20 Nov 2013

Tactica Space Marines - Elites Part One

Hey there everyone, I am Learn2Eel and I am excited to bring you the latest segment of my Space Marines Tactica series! When the battle turns against the forces of a Chapter, they press their most seasoned veterans into the conflict; warriors with few peers among the dozens of factions in the galaxy. I hope you enjoy this article!

The Space Marine Elites provide some very interesting options, most of which are quite specialized to certain roles. Sternguard Veterans are ranged specialists through and through, while Ironclad Dreadnoughts and Centurion Assault Squads - obviously - excel at close quarters. Then you have generalist units like the Legion of the Damned and regular Terminators that can perform either role rather well. While there are a few less worthwhile units here, such as Dreadnoughts, the Elites section still preserves that great internal balance key to any successful Space Marines codex. A note here that this is the first part of a series of two articles.

Vanguard Veterans

Overview - When one looks at Vanguard Veterans in their newest iteration, they will likely lament the changes to Heroic Intervention. After all, launching an assault from deep strike - or reserves at all - has become an increasingly rarer ability in 6th Edition with each new codex release, and it was admittedly what made Vanguard Veterans unique. Now, it allows them to launch simultaneous assaults without losing the bonus attack for charging, and the Veteran Sergeant also automatically passes Glorious Intervention tests for 'saving' other characters from challenges. While cool in theory, it doesn't hold up as well under pressure. Launching multiple assaults against Tau, for example, while obviously ideal if you can actually get there, will often result in a good chunk of a squad getting obliterated by Supporting Fire. And typically, Tau offer the kind of units you would want to launch multi-charges against; of course, there are many situations against other forces where it would be useful, but it isn't as great an ability as it could have been.

A Vanguard Veteran Sergeant, even despite access to some cool gear, is still just a Space Marine Sergeant; he isn't going to do better than any of your HQ characters in combat. Still, it is nice to have, especially as Heroic Intervention in its old form was never going to stick around. Add in a handy points decrease and some boosted options - grav pistols are a great addition in pairs - and Vanguard Veterans are still a handy unit, if uninspiring. Compared to Assault Marines who fight for a possibly less contested Fast Attack slot - depending on whether you have Bikes as Troops - Vanguard Veterans pay quite a bit for an extra attack, point of Leadership across the squad, additional options and Heroic Intervention. I'm not sold on whether they are strictly speaking comparatively superior to Assault Marines, but that isn't really what I am interested in. The key here is that all the expensive weapon options and storm shield upgrades for Vanguard Veterans are still as pricy as ever, and still come on the same Veteran stat-line with 3+ armour. This wouldn't be such a bad thing, but the reality is that equipping them as so immediately puts them into the points range of Terminators who sport a lot more survivability. What really seals the deal for me though is how amazing Honour Guard are now with their significant cost drop. This doesn't mean Vanguard aren't a good unit though, just that they aren't really as ideal a front-line combat unit as their profile might suggest; they are ideal counter-assault units and intended to support your less combat-centric forces, such as Tactical Marines and Sternguard Veterans.

How to Equip Them - Unless you aren't running a Chapter Master, I would almost always give Vanguard Veterans jump packs; the reason being that, as regular infantry, they are completely out-classed by Honour Guard as an assault unit. Giving them jump packs distinguishes them from both Honour Guard and Assault Terminators and thus allows them a more defined position in an army list. After this, I recommend making the most of being able to take 'hidden' special melee weapons in your squad; while giving the Sergeant a power weapon obviously works well for challenges and his Heroic Intervention special rule, not letting your power weapons get challenged out can be a big bonus. I would avoid giving each Vanguard Veteran a power weapon though, as by paying the same price as Captains and other HQs, they quickly become incredibly over-costed by not matching the durability or combat prowess of those models. The same is true of storm shields, even though they are handily discounted for Vanguard Veterans compared to characters. A unit of ten with power weapons, thunder hammers and power fists everywhere sure is fun, but from a competitive stand-point, it is a massive no-no as they simply eat up too many points, particularly if you want to give them any kind of boosted durability through storm shields.

