10 Oct 2014

Tactica Astra Militarum - Leman Russ Squadrons

Hello there everyone and welcome to the first of my long awaited Astra Militarum Tactica Heavy Support articles, where I provide in-depth analysis and impressions of the many competitive uses for a given unit. As you might have guessed from the title, today sees my first full review of the most iconic battle tanks ever fielded by the Imperium, the Leman Russes, named in honour of the legendary Space Wolves Primarch himself. Given that there are numerous variants available in the codex, this review will cover each one individually in a manner similar to my Regimental Specialists Tactica where the Best Uses and other applicable tactics are presented in a unit-by-unit format. While this certainly won't be the longest article I have written by any stretch, it will nonetheless be an exhaustive piece and one that I hope you find some helpful advice from. I hope you enjoy it!

Leman Russ Squadrons


Before we begin, I have a few general points to discuss that apply to each Leman Russ variant. First off, each of these tanks has at minimum the armour values 14/13/10 and three hull points, making them incredibly durable given their low points cost. While they are incredibly difficult to shift anywhere except right up close including a melee, their firepower is generally decent rather than great. This is because all Leman Russ tanks are Ballistic Skill 3, limiting their accuracy to 50% when firing standard shots and scattering a fair distance when using blast templates. However, all Leman Russ tanks are cheap and are treated as Heavy vehicles, firing all weapons at full Ballistic Skill regardless of whether the tank moves as long as one of them isn't an Ordnance weapon. They are, however, limited in terms of mobility accordingly with an inability to move at a speed greater than Combat Speed (or 6" in each Movement Phase) and nor can they perform a Flat Out manoeuvre.

Battle Tank - The most basic and iconic variant of the Leman Russ chassis, the Battle Tank is famous for providing a hugely powerful large blast at extreme ranges and being the primary option from the standard kit. For the uninitiated a Battle Cannon fires a single Strength 8 AP3 Ordnance Large Blast, devastating anything from Space Marines to Tyranid Warriors and pretty much anything with a 3+ or worse armour save that isn't also either a monstrous creature or possesses some kind of cover or invulnerable save. It is also decent against vehicles for stripping off hull points one at a time but generally does the most damage against tightly packed infantry formations with that always useful large blast. The problem here is that the Leman Russ chassis has been bereft of the Lumbering Behemoth special rule since the beginning of 6th Edition, meaning that once it fires its Battle Cannon the Ordnance rules impose the Snap Shot limitation on all other weapons employed by the Leman Russ. While the other Leman Russ variants barring the Demolisher suffered nothing at the hands of this change, the Battle Tank was most affected of all as there is now almost no point to using the otherwise incredibly valuable sponson weapons. Similarly, the hull weapon is now a situational little extra that is entirely unreliable and thus leaves little reason to be upgraded from the stock heavy bolter. Despite the Battle Tank being the only Leman Russ variant alongside the Demolisher to actively see a reduction in effectiveness, the two Ordnance-packing Leman Russ tanks were also the only ones not to see a points drop. This incredibly confusing set of changes has left the Battle Tank as a far less valuable variant than previously, especially as its primary role of destroying infantry formations is performed far better by the significantly cheaper Eradicator now - and if you need an elite-infantry destroyer, the Executioner is the best in class by far. While the Battle Tank is still a decent generalist at face value, the changes to the vehicle damage chart and the proliferation of cover make it much more of a niche choice than it really should be.

