Triumvirate of the Primarch: Tactical Analysis of the Victrix Guard Formation

It appears that we now have the details for the “Victrix Guard” formation, which is an Ultramarine only choice that can be chosen as an Auxiliary for the new Victrix Strike Force (UM Decurion equivalent) or taken as a “stand-alone” formation.

The Victrix Guard consists of:

-Captain Cato Sicarius

-1 x Honor Guard

4 x Sternguard/Vanguard Veterans (any combination)

***Important Note: None of these units can take Dedicated Transports or start the game in a transport, which has important implications that I will discuss below.

 

In terms of special rules, they get two quite good ones:

[1] All units in this formation gain +1WS/BS for free

[2] Guilliman can use Look Out Sir! with any units from this formation, despite being a Monstrous Creature, as long as they are within 3″ of him.

 

So, how does all this stack up, and how can it be applied to competitive play? Well, just out the gate, WS5/BS5 on Honor Guard, Sternguard, and Vanguard take them all up a notch (Sicarius gets WS7 and BS6 as well, but this is not really that big a buff for him over what he already has), from “very good” to the “outstanding,” in my opinion, especially when combined with the different Doctrines Ultramarines get access to. Weighed against this, of course, is the very big negative that they cannot take Dedicated Transports (so they have to hitchhike on Fast Attack Rhinos or Heavy Support Land Raiders from an allied UM CAD) and they cannot start the game in a transport (so no Drop Pod riding at all, and basically no chance of riding in a Stormraven, unless it starts on a Skyshield Landing Pad and they hop in after the game begins). Finally, on initial impressions it appears that Captain Sicarius is a 37 MB “tax” to use this formation, since while he has good abilities, he is not widely considered a competitive choice for an Ultramarine army like Tigurius or Calgar is.

After digesting these pros and cons of the Victrix Guard, my first take was this it was probably not worth taking, despite the great buffs to WS/BS, because of what a disadvantage it is to not be able to take transports (i.e. Sternguard especially depend on Drop Pods or Rhinos to be used competitively). However, as I have thought more about it, I began to see some ways that you might be able to use this formation and still field a half-way competitive army.

Here are some ideas I came up with, in that vein:


[1] Footslogging Guilliman Bodyguard — This may be the most obvious option, and the one GW intended us to use given the very specific special rules for LoS! they included in the formation. Take 4 squads of Vanguard Vets (3 with Jump Packs and a mixture of close combat weapons to taste, one foot-slogging with maxed out Storm Shields), plus the mandatory Honor Guard and Sicarius. The three Jump Pack Vanguard squads operate independently, either coming in from DS Reserve (Sicarius’ +1 to Reserve Rolls helps here) or advancing up the board rapidly on turn 1 to get into assault as soon as possible with their WS5 attacks (with re-rolls to Hit of 1, thanks to Assault and Tactical doctrines which, with Guilliman on the board, you should be able to activate a total of four turns a game). Meanwhile, Guilliman footslogs up the middle with the Stormshield Vanguard, Honor Guard, and Sicarius nearby…. if you gets lots of enemy attacks the Guilliman can tank easily (thanks to his T6, EW, 2+/3++, FNP, and 6W), then he just shrugs them off and the whole battle group advances as fast as they can come to grips with the enemy.

If, on the other hand, he gets hit with lots of firepower that can kill him efficiently (Grav, D-Weapons, massed poison, etc.), then use the Look out Sir! to pass those wounds off on a 4+ to either the Stormshield Vanguard (for the AP2/1 attacks, like Centurion Grav Cannons) or to the Honor Guard/Sicarius (for the massed AP3 and worse attacks like Scatter Laser Jetbikes, DE Splinter Weapons, massed Tau Missile Pods or Smart Missile Systems, etc.)…. remember, the way Look Out Sir! works is that the to Hit and to Wound rolls go against Guilliman FIRST, then he can decide to try and Look Out Sir! before saving throws are made… this is important because it means that all the attacks must successfully wound against his T6 FIRST, and then the nearby Vanguard/Honor Guard can still attempt to absorb the attack with their 3++ and 2+ saves, respectively (i.e. put another way, you get the advantages of Guilliman’s high T6, but still get to use their saves and wounds, so kind of the best of both worlds). The entire point of this strategy is to keep Guilliman alive as long as possible so that he can keep buffing the rest of your army and also get into combat himself, where he will pretty much wreck havoc on anything opposing him. In doing this, the Jump Pack Vanguard can serve as a type of “holding force” to tie up key enemy units in combat long enough for Guilliman (and his bodyguards, who are solid in close combat themselves) to run up and charge the unit himself.

