Friday, May 13, 2016

Angels of Death: Sternhammer Strike Force

With the release of Angels of Death, Space Marines have some new options to play with. I already reviewed all of the Formations it contains here and here, except for the Skyhammer Annihilation Force. I may eventually get to writing about that specifically, but I think at this point everyone knows that it's a strong Formation. I've also already covered the Raven Guard and White Scar rules and Strike Forces, which are the same as in Kauyon.

That leaves me with the new rules for Imperial Fists, Iron Hands, and Salamanders to write about, as well as the new Anvil Strike Force. No prizes for guessing which one I'll write about first.

Sternhammer Strike Force

The Sternhammer Strike Force is restricted to the Imperial Fists and their successors, and its Command Benefits are very fitting. Dorn's Legacy grants all members of the Detachment Stubborn as long as the Warlord from this Detachment is alive, while Superior Bolter Drill allows your models to re-roll all misses with bolter weapons, rather than just 1's. Finally, Demolition Expertise allows models in the Detachment to add 1 to any armor penetration rolls against buildings.

The Sternhammer Strike Force is composed of 1+ Core choice, and 1-10 Auxiliary and 0-1 Command choices per core choice. This is a lot more restrictive of Command choices than the other Detachments, meaning that most Sternhammer Strike Forces will only have a single Command choice.

Your core can either be a Battle Demi-Company or a Centurion Siegebreaker Cohort. We all know the Demi-Company as a great way to bring a lot of Objective Secured Marines, and I expect most people to play with it. However, I think the Siegebreaker Cohort is worth thinking about. While Assault Centurions aren't a very popular choice, this Formation has a minimum cost of 465. This is a really cheap way to unlock all of your Auxiliary Formations, and gives you a bunch of tough, if slow, models. If you're one of those Marine players that don't like Tactical squads, this is the choice for you.

The Sternhammer has the standard Command choices of Strike Force Command (a Captain, including Lysander, or Chaplain, and the option for Command Squad and Honor Guard), a Reclusiam Command Squad, or a Librarius Conclave. This is where I've had the most problems building the list. You get a Captain or Chaplain with the Demi-Company, and you can take another with Strike Force Command or add in a Librarius Conclave, but you can't have all 3. This reminds me of the 2 HQ choices available in a CAD, which is a bit jarring since other compound Detachments don't have this limitation. It's not really bad, but you'll have to pick and choose your HQ choices carefully.

The Auxiliary choices are where the Sternhammer really shines. It has access to the Armored, 1st Company, and 10th Company Task Forces, as well as the Storm Wing, Anti-Air Defense Force, Suppression Force, and Land Raider Spearhead, just like the Gladius. The 1st Company Task Force is particularly interesting because Sternguard will be terrifying with re-rolls to hit on all of their bolter shots, and even Terminators get a bit of a boost from this.

In addition, the Sternhammer has access to the Skyhammer Orbital Strike Force and the Skyhammer Annihilation Force, allowing your army to be a lot more aggressive. Both of these Formations drop right into the enemy's face and have some excellent Command Benefits. The Raptor Wing gives you access to a pair of ultra reliable Stormtalons without having to pay for a Stormraven. I know I'll be taking the Raptor Wing very often.

Finally, you can add single Devastator squads, Assault Centurion or Devastator Centurion squads, Vindicator squadrons, Thunderfire Cannons, Ironclad Dreadnoughts, or Contemptor Dreadnoughts. This fixes a lot of problems I have with the Gladius Strike Force, where it is extremely difficult to add extra Devastators or Centurions to your army, and very expensive to include even a single Thunderfire Cannon. None of the choices are bad, and the option to add single units to the Detachment really opens the Sternhammer Strike Force up to customization, much moreso than any of the other Space Marine Strike Forces.

Warlord Traits

Imperial Fist Warlords can choose to roll on a specific Warlord table, in addition to those in Codex: Space Marines and in the Main Rulebook.

Siege Lord allows your Warlord and his unit to add 1 to results on the Building Damage Table. This is very powerful if you're attacking a building, but I don't see many buildings on tables around here.

Tenacious Opponent grants your Warlord It Will Not Die. This is great because we tend to have very tough characters as Warlords; if he's not killed outright, he's got a chance to regain some wounds.

Wise Commander allows you to add or subtract 1 from your Reserve Rolls. Any reserve manipulation is extremely useful, and this is more flexible than most.

Indomitable means your Warlord and his unit gain Fearless and Counter-attack if they don't move in their movement phase. This is a really static benefit, and won't be useful with any aggressive Warlords. I don't think I'd ever use this one even if I rolled it.

Architect of War allows you to reduce damage rolls against any building that your Warlord is in by 1. Again, this requires your Warlord to sit still and probably not affect the battle very much. Also, you have to include a building in your army list if you want to take any advantage of it, which is not possible with a Sternhammer Strike Force.

Fleet Commander allows the Warlord to fire a single Orbital Strike, just like a Chapter Master. This can be tremendously powerful if you can actually hit something, but mine never seem to.

Overall, I'd rather roll on the standard Space Marine Warlord table. These traits are very defensive, and I like my Warlord to be mixing it up with the enemy. In addition, 2 of the traits are related to buildings, which seem to be rarely taken. Tenacious Opponent and Wise Commander are both excellent, but that's only 2 rolls out of 6.

Relics of Phalanx

In addition to the Space Marine Relics, Imperial Fists and their Successors can take Relics of Phalanx.

The Angel of Sacrifice is a cheap relic Crozius Arcanum that can be given to a Chaplain. It has all the normal rules, but also allows the Chaplain to strike normally in the round of combat in which he's killed, even if he's killed before his initiative step. This isn't bad, as Chaplains hit pretty hard but aren't very durable, and it's quite cheap.

The Banner of Staganda  is a Company Standard that gives the bearer Counter-attack and Crusader. In this case, you're really after Crusader because Counter-attack doesn't confer to the unit. At only 10 points more expensive than a Company Standard, it's worth considering if you're taking a standard on an assault oriented Command Squad.

The Bones of Osrak is the stand-out relic for the Imperial Fists. It allows a Librarian to generate an extra Warp Charge as well as re-roll all failed Psychic Tests. This makes a single Librarian far more reliable, and is great in combination with a Librarius Conclave.

The Eye of Hypnoth is a more expensive Auspex with an 18" range. In addition, it can target a building and reduce its armor value by 1 until the end of the phase. Again, it's useful if you see a lot of buildings. Otherwise, it might be worth it for the longer range.

The Spartean is a Master-crafted, Ignores Cover bolt pistol. It's really cheap but not likely to do much. I'm planning on taking it just to be obnoxious and try and put some opportunistic wounds on models that rely on cover saves.

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