Exterminator - With a significant price reduction, the Exterminator now has some reason for existence - even if its fulfilment of two roles leave it as decidedly lacklustre in each specific role. The Exterminator is your only real "anti-air" Leman Russ even if it is rather poor at the role - take two Hydras instead if you want dedicated anti-air shooting - while it is also probably the best against light vehicles considering its points cost, though it is also one of the worst against infantry. Four shots at Strength 7, AP4 with twin-linking aren't bad against non-vehicle models by any means but they certainly don't compare well to twenty Strength 5 shots offered by the Punisher or any of the various blast-type weapons. Similarly, it does decently against monstrous creatures but is out-performed by the AP2 Executioner, though it is entirely useless against heavy vehicles unlike the Vanquisher. As you can see, the Exterminator fits the bill of "generalist" perhaps more than any other Leman Russ - especially as it is one of only three that can fire at aircraft with its primary weapon - but it is mediocre against each type of target barring light vehicles, rather than particularly good. At the very least it is cheap and you can outfit it with different weapon upgrades so that you can specialize it against specific enemy types, including using multi melta sponsons for improved tank hunting in addition to a hull lascannon. Unfortunately, spending more points on this variant just exposes its limitations and ultimately the Astra Militarum can't really afford mediocrity; you should go for the more expensive variants like the Executioner so that you can have dedicated AP2 firepower, while you want an Eradicator to guarantee cover-camping infantry aren't a problem.

Vanquisher - Billed as the tank hunter of the Leman Russ brigade, no variant of this iconic chassis looks quite as imposing as the long-barreled Vanquisher. Sadly, it is possibly the most inefficient Leman Russ in terms of performing its dedicated role; spending nearly 150 points (the price of a Battle Tank) for two high Strength shots with useful AP2 that are resolved at Ballistic Skill 3 really isn't that impressive. While the titular Vanquisher Battle Cannon does offer a single Strength 8 AP2 Armourbane shot and the cheap hull lascannon upgrade provides one Strength 9 AP2 shot, both with a range of 48" or greater, that only one of these two shots will hit per shooting phase makes it a poor tank hunter for the points, really. What this effectively boils down to once you remember the changes to the vehicle damage chart is a tank-hunter that has a one-in-six chance of outright destroying a vehicle almost every time it shoots, but is ultimately a glorified hull-point stripper. In terms of raw damage output the Vanquisher just does not compare well to something like a Vendetta even once you factor in the latter starts in reserve, and frankly the only thing the Vanquisher is really good at is reliably taking hull points off of other AV14 vehicles. If you face AV12 or lower tanks more regularly then you may as well just use the Exterminator, while your basic autocannon-wielding Heavy Weapon Teams should do the job just fine as well. While the multi-melta sponsons do heavily increase the offensive presence of a Vanquisher, it is just adding more points to an inaccurate tank that wants to stay far away from enemy lines because it is virtually incapable of dealing with any unit consisting of ten or more models.

Eradicator - As the cheapest Leman Russ variant by a small amount next to the Exterminator, an Eradicator saw perhaps the biggest buff of any Leman Russ in the codex seeing as it previously paid more than a Battle Tank for an arguably inferior weapon overall. Now, at a super low price, the Eradicator competes not just with other Leman Russ tanks but also with the infamous Hellhounds, providing firepower of the same devastating scale against infantry but at a much longer range and at a slightly cheaper cost. When you consider that a Leman Russ has AV 14/13/10 and a Hellhound has a significantly less impressive AV 12/12/10, a quick glance might paint the latter in a bad light - of course, what a Hellhound brings over an Eradicator is not just speed but accuracy. Whereas a Hellhound fires a Torrent Template, an Eradicator uses the Large Blast marker instead and is thus prone to scatter with a mediocre Ballistic Skill 3 - the 36" range of the weapon isn't all that greater than the effective 20" range of the Inferno Cannon, especially once you consider the movement values of both tanks. Still, paying so few points for a Leman Russ chassis with what is still a very strong weapon in the form of the Eradicator Nova Cannon - firing a single Strength 6 AP4 Large Blast with the Ignores Cover special rule - is absolutely amazing and pushes the Eradicator forward as arguably the best Leman Russ variant right now. Having such amazing anti-infantry firepower on a platform that can additionally mount three heavy bolters without exceeding the cost of a standard Battle Tank that can fire all four weapons at full Ballistic Skill 3 on the move is as heavenly as it seems. That the Leman Russ chassis is survivable on a level comparable (but inferior) to Land Raiders and the Eradicator is still so darned cheap is just ridiculous, honestly, and it proves itself in almost every game it has ever seen use in if only because opponents will struggle to deal with these cheap, durable tanks.