With this strategy, with whatever points you have left over, I think it would be wise to build as much of a backfield gun-line as you can (i.e. Sicaran Predators, TFC and Quad Mortar batteries, Devastators, Land Speeders with TMLs, Whirlwinds, allied artillery, etc.), both to support you advancing melee elements and to take full advantage of the attention that your opponent will likely pay to the melee units vice the shooting units. If you do manage to get Guilliman safely into enemy lines, especially against a shooty army like Tau or Astra Militarum, then his exceptional melee abilities might very well turn the tide of the game in your favor.

 

[2] Gun-line Sternguard — Another way to run this formation does not depend on Guilliman (or the Look Out Sir!) abilities at all. Instead, you take:

-A fortification like an Aegis Line, Bastion, Firestorm Redoubt, etc.

-Four minimum sized Sternguard squads

-Mandatory Sicarius/Honor Guard.

The Sternguard each take two Heavy Weapons like Lascannons, Missile Launchers, or Grav Cannons, and operate basically like expensive, elite Devastators. Place them in the fortifications for improved survivability and then use their BS5 (with re-rolls to Hit of 1 from Tactical and Devastator doctrines) to have a 97% chance to hit with their Heavy Weapons and Special Issue Ammunition bolters (Note: Even if you use up the Doctrines, if you take the Ammunition Dump upgrade to the building, then they can re-roll 1s to Hit all game long).

As for the Vanguard and Sicarius, they form the “counter-assault” element for this Gun-line, waiting behind protection until enemy units try and get close to dislodge the Sternguard and/or seize objectives, then storm forward and tear them up with their 2+ saves and massed PW attacks. Sicarius also uses his various buffs (i.e. +1 to Reserve rolls, Ld10 to the entire army if he is the Warlord, Infilitrate/Scout/ Tank Hunters/Counterattack to a single Tactical squad, etc.) to assist your army while perhaps manning a Quad Gun (with BS6) for anti-flyer/skimmer firepower for insurance on that front as well. Combine all this with some additional shooting, say from Astra Militarum or Cult Mechanicus allies, and I think you have the making of a solid army.

 

[3] Issodon Infiltration/Mechanized Force — This may be my favorite, and the one most likely to be competitive in a tournament scenario. First, take the following:

-Lias Issodon (Warlord) along with a Raptors CAD (including at least one Spartan Assault Tank and one Grav Centurion squad, plus a pair of melee Scouts in Land Speeder Storms for the mandatory Troops slot)

-2 x Sternguard squads with good mixture of Combi/Heavy weapons

-2 x Vanguard squads with Jump Packs and good mix of Special Melee Weapons/Storm Shields

-Sicarius and Honor Guard (with Banner of the Emperor Ascendant)

Now, use Issodon’s Warlord trait to infiltrate the two Sternguard Squads, the Grav Centurions, and himself into position before the game begins (Lias goes with the Centurions to give them Shrouded and at least a modicum of close combat ability). Turn 1, the Honor Guard/Sicarius load into the Spartan and then Move/Flat Out 18″ forward while the Jump Pack Vanguard move up behind the Spartan, using it for cover/LOS blocking.

Provided you don’t get Seized on and have first turn, you can unleash two Sternguard squads worth of BS5 (again re-rolling 1s to Hit, thanks to Doctrines) firepower, plus a full squad of Centurion Grav Cannon shooting, on your opponent for a devastating “alpha strike” (without having to depend on Drop Pods, which is a big deal against Interceptor heavy Tau forces, for example). Additionally, you have multiple elite melee units in position for a Turn 2-3 charge, where they can put their superior weaponry and WS5 to excellent use, all the while being supported by the firepower from Spartan and the Raptor Scouts/LS Storms using their mobility to grab key Objectives. If you do not have First Turn, or for some reason do not think it makes tactical send to Infilitrate, then you can have the Sternguard, Grav Centurions, and Issodon Outflank instead (remember, as long as Sicarius is alive/on the battlefield and Issodon is simply alive, you get a re-rollable 2+ for any Reserve rolls, plus your opponent gets -1 to his Reserve rolls). Finally, if you want to start the Vanguard Vets in Deep Strike Reserve, not only can you get them in on Turn 2 with 97% reliability, thanks to the Reserve modifiers mentioned above, but they can use Issodon’s Locator Beacon to DS in with no scatter, making their arrival that much more reliable and accurate.


 

Overall, while I think the Victrix Guard has some very real (and constraining) limitations, it also has some very great possibilities, as mentioned above. and I think it should be an exciting formation to experiment with and, hopefully, play with at a competitive level.

