, Imperial Guard fliers, Necron skimmers, Tau skimmers and so on are more what your opponents fancy, then I would take the Hunter. Frankly, with Eldar and Necrons being so darn popular, either of the anti-air tanks is actually a really good value purchase, even if you won't always see opponents fielding fliers.

    How to Equip Them - Like the Hunter, with a range of 48" on the Icarus Stormcannon Array, I've found that giving a Stalker any of the available Space Marine vehicle upgrades is mostly a waste of points. If you deploy it in a good position, it shouldn't need to move much at all, especially with the height of its guns - line of sight is measured from the guns themselves. I would only concern yourself with a storm bolter simply so that the first Weapon Destroyed result a Stalker suffers won't automatically render its anti-air weaponry useless.

    Where to Put Them - I'll be frank and cheeky here (as I despise repeating myself); pretty much everything that I said about the Hunter applies to the Stalker as well, with one exception. The range of the main gun is 12" less than that on the Hunter, meaning that you need to be a bit more thoughtful about just where you place it. Make sure to give it as much of a firing lane as possible, and its raised guns should take over the rest of the work.

    Best Uses - Trying to find new stuff to say about a pair of anti-air tanks is hard, but thankfully, I am also a moron. Here's the rub; the Icarus Stormcannon Array is quite a bit different from the Skyspear Missile Launcher, and this also means I do have something to read, er, write. When shooting at a single target, the Icarus has four Strength 7 AP4 shots with twin-linking, a bit of a far-cry from the single shot, Strength 7 AP2 Armourbane missile the Hunter shoots. While the Stalker doesn't put out as much pure single target damage for taking down something like a Hammerhead, a Monolith or Stormraven in one shot, it has reliability to its name and, with some luck, decent odds against Wave Serpents that haven't used their Serpent Shields. Weight of fire has its advantages over a more destructive single shot, and this is especially true against Venoms, Raiders, Dakkajets and other light vehicles with AV 10 or 11 in which Strength 7 is enough to get a glance or penetrating hit two times out of three, per shot. Also, where a Hunter can miss with its shot and is incredibly unreliable when snap-firing, four twin-linked shots either at Ballistic Skill 4 or when snap-firing should get four hits or one hit on average, respectively. When you also throw in the fact that Strength 7 is good against almost any flyer, having massed shots at that level can strictly speaking often be more useful than the Skyspear shot, but only really against AV11 or lower.

    One of the interesting traits a Stalker has it that it can "split-fire" in a unique fashion; it doubles its shots, reduces its Ballistic Skill to 2, and can go to town on two separate units. Now, unless you are playing against flier-spam Necrons, Eldar or Dark Eldar, it is unlikely you would actually be able to do this at Ballistic Skill 2 with any sort of efficiency. Strictly speaking, it really isn't that great; eight shots sounds nice, but as you only average one hit or so against each target, you are generally better off with just the the four twin-linked shots at one target. This can be interesting when paired up with Prescience from a cheap Inquisitor though, and it can also be pretty hilarious when snap-firing against ground enemies with some lucky rolling. In any case, the Stalker is probably more useful against Necron flyer spam armies, as well as light-skimmer based forces like Dark Eldar and Vypers from Eldar. When Wave Serpents that actually use their Serpent Shields, Skyrays, Stormravens and Heldrakes come calling, the Hunter is usually the better choice. As an aside, especially with an impending release likely to increase their number exponentially, flying monstrous creatures are often a bit more vulnerable to four Strength 7 AP4 shots than one Strength 7 AP2 shot, especially when it is something like a Daemon Prince or Harpy (cough).

    Chapter Tactics - Much like a Hunter, the Stalker gets benefits from Iron Hands alone, and unlike Rhinos it is quite likely to make full use of It Will Not Die due to the improved front and side armour. While the Stalker can snap-fire more effectively than a Hunter, especially with the dual-target firing mode, it usually isn't as immediate a threat as a Hunter is simply because many are quite frightened of, heck, even their Monoliths being shot down by one. Regardless, it again fits well into any Space Marine list as an anti-air unit, and is of particular use in a more vehicle-heavy list to provide more armoured targets.


    Stormraven Gunship

    Overview - Here it is, ladies and gentlemen; the big boy; the lucky lady; the swooping eagle; the flying duck; the garbage drum kid; the boil girl; the....what was I saying? In any case, Stormravens are the Warhammer 40000 equivalent of a flying Abrams Tank. Or is that the Blood Angels Land Raider? Why can't I stop with the....Stormravens are insanely durable, not just for being fliers, but being fliers with AV 12/12/12, three hull points and an immunity to the 'melta' rule. They are a brick that just refuses to crumble under the weight of a boot, while also bashing you in the face with up to eight separate guns attached. This is just about the king of tanky fliers, short only perhaps of the Heldrake, though the immunity to melta has saved my Stormravens more times than I can count admittedly. That rear armour 12 also makes a bigger difference than many realize, meaning that enemy flying monstrous creatures or ground units that would usually use Strength 5 or 6 weapons to target the rear armour 10 of most fliers will find such tactics either useless or completely inefficient against a Stormraven. This doesn't mean it is impregnable though; a team of Broadside Battlesuits armed to the teeth with missiles and Velocity Trackers can and will make short work of a Stormraven if they aren't taken out first, while Skyrays with at least four Seeker Missiles have a strong chance of destroying a Stormraven in one go. However, as far as fliers go, the Stormraven is certainly right at the top alongside one or two others for most durable vehicle in the game, and this is something that always makes it a good choice.

