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 second part of a series of two articles, the first of which can be viewed here.
Legion of the Damned
Overview - I remember reading the 5th Edition Space Marine codex just after I had started up my Thousand Sons army, and I recall thinking to myself when glancing over Legion of the Damned, "gee, these seem like better versions of my Rubricae!" With the new codex, that opinion (sadly, in one sense) hasn't changed. With a hefty points drop, some extra special rules and some neat interactivity with Vulkan, Legion of the Damned are now a unit not only with a clear purpose, but one that is quite valuable at that as well. Each Damned Legionnaire has your usual kit and profile as expected of a Veteran; Leadership 9, two attacks, frag and krak grenades, the works! Before I go any further, I just need to add how great it is for any unit to have this; two Weapon Skill, Strength and Initiative 4 attacks each is pretty darn good, as is having both assault grenades for assaulting into cover and krak grenades for dealing with most vehicles, such as Wave Serpents, in a melee. This makes them so versatile before you even add in all the other juicy stuff. The Legion of the Damned are Fearless, first up, instead of having And They Shall Know No Fear; this can be both good and bad, as it means they can't get out of combats they don't want to be in, but they will also never be Pinned or fall back at a pivotal moment. For a unit that is probably more likely to get close to assault units than Tactical Marines, the value of Fearless may vary depending on just what unit tries to engage the Legionnaires, and this is where one has to mention their invulnerable save. Each Legionnaire has a 3+ invulnerable save, allowing them to laugh off AP2 and AP3 wounds with contemptuous ease; they can tie down monstrous creatures in a combat if you want to stop them attacking your scoring units or vehicles, for example. This means that enemies really need to use massed fire on them and hope that you can fail a lot of 3+ saves, making Legion of the Damned a very tough unit indeed.
Legion of the Damned don't disappoint in the damage category either, as all of their ranged weapons benefit from the Ignores Cover special rule. This is amazing for a lot of reasons, the first of which is that even their stock boltguns will simply laugh at cover-camping light infantry. But where it really starts to get crazy is the fact that you can take a special weapon, a heavy weapon and a combi-weapon or specialist pistol in a unit of five Legionnaires. Plasma Guns, combi-plasmas and plasma cannons with Ignores Cover for hunting elite infantry, like Broadsides or Crisis Teams, and monstrous creatures? Meltaguns, combi-meltas and multi-meltas for taking down vehicles and monsters of all classifications? These are good weapon choices already for such a unit, but add Ignores Cover to the mix and you can immediately see Legion of the Damned providing a nasty surprise for unsuspecting opponents. Some of the best applications I have seen for this is delivering melta weaponry to the rear armour of advancing Wave Serpents, ignoring their boosted Jink saves - Holo Fields be damned - as well as their Serpent Shields, or taking out a Tervigon that is hiding from your other heavy weapons in a ruin or area terrain. It is such a great ability that gives them so much potential use of specialist weapons, even if it does diminish the fact that they are one of a very select few infantry units in the codex that can use heavy flamers. Now, Tactical Marines tend not to get too much use out of heavy weapons when used in Rhinos, Razorbacks and Drop Pods due to their lack of Relentless. Well, Damned Legionnaires found another way to one-up Tactical Marines as they are Slow and Purposeful! Of course, that does mean they can't fire Overwatch at all, nor can they Run. This is usually a downside for most units, but as Legion of the Damned can - and must - Deep Strike, it makes them into an awesome heavy weapon delivery unit.
That is the other main trait for Legion of the Damned; they must deep strike, and they can even re-roll the scatter dice if you so choose to give them a much better chance both of not risking a mishap and landing in the general area you want. When you combine that with Relentless heavy weapons, as well as being able to take a special weapon, heavy weapon and combi-weapon even at five-strong, you can obviously see why many are touting Legion of the Damned as cheaper alternatives to Sternguard Veterans. This is certainly true, and it is indeed a fantastic use of a previously non-competitive unit. However, this isn't the sole use of Legion of the Damned. As expensive as they are compared to Tactical Marines while not offering too much firepower, you can see them as Tactical Marines that don't need to pay for a Rhino to get into the midfield or enemy deployment zone and, with 3+ invulnerable saves, laugh off much of what would usually slaughter Tactical Marines. Legion of the Damned ignore Heldrakes like few others, and can tie up or even beat monstrous creatures simply because they are both Fearless and have that crazy save. They also find greater value than most for putting a melee weapon on the Sergeant such as a power weapon because he has Weapon Skill 5; additionally, they don't have to pay any extra points whatsoever even despite him being a 'Veteran' Sergeant. And hell, as situational as it is, Legion of the Damned even cause Fear. Overall, they are a unit that has gone down in price, has gained so much in terms of potential uses, and is just flat out a strong unit for use in multiple roles. They are, surprisingly given their previous incarnation, one of the stronger units in the Elites section and can work well in almost any army list.
