So Everyone Is Hyped About Blood Angels? Let’s Show Some Love For Tyranids

New box set (that I have already outlined my thoughts on), new codex, new models. It’s a good time to be a Blood Angels player, right?

Well, I’ve been at a loss on what to write about in terms of Warhammer 40k as of late, as my models are all in Brighton whereas I am in Spain visiting my parents; all I have to do for the hobby is keep up to date with the latest releases and craft up some theoretical army lists. So, why am I writing this? It would be bad practice to just write something for the sake of writing something, especially if it’s just to complain about not having anything to write about.

There is always something to write about.

I decided that as Blood Angels are getting so much attention with their new codex I would look at the other side of the Shield of Baal box set: the Tyranids. I will say before diving into the body of what I wish to write about that I am not a Tyranid player. I have played Tyranids briefly in the past, though I was a Witch Hunters player mainly, back in 4th edition when everything was just a little bit less deadly and Cities of Death was the accepted meta in my local area, being the Games Workshop in Brighton. This was about eight years ago and things have moved on, but Tyranids remain very much the same beast that they used to be, with a few buffs and nerfs in various places. So I urge you to take everything I write with a pinch of salt; my main source of experience with Tyranids is blasting them off the table, so maybe I can give a fresh view on the faction that you won’t find elsewhere.

So, where to start? First, I would like to go through what goes through my mind whilst playing Tyranids, from an Imperium/Chaos perspective and then from an Eldar/Dark Eldar perspective as there is a massive difference in how each army plays and how it deals with Tyranids. Whenever I play(ed) Space Marines, Astra Militarum, Witch Hunters (Adepta Sororitas) or Chaos Space Marines my tactics were pretty straightforward: shoot them back and counter initiate with average close combat troops, or sit in cover and strike first in the first round of combat, usually against a weakened unit. The idea was that my units would sit in cover and gun down units of Tyranids in a particular order: hormagaunts first, as they used to be able to move 6″, run D6″ (so possible 6 extra) and then charge 12″ in a meta when only specific units with the Fleet of Foot/Claw/Hoof special rule could run, you could charge after running and charging was largely fixed at 6″ for units that weren’t cavalry (in short, a potential for 24″ movement where most units got only 12″). Hormagaunts were the underdog that you really didn’t want to let crash into your lines. People underestimated them and then quickly learned not to when all of their front units were tied up (close combat used to block line of sight too) and the back units were helpless to do anything as the next waves started to crash in. Next were the other small Tyranid organisms, such as Genestealers (they could only infiltrate if they had a Broodlord, who was an HQ choice), then Termagants and the rest as they could also run forwards an pounce on your units, causing a real headache for your guns. Finally, we moved on to the monstrous creatures, such as the Carnifexes and Hive Tyrants. Warriors were a bit of a joke unit that nobody took and I believe that synapse wasn’t a rule.

But Lexicon, I hear you ask, if you’re sitting back in cover and shooting then you’re not claiming objectives. How do you capture them? It was simple, really. Interception units. For me these were Land Speeders, Assault Marines and for others, Bikes. This combined with a final surge forwards was enough to take objectives from the beleaguered Tyranids that lay scattered across the board. My lists often contained a lot of multi-shot AP4 weaponry such as assault cannons or heavy bolters (I have a thing for Land Speeders and Whirlwinds) as well as a healthy amount of missile launchers and lascannons, which gave me a definite advantage at range. I used lots of troops on the table to mitigate losses as less important and also maximise my presence in both close combat and in shooting. The key was to open up with heavy weapons in the first turn, then get those bolters or lasguns firing as the Tyranids closed in; massed boltguns or lasguns deal a lot of damage to Tyranids, so it should not be underestimated. You shot down Tyranid units until they had very few models remaining and allowed the rest to charge you, beating them down in close combat. I don’t think I ever lost against Tyranids with my Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Astra Militarum or Witch Hunters following this basic principle.

Fast forward to 6th/7th edition and I have my Eldar as my main army. Again, I have yet to lose against Tyranids in a 1vs1 situation (I have lost in a 2vs2 where my partner (he was learning how to play his army) got annihilated in 2 turns and left me to face all of the remaining Tyranids myself; I just couldn’t cover enough objectives!) with my Eldar or Dark Eldar, but the way I deal with them is very different. The way my Eldar and Dark Eldar deal with Tyranids is simply by out-running them. Both armies are fully mechanised and use the mobility of the fast skimmer chassis to run rings around them whilst hitting them with a lot of firepower. Tyranids are lacking at long range anti-vehicle, so I just stay out of range of their short range weapons and deal with anything that has a heavy venom cannon first (or Hive Guard. Target priority #1 is Hive Guard!). Everything else I can just dance out of range of and harass with tank mounted heavy weapons. Even Zoanthropes!

So, with this knowledge how can we field a Tyranid list to combat these tactics. I will go over a checklist of what I believe you need in a Tyranid list to be both fluffy, because I always build fluffy lists, and also decent on the table:

  1. Shooting – If you rely on only melee, you will be kited around the table and picked off. Having some decent shooting behind you will give you some hitting power as you move forwards. As a note, Tyranids will never win long range shooting matches with the likes of the Tau or the Astra Militarum. They just aren’t built that way.
  2. Numbers – As I said, one of the only times that I lost a match was simply because I couldn’t hit enough objectives. You want to have the field presence to be able to swarm over objectives and deny your opponent those points that they need to actually win the scenario.
  3. Null deployment – Fritz40k talks about this in depth here. The idea behind null deployment is to box your opponent in. You want to control where your opponent will be on the table and not give them free reign to drive around and gun you down as a Tyranid player; you need to be pinning your opponent in place.
  4. Synapse – Depends on how dangerously you want to live. Synapse is how you keep your Tyranids in your control, as opposed to leaving it to the dice. My opinion is that you need synapse coverage. You need good fields of synapse that weave into one another, just in case one creature goes down you want to be able to plug the gap.
  5. Speed – You can’t kill an enemy you can’t catch, and the faster you are the sooner you will pin your prey down and start wearing through them. You want to hit your opponent after taking as few losses as possible as if you get into close combat with no steam behind your army, you will just die in close combat as the numbers of Guardsmen just bayonet stab your Hormagaunts or Space Marines attach krak grenades to your last wounded Carnifex.

