40k: Stompin’ Time—Notes on Knights

This past weekend a good-sized crew from PAGE went out to the NOVA Open. I pretty much got my face punched in throughout the Trios and Narrative tracks (reports here & here), but I learned a lot and had a great time. Even in those but especially walking around the Invitational and GT you couldn’t help but notice the multitudes of Knights: Imperial Knights, Wraithknights, Rip-knights… Gorgeous models, under-costed points, for once GW figured out how to really sell something everyone will like, as long as it’s on their side of the table. The following are some lessons I’ve learned about fighting and using Imperial Knights.

Your weapons are (all but) useless, puny fleshlings! Charles Craig's sweet Chaos-allied Knight picks a fight with Sgt Titus and his meltagunner friend.

Your weapons are (all but) useless, puny fleshlings! Charles Craig’s sweet Chaos-allied Knight picks a fight with Sgt Titus and his meltagunner friend.

War at Range

Knights have considerable effective shooting range: 36″ on their guns and 12″ movement over clear spaces. Gerantius the Forgotten Knight, a White Dwarf character that should have been in the damn codex (making for a whopping ~4 pages of rules), can additionally run and then shoot. That basically means if you want to shoot at one you’re going to need at least 36″ effective range, ideally 48″ if you want to hit it on turn one while it’s still in its backfield. For the most part that requires a vehicle, able to move and shoot, or missile launchers, which have enough range to sit & shoot. I have a multi-melta on one of my tacticals because I get a re-roll to hit (Vulkan) and it’s useful against Dreadnought Drop Pods coming down on my lines, of which there are still some in my club. The range isn’t enough though to help me fight Knights, which take far too long to walk into range, even assuming they don’t just hang back and blast away. So in the future that MM will be either swapped out for another missile launcher, or start riding down in a Drop Pod with its compadres for early melta snaps and hopeful midfield positioning.

Sir Stomps-A-Lot

Depending on which side of the machine god’s wrath you’re on, stomp attacks are either really useful or more salt in the wound. Of course they’re powerful just for clobbering whatever is currently in close combat with a Knight, particularly if it’s being tarpitted with a gaggle of weak infantry. But they also have a handy ability to reach out and touch enemies.

A stomp attack has you put down D3 blast markers. The first one goes in base-to-base with your Knight, but the others can be up to 3″ from a previously placed marker and don’t have to be placed over an enemy base. That allows you to chain the attack out and hit targets up to just under 15″ away. There are also no line of sight restrictions on placing the blasts, so even large terrain doesn’t provide protection. Nothing came of it, but in one game I was caught off guard when an opponent used that to hit a Landspeeder tucked behind terrain over a foot away, waiting for the combat to end so it could pop out and melta the Knight.

Stomps can also be useful to cause secondary casualties and force a positive combat result. In a different game I used a second and third stomp to pile wounds & then casualties onto a bunch of Blue Horrors nearby but not involved in the combat in any way. Since all unsaved wounds incurred by a side are counted in combat results, that drove the leadership way down for the Instability roll on the Daemon Prince my Knight was actually fighting. In that case it created a bunch more free wounds, but against other armies it’d be a good way to force a morale break on an otherwise stalwart unit.

So, as a Knight player, the stomps let you reach out a bit from combat for some neat tricks. Playing against a Knight, you have to be aware that units could be directly affected by the combat even at a significant distance away.

On the left, a Knight stomps its way through a warehouse and into a poor lonely Landspeeder. On the right, a Knight drives down the leadership of a Daemon Prince by stomping Horrors trying their best to avoid the combat.

On the left, a Knight stomps its way through a warehouse and into a poor lonely Landspeeder. On the right, a Knight drives down the leadership of a Daemon Prince by stomping Horrors trying their best to avoid the combat.

Huddle Up

The large blast, low AP shots rained down by a Knight are a huge problem. Getting models into cover is obviously good, but even better is not being targetable at all. Unfortunately getting and staying out of line of sight can be difficult given how tall the Knight is and how fast it moves over open terrain. However, another way to not get shot at is to huddle up close to enemy models. Blasts generally can’t be placed such that they’ll be over the shooting player’s own models. If it’s not possible to put the marker over your models without touching their own, your unit will be safe from being directly targeted.