Instead, trim the fat on Vanguard Veterans and compromise on their awesome kit; hand out a few power weapons and maybe one or two a power fist or thunder hammer, and give two or three - perhaps more or less depending on squad size - storm shields to soak up AP3 and AP2 wounds. Vanguard Veterans aren't the best choice to begin with, and spending too many points on them is, quite simply, a trap. They remain power-armoured models with Toughness 4 and a single wound each, and giving them power weapons puts them very firmly in the price range of Terminators - to whom Vanguard Veterans are realistically inferior, and that is even accounting for Terminators being over-costed in the first place! The one upgrade that actually is worth taking on the entire unit is melta bombs; paying between 25 to 50 points give each model a melta bomb can prove for a very nasty surprise against most monstrous creatures and any vehicle. As an aside, though I don't recommend plasma pistols, grav pistols are quite valuable on Vanguard Veterans, if only for Concussive. Combine all those melta bombs with a concussed Wraithknight and you may actually find a suicide mission to be anything but.

Where to Put Them - Vanguard Veterans have a few deployment options available to them, but mostly you want them somewhere so that they can reach combat quickly, being an assault unit and all. As I noted earlier, I wouldn't bother with Vanguard Veterans without jump packs in the first place as Honour Guard and Assault Terminators are far superior to them in that role, so I won't cover them. With jump pack units, deploying can be a bit of a nuisance. Jumping from cover to cover is ideal, as well as starting 12" on, but it isn't always possible. When a game board has little terrain or a 'death zone' with no terrain in the middle of the board, you will have to weigh up the risks of deep striking versus being shot at while you advance. Vanguard Veterans are always a juicy target, as they are quite a nasty melee unit but one that is both expensive and, compared to the other two assault units mentioned previously, fragile per model. In that sense, you can't really rely on target saturation to save them as they can and will be slaughtered by mass anti-infantry firepower.

Vanguard Veterans can't bring combi-weapons, and as they lost the "assault from reserves" special rule they had, deep striking them isn't always the obvious answer. All it takes is for a bit of scatter to land them out in the open, and a Riptide can just guzzle them up with Interceptor fire. However, moving up the board will see you subjected to those nasty weapons anyway, and more often! What works here is combining Vanguard Veterans with a character or Chapter Tactic that can provide them with Scout or Infiltrate. Shrike's rules do seem to indicate he is supposed to confer Infiltrate, so that is a viable option - even if Shrike himself is over-costed. The Raven Guard Chapter Tactics won't confer Scout to the Vanguard Veterans, and sadly, neither can Khan. This does sadly limit their options a bit more than one would like, but with ingenuity and - hopefully - an acceptable amount of terrain, jumping from cover to cover and abusing line of sight should be enough to get Vanguard Veterans where they are needed.

Best Uses - I can see Vanguard Veterans fulfilling a niche of a strong and multi-purpose counter charge unit that, when equipped with melta bombs across the unit, can deal with any potential threat in an assault to your battle line. They should never move off by themselves despite their high mobility due to their inherent fragility per point; an elite melee unit with only power armour and a few costly 3+ invulnerable saves is not designed to be an anvil and should never be used as such. They aren't the best character escort for this reason, though when moving up behind or near your transports and Bikes or other jump infantry units, they work very well to hold up potential melee threats. Their lack of penalty for multiple charges can be very useful, but the fact that units that you generally would want to counter charge can put out so many shots - take Tau for example with Supporting Fire - it can quickly become a mistake and thus I would recommend against it unless you are sure of your chances. You can't afford to be careless with them as they are very expensive, so make sure to abuse cover and line of sight as much as possible. Though the allure of power weapons is admittedly great, don't spend too many points on them; a few should be enough, especially as they can't be singled out in challenges.

Chapter Tactics - I feel that White Scars have the best Chapter Tactics for Vanguard Veterans; what is not to love with a big, expensive assault unit with mobility having Hit and Run? Raven Guard obviously gives out a big boost through re-rolling charge distances, while the Ultramarines doctrine provides a one-use version of this ability. The rest are mostly situational, though Crusader can be useful to make the most of their threat range.

Sternguard Veterans

Overview - While expensive power-armoured bodies are falling out of favour for the most part in an edition where AP3 has never been easier to come by, Sternguard remain one of the premier Space Marine choices due to the raw devastation they bring. Each has the typical veteran profile with Leadership 9 and two attacks base, though their biggest draw is undoubtedly the special issue ammunition on their boltguns and bolt components of combi-bolters. These allow Sternguard to fire either AP3 rounds with Gets Hot!, 30" range AP4 rounds, AP5 Ignores Cover rounds or Poisoned (2+) rounds. This allows them to fire at long range and trade blows with Fire Warriors or out-range most other medium-ranged units, cut through 3+ armoured enemies such as other 'Marines on the fly, devastate light infantry and Nurgle Daemons through ignores cover bolts, and even lay mass wounds on monstrous creatures. Wraithknights, Trygons and really any manner of monstrous creature - barring those with a 2+ armour save - are rightly fearful of the sheer number of wounds hellfire rounds at rapid fire range can bring on. 

