Space Marine Tactica: Heavy Support

Space Marine Heavy Support is, alongside Fast Attack, another of my favourite parts of the codex. Not for all of the units, I will admit, but for a few really high quality, efficiently costed models. Generally, this is the heavy fire power part of the codex. This is where you will be getting a lot of your big guns from. The job of the Heavy Support is to just pound the opponent into submission with more heavy weapons than you can shake a stick at.

 

Devastator Squad

The third variant of basic Space Marine squads, along with Tactical and Assault squads, the Devastator squad is essentially a normal Tactical squad that is allowed to take four heavy weapons instead of the standard combination of heavy and/or special weapon. Other than that, it is identical to a Tactical squad, but this changes it from a mid-field objective consolidation unit to a back field, static fire power unit. I like to take a full squad of ten as opposed to a small squad of five as if you take only five, then you have the sergeant and four heavy weapon wielding Space Marines. Sounds great and efficient in practice, but all your opponent has to do is look at them aggressively and they will neuter the fire power of the squad. Big squads of ten mean that your opponent needs to really dedicated resources into dropping them, especially if they are at the back of your army. I also give them a Razorback for no other reason than extra heavy weapons, but that is more of an army design style than a unit specific issue. I do not believe in the idea of giving a wide variety of heavy weapons to your devastators, as it allows them to have at least one weapon for each type of target, but wastes the potential of others. A lascannon will hurt things like monstrous creatures or heavier vehicles, but a heavy bolter can’t do a thing against the likes of Armour Value 12, which isn’t even that high. Likewise, all a lascannon has a chance of doing is killing a single model like a Guardsman or Hormagaunt, but a heavy bolter is half the cost and can mow down three. I also, as a general rule, give my sergeant a boltgun and a bolt pistol, maybe a melta bomb as a deterrent, but usually I spend no points on him whatsoever. I’ll be using his signum to give one of my heavy weapon wielding Space Marines a Ballistic Skill of 5 instead. The builds that I like for them are as follows.

First up is the four lascannons build. You take four lascannons, sit them in a commanding position at the back of your army with good firing lanes and target medium to heavy vehicles and monstrous creatures with impunity. This squad will definitely get targeted by your opponent, unless they are running a swarm infantry list, as is a fairly heavy points sink that will only do well against heavier targets. But against heavier targets it will hurt. A lot. I tend to run mechanised armies, so if I were facing an army with this squad, I would be looking to shut it down on turn one!

Next we have the polar opposite, the four heavy bolters build. This build is one that I carried over from my experience as an Adepta Sororitas player and is fantastic at mowing down mass amounts of infantry. This squad wants to be focussing on the Toughness 3 or 4, single wound models with a 4+ or worse Armour Save; failing that though, they should just target the lightest, most deadly infantry in your opponent’s army.

Thirdly, there is four missile launchers build (including flakk missiles in my opinion!). This is your general purpose unit that can deal with infantry, as well as light and medium vehicles, as well as flyers! This is a fairly pricey build if you do not particularly need any extra specialised fire power and want an all purpose unit.

The only thing that my builds of Devastator squads do not handle well are 2+ Armour Save units, such as Terminators. However, the Space Marines have something far better for that.

 

Centurion Devastator Squad

Take grav-cannons and grav-amps. Point at vehicle or Monstrous Creature or Terminator equivalent. Pull trigger and watch your opponent cry. This is your go-to unit for dealing with anything solid. There is no point outfitting them for anything else as you can do better with other units, such as Devastator squads, for their considerable points cost. However, three of these loaded up to the eyeballs with grav weaponry is going to hurt. A lot. Unlike Centurion Assault squads, Centurion Devastators definitely have a use. Take an omniscope on the sergeant too, as it is cheap and gives nice rules (Night Vision and Split Fire) to the unit.

 

Thunderfire Cannon

I cannot accurately comment too much on the Thunderfire Cannon, as I have never taken one and never seen it taken on the tabletop due to a preference for other selections in the section.

However, looking at the options, I have to say that, for the points, it is definitely worthwhile. The profiles on the cannon are impressive, sporting a medium strength profile, a slightly weaker profile that ignores cover and a slowing down profile. The choice of which version to use when firing is entirely situational. The slowing down profile will work wonders against bike-mounted squads who will have to take Dangerous Terrain tests, as it forces any unit hit to act as if it were in difficult terrain, removing a dice from their movement if they are already in terrain. The airburst profile is great against units that rely on superior cover saves to survive, such as Tyranids under a Venomthrope/Malanthrope’s spore cloud. The surface detonation is good for just thumping any infantry as it’s a high enough Strength to cause wounds on a decent roll. Oh, each profile also drops a total of 4 small blasts with the Barrage special rule, meaning that they all land close to each other. It can cause some serious pain!

Also, never forget the Techmarine manning the gun still has all the Techmarine rules! He can still boost a ruin in your deployment zone to have a 3+ Cover Save instead of a 4+ and he can still fix vehicles, though remember that he is very immobile, as he is the crew for the gun, so he has to stay within unit coherency.

