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!).

Tactical Debrief: Ravenwing, Raptors, and the Archangels Orbital Intervention Force

I recently played a game with a new 2000 point army list that I have wanted to try out for a while.

Specifically, the list looked like this:

—RAVENWING STRIKE FORCE—

*Interrogator-Chaplain with Bike, Mace of Redemption (Relic)

*10  x RW Black Knights

*RS Land Speeder with TML and HB

 

—RAPTOR COMBINED ARMS DETACHMENT—

*Lias Issodon (WARLORD)

*Chapter Master with Bike, AA, SS, TH, Shield Eternal (Relic)

*5 x Bikes with 2 Grav Guns, Combi-Grav on Sgt

*5 x Bikes with 2 Grav Guns, Combi-Grav on Sgt

 

—ARCHANGEL ORBITAL INTERVENTION FORCE—

*5 x Assault Terminators (3 x TH/SS, 2 x Dual LC)

*5 x Assault Terminators (2 x TH/SS, 3 x Dual LC)

*5 x Assault Terminators (2 x TH/SS, 3 x Dual LC)

 

I was playing against a Death Guard Traitor Legion force, using their “Nurgle-specific” Decurion (i.e. the Death Guard Vectorium), which had lots of Plague Marines and CSM, plus a unit of Bikes, a squad of Havocs, a squad of Terminators, a Helbrute, and a Spawn (my opponent used the Chaos Warband and the Plague Colony as his two Core choices and the Spawn took up the mandatory Auxiliary choice).

As you already know, all Nurgle forces get +1T (from their Mark), FNP, Fearless, and Relentless as their “Legion Tactics” (but at the cost of -1I penalty to all units too). Additionally, the Death Guard Vectorium allowed them to re-roll FNP rolls of 1 and to gain Stealth against any shooting attacks 18″ away or greater. Finally, the Plague Colony has a 7″ aura of -1WS/-1I to all enemy units (he did not have the max number of units, so he did not get the -1T debuff, which would have been quite brutal). Taken all together, even though I think he was lacking in offensive hitting power (i.e. from Chosen, Obliterators, more Havocs, Heldrakes, etc.), my opponent’s list was VERY durable and ended up shrugging off significant amounts of damage from my army.

In term of my list/strategy, I attached Lias Issodon, the Biker I-C, and the Biker Chapter Master to the Black Knights and infiltrated the entire unit after he deployed, using Issodon’s WL Trait (we were playing The Relic and he had won deploy first/go first roll). I also placed the RW Land Speeder in LOS blocking cover in my DZ (since he has going first) and kept the two Bike squads and the Archangel OIF in reserve.

Looking at each of my units/battle groups, here is how they performed:

[1] Black Knights(Grade: A)/Issodon(Grade: A)/Biker I-C(Grade: A-)/Biker Chapter Master (Grade: B) —

My “deathstar” unit, but one that did not depend on any Psychic Powers to function. I had Infiltrate, Scout, Hit and Run, and Zealot on the unit via the various members and their rules. More importantly, I had a 2+ cover save on all the Bikers (Jink + Shrouded from Issodon), which was re-rollable due to the Ravenwing special rule (well, for all the Dark Angels, but not for the Raptors). Overall, this unit performed quite well, with solid shooting, close combat, and, most of all, DURABILITY… it absorbed all kinds of enemy shooting with no casualties and was able to move to the center of the board, pick up the Relic, and then eventually win combat with a bunch of Nurgle Marines (though I did lose the Chapter Master to his Nurgle Lord in a challenge)… once they won combat, I had Issodon take the Relic and start moving back to my DZ while the surviving Bikers shot/charged more of his remaining units. In the future, I would definitely take them again in conjunction with Issodon, but perhaps take only 5 in a Command Squad (Apothecary for FNP makes them even more difficult to shift) and trade out the Biker Chapter Master for something else. Finally, they also did a great job of “vectoring” in the Archangel OIF for no scatter DS (and charge) on Turn 2, using their Teleporter Homers.

