Old School: Vulkan Space Marines at the Feast of Blades Qualifier

You’re my boy, Blue!

Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to do something different and fun: an old school text and pictures battle report from my outing to the last Feast of Blades qualifier here in Northern California. I’d then like to talk about the results and how it pertains to the current meta.

The Feast of Blades, for those who don’t know, is a tournament in Denver, CO in October that runs a very large number of feeder tournaments around the country. Each feeder tournament will produce qualifiers for the Feast of Blades invitational event (in addition to a host of other tabletop gaming events at the convention).

We here at Frontline LOVE gaming events, particularly tournaments, so you can bet your bottom dollar we’d be at (or be running) an event like this! Most of the crew had already qualified for the invitational in previous tournaments (I had done it with a 6 Trukk Orks list, w00t! such a fun list!). So, I thought it would be fun and a cool experiment to bring an old school Vulkan Marine list that would be mostly considered “bad” to see how it would hold up in a competitive meta.

As you can see, I have a big Space Marine army (that’s only about half of it). Vulkan Marines appealed to me for a number of reasons. They’re cool for one, fun to play, and all the twin linked weapons makes for a pretty reliable army that can also be quite effective against flying units. Rhinos stink in general, IMO, but with the skies full of Hell Turkies in our area a Marine on foot might as well just light himself on fire and not bother showing up on the table.

Master Crafted TH/SS Termies makes for a unit that is aged but typically still packs the heat in a fist fight (I hoped!). The list is well rounded and really only lacks in the long range firepower department. Here is what I brought. As you will see, the only deviation from the “normal” Vulkan build is the addition of a Storm Talon and a Rune Priest with some Grey Hunters for psyker defense.




Librarian: Null Zone, Gate

Rune Priest: Jaws, Storm Caller


Tactical Marines x 10: Flamer, Multi Melta, Melta Bombs


Tactical Marines x 10: Flamer, Multi Melta, Melta Bombs


Grey Hunters x 5: Melta Gun



Ironclad: Melta Gun, Heavy Flamer, Grenades

Drop Pod

TH/SS Terminators x 5

Land Raider Crusader: Multi Melta


Storm Talon

Attack Bikes x 3: Multi Meltas

Game 1: Dawn of War, Big Guns Never Tire

Opponent: Garret and his Tau

List from memory:


Suit Commander: MSSS, Puretide, Iridium, Drone Controler, Marker Drones x 2



Crisis Suits x3: Missile Pods x 6, Target Lock x 2, with 2 x Marker Drones

Riptide: Shielded Missile Drones x 2, Interceptor, FnP, Ion, Fusion


Pathfinders x 10


Fire Warriors x 12

Fire Warriors x 12

Devilfish: SMS

Kroot x 10: Snipers



Railhead: Longstrike

Broadisdes x 2: High Yield Missile Pods, Missile Drones, Skyfire

So, right off the bat a list with all the tools to take me to school. Long Strike in a Railhead is about as rough as it gets for the Ole Land Raider.

Here’s deployment:

My opponent had first turn, and deployed over a broad front. I counter deployed with a forced flank (way up in the corner!) to take most of his Marker Lights out of range on turn 1, and to keep a lot of my boys out of LoS saving me a lot of hurt. As such, I did not try to seize the initiative.

Here’s after the opening moves, I bum rushed his weak flanks and dropped my Ironclad down to try and pop his Railhead (failing, and in fact, he got First Blood from me in my turn when his Riptide intercepted and destroyed the Drop Pod, doh!). The Ironcald did destroy the Railhead through, in the subsequent turn by assaulting it. You don’t see the Storm Talon because he flew on, shot some Fire Warriors and got obliterated by Sky Firing, High Yield Missile Pods! Ouch!

My Land Raider survived the Rail fire and delivered Termies+Vulkan into the Riptide! With Null Zone from the Libby, he went down like a cheap date on prom night, muahaha! I then moved supporting units up field to keep the pressure on.

Here you can see mid game, I was keeping the heat on and jumped the Rune Priest out to Jaws some Broadsides, which he did (Jaws is ridiculous, can’t say I will be sad to see it go). I was taking casualties on the way in but with Tau you just have to keep coming as even a small amount of Marines will smack them around in assault…if they make it! The Attack Bikes went after the Crisis Suits but failed their charge.

