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?)
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:
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.
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:
~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!