How to Equip Them - Damned Legionnaires are much like Tactical Marines in that they can only take one heavy weapon, one special weapon and a combi-weapon or special pistol on the Sergeant. Unlike Tactical Marines, though, this isn't really a limitation as they are both Relentless and have semi-accurate deep striking. In that sense, you can look at Legionnaires as either a more 'elite' Tactical Squad, or as a special and heavy weapon delivery unit at short ranges. Generally speaking, making the most of them, especially given their high cost per model, means delivering short ranged weapons such as meltaguns and grav guns as other units cannot do so as well or as cheaply. When paired with Vulkan, they become more efficient sources of deep-striking melta weaponry when armed with a meltagun, multi-melta and combi-melta.
I think the plasma gun and combi-plasma combination is better suited to Tactical Marines as they are primarily a mid-ranged unit in your Troops slot anyway, and I don't really rate plasma cannons that highly due to the 2" spacing that most players use to its' fullest extent, neutering a lot of blast weapons. That isn't to say these aren't good weapons to use though, just that they aren't using the semi-accurate deep strike of the Legion of the Damned as well as flame or melta weapons otherwise would. Heck, having Ignores Cover reduces the value of flamers, heavy flamers and combi-flamers on the Damned Legionnaires even while the semi-accurate deep strike benefits them, in contrast to the plasma weapons. That leaves my preferred option being a meltagun and multi-melta, and while I would avoid a plasma pistol, a grav pistol on the Sergeant is very useful if you elect not to take a combi-weapon. I would keep the Sergeant bare otherwise to save points on an already expensive model, though his Weapon Skill 5 does provide an extra incentive to take a power weapon. On squad sizes, you can have up to ten Legionnaires in a squad, though I would prefer smaller squads given that having Relentless heavy weapons and semi-accurately deep-striking special weapons, all with Ignores Cover, is a priceless ability and isn't really benefited by taking larger units.
Where to Put Them - As a unit that must deep strike in every mission, Damned Legionnaires obviously can do very well in an army with locator beacons and teleport homers either through Drop Pods or units inside Drop Pods in the first turn assault. However, this isn't as necessary as you would think due to being able to re-roll their scatter. On that note, you can afford to be decently aggressive with your deep strike positioning; with that said, I would still avoid placing a squad regardless of size within 5" of an enemy unit or impassable terrain, for example. Depending on how you equipped them, I would probably have five-strong melta squads dropped within 8" to 12" of your quarry while trying to find a decent middle ground between one or more vehicles. An example of this would be if two Rhinos are 12" apart, trying to deploy about 6" or 8" in front of or behind them in the centre should get you a good chance of landing in range for both your meltagun and multi melta to fire, even if the former won't be in "melta" range. For squads with a grav gun, grav pistol, plasma load-out and so on, deploying at 10 to 16" is probably a good idea to hopefully ensure you don't drop out of range and have a decent chance of getting in rapid fire and avoiding potential counter-charges.
Best Uses - I've always felt Legion of the Damned were somewhat analogous to Thousand Sons in that they quite a limited unit that falls to small arms fire just like any other unit, and I feel happy to say that, with their new iteration, only half of that statement is true. Having Ignores Cover on all of their guns makes them very effective against light infantry right off the bat as boltguns are more than enough to slaughter units like Cultists and Guardsmen, even if their high cost per model does mean they aren't as good at it for the points as, say, a Whirlwind. But then you add to that how Ignores Cover functions with their specialist weapons; ignores cover plasma guns make mince meat of Broadsides, while meltaguns and multi meltas will laugh at skimmers and tanks of all kinds. Adding in Relentless because of Slow and Purposeful makes heavy weapons far more appealing than they are for Tactical Squads, and Legion of the Damned don't even require a transport due to their ability to re-roll scatter from deep striking. While the 3+ invulnerable save obviously won't give you much joy against Fire Warriors, it certainly will against Dire Avengers, Guardians, monstrous creatures and so on. You can use this, as well as their krak grenades, to make Legion of the Damned a downright annoying unit that, by trying to deeps trike them away from your opponents' infantry fire base, can do so much damage due to their versatility. Deep strike them away from massed shooting, and use their ignores cover to its best effect by destroying elite infantry, monsters or vehicles with melta, plasma and even grav weapons to get the most out of their unique traits.