    The firepower of the Stormraven, as mentioned earlier, is kind of stupendous really. It comes stock with four Stormstrike Missiles, each a Strength 8 AP2 shot that can reliably put wounds on Riptides and Nemesis Dreadknights. Concussive on the Stormstrikes gives them a lot of additional usage against monsters for comboing with Jaws of the World Wolf or smashing them in melee before they can strike. Add to that a twin-linked heavy bolter and a twin-linked assault cannon, with the option for two hurricane bolter sponsons and numerous weapon swaps, the Stormraven is absolutely bristling with guns. This presents a nice "issue" to have; though a zooming flyer can shoot up to four weapons if it moves 36" or less, that does mean that the Stormraven will only be able to shoot half of its weapons at any given target, or five with Power of the Machine Spirit. As well, the diversity of the weapons on offer here is pretty ridiculous; you can potentially combine a heavy bolter with a multi-melta, each of which obviously has very distinct preferred targets. The Stormraven offers a brilliant solution to this with the godly Power of the Machine Spirit special rule, allowing it to shoot a weapon at full Ballistic Skill even if it is stunned or shaken, and even shoot one weapon at a different target to all the other guns. This allows you to field a Stormraven with an assault cannon, hurricane bolters and a multi melta and use Power of the Machine Spirit to fire the multi-melta at tanks and other fliers while the other guns suppress any infantry or monsters they can find.


    Not only is the Stormraven a flying tank and gunship, but it is also a transport, and an effective one at that - if you are aware of the risks and play against them. A Stormraven can transport twelve models in addition to a single Dreadnought-type model, including Ironclads and Venerable Dreadnoughts. The transport capacity is good in that, for example, you can fit five Assault Terminators in with a character, something that a standard Land Raider can't accomplish. Where using the idea of using Stormravens as transports starts to dim is in the crash and burn results, wherein any embarked models suffer Strength 10 automatic hits that ignore armour saves. Even with invulnerable saves on the occupants, such as Terminators, this creates such a huge risk for using Stormravens as transports that many, including myself, have sworn off using them in that traditional sense. However, the Skies of Fury special rule is yet another workaround for an issue the Stormraven faces; this allows embarked units to "deep strike" out of the Stormraven after it has finished its move, meaning that even Interceptor shooting won't be able to take out both at the same time. Given that Stormravens have a 36" zooming movement range, there should almost always be a safe spot or two for you to drop any embarked units down and guarantee avoiding a mishap. For units like Devastator Centurions that want to get close but still sit at a medium range of about 24", this is an invaluable ability indeed, though it is perhaps less so for assault units like Honour Guard. As an overall package, the Stormraven is an expensive flyer that mostly justifies its points cost through its insane durability, killing power and transport capabilities. It is versatile and effective, with its only major downside being that any form of focused Skyfire or Interceptor shooting is as likely to destroy it as a significantly cheaper Vendetta or Valkyrie, though that is less a fault of the Stormraven itself and more of external balance issues.

    How to Equip Them - Stormravens can be accurately described in their suffix, 'gunship'; they are literally bristling with guns, with it able to carry up to eight unique weapons at any given time. The question is, which ones do you need? Stormravens aren't cheap, though their firepower is far superior to that of any Land Raider variant in the codex, particularly as a flyer can shoot four weapons in each phase. This would usually lend itself well to a more generalist approach, but it might not necessarily be the most optimal way to equip them. The most "balanced" load-out is the hurricane bolter sponsons, the assault cannon and the typhoon missile launcher; this provides a lot of anti-infantry firepower, some nasty Strength 6 Rending shots, and high Strength missiles with the option for small blasts. Each weapon can target an enemy flyer or flying monstrous creature without restriction, and it generally isn't a bad way to equip a Stormraven. The problem lies in the cost; such a variant would cost over a quarter of a thousand points before any other upgrades are taken! For a flying gunship that also doubles as a transport, I generally recommend keeping it as cheap as you can simply because even as arguably the most durable flyer in any regular codex, any decent amount of Skyfire can still ruin its' day. Besides, if you want it mostly for its transport capabilities, you can likely afford to cheap out on the guns if the unit(s) you drop are even halfway decent.

    The cheapest use of a Stormraven, aside from being a transport, is to have it hunt opposing flyers and heavy tanks. Switch the heavy bolters for the multi-melta, and take the lascannon over the assault cannon. Few things will stand up to that kind of anti-tank shooting, especially with the Stormraven able to shoot a few Stormstrike Missiles at the same target and the incredible mobility of a flyer. The plasma cannons, even with twin-linking, are still one of my least preferred choices simply because one small blast template often isn't enough to deal with well spaced out units; however, it has some great uses against Terminator heavy army lists. Failing that, the assault cannon is a decent option if you don't want to specialize your Stormraven for taking on any particular kind of unit. The multi-meltas are good, but only if you really want to take out tanks and other flyers first and foremost; otherwise, I would actually recommend paying for the typhoons. A pair of small blasts is strictly better for hunting all the light infantry holding objectives nowadays, and two Strength 8 shots at longer ranges provide a stronger answer to flying monstrous creatures than a multi melta.

    Generally speaking, I don't put Hurricane Bolters on my Stormravens because they are the most expensive upgrade and, unless you kept the assault cannon and heavy bolter (the latter of which I always recommend swapping out) at least one will always be shooting at whatever your other guns will want to shoot at. On such an expensive vehicle, it isn't wise to waste any of its firepower like that, so unless you really want a "dakka" Stormraven, I would leave them at home. As to the other upgrades, Searchlights are one of those "if I have a point left" kind of upgrades, especially as a Stormraven is a unit that must always start in reserves. Extra Armour is so darn useful for a flyer, especially with how cheap it is here, that if you can afford it I would always take it. Being restricted to 18" of movement and an inability to turn is murder against horde armies! Locator Beacons are there for one purpose, remembering that a Stormraven is no guarantee to arrive before other reserves; to assist any units that make a Skies of Fury drop out of it so that they do not scatter. This is perfect for Devastator Centurions in particular that will want to get just within range for their grav cannons to take effect and not be too vulnerable to counter charges.