Clearly that’s pretty situational, there’s a relatively limited set of circumstances in which you can or want to be that close to the enemy. However, one such situation that comes up fairly often is deep striking units to join an assault. The arriving unit is very exposed, typically having to stand around for a turn and get their bearings before joining the combat. When there’s the potential to be tagged by a Knight or other large blast in the interim, better than ducking into nearby cover is to use the combat itself as a shield. By getting up tight with the enemy models, those models won’t even be targetable by the blasts and will have a much better chance of living through the next round of shooting to make it into the fight.

Drop Podding Vulkan and a powerfist combat squad huddle up tight against a combat for blast protection before being able to assist their Terminator battle brothers.

Drop Podding Vulkan and a powerfist combat squad huddle up tight against a combat for blast protection before being able to assist their Terminator battle brothers.


In my local scene there’s a bunch of meltagun Drop Pods, with their 6″ armor penetration bonus, as well as Screamers of Tzeentch, which have armourbane on their bite attack, so bubblewrapping key vehicles is important. One thing to note is that unlike a normal vehicle, with any reasonable amount of terrain on the board it’s quite a bit easier to bubble wrap a Knight on the move without sacrificing its mobility since it moves as normal infantry—so slow!—through terrain and the base is so big it’s bound to hit some wherever it’s going.

To protect my Knight I’ve been vacillating between cheap Imperial Guard and expensive storm shield Terminators. There’s a clear tradeoff between the two: For ~100 points I can bring enough Guardsmen to wrap completely around the Knight and protect it from all angles, but in a purely sacrificial way. Something else, possibly the Knight itself, needs to step in to actually remove the threat, and quickly so before all the Guard are eaten through. On the other hand, for 225 points a squad of thunder-shields can clobber most assault threats, or at least tarpit on their own for quite some time. That handful of models though has a tough time maintaining an effective wall against mobile threats like Screamers that will just do an end run around it. Which approach is better in general is tough for me to say, but in many tournaments, as at NOVA, restrictions on detachments, allies, or sources may force your hand. Similarly, Come the Apocalypse allies won’t really be able to wrap at all against an alpha strike.

This bubblewrapping successfully protected my Knight against incoming dangerous assaults. Note that the opposing Knight is basically not shielded at all, because it had to deploy 12" from CtA allies.

This bubblewrapping successfully protected my Knight against incoming dangerous assaults. Note that the opposing Knight is not shielded at all, because it had to deploy 12″ from CtA allies.

It worked out ok in the end and the Knight lived on the rest of the game, but this bubblewrapping has failed completely and the Knight should die. Screamers have a ton of ability to just fly over and around low model count walls.

It worked out ok in the end and the Knight lived on the rest of the game, but this bubblewrapping has failed completely and the Knight should die. Screamers have a ton of ability to just fly over and around low model count walls.


Similarly but on the flip side, an important tactic fighting Knights is tarpitting. Every turn it spends stomping expendable troops is a turn it’s not dropping pie plate blasts or mega-chainsword swipes on critical units. In thinking about doing so, it’s easy to overestimate how killy a Knight is in close combat.

Like many big models, with the 7th edition Destroyer weapon table and the Knight’s basic statline, it’s more efficient and effective going after big targets than little ones. Successful D weapon hits put multiple wounds/hull points on models, not units, so they clobber vehicles and monsters but are way overkill and not more effective than a standard powerweapon or monstrous creature against typical infantry. In ongoing combat, a Knight is only going to kill 1.25 MEQs per round with its base attacks (3 attacks, 4s to hit, 2+ to wound at AP2). The effect of the stomp attacks is fairly situational because the hits are determined by blasts and thus dependent on precise positioning. But, if I’m doing my math right, each MEQ has a 65% chance of surviving each hit (2/3 chance of Ker-runch effect times 5/6 chance of wounding at S6 times 1/3 chance of dying on 3+ save plus a 1/6 chance of the Overrun effect is 35% chance of an unsaved wound per stomp blast over a MEQ). Each Marine thus has a 45% chance of surviving a stomp attack (1/3 for 1 blast times .65 plus 1/3 for 2 blasts times .65^2 plus 1/3 for 3 blasts times .65^3). So even if a full combat squad is bunched up to be wholly placed under a blast, it should expect to lose “only” 2.75 guys per round to stomps, and remember that the guy killed by the base attacks can’t be hit by the stomps.

All in all, that’s pretty good for the MEQs! Even a few lowly Tacticals can tarpit and hold up to one of the Martian C’Tan’s warmachines for a bit. They might even do some damage, because their krak grenades and melta bombs if they have them will strike simultaneously with the Knight’s base and stomp attacks respectively. In the photo at the top of the article, those two Tacticals tied up that Knight for several critical rounds of combat, leaving my other forces free to deal with other threats.

