Index Dark Angels: Azrael “gunline” Battle Group

 So, as I have been playing around with how to make an efficient Imperium “firebase” that is not based around Guilliman and UM Razorback/ Devastator spam and is also durable enough to “take a punch” and still survive long enough to hit back (i.e. survive enemy Alpha Strike, if you don’t get first turn), one thing that jumped out at me is the efficiency of three particular Dark Angel units:

[1] Azrael — For only 36 MBs, Azrael brings A TON to a list, especially to a Gunline style list. Not only does he provide the usual Chapter Master 6″ aura of re-rolls for all to Hits, but he also provides a 6″ “bubble” of 4++ save to ALL friendly Dark Angel models (so this includes vehicles, characters, himself, etc., etc.). On top of this, he gives a “bonus” CP for being your Warlord, has solid shooting himself in the form of a Master-crafted Combi-Plasma that shoots at BS2+ (with re-rolls to Hit, of course), and is a VERY solid close combat fighter as well, with 5 x S6 AP-3 D3 damage attacks a turn, all at WS2+ and with the ability to generate Mortal Wounds on a roll of 6+ to Wound. Put it all together, he improves the offensive potential and durability of a Dark Angels Gunline, gives you more CP to play with, and can even serve as a strong “counter-assault” hero if enemy melee units get too close.

[2] Dark Shroud — Most people are already aware of how potent this Fast Attack choice vehicle is, as it gives all friendly DA units within 6″ the ability to reduce enemy to Hit rolls when shooting at them by -1… for only about 30 MBs, this can make numerous DA models significantly more survivable, especially when coupled with a nearby Azrael (so units get both the -1 to Hit bonus and a guaranteed 4++ save on top of their normal save). The Darkshroud itself is pretty survivable, with T6, 9W, a 3+ save, a 4++ Invul (if Azrael is nearby), and -1 to Hit it for any enemy shooting (i.e. on average, it would take 11-12 BS3+ Lascannon shots to kill a Dark Shroud, so your opponent will not be able to remove this “lynchpin” unit easily). Finally, the Darkshroud with an Assault Cannon can add some additional supporting firepower itself and, in a pinch, can “dash” out 13-18″ and grab an objective, if you are desperate at the end of a game.

[3] Rapier Carrier (with Quad Launcher) — A Forgeworld artillery unit (Heavy Support choice) available to all Astartes armies (except Grey Knights, of course), the Rapier Carrier with Quad Launcher only costs 17 MBs per model (this includes the two man Space Marine crew), is T5, has 4W, and has a 3+ save in its baseline profile. More importantly, it shoots at BS3+ and, with the Quad Mortar, has the option of using either Shatter Shells (Heavy 4, 24” range, S8 AP-2 D3 damage) or Thunderfire Shells (4D3 shots, 48” range, S5 AP0 D1, can shoot at targets not in LOS) each time it fires. As you can see, for the point cost, that is very potent damage output, especially given the versatility that the two different types of shells provide against a whole range of different unit types (the Rapier Carrier with Quad Launcher is kind of like the Deathwatch Veterans of fire support units I think). Obviously, even by themselves, a whole “battery” of Rapier Carriers can provide the basis of a highly effective fire base for your army.

So, now, how to integrate all of these elements into a single Battle Group? Imagine the following:

DARK ANGEL SPEARHEAD DETACHMENT

-Azrael

-Lieutenant

-Dark Shroud w/ Assault Cannon

-6 x Rapier Carriers with Quad Launchers 

This entire battle group comes in at just under 900 points, so in a 2000 point game, you still have more than half your points left to either build additional elements of the Gunline, add in “bubble wrap” units, and/or create a potent assault or mobile element to your forces. Additionally, between Azrael, the detachment, and your “base” Command Points, this gives you 5 CPs out the gate, before you even fill out the rest of your army (i.e. you could easily add another Battalion for 8 CPs total or perhaps even make a full up Brigade with the remaining 1100 points, giving you a whopping 14 CPs!!).

Obviously, the idea with this battle group is maximize all the overlapping buffs of Azrael, the DA Lieutenant, and the Darkshroud to enhance both the shooting and durability of the Rapier Carriers. Looking at the two different ammunition types, we have the following average damage output when they all six artillery pieces are shooting with the buffs from Azrael and the Lieutenant:

24 x Shatter Shell shots at 24″ range–

**Against GEQs – 20-21 dead models

**Ork Mobz – 20-21 dead models

**Against MEQs – 13-14 dead models

**Against T4 2W  Primaris units – 13-14 dead models

**Against TEQs – 10-11 dead models

**Against Centurions – 8-9 dead models

**Against Rhino-equivelants – 33-34 wounds (or 3 dead Rhinos)

**Against Land Raider equivelants – 18-19 wounds (or 1 dead Land Raider)

**Against Stormraven equivelants – 27-28 wounds (or 2 dead Stormravens)

**Against Imperial Knight equivelants – 24-25 wounds (or 1 dead Imperial Knight)

While the range of the Shatter Shells can be a limiting factor, if deployed properly and using the rest of your army to “funnel” his forces into the range fan of the Rapier Carriers, you can see above how devastating this firepower can be… basically, you can “one shot” a Land Raider or Imperial Knight every turn or, alternately, you can devastate multiple squads of medium-heavy infantry every shooting phase (you can split the Rapier Carrier shooting across up to six different enemy units, if you so choose).

Now, looking at the Thunderfire Shells, you have the following average damage output (when buffed by Azrael and a DA Lieutenant):

24D3 x Thunderfire Shell shots at 48″ range –

**Against GEQs – 22-23 dead models

**Against Ork Mobz – 27-28 dead models

**Against MEQs – 11-12 dead models

**Against T4 2W Primaris units – 5-6 dead models

**Against TEQs – 2-3 dead models

**Against Centurions – 1-2 dead models

 Against Heavy Infantry, the Thunderfire Shells are vastly less efficient than the Shatter Shells, and even against lighter troops (like massed Conscripts or Cultists or Gaunts or Orks), they are better, but not overwhelmingly so. So, why even use them? Two reasons… one, range and, two, indirect fire… with a 48″ reach and the ability to fire at units completely out of line of sight, the Thunderfire Shells give you the ability to begin influencing the game Turn 1, tearing up all kinds of light-medium infantry and freeing up the battlefield for the remaining 1100 points of your army to maneuver in, seize objectives, charge your opponent’s Gunline, etc. etc. Also, with the ability to render an entire Ork Mob or Conscript blob combat ineffective (if not wiped out entirely) every shooting phase, you can undercut entire portions of your opponent’s strategy, especially if it hinges on board control, using cheap infantry hordes to “screen” his main forces or block deep-striking allies, etc.

Finally, beyond the firepower detailed above, with support from Azrael and the Dark Shroud, the Rapier Carriers are remarkably survivable for their points costs. Below is the average number of shots it would take to kill a single Rapier Carrier, given that it has a 4++ Invul and -1 to Hit, from some of the common weapons on the tabletop:

**BS4 Bolters – 72 shots/dead Rapier

**BS4 Heavy Bolters – 32 shots/dead Rapier

**BS4 Assault Cannons – 24 shots/dead Rapier

**BS4 Plasma Guns — 24 shots/dead Rapier

**BS4 Overcharged PG/Krak Missile – 12 shots/dead Rapier

**BS4 Lascannons – 6 shots/dead Rapier

 

Remember, all of the above shooting is what is required to kill a SINGLE Rapier Carrier, meaning that your opponent has to do this six times over to remove your entire Gunline…. in the meantime, you can continue to punish his forces with the rest of your shooting, seize critical objectives while he focuses on killing your Rapier Carriers, get your assault units stuck in, etc.

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Adeptus Primaris: Ideas to “flesh out” the Primaris Marines

So, the Primaris Marines have been growing on me more and more, especially as I have gotten to see and play against armies with these models up close several times recently (I currently do not own any Primaris models, even though I have almost all the Power Armor army variants, including Angels Sanguine, Space Wolves, Ultramarines, Grey Knights, and a “generic” bunch of Marines I bought off eBay that can be used as “counts as” Dark Angels).

