Black Tide and Blue Primarch: Black Templar and Roboute Guilliman

As I have previously mentioned, there are so many different methods for integrating Roboute Guilliman, especially given that he can be taken as a LOW by any Imperium faction, that I find myself continually exploring more possibilities with him.

As I have thought about it, one army that I think he would pair particularly well with is the Black Templars. Just reviewing, Black Templar arguably have some of the weaker Chapter Tactics for competitive play, with Crusader/Adamantium Will on all infantry, the ability to gain Rage and Counterattack for a turn if they suffer any casualties, and a restriction that prevents them from taking any Librarians.

To compensate somewhat for these “so-so” Chapter Tactics, Black Templar do get access to the unique Crusader squad as a Troops choice, which is basically a more flexible, more capable Tactical Squad in almost every respect (the only thing Tactical Squads get over Crusader squads is the Combat Squads special rule).

In place of this, Crusader squads can take an additional PW, PF, or Heavy Weapon in the squad, no matter the size, can have its squad members trade out Bolters for CCW for free, and can take 10 point Neophtyes (basically Scouts, but without Infiltrate/Scout/Move through Cover) equal in number to how many Initiates (i.e. “normal” Marines) are in the squad. Finally, the squad can take the normal Special Weapon option, can upgrade one member to a Sword Brother (i.e. Veteran Sergeant, with all the normal options), and can take either a Rhino, Razorback, Drop Pod, or Land Raider Crusader as a DT. Taking all this together, you have quite a versatile Troops choice that can be customized multiple different ways, including for close combat, MSU shooting, mechanized assault, or even giant “blob squad” foot squads of 20 men each (i.e. 10 Initiates, 10 Neophytes).

Now that we have gotten an overview of Crusader squads, I think Guilliman can integrate with them in two major ways:

[1] Close Combat Infantry Horde — If you choose to go for large Crusader squads on foot, the Guilliman can be in the center of the line and buff them in multiple ways, including giving them Ld10 (with re-rolls for Pinning/Fear/Morale checks), Move through Cover, +1″ to their Run and Charge moves, and re-rolls of 1s to Hit for both shooting and assault. With good positioning and Guilliman’s 12″ buffing radius, you can have multiple 20 man Crusader squads benefitting from all these buffs, which in turn makes them more mobile and more deadly in both shooting and close combat. In particular, the combination of Move through Cover, +1″ to Run distances, and Crusader means that even footslogging infantry can get across the board quickly. Combined with the cheap Neophytes and Black Templar forces can potentially replicate Orky “horde” tactics with masses of Zealous Astartes (i.e. the infamous “Black Tide” tactics of 4th edition). As an added benefit, Guilliman can serve as a “fire magnet” for enemy heavy weapons to draw attention away from Crusader squads, further enhancing their ability to get across the tabletop and safely into close combat (or, if they shoot at the Crusader squads, then Guilliman is left unharmed and can wreck havoc in close combat himself, so either way it is a losing proposition for your opponent).

[2] Mechanized MSU Force — With the ability to take a Special Weapon and a Heavy Weapon in a minimum 5 man unit, Crusader squads are an excellent choice for loading up in Rhinos and using them as mobile bunkers, with their two firing points, to put down lots of protected firepower each turn. Guilliman can serve as the “anchor” for just such a mechanized force, both buffing the shooting of all friendly squads/vehicles within 12″ and providing a devastating counter-assault element if enemy forces come too close themselves. This can make for a very strong “mid-field presence” force that can shoot, assault, and (importantly) take lots of Objective while still keeping pressure on the opponent’s army. This also works quite well with lots of Dreadnought support, since Guilliman can buff them in the same way he would enhance the “black tide” style army mentioned above and also provide highly effective close combat capabilities alongside them (i.e. massed S10 AP2 attacks at full initiative from both the Dreadnoughts and the Primarch). Finally, if you decide to go with massed Land Raider Crusaders for your Crusader squads, then you can force your opponent to choose between engaging them (and thus ignoring Guilliman as he footslogs across the battlefield) or ignoring the Land Raiders and trying to deal with Guilliman (and thus leaving himself open to massed assault by the Crusader squads riding inside)… either way, it poses a significant dilemma that can be used to your tactical advantage as a Black Templar player.