Simply put, before any upgrades are taken, Sternguard are essentially a toolbox unit that can easily counter almost any unit with a Toughness value; realistically, only multiple wound units with 2+ armour saves in large numbers can survive the prolonged fire of Sternguard Veterans. They even have krak grenades, like other Space Marines, to destroy most vehicles in close combat, with the option for melta bombs on the Veteran Sergeant. However, their main tool against vehicles are their combi-weapons; through combi-meltas, combi-plasmas or combi-gravs, Sternguard can reliably engage pretty much any target in the game. So how do you use this crazy damage output to its' fullest extent given that Sternguard are highly expensive elite models with the same durability as regular Tactical Marines? Give them a transport, preferably a Drop Pod, and send them flying at the nastiest targets at any given point; watch the carnage, and sit back and enjoy the show. This is what defines Sternguard in a nutshell; highly damaging, risky due to their lower survivability in terms of points-per-model than other Space Marines, but incredibly rewarding and versatile.

How to Equip Them - In the previous codex, many players - understandably - took squads of Sternguard armed solely with combi-weapons, chucked them in a Drop Pod and called it a day. With the increase in cost for combi-weapons, despite the points decrease for the Sternguard Veterans themselves, this load-out has generally fallen out of favour. Ultimately, you only really need five combi-weapons to annihilate the target of your choice, regardless of squad size. In that sense, I recommend a maximum of five combi-weapons and a minimum of three when using them in Drop Pods. The choice of which specific combi-weapon to use depends on what the rest of your list does well; a list saturated with anti-tank may want to try combi-flamers for slaughtering light infantry, and consequently, combi-meltas will annihilate any expensive vehicle you point them at.

I wouldn't bother with special or heavy weapons on Sternguard for one reason alone; you pay the points on Sternguard mostly for their special issue ammunition, even above their extensive array of options. Sacrificing the special issue ammunition just to fire more than one salvo with specialist weapons doesn't seem like an even trade to me, particularly as Sternguard don't get any price cuts on specialist weapons to compensate. Realistically, taking combi-weapons will give you all you need for the drop, and afterwards, krak grenades and the special issue ammunition should be more than enough for the Sternguard to handle most targets. They don't need combat upgrades, particularly not on the Sergeant; they are designed for ranged combat, after all, and are expensive without those upgrades anyway. Trying to keep the cost on Sternguard Veterans down is always ideal. If you use Sternguard Veterans on foot - or in a ground transport - then obviously the special weapons become more valuable, of course. Just be aware that this is naturally a riskier usage for Sternguard Veterans, and taking heavy weapons or special weapons has them encroaching on both Devastators and Command Squads, respectively.

Where to Put Them - So I'll address the elephant in the room; yes, Sternguard Veterans are almost always best used in Drop Pods. Now that we have that out of the way, where else can you put them? Even despite having access to two heavy weapons and their own 30" kraken ammunition, running them on foot isn't strictly wise due to their high vulnerability; they have the same durability as Tactical Marines despite costing slightly over half as much per model, meaning that you need to take extra steps to protect them. As they can't quite put out the long range firepower of Devastators, Sternguard on the ground should be employed either in Rhinos or Razorbacks; the former is cheap, allows them to take larger viable units and also use fire points while they close on their target. The latter provides additional fire support and naturally supports a smaller unit, which for one as expensive as Sternguard Veterans, is quite an important consideration. I would avoid Land Raiders as they are designed for assault units first and foremost - any other use of them is usually a waste - and Storm Ravens aren't ideal as, if they crash, it is all but guaranteed that the entirety of the Sternguard Veteran unit will evaporate. Stick to Drop Pods, but Rhinos and Razorbacks are good if you don't want to go the orbital assault route - and if you can get Scout, even better!