That said, while they are a very solid addition to the Space Marine codex (and I assume to future Deathwatch, Dark Angel, Blood Angel, and Space Wolf codexes), I think there is quite a lot of room to improve/enhance/add to the Primaris line of models, potentially to the point that they either get their own Codex or, if they stay “embedded” within the Space Marine book, you could still field an “all-Primaris” force and have it be flexible, competitive, and capable of taking on the whole spectrum of potential opponents.

Based on all that, here is my idea on how to fully “flesh out” Primaris Marines to the point that they can stand on their own in an all-Primaris army:

 

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HQ Choices:

[1] Primaris Captain

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[2] Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*Same as current model/unit, but with ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).

 

[3] Primaris Captain in Reiver Armor (option to upgrade with Grav-Chute, Grapnel Launcher, or Reiver Exoskeleton)

*New option that takes normal Captain Stats, but adds in “Terror Troops” rule and the ability to take Grav-Chute for +5 points, Grapnel Launcher for +5 points, and/or a Reiver Exoskeleton for +15 points (Reiver Exoskeleton gives the model +2” to its Movement, Advance, and Charge ranges).

 

[4] Primaris Lieutenant

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[5] Primaris Lieutenant in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*Same as current Lieutenant model, but with 5″ Movement and +1T, +1W, +1A, and the ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).

 

[6] Primaris Lieutenant in Reiver Armor (option to upgrade with Grav-Chute, Grapnel Launcher, or Reiver Exoskeleton)

*New option that takes normal Lieutenant Stats, but adds in “Terror Troops” rule and the ability to take Grav-Chute for +5 points, Grapnel Launcher for +5 points, and/or a Reiver Exoskeleton for +15 points (Reiver Exoskeleton gives the model +2” to its Movement, Advance, and Charge ranges).

 

[7] Primaris Chaplain

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[8] Primaris Chaplain in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*New HQ choice that is like a “normal” Primaris Chaplain with all the same wargear/rules, except that he has 5” movement, +1T, and the ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).

 

[9] Primaris Librarian

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[10] Primaris Librarian in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*New HQ choice that is like a “normal” Primaris Librarian with all the same wargear/rules, except that he has 5” movement, +1T, and the ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).

 

[11] Primaris Techmarine in Gravis Armor

*New HQ choice that is like a “normal” SM Techmarine with Blessing of the Omnissiah rule, except that he has 5” movement, +1T, +1W, and +1A and comes with two Servo-Arms, two Plasma Exterminators, and Frag/Krak Grenades.

 

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ELITE Choices:

[1] Reivers

*Same as current model/rules, except can now also take a Reiver Exoskeleton for +4 points per model (Reiver Exoskeleton gives the model +2” to its Movement, Advance, and Charge ranges). Additionally, Shock Grenades have their range upgraded to 12” and, in place of Combat Knives, Reivers can instead now replace their Bolt Carbines with Reiver Blades (S: User, AP: -2, +1 Attack when fighting with this weapon) for +5 points a model.

 

[2] Aggressors

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[3] Primaris Apothecary

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[4] Primaris Ancient

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[5] Primaris Ancient in Gravis Armor

*New ELITE choice that is like a “normal” Primaris Ancient with all the same wargear/rules, except that he has 5” movement and +1T.

 

[6] Redemptor Dreadnought

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[7] Redemptor “Bellator Pattern” Dreadnought

*New Elite choice that is a close combat variant of the Redemptor Dreadnought. Base it comes with all the same stats as a Redemptor Dreadnought, a Redemptor Fist/Heavy Flamer, two Fragstorm Grenade Launchers, and a Bellator Assault Gauntlet which grants it +2D3 x S: User AP-2 D2 attacks in addition to its normal 4A with the Redemptor Fist in the Fight phase. Additionally, it has a special rule called “Fury of the Ancients” which grants it +1 to Hit for any close combat attacks on any turn in which it charged.

 

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TROOP Choices:

[1] Intercessors

*Same as current model/rules, except have the option now to exchange their Bolt Pistols for Chain Swords for +1 point per model.

 

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FAST ATTACK Choices:

[1] Inceptors

*Same as current model/rules, except they now have the additional option to replace both their Assault Bolters with a pair of Storm Gauntlets (S: +2 AP:-2 D2, gains +1A when used as a pair, may re-roll to Wound rolls of 1) for +20 points per model.

 

[2] Stormhunter Land Speeder

*New Primaris Land Speeder that is armed with two Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannons or two Las-Talons, has Move 16” WS3+ BS3+ S5 T5 W9 A2 Ld7 Sv3+, has the Fly key word, has Auto Launchers and the Power of the Machine Spirit rule, and gains +1 to Hit when targeting enemy units with the Fly key word.

 

[3] Stormspectre Land Speeder

*New Primaris Land Speeder that is armed with two Twin Ironhail Heavy Stubbers, has Move 16” WS3+ BS3+ S5 T5 W9 A2 Ld7 Sv3+, has the Fly key word, has Auto Launchers and the Power of the Machine Spirit rule, and can either take a Force Field Generator (grants all friendly <Chapter> units entirely within 6” a 5++ save) for +25 points, a Homing Beacon (friendly <Chapter> units can arrive from Reserve within 6” of this model, as long as they are at least 3” from any enemy models) for +15 points, or a Targeting Relay (one friendly <Chapter> unit within 12” gains +1 to its to Hit rolls for that Shooting Phase) for +25 points.

 

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HEAVY SUPPORT Choices:

[1] Hellblasters

*Same as current model/rules.

 

[2] Reaper Tank Hunter

*New Heavy Support choice that is a variant of the Repulsor and has the same stats, the same Hover Tank/Repulsor Field/Power of the Machine Spirit/Auto Launcher rules, and no transport capacity. Also, instead of the Repulsor’s weapons, it is armed with three Macro-Lascannons (Heavy 1 S10 AP-4 Damage: D6) that gain +1 to Wound when targeting units with the Monster or Vehicle key word.

 

[3] Redemptor “Mortis Pattern” Dreadnought

*New Heavy Support choice that is a fire support variant of the Redemptor Dreadnought. Base it comes with all the same stats as a Redemptor Dreadnought, two Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannons (can replace either or both of these with Macro Plasma Incinerators), two shoulder-mounted Onslaught Gatling Cannons (can be replaced with two Twin Heavy Plasma Incinerators), and two Fragstorm Grenade Launchers (can be replaced with two Storm Bolters). Additionally, if the Redemptor Mortis Dreadnought did not move in the previous Movement phase, it gains the “Stabilized Targeting” rule, which gives it +1 to Hit for any shooting attacks in that Shooting phase.

 

 

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DEDICATED TRANSPORT Choices:

[1] “Archangel” Primaris Drop Pod

*New Dedicated Transport choice that is Movement: 0” WS- BS3+ S7 T7 W12 A0 Ld8 Sv 3+ with degrading profile (BS degrades 3+/4+/5+), has the Drop Pod Assault and Immobile rules (just like “normal” Drop Pods), is armed with a Heavy Bolt Rifle Array (30” Rapid Fire 6, S4 AP-1 D1), and can transport up to twenty Primaris Infantry models (cannot transport Jump units and Gravis Armor units take two slots). Alternately, it can transport one Redemptor Dreadnought (any of the three variants) and ten Primaris Infantry models, or two Redemptor Dreadnoughts (any combination of the three variants).

 

[2] Repulsor Tank

*Same as current model/rules

 

[3] Retaliator APC

*New Dedicated Transport choice that is a variant of the Repulsor and has the same stats (except for Movement 14”), the same Hover Tank/Repulsor Field/Power of the Machine Spirit/Auto Launcher rules, and a transport capacity of 14 Primaris Infantry models (cannot transport Jump units and Gravis Armor units take two slots). Also, instead of the Repulsor’s weapons, it is armed with three Ironhail Heavy Stubbers, two Fragstorm Grenade Launchers, two Storm Bolters, and an Icarus Rocket Pod. Finally, it has a unique piece of Wargear called the “Retaliator Force Field,” which grants it a 4++ against shooting attacks from 25” and further away (it becomes a 5++ against shooting attacks between 19-24″ away and a 6++ against shooting attacks further between 13-18″ away).

