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.


Codex Space Marines: Top 3 Stratagems

Out of many things in 8th edition that I am excited about, the advent of Command Points (and, more specifically, useful Stratagems to spend them) is one of my favorite new additions.

Like with other parts of the revamped rules in 8th edition, I think Stratagems provide a unique yet generally balanced way to give players more agency over their armies and make gameplay in 40k more “tactical” and based around good pre-game and in-game decision-making, rather than just winning via luck or taking the most “broken” units available to your army.

Now, besides the three “core” Stratagems from the main Rule Book (re-roll a single dice, interrupt charges to fight, and auto pass a morale check, all very useful in their own right) and a few odd ones we have gotten from the FW books, the only other stratagems we have “officially” seen are the ones in the recently released Space Marine codex (though, of course, we are about to get a whole bunch more when the CSM and Grey Knight books drop, plus I expect every faction to get their own set once they get an 8th edition codex of their own).

As one of the reviewers on a 40K Podcast I listen to said, stratagems truly are the “secret sauce” which makes the codex armies powerful, flexible, and flavorful all at once. Based on that, here is a look at what I think are some of the best stratagems available only to Space Marines (provided your army is Battle-Forged and includes at least one Space Marine detachment in it) and how they can be exploited tactically on the tabletop:

[1] KILLSHOT — Costing only 1CP, you can use this in the shooting phase and, as long as you have  a <Chapter> Predator (of any kind, including the FW Deimos variant) within 6″ of two other friendly Predators, then all three Predators can add +1 to their to Wound rolls and +1 to their damage for the rest of that phase whenever they shoot at an enemy Monster or Vehicle.

**Against any army that contains even a few Monsters and/or vehicles (which is probably 90% of the forces in the game, except maybe pure Ork Green Tide or pure Primaris foot-slogging lists), this is an exceptionally powerful stratagem and, against armies that rely on powerful LOW units like Guilliman, Wraithknights, Stormsurges, Stompas, super-Heavy tanks, Imperial Knights, etc. it can be your “ace in the hole” for defeating them. If you take three Predators with 4 x Lascannons each, that gives you a total of 12 Lascannon shots with this Stratagem…. add in a nearby Captain for re-rolls of 1s to Hit and you get an average of 9-10 Lascannon hits… against anything T8 or below (which is the VAST majority of vehicles/monsters in the game) you are wounding on 3+s, which then bumps up to a 2+ due to the Stratagem, giving an average of 7-8 wounds at AP-3… in turn, against most vehicle/monster targets with a 3+ save, that is reduced to a 6+ save, giving you 6-7 Unsaved Wounds on average. Finally, thanks to the +1 damage from this stratagem, each Lascannon wound is doing 1+D6 damage per wound, giving you an average 29!!! damage inflicted on the target after all the dust settles… that means you are potentially one-shotting things like Wraithknights and Imperial Knights, which can change the course of the game in a single shooting phase.

Even if the Predators take the Autocannon/Heavy Bolter load out instead of Lascannons (which saves points and makes them able to effectively take on mass infantry/mass light vehicles as well), activating the KILLSHOT stratagem makes them surprisingly effective against monsters and vehicles (i.e. three Predators with ACs/HBs shooting at a Wraithknight with KILLSHOT activated and a Captain nearby inflict an average of 16-17 damage in a single shooting phase… add in a nearby Lieutenant for re-rolls of 1s to Wound and that goes up to 19-20 damage, leaving the Wraithknight easy pickings to finish off with the rest of your army). The beauty of this is, like with all other Stratagems, if your opponent doesn’t have enough vehicles and/or monsters to make it worth using, then simply save the CP for something else and you can still use the Predators as a long-range fire base to support your army… I particularly like giving the three Predators Twin Lascannons and two Heavy Bolters each, since this keeps them affordable, enables them to hit hard against tough units when using KILLSHOT, and also keeps them versatile to engage the entire spectrum of enemy targets.


[2] AUSPEX SCAN — Costing 2 CPs, this stratagem enables an Adeptus Astartes Infantry unit to immediately make an out-of-sequence shooting attack at an enemy unit that has arrived as a reinforcement within 12″ of it as it was in the shooting phase, albeit with a -1 to its to Hit rolls (so, basically, this a new version of the old Interceptor ability from previous editions).

