19 Jun 2013

Salamanders - Sons of Nocturne

Hey guys, Learn2Eel here and I must say that I am one happy gamer right now, what with the Eldar and Tau leaving some strong impressions everywhere. Today, I wanted to look at a chapter bedecked in history, comprised of valiant and compassionate - almost to a fault - warriors that have fought since the eve of the Horus Heresy. I speak of course of the Salamanders, a noble chapter that will never cease their defence of the innocent and weak; heroes that will reluctantly take arms even against other Astartes to preserve those who cannot save themselves. I hope you enjoy this article!

The Salamanders are the chapter with which I identify most; they are stubborn in their ideals of safe-guarding the helpless, sacrificing even the respect of their allied chapters for the sake of those who would bow to them in fear. They embody the desperate will to save all of humanity, not just those deemed worthy or capable of protecting; this has led to many disagreements with other chapters, such as the Black Templars and Marines Malevolent, but the Salamanders are unabated in their protection of Imperial citizenry. Strangely enough, I despise green for the most part, yet I really like the visual aesthetics of the Salamanders; the dragon iconography and contrast of gold, green and black is eye-catching, with the flames and awesome relic equipment allowing Vulkan and converted models to really stand out. As it turns out, their rules are also quite strong as well; Vulkan remains the commander of choice for many Space Marine armies because of his special Combat Tactics, and they work particularly well with drop-podding Dreadnoughts and Tactical Marines - just how I would run a Space Marine force. It is an army that appeals to me more and more each time I view it, and it is one that I simply cannot wait to try out; if recent rumours are anything to go by - and they usually are where a certain forumite is concerned - then Space Marines are soon to be re-done, so I may just have to be patient for a little bit longer. Still, that won't stop me from rubbing my hands together with glee every time I see the potential of a themed Salamanders force - no Land Speeders allowed! I refuse to be one of "those guys" that runs Vulkan with nine Land Speeders......heresy, I say, heresy!

What to Field?

Destined to discover the Primarch?
Vulkan - The key to any Salamanders army list is, of course, the Forgefather himself - Vulkan He'stan. Even despite the edition change, Vulkan remains arguably the most cost effective and beneficial of any Space Marine HQ choice; as a cool note, it has nothing to do with his equipment either. A commander with a heavy flamer, a master-crafted relic blade, artificer armour and the equivalent of a storm shield is as nifty as they come; this guy can tank damage and dish it out on even terms against hordes of infantry or tough enemy warlords alike. But where his true value lies is in his special Combat Tactics; every unit with Combat Tactics treats all of their flamers, heavy flamers and melta weaponry as twin-linked, while all thunder hammers in the army become master-crafted. Exhale. When tough vehicles and increasing numbers of infantry become more and more the backbone of 6th Edition armies, twin-linking almost all melta and flamer weaponry in the army is just insane. Re-rolls to wound with those nasty cover-ignoring template weapons, as well as re-rolls to hit for those weapons which bring untold devastation to all but the hardiest of foes - could you ask for more? That this also gives a free re-roll to hit to any model with a thunder hammer - a model that already hits very hard and can withstand a lot of damage - is just the icing on what is a sweet, sweet cake brimming with joy.  The use of Vulkan leads to drop and pop tactics becoming so much more reliable, with Tactical Squads, Sternguard Veterans and Dreadnoughts armed with melta weaponry of all kinds in Drop Pods gaining re-rolls to hit so as to maximise their brutal alpha strike. It also gives you yet another incentive - if there weren't already enough - to field the stalwart Assault Terminators armed with thunder hammer and storm shield, and they truly make for a fine bodyguard to the Forgefather. He is the core of your army list, the commander to which your force is designed around, and has an awesome model to boot.

