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Tactica Astartes 5E - Fast Attack

Assault Marines

Ice Angels Assault Marine by IceAngel


Assault Marines are one of those units in this codex that reminds us “Vanilla Marines” players that being a jack of all trades still means that you’re a master of none. Despite their title, Assault Marines typically underperform when put on the offensive. That’s not to say they are bad; they’re just not amazing. As one of this codex's dedicated close-combat units, Assault Marines stack poorly against similarly-purposed units from any other codex. Instead of simply assaulting with your Assault Marines, you’re best off using them to flank your enemies and/or harass vulnerable targets. If nothing else, they are a good way to get more power-armored bodies onto the field, and their speed will allow them to sweep up and destroy weakened enemy units. They can also take advantage of homing beacons, allowing for some fast reinforcements for your frontline units. The paired swords and pistols give them a bonus attack in close combat; three total for the sergeant, and two for the regulars. Adding the further +1 for getting the charge on and you’ve got decent potential damage output for such a small unit.


Along with their Jump Packs, Assault Marines have only Chainswords and Pistols, and grenades.

For every five Assault Marines in the squad, one may exchange a Bolt Pistol for:

Flamer: A full squad of ten with two of these come recommended by most. You’ve still got enough attacks in close combat from the rest of the squad to remain a threat, but the flamer gives you good ranged output to back that up.

Plasma Pistol: The advantage to this weapon is that you’re trading one pistol out for another, so still get to keep your bonus attack. The problem though, is that while with the flamer you can get four or so hits with one shot, a pistol can only ever fire one shot, reducing the value of that shot’s power by a value of a lot.

May exchange Assault Sergeant’s Bolt Pistol and/or Chainsword for:

Storm Shield: An interesting choice, but one has to decide whether or not the sergeant is an individual worth paying to protect. It’s not prohibitively expensive, but is it worth the points? I don’t think so, personally.

Plasma Pistol: Like before, you still don’t get enough for the points paid.

Power Weapon: This option naturally lends itself well to the squad. You still get your extra attack, while also getting to ignore enemy saves.

Power Claw: The power sword is a better choice for the same cost because of its extra attack, but this option is still good by virtue of being a power weapon.

Power Fist: The idea behind this option is to jump in behind a tank and get a good whack in. Against other targets the fist is built to tackle, the assault squad just doesn’t have the stats. For this specific reason, the thunder hammer is much better a choice, but if you don’t have the parts to make one, this will do in its place.

Thunder Hammer: Though very expensive for such an average model, the thunder hammer is still a good choice because it is so devastating when turned against a tank. With the Assault Squad’s speed and a bit of luck, you can get the jump on a tank and smash it to bits in short order, instantly redeeming your squad’s costs.

Pair of Lightning Claws: Pairing these weapons give you the benefit of an extra attack as well as re-rolling failed to wounds. However, this is a very expensive choice, and a lone power sword is likely to do a good enough job on his own.


Melta Bombs: If you didn’t want to invest in a fist or hammer, but still want to get some opportunities against a vehicle if you get the chance, then take this.

Combat Shield: Though a 5++ save isn’t much to look at, you get this extra protection without giving up any attacks or weapon options at a bargain price. If you’re looking to add a bit more survivability, then this is what you should be looking at over the storm shield.

Vanguard Veterans

Aurora Chapter Vanguard Veteran Sergeant by altesia


Vanguard Veterans are the close-combat counterpart to the range-inclined Sternguard. This theme of opposites hold true even for their battlefield effectiveness, unfortunately. Much like Devastators, Vanguard are a unit that could have been really neat, and even good, but is undermined by some mind-bottling points costs. I and many others have sat in our armchairs wondering how to make this unit viable, but there really is no simple way of doing it. The short way of explaining what makes them poor is that by the time they get upgraded to being halfway decent, they start approaching Assault Terminator-costs while not being nearly as effective as Assault Terminators. The easiest way to make them a bit more effective despite their costs is to attach a special character such as Khan or Shrike to them, but any unit that needs that kind of babysitting is still poor by design, and Assault Terminators still make better company for them. You might point to the “Heroic Intervention” special ability as a redeeming feature, but note how it requires those overpriced jump packs to be available, and you have no grantee that you’ll be able to deep strike safely, or even within assault range, potentially leaving your glorified assault marines exposed to all sorts of unhealthy things.