Best Uses - I feel that Sternguard Veterans, while certainly best employed in Drop Pods to provide a brutal alpha strike, can make the most of themselves either in transports or - in rare cases - on foot. Scouting a bunch of Rhinos, a few of them packed with Sternguard Veterans, through either Khan in a White Scars list or Raven Guard Chapter Tactics is a great tactic that puts a lot of early pressure on your opponent and effectively gives you an extra 'first turn' where your opponent can't shoot you. The reality is, Sternguard are a high damage unit that has lower durability in points-per-model than Tactical Marines; this means that you need to get them in range as quickly as possible to justify their high cost. Whether through Rhinos, Razorbacks, using a cover-laden game board to 'hide' through smart positioning on foot, or with the staple Drop Pods, Sternguard are - ironically, next to Vanguard Veterans - about speed above all else. They don't need it once they get in range, but they sure as heck need it to get there in the first place. Otherwise, Sternguard are your high-value-target hunters that specialize in obliterating anything with a Toughness value; in a Drop Pod, a mix of combi-meltas is always advisable so that they can even contribute against vehicles. Popping a Land Raider in one turn and, if they survive, unloading into its' contents with hellfire or vengeance rounds is simply delicious. Don't be afraid to target monstrous creatures with them; the higher the Toughness value, the less valuable it becomes against Poisoned (2+) bolt rounds!

Chapter Tactics - In a perfect world, Bolter Drill would apply to Sternguard using special issue ammunition; sadly, it doesn't, and thus the Imperial Fists' tactics don't benefit these Veterans. Salamanders give combi-meltas and combi-flamers a massive boost through master-crafting - the former when Vulkan is employed - that further applies to the special issue ammunition even after the melta or flame shot has been used, and would thus be my primary pick for Sternguard. For your average Sternguard unit in a Drop Pod, having Hit and Run can be useful in case they are charged once they arrive so as to get out and shoot some more. For others on foot, Scout is quite useful too, while the rest of the Chapter Tactics provide minor - if any - boosts.


Overview - Walkers are very much a by-product of 6th Edition in that, through various rule changes, they simply aren't as valuable as they otherwise used to be. They generally aren't durable enough, they lack focus or they are too expensive for what they do; particularly compared to their non-vehicular rivals, monstrous creatures, who received irrational buffs in the edition switch. Dreadnoughts are often at the fore-front of such critiques, and despite a minor points drop and the significant price reduction of the 'new' Venerable upgrade, this is still largely the case. They try to be a multi-purpose unit but can't quite do as well in such a role as you would like. This is due both to their relative fragility for the points cost compared to other vehicles such as Predators, and their rather low damage output overall unless you focus them on a specific kind of death-dealing. If you want them in melee, their greater vulnerability in combat through easier-hitting krak grenades and melta bombs and low number of high Strength attacks make them less than ideal, particularly given their average stat-line and lack of assault grenades. At range, outside of the 'rifleman' configuration featuring two twin-linked autocannons, they don't offer enough fire power to really warrant their points cost against other battle tanks in the Space Marine armoury. When you mix and match a ranged weapon and a close combat weapon, the Dreadnought's damage output in either case is reduced rather largely. Unlike the more competitive walkers in this edition - such as Soul Grinders or War Walkers - Dreadnoughts don't offer one of the sheer firepower, extreme mobility, melee prowess or durability to really be a stand-out choice. They pay to be a utility vehicle, and though they aren't by any means bad, they aren't great either. Try to specialize them at long range shooting, or deliver them as a suicide anti-tank unit, and they should do just fine. Otherwise, I feel your Elite slots are better used elsewhere than on these mighty, fallen warriors.

How to Equip Them - Dreadnoughts do have lots of options, but these generally boil down into two main 'builds'. The first is the classic 'rifleman' Dreadnought, armed with two twin-linked autocannons. It is a decently durable and damaging generalist unit with long range and reliability, providing solid damage output for the points and a strong solid choice for an Elite slot. Taken either in a pair or trio will lead to the best results, as one is a bit too much of an odd duck and consequently an easy target for your opponent. This also allows the Dreadnought to stay away from melee and not get tied up with its low number of attacks and increased vulnerability to krak grenades. The popular alternative build is to take a multi-melta, slot the Dreadnought into a Drop Pod, and call it a day. This provides your force with a relatively cheap suicide unit that, as an AV 12/12/10 walker, is decently durable and can ignore small arms fire while having a good chance of destroying a valuable vehicle on the first turn. Dropping on the second turn against Eldar, for example, makes it likely their Wave Serpents will have used the Serpent Shields, leaving them highly vulnerable to an AP1 melta weapon. And besides, taking the chance to destroy a Land Raider or other such high value target - particularly when it is a transport - is well worth the risk and price of the Dreadnought. This tactic is further boosted by the use of Vulkan in a Salamanders primary detachment, but it isn't necessary for the unit to be successful.