The Tau bravely try to move back to center table with what they had left to challenge objectives.


The remaining Marines move to secure objectives while the Attack Bikes finish off Long Strike.
Victory to the Marines! Oppressive Imperial Ideology prevails, open minded Tau Socialism is defeated! Yay?
What worked in this game was the aggressive tactics of the Marines, the poor Tau deployment and, against my preconceptions, the Rhinos were really useful. They kept my Marines moving fast and safe from at least one round of shooting. I did lose a turn of shooting when a Rhino got stunned, but, the increased mobility was worth it. The Termies+Null Zone+Vulkan was something straight from a Tau nightmare. The Multi Melta Attack Bikes were fantastic, baring one failed charge, they were absolute studs. The Ironclad was OK, not anything to jump up and down about, really. Once he drops out of the pod, a mobile enemy can just avoid him. It’s a lot of points to risk on a single shot.
Game 2: Hammer and Anvil, The Scouring
Opponent: Dustin and his Mechdar
List from memory
Fire Dragons x 5
Wave Serpent: Twin Scatter, Holo
Fire Dragons x 5
Wave Serpent: Twin Scatter, Holo
Dire Avengers x 10
Dire Avengers x 10
Wave Serpent: Twin Scatter, Holo
Dire Avengers x 10
Wave Serpent: Twin Scatter, Holo
Jet Bikes x 6: Shuriken Cannon x 2
War Walkers x 3: Scatter lasers x 6
Ouch. A great list, and a crummy deployment type for me. My short range was really gong to hurt in this match-up. Eldar are my main army so I knew how badly I was outgunned.
I had first turn but deployed defensively in case I got seized on. I knew that my only hope in this game was to play to objectives as charging up the field was tantamount to suicide. In order to do that, I knew I had to put pressure on the Eldar to keep them in their backfield for as long as possible and hope I had enough left to take objectives with at end game. In short, I needed some luck.
I made a critical mistake during deployment: I should have combat squaded my troops. The 10 man units were going to be almost worthless in this game, it would have been much smarter to split them up, and hide or reserve the halves out of the Rhinos to play for objectives and count on the “school of fish” defensive plan. However, I didn’t and it cost me.
Here we are after opening moves.
As it was, I dropped the Iron Clad in a good position in the backfield and sent a unit of 10 Tac Marines up a flank to threaten the Eldar, and he responded by wiping them both out…promptly! Haha, I was hoping my Ironcald would pop a Serpent (their shields don’t work in the rear arc) but my dice failed me. This was further exacerbated with Dustin’s Fire Dragons fell back to take him out, shot at close range and despite me having a 3+ cover (go, go defensive Grenades!) I couldn’t make a save and the poor old boy got smoked. Had he lived, and/or some of the Tac Marines, I could have done some damage to reduce his mobility and soaked another another round of shooting, keeping the heat off of my objective taking units. The Ironclad especially could have nuked a transport and possibly a scoring unit too, with luck. Oh well.
So now I was between a rock and a hard place. My opening gambit had fallen flat so I had to send in the second wave. Once more into the breach, dear Vulkan and Friends! I knew that without anything else to diffuse Eldar firepower, these poor souls were probably doomed but it had to be done to keep the pressure on the Eldar and keep them in the backfield.
The Land Raider survived the Wraithknight shooting (the only thing at that range that had any real chance) to deliver my heavy hitters into combat, taking out a Dire Avenger unit and a Wave Serpent.
Here you can see the Wraithknight in assault with Vulkan. The Eldar counter attack unsurprisingly smoked most of the unit and Vulkan bravely fought the Wraithknight for 2 rounds before failing a save and getting crushed. With a little luck, I could have held the big guy up for another game turn, but alas.
From here, I didn’t have many offensive assets left. I was playing keep away with my Attack Bikes as they were scoring, and I hid my remaining troops. The Rhinos again managed to keep me safe from at least one unit’s shooting but again, getting a stunned result was just absolutely crippling at the wrong time. The game designers went too far having shaken and stunned transfer on to transported units, IMO, but that is a topic for another day. 
