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.

“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.

Belial: Master of the Deep Strike

So, reviewing the rules of Belial, he has all the standard Deathwing rules (Fearless, Hatred (CSM), Grim Resolve), plus some bonuses to fighting in challenges and the option to use a Relic Sword (Sword of Silence — S: User  AP3  Fleshbane, Master-crafted)

What really stands out about him, though, is the Tactical Precision rule which states “Belial and his unit do not scatter when arriving by Deep Strike.”

As you can see from the rule, there is no restriction on what unit Belial is joined to, and thus no restriction on what friendly units can benefit from his “no scatter” deep strike ability.

This opens up numerous tactical possibilities across all armies that can ally with Dark Angels as Battle Brothers, specifically all the Imperium codices/supplements. Below is a list of allied units/formations that could benefit from having Belial attached and conferring his “Tactical Precision” rule when they come in via Deep Strike:

(1) – Ultramarines Strike Force Ultra — Attach Belial and Marneus Calgar to one of the 10 man Tactical Terminators squads equipped with dual Heavy Flamers, then Deep Strike in with no scatter and release 4 Flamer templates and 24 Storm Bolter shots (Strike Force Ultra allows the formation add one more shot to all weapons when the unit arrives by DS), all with Rending (thanks to Calgar using the Storm of Fire WL Trait)… even Wraithknights will have trouble absorbing that kind of firepower and “normal” infantry will just evaporate… plus you will have a massive Terminator squad right where you want it in the enemy’s face turn 1, thanks to no scatter DS.

(2) – Deathwing Knights and attached Brother-Captain Stern — While they cannot put out any shooting the turn they come in, they are super tough with the potential for 2++ saves and T5 all around, thanks to Sanctuary from Stern and the Fortress of Shields rule. They should be able to absorb all kinds of enemy shooting (even Grav weapons, with a 2++ save), and then charge turn 2, using Hammerhand from Stern to strike with WS5 in either “Normal mode” S8 AP3 I4 or “Smite mode” S10 AP2 I4 (but only one attack per model), which will bring down just about anything they encounter.

(3) – Wolf Guard Terminators with Combi-meltas and attached TDA Rune Priest — The ability to land EXACTLY where you want is invaluable for this combo, as it means you can put the WG Terminators precisely in melta range of whatever high-value target you want to bring down (i.e. Imperial Knight, Monstrous/Gargantuan Creatures, AV14 vehicles, Grav Cannon Centurions, etc.). You then use the Rune Priest to cast Prescience on the Terminators, twin-linking their meltas (and making them better in assault if they are charged in the next turn) for even more reliable destruction.

(4) – GK Paladins with 4 x Special Weapons — Being able to put a squad of Paladins exactly where you want them provides exceptional flexibility and offensive capacity, whether you equip them with four Incinerators and “burninate” down a unit with multiple S6 AP4 templates or four Psycannons and cut loose with 16 x S7 AP4 Rending shots into a vehicle squadron’s rear armor. On top of this, like with Strike Force Ultra, DW Knights, and WG Terminators, you also have a dangerous CC unit right on the enemy’s doorstep with no risk of scatter.

5 – GK Terminators/Strike Squads/Interceptors with dual Incinerators — A cheaper, more “economy” version of the Paladin build above, this still is a viable battle group that can put multiple Incinerator templates and lots of SB fire right where you need it, plus provide lots of threat from force weapons in the next turn, with Belial attaching to the squad and bringing them in precisely.

6 – Sanguinary Guard with multiple Inferno Pistols and JP Sanguinary Priest — A combo that is perhaps not very conventional, this unit benefits greatly from being able to get all of its Inferno Pistols within “3” melta range because of Belial’s DS accuracy and then, in subsequent turns, use its superior 2+ armor and 12″ Jump Pack moves to continue to deal significant damage to the enemy lines.

7 – JP Death Company with attached Astorath — Similar to the Sanguinary Guard, you can add Inferno/Plasma pistols or Hand Flamers to taste, but the real benefit is having up to 15 bloodthirsty Death Company models on your opponent’s doorstep, ready to charge with 5A per model and re-rolls to Hit/to Wound, thanks to Astorath’s buffs.

8 – JP Vanguard Vets gun slinging massed Grav Pistols and attached JP Librarian — A more mobile alternative to Grav Centurions or Grav Bikers, you can potentially have up to 20 Grav shots at 12″ with this battle group, all twin-linked via Prescience from the attached Librarian.