[2] RW Land Speeder (Grade: A-) —

A very solid unit that jumped around all game and provided solid supporting fire with its two missile and 3 HB shots a turn. If there had been Objectives, I think it would have been even more useful, given that it has a 30″ displacement range (i.e. 12″ Move + 18″ Flat Out) each turn, but overall, I would consider taking it again.

[3] Grav Biker Squads (Grade: A-) —

These squads performed quite well also, coming out of Reserve and using their Relentless Grav to destroy his T6/FNP Nurgle Bikers and, in subsequent turns, shoot/charge other Chaos squads (though they were not too spectacular in close combat, especially against T5/FNP Nurgle troops, who were difficult foes for even my Terminators). These were my only ObSec units in the army and, given their relative speed, would have played an even more vital role if we were in a Maelstrom or Objectives focused game.

[4] Archangel OIF Assault Terminators (Grade: B-) —

These guys all came in on turn 2 and used the Black Knight Teleporter Homers to land with no scatter and then charge multiple Nurgle squads that were moving toward the Relic in the center of the table. Two squads charged his Terminators (who had themselves just arrived) and wiped them out in a single turn and the third squad multi-charged two Plague Marine/CSM squads (they had to conduct a Disordered charge anyway). Over the course of the game, I think I lost almost all (if not all) of my Terminators to combat with the Nurgle forces, in part because they had limited attacks on the charge, in part due to their durability with T5/FNP, and in part due to the Plague Colony debuff which made all my Terminators WS3/I3, which allowed his forces to strike simultaneously and to hit on 3+s (versus my hitting on 4+s). While the Assault Terminators did their job by destroying his Terminators and tying up several units, overall they were not as effective as I imagined they would be… I really think they need to “force-multiplied” somehow to maximize their useful in a competitive game…. I have been pondering this and I think I might try and swap them out for a Shadowstrike Kill Team with JP Vanguard, which can still use Issodon’s Locator Beacon for no scatter and do not suffer the drawbacks of a Disordered Charge when they assault from Reserve.

 

Overall, it was a good game with a very nice opponent and I learned a lot about what works (and what doesn’t work) with this new army list.

 

Assault Vehicles for All!

While I think there is a need for “macro-changes” in 8th edition to help rectify the current discrepancy between shooting and assault, one thing I think that would help accomplish this at the more immediate level would be to provide an additional, affordable assault transport for every major faction so that their close combat troop are not stuck with either footslogging, riding in non-Assault vehicle transports, and/or paying 200+ points for Assault Vehicles.

Here is my stab at making this kind of vehicle for each faction (minus Chaos Daemons):

—————————————

RETALIATOR APC — (FAST ATTACK choice for Space Marines, Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Deathwatch, Sisters of Battle, Inquisition, and Chaos Space Marines) — 100 points

BS4   AV13/11/10   3HP (Vehicle, Tank, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 10 models (no Bulky/Very Bulky/Extremely Bulky models)

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted TLed Flamer (may upgrade to a TLed Melta Gun or TLed Plasma Gun)

-Siege Shield

-Omni Grenade Launcher — Every turn may choose to use Smoke Grenades (not limited to one use, unlike most vehicles) OR Concussion Grenades (enemy forces may not fire Overwatch at any unit that has disembarked from the Retaliator APC for the rest of the turn)

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Advanced Repair Servo — Can repair Immobilized or Weapon Destroyed results or a lost HP on itself each turn (instead of shooting or moving Flat Out) on a successful roll of a 5+

—————————————

TELEPORTATION POD — (FAST ATTACK choice for Grey Knights) — 80 points

BS4   AV13/13/13   3HP (Vehicle, Immobile)

Transport Capacity: None

WAR GEAR:

-Gatling Psycannon

SPECIAL RULES:

-Deep Strike

-Drop Pod Assault

-Psychic Pilot (3) — Always knows Force, Banishment, The Shrouding (from Telepathy), and “The Summoning” powers (“The Summoning” is a WC1 blessing with 72″ range and no LOS requirements that teleports one friendly Grey Knight non-vehicle unit or Walker unit to within 6″ of the caster with no scatter, using the rules for Deep Strike; you can upgrade it to a WC3 power which acts in the exact same way, except that the teleported unit can charge on the same turn that it is teleported)