These are the areas that I want to hit when making a Tyranid list. So which units fill these gaps?

  1. Hive Guard – This is a unit that you want in your army. They are fairly expensive and only Ballistic Skill 3, but their 2 shots at Strength 8 each that does not need line of sight and ignores cover is incredibly useful. The only vehicles that you will find tough to deal with are Armour Value 13 or 14, but anything 12 or under will be a prime target for them. Also, it keeps things like Land Speeders from harassing your units if there are Hive Guard watching over them. Jinking, you say? Ignore cover, I say!
  2. Biovores – Cheap. Lobs a pie plate across the table at Strength 4, AP4 with the barrage special rule. If they miss they spawn spore mines. A must-have in any Tyranid list in my opinion. Now they even have 3 Wounds each! What is not to love about Biovores?
  3. Exocrine – It’s a monstrous creature in close combat and it has a shooting attack that reduces entire squads of Terminators to dust. Considering the 2+ Armour Save is so powerful now with power weapons being segregated and considering the lack of low AP Tyranid shooting, the Exocrine is another unit that I would always put in my list.
  4. Gaunts – Termagants and Hormagaunts are amazing. They need Synapse support to do anything as with Leadership 6 they will be failing more than half of their Instinctive Behaviour checks on average if left outside the Synapse bubble. They are cheap and you can take them in bulk. If you have the points, upgrades can be useful though if I want to give Termagants the devourer gun, I would only give them to around half the unit so that I could use the fleshborer wielding ones as a shield. For hormagaunts it really depends on preference. Adrenal glands allows them to combat vehicles as Furious Charge gives them Strength 4 on the charge, whilst toxin sacs give you Poisoned (4+) attacks in close combat for wounding enemies of all Toughness values; however, I would take one or the other, never both as then they become too expensive. You will take losses on your gaunts, so you want to keep them cheap!
  5. Zoanthropes – Warp Lance, Dominion and another psychic power that you roll from the Tyranid psychic power table. Mastery Level 2. 3++ Invulnerable Save. These are great for providing a bit more Synapse to your force and some close range anti-vehicle firepower as their Warp Lance is a Strength 10 AP2 lance weapon, though it doubles as Warp Blast which is an AP3 blast weapon for clearing infantry. It does, however, take two Warp Charges to go off. I would always take a brood of at least three Zoanthropes, with one definitely upgraded to be a Neurothrope, unless really strapped for points as you only need one psychic test for the whole unit to get their shooting attack. One psychic test for three shots is a lot better than one psychic test for one shot (that you could very well miss!). The Neurothrope is a good way to generate free Warp Charge dice for the Zoanthropes to cast their Warp Blast power as well as causing some extra casualties with Spirit Leech.
  6. Tyrannocite – It’s essentially a Tyranid version of a drop pod that can carry twenty models or a single monstrous creature. This is an excellent unit for getting your Tyranids nice and close where they can actually do damage. Heck, I would put most of my army in these with the exception of my longer range units such as Hive Guard or Biovores who want to sit back a bit.
  7. Mucolid Spore Cluster – Mucolid spores are cheap and can fill a Troops slot. What it does is act like an ordinary spore mine, but with Strength 8, AP3. Fifteen points for a deep striking battle cannon shell? Well, I know how I will be filling out those last few points in my lists. Oh, they can also hit zooming flyers, giving you some quirky anti-air, although as it is only an AP3 weapon you will likely not be able to destroy a flyer in a single blast. My advice? Stick to blasting squads of Space Marines to little pieces. I feel that I should mention the Sporocyst too, as a method of churning out Mucolid Spore Clusters, but it doesn’t quite make the list as it occupies a hotly contested Heavy Support slot. It can be useful for denying an area, using Infiltrate to get into position (it’s immobile) and then churning out Mucolids every turn. However, it’s still a Heavy Support choice.

The points level of the list will dictate exactly which of these I would field. For example, in a 500pts game I will be limited compared to fielding a 2000pts list, for example. Taking all of this into account, I have come up with a Tyranid list that I would field at 1850pts.


1850pts Standard Tyranids

HQ

Tyranid Prime – 125pts
Tyranid Prime – 125pts
Scything talons – 0pts
Devourer – 0pts

Elites

Hive Guard Brood – 110pts
2 Hive Guard – 110pts
2 impaler cannons – 0pts

Zoanthrope Brood – 225pts
3 Zoanthropes – 150pts
Tyrannocyte – 75pts
5 Deathspitters – 0pts

Zoanthrope Brood – 225pts
3 Zoanthropes – 150pts
Tyrannocyte – 75pts
5 Deathspitters – 0pts

Troops

Hormagaunt Brood – 210pts
30 Hormagaunts – 150pts
Adrenal glands – 60pts

Hormagaunt Brood – 210pts
30 Hormagaunts – 150pts
Adrenal glands – 60pts

Termagant Brood – 120pts
30 Termagants – 120pts
30 Fleshborers – 0pts

Termagant Brood – 120pts
30 Termagants – 120pts
30 Fleshborers – 0pts

Tyranid Warrior Brood – 150pts
5 Tyranid Warriors – 150pts
5 Scything talons – 0pts
5 Devourers – 0pts

Tyranid Warrior Brood – 90pts
3 Tyranid Warriors – 90pts
3 Scything talons – 0pts
3 Devourers – 0pts

