Friday, February 1, 2013

Space Marines in 6th Edition: Special Characters with Chapter Tactics

Pedro Kantor, Chapter Master of the Crimson Fists

Pedro Kantor has the standard Chapter Master stat line and rules, and carries a power fist and extra nasty storm bolter. In addition, he replaces Combat Tactics with Stubborn and makes Sternguard squads scoring. Finally, he gives all squads within 12” +1 attack.

Kantor is great for a Sternguard heavy army, as he allows you to take minimal Troops choices and still have a strong scoring presence. This produces a strong shooting army, but his other rules sadly don’t work well with that. Stubborn will keep your units in assault, when you would really prefer them to fall back so that you can shoot the enemy. His +1 attack bubble will help his squads in assault, but the squads that he normally is paired with (like Sternguard) don’t do much in assault even with an extra attack. I prefer to pair him with at least one Terminator squad, who really benefit from the extra attack.

In my experience, Kantor’s biggest weakness is that he is easy to kill. With only power armor and an Iron Halo, he can be killed by power swords before he even swings his power fist. Even against other foes with power fists, I find that Kantor and his opponent usually kill each other.

Though Kantor has some conflicting special abilities and isn’t too dangerous on his own, he is reasonably priced for what he brings to an army. When commanding an army designed around his abilities, Kantor is extremely useful.

Darnath Lysander, Captain of the Imperial Fists 1st Company

Lysander is a wrecking ball. With Eternal Warrior, Terminator Armor, a Storm Shield, and an extra wound compared to a standard Captain, Lysander is extremely difficult to kill. He makes a good tank to put at the front of your units and absorb wounds. In addition, he carries a S10 thunder hammer that adds +1 to results on the vehicle damage table, meaning that he’ll kill just about anything that he faces.

Like Kantor, Lysander replaces Combat Tactics with Stubborn. Again, this isn’t the greatest rule for Space Marines but it is less debilitating for Lysander because he’ll generally have at least a single close-combat oriented squad (which he joins). In addition, he allows you to bolster a single set of ruins, just like a Techmarine can. He also allows any squad he joins to re-roll missed to-hit rolls with any weapon with “bolt” in the name. This is a useful ability, as it allows him to add some shooting ability despite being an assault beast. In general, he should be used as an assault juggernaut leading a unit of Assault Terminators or to increase the firepower of a shooty squad while acting as an assault deterrent. This works well with Sternguard or Terminators (I prefer this option as they are still a viable assault threat), as well as the more unusual Devastator squad with 4 heavy bolters.

While Lysander is a bit expensive in points, he is worth it because he is extremely solid on his own and adds some useful and well-rounded abilities to the army as a whole.  

Kayvaan Shrike, Shadow Captain of the Raven Guard 3rd Company

Shrike is a Captain with a jump pack and a pair of rending lightning claws, which allow him to take on Terminators and light vehicles as well as the standard targets for lightning claws. His army replaces Combat Tactics with Fleet, and a single squad can infiltrate along with Shrike. Fleet is generally more useful for assault units, though it can allow your other squads to reposition more quickly.

Shrike normally leads a very aggressive unit directly into the enemy. Leading a squad of fleet, infiltrating Assault Terminators or Vanguard Veterans, Shrike will likely assault in the 1st or 2nd turn. The rest of the army will generally be providing covering fire and taking objectives. Shrike is a little pricy, but he allows Space Marines to play more aggressively than most opponents expect.

Vulkan He’stan, Forgefather of the Salamanders

Vulkan is quite possibly the most popular special character in Codex: Space Marines. For a very reasonable cost, he brings Captain stats along with artificer armor, a 3+ invulnerable save, a heavy flamer, and a master-crafter relic blade. With all this equipment, Vulkan is quite survivable and will do a respectable amount of wounds to most enemies.

Armies with Vulkan lose Combat Tactics but all of their flamers, heavy flamers, meltaguns, and multi-meltas become twin-linked and their thunder hammers become master-crafted. These are all useful weapon options, and they become much more reliable when twin-linked. Vulkan has the advantage that he doesn’t change the way Space Marines play; he just makes them shoot even better. This isn’t as great as it was last edition due to the resurgence of plasma, but flamers and meltas are still extremely useful weapons.

A Vulkan army should be based around squads that can take the weapons he augments, and this generally means Assault Terminators, Tactical Marines, Attack Bikes, and Land Speeders.

Kor’sarro Khan, Captain of the White Scars 3rd Company

Khan makes for an extremely aggressive biker army. He is generally taken on his Bike, Moondrakken, which means that his army can take Bike squads as Troops. He carries a power sword that inflicts Instant Death on a to wound roll of 6.

Khan’s army trades Combat Tactics for the ability to outflank, even inside of dedicated transports. Khan gives his unit Hit and Run and Furious Charge, making them a very flexible assault unit.

This has been toned down in 6th Edition now that units cannot assault in the turn that they arrive from reserve. However, Bike squads are better at shooting than assault anyway. Outflanking Bike squads should gun down vulnerable enemy squads, preparing the way for your assault forces. These will generally be Khan leading a Command squad on bikes (expensive but very dangerous and resilient) or an Assault Terminator squad riding in a Land Raider (which will bring substantial firepower along with good assault ability).

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