Friday, July 23, 2010

Jumping the Gun

So today I will be taking a closer look into what makes the Jump Infantry units unique in the Imperium of Man; specifically the ones belonging to the Angels of Death. A while back I was having a conversation regarding the Black Templar assault marines, and it lead to a larger conversation about the assault marines from every marine codex. So lets take a closer look at this agile and unique unit.

Assault Marines in General

Of course we all know that these marines strive to hit close combat as that is what they are geared to achieve. Armed with a bolt pistol and a close combat weapon, this bumps them to 2 attacks base with a 3rd on the charge. The jump pack allows them a 12" movement making them deadly up to 18" away. This is a pretty large charge radius on the table top. Of course the unit can be used in a number of ways allowing them to be very tactically flexible and accomplish a great many tasks (such as point contesting, key unit strikes, and flanking maneuvers).

Looking at the marine codex's in general, the assault marine squad is one of the most recognizable and in most cases the best bang for your buck as far as points are concerned. You can add up to two flamers or 2 plasma pistols into the squad to allow them to have some extra bite to the enemy which really helps tip the scales in their favor

Codex Astartes

Now this codex doesn't change much from the humble assault marine, but it does add some neat tricks for the unit to make them better. The first and foremost is the ability to combat squad, turning one 10 man unit into 2 5 man units. This is a nifty little trick that is very helpful when it comes to covering more ground with a smaller number of starting units. A word of caution though as a 5 man squad can often have troubles getting to the assault and still have enough attacks to make a successful assault.

The second trick from this codex is the Combat Tactics rule. This allows a unit to voluntarily fail a leadership test. This can be a good trick if it is more beneficial to have the enemy unit you are attacking to be able to get shot at and then charged yet again in your next turn. This does require the timing to be right, but if it works it turns out to be a great strategy.

The last little trick this codex adds is the ability to take characters to help them work a little better. In this case, Shrike would be the biggest example. Now, in taking him, you lose the combat tactics rule, but you replace this with the fleet special rule. Instead of having a leadership trick, you gain an addition range on the charge making them dangerous at an effective range of 24" if a 6 on the fleet role is made. This means you can close the gap on the standard match on the first turn... this is amazing for the assault marine as there is 0 down time. There is also the addition of the Infiltrating unit attached to Shrike himself. This unit will be able to set up in a good location to get a charge on a specific unit and thus cripple a major piece of the enemy's battle plan.

All in all the Assault Marines (especial those with Shrike on the field) can be a pretty amazing unit for the standard Marine armies out there.

Dark Angels

This is not meant to offend any Dark Angels players out there who enjoy their assault marines, but I can't say they are a really good choice for this codex. They gain no real benefits, and the use of Ravenwing is a pretty superior choice from this codex. Now they aren't bad inherently, but the bikers and speeders just offer much more than this unit can. Of course if Sammael hits the table, the Ravenwing become troops and then the fast attack option is open for these units, however I would still suggest putting more points into the Ravenwing themselves.

All in all it's not much, but they can still serve a useful roll in this army despite my poor feelings towards them.

Black Templar

Again this is a choice that I have a hard time saying yes to. There are a few reasons for this, and the biggest of which is the redundancy problem. The core of this army which already has over costed units due to it's age is the Crusader Squad. Not only is this unit scoring, but it has the ability to have the same wargear, more options, and with the righteous zeal moves, they can be just as fast. The Assault Marines do not have the zeal move, and so they miss out on this.

With their age does come a slight benefit as they still have the old ability of the assault marine to take melta bombs on every member of the unit. This can be great at getting rid of a pesky tank or two, but the main problem is that it takes the assault to do it. This means the assault is wasted on the transport instead of hitting unit inside, which can then come and destroy the assault squad.

The last problem with the unit is the cost it takes to run them. Minimum number of 5 as 22 points per model base, and 24 with melta bombs. Now if you add a special weapon of some sort, the cost keeps going up. Overall, in a codex that scrambles to get points where it can, this units just hogs too many of them for very little benefit over other similar and frankly better units.