Fast Attack

Spore Mine Cluster – 15pts
3 Spore Mines – 15pts

Heavy Support

Biovore Brood – 80pts
2 Biovores – 80pts

Exocrine – 170pts
Exocrine – 170pts

Total – 1850pts


So, the idea behind the list is to swamp objectives with bodies and wear down your opponent. The list features a model count of 142 plus 3 Spore Mines, so all but the dedicated Astra Militarum infantry horde will have less models on the table than you. The hardest part about building this list was the need for Synapse creatures and so I decided to spend points on Warriors to act as another Synapse anchor alongside the Zoanthropes. The Tyranid Prime goes with the smaller squad of Warriors and hides in the back, giving Synapse to the Biovores, Exocrine and Hive Guard, whilst the unit of 5 Warriors accompanies the rush of Gaunts. The Zoanthropes enter play in the Tyrannocytes, deep striking alongside the waves of Gaunts to provide more Synapse and some powerful anti-vehicle and psychic support. It’s a very simple list that won’t win every game, but for people who play like me it would pose some serious problems; there’s simply too much to target without getting lucky dice rolls! It’s also a fun list to play (and play against), so unless you face a cheesy WAAC list, you and your opponent should have a lot of fun during the game. There are plenty of other viable lists to play, but I merely wanted to show a very ordinary, standard Tyranid list that should be able to accomplish something on the table. I would change out the Spore Mine Cluster for a Mucolid Spore Cluster (of a single Mucolid) but I ran out of Troops choices in the Combined Arms Detachment. Oh, remember that all of the Gaunts and Warriors are Objective Secured, meaning that only Troops can contest objectives that they hold. 128 Objective Secured models? Those objectives will be yours!

More Adepta Sororitas Tactica!

As I now have a copy of the Grey Knights codex (the new one), I have decided that I really need to get my Adepta Sororitas tactica updated and finished so I can move on to the new Grey Knights as they are the next part of the “Inquisition” type forces that I want to go over. I have done two new pages, though it is largely taking from my old articles that I wrote when the codex first came out with a few modifications.

Click here for Elites tactica.

Click here for Troops tactica.

There we have it. Still need to do Fast Attack and Heavy Support, but I think I will skip army overviews temporarily so I can get out some Grey Knight tactics first.

Belated 40k Thursday: Adepta Sororitas HQs

Since my Faith and Flames series was so popular and the Grey Knights are getting re-released this weekend, I figured that I would shift my attention towards the militant forces used by the Inquisition. I will start with Sisters of Battle because they are undoubtedly the best, but will shift to Grey Knights afterwards (when I’ve had the chance to acquire and read through the codex).

So, firstly I give you HQs, the longest section in the codex with a whopping six units! I know, right? Us Sisters players are spoiled for choice. Click here to go to the page, or navigate via the top bar.

40k Tuesday: Battle Company Army Overview

So, I really wasn’t feeling my fantasy piece. It was not enjoyable for me and that would probably have come through in my writing either now or eventually. Therefore, I am changing Tuesday to another 40k day, so I will have 3 fiction days and 3 40k days. I will probably pick up my Fantasy piece in the future, but just not now. 4 different stories was also getting a bit too much.

So, that being said, I have got an army list overview today for a friendly list, one themed around a Space Marine Battle Company. This is definitely a list to bring against a less experienced opponent or a friend, someone that you want a challenging, balanced game against.

The link to the page is right here. Click it to go read about my 1500pts Battle Company list!

40k Sunday: Space Marines Mechanised Fire Power Army List

It’s time. This article will be about my personal Space Marine army list that I use, have used through the years and will use in the future. I love this army list. I came up with the concept back in 4th edition when I was about thirteen years old and found that it worked an absolute treat. It has survived the test of time very, very well, especially since I’ve “modernised” it with flyers instead of the multitude of Land Speeders.

Without further delays I shall get to the army list itself! I am posting the 1500pts variation, but will make all of the iterations available once I sort out my website’s structure a little bit. Click here to go to the army list!

40k Thursday: Army Overview – Space Marine 10th Company

It’s Thursday and that means more 40k. Today, since I am still on the topic of Space Marines, I thought that I would go through a mechanised Scout Company list. Only to be used in small games (it does not scale well past 1850pts) and untested by me, but I think that it has potential to be the Space Marine army that goes against the codex trend of “durable and fairly sluggish”.

Link is right here. Let me know your thoughts (especially if you try this army list! Let me know how it works out!).

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.

Space Marine Tactica: Fast Attack

Fast Attack is a section that I love, which is unsurprising considering my choice of armies (Eldar, Dark Eldar, mechanised Imperials etc.). To me it is one of the best parts of the Space Marine codex, containing some pretty great units with something that a lot of Imperial armies seem to struggle with: mobility.

 

Assault Squad

I love Assault squads. I took them back when they were 22pts per model and I will certainly take them now at their 17pts cost. This is your go-to cheap close combat unit and makes for a great counter-initiation unit or bodyguard for a jump pack wearing HQ choice. Their stats are the same as a generic Space Marine, though their equipment is where they differ, using a jump pack and chainsword instead of a boltgun to allow them to both get to and fight in close combat better. Their options for weapons are designed to go along with their mobility, allowing two Assault Marines to take a flamer or plasma pistol to replace their bolt pistol and restricting the Sergeant to only a grav-pistol or plasma pistol as options to replace his bolt pistol, as opposed to other Sergeants who are also allowed to take a storm bolter or combi-weapon. The Sergeant can also take a combat shield, where others generally cannot. I generally prefer plasma pistols for ranged weapons over flamers as flamers sometimes have a tendency to kill too many enemy models and negate a charge distance, whereas plasma pistols help against larger enemies, such as monstrous creatures or vehicles. For the Sergeant I would usually upgrade him to a Veteran Sergeant for the extra attacks and give him a power weapon or power fist as well as a combat shield. If the Sergeant takes a power weapon, then I would give him melta bombs, just in case.

How I would run Assault Marines is largely due to the type of army I run, but it is a solid tactic nonetheless. I keep them close to my ranged blob and use them as a counter initiation unit, using their jump packs to pounce on any unit that gets too close to my relatively fragile, small ranged squads or any unit that threatens to tie up my Devastator squad. The problem that Assault Marines is that they will lose to the dedicated melee troops of other races, much like their Vanguard Veteran brothers. Howling Banshees will tear through Assault Marines like they were made of paper; Genestealers will not even break a sweat against them; Wyches will destroy them through numbers. Point for point, Assault Marines are not the best melee troops, so they need to either be defensive or use their mobility to pick on a ranged unit. Playing honourably will get them killed; play smart instead!