Don’t Get Shot!

Against longer range shooting attacks, bubblewrapping and protecting a Knight can be difficult. The model’s just so big that almost no models and only the biggest, purpose-built LOS blocking terrain will give it a cover save. Its ion shield of course will give it a save, but only against one facing. It’s therefore important to try to force incoming shooting into one arc, and to otherwise minimize the damage through range and any available LOS blocks as well as the board edges.

In a recent game against Necrons, I set up my Knight as in the picture below. Without Drop Podding melta or fast assaults to worry about, I placed my Knight aggressively in hopes of moving forward quickly and clearing the central LOS blockers for more shooting options. In actuality though this Knight was dead before my first turn: I got literally caught off guard by having the initiative seized, and then caught off guard again by a Cryptek and Vargard Obyron teleporting ~30 Necron Warriors on top of me in double tap range. The two blobs went into two separate arcs, rendering my ion shield applicable to just one. Either way though, no Knight’s going to stand up long against 60 gauss weapon shots and it promptly exploded.

The game begins, and I've already made horrible mistakes!

The game begins, and I’ve already made horrible mistakes!

Jeremy Chamblee's Necrons are about to take this Knight down, and how.

Jeremy Chamblee’s Necrons are about to take this Knight down, and how.

What I probably should have done is set the Knight hard into a corner with just its front facing exposed, enabling the ion shield to protect the whole exposed area. Further, I should have used various units to build a wider diameter bubblewrap around the Knight, leveraging the two board edges in the corner to minimize the models needed. I’m so used to protecting against melta Pods and assaults that I was thinking there was little I could do about longer range gauss shooting. In reality though, I could have forced them to teleport in beyond double tap range, literally halving the number of shots the Knight would have to survive.

Notable there is that with melta Pods I worry about bubblewrapping a 6″ radius with a tight cordon so dudes can’t work their way into bonus range on disembarking. Against double tapping gauss or other weapons the bubble has to be much wider, pushing them out beyond twelve inches. Making that easier though, the wrap doesn’t have to be as tight. Individual shots sneaking through aren’t as lethal as melta, and a large blob like these tens of Warriors will have a large deep strike mishap footprint that stands a good chance of hitting a loose curtain wall if they’re dropped aggressively or scatter badly.

Pincer Attack

Conversely from the defender wanting to force all shooting onto one ion shielded facing, I think the most important tactic in going after an Imperial Knight is being able to hit more than one facing at once. This seems to be overlooked by many/most tacticas and maybe overlooked by many people but is fairly easy to apply, at least in theory.

The Knight’s ion shield confers a 4+ save, 3+ if it’s a Seneschal or Gerantius, and a re-rollable one if deployed in the Adamantium Lance formation. It’s limited to one facing though, chosen at the start of shooting. The best way to leverage that limitation and mitigate a key part of the Knight’s defense is simply to hit multiple facings at once, ideally with a roughly equal spread of power, leaving it able to shield only a portion of the attacks. This is going to be more effective than a mere large number of shots alone.

My lonely Knight is taken down yet again, this time by Joe Johnson's gorgeous army of Knights+Eldar buddies.

My lonely Knight is taken down yet again, this time by Joe Johnson’s gorgeous army of Knights+Eldar buddies.

To do so, the attackers need multiple units capable of hurting the Knight, and the mobility to get them into multiple arcs. Flyers and skimmers are a good option for this as they can’t be blocked as easily from getting into position by terrain and other units. To me, Crimson Hunters seem particularly ideal as the Knight can’t shoot back at them effectively at all, mitigating their AV10 weakness, and their Vector Dancer USR enables them to loiter around a battlefield longer and deliver shots on target much better than most flyers.

For the ground pounding Drop Pod set, hitting multiple arcs realistically means either multiple Pods or two combat squads coming out of a single Pod bearing roughly equal amounts of vehicle killing power, presumably melta. The combat squads are cheaper in points, take up less FOC slots, and in many cases are easier to deliver onto target. Multiple Pods though give flexibility if there for once isn’t a Knight or other single major target to pile up on, as well as potentially being able to constrain future movement of the target and create some cover for your own guys. Either way, the key thing is moving those guys into more than one arc on the drop.

Kingbreakers Marines attacking from all angles.

Kingbreakers Marines attacking from all angles.


