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Tactica Astartes 5E - Elites

Tactical Terminators

Flame Eagles Terminator by Cosmic


Tactical Terminators live in the shadow of their Assault brethren thanks to 3++ storm shields, which leave Tactical Terminators with little in the way of desirable traits. Like with their Assault-oriented brethren, the choices available to Tactical Terminators are limited by lack of necessity. They sadly lack the firepower necessary to compete with Assault Terminators for the same cost, making them a choice passed over by players looking for competitive choices. Attach Lysander to the squad for some real fun. His “Bolter Drill” rule allows the squad to re-roll their failed to-hit rolls with their bolters, and five power fists with a S10 thunder hammer will crush anything that gets in their way!


Tactical Terminators come equipped with a respectable load out of Power Fists and Storm Bolters. Many bemoan the squad’s Sergeant’s Power Sword over a fist, but this allows him to strike ahead of the squad if they come across something that could give them trouble and isn’t I1, so it’s not a pointless "downgrade". At 24”, a squad of Tactical Terminators can put out the same volume of fire as a full squad of Tactical Marines and take the retaliatory fire with little worry, but this alone isn’t worth the cost. This units’ main attraction comes from its ability to take special weapons and make use of their “Relentless” special rule.

For every five Terminators, you may replace one Terminator’s Storm Bolter for:

Heavy Flamer: Frustratingly not a free choice, the heavy flamer works well with a squad of Tactical Terminators if you plan on using the squad aggressively and up close, but if that’s the case then you should pick up a squad of Assault Terminators, who will do the job much more effectively for only five points less.

Assault Cannon: This option isn't cheap,but it can give the squad some noteworthy firepower against troops and even light tanks.

For every five Terminators, one Terminator may take a:

Cyclone Missile Launcher: A (perhaps the only) good choice for Tactical Terminators. Despite its high cost, the equivalent of having two missile launchers being able to fire on the move make up for the price tag.

Any Terminator may replace his Power Fist with a:

Chainfist: Four Power Fists in the squad should be more than enough to take out any vehicles the squad will come across; this option really isn’t worth it, as cheap as it is and as cool as chainfists look.

Assault Terminators

Shadow Breakers Assault Terminators by Shadowbreaker

Very Competitive

The star player unit of the Space Marine codex, with good reason. Assault Terminators are often considered the unit to beat for competing codices, and has a stranglehold on the elites section of their on book. With only a single wargear option and a very clear purpose, this unit is hard to misuse. That the only wargear option available to them is free means there isn’t a way to spend more than the base cost. If Terminators have any weaknesses, it would be that they usually come in squad sizes of five or six because of their cost, and that they have only a single wound. 2+/5++ is durable, and 2+/3++ is as tough as armor saves can currently get, but these strengths can be overcome by sheer weight of fire, and there is no shortage of enemies capable of supplying it. Even in close combat, your veterans will face the risks of simply be worn down by superior numbers. For this reason, it is not always recommended that they are accompanied by a Chaplain, despite the temptations.


Every member of the unit comes standard with a pair of lightning claws. Lightning Claws are good because they allow the Terminators to keep their Initiative at 4. This is more valuable than you know.

Any Terminator may exchange his Lightning Claws for:

Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield: It used to be that most people would take this option for the vehicle-shredding thunder hammer. Not so anymore. Now the main attraction is the 3++ storm shield, a very tempting option that does well to safeguard your expensive veterans. This option costs nothing, so you can feel free to exchange as many claws as you want without worrying about increase of cost. Remember though that thunder hammers lower your Initiative to 1, which can be deadly for your Terminators in the right situations. As such, a mix between claws and hammers is suggested, allowing the squad to crush anything it comes up against without worrying too much about being overwhelmed by faster opponents.

