Champions of Fenris Greatpack

I think the Champions of Fenris Greatpack is quite intriguing, especially with its new version of Logan’s “High King” rule:

1 – All units gets Fearless

2 – WG, TDAWG, and TWC get +1WS

3 – All units from this Greatpack within 12″ of Logan get one of the following rules each turn (you choose): Tank Hunters, Monster Hunters, Preferred Enemy, Relentless, or Furious Charge

With the new “High King” 12″ bubble (which can be extended even further by putting Logan on his sled ), you basically are getting an improved version of the infamous Tau Puretide Engram Chip which affects multiple units at once, instead of just the bearer and his unit.

There are tons of possible applications, but here are some that jump to my mind right out the gate:

1 – Logan Drop Pods in with multiple Plasma Grey Hunter Packs and uses Preferred Enemy to buff all their S7 AP2 Rapid Fire goodness.

2 – Logan rides his Chariot in the middle of multiple maxed out Blood Claw Packs (along with some nearby Wulfen to amp up their abilities even more) and grants them Furious Charge.

3 – Logan rides in his Chariot with multiple meched up Long Fang Packs and grants them Relentless so they can shoot from the hatches of their Rhinos or dismount from their Razorbacks at full BS even after moving.

4 – Logan rides in his Chariot along with multiple TWC packs, granting them either Preferred Enemy (general use), Tank Hunters (assaulting enemy mech), Monster Hunters (for tearing down Tau Riptides and Eldar Wraithknights in close combat), or Furious Charge (for S6 attacks on the charge against T3 enemy like Eldar and Tau).

As you can see, there are many uses for Logan and his Greatpack formation. I think the biggest drawback is the high minimum unit requirement to make this work (i.e. Logan, 2 WG/TDAWG/TWC Packs, 3 Blood Claw variant Packs, 4 Grey Hunter Packs/Land Speeders, 2 Long Fang Packs MINIMUM, which is going to be most of your points right out the gate).

Still, I think the Champions of Fenris Greatpack will make for a competitive, fun, and fluffy option for Space Wolf players. I think this would work particularly well, if you can spare enough points, in conjunction with an allied BA Lucifer Armoured Task Force, which can put multiple armored units (with lots of Flamestorm cannons) up in the enemy’s face before the game even begins, thanks to Scout moves, thus taking target priority away from Logan (who is the lynchpin of this force) and all the Space Wolves escorting him.

Custodes Tactica

With GW releasing 40K rules for the new Custodes models (albeit without a way to field them quite yet, aside from Unbound; I am going off the assumption that that will be corrected soon), I think they have solid potential for competitive play. Looking at their stats/rules, they have the following:

-WS5 BS5 S5 T5 W2 I4 A3 Ld 10 Sv2+

-Guardian Spear (Shoots just like a Bolter and, in close combat, has the following profile: S: +1 AP2, Two-Handed, Block — Gives a chance to block one enemy attack per turn, if you roll higher than their To Hit roll) and Power Knife

Custodes can trade the Guardian Spear for Sentinel Blade (Power Sword with 12″ S4 AP5 Assault 2 shooting profile built in, which also can make Snap Shots at BS2) for free, which means you go down to S5 AP3 and lose AP2 (and the Block special rule), but gain +1A (since the sword is not Two-handed and combines with the Power Knife for two close combat weapons) and the ability to shoot and assault the same turn (unlike the Guardian Spear, which cannot assault after shooting, since it is a Rapid Fire weapon).  More importantly, if you do NOT have a Guardian Spear, each Custodes can take a Storm Shield, giving them a 3++ and counter-acting a critical vulnerability, namely the lack of any Invul Save in their “natural” state.

Special Rules wise, the whole squad is Bulky, can Deep Strike, has Adamantium Will, is Fearless, and (most importantly) has Eternal Warrior! GK Paladins are dying with envy for these kind of stats! 😉 Seriously, though, this makes them quite flexible and reliable, with the option to deploy by Deep Strike or ride in Land Raiders, no danger of every failing a Morale check, and insurance that they will never lose both their wounds to a single attack (except it is a Destroyer attack, of course). One small interesting note is that all Custodes are Characters, not just their “sergeant,” meaning you can choose any of them to take a challenge (great for saving attached ICs) and also any of them can try and Look Out Sir! on a 4+ to preserve their wounds.

Finally, one Custodes in your army can trade his Guardian Spear out for a Custodes Vexilla Banner, giving Fearless to any friendly Imperium units within 12″ and +1A to any friendly Imperium. Combine all this with the Shield Captain “squad sergeant” (who is mandatory and has +1WS, I, and A above normal Custodes) and the option to add up to 5 more Custodes, at 10 MBs per model, and you have an expensive but potent unit, especially in close combat.

