Friday, October 3, 2014

Space Marine Codex Review: Assault Squads, Land Speeders, and Stormtalons

Assault Squad

Probably the most iconic Fast Attack choice, Assault squads are composed of standard Marines wearing jump packs and carrying bolt pistols and chainswords. They can carry two flamers or plasma pistols in a any size squad, allowing them to deliver multiple special weapons even at minimum size. The Sergeant can take melee weapons and pistols, as well as melta-bombs and a combat shield. Finally, they can swap out their jump packs for a free Rhino or Drop Pod.

As an old Blood Angel player, I love Assault squads. However, they just aren’t that great on the table. In combat, they’re basically Tactical Marines with an extra attack. Any Marine player knows that this won’t do much damage to most enemy units. Enemies that they can take out could be dealt with by most other Marine units too. Beyond that, jump packs in 7th Edition aren’t great for getting into combat because they can only be used in the movement or assault phase. They do provide good mobility around the table though.

Assault squads provide you with a squad of mobile Marines limited to short-ranged firepower, and are reasonably priced for what you get. Their main issue is that players want them to be a real assault unit, but they are not. Use them to mess with the enemy backfield, killing scoring and fire support units. Their other main use is adding another Drop Pod to a Drop Podding army. 90 points gets you 5 Assault Marines in a Pod with a flamer, 20 points cheaper than a similarly armed squad of Tactical Marines (and you can add a second flamer for half the points of a Tactical sergeants combi-flamer).

Assault squads really benefit from the Raven Guard Chapter Tactics, as they allow jump packs to be used in both the movement and assault phase. This is probably how jump packs should work in the first place, and it makes the squad much easier to get into combat. Being able to re-roll failed Hammer of Wrath wounds is just gravy on top of that. If you want to run several jump pack units, Raven Guard Chapter Tactics are a must.

Land Speeder Squadrons

Land Speeders are fast but flimsy vehicles that pack a lot of firepower. They come stock with a heavy bolter, which they can switch out for a heavy flamer or multi-melta. On top of that, you can add a heavy bolter, heavy flamer, multi-melta, typhoon missile launcher, or assault cannon. You can have up to 3 Speeders in a squadron.

Land Speeders can be used two ways. First, they can be a fairly mobile fire support unit. The best configuration for this is the typhoon missile launcher and heavy bolter. This puts a lot of firepower downrange for a fairly reasonable point cost and can stay out of range of enemy light arms. Even double heavy bolters isn’t a bad choice if all you want is a lot of shots for cheap, though the missile launcher is more flexible. The other option is a suicide unit designed to get close and cause as much damage as possible. I would suggest dual heavy flamers to destroy infantry or dual multi-meltas depending what targets you want to engage. Unfortunately, you have to convert these as the kit cannot make these configurations. If you don’t want to convert, the multi-melta and heavy flamer configuration is capable of engaging just about any target, trading specialized hitting power for flexibility.

The one weapon that I would avoid is the assault cannon. While a great weapon, it puts the Speeder at perfect range to die to small arms fire and is the most expensive upgrade. If you want to kill infantry, the heavy flamer does more damage for less points, and the Speeder has the speed to make the most use of the flamer.

If you want to use Land Speeders, you have to accept that they will die if any medium or high strength weapons target it. Do not deploy them at the beginning of the game, as your opponent will use it to get First Blood. Once that is no longer a concern, Speeders become a lot more survivable just because your opponent won’t want to put firepower into them while more important units are on the table.  Close range, suicide Speeders can benefit from Deep Strike deployment as they can fire both of their weapons when they land. Use this tactic to hit important enemy units before the enemy can react.

Stormtalon Gunship

The Stormtalon is a decent, cheap flying gunship. For a very reasonable price, you get an AV11 flier with a turret mounted twin-linked assault cannon and forward facing twin-linked heavy bolter. The heavy bolters can be switched out for a skyhammer missile launcher (essentially a 3 shot autocannon), a twin-linked lascannon, or a typhoon missile launcher. All of these will help the Stormtalon kill enemy vehicles, including fliers, and are appropriately priced for the damage they do. The Stormtalon can choose to escort another unit, coming in from reserve on the same roll, and has Strafing Run, making it BS5 against ground targets. Sadly, it no longer grants Pinning.

While all of the weapon upgrades are reasonably priced, I tend to avoid the more expensive upgrades. Because these weapons are forward facing, it is difficult to line up targets for them beyond the first turn or two after the Stormtalon arrives. In later turns, I often find myself relying on the assault cannon, simply because it can fire in any direction. I usually stick with the useful but relatively cheap skyhammer missiles.

Overall, I really like the Stormtalon. It provides decent anti-air firepower but is still useful against a variety of ground targets. I think the Stormtalon fills an important niche for Space Marines, acting as mobile firepower and flier defense. The Stormraven acts in a similar role, but you can almost get two Stormtalons for the cost of a decked out Stormraven.


  1. 8th edition! wow that was quick :) anyway great review its just a shame really about assault marines so cool and yet not worth it feel the same with raptors the stormtalon is really good though as it can specialise in whatever you need and do well at it

  2. I'm a big fan of the Stormtalon as well, probably the most cost effective flyer currently. Love the fact that you painted the cockpit and left the canopy clear rather than cheesing out with making it opaque as I see so many people do.

  3. I fixed that edition typo. Looks like I've been reading too much Fantasy lately.

    Thanks! I always paint the interior of my cockpits. I think it started with my Eldar grav-tanks. It is extra work, but I think it makes the model look far more realistic (for lack of a better word). The painted over cockpit reminds me of something from a GI Joe toy.

  4. Great review! I agree on the jump packs. Only worth it in Raven Guard. And if they let you use FW, Korvydae is a must, making them troops, and granting H&R.
    Btw you can get 2 flamers or 2 plasma pistols with only 5 guys. I always do it. 2 flamers in a pod, very cheap unit, great for clearing objectives held by cultists, gretchins, etc
    Keep it up!

  5. I could have sworn that you only got one flamer or plasma per 5 Assault Marines, but it turns out that's only for the Blood Angels. Thanks for catching that! I'll correct it in the post.


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