    Where to Put Them - When Stormravens arrive from reserve, you are generally best suited staying at your minimum effective range - whether it be 24" or more. A Stormraven is incredibly tough, particularly as far as flyers go, but it certainly isn't infallible and thus you should be wary of sending it into range of units containing Coteaz, or short range anti-tank weapons with twin-linking. This does depend on the load-out though; if there is a juicy target, such as another flyer, a Land Raider or other valuable armoured target, getting in range immediately with a multi-melta is wise. After all, Power of the Machine Spirit freely allows the Stormraven to use the multi-melta against one target and its other guns to target enemy infantry or even another vehicle. Having rear AV12 also makes the Stormraven immune to snap-firing small arms fire, unlike units such as Heldrakes, and thus you can afford to be a bit more lenient with its' positioning. If you are transporting a unit and don't intend to use Skies of Fury, try not too get too close as an opponent capable of destroying the Stormraven probably will sink their shots into it. Transporting units in flyers is very risky, even when it is a Stormraven doing the 'lifting', so living with potentially not launching an assault out of it immediately is well worth not losing them to automatic Strength 10 AP2 hits.

    Best Uses - The Stormraven is best used as a lightly upgraded gunship specializing in taking down other flyers and vehicles with ease using weapons such as multi-meltas and lascannons. In this role, it is cheap and should reliably destroy other fliers - barring perhaps Heldrakes - in one shooting phase, while it is also a massive threat to ground vehicles ranging from Rhinos to Land Raiders. It is an indiscriminate hunter that is incredibly durable and mobile, with the only downsides being that it must start in reserve and it can be quite vulnerable to opposing anti-flier weapons. From there, it can be used to transport a valuable or dangerous close-ranged unit, though I generally recommend against it if you are playing competitively simply as almost every high tier army can deal with a Stormraven in a turn or two. Where this changes is through the use of the Skies of Fury special rule, allowing you to drop a unit out of the Stormraven before Interceptor or Skyfire weaponry even has a chance to fire at the flyer. While this does have some risks, they are generally far fewer than actually keeping the unit in the Stormraven would have, especially as a 36" move gives you a pretty gigantic range of places to drop. When you use its transport capabilities in conjunction with monster short-ranged units such as Centurion Devastators armed with grav cannons, and pair that up with its strong firepower, the Stormraven is a very valuable addition to a Space Marine army list as it can fulfill two roles for the price of one slot.

    Chapter Tactics - Stormravens are, typically, incredibly difficult to destroy for many army lists, which suits Iron Hands perfectly. However, as an assault transport that is actually a viable - if not exactly my preferred option - contender to a Land Raider Crusader or Redeemer, using it in conjunction with dedicated assault units that find most value from White Scars and Black Templars is ideal. A Stormraven fits into any army list as a generalist flying fire-base, but it works better for mobile lists that are likely to be pressuring the enemy from the get-go, leaving the Stormraven to hopefully face less early Interceptor or Skyfire shots.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "We follow in the footsteps of Guilliman.
    As it is written in the Codex, so shall it be."

    - Marneus Calgar of the Ultramarines


    ARTICLE 2

    Hey there everyone, my name is Learn2Eel and today I want to talk about the toys everyone wants, the Space Marine Heavy Support units! Space Marines have an unparalleled selection of diverse units in the Heavy Support slot, giving them far more options in the simple game of shooting than any other codex out there. I hope you enjoy this article!


    Space Marines have always been the codex with the most options, and in few places is this more apparent than in the Heavy Support slot. Each choice has been given a range of buffs over the new edition, making for a diverse and competitive line-up that will likely guzzle up your points quickly - but the choice of how is very difficult indeed! There are just so many options to choose from here. For infantry-hunting artillery, you have the cheap Whirlwind and ridiculous Thunderfire Cannon. For punishing aerial defence, the Hunter and Stalker are inexpensive and dangerous choices. For transportation capabilities you have a flying gunship in the form of the Stromraven and flexible 'battle fortresses' with the three Land Raider variants. For destruction of vehicles and monsters alike, Devastators and their Centurion contingents raise their hand with great zest. The Vindicator provides a multi-purpose siege breaker, while Predators are the "every-man" unit with multiple configurations for dealing with wildly different targets. If there are any holes in a Space Marine army, the Heavy Support slot is usually the first - and best - place to look for aid.
    A note here that this is the final article in a series of four concerning the Heavy Support choices, the other three of which can be found at our Tactica Index here.


    Land Raider

    Overview* - Land Raiders. Does the name send shivers down your spine? It should do.....if Senor Freeze is giving you a back-rub. Anyway, Land Raiders are the most dastardly durable (mwahaha!) vehicles that Space Marines have access to, with a crazy AV 14/14/14 and four hull points. Strength 7 and lower weaponry are completely useless against them, while even Strength 10 weapons struggle to reliably punch through their armour. These tanks double both as heavily armoured transports and as mobile fire-bases, one of few able to ferry Terminators and Centurions, and loaded to the teeth with guns. Each has a pair of sponson weapons unique to each variant, as well as a turret-mounted gun and access to a handful of pintle mounted guns. The transport capacity of each varies just as the weaponry does, with ten, twelve or a massive sixteen being the different unit caps available. They sound like the best units ever, right? Well, understandably, all Land Raiders have a massive points cost attached to them, with each running you well over two centuries worth of points. These units are a major investment for almost any standard game size, their very inclusion forcing you to build many or all elements of an army list around them. This is mostly because their primary function as a transport is what you need to focus on; yes, they have lots of guns and are durable, but Land Raiders do not compare to any of your other sources of firepower in terms of raw damage potential and cost effectiveness. The guns are there to provide some extra spark to a near impregnable ferrying machine, and this is something that too many players forget. Land Raiders are the transports for your most valuable units, particularly those geared for melee, as they are also your only ground-based assault transports. If you aren't using them primarily as transports, just with a few extra guns, then you may as well just save a few hundred points and take Rhinos instead.