OK, now that we have gone over the basics, how do we get the most out of these expensive models? I think their primary weaknesses are lack of an Invul save (unless they drop Guardian Spears for Sentinel Blades and Stormshields), their lower mobility (Deep Striking aside), and their mediocre shooting (basically just Bolter shots at BS5). On the other hand, they strike at S6 AP2 with I4 and WS5, with 4A per model on the charge (5A if the unit has the Custodes Vexilla banner), they are T5 with 2W and Eternal Warrior to make them VERY survivable against anything that is not AP2/1, and they can mix up Guardian Spears/Sentinel Blade + Storm Shield combos to give them both hitting power and durability in the same unit.

Here are some ways I think to “force-multiply” them right out the gate and take them to the next level in terms of competitive game play:

[1] Azrael — Attaching the Dark Angel Chapter Master gives them all a 4++ (even with Guardian Spear), making them MUCH more durable without sacrificing their S6 AP2 attacks at full initiative. Additionally, if they are riding in a transport with him (say a LR Redeemer or a Spartan Assault Tank), then his 4++ is conferred to the transport, making it more 50% more survivable and thus more likely to deliver them to combat successfully. Finally, if Azrael your WL, then he can choose his trait, ranging from adding +3″ to the unit’s Run and Charge moves to giving the squad Furious Charge (so all the Guardian Spear Custodes are hitting at S7 on the charge, making them a real threat to most vehicles) to FNP for the unit if they are close to an Objective.

[2] Brother-Captain Stern — With guaranteed access to both Hammerhand and Sanctuary, he can make the already dangerous Custodes into almost invincible Close Combat monsters. Hammerhand makes their Guardian Spears strike at S8 AP2 (at I4 still) and even models with Sentinel Blades attack at S7 AP3. Better yet, Sanctuary ups any Custodes with Storm Shields to a 2++, allowing them to “shrug off” an average of  83% of all enemy AP2/1 attacks for the rest of the squad. Finally, he adds his own close combat power, especially his Force Weapon, into the mix and also gives the whole unit Preferred Enemy (Daemons) and enhanced Deny the Witch (which synergizes well with the Adamantium Will of the Custodes).

[3] Sevrin Loth — With guaranteed access to Endurance, Enfeeble, and Life Leech (in the Biomancy Discipline), he can double the survivability of the Custodes against anything that is not S10 (or has Instant Death inherently) via FNP(4+), he can reduce enemy Toughness by -1 (so S6 Guardian Spears “double out” T3 Space Marine, for example), and he can restore lost wounds to Custodes via Life Leech. Alternately, he can go Telepathy instead, with guaranteed access to Invisibility, again making the whole unit vastly more difficult to hurt via shooting or close combat. Finally, he is very solid Close Combat fighter himself, especially with his ability to have a 2++ save using the Armor of Selket.

[4] Ulrik the Slayer — While not as dramatic as some of the HQs already mentioned, he gives the entire squad of Custodes he is attached to Preferred Enemy, without any requirement to pass any Psychic Tests, and he also gives them FNP(6+), for a small buff in durability. Ulrik is not amazing as a fighter, but does have a BS5 Plasma Pistol and 5 x S6 AP4 attacks at WS6 and I5 on the charge, so he can add a little more “uummpphh” to the Custodes, especially against vehicles and units with 4+ armor or worse. Finally, if he is the WL, he also gives the unit Monster Hunter, which is quite solid for dealing with enemy MCs and GMCs that are more and more common in the game these days.

[5] Sanguinary Priest with The Angel’s Wing relic — A cheap way to give the Custodes FNP, without any need to roll for Psychic Powers or pass Psychic Tests. Additionally, the Angels Wing allows the entire unit to Deep Strike more safely/accurately and also makes it much less vulnerable to enemy Interceptor fire (mainly thinking of Tau here).

[6] Deathwatch TDA Librarian with Dominus Aegis relic — The DW Librarian can move normally with the Custodes or Deep Strike in with them, depending on the circumstances, and can also use any Psychic Powers he rolls to enhance them (imagine if he got Warpmetal Armor and cast on the Custodes squad, making the entire unit majority T6!). The Dominus Aegis gives the whole unit a 4++ if it does not move, which also activates on the second round of any combat (since they cannot move, by default, if they are stuck in combat), making the entire squad much more durable at a bargain points cost.

[7] Ordos Xenos Inquisitor with Rad Grenades, Ulumeathi Plasma Syphon, and Liber Heresius relic — The Rad Grenades reduce enemy Toughness by -1 on the first round of any combat, making the Custodes more potent in combat than they already are, the Plasma Syphon reduces the threat of Rapid Fire Plasma Weapons significantly, and the Liber Heresius relic allows the squad to Scout at the beginning of the game and gain Counter-attack and Hatred for one turn each later in the game, which can be quite useful in the right circumstances.

