Return of the vanguard

Every on loves sternguard. Well, every Space marine player. Their enemies, not so much. The special ammunition is very flexible, 2 special or heavy weapons per squad and all the combi weapons go a long way to win games. The old ‘sternguard in a droppod ‘ caper is the opening move of many gamers. (Me included!)

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But what about the poor assault cousin, the vanguard? These are about as rare on current lists as the assault squad? Only a few diehards take them in competitive lists. Kids love em because you take a whole squad of thunder hammers or lightning claws. They never work as well as they think they will, but I’d like to make the case for them. Let’s look and the negatives first.

1- assault armies don’t work. In current 40k shooting is king. Not a lot to say about this, it is. The old khorne player in me is sad at this, but, then I do have 2 full sternguard squads so the ultramarine player is ok with it.
2-assaults take planning and a lot players get it too easy to develop descent plans with assault troops. They just stick with tried and tested shooting units. I am looking at you tau players here.
3-young players are easily swayed. They build big deathstars that get blown away on turn 1. The loss of a thunder hammer vanguard will put you 50+ points down, not a good move.
4-assault terminators are a cheaper, more durable solution. At 225 you get the same stats, 2+ save and a squad of thunderhammers.
5-has anyone ever used heroic intervention? Really?
6- tables at the moment tend to light on Los blocking terrain. This really hurts assault troops. It’s all trees and low walls.

As you can see it’s easy to pull these veterans apart, but I think people over look a few key points.

1- you don’t have to take jump packs. 10 vanguard on foot charging out of a stormraven will get 40 attacks. That would make a dent in most units!
2-you can tailor your vanguard. The options available allow you to make the right squad for the right task. Basic vanguard with just chainswords are great vs guard, Orks, nids, eldar or tau. Facing chaos? Drop the whole 2 claws on every trooper thing, and just take power weapons (saves you 75pts)
3-deep strike is the new black. I have said it befor, but deep striking is on the rise. Being able to counter this is very useful. Your own deepstriking vetrans can take tactical objectives, score vp or contest strategic points.
4-vanguard can be a great shooting unit if your brave. 10 plasma pistols anyone? Or 10 Grav pistols deepstriking into a tank squad! The brutally possible is very under estimated, but cost less than thunderhammers all round.
5-they are better than assault marine for only 5pts more. For those few points you get ld+1 and A+1, plus more options. Not bad for so little points.
6-why take thunder hammers at all? Ok, this is contentious. What is the value of a thunderhammer over a power Fist. The concussive rule is great, but you normally kill your target at s8 ap2 anyway. A power fist is the same stats (without concussive) for 5 pts less? Over a 5 man squad, that’s a saving of 25 pts? And vs tanks, your better with melta bombs. (Saving a further whooping 100pts!)

So they have options, but you don’t have to take them. Low cost vanguard units can play a vital role in your plans. I run a 5 man squad with jump packs costing 190. Not really Cheap and cheerful yes, but with enough of a bite to really hurt. I am planning on adding 5 more, again keeping the cost down and using my stormeagle as a delivery system. Around 40 attacks plus upto 10 hammer of wraith attacks! That will make a hole! Around 10 of these attacks will be power weapons.

On foot I have just started assembling 5 more. Armed with a mix of weapons, again, keeping the cost down, I think these will be good unit. Possibly in a pod.

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Here are the units.

5 Vanguard Veterans (190)

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
3× bolt pistol; storm shield; lightning claw; 3× chainsword; lightning claw; power fist; jump packs; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines) Heroic Intervention

• Space Marine Sergeant

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
bolt pistol; power weapon; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics-ultramarines

5 Vanguard Veterans (170)

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
3× bolt pistol; plasma pistol; lightning claw; 4× chainsword; lightning claw; on foot ; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines) Heroic Intervention

• Space Marine Sergeant

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
storm shield; power Axe; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics-ultramarines

So, that’s my case for vanguard. My key points are these-don’t over equip, always have a few basic guys at the front to bubble wrap. Plan your use, don’t just hope the best, know you enemy and hit’em were it hurts. And consider the not with jump packs options!

Till then, look to the sky’s and while your doing that, I’ll sneak my scouts into you deployment zone. See you across the battlefield.

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Surgical strike team.

Captain Adamar looked at force disposition on the hololithic display. The rebels had planned their defences well. For nearly 2 kilometres in each direction the line was solid. To breach the line, they would need the force a hole. It was the sort of challenge he loved. He had committed the strength of the company to the line off to the east and, as predicted the enemy had added reserves to that point in the line. The imperial guard units at his disposal threw themselves at the enemy as ordered. He had gathered his reserve forces and prepared to strike where least expected, the rebel commander had been found and the scouts of the 10th had confirmed the old bastard was in the field.

Adept Valdez approached through the gloom of the command post. “My lord, the techmarines have signalled. The teleport is ready and the pod is primed for launch”

Time to end this rebellion he thought. Touching his comm stud, “sergeants, the time is upon us, operation Remus is go, start combat timer on my mark” turning his massive bulk with speed and purpose that belied the terminators size, he strode on the platform. The 10 other hulking shape stood to battle ready, ozone starting to crackle over the cerimite armour,

“We March for mcragge! Courage and honor” he said in to the open comms Channel the teleport chamber fading around him.