The other way that I would run them is, as I said, to prey on powerful ranged units that are not great in close combat. You can use the mobility of the jump packs to pick your targets, able to go after units such as Devastators or Chaos Havocs, units with a lot of fire power, but very little close combat potential. There are plenty of units that fit this description, such as almost the entire Tau codex, but if doing this you have to be careful of your opponents counter initiation units if they have any, as they could end up drawing your Assault Marines into a trap. Remember, Assault Marines are still Space Marines, they’re tough, but not invincible and they are still expensive!

You can also remove their jump packs to give them a free Drop Pod or Rhino, treating them as Infantry. You should never do this. Ever. It’s just not worth it as Drop Pods and Rhinos are not Assault Vehicles, meaning that you will likely be shot off the table before you can charge.

 

Land Speeder Squad

I love Land Speeders. Potentially my all time favourite unit in the Space Marine codex, I have always adored Land Speeders. They are fast, they pack a lot of fire power and they are cheap. In every army, Land Speeders could bring benefits in the form of a lot of fire power. There are a few builds that I would say are the best.

Firstly, the build that I use: a heavy bolter and an assault cannon. This gives you a highly mobile gun platform that can shred infantry units with contempt. It is not great against other vehicles, though it can attempt to take them on if things get desperate with its assault cannon, however this is inadvisable as it is definitely not its best strength. One thing that this build has to worry about is being in range of small arms fire, such as bolters, as the assault cannon only has a 24” range and the vehicle itself only has Armour Value 10 and 2 Hull Points; it is very easy to kill one of these with simple bolter fire! However, the strength of the Land Speeder’s mobility as a Fast Skimmer means that you can move it where you need it. This Land Speeder load out would also probably work with two heavy bolters, rather than the heavy bolter and assault cannon combination, though it will not deal as much damage, however that build can stay out of range of small arms as well as being cheaper. It really depends on preference.

The second build is a kamikaze style unit where you give them two heavy flamers. This build is not a very survivable one as it places your fragile Land Speeders into the midst of the enemy lines if used aggressively. It can, however, be used defensively like Assault Marines, keeping the Land Speeders behind your lines and racing up to deal with anything that gets too close. This unit can only go up against infantry, due to the weapon load out, but due to sheer number of potential wounds it can deal with any infantry through volume of dice; even Terminators will eventually fall to the number of heavy flamer templates.

The third build is the one that I see a lot of people running: a typhoon missile launcher and either a heavy bolter or heavy flamer, depending on preference. This is undeniably effective, capable of hovering around the back lines and pummelling the enemy with missile shots, whether frag for lighter infantry or krak for heavier infantry or lighter vehicles. However, this load out is not great against heavier vehicles, though it can push out a lot heavy fire power against units of your choosing as a 48” range is very forgiving.

The final build I will go into is dual multi-meltas. There is not much that needs to be said about this build as it is only really good at one thing: killing heavy vehicles. The manoeuvrability counteracts the relatively short range of the multi-meltas and the low points cost means that you can get a decent number of them, enabling you to push out enough melta shots that would make the Tau jealous. If running a Salamander army with Vulkan, then all of these multi-meltas will become twin-linked. Ouch!

 

Stormtalon Gunship

The lighter flyer in the Space Marine codex, the Stormtalon is a cheap and cheerful method of getting air power onto the table. It comes with ceramite plating, meaning that melta weapons do not get double dice when in half range, only ever rolling a single dice for armour penetration. It has a special rule that allows it to accompany another unit coming in from reserve, letting you roll just one dice to get both it and the unit it is escorting on the board; they do, however, have to arrive within 6” of each other if this is done. It also has a special rule that gives it +1 Ballistic Skill against ground targets. It starts armed with anti-infantry weapons: twin-linked heavy bolters and twin-linked assault cannons, though the heavy bolters can (and should) be replaced with one of three options: a skyhammer missile launcher, a twin-linked lascannon or a typhoon missile launcher. In my opinion, the best options are the skyhammer missile launcher or the typhoon missile launcher, as the twin-linked lascannon adds some redundancy to the assault cannon as the assault cannon is good against infantry and light vehicles, where the lascannon is good against heavy vehicles. With the skyhammer missile launcher it gives a very similar gun to the assault cannon, a weapon that is good against infantry and light vehicles and so works well alongside it, targeting the same sort of units, but also gives it an almighty 60” reach. The typhoon missile launcher gives it a more powerful missile launcher, able to fire the slightly more powerful krak missiles or the infantry shredding frag missiles. The drawback to this is the lower range, although 48” is still a respectable range, and the higher points cost. If you have the points, the typhoon missile launcher is worth the points, however the skyhammer is very nice if you want to keep the points cost low.

 

Bike Squad

I will be up front here and say that I am not too keen on bike units in general. I know that this may come as a shock, considering I am an Eldar and Dark Eldar player, but I cannot bring myself to like them. This is probably because so many people run them these days. In Eldar armies they have become one of the best Troops choices and Reaver Jetbikes have been a solid choice for Dark Eldar for a very long time. I have seen plenty of White Scars all Bike armies that work wonders on the tabletop, as well as their Ravenwing counterparts in the Dark Angels codex. Bikes are a very, very solid choice, do not mistake my dislike for condemnation. I just do not like them personally.

