Thursday, 18 June 2015

Space Marine Codex review part 4 - formations and detachments

Part 4 for the review will look at the formations and detachment available in the new book. It will also include the new web-only formation, which is bound to cause a stir. On a side note, this marks my 200th post on this blog since it started a few years ago. Cheers.


Battle demi-company:

So this formation is going to be popular for several reasons. Firstly, it forms the core of a Gladius Strike force (see later) and secondly it is probably something that a lot of marine players can / will field anyway. It consists of a core of 3 tactical squads led by a captain or chaplain (which may be one of the special characters. The other compulsory part of the formation is actually pretty flexible, allowing you to take either one unit of devastators / devastator Centurions, or one of the following: Assault squad/assault centurions/bikes/attack bikes/land speeders. Optional units are a command squad and a unit of dreadnoughts (any type).
From this, as you can probably tell, you can field a minimum of 3x5 tactical squads, a captain and say 3 devastator Centurions and a land speeder. So not much at all really, and of course the Formation can be expanded to over double that size with a reasonable amount of flexibility. The perks of the formation are twofold: EVERY unit gets objective secured and you gain the Tactical doctrine. This is cumulative if you are playing as UMs. Pretty darn good and not too restrictive. We'll come back to it when we talk about the Gladius later.

Anti-air defence force:

1 unit of Hunters and 1 of Stalkers, (with at least 2 Stalkers) that benefit from you being able to +1 BS to the Stalkers if the Hunter(s) score a hit with their Skyspear on that same unit. It really begs the question how many anti-air unit do you want/need in the game, as to maximise benefits you'd need 3 of each to gain their squadron perks too. Reeks of total overkill TBH and so not so sure it'll be popular.

1st Company Strike Force:

3-5 units of any of the 4 Veteran options in any combination. They all gain fear and fearless, as well as giving -2 Ld to enemy units in 12" of at least 3 of the units and also gaining preferred enemy against a pre-selected unit that's classed as an extremis level threat. TBH if you're running 3 Veteran squads of any of these types in your list you may as well group them together like this and benefit from the formation.

Strike Force Ultra:

Same as the boxed set, this is the ultimate first company badass formation. A Terminator Captain (or Lysander), 2 of each terminator squad, a Stormraven, a Land raider crusader/redeemer and a venerable dreadnought. The units must be either in a transport or deep strike reserve. Special rules are reasonable, in that you roll for reserves from turn 1, and add +1 to the number or shots / attacks that the terminators / terminator assault squads get on the turn they disembark from the vehicles. Considering the composition of the formation and the perks other formations get this one is pretty mediocre TBH.

Reclusiam Command Squad:
Again, another straight from the box formation - a Chaplain, command squad and razorback. This one grants Crusader and all units within 6" of the formation may reroll failed to hits in the first round of an assault. So effectively it grants zealot to all nearby units, but the Chaplain may not leave the command squad.

10th Company Task Force:

3-5 scouts / scout bikes and an optional Sergeant Telion. All bikes must have cluster mines and the following perks apply. All units have precision shots in the first turn and all infiltrators have stealth until they have moved in some way. Fairly decent, especially in combination with Raven Guard (how fortunate I have shedloads of scouts in my RG army).

Storm Wing:

Same as before, the Stormwing is a Stormraven with 2 Talons escorting. So long as at least 1 Talon is alive the Raven gets strafing run and also they all arrive as a single formation on one reserve roll. I like this formation and already use it for my Crimson Fists.

Centurion siegebreaker cohort:

2-4 Centurion assault squads and a unit of Ironclad Dreadnoughts. Man, this thing looks menacing, but actually the rules aren't too scary. Would be fluffy for Imperial Fists though. Both special rules relate to building, one allows omniscope equipped units to reroll penetration rolls against buildings, where the other adds 2D6 S6AP4 wounds to any building/vehicle occupants if a model from this formation strips their last hull point in the assault phase. This formation seems born for Imperial Fists TBH and the idea of 3 Ironclads stomping towards you is scary enough. 

Land Raider Spearhead:

This is 3 land raiders of any type, which ignore ALL damage table results (except explodes) when within 6" of another raider and reroll to wound/pen Vs super heavies/gargantuans/mighty bulwarks. Pretty darn nasty!

Librarius Conclave:

There's always one formation that is a head-scratcher, and this is the SM one. 3-5 Librarians (including Tigurius if you like) which gain the following. One nominated Librarian gets access to all the others powers at the start of the psychic phase if they are within 12". When he then makes psychic tests, he harnesses on a 3+ if one other Librarian is in 12" or 2+ if two or more are. Talk about psychic supremacy! The other Librarians are unable to manifest powers until the end of that phase (not that it matters) but imagine putting this on Tigurius (with his ability to re-roll failed psychic tests) with 2-3 pals to accompany him. Nasty indeed.