9 – Blood Angel JP Assault Squad with dual Special Weapons and dual pistols on Sgt — With only 5 members, this squad can pack quite a bunch of specialized firepower, be it two flamers and two hand flamers <or> two meltas and two inferno pistols <or> two plasma guns and two plasma pistols/Grav pistols. Any way you do it, Belial can bring this squad in precisely and deliver all the firepower exactly where it needs to be.

10 – Militarum Tempestus Command Squad with 4 x Special Weapons — You have multiple options here, including Flamers, Grenade Launcher, Meltaguns, HS Volley-guns, and Plasma Guns (plus a Plasma Pistol for the Tempestor Prime, if you want it), all of which combine well with Orders that either Twin-Link the shooting or give the squad Preferred Enemy. Add in the fact that the squad has Move through Cover and you have Belial Deep Strike them into terrain with no scatter and no risk of Dangerous Terrain tests, significantly improving their survivability as they deliver all that shooting exactly where you need it.

11 – Sisters of Battle Seraphim with 4 x Inferno Pistols/Hand Flamers and attached Celestine — Another great utility unit that can be configured for clearing hordes (Hand Flamers/BPs and Celestine’s Heavy Flamer) or bringing down vehicles/MCs (Inferno Pistols). On top of this, the whole unit has Hit and Run and, between Belial and Celestine, is actually quite a dangerous close combat threat in subsequent turns.

12 – Cult Mechanicus “Holy Requisitioner” formation — A bit of an unusual battle group here, this formation consists of a Tech-Priest Dominus and 2-3 Kataphron Breacher squads and gives them all the ability to Deep Strike. Additionally, they all come in on a single Reserve Roll (which can be re-rolled if desired) and the Breachers do not scatter if they DS within 6″ of the Tech-Priest Dominus. Now, the Tech-Priest can “organically” deep strike with no scatter, provided he lands within 6″ of an Objective, but attaching Belial to him means he has the option to deep strike ANYWHERE, objective or not, and then bring in the Breachers around him with no scatter, making for a much more flexible battle group. Once they arrive, the Breacher can put out significant anti-vehicle firepower with Heavy Arc Rifles (i.e. 2 shot Haywire weapons) or anti-MC/TEQ shooting with Torsion Cannons (S8 AP1 shots that inflict D3 wounds for each unsaved wound or D3 HPs lost for each penetrating hit). Also, while not exceptional, the Breachers have decent close combat capabilities for future turns, especially if they take the Hydraulic Claw upgrade for S10 AP2 attacks.

 

 

Wolfkin “Alpha Pack,” Iron Priests, Inquisitor, and allied Azrael

This is heresy, of course, having Dark Angels and Space Wolves work together, but purely from a tournament perspective, consider the following battle group:

-2 x Iron Priests with TWC mount (one has Wulfen Stone Relic)

-Allied Azrael

-Wolkin formation with 4 packs of 10 combined into an “Alpha Pack” (or 40 wolves total)

-Allied Xenos Inquisitor with Rad Grenades, PML(1) for Divination, and Liber Heresius Relic

 

Azrael makes the entire unit Fearless, gives every model a 4++, and uses the Rapid Maneuver WL Trait to add +3″ to run and charge ranges. He also chips in, where necessary, with his own S6 AP3 attacks on the charge and 2+/4++, once he catches up with everyone else.

The Xenos Inquisitor lowers the enemy Toughness by -1 on the first round of close combat (thanks to Rad grenades), gives re-rolls to Hit via Prescience, and most importantly, gives the unit Scout for a free 12″ move before the game begin (Liber Heresius Relic grants this if he passes a Ld test successfully). He also can use his Psyk-out Grenades to reduce any enemy Daemons or Psykers to I1 on any turn that he and his unit charge them, so great against things like Hive Tyrants, Daemon Princes, or amped up Astartes Librarians.

Iron Priests are the Beatsticks (of course), with 11 x S10 Attacks on the charge, plus 6W protected by 2+/4++ and T5. The IP with the Wulfen Stone also gives the entire unit Furious Charge.

Finally, the 40 Fenrisian Wolves form a giant  “Alpha Pack” that benefits from all these buffs and can stretch across pretty much the entire board for massive board control as they advance toward the enemy. Between ignoring difficult/dangerous terrain and the +3″ to their Run from Azrael, they can move up 16 – 21″ on turn 1 (using a few wolves to “conga line” back to Azrael to keep him in coherency, despite his slower movement). They also give the whole unit Monster Hunter, which obviously helps against those types of opponents in close combat.