 

[8] Two Adepta Sororitas Ministorum Priests, one with the Litanies of Faith relic — The Priests gives the Custodes Hatred for re-rolls to Hit in the first round of combat (the Custodes already have the Fearless portion of Zealot), which is a solid buff in and of itself. More importantly, the Litanies of Faith allows both Priests to auto-pass their War Hymns tests, meaning that as long as they are alive, the whole unit AUTOMATICALLY gains Shred for its close combat attacks and AUTOMATICALLY re-rolls any saving throws (both Armor and Invul) in close combat… taken together, especially with a few Custodes with Storm Shields up front for “tanking” purposes, and you should be able to tear through even the most deadly opponents like Wulfen, Ork War bosses in Mega Armor, Hive Tyrants, GMCs, Iron Hands Chapter Masters with the Gorgon’s Chain relic, etc. etc.

Unsung Hero: Death Company Dreadnought Tactics

In all of the excitement/interest about the new formations and units from the Angel’s Blade supplement, I think it is easy to over-look how good Death Company Dreadnoughts are now, especially after the recent FAQ by Games Workshop which brings them up to 5A base.

Looking at their profile, a baseline DC Dreadnought takes up an Elites slot (or is a 1-3 requirement in the Death Company Strike Force formation) and come in at a cost of 25 MBs per unit. They also come “stock” with 2 PFs (one with a meltagun and one with a storm bolter), Rage, Furious Charge (which only comes into play if they lose both of their PFs/Blood Talons), and “None Can Stay my Wrath” (DC Dreads ignore Crew Shaken/Crew Stunned results).

Between their 5A base, dual PFs, and Rage, on the charge they put out 8 x S10 AP2 attacks at I4. If you replace their PFs with Blood Talons (only 2 MBs to do so), they become 8 x S10 AP2 attacks with the Shred USR, so this is basically an “auto-take” upgrade. Finally, if they are part of any detachment or formation with the Red Thirst rule (or they are within 6″ of Corbulo’s Red Grail relic), they strike at I5 on the charge (and WS5, in the case of Corbulo’s buff).

If you step back and look at this objectively, we are talking Chapter Master Plus level close combat abilities here (i.e. 8 x S10 AP2 Shred attacks at I5 and WS5 if within 6″ of Corbulo)… there are very few units that can go head to head with this and win… just for comparison, a DC Dread charging a Wraithknight (with Corbulo support) has 8 attacks, about 5-6 hits, about 5 wounds, and about 3-4 Unsaved Wounds after FNP rolls… for a model that costs a little over 1/3 the points of a Wraithknight, that is pretty exceptional. A pair of DC Dreads ought to reliably kill a Wraithknight outright on the charge, with the Wraithknight only getting 4 x S10 AP2 attacks back before it, on averages, dies. Similarly, against a unit of enemy Thunderwolf Cavalry, two DC Dreadnoughts (with supporting Corbulo) would have 16 attacks, 10-11 hits, about 10 wounds, and about 3-4 dead TWC this is presuming all the TWC had Storm Shields; if no Storm Shields, then that is 10 dead TWC, all before the TWC get to strike).

In terms of force-multiplying DC Dreads, there are several options. First of all, if the Sanguinor is nearby, then they get +1A. Similarly, if they are part of the Death Company Strike Force and within 12″ of a DC Chaplain, they get +1A as well (these could potentially stack, giving a single DC Dread 10 attacks on the charge!).

In terms of Psychic support, Prescience gives them re-rolls to Hit (making even better use of their S10 AP2 Shred attacks), Unleash Rage gives them +1A, Invisibility makes them VERY hard to damage with either shooting or close combat attacks, Warpmetal Armor makes a DC Dread AV13/13/11, Magnetokinesis gives them a free 18″ move in addition to their normal 6″ move/D6″ run (but takes away the ability to assault that turn), and Forewarning gives them a 4++ Invul against both shooting and close combat attacks (so, in essence, doubling their survivability).

In terms of mobility, there are a couple of different options to mitigate their mediocre 6″ movement each turn. First and foremost, they can take Drop Pods as DTs, putting them in the enemy’s face as early as Turn 1 (although they have to “weather the storm” of enemy shooting before they charge on turn 2). A Baal Strike Force detachment has 4 Elite slots, so if you take a mass Drop Pod force (say, 4 DC Dreads and 3 Tactical Squads, all with Drop Pods), then you could have up to 4 DC Dreads come  in via Drop Pod Turn 1 and overwhelm your opponent’s target priority, potentially. Aside from Drop Pods, DC Dreads can also ride in friendly Stormravens, giving them lots of mobility and protection, but at a high “tax” cost of purchasing a Stormraven for each Dreadnought that needs a ride. Since the Stormraven is an Assault Vehicle and can Zoom before dropping into Hover mode and unloading its cargo, this is a very reliable way to get the DC Dread into combat (but this also means a Turn 3 charge at the earliest, unless the Stormraven starts on a Skyshield Landing Pad).

