The Dark Fortress

Mini Tactica: Assault Squads by Inkaras

3rd Edition

Note: This tactica is now old and needs an update. Many facts will not be correct for current game. However the general gist is pitched right.

Assault squads are probably the most common fast attack unit used in a Space Marine army. And rightly so, with a 12" movement per turn they can react quickly to any threat almost anywhere on the board. They are great supporting troops.

Unit Size

Due to their relatively high cost you often see these guys used in smaller squads. 1 sarge, and 4 to 9 other marines are your limitations. I typically like 7, but have used 5 when the point were not there.

Weapons and wargear options

Bolt pistol and ccw

Also have frag grenades — they are cc troops after all, and all have jump packs of course. And as you can clearly see they are geared for melee. They've got a few options and special rules I'll discuss now, these really make them special in my opinion (as if jumppacks didn't right?). You can give them all krak grenades, or better yet all melta bombs. (More on this later though) and up to two of them can have plasma pistols.

Melta bombs

These will penetrate a tank with 2D6 however you've got to get into close combat to do this which could be a problem (or is it?).

Plasma pistols

These will kill a good deal of your enemies outright, and will little risk to you. Even with their high points cost I like to take one (two if point permit). They are also good for exploiting weak armour, like the back of tanks, or skimmers. And so can really be a nuisance to your enemy. Personally, I like to give mine melta bombs, and at least one plasma pistol. But remember the risk with plasma pistols — best not used on your expensive Vet Sarge.

Vet sergeants

They can also upgrade their sarge, to a vet (I often do) this allows him to take things from the armoury. Power fists and power weapons are often popular choices as it increase his nastiness in close combat.

Deep strike capability

A rule often not used and overlooked is deep striking. I use it when ever the mission allows me to. It lets me approx. drop them where ever I want on the board. There are a few risks but these are usually minimal, and worth it when you consider you can drop right into their back lines blowing tanks, and tying heavy weapons teams up. This will then allow your other troops to march up with less worry.

Removing jumppacks

This will reduce cost by 10 (good when you really don't have the points but need cc troops) and gives you a nice costing cc warrior. The problem is that they aren't allowed transports. (An exception to this is you could take a land raider (or LRC) and pick them up. It should also be noted that vets can be cc troops as well, but at a higher points cost) So generally they have to foot-slog it across the field of battle taking a number of tactics away from them. It's really not something that's appealing to me, not that I've not tried it and not that it can't be done successfully. It's just I'd much rather have the jumppacks or nothing at all most of the time.



If at all possible I try to keep them in reserve and deep strike. Where this is not allowed I like to keep them on the flank, behind (but not in) some trees or rocks, or anything that blocks LOS to them. I then like to move them up the flank as quickly as possible, and into the centre. By doing this you achieve a few things.

  • You protect your flank, and usually forces the enemy into the centre.
  • It usually keeps a considerable amount of fire off of them (making then simply last longer).
  • I can usually get behind enemy line and cause all kinds of havoc.

However due to their small numbers (usually) they will need support, and you don't want to leave them out there to long alone. You should take caution on stranding them out there, by doing so your sealing their fate. Tactical squads work perfectly in getting there in time (Rhinos — and usually) to help relieve them from their stress, wherever they might be.

They are also good at taking quarters, and or an objective (early in the game or last minute). You'll be surprised how your opponent can forget about them, let them sit if you will (protected of course) and then spring the trap close to the end of the game, I've won quite a few this way.


Jump packs

Do not land or take off in difficult terrain. You could kill yourself. If you need to get out of or in difficult terrain I recommend you walking, (yes they can still walk) you'll be a normal movement but at least your safe right? Believe me I've lost more then a few by doing this.

Also don't rush right up the middle of the board. Normally you'll take some very heavy casualties early in the game, never a good thing with assault troops, they are just to valuable.

Hope you enjoyed the MT.


Feedback and comments

I must admit that the last time I used jump-packers with success was back in second edition. Somehow I have simply missed the effective use for them. Maybe this because I face Orks so often. Now that I come to play chaos I reconsider their use again. Theoretically there a some points on the pro side which I would like to add.

  1. Despite the dangerous use of jumppacks in difficult terrain, in Cityfight the vertical mobility to get on top of a building can be very valuable.
  2. In Take and Hold the jumppacks can be held back within jump range of the objective and out of LoS. This can give you the advantage to be at the right place at the right time, usually in turn 4. With two plasma pistols at a discount prize of just 5 pts and a possible third on a vet sergeant plus power weapon they are on of the very few units which can cause real casualties on power armoured troops.
  3. The critical advantage of jump-packers is their surprising firepower against relative weak targets like orks plus the ability to tie up lots of other units in cc. They can jump, shot at unit A and then charge unit B with great success. This will change under new cc rules though. However, to difficulty is to get the squad into a position from where it can execute such an attack. I usually end up with too many marines to keep them in cover and out of LoS or lack numbers to stand the fight in cc until reinforcements have arrived. Personally I prefer Bikes for such missions.
  4. In Planetfall the Assault squads with jumppacks count for troops. I will try this as soon as I have 20 marines painted. This looks very promising, but I haven't used it yet.

I like the ideas but i like to give the vet sarge storm bolter and power fist.

Some points that were not covered:

  • If you jump OUT of difficult terrain, no test is required, the troops are assumed to have found a clear way out before they jump.
  • ALWAYS buy both the Plasma Pistols for the squad… at 5pts each, it's a crime not to.
  • Be wary of deep-striking such an expensive unit… do so only when you have a very clearly delineated plan for them..otherwise, it's a unit that won't be available for at least 2 turns, which is a lot.
  • Don't entertain any illusions about them being very good in close combat… Eldar Striking Scorpions, Dark Eldar Wyches and many other dedicated assault troops are all marginally to vastly superior to them… and cheaper too.
  • They're not expendable… and if this holds true for any marine, it's doubly so for an assault marine.
  • Choose your targets: only attack a strong enemy unit in tandem with other squads or attack one that is already weakened or that isn't very good in cc.
  • Assault Squads can be used in 2 major types of role:
    Armour Hunters: a Squad of five with two plasma pistols and melta bombs… a definite high-ranking threat to anything with an armour value. (forget about the Vet sergeant with a power fist. That makes the squad too expensive to be of any avail to you).
    Infantry Hunters: a Squad of 7-8-10 with the mandatory plasma pistols… a Vet sergeant upgrade and/or an accompanying IC comes highly recommended.

I remind you that Melta Bombs DO penetrate Skimmers!


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