Space Marines Reviews: HQs Part 20: Master of the Forge

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Master of the Forge is up for review! For more in depth reviews and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

The Master of the Forge straddles the line between the Adeptus Mechanicus and his Chapter of Battle Brother. He keeps the secrets of the machines and takes the fight to the enemy. The Master of the Forge is a versatile and powerful member of any chapter, but does he walk the walk on the tabletop?




The Master of the Forge is an interesting mix of utility, combat ability and force multiplication. He strikes a nice balance between those roles and packs a decent punch both in a shoot-out and a fist fight. He is also quite the value, weighing in at a Thunderfire Cannon minus 10pts.


  • 2+
  • Bolt Pistol
  • Bolter
  • Grenades
  • Servo-Harness
  • Option for a Conversion Beamer at 20pts in place of the Servo-Harness.
  • Power Axe in place of Pistol or Bolter for 15pts, however, you only take this weapon if you take the Conversion Beamer as his Servo-Arm is better and in this version of the rules, you don’t get to swing it and the axe.
  • Options for Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons, Special Issue Wargear, and Chapter Relics.
  • You can take a unit of Servitors for each Master of the Forge, these will be covered in their own review.

Special Rules:

  • IC
  • Blessing of the Omnissiah (repair vehicles and remember, he has a Servo-Harness built in, so repairs on a 4+, 3+ if he is using Iron Hands Chapter Tactics, and +1 for each Servitor with a Servo-arm in his unit).
  • Bolster Defenses: Increase the cover save of one piece of terrain in your deployment save by 1 (not just ruins anymore) but cannot be done to a purchased piece of terrain.
  • Chapter Tactics
  • Lord of the Armory: the Master of the Forge allows you to take Dreadnaughts as both Heavy Support and Elite choices.


The Master of the Forge is a great utility HQ for his cost. He provides a little bit of everything while not excelling at anything.

The Master of the Forge is a moderate offensive character. He packs a decent wallop in a fight but he’s no Chapter Master or Captain by any means. However,  Strength 8, AP 1 melee attacks are nothing to sneeze at. His Servo Harness gives him an extra Servo Arm so he packs a solid 3 attacks in combat, 4 on the charge that will bring the pain with each hit. Also, that is why their is absolutely no reason to take the Power Axe unless you are taking the Conversion Beamer. The Servo-arm is now not an additional set of attacks but his weapon, so the Power Axe is superfluous. It swings at the same time with the same number of attacks but not as hard.

WS 4 is nothing to jump up and down about, but his BS 5 is pretty slick. With his twin linked Plasma Pistol (Plasma Cutter) he has a 35/36 chance of hitting, nice! As his Servo Harness allows him to shoot either both harness weapons (Flamer and Plasma Cutter) or one and one of his other weapons (Bolter and Bolt Pistol) he’s armed to the teeth! The Conversion Beamer is an interesting choice. If you are going to take the Conversion Beamer you take the Bike, too. No ifs, and or buts about it. You need the mobility of the bike to make the most of the Conversion Beaker which gets more powerful the further away from your target you are. The Bike allows you to do this. Played right, possibly taking two Masters of the Forge with Conversion Beamers, each in a corner of your deployment zone, they can form two powerful skirmishing units that fly around blasting enemy units and then provide solid counter assault. This is the only time you may want to take the Power Axe as it gives him an assault weapon as he gives up the Servo-arm attacks for the Conversion Beamer.

As for extra kit to give him, there’s not much call for anything else, honestly. Some of the Special Issue Wargear is solid as the Auspex in the right circumstances, or a bike for mobility, but typically you want to keep this unit cheap and efficient.

In terms of application, the Master of the Forge is fairly flexible. He allows you to play him where needed, on the fly. You can stick him in a unit of Tactical Marines and he adds a lot of punch in the shooting phase and assault phase. His 2+ means that he is fairly survivable and as he has 2 wounds he can serve as a poor man’s tank, soaking wounds. Typically you don’t want him in a challenge unless it is against a moderate opponent such as a Librarian, Chaplain, Farseer, Squad leader, etc. He is a threat with that Servo-arm, but lacking an invul save you need to be mindful of when he goes into the challenge or when sarge needs to fall on the sword to allow him to clean up some infantry. His Flamer also helps to add defense to a unit on an objective with improved over-watch, plus leadership 10 is always nice!

You can also keep him in the backfield, bolstering a rear unit and using his Servo-harness to fix vehicles and walkers or with a Conversion Beamer to add some nice firepower. If he is the Warlord, in this roll he is also going to be relatively safe. Speaking of walkers, his ability to unlock Dreads in both the heavy and elites slot is awesome for a fun, themed list, particularly with the Iron Hands Chapter Tactics (It Will Not Die for all vehicles and Characters), but unless you take all or predominantly AV13 Dreads, it is not going to be a particularly powerful army. Even then it will struggle, but will be fun and certainly look awesome.

He has the option to unlock a unit of Servitors however, these are not recommended in anything but a friendly list as they are poor at both shooting and assault and have even worse defense. Yes they hit hard but are easily killed and have only a single attack. Servitors will be covered in their own review but suffice it to say I wouldn’t take them in anything but a for fun, themed list.

