Few vehicles are more easily IDed than the Space Marine Rhino. From a humble start as a very cheap Dedicated Transport, the Rhino’s base hull forms the core of a family of specialized vehicles. Time to take a short look a this workhorse from Codex: Space Marines.
The basic chassis from which all other descend, the Space Marine Rhino fills the role of APC for standard marines. They have a transport capacity of 10, but may not carry anyone except basic marines. Units with Jump Packs, terminators, centurions, Primaris, and wulfen may not use this vehicle. With a good 12 inch move and an Advance roll, Rhinos get your units to their destination quickly. Armament is light, only a storm bolter, with optional second storm bolter and a single hunter-killer missile. Don’t expect for it to win any fights by itself.
With 9th Edition’s transport rules you’ll have to plan well. Units embarked are only able to disembark if the Rhino has not moved this turn and the transport is unengaged. Start by positioning your Rhino near where you want to drop the troops, but far enough away to avoid an enemy charge. Extracting your loaded transport from Engagement Range is difficult as even a Fall Back move prevents them from unloading. Alternately, you can hope the enemy destroys your transport. Your surviving troops climb out of the wreckage to fight on!
Rhinos and variants built on that stock chassis only have a 7 Toughness. This puts them into the light vehicle category. Weapons with Strength as low as 4 will wound on a 5+. Since that covers many small arms such as bolters, shuriken catapults, and others, you can consider the Rhino vulnerable to massed fire.
Another troop carrier, the Razorback trades transport capacity for weapons. Think of the Razorback as an IFV, not only does it get your troops from point A to point B, but it has the weapons to support them in the fight. Razorbacks only carry 6 models and share the same restrictions as the Rhino.
The stock armament of a twin heavy bolter works well against most infantry. With 2 Damage per unsaved wound, even marines dread heavy bolter shots. Optionally, construct your Razorback with the twin assault cannons or twin lascannons suite. The assault cannons, pouring out 12 shots, work wonders against single wound hordes such as Orks or lesser Tyranids. Lascannons, on the other hand, add anti-tank capability and hurt heavy infantry.
Heavy Support Variants
From their beginning as a transport, the Space Marine Rhino branches out into a variety of heavy support roles. Over time, Rhino variants have served as light tanks, self-propelled guns, artillery, and anti-aircraft platforms. Each one also has the Rhino’s standard option of adding a storm bolter and a single hunter-killer missile for when you have points to spare.
I’m going to call them as I see them. While not classified as a light tank by Codex: Space Marines, what else would you call a turreted, tracked vehicle based on an APC chassis. There has been no Toughness upgrade, so you still have to be on the lookout for small arms. However, Predators retain a 12 Move allowing them to keep up with fast moving assaults. The Predator comes in two varieties; the Destructor and Annihilator.
Destructors mount the Predator autocannon in their turret. With Strength 7, 2D3 shots, and 3 Damage, the autocannon does respectable work against heavy infantry squads and multi-wound targets. The light AP, only -1, limits effectiveness against good armor saves. You’ll want to concentrate on targets with a 4+ or worse save. Optional upgrades include either a pair of heavy bolters or lascannons in remote sponsons. Since you’re already planning on engaging lighter targets the heavy bolters are the best choice to optimize the Destructor.
Annihilators hunt bigger game. They mount a twin lascannon in their turret and have the same optional sponsons as the Destructor. Go with lascannons all around to rip apart tanks and massive creatures. Their -3 AP means most successful wounds will get through. If forced to engage infantry, they’re going to do damage, but unlikely to destroy a squad in one round of fire.
Armed with a missile array, Whirlwinds combine a high rate of fire with indirect fire and blast. With this combination of traits Whirlwinds find themselves hiding towards the back of your deployment zone behind as much cover as you can find. They tend not to move until the enemy finally gets a line of sight on them.
Whirlwinds have a choice between the vengeance launcher or the castellan launcher. Vengeance launchers has a lower rate of fire, 2D3, but support better Strength, AP and Damage. Use the vengeance variant for heavier infantry, especially those with 2+ wounds. Meanwhile the castellan, roars out 2D6 shots, but at lower Strength, no AP, and only 1 Damge. Select the castellan when your facing large single wound units; Orks, Guard, and such. Both launchers include the Blast keyword. Use against larger squads as much as possible to avoid low rolls for attacks per turn.
With the Vindicator the basic chassis of the Rhino begins to show improvement. While a bit slower, a 10 Move, the ruggedized hull raises Toughness to 8. At this point, most small arms, bolters and such, need a 6+ to wound. The Vindicator desperately needed the upgrade because it wants to get close.
Vindicators mount a short ranged, 24 inches, demolisher cannon. This large bore siege gun shatters targets with a 10 Strength and D6 Damage. The high AP makes sure the wounds goes through any armor. The addition of Blast allows Vindicators to effectively engage squads as well as single targets.
Vindicators frequently appear with a thick, armored dozer blade. Known as the Vindicator Siege Shield, units add one to their armor saves against ranged attacks. Always take it.
Another up armored Rhino variant, both the Hunter and the Stalker specialize in engaging aircraft. Except for their weapon suites, they are identical with the same Move (10), Toughness (8), and degrading stat lines.
The Hunter mounts a Skyspear missile launcher. Larger than standard Imperial krak missiles, the Skyspear missile launcher engages targets out to 60 inches. Skyspears also have the same Strength, AP, and Damage you’ll find on a lascannon. While only single shot, this profile improves dramatically against aircraft. When a Skyspear targets an aircraft, it adds two to that attack roll and the resulting damage increases to 1D6+6.
Now, the Stalker mounts an array of smaller guns instead of a missile system. The Icarus stormcannon shares the same profile as an autocannon, but fires three times. The stormcannons are paired in the turret for 6 shots. Alone, this makes the Stalker a valid anti-personnel vehicle. But when engaging aircraft they get much, much better. Each attack generates 2 to hit rolls instead of one. Each of those rolls then adds 1 to hit. Against incoming bombers a Stalker will throw out 12 Strength 7, Damage 2 shots.
I prefer the Stalker over the Hunter. While a good roll with the Hunter may deliver 7 – 12 wounds to the target, I prefer the versatility of the Stalker. Stalkers still have a role to play when your opponent doesn’t bring aircraft. The Hunter becomes a very tough lascannon in the same situation.
This covers the width and breath of the Space Marine Rhino as found in the current Codex: Space Marines. There have been many more variants of the Rhino designed by Forge World, Some are still in production, while others have faded into closets around the world. Maybe you’ll see some of them in the wild.
Razorbacks (also makes Rhino), Predators, and Vindicators are all available from your FLGS. The other variants were removed from the regular retail chain. They are part of the Available to Order program, so you might be able to special order from your local retailer. If all else fails, they’re all listed directly on the GW webstore.
If you liked this article, I cover other parts of the Space Marine line in other posts.
1. Space Marine Tactical Squads Loadout
2. Space Marine Sergeant Options and Wargear
3. Space Marine Assault Squad, Jump into Battle
4. Devastator Squad, Space Marine Heavy Metal
and for their Primaris brethren
5. Space Marine Primaris Core Choices, Troops
starts an entire line of articles