40K Tactics: Space Marine Heroes – Cato Sicarius
Hey guys, I am Learn2Eel and this is my Codex: Space Marines Tactica! Today, I will be looking at Cato – the man, the legend!. 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.
Due to the extensive array of unique characters in the codex, Part One of the Unique Characters section solely covers Marneus Calgar, Cato Sicarius and Varro Tigurius. Part Two, Part Three and Part Four will cover the remaining Unique Characters. A note here that as Unique Characters have pre-defined wargear selections, I have instead included ‘Maximising their Abilities’ as it also relates to the army list creation phase; to rid the article of arbitrary information, I also combined ‘Where to Put Them’ and ‘Best Uses’ with ‘Maximising their Abilities’. That these characters also have preset Chapter Tactics means that I eliminated the section to save space and time. Let me know if you like or dislike the changes – remembering that these are only for Unique Characters.
Cato Sicarius, Knight Champion of Macragge
Cato Sicarius, Captain of the 2nd Company
Overview – Heroes amongst the Ultramarines seem to be countless, but Captain Sicarius truly stands head and shoulders above most others; a skilled tactician and great warrior both, he is a very strong all-rounder to lead any Space Marine army. Clocking in at just under the two hundred point mark, Sicarius is a well equipped Captain with some very handy unique special rules that boost his forces. As a Captain, he has three wounds and a 4+ invulnerable save, but also the distinction of Artificer Armour. This makes him decently hard to kill in most cases and, importantly, allows him to be used as a “wound tank” against Heldrakes, Hammerheads with Ion Cannons and their ilk. Additionally, his mantle provides him with the Feel No Pain special rule, which boosts his durability well above pretty much any other Captain of a similar cost. In that sense, he is a Warlord that is quite tough to kill, but what use is that if he can’t slay those nasty opponents first?
Handily, Sicarius has a power-sword that functions as normal for the most part, though in any round of combat, Cato can forfeit his attacks to make just one at Strength six with the instant death special rule. This coup de’ grace attack is hilariously effective at slaughtering hapless enemy commanders with a 3+ armour save or worse, and can also be used as a situational last resort against monstrous creatures like Trygons or Tervigons. Be wary of monsters that either strike before you or have a Toughness of six though, as missing or failing to wound with a single Weapon Skill and Strength 6 attack at Initiative five, while usually unlikely, is still very possible. In general, any character lacking Eternal Warrior should try to avoid those simply brutal character monsters like Daemon Princes and Greater Daemons wherever possible, though it is handy to know that you do have a means of slaying them outright if the need is dire.
Maximising his damage output in melee can come from the help of a friendly psyker such as Tigurius or a Dark Angel Librarian providing his unit with Prescience; re-rolls to hit with five power sword attacks on the charge is quite nasty. To really spice things up, you can use Sicarius’ Warlord Trait, granting Furious Charge for a single assault phase, to turn him into a meat-grinder, or to really threaten those pesky monsters and characters. Like a Berzerker Champion of old, Sicarius can strike with five Strength 5 AP 3 attacks at Initiative 5 and Weapon Skill 6 on the charge, guaranteed to weave like a blender through anything without a 2+ armour save. Besides, that coup de grace attack with his Tempest Blade becomes a lot tastier at Strength 7, though I would only ever save this for such opponents where you really need it; always remember to ask yourself if it is worth risking a character like Sicarius in such a fight. Generally speaking though, Sicarius is pretty strong in combat for his points, giving you both a good character killer and unit hunter. To add to the carnage, he has a Ballistic Skill 5 plasma pistol that gives him that all-important bonus attack for two combat weapons. And besides, a plasma pistol is always nice for taking wounds off of monsters, or slaying Terminators before they can get too close to you.
However, like Marneus Calgar, the real value of Sicarius comes through from his support abilities and special rules. First up, he provides a free upgrade to any single Ultramarine Tactical Squad; you can give them one of Counter Attack, Infiltrate, Scout or Tank Hunters. Ultramarines already have some of the best Tactical Marines owing purely to the Tactical Doctrine and their synergy with characters such as Tigurius and Calgar, and any one of these additional boosts can be quite useful indeed. Infiltrate and Scout give you some added tactical flexibility, allowing the unit and their dedicated transport either to Outflank, get a free movement, or start very close to the opponent and leave them guessing as to where you will put them. Though Tactical Marines are by no means game-winners by themselves, they are still power-armoured bodies that will likely be carrying a special weapon and a combi-weapon. Being able to get that close early on, or pop up in the flanks in later turns to put pressure on the enemy backfield, adds some important strategic depth to the game that, much like the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics themselves, rewards a skilled player. Sicarius also provides your army with a bonus of +1 to reserve rolls, and this manages to be distinct from a similar rule that Tigurius possesses. Unlike the Chief Librarian, Sicarius doesn’t allow you to re-roll successful rolls to try and keep your reserves off the table, but his bonus extends to your entire force, not just an Ultramarine detachment. This means he synergizes particularly well with a reserve-heavy allied or primary detachment, favouring lots of drop pods – such as Salamanders or Crimson Fist Sternguard – or deep-striking units, like a Farsight and Shadowsun “bomb”. Keep in mind though that Sicarius needs to be on the battlefield for you to benefit from this ability, meaning you should probably keep him either on the field or as part of a turn one drop pod assault.