Chapter Tactics - Though the Legion of the Damned don't actually get any of the benefits of Chapter Tactics, a certain unique character actually does affect them. Vulkan's "Forgefather" special rule grants master-crafting to all meltaguns, combi-meltas and multi meltas in the army; even those carried by the Damned Legionnaires themselves. This gives Salamanders access to a cheap, durable and very reliable melta squad that, with Relentless, can actually make great use out of multi meltas in particular. Though they can't arrive on turn one like half of your drop pod units, they are a nonetheless an awesome delivery system for your anti-tank needs.
Overview - Terminators are a solid unit but one that has suffered quite a bit due to 6th Edition changes rather than any fault of their own. Terminators have always been expensive and have remained so, paying so much for their durability and significantly boosted melee capabilities. The issue now is that most other Space Marine units have gone down in points, causing a knock-on effect and reducing the inherent value of Terminators, though this is again more due to 6th Edition than anything else. Storm Bolters aren't as good as they used to be now that you can move and shoot rapid fire weapons with their single shots. 2+ armour isn't as tough when your basic Eldar infantry all have semi-Rending guns. The ability to deep strike is hamstrung by the introduction of out-of-sequence shooting in your turn by an opponent through the Interceptor special rule. The dramatic increase in numbers of monstrous creatures, even if most other dedicated assault units aren't seen as much, can lead to hard counters in melee popping up very often in many armies. As well, delivering heavy weapons at close range isn't as good now that you can get much cheaper Devastators, particularly Imperial Fists who can do far more damage against vehicles, monsters and other tough targets than Terminators ever could at range. And then you add that many competitive armies feature lots of light infantry, units that really don't care that much about power fists as the more elite multiple-small-unit Space Marine armies of 5th Edition would. Then there is the fact that you can take three Tactical Marines for only a few points more than a single Terminator, and the three Tactical Marines will always win at range and even in durability.
This wouldn't have been such an issue if Terminators of all kinds got points drops but, as we saw with Deathwing, they either got points increases or stayed the same rather than really dropping at all. As unfortunate as it is, Terminators just aren't as valuable as they used to be and are, realistically, an over-priced unit for what they bring. Of course, this doesn't mean they aren't without their uses. Unless you bring Drop Pods and want to risk your scoring units in that way, Terminators can actually deep strike and shoot up vulnerable units at close range and provide a tangible melee threat against most units. Even if hordes don't care about power fists, five power fists are statistically better than ten close combat weapons, and power fists obviously have both a Strength and AP advantage over krak grenades, making Terminators a far more credible threat in combat. With storm bolters and access to one heavy weapon per five models in the squad, they are hardly a bad shooting unit, just one that needs to make the most of deep striking to actually compare in any way to Tactical Marines. This gives Terminators an edge when trying to deal with vehicles such as Leman Russ Demolishers and Vindicators that actively need to move forward to fire, giving Terminators a possible deployment window to deep strike behind them and destroy their vulnerable rear armour. Terminators are Relentless and thus can make good use of any of the heavy weapons, giving them a unique edge over drop-podding Tactical Marines. You can even combine them with locator beacons or teleport homers - the latter of which is specific to Terminators - to give them a more accurate deep strike and, as an expensive unit even at five-strong, this is never a bad idea as you don't want to lose over two centuries worth of points on a deep strike mishap. For me, the real value of Terminators is their flexibility, providing deep striking ranged support to shoot up exposed or un-supported units, while having a good melee edge that lets them overpower vehicles and put wounds on monsters.
How to Equip Them - With standard Terminators, I generally want to have one chainfist for every five models in the unit as a precaution for dealing with AV14 tanks and AV13 walkers. By the same token, you can take a heavy weapon per five models in the unit, and the choice of which weapon isn't so simple. On foot, the cyclone missile launcher is easily your best bet due to the range and general lack of mobility of foot-slogging Terminators. If you deep strike the Terminators, however, I believe the assault cannon is the best bet due to its flexibility, as well as its mediocre range being mitigated by arriving from reserves. I feel that heavy flamers, while certainly a great defensive tool and very good against all kinds of infantry, are limited in the sense that trying to use them from the deep strike is far too risky for an expensive unit like Terminators. Similarly, using them on a foot-slogging unit generally won't benefit them much due to their limited range. Given that I feel standard Terminators are best used in small squad sizes of five with one heavy weapon and a chainfist, I prefer the assault cannon for its flexibility, though there are certainly good uses of the others. On that note, standard Terminators are best used in conjunction with locator beacons and teleport homers from models such as Drop Pods or Marneus Calgar, respectively, and are there to provide precise firepower and strong melee prowess at a moment's notice. With that in mind, I would keep their squad sizes small as, unlike Assault Terminators, they don't need those extra wounds to start doing damage as Assault Terminators naturally need to make it into combat before they can hurt your opponent physically rather than just psychologically.