**I love the defensive versatility and flexibility this stratagem gives a Space Marine army, especially with the plethora of deep striking threats that exist in the current game (i.e. Tau Commanders with multiple Fusion Blasters, Scion Command squads with max Plasmas, Vanguard Vets jump packs and massed pistols/power weapons, Tyranids Mawlocs, etc.). This stratagem, while pricy in terms of CPs, gives you a highly effective way of neutralizing these threats before they “alpha strike” half of your army off the table on turn 1, especially when paired with a solid shooty infantry squad that you can use to bubble-wrap the critical elements of your force.

For example, a tactic that I have heard discussed for the upcoming CSM codex is as follows: the CSM player deep strikes a squad of 10 Terminators (all with Combi-plasmas and a PW/PF/LC) alongside a TDA Sorceror or two just outside 9″ of your army. The Sorceror(s) then cast Prescience (so more accurate shooting and no danger of overheating when the Overcharge the Plasmas) and Warp Time (so they get a free 5″ move, putting them just over 4″ away from your forces) on the Terminators and, if they need it, Death Hex on one of your units (this removes the unit’s Invul save completely for a turn)… the Terminators activate the new CSM “VETERANS OF THE LONG WAR” stratagem, giving their shooting +1 to Wound, then open up with 20 x S8 AP-3 D2 Overcharged Plasma shots, all hitting on 2+s (and with no chance of overheating) and wounding anything T7 and below on a 2+ (or anything T8 on a 3+)… with no Invul save to protect the target unit and a -3 AP value, this can basically “delete” almost any unit in your army in a single go, even Guilliman, and even if the target does survive somehow, the Terminators now only have to make a 4″ charge to successfully get into combat and finish the unit off with their specialized melee weapons.

As you can see, this can be a ridiculously potent tactic, and one that is quite difficult to defend against normally. Well, that is where the AUSPEX SCAN stratagem comes in. Say you have a unit of 5 Devastator Centurions with Grav Cannons/Hurricane Bolters and a nearby Chapter Master “bubble wrapping” the critical unit(s) in you army which your CSM opponent would want to target… as soon as the CSM Terminators drop in, before they get a chance to cast any Psychic Powers or shoot or charge, you can activate this stratagem on the Centurions and hit the Chaos Terminator squad with 20 x Grav Cannon and 60 x Hurricane Bolter shots… between the -1 to Hit from this stratagem and the re-rolls to Hit from the Chapter Master, this should inflict an average of 12 Unsaved Wounds from the Grav Cannons (or about 6 dead Terminators) and about 3-4 Unsaved Wounds from the Hurricane Bolters (or another 1-2 dead Terminators)… suddenly, from the threat of 20 super-powered Plasma shots and 10 Terminators charging down your lines, you now only have an average of 4-6 Plasma shots and 2-3 models in TDA charging you, drastically changing the situation (and, even with Ld9, those last 2-3 Terminators may quite possibly fail their morale check and run away at the end of the turn anyways, since they suffered 7-8 casualties on average from the AUSPEX SCAN shooting). This is a bit of an extreme example, but overall I think you can see the game-changing power of this stratagem, especially against powerful enemy deep striking elements that you would otherwise have a very difficult time defending against.


[3] STRIKE FROM THE SHADOWS (Raven Guard only) — Costing 1 CP, this stratagem allows you to set up a single RG Infantry unit in reserve and then, at the beginning of the first battle round (but before the first turn begins), set it up anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9″ away from any enemy units (since this does not occur in any of the phases, it should not be limited to “one per phase” and thus can be used by multiple units in your army, by my interpretation).

**Another amazing stratagem which you can use to truly build your army (and your tactics) around. So, a couple of things right off the bat… the wording on this stratagem says “a Raven Guard infantry unit,” with no restrictions on what kind… this means that you can use it on anything from Tactical squads and Primaris Intercessors to Jump Pack Vanguard Veterans to even Terminators or Centurions (all types). Secondly, and equally significant, this all occurs before the first turn begins, but after any Seize the Initiative has happened, meaning that you can deploy your units with this stratagem knowing safely who has first turn. Finally, because this occurs before the first turn, this means that any units impacted by it do not count as having moved already and, when you first turn comes up, they can still make their full move (and/or advance, if required).

Taking all of this into account, there are multiple ways to exploit this stratagem: right out the gate, it allows you to deploy “reactively” with key units, meaning that you can place them on the battlefield with full knowledge already of your opponent’s deployment and what forces he has available. With a “shooty” unit like a Devastator squad or Hellblaster squad or Sternguard squad, this enables them to set up exactly where you need them and with the ability to target exactly the enemy unit you need them to engage, all without any penalties to Hit due to moving and shooting. Combine this with the Raven Guard Chapter Tactic that gives enemy units -1 to Hit when shooting at these squads at more than 12″ away and you have both a powerful alpha strike and the ability to absorb your opponent’s shooting “counterpunch” next turn, as required.