With 40 T4 Fearless wounds protected by a 4++, plus another 6W on the IPs protected by 2+/4++, they can absorb lots of shooting cheaply and set up for a turn 2 charge. On the charge (or if the enemy charges them and they use Counterattack), they get 160 x S5 attacks (or 120 attacks if they multi-charge, which is highly likely), all striking at an enemy with -1T (so against MEQs, they would be wounding on 2+s and even against T6 MCs they would be wounding on re-rollable 4+s, thanks to Monster Hunter). Also, with 12″ movement and Azrael’s +3″ to charging, they have a VERY solid chance of making it successfully.

Once the Fenrisian Wolves are in combat, they are the perfect “expendable” tarpit unit, with Fearless and 4++ and only costing you a few points more than a Guardsman per model. This is particularly ideal against something like a massed Tau gun line, since the Wolves could potentially tie up multiple Crisis, Pathfinder, Fire Warrior, Riptide, Stormsurge, Broadside units all at once, preventing them from shooting at the rest of your army.

Force multiplying the Leviathan Dreadnought

The Leviathan Dreadnought is available to Space Marine, Space Wolf, Blood Angel, and Dark Angel armies as a Relic Heavy Support choice.

https://www.forgeworld.co.uk/resources/PDF/Datasheets/LeviathanSiegeDreadnoughtRules.pdf

Weighing in at 57 MBs base, it is very expensive points-wise (and gets more so if you take any of its numerous options). So, what do you get for this Land Raider(+) investment? It has WS5 BS5 S8 I4 A4 base, along with AV13/13/12 and 4HPs to make it exceptionally durable (you can even upgrade with Armoured Ceramite to make it proof against melta weapons, which is one of the few things that can easily damage it).

Wargear-wise, the Leviathan comes stock with two Siege Claws (and built-in melta guns), two Heavy Flamers on its Torso, Smoke Launchers, Frag Grenades, and Extra Armor. It also has a 4++ save from its “Reinforced Atomantic Shielding” rule, plus Move through Cover and an ability called “Crushing Charge,” which gives it TWO Hammer of Wrath hits and +1 Initiative (so I5) on the charge.

Finally, the Leviathan has multiple upgrade options, including Armoured Ceramite (as already mentioned), up to three Hunter-Killer missiles, the ability to take a Dreadnought Drop Pod as a DT, and the following weapons options:           

-Leviathan Siege Claw — S: X2  AP2 Melee, Wrecker, Severing Cut (baseline weapon, Severing Cut allows for potential to inflict extra D3 wounds for each Unsaved Wound caused)

-Leviathan Siege Drill — S: X2  AP2 Melee, Wrecker, Armourbane (one MB upgrade that makes its attacks VERY potent against vehicles and fortifications)

-Leviathan Storm Cannon (costs 4 MBs to replace Siege Claw) — 24″ S7 AP3 Heavy 6, Sunder (it loses a close combat attack for each Siege Claw replaced by this, but provide strong anti-MEQ/light vehicle shooting, especially when combined with BS5)

-Cyclonic Melta Lance (costs 4 MBs to replace Siege Claw) — 18″ S9 AP1 Heavy 3, Melta (again, loses close combat attacks when equipping this, but provides potent anti-TEQ/anti-vehicle shooting)

As you can see, the Leviathan has LOTs of options and tremendous combat power potential, both in shooting and close combat, but you also pay a lot for these capabilities. In terms of making the most of the Leviathan, let’s look at the you can “force multiply” its already significant capabilities:

-MOBILITY — One of the biggest weaknesses, it can only move 6″ a turn and, while Move through Cover helps, it can potentially spend most of the game trying to come to grips with the enemy. Ways to mitigate this include taking a Dreadnought Drop Pod for it, letting it ride on a friendly Stormraven (nothing prevents this in its rules), or using friendly Psykers to “catapult” it toward the enemy with the Magnetokinesis power (from Fulmination discipline).

-PROTECTION — While the Leviathan is already very tough, it is still vulnerable to enemy MCs/GMCs, melta weapons, Necron Gauss shooting, Haywire attacks, Destroyer weapons, etc. To protect your pricy investment, there are a number of techniques, including sheltering it with a Void Shield Generator, taking the Armoured Ceramite upgrade, using terrain and Move through Cover to your advantage, using friendly Techmarines to keep it repaired, and, of course, buffs from friendly Psykers. Chief among these Psychic Blessings include Invisibility (for obvious reasons), Warpmetal Armor (making it AV14/14/13!!!), and Reforge (repairs HPs and gives IWND).

