Leman Russ Tanks are some of the most iconic units in 40K, and in the Astra Militarum in particular. With the new 7th edition rules and the most current AM codex, almost all of the Leman Russ variants are useful, but one which has received probably the least attention, especially compared to the well-known LR Punisher, LR Executioner, and LR Battle Tank, is the Leman Russ Eradicator.
What does the Eradicator bring to the fight? Well, its Nova Cannon is a S6 AP4 Large Blast Weapon with a 36″ range. More importantly, it is NOT an Ordnance weapon (which means that the Leman Russ can fire all of its other weapons at the same time) and it has the Ignore Cover USR (which has tremendous tactical implications). Finally, the LR Eradicator is one of the cheapest Leman Russ variants points-wise and is tremendous value for an AV14 tank that can be taken in squadrons of 1-3 and (thanks to 7th edition rules) is now a scoring unit.
So, how to maximize the tactical employment of the Eradicator? Using several assets available to the Astra Militarum, you can make quite a potent, affordable battle-group:
a) A squadron of LR Eradicators, with 3 Tanks total, all armed with 3 Heavy Bolters and Camo Netting
b) An Aegis Defense Line
c) A Company Command Squad with attached Primaris Psyker (Divination Discipline) and the Kirov’s Aquila relic (grants Preferred Enemy to any friendly AM units within 6″).
Placing the Eradicator Squadron behind the Aegis Line (for a 3+ cover save, between the Aegis Line and Camo Netting) and casting Prescience on the squadron by the Primaris Psyker (improving the accuracy of the scatter dice for the Nova Cannons and the normal shooting of the Heavy Bolters) improves both the survivability and the firepower of the squadron. Finally, the squadron gets Preferred Enemy from the Command Squad/Kirov’s Aquila, so they are able to re-roll 1s to Wound.
So, what are good targets for this Eradicator Battle Group? What really sets it apart is the Ignore Cover special rule. Coupled with AP4, S6, and re-rollable 1s to Wound, this can be the antidote for many different units that have gained prominence in the game, all of which depend on numbers, cheapness, cover saves, and/or quantity of firepower and attacks to be effective:
-Necron Warrior and Flayer Ones Phalanxes, as well as Tomb Blades and Scarab Swarms
-Chaos Daemon infantry of all kinds (not having cover saves means they are reduced to their 5++ saves)
-All Ork non-vehicle units outside of Meganobz (but including units with ‘Ard Boyz armor)
-Dark Eldar Warriors/Wyches and DE infantry of all kinds (aside from Grotesques)
-Eldar Guardians/Rangers and all Aspect Warriors with a 4+ save
-Tyranid Termagaunts/Hormagaunts/Warriors/Genestealers (and anything protected by Venomthropes)
-Enemy Astra Militarum infantry of all varieties
-All Tau non-Battlesuit infantry (including Fire Warriors, Drones, and Pathfinders)
Against all of these units, the 3 x S6 AP4 Large Blasts, with Twin-Linked from Prescience and Preferred Enemy, will on average cause numerous casualties (especially when targeting large squads). On top of this, the squadron can engage with 27 Heavy Bolter shots, all backed by Prescience and Preferred enemy to increase their accuracy and ability to wound. Together, the 3 large Nova Cannon Blasts and the 9 Heavy Bolters can devastate any medium-light infantry it engages.
Even against Heavy Infantry, like MEQs and TEQs, the sheer amount of wounds (and the relative cheapness of the Eradicator Squadron, especially given its durability with AV14 and a 3+ cover save behind the ADL) that this battle-group can generate is enough to do significant damage and “make back its points” in a competitive setting. For example, if each of the three large blasts causes an average of 5 hits, then total they inflict 15 hits, of which about 14-15 will wound MEQ squads, in turn causing about 5 unsaved wounds. Throw in the 27 Heavy Bolter shots, about 14 of which will hit, and about 9 will wound, causing another 3 unsaved wounds on average… against the standard 10 man MEQ squad, that is an 80% casualty rate, which is basically making it combat ineffective. About the only non vehicle targets that this squadron are not effective against are MCs and infantry with 2+ saves, which is only small portion of most armies.