Finally, to that note, facing is not a completely straightforward issue. The Imperial Knight has a fairly complex model & shape, and many get posed with the base, legs, and torso all at different angles, all of which can lead to different interpretations and intuitive takes on what is actually part of the hull, what is not, and how to determine facing angles.

In the picture below, Sternguard with a couple combi-meltas have dropped from the skies to destroy the traitor Knight. They’ve disembarked as far as they can. I looked at that quickly and my intuitive read was that they were in the Knight’s rear facing. My opponent just as quickly thought they were on the side armor but wasn’t completely confident. It was kind of a big deal, I had two other melta shots coming in from the right side out of picture so I really wanted these guys on the rear armor and there was a good chance to do a lot of damage (Vulkan giving me re-rolls on to-hits for meltas). It wasn’t worth a big thing though and we could each see the other’s view so we just rolled for the couple on which he was in doubt to decide their quadrant; they wound up on the side armor and both units got ion shielded.

Combi-melta Sternguard disembark as hard as they can toward the rear armor of their target.

Combi-melta Sternguard disembark as hard as they can toward the rear armor of their target.

Looking at it more closely from that photo, I’d also now lean toward side armor but there’s definitely some gray area. In the annotated picture below, yellow is the hull bounding box and associated facing line if you include the Knight’s shoulders. Previously this was roughly my intuitive approximate take on facing for Knights. The pink line is the facing divider from the leftmost to the rightmost corners of just the main body. The green line goes from the leftmost corner of the main body to the angled corner of the main body behind the smoke stacks. I didn’t have time to ask, but assume my opponent’s interpretation was something like those two. The blue line goes from the leftmost to the bottommost point in that corner of the main body. Finally, the red is the bounding box and associated divider of the main body. There’s quite a difference among all those slight variations!

Various hull bounding boxes & extremal points and the dividing lines they entail for facing.

Various hull bounding boxes & extremal points and the dividing lines they entail for facing.

So, there’s a couple questions here: Do you use the bounding box for vehicle facing, or a specific point on the hull body? My impression is that almost everyone uses some sort of intuitive bounding box for rounded vehicles like Wave Serpents. With the boxy but not quite regular shape of the Knight’s main body though, a lot of people might be using a specific point on there. The follow-up is then, of course, are the shoulders considered part of the hull? What if someone has assembled their model without the shoulder covers? I was pretty close to doing that with mine just to get a different, more mechanical look. There’s probably a variety of opinions on including the shoulders. From my end, I’ll only say that everyone is more than happy to tag the sponson wings on my Predators as part of the hull when shooting at them, and ditto the shoulders of my Knight. I would guess though many Knight owners getting shot at would not consider the shoulder covers as part of the hull, and/or aren’t including them in determining facing, making the front and rear arcs much more narrow than they otherwise would be.

I don’t (yet) have a strongly held take on what should be the correct arc lines. More important though than the actual “correct” answers to those questions is nailing down with your opponent the answers that will be in play for a given match before beginning a game and finding yourselves with different interpretations at a clutch moment. From now on I’m definitely going to include them in my ever-growing list of topics I try to remember to discuss with new opponents before matches.


All in all, the Imperial Knight’s an interesting model/unit. It’s almost certainly under-costed in points but I can’t quite decide what point value I think it should be. In particular, it’s very robust but you can’t just throw it out there willy-nilly either. A large variety of units and attacks can make it pop quite quickly. Similarly, it can do a ton of damage in both shooting and assault, but is also prone to being tarpitted or held up in terrain and not actually delivering much. One thing’s for sure though, there’s bound to be a ton of them on tabletops for the foreseeable future, so please share your attack and defense ideas in the comments!

Nothing can stop us! No, seriously, nothing.

Nothing can stop us! No, seriously, nothing.

40k: 7th Shooting—The Bane of Vulkan

40k-7th-coverAs most have no doubt heard already even if they haven’t yet gotten their own rulebook or given it a play, shooting in 7th edition 40k has been updated. The changes aren’t earth shattering, especially in casual play, but they are worth taking note. For example, Focus Fire is gone, so you can no longer specifically target just models outside of cover and pile more wounds onto them. Although that was useful and a good tactic, I don’t see its removal as a terrible loss. I doubt most players, particularly outside competitive play, had ever even used it much.

What I want to discuss briefly is the change to the order in which weapons fire. It also is neither a huge change nor one I consider negative, but it does have consequences on how you shoot, and depending on how you look at it either reduces the effectiveness or changes the tactics for some weapons loadouts.

