The Dark Fortress

Mini Tactica: Tactica 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.

I could probably write 20 or more pages about Tactical squads and on their versatility. However this is a mini tactica and so 20 pages are not needed, nor warranted. However I don't want to take away from the incredible diversity of the space marine tactical squad either.

Size and weapons

4-9 men plus a sarge. All with bolters. The sarge may have a bolt pistol and CCW or a bolter. It's up to you. Seems simple enough — more on squad sizes later.


You are allowed one assault weapon (plasma gun, melta gun, or flamer) and one heavy weapon (lascannon, missile launcher, heavy bolter or multi-melta).

I'll discuss these a little more in detail as we go along. How you arm your Tactical squad really depends a lot on what you want or expect them to do. Since they can do a lot of different things you've got a lot of choices.

You can also give them frag grenades, or krak grenades (and upgrade to a Veteran sergeant, who has access to the armoury). Again depending on what you want/expect them to do depends whether or not you'll need or want these. And finally your allowed a transport if you desire (Rhino or Razorback — see MT Transports for more information). Once again this depends on what you want them to do, and of course squad size. There are limitations after all.


Much of the tactical advice I could give depends on structure, and so it's important to discuss this now. As I've said before there is a lot of variation in a Tactical squad, I'll discuss my favourites and the popular ones. This is by no means exhaustive, as there are a lot more combinations than I'll discuss. You should try as many as you can, and once you have you should come pretty close to many of the same conclusions I have. Some work and some don't so lets take a look then.

Min and maxing

This is something you'll see and hear much debate over. I don't often min, however that's not to say you shouldn't. There are certain situations in which I'll discuss later where it can be advantageous for you to Min your squads. You'll also run into a few problems when minimising a squad, such as fleeing after taking a few casualties. Never a good thing in the heat of battle.

Being an Ultramarine I like to max many of my squads, however this is not always possible or feasible depending on how much I want to spend on a squad. Besides having 10 men fighting in a single unit for you (some serious fire power), holding things like quarters or bunkers/objectives is also important. And for this reason as well it's good to have a good-sized squad. But with point limitation perhaps you'll not have enough to always or at all maximize your Tactical squads. So what's the solution then? Well before the answer (or what I perceive it to be) we need to look at transports, as they play an important roll in this decision. And so that where my eye turns now.

Depending on the size and purpose of the unit; will often depend on what type (if any) transport is necessary. Squad size plays a large roll here. A five-man unit in my opinion never ever needs a transport. Not even a Razorback, if taking or wanting to take a razorback then buy the extra man and max out its compartments. So what are my recommendations? Well first a quick word on weapons.

Weapon options

Always take an assault weapon. You can always move and fire, or stand a shoot neither will hinder you, nor at least stop you from doing it. Plus they are relatively cheap and worth it a hundred fold. Which one you take will depend on what you want the squad to do, or at least what you expect it to do.


A template weapon; relatively short range, and because of this you need to get this thing up close and personal with your enemy. A transport is almost always a must. Some might say not to take heavies with this weapon, as you'll be moving a lot. I say take them but don't spend a lot of money on them, and choose one that suits the flamers style (an example of this might be the heavy bolter, or even the versatile missile launcher is a good choice if the points are there. Never take a lascannon with this weapon, flamers are not made for busting armour). This is a good weapon verse swarm armies, or even a bunker assault — torch the whole bunker it's darn good fun. Frag grenades are also a good idea because it's probable that not only will you get into it (close combat) with the enemy but they may be in cover and so it's better to be safe then sorry. As for transport I like a smaller squad when it comes to flamers, and so the razor back it is for me. Its added fire power is more then welcome, and about 6 men in this unit is good enough for me. It will keep the over all cost down but still keep the unit nice and effective.

As a side note this is one of those weapon squads where I don't mind running five guys on foot. 1 flamer and 4 troopers with bolters, you're not terribly fast but it's a nice cheap effective unit that more then likely will get ignored till later. You can also add a heavy in here but I find that because your foot slogging it, it's usually a waste.

Melta gun

This little sucker is a tank hunter, no doubt about it. Again though you suffer from a very short (pistol range). However this one can be teamed up with the heavier of heavy weapons (missile launcher or lascannon) and do very well for itself. The largest problem with this is again you've got to get up and out there towards the enemy otherwise your meltas wasted. (Don't forget about it's 2D6 penetrate at 1/2 range — some argue that you'll never be that close but it's nice to have, and hey you may get that close to a bunker to destroy it) As far as transports go, again I like the razorback (surprised eh?) it's added firepower is more then welcome with my other tank busters and I like to keep this squad rather small as well. Six men will do me just fine as it cuts the cost of the heavier weapons I'll be using. Not to mention krak grenades are a welcome edition here, gives you that extra little something to help out the guys with the big guns. (Every little bit helps right?).

Plasma gun

Probably the one I use the most, and also probably my favourite assault weapon. It's not really an assault weapon as it acts much like a bolter. With the same range as my bolters, and its higher strength it's more the welcome in most of my larger squads. Any of the heavy weapons can be added with it, and depending on what you intend to face (I use the heavy bolter or missile launcher a lot — they are rather cheap) will depend on what you team it up with. There is of course a risk when using it, however your marines are tough (and don't cost nearly as much as say a biker, and so it's an acceptable risk) and can take it. I like to take 8 to 10 men, throw them in a Rhino and let me speed off into the sunset. You could always foot slog it (or defend) with a large squad as well, and the plasma gun is still as effective as all the other marines in the squad. This usually costs more over all but I feel it's more then worth it.