So, Bike squads are useful objective grabbers for the Space Marines. Why? Because they are Toughness 5 with good mobility and decent mid-range fire power. Two Bikers can be upgraded with special weapons, which I would advise to be either meltaguns or grav-guns. Meltaguns make your squad great at popping tanks as the mobility given by the Space Marine bike allows you to harass the enemy vehicles quickly and get into the half-range double dice armour penetration to allow the meltaguns to pop any armour value on the table with contempt; double points if you also include an Attack Bike with a multi-melta. Grav-guns are also useful as they give your Bikers more capacity for taking out heavy infantry. Bikes give the Space Marines the Relentless special rule, meaning that the Salvo rule for the grav-guns always treats them as stationary for the purposes of determining how many shots they get, meaning that they can move and still get out a very decent number of grav-gun shots. If face with something that has a terrible armour save, you can always use the twin-linked bolters on the front of the bike instead as those do not magically disappear when a grav-gun is taken.

I have already alluded to the capacity to take an Attack Bike in the squad and, in my opinion, unless you absolutely need the extra melta shot, it is not worth it. If you want Attack Bikes, they should be taken in their own squad, as I do not feel that they add much to the Bike squad’s capacity at fast harassment for their points cost; they do, after all, cost more than double the points of a normal Biker. I also believe that upgrading the sergeant to have fancy wargear is a bad idea as well, as the points can be better spent elsewhere; if your bikers are getting bogged down in close combat, they are not doing their job effectively. You could give him melta-bombs if you’re paranoid about getting tied up by something like a Defiler or Dreadnought, but beyond that it’s not worth it for the points.

The usefulness of Bike squads multiplies when running a White Scars list and they start gaining rules like Hit and Run, as it allows them to disengage from close combats that they do not wish to be in (always do it at the end of your opponent’s Assault Phase!) though that will be for another time.

 

Attack Bikes

This is a decent unit. It’s nothing special in my opinion, being a bit too expensive for what they provide. They are effectively a heavier version of normal Bikers with a bigger gun. The choice of heavy bolter and multi-melta is uninspiring and I believe that, for similar points, a Land Speeder will do the job better, especially now that vehicles can also score objectives, leaving the Attack Bikes out there in between Bikers and Land Speeders; similar to both, but not as good at anything.

Someone will probably call me out on this, but I do not believe that Attack Bikes really have a place outside of a themed, Biker army. At a much lower point cost, maybe, but not in their current state. At least they are not as useless as Centurion Assault squads!

 

Scout Bike Squad

The cheaper alternative to normal Bikers, though they cannot fill the same roles as their power armour wearing brethren. Firstly, they can only reliably go up against infantry targets as their weapon options cater towards killing infantry as opposed to vehicles or monstrous creatures. They are, however, better suited to the task in my opinion. Firstly, they cannot take special weapons, so things like meltaguns and grav-guns are out of the window. What they can take, however, are three Astartes grenade launchers in the unit. These replace the twin-linked bolters but are so incredibly worth it for the five points. It’s a rapid fire grenade launcher, capable of either Strength 3 AP6 small blasts or Strength 6 AP4 shots. For the five points, this is definitely a worthwhile investment!

They can also take cluster mines for 20pts. It’s a nice upgrade to take if you have the points, but it will likely not do anything other than deter your opponent. What they do is allow you to nominate a piece of area terrain (not sure how this will work in 7th. I’d just say “use common sense.”) and booby trap it, making it dangerous terrain for enemy models. If there’s an objective in terrain, this could really annoy your opponent as he or she will have to risk taking losses when moving onto the objective. It works better against swarms of weaker units than larger ones as 30 Ork Boyz are going to take a lot more losses than 5 Terminators going into dangerous terrain.

However, one of their strengths over normal Space Marine Bikers is that Scout Bikers are still Scouts and thus gain the Infiltrate and, appropriately, the Scouts special rule. This allows you to outflank them if you wish, which can really cause headaches for your opponent. Nobody wants a mobile, Toughness 5 unit with lots of anti-infantry fire power appearing in their flank whilst they are trying to deal with the main bulk of your army. Trust me, I would know about the wonders of outflanking. I love to do it!

Again, it’s not really worth giving the sergeant anything in particular. Melta-bombs allow you to take out vehicles if you need to and a teleport homer can turn your outflanking headache unit into an absolute nightmare when Terminators start dropping onto the board right next to your opponent without scattering.

Space Marine Tactica: Troops

The Space Marine Troops choices are remarkably elite by a lot of other faction’s standards, carrying good stats at a heavier price cost. There are not many choices in this section, just Tactical squads, Scout squads and the Black Templars Crusader squad, but as always, they are jacks of all trades, but masters of none.

 

Tactical Squad

The cornerstone of the Space Marine army. The definitive Space Marine. This is a squad of your standard, power armour wearing, bolter wielding Space Marines. They come in at a lower points cost than they used to and can put out decent amounts of fire power whilst still being decent in close combat. They have a wide array of weapon options, able to take a single special or heavy weapon if the squad numbers less than ten models, or a single special and a single heavy weapon if the squad numbers ten. They also benefit greatly from the Combat Squad rule, a rule available to Space Marines which allows squads of ten models to split into two units of five before the game as this allows you to put a heavy weapon with four normal, bolter wielding Space Marines somewhere on a rear objective whilst the other five, including the sergeant and special weapon, march forwards and try to take land from the opponent. The sergeant, whether upgraded to a veteran or not, can take items from the Melee Weapons or the Ranged Weapons lists in the armoury, as well as melta bombs and a teleport homer. I won’t go through every possible combination of weapons that you could take in a Tactical squad or I would be here all year, though near enough anything can work. My personal favourite weapons are plasma guns and meltaguns for the special weapons, lascannons and heavy bolters for the heavy weapons, then using the Combat Squads special rule to split them up as I outlined earlier; the heavy weapon squad provides covering fire for the short range squad advancing up. I usually do not give my sergeants any melee or ranged weapons, though will likely take a few teleport homers if I plan on using lots of Deep Striking Terminators. This is because a Space Marine sergeant is no match for a lot of other characters in the 40k universe, so they will usually be called out in a challenge and killed before they can even swing. Though I guess since most people play Space Marines, most sergeants would be able to at least swing. It’s down to personal preference, but I’ll pass on the point sink and place the saved points into a Dedicated Transport or other units.