Where to Put Them - If you take cyclone missile launchers on your Terminators, I can definitely see using them on foot, even if you do need to be very wary of all the long-range AP2 firepower that is so readily available nowadays. That and with their medium ranged guns, they can work well as support elements to other units, such as Devastators, and contribute some ranged fire while making for a fine counter-assault unit. I've found the best use for Terminators to come from deep-striking them off of a locator beacon or teleport homer, though, which obviously works incredibly well in conjunction with a first turn drop pod assault. From there, they can provide accurate and precise firepower with a short-ranged heavy weapon like the assault cannon and pop up in the enemy backfield as a nasty melee unit that can easily destroy most vehicles. If those pieces of wargear aren't present, however, then you can still deep strike in relative safety due to their general 24" bubble of ranged firepower. In that sense, you can afford to be more reserved or aggressive with Terminators as you see fit and as the options are presented before you, such as attempting to take on the rear armour of a Wave Serpent after a Drop Pod unit was unable to complete the job. Similarly, you can gun down Fire Warrior teams pretty well at 18 to 24", the 'safe' deep strike zone, but be aware that Fire Warrior teams can and will outgun you in high numbers.
Best Uses - I feel Terminators are best used as that ranged support unit arriving from deep strike, as running them up the field just leaves them far too open to return fire. At least when Riptides fire at them with Interceptor, they won't be benefiting from markerlights and as such you can deep strike into cover or even out in the open and feel pretty confident about your chances of survival. Use them in conjunction with locator beacons and teleport homers to deliver precision strikes against the rear armour of vehicles, or to slaughter light and medium infantry. Once they are down, they already start playing mind games with your opponent; they might not be as hard to kill as they really should be, but they are still Terminators. They all have power fists, they put out two or more shots per model at 24", and they can be just flat out mean if you are lacking either mass fire or AP2 weaponry in range of them. Don't run them in large squads as I feel that this wastes their firepower, as much as they aren't cost effective in that category compared to Tactical Marines. Ten Terminators shooting at one unit might be more guaranteed of a kill, but two squads of five can still do a lot of damage and are far less concerned by AP2 large blasts or being tied up in combat by fast melee units. They also provide target saturation by forcing your opponent to deal with one at a time which can be rather humorous; those power fist swings are sure to annoy the lest combat-savvy monsters, and will cleave through most vehicles as well.
Chapter Tactics - Terminators benefit from almost every Chapter Tactic in some way as they dually fulfill the roles of ranged support and heavy melee unit. Ultramarines gives them a wide range of one-use benefits that have strong applications anywhere in a game. The only ones that don't give them some tangible benefit are the Raven Guard and White Scars Chapter Tactics - unless you want to Scout them in a Land Raider through Khan - while the others provide more minor boosts such as re-rolling hits of a one with storm bolters or having Feel No Pain (6+).
Terminator Assault Squad
Overview - When one thinks of Assault Terminators, the image of thunder hammers and storm shields likely pops into their mind before anything else, and with good reason. In 5th Edition, it was a pretty easy choice to make between paired lightning claws and the above combination; one gave you a 3+ invulnerable save and let you destroy vehicles, monsters and multiple-wound models such as Tyranid Warriors with ease. The other gave you more attacks and re-rolls to wound, ultimately only giving it real use against infantry. Nowadays, this is no longer a free exchange, and it actually leads to many using paired lightning claws on at least a few of their Assault Terminators; after all, the name of the game is masses of infantry for scoring objectives, is it not, as is saving points wherever you can. Regardless of your weapon choice, Assault Terminators are one of the most feared melee units in the game and have been for several years. With two attacks each with the usual Space Marine profile, all of which are either made with lightning claws or thunder hammers, they hit very hard against most targets and they also have the durability to match. Toughness 4, 2+ armour and either a 5+ or 3+ invulnerable save gives them more than double the overall durability of a Tactical Marine. However, this is before you take into account that you can take three Tactical Marines for every Terminator you field, which balances out the equation against most any weapon that isn't AP3. So, as much as Terminator Armour looks so shiny and hard to break, you can't afford to throw Terminators into any situation carelessly; there is so much AP2 weaponry in 6th Edition, and Terminators can and will fall prey to massed shooting, particularly with storm shield-equipped units.