    The standard Land Raider brings a more divergent approach to the Land Raider formula, though being the "archetypal" pattern obviously makes such terminology seem odd. The fact of the matter is that while the other two are more fully geared to maximising their potential as assault transports, the standard Land Raider pattern tries to branch out into being more of a mobile fire-base and, unfortunately, doesn't really succeed. It has a pair of twin-linked lascannons, a twin-linked heavy bolter, and some extra weapons to taste - though the already exorbitant cost and availability of lascannons means these are often left by the wayside. The heavy bolter won't do much and is probably a down-grade on the twin-linked assault cannon found on the other Land Raider variants, simply because the extra range doesn't really matter when it will mostly be snap-firing as the Land Raider moves closer with its embarked unit. The two lascannons are strong, obviously, but without Tank Hunters or lots of shots, they can't claim to be as cost-effective or destructive as those carried by Centurion Devastators and regular Devastators, especially those hailing from the Imperial Fists. The simple truth is that while it tries to offer itself as a fire-base, it is outperformed in all but reliability - until Inquisitors with Divination or Tigurius are involved - in terms of shooting. The value here thus comes from Power of the Machine Spirit allowing this Land Raider to move 6" a turn and shoot both its lascannons at one or two targets with full Ballistic Skill and twin-linking. This gives decent firepower and actually allows the transport to do something while it ferries a unit across the board. For the most part though, you want your assault units to be getting into combat as quickly as possible, and the standard Land Raider is easily the slowest of the three - unless you want to waste its shooting that it pays for over the other variants. It is, after all, an assault transport and one of few that Space Marines have, and should be used as such.

    *The first paragraph of this Overview applies to every Land Raider variant, and thus I have chosen to just do the "unique" segments only for the other two Land Raider variants.

    How to Equip Them - Ah, dozer blades, how you smile at me from behind barred gates. So goes the sigh of all Space Marine players in envy of heretical Chaos Space Marines and their Heresy Era predecessors. For a classic Land Raider, I recommend extra armour only if you are actually using it is a mobile transport to deliver a close-ranged unit, as otherwise, none of the upgrades are really needed. Pintle mounted multi-meltas aren't a bad use of the points, but if you are using the Land Raider optimally, as in moving 6" each turn and firing both lascannons using Power of the Machine Spirit - then the chances of actually using the multi-melta to any real effect are slim. Of course, being shaken or stunned and using Power of the Machine Spirit to fire the multi-melta at a nearby vehicle or wounded monstrous creature isn't a bad option, you just need to weigh up whether that kind of situation couldn't be handled by a lascannon. For how expensive and obvious a target a Land Raider already is, I would really just leave them bare - they don't need anything else, aside from maybe extra armour, to fulfill their role well.

    Where to Put Them* - Terrain providing, I have always preferred to use Land Raiders of all types as the spear-head of my mechanized force. Deploying them in the centre of a formation of Rhinos, Razorbacks, Vindicators and other juicy targets sends a clear message to your opponent that the Land Raider is a big, scary target just inviting them to shoot at it. That is the point; you want Land Raiders to be shot at, just because they are so ridiculously durable. Typical Wave Serpent builds, Broadside and Crisis Suit missile-spam, missile-spam, autocannon-spam and so many other top tournament builds have so many issues dealing with Land Raiders at anything but short ranges. Even Riptides with Ion Accelerators are effectively forced to either close into melta range with their fusion blasters, or continuously risk both nova-charging and then over-charging their Ion Accelerators to have but a slight chance at destroying your Land Raiders. Because of all this, I always prefer to make Land Raiders as obvious as possible by deploying them centrally; move around terrain in the centre to get to your target as quickly as possible, or if needed, go through it if it means guaranteeing a charge one turn or so earlier. This isn't to say you should be careless with them, as almost every army does have some means of destroying them from afar, however limited; use cover, even deploying behind or beside it, to obscure your Land Raider as much as possible. If your opponent is forced to take "pot-shots" against a Land Raider with a 5+ or better cover save, you'll be hooting in joy.

    The alternative is to deploy a Land Raider on one of your flanks with the goal of smashing that side of your opponent's battle-line. This does favour deploying second as you can send your Land Raider and its contents at units that aren't ideally placed for dealing with an AV 14/14/14 behemoth; identifying where the melta weapons - the typical source of a Land Raider's destruction I find - and monstrous creatures are is key to keeping your Land Raider alive long enough to deliver its' contents. As for actual movement speed, this varies based on the Land Raider; a standard pattern wants to move 6" a turn to make the most of the two twin-linked lascannons. They are what distinguishes it from the other two and are understandably the source of its reduced transport capacity, so wasting them by only firing one at a time at full Ballistic Skill by moving 12" each turn doesn't sound like good returns to me. Use Power of the Machine Spirit to either focus on one vehicle, monster or elite unit - such as Centurions - at a time, or to split-fire at two targets and aim for slowing down or even destroying both of them. Getting a shaken result on two gun-loaded vehicles at a time is worth the reduced chances of destroying one of them, I've found. Crusaders and Redeemers generally want to be moving 12" in the movement phase, and either moving flat out, or using Power of the Machine Spirit to fire a pintle mounted multi-melta at a tank. Crusaders work really well against flying monstrous creatures for grounding purposes with so many twin-linked shots, and so moving them 12" a turn against a list composed heavily of such units is definitely a good idea - even if it is 12" backwards! Once up close or having deployed their units, Redeemers generally want to come to a stop or move 6" to really get the most of their flamestorm cannons; this is a consideration to take even when ferrying the unit inside, as like the Heldrake has proven, Strength 6 AP3 template weapons are just brutal.

    *Instead of typing out the exact same stuff three times in a row, I've opted instead to write the "Where to Put Them" section for all three Land Raider variants in one spot.