Generally speaking, melee Dreadnought variants don't perform well at all in 6th Edition as, despite the obvious deployment edge provided by a Drop Pod, they are too easily destroyed on a turn after the drop if your opponent is worried about them getting into combat. Additionally, trying to 'run' a Dreadnought up the field is tantamount to suicide in an edition with so much high strength shooting, cover or no. As a gun platform, the only really worthwhile build is one the 'rifleman' variety, as the other weapons cannot be doubled up on and thus leave the Dreadnought in a mixed, and less useful, role. Dreadnoughts realistically don't need extra armour as they are often in a long range role anyway or, in the case of one in a Drop Pod, it has likely already served its purpose or will be destroyed regardless - they almost never survive past the drop, I've found. The under-slung guns need not be changed, as a drop Dreadnought should have a multi-melta anyway, wasting the heavy flamers, while an Ironclad - as an actual assault walker - benefits more from them anyway. As to the Venerable option, this is a matter of preference and points. Statistically, a 'rifleman' will hit four times at Ballistic Skill 4 anyway due to the re-rolls to hit. However, making a Dreadnought with a multi-melta Venerable pretty much eliminates any need to take Vulkan, going from a 1/3 chance to miss to a 1/6. I've found that as AV 12 vehicles tend to die to massed glances from Strength 7 or 8 weaponry anyway, the Venerable upgrade isn't really as good as it was in 5th Edition and is mostly an unnecessary upgrade.

Where to Put Them - If you are running a gun platform variant, I recommend keeping them in the rear or middle of your deployment zone where - on a typical 6x4 gaming board - they should have range to most of your opponents army, provided you took the autocannons of course. Realistically, 48" allows them to out-range most units, so try to maximise on this by using your deployment zone to stay out of their range but keeping them in range of your guns. They work pretty well in close proximity to objective-camping squads so that either unit can provide fire or situational melee support for the other, and can even sit out on the flanks unsupported if you so choose. As for melee or close-range builds with a multi melta or assault cannon, I recommend taking a Drop Pod; it is a cheap transport that gets the Dreadnought as close to its targets as possible to maximise its' short ranged damage potential.

Best Uses - I feel that Dreadnoughts sadly are quite limited in terms of viable builds at a competitive level, but that isn't to say they can't be useful outside of those builds, just that you will likely get more mileage from them. Keeping a 'rifleman' Dreadnought in your back-field to hunt light transports and even other AV 12 or lower walkers is ideal, and make sure to keep them out of assault range; they make for ideal targets for spawned Termagant broods that can easily tie it up in combat for the majority of a game. Keeping counter-assault units such as Vanguard Veterans or Assault Marines around for this purpose can be an astute tactic; just be aware of course not to waste those units' offensive potential. Though opponents will often ignore these Dreadnoughts because their damage output doesn't scream "kill me", be sure not to leave them unsupported as they are quite easily destroyed or neutralized by concentrated fire or melee. Dreadnoughts in Drop Pods armed with a weapon of your choice - preferably a multi melta - are quite distinct in that they don't require support whatsoever; they are there to provide an immediate threat to your opponent on the first turn and turn their attention away from the advancing bulk of your army. If they manage to pop a tank or get in engaged in combat with a fragile unit on the way, all the better! Just try not to drop them in a position where your opponent can easily neutralize them - don't expose your rear armour if it is possible - and focus most of their firepower on the main army if at all possible, though as a suicide unit, this isn't as big a worry as it would be for other more valuable units such as Sternguard Veterans.

Chapter Tactics - As vehicles that aren't dedicated transports can only get tangible benefits from two of the codex Chapter Tactics, covering this is almost pointless. However, it goes without saying that Iron Hands benefit Dreadnoughts the most; however, a Salamanders army led by Vulkan gives a suicide Dreadnought with a multi-melta much greater reliability.