 


FLYER Choices:

[1] Overlord Gunship

*New Flyer choice that has Movement 20-40” WS6+ BS3+ S8 T8 W16 A4 Ld9 Sv 3+ and the ability to transport up to 7 Primaris Infantry models (cannot transport Jump units and Gravis Armor units take two slots). It has the Airborne, Supersonic, Hard to Hit, Hover Jet, Crash and Burn, and Power of the Machine Spirit rules and is armed with two Plasma Incinerator Arrays (30” Rapid Fire 3, S7 AP-4 D1 or S8 AP-4 D2 with a Mortal Wound for every to Hit roll of 1 when Overcharged), a Twin Lascannon, and two Heavy Frag Missile Launchers (each is 48” Heavy 2D6 S4 AP0 D1, can re-roll all failed to Wound rolls against Infantry targets).

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So, in summary, with my proposed ideas above, the “Primaris Line-up” would look like this:

—HQ—

-Primaris Captain/Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor/Primaris Captain in Reiver Armor

-Primaris Lieutenant/Primaris Lieutenant in Gravis Armor/Primaris Lieutenant in Reiver Armor

-Primaris Chaplain/Primaris Chaplain in Gravis Armor

-Primaris Librarian/Primaris Librarian in Gravis Armor

-Primaris Techmarine in Gravis Armor

 

—ELITE—

-Reivers

-Aggressors

-Primaris Apothecary

-Primaris Ancient/Primaris Ancient in Gravis Armor

-Redemptor Dreadnought

-Redemptor “Bellator Pattern” Dreadnought

 

—TROOPS—

-Intercessors

 

—FAST ATTACK—

-Inceptors

-Stormhunter Land Speeder

-Stormspectre Land Speeder

 

—HEAVY SUPPORT—

-Hellblasters

-Reaper Tank Hunter

-Redemptor “Mortis Pattern” Dreadnought

 

—DEDICATED TRANSPORT—

-Archangel Drop Pod

-Repulsor Tank

-Retaliator APC

 

—FLYER—

-Overlord Gunship

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The good thing about this from GW’s perspective would be that, aside from all the HQ choices and Apothecary/Ancient (which would be in their own, individual kits/blisters), you would only need to produce 5 Infantry kits (Aggressors, Reivers, Intercessors, Inceptors, Hellblasters) and 5 Vehicle kits (Redemptor Dread with Mortis/Bellator variants kit, Repulsor Tank with Retaliator/Reaper variants kit, Stormhunter/Stormspectre Land Speeder kit, Archangel Drop Pod kit, and Overlord Gunship kit).

 

2000 Point Battle — Tactical Report

I recently played a 2000 point game at my local store and thought I’d break down my list, what worked, what did not work, and how I would revise my forces and tactics going forward, based on what happened in this battle:

 First off, my list. I took three Detachments (one Astra Militarum Battalion, one Ultramarine Spearhead, and one Grey Knight Vanguard) for a total of 8 CPs and 9 “drops,” based on how I deployed in the game.

 —Astra Militarum Battalion—

HQ

*Tempestor Prime with Rod of Command

*Tempestor Prime with Rod of Command

 

TROOPS

*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns

*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns

*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns

*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns

 

DEDICATED TRANSPORT

*Chimera with Multi-laser, Heavy Flamer

*Chimera with Multi-laser, Heavy Flamer

  

—Ultramarine Spearhead—

HQ

*Sergeant Chronos

 

HEAVY SUPPORT

*Predator with Twin Lascannon, 2 x Heavy Bolter

*Predator with Twin Lascannon, 2 x Heavy Bolter

*Predator with Twin Lascannon, 2 x Heavy Bolter

 

 —Grey Knight Vanguard—

HQ

*Castellan Crowe

 

ELITES

*Brotherhood Ancient (Warlord, with “First to the Fray” WL Trait, and GK Relic Banner)

*GK Apothecary

*10 x GK Paladins (3 x pair of Falchions, 3 x Halberds, 3 x NDHs, Paragon with Sword)

  

Overall, the plan for the AM Battalion was for each Chimera to load up with two Scion squads and a Tempestor Prime, providing me mobility/protection for the Plasmas, plus a source of Orders to re-roll 1s when I overcharged them, as well as “generalist” fire support from the AM Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in the form of their Multi-lasers and Heavy Flamers. Importantly, despite being made up of 8 separate units, this only accounted for two “drops” during deployment, giving me a solid chance of going first.

 For the UM Spearhead detachment, Chronos was there as a cheap HQ who also made one Predator always shoot at BS2+, no matter what damage it takes, unless there are -1 modifiers like from moving, enemy fliers being “hard to hit,” Raven Guard chapter tactics, etc. etc. The Predators themselves were included to give me the option to use the new KILLSHOT stratagem (for 1 CP it gives them +1 to Wound and +1 damage if they are all within 6” of one another and shoot at either an enemy Vehicle or Monster), but also provide versatile fire support due to their mix of Lascannons and Heavy Bolters.

 Finally, for the GK Vanguard detachment, the idea was for everyone to start in Reserve except Crowe (who can’t, unless you use the special GK stratagem to override that for him), them bring them in Turn 1 to overwhelm a particular portion of the enemy battle line and then “roll up” his forces from their with the powerful psychic, shooting, and close combat potential. Crowe himself was deployed near one of my Predators, out of LOS, as a counter-assault unit who also had the “Gate of Infinity” power to bounce himself around the battlefield and either support other units in close combat or, if necessary, grab objectives later in the game.

 My opponent was a veteran 40K player and a great guy who I enjoyed playing against and talking with the entire game. He brought his all-infantry, Primaris heavy Ultramarine army, with a small Grey Knight contingent in support, so thematically it was a bit of a “civil war” type game between our forces. If I remember correctly, he ran something like the following:

 

—UM “Primaris” Battalion—

HQ

-Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor (his Warlord, with the UM “uber Iron Halo” relic)

-Primaris Librarian

-Primaris Chaplain

 

ELITES

-Primaris Apothecary

-Primaris Ancient

 

TROOPS

-5 x Intercessors with Bolt Rifles

-5 x Intercessors with Bolt Rifles

-5 x Intercessors with Bolt Rifles

 

 HEAVY SUPPORT

-5x Devastator Centurions (3 with Twin Heavy Bolters and Hurricane Bolters, 2 with Lascannons and Centurion Missile Launchers)

 

—Grey Knight Vanguard—

HQ

*Grand-Master in TDA (with NDH)

 

ELITES

*Paladin Ancient

*GK Apothecary

*3 x GK Paladins (all with pair of Falchions)

 

This gave him 7 CPs and his WL Trait (which we forgot to use all game long) was the UM one that enabled him to “regain” expended CPs on a roll of 5+.

 So, the game was somewhat “old school” in nature, with 4 Objectives (each worth 3 VPs if you held them when the game ended), plus the traditional Slay the Warlord, Line breaker, and First Blood.

 We deployed using the new “Frontline Assault” deployment type (each player is along a long edge of the board, with the deployment zones being 9” from the center point in the middle and 6” from the long board edges on the very sides, making for in essence a “wedge-shaped” DZ for each player). There was lots of cover and LOS blocking terrain overall and he deployed heavy in the center, with an Intercessor squad on each flank and his GKs in reserve. I deployed with two Predators in my center, the Chimeras (and their Scion passengers) on the right, plus the third Predator and Crowe on my far right… also, like him, I kept my entire Grey Knight TDA contingent in reserve. I finished deploying first and so got +1 to the roll to go first, which I ended up winning. He tried to seize the initiative and failed, so I went first.

 Summarizing the game, my Paladins/Apothecary/Ancient dropped in on his right flank turn 1 and completely removed his Intercessor squad using the new PSYBOLT AMMUNITION stratagem. My Predators, Chimeras, and Plasma Scions also managed to kill all his Centurions, his Apothecary, and a number of his Intercessors by the end of Turn 2. However, his “counter-drop” of Grey Knights and the rest of his Primaris shooting/close combat was able to eventually destroy all three of my Predators, both my Chimeras, and all my Scions, leaving only Crowe (who bounced to an Objective late in the game with “Gate of Infinity”), my WL Brotherhood Ancient (who also stayed back from the fight to hold an Objective, get Line Breaker, and deny him Slay the Warlord), and my Apothecary left by the end of the game.