—————————————

CERBERUS APC — (FAST ATTACK choice for Astra Militarum and Genestealer Cult) — 75 points

BS3   AV12/12/10   3HP (Vehicle, Tank, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 20 models

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted Quad Heavy Stubber

-Smoke Launchers

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Suppressive Fire — Any non-vehicle units hit by the Quad Heavy Stubber must take a Pinning Check at the end of the Shooting phase

—————————————

CHAMELEON — (FAST ATTACK choice for Craftworld Eldar and Harlequins) — 90 points

BS4   AV12/12/10   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast)

Transport Capacity: 12 models

WAR GEAR:

-TLed Shuriken Cannon

-Specter Holo-Matrix — Vehicle may re-roll failed Jink saves

-Star Engines

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Assault Vehicle

—————————————

SCORPION (FAST ATTACK choice for Dark Eldar and Harlequins) — 110 points

BS4   AV10/10/10   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 18 models

WAR GEAR:

-6 x Black Venom missiles (72″ S6 AP1 Fleshbane)

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Unrivalled Assault Vehicle — Any units that charge into combat on the same turn that they disembark from this vehicle add +3″ to their charge range and gain +1S to all their close combat attacks during that fight sub-phase.

—————————————

KROOT WAR SKIFF (FAST ATTACK choice for Tau) — 60 points

BS3   AV11/11/11   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 16 models

WAR GEAR:

-2 x Heavy Kroot Guns

SPECIAL RULES:

-War Totems — Only Shapers, Kroot, Kroot Hounds, and/or Krootox may embark on this vehicle. On any turn that a unit disembarks from this vehicle, it gains Hatred, Rage, and Furious Charge for the rest of the turn.

—————————————

DA CHOPPA’ WAGON (FAST ATTACK choice for Orks) — 110 points

BS2   AV14/11/10   4HP (Vehicle, Tank, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 30 models

WAR GEAR:

-4 x TLed Big Shootaz

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per Ork Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-More Dakka! — All vehicle weapons can fire at full BS if the vehicle has moved 12″ or less

-Da Biggest to da Front! — Every Nob, Mega Nob, and/or War Boss in a unit that disembarks from this vehicles gains +1A until the end of the phase.

—————————————

NECRONTYR WAR BARGE (FAST ATTACK choice for Necrons) — 80 points

BS4   AV11/11/11   4HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 10 models

WAR GEAR:

-Gauss Cannon (may upgrade to a Tesla Cannon)

-Quantum Shielding

SPECIAL RULES:

-Living Metal

-Combat Protocol Beacon — Any friendly Necron non-vehicle units within 12″ of this vehicle gain Hatred

—————————————

BROODOFEX (FAST ATTACK choice for Tyranids) — 130 points

WS3 BS3 S6 T6 W4 I2 A2 Ld8 Sv2+  (Jump Monstrous Creature)

WAR GEAR:

-Acid Spray

-Stinger Salvo

[***May take normal Biomorph upgrades, per Tyranid Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Fearless

-Instinctive Behavior (Hunt)

-Brood Beast — Up to 30 Termagaunts/Hormaguants, 15 Genestealers, or 10 Tyranid Warriors may ride on a Broodofex exactly as if they were embarked on an open-topped transport vehicle (i.e. they can all shoot their weapons, they can disembark 6″ and assault the same turn, they are vulnerable to Template Weapons due to the No Escape! rule, etc.).

Hidden Gem: Centaur Weapons Carrier

Something which all the different Imperium factions have lacked, and still lack, is an affordable open-topped transport that provides their infantry with some mobility and protection, but still allows all the embarked models to shoot and/or assault when required. The closest thing to meeting this criteria is the Land Speeder Storm, but while an excellent multi-purpose transport, it is only allowed to transport Space Marine Scouts, so its utility in this role is quite limited for anything besides those Troops.