Finally, while shooting is not the main purpose of a DC Dreadnought, its SB/meltagun provide some decent anti-personnel/anti-vehicle shooting, especially coming out of a Drop Pod. Alternately, against lots of infantry, you can replace both of these weapons with Heavy Flamers, letting the DC Dreadnought put out 2 x S5 AP4 Templates each turn, which can be devastating against anything without a 3+ save or better (i.e. Necron Warriors, Eldar infantry, Tau infantry, Ork Hordes, Tyranids, Dark Eldar, Genestealer Cult, Skitarii, Astra Militarum, Chaos Cultists, Chaos Daemons, SM Scouts, etc., etc.).

Overall, I think DC Dreadnoughts provide very strong value in an army, whether taken singly or in mass and whether used by a pure BA force or taken as part of an allied contingent to another style of army.

Grey Knights and the Lucifer Armoured Task Force

Since I have a soft spot in my heart for Grey Knights, I continue to look for ways to run them competitively, especially so they can have an option besides “cram as many Dreadknights into the list as you can and pray for the best.”

Based on this, and looking back at the new Angel’s Blade supplement for Blood Angels faction, I think a potentially solid ally for a Grey Knight army is the new Lucifer Armoured Task Force Formation. This formation requires the following:

-1 Techmarine

-3-5 squadrons of Predators or Baal Predators

-1-3 Land Raider/LR Crusader/LR Redeemer

In exchange for taking these units, all vehicles in the formation get Scout and become Fast Vehicles for free (even including Land Raiders!). This is obviously a very significant bonus, even when this formation is operating alone, but used alongside a Grey Knights force I think it really brings some tremendous benefits. Specifically, consider the following Lucifer Armoured Task Force:

-Techmarine with Servo Harness

-3 x individual Predators with triple Lascannons

-Land Raider Redeemer with Extra Armor

I think this formation provides several things to a Grey Knight primary detachment: first, Grey Knights generally lack long-range anti-tank/anti-MC shooting, outside of Razorbacks, shooty Dreadnoughts, and Land Raiders with Lascannons. This Predators in this formation not only have Scout, giving them a free 12″ move before the game to get into firing position, but being Fast Vehicles, they can move 6″ and shoot all their weapons at full BS (or move 12″ and shoot two of their Lascannons at full BS), which makes them excellent, affordable “Lascannon gunboats” in support of a Grey Knight force. With a 6″ move and a 48″ range on the Lascannons, plus the pre-Game Scout move, they can threaten almost any enemy unit turn 1. This is especially useful for taking on enemy Wraithknights, Stormsurges, TWC, Hive Tyrants, not to mention tanks/transports, at long-range, before they can deal much damage to your Grey Knights. Finally, this synergizes quite well with the shooting/close combat threat of Dreadknights shunting up-field Turn 1 and infantry from a Nemesis Strike Force DSing in turn 1.

Secondly, the LR Redeemer (with Techmarine riding inside for repairs) provides an excellent “taxi” for a squad of Purifiers armed with massed Incinerators. While the Purifiers cannot start the game inside the LRR (and thus cannot benefit from the Scout move), they can load up turn 1, then have the LRR move 12″ and Flat Out another 12″ for a net movement of 24″ before the end of the first game turn. This sets them up for a very reliable turn 2 disembark, Cleansing Flame in the Psychic Phase, Incinerator/Flamestorm Cannon templates and the TLed Assault Cannon in the shooting phase, and charge in the Assault Phase with NFW/Hammerhand, which should be pretty devastating to many opposing armies due to how many mass wounds this can generate, especially against large enemy units. The ability to displace 24″ a turn, and then move 12″ and still shoot all of its weapons (Fast Vehicle status means it can shoot two weapons at full BS and POTMS means it can shoot a third weapon at full BS as well)  makes the LRR from the Lucifer Armoured Task Force significantly superior to a “normal” LRR available to the Grey Knights army. Finally, if you don’t want to use it as a transport for GK infantry, then you can have the LRR Scout up 12″, then move another 12″ and hit units in the enemy DZ with dual S6 AP3 templates on turn 1, which also synergizes quite well with the “in your face” approach of many Grey Knight armies.

 

“Angels in Black” Blitzkrieg: Death Company plus Ravenwing

As I was thinking about the new Lost Brotherhood Strike Force (from the Angels Blade supplement) some more, it struck me that they would synergize very well with an allied Ravenwing force to make a hard-hitting, very mobile, very flexible army.