Vanguard come only with Pistols and Chainswords, along with their grenades. The Vanguard Sergeant has a power sword instead of a regular CC-Weapon. This weapon loadout gives them all a base attack number of 2(3), but they already cost more than Assault Marines and don’t even get jump packs!

The Vanguard Sergeant may exchange his Power Sword for:

Lightning Claw: Free does not necessarily make this option good. With such a small and expensive unit as this, volume of attacks is more valuable than the quality. Still, it’s probably worth remembering.

Power Fist: With the hammer costing only a few points more, there is no reason to take this option. If you’re going to spend points, you might as well go for the best options you can get.

Thunder Hammer: Better than the fist thanks to its special rules. It’s as good a choice as any given three attacks on the charge.

Relic Blade: This is perhaps the Sergeant’s best choice, since it doesn’t slow him down.

Any Vanguard may exchange his Pistol and/or Chainsword for:

Storm Shield: This option already forces comparisons between these guys and Terminators, who have it better in every way short of not being able to sweep. A Storm Shield only becomes worth considering once you hit that point where you really need to be looking for ways to make sure your investment doesn’t get killed by a stray plasma bolt. Still, like many other things about Vanguard, they’re just too expensive.

Plasma Pistol: With everything else pertaining toward actually making Vanguard useful already too expensive, there is no room for this option in the world of the Vanguard.

Power Weapon: Perhaps the most efficient option for your regular veterans. If you are looking for ways to make you Vanguard a bit more decent, this is a good place to start.

Lightning Claw: It’s honestly rare that your Vanguard will come across an enemy where these will be more useful than swords. For the same cost, the swords are better.

Power Fist: Even on your regular veterans, the thunder hammer is a better choice.

Thunder Hammer: Though the temptations to model a full squad of hammer-toting veterans is strong, you shouldn’t take more than one or two of these in the whole squad for insurance against vehicles and tough enemies. Still, these are very expensive. If you want to make the most out of Vanguard, you should kit them out for anti-infantry tasks and leave the tank and monster-hunting to the big guns.


Meltabombs: Losing such a squad as this to a Deff Dread or some such would be incredibly humiliating. You should take these, if nothing else.

Jump Packs: This option should be free. It’s key to using the Heroic Intervention ability, but since it’s not sure to work, the best you can expect from this upgrade is a speed increase. Your points will be better spent putting this squad in a Rhino or Razorback.

Land Speeder Squadron

Imperial Fists Land Speeder by louisjcker


I’ve been a long time fan of Land Speeders, so I’m glad to say that they are a good asset to take to battle in this codex. The Land Speeder’s strengths lie in its high speed and ability to deliver a surprisingly heavy payload into the enemy’s flanks. The ability to deep strike means that you can take a risk to get them where you need them if you can’t trust it to skim through the battlefield on its own, but the Land Speeder becomes something fierce when Khan takes the reigns and give it the ability to outflank. Use this in combination with supporting bikes and good timing and luck, and you’ve got a strong plan.


Each Land Speeder only has standard one Heavy Bolter to themselves. However, they do get a short list of upgrades that can heavily augment what they’re capable of and how good they are at doing it.

Land Speeders can exchange their Heavy Bolter for:

Heavy Flamer: This option isn’t so a good a replacement for the Heavy Bolter on its own, but when paired with another weapon it’s excellent, as it allows for the Landspeeder to provide a variety of roles surprisingly well for a pretty low price.

Multi-Melta: This add a heavy flamer give way to what is sometimes known as the “Land Speeder Hesperia”; able to zoom in and roast tanks and infantry with equal proficiency.