Speaking of Dedicated Transports, all of the options are good for Space Marines. If you want to Deep Strike a close range squad, take a Drop Pod and land right next to your target. These go very well with other units in Drop Pods, such as a full Drop Pod army, though I will talk about synergies and army ideas in another article. The Razorback is a nice choice if you want some extra fire support, especially if using small squads or Combat Squads as it then also provides the mobility that a Dedicated Transport brings. Finally, the Rhino is good if you either want to move a big squad around, or if you simply do not wish to take any of the other two options. It is so cheap at 35pts and can capture objectives, block line of sight and be a general annoyance.

 

Scout Squad

Not the unit that I loved back in 4th edition, Scouts have been reduced in both points cost and effectiveness. Me and a friend always laughed about the fact that the only models in the entire codex that can take sniper rifles, weapons that are used by marksmen, can only be given to the only models in the codex with a Ballistic Skill worse than 4. Since dropping to Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 3, Scouts have lost a lot of their appeal to me. It makes sense, I guess, that the recruits and trainee Space Marines would not be as skilled as those who have finished their initial training, but it hurt me, who used to love taking a single unit and watching them perform with pride. Now, I do not see them having the same appeal, though I can definitely still see their uses. They have the Infiltrate special rule, meaning that they can be set up slightly ahead of the main force. This can either have two uses: either you use the Infiltration to set them up after your opponent has deployed and place them in a commanding position where you can counter his or her high Toughness targets with sniper rifles, or you deploy them forwards with close combat weapons or shotguns for some close range shock troops.

With their lower Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill I would be inclined to use them as close range specialists as it costs more points to give them sniper rifles and camo cloaks at which point they start to lose their appeal as a cheaper unit. With close combat weapons they have two Attacks each, three on the charge, at Strength 4 for a measly 11pts. Due to their lower points cost and relative effectiveness, they make a great annoyance unit, a unit that your opponent would rather not have to deal with but will have to instead of some of your more expensive units. If you are taking Terminator units as well you can always give your Scout sergeant a teleport homer to infiltrate with. Now it is an annoyance unit that really has to be dealt with or their larger, meaner brethren are going to start appearing nearby.

Another potential use for them is to imitate a Dark Eldar army with them and take lots of squads in their Dedicated Transport option: the Land Speeder Storm. It is a cheap-as-chips open topped land Speeder with a transport capacity of five Scouts, a deep strike defence (enemies scatter double dice when within 12”), a heavy bolter and what is effectively a grenade launcher that fires blind grenades. The heavy bolter can be swapped out for a heavy flamer (I wouldn’t due to the Land Speeder Storm’s delicate nature. I play Dark Eldar, I know all about the wonders of Armour Value 10, open-topped vehicles with only 2 Hull Points), a multi-melta (very useful as it gives your Scouts, who can only really take anti-infantry weaponry, some anti-vehicle support) or an assault cannon (not worth it for the points. You want this to be cheap). With this build you take five Scouts with either bolters or close combat weapons and drive around the board harassing your opponent. As the Land Speeder Storm is open-topped, it counts as an Assault Vehicle, meaning you can disembark your Scouts and charge in the same turn, a wonderful aspect of this build as Scouts only have a 4+ Armour Save, as opposed to the prevalent 3+ in the rest of the codex. To top it all off, they are all Troops and so gain the Objective Secured special rule if you run them in a Battle-forged list. This is the Eldar player’s method of playing Space Marines though as it gives you a decent damage and harassment potential, though it is very, very delicate compared to the rest of the codex. I will go through an army idea that uses this concept later on as I do love this method of running Space Marines.

 

Crusader Squad

The Black Templars equivalent to both the Tactical and Scout squads, the Crusader squad is a mix of power armour and scout armour, Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 4 and Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill 3. As is the Black Templars prerogative, this squad is a lot more close combat orientated than their codex brethren, every model able to replace their bolters with close combat weapons as opposed to just Scouts (though Black Templars call them Neophytes, full-fledged Space Marines are Initiates and the sergeant is a Sword Brother). This effectively gives you a potential 20 models with bolt pistols and chainswords. One important thing to note is that you cannot take more Neophytes than Initiates; you must always have a greater than or equal to number of Initiates.

If running them as a large close combat death squad, it would be a wise investment to purchase a Land Raider Crusader as a Dedicated Transport, allowing them to cross the board without getting shot to pieces, though it should be noted that you can only carry a maximum of sixteen models, so a 20 man death squad, whilst awesome, is largely impractical. The best way to run it would be either sixteen models (10 Initiates, one upgraded to a Sword Brother and 6 Neophytes) with close combat weapons, with one carrying a power fist as Crusader squads can take a power weapon or power fist instead of a heavy weapon, the Sword Brother with a power weapon of your choice and one Initiate with a special weapon such as a meltagun, just in case a vehicle gets in their way. Or run a fifteen man squad (same as above, minus 1 Neophyte) and give them a Chaplain to lead them so that they re-roll all of their To Hit rolls in the first round of close combat, as well as gain the Fearless special rule. All inside a Land Raider Crusader gives you a pretty decent death star unit that does not break the bank too much. It’s still expensive, very expensive even, but as far as death star units go, it is cheaper than others (though slightly less intimidating at the same time. You get what you pay for).

The other way to run them is, funnily enough, a high fire power variant. I remember in the 4th edition codex I would take 5 man Tactical squads with a heavy weapon (usually a lascannon as Devastator squads back then were horribly over-priced) and a special weapon (usually a plasma gun) and then I gave them a Razorback transport. That was gotten rid of in the 5th edition codex and was still removed for the current, 6th edition one. However, the Crusader squad retains the ability to do it, so you can take five Initiates, give one a heavy weapon such as a lascannon or plasma cannon, give one a special weapon such as a grav-gun or a plasma gun and then give them a Razorback transport with your choice of weapon (more lascannons or heavy bolters in my opinion). This tactic will win you games, especially considering how much AP2 fire power you can get out with this build paired with the fact that most people play Space Marines or vehicles in this edition, but not friends as it allows you to leverage more heavy and special weapons than most Astra Militarum armies (which is a lot of weapons), whilst also maintaining decent mobility as every single unit has a Dedicated Transport and as they are all counted as Troops choice,s they all gain Objective Secured in a Battle-forged list. Ironic that one of the close combat oriented Chapters can also take the heaviest fire power Troops choice.