Tactical Squads - The meat of your army, the backbone of any Space Marine army list; they will serve you well, reliable and utilitarian as any force. Tough, fast and with a truck load of options to spare, Tactical Marines can deal with almost any threat when equipped correctly; though they can be used to great effect against specific enemies, they nonetheless are so useful because of their unmatched flexibility. They are often the ones most affected by the twin-linking granted by Vulkan, and given that they are mandatory in your force, it is wise to equip them either with melta or flame weapons to combat specific targets. Equipping a squad for anti-infantry should be done with both a flamer and heavy flamer, with the preferred transport likely being a Drop Pod for maximum carnage at short range - daring your opponent to charge into the wall of flame. Similarly, an anti-tank unit will want a meltagun, a multi-melta and perhaps a combi-melta on the Sergeant; on the turn you disembark from a transport, you are guaranteed at least two shots at destroying any given vehicle, for example. For such a squad, again, a Drop Pod would likely be your best bet; though using Drop Pods is risky regardless of numbers or strategy, using them to destroy the enemies' most valuable vehicles and monsters before they can react while using the Tacticals' innate durability to survive is nothing short of a near perfect alpha strike.

The preferred option for many, given that most of the squad will still bear boltguns, is to go the melta route in a Drop Pod for maximum devastation against all possible targets. The flamers, whilst ideal against infantry-heavy armies, will merely bounce off of monsters and vehicles, whereas the meltas actually stand a very strong chance of destroying them - that the latter can even be used against fliers semi-reliably owing to the twin-linking is very nifty. Regardless, you simply cannot go wrong with Tactical Squads; they are the masters of tactical adaptability, as befits their designation, and how many you take is really dependent on your army list - I prefer squads of ten, with one squad added in at every five hundred points to not be outmatched by other armies in scoring missions. A useful feature of Codex: Space Marines is the ability to split the squad in half during deployment, providing a great reason to employ both melta and flame weaponry in the same unit. This is especially true of squads deployed in transports, as the "total" unit can still ride in their transport until disembarked; both flavours can get where they need to be safely, and unleash hell against their favoured target.
I will burn you so hard, you will...uhhh..

Assault Terminators - Ah, where would a discussion about fantastic melee units be without the ones that everyone compares their own assault forces to. The legendary Assault Terminators, particularly those armed with thunder hammer and storm shield, are cost effective almost to a fault; they strike harder, tank harder and can damage more targets than almost any other unit of their class, with their only true downside being a reliance on assault transports to get into the fray. Where their true value with Vulkan really lies is in his gift to them as the Forgefather; all thunder hammers in the army become master-crafted, giving a free re-roll to hit to all of these Terminators. You read that right. For even a bare five-strong unit, they dish out fifteen attacks each at Weapon Skill four, Initiative one and a whopping Strength of eight with an AP of two; throw in five re-rolls to hit, and you've got yourself some "fireworks" in the form of blood splatters from gibbed opponents. Truly, if you need an elite melee unit - and one that outmatches most others in the game - then the Salamanders provide you with an even greater reason to employ them.

Dreadnoughts - Though scorned by many in a 6th Edition environment, I feel Dreadnoughts are a very strong component of a Salamanders army list. The reason for this is purely down to Vulkan and the obvious push towards drop pod assaults; twin-linking all melta and flame-based weaponry, carried prominently by most classes of Dreadnought, effectively doubles their effectiveness when used against any target. A mere and basic Dreadnought used in a Drop Pod Assault with a multi melta is a common tactic even for other Space Marine chapters, but with Vulkan at the head of your army, such a tactic becomes more than just a risky play at First Blood. The twin-linking makes it so much more reliable, with 6th Edition's damage modifiers really stacking up the pressure; the AP one of all melta weapons destroying any vehicle on a 4+, and such odds truly are worth what is a very minimal points investment. And, as befitting a scary AV twelve walker, the Dreadnought acts as a fire magnet to draw firepower off of your other advancing or more tactically important forces; if such a Dreadnought draws even slight fire off your Tactical Squads and Land Raiders, it has made a fine example of itself. If the Dreadnought succeeds in destroying its quarry on the first turn, all the better! It is perfect then that Ironclad Dreadnoughts, with their meltaguns and flamers, are so ideal in a Drop Pod-based army list; mount them in a Lucius Pattern Drop Pod, allowing them to launch an assault on the turn they arrive, and watch as your opponents scratch at their eyes in frustration. No one wants an AV thirteen walker with a chainfist assaulting any of their units on the first turn. No one, particularly those fielding Land Raiders or other highly valuable vehicles or Fearless squads that cannot effectively harm it.

