Strike Force Ultima — New Formation

Looks like Space Marines have a new “web-released” formation (kind of like Skyhammer Annihilation Force was originally)…. STRIKE FORCE ULTIMA (not to be confused with “Strike Force Ultra” from the current SM Codex):

-SM Captain, who must have Terminator Armor (or Terminator Captain)

-1 Sternguard Squad, 1 Tactical Squad, and 1 Terminator Squad (or Cataphractii Terminator Squad)

-1 Drop Pod, 1 Razorback, 1 Land Raider, and 1 Stormhawk Interceptor

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In terms of special rules for this formation:

[1] Everything MUST be placed in Reserve and all non-vehicle units must either be embarked on a transport or be in Deep Strike Reserve.

[2] Everything (including the Stormhawk) automatically arrives turn 1, no rolling required

[3] When each unit from this formation arrives from reserves, or disembarks from a transport for the first time, all ranged weapons carried by these units increase their number of shots by 1 for that turn (this affects vehicles and combi-weapons too, per the wording of the rules). Note: The rules say that the extra +1 shot lasts until the end of the turn (i.e. Game Turn)… this means that, if you go first, all of these weapons get their +1 shot even in your opponent’s player turn, meaning they can use the extra shooting as part of their Overwatch, which is pretty amazing, especially with weapons like Flamers and Heavy Flamers.

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Overall, I think this makes for a very solid, competitive formation, whether used as the “base” of your army or as “allied element” to another army (given the very significant points investment it requires, taking Strike Force Ultima will limit what else you can take to some degree).

The ability to start in reserve, but be guaranteed to come in Turn 1, is a very important rule, allowing you to null deploy your entire army and still be sure that you will not lose the game at the end of Turn 1. Even more importantly, it gives you the ability to plan precisely how you want to use this force (and the rest of your army), without being at the mercy of Reserve Rolls and/or having lots of your combat power off the board until Turn 2 at the earliest.

Looking at each of the individual elements of this formation, here are some of my initial thoughts/impressions:

[1] Terminator Captain — In most cases, I would try and equip this guy with Cataphractii Armor, a Relic Blade, and the Shield Eternal relic. This not only makes him a very potent “tank” unit (2+/3++, with the ability to re-roll failed Invul saves of 1s), but it also enables him to attach to either the Tactical squad or Sternguard squad if they are riding in the Drop Pod or Land Raider and make them “quasi-Relentless” via his Slow and Purposeful rule. This works especially well with salvo Grav weapons and/or Heavy Weapons (like Multi-meltas and Plasma Cannons) and the ability to fire them twice on the turn this formation arrives from Reserves (or disembarks from a transport for the first time)…. imagine an 8 man Sternguard squad (with 6 Combi Gravs and 2 Grav Cannon/Amps) and attached Cataphractii Captain disembarking from a Drop Pod and then unleashing 24 Grav gun shots and 12 Grav Cannon/Amp shots at 18″.

[2] Sternguard — There are lots of ways you can go with these guys, but I would recommend either Melta heavy (i.e. lots of Combi-Meltas and two Melta guns), Grav heavy (i.e. lots of Combi-Gravs and two Grav Cannon/Amps), or Flamer heavy (lots of Combi-Flamers and two Heavy Flamers) to maximize their effectiveness, especially when you add in the ability to increase the number of their shots by +1 on that designated arrival/disembark turn. This rule effectively makes Combi-Gravs into 4 shot weapons, Meltas into Assault 2 weapons, and Flamers/Heavy Flamers into Assault 2 Template weapons for a turn, which is quite ridiculous. Alternately, if you want to stay cheap with the Sternguard, then you can just Drop Pod them in and unleash their Special Issue Ammo at Rapid Fire range with an extra shot per model, meaning a 10 man squad could put out 30 Bolter Shots using Special Issue Ammo in one turn!

[3] Tactical Squad — Like a cheaper, less capable Sternguard unit, I would probably go with a minimum 5 man squad equipped with either a Flamer, Meltagun, or Grav Cannon/Amp and a Sgt equipped with a corresponding Combi-Weapon. If you need a suicide unit to take out armor, for example, a squad with a Meltagun and Combi-Melta could Drop Pod in and put out 4 Melta shots on turn 1, giving it a strong chance of killing most tanks. Alternately, if you want to focus on enemy light infantry, then put a “Flamer heavy”  squad in the Razorback and the first time you disembark unleash 4 Flamer templates on your target.