If you spot any needed corrections to my understanding or have thoughts on the handful of open questions, please share them in the comments below!

Sixth Edition

Previously, all weapons fired simultaneously. All rolls to hit and wound for pistols, flamers, boltguns, etc., were conceptually all done at the same time. This could lead to some funny effects that weren’t game breaking, particularly as they generally only came up infrequently, but definitely weird if you even noticed it.

For example, suppose I have a couple Ultramarine Tacticals with a meltagun staring down some Chaos Marines and their buddy Abaddon, as in the figure below. All of the Ultramarines are within 12″ of one Chaos Marine. Another traitor and Abaddon are not. Clearly, the two boltgunners can double tap for 2 shots on the first guy, and the meltagunner is also in range to shoot. Somewhat weirdly though not obviously so, by the 6th edition’s “Out of Range” rules (pg 16), I could apply all of those boltgun shots to all the enemy models even though I got 2 extra shots for the one guy alone being in half range (12″). Really weirdly if you stop to think about it, by those rules I could also use the boltgun shots to take out the two Chaos Marines and then apply the meltagun shot to Abaddon, much better for me, even though he is completely out of range for that weapon.

Abaddon takes an impossible melta shot to the face.

Abaddon takes an impossible melta shot to the face.

Similarly, suppose I have two Tacticals with boltguns and one with a flamer facing off against Hormagaunts coming out of some ruins as below. I’d like to apply the flamer wounds to the guys in the back to negate their cover save. By those same “Out of Range” rules in 6th edition, I could do that even though the template doesn’t reach them. Everything shoots at once, and say everything hits and wounds (quite conceivable). I allocate the bolter wounds first and the front three Hormies are dead, maybe one guy in the back makes his cover save on the remaining bolter shot. I then apply the flamer wounds and the back guys are denied cover and die.

A gout of flame magically leaps into the nearest ruin.

A gout of flame magically leaps into the nearest ruin.

Seventh Edition

Relatively minor as they were in the overall scheme of 40k weirdness, seventh edition eliminates those oddities. Now, you activate a unit to shoot with and nominate a particular weapon class, e.g., boltgun or flamer, further defined below. All of the weapons of that class in the unit may fire, and all of the hits, wounds, and casualty removal for those shots is resolved simultaneously before nominating and resolving another weapon class. Players can still elect to not shoot with particular models for any given weapon class, but cannot go back to that weapon class to shoot with them later in the order. Models still of course cannot fire more than one weapon in a shooting phase unless they’re specifically permitted to do so, e.g., vehicles, Techmarines with a Servo-Harness, some characters.

Most importantly: It’s implied by the new ordered shooting, but the revised “Out of Range” rules (page 35) then make very clear that enemy models cannot be removed if they’re not in range of the models and weapon class currently firing. In the above examples, that means I need to nominate the meltagun and flamer before the boltguns or risk wasting the special weapons. Firing the boltguns first might remove potential casualties within the special weapons’ lesser range, while the boltguns could have shot models in the rear even with those in front removed.

Apply with care!

Apply with care!

Notably, weapon class is determined by the combination of name, ammo, and mode. So, bolt pistols and boltguns are different weapons even though they both fire bolter shells with the same damage stats. Ammunition is also clear; Sternguard firing their Dragonfire bolts (24″ range, ignores cover) shoot at a different order step than Sternguard firing Vengeance rounds (18″ range, AP3, Gets Hot).

Unfortunately, I don’t believe a formal definition of weapon mode is given in the rules. Perhaps not totally obviously, it all but certainly means differentiating between rapid fire weapons double tapping at half range versus shooting single shots at full range. Salvo weapons firing stationary versus moving are a more intuitive example of different modes. Importantly, the rules explicitly state that the maximum range for a weapon is applied regardless of the mode used. In the topmost example above, if the boltguns fire first, rapid fire due to an enemy being in 12″, and produce four wounds, all four would be applied even if that single model within half range to double tap is removed. The rules justify this as the shots flying on and getting lucky. Sounds reasonable to me, and makes sense in terms of a small practical convenience and not diminishing those weapons.

Similarly to not defining weapon modes, I don’t believe the rules explicitly state whether mastercrafted and twin-linked weapons fire at different times from the regular weapon. Given the focus on ordering weapons by “different names,” they all but certainly do when purchased as entries with those adjectives in the army list. More tricky is whether or not they count as different names when purchased the same but upgraded through some other mechanism. For example, is a Salamanders Sergeant’s boltgun that has been mastercrafted via their chapter traits different from the other boltguns in his squad? I would have to assume so given that you would have to roll different dice for those weapons anyway.