Tips and the Army List

Salamanders are an army that is generally very well balanced against most foes; meltas can deal with vehicles and monstrous creatures of all classes, while flame weapons are sure to ground most infantry units into dust - the re-rolls for either class of weapon comes in very handy. Master-crafting all thunder hammers gives your strongest assault unit a welcome - though perhaps unnecessary - boost that, in conjunction with the rest, just seem to demand their use competitively. What kind of army list you use is really up to you; the most famous is likely the drop and pop, as the re-rolls make an already deadly alpha strike with drop pods so lethal that few opponents will ever wish to be on the end of it. To play Salamanders well requires merely a sound grasp of the basics of the game, and of handling the differing cogs at work; units equipped with melta or flamer weaponry should be rationed to deal with their respective preferred targets, while you direct your more generalist units to deal with any unforeseen circumstances and issues. Target saturation and priority is key to success in any game; presenting a wide range of dangerous units to your opponent, as well as identifying the most dangerous forces in each turn, both are necessary to achieving victory for the Sons of Nocturne.

For your enjoyment, I have written up a nicely balanced Salamanders army with the theme of "drop and pop" really emphasised above all else. There is a mix of flyers, elite assault forces, tough walkers and a decent number of Troops to engage almost any threat quite well. While most likely not the most competitive Salamanders army list you will see, I feel it is a themed build that captures the amazing potential of Vulkan's Combat Tactics very well. I am truly thankful that any unit embarked upon a transport that has to start in reserve, such as a Drop Pod or Stormraven, does not count towards the 50% reserve limit; otherwise, some of my forces would be forced to start on the table! Though light on flamers and heavy flamers, this army still deals quite well with Infantry owing to the sheer number of shots and assaults available. The Stormravens can be geared for whatever you feel is lacking in this army; plasma cannons and heavy bolters help out here, though I typically prefer the stock standard multi melta and assault cannon for anti-air duties. The Ironclads are each mounted in a Lucius Drop Pod, allowing them to pull off the cheesy move of charging an AV 13 walker on the turn they arrive from reserves! For fun and glory alike, I feel this is a pretty standard army list that, if you feel the need, can have some flame weapons added in quite easily through the Tactical Squads if you decide there is more than enough melta or hard close combat on offer.

Vulkan He'stan - 190

Tactical Squad (10) w/ meltagun, multi-melta, combi-melta, drop pod - 220
Tactical Squad (10) w/ meltagun, multi-melta, combi-melta, drop pod - 220
Tactical Squad (10) w/ meltagun, multi-melta, combi-melta, drop pod - 220

Ironclad Dreadnought w/ chainfist - 135
Ironclad Dreadnought w/ chainfist - 135
Terminator Assault Squad (5) w/ thunder hammer and storm shield - 200

Fast Attack
Lucius Pattern Drop Pod - 65
Lucius Pattern Drop Pod - 65

Heavy Support
Stormraven Gunship - 200
Stormraven Gunship - 200

I feel that Salamanders are the strongest of the chapters represented in the Space Marines codex, and such is their pedigree that this has been true throughout both 5th Edition and 6th Edition Warhammer 40000. They provide the best mix of benefits from their commander; bonuses to melta weaponry for tank and monster hunting, boosts to flame-based weapons for destroying generic troops, and re-rolls for the best melee configuration in the codex. It truly represents the theme that Salamanders are amongst the best equipped of the Astartes, due in no small part to their legendary forges on Prometheus - the moon of their home world. The only restrictions to their use are that they do not employ skimmers and bikes as commonly as other chapters, yet I feel that the sheer boost to their effective firepower is more than enough to compensate for the loss of such units. They are a force that continues to set the standard for all Space Marines, both in valour, integrity and craftsmanship; on the field of battle, they are a stalwart force that strikes with the utmost precision. The balance of killing power aimed at all possible targets makes them incredibly flexible, and with speed and tactical acumen, they can be used to outstanding effect against the enemies of the Imperium. Safeguard the helpless. Defend the weak.
"Into the fires of battle, unto the Anvil of War!"

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1 comment:

  1. Very good article :) Would like to see more of these on the older and weaker codicies