Friday, May 3, 2013

Space Marines in 6th Edition: Heavy Support Part 1

Devastator Squad

The Devastator squad is the basic heavy weapons choice of Space Marine armies. It’s just a squad of marines carrying four heavy weapons. In the current codex, only the heavy bolter, multi-melta, and missile launcher are really priced appropriately for Devastators, while plasma cannons and lascannons are extremely expensive. Space Marine armies can get anti-infantry fire on a lot of platforms, meaning heavy bolter Devastators aren’t tremendously worthwhile. The best fire support choice is the missile launcher; it’s not too expensive, has good range, and can engage any target. Multi-meltas are devastating for their points cost, but they have a very short range. However, they can be quite useful when deployed by Drop Pod.

I’m hoping that Codex: Space Marines will get a reduction in the cost of Devastator heavy weapons, similar to that found in the Blood Angels and Dark Angels. That will make Devastators a more competitive choice, as well as opening up the option to take plasma cannons and lascannons without paying a mint.

Thunderfire Cannon

The Thunderfire is an amazing choice in 6th Edition. As an artillery piece, the Thunderfire is quite durable, and it puts out tremendous firepower. It always fires four blast templates, and it has a Sternguard-like ability to choose ammunition based on different targets. It can fire S6 blasts, S5 blasts that Ignore Cover, or S4 blasts that force the target to move in difficult terrain. The blasts rip through light infantry, forces enough saves on heavy infantry to threaten them, and can even threaten vehicles by forcing them to take dangerous terrain tests. It’s particularly great against infantry behind an Aegis Defense Line.

In addition, it comes with a fully equipped Techmarine. This allows you to fortify a ruin, which further adds to the durability of the Thunderfire and greatly benefits any Scouts with camo cloaks that you have in your army. If your Thunderfire is killed, the Techmarine is still pretty useful with a 2+ save, 2 power fist attacks, flamer, and a twin-linked plasma pistol.

Stormraven Gunship

Since the release of Death from the Skies, Space Marine armies have the option to take Stormravens as Heavy Support choices. This gives them access to a much more durable flyer than the Stormtalon. With AV12 all around, 3 hull points, and ceramite plating, the Stormraven is one of the toughest flyers in the game. In addition, it carries two heavy weapons, four stormstrike missiles (essentially AP2 concussive krak missiles), and can mount two hurricane bolters. That’s a decent amount of firepower on a tough platform. Finally, it’s an assault vehicle that can carry up to 12 models and a Dreadnought.

As far as weapons, I prefer the twin-linked assault cannon and twin-linked multi-melta. Their short range doesn’t matter on a flyer and they’re excellent at destroying other flyers or ground vehicles. The plasma cannon and lascannons are both good choices if you plan on engaging other targets, though I would avoid the heavy bolters (as they don’t really fulfill a niche on the Stormraven) and the typhoon missile launcher (as it costs a lot more). I’m conflicted on the hurricane bolters; they add some anti-infantry firepower to the Stormravem but they’re pretty expensive. They’re definitely worth it for the Grey Knights with access to psybolt ammunition, but I’m not sure about standard bolter rounds. Let me know what your experience is.

I really like the Stormraven as a transport for a squad of Assault Terminators. It can get them into combat quickly and safely, and they can survive if the Stormraven is shot down due to their storm shields. It’s tempting to take an Ironclad in the Stormraven as well, but this produces a really expensive and high priority target.


  1. I agree with everything here. I amm not as much a fan of the Thunderfire Cannon, but it's only because I've been on the receiving end of some pretty erratic results (my Marines have died by the droves to them while my Daemons appear to be immune...). But that's not to say it's terrible or even worse than most of the other units in this slot...
    As far as the Stormraven- I'm about to start using it this week. I have mine armed to engage against heavy infantry, so twin Plasma Cannons, Typhoon, and Hurricane Bolters. It's pretty much the most expensive build-out, but I have a plan. Shooting at infantry? Both Hurricanes, two Frag blasts, and two Plasma blasts- FOUR WEAPONS! Then I Machine Spirit a missile into a tank or another flyer (if I'm allowed to use Skyfire that way). I must note that I intend my Stormraven to be a gunship, not a transport. So the extra points shouldn't matter as much. I'll definitely shout and tell of its performance, I'm curious too.

  2. My Thunderfire never seems to let me down. Most of its shooting phases are mediocre, doing a reasonable amount of hits for its cost. However, it seems that once a game the scatter die favors me and the Thunderfire scores an absurd number of hits and maims the squad it aims at. Regardless of when that lucky turn happens, the Thunderfire does reliable damage to any infantry I need to kill (and can immobilize vehicles if no infantry targets are available).

    As for the Stormraven, please keep me posted. I'll be adding one to the Executioners soon, primarily as a transport for Assault Terminators and secondarily as a gunship. I'm especially interested in how different weapon load outs perform, particularly the hurricane bolters.


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