Besides making different styles of Crusader squad based armies more effective, Guilliman can also enhance the “supporting elements” in a Black Templar army, especially fire support elements like Predators, Devastators, TFCs, etc. One unit in particular that I think benefits from Guilliman being in the army is the Stormhawk Interceptor, especially when taken in mass (you can take three of these in a CAD and up to six of them if you run the Castellans of the Imperium special detachment). With BS4, re-rolls to Hit of 1s (when within 12″ of the Primarch), and the ability to put out 2 Lascannon shots, 4 Assault Cannon shots, and 2 Krak or Frag missiles a turn (with the option to shoot at enemy flyers/FMCs at full BS) from a single airframe, these Astartes flyers can be exceptional fire support platforms for a Crusader squad heavy Black Templar force, further reinforcing the value that Guilliman brings to such an army.

Based on all this, I think Guilliman really can be a tremendous asset in a Black Templar army and maximize their value of their unique units, while also mitigating their somewhat mediocre Chapter Tactics.

Roboute Guilliman: Building a Bodyguard for the Primarch (Part II)

One of the big topics among 40K players right now seems to be how to use the newly returned Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, effectively on the tabletop. More specifically, most of these discussions seem to center around how to keep him alive efficiently, since he is a Monstrous Creature and thus cannot join units, ride in transports, or even embark inside fortifications.

While the Victrix Guard formation exists and has special rules that allows Guilliman to use Look out Sir! with its members, it is an inherently expensive formation and perhaps not the most efficient way to keep him alive against powerful enemy shooting, especially the ever-prevalent Graviton weapons in the current meta.

As I have thought about, I think one of the best body guard “battle groups” for Guilliman might look something like this:

-Roboute Guilliman

-3-5 Bullgryns (with Carapace Armor and Slabshields)

-Sevrin Loth (selecting the Telepathy, Invisibility, Terrify, and Psychic Shriek powers)

The way this works is pretty simple: the Bullgryn squad (with Loth attached) “bubble wrap” Guilliman to obscure him from enemy shooting from all different directions. Because of their special Slabshields, they provide him with 4+ cover save, instead of the normal 5+ cover save provided by intervening models. Loth then casts The Shrouding, granting the Bullgryns a 3+ armor save/5+ cover save in the open and giving Guilliman a 2+ cover save (i.e. Bullgryn cover + Shrouded), which is a significant step up from his normal 3++ save against AP2/1 shooting attacks (like Grav and Plasma Weapons).

By itself, this would be a solid improvement in the Primarch’ survivability, but Loth has one more trick up his sleeve… Invisibility. If he can successfully cast this on Guilliman as well, then all enemy shooting is hitting on 6+, which drastically improves his durability, especially if successfully combined with a 2+ cover save from The Shrouding, as described above. With both of these powers successfully cast and the Bullgryns screening, it takes an average of 54 x BS4 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to cause a SINGLE unsaved wound on Guilliman (so 324 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to kill him outright).

An added benefit of this battle group is that the Bullgryns/Loth are a solid “anvil” unit in their own right and, aside from combining to give Guilliman enhanced protection, they can easily tie up (or even defeat) enemy “chaff” units, thus freeing the UM Primarch to use his assault abilities against the more important enemy forces, where his mass S10 AP2/S: D attacks can really make the biggest impact (Note: Loth can use his 2++ to tank low AP attacks for the Bullgryns and the Bullgryns can use their 3W per model and T5 to absorb high volume attacks away from Loth).

Now, there are some drawbacks to this battle group: first, while not as crazy as the Victrix Guard, it is still pretty points intensive for a normal 1750-2000 point game and also requires at least two CADs/Allied Detachments (i.e. one Astra Militarum for the Bullgryns, one Red Scorpion one for Sevrin Loth, with Guilliman taking up a LOW slot for either one of them). Additionally, it does require successfully casting two WC2 powers a turn to work at maximum efficiency, which is pretty hard to do reliably (even with a PML(3) caster like Loth). Finally, everyone (including Guilliman) is still on foot and so can only move up 6″ + D6″ run each turn, which means agile opponents can still avoid getting charged by these units (even if they have a very difficult time hurting them, especially Guilliman).