-FIREPOWER — With the right load out, the Leviathan can be an exceptional “fire base” unit, with up to 12 x S7 AP3 shots or 6 x S9 AP1 Melta shots, plus two Heavy Flamers and up to 3 Hunter-Killer Missiles (remember, Walkers can move 6″ and still shoot ALL their weapons). BS5 means these shots will reliably hit and you can combine this with Psychic powers like Prescience (for even better accuracy), Phase Form (for Ignore Cover and LOS shooting), and Null Zone (for reducing enemy Invul saves) to make them even more effective. You can also buff the Leviathan with a nearby Rhino Primaris, allowing it to Snapfire at full BS for a turn (i.e. great against Flyers, Invisible units, etc.) or with a nearby Ammo Dump from a friendly Fortification (re-roll 1s to Hit and BS5 means a 97% accuracy rate).

-CLOSE COMBAT — This is obviously where the Leviathan was built to go, as its stats and war gear all shout “CHARGE THE ENEMY AND SMASH HIS DEATHSTAR WITH YOUR UBER DREADNOUGHT”!!! With 5 x S10 AP2 attacks at I5 and swinging with WS5 on the charge, plus potential extra wounds via Severing Strike, you can easily dismantle enemy squads, vehicles, and even MCs/GMCs with the Leviathan in close combat. To enhance this even further, you can cast Prescience on the Leviathan (for Re-rolls to Hit), Unleash Rage (for 2A on the charge instead of 1A), or use Enfeeble on the enemy (i.e. reducing their T by -1, in turn allowing the Leviathan to inflict ID on anything with base T6 or lower).

As you can see, there are many ways to make the Leviathan Siege Dread even more potent and, given its high points cost, it is probably worth investing in maximizing its combat capability if you do decide to take one in your army.

 

Hunting Spiders with Scorpions

As we have seen lately, the latest rage in the competitive meta is MSU Warp Spiders, combined of course with other powerful elements of the Eldar codex like Scatterbikes, Wraithknights, Jetseers, etc.

So, how do  Imperium players counter this trend? What has worked for you against opponents fielded 4+ squads of Warp Spiders?

Here is the best strategy I have come up with so far:

-I am making the assumptions that, number one, the MSU Warp Spiders are minimum 5 man squads and, number two, that we are playing with the ITC interpretation of Flickerjump (i.e. can only be used once per turn).

-(2) Whirlwind Scorpius and a Techmarine from an allied Space Marine CAD (they are Heavy Support choices and, as a Relics, require a Techmarine to “unlock” more than one). For only 23 MBs a piece, you get a Predator Chassis  that shoots a 48″ S8 AP3 Small Blast, Barrage shot… the kicker is that, if the Scorpius stands still, it becomes 1+D3 Small Basts (so an average of 3 x S8 AP3 mini-Pie Plates!).

-Given its 48″ range and ability to ignore LOS (thanks to Barrage), the Scorpius should be able to hit Warp Spiders even if they Flicker Jump. Provided the scatter is not extremely poor, you are getting 3 x S8 AP3 Small Blasts with a good chance of 3-9 hits, based on how clumped up the Warp Spiders are. Wounding on 2+s, this means you have a solid chance of either eliminating the entire MSU squad (with lucky rolls to hit) or at least severely wounding it, in turn rendering it basically impotent (i.e. 1-2 Warp Spiders are a pretty small threat against almost any unit in the game and/or can easily be cleaned up with some “spare” bolter fire).

-Taken all together, two Scorpius (Scorpiuii?) can neutralize/eliminate two Warp Spider squads a turn, meaning that by the end of turn 3 they can potentially have taken out up to six Warp Spider squads (or about 120 MBs worth of points), all for the cost of 46 MBs and two Heavy Support slots of your own.

-Even better, the Whirlwind Scorpius is not limited to just Warp Spiders as a viable target… it can easily engage other Aspect Warriors, Windrider Jetbikes, Eldar Skimmers (remember, it basically is shooting “Small Blast Krak Missiles”) and even Wraithknights in a pinch (S8 AP3 can actually threaten these GMCs effectively). Finally, if you are making an All Comers list, it is effective against other armies as well, be it Marines, Necrons, Tau, Astra Militarum, Chaos Daemons, you name it.