Friday, June 24, 2016

Angels of Death: Flameblade Strike Force

Do you love fire? Of course you do! Then the Flameblade Strike Force is for you. It can be taken by Salamanders and their successors (both of them), and accentuates both their affinity for fire and their personal independence. Even more exciting, the Salamanders' rules are the only rules in Angels of Death that aren't a rehash of an older set of rules.

The Flameblade Strike Force brings three command benefits with it. Vulkan's Teachings grant a Warlord from this detachment an extra Warlord Trait chosen from the Personal Traits table. While the Personal Traits table isn't generally considered to be the strongest as it only benefits your Warlord rather than the rest of your army, it can give your Warlord some great benefits such as Feel No Pain and It Will Not Die.  

Scorched Earth adds +1 Strength to any flamer used by a Salamander model in the Detachment. Combined with the re-roll to wound from the Salamanders Chapter Tactic, this makes all of their flamers quite formidable. Even a standard flamer wielded by a Salamander is better than a heavy flamer in every other army. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that these rules benefit the flamestorm cannons on a Land Raider Redeemer, as it lacks Chapter Tactics.

Finally, Not One Step Back allows a Salamanders unit to become Fearless until your next movement phase by remaining stationary in the movement phase. This has some downsides, as it prevents the unit from going to ground, but it means that your units are incredibly reliable objective holders. Once they get in position, the enemy will have to kill them all to shift them. It's also a great rule for Devastators, as you can keep them in the backfield without having to worry that a bad Leadership test will run them off the table.

The Flameblade Strike Force has a relatively flexible make up, being constructed of 1-2 Core Formations, 1+ Auxiliary Formation, and 0-3 Command Formations. The Core choices can be either a Battle Demi-Company or a Stormlance Battle Demi-Company. Once again, the Stormlance seems like a strange choice for Salamanders; the Salamanders' implacable way of war hardly fits with the quick-footed benefits of the Stormlance. However, I can hardly say that I wouldn't want to play it. Being able to disembark, hit the enemy with a full squad's firepower (including some excellent flamers), and then get back into the transport sounds incredibly frustrating for the enemy. While it could be argued that the special weapons are the most important weapons in most squads and you can fire them out of the top hatch of a Rhino so you don't need to disembark, this is missing out on a lot of flexibility. The Rhino can only move 6' before the embarked troops need to snap fire, so disembarking really extends your range. This is incredibly important for flamers, as model placement is huge for determining how many hits your flamer gets. You probably won't want to disembark the full 6" as this would make it more difficult to get back into your transport, but disembarking your  squad completely within 4" of the access point guarantees that you can re-embark.

The Flameblade Strike Force has the standard Command choices of Strike Force Command, Reclusiam Command Squad, and Librarius Conclave. For Auxiliary Choices, it has the Codex: Space Marine choices of the Armored, 1st Company, and 10th Company Task Forces, Storm Wing, Anti-Air Defense Force, Suppression Force, Centurion Siegebreaker Cohort, Land Raider Spearhead, and Strike Force Ultra. It also has access to several Formations from Angels of Death. The Raptor Wing provides extremely reliable air support for a very reasonable price, while the Stormbringer Squadron allows you to take several cheap and mobile Objective Secured Scout squads. This seems a little odd to an older player like me, as the Salamanders had limited ability to use Land Speeders in their first two sets of rules. However, I think GW is moving away from that background, and it makes sense that a First Founding Chapter would be able to field whatever they want within the standard Astartes arsenal. The Ravenhawk Assault Group allows you to bring a lot of firepower to bear against an important enemy unit. Finally, you can add as many Land Raider Redeemers as you want to the Strike Force. This is certainly fluffy, but it's too expensive to much flexibility to your list.

The Flameblade Strike Force will be all about getting your army into your opponent's face and hitting them with a ton of reliable special weapons fire. You'll almost certainly take Vulkan He'stan to master-craft your melta weapons. Overall, it will play just like any other Salamanders army, only moreso.

Warlord Traits

Anvil of Strength adds 1 to your Warlord's strength, which is great for any of the close-combat Warlord characters but won't do much for a Librarian.

Lord of Fire gives your Warlord Feel No Pain (2+) against flamer weapons. This really won't come up often, but it would be hilarious if you are in the position to tank a bunch of flamer wounds on your Warlord.

Patient and Determined allows you to add 3 to the die roll to determine if the game ends. Since the game continues on a 3+ on turn 5 and a 4+ on turn 6, this essentially allows you to say the game will not end if you don't want it to, as even a roll of 1 will pass with a +3 modifier. This gives you a tremendous amount of control, meaning that you can always force the game to go for an extra turn or 2 if you're behind and need time to catch up. I really like this one.

Miraculous Constitution gives your Warlord It Will Not Die. Nice and straightforward.

Forge Master allows your Warlord to re-roll all misses with a master-crafted weapon, not just one. Since Salamanders automatically get one piece of master-crafted wargear and several of their relics are also master-crafted, this could result in a character with re-rolls in both shooting and assault. It's pretty good but you'd  have to build with it in mind.

Never Give Up gives your Warlord and any Salamanders unit within 12" Stubborn and the ability to re-roll failed Leadership tests. The chances of failing a test are so low at this point that this is essentially Fearless with the ability to Go to Ground.

Relics of Nocturne

Drake-smiter is the relic that all the other Chapters are jealous of. It's a master-crafted thunder hammer that allows you to exchange your normal attacks for a single Strength D attack. Since Space Marines have very little access to D and master-crafted increases the reliability of the single attack, this is really appealing despite the somewhat high cost. It allows you to make a character that can not only demolish other enemy characters but also threaten super-heavies and gargantuan creatures.

Nocturne's Fury can be taken by any model with access to special weapons. It's an AP4 flamer that can also be fired as a Heavy 1 Torrent weapon. Combine this with the bonuses for Salamander Chapter Tactics and the Flameblade Strike Force and you have an amazing area denial weapon. Get a squad with Nocturne's Fury into the middle of the board and your opponent will have to think twice before sending any infantry into the area.

The Salamander's Mantle is a throwback to Codex: Armageddon, granting your character Eternal Warrior. This is an awesome rule for a close-combat character, and allows you more flexibility in armament than the Shield Eternal. It's also a bit cheaper, even when taken in combination with a Storm Shield. Finally, it brings Salamanders into the ranks of Chapters that can field two Eternal Warrior characters in the same army, along with the Imperial Fists and Ultramarines.

The Tome of Vel'cona gives a Librarian the Molten Beam power in addition to their normal powers, and adds 1 to the Strength of all Pyromancy witchfires that he casts. Unfortunately, this is pretty pricey for what it does but it's fluffy as hell.

Vulkan's Sigil is another throwback, this time to Chaplain Xavier, a named character from the 3rd Edition Codex: Space Marines. It can only be taken by a Chaplain, but it allows him and all members of his squad to make one extra Attack once per game. When paired with a strong assault unit such as Assault Terminators, Vanguard Veterans, or Honor Guard, this could really tip a combat into your favor.

The Wrath of Prometheus is a bolter that thinks it's a heavy bolter. With 30" range, S5, AP4, master-crafted, and Rending, it's surprisingly nasty against a variety of targets. While relic bolters tend not to be very popular, Wrath of Prometheus might actually bring enough killing power to be worth it's modest points cost.

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