Demolisher - The first of three "siege" variants employing the Leman Russ chassis, the Demolisher is not only the poster child of the alternate Leman Russ kit but it is also quite possibly the scariest when considering all possible opponents. Featuring a titular Demolisher Cannon that fires an incredible Strength 10 AP2 Large Blast with the Ordnance special rule, a Leman Russ Demolisher can put the fear of god in many opponents with a weapon that is quite capable of annihilating anything from Centurions to Battlewagons with ease. With its short (for a Leman Russ) 24" range and incredibly powerful gun, the Leman Russ Demolisher qualifies most as a "line-breaker" above all the other variants - punching a hole through a vulnerable part of the enemy lines and acting mostly as an aggression-drawing focal point of your advancing vehicles. With a slightly upgraded AV 14/13/11, the Demolisher is minimally more survivable than other Leman Russ variants - and as a note, the Punisher and Executioner share this improved armour as well - and uses that durability to great effect considering its role as a terror weapon. The reality of Demolisher Cannons even on Ballistic Skill 4 Vindicators is that they are good but not great against vehicles with its single AP2 shot, they are rendered mostly worthless against cover and invulnerable saves, they aren't great for killing monstrous creatures (excepting Toughness 5 ones) and worst of all is that they scatter horribly for the most part. For the Leman Russ Demolisher you are typically looking at a 4" scatter in a random direction (the average result of 2D6 is 7) which the total 5" width of a large blast doesn't really alleviate unfortunately, and if it does hit something the target will often still have a good saving throw to use that will reduce the total unsaved wounds you would otherwise cause by a significant amount. Throw in the changes to Ordnance for Leman Russes in 6th Edition and a slight but nonetheless baffling points increase for the Demolisher against the severe cost decreases for other variants barring the Battle Tank, and honestly I feel the Demolisher just isn't that great anymore. It is still good in the sense that it is only a handful points more than it was, and it was used commonly in the last codex - still, the minimal range, vulnerability to melee (somewhat aided by the rear AV11) and lack of reliable damage output make it mediocre rather than good, working best as a fire magnet more than anything else.

Punisher - Aside from being the favourite of many aesthetically, the Punisher is the second siege variant using the Leman Russ chassis and thus receives a slight boost to its rear armour that makes it ever so slightly less vulnerable to close combat attacks. What sets this particular tank apart from the rest is its Punisher Gatling Cannon, trading the usual blast or large blast markers for a jaw-dropping twenty Strength 5 AP- shots with a short range of 24". Like with any other unit with a crazily high rate of fire, the Punisher is one of the best recipients for either Preferred Enemy or twin-linking of some form, whether through Prescience or other means. As a Ballistic Skill 3 model that fires twenty shots, it will average ten hits with its Gatling Cannon which increases to fifteen hits when given full twin-linking. As one would expect, this will on average tear apart vehicles with three hull points and AV10 in one shooting phase assuming no cover or invulnerable saves, while it should average one or two glances against AV11 - hunting light vehicles isn't exactly its' speciality but I wouldn't say it is terrible at it. Seeing as its gun does not fire Ordnance like the Battle Tank and Demolisher, the Punisher can feasibly mount two sponsons and the obvious aesthetic and background options in the heavy bolters make for a literal mini-gun tank. After all, how can anyone resist the allure of a Leman Russ that fires a whopping twenty nine Strength 5 shots, nine of which are AP4 and have a 36" range, while the rest are AP- and share a reduced 24" range? This is easily the best variant to use against flying monstrous creatures and AV11 flyers or weaker with its crazy amount of shots and potential access to re-rolls, while it is decent if not good against infantry and monstrous creatures. The problem for the Punisher is the limited range of the main gun which heavily exposes it to counter-attack, the medium Strength value of the Gatling Cannon and the general unreliable nature of the tank - it gets hits by rolling moving tides of dice rather than with proper accuracy. It isn't quite as generally useful against cover-camping infantry as an Eradicator and nor is it anywhere near as cheap, but it is hard to say this tank is inefficient - you can equip it to be a generalist feasibly as well - considering that it becomes absolutely brutal with psychic support.