Alternately, for an assault focused unit like Vanguard Vets or Assault Terminators or Assault Centurions, this stratagem can put them just over 9″ away from enemy lines before the game begins, then on turn 1 they can make their “normal” move (so 4″ for Centurions, 5″ for Terminators, or up to 12″ for Jump Pack infantry), setting up a very achievable charge range for even the slow-moving Centurions (also putting them all within range to maximize their close-in shooting, like flamers, meltaguns, hurricane bolters, pistols, etc. prior to charging). I think an ideal “battle group” to use this stratagem on would be a Vanguard Squad kitted out with Jump Packs, and a mix of dual LCs/THs and Stormshields and Kayvaan Shrike with the “Silent Stalker” WL Trait (which he has to take if he is the WL). Using two CPs, you can set both of these units up just outside 9″ from enemy lines, then Turn 1 move them to just outside 1″ of the unit you want to charge (so no chance of failing the charge roll)… in the Assault Phase, have Shrike charge first, meaning that the enemy cannot shoot Overwatch (thanks to his WL trait) and, once they are locked in combat, have the Vanguard Vets charge as well… with Shrike giving everyone re-rolls to Hit, you should be able to tear up whatever unit they charged quite well and, once they gotten clear of that combat, use their Jump Packs in subsequent turns to set up more charges and/or seize objectives, as required.


Overall, I think the new Space Marine Codex has lots of very solid, if not excellent, stratagems in it, but these ones in particular stood out to me and are the ones that I will be looking to design my army lists around.

Codex Grey Knights: Some tactics out the gate (of infinity) with the boys in grey

As I said, there is so much new stuff with 8th edition, it has been hard for me to know where to start.

With the Grey Knights Codex about to be released, however, and the Knights of Titan being my first 40K army when I started the hobby, I am quite excited about the rumors for their book and thought I’d start here by talking about some potential tactical combinations they can use:


[1] “Smite Storm” Battle Group — Take Crowe, two 5 man Purifier squads, a Brotherhood Ancient (with the new Relic Banner), and Brother-Captain Stern and load the whole shooting match into a Land Raider Crusader (which is now MUCH more survivable than in past editions, with T8, 16W, and a 2+ save, meaning that it is very likely to get across the battlefield successfully and deliver all of its passengers, compared to the past where Grav and Melta could easily kill it in a single turn).

Turn 1, cast Gates of Infinity on the LRC and teleport it 9″ away from enemy lines (yes, believe it or not, the wording of Gates of Infinity means you can use it on vehicles… it only says “GK unit,” not “GK infantry”… hence, teleporting Land Raiders), then unleash up to 28 bolter shots (Hurricane Bolters plus SB upgrade) and 12 assault cannon shots (plus a MM if you took that upgrade), all firing at full BS, thanks to POTMS. Turn 2, disembark all the passengers 3″, then move them up another 5-6″, putting Purifiers/Crowe/Stern/BH Ancient all within at least 6” of the enemy(s) unit you want to “nuke” (i.e. say it is an enemy Imperial Knight or Guilliman or a Stormsurge or some other kind of very tough LOW unit).

In the Psychic Phase, Crowe and both Purifier squads can unleash their “Cleansing Flame” version of Smite (with a range of 6″, thanks to “doubling” effect of Stern’s Psychic Focus ability). Additionally, the BH Ancient can use his Relic Banner to cast his enhanced, D6 Mortal Wounds version of Smite as well, Brother-Captain Stern can cast “regular” (i.e. only one Mortal Wound for GKs, due to Rites of Banishment) Smite, Crowe can use his second power to cast Vortex of Doom, and Stern can use his second power to cast Purge Soul (using his Ld9 +1 from the Ancient’s Banner, for a total of Ld 10).

The new “Brotherhood of Psykers” rule gives all of these GK units +1 to their Psychic tests, meaning that for all the variations of Smite they only need to roll a 4, for Purge Soul Stern only needs a 4, and for Vortex of Doom Crowe only needs a 7, all of which are quite achievable with average rolling. Against opponents without any Psyker support (like Tau or Dark Eldar or pure Imperial Knights, plus lots of other armies these days, now that the Psychic phase is no longer so dominant and many armies run without any Psykers in their ranks), there is no way to reliably stop all of these GK powers if they are cast successfully.

