40K: Salamanders Are The Best Codex Chapter, Fight Me On This


Don’t think they are? Lets fight about it.

The other week I went over the various chapters represented in the new Codex:Space Marines. At the top of the pile I placed the old XVIII Legion, the Salamanders. Not only have the children of Vulkan come a long way from previous editions but their sheer power is now quite impressive. Lets dig in a little deeper and see why they are so good, and how to take advantage of that.

The Chapter Tactic

Right off the bat the Salamanders have a totally bonkers chapter tactic. Re-rolls are one of the most amazing abilities in the game. Not only are they powerful and, at least in the case of re-rolling wounds, fairly rare they are also always useful. While other Chapter Tactics are situational or hard to take advantage of Master Artisans will most likely be taken advantage of by almost every infantry, bike or dreadnought unit in your army every turn. There is never going to be a situation were having re-rolls  won’t help. (Unless you just roll all sixes all game long, in which case, what Chaos god are you sacrificing to?)

Unlimited Power

What really takes the Chapter Tactic over the top is that it’s not limited to once a turn or even phase. This ability works for the unit affected EVERY time it shoots or fights. Taking overwatch shots?   You get those re-rolls. Using the Auspex Scan Stratagem to shoot at a newly arrived enemy unit? It works. Using Honor the Chapter to attack again? Re-rolls. Using Only in Death Does Duty End to attack after dying? The ability triggers. It’s easy to envision situations when a unit could use this ability two or three times in your turn, and then another two or three times in the enemy turn. Getting maybe 12 or more re-rolls, per unit, from this ability each turn. Thats amazing.  There is simply no real cap.

Secrets of the Ancients

If you really want to take advantage of the Master Artisans ability you’re gunna need some Ancients. Now, Ancients are already totally amazing, anything that lets your guys attack after dying is great. In a Salamander list they are off the charts. The reason for this is simple, when your dying model makes his last attack, he gets to use the ability and make re-rolls.

Since Chapter Ancients is resolved model by model, every model that dies and gets to attack will get to re-roll a hit and miss. This means a Salamander player will get a ton of extra mileage out of their ability. Remember how I said you could get like 12 re-rolls a battle round? Well feel free to tack on a few extra there for those dead fellows. Oh, did you kill my Hellblaster? Well, he’s gunna make one last attack back, re-rolling the hit and wound, oh, and he’s going to go ahead and overcharge his gun as well – sucka!

MSU All the Way!

When building your army you are going to want to look at taking a lot of small units to really max out your rerolls. This is not a bad strategy in general. Taking, for instance, a large number of five man tactical squads with a heavy weapon, melta or lascannon works great,  and a powerfist. Getting to re-roll the shot and wound should make sure your loads of heavy weapons are reliably devastating the enemy, while in combat your powerfist should get kills as well. Back this up with Ancients and some other cheap characters and few heavy hitters (Aggressors or Centurion Assault Squads to take advantage of the flame abilities) and you’ll be golden.

More Than Just a Pretty Tactic

Of course the Salamanders have a lot of other things going for them beside their tactic. Their character, Vulkan He’stan is pretty solid. A slightly better captain he allows re-rolls for all failed hits and wounds for melta and flame weapons within 6 inches. This is the guy you park next to that unit of Aggressors or Centurion Assault Squads and just watch as they murder anything that comes close. Good luck charging them as well, the wall of flame that hits you will end worlds.

I’m not the hugest fan of the Salamander Warlord trait, which gives you +1S, though it could be useful in the right build. Vulkan, I dont feel gets much form it, but then again, he doesn’t have to be your warlord, making it someone else would allow you to take a different trait. Their relic is also pretty nice, giving you a +1 toughness, so the ability to give  +1S and +1T to a model isn’t bad at all.

Their stratagem, Flame-craft, plays right into their strengths as well adding +1 to wound rolls with flamers. This in turn combos really well with another warlord trait, Storm of Fire, which increases AP value by 1 on wound rolls of 6+ (so on a 5+ with those million flame-crafted flamer attacks.)

I’ll Form the Head

Lets take a look at a couple of Salamander combos:

The Brute 

Captain on Bike with storm shield, Anvil of Strength, Salamanders Mantel, Thunder Hammer,  and might of Heroes cast on them. This guy is T7 with 6 Wounds and a 3++ save. He moves 14 inches and gets to make 5 S12 attacks with his Thunder hammer (4+1+1 x2). He hits on threes, gets to re-roll all 1s and one 2, as well as a failed wound. Each of his hits does 3 damage. With Honor the Chapter he could even attack a 2nd time in a round. Thats a guy who will peel open tanks and give a Greater Deamon a run for their money.

