Saturday, August 22, 2015

1st Company Task Force

Almost two years ago, I wrote about the changes that the 6th Edition C:SM made to my army lists. Other than encouraging me to build up my Tactical Squads and giving me the option of Centurions, the change from 5th Edition to 6th Edition had a relatively small impact. Right up until the release of 7th Edition, I was working on an army that fit into the standard Combined Arms Detachment (CAD). However, Seventh Edition C:SM practically abandoned the traditional Force Organization chart, shredding all my plans. The new codex still allows you to use the CAD, but the benefits of the Demi-Company and Auxiliaries encourage players to use it as a secondary Formation, at best. The CAD is where you cram the units that don't fit into the other Formations.

This is your main force now, Marine players.

After working out some Demi-Company and Auxiliary lists, I've started prepping models for priming. Although I look forward to being able to fill out some of the new Formations, I may be most excited to field a 1st Company Task Force (i.e., 3-5 units of Vanguard, Sternguard, or Terminators). I'm a big fan of the Veteran models and the rules for the task force seem like they have a lot of potential.

First, all members of the task force have the Fearless and Fear special rules. Second, they have the Extremis Level Threat rule:
At the start of the game, before deployment, nominate one unit in the enemy army. Units in this Formation have the Preferred Enemy special rule when making attacks against the nominated unit.
Finally, the Formation has the Terrifying Proficiency rule:
Enemy units subtract 2 from their Leadership whilst they are within 12" of at least three units from this Formation.
It doesn't take too much to make a squad run when it's inflicted with -2 Leadership and takes a fusillade from Sternguard and/or shooty Terminators. And, unless they're Space Marines or are Fearless, the hit to their Leadership means that most units will fail their Fear test if they get into close combat with 1st Company Veterans.

It would be unfortunate to fail a Fear test against these guys.

I'm not too far from being able to field the task force. A lot of my current army's points value is already tied up in thirteen models: eight Close Combat Terminators and five shooty Terminators. With two more models I could meet the three-unit minimum. However, since the 1st Company Task Force's Terrifying Proficiency rule only takes effect when at least three Veteran Squads are within 12" of an enemy unit, I want to have more than those three units. Ideally, additional units would provide effective shooting given that the task force will cause many units to fall back simply by inflicting 25% casualties in the Shooting Phase. Clearly Sternguard are the best unit for this purpose.

I've since primed the necessary Terminator models and I've recently started prepping a couple squads of Sternguard. As I was working on the models, it occurred to me that Combat Squads can be used to maximize the effectiveness of Terrifying Proficiency. The rule for Combat Squads states that "A unit split into combat squads therefore is now two separate units for all game purposes [emphasis mine]". Thus, a 1st Company Task Force composed of three 10 man Veteran Squads could act as six total units if each squad were broken into two Combat Squads.

Even more devious is the argument I've seen regarding Dedicated Transports within the 1st Company Task Force. Since the task force's drop pods, Rhinos, Razorbacks, and/or Land Raiders are part of the unit that purchases them, and therefore part of the Formation, the Transports themselves would count towards the three units needed to activate the Terrifying Proficiency rule. Assuming this interpretation is correct, a drop pod that offloads a ten man Sternguard Squad that breaks into two Combat Squads would provide the necessary three units.

All of a sudden, it seems absurdly easy to get at least three units from the Formation within 12" of any particular enemy unit.


  1. I reached the same conclusions as you did. There's no reason to not to pick up the benefits of the Demi-Company when my original 6E CAD now fits cleanly into a Demi-Company + CAD for the rest of the stuff. All it required was breaking one of the 10 man Tactical Squads into two squads to fulfill the CAD Troop requirement.

    Unfortunately I don't have enough vets in my list to use the 1st Company auxiliary, or else I'd be able to just make a simple Gladius. What are your opinions on the new Gladius/Decurion pick-and-choose formations? On the one hand, I'm grateful my army got a huge, free boost and I was lucky enough to use the right units for the Gladius/GW made easy requirements for it and this is a fun, interesting way to move away from the old force organization charts, but on the other hand, it really has turned the game into an arms race and the rules for army construction are dangerously loose, not only turning off a lot of conservative players, but also penalizing those whose collections don't fit into GW's vision for the Gladius/Decurion/etc leaving them only Unbound/CAD and be left in the dust.

    1. I feel the same about Formationhammer. It's a fun way to organize your army and great for building lists around an army's fluff. It also gives GW a quick and easy way to periodically boost an underdog army with White Dwarf-exclusive Formations or Shield of Baal-style expansions.

      At the same time, some of these Formations are extremely potent and possibly game-breaking. (GW is as likely to produce ridiculous rules to sell the latest models as it is to boost an underdog army.) The 1st Company Task Force isn't necessarily broken, but it could be devastating to certain armies (I'm thinking mostly of Orks). I wouldn't want to face a large Armored Task Force, especially an Iron Hands one. And the less said about the Skyhammer Annihilation Force, the better. The Skyhammer Formation, which was obviously created to sell the latest Astartes kits, almost certainly started as a joke about over the top rules and found itself in an official publication through a sitcom-esque comedy of errors.

      The Formations have started a small arms race in the 40K Cabal. It's particularly unfortunate for our players who have pre-Necron codexes that aren't half as potent.


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