Welcome to part 2 of 3, which will take a rather long and convoluted look at wargear options for the humble space Marine Captain. Part one here.
Storm shield – unlike the relic equivalent, the storm shield does not take up an equipment slot and so you are free to replace both items of wargear with a ranged and melee option. Don’t forget, you’ll lose the bonus attack anyway so don’t be afraid to take 2-handed/specialist weapons and swap your pistol for a ranged weapon.
Relic blade – The relic blade could be seen as a more expensive combination of the power sword and maul. Previously my favourite option, the RB is still a nice equivalent to some of the relics, but the AP3 means you may be hindered in challenges against 2+ saves. The +2 strength means you’ll be more able to do damage to vehicles up close, wound MEQs on a 2+ and instant death T3 models however.
Artificer armour – if you’re not taking relic armour or terminator armour, this is a nice way of bolstering your save. Not too expensive, but then it will depend what you are planning on doing with the Captain. If you intend to use him in a big squad and avoid challenges then you won’t get that much benefit from it. If he’ll be going solo, then it might be worth it, though bear in mind the sort of weapons that will cause you instant death are the same ones that negate 2+ saves anyway (i.e. lascannons and melta).
Boltgun – a free swapout for the bolt pistol. Hardly worth it IMO as even if you have nothing to lose in terms of attacks as you have a specialist/2-handed weapon, (S/2H)you won’t be able to charge having rapid fired.
Storm bolter – a better option for a CC orientated captain who has a S/2H weapon as he can get off a couple of shots at BS5 and then still charge. Plus he’ll get more shots at range in the preceeding phases assuming he’s not in a vehicle or running.
Combi-flamer – not the greatest option as it negates a good BS (but hey, at least you won’t miss with that all important combi-weapon shot) but maybe worth it Vs hordes. It still allow you to fire then charge (and may be useful for wall of flame should you be playing more defensively) but there are better options IMO.
Combi-plasma – now, this weapon is nice in the hands of a BS5 model (won’t make him any less likely to roll 1’s though) but will limit his ability to charge that turn. I’d be reluctant to arm a captain with such a weapon as, in my opinion, if he’s not in combat then he’s somewhat wasted. Leave the combi-plasmas to the sergeants etc. However, the captain does have 3 options to negate this impediment as mentioned later.
Combi-melta – my first choice for combi-loadouts on a Captain. Less chance to miss with that all-important shot due to the BS5; it won’t hamper you assaulting; can instant-kill multi-wound models and crack open transports, including the dreaded land raider, to charge the juicy contents the same turn. Certainly worth a look in if you’re considering a combi-weapon, better still if you have some mobility.
Combi-grav – Same as with the plasma, will prevent you charging unless you have some relentless toys along for the ride (note, it’s not an option for terminator Captains). Also, grav weapons can put out a formidable amount of shots at BS5 if you’re relentless and thus should be considered a strong contender if so equipped.
Grav/plasma pistols – I’m not sure they are any more deserving of consideration than plasma pistols. On the plus side, they don’t stop you from charging and will give you an extra attack unless you have a S/2H weapon. The negatives are that they have a limited rate of fire, a short range (although arguably you will be using the pistol in a melee orientated role and thus will want to be close anyway.
NOTE: Plasma Vs Grav. I’ve had only one game so far and so can’t really comment but I think that (excluding heavy weapons) there’s not much in it between the two. People were initially hailing grav-weapons as the new big thing and indeed they have a place, however I still think plasma is a good and trusted option (unless you’re a guardsman of course) and so want to experiment more before making a judgement.
Power axe – I’ve split the power weapons up into individual variants as they’re each worthy of consideration. I don’t think power axes are generally a great option on characters, as unless they have an invulnerable save they’re likely to die in a challenge before using them due to being unwieldy. Except Captains have a decent ++ save. However, they also have a good initiative, and so unless you have something that will be certain to get the job done (i.e power fist / thunder hammer) be aware you may be putting yourself at an unfair disadvantage using an unwieldy weapon. Don’t forget though, unlike other AP2 options, the power axe retains the extra attack when used with a pistol / normal melee weapon.