Executioner - As the third and final siege Leman Russ variant, the Executioner also brings with it the largest pedigree of any Leman Russ - while some might be more frightened of the Demolishers' raw Strength 10 Ordnance, experienced opponents know to fear the raw devastation an Executioner can wreak. Unlike the other two 'siege' Leman Russes, an Executioner has a main weapon with a 36" range and thus should be sitting quite a ways outside of the front or advancing lines, making it safer in a sense against most anti-tank weapons. However, this is of course balanced by the tanks' incredibly risky weapons and natural talent to destroy itself over the length of a full game. The reason the Executioner is feared above all is that it fires a crazy three Strength 7 AP2 Small Blasts (the equivalent of three plasma cannon shots) at that medium 36" range, making it not only a dedicated Terminator-killer but also a tank that devastates infantry formations faster than the other variants. The reason for this is that three small blasts will generally hit more models after scatter has been resolved than a single large blast depending on model placement, and that these hits are AP2 gives the Executioner the perfect mix of hitting power and rate of fire. Strength 7 makes it a legitimate threat to medium vehicles, monstrous creatures and infantry of all kinds, but having three shots as opposed to just one makes it far more potentially useful against models that cannot be slain in one shot (easily). This tank is also thematically the best to give sponson Plasma Cannons to, though that does serve to illuminate the obvious fact; the main cannon having three Gets Hot shots is bad enough, but adding two extra Gets Hot shots may as well consign the Executioner to oblivion. Over the course of a standard six-turn game, an Executioner that fires all five of its Gets Hot shots will statistically wreck itself through hull point damage from failed Gets Hot rolls, a fact that serves to justify its incredibly low cost. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a vehicle unworthy of your attentions, however; the firepower on offer here is absolutely insane, as is the survivability when you consider this is a medium to long ranged tank. The super low price of the Executioner serves to balance out all those Gets Hot rolls and even with all the attached risks this is still easily one of the most generally useful Leman Russ variants right now.

How to Equip Them

Battle Tank - Any vehicle that has an Ordnance weapon and no special rule to override the Snap Firing rules when using other guns in conjunction with the Ordnance weapon should avoid ranged weapon upgrades wherever possible. Once you fire an Ordnance weapon, all other guns on the vehicle must fire Snap Shots and the 7th Edition Leman Russ variants have no rules to override this - truly disappointing given how unalike this is compared to their 5th Edition incarnations. As such, you can forget the sponson weapons and any hull-mounted weapon that isn't a heavy bolter as all of them are effectively a complete waste of points seeing as the primary Battle Cannon should always take precedence given its insane range and potential damage output. Don't bother with the hull lascannon or heavy flamer seeing as the latter cannot fire at all and the former fires a single shot needing a 6 to hit if you use the Battle Cannon as you should always be doing. This tank should be sitting at long range and thus needs no extra wargear; it is one of those few vehicles that really doesn't want or need any upgrades whatsoever.

Exterminator - The role of this tank is that of a generalist perhaps more than any other Leman Russ variant in the codex, what with its main gun firing four Strength 7 shots that are both AP4 and twin-linked at an impressive 48" range. It is a gun that deals well with most monstrous creatures and light to medium vehicles due to its high Strength, though it is lacking against the more heavily armed examples of either unit type; on the other hand, it has decent enough rate of fire to be a tangible threat to infantry formations but will find dealing with hordes to be nearly impossible. With that in mind, customize the Exterminator based on what you need; if you really want a decent tank hunter that isn't a Vanquisher, take sponson multi-meltas and the hull lascannon. If you instead prefer to mow down infantry and deal with non 2+ armoured monsters, outfit it with heavy bolter sponsons and either a hull heavy bolter or hull lascannon and mow down infantry at half the rate that an Eradicator or Punisher does, but enjoy greater situational use against monstrous creatures. This tank is already over-priced for what it does and doesn't need any upgrades to function well given its generally long-range for most or all weapons it should be using.

