Capt’n Dees on Drop Pods

Capt’n Dees from the Preferred Enemy blog writes about his thoughts on Drop Pods in the new Space Marine book. As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!

So I’ve had the book a week now and have been mulling over things.  Obviously as the internet and I all concluded the SM Bikers are going to be a rocking army.  But there are lots of other builds in the book that I think can be good.  The Chapter Tactics and special characters in this book mean you can do builds of different flavors and go fluffy and competitive which is great.  Plus adding in things like allies and you can piece bits together to make a really great force.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do for awhile is revisit the drop pod army.  It was fun running templar drop pods back in the day, but it fell out of favor when I could do my DoA Blood Angels.  Of course that died with 6th edition too.

Now Drop Pod armies haven’t been dead by any means.  I’ve seen some great Blood Angels and Space Wolf armies.  Blood Angels you get the benefit of FNP bubbles, double special weapons, and AV 13 Dreads.  Space Wolf armies can go cheap with great Grey Hunter units, and/or go with Logan and do crazy combi weapon Wolf Gaurd units.  Plus has anybody forgotten how great Rune Priests are?

The problem Space Wolf pod armies is really anti air.  If you go wolf gaurd armies your shooting is usually pretty minimal after you blow the combis (though I’m a fan of Logan making a squad of MM Long Fangs Relentless).  Blood Angels can do a bit better hear with the very trusty Storm Raven as a gun ship to support the pods.  Of course mixing the two armies together to get these things going is certainly a great option also!

Blood Angels

Librarian, Combi Plas

Honor Gaurd, 4 Combi Plas, Drop Pod

3x Furioso Dread, 1 Frag Cannon, PF/Melta, Drop Pod

4x 5 Assault Marines (no JP) Melta, Infernus Pistol, Drop Pod


Space Wolf Allies

Rune Priest

9 Grey Hunters, Flamer, Wolf Standard, Drop Pod

10 Grey Hunters, 2 Plasma Guns, Plasma Pistol, Wolf Standard, Drop Pod

2000 Points

It is an interesting mix of units that covers the bases with 10 Drop pods.  Flamers?  Check.  Melta?  Check.  Plasma?  2 units is pretty good.  Anti air?  Check.  Rune priest for anti psy, I just don’t remember if he mucks about with the BA libby also as I seem to recall it being only enemy powers in the Faq.  But if not you could take a cheap Captain I suppose and change up a few points in the list.

Either way lets start with that as our benchmark for what I would say is a pretty good drop pod based army.  What can regular marines bring to the table.

Let’s take a look at a few other 2000 point lists using just one Chapter.


Libby Lvl 2, Combi Flamer

3x Iron Clad in DP

4x 10 Man Tacticals Melta/MM/Combi in DP

8 Assault Marines, No JP, 2x Flamer, PF in DP

10 Assault Marines, No JP, 2x Flamer, PF in DP

So a solid 9 pods.  You’ve got the 3 Iron Clad for AV13 troubles, lots of twin linked flamers and meltas.  I’ve ditched the anti air here hoping that the twin linked meltas will be enough, but that could be problems facing Stormravens.  Of course Storm Ravens aren’t probably your first problem over something like Helldrakes.



Command Squad, 4 Plasma, Apoth, DP

3x Iron Clad in DP

3x 10 Man Tacticals Melta/MM/Combi in DP

2x Storm Talon

So we only have 7 pods here but one is a doozey.  Calgar paired with Tigurius can just wreck entire armies.  With the Ultramarine Chapter Tactics you can land and use your shooting reroll trait and then turn 2 use the assault trait to get in the mix.  Taking down Calgar backed with FNP and Tigurius is no easy task.  Storm Talons serve as the anti air.

Chapter Master, Termie, Shield Eternal, Thunder Hammer

5 Shooty Termies, Cyclone

2x Iron Clad in DP w Locater Beacon

4x 5 Tactical Heavy Bolter, Combi Flamer

2x Storm Talon

3x 5 Devastators, 4 Heavy Bolters

So I’m less sold on this list but it is interesting.  We’re light on troops, but trying to max out the bolter reroll ability.  Plus those Devs have tank hunters so getting rear armor or glancing AV11 to death is not terrible.  I’ve added some shooty termies to come down turn 2 to boltster the force and give some more punch with the super Chapter Master.  The biggest problem here is 4×5 Tac squads are not resiliant, though I’m thinking those are your ‘second wave’ of pods.

Master of the Forge

6x Iron Clad in DP

2x 10 Man Tactical Melta/Combi in DP

8 Man Tactical Plas/Combi in DP

5 Assault Marines no JP, 2x Flamer in DP

2x Storm Talons

6 AV 13 walkers with It will Not Die, 5 Dropping down turn 1 (if you want) is a frightening thought.  I think the shock of all those Iron Clads might be worth it just to see peoples faces!


