Saturday, 7 September 2013

New space marine units and Chapter relics - analysis (and post 100!)

Firstly, this is my 100th post on Index Astartes - fitting seeing as it is the release day for the new SM codex As a follow up to the post I made last Sunday, here is a separate article talking about the relics in the new books. I intend to put another article up following this one detailing the combos achievable through the use of special characters. All these articles have been written based on rumours prior to release and posted on the release weekend so some of the details may not be 100% accurate. As before, talkwargaming were kind enough to post a compilation of rumours so credit to them for the info below. My commentary in red.


Burning Blade: S+3, AP2, Melee, Blind, Incandescent Same cost as a Razorback with Extra Armor
Incandescent: At the end of an Assault Phase in which the bearer made a successful to-hit roll with the Burning Blade roll a D6. On a roll of a 2+ nothing happens. On a roll of a 1 the bearer takes a S4, AP2 hit.

This I can see being quite a popular option for captains/masters as, though expensive, it provides the long sought after strength boosted, AP2 strike at initiative weapon. On a chapter master, this means 6 attacks on the charge with these stats! It can not only carve through every armour in the game but will also be instant killing anything not T4 or above. This only really applies to Eldar and IG armies however so should not be thought of as a be all and end all. Although, if you do get the Warlord trait granting furious charge for that turn, a S8 strike is possible for the instant kill on many power armour/tau characters. The s7AP2 is also good at carving weak rear armour vehicles up. 

Then we come to the other rules, namely incandescent and blind. The first may be potentially harmful (always when you never want to roll that 1) and so is worth considering, although if used correctly the bearer shouldn’t be in combat for more than 6 rounds of the game (time spent getting into combat plus your opponents should die quickly), meaning law of averages should lose you a wound. If this is on a captain/master, you should get a 4++ or better anyway and also bear in mind attaching a command squad with apothecary will also help. This is if it even wounds in the first place. Blind has some potential to make the unit assaulted vulnerable in the lower initiative steps and second round of combat and, if successful could tip the assault in your favour. (though it’s quite the gamble against half the armies out there with i4 or higher – orks, tau, necrons and IG will suffer though)

All in all this looks like a good addition to the armoury and a niche that needed filling. Expensive, but that’s reflected in its abilities.  

Armor of Indomitus: 2+, 6++, Relentless Same cost as a Landspeeder with a Multi-melta
Once per game during any phase the wearer may choose to temporarily push the forcefield to its limits. For the duration of that phase the Armor Indomitus has a 2++ Invunerable Save.

Now, this is a piece of wargear that, while similarly expensive, I can also see being used expecially on Chapter masters. Seeing as standard artificer armour costs just under half the price of this wargear, I can see the potential for this to be game changing enough to justify the cost. For example, your chapter master has just been challenged by the swarmlord or abaddon, or the rest of his squad has just been wiped out by ranged fire and he’s in danger or being instant killed by heavy railrifles. Crank up the generator for that phase and buy him the time he needs to get the job done. There’s always the risk of rolling the dreaded 1, but hey that’s the game. I can’t see the point in splashing out the points on any of the other HQ choices except chapter masters and captain. Chaplains have a 4++ same as the captain but only 2 wounds, librarians would similarly gain little benefit as would a MoTF (less still as he already has a 2+ save). In conclusion a decent bit of wargear that will probably see some use but will inevitably lose out to the next bit of wargear.

Shield Eternal:  Storm Shield, Adamantium Will, Eternal Warrior Same cost as a Landspeeder

This is the one I can see getting most use, and rightly so. In concert with artificer armour, it’s the ultimate protection for your chapter master. A storm shield is usually a good shout regardless, seeing as you’ll want to use his profile to challenge the big nasties and need some way of staying alive before the thunder hammer swings down. Admantium will is a nice bonus, but eternal warrior is where the real value lies. No more instant death from boneswords, s8 etc. This will certainly be my preferred option if I want a badass character leading the army. 

Note, I usually go with a relic blade for a cheap captain or, if using an AP2 specialist weapon, will go the whole hog and add the storm shield. If you’re sacrificing an attack anyway you should consider giving him the ability to take down almost anything, but for that you need to sacrifice the initiative also and therefore need to be able to keep him alive. Artificer, shield eternal and thunder hammer is a beast of a combo. Make the most of it by putting it on a chapter master with the extra wound and attack.