Vanquisher - About the only mandatory upgrade on a Vanquisher is a hull lascannon, seeing as its main gun is specifically designed for tank-hunting at extreme ranges and the lascannon is the well priced, perfect counter-part for that. The significantly decreased range of all the sponson weapon options compared to both the hull lascannon upgrade and the Vanquisher Battle Cannon make them all mostly avoidable, though if you want a tank that can destroy any monstrous creature or vehicle that draws too close then the sponson multi-meltas are a suitable addition. Just be aware that these tanks will get destroyed very quickly at close ranges without support as they are absolutely terrible at wiping out infantry, and this is crucial given that the basic squads of many armies can tear apart rear AV10 vehicles in close combat. If you want a midfield destroyer that annihilates Land Raiders and Monoliths with aplomb, take the sponson multi-meltas, hull lascannon and a Dozer Blade to ensure you get to where you need to. Otherwise, take the hull lascannon and nothing else - this tank is already rather inefficient as a tank hunter compared to many other options in the codex and so arbitrarily increasing its price will actively hurt its competitive usage rather than benefit it with their inclusion.

Eradicator - As the most inexpensive tank and easily the deadliest against light to medium infantry per point spent on the model, if you want to upgrade an Eradicator with any sponsons then those should always be heavy bolters - and be sure to keep the hull heavy bolter as well. This is a tank that can sit at medium range (and thus invalidate any want for a heavy flamer) and unload nine Strength 5 AP4 shots and a single Strength 6 AP4 Large Blast with the Ignores Cover special rule on any single unit that comes within 36" (or 42" if you count its 6" movement speed). This will devastate anything short of medium vehicles and decently tough monstrous creatures and is ridiculously cheap given the sheer firepower it possesses, trading the incredible rate-of-fire from a Punisher for Ignores Cover and an increased Strength value on the primary weapon. Like the Battle Tank, an Eradicator doesn't need to move much at all and thus you can skip the Vehicle Equipment upgrades for it. You could potentially use plasma cannons to make it an elite infantry and monstrous creature hunter as well, but the cost is not insignificant and most certainly adds unwanted risks to a tank that is so good because it is both safe and cheap.

Demolisher - Much like the Battle Tank, a Demolisher should avoid taking any weapon upgrades as they will effectively be wasted as soon as the titular cannon is fired. Stick with the hull heavy bolter for shooting until the Demolisher comes in range of a viable target, then proceed to unload with one of the scariest guns in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Unlike the Battle Tank, a Demolisher is a decidedly close-ranged vehicle and thus will benefit immensely from Dozer Blades, Extra Armour and even Recovery Gear, though I would probably just take the Dozer Blades if only because Demolishers are already very expensive and don't need any more unnecessary cost increases.

