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40K: Which Terminators “Rule”?

4 Minute Read
Mar 17 2017

There are three types of terminator armor & rules in 40K – but who’s the best?

With the arrival of Tartaros Terminator armor on the 40K tabletop, we now have three sets of Terminator armor available to Astartes commanders.  Make sure you know the differences in their rules so you can pick the right one for the job.

Terminator Basics

Terminator Armour or Tactical Dreadnought Armour is the toughest and most powerful form of personal armour humanity has ever developed, used in Terminator units. The scarcity and expense to maintain Terminator suits means they are available only to the elite troops from the veteran companies of the Space Marine Chapters.

Most Marine chapters maintain some Terminator suits in their armouries, and train some squads in their use. However, Terminator armour is not used by these Marines as a matter of course, but issued as and when required. Conventionally armoured Marines, for example, would not be expected to clear the densely-packed corridors of a hive world. Their task would be to form a cordon while Terminator-armoured squads carried out the clearance.


By the 41st millennium, Terminator armour is so prized that its use is reserved for when it will be at its most effective. Terminators may be used in boarding actions, where the cramped conditions and long corridors mean that the Terminator’s strength and firepower can be brought to bear without the risk of flanking manoeuvres. Terminator armour may also be deployed on the open battlefield, either to wield devastating long-range fire with their heavy weapons, or deep-strike teleporting to attack the enemy’s command structure.


Early Mk.1 Terminator Armor

Common 40K Terminator Patterns




The Indomitus Pattern Terminator Armor is noted for being the most widespread pattern as of M41, due to its template being held by key Forge Worlds such as Mars.

Indominus Rules: This is the “standard” Terminator armor described in Codex: Space Marines. They do exactly what you expect them to. 2+/5+i, Relentless, no Sweeping Advances.




Cataphractii Pattern was among the first issued to the Space Marine Legions, and was used during the late Great Crusade and Horus Heresy by both the Space Marines and the Legio Custodes. Although it was rare before the Horus Heresy, some Legions, such as the Iron Hands, possessed a large number of suits. In addition to being distinguished by its large, layered pauldrons, and the pteruges protecting the elbow and thigh joints, it was functionally distinct from other patterns, bearing additional plating and shield generators. This resulted in severe straining of the suit’s exoskeleton and reduced the wearer’s movement speed, leading to its decline among some Space Marine Legions during the early battles of the Heresy.


Cataphractii Rules: These rules are found in the recent Angels of Death codex. When you need protection over mobility, Cataphractii is your go to suit. You get the improved 4+i save, but trade Relentless for Slow and Purposeful. With no Running, Overwatch or Sweeping Advances, your Cataphractii won’t be winning any sprints.


Tartaros Pattern is considered the most advanced form of Tactical Dreadnought Armour. It shared many systems with the Mk IV Maximus-pattern power armour whilst providing greater mobility for the wearer compared to the Indomitus with no loss in durability.

Tartaros Rules: Just out and brand new for 40K. Hmm, no reference to “may not make sweeping advanced” in the rules makes the advanced Tartaros Pattern the most mobile of the three. If you need to combine the protection of Terminator armor with the ability to run a foe to ground, you have your answer.


Learn of Rarer Terminator Patterns and Much More


~What pattern do you equip your elite Marines with on the tabletop, Commanders?


Author: Larry Vela
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