Saturday Bonus Article – Space Marine Tactica: Elites

The Elites choices in the Space Marine army are largely just buffed up versions of their other units, having largely the same profiles just with a few added points here and there. They remain Space Marines at heart, jacks of all trades, but masters of none in particular.

Vanguard Veterans

Firstly we have arguably the worst choice in the section in the form of Vanguard Veterans; close combat veterans who can take jump packs and all manner of awesome power weapons (any model can take items from the “melee weapons” list in the armoury). If they don’t take jump packs, they can take a Dedicated Transport. They also have a special rule that allows them to ignore penalties for disordered charges (defensive grenades won’t work against them and they can multi-assault and still get +1 attack) and allows their sergeant to automatically pass Initiative tests to make a Glorious Intervention. All of this sounds great, right? Well, it would be if they were not horrendously expensive. The way I see it, the only way to field these squads is to approach it with modesty. Jump packs are a must unless you plan on taking a Land Raider as a Heavy Support as they need the delivery system to get them into close combat. Various power weapons should be carefully approached as well, as to avoid their points spiralling out of control. It is very easy to end up with a 10 man squad weighing in at about 400 or 500 points. The problem with the high points cost is that they are still just a Space Marine; Toughness 4 and a 3+ Armour save will only save you from so much, but for the points an opponent could easily leverage a lot of either fire power or bodies to drown them in. For example, I would be very confident that I could kill a Vanguard Veteran squad with my Dark Eldar in close combat for a lot less points, using Wyches and Incubi to kill them before they could even strike. That’s fighting them on their grounds too, I would be far more likely to just gun them down with whatever small arms fire I have at my disposal; even enough lasguns will take them down with relative ease. They are, however, the most Eldar unit in the Space Marine codex: they are fast moving, pack a punch, but fall over if your opponent so much as pays them attention. For their points, they are not worth it, but can be fun to field. Saying all of that against them, I will frequently take a kitted out squad in my own Marine list because I like them. I’m just saying that they are not competitive.

Sternguard Veterans

How there is a rivalry between these guys and their Vanguard brethren is beyond me; these bolter wielding veterans are vastly better than their so-called rivals. They are only marginally more expensive, have more utility (for the points) and have more survivable options. Their specialised ammunition means that they can deal with any target that is not a vehicle or a Terminator, though this can be circumvented by combi-weapon options. I would say that any weapon that is not a combi-weapon is not worth taking for a Sternguard Veteran squad, as their strength comes from the versatility of their specialist ammunition which only works with bolters and bolter components of combi-weapons. I see them run in two ways.

First, there is the kamikaze Drop Pod Sternguard with combi-meltas. This configuration is a small(ish) unit of Sternguard wielding combi-meltas in a Drop Pod with the job of turning your opponent’s favourite vehicle or heavy unit into a pile of slag before they can do anything with it. I generally dislike this set up because I am a minimal-losses kind of person when it comes to 40k and can’t justify buying a 200+ point unit that will basically be a throw away. That’s not how I operate, but I could certainly see it giving you that edge, if not mechanically then psychologically. Warhammer 40k is also a battle of wills, not just strategy and chance.

Secondly, there is the supportive Sternguard. These are Sternguard who stay near the middle of your army, providing fire support where there bolters are needed (and counter charging if necessary, 2 Attacks base is still very useful!). Again, I feel that they would benefit from a Drop Pod to allow you to get them in the middle of the board without taking a turn or two of shooting from your opponent. The likes of Tau, Eldar or Astra Militarum have the capabilities on the first turn to reduce a few of your squads to below combat effectiveness on the first turn, so avoiding that is always a plus, allowing your more expensive unit to come in after the cheaper options have softened up the enemy a little. Either that or give them a Rhino or Razorback (depending on the size of the squad taken) because they are cheap and provide an extra layer of both protection and mobility.

Dreadnought

A fairly iconic unit in the Space Marine codex, the Dreadnought is a nice, versatile unit that can largely find a place in any army. A Dreadnought can be outfitted with many different heavy weapons and can take on either a supportive or a close combat role, though with the introduction of 7th edition allowing any unit to score objectives, the ranged variant of Dreadnought has become more useful. Firstly, I would just like to point out that a Venerable Dreadnought is basically the same as a normal one with a Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill of 5 as opposed to 4, but with a very, very useful addition: the Venerable special rule. What this does is it allows you to make your opponent re-roll the result on the Vehicle Damage table when you suffer a penetrating hit. Considering that now you need a 7+ after modifiers to wreck vehicles in 7th edition, this extra rule is worth every point.

When it comes to weapon options, you can choose to either go as a long range anti-vehicle firing platform, giving your Dreadnought a twin-linked lascannon and a missile launcher. You can outfit it for ranged anti-infantry support with a whole host of combinations, such as two twin-linked autocannons if you want to double as a light-vehicle counter. However, I believe that unless you want to take the lascannon and missile launcher build stated first, then you are better off keeping the Dreadnought’s close combat weapon to give it Strength 10 and AP2 in close combat. Not only this, but you can also upgrade the storm bolter on the close combat weapon to a heavy flamer, which in my opinion is a no-brainer and should always be taken. My favourite close range build for a Dreadnought is to take a twin-linked heavy flamer on the gun arm, with a Dreadnought close combat weapon and attached heavy flamer on the other. Remember that Walkers can still fire Overwatch, so it’s a nice addition to have in defense, let alone the damage that two heavy flamers can do. In this build I would always put the Dreadnought in a Drop Pod as otherwise your opponent will simply destroy it as it trundled up the board with a few lascannon shots or racial equivalent. With a Dreadnought close combat weapon, any of the arm options would work, but in my opinion the twin-linked heavy flamer and the assault cannon are your best options.

