Warhammer 40k has never seen such prosperity as it has under the auspices of 8th edition. Whether it be from the filthy amounts of money GW has made since its release, or the general overall satisfaction that players have had with the gameplay, or even (and quite rightfully deserved) the appreciation from players that GW has doled out more errata, FAQ, and Chapter Approved (CA) issuances to support updating the game than at any time during the IP’s history… 40k is in a good spot.
To however surmise that all factions have been created equal in these golden times… is a fallacy to put it bluntly and it’s a well-known fallacy at that. Prime examples highlighting this disparity are the Necrons and Grey Knights. To an almost equal extent, we have… Vanilla Marines. Yes. Your run of the mill, non-suped up Ultramarines (besides G-MAN),Imperial Fists ( to include the Crimson Fists and Black Templar), Salamanders, Iron Hands, Raven Guard, and White Scars have had first class seats on the struggle bus for a while now. Compared to Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and Death Watch… Vanilla Marines have needed help for a while. Overcosted, undermanned, inefficient, and their stratagems just can’t seem to get the job done when held up against what other factions can do.
Don’t worry though, at the time of this writing GW has implemented CA 2018 which has seen expansive points decreases for ALL marine factions. The other side of that coin though is that ALL OTHER factions with a few exceptions got in on this sweetheart deal too. So now while you can take more units and bodies to potentially help out your ground game (and game overall), so does everybody else. The recent addition of “Bolter Discipline” for all Adeptus Astartes and Heretic Astartes, DEFINITELY is a step in the right direction, allowing for synergy and capability that provides opportunities for players to take units that they otherwise normally wouldn’t consider taking (Termies, Land Raider Crusaders… Even potentially Dakka Centurions). While I don’t believe that this by its self will get Smurfs or other vanilla marines back into the competitive inner circles, this paired with some of the new Vigilus Formations… might.
When the 8th ed. Space Marines codex first came out, I had just got back into 40k after having taken a break from 6th ed. And skipping 7th, and seeing the new Primaris range made me scratch my head and ask: “why?”. I like many marine players either didn’t see, or outright refused to believe that the juice (and points/monetary cost) was not worth the squeeze compared to the tried and true “mini marines”. However after some time, marine players began to see that in those early days and beyond, the strongest and potentially only viable vanilla marine builds involved Guilliman gun lines. Sure, stats wise Primaris would stick around longer due to 2 wounds, and had some unique and consequential value added in certain instances. Examples would be HELLBLASTER SPAM (it matters not where the salt flows from… only that it flows). Other units such as Intercessors, to a certain extent Inceptors, and a large extent reivers were never seen (says me, in my local meta, and from what I see from other salty sailors online). Too expensive, too inefficient, too redundant.
The first time that I had my mind changed was when I got a good look at the two Vigilus formations specific to Codex: Space Marines, Indomitus Crusaders, and Victrix Guard. Keep in mind that these two formations only apply to vanilla marines, so every non Codex: Adeptus Astartes chapter loses out on this. These two formations are a WELL NEEDED breath of fresh air for vanilla marines that it’s almost electric! If these two formations are used correctly/as cheekily as possible… you might just give all your future opponents a real run for their money!
Beginning with Indomitus Crusaders, all you need to know is that this will MOSTLY pump your intercessors up to AAAAHHHNNNNOOOLLLDDD in his prime. This formation also gives you a new “field commander” warlord trait (extra, typically one time use stratagems that you pay for before the game starts), as well as two new relics. However with all things in life… there’s a catch. In order to get in on this awesome action, you’ll need to shell out some of your precious CP BEFORE you even get down to the business of purging with these new formations. Indomitus Crusaders reads as such:
1CP: “Use this stratagem when choosing your army. Pick a Space Marines Detachment from your army to be an Indomitus Crusaders Specialist Detachment. PRIMARIS CAPTAINS, PRIMARIS LIEUTENATNS, PRIMARIS ANCIENTS, INTERCESSOR SQUADS and INCEPTOR SQUADS in that Detachment gain the INDOMITUS CRUSADER keyword”.
You have to pay up a shiny CP to get a keyword change for one of your detachments before the battle starts. Cool right? Not yet. In order to get to God Mode, you have to pay 1 additional CP to turn your intercessors into… veterans? Veteran Intercessors reads as such:
1CP: “Use this Stratagem before the battle begins. Pick an INDOMITUS CRUSADER INTERCESSOR SQUAD unit from your army to be Veteran Intercessors. That unit gain the VETERAN keyword for the duration of the battle. In addition, add 1 to the Attacks and Leadership characteristics of that unit for the duration of the battle.