I was losing the war of attrition and while I was taking units down with me (my last Tac squad took the War Walkers down, the Storm Talon took the Jet Bikes out, Land Raider took most of a Dire Avenger unit) before dying. It was a race against time and I was falling behind.
By end game, I had only a few Grey Hunters and 2 Attack Bikers left on objectives, but my opponent also had two that were worth more points, plus First Blood, Line Breaker and Warlord earning the win. Well played to Eldar!
Again, the Land Raider was great. It only went down when I threw him into the jaws of Fire Dragons in order to try and destroy a troop. The TH/SS Termies would have been fine against the WK, but I knew I wouldn’t survive another turn in the transport so I had to get them out and take out what Eldar assets I could while I could. The short range of my army was crippling, and again, the Ironclad had a chance for glory but fell short.
Wave Serpents, as I have been saying since day 1, are too good. I don’t know what they were thinking with the Serpent Shield but it doesn’t need to Ignore Cover. If they could see even the slightest sliver of a unit, it got smoked. Oh well though, this is the game we have, just need to adjust!
Game 3: Dawn of War, Crusade
Opponent: Fred and his Daemons/Chaos
List from memory.
GUO: Level 3, Grimoire
CSM Daemon Prince: Wings, Power Armor, Black Mace, MoT, Level 3
Plague Bearers x 10
Plague Bearers x 10
CSM x 5
Hell Turkey: Turkey Breath
Daemon Prince: MoT, Wings, Armor, Level 3, Portalglyph
Fred and I played at the previous FoB qualifier and had a really good game. He is a solid player and I like his list, too. I didn’t have a lot of tools to take on the FMCs as with Space Chicken giving them a reroll, it was going to be super difficult to ground any of them.
Fred deployed very defensively in his corner while I did the same. The opening moves were fairly lack luster with the only real action coming when my Ironclad dropped down, and set his Plague Bearers on fire. A Heavy Flamer rerolling wounds combined with Null Zone is brutal against Daemons. He killed the majority of them on the drop, then mopped up what was left in the ensuing assault. Nice one, there goes one of the few enemy troops! The Rune Priest was clutch too, shutting down some of the punishing Tzeentch shooting.
When the Turkey came on, I focused on trying to take him out with twin linked Meltas. I did manage to hit, and again, with Null Zone, his 5++ wasn’t so great. Unfortunately, I only managed to take the Bale Flamer off. Stupid Turkeys, I hate you so!
Fred put the heat on me here. He dropped the Portal Glyph off in a corner and then came in on my troops with all his flying units. The Rhinos helped quite a bit as the Daemons had a limited amount of units to shoot me with and as such, would absorb a round of shooting before the vulnerable troops inside were exposed.
The Ironclad took off back towards the Chaos troops, hoping to make it across the board before endgame to get back in the fight. This turned out to be a big mistake as I will explain later.
The Storm Talon came on and started chewing up Daemon troops as they came out of the Portal Glyph. Little Bird, coming in hot! Storm Talons are awesome.
And, once again, the Land Raider was clutch, as it was such a hard target unless he dropped onto the ground to charge, which would have been the kiss of death as I would then pounced on whomever did it with Vulkan and his Termie buddies. Hell, even Bolters will drop a T5 DP on the ground. Well, apart from stupid Fateweaver with his 2++ reroll….why is that type of thing even in the game? Haha, who thought it was fun to have a unit able to get a 2++ reroll save, anyway? Probably not a mathematician, that’s for sure. Oh well, just have to learn to take the combinations apart that can produce such things.
The Daemons focused on taking out the Rune Priest. His Razorback got popped, but he and his crew of Grey Hunters looked to be in good shape until the dreaded 11 was rolled on the Warp Storm table…..words fail to describe how stupid that rule is. When your HQ randomly turns into one of your opponent’s HQs that is so, so, so stupid. I guess we forged a hard narrative or something, but what it means was that that flank was collapsed as my psychic defense was taken out and then the Herald, previously my Rune Priest, started picking on the Grey Hunter and Tac Marines that were now out of their transports.
It was time to abandon the foot slogging troops to their fates and make a play for the objectives.