Being a dedicated assault unit obviously limits the damage potential and uses of Assault Terminators; they lack guns entirely, and thus cannot contribute anything in the shooting phase other than to stand idly or run towards their quarry. This means that you cannot really afford to deeps strike them outside of a 12" or 13" bubble in relation to enemy units; you need to make the most of your movement to get into charge range by turn three at the latest. This also dramatically increases the value of an assault transport such as a Land Raider - which they can take as a dedicated transport - as compared to regular Terminators. You need those bodies to get into combat to justify their inclusion, where killing most units is an inevitability rather than a chance. For lightning claw Terminators, you need to be wary of the fact that the unit lacks assault grenades or krak grenades, and thus needs to be careful both of charging into cover and of engaging vehicles. As much as paying the points for them is annoying, taking thunder hammer and storm shield Terminators is more important than ever, even if only for the fact that an Eldar Guardian laughs at their 2+ armour save. When you consider that monstrous creatures are becoming increasingly common through the Chaos books and both Tau and Eldar, thunder hammer swings are invaluable, as they also solve the units' issues against vehicles. Don't bring lightning claws to a fight against a Soul Grinder! What really gives Assault Terminators a big edge over a lot of other assault units in the game is the combination of Leadership 9 and, most important of all, And They Shall Know No Fear. This amazing special rule means that Assault Terminators can never be swept, and are incredibly unlikely to run off the board which, as a melee unit, can be absolutely imperative. There are no real penalties for a lost combat, and even one model can be used to tie up or destroy an objective-camping unit of Fire Warriors, Cultists and so on.
The only issue with Assault Terminators is getting them into battle, as unlike the most competitive assault units - such as Screamers, Flesh Hounds and Daemon Princes - Assault Terminators lack an in-built delivery system or high mobility. You can either risk a deep strike - which shouldn't be so bad as long as you don't place the first model within 6" or so of an enemy unit before scattering - or pay for a Land Raider; I advise against Storm Ravens for them, generally. Paying for the Land Raider is the more reliable, but also easily the most expensive. Regardless, Assault Terminators aren't 'guaranteed' to get into combat, and can actually be one of the more 'fragile' melee units as compared to some of the examples above. This makes them less valuable as a 'death star' unit to splurge all your points on, and more valuable in smaller squads to make the most of the fact that, hey, five dudes with thunder hammers can rip through almost anything and survive quite a bit. Shoot them, opponent, shoot them! Play mind-games with your foe and use them as terror squads to hopefully draw firepower so that the rest of your army can perform their turn two movement and shooting with less attention. This is the beauty of Assault Terminators; even if they aren't as valuable or durable as they used to be with the edition switch, they are still a scary unit for most opponents that they often can't afford to ignore.
How to Equip Them - Now that you actually need to pay for the dreaded thunder hammer and storm shield combo, taking an entire unit of them armed with that obviously isn't as simple as it once was. For a ten-strong unit, you are looking at another half a century of points just to equip them all in that way. Given how easily 2+ armour saves are ignored in this edition, having those storm shields in particular is more important than ever, while the influx of monstrous creatures certainly gives thunder hammers a good reason to stick around. In that sense, the value of thunder hammers and storm shields has actually increased since 5th Edition in a lot of cases, so I would still recommend taking a lot of them in your squad. The lightning claw dudes are pretty helpful with the extra attack for clearing out large squads of light infantry such as Guardsmen 'blobs' or sizable Termagant broods, but generally, they aren't as useful overall as the hammer-time brothers. I think a mix is very viable, as is going entirely with thunder hammers and storm shields, but I would avoid having exclusively lightning claws making up the unit. The reason for this is that lightning claws - obviously - won't do much of anything against vehicles and most monstrous creatures, even with re-rolls to wound, and will fall over in a heap when a Wraithknight comes calling.