Cool mode activate, but still missing something… oh yeah ADDITIONAL stratagems that you NOW can use after the preliminary investment of 2 CP. These additional stratagems correspond to what kind of bolt rifle your intercessors are packing. They are: 1CP TARGET SIGHTED (Stalker Bolt Rifle, turns them into the same rules for scout’s sniper rifles doing mortal wounds on 6 and targeting characters. All the while you retain the -2AP of the stalker bolt rifle), 1CP BOLT STORM (Auto Bolt Rifles, when within half range of the weapon (12”) you auto hit your target… no need to roll to hit), and 1CP RAPID FIRE (Bolt Rifle, transforms your bolt rifle into the SUPER STORM BOLTER by giving it the Rapid Fire 2 profile… more on this awesomeness later). By my estimation, the only two that are worth considering are Rapid Fire (First Choice), and Target Sighted (Second). But Stache, why not bolt storm? Because you have to get within 12 of you target, without any AP in your weapon to support, and in most cases only having a Lt to re-roll 1’s to wound (I know, GMAN)… you won’t be very effective in most cases, and won’t be doing anything to negate your opponent’s (more than likely) cover save without the new warlord trait (more on this soon). This is also dangerous because you expose yourself to a counter charge if you can’t seal the deal with this round of shooting and subsequent (if desired) assault on the part of your veteran intercessors.
Before I go on to why Rapid Fire is the Gaud Emprah’s greatest gift to his hurting Astartes son’s, I have to speak to the new warlord trait, and the two new relics. GREY SHIELD, is a new “field commander” warlord trait that you can give to a non-named character to help up your game and cheekiness and to apply salt to wherever you might tread on the table top. Grey Shield Reads as thus:
“Once per battle, at the start of your Movement phase, if your Warlord (your field commander that you ALSO have to pay 1CP for to get access to) is on the battlefield, you can choose for INDOMITUS CRUSADER units in the same Detachment as your Warlord to gain an addition Chapter Tactic until the start of your next turn. Pick the additional Chapter Tactic from the following: Codex Discipline, Lighting Assault, Siege Masters, Righteous Zeal, Master Artisans, Shadow Masters, The Flesh is Weak (see Codex: Space Marines).
Until the start of your next turn, friendly INDOMITUS CRUSADERS gain the benefit of that Chapter Tactic in addition to any others they already have. They are considered to have the keyword of the Chapter that Chapter Tactic belongs to for the purpose of resolving that Chapter Tactic”.
WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! (SCREECHES IN CODEX ASTARTES!).
This means that all the different Primaris units that are a part of the same detachment that comprise your Indomitus Crusaders, will have 2 chapter tactics, and the corresponding chapter keyword for 1 WHOLE TURN!? (Stache approved). To save you time and effort, I’ve determined (says me) the best baseline Chapter to roll out as, and best secondary chapter tactics to take if you pop this strat. Are you ready? Here they are: Primary: Ultra Marines, Secondary from best to worst: Siege Masters, Shadow Masters, The Flesh is Weak, Righteous Zeal. Ultrasmurfs for primary is a no-brainer. You have the GMAN himself as well as the PLETHORA of special named characters that can support, as well as Tigurius to make a unit -1 to hit during your opponent’s shooting phase for free (he can also get you MoH as well as Veil Time that can buff up your dudes). Imperial fists by themselves as a chapter tend to struggle… but when paired with the ultramarines CT and associated special stratagems, your veteran intercessors become TERRIFYING.
