For good reason, many people say that Terminators in general (outside of TH/SS Terminators) are becoming “obsolete” in today’s game and are too easily killed (for their high price tag) byeither torrent of fire or the easily available AP2 weaponry in most armies. So, how can Terminators be used competitively in the current 40K meta?
I think Tactical Terminators are strongest when applied in a role in which your opponent is forced to come to you, vice you having to have your forces hunt down his army. Examples of this include:
1 – When you are playing your primary force as a largely shooty, “gun-line” style army like AM, foot Tau, or firepower heavy Space Marine force:
In these cases, your opponent will often have to come close to your forces, either to try and assault your fire base units or employ short ranged weapons (i.e. melta, rapid fire plasma, etc.) to deal sufficient damage. When this is the case, a squad of Tactical Terminators on foot can play a key role, contributing to your overall firepower (with mass SBs and relentless HWs) while serving as a solid counter assault threat…. will the enemy risk assaulting you AM Blob squad with his Hive Tyrant if he knows that next turn he will be counter-charged by 5-10 Powerfist wielding Terminators? Similarly, will he DS next to your backline Thunderfire Cannons if he sees that he will get shot (and possibly charged) by a Terminator reserve force anchoring your line?
2 – When your Terminators have the ability get Objective Secured, forcing opponents to come near them to contest critical objectives during the game:
Examples of this include DW Terminators made Troops by Azrael/Belial and GK Terminators. Since typically the only enemy units with the Objective Secured rule are Troops selections, that means he either has to completely shoot your Terminators off the objective (quite difficult, especially if you have any form of cover and/or IC support for them) or send in his own Troops selections to “neutralize” the objective from the Terminators. I would argue that, against 90% of the Troop choices in the game, Tactical Terminators are an ideal “overmatch” unit…. against horde type troops, such as Ork Mobs, AM Blobs, Nid Gaunts, mass Necron phalanxs, etc Terminator shooting can potentially defeat them on its own, or at least critical weaken them. Against more “elite” troops like BA Sang Guard, White Scar Bike Squads, Tyranid Tervigons, Farsight Enclave Battlesuits, Eldar Wraithguard, etc etc, Tactical Terminators are ideally equipped to charge them and beat the stuffing out of them in close combat (15-30 PF attacks on the charge will do a number to any of these examples). Basically, what I am saying is that Tac Terminators, if Troops themselves, can bully most other Troop/Objective Secured units that would try and get close to contest an objective with them.
3 – When Terminators have the mobility to threaten a critical unit or location for the enemy army”
Now, with no upgrades or transports, Terminators normally must either foot slog (not fast enough to catch anything with even moderate moderate mobility), Deep Strike (usually Turn 2 at the earliest, unless you are Deathwing, and danger of scatters/mishaps), or buy an expensive transport (i.e. Land Raider, Storm Raven, various FW options like Caestus Assault Ram, Spartan Assault Tank, etc.) to give them a chance to threaten critical enemy units with any reliability. Well, these can all work, but with the drawbacks mentioned above, other options should be considered for Terminator mobility. Cheap Teleporter homers, Homing Beacons, and/or Servo Skulls can be deployed to greatly increase the accuracy (and decrease the risk) of Deep Striking. ICs with Scout USR or an Inquisitor with the Relic that allows his unit to Scout turn 1 can attach to Terminator unit and get them closer to the enemy before the action even begins.. 6″ Scout, 6″ move, D6″ run and your Terminators are between 6″ and 11″ from the enemy DZ by the end of turn 1 (another unconventional option is to infiltrate Terminators with the Warord Trait of Lias Issadon or outflank them with an attached Wolf Priest with Saga of the Hunter). Finally, and perhaps least used, is Psykic blessings that can increase the Terminators’s mobility…. Levitate from the Telekinesis discipline or Gates of Infinity from the Sanctic Daemonlogy discipline can both dramatically increase Terminator mobility, allowing them to “bounce” accross the board and threaten enemy units with astonishing mobility (an extra 12″ a turn from Levitation and “infinite” extra range from Gates of Infinity, though high danger to your psyker unless he is a GK character.