Primarch's Wrath:  Bolter, S4, AP4, Salvo 3/5, Shred, Mastercrafted 15 points less than a Rhino

Bog standard weaker/cheaper piece of wargear here. Fairly decent for the cost and worth considering if the character has a specialist weapon and won’t benefit from a pistol in combat anyway. Note that it will preclude you from charging, so perhaps is best used by a character leading a squad such as sternguard, tactical or devastator squad. Even a BS4 character should get 3/3 wounds on a MEQ target thanks to master crafted and shred.  

Teeth of Terra: S+2, AP3, Melee, Rampage, Specialist Weapon, Strikedown Same cost as a Rhino

Another great melee weapon, this is a great addition to a captain and not as expensive as others options. Effectively a relic blade that doesn’t deny you a bonus attack, I can see this weapon being most effective in two scenarios. Firstly if you are in a prolonged challenge with an equivalent opponent, where strikedown will grant you the initiative next round. Secondly, if you are outnumbered in a combat, where rampage will grant you the bonus attacks. Or even better if you end up in a challenge when you are outnumbered. A nice little option that finally allows a chainsword with some real teeth!

Standard of the Emperor Ascendant: Same cost as Landspeeder Stom with Multi-melta
Friendly units n 12" with the same Chapter Tactics as the bearer re-roll morale checks and pinning tests. Additionally, friendly units chosen from Codex: Space Marines within 6" of the bearer have the Hatred special rule, and add +1 to their total when determining their assault rolls. Furthermore, the bearer and his unit have the Fear special rule.

Essentially a chapter banner that allows a bubble of hatred and also grants the most overrated special rule: fear. Although saying that, if you have put together a mega-assaulty-foot-slogging-crusade-o-death (looking at Templar players here) this could be devastating! Every conga-lined unit within 12” will be hard pushed to slow down and once it’s in combat gets an extra attack per model. Add to that the closest units within 6” getting to not only reroll to hit on the first turn of combat but also adding +1 to assault rolls. Plus if the bearer is involved in the assault, the enemy unit must pass a LD test or suffer a WS penalty. If the timing is good, this piece of wargear could turn a significant assault phase into the tipping point of the battle and thus a good synergy is required to get the most out of it.

I thought I would shoehorn the new units in here also, so the stalker/hunter and centurions.

Assault Centurions
  • First 3 cost 10 points less than base Terminator squad
  • Up to 3 models may be purchased for purchased for the squad for the same cost as a Predator (each)
  • May replace the Iron Clad Launcher with Missile Launcher for free
  • May replace Twin-linked flamer for a Twin-linked Melta for the cost of a flamer in the wargear section
  • Sergeant may purchase an Omniscope for the cost of a melta gun. It grants him Night Fight and Split Fire
  • May take a Land Raider as a Dedicated Transport
  • Has Move Through Cover, and Extra Bulky Special rules
  • Decimator Protocols: Models with this rule may fire up to 2 weapons in the shooting phase.
I want to love them, I really do. But both the models and concept are taking some getting used to. That being said, I do think they’ve successfully found a niche for them in the SM list that isn’t necessarily replacing the role of either dreadnoughts or terminators. What isn’t mentioned in the above is that they’re the same profile as a normal SM/sergeant, except they have +1 S/T/W and a 2+ save. No invulnerable, so termiantors still have them beat in terms of attacks and a ++ save, as well as wargear. The siege drills are basically s9 chainfists that grant the extra attack and aren’t unwieldy. In conjunction with the ironclad launchers that makes these chaps none too bad on the charge Vs anything that’s got a decent save. The beauty is that they will often strike first/simultaneously with 3 attacks on the charge regardless of cover, cause instant death to T4 or less. And that’s after a barrage of melta/flamer fire (plus the occasional missile should you choose one). It’s just as well as with t5 and a 2+ save the only real threats to them are the usual unwieldy ap2 weapons, namely power fists and thunder hammers. Beware monstrous creatures and demolisher cannons though!

As for weapons options, I think the ironclad launchers are essential for retaining that initiative strike and keeping them alive. The sarge could take missiles and an omniscope (night vision and split fire) plus retain those flamers to clear a path when charging, while the missile can be directed at any other nearby threat as the centurions close with their target. Remember wall of flame won’t be an option as slow and purposeful models can’t overwatch. Decimator protocols are less useful on the assault variants as they only have the one ranged weapon system unless you give them the missile upgrade. I’d put meltas on the rest of the squad in case you need to open up any juicy transports to get to the contents. 