Sternguard Veterans

Omega Marines Sternguard Sergeant by FreekyE

Very Competitive

A new addition to the Space Marine Elites section, it only takes a glance through the Special Issue Ammunition table to see why these guys are in such high demand. The ammunition choices allow them to adapt to numerous situations on the fly, and with that reliable BS4 and the special properties of each ammunition type; they are unquestionably effective at what they do. Best of all though, all the Special Ammunition types are restricted to regular Bolters, which is a blessing in disguise. There is nothing special about the wargear options available to Sterguard Veterans compared to their Ammunition, meaning that there is no reason to spend points on any upgrades at all. These guys are an absolute bargain for the amount of damage they can inflict upon the enemy.


All Veterans in the squad come with Bolters, Bolt Pistols, grenades, and their Ammunition types. As said before, this is all they need to kill their worth in points and then some.

The Sternguard Sergeant may exchange his Boltgun and/or Bolt Pistol with:

Chainsword: There is no point to this option at all. Why take away the cheap-shot provided by the pistol, or the close range double-tap provided by the Boltgun?

Power Weapon: Trade out the pistol for this if you are going to take it. If you want to use Sternguard right, you won’t be using the squad to assault aggressively. This option’s purpose is to provide a minor deterrent to attacking what will be a high value target, and a minor performance boost should the enemy get the squad into assault.

Lightning Claw: For the same cost, this option wins out over the power weapon for the simple reason that claws look a lot more dangerous. Since you will be trading out the pistol, the attraction of an additional attack granted by the sword is lost. If you must spend any points at all on this unit, this is a good choice to spend on.

Plasma Pistol: Your points are best spend on a close combat weapon if you are worried about being at this range.

Power Fist: Prohibitively expensive for what should be for show. Sterguard excel against infantry, not tanks. Power Fists are meant to deal with tanks. The two don’t mix as good as they are separate. The model is terrific, but this option isn’t.

The Sternguard Sergeant may take

Melta Bombs: Similarly with the power fist, you shouldn’t expect your Sternguard to be going up against the kind of target that would necessitate these being used.

Any model may exchange his Bolter for:

Storm Bolter: Sadly, Special Ammunition won’t work with these. Otherwise, they would be an excellent choice. If you are simply looking to crank out as many shots as possible then this is the option for you, but regular bolters with the ammunition are much better and,better yet, are free.

Combi-weapon: As this weapon is still half bolter, and thus compatible with the Special Issue Ammunition, it is an extremely popular choice. The -flamer is the most common choice because of its large Template range, but -meltas are also a common sight for the insurance they offer against vehicles and the opportunities they present. A good choice.

Two Sterguard may exchange their Bolters for:

Flamer: Wastes the opportunities Special Issue Ammunition provides. Buy a combi-weapon instead.

Meltagun: Wastes the opportunities Special Issue Ammunition provides. Buy a combi-weapon instead.

Heavy Bolter: Head-scratchingly lacking Hellfire Shells, the Heavy Bolter nonetheless is an interesting upgrade to consider. You loose the Special Issue Ammunition, but gain more power, an extra shot, and a boost in range. This isn’t a bad option, but why bother spending the points when your basic weapon is good enough already?

Multi-melta: Overly unnecessary on an infantry-hunting squad. Save these for your Tacticals.

Missile Launcher: Like with the Heavy Bolter, the Missile Launcher by itself is not a bad weapon, it just isn’t better than the SIA-bolters.

Plasma Gun: Wastes the opportunities Special Issue Ammunition provides. Buy a combi-weapon instead.

Plasma Cannon: Though undeniable powerful, Sternguard are too expensive to risk to Gets Hot! for this option to be considered good.

Heavy Flamer: Not as good as five combi-flamers. Pass on this.

Lascannon: Sternguard aren’t tank hunters! Pass on this as well.


White Swords Dreadnought by GoldenKaos


The Dreadnought’s origins go all the way back to the godawful days of Rouge Trader. This walking box is designed to provide you with a way to get some mobile heavy weapons onto the field and look tough doing it. The Dreadnought can also be a force to be reckoned with in close combat as well, with a power fist and an armor value high enough to give unprepared enemies a lot of trouble.