This makes the Templar player in me sad as I really love what the assault marine can accomplish and the look of the jump pack.

Space Wolves

So basically these are the bloodclaws who found a way to strap jump packs to their armor and take off before the artificer found out. I like to imagine he was too drunk to really know what was going on. Either way these guys have some ups and downs, but overall not a bad choice.

They do have a little lower stat line as they are still technically scouts (in power armor). so other MEQ armies will be hitting them on 3's. However, the unit does benefit from the bloodclaw special rule regarding the charge, gaining not 1, but 2 additional attacks on the charge. This can be devastating to anything they hit, especially if a wolf priest is present to help lend them a hand and allow shooting on the way in.

Overall... a solid choice in the codex, especially if one wants to build a great bloodclaw themed army.

Blood Angels

Now for those of you who missed 1st grade, you should know that 1+ 1 = 2, nap time is great, and Blood Angels run assault marines. As some of the other armies had several reason not to run these marines, this codex as several reasons why you should.

First and foremost, they're troops. That's all that is really needed to say on this regard as scoring units are what win the games when objectives are used as well as the ability to run an army wide Assault Marine army.

Second. They have the ability to run something that not many other assault marine can use...

Melta guns make this unit go, as they can now pop transports of all shapes and sizes (yes even the mighty land raider starts shaking in it's boots at the sight of this over abundant weapon) and then hit the unit inside with the charge. All and all one could argue this fact alone allows the unit to work better than any others.

Another great benefit is the Blood Angels rule which makes them roll a dice before the game. Oddly enough it's looked at as being a bad thing, but it makes them fearless and gain the furious charge rule. Keep in mind this (much like Shrike) can be amplified by taking Astorath. There is nothing bad about furious charge Assault marines.

And the big reason behind this unit's great success is the fact that not only can they swap out their packs fro fast rhinos, they can use a different transport unique to the army, the Stormraven. Not only is this a deadly flying firing platform, but it can transport jump infantry, and a dreadnought to support them. When this model finally hits the shelves, the Blood Angels players world wide will more than likely find it the most potent and beautiful weapon in their already impressive arsenal.

So there you have it. The Assault Marines across the board. So what do you think about this unit?



  1. I think the templars have the second best jump infantry in the whole SM rang.
    They already come with frags (in a sense making them cheaper). Also, templar do not have much of a way to kill dred noughts in close combat.
    Perferd enemy melta bombs (and it is a close combat attack against a weapon skill) is a great way to kill units that might tie up you crusaders.

  2. The only real reason I said they weren't effective is the fact that the crusader squads are kitted similarly, count as scoring, and they have answers to mech without wasting the charge itself.

    They are great, but I feel they are outdone by the crusader squads in most cases.

  3. Well as a Wolf player, I must say that you are almost correct about the Skyclaws. However, their drawback is the same as the drawback for the rest of the blood claws, and from my opinion, they just are not worth their points. Yes they can be very effective at capturing, and contesting points late game, but on the same hand with the proper placement of the Wolf Scouts you can obtain the same result, and have better weaponry.

    I say that the scouts are a better choice, not only because they have the ability to equip better weapons, but on the same note, they have the behind enemy lines! special rules, which allows them to outflank, and on a 3-6 I choose where they come in at including your back table edge, where as you have to roll a certain number to gain a table edge, I get my choice.

    No i do not run scouts, as I can never decide on what I should kit them with, but I do have a squad of assault marines for this purpose, only I use them to counter assault the enemy when they think they have my grey hunters on the run, and suddenly there is the skyclaws leaping over the land raiders to cause some havoc before the guard hit the board.

  4. Nice read, very insightful. I don't have the Codex with me, but if Sammael makes Fast choices Troops, wouldn't that make DA Assault troops almost as nasty as Blood Angels? Or did I misread? I know cost is probably a consideration, as well.

  5. Sammael makes the Ravenwing squadron a troops choice, so the Jump marines would miss out on being troops. That's kind of the Blood Angels thing.