Perhaps the most important advantage Sicarius provides is not in his overall combat prowess, buff to a Tactical Squad or the reserves bonus, but in the Leadership aura he provides for all of your Ultramarines. While he is alive and on the field of battle, all Ultramarines share his Leadership of 10 for morale and pinning tests. In a word; wow! This effectively invalidates any and all need for taking Veteran Sergeants; though it can be argued that you should plan for Sicarius’ loss, any plan that involves giving up Slay the Warlord probably isn’t a good one. This saves you a lot of points and dramatically reduces the odds of failing those key checks to stay on an objective or not be forced into immobility and snap-firing. The difference between Leadership 8 and Leadership 10 may not seem too significant, especially for Space Marines with And They Shall Know No Fear, but passing these checks at critical moments relieves so much pressure on you.
Late-game objective holding with a few Marines left after surviving a salvo from a Riptide? Needing to fire your Devastators’ lascannons at full Ballistic Skill to be rid of that annoying Wave Serpent? Trying to keep a Daemon Prince of Nurgle in combat for another turn so that he slays the unit and is then shot down in the subsequent shooting phase? These are but a handful of situations where Sicarius’ ability becomes absolutely invaluable; rarely will it prove to be a downside, though there are situations, such as with Daemon Princes referenced earlier, where you want to get out of combat on a particular turn and the high Leadership may prevent that. Still, it effectively solidifies Sicarius as the spiritual successor to Marneus Calgar; he is pretty hard to kill, he is pretty nasty in combat, he provides your army with a very important buff in regards to Leadership, and he has some cool extras to taste. He is much cheaper than the big man, but justifiably less effective as well; as such, I feel that Sicarius is our ‘Marneus Calgar’ in games of 1500 points and lower where the Chapter Master is likely to be points-inefficient. Sicarius is a great choice for an army that wants an all-rounder, as he is arguably one of the best the codex provides, making him a perfect choice as the Warlord to a beginners’ army.
Maximising their Abilities – Sicarius benefits most from being a character that benefits your force so much even outside of combat, and unlike Marneus, he doesn’t cost so many points that you really want to make the most of his considerable melee capabilities. However, that is still a very good temptation; putting him with a Command Squad or Assault Terminators isn’t a bad idea in the least. He is quite a nasty melee character and should best most generic commanders he faces in a duel, while also mulching through infantry. However, realistically, you probably want to avoid spending too many points on a dedicated assault unit, particularly as Sicarius isn’t quite the combat character Marneus Calgar and Darnath Lysander are. Instead, he is probably best served with a forward moving Tactical Squad or Sternguard Veteran squad in a Rhino, or as part of such a unit in a Drop Pod list. This allows him to protect that unit from pesky AP3 template weapons and even enemy Sternguard with Vengeance rounds, and even dissuade a lot of units that would otherwise salivate at the thought of charging Space Marines lacking power weapons. Putting him with a Tactical Squad that he confers Tank Hunters or Counter Attack on certainly isn’t a bad idea either!
Sicarius’ reserves ability is an extra that you won’t always need, though it is quite helpful even when taking three or so drop pods or outflanking Scouts in Land Speeder Storms. That both it and his Leadership aura only affect units while he is on the battlefield means that you should plan on him starting on the board or arriving from reserves on turn one if at all possible, ideally in a strong firebase unit or transport. As far a his Battle-forged Heroes are concerned, one of the best uses I can see is to give Tank Hunters to a five-strong (or more, if you wish) Tactical Squad with a meltagun and combi-melta in a drop pod. Paired up with other drop-podding units and perhaps even the Tactical Doctrine if you are feeling you need to maximise an alpha strike consisting of multiple units, you can deliver a pair of tank-hunting meltas for quite the low cost into the enemy backfield. Guaranteed to cause some pain, this can be a cheap throwaway unit designed to destroy a Land Raider or other valuable vehicle in one go, or a larger unit that actually serves a role beyond making its points back in one volley. Taking a larger squad with an added multi-melta or lascannon, while not really providing much to the alpha strike, can give your squad a lot of punch in subsequent turns – provided they survive the inevitable counter-attack – when their combi-melta runs out of uses.
Other viable uses involve Scouting a Tactical Squad in a Rhino with a combi-plasma and plasma gun right to the enemy doorstep, and unloading a salvo of Strength 7 AP 2 fire into a key target. Make sure to support this unit by moving your forces flat out or combining them with a drop pod assault, as you never want to leave a unit isolated in a game as vicious as Warhammer 40000. There are many more uses to be had, some fun, others nasty, and all of which are a free extra boost to help you adapt your tactics. This really is the beauty of the Ultramarines special characters, Tigurius included; they provide your army with so many additional options that you otherwise wouldn’t have. I feel they reenforce the theme that Ultramarines truly are the army for a skilled player, unlike the simpler Imperial Fists or Iron Hands.
Thanks for reading everybody and by all means chime in down in the comments. How have you been running Sicarius?