    Best Uses - I've found that the standard Land Raider is best used either with a valuable, short-ranged unit that isn't too concerned about melee combat, such as regular Terminators or even Sternguard Veterans, or with a cheap melee squad that doesn't mind waiting an extra turn or two to get into combat, like an Assault Squad without jump-packs. This is because of the two sponson-mounted twin-linked lascannons the standard Land Raider sports; these two weapons give the Land Raider a big range advantage over the other two variants, and allow it to punish tanks, monstrous creatures and elite units at long range. Because it only carries ten models - or five Terminators - and in a sense pays for those limitations with the lascannons, you don't want to waste the firepower on offer here. That isn't to say the firepower is anything special; remember that you are always better off going with lascannon-armed Devastators, Predator Annihilators and so on if you just want pure firepower. But the combination of strong shooting and a durable transport gives you a good compromise. Ferry a unit of you choice, and move 6" each turn. Use Power of the Machine Spirit to fire its two lascannons either at the same target, or seperate units, at full Ballistic Skill each turn. This not only protects a valuable unit, even one like scoring Tactical Marines, but it will also allow you to use those two twin-linked lascannons to maximum effect. I've found any other use of the standard Land Raider to just be a waste of its capabilities, or better filled by a Crusader or Redeemer.

    Chapter Tactics - As a standard Land Raider really isn't comparable to a Crusader or Redeemer in terms of a dedicated 'assault vehicle', its usage is more as a slow-moving anti-tank vehicle. It certainly isn't the best source of firepower you can get, but it works well enough in most lists because moving 6" a turn and using Power of the Machine Spirit to fire its two twin-linked lascannons at separate targets isn't a bad use of the points. Provided you are also keeping a unit safe, moving up 6" a turn isn't too bad if the unit inside isn't too expensive and thus not too worried about staying out of combat a bit longer than they would if they were in another Land Raider variant. This lends itself well to mixed army lists using both infantry and vehicles, those that move at a steadier pace so that the Land Raider can act as part of a large 'hammer' strike and the lynch-pin of an assault brigade. You can also use the standard Land Raider as part of a gun-line and harbour a counter-assault unit, such as Assault Marines or Vanguard Veterans without jump packs, but it would be a bit of a waste in that role simply because it is so expensive and nowhere near as cost-efficient in terms of firepower as a Predator Annihilator or a squad or two of Devastators. So while Iron Hands are best suited to it, I think Ultramarines and maybe Imperial Fists can make better use of them.


    Land Raider Crusader

    Overview - The Land Raider Crusader is the most assault-oriented of the three Land Raiders and the best transport simply because it doesn't really care at all about shooting its weapons - something a Redeemer with flamestorm cannons can't attest to - and it has the largest transport capacity by four slots. Its shooting is geared for taking down infantry, and with so many shots and twin-linking, forcing them to snap-fire by moving 12" - or sacrificing them entirely by also moving flat out - isn't really that much of a sacrifice if it means your assault unit gets into combat on turn two. It also fulfills a unique role among the Land Raider variants in its usage against flying monstrous creatures, easily capable of forcing a ground test on one even when outside of rapid fire of its sponson guns. Indeed, a Crusader has two sponson hurricane bolters and a turreted twin-linked assault cannon. While the hurricanes could be seen as a downgrade on the lascannons offered by the standard Land Raider, the increased transport capacity, improved effectiveness against infantry and inclusion of frag assault launchers give the Crusader a huge edge over the regular Land Raider as a pure assault transport. The frag assault launchers favour Assault Terminators especially, though given such units are usually equipped mostly with thunder hammers, their best use is with characters still sporting weapons that strike at regular Initiative who lose access to grenades when wearing Terminator Armour. If you want the best value assault transport and the option to ferry a huge unit of Terminators, or even many characters attached to Honour Guard or Vanguard Veterans, then the Crusader is the right choice for you.

    How to Equip Them - Like the standard Land Raider, none of the upgrades are really necessary here, though the multi-melta is definitely more valuable here for use with Power of the Machine Spirit as it allows the Crusader to be a truly versatile infantry and tank hunter. It is, again though, more of an after-thought of points than anything else. Extra armour is even more valuable here on the Crusader than for a standard Land Raider, as Crusader's are less worried about sacrificing their firepower so as to ferry their probably larger unit to battle.

    Best Uses - With the largest carrying capacity by far, the Crusader is not only the best transport of the three Land Raider variants, but it is also the one with the lowest damage threshold in terms of sheer firepower. Now, don't take this the wrong way; two hurricane bolters as sponson weapons, in addition to a twin-linked assault cannon and optional multi-melta, are still pretty good firepower. That all but one of those aforementioned weapons is twin-linked and puts out lots of shots makes the Crusader a strong choice for attempting to ground flying monstrous creatures, or just stripping models off of enemy units through massed shooting. However, the point of the Crusader is that, with that huge carrying capacity of sixteen models - or eight Terminators - and the "weakest" (though I use that term lightly) firepower, it is the one that you want barreling straight for the enemy. This is not a standard Land Raider that wants to fire its two main guns each turn by moving 6". The Crusader wants to move 12" in the movement phase, and flat out 6" to guarantee a turn two or three charge at the absolute latest. Even one turn of such movement can often be enough to get in charge range on the next turn, though one must obviously be aware of all the short ranged anti-tank weapons that work decently against Land Raiders.

    Chapter Tactics - There is but one obvious Chapter Tactic usage for Land Raider Crusaders and, oddly enough, it isn't Iron Hands. Instead, I have this strange, almost religious compulsion to say that Black Templars of all the Chapters should use them most. I mean, Black Templars are based around assault with their Crusader Squads who can bring Land Raiders as dedicated transports and more offensively-suited characters, but I don't get why they would make the best use of it ahead of White Scars with Hit and Run assault units or Iron Hands with their insane durability. I don't know, it is almost like....inspiration. I digress though, and I apologize, I'll try to stay on point from now on. Take Black Templars. Yeah, that is right! Or wait, hey, I didn't type that. What's happening? My brain is collapsing inside of itself! Black Templars. Yeah. That sounds right. Black Templars......

    But seriously, Black Templar Crusader Squads in Land Raider Crusaders give you some ridiculously durable, flexibile and mobile scoring units that are stunningly difficult for many armies to deal with in even halfway decent numbers. Who would have thought a Black Templar invention would work best for its original creators?