Power lance – a decent weapon if on a highly mobile unit. The +1S AP3 on the charge is the best of most worlds, however the AP4 S-user profile at all other times limits it somewhat. Bikes anyone?
Power maul – an interesting option that can be useful in the right situation. The best thing about all the power weapon options is that they’re so nicely balanced against each other. The Maul is the strongest of them (instant killing T3 models and wounding T4 on a 2+) and can reduce your opponent to I1 should the combat persist. However, the AP4 means a good deal of dedicated combat troops will simply shrug it off, Terminators especially.
Power sword – the all rounder, it will do reasonably well against most things but doesn’t particularly excel.
Lightning claw – ah the old lightning claw Vs power sword debate. Same cost, strength and AP, just that one gets an extra attack and the other can reroll to wound. I can’t get my head around the mathhammer and there are various posts on the internet about it already so all I’ll say is go with the rule of cool on this one and use the model that looks best!
Power Fist – Biggest drawbacks with the fist are it loses you a bonus attack and it negates your relatively high initiative by being unwieldy. However, double strength is nothing to be scoffed at, especially as it will instant kill your equivalents. Just be aware of survivability issues if you’re going to go at I1, especially vs MCs.
Thunder Hammer – same points as the power fist, except it costs a little better, looks a lot cooler and, most importantly, will concuss those T5+/eternal warrior characters/MCs for any subsequent rounds of combat. The odds will be evened. Just remember to bring the shield of awesome (see relics below) if you’re planning on hammering out some pain!
Auspex – it only has a short range and so is well suited to a Captain who is likely to be up close and personal with the enemy. This would allow him to lower an enemy unit’s cover save while his unit and others pummel them in preparation for an assault. Bear in mind though he will not be able to shoot that turn. So it might be worth considering if he only has a bolt pistol or a rapid fire/salvo weapon and thus will not be doing much damage prior to charging. Also, if your enemy is in cover anyway, why waste a combi-melta shot (combi-flamer is a different matter)? Not a bad option if you have a few spare points but by no means essential.
Melta bombs – If your captain is likely to be tank or monster hunting then always worth considering, especially if his primary weapon melee weapon lacks low AP or high strength. However, do you really want a model with several attacks reduced to simply one attack? If you have a spare 5 points it’s possibly worth taking them just in case, but TBH there are better units to put them on.
Digital weapons – 10 points is quite a price to pay to gain a reroll (see Salamaders) and TBH could be better utilised in turning a power axe into a power fist or adding a combi-weapon.
Teleport homer – with the availability of teleport homers on sergeants I don’t really see much point in equipping a Captain, though hopefully he will be in the thick of the fighting so calling in Terminator reinforcements may be handy!
Jump pack – a nice cheap option to give the Captain some mobility, though he will need an escort of either bikes or jump troops to make the most of it. You can have a hammer of wrath attack or move 12” over terrain depending on the situation.
Bike – now this is a decent bit of kit for any Captain for a multitude of reasons:
· He becomes relentless, so now a combi-grav/plasma won’t hamper your charging
· Speaking of which, he’s much faster and therefore easier to get into combat (jink saves aren’t much use when you have a 4++ anyway though)
· T5, meaning not many weapons will be able to instant kill him and therefore you can afford to be a bit more bold with him, both in and out of combat.
· Mounted assault – bikes as troops! Yes please, especially now they are so cheap. Give him an extra few ablative wounds and some more firepower and you’ll have spent those points well.
· Bike Command squads – take this a step further, spend a few more points and forgo the scoring unit and instead gain potential for FnP, more weapons and some storm shields.
· Not slowed by difficult terrain and may make a hammer of wrath attack without penalty.