With ULTRAMARINES and IMPERIAL FISTS CTs and access to their chapter specific stratagems, you can pop Grey Shield, Rapid Fire, Scions of Guilliman (if your Papa Smurf, or Grand Daddy Smurf die and can’t re-roll all hits or you’re just not in range), and Bolter Drill. With this combo, your bolt rifles become rapid fire 2 (firing 4 times per model within 15” or at 30” if you didn’t move at AP-1), you ignore your opponent’s cover save because you have transformed into Imperial Fists and have their chapter tactic (in addition, if the scrubs your shooting at are hiding in a building laughing at you, the jokes on them… because IF’s re-roll failed wounds for targets hiding out in their scrub shacks), and finally bolter drill allows you to explode out your hit roll’s of 6 into additional free rolls to hit in the shooting phase… that you can also re-roll failed hits on. It is truly the ultimate combo to delete opposing screens camping a vital objective, or to clear the way for another unit to make a critical charge into a target you want to lock up in CC. That 30 man ork boy squad? Worry yourself no longer! Pack of gene stealers? Problem solved. Cultists? Lul. Take Raven Guard if you’re about to get your guts tickled by your opponent next turn, now all your Primaris Models will have a -1 to hit outside of 12”, up to -2 if you use Tigirius. Use Flesh is Weak if you’re looking to add a little extra durability to your army during your opponent’s turn, or if you know… a mortal wound storm is brewing. Finally take Righteous Zeal as your last potential secondary CT. Re-rolling failed charge rolls is awesome and being able to have an extra deny the witch on deck that has a 50% change of denying your opponent’s power if you feel your denial chances aren’t that great (they get an 11 on smite and YOU NEED TO NOT HAVE THAT HAPPEN). The greatest thing about this warlord trait, is HOW DAMN FLEXIBLE it lets your gameplay become…
Next a short explanation on the relics. These relics have the following caveat: “If your army includes any Indomitus Crusaders Specalist Detachments, you can give one of the following relics to an INDOMITUS CRUSADER CHARACTER from your army”. I only really recommend 1 of these, and that’s the Reliquary of Gathalamor. It Reads:
“Enemy PSYKERS must subtract 1 from Psychic test made within 18” of the bearer. In addition, if the psychic power is not successfully manifested, roll a D6. On a 4+ the PSYKER that attempted to manifest that psychic power suffers D3 mortal wounds”.
DARK ELDAR, YNARI, GREY KNIGHTS, AND 1K SONS BOTHER ME NO LONGER!!!!
If you REALLY wanted to guarantee the cure to mortal wound/psychic power cancer, stack this with a Culexus Assassin for an additional -2 to cast and a -2 to deny the witch. At -3 to cast that easy smite is now only castable on 8. Any power that requires an 8 to cast now can only be cast on 11! This means that they will fail tests at a higher rate, they will be more susceptible to your counter cancer D3 retaliation, and they will be less able to deny your empiric might during your psychic phase. The best part about this is THEY CAN’T STOP THE D3 RETALIATION since it’s not considered a psychic power that they can ignore on a 2+ for periling… (Magnus/Uldrad)… THEY JUST TAKE IT.
The second Relic is the “Standard of the Ultima Founding”, reads:
“PRIMARIS ANCIENT only. Once per battle, at the start of your Movement phase, the bearer can choose to plant this banner. If they do so, until the bearer next makes a move, friendly INDOMITUS CRUSADER INFANTRY models can re-roll hit rolls of 1 and wound rolls of 1 whilst they are within 6” of the bearer”.
Meh at best. I’d still much rather have the “Standard of the Emperor Ascendant” for Auto Morale pass, -1 to enemy morale, and +1 for the roll to enable fighting or shooting one last time on model death. I suppose that if your battle plan is to march your vet Intercessors up to an objective/critical point, camp them, and leave them there the rest of the game, this could free up your Capt/Lt/Papa Smurf/Grand Daddy Smurf characters to go do work elsewhere. Still…. Meh.
I Promised I’d describe a tactic with Stalker Bolt Rifle Intercessors. Backfield point security/semi-guaranteed character assassination. Same thing with stratagems on this as with rapid fire, Pop Scions of Guilliman (Intercessors and tac marines re-roll all failed rolls to hit), Siege Masters via Grey Shield warlord trait (IF CT, ignore cover, re-roll wounds against targets in buildings… which tasty enemy character snacks like to hide), Pop Bolter Drill (explode out hit rolls of 6+ for additional hit roll opportunities), Finally pop Target Sighted (What we all wish Scout Snipers REALLY were like). If you had a unit of 10 of these dudes, you’re typically going to hit on 3+ (without modifiers), re-rolling, exploding hit rolls of 6+ out for additional hits, making your opponent’s cover a non-issue, and if they are in a building, you have a chance at getting more hits/mortal wounds on top of that if wound rolls are 6+… AND YOU RE-ROLL YOUR WOUNDS WITHOUT GUILLIMAN AROUND! Unlike Scouts, your wounds will be doing -2AP. Against Marine Equivalent (MEQ) units, that’s devastating to them. Against Guardsmen Equivalent Units (GEQ) that’s game over. Obviously if what you’re targeting has an invulnerable save, it is what it is. But with (hopefully) enough Mortal wound juice and failed normal/invuln saves the high CP cost may be worth the initial/continuing investment, ESPECIALLY if you absolutely need a critical synergistic supporting enemy character deleted in a hurry! Warlords might or might not get off’d by this strategy, but supporting characters (i.e. librarians, chaplains, ancients, apothecaries, etc…) DEFINITELY can be.