Fortunately, the rules do make clear that combi-weapons fire at the same time as whichever component you are choosing to fire, e.g., boltgun or meltagun.

Flame Away!

Given those rules, there are a few new tactical considerations, the most obvious ones revolving around range, templates, and blasts.

For example, units with different classes of flamers now need to be maneuvered with more care and in different fashion than before. The figure below shows one of my favorite setups and tactics: Vulkan and some Tactical buddies leap out of a Drop Pod to double flame a blob of baddies in a column. Unfortunately for me, either Vulkan or the flamer now has to resolve shooting first. In the arrangement below, that’s going to completely remove all the enemies in template range, wasting the other flamer. Previously the Salamanders here would almost certainly eliminate the entire blob (16 Hormagaunts versus 14 definite flamer kills and 9 remaining bolt shots: 2/9 hits+wounds needed to eliminate). Now they’ll severely cripple but almost certainly not completely remove the Tyranids (16 Hormagaunts versus 7 definite flamer kills and 9 remaining bolt shots: 9/9 hits+wounds needed to eliminate).

Fire does not mix with fire!

Fire does not mix with fire!

At first I was thinking this made mixed-flamer teams inefficient, and it does in some precise configurations like this one. But really I’ll just have to think more about how I deploy and move them. For example, looking at that blob, I need to put higher priority than before on landing and moving to the right, top, or bottom of it, so that both flamers will have at least some targets even after casualty removal. This consideration applies for some other units as well. Presumably Vulkan’s Gauntlet is not a heavy flamer in terms of having different names for shooting ordering, even though his entry says “The Gauntlet … is a heavy flamer.” So I have this same issue even if he comes down with heavy flamer toting Sternguard. Somewhat more difficult to accommodate given the practicalities of Drop Pods, movement, and terrain would be a Sternguard squad wielding a mix of heavy flamers and combi-flamers. In my experience the heavies would frequently render the combi-flamers useless. Another unit with the same new challenge is a Blood Angels Dreadnought equipped with a heavy flamer and twin linked heavy flamer.


Generalizing from that, these changes to shooting aren’t huge but do require additional care. Right now I’m working on developing my rules of thumb for ordering shots in common situations. At the top level it’s pretty clear that should generally follow increasing range with exceptions to maximize templates, blasts, and rapid fire/single shot flexibility, something like:

  1. ~9″ Templates
  2. 8″ Grenades
  3. 12″ Pistols
  4. 12″ Rapid Fire
  5. 24″
  6. 36″
  7. 48″

For my Marines the details of those rules of thumb, largely for Tacticals, so far are:

  1. Heavy flamers
  2. Flamers
  3. Combi-flamers (save for last of flamers in case they’d be useless to pop)
  4. Frag grenade (after the flamers as the former are generally more likely to wound, particularly for Salamanders) or krak grenade (not actually sure if it doesn’t make sense to put this first, before flamers, given the limited range)
  5. Meltaguns
  6. Plasma pistols (after meltaguns to avoid gets hot if not needed)
  7. Bolt pistols (after meltaguns and plasma pistols if potentially assaulting to delay decisions (see below); otherwise, before plasma pistols)
  8. Frag missiles (fired here to maximize models under the blast, moved after rapid firing if there’s a bunch of enemies outside 12″ range, and again to after single-shots if there are clusters beyond 24″ range)
  9. Plasma cannons (fired here to maximize models under the blast, moved after rapid firing if there’s a bunch of enemies outside 12″ range, and again to after single-shots if there are clusters beyond 24″ range)
  10. Rapid-firing boltguns
  11. Rapid-firing plasmaguns (after boltguns to avoid gets hot if not needed)
  12. Storm bolters (moved before bolt pistols if potentially assaulting)
  13. Multi-meltas
  14. Single-shot boltguns
  15. Single-shot plasmaguns (after boltguns to avoid gets hot if not needed)
  16. Heavy bolters
  17. Krak missiles
  18. Lascannons

I don’t care who shoots first, just shoot, shoot!

Obviously actual circumstances would dictate changes to the ordering, e.g., moving meltaguns up or down depending on where the toughest armor is in the opposing unit. Some orderings also don’t matter, like multi-meltas versus single-shot boltguns or krak missiles versus lascannons. But that’s the kind of general priorities I’m trying to get into my head.