The Wall of Flame

A unit of six Aggressors with Flamestorm Gauntlets, within 6 inches of Vulkan and your warlord with Storm of Fire. You’ve used Flame Craft on this unit. Thats 24d6 auto flamer hits (OUCH) if the unit hasn’t moved. An average of like 78 hits. Depending on how your rule Flame Craft, either all or those or half are getting +1 to wound, meaning they are wounding most things on a 3 or a 4, and getting to re-roll failed wounds AND All rolls of a 6 or a 5 with the +1 get improved AP. Thats enough firepower to roast the largest horde or kill a Knight in a single round of shooting. Wow.

Final Thoughts

As you can see Salamanders have some serious potential here. While their abilities will benefit any force, an army crafted to take advantage of them will be incredibly powerful. I’m sure as time goes on people will come up with even more interesting ways of tricking out their Salamanders lists. And who knows what the future holds, maybe as the sold saying goes:

Vulkan Lives!

~Well that’s all for this time folks. Let us know what you think about Salamanders and who you think is the best chapter, down in the comments!


  • Marcus Langdale

    Oh my god, you may be right. Damn these are good!

  • Mongoose

    Looks good. Only issue I have with it is your “The Brute” combo where you say the Thunder Hammer is S12…in this case it’s S10. S4 X 2 + 1 + 1 = S10 because the rule book says do your multipliers before your added modifiers not after.

    • Lord Chopper

      Thats always been the case with powerfists/klaws and furious charge for orks.

      • Gunther Clone C

        And…you know…math in general…

        • Foxdonut

          We dont take kindly to PEMDAS around these parts.
          Insert banjo music here.

        • Lord Chopper


    • Josh Felstead

      I was about to call him out on this. Surely everyone should know better by now.

    • Nightwalker

      I don’t think that is correct. The trait (and power) just says “+1 to strength characteristic” not “+1 to strength when they charge” like furious charge. So I believe it is not affected by the add modifiers after rule, as it is adjusting their characteristic for the turn/game.

  • Discoqing

    A couple of mistakes with the Captain (he can’t reroll 2s…).

    And I think you’re overestimating the 1 dice / unit reroll…
    You make it sound like all units get all rerolls, all the time!

    And I have salamanders, lol

    • Fergie0044

      That one 2 was for the chapter tactic

      • Discoqing

        Captains hit on 2s, so you can’t reroll a hit.
        Modifiers are applied after reroll.

        • zeno666

          You are correct. And oh my do I hate that rule interaction. Its so very clunky.

          • Discoqing

            Haha, me too, needless head work!

        • Fergie0044

          Ah right – my bad. If that’s the case then whats the issue? Why would he want to re-roll his 2s?

          • Discoqing

            Because a thunder hammer makes him (eventually, after rerolls) hit on 3s x-D

  • Lord Chopper

    You don’t need MSU when you have combat squads.

    • Dyemor

      Combat squads don’t get you a second free Sgt. and the option to get a combi weapon (on the Sgt.) in addition to the heavy/special in the 5 man squad.

      • AircoolUK

        Eeeh… and here’s me thinking that old Marines were dead and buried 😉

    • Discoqing

      Unless you want 2 x heavy weapons….

  • orionburn

    Can’t let it slide that like two weeks ago all the BOLS articles were ranking the Sallys at 4th and 5th based on their chapter tactic alone. Frankly that was a bunch of crap regardless of not having all the info out at the time. That’s an awesome tactic to have. Sallys are going to be good this edition…as long as GW doesn’t suddenly nerf them a month from now.

    • AircoolUK

      Also, the mentality of tooling up one or two units/characters in the old ‘Deathstar’ style hasn’t gone. However, it’s likely that people who build their armies that way are only ever going to face other people who build their armies in the same way…

      ..thus the ‘meta’ will always be something that only applies to the tournament mentality.

      By the time all the major faction codexes have landed, there’s going to be a lot of ‘take this, plus that, with this command ability and that artefact’ options that WAAC players aren’t going to know where to turn, will end up buying 100 of every GW model on the market (via ebay of course) and end up fighting the exact same game they’ve been fighting since they were cursed with the WAAC mentality.

