30k Horus Heresy Tactics – Know Your “Tactical” Units!

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Our yearbook photo turned out so well

Today’s lesson at Primarch School is how to be “tactical” in your troop choices with the Crusade army list.

Tactical Squads exist in a few different ways in games of 30k, and to use them effectively you must first understand what they can do for you on the battlefield. We’ll be talking about the three variants of tactical marines in the game, the differences between them, and how to best use them as you are fighting your way across the galaxy.

This article is from Captain Morgan, a contributor on the Forge The Narrative podcast.   He is going to break down the three different ‘Tactical’ Squad options.  They are a little different than their 40k counterparts.

Let’s get to it!

Legion Tactical Squads – Your Bread and Butter

Legion Tactical Squads are the mainstay of your legion force. For one thing, they are troops, which means they are scoring. Remember, brothers, that in 30k per the Forge World FAQ on scoring units, battles in the Age of Darkness do not count all units as scoring like in 7th edition 40k. For this reason, these guys are especially important.

More than that, these guys also operate differently that the 40k tactical squads you are used to. Here are the main things to remember:

  1. Minimum squad size is 10 (9 marines and the Sergeant) and lets them take Rhino APC’s as dedicated transports
  2. Maximum squad size is 20 (19 and the Sergeant)
  3. They all have bolters (unless you kit out the Sergeant)
  4. They do not have “And They Shall Know No Fear”
  5. You can kit out the Sarge with artificer armor and all the nifty fixins

Essentially, you want these guys locking down objectives. While #4 up there can be cause for concern (anyone that’s had their 20 man blob swept has cried the tears of many Xenos), there are ways you can mitigate that. A Chaplain consul with make the guys essentially fearless, or you can purchase a vexilla (a standard) that lets them re-roll failed leadership tests. Stick an Apothecary in there to give them Feel No Pain and suddenly you’ve got a rock-solid 20-man blob in your backfield. Watch out for Thudd Guns though…

One last thing to remember is their special ability: Fury of the Legion. Essentially, it lets you double your bolter shots if you didn’t move at all in the previous movement phase. So, at rapid fire range, you’re looking at 80 bolter shots from one squad. Just don’t plan on shooting the next turn. They aren’t your only troop choice, but they are definitely a great one.

quad mortar

Legion Tactical Support Squads – Opening a Ceramite Can of…

Legion Tactical Support Squads are another example of a troops choice you can take in your crusade army list, with some caveats. These guys serve a very important purpose in 30k, which will depend on the role you want them to fill. Each guy in this squad is equipped with a special weapon (not a heavy weapon), and they come stock all equipped with flamers. These can be switched out for plasma, melta, rotor cannons, or volkite calivers/charges. Some important stuff to remember for these squads is:

  1. They cannot be your compulsory troop choices, so plan on bringing your bolter-buddies up above first.
  2. All of them must have the same weapons (though you can upgrade the Sergeant)
  3. Minimum squad size is 5
  4. Maximum squad size is 10
  5. They can take a Rhino APC as a dedicated transport.

You want to buy these guys with a purpose in mind. Wanna lay down some terminators or lay the heat on another Primarch? Plasma is a good idea. Want to take down some vehicles? Melta is a good option (but watch for an abundance of armored ceramite). Want to kill lots of dudes? Volkite is good for that (causes extra hits for unsaved wounds).

If you bring a Praetor, you can pull some drop-pod shenanigans by picking the Orbital Assault Rite of War. That is a reliable delivery mechanism, but has its own limitations. Just watch out, because these guys eat up a lot of points so you want to be able to use them before they get killed. Personally, I like to keep it at five guys with meltas.

marine flamer

Legion Veteran Tactical Squads

Lastly, we have these guys. Legion Veteran Tactical Squads are an Elites choice in your force organization, and have some neat tricks up your sleeve. While they are a bit more limited in special weapons, they still have access to a large group of weapon options for both close combat and ranged purposes. For every 5, you can pick two with special weapons. They all come stock with 2 attacks, and can switch their bolters for Volkite Serpentas, and they can all take power weapons. One of the neatest things about these guys is that you can choose one of the following special rules for the squad: fearless, furious charge, outflank, sniper, tank hunters. For 25 points, you can give a whole squad of 10 guys melta bombs.

These guys have some versatility, but are expensive when you give them all the toys. If I were to run them, I’d probably give them tank hunters, but they are flexible enough that you can kit them out to do whatever task it is that you want them to accomplish. Just have that specifically in mind, and give them the rule they need to accomplish it.

ec vets

Bell for Recess Has Rung…

Okay, Brothers. That concludes this session of Primarch School, but remember what you have learned! Vice Principal Malcador does love his pop quizzes…


If you like this sort of banter we also do a live webshow every Monday at 10pm EST. You can find those posted over on the FTN Google + Page. The rebroadcast is over on our YouTube page. Please update your subscriptions in iTunes if you listen to us there.
Catch Episode 123 right here!