    Land Raider Redeemer

    Overview - The Redeemer sits firmly in between the other two Land Raider variants in terms of role and effectiveness. It isn't as good a transport as the Crusader despite also sporting frag assault launchers that the standard pattern lacks, but it only carries twelve models to the Crusaders' sixteen. It isn't as good a gun platform as the standard Land Raider overall, as though two flamestorm cannons are incredibly nasty, the only time they will see use is typically when the Redeemer is at its most vulnerable; quite often, unlike the other two, Redeemers won't get to fire their sponson guns at all! It helps that the Redeemer is ten points cheaper than the other two variants, but I do get the feeling its flamestorm cannons are over-stated. A pair of Strength 6 AP3 template weapons are undeniably brutal, of course, but a Land Raider Redeemer is no Heldrake. A Heldrake's true strength comes from torrent, 360 degree line of sight and an unprecedented mobility of 36" while still retaining the ability to fire. A Redeemer that moves 12" can at best shoot one of its flamestorm cannons as, with template weapon types, they cannot be fired at all as snap shots.

    It is hard to get in range of vulnerable infantry units without itself being destroyed, simply because no sane general will leave valuable units in range of a Redeemer. The 20" effective range through Power of the Machine Spirit for one template is great, obviously, but unlike the Heldrake, it really begins to worry about short-ranged melta and lance weapons at that point, the common answer to such vehicles fielded by Tau and Eldar alike. Besides, they cannot be used against flying monstrous creatures who are arguably its main weakness; monsters that, with Smash, can and will reliably eat a Redeemer in one assault phase. These are not limitations that a Crusader or even the standard pattern has to worry about with their main guns, and the issue comes from the Redeemer having a reduced transport capacity compared to the Crusader to compensate for the flamestorm cannons. It is a bit too much of a middling transport, especially compared to the other two variants, and its two template weapons just aren't as useful as they would seem when working out firing arcs and the like are concerned - it is impossible to flame a properly spaced unit with both flamers, for example.

    How to Equip Them - I'm more in the Land Raider Crusader school of thought when it comes to extra armour for the Redeemer, as its boosted transport capacity and short-ranged weaponry are more suited to just cruising forward at all costs. The multi-melta is, again, more of a minimal addition that is nice, but unnecessary. I really wouldn't bother with any of the other upgrades as they are either ineffective or just add even more weak guns to an already loaded platform.

    Best Uses - I feel that much of what I said applies to a Redeemer, and in some cases even more so as its sponson weapons - a pair of flamestorm cannons - are template weapons and thus there won't often be a reason for you to not be moving 12" to 18" a turn to get close with your ferried unit. Like with the Crusader, the boosted transport capacity of twelve and frag assault launchers naturally favour heavy melee units such as Assault Terminators or Honour Guard. Once it is close though, you will want to point the Redeemer at any exposed infantry your opponent has. There are few things that frighten opponents as much as Strength 6 AP3 template weapons, especially for elite forces such as Space Marines.

    Chapter Tactics - Salamanders. No, but really, Salamanders. I don't care if Redeemers aren't affected by them still. They just fit! But seriously, Iron Hands give you the direct benefits, but as a short-ranged assault transport, White Scars, Black Templars and possibly Ultramarines making use of their Assault Doctrine are best suited to using a Redeemer.


    Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out.

    "With steel we are stronger, but without a soul we are nothing."
    - Kardan Stronos of the Iron Hands
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 01-02-2014 at 01:13 AM.
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  9. #9

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    Black Templars (To be added).
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 11-17-2013 at 01:20 AM.
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  10. #10

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    BADAB WAR SPACE MARINE CHAPTER TACTICS

    Howdy there everyone, I am Learn2Eel and today I'm here to talk some more about the awesome Space Marines! Between the recent Space Marines codex and an edition shift, Forge World has had to release a lot of updates to their existing material so that they can function within the context of 6th Edition Warhammer 40000. The most recent of these was the release of not only a Space Marine Characters FAQ, but a Chapter Tactics FAQ - and the latter of which is what I will be focusing on today. I hope you enjoy this article!
    Just a bit of a heads up, I've been "hard at work" at my local gaming store, and I'm going all out on the Troops article for Space Marines. One form of it or another should be up two days from now at the absolute latest.


    One of the best introductions to any 6th Edition codex so far has undoubtedly been the Chapter Tactics special rule, which is essentially a free "choice" that gives distinct benefits to an army list based on the chosen Chapter Tactic. Such is its amazing potential for rewarding, themed and competitive list-building that I honestly can't wait to see similar applications of it for other codices, such as Tyranids or Imperial Guard - think of Hive Fleets with a focus on different units, or rules for Steel Legion that contrast with Catachans. In any case, Forge World has responded with a massive update to their exclusive Space Marine armies, including entirely new Chapter Tactics. This is a great move as it means players of those armies no longer need to employ special characters to attain their Chapter traits. For ease of viewing, I will cover each Chapter Tactic individually and go over how they fit into the Space Marine codex - unfortunately, I don't have many of the Imperial Armour books and so I can't really comment on those Forge World exclusive army lists, such as those in the Siege of Vraks. A note that I am only covering the unique Chapter Tactics introduced in the update.


    The Chapter Tactics

    Red Scorpions - The chief benefit for Red Scorpions is definitely replacing their Tactical Squad Sergeants and Veteran Sergeants with Apothecaries for free. Provided you are using an army with a lot of Tactical Marines, you will get some pretty major defensive boosts across your force. Ten-strong Tactical Squads en masse with Feel No Pain won't save you from Strength 8 AP3/2 templates, but it will save you from Heldrakes and so many other weapons! The other ability is also very useful, allowing Red Scorpions to re-roll failed Pinning tests. I can't talk enough about how important this is with how 'useless' a unit becomes for a turn while Pinned, especially in a game where objectives are everything. Unfortunately, they can't voluntarily go to ground and they can't take camo cloaks, so they aren't great for last gasp objective sitting, nor are their Scouts going to get those handy cover save boosts. I think Red Scorpions have pretty decent Chapter Tactics, though they obviously favour Tactical Marines in large numbers which may be a turn off.