Venerable Dreadnought

Marines Exemplar Venerable Dreadnought by Nerdfest09


The Venerable Dreadnought is a curious reflection of the regular Dreadnought. It differs in three key areas: cost, WS and BS, and the “Venerable” special rule. In all other areas, it is identical to its non-venerable counterpart, even in option costs. For this reason, the two entries are combined into one to save me some time. When determining whether or not the Venerable Dreadnought is worth its price, you have to consider what you are hoping to get out of it. If you are looking for a slightly more accurate shooter and a more skilled close-combatant, then no. But, if you are looking for a nigh-unkillable walking box, then rest easy. I don’t know the math, but a Venerable Dreadnought can be expected to survive something like two out of three games without taking severe damage, all thanks to that “Venerable” rule. To get the most out of any unit, you need to play to its strengths. With the Venerable Dreadnought’s durability, you can play bold and put it into situations that would be suicide for a normal Dreadnought, counting on its survival and expecting some good damage thanks to a better WS and BS. Despite these talents, competitive players blanch at the price and go for the stock Dreadnought instead, citing that they don’t need or expect their Dreadnoughts to survive more than a couple of turns anyways and would rather have the points to spend elsewhere.


With a DCCW and Storm Bolter, a Twin-linked Multi-melta. Smoke launchers and a searchlight, the Dreadnought’s wargear outfit makes it a very adaptable unit. Available to you is a wide range of twin-linked heavy weaponry that can vastly increase its capability for a relatively low cost.

Exchange Storm Bolter for:

Heavy Flamer: Take this if you feel like you can get some mileage out of it, but it’s not a vital upgrade by any means.

Exchange Multi-melta for:

Twin-linked Heavy Flamer: Unlike the Venerable box, the Dreadnought has no special skills at range, meaning you get nothing but the advantage of having a Template to work with instead of BS4. A Dreadnought with one of these in a Drop Pod will ruin the day for plenty of infantry units. Works well with the DCCW’s Heavy Flamer.

Twin-linked Heavy Bolter: The only advantage this weapon has over the Heavy Flamer is its range. With such a low points cost, it might be worth considering, but for only a few points more there are better weapons that can get you that long range.

Twin-linked Autocannon: An excellent all-rounder weapon capable of tackling light tanks, transports and heavy infantry alike without breaking a sweat. The dual twin-linked Autocannon “Rifleman” Dreadnought, aka Mortis Pattern (cue the sound of Dark Angel players gnashing their teeth) has become an extremely popular choice for these reasons. Its cheap, it’s shooty, it’s a good choice.

Plasma Cannon: Bizarrely inexpensive, the Plasma Cannon breaks its old habits of being the look-over heavy weapon around the Dreadnought to become a serious contender. BS4 give you reasonable odds to hit with your miniature sun, which has enough power to melt terminators and tanks alike.

Assault Cannon: A common choice mostly due to it being the standard armament for Dreadnoughts in the previous codex and coming as part of the kit. The changes to “Rending” between the 4th and 5th editions of the game have resulted in some of the Assault Cannon’s glory fading, but if you can’t feel comfortable trusting your BS4 and/or like big rotary cannons, then this is still a good choice.

Twin-linked Lascannon: Even twin linked, a single shot is a lot to ride on. This option’s range is unmatched, but there are more direct, efficient and cheaper ways of killing tanks with a Dreadnought.

Exchange DCCW for:

Twin-linked Autocannon: Key to the popular “Rifleman” Dreadnought, even with other options this is a good choice simply because the Autocannon is a great generalist weapon. This is a good choice.

Missile Launcher: A boring choice compared to all the other exciting implements of destruction available to the Dreadnought. The Missile Launcher is a basic choice for people who don’t know how to convert a twin-linked autocannon. It’s ok, but why didn’t you take the autocannon for the same cost?

Upgrade with:

Extra Armor: It will keep your Dreadnought moving, but Dreadnoughts typically don’t do much walking anyways, especially when deployed from a drop pod.

