Castellans of the Imperium: Fielding a Competitive “Task Force”

So, I have been wracking my brains for a while to try and come up with a competitive, effective combination of units from the recent Castellans of the Imperium detachment to try out. In many ways, this detachment is kind of an embarrassment of riches, with so many options that it is hard to find a place to actually start. The ability to take 0-6 of the Elites/Fast Attack/Heavy Support from so many different factions, plus 4+ Troops, 2-4 HQs, and 0-3 Lords of War, provides a TON of different options. Finally, on top of all this, EVERYONE (even vehicles, like Dreadnoughts and Sentinels) get Hatred and your Troop units (again, according to my reading of the rules, this includes Dedicated Transport vehicles of Troops choices) get to “resurrect” on a 5+ and come back into the game on the next turn, which is pretty amazing!

After mulling over this a while, I decided that at the core of my “Castellans Task Force” would be three units:

[1] – Coteaz — A no brainer choice here, he provides so much value with  his re-rolls to Seize the Initiative, multi-use-per-turn “Interceptor” rule, and, of course, the ability to grant all non-vehicle models in his detachment Objective Secured (which is HUGE for this army). All of this plus a 2+ save, S6 AP2 Force weapon, and PML(2) for only 20 MBs is incredible value!

[2] — 5 woman Battle Sisters squads (with dual Meltas and MM Immolator DT) — This unit provides several benefits tot he army: first, it provides very solid anti-tank/anti-MC shooting with its multiple BS4 meltas and the TLed MMs on the Immolators; second, it gives you 8 small units that can “resurrect” on a 5+ if they are destroyed, which can be very important late game for taking back objectives (remember, because of Coteaz, the Sisters themselves are Objective Secured). Finally, it meets the minimum 4 Troop requirement without breaking the bank, leaving plenty of points for the rest of your army (four squads like this comes in at 560 points, which leaves you 1440 points left over in a 2000 point game, which is what I normally play).

[3] — 3 man White Scar Scout Biker squads (with Locator Beacon and Sgt with MB) — These squads provide so many functions, it is hard to capture them all. First, they can Infiltrate and Scout (or Outflank, if you need them to), getting them right where you want them before Turn 1 even begins. Second, they are Objective Secured (thanks again, Coteaz!), so they can use their 12″ move and 12″ Turbo-boost all game long to grab key objectives easily. Third, they have Skilled Rider (so 3++ Jink save and ignoring all Difficult/Dangerous Terrain tests) and Hit and Run (so jumping out of combat when needed. Fourth, with the MB and Hatred, they can be quite a sneaky good little Tank Hunter unit. Finally, with their Locator Beacon they can bring in ANY Deep Striking element (including Jump Pack units, Drop Pods, Gates of Infinity units, etc.) with no scatter, which can make a tremendous difference in the overall game (more on this later).

Alright, if I tally up the Army List so far, with 4 x Battle Sisters squads, 2 x White Scar Scout Biker squads, and Coteaz that is a total of 800 points, leaving us with 1200 left to play with. Now, we need at least one more HQ to meet the minimum Castellans of the Imperium requirements. We also need so hard-hitting ranged firepower against both hordes and heavy infantry/MCs, and I would like to work in a solid close combat element as well. Finally, to truly be a balanced TAC list, we need some form of anti-Flyer/Anti-FMC as well.

Looking at all this, I think another very potent (and perhaps under-appreciated) unit is the Wyvern Battery. For only 13 MBs, you get an artillery tank with AV12/10/10 that puts out 4 x TLed S4 AP6 Ignore Cover, Shred, Barrage, Small Blast shots a turn at 48″. This is obviously exceptionally against any kind of light infantry and can even force lots of wounds on MEQs if required (because it Ignore Cover, the Wyvern can be a great insurance policy against units that rely on strong cover saves, like Ravenwing Bikers, as well). Normally, a battery of  Wyverns takes up one of the three valuable Heavy Support slots, but in this case you have 0-6 Heavy Support choices, so you can take multiple “solo” Wyverns and still have plenty of Heavy Support choices remaining. Let’s take three Wyverns (each in a single vehicle battery), which costs a total of 195 points, leaving us with 1005 points left for the army.