3x Iron Clad in DP

6x 5 Initiates, Melta, PW, Sword Brother, Combi in DP

2x 5Assault Marines no JP, 2x Flamer, Combi in DP

Storm Raven

So everything is minimum squads but 11 drop pods means lots of targets to shoot.  Each 5 man squad packs a punch.  I just don’t know how well 5 man squads are going to survive to ever make it into assault…

Add lastly is poor Ravengaurd, who I think have maybe the most limited benefits of their Chapter Tactics.  I just don’t see any great list that they can put together for Drop Pods that works out any better than another Chapter.

This isn’t the end all be all of lists either.  I think Iron Clad dreads are great right now, but going with Sterngaurd are certainly a viable (if not more expensive) option as well.  Heck we could even talk about adding Pedro for a Crimson Fists lists!

So what do you think?  Do any of these look any better than the BA/SW list?  Do any of them look like they could be allied into something like SW to be any better?  I’m curious to see how some of these could play out on the table!


About Reecius

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

33 Responses to “Capt’n Dees on Drop Pods”

  1. steven morrow September 20, 2013 10:57 am #

    The biggest problem any drop pod army will have is against serpent spam. They stack up to deny back arc shots then vanish leaving you to grasp air. while pelting you from outside effective melta and assault range. It will be vety frustrating very fast. the key will be your follow up waves of pods and if they can arrive in the right place and time to save you

    • Reecius September 20, 2013 12:04 pm #


      • Captn Dees September 20, 2013 12:45 pm #

        Yep that is probably the worst matchup. You have to hope for a great drop and results but it can get tricky.

        But then again most armies that aren’t fast assault armies have problems with Serpent Spam!

      • Captn Dees September 20, 2013 12:53 pm #

        The other two bad matchups I’ve seen/played:

        Helldrake spam. If you either don’t have the tools to deal with them or get your tools gacked early you are in for a painful game.

        Triple Riptides Intercepting your troops with Large Ion blasts. Get in cover, spread out and hope for the best. Or pod in and hope you can get so close to the enemy that it is impossible or at the least risky for them to drop the pie plate. Not pretty either way.

        So yes, only three fairly popular builds out there that can be troubling. 😉

        • anonymou5 September 20, 2013 2:00 pm #

          I thought Tau Riptides were a bad match up for a Drop list until I played it through a few times. Generally with auto correct + six inch deployment you can stand 1 inch from enemy models, denying the pie plate. 3 shots at BS3 = wtf ever. Broadsides are actually a much bigger threat with intercept.

          Either way, you can weather the storm and start putting jaws down. My drop Wolves list eats Tau; it however struggles heavily versus Eldar, and Daemons somewhat.

          • Reecius September 20, 2013 3:09 pm

            That’s why I am taking a mix of Pods and Rhinos as it allows me to pull the old “hammer and anvil” routine on most players. I find that it works well and is a lot of fun to play, too.

  2. michael September 20, 2013 11:14 am #

    Melta and fragcannon…this escapes me. Heavy flamer is the better way to go IMO. You get three tear drop templates. Not to mention the heavy flamer will ignore cover, working much better against castling TAU.

    • Reecius September 20, 2013 12:04 pm #

      Frag Cannon ignores cover too, all template weapons have that special rule.

      • Captn Dees September 20, 2013 12:47 pm #

        Yep, it all depends on what you prefer. The thing I’ve had with Dreads in pods is I’ll take the 3 templates and then play Marine Meq and go ‘well crap.’ Then I’ll take Meltas and end up against Ork horde. ‘well crap’.

        So I tend to leave them with the ability to hurt both, but that is probably just a personal preference.

        • michael September 20, 2013 3:06 pm #

          Yeah it is definitely a personal preference thing. Though I think the heavy flamer is always useful. I’m working on a Blood Angels list that is sort of a hybrid list. Perhaps we could play test our two versions?

        • winterman September 20, 2013 4:25 pm #

          Heavy flamers aren’t as bad against marines as you might think. Auto hitting wounding on 3s and you start getting the same sort of kill results as a double tapping plasma gun as long as you can get enough under the template. Which deploying from a drop pod helps to make that happen.

          • Ty September 20, 2013 4:41 pm

            For reference: If you can get five Marines under a template a Heavy Flamer is equally as effective as a Plasma Gun. More than five the Heavy Flamer is better, less than five the Plasma Gun is better.

      • michael September 20, 2013 3:03 pm #

        My point exactly, well sort off(forgot that all tear drops gave ignore cover)..the melta on that particular dread isn’t playing to the strengths of what that dread will do: shred an infantry unit out in the open or in cover. Plus the fragcannon is strength 6 and shoots twice. I usually just drop in behind a tank and nuke its rear armor if I have too.

        • Reecius September 20, 2013 3:05 pm #

          Yeah, good point. That Frag cannon isn’t bad at all, but I prefer the Edward Scissor hands build: Blood Talons.