 

 

 

Triumvirate of the Primarch: Guilliman as a Force Multiplier

So, after sleeping on it a bit and thinking about it, here are some ideas I have on how to best employ Guilliman with other Imperium forces (especially regarding how his 6 Command Trait WLs can buff units within 12″):

[1] Mass Contemptor Dreads — Since Guilliman provides re-rolls of 1s to Hit for BOTH shooting and close combat, I figured the most efficient units to buff with him are ones that can do well in both of these phases. Thinking of this, Contemptor Dreadnoughts jumped out at me as a unit that might do very well in conjunction with the UM Primarch, since they really are a balanced unit that has about the same mobility as him (6″ movement and Fleet) and solid abilities in both Shooting and Assault. Not only doe they come with WS5/BS5 stock, but they have 5 x S10 AP2 attacks on the charge, all at full I4, and they can be upgraded to have 6 x S6 AP4 Rending shots a turn each. Combined with re-rolls of 1s to Hit and they become hyper accurate (97% chance of hitting) for shooting and, against most opponents, very likely to hit in close combat (3+s to hit, re-rolling 1s). Add to all this their Av13/12/10 armor and 5++ Invul save and they make for a tough target which will force your opponent to choose between engaging them or concentrating on Guilliman (this becomes even better with target saturation, if you have say 4 or more Contemptors running alongside the Primarch). Finally, with Guilliman providing them Move Through Cover and +1″ to Run/Charge distances, they become even more agile and should be able to get across the battlefield quicker than your opponent might expect. The one downside to Contemptors is their high points cost (37 MBs a piece, with the Kheres Assault Cannon), but if want to take a cheaper version of this, just run Venerable Dreads with Assault Cannons instead… not quite as durable or capable, but only costing 27 MBs per model to mass alongside Guilliman.

 

[2] Dark Angel Ravenwing Support Squadron — I have already talked about this in previous posts, but this is basically a squadron of RW Landspeeders and either a Darkshroud or a Landspeeder Vengeance combined into a single unit. The squadron then gets some very good special rules, including Interceptor and Strafing Run (so BS5 against basically any non Flyer/FMC targets). Combined this with re-rolls to Hit of 1s from a nearby Guilliman and either lots of Bolters, MMs, Assault Cannons, and/or CMLs and the squadron has a 97% chance of hitting with its shooting at ground targets that can be deployed against either enemy units arriving from Reserve or just normally as fire support for your main army.

 

[3] Skitarii and Secutarii Infantry — Whether it is Vanguard, Rangers, Infiltrators, or even the Forgeworld Peltasts, all of these units can use Doctrina Imperatives to boost their Ballistic Skill to BS5 or higher for at least turns a game. Combined with Guilliman and they, just like the units above, become hyper-accurate and can do even more damage than usual with their already strong shooting (this is especially great with Plasma Cavaliers, since they can re-roll Gets Hot! rolls of 1 and with Arc Rifles, making them almost auto-strip HPs from any vehicle in range, be it tanks, walkers, skimmers, Super-Heavies, or Imperial Knights. Secutarii Peltasts in particular, with their multiple ammunition types, can be very deadly when bumped up to BS5 and re-rolling 1s to hit, whether shooting at Hordes with their Flechette Burster rounds or tougher infantry/vehicles with their Kinetic Hammershot ammo. Finally, if any of these Skitarii/Secutarii troops do end up charging after shooting (thinking of Infiltrators here, especially), then Guilliman’s buffs to Hit, to Charge range, and for Move Through Cover all help them significantly.

I am sure there are many other types of units/battle groups that will synergize well with Roboute Guilliman, but these are just a few that jump out to me right away… overall, I am quite excited to see how he will play out on the competitive tabletop (and we haven’t even looked at how he buffs Ultramarines yet!).

Triumvirate of the Primarch: Grand Master Voldus and Blood Angel Friends

Continuing to look at the Triumvirate of the Primarch as more rules are leaked, next we have Grand Master Voldus of the Grey Knights. Based on what we have heard so far, he as the “standard” Grey Knight Grand Master stats/wargear/rules as follows:

 

WS6 BS5 S4 T4 W3 I5 A4 Ld10 Sv 2+/4++

WARGEAR:

-TDA/Frag Grenades/Krak Grenades/Iron Halo/Storm Bolter

SPECIAL RULES:

-The Aegis/Preferred Enemy (Daemons)/Purity of Spirit

 

On top of these “baseline” abilities, Voldus is PML(3) (he can generate from any disciplines available to the Grey Knights, including Technomancy, Geokinesis, Fulmination, and Librarius powers) and has the “Lore Master of Titan” Warlord Trait (so he can generate an additional Sanctic power above his three normal powers). Looking at him another way, he is basically a hybrid of a the stats of a Grand Master and the Psychic abilities of a maxed out Librarian.

Additionally, and this is important, his Relic is the “Malleus Argyrum,” which is a normal Nemesis Daemon Hammer in every way except for one thing… it strikes at full initiative! So, without any buffs, he as a S8 AP2 Force Weapon that strikes at WS6 and I5… with Hammerhand added in, then it can easily go up to S10 AP2, making it dangerous against anything in the game, including GMCs, Super-Heavies, and extreme combat characters like the infamous Iron Hands Biker Chapter Master of Doom!

