Friday, January 20, 2012

The Astral Claws

I was reading over the Badab War Imperial Armour books, and thinking about how much they expand on the Space Marine Codex. When it comes down to it, much of the flexibility in C:SM is due to characters that alter the FOC or have the Chapter Tactics rule. IA: 9 and 10 don’t really add any new units, but they add 22 new characters, many of which fundamentally alter the way that C:SM plays.

The problem with this is that the books are expensive and not readily available to most gamers, so they may not even be aware of the characters or if they would like to play them. I decided to do a short write-up for each character, describing how their rules alter the army, similar to what I wrote for Thulsa Kane. I’ll be organizing them by chapter, so I’ll also include some information about the chapter’s background and how a fluffy army for them would be built. I decided to start with the instigators of the whole war:

The Astral Claws/ Tiger Claws

The Astral Claws are the main antagonists of the Badab War. Initially a loyal chapter stretched beyond its resources in an attempt to defend the Maelstrom Zone, the Astral Claws began violating Imperial Law to get the resources they needed. The Astral Claws are a proud and unbending chapter. A force based on them should be centered around overwhelming firepower, designed to blast the enemy off the table. In addition, the Astral Claws generally prefer to field a large number of bodies rather than more elite units.

The Tiger Claws are a successor to the Astral Claws. They were reduced below operational strength and eventually reincorporated back into the Astral Claws. The Tiger Claws have a similar temperament but are more aggressive than the Astral Claws.

Lugft Huron

Lugft Huron is the Chapter Master of the Astral Claws. He comes with the standard Chapter Master statline, terminator armor, heavy flamer, and a lightning claw that forces the enemy to re-roll successful invulnerable saves. He maintains standard Combat Tactics.

Huron does have a few special rules that help out the army that he leads. He passes his LD 10 to any Space Marines in his army, as well as allied marines in team games. He also allows you to re-roll failed attempts to steal the initiative, which can be very useful if you take the amount of heavy firepower appropriate to the Astral Claws. He also fires two blasts when he uses Orbital Bombardment, making the attack much more reliable.  Finally, he is returned to play with one wound on a 2+ the first time he is killed, making him pretty hard to remove from the table. He needs to stay still for at least a turn to use his orbital bombardment, but he’s a pretty capable assaulter. I think he’s best used as a counter-charge character, perhaps leading a small squad of Assault Terminators.

Captain Corien Sumatris

Sumatris is the Captain of the Astral Claws 2nd Company, but is in reality a Tiger Claw reinstated into the Chapter. He has the standard Captain statline, with one extra point of WS and one less point of BS. He’s a capable character in assault, with a storm shield, digital weapons, and a master-crafted power sword. He also has what amounts to an Assault 2 bolt pistol that doesn’t take up a hand.

In addition, Sumatris gets two extra attacks when he charges rather than one. Sumatris also makes any units around him much more capable in assault. He and any squad he joins have Furious Charge, and any infantry unit (but not IC’s) within 12” of him gain an extra point of WS. As such, he can provide a strong core of assault units to a standard Space Marine force. For example, WS 5, furious charging Assault Terminators with lightning claws would make for a terrifying assault unit.

Armenneus Valtrex

Valtrex is the Astral Claws’ Master of the Forge and has the standard statline as well as the standard rules. He’s got a conversion beamer to add some firepower to the army. He’s got a bit of a whacky servo-harness, which counts as giving him two power weapons, Counter-attack, a 5+ invulnerable save, and the ability to re-roll failed repair rolls.

His big contribution to the army is granting one infantry squad Hellfire rounds for their bolt pistols, bolters, and storm bolters at no cost. This is generally the most useful of the Sternguard ammunitions, and the ability to give it to storm bolters is tremendous.

In general, Valtrex fulfills the same role as a Master of the Forge, giving you a bit of extra firepower and the ability to take Dreadnoughts as Heavy Support. He’s got a bit more assault presence than a standard Master of the Forge, and he greatly increases the shooting ability of one of your shooting units.

Arch-Centurion Carnac Commodus

Carnac Commodus is an Astral Claws character, with rules found here. Specifically, he was the commander of the Astral Claw forces that boarded the Salamander battle barge Pyre of Glory. This ended in the incident known as the Red Hour, when the Executioners turned on the Secessionists and butchered the Astral Claws.

Commodus can be taken in either a Space Marine army or a Tyrant’s Legion army. He’s quite cheap, but has a fairly weak statline (essentially a Librarian with 1 more attack and 1 less leadership). He carries a bolt pistol and S5 rending chainsword, and has an Iron Halo. All in all, he’s not particularly dangerous in any context, but he’s a cheap HQ.

He also has the special rule Cut Them Down! This allows him and any squad he joins to re-roll their Sweeping Advance rolls, and add +1 to the number of wounds inflicted by No Retreat! These are handy abilities when combined with a strong assault squad, but doesn’t have a huge effect on a list.


  1. I own both books and love them dearly. My favorite chapter has always been the Space Sharks so naturally i jumped at the chance to play them in a main stream way when the books hit. Im currently in the process of building my Space Sharks using a bunch of Forgeworld phobos pattern boltguns and mark 5 heresy armor. To me the Badab War adds much needed dimension to Space Marines as most people have started to think of them as only Ultramarines , Space wolves and BA.

  2. I agree. The Badab War characters add a tremendous amount of variation to Codex: Space Marines. I'm hoping that this series of articles will expose them to more players, who will then seek out the rules on any that interest them.

  3. Excellent article, it's going in the Badab Update of course but I was wondering if you mind me doing a copy and paste and sticking it on my blog? With full credits going to you ;)

  4. Please do! I'd be happy to have you post these on your blog. I'll be writing one for each chapter with special characters in the Badab War, interspersed between my other posts. Feel free to post up any that you feel are worthy.


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