The final reason why I recommend regular bolt rifle super smurfs over their stalker pattern brethren, is for the Liberators stratagem. Liberators reads:
“Use this Stratagem at the start of the Fight phase. Pick an INDOMITUS CRUSADER unit from your army. Until the start of your next turn, each time you roll an unmodified hit roll of 6 for an attack made by a model in this unit, that attack inflicts 2 hits on the target instead of 1”.
Stalker pattern bolt rifle intercessors are NOT. Repeat. NOT meant to charge and take the hill, they are meant to kill the other commander telling their dudes to take the hill so you don’t. Regular Bolt Rifle equipped Intercessors can. Theoretical situation, Inbound.
I’ll use Orks as an example for this next one. Let’s say you have 2x 30 man Ork boy squads within charge range, and you’re able to wipe one of them with the aforementioned stratagems in the shooting phase. Now you have one more that if you can wipe out in the fight phase or severely diminish, they can fail morale and be a non-factor (not taking into account green tide and pain boy shenanigans as well as kustom force field in the shooting phase). This could really open things up for you and make your time of dealing with an Ork list THAT much simpler (maybe not easier, but hopefully that too!). Ideally, their over watch whiffs, you make your charge, you’re in… but there’s one other thing that I HIGHLY recommend that you include in your formula to VASTLY increase your chances with your Vet Intercessors…. And it’s name is Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought. Chap Ven Dred’s give +1 STNGH to any units that are locked in CC with the same enemy unit that Chap Ven Dred is locked in CC with. 2nd part of this formula is cast Veil of Time on your Vet Intercessors. This gives them a failed charge re-roll as well as the ability to fight first against any follow on counter charges during your opponent’s next turn (in addition to being able to get additional hits on 6+ IN YOUR OPPONENT’S FIGHT PHASE). Make sure to leave a gap for your Chap Ven Dred to make it into combat with your intercessors. Give your Sergeant either a power sword or a power fist (personal preference, but still recommended). Start this fight with 31 attacks against a boy squad from your vet intercessors, hitting on 3+, with 6+ becoming a free additional hit. If you get out of range of papa or grand papa smurf, pop scions of guilliman to guarantee re-rolling all failed hits. Chances are that you’ll get most if not all, and then maybe some extra hits above your initial 31 starting attacks. Keep in mind that 4 of these attacks are AP-3 attacks coming out of your SGT that can also become additional hits on 6+. THIS is where the Chap Dred comes in. Against boys, you’d be wounding on 4+, now you’re wounding on 3+, AND if you got your LT/Grand Daddy Smurf into CC/range, you can now re-roll 1’s/all wounds! Your chances of killing between 15-25ish boys (with a chance to wipe ALL of them) is a definite possibility with only a T-Shirt save to save them, and if your opponent has done it right an additional 6+ FNP. With anywhere between 3-6 power attacks from your SGT (let’s say with additional hits from the 6+). That’s 3-6 boys that won’t have the opportunity outside pain boy saves, to save. If your Chap dread is in CC, he can add 4 extra attacks hitting on 2’s with no negatives to hit and AP-3. He can whittle that kill count down further to 19-29.
Bottom line: YES. You will inflict such horrendous casualties on your opponent that they won’t spend 2CP to save potentially 1-4 boys and you can more than weather the storm that less than 5 boys can put out not having charged that turn, while additionally not getting an additional attack per model having less than 20 boys in the unit. A 10 man intercessor unit… costing only 170 points… Has the possibility to take down over 420 points worth of boys (with some character support) all by its self (SAVAGERY… ACTIVATE). In the unlikely/truly tragic event for your opponent that you can consolidate into another unit and fight again for 3CP…. I’ll leave you to your nefarious thoughts on what you’d do in that situation…
In conclusion with regards to the Indomitus Crusaders formation, more specifically the Veteran Intercessors with Bolt Rifles, the third troops choice for Vanilla Space Marines has FINALLY in over 10 years met the potential that we all have read about in Space Marine Lore. That Legendary bad-assery, that unassailable domination, the firestorm of exploding mini-rocket bullets, unstoppable power, and fists of fury that equate into total savagery against dirty, dirty heretics, xenos, and mutants. THE ONLY THING I WISH I DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY IS 2-3CP FOR THE PRIVELEGE OF SLAUGHTER WHICH SHOULD BE OURS BY RIGHT AS SPACE MARINES. That’s really the only thing I’m currently salty about with this, but know this… I APPROVE VETERAN INTERCESSORS. I APPROVE BOLT RIFLES WITH RAPID FIRE STRATAGEM. I APPROVE THE CURE TO PSYCHIC CANCER. I APPROVE INDOMITUS CRUSADERS.