 My GK Paladins moved slowly toward the middle of the board (where his main Primaris Battle line and one of the Objectives was) over the course of several turns, but when they finally got into close combat there, the Primaris Gravis Captain, Primaris Chaplain, Primaris Ancient, and Primaris Librarian killed them all, a bit to my surprise (they did get into combat without the benefit of +1A from my Brotherhood Ancient, since he was camping on an Objective far away and they did kind of charge in piece-meal, but they also were not able to crack the 3++ save of the Gravis Armor Captain, who survived multiple rounds of their best punches and then beat them down with his D3 damage power fist).

At the end of the game, he had several more units left than me and significantly more combat power (i.e. almost all of his GKs were still alive, plus most of his Primaris HQ options, while I only had Crowe, the Brotherhood Ancient, and the GK Apothecary), but I actually was able to squeak out a win due to VPs (we both held two objectives, but I also had Line Breaker and First Blood, while he had none of the “auxiliary” objectives).

 Evaluating how I played, here are a few things I did well and a few things I did poorly:

 

POSITIVES —

[1] I had good target priority and concentration of fire early on, I think, with the Grey Knight TDA contingent overwhelming his right flank and my strong shooting assets rapidly removing the Centurions, which were a large threat to my forces.

[2] I made good use of the Chimeras, adding their firepower to my other shooting, using them to “block” off enemy forces, and getting them to survive late into the game and absorb a lot of combat power away from the rest of his forces.

[3] I made sure I was aware of and playing for the key VP conditions all game long, even when I started losing in terms of raw numbers of troops, thereby enabling me to control as many objectives as him and gain the edge via Line Breaker/First Blood when all the dust settled.

 

 NEGATIVES –

[1] I did not use the mobility/range of the Predators very well to keep them out of harms reach, enabling him to eventually destroy them all with a combination of shooting (including a lot of close range shooting/Smiting from his Primaris forces) and assault (the Grey Knights finished off my last Predator with Chronus in it because I had backed it into a corner, rather than “dashing” it away after they deep struck nearby.

[2] I didn’t employ my GK Paladins very effectively, dropping them so far on the flank that it took them multiple turns of “foot-slogging” to get into Smite/close combat range for the rest of the battle and, when I did get there, I didn’t deploy them in a way to maximize all their shooting, psychic abilities, and close combat power (I just kind of rushed into assault as quickly as possible, assuming they would be able to “brute force” their way to victory, an assumption which cost me dearly).

[3] I didn’t use my GKs, Scions, and UM Predators very well in terms of mutual support, but pretty much deployed them in separate parts of the board and fought them as “independent” elements, which enabled my opponent to deal with them in piecemeal fashion to some degree. For example, if I had dropped some of the GKs in near the Scions, then I could have used their threat to distract his shooting/assault (keeping the Scions alive much longer) and also could have supported the GKs with the Chimeras shooting and LOS blocking. Similarly, with the Predators, if I had some of my Scions or GKs to help screen them, they would have survived much longer and been able to contribute all game long, potentially.

[4} I didn’t use the ORBITAL BOMBARDMENT stratagem to drop a massive dose of Mortal Wounds in the center of his very clumped up Primaris Marine battle-line… if I had remembered to do that when I still had 3 CPs left, I think I could have massively softened up his forces, potentially to the point of critically wounding them, and when my GK Paladins finally assaulted, the combat in the center might have gone quite differently.

  

So, based on all that, going forward, what would I do differently in terms of list construction and tactical employment of my troops?

 Well, right now I think I will keep the Scion and Astra Militarum portions of my army, with the exception of potentially trading Chronus out for Marneus Calgar… not only does Calgar give me an additional 2 CPs (so up to 10 total for my army; I blew through CPs pretty quickly, especially using PSYBOLT AMMUNITION twice, which while very effective, cost me 4 CPs right there), but he also provides re-rolls to Hit for all my Predators if they stay close together (another thing I will do differently, deploy them all near one another), gives me a VERY powerful counter-assault element to protect them, and, finally, as my new Warlord, he is tough to kill and lets me regenerate expended CPs on a 5+.

 Now, of course, Calgar is much more expensive than Chronus, so I have to recoup points somewhere else… well, I think my GK contingent, while powerful, is a very heavy points investment with less than optimal return… instead of a Vanguard of Paladins and “supporting cast” detachment, I think I might opt for an Outrider detachment with three Interceptor squads (two 5 man units and one 10 man unit) and GM Voldus as the HQ… this gives me highly mobile infantry that can get around the battlefield all game long with their 12” movement (and special Shunt move), still shoot very well with their massed Stormbolters (and can use PSYBOLT AMMUNITION still), can grab Objectives late game, and also give me a range of Psychic powers to use still.

 As for Voldus, with the ability to cast/deny three psychic powers a turn, he can be an incredible “toolbox” to support the Interceptors, plus he can use Gates of Infinity all game long to go anywhere on the battlefield (i.e. like back to help Marneus and Predators, or over to support the Scions if need be) and he is no slouch in close combat either (5 x S8 AP-3 D3 attacks, all hitting on 2+s with re-rolls to Wound!). Finally, if I had enough leftover points, I would probably invest an UM Thunderfire Cannon, since its fire support can help at range, it can use the TREMOR SHELLS stratagem to slow enemy forces down, and the Techmarine Gunner can help repair my Predators if they are damaged.

 

Codex Chaos Space Marines: Unit Profile — “Fire Base” Hellforged Leviathon Dreadnoughts

With the recent Forgeworld books for Chaos Space Marines, plus the new Chaos Space Marine Codex that just came out, the Heretic Astartes have the ability to create a potent fire base for their army based around a pair of Hellforged Leviathan Dreads that is highly durable and can put out a devastating amount firepower each turn.

Looking at the Hellforged Leviathan Dreadnought stats, it comes in with a T8, 14W, and a 2+/5++ save (becomes a 4++ in close combat), plus the ability to regain lost wounds when it kills enemy models in the Fight phase… combining all that together, we are looking at near Land Raider levels of durability. On top of this, it starts with BS2+/WS2+, making it very potent in both the shooting and assault portions of the game. Now, in terms of weapon options, it comes with some very powerful close combat options (either siege claws or siege drills with built-in meltaguns), but that is not what we are looking at in this particular scenario. You can choose to replace one or both close combat weapon options with Soul Burner Ribaukins (an 18″ weapon that deals Mortal Wounds if it hits), Grav-flux Bombard (another 18″ weapon have S9 AP-5 and does high damage against Monsters/Vehicles/Titanic models and also gains lots of shots against units with lots of models in them), or with Butcher Cannon Arrays (a range 36″ weapon which is Heavy 8 S8 AP-1 D2 and inflicts -2Ld on a target unit if it causes any casualties to it).

For the purposes of using a pair of Hellforged Leviathans as a long-ranged “firebase,” let’s go with the Butcher Cannon Array, due to the power/reliability of its stats and, especially, due to its long range. Basically, if your give both Leviathan two Butcher Cannon Arrays, that means it is putting out a total of 32 x S8 AP-1 D2 shots base, all at BS2+ and a 36″ range (and they can split there shooting among up to four different targets, if necessary).

Next, place a Chaos Lord or Daemon Prince within 6″ for re-rolls of 1s to hit, giving it 97% accuracy… that means that you should average 31-32 hits each turn, with average dice. Looking at some potential targets, it would average the following:

[1] T4 MEQ squads — 12-13 dead models (with D2 per shot, even 2W models like Bikes, Terminators, Primaris, etc. will get massacred by this weapon)

[2] T6/T7 3+ save Monsters/Vehicles (like Stormsurges and Predators) — 20-21 Unsaved Wounds

[3] T8 2+ save Vehicles (like Land Raiders) — 10-11 Unsaved Wounds

[4] T8 3+ save Vehicles/Monsters (like Imperial Knights) — 15-16 Unsaved Wounds

 

As you can see, this level of firepower can be very potent against a whole range of targets, especially given that it is being put out by a single, very durable model with significant reach. To make the Leviathans even more durable, you can keep a Warpsmith nearby and, when they start taking wounds, have him repair D3 wounds a turn to keep them alive and shooting at full capacity. Additionally, if you give one of them the Mark of Nurgle and one of them the Mark of Slaanesh and make them a part of the Alpha Legion, then they naturally get -1 to any enemy shooting against them from more than 12″ away and a Chaos Sorceror can cast “Miasma of Pestilence” on one of them, adding ANOTHER -1 to hit for enemy shooting against that specific Hellforged Leviathan (so -2 to Hit against the one Dreadnought and -1 to Hit against the other, at least at ranges greater than 12″) and cast “Delightful Agonies” on the other (Slaanesh-marked) Hellforged Leviathan, allowing it to ignore Unsaved Wounds on a roll of 5+.