Punisher - While the limited range of the Punisher Gatling Cannon is a hefty price to pay for the ridiculous rate of fire it offers, I would still advise heavy bolters on this tank even if multi-meltas have the same threat zone as the primary weapon. This thing will mow down infantry, light vehicles and weak monstrous creatures much like an Eradicator through a ridiculous amount of Strength 5 shots, so adding two Strength 8 shots to the mix so it can possibly deal with tanks seems like a bit of a waste of the main gun when you could just use a Vanquisher for that job. A crazy twenty-nine Strength 5 shots from a Punisher outfitted with three heavy bolters will average roughly fifteen hits (rounding up) for three glances against AV11 or five glances against AV10, making it a great light vehicle hunter. Against your average Toughness 6 3+ armoured monstrous creature, those fifteen hits turn into five wounds inflicted for a total of two unsaved wounds, which isn't bad at all. And once you fire at infantry, those Toughness 4 3+ armoured Space Marines will drop roughly three models at a time before the barrels of a Punisher. The key to remember here is that a Punisher is likely to be destroyed once it moves into that 24" range because that is where most armies' anti-tank weapons become far more pronounced - particularly melta weapons and psycannons - so being able to fire nine Strength 5 AP4 shots at a 36" range in the mean-time is always a good deal. This tank requires Dozer Blades and Extra Armour just as much as a Demolisher, though you can skip these upgrades in favour of cost-cutting to fit in more inexpensive units throughout the army such as Wyverns. On that note, if your army does field Wyverns then I strongly recommend the multi-melta sponsons if only because a Punisher simply cannot match the anti-infantry devastation the former wreaks, so giving it some anti-tank punch will help to diversify your army list.

Executioner - While I would advise the plasma cannon sponsons above all others for this tank given that they fit with the Executioner Cannon and further seal its place as the most destructive elite infantry hunter in the game given its cost, the risks do outweigh the benefits for the most part. This is a tank that will statistically destroy itself in the space of six game turns and sacrifice one shot or more every shooting phase or two, and if you are unlucky then that inevitability can occur far sooner than you would reasonably expect. Firing five Gets Hot shots per turn when you outfit it with the sponson plasma cannons is about as dangerous as it gets for a tank that will at minimum cost nearly 200 points when outfitted with those extra plasma weapons, especially as they only receive a mere "4+ saving throw" against Gets Hot results. This is where a Tank Commander in a Combined Arms detachment or Knight Commander Pask enters the fray; with the re-roll on the Warlord Traits result for the former and the guaranteed trait for the latter providing the unit with Preferred Enemy and thus re-rolls for their Gets Hot rolls. If you want to use "plasmacutioners" or Executioners with five plasma cannon shots, you need one of the above two options (though obviously this means taking a Tank Commander HQ choice and not a Leman Russ Squadron Heavy Support choice). Otherwise, you can leave these tanks bare - they are expensive and dangerously prone to destroying themselves so keeping them light is for the best, though exchanging the hull heavy bolter for a lascannon is purely up to you seeing as it is cheap and either weapon fits with the Strength 7 AP2 main guns.

Best Uses

Battle Tank - As much as that gorgeous Strength 8 Ordnance Large Blast should appeal to your anti-tank desires, the reality is that a Battle Tank is definitely an anti-infantry platform first and foremost. If we assume the average roll on 2D6 is a 7 (usually a '4' and a '3') then this means a Battle Cannon's average armour penetration roll is 12, hardly the stuff of a proper anti-tank weapon especially seeing as it has a single shot only. In practice its uses against vehicles are situational with light vehicles being the best prey, though AP3 and one shot are incapable of doing serious damage to a tank in 7th Edition. What the Battle Tank is good at is demolishing Space Marines and other infantry with a 3+ or worse armour save, obliterating entire broods of Tyranid Warriors or Tactical Marines in a single shot - that is, if it doesn't scatter and has clear line of sight to the target and no obscuration. It is an unreliable weapon and the fact that it is Ordnance restricts the Battle Tank from using any other weaponry to good effect, limiting it to an anti-infantry role and some very situational uses against other targets. By the by, taking one wound off of a monstrous creature per shooting phase with a tank this expensive is a losing proposition in almost any game you play, so don't bother unless you are confident your army's combined shooting can do the job. Keep this tank in your backfield to make full use of its colossal 72" range while keeping out of your opponents' own threat ranges, staying safe from all but the quickest enemies.