Enter the Centaur Weapons Carrier, a Forgeworld Astra Militarum vehicle that can be taken as a Fast Attack option in a CAD or Allied detachment (not to mention as a DT for certain DKOK and Armoured Battle Group units). The Centaur has the following stats/rules:

BS3 AV11/11/10 HP2 (Transport, Fast, Open-Topped)

*Heavy Stubber, Searchlight, Smoke Launchers

*Transport: 5 models

*1-3 Centaurs per Squadron, costs 8 MBs per model

On first glance, this vehicle costs the same points as a Land Speeder Storm and seems inferior in almost every way, with less mobility (Fast Vehicle vs Fast Speeder), less firepower (BS3 Heavy Stubber vs BS4 Heavy Bolter and Cerberus Launcher), and roughly the same survivability (AV11 on the front vs the ability to Jink).

So, why even consider taking a Centaur Weapons Carrier? Well, number one, it is not restricted to SM Scouts, so ANY Imperium infantry that can fit into it can load up as passengers (note: unlike Rhinos/Razorbacks, there is no restriction against Bulky models as passengers) and, number two, since you can take up to three Centaurs in a squadron, you can get a lot of them cheaply with even a “bare bones” AM Allied Detachment. On top of this, Centaurs are Fast Vehicles, meaning they can move 12” and then Flat Out another 12” turn 1, setting up an almost guaranteed Turn 2 charge if they are not destroyed (also, almost guaranteed to be in range of short-range shooting like meltas and flamers on turn 2). Combine this with some Psychic support, like say casting Invisibility on the Centaur squadron, and you can rapidly and reliably have up to 15 models in your opponent’s face by Turn 2 of the game.

So, based on all this, what are some tactical applications for the Centaur and allied Imperium units? Here are some ideas that come to mind for each major faction:

[1] Grey Knights – The Centaur makes an excellent little transport for a 5 man Purifier squad, since not only can the entire unit shoot out of it with SBs/Incinerators/Psycannons, but they can also using Cleansing Flame and assault out of the vehicle all in the same turn, thus maximizing all their different strengths while mitigating their lack of mobility and durability issues.

[2] Dark Angels – A Centaur makes for an excellent “mobile bunker” for a DA Command Squad with 5 Grav Guns and Relic Banner (making them Relentless). The Centaur can move up-field and have its passengers put out 15 Grav shots at 18” all game long, all the while protecting them from small arms fire and even serving as a LOS blocking vehicle for other DA units (i.e. say some RW Bikers moving up behind the Centaurs).

[3] Space Wolves – Whether using Centaurs as cheap Bunkers for Long Fangs (all five Heavy Weapons in a Long Fang squad can shoot out, since it is Open-Topped) or as cheap, mobile transport to “Rhino Rush” Blood Claws or close combat oriented Wolf Guard up-field, the Centaur can synergize quite well with a SW force (and again, the Centaur(s) can form an excellent LOS blocking shield for foot slogging Wulfen as they advance toward the enemy as well). Finally, even Lone Wolfs and Wolf Scouts can grab a ride in a Centaur to make them more effective on the table-top, especially in getting into assault.

[4] Blood Angels – BA Vanguard Vets (whether of the melee or gunslinger loadout) and Death Company without JPs both benefit tremendously from having a mobile assault transport that can move 24” Turn 1 and get them in range to assault the rest of the game. Similarly, basic BA Tac squads (with Heavy Flamers and dual Hand Flamers on the Sgt) and BA Assault Squads (with two Meltaguns and dual Inferno Pistols on the Sgt) get much better when they have a cheap Open-Topped transport to shoot and assault out of.

[5] Deathwatch – Unlike most factions, Deathwatch can take Terminators in squads of 1-2, which means they can load them into a Centaur (despite each TDA model being Bulky) and move safely up-field, all the while shooting with whatever Heavy Weapons they are packing (i.e. CMLs, Assault Cannons, Heavy Flamers, Melta PFs, etc.). On top of this, they can subsequently charge out of the Centaur later on, maximizing their value as close combatants as well. Aside from Terminators, DW Veterans also benefit tremendously from grabbing a ride in a Centaur, whether using it as a static Bunker for a Stalker Boltgun squad, an Assault Vehicle for a squad loaded up with PWs and Heavy Thunder Hammers, or a mobile firebase for a squad with maxed out Frag Cannons or Infernus Heavy Bolters. Even if you just keep the baseline Bolters/Special Issue Ammo or the DW Shotguns, a 5 man Veteran squad in Centaur is much more durable and mobile than normal for a relatively cheap points investment and suffers no loss in firepower in the process.

