The Salamanders have come a long way since they were introduced. Now, their rules concentrate on their heavy use of flame weaponry and their excellently forged weapons. All of their flamer weapons may re-roll failed to wound rolls and armor penetration rolls, and Salamanders re-roll failed armor saves against flamer weapons. Due to their Master Artisans rule, every character gets to upgrade one of his weapons to master-crafted.
Both of these rules are useful but not amazing. You’ll certainly benefit from taking lots of flame weapons, which will help thin all of the light infantry that seems to be on the table now. Also, flamers will be even better when firing Overwatch, which is saying something. The ability to very reliably put multiple wounds on any charging unit will go a long way toward keeping your squads safe. The free master-crafting will almost always be useful. It will obviously help any assault character as it essentially gives them another attack, but it will help any of your sergeants too. Even a master-crafted bolter is handy, but it’s particularly useful for combi-weapons. It will make sure those single shots hit when you need them most.
Vulkan He’stan is the forgefather of the Salamanders, tasked with recovering artifacts constructed by their primarch. He comes with a Captain statline, and is extremely well-equipped. He has artificer armor, a cloak that gives him a 3+ invulnerable save, a heavy flamer, digital weapons, and a master-crafted relic weapon. Far from being just a support character, Vulkan can handle himself in melee. His Iron Resolve warlord trait will also help in assault.
In the last edition of their rules, Salamanders also master-crafted their melta weapons. They lost that in this codex, but Vulkan gives it back, master-crafting every meltagun, combi-melta, and multi-melta in his detachment. This even applies to those mounted on vehicles.
Vulkan is an excellent character. He provides great support to your army while still being very useful in assault, and all at a very reasonable points cost. Honestly, he’s almost a required choice for a Salamanders army.
Captain Pellas Mir’san
As the only First Founding Chapter involved in the Badab War, the Salamanders have several characters from the conflict. First among them is Pellas Mir’san, Captain of the Salamanders 2nd Company and commander of their forces in the Badab War. Mir’san is extremely well equipped, with artificer armor, an iron halo, a master-crafted AP2 power sword, additional close combat weapon, and a combi-flamer.
Mir’san is a master duelist (in fact, that’s one of his rules). When in a challenge, he can either gain an extra attack or force his opponent to lose an attack. His Warlord Trait gives you one Victory Point for each enemy character he slays in a challenge. Not much will stand up to him in a challenge, so this will often net you a few bonus points and could turn around a close game. Finally, any Salamanders unit he joins may choose to automatically pass or fail Morale and Pinning tests. Sort of Marneus Calgar but for a single unit.
Pellas Mir’san is a very good assault character at a budget points cost. He’ll take out all but the most resilient enemies, and he’ll give you extra Victory Points as he does it. He also makes the unit he joins extremely reliable. His only real downside is his lack of transport. Give him a Land Raider and decent support squad, and he’ll provide a killer HQ at a very reasonable cost.
Bray’arth is a venerable Dreadnought, and is pretty unique in the game. He’s an Ironclad Dreadnought with Chapter Master stats where appropriate, and he’s armed with two dreadnought close combat weapons, each with a built-in dreadfire heavy flamer. This means that they can either fire as two heavy flamers or one twin-linked meltagun, so no target is safe from him.
Because he was Wrought by Vulkan, Bray’arth is immune to melta, rending, armourbane, and lance, and resistant to entropic strike. No other rules that reduce his armor of allow more than one dice for armor penetrations affect Bray’arth in any way. None of the usual tricks for dealing with heavy armor work on Bray’arth, making him very tough against everything except weapons that just rely on very high strength. He’s even got an extra hull point over the standard Ironclad, as well as It Will Not Die so he can regain lost hull points.
Finally, Bray’arth has Burning Wrath, which allows him to sacrifice one attack in close combat to inflict a single heavy flamer hit on every model in base contact. This means that he can torch large numbers of light infantry, which traditionally are a problem for walkers. However, he shouldn’t spend too much time killing infantry, as his Warlord Trait earns an extra victory point for destroying any vehicle with AV12 or more or killing any Independent Character in assault, as long as there are no other friendly models in the combat.
Bray’arth Ashmantle is resilient and destructive; frankly, he’s what a Dreadnought really should be. However, he does come with a downside. He costs more than a Land Raider and he doesn’t seem to have access to a Drop Pod, the safest way to get a Dreadnought into assault. He’ll have to walk across the battlefield, but most armies will have a tough time bringing him down. While he’s certainly expensive, he seems like he’s worth it.
Master Harath Shen
Harath Shen is another unique character, as he’s the Master Apothecary of the Salamanders. He’s got a Librarian statline, and comes equipped with artificer armor, a power sword, a plasma pistol, and digital weapons. He replaces his narthecium with Master of Chirurgery, giving any unit he joins Feel No Pain (4+). This is the only reliable way to give Feel No Pain to squads other than Command squads, and it could make a huge difference. Imagine Feel No Pain Terminators or Honor Guard.
You take Shen for his Feel No Pain, but he has some other handy rules. Pride of the Chapter allows him to re-roll failed Look Out, Sir rolls, making him very hard to single out, and he adds +1 to the score of any unit he joins in assault. Finally, if he’s your Warlord, he has the chance to score extra victory points for any friendly infantry unit destroyed within 6” of him in missions where victory points are scored for destroying units. It’s basically the old reductor rules, and is a very fluffy if not terribly reliable addition.
Master Shen is a great support character, able to augment the durability of any unit you want in ways that seem reserved for xenos armies these days. Conveniently, he’s also quite cheap. Keep him safe and he’ll do his job well.