 

To really maximize Voldus’ abilities, this is how I am considering running him:

-Voldus (focuses on getting Electrodisplacement from the Fulmination discipline or Might of Heroes from the Librarius discipline)

-Allied TDA Blood Angel Librarian with PML(2) (takes The Quickening power, which is a Primaris power, so they are guaranteed)

-Allied TDA Blood Angel Chaplain

-GK Paladins with Brotherhood Banner and Apothecary

The entire group combines together, either in a transport (like a Spartan Assault Tank, Land Raider Crusader, etc.) or using Electrodisplacment, to get into assault with key enemy units. In a best case scenario, with Force, Might of Heroes, and The Quickening all activated, that gives Voldus 9-11 x S10 AP2 Instant Death attacks on the charge, all at WS6 (with re-rolls to Hit, thank to Zealot) and I8-10 (thanks to The Quickening and Might of Heroes).

Against a Wraithknight, he strike first and gets an average of 10 attacks, 8-9 hits, 7-8 wounds (and no armor saves or FNP, thanks to AP2 and Instant Death)… add in the fact that each Unsaved Wound causes D3 wounds, because of Force being activated, and you are almost guaranteed to kill the Wraithknight before it strikes.

Similarly, against a Stormsurge, Voldus would get an average of 10 attacks, 8-9 hits, 7-8 wounds, and 3-4 Unsaved Wounds after 4++ Invul saves (again, no FNP because of Instant Death)… with some luck in getting 2s and 3s on the D3 wounds inflicted for each Unsaved Wound and you can kill the Stormsurge before it ever gets a chance to hit back or Stomp (the Paladins can strike in here with their weapons as well).

Even against Thunderwolf Cavalry and/or Wulfen, Voldus with get an average of 10 attacks, 8-9 hits, 7-6 wounds, and multiple dead TWC or Wulfen units before they can even strike back (it depends on how many Storm Shields the unit has to stop the S10 AP2 Instant Death attacks).

While this might be somewhat of a “gimmick” tactic, in the right circumstances this battle group, led by Voldus, will be able to deal with almost any enemy unit in close combat it encounters. If Voldus is able to roll up Electrodisplacement, then he also has a very solid chance of getting into combat Turn 1 and not even needing an Assault Transport to ride in (saving you tons of points in your army)… just Deep Strike in a GK unit turn 1 near the enemy target (the closer, the better), then use Electrodisplacement to “swap” places with Voldus and his battle group and follow it up with a (hopefully successful) Turn 1 charge. I think this tactic can be especially useful against Tau Riptide gun-lines, super mobile Eldar forces backed by Wraithknights, Centurion-stars, and pretty much anything else which can put out ridiculous firepower turn 1, since it can begin shutting that down right away with such potent close combat ability combined with an early game charge.

Triumvirate of the Primarch: Roboute Guilliman… Initial Thoughts

So, as the rumors are pouring in about Roboute Guilliman (the first member of the latest Triumvirate that we have solid rules on), it looks like he has the following profile:

 

——————————————–

WS9 BS6 S6 T6 W6 I6 A6 Ld10 Sv 2+/3++ (Monstrous Creature, Character) — (70 MBs cost)

 

SPECIAL RULES:

-Adamantium Will

-Eternal Warrior

-Fearless

-FNP(5+)

-Fleet

-Preferred Enemy (Forces of Chaos)

-Precision Strikes/Shots

-Chapter Tactics (Ultramarines)

-Unyielding Will — His Leadership can never be impacted by negative modifiers

-Lord Commander of the Imperium — All friendly Imperium units in his army re-roll all failed Morale/Fear/Pinning checks.

-Primarch of the XIII Legion — Gives all Ultramarines in his army access to an additional use of Tactical, Assault, AND Devastator Doctrines

 

WARLORD TRAIT:

-Absolute Mastery — Has all six Command Traits (i.e. all friendly units within 12″ use his Ld, have Move Through Cover, gain +1″ to Run and Charge moves, re-roll 1s to Hit in both Shooting and Assault, and all enemy units within 12″ use their lowest Ld).

 

WARGEAR:

-Armor of Fate — Gives him 2+/3++ and each time he dies, on a roll of 4+, he comes back to life next turn with D3 wounds.

-Emperor’s Sword and Hand of Dominion — As a shooting weapon, gives, 24″ S6 AP2 Assault 3 Rending weapon and in close combat gives him a S10 AP1 Armourbane, Concussive, Soul Blaze weapon that strikes at full I6. Additionally, any rolls to Hit of 6 become Destroyer attacks (so great for killing ICs, vehicles, and other LOWs) and he can choose to swap all his normal attacks for a single “sweep” attack which automatically hits all enemy models within 1″ of him (so great for single-handedly clearing out hordes).


 

Looking at all this and considering that he only costs 70 MBs and a LOW slot, in many ways Guilliman is an exceptional bargain, especially considering all the buffs he gives out and how ridiculously hard he hits in close combat. He really can take all comers in the Assault Phase, with the ability to deal with everything from Greater Daemons and GMCs like Wraithknights to tar-pitting masses of Gaunts, Cultists, Ork Boyz, Hybrid Acolytes etc.