Next, we need something to deal with those omni-present Wraithlords, Stormsurges, Dreadknights, Daemon Princes, etc. Of course, the best answer is Grav Cannons, especially Relentless ones coming off a Drop Pod. A squad of Devastators with 4 Grav Cannons (who happen to be Objective Secured… thanks a third time, Coteaz!) riding in a Drop Pod ought to fit quite nicely here. The problem, of course, is that they are not Relentless, and would normally only get 12 Grav shots at 12″ when they came in… enter the Terminator Captain in Cataphractii Armor (who is our second mandatory HQ choice, by the way).

In addition to being a tremendous “tank” character with his 2+/4++ (and re-rolls of failed Invul saves of 1), he has Slow and Purposeful, which conveys to the entire squad he is attached to. This means they cannot Overwatch, Run, or conduct Sweeping Advances, but is ALSO means they shoot at full capacity with Heavy/Salvo weapons (like Relentless) after moving, which is obviously very good with Grav Cannon Devastators. So, take a 5 man Devastator Squad with 4 Grav Cannons and a Drop Pod (take the Isstvaan V Dropsite Massacre legacy of glory for no scatter Deep Strike), then attach the Cataphractii Captain (and give him a Relic Blade and the Hunter’s Eye Relic, for Ignore Cover goodness) and you have a unit that can drop in Turn 1 and unleash 20 Grav Cannon/Amp shots with Ignore Cover for a total of 420 points (this unit should statistically kill a Wraithknight in a single volley)… this leaves us with 595 points left to use, and still a need form some anti-Flyer and close combat capability in the unit.

In terms of Anti-Flyer, I think pound-for-pound the Stormhawk Interceptor is one of the best “all-rounders” in the game (assuming we are NOT using Death from the Skies supplement, as per the current ITC FAQ). For only 29 MBs, you get a Flyer with Av12/11/11 (so cannot be hurt by lucky Bolter shots, unlike the Stormtalon) and 2HPs that puts out 2 x S9 AP2 shots at 24″, 4 x TLed S6 AP4 Rending shots at 24″, and 2 x Krak or Frag Missiles at 48″ a turn. Taking one of these and you have some very solid anti-Flyer, anti-tank, anti-MC, and anti-horde ability all rolled into a pretty survivable platform, thanks to ground units only being able to Snapfire when shooting at them, so a very versatile option here. This leaves us with 450 points left to spend.

Finally, we need some close combat punch… while there are lots of options in the Castellans of the Imperium detachment, I think this is where we reach out to an allied formation, namely the Shadowstrike Kill Team formation from Angels of Death. You must include 2-4 Scouts and 1-3 Vanguard Veterans (must take Jump Pack upgrades), but in turn get the option to choose (rather than roll for) when your Vanguard come in from Reserve and also the ability to charge on the same turn they arrive by Deep Strike (if within 9″ of two Scout squads from this formation, they do no scatter).

So, based on that, I would take two squads of White Scar Sniper Scouts (for holding backfield Objectives and providing a bodyguard to Coteaz), which costs us 24 MBs, leaving 330 points. With those remaining points, I would then take a pair of White Scar Vanguard squads with, each with 5 models, two Storm Shields, a Power Maul, and two Power Fists, which is exactly 330 points on the nose. Being able to automatically charge out of Reserve on turn 2 (and use the Scout Biker Locator Beacons to prevent scattering) makes for a very solid melee counter-punch and gives lots of flexibility against a variety of armies (and Hit and Run gives them the ability to get out of combat and charge again, as required).

Taking all this together, you have the following for a 2000 point army:

CASTELLANS OF THE IMPERIUM

—HQ—

*Coteaz

*Cataphractii Terminator Captain

—TROOPS—

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

—FAST ATTACK—

*3 model Scout Bikers with Locator Beacon and MB

*3 model Scout Bikers with Locator Beacon and MB

*Stormhawk Interceptor with CML upgrade

—HEAVY SUPPORT—

*5 model Devastators with 4 Grav Cannons, Drop Pod (with Isstvaan V Dropsite Massacre legacy of glory upgrade)

*Wyvern

*Wyvern

*Wyvern

SHADOWSTRIKE KILL TEAM

*5 model Scout squad with Sniper Rifles

*5 model Scout squad with Sniper Rifles

*5 model Vanguard squad with JPs, 2 PFs, 2 Storm Shields, and a Power Maul

*5 model Vanguard squad with JPs, 2 PFs, 2 Storm Shields, and a Power Maul


Overall, I think this gives us a very versatile army that has answers for hordes, Flyers/FMCs, heavy infantry, vehicles, and Monstrous Creatures/GMCs, plus has solid assault abilities and lots of units for taking Objectives. Not a perfect list by any means, but a very flexible one that can genuinely take on almost any opponent with a fair chance of success, I believe.