[4] Terminator Squad — While not the greatest unit in the codex, and somewhat of a “tax” unit here, Tactical Terminators that automatically arrive Turn 1 and shoot an extra shot with each of their weapons can actually be pretty solid. For this, I would likely go with a 5 man squad with a Heavy Flamer and focus the unit against enemy infantry… with a good scatter, you can drop two Heavy Flamer templates on your target and 12 Storm Bolter shots on the turn you arrive. Alternately, if you really want to max out this squad’s abilities, then take a 10 man unit (with Ultramarine Chapter Tactics) with 2 Heavy Flamers and then use a friendly Scout Squad with Telion attached (and as your Warlord) to bring them in with no scatter via a Teleporter Homer. Once they arrive, have Telion use his Storm of Fire WL Trait on the squad, making all their shooting Rending… that translates to 4 x S5 AP4 Templates and 24 S4 AP5 shots on the enemy target, all with Rending, which should be pretty devastating to almost any non-vehicle unit they engage.

[5] Drop Pod/Razorback/Land Raider — Besides being the required transport for the infantry units above, all of these provide some significant flexibility and mobility to your army, allowing you get your units right where they need to be, when they need to be. They also benefit from the +1 shot special rule, meaning that a Drop Pod with a Deathwind Launcher puts out 2 x S5 AP- Large Blasts when  it arrives, the Land Raider can shoot 4 x TLed Lascannon shots, and a Razorback with TLed Lacannons can also put out 2 x S9 AP2 shots at 48″ as well. Finally, they can be used to claim objectives independently from the infantry and can also be effective in blocking LOS for shooting at the rest of your army as required.

[6] Stormhawk Interceptor — Even if you are using the new Death from the Skies rules (which make this flyer great against other Flyers/FMCs, but give it -1BS when engaging ground targets), its ability to have a guaranteed Turn 1 arrival and get an extra shot for each of its weapons when part of  this formation make it quite a competitive unit, I think. I would load it out with the Las Talon, CML, and TLed Assault Cannon… turn 1, that gives it 3 x S9 AP2 shots, 3 x Krak/Frag Missile shots, and 5 x TLed Assault Cannon shots. If you have a friendly Librarian with Prescience nearby and cast it successfully on the Stormhawk, then even shooting at BS3 against ground targets it has 75% accuracy and can really put out a lot of damage on a whole variety of targets. Turn 2, you can zoom off the board into On-going Reserves and come back in Turn 3 to engage any enemy flyers/FMCs at full ballistic skill, which can be a game changer with a bit of good rolling. Overall, I think the Stormhawk can be quite a solid contributor to your army when taken as part of this formation.

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3 comments on “Strike Force Ultima — New Formation

  1. Not sure your tactic of shooting Combi weapons twice in special weapon mode would wash. Combi special weapons are one use only, so firing twice should be the Grav/Plas/Melta followed by the Special Issue Ammo bolt rounds for the second shot.

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  2. greysplinter says:

    I can see your point, but I think in this case Combi-Weapons do get the extra shot. Unlike other formations where the rules allow them to shoot twice, that is not the case here. Instead, the rule simply says that each weapon adds +1 shot to its profile. We already know that Combi-Weapons can shoot more than one shot (i.e. Combi-Plasma rapid firing, for example, or Combi-Grav shooting Salvo 2/3)…. this rule does not make them shoot a second time (and hence, violate the “One Use Only” part of their characteristics)… instead, for the one time that they can shoot, it simply gives them an additional shot (i.e. Combi-Flamers become Assault 2 instead of Assault 1, Combi-Meltas become Assault 2, Combi-Plasmas can shoot 2 shots out to 24″ or 3 shots at 12″, etc.etc.)… based on all this, I think Combi-Weapons benefit from this rule.

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    • Eddie says:

      Nothing prevents dedicated transports from being taken for the units or upgrading the captain to a chapter master. The orbital strike counts as a weapon so gains an extra shot.

      Combi weapons would gain the extra shot (I agree) as worded.

      This formation is a very strong one trick pony (has the typical disadvantage vs null deployment like usual) but has the potential to be a lot of fun when not abused.

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