40K Tactics: Space Marine Heroes – Ortan Cassius

Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at Chaplain Cassius – the man in black!  I hope you enjoy this article!

Space Marine players have access to the most extensive roster of unique characters in the game, providing so many diverse play-styles and inherent advantages that encourage players to experiment with a wealth of differing army lists. Unlike some other codices, few of these characters are solely based around damage potential; instead, they provide ground-breaking support abilities and potential for thematic army creation that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Though they are restricted to their own Chapter Tactics now, the advice given in the previous Space Marines codex very much rings true to this day; these are templates for mighty heroes to lead your forces, built to give you something you simply cannot find from a kitted out regular character. Where Marneus Calgar allows you to control the morale aspect of Warhammer 40000, Kor’sarro Khan provides free early movement to an entire force, allowing them to dominate positioning and deployment. As Helbrecht is the lynchpin for an army-wide massed and devastating assault, Vulkan He’stan gives you the means to make a Salamanders army the true masters of anti-vehicular warfare. It is such that you cannot judge these characters on the merits of combat or martial prowess alone, but on how they allow for incredible strategic flexibility in the army list creation phase, and in tactical adaptability through their considerable, palpable aura on the field of battle. These Space Marines count themselves amongst the finest heroes in all of the Imperium, and each has their own mark to leave on your army.

Ortan Cassius, the Master of Sanctity

Overview – Where one sees purity, another sees the stain of corruption. Where one sees faith, another sees only a mask of lies. Such is the fate of a Chaplain, and few are more venerable than Ortan Cassius, the Ultramarines’ Master of Sanctity. A veteran of the Tyrannic Wars, Cassius is one tough nut to crack, and really, that is the main reason you would want to bring him over a regular Chaplain. The difference between the two is the price of a Terminator, and one must always ask if taking the cheaper option would be more worthwhile, as Cassius is less adaptable and doesn’t quite bring the same game-changing army-wide support abilities that Calgar, Sicarius and Tigurius do. Chaplains are by no means a great choice in 6th Edition, due firstly to their cost, their relatively low survivability and damage output, as well as the generally mediocre benefits they provide specifically to Space Marines. They don’t compare at all well to the cheaper Librarians or similarly costed Captains, fulfilling a rather iffy middle role between the two divergent characters. Space Marines lack great assault units, and often even those expensive units – such as Honour Guard or Assault Terminators – still don’t stack up to Flesh Hounds, Daemonettes and monstrous creatures, regardless of the addition of a Chaplain or not. Still, in this case, Cassius does have a lot of perks that disassociate himself from regular Chaplains in a pretty big way, and first up his survivability. With a Toughness of six – no joke – and the Feel No Pain special rule, on top of power armour and a 4+ invulnerable save, Cassius is truly a tough nut to crack for a lot of enemies; many blows will simply bounce off his Toughness, and getting through his saving throws isn’t easy. He is immune to the most common form of Instant Death, though it must be said that with only two wounds, you can’t afford to throw him against tough opposition with little thought. Most monstrous creatures will still slay him in a single round of combat, and many nasty combat characters – such as Chaos Lords with the Axe of Blind Fury, or even fellow Chapter Masters with the Burning Blade or a Thunder Hammer – that are seen commonly will smash him to bits with ease.

This is the illusion that must be broken with Cassius; he is tough enough to wither a lot of blows from low Strength sources, such as regular power swords and the like, but trying to use him as a combat beat-stick simply will not work. Four attacks on the charge with a power maul and similar stats to a regular Chaplain do hurt quite a bit overall, but not as much as a Captain kitted out with a thunder hammer and artificer armour for a similar price would be. Cassius has the advantage of survivability, but the Captain will still beat him to death in record time. Importantly, what really undermines his Toughness is the majority toughness rule, effectively dictating that any squad he joins will imprint him with their Toughness of four (or five, in the case of Centurions). While he still benefits from Feel No Pain, any benefit to that boosted Toughness he pays for will be lost when outside of close combat, and trust me, you don’t want him to be out in the open or left with but one ally in the unit either. This makes it a bit harder to justify for his cost, as that boosted Toughness looks great, but doesn’t help all that much unless you can join him to a unit with lots of mixed Toughness values. When that is also what he really pays for, it makes me very iffy on taking him in a competitive sense; if you wanted a Chaplain in the first place, keep them cheap and save yourself 40 important points. Outside of causing Fear as a guaranteed Warlord trait – which is mediocre at best – his damage output and boosts to a unit are no different to a standard Chaplain, save that he also has Preferred Enemy against Tyranids. Of course though, if Cassius gets into a challenge with a monstrous Tyranid character, or even a Tyranid Prime, there’s a good chance he will be butchered anyway; they are one of the few armies that don’t care about high Toughness values through all of their poison! Against a non-character monster like a Trygon, or even generic Warriors and the like, this is obviously quite useful though and should not be forgotten.

Still, it must be repeated that outside of his higher Toughness only working in challenges – where he admittedly wants to be, though not many Space Marine units really want to – his advantages over a cheaper Chaplain really are quite few indeed. However, it would be unfair not to mention the Chapter Relic he bears into battle; Infernus, a master-crafted flamer that also incorporates hellfire rounds into the bolt shells. The combi-flamer is very handy as a defensive weapon, or to help soften up an enemy unit before a charge. His combi-bolter, on the other hand, while certainly nice with its hellfire rounds has the big issue of preventing him from charging, unless he is joined to a Slow and Purposeful unit such as Centurions. In that sense, it isn’t really a great tool, and certainly not one that redeems him from mediocrity, but it is nonetheless quite useful for those instances where a flamer comes in really handy; in 6th Edition with the changing meta and shift to light infantry, these are becoming more common by the day.

However, I simply cannot justify Cassius in a competitive sense. As good as he was compared to a regular Chaplain in the previous codex, between the majority toughness rules, the nasty combat characters that will simply eviscerate him, the ridiculous melee units that will eat whatever he is giving Zealot to, the general lack of improvement from And They Shall Know No Fear to Fearless, and his high cost, I would mostly avoid Cassius outside of Tyrannic War Veteran army lists. Even then, you must always ask yourself; why pay so many more points for a Chaplain that doesn’t even really get that much benefit for the rules he pays for? Even then, why take such an expensive support character when Tigurius can be had from the same Chapter Tactics for only a pittance more?

Maximising their Abilities – Cassius’ main uses are to be found in dedicated melee units transported in Land Raiders, Drop Pods and so on, or as part of midfield ranged units like Sternguard to give them the extra punch needed to ward off mediocre enemy combat units. He won’t give even Honour Guard the buff needed to save them from massed Seekers of Slaanesh or a ‘Screamerstar’, so don’t bank on his unit charging right into the enemy formation and causing havoc wherever they go. Instead, use Cassius’ unit to take out vital enemy units that require similar attention to those nasty combat units, such as Broadside Battlesuits and Riptides. Be wary of Fearless and its applications, so be sure to stay away from Wraithknights and Great Unclean Ones with Iron Arm who will eat Cassius and his squad for breakfast as they can simply tie the squad up and soak up any damage they cause. Otherwise, Cassius can be used in a less risky fashion by joining up with Tactical Marines or Sternguard, giving them the edge against lesser melee units such as Plaguebearers or other Space Marines.

Thanks for reading everybody and by all means chime in down in the comments. How have you been running Cassius?

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