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.

Inquisitorial Henchmen and the new Haemotrope Reactors

The Haemotrope Reactors rules are out and they make for quite an interesting new fortification. Basically, for 8 MBs, you get two Haemotrope Reactors (with the option to buy up to two more pairs in the same Fortifications slot for 8 MBs per pair), which give any non-vehicle/non-MC unit behind them a 4+ cover save, with the drawback of any cover saves of 6+ potentially causing a Reactor Leak (on a subsequent roll of 1, the unit in question takes D6 S6 AP- Ignore Cover hits). They also give nearby friendly Void Shields the ability to re-roll failed “regeneration” rolls and and improves the strength of a friendly nearby Plasma Obliterator from S7 AP2 to S8 AP2.

While all these bonuses are nice, this is not the main reason anyone would take this fortification. Any non-vehicle models bearing Plasma weapons (as defined by the Main Rule Book; technically, this means only Plasma Pistols, Plasma Guns, and Plasma Cannons, but according to the recent Facebook FAQ, Skitarii Plasma Calivers, Cult Mechanicus Plasma Culverins, Dark Angel Plasma Talons, Tau Plasma Rifles, Carnifex Bio-Plasma, and Exocrine Bio-Plasmic Cannons are also included in this overall category, as long as they have the word “Plasma” in their name) can choose to “Charge up” their weapons, making all normal shots (i.e. Plasma Pistols and Guns) into Small Blasts and Small Blasts (i.e. Plasma Cannons) into Large Blasts. The drawback to this ability is that, in doing this, they also increase their Get’s Hot! from occurring just on 1s to occurring on 1s AND 2s (so going from a 16% chance to about a 33% chance).

This is obviously a defensively oriented bonus, since units have to stay basically static near the Haemotrope Reactors to take advantage of it, and so has very limited use for Plasma Pistols, with their 12″ range. Plasma Guns are better, with the ability to shoot out to 24″ (or if you opponent is foolish enough to come within 12″, “double tap” with lots of Small Blasts). Plasma Cannons I think are the best here, with 36″ range, meaning they can threaten much of the board without having to move, and a large blast S7 AP2 is quite a solid threat, especially given how reasonably priced Plasma Cannons are compared to other Heavy Weapons.

Based on this, let’s look at what codices have access to Plasma Cannons on non-vehicle units:

-Space Marines/Blood Angels (Devastators, Tactical Marines, Sternguard, Techmarine Servitors)

-Dark Angels (Devastators, Tactical Marines, Techmarine Servitors, Deathwing Terminators)

-Space Wolves (Long Fangs, Iron Priest Servitors)

-Chaos Space Marines (Obliterators)

-Astra Militarum (Tech-Priest Servitors)

-Cult Mechanicus (Kataphron Destroyers)

-Inquisition (Servitor Henchmen)

Of these, the best I think are Long Fangs (can take 5 Plasma Cannons in a single squad, plus Split Fire, plus their Pack Leader can take a Plasma Gun than can become a Small Blast at 24″), Deathwing Terminators (by far the most durable unit that can take a Plasma Cannon, especially against any Get’s Hot wounds), Kataphron Destroyers with Plasma Culverins (two shots per model at 24″!), and Inquisitorial Henchman (most economical option by far… for 12 MBs, you get a squad of three Plasma Cannon Servitors).

Out of these options, I think the clear winner in terms of competitive gaming is an Inquisatorial Henchman Warband, equipped as follows:

-3 Servitors with Plasma Cannons (60 points)

-Chimera with Psybolts (60 points)

Attach an Ordos Xenos Inquisitor with Servo-Skulls (can help with DSing allies and even make the Plasma Blasts more accurate) and Conversion Beamer (80 points total), so the Servitors don’t Mindlock, and you have a very potent little unit that costs 200 points and can bunker in the Chimera (Inquisitorial Chimeras have firing points for up to 5 units) and put out 3 x S7 AP2 Large Blasts at 36″ per turn, as long as it is within 2″ of friendly Haemotrope Reactors.

You can take two of these battle groups in an Inquisitorial Detachment, giving you an excellent little anti-infantry firebase for quite a reasonable price (costs of two squads like this, plus Haemotrope Reactors, is 440 points total). This gives you 6 x S7 AP2 Large Blasts (Plasma Cannons), 12 x S6 AP4 shots (Chimera Psybolt Heavy Bolters), and 2 x S8 AP4 Small Blasts (Conversion Beamers) at 36″ range, which should be able to deal with light and heavy infantry alike (and even light vehicles as well).