What all this means is that, given that all these powers go off, they cause 4D6 +1 Mortals Wounds from all the different Smites/Cleansing Flames, another D3 Mortal Wounds from Vortex of Doom, and then potentially even more Mortal Wounds if Stern wins the Leadership test against the target with his Purge Soul. Using a Tau Stormsurge as an example (which has 20W at T7/3+/4++ with the mandatory Shield Generator and has Ld8), the combination of all of these powers going off in a single Psychic phase would strip an average of 17 Mortal Wounds, leaving it with 3W remaining and only able to shoot at BS6+. Throw in the 52 Storm Bolter shots from all of these GK models and you should be able to strip off those remaining three wounds with average rolling, thus leaving the five different GK units free to assault other elements of the Tau gun-line, if necessary (and this of course doesn’t count the shooting from the LRC either).


[2] “Fire Base” Land Raider — As in previous editions, it appears that one of the weaknesses of Grey Knights is their lack of long-range firepower, especially against high toughness Vehicles and Monsters. One possible way to mitigate this is to take a Void Shield Generator,  a GK Land Raider (standard pattern with four Lascannons, two HBs), and a GK Grand Master with the new Sanctuary and Astral Aim powers.

Hide the Land Raider and Grand Master behind the Void Shield Generator to block LOS from enemy shooting and then cast both Sanctuary and Astral Aim on the Land Raider… this gives the tank a 2+ Armor save and 4++ Invul save against any units that are able to gain LOS on it (or that are able to maneuver into LOS via Deep Striking, such as Tau Commanders, MT Scions, Drop Podding Sternguard with combi-Meltas, etc.) and then also allows the Land Raider to shoot at enemy units within range (48″ for Lascannons, 36″ for Heavy Bolters) without actually having to have LOS to them.

Finally, the Land Raider shooting also ignores any enemy Cover saves, thanks to Astral Aim, and gets to re-roll 1s to hit, due to the Grand Master’s Rites of Battle aura, making it more accurate/reliable (the Grand Master also provides some solid “counter-assault” capabilities, should enemy assault forces get too close to the Land Raider). Good enemy targets for this tactic likely include multi-wound, durable squads (like Tau Battle Suits, Primaris Infantry, Craftworld Wraith units, Drukhari Grotesques, Necron Destroyers, Space Marine Terminators, Mega Nobz, etc.) and light/medium vehicles, which the 4 Lascannon and 6 HB shots a turn can all do solid work against.


[3] Draigo/Stormraven “Dakkaboat” Tactics — Take Kaldor Draigo and a GK Stormraven with Twin Heavy Bolter, Twin Assault Cannon, two Hurricane Bolters, and two Stormstrike Missile Launchers. Turn 1, “dash” the Stormraven up to 45″ forward to get it within 12″ of the enemy battle line and then, at the end of the Movement Phase, Deep Strike Draigo in so that he is within 6″ of the Stormraven (and also so that the Stormraven is closer to the enemy units than he is, meaning they can’t shoot at him except with Sniper weapons).

Use Draigo to cast Sanctuary on the Stormraven (giving it a 3+/5++) and then, at the beginning of your shooting phase, use the new “Psybolt Ammo” Stratagem to power up the Stormraven’s shooting (‘i.e. all Bolters, Heavy Bolters, Storm Bolters, and Hurricane Bolters get +1S/-1 AP for the phase). This gives you a total of 24 x S5 AP-1 Hurricane Bolter shots, 12 x S6 AP-1 Assault Cannon Shots, 6 x S6 AP-2 Heavy Bolter shots, and 2 x S8 AP-3 D3 shots at an enemy unit/units within 12″.

Combined with POTMS (so no penalty to shooting Heavy Weapons because the Stormraven moved) and Draigo’s “Chapter Master” aura granting re-rolls to all to Hit, this gives the GK army the ability to put out some serious damage against massed infantry and even light vehicles. For example, against the current “conscript spam” found in many competitive AM lists, a Stormraven using this tactic would average about 20 unsaved wounds on a conscript blob. Add in Draigo’s Storm Bolter, Smite, and Vortex of Doom powers and you can realistically kill up to 26 conscripts in a single go … if Draigo then successfully charges the 4 remaining conscripts, he should easily wipe them out, thereby completely removing your opponent’s “bubble wrap” in a single turn and opening the way up for more GK units to Deep Strike/teleport in and get into assault with the rest of his army.