    Carcharodons - Being saddled with the very situational Fear ability does leave the Carch'ys in a bit of a pickle, as Fear really isn't that great when most armies either ignore it or are easily beaten in combat anyway without its' use. However, being able to swap Tactical Marines' bolters out for close combat weapons for free can be a decent ability, if a bit less useful than what is readily available in the codex through Crusader Squads - who have speed bonuses from Crusader and Land Raider Crusaders as dedicated transports. However, what is a very good addition is taking an extra close combat weapon on those Tacticals for only 1 point per model, which is 1 point cheaper than it is for Chaos Space Marines and the like. Seriously, as if Chaos Marines weren't suffering enough! The Carch'ys also get Rage when they destroy or force an Infantry unit to flee in combat, which is pretty handy when combined with their cheap extra combat weapons. The Chapter Tactics also prevent the Carch'ys from allying with non-Imperial armies, and treat those Imperial armies as Desperate Armies. This is disappointing as Space Marines enjoy some great synergy with Tau and Imperial Guard as Battle Brothers. These Chapter Tactics are ok, but giving Tactical Marines a close combat focus while sacrificing some incredibly potent allied combinations just doesn't seem like a smart choice competitively.

    Raptors - These guys share the Scout and Stealth special rules with their Raven Guard progenitors, which is obviously handy mostly for 'Rhino-rush' builds, though they get a unique ability instead of the jump pack focus. The 'Legendary Marksmen' trait grants bolters, bolt pistols and the bolter part of a combi-weapon the Rending special rule if the unit holding them didn't move in the movement phase. This is a pretty darn nasty ability that, with the good range of bolt weapons, gives Space Marines a bit of a leg up to counter Bladestorm from Eldar. While Dire Avengers have Battle Focus and 18" range, the Tactical Marines would - for example - have 24" and their 'Rending' would also work against vehicles, letting them reliably threaten light vehicles. This is a great ability that gives Raptors a good reason to include those under-rated boltguns. The only issue here is that those guns do become Heavy - which makes sense with the no movement penalty - but means that bolters, for example, wouldn't get two shots at 12" as per usual. I think with the Scout redeployment, this may actually give Raptors a reason to Scout foot-sloggers depending on the typical game board they play on; a 30" effective range with Rending bolters on turn one is an extra option. However, I don't think it is reliable enough to justify losing both the extra shots and the ability to move. In that sense this is a cool ability, but not one that will have quite the impact as Bladestorm did - due to mobility, easily obtained re-rolls and the like.

    Mantis Warriors - The big draw for Mantis Warriors seems to be giving their infantry both Move Through Cover and Hammer of Wrath, as well as Furious Charge when they charge out of cover. This seems cool at first, but given that the only Space Marine non-bulky - bulky or larger models don't get these bonuses - infantry that are really worth running into combat are Honour Guard, it really isn't that useful an ability at all. However, as has been pointed out to me - because I still haven't got it down that Land Speeder Storms are dedicated transports! - Scouts with close combat weapons actually work pretty darn well for Mantis Warriors. They make for a cheap and decent combat unit with an assault vehicle, getting some good benefits out of Furious Charge; having assault transports and extra close combat weapons makes it far more likely both that they will actually charge, and that they will do decently in combat. Where the Mantis Warriors really get their biggest advantage from is the second ability, allowing them to re-roll their attempts at seizing the initiative, and to take Divination on their Librarians. Now, having two chances to Seize is pretty handy, but having Divination for Librarians in an army featuring the points intensive Sternguard Veterans and deadly assault units like Honour Guard is simply awesome. Really, taking Mantis Warriors just to have the amazing Divination psychic lore for Librarians is likely to be a goodusage of them, even though I think they are quite middling otherwise.

    Executioners - These guys ignore any negative modifiers to their Leadership first and foremost, which is useful mostly for one reason; staying in combat when you need to. Space Marines don't really suffer penalties for fleeing from combat, unless they flee on their own turn as it leaves them vulnerable to enemy shooting. They also ignore those annoying penalties from Brainleech Devourers and some Pinning weapons, which I think can be pretty important. Their second ability gives their characters instant death on to wound rolls of a six - much like Moonfang or Axes of Khorne - while in challenges, as well as forcing the character with the highest Weapon Skill in their unit to issue challenges in combat. As Chaos Space Marine players will tell you, being forced to challenge at all tends to be pretty bad as you have no real control over combats against character monstrous creatures for example. The potential for Instant Death is nice, but I'm not sure it makes up for the removal of choice with challenges. These are decent Chapter Tactics, nothing too shabby at all, though the character trait may be a big worry.

    Angels Revenant - These are interesting as the army uses a certain trait depending on how you theme the list, which is very cool indeed. The first trait for fighting Necrons gives them Preferred Enemy and Hatred against the space-faring undead; while this does give the army a massive boost in damage potential against Necrons, that Chapter Tactics are always written on the army list means it is impossible to know if you are fighting Necrons in, for example, a tournament. In that case, these should be reserved for friendly games where you know who your opponent is. The second trait is more generalist, though I don't think it is all that useful; when half of the army is destroyed, what is left over gets the Fearless special rule. Now, Fearless is pretty nice and all for any force, though for Space Marines in particular, I think it can be considered a bit of a mixed bag. You will never run off of objectives, but you also can't get out of combats you don't want to be a part of. What happens when a Trygon pops up and kills five Marines in a single round of combat? The Marines, as Angels Revenant, will stay there and do nothing at all; if they weren't Fearless, they would probably fail a Leadership test, get out of combat and then move and shoot again. That it only starts working when half the army is dead - which is usually a big warning sign anyway - really seals its place as a sub-par Chapter Tactic.