Where to Put Them - There are two generally used delivery methods for Assault Terminators, and neither is ultimately 'better' than the other. The first is to pray to the Emperor for guidance and deep strike the squad, preferably at 12" or 13" away from any enemy unit and table edge, though this isn't always possible. The reality is that you will always need to weigh up the risks with this deployment option due to the shifting battle lines almost every army uses. Thankfully, unlike Centurion Assault squads, Assault Terminators can run after deep-striking to shave a few inches off of their future charge length. This is always going to be risky, but provided you play it reasonably safe - say, staying about 9" away from enemy units on the deep strike - you should be rewarded more often than not with a decent scatter and only a turn or two of getting to the enemy. Just be aware that using them in this way leaves them incredibly vulnerable to interceptor weaponry, most notably Riptides with Ion Accelerators, so always make sure to have mostly thunder hammers and storm shields when using a squad to deep strike. The other commonly accepted deployment method involves a Land Raider variant - and again, I prefer the Crusader - and banking on its durability to get into combat by turn two or three. This is obviously the much more expensive option when you factor in any extra squad members, but it is also by far the most reliable and safest use of Assault Terminators. The strategy works best with other mechanized or just mobile units to provide target saturation so that the Land Raider isn't the only target your opponent focuses on.
For squad sizes with these tactics, taking more than five 40mm base models for deep striking tends to be very risky, though you can take more to make up for not purchasing a Land Raider. Ultimately though, if you have free Elite slots, it might be better to take two separate five-strong squads so that your opponent has to split their fire, and leave the Terminators less vulnerable to deep strike mishaps. The choice of Land Raider variant will likely determine how many Terminators you employ. In Land Raider Crusaders, for example, you can take up to eight Terminators and, as one of its' main draws over the Redeemer and the standard pattern, it isn't a bad idea to make the most of it. Just remember that adding any extra members will push the squads' cost over 500 points in record time, though this is also where I feel most comfortable putting melee monsters such as Lysander or Marneus Calgar if you want to have them with Assault Terminators. You can take Assault Terminators in a Storm Raven, of course, but as with Centurion Assault Squads, they don't get the best benefit out of Skies of Blood - that and they are reliant on the Storm Raven's reserve roll - and they run the heavy risk of being obliterated if the Storm Raven is shot out of the sky. Otherwise, I would never run them up the field, simply because they can't compliment your ranged damage output in any way and their durability in 6th Edition is not really equal to what you pay for with Eldar and Tau running amok.
Best Uses - With Tau and Eldar in the fray, running Terminators up the field is very much asking to be punished, while deep-striking them can often go astray particularly against Tau and Grey Knights. For deep striking, you need storm shields more than ever because of the ease with which AP2 weapons can be fired on you, whether through Interceptor or the subsequent shooting phase from your opponent. You cannot just take masses of Terminators, deep strike them in forward positions and expect them to win the game for you; they need to be supported, and they need to be serving a goal other than "kill everything" as they are comprehensively out-gunned in 6th Edition and, for the most part, cannot score in an objective-oriented game. Using small squads as speed bumps or counter-assault units isn't a terrible idea, but it is a waste of points and an Elites slot when you could get Bikes, Scouts or Assault Marines to perform the same role at a smaller investment. If you don't deep strike them, not only do you not need to take as many storm shields, but you also require a Land Raider of some kind. This is where I favour the Crusader most of all because of its' transport capacity; Terminators are easier to kill than ever and need ablative wounds to make it to combat at full effectiveness, especially when considering subsequent charges.
But this is the rub, if you don't want to wipe a unit in one turn so as to not get shot, taking less works, but then you leave yourself a bit too vulnerable. Besides, most units will crumble in a heap when faced with Assault Terminators anyway, regardless of squad size. If you are investing in an expensive unit with an expensive transport, you may as well make the most of it and attach a combat monster as well, and I think this is where Assault Terminators can shine. Give a lot of them storm shields, attach a Chapter Master with the Shield Eternal, or Lysander, or Marneus Calgar, and watch the carnage that unit spreads against anything you can think of. It isn't the best investment of points, but remember that once you get them into position, you can begin to separate those characters to take on other units solo while the Terminators can deal with other threats. Given how strong the combat monster characters for Space Marines are, this actually isn't a bad use of Assault Terminators; they get a character to get them out of trouble against hardcore melee units, and the character gets both a bodyguard and transport to ferry him to the fray. If you aren't a fan of spending so many points on one combo though, then I would use locator beacons on Drop Pods or teleport homers to get Assault Terminators into position right near the enemy with little or no hassle; it saves a lot of points on the transport, and it is safe. Again, make sure you have those storm shields handy to weather the inevitable return fire from AP2 weaponry. Whatever you do, do not drop near a mas of infantry like Fire Warriors or even Guardsmen; massed fire kills Terminators unbelievably quickly, so don't give your opponent the obvious opportunity to kill your expensive elites with their cheap throw-away units.