 

Codex Grey Knights: Unit Analysis — Grand Master in Nemesis Dreadknight

One of the most significant additions to the Grey Knights codex that was just released is a new HQ option, the Grand Master in Nemesis Dreadknight (abbreviated as GM-NDK from here on). Let’s take a look at his stats, how he compares to existing units (i.e. the “vanilla” Dreadknight), and how GK commanders can maximize its abilities in their army.

First off, the GM-NDK, without any damage, has M8 WS2+ BS2+ S6 T6 W12 A5 Ld9 Sv2+/4++… compared to a “normal” NDK, which has M8 WS3+ BS 3+ S6 T6 W12 A4 Ld8 Sv 2+/5++, the GM-NDK has the same degrading profile (Movement, BS, and Attacks all degrade, based on the number of wounds taken), but has superior WS, BS, A, Ld, and Invul save. Additionally, while the GM-NDK has the same close combat weapon, shooting weapon, and teleporter upgrade options as its “vanilla” NDK, it also comes with the “Character” keyword (so it can be your WL and even take one of the new GK relics), the ability to cast/deny two Psychic Powers (vice just one each for a normal NDK), and the signature Grand Master ability, “Rites of Battle,” which gives all friendly GK units within 6″ the ability to re-roll 1s to Hit.

So, that is a significant set of upgrades over a normal NDK, but what about the cost? Well, the GM-NDK takes a HQ slot, vice a Heavy Support slot, which is generally superior since for almost every kind of detachment you have to take at least one HQ, thus alleviating that “tax” with a very solid HQ choice. Points-wise, without any Wargear costs included, a GM-NDK costs 38 MBs, compared to  26 MBs for a “vanilla” NDK, so it is almost 50% more expensive… that said, if you take into account its superior offensive capabilities, durability, psychic options, and buffing capacity for the rest of your army, I actually think the GM-NDK is almost a steal for its points cost.

As mentioned earlier, the GM-NDK has the same weapons options as other NDKs, including a Gatling Psilencer, a Heavy Incinerator, and a Heavy Psycannon for ranged weapons and either two Dreadfists, a Dreadfist and a Nemesis Greatsword, or a Dreadfist and a Nemesis Daemon Greathammer for close combat weapons. Combined with WS2+/BS2+ and innate re-rolls of 1s to Hit, this make them very dangerous in both the shooting and close combat phases, even when a GM-NDK has moved and so suffers -1 to Hit for shooting Heavy Weapons. Additionally, due to its extra attack over normal NDKs, the GM-NDK has more overall threat potential in assault and can also take more damage back, thanks to its built-in 4++ save.

Now, that we have looked at all that, how can a savvy GK commander maximize the GM-NDK’s effectiveness on the battlefield? Thanks to the new codex, Grey Knights get access to new Relics, new Stratagems, new WL Traits, and an expanded “Sanctic” psychic powers discipline. For the GM-NDK, even though he is a character, there is actually only one Relic that it has access to… the Fury of Deimos, Destroyer of Crys’yllix, Soul Glaive, and Banner of Refining Flame all replace Wargear that the GM-NDK does not have access to and the Cuirass of Sacrifice is “Infantry models only.” This leaves only the Domina Liber Daemonica relic, which forces enemy Daemon units within 6″ to lower their Ld by -1… solid against Chaos Daemon armies, but not spectacular and very situational.

So, if Relics are not really going to enhance a GM-NDK in competitive play, what about Psychic powers? “Smite,” “Purge Soul” and “Vortex of Doom” all give solid abilities to generate Mortal on the enemy and can supplement the GM-NDK’s other shooting options, “Astral Aim,” while a good power for certain uses (such as on friendly GK Land Raiders, Purgation squads with max Psilencers, etc.), is going to be rarely useful on a GM-NDK, which does not want to be hiding behind LOS blocking terrain and instead should be close to enemy lines and/or in melee as much as possible. That leaves “Hammerhand,” “Sanctuary,” and “Gates of Infinity,” all if which are exceptional force multipliers for the GM-NDK. “Hammerhand” adds +1 to Wound rolls for any melee weapons, meaning that, against those high T7/8/9 opponents that it would normally wound on a 3+, the GM-NDK is now wounding on a 2+ in close combat. “Sanctuary” is another obvious buff, giving the GM-NDK in essence a storm shield for a 2+/3++  overall level of protection. Finally, “Gates of Infinity” makes a GM-NDK hyper mobile, with the  potential to redeploy almost anywhere on the table every turn if it needs to (and also to escape from close combat and still shoot/charge again that same turn, since it does not have to Fall Back in the movement phase when using this power). The beauty of these three powers is that they all can either be cast on the GM-NDK by itself or cast on it by another nearby GK Psyker (which is almost all the units in the Grey Knight army!)… this means that, potentially, the GM-NDK could make use of all three of these powers in the same turn, greatly enhancing its mobility, protection, and close combat ability all at once.

Aside from Psychic powers from the Sanctic discipline, the GM-NDK can benefit tremendously from some of the new GK Stratagems. Here are a few that can be used to enhance its prowess/effectiveness on the tabletop:

[1]  Truesilver Armour (1 CP) — When a GK vehicle suffers a Mortal Wound, activate this power. For that Mortal Wound and any other Mortal Wounds it suffers for the rest of that phase, on a roll of 5+ they are ignored. Since GM-NDK and NDKs are classified as vehicles, this stratagems gives them the ability to basically ignore 33% of any Mortal Wounds they suffer, which is especially useful in the enemy Psychic phase against opponents that can put out lots of Mortal Wounds via psychic powers (i.e. Tzeentch armies, enemy Grey Knights, etc.).

[2] Only in Death Does Duty End (1 CP) — This stratagem can be used after the GM-NDK is slain and allows it to shoot or fight one last time for “free” before being removed. While not the best ability ever (the fact that it only works when you are already losing the GM-NDK is a negative), when you REALLY need to take that enemy Warlord with you or shoot to finish off the last man in a unit holding a critical objective, it can make a difference with your GM-NDK.

[3] Heed the Prognosticars (2 CPs) — While pretty expensive CP-wise, this ability improves a GK Character’s Invul save by +1, so on a GM-NDK it gives it a 3++ (or, in conjunction with a “Sanctuary,” he can have a 2++ which, along with T6 and 12W, makes it VERY survivable against anything but Mortal Wounds).

[4] Psychic Onslaught (2 CPs) — Another expensive stratagem, but being able to improve the Strength and AP by +1 and -1 respectively for all of a GM-NDK’s Gatling Psilencer and Heavy Psycannon shots for a shooting phase can lead to some VERY potent damage output (i.e. the Heavy Psycannon becomes Heavy 6 S8 AP- Dmg 2 and the Gatling Psilencer becomes Heavy 12 S5 AP-1 Dmg D3)

[5] Finest Hour (1 CP) — Doubles the range of “Rites of Battle” for the GM-NDK for a turn. Given that the GM-NDK  already has a large base (and so a bigger than usual radius for its “Rites of Battle” aura), this stratagem can make it buff most or even all of your army for a turn, if you really need to make sure as many units in your army as possible are re-rolling 1s to Hit.

[6] Psychic Channeling (1 CP) / The Aegis (2 CP) — I grouped these together because they all either buff the GM-NDK’s ability to cast powers (Psychic Channeling) or deny enemy powers, which are both useful in certain situations, especially when you ABSOLUTELY have to either get a power off or make sure your opponent does not get his power off (don’t forget, you get +1 to casting and deny the witch naturally, thanks to the “Brotherhood of Psykers” rule, so combined with these stratagems you have a very solid chance of “winning the fight” in the psychic phase).