Exterminator - Given that this is a tank with a highly variable role based solely on any sponson choices you take for it, the Exterminator ranks as a decent choice against all types of models with a Toughness value outside of 2+ armoured units, and it is similarly effective against light to medium vehicles. You can make it the bane of 2+ armoured units at a discount price compared to the Executioner with plasma cannon sponsons or turn it into a dedicated tank hunter with multi melta sponsons, though either configuration will still have good versatility making it useful against a wide range of targets. Aside from the Punisher, this is also the only tank that is a decent anti-air platform - the Vanquisher lacks the rate of fire and re-rolls to perform the job, while all the other variants are completely incapable of harming a flyer with their primary weapons. While the Punisher is restricted to harming AV11 or lower aircraft, an Exterminator can actually do some damage to the AV12 and much rarer AV13 variants. Realistically, keep this tank back to make the most of its medium 36" range and it should do just fine against most targets - if there aren't transports or flyers to harass, then there should be infantry or monstrous creatures to annoy; the Exterminator performs fine against all or most of these targets based upon their individual defensive stats.

Vanquisher - Provided you use the Vanquisher as intended and keep it well away from opposing infantry by making full use of its colossal range, you should have yourself a decent if uninspiring tank hunter. The fact that the Vanquisher Battle Cannon and hull lascannon are each AP2 weapons with whopping Strength values solidifies this Leman Russ as a big game hunter and easily the best of these tanks in that regard. A Strength 8 AP2 Armourbane shot is one of the few things that can reliably crack AV14 and from a massive range as well, but the lack of rate of fire and mediocre accuracy of the tank make it a mediocre vehicle destroyer in the usual sense. You shouldn't use a Vanquisher to take out weaker vehicles that your Heavy Weapons Teams and other anti-tank units can handle well enough, but instead play to its strengths by targeting the most heavily armoured vehicle in your opponents army list. This will traditionally be either a Land Raider or a Tyrannofex (in the case of Tyranids), and the reason you prefer these targets as opposed to others is because you can punch through that armour and strip hull points off with regularity. Don't even bother with the one-in-six chance to destroy any vehicle outright with a single shot, but remember that the Vanquisher is your only long-ranged anti-tank that is semi-accurate, not a Barrage weapon and can actually threaten AV14 vehicles. Of course, if the AV14 vehicle in question is something like a lone Leman Russ with little damage output then prioritize the opponents' transports and other important targets first - just remember that destroying light tanks is what plenty of other units in the army are designed for, wasting the Vanquishers' potential.

Eradicator - While the Eradicator has the range to sit back and be a constant nuisance throughout the game much like your standard Battle Tank, its low cost and more limited primary weapon make it a more "expendable" vehicle than your other Leman Russ variants for the most part. If you are going to use your survivable Leman Russ tanks to capture objectives in the midfield then Eradicators are a fine bet because the codex is literally stacked with similar weaponry to it even before accounting for how inexpensive it is. Obviously, it still needs support - it can't deal with other tanks at all and shouldn't ever be used to target a monstrous creature unless both the heavy bolter sponsons are taken and the monster is already weakened by other shooting. One useful tactic to remember for an Eradicator is that as its Nova Cannon has the Ignores Cover special rule, you can situate the Eradicator behind cover for heavy defensive bonuses without limiting its damage potential - usually, this would also provide your opponents' units with cover saves, but the Eradicator ignores this. Though obviously terrain types will vary between local gaming clubs and Games Workshop stores, I've found any type of terrain that covers the majority of the hull is perfect - as long as the Nova Cannon itself can see the target, there is no downside for the Eradicator itself.

Demolisher - Whereas you might want to be a bit more cautious with a similarly short-ranged Punisher because it cannot deal with any medium to heavy vehicle whatsoever, there is absolutely no subtlety required to the Leman Russ Demolisher. Use this as aggressively as you possibly can; the reason for this is that anything with a Demolisher Cannon or equivalent weapon is effectively a terror weapon on the battlefield and will more than likely scare the pants off of opponents, whether they be inexperienced or tested veterans. Even through cover and invulnerable saves, that Strength 10 AP2 Ordnance Large Blast will wreck units in record time and remains one of the few Leman Russ primary weapons that can still outright destroy a vehicle in one shot, even if it is incredibly unlikely. Even a single Demolisher out of an advancing wall of transports and tanks will still draw a crazy amount of attention as no-one wants to risk being hit by a weapon of that power, so you may as well be as forefront with it as you can.