Chapter Tactics - Unlike regular Terminator Squads, Assault Terminators obviously don't benefit from ranged boosts with the Chapter Tactics, such as Imperial Fists or the Tactical and Devastator Doctrines from Ultramarines. However, as a truly dedicated assault unit, they find that Crusader and boosts for the Sergeant from Black Templars are also handy.
Centurion Assault Squad
|No artwork = a sad Eel.|
So what do you actually get aside from their strong, if limited, melee capabilities? As Centurions, each model has a pretty crazy Toughness 5, two wounds and a 2+ armour save. This makes them incredibly tough against non AP2 attacks, particularly small arms fire, and they laugh at a lot of high strength weaponry as well due to their two wounds each and 2+ armour. Just be wary that Strength 10 attacks or shots from units such as Wraithknights - who seem tailor made to slaughter Centurion Assault squads - can and will put them down in short order, as will a Vindicator or Medusa. If they take hurricane bolters, they can make full use of their Decimator Protocols to fire two weapons in each shooting phase; regardless of the shooting phase limitation, Centurions - sadly - cannot fire Overwatch anyway as they are Slow and Purposeful. Each Centurion comes stock with a twin-linked flamer to mitigate that horde issue, but be very wary of the fact that they cannot fire Overwatch with them and as such, unless you get close enough to use them - which is unlikely unless they have just disembarked from a Land Raider - your opponent will just side-step the issue and charge you afterwards. Centurions can replace these twin-linked flamers with twin-linked meltaguns to boost their anti-vehicular destructive capabilities, which helps a lot for taking out transports to charge their contents, effectively killing two birds with one stone. Suffice it to say though, Centurion Assault squads really aren't there to shoot your opponent to bits, but rather to just help them get out of potentially tough situations against hordes or to ensure they destroy a vehicle or monstrous creature. Centurions are equipped with Ironclad Assault Launchers which allow them to charge into cover without penalty, certainly a useful tool to have for a dedicated assault unit.
Now, the reason that most dislike Centurions of either kind is their exorbitant cost. I don't feel that either unit is worth their points overall because they are slow; they can do a lot of damage and they are quite tough, though the deluge of AP2 weaponry does work against them. Basic Eldar infantry want you to take all the Centurions! Centurion Assault squads require a transport, preferably a Land Raider, which jacks their price up to ridiculous levels even if you only take three 'bare' Centurions. Added to this, you are paying Assault Terminator prices for a unit that isn't as damaging or 'versatile'; you have to be incredibly wary of any source of AP2, whether it be monstrous creatures or Bladestorm guns, while storm-shield wielding Terminators are nowhere near as fussed. This leaves Centurion Assault squads as more of a one-note unit that competes, points-wise and in terms of role, with Honour Guard and Assault Terminators. The sad truth is that, unless you need to destroy an AV 14/14/14 vehicle, Assault Termninators are stronger in almost all cases, and Honour Guard are simply exceptional for the points and can take on anything short of an AV12 walker. These units also don't rely on an incredibly expensive transport, giving them more flexibility and ultimately eating up far less points to actually deliver a strong assault unit. In the context of 6th Edition where everything dies so quickly, taking cheaper units is usually your best best and Centurion Assault squads certainly don't fit that bill. This isn't to say you shouldn't employ them, as they are the best 'siege' units you can get for ripping apart any vehicle you want in combat. But for a general purpose melee unit, I feel they are a bit too limited and expensive to really compete with units such as Honour Guard.
How to Equip Them - I would always keeps the Ironclad Assault Launchers, even despite the option to swap them out for hurricane bolters. Having S9 AP2 attacks at Initiative 4 is not something that should ever be wasted, especially for firepower as 'light' as adding in hurricane bolters. Though obviously there can be quite a few good uses of these guns, Centurion Assault Squads have the distinction of being one of the few units that can reliably destroy vehicles and low Initiative monsters in combat. Tactical Marines, Sternguard Veterans and the like already bring you lots of bolter fire, so why waste the deadly potential of the siege drills on Centurions? You can upgrade the twin-linked flamers to twin-linked meltaguns for a pittance, and given that Centurion Assault Squads are obviously designed for destroying tanks, this is a decent upgrade that increases the chance of them destroying their quarry. It also very handily lets them blow up a transport in the shooting phase and then assault its contents, and as a bunch of T5 W2 2+ armoured suits with three S9 AP2 I4 attacks each on the charge, this should generally lead to two dead units in the space of a single player turn.