  • Djbz

    I’m planning on having a Tactical Support squad running around with Plasma guns and Alpharius (he has preferred enemy- so they’re less likely to melt their own face and more likely to wound).
    And Alpharius can save them from close combat units….
    (At least in theory)

    • euansmith

      Are you sure that’s Alpharius? I’m sure I saw him just over there..?

      • Autumnlotus

        I really can’t wait for alpharius to have a model, just so I can see armies with every sargeant being different conversions of it xD

        • BrotherCaptain

          That would indeed be awesome, but how rich do you think people are??

        • Brian Griffith

          Every Alpha Legion model is already Alpharius.

        • Robomummy

          Honestly I think the best thing FW could do is not make a model for alpharius then claim that they have already made one.

          • Autumnlotus

            Eh its a question of mechanics. You need to reveal him sometime, and WYSIWYG is something worth worrying over. Granted all you need is a marine with a spear, but it would be nice to have a well made centerpiece for him

          • Robomummy

            Yeah they definitely need a model for it in game terms and there’s no doubt they will be making one. I just think it’d be funny if they played along with the fluff for a bit before releasing him.

  • euansmith

    This sounds fun. How does the Betray at Calth set work out for making up Tactical Units?

    • Andrew

      BaC allows you to build both a tactical and a veteran squad. You’d struggle to make a support squad as you only have 3 of each special weapon. However, I’m sure you could trawl some bits sites to find some spares.

      • Severius_Tolluck

        well now forgeworld is conveniently offering dem upgrade packs for special and heavy weapons!

        • Brian Griffith

          Yup, and they’ve been recently retooled to work with the new plastic MKIV kit.

      • euansmith

        Or buy two boxes 😀

        • Robomummy

          two boxes can easily make several specialist weapons teams as well as 2 heavy support squads (heavy bolters and missile launchers) and some CC weapon squads. Just don’t make the mistake of giving your tactical squads special weapons as many of the people at my lgs did, ordinary tactical squads cannot take them.

          I bought 2 boxes for my night lords and I made 4 terror squads (10 marines), 2 heavy support teams (ML and HB), a plasma specialist squad, and a squad with combi bolters.

    • To be blunt. Its just a start. If you were to use it straight out of the box against another BaC it would be fun times. If you were to play someone who has all the toys (Deredeo, Spartan, Fellblade, Primarchs) I can pretty much guarantee it wouldn’t be fun.
      I play 30k every week and am halfway through the Betrayl campaign. I would be happy to answer any direct questions you have. I feel its the least I can do for you considering all the laughter you have given me 😀

      • euansmith

        Thanks for the offer. I’m currently tied up with other games (Frostgrave, Gates of Antares, and I have a shed load of Deadzone/Warpath minis to assemble); but once I’m free, I’ll be back.

        • Its much fun dude. You wouldn’t regret jumping into it

    • Jonathon West

      Yes and no, you don’t have enough special weapons to make support squads or heavy support squads but you can make Vets and regular marines.

    • Azhrarn

      You get 30 “basic” marines. More than enough bits for 2 10-man Tactical Squads and a single full size Veteran Tactical Squad with full trimmings. 🙂

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    Where are the assault squads?

    • JD Robertson

      This is a list of “tactical” squads, not troops, apparently.

      Although it should be mentioned that Legion Tacticals can swap their bolters for close combat weapons or buy a an additional ccw cheaply. Not a terrible option for an objective holder of for a legion with a close-combat focus for its special rules.

      • Djbz

        Goes double when you take in account the fact that Legion assault marines pay 10 points (each) for their jump packs

  • Abe Killian

    This is a great article – very helpful. Thanks!!

  • Decent Tactica, I look forward to seeing more.

  • Jonathon West

    I roll squads of Veterans with sniper with Horus a lot. Outflank with rending from Sniper is amazing

    • Traitor!

    • Spacefrisian

      Who cares about tactical squads, i bring Terrorsquads….with a talent for murder (or so the rules say).

      They look scary.

      • euansmith

        I find it odd that a bunch of super-warriors feel the need to call themselves a “Terror Squad” 😀

  • pokemastercube .

    allrady built 2 full size tatical squads for my IX legion along with a recon squad, heavy weapons team, catiphracti terminators (with proto-assault cannons), contemptor dreadnought and praetor

    tho will say first glance at this i thought it was going to be a start of a into into all the units for marines in HH, but still, this gives a good introduction to the ‘tactical’ units, tho i would say recon and breacher teams would class as tatical too

    • Terminus

      Recon squad? Why?

      • Robomummy

        for the infiltrating nuncio vox

        • pokemastercube .

          and a arsonal of snipers

  • Mud_Duck

    Is it me, or did this sound something like a tatica for Sisters of Battle?