I know many players like to add these to their tactical squads. And I don't discount them at all, they are very useful. However there are a few things to keep in mind, and if you're ok with all of these then use away.

  • It's the most expensive of all heavy weapons, and so jacks the price of any squad up considerable.
  • It's really a one shot wonder, if you miss you may not get to use it again, unless your sitting still (don't intend to move with it if you want it to be effective).
  • Your short-range assault weapons really don't pair off too well with it and so this limits you to the plasma gun.

Ideally it's a good option if your a defender or screening other units. However I feel that Tactical squads screen other units is often a waste. Unless you're on the move or defending something — like the objective. Most enemies have units that can easily (or fairly so) get around your screen anyway, or you'll be sitting there two or three turns before you can shoot at anything. Like I said there are situations where this can be good, but general it's a bad idea in my book.


Tactical squads can be deployed any number of ways. I tend to deploy them as protected as possible without giving too much up. I also like to deploy one squad as close to the enemy as possible. In the right conditions this does a few things for you.

  • You deny them a larger deployment zone.
  • For those units that have short ranged weapons (flamer, melta) you've cut your workload down at getting them close to the enemy.

It can be a risky business but also very rewarding as well. The denied deployment zone alone can be worth it. There is nothing like watching your opponent cram all his troops in a tiny area because he's got to deploy X inches from you.


It's my belief that the majority of your army should be from the Troops section of an army list. I tend to have four Tactical squads in about 1500 points. That being said, you've got several squads roaming about accomplishing several things at once.

Before the game actually starts you should assign each unit a specific task to complete during the game. Have a general idea of what is needed of them and construct a plan from that on what to do with them. This way they are much more focused on what they are doing, rather then wasting them about by throwing yourself at the enemy. Also stick to your plan as best you can, it's not set in stone (and expect change) but it's good to have your head in the right place to start with. Always keep the objective in mind as well when thinking these plans out. Lose site of that and the game is lost no matter how good a tactician you are.


Marines are not Orks, Eldar, Tau, Nids, etc. Don't waste your their lives. They are certainly not cheap and more likely then not you'll be badly out numbered and usually out-gunned. However you also have some of the toughest troops out there (weapons included). But don't be frivolous with their lives, never send them into a situation you know they have no hope of winning. Find another way about it and get better support if needed.

Tactical marines are a Jack of all trades and masters of none. They are effective shooters, close combatants, flanking troops, etc. They are capable of completing almost any task you set them out to do, however don't over look your limitations. These guys are fantastic supporters, anywhere you might need them. Shooting or close combat these guys can help break a stalemate or loosing battle easily. They are also fully capable of leading the attack, on a flank, up the centre, assaulting a bunker, holding troops for support to arrive, etc.

They are resilient troops and most common enemies will have some difficulties dealing with them on a regular basis. More often then not it will take your enemies special weapons to deal with the effectively, and this is perhaps their fault. A player can easily be disillusioned into thinking his troops are unstoppable. When getting to such a point vital mistakes are made again and again, and I've seen it happen far to often where tac squads are lured into a death trap of cross fires and heavy weapons, or tough assaulting troops. This is a common tactic used verse space marines in general and should always be looked out for. Never under estimate your enemy and never over estimate your troops. KNOW THEIR LIMITATIONS.

Tactically that is about all there is to say. Besides a few of the things I mentioned, Tac squads are the easiest units to use, there is almost no wrong way to use them, and perhaps that is why space marines in general are for beginner 40K players.

Much of it has to do with your playing style and how you need to (or want to) approach other armies. I tend to use the following set up.

Two 8-10 men Tactical squads.

In Rhinos (Rhinos optional) with plasma guns, heavy weapons — usually missile launchers, but the occasional heavy bolter makes it's way in there).

Two 6-man Tactical squads.

In Razorbacks. One with melta and missile launcher, one with flamer and heavy bolter. This changes from time to time depending on who or what I am facing. But this is my general set up.

I find that this set up general works best for me. However variations on this can and will work just as well. I like the Rhinos to flank, while the razorback pushes the centre. Hopefully driving the enemy for cover on the flanks and into my larger units. If not I can easily pincer my Rhinos towards the centre and either close in from behind or drive right into their flanks. This often will leave them in a cross fire as well. It's fairly effective, but will differ depending on what needs to be done and dealt with.

Hope you enjoyed the MT


Feedback and comments

As Inkaras said, one could write a book about this. Therefore I am going to make this short and personal.

  1. I always use ten marines in one squad, no exception.
  2. Defence, their primary task, hold my frontline. At ten marines size best accomplished.
  3. No specialised weapons as in anti infantry or anti vehicles. They always get both by bolters and either missile launchers or lascannon. Special weapons as in flamers, plasma guns etc. depends on the enemy but are tooled to deal with infantry.
  4. Table quarters and mission objectives are their second name. I usually add a rhino with an additional stormbolter to add to the anti-infantry power. General tank hunting goes to other units like Dreads and Devastators. Tac squads are supposed to deal with enemy troops, not heavy support. However they should be able to take out them also under dire circumstances. The lascannon for 15 is really at discount and it can be afforded to just use it once per game.
  5. Wave breakers. Tac squads are excellent at catching the enemy momentum of attack, like massed infantry tied up at their position. They will hold against 30 Orks one turn. But make sure to bring this sacrifice for a counter attack of an Assault squad or Command squad.

Like Inkaras I resent the idea of screening with marines. They are not expendable, nor are they meant to be sacrificed for nothing. Inkaras warning about being aware of their limitations pretty much gets the point of their whole use.


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