Here are some synergies I can think of right out the gate:

[1] Master of the Ravenwing Sammael (as WL) and a DC Chaplain (with Guardian’s Blade Relic) attached to a squad of Death Company (with JPs and a few PFs to taste) from the Lost Brotherhood Strike Force:

So, the way this work is the DC Chaplain/Death Company squad get their free 6″ move before the game begins (Sammael doesn’t get this, but you can “conga line” some models back to keep him in coherency with the battle group). Then, turn 1, you move everyone up 12″, putting you 18″ toward the enemy DZ so far. Next, in the Assault Phase, you use Sammael’s Warlord Trait to add +3 to the unit’s charge range, so a total of 3+ 2D6″… that is a minimum of a 5″ charge range, an “average” charge range of 10″, and a maximum charge range of 15″. Based on all this, combined with the 18″ the battle group has already moved, Sammael, the DC Chaplain, and the Death Company themselves should be able to reliably get a first turn charge on any enemy forces deployed on the edge of their DZ. On the charge, the Death Company would be attacking with 5 x S5 AP- attacks at I5 a piece, all with re-rolls to Hot and to Wound. Sammael and the Chaplain add in some AP2 hitting power at I5, all with re-rolls to Hit, and also provide a little “pre-charge” shooting with their Plasma Cannon and Inferno Pistol, respectively. After this combat phase is resolved (if you didn’t pulverize your opponent in a single turn), you can use Sammael’s Hit and Run to jump back out of combat and “rinse and repeat” the charge on your next turn, thereby taking full advantage of all the bonuses for charging (i.e. re-rolls to Hit/to Wound, Furious Charge, Rage, +1I, etc.). You can also use Sammael to “tank” for the unit after they get out of combat, since he has a re-rollable 3+ Jink save (due to Skilled Rider + “Ravenwing” rule) and EW, which is great for absorbing high strength, low AP shots like Krak Missiles, Lascannons, etc. Finally, Skilled Rider from Sammael also allows the whole unit to ignore Dangerous Terrain tests, which a big boon when moving across the tabletop with Jump Infantry.

 

[2] DA Biker Librarian, Ravenwing Black Knights, a Darkshroud, and the Archangel Orbital Intervention Force (3 squads of Assault Terminators) from the Lost Brotherhood Strike Force:

With this one, the Librarian, Black Knights, and Darkshroud all use their Scout ability to get up-field quickly, then move another 12″ + 12″ (Turbo-boost) Turn 1. With the Darkshroud and Skilled Rider giving the RW Black Knights a 2++ cover save (which is re-rollable, thanks to the “Ravenwing” special rule), they are basically invincible to any shooting that does not Ignore Cover, allowing them to survive and then use their Teleporter Homers to bring in the Blood Angel Assault Terminators for a no scatter DS. Once this happens, in the Psychic Phase the Librarian casts Prescience on an Assault Terminator squads for re-rolls to Hit, and then the Archangel OIF Terminators charge that same turn, in all likelihood doing some very serious damage to whatever unit they get stuck in with. The Biker Librarian/Black Knights are also free to charge the same unit or another enemy force, letting you tie up as many as 5 enemy units in a single turn (Librarian charges one, Black Knights another, and each of the three BA Assault Terminator squads each charge a unit). Overall, I think this makes very dangerous and effective close combat battle group combination.

 

[3] Ravenwing Support Squadron (with LS Vengeance and 3 x LS Typhoons) and multiple BA Assault Squads (with JPs, 2 x Meltaguns, plus Combi-Melta and Eviscerator on Veteran Sgt) from Lost Brotherhood Strike Force:

In this combination, the Assault Marines use their “free” 6″ move before the game, plus their normal 12″ move to get upfield quickly and engage vehicles with their Melta weapons (and subsequently assault the vehicle as well, if necessary, with the Veteran Sergeant swinging the Eviscerator for 3 x S9 AP2 Armourbane attacks on the charge) while the RW Support Squadron uses it Strafing Run rule to provide 6 x BS5 Krak or Frag Missiles and 18 x BS5 Heavy Bolter shots, plus a S7 AP2 Large Blast, as fire support for the BA Assault Marines. Basically, this battle group put some cheap but dangerous units in the enemy’s face right away (i.e. the BA Assault Marines) while simultaneously providing very solid long-range fire support in the form of the RW Land Speeders. The RW Support Squadron also has the Interceptor rule, so it can provide the invaluable ability to engage enemy units as they arrive from Reserve (something usually only Tau can do) with lots of potent shooting before those units can even shoot, run, or assault (looking at you here, Skyhammer Annihilation Force! 😉 ). Overall, I think combo works well when you are taking a Lost Brotherhood Strike Force as your primary force.