In terms of being a force multiplier to his army, with any Imperium faction (which is pretty much any army that you would play him with, since everyone else is Allies of Convenience, i.e. Eldar/Harlequins,  or worse, i.e all the other factions), then you can easily make hims the “flagship” of either a shooty gunline or the anchor of an advancing foot-slogging assault force (i.e. Black Templars, Skitarii, foot Sisters of Battle, etc.). Then your opponent is forced to make a decision.. try and kill Guilliman to “de-force multiple” (which will take a significant portion of his combat power to do), or try and kill the rest of the allied forces while Guilliman continues to buff them and move himself closer to getting into melee with your forces… either way, it is a tough choice and, given that the Ultramarine Primarch is such a bargain points cost for all his abilities, you can still have a substantial army around him.

Weighed against this are two major negatives: first, as a Monstrous Creature, there is not way for him to join squads, be joined, or use Look Out Sir! (we will see if future formations or 8th edition changes this, but for now this it how it stands), meaning that he is basically as tough as a Riptide with an extra wound, Stimulant Injectors, and Nova Reactor shielding activated… on other words, tough, but very kill-able, especially to massed Grav, Eldar D-Weapons, and/or Poison, which are all quite common in competitive games (especially Grav). While he does have EW and so cannot be “one-shotted” by Instant Death weapons like other MCs can be, if you opponent can concentrated fire it only takes an average of 40 x BS4 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to bring him down. That, or lucky D weapon shots, will be a difficult threat to deal with for any armies fielding Guilliman, especially if these weapons can Alpha Strike via Drop Pod, Deep Strike, etc.

The second major issue is that, as a non-Flying/Jump MC, he cannot get in vehicles and must foot-slog forward at 6″ a turn, which greatly limits his mobility (also durability, since he can’t use transports to protect him from enemy shooting) and makes it difficult to catch enemy forces in close combat and use his amazing abilities in that arena. If your plan is to just use him as an assault “smasher,” then I think you will have significant trouble getting the most out of him, since a savvy opponent will simply kite away, use sacrificial screening units, and/or shoot him down before he can actually come to grips with his target(s) in assault. Additionally, this creates a problem for trying to keep in “buffing range” for any fast moving armies (i.e. Bikers, Mechanized units, Deep Striking forces, etc.), since Guilliman can only move 6″ and run a maximum of 7″ additional each turn (having Fleet does help a little here, but of course he has to sacrifice shooting to use it and still hope his Run rolls are good).

So, considering all that, is Roboute Guilliman worth investing in for a competitive army? I think the answer is “Yes,” but you can’t just throw him blindly out there and expect to excel. First, you have to craft an army that maximizes his strengths and force-multiplying skills… obviously, Ultramarines automatically get the most of any faction in having him on the board, since they are guaranteed two Devastator, two Assault, and two Tactical doctrines usages per game. While I think many different builds can actually make good use of him, probably one of the strongest is an advancing “gunline” style army that puts out tons of firepower and slowly, relentlessly moves toward your opponent (kind of like an Imperium version of Necrons 😉 ). In this way, Guilliman can maximize the buffs he puts out, keep up with the army, and serve as a ridiculously powerful “counter-assault” element if your opponent tries to get in close to your forces (remember, with Fleet and +1″ to his Charge ranges, he has something like a 10″ average charge distance).

Secondly, I think you have to actively work to mitigate his weaknesses in mobility and his vulnerability to certain kinds of enemy shooting… here are some ideas that might help in this area:

[1] Void Shield Generator — If you are planning to have him sit back and buff/protect your fire base, then a Void Shield Generator can give him in essence 3 x AV12 “layers” that your enemy has to deal with before targeting Guilliman… this is especially key against Grav weapons and can really make the difference between him surviving as Alpha Strike by units with them or not.

[2] Heavy Cover and “The Shrouding” psychic power — While he naturally has a 2+/3++, even that 3++ fails a 33% of the time against AP2/1 weaponry (again, Grav is one of the biggest culprits here). By combining Heavy Cover (4++ cover save) and Shrouding you give him a 2++ cover save, which reduces wounds inflicted by AP2/1 weapons by 16% compared to his normal wargear… not enough to make him invincible, but enough to help him survive long enough so that you can eliminate the key threats to him before your opponent gets another Shooting Phase.

[3] “Earth Blood” and “Endurance” psychic powers — Earth Blood restores D3 wounds and gives him IWND, so if you are lucky you can bring back a maximum of 4 lost wounds in a single turn, which would go a long way to helping him survive the entire game. Endurance improves his FNP from a 5+ to a 4+, which isn’t major, but like the discussion with Shrouding above, it reduces overall damage to him by an average of 16%, which in a game of small margins, can be the difference between victory and disaster for Guilliman specifically and your army as a whole.