Any Land Speeder may take one from the following:

Typhoon Missile Launcher: Since this costs almost as much as a whole new Land Speeder, its generally recommended to take no more than one per squadron. The Typhoon Launcher provides even more flexibility and good fire support for the rest of the squadron and nearby units, but more firepower isn’t always needed; those points might have better uses elsewhere.

Heavy Flamer: The same ideas apply for this weapon as listed above. Obviously more effective in pairs at what they do, but you don’t need to specialize that much for this unit.

Heavy Bolter: Surprisingly not a bad choice when taken with another heavy bolter if all you’re looking for is some cheap and fast fire support.

Multi-melta: I can’t really expand on this weapon option. The same principles apply with the Heavy Flamer option and its previous entry in the wargear list.

Assault Cannon: Some people swear by these, but I don’t think they match up to the Typhoon Launcher in terms of utility and power for the same price.

Bike Squad

White Scars Bike by yarrick2k5


Despite almost unanimous agreement that bikes and biker armies are good on the tabletop, its tough finding someone with experience using them. From what I’ve gathered, though, the usual use for this squad is for the bikers to serve as meatshields for an attached attack bike with a multi-melta. This obviously isn’t the only use for them though. Bikes’ strengths lie in their “fake” Toughness 5, “Relentless”, and their speed. Their weaknesses are their cost, low numbers and vulnerability in urban environments where their speed will be severely hampered. With this in mind, it looks like bikers make great supporting units and early objective claimers, but their low numbers and high cost can leave them vulnerable to being overwhelmed, especially if they’ve sped too far ahead of your main force.


Bikers get Bolt Pistols and grenades, along with the twin-linked Bolters attached to their bikes. They get a number of upgrades, but its difficult to figure out what will actually be useful and what is simply a waste of points.

The Sergeant can exchange his Bolt Pistol for:

Plasma Pistol: With T(5), Gets Hot isn’t really a concern anymore. However, the plasma pistol still lacks the range to warrant its price, and can’t take advantage of “Relentless”.

Combi-weapon: “Relentless” doesn’t do much for most of the -weapons, but it does provide some flexibility to the squad without losing anything.

Power Weapon: If you’re worried about getting bogged down in close-combat, this option can get you through things a bit faster. Still, it’s not an essential item.

Power Fist: Good when used on an outflanking squad taking a whack a at tank’s rear. Though expensive, it has it uses.

The Sergeant can take:

Meltabombs: A good choice if you come across any tanks while scouting out the objective.

Up to two Bikers can exchange their Bolt Pistols for:

Flamer: Bike squads will always be outnumbered, so this is a great choice to even the odds a bit.

Meltagun: Bikers have good maneuverability and speed, allowing them the chance to get a good shot to a tank’s flank. This option is fairly cheap too, making it a good choice.

Plasma Gun: “Relentless” and T(5) more or less remove all the bad features to this weapon, leaving a pretty good choice that competes with the meltagun.

May add to the squad:

One Attack Bike: People like to add this to the squad and apply the School of the Hidden Powerfist to it. As it is, it’s a perfectly good way to add fire support to the squad.

Attack Bike can exchange its Heavy Bolter for:

Multi-melta: This option changes the rest of the squad’s purpose to taking bullets for the attack bike while it lines up shots at a tank’s flank. A good choice for cautious players who know how to allocate wounds.

Attack Bike Squad

White Scars Attack Bike by yarrick2k5


This unit competes with the Land Speeder Squadron, trading utility for durability. There’s not a whole lot to this unit, but a trio can add some stiff backbone in a faltering battle line.


Bolt Pistol, grenades, a built in twin-linked Bolter and a Heavy Bolter on the sidecar.

May exchange Heavy Bolters for:

Multi-melta: Since Heavy Bolters and Multi-meltas are designed to go against completely different targets, its recommended you upgrade the entire squad or none at all. Two or three bikes with these can make an effective tank-hunting unit.