 

Predator

I do not like these much, but I can definitely see their uses, especially with the generally lower points cost. They are a simple unit with a simple job. Either you take the default autocannon, give it heavy bolter side sponsons and a storm bolter and point it at medium infantry (all for a measly 100pts!) or you upgrade the turret to be a twin-linked lascannon and give it lascannon sponsons, then you point it at vehicles and Monstrous Creatures. There is nothing subtle about the Predator. You give it either anti-infantry or anti-vehicle fire power and watch it kill what you shoot at. I prefer Devastator squads, but this is an option that is slightly more mobile, being a vehicle that can move and at least fire one weapon at full Ballistic Skill instead of Snap Shots. Other than the storm bolter upgrade, I do not see any other upgrades being worth the points for this unit as the strength of the Predator is the cheap cost. You do not want to remove that by giving it lots of upgrades.

 

Whirlwind

Take it. Take two. Hell, fill your Heavy Support slots with these bad boys! This is a unit that costs next to nothing and will sit in your back field, placing large blasts on things until either the game ends, you run out of targets or your opponent pulls an outflanking manoeuvre that destroys them. At 65pts per model, you really do not have to worry too much if you put them out of line of sight. They will do their job. I will often take at least one of these, usually two and put them in opposite corners of the board. They fill that criteria of psychological warfare when playing 40k, as they can drop a large blast anywhere on the table within 48” of them, with either a Strength 5, AP4 shot or a Strength 4, AP5 shot that has the Ignores Cover special rule. Again, vehicle upgrades past the storm bolter are useless, as the storm bolter is largely there to mitigate potential Weapon Destroyed results should your vehicle take a Penetrating Hit; 50% chance that the 5 point storm bolter gets destroyed instead of the pie-plate launcher!

Seriously. Take one of these and you will start to love them. Don’t expect them to remove entire squads (unless playing against Astra Militarum or Tyranids. At which point you rub your “Ignores Cover” shells and laugh maniacally), but for 65pts they are an amazing investment. Your opponent will make tactically silly decisions to destroy them unless they manage to keep a cool head. Most people, however, do not, especially if you take your time showing them the large blasts you’re putting down.

 

Vindicator

I do not like them. They are not durable enough to use the demolisher cannon, as a savvy opponent will destroy them before they can really get into that 24” range, or at the very least shortly afterwards. They are expensive and will probably die before they can do anything. If you’re playing a fluffy siege scenario, take a couple with siege shields and watch them get blown up by lascannons.

Do not approve.

 

Hunter

Do you need more anti-air fire power? Do you really, REALLY want that Heldrake out of the sky? Take a hunter and kill it. Seriously, this is the Space Marines giving a middle finger to enemy flyers. The skyspear missile launcher is only good against flyers, but it certainly does its job. Strength 7 with Armourbane? A chance to hit in subsequent turns if it misses (Savant Lock special rule)? A range of 60”? A mere 70pts? Yes. Approved. Personally, I take other forms of anti-air (I really like the Space Marine flyers…), but I would highly recommend taking this if you need some cheap anti-air in your list. I would double advise taking this if you play against any cocky Chaos players. Take three. Kill all the Daemon Princes and Heldrakes in a few turns! Against ground targets it lacks Interceptor, so it must make Snap Shots and loses the Savant Lock special rule.

 

Stalker

If you try to grab everything, you will end up with nothing. That is what the Stalker tries to do. Take the Hunter instead as it is just superior to the Stalker in every way against air units and is five points cheaper (use the five points for a Weapon-Destroyed-deterrent storm bolter).

 

Land Raider/Land Raider Crusader/Land Raider Redeemer

No. If you want one, take it as a Dedicated Transport for some Terminators or Centurions. They are Assault Vehicles with decent fire power. I have gone over Land Raider variants in the Elites section, where I explained them alongside the unit that they work best with: Terminator Assault squads. They are too expensive to be used to only half of their capacity as a purely fire support unit. I played against a 1000pts army list that had a Land Raider in it. I immobilised it in turn 1 and my opponent conceded after turn 2.

Dedicated Transport or not at all!

 

Stormraven Gunship

You want a flying Land Raider? Here it is. However, unlike the Land Raider, the Stormraven has a place as more than just a Dedicated Transport, due to its nature as a flyer. It can pack some serious anti-flyer fire power at the same time as carrying a unit of infantry. And a Dreadnought. Yes, this can carry your Dreadnought across the battlefield.

The build that I use is a twin-linked assault cannon paired with a typhoon missile launcher and hurricane bolter side sponsons instead of the side Access Points. This gives me enough anti-flyer and anti-light/medium vehicle fire power in the form of the four stormstrike missiles (one use only with Strength 8, AP2 and a range of 72”) and the Typhoon missile launcher, but gives me a huge amount of anti-infantry power at the same time in the form of the twin-linked assault cannons, frag missiles from the typhoon missile launchers and the two pairs of hurricane bolters. This is a flying lump of fire power. I generally would not use it as a transport, due to the fact that to disembark and use the fact that it is an Assault Vehicle you have to go into Hover mode, at which point your opponent will destroy it. I also give it extra armour at 5 points, as it is cheaper than for other vehicles and keeps the Stormraven moving and firing its considerable number of guns.

Another build that I have seen used is a twin-linked lascannon and twin-linked multi-melta, though I do not like this set up so much, as it makes it very one dimensional when it does not need to be. This build is very good against vehicles and flyers, but terrible against everything else. Perhaps this is a better choice if using it as a transport, but I would honestly still prefer taking my load out, despite the higher points cost.

Oh, it also ignores the Melta special rule due to ceramite plating.

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