    • Fergie0044

      Different authors with different opinions? Maybe – I couldn’t be bothered to go back and check.

      • orionburn

        Likely a different author, but at the time every author/article was saying their tactic was really weak. Then the stratagems came out and they were still getting ranked 3-4th. I was arguing at the beginning that their tactic put them in the top two spots even without knowing what else was in store from the new codex. Raven Guard definitely deserves to be at the top as well. From the beginning I felt the only argument was whether Sallys or RG deserved to be in the #1.

  • Krizzab

    favourite SM chapter, with the arrival of primaris the SMBA draft gonna be interesting this year.

    • orionburn

      I’ve been torn on doing Raven Guard or Sallys with my Primaris guys. Definitely leaning towards more green army guys now…

      • AircoolUK

        Mine are Crimson Fists colours… but with two red gauntlets and no crimson fists markings. So they could be Crimson Fists, but they could also be and Ultramarines/Salamanders/whatever I choose successor Chapter depending on how I feel.

        • orionburn

          It sucks that Sallys have no official successor chapters. I would like to paint them up so that I can use my Primaris guys with my Dark Angels but do a stand alone army based on the standard Marine dex. Guess they’re getting a new successor chapter whether they want one or not!

          • AircoolUK

            …and I believe that’s the way GW would prefer you to do it. Make your own paint scheme (or just copy a cool one), invent a few characters etc… and just play the game 🙂

          • orionburn

            I’ve seen some guys in my DA group do the Primaris up in Deathwing colors and they look solid. Leaning that way at the moment but we’ll see 😀

          • Moonsaves

            Storm Giants and Black Dragons are very likely to be Salamanders successors. I’d say Black Dragons are 99% likely due to similar fashion choices and reptilian motifs.

        • Iconoc1ast

          CF are awesome.
          Torn between them and Dark Angels.

  • Lee D Boosey

    The Agressors flamestorm gauntlets only are only 2d6 each as the weapon is listed in the codex as gauntlets not gauntlet. Meaning you’d only get 12d6 flame hits not 24d6 from that squad of 6.

    • orionburn

      He’s basing that number on when they don’t move. Their rules state they get to shoot twice if they remain stationary (he does point that out).

      • AircoolUK

        Also, 282 eggs put in one basket that is basically an area denial unit with a meagre range of 8″ (albeit with 6 models spread over an area) might not be the best use of so many points. A small unit of Hellblasters (esp backed up by a Lieutenant) are going to eat them for breakfast… scrambled!

        • orionburn

          Yep. It’s a great stat line but in reality they aren’t going to shine like that very often. I got off a fair amount of 9″ charges in my game last night with my Nids. It’s one thing if they get to fire overwatch, but most players aren’t going to let themselves get set up for that beating.

          • AircoolUK

            …and as we’ve seen, there are many ways to circumvent overwatch. Charge in a unit of Grots; the Aggressor either fire overwatch and wipe out the Grots (thus using their overwatch for that turn), or get locked in combat with the Grots (and therefore unable to use overwatch at all) and vulnerable to a charge by a proper CC unit.

            Of course, as with many of these articles, they never factor basic, fundamental tactics into their theories. You’ve got to be pretty inept not to include such simple counters when theory crafting.

          • Wojciech Łagosz

            A unit can fire overwatch multiple times as long as it has no enemy units within 1″. When I charge something scary with my Orks I declare a charge with my Trukk first as it has a chance to survive overwatch. When that Trukk charges in it prevents further overwatch.

          • YetAnotherFacelessMan

            Wojciech has the right of it. You need to reread your rulebook. You’d have to be pretty inept to cite 7th edition overwatch counters in an 8th edition conversation. 😉

          • AircoolUK

            Hah, silly me. I was getting confused with the Tau rule.

            Even so, the latter half is correct. You can tell I don’t play close combat armies 😉

  • AircoolUK

    Well, as long as you remember that re-rolls take place before and dice modifiers (a rule which is intended to limit the power of re-rolls – and don’t forget that this includes wound rolls as well) and that you can only re-roll one ‘miss’ and one ‘failed wound’ roll per unit, its only significant on weapons that have few shots, like the Las/Plascannon, although it is very good for melta weapons.