[4] “Electrodisplacement” psychic power —  Considered one of the most OP/imbalanced powers in the game right, nevertheless it can make a big difference for getting Guilliman into combat. Drop Pod a Librarian with this power next to a enemy target unit Turn 1, then cast the power to “switch” places between Guilliman and the Librarian, then charge that target enemy unit with Roboute in the Assault Phase of that same turn… if successful, you can have him tearing up enemy forces in close combat from right out the gate, not to mention the massive Psychological blow to your opponent when he finds his Stormsurge or Wraithknight or Hive Tyrant or Grav Centurions locked in combat with a Primarch before it ever even gets to move/shoot.

[5] “Magnetokinesis” psychic power — While Guilliman cannot charge after using this ability, if cast successfully it does allow him to move another 18″ without needing to run (so a net of 24″ in one turn), which makes him more than able to keep up with fast-moving allied units and also immediately puts the pressure on your opponent as you threaten a Turn 2 charge with a potent MC in his phase (NOTE: This tactic can work especially well, I think, if used in conjunction with multiple Shunting Dreadknights, putting a “threat overload” of deadly Imperial Monstrous Creatures in his face right away, making it difficult to choose what to deal with and really putting him on the horns of a dilemma).

[6] “Invisibility” psychic power — This is the gold standard of powers to enhance Guilliman, I think. If you can get it off successfully on him, then he is completely immune to any Blasts or Templates, which is what most D weapons are (unless they have a lucky scatter onto him) and even against massed Grav he becomes SO much more survivable. With Invisibility successfully cast, it takes an average of 27 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to cause a single Unsaved Wound to Guilliman (without Invisibility, it takes an average of 7 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to cause a single Unsaved Wound), so about 160 Grav shots to actually kill him. If you can get this off, then Guilliman is basically invulnerable and all you have to worry about is his mobility issues and maximizing his positioning to buff the rest of your army.

[7] Lias Issodon and Infiltration — If you are willing to give up the tremendous benefits of his powerful Warlord Traits (and they are pretty major), you can take Lias Issodon as your Warlord and use his Master of Ambush WL Trait to Infiltrate Guilliman 18″ away from enemy forces, which gives him a greatly enhanced chance of moving in and, by Turn 2, catching enemy units in close combat (i.e. move 6″ and then run an average of another 5″, putting him 7″ away from your opponent by the end of the turn). While there is a big trade-off with this tactic, it can be quite effective for maximizing his potent close combat skills.

Besides all that I have mentioned already, one additional thing to note is, given how powerful Guilliman is and what a threat he can be, another role he can play is that of “fire magnet” for the rest of your army by drawing away firepower that would otherwise be a real threat to the units around him. Outside of Grav, D Weapons, and exceptionally massed poison, he can really “tank” quite a lot of damage, as it takes the following to inflict a SINGLE unsaved wound on him:

[a] BS4 Bolter — 81 shots

[b] BS4 Scatter Laser — 27 shots

[c] BS3 TLed High Yield Missile Pod — 18 shots

[d] BS4 Plasma Gun — 10 shots

[e] BS4 Lascannon/Bright Lance/Dark Lance/Railgun– 8 shots

[f] BS4 Splinter Rifle/Cannon — 27 shots

All of this is for a single wound, so it takes 6 times this to kill him on average (and then he has a 50% chance of coming back to life), so played right you can really use him to effectively absorb combat power away from the rest of your army list.

Overall, I am pretty excited to see Guilliman get rules for 40K and will very interested to see how his performance holds up in competitive play… as I said at the beginning here, with savvy employment, I think he can be a great addition to any Imperium army, ESPECIALLY an Ultramarine one (I myself currently run a partial Ultramarine Army right now)!

Experimental Rules: Veteran Skills for Deathwatch Squads

Deathwatch is one of my favorite armies in terms of fluff and background and thematic elements (I really like the idea of Astartes “Special Forces” drawn from all different Chapters and equipped with the best equipment, but always fighting outnumbered and out-gunned), so ideas for how to make this codex both more fluffy and more competitive are always coming to mind for me.

One thought I had was to allow each Watch Sergeant in a Veteran squad (or Watch Captain as an IC) be able to “purchase” a Veteran skill that would apply to him and his unit and would reflect him teaching the squad methods of warfare that he is especially proficient in, based on what Chapter he originally came from. For simplicity’s sake, I thought it would be best to just make one skill per the original 9 Loyalist Chapters (after all, they are the primogenitors of all the subsequent chapters, so they could be used to represent Watch Sergeants from other Chapters as well) and to limit each “veteran skill” upgrade to one per army (i.e. so you could only have one Space Wolf background Watch Sergeant and one Blood Angels background Watch Sergeant, etc. etc. per army).