In an up coming game I am trying a new list against imperial guard. It’s a radical new approach, based on the concept of a surgical strike. The fluff behind it is a decapitation strike. How would a marine army strike a key location in the middle of a campaign? My answer would be a scout force scope the target and then, using teleport homers and locator becons, a strike team would deep strike right onto the enemy. Opening up with massed flamers, storm bolters and assault cannons, they will tear the heart out of the foe. This twin surgical strike will be a precision attack.

The ethos for the list was split into 2 groups. The first wave of scouts will deploy inside the range of the opponents big guns, mainly any basilisks that may turn up. The second wave will deep strike. Leading the force will be a terminator captain. The only bit that doesn’t fit is a drop podding ironclad. The pod gets a locator beacon allowing me to drop the assault marines with accuracy. I have included it in the strike team, but it will arrive first turn, I just hope it’s frontal armour can take the pounding.

Strike team

Scouting force.
This force was easy to choose. I only have 25 scouts, so they all got selected. In the mix is a missile launcher with flakk and a heavy bolter.

Strike team.
I have chosen to go big on my strike team. 10 terminators and 10 assault marines will drop right into his lines. To soften them up I am taking my ironclad dread, in a pod with a locator beacon. The idea is to distract away from the scouts and mess up any plans he has. I try to force him in a reactionary approach and this will enable me to control the game. Rounding off the strike team is a single storm talon to provide air support.

So here is my take on a surgical strike team.

HQ 140 points (9%)
Space Marine Terminator Captain (140) WS6·BS5·S4·T4·W3·I5·A3·Ld10·Sv3+ Iron Halo; Terminator armour; lightning claw; storm shield; special issue equipment. And They Shall Know No Fear; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines); Independent Character.

Elites 635 points (42%)
10 Terminators (445) WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv2+ Terminator armour; storm bolters; heavy flamer; assault cannon; 7× power fist; 2× chainfist. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines).
Terminator Sergeant WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv2+ Terminator armour; storm bolter; power weapon. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; combat Tactics (ultramarines).

Ironclad Dreadnought (145) WS4·BS4·S6·FA13·SA13·RA10·I4·A2(3)·HP3 seismic hammer (built-in heavy flamer); Dreadnought close combat weapon built-in heavy flamer; smoke launchers; searchlight; extra armour. Vehicle (walker); Move Through Cover.
• Drop Pod Mk 2 (45) BS4·FA12·SA12·RA12·HP3 storm bolter; locator beacon. Vehicle (open-topped); Transport Capacity: 12 models or 1 Dreadnought or 1 Thunderfire Cannon; Inertial Guidance System; Immobile; Drop Pod Assault.

Troops 363 points (24%)
10 Scouts (133) WS3·BS3·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1·Ld8·Sv4+ 9× boltgun; heavy bolter with hellfire shells; scout armour; bolt pistols; frag grenades; krak grenades. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines); Infiltrate; Move Through Cover; Scouts.
Space Marine Scout Sergeant WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1.Ld8·Sv4+ power weapon; boltgun; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Combat Tactics (ultramarines).

10 Scouts (175) WS3·BS3·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1·Ld8·Sv4+ missile launcher (flakk); scout armour; bolt pistols; frag grenades; krak grenades. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines); Infiltrate; Move Through Cover; Scouts.
Space Marine Scout Sergeant WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1.Ld8·Sv4+ bolt pistol; power fist; teleport homer; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Combat Tactics (ultramarines).

5 Scouts (55) WS3·BS3·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1·Ld8·Sv4+ 5× shotgun; scout armour; bolt pistols; frag grenades; krak grenades. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines); Infiltrate; Move Through Cover; Scouts.
Space Marine Scout Sergeant WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1.Ld8·Sv4+ bolt pistol; boltgun; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Combat Tactics (ultramarines).

Fast Attack 360 points (24%)
10 Assault Marines (235) WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1·Ld8·Sv3+ 2× flamer; jump packs; power armour; chainswords; bolt pistols; frag grenades; krak grenades. Jump Infantry; And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines).
Space Marine Sergeant WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A1.Ld8·Sv3+ Thunder hammer; storm shield; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades. And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Combat Tactics (ultramarines).
Stormtalon Gunship (125) BS4·FA11·SA11·RA11·HP2 twin-linked assault cannon; Skyhammer missile launcher; ceramite plating. Vehicle (flyer); Aerial Assault; Escort Craft; Hover Strike; Supersonic.

I hope it will be a coherent force and the game will be fun. There is an inheritance instability in the list. If the reserve units don’t arrive together, they can be picked off piecemeal. My opponent, lee will push any weakness and the outcome is really in the balance of the reserve rolls. In a league game I’d never take this risk, but this will add to a great game and the tension on turn to will be great.

I’ll blog a full battle rep soon. Till the, see you across the battle table!