One interesting note is that the order isn’t declared in advance. That’s helpful if you’re looking at potentially assaulting a unit. Again thinking mostly about Marines, if you have some flamers, a special pistol on your sergeant, meltaguns, and/or use a grenade, you could shoot at a unit a bit before making a decision about whether or not to use bolt pistols with the bulk of your squad so you can assault, or use rapid firing boltguns to try and finish it off in shooting instead if it’s been severely diminished. Similarly, the ordered shooting allows you to have a bit more information before you have to decide whether or not to shoot with every model or weapon in cases where that might risk putting the target out of realistic assault range.


Other than probably needing some tweaks to army construction and potentially but not necessarily a few of the psychic powers, I’m pretty optimistic about seventh edition. I don’t think there are many new things that will slow down the game more once people are used to them, including this new shooting algorithm as well as the psychic phase. Several of the changes, like the vehicles updates, have actually brought more balance to the game, while others like this revised shooting have fixed some oddities. My early thoughts are it should be a really good era of 40k once tournaments figure out what they need to tweak.

Bring it.

Bring it.

40k 6e Space Marines: Supports

spacemarines-6e-codexHaving played a few more games and studied the book a bit more, I have a couple more thoughts on the new 40k 6e Space Marines codex.  Previously I had some notes on Core Dudes, Librarians, and Vulkan.  Up now are some supporting units, specifically Vindicators, Whirlwinds, Thunderfire Cannons, and Landspeeders.


These have not changed except for dropping 10 points.  The Vindicator is obviously useful when it gets good shooting opportunities, but it’s always seemed handicapped to me by the low position and fixed mount of its cannon.  Combine that with the short range and it just spends too much time blocked by terrain.  I always get the feeling that it was a more commanding unit in earlier ages of 40k when there was generally a lot less terrain, universally less mobility, and a lot more of two gunlines just shooting at each other and slowly advancing forward.  Vindicators might be attractive again with how much faster vehicles got in 6e, but I’m not super sold on that yet.  Between the range and fixed angle there’s still too much need to be right up in your enemy’s face.


I love the Whirlwind model and have always wanted to get and field some, but could never justify the cash or points.  The single-shot blast template made it not particularly reliable at hitting anything, the weaponry isn’t particularly killy to counter that unreliability, and its not particularly survivable at a standard Rhino chassis AV 11/11/10.  Sixth edition Marines though makes it pretty attractive to my eyes though.  The big change is a switch to large blast templates, which means it could really deliver some death to weaker infantry and is much more likely to at least hit MEQs.  It also dropped from 85 to 65 points, making it much more attractive for how likely it is to get popped.  Now I can definitely see putting a Whirlwind or two in the backfield pinging away, and look forward to acquiring some over time.

Thunderfire Cannon

First off, it has to be said that the Thunderfire is a really really terrible model.  It looks ok, but it’s not cheap and every piece is really warped, impossible to fix as it’s a metal model.  It’s shockingly difficult for such a simple model to get it to all stick together.  It would be really nice if it were redone in plastic.

That aside, I liked the Thunderfire in 5e as a game unit and found it pretty useful.  You set it up on top of a piece of terrain with a clear line of fire and just shoot away.  It wasn’t terribly survivable if anything got a shot at it with 5e’s AV 10/one-shot-kill artillery rules, but with 60″ range you could set it far enough back that it could last for a while provided you could keep outflankers at bay.  The Techmarine himself is also useful even after the gun dies, with the Servo Harness and Artificier Armour giving him reasonable street creed at both near-range shooting and close combat.  The ability to buff cover saves from any piece of terrain can also be a big boost against some opponents.

The Thunderfire correctly realizes it would be more useful shelling the boardgamers in the corner than the oncoming IG horde...

The Thunderfire correctly realizes it would be more useful shelling the boardgamers in the corner than the oncoming IG horde…

Sixth edition makes the Thunderfire even better.  Same points and shots but the new codex gave it barrage—awesome!  Now you can really set it out of the way and/or hit anything on the table, even dudes cowering behind high terrain.  With four shots a lucky series of hits can really land a lot of hits on a target, and stands a good chance to hit something even with reasonable scatter on the first shot.  Perhaps more importantly, the revised 6e artillery rules make it a T7 W2 3+ model.  That’s actually really survivable and a huge buff to the unit even before the new codex hit.  I’ve been rolling this a fair bit in recent games, and it’s been doing really well.