Here are my ideas for this:

[1] “Tactical Acumen” — Ultramarine Veteran Skill (15 points) — Once per game, starting at the beginning of the friendly Movement Phase, this model and all members of his squad with the Deathwatch faction may re-roll all to Hit rolls until the beginning of the next Friendly Turn.

[2] “Bane of Tanks” — Imperial Fists Veteran Skill (15 points) — This model gains Tank Hunter USR.

[3] “Advanced Bionics” — Iron Hands Veteran Skill (5 points) — This model gains FNP(5+).

[4] “Firestorm Tactics” — Salamander Veteran Skill (10 points) — This model and all members of his unit with the Deathwatch faction gain Shred for their Hand Flamers, Flamers, Heavy Flamers, and Heavy Flamer portions of their Infernus Heavy Bolters.

[5] “Cunning Combatant” — White Scars Veteran Skill (15 points) — This model gains Hit and Run USR.

[6] “Shadow Tactics” — Raven Guard Veteran Skill (5 points) — This model gains Shrouded USR for the first game turn, provided it did not start inside a vehicle.

[7] “Battle Wrath” — Space Wolf Veteran Skill (5 points) — This model and all Deathwatch faction models in his unit gain Counterattack USR.

[8] “Storm of Fury” — Blood Angel Veteran Skill (10 points) — This model and all Deathwatch faction models in his unit gain Furious Charge USR.

[9] “Unrelenting Fortitude” — Dark Angel Veteran Skill (5 points) — This model and all Deathwatch faction models in his unit can fire Overwatch at BS2.

As you can see, these skills basically mirror at least a portion of the “chapter tactics” of the original 9 Loyalist Chapters and, I think, would also be competitive choices customizing each DW Veteran squad a little further. The Watch Captain could add even more flexibility by taking one of these skills and attaching to a squad that has a different skill via its Watch Sergeant… so, for example, you could have a close combat focused squad that has both Furious Charge and Hit and Run or, alternately, you could have a squad with both Tank Hunters and the ability to re-roll all to Hits once per game.

Triumvirate of the Imperium: Belsarius Cawl, Imperial Knights, and the Emperor’s Talon Recon Company

So, the other day I saw a showcase of an Imperial Knights army supported by Sentinels as their “men at arms” and I thought this was a very thematic army, as well as one that had some tactical merit (i.e. the Sentinels fill in some of the weaknesses of Imperial Knights, being relatively cheap and able to provide board control, screening, and engagement of multiple targets a turn; conversely, IKs complement Sentinels well by providing high-threat targets that distract enemy attacks from the fragile walkers, strong close combat abilities, and high end firepower to boot).

Based on this, I put together the following 2000 point list trying to maximize the strengths of such a combination:

—IMPERIAL KNIGHT HOUSEHOLD—

*[Warlord] Knight Crusader with Avenger Cannon, RF Battle Cannon, Stormspear Rocket Pod, Memento-Mortispex Relic (495)

*Knight Crusader with Avenger Cannon, RF Battle Cannon, Stormspear Rocket Pod (465)

*Knight Crusader with Avenger Cannon, RF Battle Cannon, Stormspear Rocket Pod (465)

—EMPEROR’S TALONG RECON COMPANY—

*3 x Scout Sentinels with Multi-Lasers (105)

*3 x Scout Sentinels with Multi-Lasers (105)

—CULT MECHANICUS ALLIED DETACHMENT—

*Belisarius Cawl (200)

*3 Kataphron Destroyers with Heavy Grav Cannons (165)

 

So, that is a 2000 point force on the nose. The Imperial Knights are all Crusaders with Stormspear Rocket Pods because of the versatility of firepower it provides (i.e. between them, they can target up to 9 different units with 36 x S6 AP3 Rending shots, 9 x S8 AP3 shots, and 6 x S8 AP3 Large Blasts; on top of that, they can shoot their Heavy Stubbers at different units to enable them to charge something other than what they shot at).

On top of all this, my Warlord would be a Baron (getting WS5/BS5 for free) and the ability to re-roll WL traits (aiming for Landstrider or Ion Bulwark)… combine this with its multiple shooting options and you have a very potent ranged and close combat unit. Lastly, the Warlord also takes the Memento-Mortispex Relic (thanks to Cawl being in the same army), which gives it the choice of Tank Hunter, Monster Hunter, and Skyfire each turn, making it exceptionally versatile and potent against a whole range of targets (i.e. imagine shooting at a Flying Hive Tyrant with 12 x S6 AP3 shots and 3 x S8 AP3 shots, all at BS5).

As for the Sentinels, they provide cheap firepower (18 x S6 shots a turn, with Preferred Enemy against a selected enemy target), objective grabbing while the Knights take care of business (it helps that they have Scout/Outflank and Move Through Cover for this role), and even a form of light screening to “tarpit” enemy units in close combat so that the Knights can keep shooting unmolested, if required. Finally, Cawl and the Kataphron Destroyers provide a small “firebase” unit than can hold Objectives in the backfield and shoot out to 30″ with 18 Graviton shots a turn. In this unit, Cawl can tank for the Destroyers with his 2+/5++, FNP, and 5 wounds, while also providing potent close combat abilities in case they are assaulted, and the Destroyers can deal with TEQs, Monstrous Creatures,  etc. so the Knights can maximize their combat power against other units.