[6] Space Marines – Honor Guard, Command Squads, Devastator Squads, Vanguard Vets, Sternguard Vets, min-sized Tactical and Assault squads, Crusader squads, and even Sniper Scout squads can all take great advantage of a squadron of 1-3 allied Centaur Weapons Carriers. Of all of these, I think Honor Guard are one of the units that truly get the most out of riding in Centaur APC, as it allows them to rapidly move across the battlefield and assault into combat, thereby maximizing their tremendous points-value while mitigating their weakness, namely lack of mobility and no Invulnerable saves. Alternately, a Devastator squad with max Grav Cannons can move into mid-field and set up a massive, 48” “area denial bubble” with their 20 Grav shots fired safely from within the Centaur “bunker” (at least until your opponent takes out the Centaur itself). Finally, the Centaur makes an exceptional transport for a Librarius Conclave, which can use it to move into position to disembark and cast their powers, cast Witchfires from inside the vehicle, and even assault out of the vehicle if you have Iron Arm and Endurance up on the squad!

[7] Skitarii – Both Rangers and Vanguard can make excellent use of Centaur support, especially since they lack any organic transport of their own, and also because it mitigates their poor durability while simultaneously letting them still use all their firepower to full advantage (especially with their Plasma Calivers, Arc Rifles, etc.).

[8] Imperial Assassins – Whether it is a Vindicare using a Centaur as shooting bunker or an Eversor/ Callidus/Culexus using it as an “assault taxi” to get the quickly across the board into combat, I think Centaur squadrons can be quite a force multiplier for Imperial Assassins (especially in new detachments, like the Castellans of the Imperium, where you can have up to 6 Assassins on the field at once).

[9] Sisters of Battle – Dominion squads, Retributor squads, Battle Sisters squads, and Command squads all can benefit from an extra layer of mobility and protection while they employ their ranged attacks to best advantage. Additionally, Centaurs can take Repentia from almost unplayable to very dangerous, since it protects them from enemy firepower and allows them to get into assault reliably, even against units on the other side of the battlefield.

[10] Inquisition – Henchman War Bands, whether they are close combat oriented (i.e. like DCAs, Crusaders, and Priests) or shooting oriented (i.e. like Acolytes, Joakeros, and Heavy Weapon-toting Servitors), can all benefit from the Open-Topped nature of Centaurs, especially if you take multiple War Bands riding in a squadron of multiple Centaurs (attached Inquisitors can also shoot and/or assault effectively from these vehicles).

[11] Militarum Tempestus/Astra Militarum – Whether as a transport for Scions/Scion Command Squads or as mobile Bunker for AM Command Squads, Ratlings, and/or Wyrdvane Psykers, there are lots of applications for the Centaur with a MT/AM list proper, especially if you flood the battlefield with them (i.e. up to 9 Centaurs if you take three squadrons of them in CAD Fast Attack slots). In particular, I think Scion Command Squads with four Hotshot Volleyguns and AM Command Squads with four Special Weapons are excellent candidates for grabbing a ride in Centaur APCs.

As you can see, there are numerous options for utilizing Centaur Weapons Carriers with Imperium allies, and I did not even touch on using them as a “Hero Hammer APC” to ferry around 1-5 Independent Characters for shooting, Witchfires, and/or Assault (i.e. imagine, say, an AM Priest and four Wolf Guard Battle Leaders with Runic Armor and TH/Wolf Claws all assaulting out of a single Centaur). Bottom line, while this is a little known Forgeworld vehicle, I think it could be a tremendous boost to the competitive lists of most Imperium armies out there.

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.