Alternately, if you apply this tactic to the following units, here is “average” casualties:

-30 Ork Boyz — 29 Unsaved Wounds

-20 Necron Warriors – 22 Unsaved Wounds

-6 Devastator Centurions – 12 Unsaved Wounds

-10 Craftworld Wraithguard – 16 Unsaved Wounds

-10 Primaris Intercessors — 18 Unsaved Wounds

As you can see, against a whole variety of infantry targets, this tactic can put out a very significant amount of damage and take a large chunk out of your opponent’s combat power in a single turn of Psychic abilities/shooting.

OK, well, enough for now, but I will continue to look at Grey Knight abilities and synergies, especially once the new book comes out later this week, and in the future we will see what other ways the “boys in grey” can win the day for the Emperor on the table-top.


Back Online and 8th Edition Initial Thoughts!

Well, I am back at it here and, Wow! what a time to get back into 40K tactics… with 8th edition and basically a “reset” of the entire game from top to bottom, there is SO MUCH to talk about, it is hard to know even where to start.

On top of all this, GW appears to be releasing new Codexes at the rapid rate for the rest of this year (and probably beyond), so we can expect the game to keep changing and evolving for the foreseeable future, which is both exciting and a little daunting, when trying to keep abreast of everything from a Tactical perspective.


Alright, so now that I have had a chance to take a comprehensive look at the current rules and Indexes, here are some “first reaction” thoughts overall about 8th Edition:


(1) There are so many positive things about what GW has done with the game in general and 8th edition in particular, that I have an embarrassment of riches here in things I like, but probably my very favorite part of 8th edition is the ability to CHOOSE key things when building and using your army, rather than roll for them. By this, I mean Warlord Traits, Psychic Powers,  what Stratagems to spend Command Points on, etc., etc. This is awesome and makes the game so much more fun and user-friendly from my perspective… I mean, who likes rolling up a useless Psychic Power before deployment when you really need a specific power to make your entire army strategy work? If GW had only done this and nothing else, it would have been a MAJOR improvement already.

(2) Right up there with being able to choose things, vice roll for them, is how GW did a “top to bottom” revamp of EVERY SINGLE FACTION, enabling them to, number one, balance things better than I have ever seen them in my entire time playing 40K and, number two, breath whole new life into tons of units that were previously uncompetitive or only really useable from a fluff/scenario-driven perspective. I love seeing “forgotten” units  (like DE Mandrakes, AM Rough Riders, and Tactical Terminators) suddenly viable again in competitive games and I also love seeing entire factions, especially Tyranids, Harlequins, Sisters of Battle, and Militarum Tempestus, lifted up to totally on par, if not superior to, the “traditional” power houses (i.e. Eldar, Tau, vanilla Marines, etc.).

(3) Finally, I really like both the simplification of certain overly complex portions of the game (e.g. Psychic Phase in previous editions, combining Movement and Advancing into a single phase, removing initiative and WS comparison requirements, etc.) and GW giving players more “agency” over how their units act (e.g. when your units come in from Reserves, being able to split fire with ALL weapons in all units, being able to have transports hold multiple squads at once, etc.). Throw in improvements to mobility in the game (i.e. different Move stats for all units to better differentiate unit types, the ability to assault out of all vehicle variants, and no more Difficult/Dangerous Terrain, to name a few), and I think you have what makes for a simpler, more enjoyable, and overall more tactically rewarding game as a whole.

There are LOTS of other things I like about 8th edition, so as I am sure you can tell overall I am a quite a fan of it! There are a few things I don’t love/wish were different, such as there only being one kind of Cover for everyone (I wish they at least had “Soft Cover” for a +1 to Armor Saves and “Hard Cover” for a +2 to Armor Saves to differentiate terrain types and their tactical value in the game) and weird rules interactions (i.e. Flamers now being a strong “anti-flyer” weapon… I wish they had a rule that said Flamers could not hit any unit that is in “Supersonic” mode, but of course could hit them if they switched to “Hover” mode), but as a whole this is the best version of the game I have seen to date and I am eagerly anticipating what comes next, especially as tactics and armies evolve.

Alright, first impressions out the gate here, so until next time, here’s a salute to 8th Edition and also to the excellent team at GW (and the “general population” play testers who assisted them) who has come up with such an outstanding gaming system for this edition!