Importantly for the entire army, Cawl can use his special Canticles to “buff” all friendly Cult Mechanicus units and also all Imperium vehicles within 12″ (so that means both the Knights and Sentinels) with +1BS for a turn (so all Knights in range become BS5, Sentinels in range become BS4, and the Destroyers become BS4), a 6++ save for a turn (great for the Sentinels and for covering the sides of Knights not protected by their Ion Shields), and IWND for a turn (again, great for a chance at restoring lost HPs in this army). He can also use the “normal” Canticles to buff himself and the Destroyers, so there is lots of versatility in the ways he can force multiply the entire battle group.

Overall, while this may not be a “top tier” competitive army, I think in the hands of a savvy commander in has all the tools to both defeat enemy units in combat and also grab Objectives in games where those are vital (remember, the Imperial Knights and also the Kataphron Destroyers are Objective Secured).

Triumverate of the Imperium: Celestine, Teleporting Grey Knights, and the Deathpack

Here is an idea for a battle group that I have been playing around with a bit lately:

-Celestine (and her bodyguards of course)

-10 x GK Interceptor Squad (with 2 Psycannons and 2 Daemon Hammer)

-“Deathpack A” formation from the Space Wolves starter kit (Wolf Lord on TWC with Runic Armor, Thunder Hammer, Wolf Claw, Shroud of the Anti-Martyr Relic; 10 x Grey Hunter with Drop Pod, +1CCW, Power Axe, 2 MGs, WGPL with Combi-Melta and Wolf Claw, Wolf Banner; 4 x TWC, all with PF/SS)

-“Deathpack B” formation from the Space Wolves starter kit (Wolf Lord on TWC with Runic Armor, Blade of the Worthy Relic; 5 x Grey Hunter with Drop Pod, Flamer; 4 x TWC, all with PF/SS)

So, basically, the way this works is that Celestine and her bodyguards attach to the Interceptors and the two “Deathpack” TWC squads (each with their respective TWC Wolf Lords attached) set up on either side of her.

Turn 1, Celestine uses her ability to give the two TWC squads/TWC Lords Fleet and Crusader. Then, everyone (i.e. both TWC packs, Celestine/Interceptors) move up 12″ in the Movement Phase. Meanwhile, the large Grey Hunter squad (with the Wolf Banner) drops in and shoots up a target unit with their Meltas and sets up their Wolf Banner (more on this later).

In the Shooting Phase, the Interceptors can add their Psycannons and Stormbolters into the mix while Celestine shoots with her “one shot Battle Cannon” orbital barrage. Simultaneously, the two TWC squads run forward as well…. thanks to Crusader and Fleet, there is quite a solid chance of the getting a 5-6″ Run per squad (roll two dice and pick the highest, due to Crusader, and re-rolls of any dice, due to Fleet)… this should put the two TWC at 17-18″ across no man’s land (and about 6-7″ from the edge of the enemy DZ).

During the charge phase, the two TWC squads attempt to charge any enemy units deployed along the edge of the DZ (the “Deathpack” formation allows these units to charge after running), which means that they have to make an average of 6-7″ charge, with re-rolls thanks to Fleet (and no slowing due to Difficult Terrain, thanks to being Cavalry)… between the two squads, there is a very solid chance of one or both squads getting the charge off and laying down lots of S10 AP2 attacks… with proper positioning of the Grey Hunters and their Wolf Banner, you can give the one or both of these units +1A, making them even more deadly in close combat.

In subsequent turns, you can use Celestine to give the Wolf Lords (and their units) Zealot with her aura, plus you can have the Interceptors shoot or charge themselves (they can use Hammerhand to give themselves, Celestine, and her Gemini bodyguards +2S, which can make a major difference for the whole unit) and Celestine can give the entire squad Hit and Run. Alternately, you can “shunt” the Interceptors across the board to an Objective and have Celestine/the Gemini bodyguards attach to one of the TWC packs to add durability and attacks (and Hit and Run as well). Finally, the second Grey Hunter Pack can come in on its Drop Pod and grab an Objective and/or put down a Flamer template while the “original” Grey Hunter pack can continue to shoot or even charge into combat (between +1CCW and the Wolf Banner, each Grey Hunter gets 4A on the charge).

Finally, the TWC Lords use their respective Relics (Shroud of the Anti-Martyr for EW on one and Sword of the Worthy for +2S AP2 attacks at I5 for the other) “unlocked” by having Celestine to make them even more potent in combat and, along with their TWC escorts, able to continue to wreak havoc in enemy lines in subsequent turns.