Finally, in addition to Psychic powers and Stratagems, GM-NDK can be chosen as your army WL and take one of the six new unique GK Warlord Traits. Of the WL Traits available, I think the best ones to use on a GM-NDK warlord are as follows:

[1] Hammer of Righteousness — When the WL charges, he adds +1 to Wound rolls in the Fight phase. If you don’t want to use Hammerhand on the GM-NDK  (i.e. to save it for use on other units that turn, or to let the GM-NDK take “Sanctuary” or “Gates of Infinity” as its other “non-Smite” power, then this can be a useful power to give him, though being limited to only after charging has some limitations.

[2] Lore Master –This allows the GM-NDK Warlord to know one more power from the Sanctic discipline, so basically it can now know Smite and two Sanctic powers. Given that it can cast two powers a turn, this WL Trait gives it the ability to use, say, “Gates of Infinity” and “Sanctuary,” or “Hammerhand” and “Sanctuary” together without outside help, which can be a great addition to your flexibility and combat power for the GM-NDK (if the GM-NDK  is running “solo” away from the rest of your army for some reason, then I think the value of this WL Trait goes up significantly).

[3] Nemesis Lord — Add +1 to the Damage characteristic of your GM-NDK warlord’s melee weapons. This can be a massive boost to your close combat abilities, with Dreadfists now having a damage of D3 +1, Greatswords having a damage of D6 +1, and the Daemon Greathammer having a damage of between 4 and 7. Of all these options, if you are running a GM-NDK with the Nemesis Daemon Greathammer, then I would serious consider this WL Trait, since a minimum damage of 4 (and max of 7) is VERY good and will allow your Warlord to cut through everything from Baneblades to Wraithknights and Imperial Knights with ease.

[4] First to the Fray — The GM-NDK and all friendly GK units within 6″ get to re-roll failed charges. Given Grey Knight’s proficiency in close combat and the importance of making charges throughout the course of an average game, this is probably the best overall WL Trait and one that most people will use on their GM-NDK, since it provides massive utility not only for your Warlord himself, but also for the units around him as well (using this in conjunction with the “Gates of Infinity” power to escape from combat, then immediately land 9.1″ away from another enemy and then shoot and charge back into combat that same turn will be a very effective use of this WL Trait, I think).

Finally, one thing more thing to remember about the GM-NDK is that it can benefit from certain buffs/support of other nearby characters, such as re-rolls of ALL to Hits if Draigo is nearby, increased Smite range from adjacent Brother-Captains, re-rolls of ALL to Hits in combat from a nearby Chaplain, etc. Perhaps one of the most significant “force-multipliers” for a GM-NDK is actually a Techmarine, since (somewhat surprisingly), all Dreadknights are now classified as vehicles in 8th edition, meaning that they can have D3 of their lost wounds automatically restored each turn by a GK Techmarine within 1″ of them.

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Overall, as many players have already figured out on their own looking through the new Codex, I think the Grand Master in Nemesis Dreadknight will be a very competitive, popular, and effective choice in 8th edition, especially when in conjunction with some of the buffs/enhancements discussed above… not only is the GM-NDK a very strong combatant in its own right, but it is a strong force-multiplier to the rest of your army as well, thereby making the entire Grey Knight battle group more effective than the sum of its parts, I think.

Codex Chaos Space Marines: Alpha Legion Slaanesh Infantry

Looking at the rules that have just come out from the new CSM Codex, one thing that has jumped out at me in terms of competitive builds is Alpha Legion Infantry with the Mark of Slaanesh.

To start with, Alpha Legion have one of the best Legion Traits, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” which is an exact replica of Raven Guard Chapter Tactics and causes all enemy shooting at Alpha Legion infantry, bikes, and Helbrutes from more than 12″ to suffer a -1 to the to Hit rolls. This by itself already makes for excellent infantry units, especially if those units have good shooting at a range of 13″ or greater. On top of this, also like Raven Guard, the Alpha Legion infantry units get access to a unique stratagem which enables them to start the game in reserves and, before the beginning of the first player turn, set up anywhere on battlefield that is more than 9″ away from enemy units (so the “modern” version of the old Infilitrate USR)…. put another way, this basically gives Alpha Legion infantry “free drop pods” at the cost of a single CP per unit and also enables them to react effectively to how your opponent has deployed his forces. Taking these two Alpha Legion abilities together gives you infantry with significantly enhanced mobility and durability options right out the gate, before considering any other “force-multipliers.”

Now, what about the Mark of Slaanesh? Nominally, this does not do anything directly for CSM infantry units besides making them eligible to interact with certain rules, buffs, psychic powers, stratagems, Icons, etc. that are specific to the Mark of Slaanesh. Well, in the new CSM Codex there is Slaanesh-specific stratagem called ENDLESS CACOPHONY which costs 2 CPs and allows a Slaanesh infantry/biker unit to shoot twice in the chosen Shooting phase. There is also another new CSM stratagem called VETERANS OF THE LONG WAR (costs 1 CP) that grants the targeted CSM infantry/biker unit +1 to all its Wound rolls in either the shooting or fight phase. Finally, CSM Sorcerers using the Dark Hereticus discipline have access to Prescience (+1 to all Hit rolls for the targeted CSM unit) and Delightful Agonies (a Slaanesh-only power that grants the targeted CSM unit the ability to ignore Unsaved Wounds on a 5+).

So, you probably see where I am going with all this… deploy an Alpha Legion Infantry unit with the Mark of Slaanesh somewhere on the board greater than 12″ from enemy forces (deploy them via Deep Strike, transport, the Alpha Legion special stratagem, normally in your DZ, etc., etc., and ideally put them in cover for +1 to their armor save) and also deploy/Deep Strike a CSM Sorceror (equipped with JP or TDA) with Prescience and Delightful Agonies right next to them. On your first turn, cast Prescience and Delightful Agonies on the Alpha Legions Slaanesh infantry unit you have chosen, then in the shooting phase use both the VETERANS OF THE LONG WAR and ENDLESS CACAOPHONY stratagems on the squad. This gives you the following

1 – Shooting: +1 to Hit, +1 to Wound, and the ability to shoot their weapons twice that turn

2 – Survivability: -1 for the enemy to Hit them with shooting outside 12″, +1 to armor saves (if in cover), and the ability to ignore Wounds on a 5+

So, these are obviously very significant buffs, but how do they look when integrated with specific units? As I mentioned before, this entire tactic works best when used on CSM units with effective shooting at ranges 13″ or greater (so most Rapid Fire weapons are not effective in that range band), since that maximizes the powerful Legion Trait of causing enemy units to have a -1 to Hit when shooting at the squad. Considering this, the best three units that I can think of to employ with this tactic are as follows:

[1] “Multi-tool” Fire Support Obliterators — Now that in the new CSM Codex Obliterators get Assault 4 on their Fleshmetal Guns (it was Assault 2 before in Chaos Index), they truly are a more competitive unit and can really take advantage of all these buffs, especially since they come with the ability to Deep Strike (saving you from having to use a CP to “infiltrate” into position). While the S, AP, and D of their weapons are still random, with all these buffs they become very powerful indeed. Deep Strike the Obliterators in alongside the Sorcerer, hit them with all the psychic powers and stratagems described above and, on average, they put out 24 x S8 AP-2 D2 shots at a range of 24″. On top of this, they are hitting at effectively BS2+ and wounding with a +1 modifier (so, wounding on a 2+ against anything T7 or below, on a 3+ against T8, and on a 4+ against T9). Against, say, an Imperial Knight or a Wraithlord, they would inflict an average of 17-18 Unsaved Wounds in a single volley, denigrating its combat power with a lowered BS/WS and setting it up for other units to finish off shortly afterwards. Against a Land Raider they would inflict an average of 13-14 Unsaved Wounds, again, greatly reducing its proficiency and making it easy to finish off with the rest of your army. Finally, against T5 enemy infantry, say enemy Devastator Centurions, the Obliterators would inflict an average of 16-17 Unsaved Wounds, which would likely kill 4-5 Centurions in a single volley, in turn swinging the game significantly in favor of the CSM forces.

