The Space Marine Tactical Squad once formed the backbone of their armies. Now, in 9th edition they face a great deal of competition from specialized Primaris squads. Still, older battle brothers still have the strength to be part of your army.
We’re going over the Tactical squad today to explain their options to newer players. Let’s take an in depth look.
Tactical Squad – Ups & Downs
Tactical Squads use the same building blocks as Primaris troop selections. Start with a minimum 5 man squad and upgrade to 10 marines if you want. Power Levels are identical to most of the Primaris troops and your per model points are the lowest in the troops section.
Now, that slight lag in points comes with two costs. Standard marines have one less Attack on their profile. Also, their main weapon, the boltgun, lags behind other units weapons. Intercessors tend to have better range and AP. Infiltrators and Incursors bolt carbines, while at the same range, AP, and Strength, have their own special rules.
So, why pick the Tactical Marine squad? Their advantages lies in versatility. They have a variety of heavy and special weapons available to tune your squad into the right tool for any job. Then their sergeant also selects from a large assortment of melee, pistols, and combi-weapons to further enhance your unit.
Secret Superpower – More Options
So, you’re building the Tactical squad. Among your earliest decisions will be squad size. A full ten man Tactical squad may include a heavy weapon and a special weapon. A smaller squad may only choose one or the other, not both. The larger squad lasts longer on the tabletop, but two 5-marine squads double-up on your sergeant’s options.
As you start play, I would recommend the going with two small squads. This provides you some flexibility as you play. At a later date, assemble a second tactical squad box to bring your existing squads up to full strength. Or go all in on multiple small units!
Now on to the weapons of your marines
Heavy Weapons Selection
Heavy weapons are large, unwieldy devices with the Heavy rate of fire. While you’re able to fire them on the move, you’ll need to remain stationary to get full accuracy.
For heavy weapons, only the missile launcher is included in the Tactical box. For the rest of these high power options you’ll have to grab a box of the Devastators which has 2 each of the heavy weapons. Heavy weapons are large, unwieldy devices with the Heavy rate of fire.
Missile Launcher: Without a doubt the most common Space Marine heavy infantry weapon. The missile launcher has been present in every plastic kit since at least third edition. A versatile weapon, missile launchers succeed at a engaging every kind of target. Krak missiles target vehicles, monsters, and multi-wound models. Meanwhile, the frag missile increases your attacks against hordes by a D6 and has Blast.
Heavy bolter: Another very common weapon from Warhammer 40,000’s past, heavy bolters return strongly in 9th edition. The main reason, their Damage changed from 1 to 2. This, once again allows them to engage all low and mid range targets. Any unsaved wounds also kill both regular and Primaris marines in standard armors.
Lascannon: The primary Imperial anti-tank weapon, lascannons still excel in that role. Strength 9 gives you a 3+, or better, to wound everything on the battlefield. Their high AP makes that wound stick. Lascannons, still fit to purpose.
Multi-melta: Another classic given a new lease on life, multi-meltas excel at anti-everything work. They combine high strength, AP wounds, and improved rate of fire in one powerful package. While still limited in range, they saw a large increase in 9th, making them even deadlier on the cluttered battlefields of 40K.
Plasma cannon: Formerly the premiere anti-marine weapon, plasma cannons haven’t changed much. High strength, AP, and blast permit you to engage all but the toughest of targets. Supercharging lets you go after Toughness 8, but at a risk. The only drawback to this choice is a random rate of fire, D3. The plasma cannon makes another good generalist weapon.
Grav-cannon: The newest weapon in the Tactical marine arsenal, grav-cannons are now the premiere anti-marine and equivalent weapon. While a little shorter ranged than a heavy bolter, grav-cannons make up with improved rate of fire, strength, and AP. Also, when they attack a model with a 3+ or better save, their Damage increases to 2.
Special Weapons Selection
Very similar to their heavy weapon cousins, special weapons squeeze superior firepower into a rifle sized package. They lack the range and increased rate of fire of their larger counterparts, but possess more punch than a boltgun.
Flamer: Your premier assault weapon, flamers may be fired even when advancing and always hit. Among their drawbacks are a 12 inch range and your constant desire to squeeze another grav or plasma gun into your list. However, flamers also make the perfect overwatch weapon due to the always hit trick.
Grav-gun: Still great at killing marines and other heavy armor opponents, their limited range may make the plasma gun more attractive. However, you’re unlikely to lose the model when rolling a 1 with a grav-gun.
Meltagun: Just the gun for packing more anti-tank firepower into a squad.
While their range is low, their Assault type lets you extend it with a regular move or even an advance. Your accuracy may suffer, but nothing beats pouring melta fire into a tank from a starting point 19+ inches away.
Plasma gun: Among the most sought after special weapons in prior editions, plasma guns freely engaged a whole gamut of foes. With eighth edition they became even better as it could be fired on standard at Strength 7 without the chance of losing your marine. Just like the plasma cannon, this special weapon takes on almost all comers.
Tying Weapons to Roles
We’ve already talked about squad sizes, but now we know more about our weapon options. Time to dig into a few more questions before completing our squads.
Who am I expecting to fight against? This question concerns your opposing player and the Codex they bring to the battle. In groups of friends you’ll already have a good idea of this. Mitchell might only have Necrons, while Tony brings Orks, and Chris has played Astra Militarum since the dawn of time. You’ll want to choose weapons based on this knowledge. Against Mitchell, you’ll be proffering anti-tank and marine killing weapons like plasma, melta, grav, lascannons, and so on. Against Tony, you’ll want flamers, heavy bolters, and missiles. Chris, well that’s a harder call.
How do they equip themselves? In a local game, What collection of models does your opponent have and what do they like to bring to the table. Back to Chris, he’s got enough tanks to fill a parking lot and around 150 guardsmen. While balanced weapon choices would seem best, flamers and heavy bolters for his infantry, las and melta for the tanks, you’re out some firepower if he only brings one extreme or another. You’ll want to outfit with weapons that can swing at either set of targets. Missile launchers and plasma fill that position.
Going into an unknow situation, like playing at a club or tournament, brings up an entirely different set of responses. You might face anything! Remember, options are your superpower. Select a solid core of generalist kit centered on missiles and/or plasma. Spice with specialists on each extreme, multi-meltas and lascannons for heavy weapons, flamers and grav for special weapons
What role does this squad play in my battleplan? Finally, how will you use your troops once they begin play. Units intended to hold back field objectives or form part of a firebase need long ranged weapons. Units intended to move forward want to carry Assault or Rapid Fire weapons. Shorter ranged heavy weapons also get consideration since they usually trade range for rate of fire. Of course, a full strength Tactical squad may use their Combat Squad Deployment Ability to split themselves up with each part having one weapon dedicated to their particular role!
Sorry friends, this article is running a bit long for today. I’ll be back soon to discuss your sergeants options. The choices made for the sergeant of a Tactical squad are very similar to those made for other original marine squads. You’ll see how it applies across the board to Assault and Devastator squads as well.