Ok so the internet has declared that Space Marine command squads aren't really competative, especialy so in games of less than 1850 pts. As a veteran of 3rd and 4th edition who had stepped away from the game for a long while and had to rebuild my army I did not accept this. I went ahead and fielded the comand squad in my competative 1500 point SM list. After 6 months and lots of games I can definitively state the internet has gotten this wrong. This article will detail how to build and utilize the command squad on the field in 1500 point games, and then answer back some of the criticisms I constantly hear about command squads.
Part 1: How to Build and Use Your Command Squad
I choose to build me comand squad as a CC orientated squad. Other builds include tank hunters, and low ap shooting builds. These other builds are a waste of a comand squad. First, as far as shooting and tank hunting unit, sterngaurd do the job better with their special ammo and combi-meltas. Second the comand squad by contrast has access to much more specialized CC gear at a more efficient price. The comand squad also has access to a bump in WS and with mostly 3/4 attacks you want this unit in CC. Further, You have access to feel no pain which is largely useless against the kind of shooting you will face hanging out around tanks. Finally, in lower point games you do not often encounter the vehicles that offer the oppertunity for a positive point trade off. You don't see very many Land Raiders at 1500 points. As a result in many games you will be left at best trying to pop cheap av 13 vehicls. CC occures in every game, the need for specific tank hunting occures rarely (and you shuold ahve other units capable of handiling this threat). I want my command squad to have an important role to play in every game so it's CC for them.
Here is my build; company champion, extra power weapon, power fist, melta gun, apothrocary. I then mount them in a regular razorback. So for 220 points (10 points more than a tac squad with a melta gun and rhino) I get 5 marines with FNP, 4 bolt pistol shots a melta shot, 3 twinlinked S5 shots, 11 power weapion attacks on the charge (4 at WS 5 and 3 at S8) and 7 regualr attacks. That is a lot of killyness even without a captain. With a captain, who I role with a relic blade and a combi-melta, you have a mobile unit of CC death.
Now in order to properly use the squad above you need to understand what they are and what they are not. They are a mobile CC unit that will murder any unit that does not bring mass power weapon attacks or strikes at a lower inititive. Basically against any troop choice or and nonsuper elite CC unit they will dominate. They are not a deat star unit. If your opponet gets to put their amazing CC unit against them or fires a large amount of their shooting on them they will go down (they will do ok but will not win). One of the main reasons Command squads are considered bad is because people think they are a deathstar. They charge them into the opponets best CC unit and get raped. Now if you are properly using them they are getting into combat with things like greyhunters, BA assaut marines, or wychs who you will destroy.
So how do you make sure you get your comand squad to fight against what they want? Use them for what they are; the best mobile couter-punching unit in the codex. Remember Vanilla Marines are a counter punching army, we sit back or go to mid table and shoot the enemy down with our BS4 shooting and then clean up the rest with Th/SS termis or a comand squad. We are not BA, SW, or GK. we can't go charging into the enemy like we did in 4th edition. Now people will tell you that terminators are our counter puncher. This is true but they are only half of it. Watch a high level counter punching boxer like Mayweather fight. He does not defend, defend, defend for one knock out blow. He defends defends, defends, left jab right combo KO. in 1500 point games we can't field 10 man termi units and we reallycan't afford to put them in a landraider. A five man termi squad is too slow to cover our lines and not fast enough to walk across to jab the opponet. So what do we do? field a comand squad with a unit of termis. The termis can than jab the enemey by deep strike into the enemies lines (use a locator beacon drop pod dread to support them and give reliability), then let loose the haymaker ofthe comand squad on what ever has made it to our lines. the troop section Heavy and fast attack are free to do what they do best, whittle down the enemey with shooting. Why are the comand squad the best counter punching unit in the game? 1) in the razorback they are putting out 36" shooting meaning they still have an effect before CC begins, 2) they can move to where they will need to be by the time your opponent arrives 3) they have a 14.3' charge range out of a razorback so they can cover against opponents that arrive deep with outflank or deepstrike.
Let me explain it again by way of example. Imagine you are playing a SW player in capture and control. What will he likely do is park some longfangs and 1 scoring squad near his home objective and charge everything else straight for you. What do we do? we castle our scoring units with the command squad near our base. and drop the dread and termis into his base. At his base he is facing a dreadnaught and 5 th/ss termis with likely 2 squads of longfangs, and likely 1 bare GH squad. I like our chances to get him off his battle plan with that match up. With what is coming for our base we can mass our fire, poping transports and whittling down his squads. against a few grey hunter squads your comand squad backed up by your scoring unit will hold your objective.
Part 2: the internet says they aren't competative
Criscism 1: Comand Squads are too expensive
with all the wargear options the Command squad has it is very easy to run up the bill and you don't have the points for it at 1500 or below. At 1000 points this is true. at 1500 it's plainly false. For basically the price of a tactical squad you get a unit that will take on all but the most super elite CC units. That seems like a fair and affordable price to me.
Criticism 2; comand squads are ok but captains are bad
Lots of people will say that the problem with the command squad is you have to take a captain who is just not as good as the other Hq choices. my answer 1) the captain is really good at what he does when tooled for it. he is meant for close combat give him a relic blade and he has 4 attacks at WS6 S6 I5 on the charge with 3 wounds a 3/4+ invunerable and FNP. The guy is a beast in those circumstances. 2) if you like the other HQ options take them. librarians are cheap at 100 points for what they give. You can find space in your 1500 point list for a libby and a captain, I do. HQ is one of the Space marine codex's strengths in the FOC, it's ok to take 2.
Criticism 3 : Comand Squads die too easily
They are just FNP marines after all, so they die pretty easily. Well for 1 they are in a ride which has to be destroyed first, the have the equvilant of a 2+ save with power armour and FNP, you have 5 unique wargear options so you can play with wound allocution, you have a captain with an 4+ invulnerable and multiple wounds along with a champion with a 6+ invulnerable. are you as survivable as TH/SS termi's? no but what you ahve is not bad, and as long as you are smart with what you go against you will live long enough.
Hope you've enjoyed the read, and I hope you will consider including command squads in your smaller competative builds.