[2] “Tank-Busting” Havocs with Lascannons — Like with Obliterators, Havocs have access to solid weaponry that can effectively engage at stand-off distances, including Heavy Bolter, Autocannons, Missile Launchers, and Lascannons. While all of these weapons are great options with this tactic, I think Havocs with four Lascannons as a dedicated anti-tank/Monster unit is probably the best choice. With a nearby Chaos Lord (for re-rolling 1s to Hit) and 8 x S9 AP-3 D6 damage shots, against a T8 Land Raider the Havocs would average 7-8 hits, 6-7 wounds, 4-5 Unsaved Wounds, and 15-16 total damage, which would leave the Land Raider either very crippled in firepower/mobility and easy to finish off, or flat out destroyed. Similarly, against a T8 Wraithknight, the Havocs with all these buffs would average 7-8 hits, 6-7 wounds, 5-4 Unsaved Wounds, and 18-19 total damage, leaving it greatly reduced in combat power and with only a few remaining wound for the rest of your army to finish it off.

[3] “Dakka Dakka” Noise Marines with Sonic Blasters — On the other end of the spectrum from Lascannon Havocs, Noise Marines with Sonic Blasters can put out lots of anti-infantry, Ignore Cover shooting which this tactic can make even more efficient. 20 Noise Marines with Sonic Blasters and all of the buffs referenced above can put out 120 x S4 AP0 D1 shots a turn. With Prescience cast on them and VETERANS OF THE LONG WAR stratagem activated, against a horde of T4 Ork that averages 100 hits, 75 wounds, and 62-63 Unsaved Wounds, killing the entire mob many times over. With this much massed shooting, the Noise Marines can even take on tough targets, like a Tau Stormsurge LOW…  against a Stormsurge, the Slaanesh Cult Troops average 100 hits, 50 wounds, and 16-17 Unsaved Wounds, bringing it down to BS6+ and making it “easy pickings” to finish off with the remainder of your army.

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Aside from the very potent firepower that these three Alpha Legion Slaanesh infantry units can put out, thanks to their Legion Traits, cover, and the ENDLESS CACOPHONY power they should be able to absorb a whole lot of enemy firepower on their own. For example, if they are cover, then the Obliterators described above have effectively a 1+ armor save, a 5++ Invul, 3 wounds each, a 5+ ‘FNP-equivelant” save, and the reduction to enemy to Hit rolls by -1. In practical terms, if say a unit of 3 Centurions, each with dual Lascannons, shot at these Obliterators, they would get an average of 6 shots, 3 hits, 1-2 Unsaved Wounds (each inflicting D6 damage), 4-7 damage, and about 3-4 total wounds after the ENDLESS CACOPHONY  5+ saves… so, one dead Obliterator and one Obliterator with a single wound, which is a VERY economical trade considering what this unit would do to those same Centurions if they shot at them.

Similarly, Havocs or Noise Marines in cover (or behind a friendly Aegis Line) would have an effective 2+ armor save, a 5+ ‘FNP-equivelant” save, and the reduction to enemy to Hit rolls by -1. Given all this, a squad of 10 Hellblasters rapid firing their plasma incinerators at the Havocs/Noise Marines at 15″ away with 20 x S7 AP-4 D1 shots would average 10 hits, 6-7 wounds, 5-6 Unsaved Wounds, and 3-4 dead CSM models after the dust settles (thanks to the “5+ FNP” save from ENDLESS CACOPHONY  )… that is A LOT of firepower that these squads could absorb and still be at well over 50% of their starting strength!

Codex Space Marines: Primaris and Chapter Tactics

As I continue to digest all the new abilities, rules, and models that have come out for Space Marines between the start of 8th edition and the recent Codex release, one of the things that struck is me is figuring out how to best use the new Primaris units and, in particular, how to integrate them effectively with different Chapter Tactics.

While I think (contrary to many opinions across the internet) that all seven Chapter Tactics are at least solid, if not outstanding, I also think that the new Primaris Dreadnought/Infantry can maximize their abilities when combined with certain Chapter Tactics.

Below are some ideas I have for synergizing different Primaris units with specific Chapters and the abilities they bring to the table:

[1] Iron Hands Redemptor Dreadnoughts  — This may seem like an obvious one (given the IH’s affinity for vehicles in general and Dreadnoughts in particular in the fluff), but the Redemptor is already a beast, coming in at T7 13W and a 3+ armor save. Now, add in the 6+ “FNP” from Iron Hands Chapter Tactics and the Redemptor effectively has the equivelant of 15 wounds, putting it almost on Land Raider levels of durability (have an Iron Hands Librarian cast “Might of Heroes” on it and then it becomes T8, making it even tougher to damage, especially against S7/S8 weapons, plus it becomes even more dangerous in close combat).

In addition to Chapter Tactics, the Iron Hands have the unique stratagem called MACHINE EMPATHY, which enables a vehicle to ignore the penalty to BS for moving and shooting Heavy Weapons or advancing and shooting Assault Weapons, which synergizes quite well with the Redemptor Dreadnought, given the large number of weapons it carries on its chassis. If you load out a Redemptor with a Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon, an under slung Onslaught Gatling Cannon, two Fragstorm GLs, and the Icarus Rocket Pod, then it can move its full 8″ a turn and put out 18 x S5 AP-1 shots at 24″, another 2D6 S4 shots at 18″, and D3 S7 AP-1 shots with “Skyfire” a turn, making it an ideal platform for dealing with massed infantry and/or light enemy vehicles. Alternately, you can load this Redemptor in a Lucius Drop Pod (from FW) and bring it in turn 1 just outside 9″ from enemy lines, where it can unleash this massed shooting and then possibly even charge (cast Veil of Time on it by a nearby Librarian to get re-rolls for its charge distance), bringing even more “heat” into enemy lines right out the gate.

 

[2] Salamander Aggressors (with Flamestorm Gauntlets)  — Another kind of obvious one, given that these are the main Primaris models armed with any form of flamer weaponry right now, which of course is the Salamander’s forte. In terms of Salamander Chapter Tactics, being able to re-roll 1 failed to hit and 1 failed to wound dice in the shooting phase is not that great on these Aggressors (they already auto-hit and re-rolling to wound with one flamer hit is nothing to write home about), but don’t forget these Chapter Tactics also work in the Fight phase, where the Aggressor’s S10 AP-3 D3 damage gauntlets really DO benefit from a free re-roll to Hit and to Wound each combat round.

Besides the bonus from their Chapter Tactics, the Salamander Unique stratagem, FLAMECRAFT, costs 1 CP and allows the chosen Salamander unit to add +1 to any Wound rolls made for Flamer Weapons in the Shooting phase. Even with a minimum squad of three Aggressors, that is 6D6 S4 hits, all with +1 to their to Wound rolls… add in a nearby Vulkan and you also get to re-roll all failed to Wound rolls with flamers as well, meaning that against all targets they auto hit and, against T3, they would on 97% of their hits, against T4 they wound on 88% of their hits, and against T5-7 they wound on 75% of their hits, making them absolutely devastating against almost all forms of infantry. Even in Overwatch, where you cannot use the FLAMECRAFT stratagem (it can only be used in your own Shooting phase), the Salamander Aggressors get to shoot twice (as long as they did not move in their turn), resulting in 12D6 S4 hits when they are charged, all with re-rolls to wound if Vulkan is nearby… in other words, it is basically suicidal to charge a Salamander Aggressor squad (equipped with Flamestorm Gauntlets and with Vulkan nearby) with anything short of T8 monsters/vehicles.

 

[3] White Scars Aggressors (with Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm GLs)  — Now, this might seem a bit of an odd choice, since Aggressors do not really epitomize the  mobile warfare doctrine White Scars are known for, but upon closer examination White Scar Chapter Tactics actually benefit this version of Aggressors pretty solidly. Since all WS units add +2 to the Advance rolls, and Aggressors can Move + Advance and still shoot their Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm GLs with no penalty to BS, this means they basically have a 8-13″ movement ability combined with an 18″ range on their shooting weapons, giving them a “threat radius” of 26-31″ every turn (or even further, if you use the new Repulsor tank to drive them up to enemy lines). Combine this with a nearby White Scar Warlord with the “Storm of Fire” WL Trait and a six man squad of Aggressors can drown your opponent in 36 + 6D6 Bolter shots a turn, with any 6+s to Wound becoming AP-1, which can devastate all forms of infantry in the open.