 

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.

Leveraging the Cataphractii Terminator Captain

With the release of the Angels of Death supplement, Space Marine Terminator Captains now have the option to replace their “normal” TDA with Cataphractii TDA for free.

This option provides a couple of benefits and a couple of draw-backs:

Cataphractii TDA Captain Benefits —

1)Terminator Captain’s with this armor may re-roll failed Invul Saves of 1, to represent the interaction of their Iron Halos and the 4++ force fields from the Cataphractii TDA
2)Terminator Captain’s gain Slow and Purposeful, which also applies to any squad they join, making the entire unit “quasi-Relentless” with the ability to move and still shoot Heavy/Ordnance/Salvo weapons at full BS and even charge after shooting these weapons.

Cataphractii TDA Captain Draw-backs —

1) On the flip-side, Slow and Purposeful means that the Terminator Captain (and his unit) cannot Run/Turbo-boost/Flat Out, cannot make Sweeping Advances and, significantly, cannot fire Overwatch.

So, looking at these characteristics of Cataphractii Terminator Captains, I can see two main applications for them in the game as “force-multipliers” to the rest of your army.

First, they can make the Terminator Captain into an excellent “tank” unit for his squad, especially when combined with a 3++ save from a Storm Shield (I am assuming for this article that Cataphractii Terminator Captains can access all normal Terminator Captain Wargear, despite the RAW issue with this) or Relic that grants a 3++ (Shield Eternal, Gorgon’s Chain, and Salamander’s Mantle all come to mind). With a 3++ and re-rolls of 1s for Invul saves, that gives the Cataphractii Terminator Captain a 77% chance of passing its Invul saves, vice the normal 50% chance when just equipped with a regular TDA and an Iron Halo. If you can some how bring that save up to a 2++ with Sanctuary (i.e. an allied Stern, friendly Librarius Conclave, etc.), then the Cataphractii Terminator Captain basically becomes invincible, with a re-rollable 2++ (or a 97% chance of passing his Invul save), making him an unequalled “tank” to absorb enemy combat power away from the rest of the army.

Secondly, with the “quasi-Relentless” he conveys by giving Slow and Purposeful to any unit he attaches to, the Cataphractii Terminator Captain enables allied units to employ their heavy weapon/salvo weapon firepower on the move. Here are some tactical applications I can think of for this ability:

1) SM Devastators in a Drop Pod or similar unit (i.e. Long Fangs, SOB Retributors, etc.) in a transport — Attaching the Cataphractii Terminator Captain to Devastators means they can Drop in (or fire after their vehicle has moved and disembarked them) without Snap-Firing, making them much more potent. The obvious application of this is Grav Cannon/Amp Devastators, which can fire to full effect and range coming out a Drop Pod with a Cataphractii Terminator Captain attached, but you can apply it to many other applications as well.

2) Allied AM Heavy Weapons Squads/Blob Squads — Attaching a Cataphractii Terminator Captain to these units allow them to move and shoot their heavy weapons freely (except for no Overwatch, don’t forget) and thus get LOS to their targets while still maneuvering to best effect (i.e. grabbing objectives, moving away from enemy assault units, etc.). If you are desperate, you can even have the Blob squad with attached Captain move up, shoot their Heavy Weapons, and then charge all in the same turn.

3) MT Command Squad with 4 x Hotshot Volleyguns — Following the same principle as above, except the Tempestus Command Squad with attached Cataphractii Terminator Captain can all Deep Strike together and then unleash 16 x S4 AP3 shots at max range of 24″, making them an effective anti-MEQ unit.

4) Grey Knight Power Armor Squads (i.e. Strike, Interceptor, Purifier, or Purgation) with max Psycannons — Allowing these units to move and shoot a full 4 x S7 AP4 Rending shots at 24″ (so a net range of 30″) each turn is a big buff and makes them much more viable and potent the entire game, starting turn 1 (Strikes and Interceptors can even DS in with the attached Cataphractii Terminator Captain).

5) Inquisitorial Henchman Warbands with Heavy Weapons Servitors and/or Jokaeros, all riding in an Inquisitorial Chimera — Since these Chimeras allow up to 5 models to shoot out of their Fire Points (unlike AM variants), you can move them us and shoot out the hatch with up to 5 Heavy Weapons a turn without Snap-Shooting, making for an excellent mobile “bunker” all game long.

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.