Angel’s Blade Tactica: Orbital Intervention Force

I have been taking a closer look at the Orbital Intervention Force (OIF) from the new Angels Blade Supplement and I think there are actually lots of tactical applications for this formation. First, let’s take a look the two different options within the formation itself, Tactical Terminators and Assault Terminators:

I – Tactical Terminators – While most would agree that Tactical Terminators are not the most competitive right now, if used properly, I think they still have a place in the game. The Orbital Intervention Force provides a significant bonus for them, allowing each Tactical Terminator to shoot twice on the turn that they arrive by Deep Strike. This is particularly effective with the Terminator Heavy Weapons, allowing a 5 man squad to shoot its Heavy Flamer, Assault Cannon, or CML twice. Alternately, you can max out the squad with 10 Terminators and 2 Heavy Weapons… combine that with Misfortune from the Divination discipline and a Tactical Terminator squad can put out 32 Storm Bolter shots and either 4 Heavy Flamer Templates, 16 Assault Cannon Shots, or 8 CML shots (either Krak or Frag missiles), all with Rending against a specified target on the turn they arrive. Obviously, in subsequent turns, they revert back to “normal” Terminators, but in that initial arrival strike, they can potentially make a decisive impact on the game if target against the right unit.

II – Assault Terminators – This is the real gem of this formation, I think. and probably the reason most people take it. Whether using dual LCs, with S5 on the charge (and I5, if they are part of a Detachment with the Red Thirst), or using the classic TH/SS “Hammernator” load-out, (which still competes for the gold standard of assault units in terms of durability and hitting power) the ability to assault on the same turn as they Deep Strike takes them from “solid” to “outstanding,” even if they have a Disordered Charge when they do this. Not only can they contribute to the fight as early as Turn 2, unlike a lot of other close combat focused units, but they are overall quite survivable and effective once they do get into combat. Alternately, Assault Terminators from this formation can make for a tremendous “counter-assault” unit to protect your more shooty units from enemy charges. Finally, you can enhance their abilities even more if you Drop Pod in Corbulo nearby (for +1WS to all hands and +1I for the Dual LC TDA models) and/or bring in Sanguinor for +1A to all hands, which helps make up for the penalty of having to do a Disordered Charge.

In terms of synergy potential, here are some ways I think the Orbital Strike Force can be effectively combined with other allied units to make a solid battle group:

 

[1] GK Interceptor Squads – With the ability to make a 30” Shunt move (+D6” Run) Turn 1, plus take a Teleporter Homer on the mandatory Justicar, GK Interceptors can make for an ideal “pathfinder” unit to get exactly where you need them and then bring in the OIF Terminators in on Turn 2 for massed shooting and/or assault.

[2] Inquisitorial Henchmen Warbands – With the ability to take a Mystic in each and every squad (basically a 2 MB cost Locator Beacon), plus access to a wide variety of Dedicated Transports, a Henchman Warband can, for example, load up in a DT Land Raider Redeemer and attach an Inquisitor with the Relic that grants a free Scout move if the pass a Ld test successfully. This gives them a 12” Scout move before the game begins, then another 12” move and 6” Flat Out Turn 1, setting up a Turn 2 arrival with no scatter/charge deep in the enemy DZ by up to 3 squads of Assault Terminators, which can obviously be extremely potent (not to mention any supporting fire from the Henchman themselves and their LRR’s Flamestorm Cannons).

[3] Ravenwing Black Knights/Darkshrouds – While obviously designed to bring in Deathwing, the fact that every Ravenwing Biker/Black Knight has a Teleporter Homer built into his Bike makes them exceptional for vectoring in an Archangel OIF. This is especially true of Black Knights combined with a nearby Dark Shroud, since they all have Scout (for a free 12” move before the game even starts) and can get a re-rollable 2++ cover save to survive enemy shooting Turn 1 (i.e. Jink + Skilled Rider + Stealth from the Dark Shroud + re-rolls to Jink saves because of the Ravenwing special rule). Black Knights are already highly effective shooting and close combat units in their own right, but combined with the ability to precisely bring in three squads of Tactical Terminators/Assault Terminators on Turn 2+ (all of whom can either shoot twice or charge that same turn) takes them from a serious threat to an absolutely un-ignorable one for almost any enemy force.

[4] Blackmane Great Pack with massed Drop Pods – With access to free Drop Pods and guaranteed Turn 1 arrival for all of them, the Blackmanes can saturate the table like almost no other force (except maybe a Space Marine Battle Company or an AM mechanized infantry force). More importantly with regard to the OIF, every one of these Drop Pods can be equipped with Locator Beacons, allowing you to bring in the Archangel Terminators anywhere within 6” of these Pods with no scatter before they shoot or charge. This should combine very effectively with all the combat power (both shooting and in assault) that the Blackmanes can bring to the fight in and of themselves, putting the enemy on the horns of a dilemma on how to counter this.