Punisher - This particular Leman Russ variant excels when outfitted purely for anti-infantry devastation, wreaking havoc among all kinds of squads or broods with a ridiculous rate of fire making it one of the first and best recipients of Prescience. I don't advocate using this in your standard static gun-line lists as its limited 24" range doesn't really fit with the rest of the incredibly long ranged firepower that an Astra Militarum list should bring to the table, though in a mechanized list they are absolutely a perfect fit. Heck, a mixed list wants these as well - just make sure they don't advance unsupported as they are completely incapable of dealing with tougher, fast moving assault units and heavily armoured vehicles or monstrous creatures. If there are no non-vehicle, non-monstrous units in range, prioritize lightly armoured transports and possibly any nearby flying monstrous creatures - it is hard to go wrong with twenty-nine Strength 5 shots after all!

Executioner - If you still face Terminators or other 2+ armoured opponents with regularity, the Executioner is your best answer as an Astra Militarum player by far. Not only will this annihilate any infantry unit of twenty models or less in one salvo assuming average rolls, but it will rip a huge chunk of wounds of out any monstrous creature barring a Wraithknight that gets within its sights. Provided you don't have bad luck with scatter, an Executioner with plasma cannon sponsons and Preferred Enemy from either Pask or a Tank Commander should average something like three or four hits and two or three unsaved wounds on your average Toughness 6 monstrous creatures, assuming no cover or invulnerable saves. This is a tank that shouldn't need to move forward much if at all, but instead move back every so often so that it can keep away from any nearby assault units threatening to charge it. With five Strength 7 AP2 shots at a 36" range, the Executioner can threaten anything in the game on a consistent basis that isn't an AV13 or AV14 vehicle, or a flyer of course. I would advise running one or two of these with a Tank Commander for maximum devastation and reliability so that they don't destroy themselves through Gets Hot rolls, as otherwise they end up being just a tad too inconsistent and downright suicidal.

Thank you all for taking the time to study and digest this long and detailed article, I truly hope it has proven useful for you and I look forward to hearing about the results in your future matches either with or against these steel behemoths! While not all Astra Militarum army lists feature Leman Russ Squadrons, certainly the competitive ones will usually feature at least one or two because of their incredible cost effectiveness and solid mix of durability and damage output. These are some amazingly cheap tanks considering how potentially destructive they can be, while truthfully few things are scarier for an opponent than facing a lumbering wall of armour and guns aplenty. If you have any queries or critiques for me, please leave them in the comments section below - we appreciate any and all feedback! Thank you again and please have a lovely day!


  1. This is an incredible article. Thank you!

    It's such a shame about the Ordnance rule!

    1. Cheers!

      It's unfortunate but I guess Games Workshop's rules designers want to simplify the rules as much as they can, as evidenced by the 7th Edition codices released so far. Having all units follow the one rule rather than have an exception like Leman Russes does make it simpler I guess.

  2. Not a Leman Russ, but I cannot help but mention the Malcador, the most overlooked tank in the galaxy. A Malcador with a battle cannon, lascannon and heavy bolter sponsons costs only 55pts more than an identically armed Leman Russ Battle Tank. Its armor is a little worse, but it has better rear armor, 6 HP, doesnt snap fire when using its battlecannon, can split fire, move faster AND thunderblitz. If you dont have a Lord of War in your list and do have a standard Leman Russ Battle Tank, I urge you to consider this hidden gem.

    1. I've only looked over the rules for the Malcador a few times, it does sound like a good value tank! Cheers mate!

  3. Bringing in FW again, but is the Annihilator (twin-linked lascannons) worth a look over the Vanquisher?

  4. Great article man, I am curious as to how you think that you would employ the various leman russ variants to complement each other in the Emperors Fist Formation?