Price and speed are their main hindrance. They start at 60 points each and by the time you’ve added upgrades the unit starts to get quite expensive, especially when competing with the likes of thunder hammer terminators. Speaking of which, they also have similar delivery problems to terminators, further compounded by their bulk in transports, lack of invulnerable save and inability to run. Godhammer pattern land raiders hold 3, redeemers and stormravens 4 and crusaders 5. (would love to try 4 and an ironclad in a stormraven!)

As for recommended ways to use them, in a transport is an expensive but effective delivery system. Perhaps more effective though is deploying them quite far forward, perhaps with some transports as mobile cover, then using cover to your advantage (MTC helps here) getting into combat by turn 3 if possible. By adding in any missile launchers you can make them not entirely redundant along the way (relentless thanks to SnP) and any vehicles surging forwards to meet the rest of your force will be wary of the melta/drills. Sadly, as with their devastator cousins, they’re in a competitive slot and don’t really benefit all that much from chapter tactics. Let’s take a look:

Ultramarines – Tactical doctrine reroll to 1s during shooting phase redundant as all weapons twin-linked anyway Assault doctrine reroll charge distance potentially useful. Devastator reroll to snap fire/overwatch is of no use as they are slow and purposeful, therefore being relentless and unable to fire overwatch.

Imperial fists – no bolter weapons so bolter drill not effective. Siegemasters only applies to devastators. Sorry lads

Whitescars – born in the saddle only applies to bikes and hit and run specifically excludes centurions and terminators. Boo

Raven Guard – like whitescars, their rules apply only to jump packs and specifically exclude bulky/very bulky models. No help here.

Salamanders – reroll to hit with flamers, which would be useful if they weren’t already twin-linked. The reroll to save with flamers will be potentially useful though, as will master crafting the sergeants siege drills. (again, no point with the twin-linked ranged weapons)

Iron Hands – a 6+ FNP will benefit the centurions as much as the rest of the army and the sergeant may get some benefit from IWND being a multi-wound character, unless of course it is only independent characters that rule applies to.

Black Templars – now this could again be useful should your sergeant end up in a challenge. Rending isn’t much use, but rerolling to hit with those almighty siege drills could be vital. Especially as he is T5, W2 and Sv2+ meaning he is more likely to survive an opening round of combat from your average character with a higher initiative. A +1 to deny the witch is OK, but crusader doesn’t benefit them at all as they can’t run or perform a sweeping advance due to slow and purposeful.

In conclusion these guys look interesting and are potentially devastating once you get them there. But if you had a free elite and heavy slot, I think the devastators will win every time. Mobility isn’t an issue when you’re standing and shooting from a distance and as out of the 7 chapter tactics, 3 have no effect whatsoever (ironically one of them being the ‘sigemasters’ - imperial fists) and the other 4 are hardly influential apart from maybe on the sergeant, you don’t really get much out of them compared to other units. Thus, I can’t really see them fitting into any army particularly well.

Devastator Centurions
  • Same base cost as Assault Centurions
  • Same cost for additional models as Assault Centurions
  • May replace the Hurricane Bolter with Missile Launchers for the cost of a meltagun
  • May replace the Heavy Bolters with Lascannons for the cost of 2 meltaguns
  • May replace Heavy Bolters with Grav Cannon/Grav Amp for the cost of 2 meltaguns
  • Sergeant may take Omniscope for same cost as meltagun
  • May take Landraider as Dedicated Transport
  • Does not have Move Through Cover
So a lot has already been covered with the above, except that these chaps are just fine moving very little and shooting lots. It should be noted these guys don’t get move through cover nor ironclad launchers like their cousins, not that you want them in an assault anyway as they have no real offensive potential in combat. There are 3 loadouts I think will be useful: 

  •      Hurricane bolters and heavy bolters – midrange fire support. Great and cheap, but probably not the best use of them
  • 2  Lascannons and missile launchers – expensive, but putting out the same damage as a hellfire dreadnought each, plus both weapons are twin-linked. Give the sarge an omniscope to split fire and suddenly you can target multiples per turn.
  • 3     Grav cannon and grav amp – the only unit to get the grav cannon and, as they are relentless, they can still move and fire it at full salvo.
Now, let’s talk about grav cannons and grav amps. Here are the profiles:
Grav Cannon: 24" salvo 3/5 AP:2, Concussive
Grav Amp: Re-roll failed To-Wound and Armor Penetration rolls for Grav weapons.