His Bolster Defense ability is a nice way to boost your cover saves for backfield units. A lot of things in the game currently ignore cover so this isn’t amazing, but it is great when it does work. Just be wary of it granting your enemy a boosted save, too! Repairing vehicles and walkers is also nice, particularly if you are going Iron Hands to get the +1 to repair roles which combined with It Will Not Die makes for some very resilient units, particularly Land Raiders.

Some of the other Chapter Tactics are also nice, such as Salamanders. Twin linking his Flamer and letting him Master-craft one of his weapons. Rerolls against flame weapons is also nice when it is applicable. Black Templars makes him a little better offensively and +1 to DTW is always good as is Crusader. White Scars with Hit and Run and their bonuses to Bikes is pretty cool for him too, if he is mounted. Ravenguard CTs allow him to be sneaky (too bad you can’t give him a Jump Pack!) and Scout up along with any unit he joins.

That’s about it for the old Master of the Forge. He’s a solid, versatile, low cost HQ choice that has a place in a wide variety of Space Marine lists. The only real question you have to ask yourself is why would you take him over the other HQ choices? For me the answer to that question would be that I am running a mechanized army where he serves as a force multiplier by keeping my vehicles running longer. That or as a cheap-as-chips HQ that serves as a light combat character and fulfills my HQ requirement for minimal points while still adding a lot to a list that doesn’t need a heavy hitter in combat. Even tossing him in a unit of Hammerantors in an LRC isn’t bad as he meshes well with them, costs few points, and helps to keep that LRC going strong!


About Reecius

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

11 Responses to “Space Marines Reviews: HQs Part 20: Master of the Forge”

  1. Avatar
    Fulcrum October 12, 2013 11:15 pm #

    Just for fun I like to run him with either a lightning claw or “teeth of terra” & either a combi or grav pistol. He’s pretty badass when taken as a 2nd hq in a sally army with vulkan. My question is can you mastercraft all or part of a servo harness or a relic via the sally CT?

    • Avatar
      Paul Cornelius October 13, 2013 12:13 am #

      Wow! That’s some clever thinking on the MC servo-harness. Yikes!

  2. Avatar
    Km October 14, 2013 12:36 pm #

    I find his ability to make dreads heavy support quite nice as it enables you to take things such as sternguard in numbers as well as normal heavy support and helps for when you roll up big guns as they are a bit more mobile than most heavy support. In fact I nearly won a major UK tournament with a 3 dread list at the dawn of 6th ed (leafblower IG list nailed me in the last game but I won every other one), it tends to catch people off guard as it is a rare list to see.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 14, 2013 1:45 pm #

      Really? Awesome, what was your list if you don’t mind me asking and how did you play it? I love Dreads and typically use at least 1 in my SM lists. I’d love to hear more about how your an yours.

  3. Avatar
    Hotsauceman1 October 14, 2013 3:15 pm #

    I love my MOTF with a conversion beamer in my old 5th Gunline list. He would sit ontop oof a giant ruin raining death and laughing at puny mortals………Now he will do the same, Just on a bike

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 14, 2013 6:35 pm #

      Yeah, the Bike makes him so much more of a threat because it gives him mobility. Plus, it is a cool conversion opportunity!

  4. Avatar
    Km October 16, 2013 2:10 pm #

    I’ll have to do it from memory, but it was along the lines of this:
    Master of forge-2servo arm servitors
    2* 10 man tac squads- 1 with multi melta+ melta gun + power fist sarge in rhino, 1 with plasma cannon plasma gun
    1*5 man sniper scouts with camo cloaks
    2*multi-melta dread
    1*plasma cannon dread
    Devestator squad with 3 missiles 1 plasma
    Vindicator with seige shield
    Stormtalon with typhoon missiles

  5. Avatar
    Km October 16, 2013 2:15 pm #

    My tactics were to get first blood, then play aggressively focusing on 1 of the opponent’s objectives with all units apart from plasma tac squad and scouts, who shot up any opposing units who made it through my attack to make a play for my objectives (and lots of outflanking wolf scouts:)) . I would also deny a flank by setting up (and placing my objectives in) 1 half of the board. Unfortunately the new tau makes this list pretty useless:(.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 16, 2013 3:03 pm #

      Yeah, I imagine you would struggle with Daemons, too. But, thanks for sharing, I want to make a Dread list work, it is just very difficult to do.

      • Avatar
        Km October 16, 2013 11:58 pm #

        I agree it would struggle with daemons, but dreads in general are pretty good at tying up units like flesh hounds as (correct me if i’m wrong) as they have the daemon usr, which means they are fearless, so if they are charged by or forced to charge a unit they cannot hurt like a dread, they cannot, use ‘our weapons are useless’ to get out, so they are tarpitted

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 17, 2013 7:58 am #

          you are correct, they can’t voluntarily flee. And they rock at tying up Hounds, I do it all the time, myself! haha, they can tie up other units such as Seekers for a while, too, but the got dang Screamerstar walks through them like they weren’t there.

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