Ironclad Dreadnought

Blood Ravens Ironclad Dreadnought by Ouze


The Ironclad Dreadnought offers us Codex-compliant Chapters what we’ve always lusted for: a rough-n-ready close-combat walker that can take a hit and swing back all game long. The Ironclad Dreadnought boasts a couple of advantages over its regular brother, namely, a front and side armor value of 13 over the regular 12. The other is a rather unique set of upgrades that can fine-tune your seige-nought to do a few things differently in the fields of tank-smashing and infantry-crushing. The “Move Through Cover” special rue means that your opponent cant hide his troops behind a hedge row and wait for your Dreadnought to trip over it, allowing you to play as aggressively as you dare when it comes to movement. A key thing to remember when fielding the Ironclad Dreadnought; in fact, this goes for ANY kind of Dreadnought, is to not get carries away and send your walker after something it won’t be able to handle. Monstrous Creatures like Carnifexes and Greater Daemons might seem like prime targets for an epic duel, but they’ll tear your box-man to pieces without even stopping to clean the scrap off their hooves. It goes without saying that squads of Assault Terminators with Thunder Hammers are just as dangerous, and should be avoided. So, you might jut be wondering what the Ironclad Dreadnought is for if you have to be so careful in choosing your targets. I’ll tell you right here: Tar-pitting. That’s right. It might not seem like a glamorous job, but the Ironclad Dreadnought is a tar-pitting walker without peer. The Ironclad Dreadnought is seemingly purpose-built to ambush a mob of light infantry, inflict a couple of casualties each turn until the unit breaks and runs for it, then sweep them into oblivion, al the while their attacks pitter uselessly against that wonderful AV13. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. You’ll still have to watch out for melta bombs, and a power fist can still give your Ironclad a bad case of missing arms, but its considered enough for the Ironclad to catch an occupy a squad of troops for a few turns, making the entire unit otherwise useless to your opponent the whole while.


The Ironclad Dreadnought’s defining weapon is the Seismic Hammer, a DCCW that increases your odds of getting good results out of those vehicle damage rolls in close combat. This comes with an integrated meltagun, which many bemoan for lacking tin-linkage. The rest is more standard gear, with a regular DCCW and storm bolter making up the other arm, as well as the usual smoke launchers and searchlight. As one would expect, the Ironclad Dreadnought actually comes standard with extra armor as well.


Exchange Storm Bolter for:

Heavy Flamer: A good choice if you are going to be targeting infantry.

Exchange Meltagun for:

Heavy Flamer: This and the above option are the way to go if you are going after enemy infantry. Against tanks, this is obviously counter-productive.

Exchange DCCW and Storm Bolter for:

Hurricane Bolter: At the end of the day, Bolters are just Bolters, and three Twin-Linked ones don’t directly cater towards what the Ironclad Dreadnought is built for. I would only recommend this if you want to make the unit a bit more interesting.

Exchange Seismic Hammer for:

Chainfist: Compared to the Hammer’s reliability, the Chainfist offers raw power capable of cutting open a Land Raider with fair ease. Being free, this option is up for some serious consideration depending on how much you trust your dice. It should be noted that there is some vagueness with the chainfist’s rules in relation to the Ironclad. Its entry says to treat the weapon exactly as though it were a power fist, meaning of course that you double your strength and strike at Initiative 1. Whether or not this is intentional or a simple typo is cause for some debate, but if we go by Rues-as-Written, this puts the Ironclad at a severe disadvantage should it ever get tangled up with infantry on the way to its target.


Up to two Hunter-Killer Missiles: Most consider these overpriced for what they offer, but I would say that a pair of these can be useful if the Ironclad is deployed via a Drop Pod and needs to get some damage done the moment it shuffles out. For this reason, I’d say that these are a decent choice.

Ironclad Assault Launchers: Plenty of people consider these useless, since the things you really need to be worried about (Thunder Hammers, etc.) strike last anyways. Thus, the only benefit to having these is to rob the enemy of their bonus charge attacks (meaning less hammer swings), and allowing you to barrel through cover at full initiative. I’d say that this is a decent choice overall.