[5] Astra Militarum/Militarum Tempestus Mechanized Armies – As I discussed in the earlier article about the Golden Host formation, basically all AM vehicles (and MT vehicles too) except Flyers can upgrade with an Augur Array, which is basically this faction’s version of a Locator Beacon. Given that both AM and MT tend to focus heavily on shooting and are vulnerable to enemy assault, having the ability to precisely bring in a “counter-assault” force in the form of the OIF, using the Augur Arrays on their vehicles, improves the survivability and shooting efficiency of both of these factions significantly, as well as potentially surprising your opponent with the psychological “shock” of having their assault forces charged before they can even get to your battle lines.

[6] Khan/White Scar Mechanized Battle Company – The Khan list using lots of Scouting Rhinos/Razorbacks, all carrying MSU Tactical, Devastator, and Assault squads with max Grav Cannons and Flamers is already pretty well known for its success on the tournament scene. One of the few weaknesses of this list is typically dealing with powerful enemy close combat units that can come to grips with lots of its units in the Assault Phase. Since Tactical Squads can take Teleporter Homers on the Sergeants/Veteran Sergeants (for only a MB a piece), you can have up to 6 mobile, AV11/11/10 bunkers projecting 6” No Scatter bubbles around them throughout the entire battle space, giving you LOTS of options for bringing in the OIF Terminators with no scatter exactly where you need them to “reinforce the line” against critical enemy threats. All of this combines quite well with the massed Grav and Flamer shooting of Khan’s Battle Company I think, creating for a balanced and dangerous overall task force.

[7] Raven Guard 10th Company Task Force – The 10th Company Task Force formation obviously combines very well with the Archangels Orbital Intervention Force, with its ability to Infiltrate multiple units equipped with either Teleporter Homers or Locator Beacons. Raven Guard Chapter tactics make this even more effective, with added durability in the early game via free Shrouding Turn 1 on any units that don’t start the game in a transport. Whether using Infiltrating Scouts on foot, Infiltrating Scout Bikers (with a 2+ Cover save in the open from Jink + Shrouding), or even Scouts in a LS Storm moving 30” across the tabletop from Move + Flat Out (obviously they don’t get access to free Shrouding), this formation provides multiple ways to efficiently bring in the OIF exactly where it needs to be for shooting and/or charging on Turn 2+.

[8] Lias Issodon and Centurion Battle Group – Another powerful build in its own right, Issodon’s ability to Infiltrate himself and three other units is very potent and can overwhelm your opponent quickly. Combine this with the Locator Beacon that is part of his War Gear and any Teleporter Homers that the Infiltrated units are carrying and you have a very solid task force that can both pressure the enemy with shooting (especially if using multiple Grav Centurion squads) and still provide a real close combat threat via the OIF Terminators.

[9] Deathwatch Veteran Squad – Since every Watch Sergeant (who himself is a free upgrade) can take a DW Teleporter Homer, the Deathwatch are already well-equipped for vectoring in the Archangel OIF reinforcements. On top of this, DW Veteran squads can easily get in position via their Rhino, Razorback, Drop Pod, or Corvus Blackstar DTs (the last two can take Locator Beacons of their own, if you want). DW Veterans can also bring more firepower, “pound for pound,” than almost any other unit in the game, but they are also somewhat fragile for their points cost and can be vulnerable in close combat, so they combine very well with Assault Terminators coming in from DS and charging enemy units to take the pressure off them while they continue to employ their remarkable firepower to its maximum potential.

[10] Shadowstrike Kill Team – If you really want to double-down on the whole “assault from Deep Strike” concept, then you can take an allied Shadowstrike Kill Team. The mandatory Scouts can deploy forward with Teleporter Beacons turn 1, then Turn 2 you can bring in both the Vanguard Vets and OIF Assault Terminators with no scatter, potentially overwhelming the enemy battle lines with multiple powerful assault units getting stuck into combat simultaneously. Alternately, you can use the Vanguard Veterans for assault and take Tactical Terminators with Heavy Weapons to support them with lots of Flamer Templates, Assault Cannons Shots, or CML volleys as required.

Golden Host, Emperor’s Fist, and Emperor’s Wrath Formation Synergy

As I have reviewed the current Angel’s Blade rumors more and more, the new “GOLDEN HOST Host” formation caught my eye:

-Dante or Sanguinor

-2-5 squads of Sanguinary Guard

This formation can be used as a HQ option for the Angel’s Blade detachment or as a “stand-alone” formation allied to another army list. Its special rules allow all its Characters/Squads to choose automatically what turn they come in from DS Reserve and re-roll the Scatter Dice when they do DS. This is powerful in itself, since it allows a commander to precisely control when this potent (and expensive, points-wise) force comes onto the battlefield.