Armoured Task force:

A Techmarine accompanied by 0-3 Thunderfire units, 3-5 vehicle squadrons (Preds/Vindis/Whirlies) and Chronus if you like. All vehicles ignore crew shaken/stunned if within 6" of a Techmarine/gunner and also the Techmarines/Gunners get +1 to BotO rolls. Not that amazing TBH bu tthe only way to get tanks into a Gladius as below.

Supression force:

Lastly, this blast from the past pairs 2-3 Whirlwinds with 1-3 Land speeders. If one of the speeders nominates a unit within 18" and didn't move flat out, the Whirlwinds can now reroll to hit against that unit and have infinite range. Would be good if you used it in conjunction with the 3 Whirlwind perk and kept the Whirlwinds out of sight. More of an apocalypse type unit TBH but nice to see it featured. 

Gladius Strike Force

Last but not least, the Gladius Strike force. This is the SM equivalent to the Necron Decurion. This takes a little bit to get you head around so bear with me. Almost everything contained within it makes reference to the formations I've just described - it is a 'formation of formations' if you like with cumulative perks. Every unit must come from the same Chapter. A Gladius allows each doctrine to be enacted once per game, which is cumulative, so if you are playing as UMs then you would have 2 devastator, 2 assault and 3 tactical doctrines (as you get one for the demi-company, which is the core of a Gladius). All units in the Strike force are affected if they have Chapter tactics.

Speaking of the core choices, you must take 1-2 Demi-companies. If you take a second, you end up with a company and must take the Captain and Chaplain. Here's the big one - a battle company in a Gladius gets access to FREE drop pods/rhinos/razorbacks. Yep, absolutely free, though upgrades are bought as normal. We then move on to the optional Command choices, of which you may take up to 3 in any combo. First and second up are the Librarius conclave formation and Reclusiam command squad as above. Finally, Chapter command is 1 Captain/Chaplain/Chapter Master from the regulars and Special Characters (including Calgar). Each of the following are 0-1 in this choice: Honour Guard, command squad and Emperor's Champion.  

Lastly we come to the auxiliary choices, which are 1+ and are effectively all the other Formations above not already mentioned, the exception being strike force Ultra which is not included. (also note LotD are not to be seen) So, on the one hand we have the incredibly powerful demi-company side of things (and the command choices), and on the other the less flexible auxiliaries of which one must be taken. Some of those could be quite desirable in their minimal format, such as the Armoured, 1st and 10th company task forces (and Stormwing), but the others not so much. Personally I find the Strike force too restrictive for the armies I have, all of which would require me to drop certain units and add others in order to be able to use the Gladius even in minimal format.

Skyhammer annihilation force

The web exclusive formation has pretty much been leaked at this point so it's worth discussing here also, especially as it's so ridiculous. It consists of two assault squads equipped with jump packs and two devastator squads with drop pods. All units must start the game in deep strike reserve and choose to ALL arrive in turn one or two (a la Deathwing). They arrive automatically - no reserve rolling. So far, pretty reasonable right. Now it gets a bit silly.
Devastators, on the turn they arrive, all get relentless. Yep, that's right. You can reliably drop in your grav/muli-melta/plasma cannon boys in min squads, when and where you want, then shoot without penalty. Not enough? Of course not. All the squads they target in any shooting phase also have to take a morale checks on 3D6 regardless of how many casualties were inflicted. Fail and they go to ground. Pass and they can't fire overwatch. I mean wow, talk about screwed either way right. Never mind though, at least the assault squads don't get any perks....
....Except they do. They can charge the turn they arrive. Yep, old deep strike assault is back.  Not enough? No, of course not. They can use their jump packs in both movement and assault phases plus if they charge a unit that has gone to ground due to the devastators rule above then they can reroll to hit and wound in that assault phase. I mean, just wow. I'm not even going to attempt to analyse the benefits of this formation (yes, they get their Chapter tactics etc too) so I'll just leave it at that.
That's it for today. Tomorrow the 5th and final part of the review will draw some conclusions and also put together some example themed/powerful army lists. Cheers. 


  1. Skyhammer force really just takes the cake here. No reason whatsoever not to run that in virtually any SM list. It hits hard, and creates massive disruption in your opponents lines.

    And the best part? The absolute best part of it's rules.

    You can choose it to come in turn 1 OR turn 2. So someone can't force you to go first (through null deployment), and waste it's shooting. That rule alone makes it an almost must take.

  2. Correction on the Librarius Conclave. The other Librarians may still manifest powers at the end of the phase, after the buffed libby has cast first. So you could fairly easily get off multiple versions of the same power.

    1. Cheers fella, think I was losing the will to live and just skipped the last few words of that rules sentence. Shall amend.

  3. The Skyhammer is actually even more ludicrous. Read it again: They forgot to limit the Unit-specific buffs (Relentless Devs, the extra penalties from their shooting, use Jump Packs in both phases, re-rolls against Units pinned by the Devs) to just the Drop Turn. Those apply for the entire game.

    1. It says 'on the turn they arrive' so surely it drops off the following turn?