Ultramarines Techmarine by legion4500


Looking through the Elites section, we have Terminators, Dreadnoughts, and…this guy. A single model unit with average stats and a few unremarkable options. Taking a Techmarine over a Dreadnought or a squad of Sternguard would be hard enough to justify as it is, but on top of all that is a real shocker: one wound! It only takes one lucky shot to waste a Techmarine, restricting him to casual games. Even vehicle-heavy forces would benefit more by saving their elite slots and taking a pair of Masters of the Forge for repair work. But enough complaints, lets look at the facts. The Techmarine’s only real outstanding features come with his special abilities. The first allows him to repair vehicles, and can be improved by adding servitors to his unit. This doesn’t become remotely reliable until you’ve bought two or three additional servitors, dramatically increasing the unit’s cost and filling up the ranks of dead meat servitors. The second ability is marginally more useful, in that it allows you to upgrade the cover save provided by a ruin by one. 3+ cover sounds great, but you can only do this once, and only to a ruin within your deployment zone.


The Techmarine starts off pretty barebones, boasting only Artificer Armor, a Bolter and pistol, grenades and a singe servo-arm. If you want to use the Techmarine for anything more than a wrench monkey, you’ll have to pay points for it.

Exchange Servo-arm for:

Servo-harness: Ignore the weapons, you’re taking this for the improved repair rolls if you’re taking this at all. Costing half as much as the owning model, you’ll really have to make sure you can keep your Techmarine safe if you take this. Even with a harness, the repair rolls will still need a servitor or two to be reliable, meaning even more points will need to be spent.

Exchange Bolter for:

Storm Bolter: Taking this will make your Techmarine slightly less than useless at range.

Combi-weapon: Two out of three of the -weapons are too short ranged for the Techmarine to be comfortable. Just stick to the Boltgun or buy a Storm Bolter if you have to shoot at something.

Plasma Pistol: The range is far too short, and the cost is too high. Losing your 50 point model to a single bad Get’s Hot! Roll is a real head banger as well.


Power Weapon: If you are looking for something to ward off opportunistic attackers, count on you servo-arm(s) to do that for you instead. One attack in close combat s pitiful; ignoring armor saves doesn’t make it any better.

Thunder Hammer: You only have one attack! Why would you spend so many points on such a poor fighter? This is a poor choice.

Space Marine Bike: The extra speed is worthless if you’re being slowed down by servitors, and since the only point to taking a Techmarine is for repair work, you will be slowed down by servitors.

Techmarine Servitors

Servitor by Sarpedon_702


For the purposes of this review, I made up the “Master of the Forge Servitor Retinue” to work out how they would work with a MotF. The codex makes no distinction between servitors taken with a MotF or a Techmarine, they are both from the same generic entry. While this means they are the same, the Servitors accompanying a Techmarine are even worse than those that would be accompanying a MotF. As short as their unit entry is, I’ll just say what I have to say about them and point you to the MotF Retinue for specifics.

There is no reason whatsoever to take anything beyond the standard repair servitor. The Techmarine is better for little else than field repairs; don’t waste points trying to make his overcosted retinue do something even he with a fully functioning brain can’t do.

Legion of the Damned

Damned Legionnaire by DEATH89


The Legion of the Damned make their long-awaited appearance in the codex as an uber tactical squad. This isn’t as good as it sounds, though. There are a few reasons why the Legion of the Damned are not considered at tournament-worthy unit. For one, they are by no means fast. Slow and Purposeful means they can’t outrun cc-specialists, and they more often then not won’t be able to get a charge off into close combat when the opportunity presents itself. Should they get into combat, Fearless will wipe out the squad as quickly as any cc-specialist squad will against large mobs of enemies. Perhaps most offending of all is their points cost, over half again more than a regular tactical marine per. That’s not to say they are completely terrible though. The Legion of the Damned actually have several very enviable abilities. The Sergeant has a WS of 5 and everyone gets two attacks base. “Slow and Purposeful” may mean you move slow and have to be purposeful in your directing, but it also allows you to fire all your weapons as though you were stationary. This allows your Legionnaires to fire the full 24” on their bolters al the time, meaning they’ll at least be some kind of a threat to something almost all the time. It also makes them excellent heavy weapons platforms, allowing you to fire and still have some mobility. Aside from above, there are two special abilities that thematically define the Legion. The first is their supernatural 3++ save. This…really isn’t as great a feature as it seems at first, because at the end of the match, a 3+ save is a 3+ save, and your legionnaires are still going to fail 1/3 of the save they’ll have to make. Still, extra protection against MEQ-killers is always welcome. The second defining ability of the Legion of the Damned is their re-rollable deep striking deployment. The option to re-roll is extremely important, as it can rescue a disastrous scatter and save you losing your expensive ghost-marines to faulty-equipment. This accurate deep striking means that they can be placed where you need them from the moment they get on the board.