Ironclad Dreadnought

Basically a siege Dreadnought, this variant has more Front and Side armour and a lot more melee options. There is no point trying to go with a ranged build here, it’s best to just maximise on anti-armour capabilities, dreadnought close combat weapon (heavy flamer upgrade here is advisable, but not as essential as it is with the Dreadnought) and a chainfist in a Drop Pod to go hunt vehicles and fortifications. The seismic hammer is a nice idea, but I think that the chainfist is more useful, especially as it is a free upgrade.

I will re-iterate that a Drop Pod for an Ironclad is nothing short of essential. Walking across the board at 6” per turn will leave you dead in the middle of the board. Take a Drop Pod!

Legion of the Damned

This unit is a strange one. I love the idea of them, but I also can’t see them as being very useful. Sure, they have a 3++ invulnerable save, Deep Strike with a re-roll to the Scatter dice and their ranged attacks ignore cover, but they also cost an arm and a leg to field. In my opinion you are better off fielding Sternguard, as they are more useful than this squad, however I will not deny that I would field this unit for the sheer awesome factor that they possess. After all, they are flaming, ghost marines who just appear where they want and then leave without so much as a word. What’s not to love about that?

Terminator Squad

I really like this unit. In my opinion, this is one of those cornerstone units that everyone should include due to their iconic nature. Veteran Space Marines wearing suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armour. As to how they appear on the tabletop, Terminators received a huge buff when 6th edition hit and still retain it in 7th with power weapons generally getting knocked down to AP3 or Unwieldy. This is a unit to have on the front lines, but you also have to be careful to not get swamped. Terminators are great at shooting, all wielding storm bolters with decent options for weapon upgrades, and are decent close combat, all wielding power fists with two Attacks each, though the sergeant has a power sword instead (I prefer the power fists on the ordinary members of the squad). Each of the weapon options are good and depends on personal preference, though I have my favourite in the assault cannon. Are you a Salamanders player, or want your Terminators right at the front? Take a heavy flamer. Do you want some long range capabilities as you move forward or some anti-vehicle ranged power? Take the cyclone missile launcher. Want a weapon that can deal with anything apart from heavy vehicles at range? Take the assault cannon. It’s also useful to include one or two chainfists in the squad to give them that extra punch in case they get assaulted by a Walker or want to pop open a tank themselves.

They can also take a Land Raider of any type as a Dedicated Transport, though I would not advise it unless you wanted to take a Land Raider as a Heavy Support anyway, as that way you would free up a slot for something else. I would simply Deep Strike them near a unit with a teleport homer, such as infiltrating Scouts, though unit synergies will come later.

Terminator Assault Squad

Identical to Terminator Squads in every single way apart from their weapons. The choice for each Terminator, sergeant included, is either a pair of lightning claws for shredding all kinds of infantry, or thunder hammers and storm shields for giving them ridiculous survivability and the capacity to kill almost anything in close combat at the expense of volume of attacks and re-rolls on the To Wound dice that lightning claws give. In my opinion it is better to specialise here, either give them all lightning claws (and run them with a Terminator Chaplain in a Land Raider Redeemer/Crusader. More on unit synergies later down the line!) or all thunder hammers and storm shields. A mix is a nice compromise, however it makes them even more like the Space Marine codex, jacks of all trades, but masters of none, which is generally not something you want to do. Specialise, give it a job and stick to that job, being wary of your opponent’s attempts to foil your attempts and they will perform far better than if you try to gear them up for everything.

This unit has no shooting at all, so I would always give them a Land Raider Dedicated Transport as Deep Striking will leave you out in the open for a whole turn, giving your opponent the perfect opportunity to kill them off with shooting. A Land Raider on the other hand is an Assault Vehicle, meaning that you may disembark and charge in the same turn, giving your opponent no chances to shoot at you other than Overwatch (which is largely terrible, unless you face Tau, then it is rather average). The Land Raider taken would depend on the squad size, as well as what else is in your army. If you only have five Terminators and no other models to go with them, the standard Land Raider is a decent, but not amazing choice unless you need more anti-vehicle fire power in your army, as the two twin-linked lascannons are not close range weapons; more importantly, it does not have frag assault launchers, meaning that any lightning claws that you choose to take in the squad will strike at Initiative 1 if you go through any terrain when charging. If you have any other models in Terminator armour, such as a Terminator HQ choice, I would choose the Redeemer as the two flamestorm cannons pack a lot of punch to help your Terminators as they go in: simply drive up, melt a squad to the left and then use the Power of the Machine Spirit to melt a separate squad to the right as well. If you have a chunky Terminator unit (8 models total), then the Crusader is your only choice and is far from a bad one, packing enough anti-infantry fire power to give the Terminators and easier time charging in. Also, the Redeemer and the Crusader both have frag assault launchers, an item that counts your Terminators as having assault grenades if they charge on the same turn as they disembark (which they will, won’t they? Or they will get shot at by a lot of enemy units). A life saver when using lightning claws!

Centurion Assault Squad

No! No, no, no, no, no, no! Unless you want to run them for fluff reasons, having them fight in a siege scenario or something along those lines, these are not worth taking at all. It’s a close combat unit that gets almost no Attacks and almost no models total due to squad limits and points costs. Sure, they have Strength and Toughness 5. Sure, they have 2 Wounds. Sure, they have a 2+ Armour save. They also only have 1 Attack each, no Invulnerable save and cost 60pts per model. They are great if you want to play a fluffy siege scenario, but mechanically they are just so counter-productive. In close combat, you need numbers of attacks or bodies, or an utter intractability that will leave your opponent in a tar pit for the rest of the game. Centurion Assault squads fill none of these criteria, having almost no models in the close combat, having very few Attacks each and having no Invulnerable save so anyone with an AP2 weapon can just carve through them like a hot knife through butter.

They’re just not very good. Sorry.