Now, remember when I said cutting a straight line with the Ironclad to the enemy objectives was a mistake? This is why. My opponent deployed his GUO very poorly, deep in his backfield. Had I not been so aggressive with the Ironclad, I could have avoided him the entire game and effectively taken him out of the equation. Yes he would still be able to consistently put the Grimoire on Fateweaver, but oh well, I typically just ignore him, too.
Well, I brought the Ironclad within charge distance of the GUO (a long charge to be sure, but possible) and my opponent made combat with a lucky charge. That was game changing as it then meant the GUO could slingshot off and charge my Land Raider, crippling my mobility.
So, I was forced to counter by throwing my TH/SS Termies into him as a sacrifice to just hold him in place. With Iron Arm, he had gone up to Toughness 10. I didn’t wound him, lost combat by 1, failed my break check and then exactly what I feared happening, happened. He made combat with my Land Raider and immobilized it, effectively ending the game. Rats! Had that not happened, I could have swept the Chaos objectives by splitting the characters off of the Termies in a last turn charge and taken the game, but oh well.
The Storm Talon dutifully pumped lead into the Daemons as they came out of the Portal Glyph mowing them down, but when the dust settled, 2 Plaguebearers were left on an objective, the 5 man CSM squad on another, and my last Tactical Marines holding only one. He had First Blood (again, from my Drop Pod) and we both had Line Breaker. Le Bummer.
So, I finished up with the rather unimpressive 1-2 record, but I had 3 fun games against 3 great opponents and consider the tournament a success!
Yes indeed, the times, they are a changin’. Poor Marines. What do you do in the face of Xenos and Daemons that out-shoot and out-fight you for a lower points cost? TH/SS Termies are meant to be able to go toe-to-toe with anything and they really don’t hold a candle to a toughness 10 Daemon or a 2++ reroll. They can beat up Tau, but you know, that’s like bragging about beating a paraplegic in basketball. They still do get it done against most targets but just fall flat against the true heavy hitters. Strenguard would have been awesome though, for smoking those crazy tough MCs. Hopefully in the new Marine book, Sternguard go down in points a bit as they will then be the absolutely business.
A 10 man unit of Marines drops like flies to Heldrakes, Tau or Eldar firepower and doesn’t do much to them in return. A single Heavy or Special Weapon is nice, but comparatively thin blooded. A special weapon on Sarge is often a bad call these days too, due to challenges. Tac most certainly can’t take a Monstrous Creature or dedicated assault unit in a fist fight (or even basic Daemon troops baring Horrors, honestly) anymore as the hidden fist that could wear them down doesn’t function anymore so there isn’t a lot of incentive to take a 10 man unit other than to make it take longer to kill them all. The extra Bolter shots are not bad at all, but I keep gravitating back towards 5 man units in a Razorback for consistency.
Really, they are good for holding objectives, beating up on weak infantry and throwing grenades on vehicles. They are struggling to live up to their fluff more than ever and IMO, you are going to have to either run them as a horde and accept massive casualties or min/max them in a hard core shooting army where the actual Marines serve more as a scoring upgrade to the vehicle they ride in which actually does the damage. Neither option really reflects the background, but oh well.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Marines can’t win games or that they aren’t fun to play. They can and are. But as the Xenos continue to rise and the Marines continue to comparatively diminish in individual power, you are going to have to rethink how you play them. Chaos Space Marines, the poor saps, are even worse off. They are the hands down weakest of the 6th ed troop in the game right now by a mile, IMO.
All that said, I remain really optimistic for the future of Marines with all of the awesome supplements and such we hear rumors about and deep down I know I won’t ever turn my back on the MEQs, even if they do spend most of the game playing bridge in the back of a Razorback or picking on the weakest units on the table like bullies while running away from anything that can actually stand up to them.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