    Red Hunters - Probably the most unique Chapter Tactics we've seen come from the Red Hunters, but not because of having Adamantium Will. As with Black Templars, a boost to deny the witch saves is always helpful, but it won't really help against all those blessings that really give Hive Tyrants/Seer Councils/Screamerstars their strength. They can also ally with Grey Knights and Sisters of Battle as Battle Brothers - provided you have an Inquisitor somewhere in the overall army - which opens up a slew of very nasty combinations. But where things start to go awry are in the subconscious battle doctrines each Red Hunter is programmed with. Once per game and at the start of a turn, you consult the turn number and select that many units in your army with Chapter Tactics, with the exception that Dreadnoughts are also potential targets. These units all get a single special rule for a single game turn - the wording implies that one choice is made for all of the units, meaning no diversifying - including Counter Attack, Hatred, Interceptor, Monster Hunter, Skyfire or Tank Hunters. There are so many potential applications of this special rule that, much like the Ultramarine Chapter Tactics, being a smart general that can readily apply such breadth of choice will be key to making the most of them. As it is, freely giving two units Skyfire after your opponents' flyers have arrived on turn two alone is very worthwhile, particularly when those units are Devastators with lascannons or Sternguard with massed combi-weapons! These are probably some of the stronger Chapter Tactics, what with extra allied potential through the Grey Knights and Sisters of Battle, Deny the Witch boosts, and the wide tactical uses of the Redaction Protocols.

    Star Phantoms - As I am quick to point out, I feel Salamanders are by far the best Drop Pod army for Codex: Space Marines; however, I think the Star Phantoms may give them a bit of a run for their money. They re-roll reserve rolls of a 1 when arriving by deep strike - meaning they re-roll 50% of their failed reserve rolls for such units - which is pretty darn useful for a Drop Pod Assault army or one that includes lots of Terminators or Land Speeders. However, what really lets them compete with Salamanders is that, once per game - importantly, this includes the first turn - you can declare a Hail of Destruction and count all of the Assault, Heavy, Rapid-Fire and Salvo guns carried by models with the Chapter Tactics as twin-linked. Wow! Competitive Salamanders lists often pay for Vulkan to master-craft all their meltas, but these guys get that for free and it applies for one shooting phase up until the start of their next one. It still affects their flame weapons, but it also gives weapons such as combi-plasmas and bolters a lot of love, and it even gives Devastators some leeway. Most importantly though, of course, is how it affects Sternguard with both their special issue ammunition and their combi-weapons. The question is, is free twin-linking for pretty much every gun on the turn you arrive with a Drop Pod Assault worth taking over the all-game bonuses provided by the Salamanders and Vulkans to a lesser range of weapons? I think it definitely is, though it places the impetus on getting as many Drop Pods as possible to do as much damage as you can in the alpha strike; the Salamanders win hands down after the first turn attack, of course. These are tailor made for reserve heavy lists, particularly Drop Pods, but really aren't worth it otherwise.

    Minotaurs - These guys don't have to take morale checks when they lose 25% of their unit to shooting unlike other Space Marines, which is a pretty awesome ability. Too many times you will see Space Marines fall back off on an objective - or anywhere really - at the worst possible time. Like Red Scorpions, they also re-roll failed Pinning tests, but unlike the other Chapter, Minotaurs can still voluntarily go to ground and take camo cloaks. These two abilities combined give Minotaurs a lot more control over the Leadership aspect of play, letting them more effectively keep their Troops where they need to be and not cowering on the ground. Like Black Templars, Minotaurs also get the Crusader special rule which gives them a bit of a mobility boost, though they sadly don't have those cheap extra close combat weapons like Carcharodons to take full advantage of it, nor the Crusader Squads of the heirs of Sigismund. Another little helpful ability that suffers the same issue is adding an extra inch to their random charge lengths when inside the opponents' deployment zone. These Chapter Tactics are quite decent actually, as they effectively give Minotaurs a free, watered-down version of Marneus Calgar's amazing God of War special rule.

    Fire Hawks - Another army that favours a fast, hard assault, Fire Hawks have some nifty little abilities, such as giving +1 Strength to their hand flamers, flamers and heavy flamers but only on the turn in which a unit using them arrives by deep strike. I haven't run the numbers, but I'm pretty sure that outside of potentially being able to damage units you normally can't hurt with those weapons, the re-rolls to wound and penetrate armour on the same weapons carried by Salamanders are statistically better against all possible targets. However, Fire Hawks do get +1 Strength on their Hammer of Wrath attacks with jump pack units, which is a decent if uninspiring ability simply because jump pack equipped units in the codex tend not to be as competitive as their bike-mounted equivalents. Fire Hawk characters also get access to Hand Flamers which is nifty, though I generally prefer combi-weapons on characters, if I would even use a hand flamer on one. For Tactical Marines - as an example - I always prefer a combi-plasma or a combi-melta depending on how I deploy them. However, Fire Hawks do get a pretty nice ability to make up for their comparative deficiencies to Salamanders; scoring Assault Marines and Vanguard Veterans! Though not making one or both of them outright Troops choices is disappointing, making those often derided units scoring automatically gives them a lot more value. I think these are ok Chapter Tactics, though I'm personally not too big a fan of the jump-pack focus.

    Astral Claws - Much like the Dark Angels, all Astral Claws are Stubborn but can't choose to automatically fail a morale test. Though this is decent and usually won't penalize them, it is the equivalent of signing a death warrant when charged by a Soul Grinder or an Ironclad Dreadnought, both of which are very popular in their respective codices. In addition, Bikers in the army get Skilled Rider, while their Land Speeders get the Scout special rule. Scoring Bikers with Skilled Rider are amazing in the new codex - as so many will attest after either using or facing White Scars - and Scouting Land Speeders can be pretty darn devastating. Obviously, the Claws favour a more mobile force, but unlike Fire Hawks for example, I feel the competitive army lists will be more afraid of these units than Assault Marines and Vanguard Veterans, for example. These are pretty good Chapter Tactics and a more than welcome addition to the forces led by the Tyrant of Badab.


    So those are my thoughts on the Chapter Tactics introduced by Forge World to their previously covered Space Marine forces. Do you agree with my assessments or feel that my assertions are incorrect? Please let us know in the comments below; we appreciate any and all feedback! Thanks guys, and have a great day! Eel out.
    Last edited by Learn2Eel; 11-19-2013 at 06:20 PM.
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