The one thing I would have liked to see from this unit is the ability to field squadrons of them.  It just seems like it’d be a natural for that kind of deployment, and it’d be really handy to be able to organize three into a single FOC slot for larger games.  Personally I would work it so that a single Techmarine could shoot or move any or all of them provided they were each in standard unit coherency—he’s controlling them all as networked slaves or something like that.  Multiple Techmarines would make it fairly expensive points-wise.


I love me some Landspeeders and almost always field two or three in every size of game.  In 5e these were immensely valuable for flaming infantry, melta-gunning vehicles, and swooping in to deny objectives.  It’s worth noting though that they’re better at lower point value games.  The more points in play the more bad guys there are standing around with nothing better to do but take a potshot or two at a ‘Speeder, and even a Bolter can take it down.  At lower points there are fewer enemy units just standing around with no higher priority target, and the tactical flexibility of high mobility, Flamer, and Multi-Melta is very valuable with fewer units in your own force.  They are also much stronger at objectives-based missions than kill points.

The new codex changes their basic stats just slightly, namely that Typhoon Missile Launchers and Assault Cannon options got quite a bit cheaper.  That’s interesting as it’s definitely a valid, popular, standoffish way to run them.  I always roll the Heavy Flamer and Multi-Melta though to capitalize on the buffs from Vulkan and the Salamanders’ traits.

The 6e core rules however change the ‘Speeder in significant and complex ways.

First off, Jink for Fast Skimmers is a substantial buff to the survivability of the unit.  You just need to remember to always move; sometimes I’ve forgotten as I had spent a fair amount of time trying to coach myself to sit back and use the full range of the Multi-Melta, and thus didn’t have to always move.  The new Fast rules are also helpful, really letting the thing fly all over the board.  More shooting with a 12″ move, and the ability to cover a ridiculous 30″.  The latter is actually a notable improvement beyond just the raw movement.  The increased speed makes it even easier to fly on from Reserves rather than Deep Striking into an unfortunate, exposed position, or deploying on the table and risking first turn shooting.

Oooh yeah.

Oooh yeah.

In a basically neutral but slightly positive point, ‘Speeders didn’t really change much in survivability.  While other vehicles became more predictably killable with the introduction of hull points, Landspeeders were dead easy to kill to begin with.  If anything they became more survivable because glancing hits can’t do the same kinds of damage as before, it’s guaranteed to still be a useful unit after the first glance.

On a related but somewhat neutral to negative change though, squadrons now simply break off and leave behind immobilized vehicles rather than destroying them.  That sounds maybe kind-of sort-of useful as the damaged model can in theory now still shoot at stuff, particularly if you’re rolling the longer range Typhoon or Assault Cannon.  In reality though, that model then becomes a separate unit and yields up an easy kill point to your opponent when it is finally destroyed.  I would probably rather just have it destroyed if I choose to leave it behind and not give up the point.  This new rule is really only beneficial for vehicles with turret-mounted, barrage, and other weapons with more targeting flexibility that remain useful when immobilized.

A more negative change in 6e is that movement doesn’t give vehicles nearly as much help in close combat as it used to.  The protection from movement is minimal with the new WS 1 rule, and high speed literally doesn’t improve that at all.  Once an enemy assault unit finally catches up to the ‘Speeder, something that’s almost certain to happen with the shorter range loadouts I use as it gets mixed into the thick of things, it’s pretty much done for.

Much more troubling is that vehicles are no longer denial units in any of the missions, they can’t contest objectives.  That’s a major tactical role of the fast moving Landspeeder that’s been completely eliminated.  There really isn’t anything more to say about that, it’s just a critical thing they used to be able to do that they just can’t do directly anymore.  The one upside is that other enemy vehicles won’t be able to claim either, so overall there just isn’t the same kind of 5th turn race to the nearest objectives, but it’s still a major net-negative change.

All in all, Landspeeders probably got decreased in value because of that one change.  They’re probably slightly better for the bulk of a game, so certainly still worth using, but their utility in the endgame has declined dramatically as their typical largest impact role has been eliminated.


Except for the Landspeeder, all of the supporting units above became slightly to much more valuable with the new codex and 6e rules.  Certainly none of them are overpowered, but all more efficient, and in several cases much more effective.  The Landspeeder is no longer the game changer it frequently was in 5e, but it’s still a worthwhile unit if it matches your style and you’re prepared to risk the kill point(s).  For my part I’m pretty excited to have a couple of the neglected and so-so units refreshed into newly viable options.