Ironclad Dreadnought

Overview - When a unit claims to perform the role of "assault walker", a handful of questions immediately come to mind; how durable is it, how mobile is it, what is its damage output like and so on and so forth. The Ironclad has some interesting answers to these. It is an AV 13/13/11 vehicle with three hull points, immediately giving it a huge boost in the mass Strength 7 meta we commonly see, as well as immunity to a lot of the Strength 6 firepower thrown out by armies such as Eldar. It isn't quite the anvil a Soul Grinder is, but it is certainly close. While not inherently mobile, it has access to a Drop Pod as a dedicated transport, giving it a mostly safe and incredibly rapid deployment option that should see it in combat by turn two. As for damage output, while not too much of a boost on a regular Dreadnought, the Ironclad benefits from special melee weapons designed for taking out other vehicles; these give it an edge against the units a Dreadnought typically excels against in combat.

Really, the biggest advantage it has in combat over a regular Dreadnought is not the damage it does, though, but its immunity to krak grenades; it is far less likely to be bogged down and wrecked by Guardsmen blobs armed to the teeth with krak grenades and power fists, for example, and it is no danger of losing its last hull point to a Chaos Space Marine squad lacking melta bombs or a power fist. Paired with the option to take assault grenades, as well as light additional firepower, and the Ironclad feels far more like a walker designed with 6th Edition in mind. And really, the boosted armour values are what gives it this massive edge; for a walker in particular, front armour 13 is just delicious on so many levels. When you add in Move Through Cover to the mix, it starts to get rather lop-sided, even as minor as Move Through Cover might seem. No dangerous terrain tests, ever - not that you will usually take them, mind - and not being slowed as much as other units which, for an assault unit, can be a much bigger boost than most would realize due to random charge lengths; those extra few inches are absolutely pivotal. Factor in extra armour included in the base cost which makes sense for an assault walker, and a points cost that really isn't as high as you would think, and the Ironclad provides great value and, while not seemingly providing too much of a change from a regular Dreadnought, is far better in practice as a melee unit due to its increased survivability.

How to Equip Them - Ironclads are in a unique situation in that they are a melee walker that can actually perform its stated role quite well. Though they are AV 13/13/11 walkers and thus highly resistant to the usual high rate-of-fire Strength 7 weaponry used to take on light and medium vehicles, putting them in Drop Pods is a cheap and very effective way of getting them into combat so much quicker. Ironclads aren't exactly fast, so giving them that important speed boost is crucial. Besides, AV 13 melee walkers with heavy flamers or meltaguns, and Move Through Cover are absolutely brutal in Drop Pods; having two or three of them drop in the first turn is sure to give most opponents hives! As to weapon configurations, this is a bit of a tough one. The choice between a chainfist and a seismic hammer can be a bit difficult, but as I find AV 14/14/14 vehicles becoming rarer and rarer, I feel the AP1 on the seismic hammer wins out overall.

I would avoid the hunter killer missiles personally as even though they do add to its drop alpha strike potential, they suffer the same fate as elsewhere; expensive one-shot wonders that really don't do too much anyway. Ironclad Assault Launchers are a smart investment if you have the points spare just to strike at Initiative when charging into terrain - which can prove pivotal against small units with melta bombs or low Initiative monstrous creatures, for example - but hardly necessary. I would never take the hurricane bolter exchange as the Ironclad is a melee Dreadnought first and foremost; if you want a walker that provides a fire-base, take a regular 'rifleman' Dreadnought instead. And besides, trading out a power fist with an in-built storm bolter for a twin-linked hurricane bolter just doesn't seem like a worthwhile choice at all in any situation. As to the meltagun, storm bolter and options for heavy flamers, this should depend on your other 'drop' units - if any. The Ironclad threatens any vehicle well enough, but having two heavy flamers lets it annihilate entire squads of light infantry when it arrives in a Drop Pod provided your scatter roll is decent. This does raise its cost, but I feel it is worthwhile anyway.

Where to Put Them - Ironclads are naturally suited to Drop Pods; the two go together better even than Beasts of Nurgle and dog treats. Though they can be run up on foot and reasonably expect to survive a few turns due to being AV 13/13/11 walkers - especially when paired with Iron Hands Chapter Tactics - being primarily an assault walker means that they need to make combat as quickly as possible to make the most out of their points investment. Taking a Drop Pod for an Ironclad Dreadnought does give it a bit of a price hike, but it is worth it every single time. If you do run one up on foot, make sure to use terrain and mobile cover from Rhinos, Razorbacks and Land Raiders to your advantage; cover gives them an irrational durability boost, and they have Move Through Cover to boot!