However, what Centurion Assault squads really struggle against in this configuration are hordes; those S9 attacks don't count for much when you don't have enough to pile through twenty or more Termagants, after all, giving the flamers a lot of potential usage. Ultimately, either choice is useful in its own way, and you should give consideration as to what you expect. I can see hordes becoming more popular soon with the imminent release of Tyranids and the probable update of Orks to come in the next year, so keeping the flamers definitely isn't a bad option, though I still feel most enemies will exploit their lack of Overwatch and just stay out of flamer range and charge them afterwards. Oddly, the Sergeant can take an Omniscope just like a Centurion Devastator Sergeant, but it is rather useless here as Centurion Assault squads don't have the guns to make any real use of either Night Vision or Split Fire, unless you have meltaguns and want to risk destroying two vehicles at once at close range. Even then, I think you may as well just save the points. As to how many to run in a squad, three of them with a transport - such as a Storm Raven or Land Raider variant - is expensive enough and bordering on 'death-star' points ranges, and given that running them on foot is a massive no-no, I probably wouldn't put too many more in unless you plan on adding in either Tigurius or Lysander to make them a bit ridiculous. Just remember that they aren't exactly the be-all end-all assault unit you would hope for with the price tag, so going all out on them can be an issue. If you think you can survive all the firepower that will inevitably be thrown your way, then running a larger squad of up to six on foot might be appealing. My personal recommendation is to avoid this though, as even despite Toughness 5 and 2 wounds each, 2+ armour is becoming increasingly less valuable given how most of the six 6th Edition codices - particularly Tau and Eldar - laugh at armour saves of any kind.
Where to Put Them - I'm a firm believer that Centurions of both varieties can be good units, they just require an efficient delivery system to make up for their almost painfully slow advance. As a natural fire magnet, they need a dependable transport or one that is highly durable. As Land Raiders of any kind are Dedicated Transports for Centurion Assault Squads, you can probably guess what I am going to recommend. A Land Raider Crusader is generally the best 'assault' transport of the three, particularly for a hard-out dedicated melee unit that is both expensive, and deadly if it picks its battles. However, the Storm Raven actually firms as a decent transport for Centurion Assault Squads as well due to the Skies of Fury special rule, allowing a unit to disembark from it using a deep strike move even if it is zooming. Taking Dangerous Terrain tests for scattering is pretty much a non-issue due to the 2+ armoured, two-wound Centurions, while this also - provided it comes on in turn two - gets them very close to the enemy early on. However, this option isn't nearly as valuable for Centurion Assault Squads as it is for Centurion Devastators as they are unable to run after disembarking and naturally want to be closer, meaning you really need to weigh up the risks of deep striking closer to the enemy with such an expensive unit regardless of squad size. In that sense, I still think the Crusader is your best bet, used to get as close to the enemy as quickly as possible and using AV 14/14/14 and four hull points to ignore most damage. Deploy it in conjunction with your Rhinos or other mobile elements and use the Centurion Assault Squad as the spear-head of your assault force.
|All your Centurions are belong to us.|
This is a unit that also wants to avoid hordes at all costs, which can be a major issue against most Tyranid builds; they do not have the number of attacks to get out of combat with Fearless hordes quickly. Still, this isn't to say they aren't a hard hitting unit; they will devastate any vehicle and a lot of units they come across and are only really beaten out by the more combat-oriented monsters and characters. Just be aware that they do have their limitations, they are expensive, they lack mobility and they require a transport. When considering all of this, I would keep Centurion Assault squads as your heavy anti-vehicle duty unit, and one that can crush monsters such as Riptides at a moments' notice - if you can catch them, of course! They will make short work of ten-strong or less squads of units such as Fire Warriors, Dire Avengers and so on, but make sure not to put them in a fight they can't win or win quickly. Stick them in a Land Raider - preferably a Crusader or Redeemer given they are Very Bulky - and use them as the tip of the spear. Your opponent typically won't want to engage them in combat with any of their units, so use them as aggressively as possible, even if it means sacrificing the shooting of their transport on the first turn to get them up in the face of the enemy. Of course, you should generally be using Crusaders and Redeemers with such tactics anyway because of their medium-ranged guns and the fact that they are assault transports.
Chapter Tactics - Centurions don't get anything from Imperial Fists or Raven Guard, while having Crusader with Black Templars is almost worthless as a Slow and Purposeful unit. Like other assault units, I feel White Scars and maybe Ultramarines offer the best benefits; if the Centurions are in a Land Raider, they can get Scout from Khan to make up for a lack of Hit and Run.
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.
"In the darkness, all men are equal, save those that embrace it."
- Kayvaan Shrike of the Raven Guard