As an aside note; the models are terrific. It’s a real shame that for some strange reason, all the underperforming units have some of the best models, and are rarely seen because of it.


Despite their dramatic lore entry, Damned Legionnaires come equipped with standard bolters, bolt pistols and grenades.

The Legion Sergeant may exchange his Boltgun for:

Chainsword: Legionnaires are better at range thanks to “Slow and Purposeful“. Keep the bolter.

Combi-weapon: If you want your Legionnaires to get into the thick of it instead of fighting at range, then this is a good weapon to have on hand.

Storm Bolter: A good weapon to pick for any occasion, as ever. Equally good at any range.

Plasma Pistol: Not recommended due to the Legionnaires’’ high cost and singe wound. All of the above options are better and cheaper; why pay more for less firepower?

Power Weapon: Because of their small numbers, Damned Legionnaires aren’t particularly good at combat, but a power sword can be a good investment in the likely event that they’ll wind up getting stuck in with an enemy unit, and need to clear up combat as fast as they can or die with as many enemy casualties as possible.

Power Fist: With a WS of 5, and two attacks, the power fist will be a tempting choice. I would recommend against it because of its high cost on an already expensive unit, but you might find the cost to be worth it in your own adventures.

One Legionnaire may exchange his Bolter for:

(A note on these three options bellow: they are all the exact same price, and are bizarrely overcosted. For this reason, I will give them all a red rating. Legionnaires apparently don‘t like assault weapons that much.)

Flamer: This option is logical if you’re taking the minimum-sized squad and need to back up your small numbers with a blanket of fire, but it is very expensive.

Meltagun: This option is seemingly viable when you take the Multi-melta as well. Re-rollable deep strike means you can teleport right behind a tank and nuke it from behind the same turn. However, this option is very expensive.

Plasma Gun: This option might seem like a good way to take advantage of “Slow and Purposeful”, but it is very expensive.

One other Legionnaire may exchange his Bolter for:

Heavy Bolter: As said above, Legion of the Damned are excellent heavy weapons mules for their “Slow and Purposeful” ability. The Heavy Bolter is first on the list and is wonderfully cheap.

Missile Launcher: A good choice thanks to its ever viable multiple firing modes. Though it is more expensive than the heavy bolter, it will give the squad some ability against light vehicles.

Plasma Cannon: Though not cheap, its surprisingly not prohibitively expensive as far as weapon options have been going for this unit. Obviously, this packs some serious firepower, but you’re risking a lot of points to the luck of your Gets Hot! rolls.

Lascannon: Too expensive for its performance. For the same cost the multi-melta is much better.

Multi-melta: Though very expensive, the Multi-melta is still a viable option thanks to the Legion of the Damned’s deep striking specialty. With this weapon, you an teleport behind a tank and melt it the same turn you arrive. As an added bonus, it’s range matches up with a regular bolter, meaning the lucky member carrying this weapon won’t be left out of the show until you get next to a tank.

Heavy Flamer: I would say that its strange for this weapon to cost as much as it does, but the writer must have had that “pop in and flatten everything on the same turn” idea discussed above when costing this weapon. Treat the Heavy Flamer like the Multi-melta against infantry and you likely won’t be disappointed.

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