Terminator captain – not part of the Captain entry but still needs discussing. He comes with a storm bolter and power sword as well as terminator armour as standard, not bad considering he’s 10 points less than a captain with the same weapons and artificer armour. However, the terminator armour has some transport limitations, yet mostly gets around those by virtue of teleport, drop pod or land raider (discussed next time). He has access to special issue and relic weapons, although there are some restrictions such as the bike, jump pack and armour indomitus. It should be noted that he doesn’t have grenades nor access to a command squad as drawbacks. Nor can he make sweeping advances. However, he does have relentless and access to the terminator armoury, which is mostly already covered except for the following. Pistols and combi-gravs cannot be taken. Technically neither can anything but a power sword as far as power weapons go as the entry lists it as a power sword – the terminator weapon list refers to swapping power weapon not sword, however (FAQ perhaps). One addition to the terminator weapons not available to other units is the tank busting chainfist. Great Vs vehicles, no different from a power fist vs everything else though. As you’re most likely to be walking around killing enemy characters/squads rather than tanks, best save the 5 points for a terminator squad chainfist instead.
Primarchs wrath – essentially a pimped storm bolter. Could be nice, especially on a relentless Captain as he will benefit from the full fury of the salvo profile. Good if you’re using your Captain in a more defensive role also. It’s 4x the cost of a standard storm bolter though and arguably not 4x better.
Teeth of Terra – finally, a chainsword with some bite! It is effectively a relic blade (it’s a specialist weapon, but can’t be paired with another teeth of Terra, essentially making it a two-handed weapons rules-wise unless you invest in another specialist weapon) and thus suffers from the same limitations of that weapon i.e. AP3 and one less attack than you’d get with say a power weapon. It does however grant you strikedown and rampage. Rampage can be good if you’re up against it and not stuck in a challenge, but is far too situational for my liking. Strikedown is a bit of a crapper version of concussive, in that it halves their initiative and doesn’t affect MCs. It’s an OK weapon but for the points I’m not blown away.
Shield Eternal – now this will be a popular option despite the price tag. It adds +1 to your deny the witch rolls (not great but hey) and is a storm shield (cool, but I can buy one anyway and this one takes one of my weapon slots). However, what people will really be buying it for is the eternal warrior. Ace, so now no need to fear being instant killed in combat by psykers or power fists. Better suited to the Chapter Master IMO but as this article focuses primarily on Captains we’ll forget the Chapter Master exists for now. This is the top choice IMO for a tooled up Captain that you want to send toe-to-toe against anything (with a thunder hammer in tow of course, but more on that later).
Burning blade – Now this is the do-all daddy. It grants both an immense strength bonus sandwiched nicely between a relic blade and power fist, as well as being AP2. So it’s not going to instant-death MEQs, but it’ll penetrate all armour and cut through vehicles decently enough. Best of all, there’s no penalty to initiative or attacks. Blind can be useful for subsequent rounds especially Vs a high WS opponent in a challenge or even going solo against a unit. There had to be a drawback somewhere though, and it comes in the form of incandescent, which if you hit that phase has a 1/6 chance of causing a S4 AP2 wound. Not much of a drawback, as you have to roll a 1 followed by a 50:50 to wound and a 50:50 to make a 4++ save. Not very probable, so the price tag is the only real drawback.
Armour Indomitus – another expensive bit of kit, this can be used instead of the artificer armour and gives a 6++ save (redundant on the captain due to the iron halo but maybe worth it on a MotF/Libby). Here’s the meat of it though. He becomes relentless, and thus can benefit from combi-plas/gravs and the Primarchs wrath fully while still being able to charge! That’s not all, at some point you can elect to do a Ghazghkull and make your save 2++ for a phase. Handy if you’re in a scrape and need to either survive a round of shooting/combat or are about to charge in for the fight of your life Vs a nasty opponent. Also, this does not take up a weapons slot. It’s a nice bit of kit and would be amazing paired with the shield eternal and a thunder hammer, but darn expensive (plus you wouldn’t have a free weapon slot to take a ranged weapon and get the most out of his relentless rule).
Phew, that’s it for the wargear, next time round we’ll bring it all together and look at how the humble, generic Captain works within the army as a whole including Chapter tactics. Cheers.