          • michael September 20, 2013 3:10 pm

            yeah, yeah I love it too. the only thing I find whenever I do that is it either goes really well…as in they don’t nuked after arriving and they get to assault or they…get nuked or immobilized or one of there freaking arms blows off!
            At least with the fragcannon and heavy flamer you can hurt shit on the turn you arrive instead of preceding turns. But anyway….so much too debate. Actually too much!

  3. Skari September 20, 2013 11:48 am #

    Drop Pods are fantastic. Now that you can’t assault out of they are pretty awesome, instead of having to move up, get out and then charge whileot at, you land turn 1 get shot at and then get in the enemies face quick.

    • Captn Dees September 20, 2013 12:49 pm #

      The trick is to have either to many targets for the enemy to kill enough in that return fire turn, some kind of resiliency (2+ armor, cover, FNP), or so much hitting force on the drop you can neuter the enemy outright.

  4. michael September 20, 2013 12:00 pm #

    If your playing at a tournament that allows FW, you can take the dreadnought drop pod variant that allows for assault when you arrive. NOW that is a list I’d like to see with the Iron Hands as a 2000pt double force org list…

    • Reecius September 20, 2013 12:02 pm #

      That drop pod got nerfed in the latest version of the rules, unfortunately. Can’t assault the turn you arrive anymore. =(

      • michael September 20, 2013 12:11 pm #

        WHAT! I thought you just used in the golden throne!?

        • Captn Dees September 20, 2013 12:44 pm #

          The nerf is only about 2 weeks old. Now you can hide in it for a bonus cover. hooray. :p

          • Reecius September 20, 2013 12:55 pm

            Yeah, very recent and very punishing nerf. It now provides Shrouding the turn you arrive to the Dread (so long as he is touching any part of the model) and anything that gets shot at through the Drop Pod. Not terrible but not even remotely what it was before.

  5. Raw Dogger September 20, 2013 1:41 pm #

    This is why I now include Coteaz and a Strike Squad in most lists I build. They’re about 340 points but the ability to Warp Quake and I’ve Been Expecting You shenanigans is very tempting to have.

    • Reecius September 20, 2013 1:55 pm #

      Yeah, that combo beat the shit out of my poor Marines!

  6. Ty September 20, 2013 2:16 pm #

    Any thoughts on Sternguard with two heavy flamers vs Ironclad in a Salamanders list?

    • Captn Dees September 20, 2013 2:49 pm #

      I think it is certainly viable! It is certainly close in points, so swapping out a dread for this could put the hurt on xenos!

      I would probably dump one of the Assault flamer squads in favor of another Tact squad if I’m looking at the above. I don’t want to over comit to flamers and then get to play against Deathwing and Paladins all day!

      Also if you are going to run dreads in pods I feel like you need at least two. So for 2k maybe subbing in one for a pod is cool. If you are dropping down to lower, say 1500, then you probably need to decide to commit to the 2 Dreads, or go strictly infantry based.

  7. Adam September 20, 2013 5:10 pm #

    Why would you ever ignore Thunderfire Cannons in a pod list? They’re amazing units and give you more pods to drop. If you’re worried about losing them turn 1 for an easy first blood, i.e. facing Eldar, you can still pod them, sure you lose a turn of shooting, but that’s better than losing the TFC, not shooting at all and giving up first blood.

  8. DCannon4Life September 22, 2013 6:47 am #

    I didn’t see a comment that contained this tidbit: You can drop an empty pod. If you’re staring across the table at a lot of Interceptor it may be smarter to deploy on foot and use the pods to provide cover for your advance.

    • Reecius September 22, 2013 6:49 pm #

      Very good point, that is a great tactic that people forget about.

  9. CaptKaruthors September 24, 2013 1:07 pm #

    What about using the death storm pod from FW in the initial drop? Or did those get nerfed into oblivion like the Lucius Pod?

    • Reecius September 24, 2013 5:58 pm #

      Yeah, the Deathwind could work, and no, it didn’t get nerfed in the new book.

  10. Nate April 26, 2014 2:14 am #

    Not enough people field empty drop pods with deathwind launchers; I played a tourny recently with IF in pods and had great success dropping multiple pods in this way. They’re empty so Interceptor doesn’t mean much, and the ones that make it to turn 2 are nothing but headaches as 12″ range large Str5 blasts is nothing to sneeze at when you’re behind your enemies lines.

  11. Castellan Zor November 14, 2014 12:24 pm #

    Hi All

    Sorry to get to the party so late! I noticed a couple of things that I just had to comment on….

    1…..” I just don’t know how well 5 man squads are going to survive to ever make it into assault…”

    Um…. no, no, no….. 5 man squads… you actually want them to survive to get into assault? You don’t send 5 man MSU squads into assault hoping to actually do anything but die.

    2….. “Calgar, Tigurius, Command Squad, 4 Plasma, Apoth, DP”

    Um…Tigurius can bring a command squad?

    All in all, I luv pods! Sorry to be so late on this

    For lots on running pods check out:

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