15 Responses to “Old School: Vulkan Space Marines at the Feast of Blades Qualifier”

  1. Avatar
    Invok93 July 31, 2013 2:05 am #

    Nice write up and discussion at the end. I can’t help but think that only having 1 Drop pod is just throwing away first blood, and we all know how first blood is almost the most important thing in the game right now.

    Can’t wait for some Tournaments to get rid of it but anyway…. Wouldn’t 2 or 3 more pods have helped your alpha strike? having 2 dropping turn one could change things up, maybe the ironclad and a unit of special weapon totting sternguard?

    It seems to me that a Rune priest is pretty auto include in any imperial army that can get their hands on one, bit annoying when you ‘have’ to include a unit in your army

  2. Avatar
    Pascal Roggen July 31, 2013 4:52 am #

    First blood ain’t the most important thing. goodness I’d love to see it with more weight over here, i.e. actually affecting the primary objective outcome. most games I see FB only happens turn 2 or three, people make lists to avoid giving it away easily, or not to care if they lose it, i.e. more choice and more interesting lists. It annoys me that in tournaments over here the secondaries in the brb are at best 1 out of 20 overall bp’s in a tourney setting.

    Ah New Zealand one day we’ll have a real 6th edition tourney… one day

  3. Avatar
    Baal Viper July 31, 2013 7:17 am #

    Reecius, props for repping the Marines. I enjoyed your comments on the Eldar game. Eldar are not so “fun” when your on the other end of it. They pay half the points for twice the fire power and oh by the way their Dedicated Transports out shoot your battle tanks and their troops which are half the cost of a marine REND,” vs. marines who actually pay for their stuff and cannot start the game with an overwhelming firepower advantage based purely on econimics. I honestly feel that if your are playing Marines, you are basically signing up to play 40k at an unfair disadvantage right now, which is a design failing by GW. For somehting to truly be a “game” doesn’t it have to be fair… As a BA, GK, and SoB player me and many other MEQ players face this problem every time we set up.

    Really like the use of Rhinos. You almost have to have them with Helldrakes out there, specially when your paying alot for an armor save your are getting less and less these days. Rhinos are also good at flatting out under a Helldrake sometimes nullifying the VS attack threat. I agree with previous posters that maybe a Sternguard unit would be useful. They are expensive, (not even about to try and compare them to newer xenos like Warpspiders that are better, faster and cheaper), but with all the MC’s out there poison 2+ is amazing and really puts the heat on flying MC’s. If they choose to come down, a sternguard unit in a Rhino has a 24 inch double tap threat range and will promptly delete even an Iron Armed DP. The ones without armor need not even attempt saving throws. They give a much needed answer to MC’s and can also deliver cover ignoring fire from a descent range. (I personnally think that to have a truly TAC list these days you need some means of projecting wounds that ignore cover into the enemy backfiled, either with shooting or CC)

    • Reecius
      Reecius July 31, 2013 9:46 am #

      I agree with your analysis. Marines are experiencing a pretty major decrease in power. IMO, Sternguard are what Marines should be, they fight well, shoot great, are flexible, fun, etc. A Tactical Marine is really nothing special these days. In fact, I would much rather have a Dire Avenger or Fire Warrior. An Assault Marine is a bit of a joke, too. Assault? Assault what? Any other dedicated assault unit in the game will kick their ass up and down the field. They really are only good for hunting weakling units.

      And yeah, Eldar on the other side of the table was rough! hahaha

      • Avatar
        kalhoun July 31, 2013 10:29 am #

        “Any other dedicated assault unit in the game will kick their ass up and down the field.”

        Storm Guardians! 🙂

        • Reecius
          Reecius July 31, 2013 11:02 am #

          Hahaha, OK, maybe not EVERY other, fair enough!

          • Avatar
            Baal Viper July 31, 2013 12:41 pm

            I think if the Serpent Shield was just infact a shield theEldar Dex would be pretty reasonable honestly. It decreases the shooting potential of the army but still functions as a reliable transport. Honestly, with their armor saves being what they are, Eldar troops need a resiliant transport to have a chance in most cases. I don’t see how you (Reecius) keep yours alive long enough to score playing footdar in a Meta full of Smart Missiles, High Yield Missile Pods, and other high rate of fire anti-infantry weapons. In most of your games that I have watched you are able to smoke the big threats early and they live/trickle in from reserves. Against a reserved list or an army that can take the first round of fire and fire back it may get tough. Serpants have to be tought to kill in order for the Eldar to have a durable scoring presence, they just should not be able to put out that many shots for what you pay for them. Example: 145 points will get you a Baal Predator with AV 13/11/10 fast vehicle, with 2 hvy bolters and a TLAC. which takes up a FA slot and can’t carry troops. Or you can get a Serpant that starts out at 115 and with 20 points of upgrades will out shoot that BATTLE TANK, and then deliver troops onto an objective, all while not taking a FO slot, and must is much more resiliant against getting one-shotted then any other vehicle in the game (even landraiders)