On the other hand, if these units do get into combat, they will wreck house, especially with the close combat prowess and buffs that the UM Primarch brings to the table, Perhaps equally important, this battle group has the capacity to absorb TONS of firepower away from the rest of your army, which in turn can allow them to maneuver, shoot, charge, seize objectives, cast powers, etc. etc. with relative impunity… I think a mechanized Astra Militarum force or an elite infantry heavy Red Scorpion army in particular could do really well with this kind of support, especially since the types of weapons they are vulnerable to are exactly the weapons your opponent will have to divert to trying to kill Guilliman.

Overall, this is battle group is definitely not an “auto-win” choice, but if you are planning to field Guilliman anyway and have a strategy built around keeping him alive and getting him into close combat, then I think it can be an effective addition to your Imperium of Man task force.

 

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.

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+

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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)

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.).

Counter-Magnus Tactics: Space Marine Edition

I was recently at my local gaming store and, while playing a game of my own, watched a couple tables over as a player using the new Thousand Sons and Magnus handily defeat a pretty competitive Space Wolf player, who himself was running Wulfen and lots of vehicles (I had lost to that same Space Wolf player in past games myself). Ever since he was released, I have thought Magnus would be a very competitive LOW choice for any CSM players and, the more I look at him, the more I think he is very tough to deal with, even for very competitive tournament armies.

Looking at his basic stat line, he has the following:

WS7 BS7 S8 T7 W7 I7 A6 Ld 10 Sv4+/4++ (Flying Monstrous Creature) — Costs 130 MBs

*Special Rules — Adamantium Will, Deep Strike, Eternal Warrior, Fearless, Fleet, IWND, PML(5), VotLW, Daemon of Tzeentch (so re-roll saving throws of 1), Omniscient Eye (has LOS to all units on battlefield when using Psychic Powers), Unearthly Power (harnesses WCs on a 5+)

*Wargear — Blade of Magnus (S: User, AP2, Force, Soul Blaze, Transmogrify –> 6+ to Wound causes ID and models slain by this become Chaos Spawn) and Crown of the Crimson King (4++ save and ignore Perils of the Warp)

On top of all this, Magnus know all 7 Tzeentch powers, all 7 Change powers, and the unique Gaze of Magnus power (18″ S: D AP1 Beam power which requires harness 5 WCs successfully). As you can clearly see, Magnus is very durable (T7, W7, EW, re-roll saving throws of 1, can Swoop as a FMC, and 4++, which can boost to a 3++ whenever he has a Blessing cast on him), mobile (all the mobility benefits of being a FMC), strong in close combat (7 x S8 AP2 attacks on the charge, all at WS7 and I7 with the ability to make them ID via Force)), and, most importantly, able to put out ridiculous amounts of damage in the Psychic Phase (i.e. using up to 5 powers a turn, with everything from activating his Force Weapon to taking control of an enemy unit and shooting other enemy units with it to multiple Destroyer strength Witchfire abilities).

So, all of this begs the question, how can non-CSM players counter Magnus? Today I will look at this question from the perspective of a Space Marine player. Specifically, I think you have to break this question into two parts: (1) how to counter Magnus if you have first turn, before he go into Swooping Mode and cast a Blessing to up his Invul save to a 3++, and (2) how to counter Magnus the rest of the game, when he will almost always be Swooping and have a 3++ save due to casting blessings:

 

[1] Countering Magnus when you have 1st Turn — This is the significantly easier option of the two, since you don’t have to Snapshot at him (or use a Skyfire weapon) and since he only has his base Invul save. Solid options for Space Marines include the following:

a) 1st Company Task Force — Since Magnus is not a GMC, he does not have FNP and also is still vulnerable to Poison Weapons. Based on this, 2-3 squads of Sternguard in Drop Pods from a 1st Company Task Force can DS in turn 1, target Magnus with Preferred Enemy (thanks to the formation Special Rules), and then unload up to 20 Poison(2+) shots per squad on him while he is still in Glide mode. With even just one Sternguard squad like this, they average 20 shots, 15-16 hits, 15 wounds, and 6-7 unsaved wounds, which with some luck with bring down Magnus in a single volley.

b) Skyhammer Grav Devastators — Like above, if you bring in two squads of Grav Cannon Devastators turn 1, they have 40 shots, 26-27 hits, 19-20 wounds, and 8-9 unsaved wounds on average, which should statistically kill Magnus in Gliding mode before he can even get into the game.