So, first off they can fire 5 shots at 24” (not twin-linked like the rest of the weaponry) and can reroll to wound/penetrate. As an aside, they need 6s to damage vehicles anyway so are not the best use of the weapon. (nor can they damage buildings) Saying that though, if you really want to take down a vehicle then 2 6's should be enough, as each one not only causes a penetrating hit (and strips a hull point) but also immobilises the vehicle - cumulative immobilised = extra hull point removed. (don't forget the AP2 aswell) Plus anything wounded by them will be at initiative 1 should you wish to charge them (with a different unit most likely!) Where these weapons really shine though is that they roll to wound against the targets armour save. So yes, terminators and broadsides wounded on a 2+ with AP2! 15 shots from the basic squad. A bit of maths – versus a squad of terminators that’s 10 hits, 9+ wounds at AP2! Broadside spam beware!

That’s pretty much all there is to this unit. Grav cannons seem like the best loadout, followed closely by missile/lascannon/omniscope – you may not kill as many terminators but at least you’re instant killing most things and can also target vehicles more effectively. I honestly think I’m going with the grav cannons though seeing as this is the only way in the game to get them. Most of the chapter tactics covered before apply to these chaps also but there are a few subtle differences:

Raven guard – N/A

Whitescars – N/A

Ultramarines – Tactical doctrine – rerolling ones useful for grav cannon. Assault doctrine – reroll to charge useful if you actually want to charge. Devastator doctrine not useful as can’t overwatch and already relentless.

Salamanders – flame save rerolls may be useful, as may master crafting grav cannon on sarge

Iron hands – 6+ FNP and sarge IWND still a bit useful

Black Templars – the +1 DTW semi-useful, boosts to the sarge in challenges (reroll to hit, rending) more useful as they’re weaker in combat that assault centurions.

Imperial fists – now, this one is interesting one the surface. Useless for assault centurions but both rules are actually useful for devastator centurions dependent on loadout. Except that rerolls for hurricane bolters/heavy bolters that are already twin-linked aren’t much use. Never mind, because siegemasters is actually pretty good giving that it allows rerolls to penetrate armour and also adds +1 to the building damage table. Only really useful for missiles and lascannons sadly, as the grav weapons don’t affect buildings and gravamps already grant rerolls to penetrate. But, if you’re going with las/missiles then Imperial fists are the one chapter that actually give a decent boost to centurions with their chapter tactics.   

  • 10 points more than current Predator
  • Skyspear Missile Launcher: 60" S7, AP2, Heavy 1, Savant Lock, Armorbane
  • Savant Lock: When shooting at a flyer or flying monstrous creature, you put a marker on it for each miss. The markers stay on the flyer until it leaves the table, is destroyed or is engaged in close combat. At the beginning of every friendly shooting phase you roll for those markers. On a 5 or a 6 that missile hits vehicles in the rear armor, these shots are resolved using the above profile.
Nice to see a new take on a classic Epic model, at least acknowledging that the Epic universe was in some way official now it’s been squatted. Many people are saying the two AA tanks are underpowered, but I think this is a bit unfair. They aren’t expensive tanks, and aside from taking up a slot in a crowded FOC section they seem fair for the points. Also, Marines aren’t exactly short of AA options. 2 dedicated tanks, missile launchers with flakk (devastators mainly) and two flyers in different FOC sections is fanastic. For variety they’re on par with tau. Poor DA players.

As for effectiveness, let’s do some sums. 66.6% chance to hit, then as follows to penetrate
4+ on 2D6 for AV10
5+ on 2D6 for AV11
6+ on 2D6 for AV12

Now, on the face of it that all looks pretty reasonable to me, assuming there will always be some evading going on. Add in a +1 to the damage table roll and there’s a fair chance you can either lock velocity, destroy a weapon or take the flyer down. Then we have savant lock, meaning that even if you get a 1 or 2 to hit you can still damage the flyer ON THE REAR ARMOUR the following turn should it not fly away. Now that is interesting as even the better protected heldrakes/necron flyers are more vulnerable on the front armour and I also means that should you get a hit with shooting that turn there’s a much greater chance of doing damage. As for flying MCs, S7 AP2 is also great.

