Friday, February 15, 2013

Space Marines in 6th Edition: Elites Part 1

Terminator Squad

The standard (or Tactical) Terminator squad provides a good mix of firepower and assault ability. The unit carries storm bolters and power fists (or a power sword on the Sergeant), and can carry an assault cannon, cyclone missile launcher, or heavy flamer to augment their firepower. A chainfist will allow them to reliably deal with any vehicles.

Terminators should primarily be thought of as a firepower unit. They produce a great deal of firepower on the move when armed with either the assault cannon or the missile launcher. Avoid the heavy flamer, as the Terminators really should be applying their firepower at range rather than rushing into assault.

With a 2+ armor save and a 5+ invulnerable save, Terminators will shrug off most firepower. However, they are very vulnerable to the large amount of plasma that is popular in this edition, so be careful where you move them. 6th Edition did make them significantly tougher in assault, as they now laugh off power sword wounds. They will destroy any unit without AP2 close combat weapon. Against targets with Unwieldy AP2 weapons such as power fists or power axes, both squads will likely be wiped out. Be careful making this trade, as your Terminators are more expensive than most foes and it’s generally not worth it. However, the only units they really need to fear are those that strike at normal initiative with AP2 weapons, such as Monstrous Creatures, Dark Eldar Incubi, and Necron Lychguard. Stay away from these units and concentrate on gunning them down.

Terminators provide a mobile and durable shooting unit, and they’re a decent choice for your army. I think their relative value has decreased a little bit in this edition, as any rapid fire weapon can fire 24” on the move, so their storm bolters aren’t so great. Still, it won’t hurt your army to take a squad. Use them to add to your firepower and crush weaker units in assault, but be wary of plasma and dedicated assault units.

Terminator Assault Squad

Assault Terminators trade their ranged weapons for assault gear, and as such become one of the better assault units in the game. Each model can take either a pair of lightning claws, which produce a large number of kills against any 3+ save or worse enemies, or thunder hammers and storm shields. The thunder hammer and storm shield load-out is generally preferred; while they do just about as much damage as Tactical Terminators in assault, their storm shields make them extremely tough to kill. These Terminators are excellent for dealing with enemy elite assault specialists, as they can survive the nastiest hits while dealing out attacks that will hurt any foe. On the other hand, thunder hammer and storm shield Terminators don’t deal well with hordes and will quickly be killed off; they simply don’t have enough attacks.

To be very aggressive, Assault Terminators need a Land Raider to transport them into their enemies and allow them to launch a decisive assault. If you just want to distract your opponent rather than take out specific targets, you can deep strike them. Their storm shields will allow them to survive a lot of fire so that they can assault the next turn. Their final role, and perhaps their most useful, is to stay in the center of your army as a counter-assault unit. Space Marines have few answers for close-combat specialists within their lines, so Assault Terminators allow you to engage and destroy any squads that reach your gunline. 

Sternguard Veteran Squad

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I love Sternguard. They are one of the most flexible units in the game, able to deal with almost any foe with their basic bolters (and any foe with some added combi-weapons). Their bolters can ignore cover, wound on 2+, become AP3, or fire 30”. I have seen a squad gun down a Hive Tyrant using Hellfire rounds and blast away Eldar Pathfinders in cover using Dragonfire rounds. I’ve been finding Kraken rounds particularly useful in this edition, as they can fire two shots at 15” or one at 30”. This makes them great for Sternguard that are taking cover behind other squads.

On that note, never be seduced into thinking Sternguard can win in assault. I know they have 2 attacks base, and Kantor can give them an extra attack. They’re still just standard marine attacks, and Sternguard will never do well in close-combat. At the best, they’ll get tied up fighting another weak squad. At worst, your expensive squad will be annihilated by an assault squad that they should never have assaulted in the first place.

As for upgrades, I wouldn’t give any close-combat weapons to the Sergeant. The squad should never be in assault and points dedicated to close-combat are wasted. A few combi-meltas will allow the squad to take on armor, while combi-flamers will allow them to engage hordes (particularly from a Drop Pod). As for special and heavy weapons, Sternguard are extremely flexible. I’ve been running dual plasma guns because they pair well with the bolters for a mobile shooting squad. However, heavy flamers are a great choice for more aggressive Sternguard (again, in Drop Pods). The squad can take a pair of heavy weapons and act as pseudo-Devastators.


  1. One lesson I've learned is that shooty terminators really can be seen as an assault unit. They're just an assault unit with guns. My typical Space Marine list has a max squad with two cyclonic missile launchers and a few chainfists. The chainfist guys (and the terminator librarian) go in their land raider, while the three remaining normal dudes act as meatshields for the cyclonics. They advance of the field, taking on targets with missiles and storm bolters. The other five chaps charge out of the land raider, shoot something up, and then kill it.

    It's important to remember that even with tactical terminators, you paid good points for that power fist. Use it!

  2. Standard Terminators certainly can take on any units that can't reliably get AP2 attacks in assault. It's important to remember that they hit just as hard as thunder hammer Assault Terminators. They just lack the durability against low AP hits.

    Standard Terminators need to pick their battles and attack units that can't threaten them. If you need to take on monstrous creatures, Incubi, Lychguard, or the like, take thunder hammers and storm shields.


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