As for the second half of White Scar Chapter Tactics, the ability to Fall Back and then charge again in the same turn is a tremendous boon for Aggressor squads, since that enables them choose which combats they want to be in and also charge basically every turn, thus striking first with their 2 x S8 AP-3 D3 damage close combat gauntlets per model. Whether shooting or charging (or both), these variant of White Scar Aggressors could benefit tremendously from a nearby WS Captain and/or Lieutenant, since re-rolling 1s to Hit or to Wound can make their high volume of shooting and their potent close combat attacks that much more reliable all game long.

 

[4] Black Templar Reivers — While there are lots of different units that can benefit from the Black Templar Chapter Tactic ability to re-roll all failed charges, I think Reivers in particular can leverage this and other BT unique capabilities. When equipped with Heavy Bolt Pistols and Combat Knives, Reivers each have 3A base (4A on the Sergeant), so they are above average in short-ranged shooting and close combat right out the gate. Add in the ability to Deep Strike in 9″ away from the enemy turn 1 via Grav Chutes and you can rapidly get them in position to charge and use that BT Chapter Tactic to its full advantage. Finally, if you Drop Pod in Helbrecht, Grimaldus, and a Lieutenant right next to the Reivers on that same turn that they come in and attempt to charge, then they all gain re-rolls to Hit, re-rolls of 1 to Wound, Ld9, S5 in close combat, and the ability to generate even more attacks if they roll any 6+ to Hit. A 10 man squad of Reivers (with Helbrecht, Grimaldus, and a Lieutenant nearby)  shooting and then charging, say, a 30 Boy mob of Orks, would get 10 x S4 AP-1 Heavy BP shots and 31 x S5 attacks,  resulting in 25-27 dead Orks on average when the dust all settles.

Reivers used in this manner can effectively defeat enemy “bubble wrap” unit turn 1 while the rest of the BT army maneuvers into position to make their own charges and, in later turns, the Reivers can help force-multiply the rest of the Templar assault via their Shock Grenades (no Overwatch and -1 to Hit for the rest of the phase for any units hit by them) and their “Terror Troops” bubble (-1 Ld to any enemy units within 3″ of one or more Reiver squads). Also, given that they have T4 and 2W and are relatively cheap points-wise (at least compared to other Primaris units), Reivers provide an affordable method to keep enemy units occupied until follow on Black Templar “hammer” units (i.e. Terminators, Vanguard Vets, Assault Centurions, maxed out Crusader squads) can get stuck in and do what BT do best.

 

[5] Ultramarine Intercessors — Given their newly acquired “Objective Secured” status as a Troops choice, Intercessors particularly benefit from the Ultramarine +1Ld, making them excellent for camping on objectives until the very last man, especially with re-rolls from ATSKNF. Additionally, being able to fall back and still shoot benefits Intercessors significantly, since they are basically “Sternguard-lite” with their S4 AP-1 Bolt Rifles. Finally, the UM unique stratagem, SCIONS OF GUILLIMAN, costs 1 CP and allows them to re-roll ALL to Hit rolls for a single phase, making them significantly more potent, especially when double-tapping their Bolt Rifles. Throw in Guilliman himself nearby and Intercessors become a threat to even tough units like TEQs and light vehicles. For example, two full 10 man squads of UM Intercessors rapid firing at the following targets with Guilliman nearby produces the following, on average:

-T4 2W 2+ armor Terminators — 8-10 Unsaved Wounds

-T7 10W 3+ armor CSM Rhino — 8-10 Unsaved Wounds

-T5 10W 4+ armor  DE Raider — 10-12 Unsaved Wounds

-T5 3W 3+ armor CW Wraithguard — 8-10 Unsaved Wounds

For a pair of basic Troop units whose main job is to hold Objectives, that is some very solid damage output every shooting phase, and yet another reason to run UM Intercessors.

 

[6] Imperial Fist Inceptors (with Assault Bolters)  — Again, perhaps a little surprising here, but Inceptors can really do some effective work using Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics and abilities. For example, take a 6 man squad of IF Inceptors, all with dual Assault Bolters… this unit can Deep Strike, fall back from combat and shoot the same turn (thanks to the “Fly” keyword), move 10″ a turn, and has 12W at T5 and a 3+ armor save. On top of that, it can put out 36 x S5 AP-1 shots a turn at 18″ and ignores any enemy Cover bonuses, which makes it even more effective against massed light infantry (like Conscripts, Cultists, Gaunts, Orks Boyz, Necron Warrior phalanxes, CW Guardians, etc.) that are often used to “bubble wrap” opposing armies and which rely on cover to boost their survivability.

Finally, activate the Imperial Fist unique stratagem, BOLTER DRILL, on the squad and also boosts its shooting by +1 to Hit with a nearby Rhino Primaris (meaning that every 5+ grants you an additional shot) and you get an average of 40 hits from a single Inceptor squad. Against a 30 man Conscript squad in cover, that averages 22-23 Unsaved Wounds, followed by another Mortal Wound when the Inceptors charge (due to their “Crushing Charge” rule) and then 5-6 Unsaved Wounds in combat from the Inceptors… that is a total of 29 dead Conscripts on average, with the last model being wiped out by a failed Morale Check even if a Commissar is nearby (he executes the last man standing) and the enemy “bubble wrap” completely removed in a single turn. Alternately, against a MEQ squad, these Inceptors would average 13-14 Unsaved Wounds from shooting alone, so basically wiping out an entire squad plus of anything they are shooting at. Even against a tough unit like a CSM Daemon Prince, this unit would cause an average of 6-7 Unsaved Wounds from shooting, followed by an average of 1 Mortal Wound on the charge and then another 1-2 Unsaved Wounds in combat, killing the Daemon Prince outright before it even got to swing back in the Fight phase. As you can see, Bolter Drill and a supporting Rhino Primaris makes IF Inceptors VERY deadly to a wide range of targets (and they can get even deadlier, if you put your WL near them with the “Storm of Fire” WL trait).

 

[7] Raven Guard Hellblasters  — While Raven Guard Chapter Tactics are outstanding on any unit that has access to them, they pair particularly well with the long range/high hitting power of Hellblasters and the special RG Stratagem, STRIKE FROM THE SHADOWS. Before the game begins, you can use STRIKE FROM THE SHADOWS to “Infilitrate” a Hellblaster squad 14″ away from an enemy unit that you really want to destroy… ideally, you put the Hellblasters into cover so that they have a 2+ armor save and, as long as they are more than 12″ from the enemy, they can maximize their survivability due to the -1 to Hit for any enemy units shooting at them. Turn 1, drop a Jump Pack Captain and Jump Pack Lieutenant in next to them and then unleash 20 x S8 AP-4 D2 shots at your chosen target, re-rolling 1s to Hit and to Wound. Shooting this powerful can devastate infantry of all kinds and can even take on things like 16W, T8, 2+ armor Land Raiders, with an average of 15-16 hits, 9-10 wounds, 7-8 Unsaved Wounds, and 15-16 damage total inflicted (i.e. if you are even average in your rolling, they just “one-shotted” a entire Land Raider by themselves).

Alternately, you can give the RG Hellblasters the Heavy Plasma Incinerators and deploy them normally, in cover deep in your own deployment zone (so again, 2+ armor saves and a -1 to Hit them for most enemy shooting). With a nearby Rhino Primaris to buff their BS (and make it impossible for them to Overheat their plasma weapons), a 10 man squad of Hellblasters with Heavy Plasma Incinerators in essence becomes a squad of 10 x BS2+ Lascannons, albeit with only 36″ range (vice 48″ normally) and D2 (vice D6 for a Lascannon) for each weapon (but they do also have AP-4, instead of AP-3 like normal Lascannons)… add in a nearby Apothecary to heal/revive any Hellblaster casualties and an Ancient with the Banner of Emperor Ascendant relic (friendly units nearby are immune to Morale tests and any nearby friendly infantry models that die get a “free” shot before being removed on a roll of 3+) and you have a very tough, very dangerous, long-ranged fire base unit that can take on a wide variety of units all game long.