    So, if anything, I’d just take a lot of dreadnoughts tooled up with Lascannons or Multi Meltas.

    One re-roll to hit/wound per unit isn’t that a big deal, especially when you’re generally hitting on a 3+ (remembering of course that you don’t apply hit/wound modifiers when working out whether you get a re-roll or not. Loads of people are forgetting this, or just plain ignoring this rule). Better of just getting some Primaris Lieutenants which are great for their re-roll bubble (fair enough, only 1’s to hit), but also are a cheap way of unlocking detachments and are also handy in a fight, either with the stalker bolt rifle or a power sword.

    Most of the time, the Master Artisans rule will be used on heavy/special weapons; likely dreadnoughts (which are a unit on their own), whereas, for the use of overwatch etc… where you’re only hitting on 6’s, it’s not that much of an improved change to hit.

    As for CP use, a lot of the ‘advice’ on websites such as this didn’t seem to put much faith in CP’s, and of course, you can only use an ability once per phase.

    Stick a unit of 6 flamer Aggressors onto an objective and they’ll just get ignored or plasma’d to death.

    It’s a good chapter tactic, but none of the sub faction rules (inc Chaos) would make me choose one sub faction over another.

    Of course, your better off painting your chapter in your favourite colours and then calling them a successor chapter of ‘whatever’ so you can choose your chapter tactic on a game by game basis.

    • Simon Bates

      Seems to me that Master Artisans stacks nicely with both Rites of battle and the Lieutenant bubble abilities. Most units hit on 3s, so if they’re re-rolling all 1s and one 2 that’s a pretty big boost to reliability. Similarly, most units won’t wound on a 2+ with all their weapons and so getting one extra re-roll is likely to be handy.

      Obviously all this tends to stack best with small numbers of high power shots/attacks (which was one of the main points of the article) but it is pretty powerful. Making the most of it mainly comes down to spreading your special, heavy and powerful cc weapons across as many units as possible.

      As for overwatch, no it still isn’t particularly reliable, but the benefit of a re-roll of a 6+ to hit for a single shot high-power weapon (eg a Lascannon, krak missile or meltagun) is pretty huge if you’re charged by a vehicle, monster or character. You’ll probably still miss, but you’re much more likely to hit than you are without the re-roll.

  • Snord

    I don’t think BoLS is in any position to judge this what seems like only minutes since the Marine codex came out. I just like the green and black colour scheme.

  • m3g4tr0n

    Raven Guard has better-looking armor, which makes them better.

    • Rush Darling

      This guy gets it.

  • Homeskillet

    I agree the Sallies are the strongest of the Astartes right now (besides my beloved Grey Knights). I don’t think the interpretation that the banner lets every dead guy re-roll is correct, however. One per squad per phase gets to do the re-roll; not sure why you would interpret that as everyone getting to do so.

    • Simon Bates

      From the wording, it’s not very clear, though I think it would be more reasonable to only use it once per unit per phase.

  • highwind

    gulliman enhanced ultramarines are very impressed by salamanders being able to reroll a SINGLE hit and a SINGLE wound per unit…

    • Simon Bates

      True, but they don’t have to hang around near Bobby G to do it.

  • Antti Luukkonen


    Either you are intentionally misunderstanding how the Chapter Tactic and Astartes Banner -ability work and interact (in which case shame on you) or it’s just a case of failed interpretation (which is excusable and can happen to anyone).

    The Chapter Tactic spesifies that you get to reroll one failed to hit and one failed to wound _per unit_.

    I don’t see anything in Astartes Banner stating that these dying models would each be – for some strange reason – considered separate units.

    So no, you don’t get rerolls for all dying models, unless they all happen to be from separate units.

    • highwind

      you dont even get to reroll at all for dying models… the chapter tactic is very clear on when it triggers

      • Antti Luukkonen

        That’s a good point. Definitely on the grey area.

      • BClement

        Yes you do – the tactic says “each time this unit shoots or fights.” Each one of those dying models is a new instance of the unit shooting or fighting.

        It doesn’t say “in the shooting or fight phase” or even once per turn. It just says each time this unit shoots or fights.

        • Simon Bates

          But “the unit” isn’t shooting or fighting, unless the model was the last one left in the unit. I think you could interpret this as not working at all, as working every time the unit loses a model, or only working once per phase. I actually think the last interpretation is the hardest one to support with the wording, but the most reasonable interpretation in practice.

