Old trusty, Mr. Vulkan He’Stan is up for review this go around! Check the Tactics Corner for more tactics, reviews and battle reports!
Vulkan was one of the most commonly used characters from the previous book and a blinged out bad ass that was considered OP when the 5th ed Marine book dropped. While Marines certainly lost steam over 5th, the Salamanders stayed competitive to the very end. But has Mr. He’Stan and the Green Marines held up in the transition to 6th?
Vulkan is a solid all around HQ choice. He packs a punch in a fight, is reasonably durable, and twin-links all of your melta weapons (and yes, that it is ALL of them, not just models with Chapter Tactics). Weighing in at 10pts less than two Thunderfire Cannons, he is a great blend of offensive punch and force multiplication for a reasonable points cost with only the downside of foot speed and a low Instant Death threshold holding him back. Vulkan will once again be fairly ubiquitous in Salamanders armies.
- Mantle that gives him a 3++
- Bolt Pistol
- Gauntlets that give you a Heavy Flamer (twin-linked due to Salamanders CTs) and Digital Weapons which allow you to reroll one failed to wound roll per assault phase. Very nice.
- Spear of Vulkan: Str6, AP3, Master Crafted, Two handed melee weapons. Very nice. With the reroll to hit and wound, this is a reliable weapon really only lacking AP2 to make it outstanding.
- The Forgefather: All models in his detachment count their melta weapons as Master-crafted. As this is not a Chapter Tactic, it applies to ALL models, including vehicles.
- Warlord: Iron Resolve: add 1 to your combat results. Meh. Can be great but one of the weaker Warlord Traits, IMO.
Vulkan is really straight forward. He himself fights fairly well and makes the rest of your army better.
As Salamanders CTs now twin link your Flamers (but not on vehicles anymore, sadly) already and neither they nor Vulkan Master-craft Thunder Hammers (apart from those taken on a Character that you choose to Master-craft per the Sallies CT), Vulkan isn’t quite as amazing as he was last edition but he is still very good.
I think Sallies came out fine though on the whole, as you now reroll failed saves from Flame weapons (although unfortunately per the BRB. the Heldrake’s Baleflamer is not a “flame weapon” and as such doesn’t trigger this improved defense for those models with a 2+) and every character get to Master-craft a weapon for free. That is a nice little bonus. Vulkan adds to this by Master-crafting all your Melta weapons, too. Plus, as with all Marines, points have largely gone down for their units.
I think the power level for Sallies has dropped a bit on offense, but increased on defense for an overall wash. Master-crafted on any weapon for free on all of your characters is quite a buff. It means that every sarge has a very reliable weapon at no additional cost, even if that is just used on his Bolter. Combi-weapons, such as a Combi Plas or Grav (especially on Biker units) with this benefit help significantly to give you a return on investment for the upgrade. It also means that you may want to strongly consider a Grav or Plasma Pistol. Where these weapons are usually far too expensive to take in general terms, if your’s is Master-crafted, give them another look. particularly in a Drop Pod or Rhino list where you will almost certainly get close enough to start using them right away. It also makes me consider units such as Centurions whose sarge now gets to Master-craft one weapon for free, such as the missile launcher upgrade that would not otherwise be able to do this. Don’t forget, Characters have Precision Strike! This mkaes the Master-crafted upgrade even better.
Furthermore, this makes taking the Vet Sarge upgrade with a special combat weapon a lot more appealing as that reroll helps a ton to consistently keep damage output high. As Sallies don’t have a way to manipulate army wide leadership Sarge upgrades are a strong consideration. With them you are incentivized to give your Sarges a better weapon, this may be a solid choice while also increasing leadership.
Vulkan adds to this by increasing the reliability of your squad’s Melta weapons. Meltas and Multi-Meltas become so much more reliable. Now, missing with those weapons goes from 1/3 for most units to 1/9. No more “curse of the Melta,” thanks Vulkan! It also gives you a fairly reliable AA solution without taking units dedicated to that task. Getting a reroll to hit flyers with Melta weapons means you hit with 1/3 instead of 1/6. That is a big difference, particularly when you factor in the power of a melta weapon. At the least it will consistently force the flyer to strongly consider evading to avoid getting destroyed (and remember, the decision to evade is made BEFORE the armor pen roll).
Units such as M.Melta attack bikes and Speeders, Assault Squads with dual Flamers and a Power Weapon, Pistol and/or Combi Weapon of some type, etc. mesh well with Vulkan. Despite not having Master-Crafted flame weapons anymore, Ironclads still work well, too as does the Land Raider Crusader as they benefit from his Melta rule.
Vulkan used to almost always roll with a unit of Hammernators, but now it isn’t quite such an obvious choice. That is still a really good choice to go with (when is it not? Hammernators are boss) but, now you may want to consider some alternate choices. For one, as he has Hammernator saves (2+/3++) with the increased Salamander resiliency vs. Flame weapons but is an infantry model, he works great in a Drop Pod or Rhino. He packs a twin linked Heavy Flamer and can also tank wounds well, plus he makes any unit he is attached to a lot scarier to assault. I would consider him with an Assault squad, sans jump packs in a Drop Pod with two flamers and a special weapon on sarge. Or, leave Sarge naked and let him make or take challenges, and Vulkan cleans up the rest of the enemy unit. Another great unit for him is the old trusty Command Squad with maxed out Flame or Melta weapons in a pod or Razorback. That is a really potent unit that can also benefit from FnP from an Apothecary, as would any attached characters such as Vulkan. As both the Company Champion and Apothecary are characters, if you choose to take them, they get the master-crafted upgrade. Not at all a bad choice. I have seen people run Vulkan and a second character for 2 command squads each of which can erase and entire unit with a single volley. Sternguard with Heavy Flamers are also a unit to consider, and the Combi-weapons, while expensive, are very reliable with Salamanders.
Vulkan is a solid character. He hits harder than some of the others such as Khan or Sicarius, and is fairly resilient (although a Power Fist will still drop him like a hot rock) but the benefit he brings to the army is not to be underestimated. He does compete with a Chapter Master whom can rock a Master-crafted Relic Weapon and get EW, but that fairly dramatically alters the composition of the army you are likely to bring. His ability to twin link Melta weapons is outstanding though, and makes him a very appealing choice.
In summation, Vulkan is a solid choice for a Salamanders army, and I feel it will be much more common to see him than not.