Land Speeder Storm

Eagle Warriors Land Speeder Storm by Doggles


A lot of people, myself included, bemoan this not being a dedicated transport option for scouts. If it was, we’d probably be seeing a lot more of these on the field. Still, I consider this unit underappreciated for what it can do. The ability to deepstrike and “Scout” give you a lot of deployment options, as well as first-turn/alpha striking opportunities. A unit of Scouts can hitch a ride onboard, taking shots at close by enemies and barreling out once in rage for an assault thanks to it being an open-topped vehicle. The Storm is, however, as fragile as Space Marine vehicles ca get. Being an open-topped vehicle, it’s even easier to break than a regular Land Speeder. Thus, it’s a sign of the Emperor’s grace should this vehicle survive more than the first couple of turns.


The Storm comes with a couple of unique utilities. The Cerberus Launcher lowers the enemy’s Leadership value when the riding Scouts charge at them, which increases the odds that your opponents will break, and run for it, opening up for a possible sweeping advance. The other item of interest is the Jamming Beacon, which scrambles the enemy’s deepstrike plotting. With only a range of 6”, it’s admittedly not much, but its worth remembering. In terms of weaponry, the Storm doesn’t have much to speak of: one Heavy Bolter fired by a BS 3 Scout.

May Exchange Heavy Bolter for:

Heavy Flamer: A lot of people believe that this is the option to jump for, since the template negates the firing scout’s average shooting ability. Personally, I think the range is too short to worth the risk, but it’s still a good option nonetheless.

Multi-melta: With only a single shot at BS 3, I don’t recommend this option. Save your tank hunting for units that can risk missing.

Assault Cannon: As novel as it is seeing this as an option for such a fragile platform, it’s too expensive to take for competitive play. However, multiple shots make up for the average BS, and “rending” can usually manage to do something interesting every once in a while.

Scout Bike Squad

Novamarines Scout Bikes by jep'ray


Another underappreciated unit that can actually be very effective, the Scout bikers, like their footslogging brethren, have a diverse and unique range of wargear to choose from that allows them to do a lot of interesting things in interesting ways. Scout Bikers have both the “Scout” and “Infiltrate” special rules, allowing them to easily get you the alpha strike, and increased Toughness from the bike also makes up for the 4+ armor save.


Bikes being Bikes, your Scouts get twin-linked Bolters, which will help with their BS 3. They also get Bolt Pistols, grenades, and Shotguns. Why Shotguns? They’re in case you traded out your twin-linked Bolters for Grenade Launchers, and need to get close-range shots off without risking missing with the blasts.

The Scout Sergeant can exchange his Bolt Pistol for:

Plasma Pistol: The weaponry on your bike is already much better than this option. Too expensive and too useless.

Combi-weapon: Only the -melta is really a good option. The others are too short ranged and not needed.

Power Weapon: Best used as a defensive weapon, but can help overwhelm small, straggling units that this unit my come across.

Power Fist: This weapon doesn’t do a whole lot for the squad. Take meltabombs for vehicles, and keep your distance from the really dangerous enemies.

The Sergeant may buy:

Meltabombs: I recommend you take this in case any vehicles expose themselves to the squad.

Locator Beacon: Combined with the ability to Infiltrate and make a Scout move, this option can be very powerful when used properly. If you can afford it, and know how to make the most of it, then this is a very good choice.

Up to 3 Bikes can exchange their Twin-Linked Bolters for:

Astartes Grenade Launcher: This option turns an decent unit into a potent force. A squad with three of these in rapid fire range can put out six S3 AP6 blast-templates, or six S6 AP4 shots per shooting round. That’s a ton of firepower from only three models at a bargain price.


Cluster Mines: Though the actual bang isn’t very impressive, this option’s real power is in the psychological effect it can have. Brazen players will risk it, but cautious people and depleted units will hesitate to dive behind that 3+ ruin if it means they can still loose a model or two from it. This has obvious uses fortifying objectives as well, just remember where you put them, since they don’t discriminate between friend and foe.

Other Articles

Tactica Astartes 5E - HQ - Tactica Astartes 5E -Troops - Tactica Astartes 5E - Transports - Tactica Astartes 5E - Elites - Tactica Astartes 5E - Heavy Support

Article written by Ironsight. All images belong to their respective owners.


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