c) Two Predator Annihilator Squadrons — With maxed out squadrons giving them Monster Hunter, two squadrons of 3 Predators each can put out 6 TLed Lascannon shots and 12 regular Lascannon shots. This averages out to 13-14 hits, 12-13 wounds, and 5-6 unsaved wounds after Invul saves on Magnus… not quite enough to kill him by themselves, but this still brings the LOW down to 1-2 wounds, which the rest of your army ought to be able to finish off with reasonable certainty.

d) 10 TH/SS Terminators and attached Inquisitor (with Rad Grenades and Relic that allows Hatred once a game) and Librarius Conclave (with Electrodisplacement) — Drop Pod in a unit right next to Magnus turn 1 (say a Tac Squad), then have the Librarius Conclave to use Electrodisplacement to “switch” themselves/Chaplain/Hammernators with the Drop Pod unit and subsequently charge Magnus that same turn. The Stormshields will help the unit absorb Magnus’ attacks and then, with 30 TH attacks they will average 22-23 hits (thanks to Hatred), 18-19 wounds (thanks to Rad Grenades bringing Magnus down to T6), and 7-8 Unsaved Wounds, which will kill him before can do any more damage to your army in later turns.

e) Shadowstrike Kill Team with two squads of 8 Vanguard Vets (all with PF/LC combo) — Since the Raven Guard Talon Strike force allows you to bring in Reserves starting turn 1, and the Shadowstrike Kill Team allows you to auto-pass Reserve rolls, you can Deep Strike and charge with the Vanguard Vets on turn 1 (with the Scouts able to prevent them from scattering, if properly positioned). Magnus will kill on average 4 Vanguard before they strike, meaning that the remaining 12 models get to hit back with 48 PF attacks, 24 hits, 16 wounds, and 6-7 unsaved wounds on Magnus when the dust settles (so he would either be dead on 1W at the end of the combat, which makes him easy to finish off next assault phase).

 

[2] Countering Magnus when he is Swooping and has a 3++ — This is the much harder path to travel, especially since it means you have to get a very high volume of powerful Skyfire shots to bring Magnus down:

a) 6 Grav Cannon/Missile Launcher Centurions with Land Raider Excelsior and Culexus Assassin support — The LR Excelsior can “cast” Skyfire on the Centurions and the Culexus, if moved within 12″ of Magnus, can “turn off” his Psychic abilities (including downgrading his 3++ back to a 4++, since the Blessing on him would be cancelled). Taken all together, the Centurions can then put out 30 Grav shots which average 20 hits, 15 wounds, and 6-7 unsaved wounds on Magnus. Throw in the additional 6 Krak Missiles with 4 hits, 2-3 wounds, and 1-2 unsaved wounds and you should be able to bring down a Swooping Magnus in one shooting phase, with average rolling.

b) 10 Sternguard with attached Librarian (with the Memento-Mortispex Relic) and Culexus Assassin support — If the Sternguard squad can get within 12″ of Magnus, the Librarian can give them Skyfire ( with the Memento-Mortispex Relic) and cast Prescience on them, in turn allowing them to unload on Magnus with 20 TLed Poison(2+) shots. On average, 20 shots like this yields 17-18 hits, and 14-15 wounds. Provided the Culexus is also within 12″ of Magnus to downgrade his Invul to a 4++, then the Sternguard would inflict about 6 unsaved wounds, leaving the Tzeentch LOW with 1W left, which the rest of your army ought to be able to bring down.

c) Two full batteries of Quad Mortars from the Red Hunters Chapter, a pair of Stormhawk Interceptor, and Culexus Assassin support — The Quad Mortars can use their Chapter Tactics on Turn 2 to both gain Skyfire, which allows them to put out 24 x S8 shots, resulting in about 16 hits, 10-11 wounds, and 4-5 unsaved wounds (if the Culexus Assassin is within range of Magnus). That leaves 2-3 wounds left, which the Stormhawk Interceptors ought to be able to finish off reliably between their 4 x Lascannon shots, 8 x Assault Cannon shots, and 4 x Krak Missiles (all firing at full BS on Magnus).

 

As you can see, taking on Magnus with Space Marines is quite difficult, especially if he is Swooping and has his Invul save bumped up by a Blessing, but these are some ways to try and deal with him early in the game, before he can do too much damage to your force. If you do succeed in killing him early, you should have a strong chance of defeating the rest of your opponent’s army, since Magnus is about a third of the total points in a 2000 point game.