Best Uses - I feel that Ironclad Dreadnoughts are best used in pairs at the very least, attached to Drop Pods and given whatever under-slung weapon option you prefer. Keep them cheap, simple and multi-purpose; heavy flamers mixed with their close combat weapons allow them to engage and destroy almost any enemy threat with ease. The Drop Pods give them the mobility and 'alpha' advantage so as to reduce both the turns that the enemy gets to stop them, and the turns needed to reach combat. They can engage almost any unit outside of a monstrous creature - though one that is heavily wounded with a lower Initiative than the Ironclad is fair game - and expect to succeed, even against Land Raiders, and as such choosing which target to engage may depend on what is the most threatening at the time to either the Ironclad itself or the rest of your forces. Missile-spam Broadsides make mince meat of most other Space Marine units, but mostly ping off of Ironclads - unless they have one of those highly irritating support Commanders attached granting Tank Hunters, Ignore Cover and re-rolls to hit - and thus make a prime target for the Ironclad. Conversely, a Wave Serpent may be an ideal unit to engage due to its high value and vulnerability in combat, but those nearby Dark Reapers would probably present a greater immediate threat to your Space Marines running up the board. Remember that an Ironclad can charge into most infantry units and expect to win simply because it has front AV 13 and is thus immune to krak grenades; don't be afraid to charge it into a big squad of Devastators and the like if it means tying up a unit that would otherwise devastate your forces!

Chapter Tactics - Unless you really want a master-crafted meltagun shot, Iron Hands is always the best choice for Ironclads. Between AV 13/13/11 and It Will Not Die, Iron Hands Ironclads are ridiculously tough. In fact, rather unsurprisingly, quite a few army lists have been popping up featuring six drop-podding Ironclad Dreadnoughts - via a Master of the Forge - in Iron Hands colours. Here's a hint; it is brutal.

Thanks for reading this article! Did you find it an entertaining or insightful read? Let us know in the comments section below, or continue the discussion with me and other members of the community over on +Bell of Lost Souls. Have a great day! Eel out. And yes, I know that is a Contemptor in the Ironclad section. There are no Ironclad artworks that I could see!

"Only when the last xenos has been scoured from the galaxy shall the Imperium know peace."
- Captain Do'tharri of the Iron Lords


  1. I know it doesn't precisely line up with Codex: Space Marines, but what is your opinion of Contemptors? My Iron Hands have two, and I was considering stuffing a third melee variant in there - I don't even know if you have access to their rules, just figured I'd ask!

    1. I haven't looked too closely at their latest rules so I don't know how their points cost match up like they used to. But, on the assumption that they are about the same points-wise, Contemptors are great choices and really are superior to regular Dreadnoughts. You pay quite a bit for it, but it nonetheless gives you front AV 13, WS5, BS5, an extra attack (from memory), the 5+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks, and even more options than other Dreadnoughts.

      Unlike regular Dreadnoughts, Contemptors can fill the 'mixed' role quite a bit better due both to their boosted stats and increased durability. They aren't *as* worried about sitting at range or making it in combat depending on their weapon load-out. And plus, if you have one, a Contemptor Mortis is still great even with the points increase and drop to Ballistic Skill 4!

    2. I actually have a Mortis and a standard, was considering getting a "Ironclad" equivalent in there as well to round me out at 3 contemptors, then 3 Ironclads in heavy with pods! Iron Hands! Hoo-rah!

    3. That's awesome! I've long wanted Contemptors but I've only just started up a (tiny for the moment) Space Marine force of Crimson Fists. I might add a Contemptor down the line. They are such fantastic models.

    4. Lord Godric - Pillar of Strength:

      Iron Ancient Frem - The Sunbringer (Missile Cyclone):

      For your enjoyment my friend!

  2. It´s important to note that in 6th edition Codexes, Dreadnoughts are armed with powerfists, not dreadnought CCWs, and strike at I1.

    1. Actually, Walkers and Monstrous Creatures both ignore the effects of Unwieldy. From the mini-rulebook, page 43:

      "A model attacking with this weapon does so at Initiative step 1, unless it is a Monstrous Creature or a Walker."

      I hope that helps!

    2. You are right, my mistake. I thougth it was really unfair on the poor walkers...