    • Avatar
      EldarExodite August 3, 2013 11:58 am #

      Eldar only have one dedicated transport, and no assault vehicles. So it’s not like an Eldar player has any choice about what dedicated transport to bring LOL. So yeah, it should be amazing, because without it we have no delivery system for our army. Get over it. In September you will get your new Smurf Codex w/ a billion supplements and everything will balance out.

  4. Avatar
    Tarrant July 31, 2013 7:51 am #

    I see a lot of games come down to 1 to 2 point difference which means FB becomes extremely important. I wish FB would only come from scoring units and not transports. Although, I’ve been trying to get our group to use the BAO concept of using two scenarios to help mitigate some of the issues with using only one scenario.

    Great batrep and pictures.


  5. Avatar
    Hippesthippo July 31, 2013 4:54 pm #

    I remember when the Daemon codex came out, I told you the story of Typhus going pop! On the first turn of my first game against Daemons.. Terrible, terrible rule. How is that fun for anybody?

    Not as bad as my Adepticon game 8 against Goatboy. My Necrons/CSM against his FMC Daemons. Big Gunz Never Tire, he has first turn. Rolls up an 8 on the Warpstorm and, after a flurry of 6’s and wicked rend rolls, all 3 of my Annihilation Barges explode. 🙁 Great way to start a game.. Down 3 pts on the primary, plus first blood. Not too mention those Barges were my best weapon against his list AND were scoring units.

    F*ck that jazz. Whoever wrote that table needs a good whoopin’! Hahaha.

    Oh yeah, great report. Good to see your Marines are still alive and kickin it old school.

    • Reecius
      Reecius July 31, 2013 6:12 pm #

      Yeah, I tell people about your Crons at Adepticon all the time! Such bad luck. The 11 on the Warp Storm table is such an asshole rule, every Daemon player I play apologizes to me when it happens, hahaha, not even they like it.

      • Avatar
        Hippesthippo July 31, 2013 6:25 pm #

        Yeep, 11 isn’t fun for anybody.

        As for Adepticon, at least I got a great “war,” story out of it.

  6. Avatar
    Hippesthippo July 31, 2013 6:30 pm #

    Having played through three tough tournament games against strong lists, what do you think a viable Codex: Space Marine list would look like these days? I know triple talon/triple tfc works, but what else do you fill out the list with? Any other ideas?

    • Avatar
      Fulcrum August 1, 2013 12:21 am #

      Honestly I’d just shelve them. Cross your finger & wait for Sept. To be honest I don’t have much hope. I’ve been playing 17 years now. My 3 armies have always been CSM, DA, & a SM chapter of my own making. Well I sold/traded all my Chaos after BAO. It’s just not fun when your competitive lists don’t have any actually power armor CSM, just cultists & IG allies. DA I have been able to play with but not competitively, every list I makes ends up with less marines & way more IG. To the point where it’s mostly just IG. Now SM(shaking my head), supposedly the backbone of GW’s sales, yet the heel of the actual game mechanics & codex releases. It seems that GW is grossly over estimating the power of the MEQ. Just compare a Wave Serpent to the main battle tank of the SM, the predator. When was the last time you saw a (not baal)predator on a table in a tourney? I have always been a pretty dominant player in whatever circle I am in. But more & more I feel it doesn’t matter as much what you do on the table so much as what you bring to the table. It’s very easy to just grab a known top-tier dex, spam a bunch of units that are hard to counter, & win because you just go through the same motions every game.

  7. Avatar
    Fulcrum August 1, 2013 12:30 am #

    Funny because just a year or 2 ago this would have been considered an abusive power list lol 😉

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