    • BClement

      The tactic triggers each time the unit shoots or fights. The banner triggers immediately when a model dies.

      That is supposed to be resolved one at a time. So, if you’re doing it in the correct order, you pull one model from a unit, it interrupts and get to shoot/fight. That is a separate instance of that unit shooting or fighting.

      If the tactic triggers in each instance (like it says it does) then why DOESN’T it apply in this case?

  • highwind

    the salamander tactic lets you reroll each time the UNIT fights or shoots
    the astrates banner allows a MODEL to fight or shoot

    a MODEL is not the UNIT so RAW the chapter tactic doesnt work with the astrates banner

  • Krzysztof Jasinski

    Wait the moment , there is an error !
    it’s not 24d6 but 12d6 max !
    The gauntlets make 2d6 par pair !

    • highwind

      and the unit can shoot twice a turn if it didnt move…

      • Krzysztof Jasinski

        ok , my bad

  • Jabberwokk

    Nope. Your correct,

  • Josh Felstead

    8th Edition Salamanders – single-handedly keeping Tactical Marines on the tabletop and doing a damn good job of it too.

  • memitchell

    You guys are ALL going to be so jealous when the Genestealer Codex comes out! I just know it’s going to have super-cool Stratagems like the entire army gets to shoot or fight one more time after it gets tabled. Or, opponent’s reserves MUST roll on the GSC Ambush Table, too (that’ll teach’em to NOT put units in reserve).

  • thereturnofsuppuppers

    they are blackface marines. Its embarrassing.

    • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

      Headcanon them Sub Saharan African if it helps.

    • Commissar Molotov

      Only to you.

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        I am one of the few black guys in the hobby, so yeah…

  • Ravingbantha

    The only real issue I see here is with the aggressors. Yes you can shoot twice with the flamers, if you didn’t move. Since the weapon is so short range, that means you have to spend a turn or two to get in, then hope your opponent doesn’t drop back a few inches, then maybe get off your shots.

  • Calgar

    That’s alot of work to get all those rerolls, why not just come join us boys in blue and stand near big daddy Robute. It’s really easy 🙂

    • Simon Bates

      Not everyone wants their army within a relatively small bubble though. It is quite limiting.

  • Gunther Clone C

    On an unrelated note, that Voltron Lego set looks awesome.

  • Tushan


    “A unit of six Aggressors with Flamestorm Gauntlets, within 6 inches of Vulkan and your warlord with Storm of Fire. You’ve used Flame Craft on this unit. Thats 24d6 auto flamer hits (OUCH) if the unit hasn’t moved. An average of like 78 hits. Depending on how your rule Flame Craft, either all or those or half are getting +1 to wound, meaning they are wounding most things on a 3 or a 4, and getting to re-roll failed wounds **** AND All rolls of a 6 or a 5 with the +1 get improved AP. **** ”

    Where does the rolls of 5-6 getting +1 to rend come from??
    Normal flamers (flamestorm gauntlets) dont get any AP negating.

    Am I missing something?

    • highwind

      as the text you quoted already statet: “your warlord with storm of fire”

      storm of fire is a warlord trait from the codex

      • Tushan

        Ah, thanks. Thought I missed something here.

  • Philip Estabrook

    Roberto and the dozen or so special characters pushes the Ultramarines beyond the Salamanders.

    • Rush Darling

      Found the Ultramarines player 😀

      Step aside, “Spiritual Leige”, it’s time for the boys in green!

      Which I’d be slightly smugger about if I didn’t play a RG successor.

      But they are green, if that counts? 😛

    • davepak

      Maybe…IF you run robbie.
      Robbie being OP does not negate the Sally powers from being OP by the way.

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    I roll with Templars and Scars, because they play the way I like. And I don’t need dodgy rule interpretations to make them work, especially ones that rely on things needing to die first.

    • Simon Bates

      Fair play. In fairness to Sallies though, they’re still pretty good if you don’t bother with the banners at all and just go MSU. Not as entertaining as BT or WS though, precisely because you don’t really need to adapt your play-style to make best use of the chapter tactics.

  • Ryan Hall

    Upcoming Errata; Please change the Salamnders Chapter Tactic “Master Artisans” to read: “You can re-roll a single failed hit and wound roll for a Salamanders unit of your choice in each of your shooting and fight phases.”