Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stop... Hammer Time

After my recent switch to Windows 7, I had to back up many of my old files. One of these files was my 40k lists folder; in other words the "where my free time goes" folder. I almost never look back at these old lists as I have a tendency to be a little A.D.D. with my armies. But one thing I noticed after looking over some of these lists was that I always, without fail try to have a good killy death squad (or Hammer unit).

A quick description of a hammer unit is basically a unit that has one job, hit the enemy as hard as possible. The unit will almost always be played in a manner similar to annihilation and will most times be found hitting the enemy hard to weaken their lines. This is always a valuable asset to have as it weakens the opponents line against your important scoring units which often times have a hard time surviving when under fire. I use hammers quite effectively in controlling the game by devastating a valuable enemy unit, and most times it draws a lot of fire.

I know I have some major ill-will towards the Codex: Space Marines, but I have to tip my Iron Halo to the Assault Terminators. The TH/SS terminators are unparalleled in damage output and survivability. Most times a hammer unit will hit, then fall to pieces in the following phase or two; but these guys keep on truckin' through just about anything the enemy can through at them. But they still have their one weakness, which is where the true topic of this post comes in.

The assault terminators, even with a 3+ invulnerable save have one glaring weakness, and that is surplus of wounds. Yes, a few lascannons will be easily shrugged off, but 20 or so lasguns wounds will still often destroy the squad which usually only number 5 + IC's. Since the cost per model is pretty salty, units like this are often small, and a single death can really cause some damage to the it's ability to continue killing. This is the weakness that I have felt come in to play against my Assault Terminators many a time... So I have been looking around at alternatives.

With 3k points in my Crimson Fists army, I have turned to an alternative codex that has always been a favorite of mine, but I never truly started; but now I have a reason to. And so, I shall embark on a journey to master the Black Templars codex. What can I say, I'm a sucker for the Dorn gene-seed.

After building what seemed to be a standard list, incorporating the same old uber lightning claw termies that most templar armies seem to have, I came across a gem of a unit. The Command Squad unit in the HQ section can be kitted out, for what seems to me at least, a fair price tag (both monetarily and points) It costs about 1.5 to 2 times the points as a normal crusader squad, but will hands down perform much better than two normal crusader squads could hope to. The only real down side is they are hard to keep alive without an invulnerable, so they will defiantly be taking some heavy fire. However, with a 9 man unit, + an IC (I chose a counts as Helbrecht which allows me some Neophytes too) the unit has some absurd abilities thanks to their upgraded units (Sergeant, Standard bearer, Company Champion, etc.) I look at this unit as being the nob squad of the Marines. And with the over abundance of cover in 5th, the unit should have no trouble keeping their heads down when the big shots start flyin'.

This unit is easily considered a hammer unit, and for it's points will do very well. Yes, it still has a weakness of AP3 fire, but in the end, AP3 in mass is harder to find than a lot of crap shots from bolters, lasguns, fleshborers, sluggas, pulse riffles, gauss flayers, etc... In my opinion, I think a unit like this isn't given enough credit for what it can do. Yes, now many of their attacks are not power wounds, but the same principle of causing armor saves in mass applies here (I5 S5 attacks in mass will do that, especially with proffered enemy :D)

So I will open this up to you the readers. Do you take a Hammer Unit? If so, what kind is it? Does it have small numbers with awesome stats/attacks, or large numbers with mixed attacks? Also, what are your thoughts on the Hammer mentality? I like having a unit my enemy fears, but some feel it is best to save the points and field mass grunts to overwhelm the enemy. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. Cheers!


  1. That's interesting. I've been playing my Crimson Fists as Black Templars since the 5 Ed. Marine Codex came out.

    I run a 14-man Crusader Squad with Emperor's Champion in a LRC. I find this to be a decent hammer unit, although it is steadily losing its power compared to the newer Codices. I also run a pair of Vindicators along with it. They help to take some pressure off the LRC.

    You can check out my army's exploits at:

  2. The main problem I see with the command squad option is the loss of that 2+ save compared to the TH/SS termies.. as a nid player I know what the loss of a 2+ save on things can do to things and that is that mass wounds will cause even more damage to the squad.. but then again its all about finding the balance..

    The better the save the more expensive the unit the less models you have in it... The less survivability the more bodies in the squad.. Finding a balance between point cost, survivability, and damage output is the goal. And black templars do seem to have some good options to acheive it

  3. I have to say that the 'hammer' unit is something that in my heart has found it's place. While I'm still new to actually having hammers, I run my Chaos Terminator Champions with 4 sets of lightning claws, and one chain fist and combi-melta. I found it to be a very good unit, until maneuverability. Starting in deep strike because they ran with Abaddon, was a mjor fall back, so I finally made up my mind to cut one of the champions, and put them into their land raider.

    Now with my Wolves, I have tried the hammer squad, and I just do not like their ability to deal the damage. I'm still having to lean back to going with wolf claws. Of course instead of getting all the amazing buffs that assault termies get, I just get a big hammer. However I think that the general idea is in fact valid. I'm looking closer into seeing what I could possibly do to these guys to make it just that much better.

  4. I'd agree. Wolf TH/SS guard run 63 points a model. Regular assault termis run 40 points a model. Fact remains that however you want to slice it, they're stupid expensive for a single wound. You have to bank HARD on nailing saves.
    -Corvinus Sanguinus