I for one am excited about trying them out Vs flyers, but there are a few other tricks to be had also. Firstly, if you theme the army, I can see these in multiples being a great way to dominate the skies, especially in conjunction with a flyer. Stick chronus in one if you always want to hit. Worried about first turn enemy fire or flyers taking your AA tank out as a priority – stick them in reserve and keep them safe at first. Other things to consider are that thanks to skyfire you will still be able to fire at skimmers at full BS once that flyer is dead - great vs land speeders and eldar/tau vehicles with armourbane.

  • Same cost as new Predator cost
  • Icarus Storm Cannon Array: 48", S7, AP4, Heavy 4
  • Icarus has two firing modes: Single target and Dual Target
  • Single target: above profile, twin-linked
  • Dual target: Must be declared before shooting. Pick two targets in range and resolve shooting attacks against them using both of them, but at BS2
Cheaper but also considered to be much less effective than the hunter. Many of the same little tricks (chronus, reserves) apply to this tank also, but you can either do 4 twin linked S7 AP4 shots in single target mode or fire twice, non-twin-linked, at two targets at BS2. I found this a bit confusing at first but actually, now I have my head around it, think it’s as good as it’s cousin the stalker but in a different way. Let’s consider each firing mode separately:

Single target – arguably the hunter is better compared to this mode, certainly against AV12. But against AV11 you have an almost guaranteed 4 hits (especially with chronus at the helm, but dual target benefits more from him as discussed later) of which two will either glance or penetrate. Again, assuming evade doesn’t happen then this will kill a stormtalon regardless of damage rolls Against AV10 the chances are even higher.

Dual target – now, before writing this one off completely bear in mind that if you are facing necron air force or multiple ork/eldar flyers, this one can be useful. If chronus is on board, he now grants +1 to BS, making them BS3. Suddenly your chances are 50:50 to hit with 4 shots on each of 2 targets, which hopefully against lower av flyers will give you a penetrating hit on each. Useful if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Also to be considered is that the new AA tanks both have a different profile to other SM tanks for their armour, namely 12/12/10. Better for fending off vector strikes, but keep that rear armour at the back of the board and leave the tank in cover where possible. Again, the stalker will still be useful Vs skimmers once flyers are out of the way thanks to skyfire, though Vs ground targets you'll be needing 6s to hit which won't be modified by Chronus' +1 BS thanks to the rulebook FAQ. 

In conclusion I think these chappies are great little additions to the SM arsenal and ideally will be used as a cheap inclusion should a FOC slot be free. In tandem with a flyer ideally, especially as the stormtalon doesn’t compete with it for slots. Add in chronus if you have the points, although it then becomes a tank the price of a predator.  

Phew, that's all for now, though look out for the third and final article in the series which looks at special characters. Cheers. 


  1. Loving the breakdown for the relics. A lot of people, myself included, seem to just be skimming over most of them going "That seems really good...but expensive."

    As someone interested in making a powerful CM/Cpt beatstick to get a taste of what it feels like to have a one-man wrecking ball like CSM and other armies are used to, this is really helpful.

  2. The AA tanks have Skyfire, right?

    1. Yes, my mistake. Sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees when you're writing so much. They defintely have skyfire but not interceptor.

  3. So, with the stalker, after you take out the flyers/FMC, at least with TL it has an okay chance to provide some ("some") additional fire support in following turns... heck, you may actually be better off shooting @ 2 separate targets as their is a slightly higher chance of 6's on 8 shots than 4 with re-rolls (if you hit with 1 shot @ first, you only get 3 rerolls, so 7 dice vs 8 straight up if you don't twin link)... Hunter gets one shot @ BS1 @ non-flyers after doing it's job... armorbane is nice, though.. and maybe you'll get lucky.. other option is using them as mobile cover (with AV12) as soon as other flyers are out of commission...

    any mention anywhere of what happens when an FMC is in melee on following turns of a hunter missile miss? can the hunter missile still follow it into combat and hurt it at that time?

    Congrads on post 100 BTW!

    1. Cheers pal. Yes it seems the stalker may have some role with dual fire mode vs ground targets, escpecially if u have chronus on board.

      The rules for savant lock say to discard any counters when the model leaves airspace or is engaged in close combat.

      Really nice additions to the armoury. Looking forward to trying them out.