The second special rule for this formation allows all ICs/Squads to charge the same turn they arrive from DS Reserves, but with the penalty that they always have a Disordered Charge (so no bonus +1A, no bonus +1S from Furious Charge, and no bonus +1I from The Red Thirst in this scenario). Even with this drawback, being able to charge on the same turn they arrive, especially when you can control EXACTLY what turn that is, is a very big deal. If you take Dante as your Warlord, then you can use his “Descent of the Angels” WL Trait to make himself and all the Sanguinary Guard only scatter D6″ (vice the normal 2D6″) when they Deep Strike which, combined with the re-roll of the Scatter Dice ability, makes them even more capable of safely arriving and getting off a successful charge.

Regarding Sanguinary Guard themselves, they are basically Jump Pack Terminators without an Invul save and carrying Encarmine Swords/Axes instead of PFs (they can upgrade to PFs for 2MB per model, if they want). In practical turns, while they are not as good in combat, point for point, as some of the top tier melee units in the game (like Hammernators, Necron Wraiths, Wulfen, Death Company, Dreadknights, TWC, Hive Tyrants, etc.), they are in many ways the best “bully unit” in the game when used against non-dedicated assault troops from the enemy army. Put another way, Sanguinary Guard are excellent at employing their high mobility, strong armor save, and solid melee abilities to take out enemy “shooty” units, tie up commanders and “force -multiplier” units, and even defeat mid-capability enemy assault units that are threatening your own forces.

Based on all this, what is the best way to employ Dante and his Sanguinary Guard from a GOLDEN HOST formation? Surprisingly, I think one of the best options is teaming them up with the Astra Militarum EMPEROR’S FIST TANK COMPANY and EMPEROR’S WRATH ARTILLER COMPANY formations. Both of these formations, taken together, can field a lots of survivable mechanized platforms (especially the Leman Russes from the Tank Company) and TONS of long-range firepower that cannot be ignore easily (especially the Ignore Cover Wyverns, Basilisks, and Manticores of the Artillery Company). Where they are vulnerable, of course, is against close range melta shooting and assault by forces with lots of Grenades, Power Mauls, PFs, S6+ Monstrous Creature attacks, etc. Thus, most opponents (except maybe Tau and enemy Astra Militarum gun lines) will try and close the gap quickly with the Astra Militarum tanks and artillery vehicles of these formations, where they can make short work of them.

So, how does the GOLDEN HOST formation help with this? Well, it is all based on a little-known piece of Astra Militarum Vehicle Equipment: the humble Augur Array. Costing 5 MBs, this little upgrade can be taken by basically any Imperial Guard vehicle (except Valkyries/Vendettas) and works just like a Locator Beacon, allowing friendly forces to DS within 6″ with no scatter (provided the Augur Array was on the battlefield already at the start of the turn).

This of course combines beautifully with the GOLDEN HOST’s ability to choose which turn it Deep Strikes and to charge that same turn. As your Leman Russes advance upfield while they fire (or, alternately back away as the enemy army rushes forward), you can wait until just the right moment, then suddenly bring in Dante and his Golden Angel bodyguards and charge those enemy forces threatening your vehicles before they can get within melta/charge range. This not only allows your tanks to maximize their survivability and keep employing their significant firepower, but it also allows you to match up Dante and the Sanguinary Guard against exactly the units which will maximize their own strengths and minimize their weaknesses (e.g. if your opponent is rushing forward a Dreadknight, you can intercept it with Dante, whose S6 AP2 attacks at WS6/I6 and 4W with Eternal Warrior make him an ideal counter; alternately, if the enemy is Drop Podding in a squad of Grav Centurions to try and immobilize your Leman Russ squadrons to death, then Sanguinary Guard with Inferno Pistols and PFs make an excellent “counter-punch” unit).

Looking at the other side of the coin, for those threats that overmatch the GOLDEN HOST in combat, like massed Wulfen/TWC, Hammernators, Tyranid “Monster Mash” lists, etc. the firepower of the Leman Russes and, especially, of the artillery vehicles can even the scales, either weakening the enemy units enough for Dante and the SG to deal with them or even destroying them outright (i.e. one good hit from an Ignore Cover Manticore could wipe out an entire Wulfen squad, for instance; similarly, a squadron of 3 Leman Russ Vanquishers with Lascannons and MM Sponsons, all shooting at BS4 thanks to the formation bonus, can take down Hive Tyrants, Hammernators, and even enemy Wraithknights before they get within assault distance).

Just like anything else, this battle group combination does not provide a guaranteed win by any means, but in the hands of a knowledgeable and skilled commander, I think this can be quite a flexible and capable combination.