Thursday, 23 January 2014

Ultramarines and tactics to consider

Hi all and welcome to my (possibly not) final thoughts on Space Marine tactics, specifically the focus is on Ultramarines though a few of these are worth considering for other chapters as well.

I have spent months in my geek cave reading and re-reading the Space Marine codex, trying to think up delicious new ways in which Space Marine units and vehicles can be used to cause havoc and mayhem to my opponents.

Did I say havoc and mayhem? I meant courage and honour!

Anyways today I dedicate this post to tactics that people may like to use in their games, I'm certainly wanting to test them out myself. So without further ado, I give you my thoughts on Ultramarine tactics.

Come get some!

The "Come at me, bro" Method

Honestly, this one came to me in a bolt of inspiration only today. Although we all know the benefits of the Tactical Doctrine, I've turned my attention to it's Assault/Devastator counterparts, trying to devise a useful way of utilising them. The Assault Doctrine, for my 2 cents is that it's a pretty cookie cutter ability. Not using the other two and plan on charging? Assault Doctrine.

The Devastator Doctrine, well that's an entirely different kettle of fish. There is the obvious usage of using it to emulate the Tau tactic of "shoot, move back when they get too close" with Devastators, but that's far too obvious. No, the "Come at me, bro" tactic takes advantage of re-rolling snap shots. It involves sitting behind cover and then, when the enemy comes into charge range, activating the doctrine. Unless the enemy has frag grenades they will be striking you at initiative step 1, which is a bonus, but also all your overwatch shots will re-roll misses. The tactic is two fold, getting shots off and striking in combat before the enemy has a chance to even hit you.

This is even more horrible if you take Tigurius and he has the Foreboding psychic power. The Devastator Doctrine specifically states "re-roll all snap shot and overwatch misses". Cast the power on one of these squads, fire their overwatch at full BS re-rolling misses and then go first in combat. It's a winner in theory.

Tigurius, Lord of Hell Fire

I'm not sure if anyone has clocked this particular tactic, or if it will even work. All I can say is, in theory it is a very, very nasty tactic in theory. It involves taking Tigurius as your Warlord though.

"What!" I hear you cry, "but he has no invulnerable save, this is madness!" Maybe, but he does automatically have the Storm of Fire Warlord Trait if you do this, and he can take the Divination primaris power of Prescience. Looking at it this way, it becomes very tempting to take the Librarian as Warlord.

I recently discovered that blessing abilities don't end until the end of your following turn, which is something to consider. In turn 1 you can give Storm of Fire to a unit within 12" meaning they can re-roll all misses. You can then cast Prescience to another nearby unit within 12" (which, seeing as Tigurius rarely will fail psychic tests, this is pretty reliable) and they too can re-roll all misses. You essentially then leap frog between units casting Prescience and therefore always have two units re-rolling misses without even using up your Tactical Doctrine. Who says Ultramarines are only sub-par at shooting?

Ghost Drop Pods

This is actually one of my favourite ideas so far and it's inspired by a Sicarius story in which the 2nd Company Captain utilises this particular method. It also works with all Space Marine chapters (including Blood Angels and I think Dark Angels) so feel free to use as you please.

Ghost Drop Pods involves taking Drop Pods as dedicated transport... but not embarking the squad on them. You then fit them with Deathwind Launchers. The idea is to start the game with at least one gun emplacement you can stick virtually anywhere on the board on turn 1. The genius behind the idea is the Drop Pods are only 50 points with Deathwind Launchers and have a respectable armour value of 12, meaning most basic weapons (including Tau weapons) can't harm them. This will force your opponent to either waste the cheap Drop Pods using their better weaponry, therefore distracting fire from your main force or be pummeled by large blast fire.

You could even go a step further and double bluff your opponent. Take a second Drop Pod but this time put a Sternguard unit in their and see them add to the severe fire power. That's only about 300 points right there for an incredibly annoying amount of fire power.

Snipers FTW

I'll be honest, I do look at Scout Squads and wonder why I would ever take them. But then one particular set up dawned on me. 9 Sniper Rifles and 1 Missile Launcher with Flakk Missiles. If you play Ultramarines, throw Telion in there too.

It may not sound much but picture this. That's 8 shots with precision shots on rolls of 6 and always needing 4+ to wound they are actually one of the best units for removing Monstrous Creatures from the mix, whilst the Missile Launcher can switch between anti-infantry, anti-tank or anti-air. If you have Telion, rather than fire 2 snap shots at a flyer, use Voice of Experience on the Missile Launcher and instead hit it with a BS6 anti-air rocket. BOOM!

If you can't see your scouts moving from your own deployment, take a Techmarine and bolster defenses on the cover they sit behind. Best case scenario your squad now has a 2+ cover save with camo cloaks, making them rival the savage effectiveness of Eldar Pathfinders. It's the only set up I can think of that could prove effective. Plus Telion is awesome.

Unusual Devastator Set Ups

Here's food for thought - combat squad a Devastator Squad with heavy weapons in each. Sounds weird but hear me out.

Try this. 3 Heavy Bolters and 1 Multi-Melta with a Rhino transport. Crazy, I know! But then you combat squad them like this: 3 Heavy Bolters and 2 bog standard Marines in one squad and the Sergeant and Multi-Melta in the Rhino. Combat Squad 1 will act as anti-infantry and Combat Squad 2 will park in a Rhino and pop tanks out of the Fire Access panel with BS 5 thanks to the Sergeant's Signum. You can be extra cheeky and use the Devastator Doctrine to move the Rhino 6" and still fire the Multi-Melta (you count as moving if you move at combat speed, and seeing as you're now Relentless...)

I can't take all the credit for this though, my friend James inspired the idea. You know, the guy with the really cool Tyranids you should check out if you haven't already?

Chaplains are rubbish

I'm all ears if you disagree. Unless you're taking Cassius against Tyranids or to use his awesome gun, I really cannot justify them unless they have a jump pack and are in an Assault Squad. Even then I'm pretty sure there are better HQ options to fill the slot they'd occupy.

Zealot is a very double edged rule. On the one hand, Hatred is useful for combat units (it's particularly nasty on Vanguard Veterans), but on the other hand, why the hell would you willingly replace And They Shall Know No Fear with Fearless when the former is by far a better rule for Space Marines? Just madness.


  1. So with the drop pod what happens with the squad that was suppose to be inside of it? How and where do they enter the game?

    With snipers...adding a Master of the Forge with his Conversion Beamer can make for a fun group of snipers that are super hard to hit. Just an idea...

    1. You don't have to embark squads on their dedicated transport, and Drop Pods are dedicated transport. In this case the squad would deploy separately either in your main force or in reserve to enter by foot.

      As with the Master of the Forge, an interesting idea but ultimately I'm not a big fan of the Master of the Forge's Conversion beam, and the enemy can easily nullify it in this situation with fast combat units (such as Wraiths, like an Eldar playing friend of mine found out with his Rangers) and costs you a fair amount of points plus a HQ slot. I'd much prefer to lump Telion in there instead.