Common Forge World Units and how to Defeat Them

Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to send out a PSA on the most common Forge World units you will be likely to see in a game and the counter tactics to use against them!

So, as a lot of you likely know, the Las Vegas Open is nearly upon us. It is going to be AWESOME! 3 days of gaming in Vegas with good friends!

We have a ton of great events going on (all of the main events sold out too, sweeeeeeet!) and the event is going to be so much fun, but the main event is the 40K championships. We allow Forge World in our events, and have done so for over a year with 5+ GT level events under our belts in this format. Here is some of what we have learned from that experience and from having played against and with FW units ourselves for quite some time.

There are only a few units you really need to be aware of.

While there are many dozens of FW units out there, you typically only see a handful of them commonly. Most FW units are–quite frankly–under-powered. There are a handful of very powerful or very useful units that you see often. This is not surprising when you consider how expensive FW models are. You want to buy something you will use!

Here are a list of the most common units we have seen at our events and how they are used as well as how to counter them. I am going to group the first into one category as they all share similar characteristics.

Imperial Guard Artillery Units


  • Saber Platforms What is it? A twin linked Las Cannon or Auto Cannon with interceptor and skyfire that has an artillery profile. Very good! Plus they come in at a very reasonable price point, are bought as a Heavy Weapons Squad as a part of a Platoon in the IG codex and are therefore a troop. They can be upgraded to have a Searchlight, but they lose their weapon if they do. You take them for pretty obvious reasons: they’re great AA, AT and AMC (anti-monstrous creature, not the awesome TV channel!). Each comes with a single crewman, but can purchase an additional crewman per gun. These are very common as they are so all-around good.
  • Thudd Guns What is it? A relatively cheap artillery piece that fires 4 strength 5, ap 5, barrage small blasts with a -1 to your pin check. That in and of itself isn’t that hot, a T-Fire cannon is much better for example, but you can take them in batteries of 3. That means the battery can put down 12 strength 5 small blasts which is really nasty and can wipe an infantry unit out in a single shot. They come with 3 crew per gun, and you can take 2 additional crew per gun. It is a heavy Support choice. Alternatively this weapon can be given a Heavy Mortar which is the same weapon a Griffon has (Str 6, AP 4, Large Blast, Barrage). Also, quite good. These are very common, often you see one unit for AI duty.
  • Heavy Artillery What is it? The same thing as an IG Bassilisk or Medusa, but cheaper, immobile, and toughness based as opposed to having an AV. They have a crew of 4 per gun, and can purchase 4 more per gun in the battery. Alternatively, you can get the same weapons on an immobile, AV10 platform with no crew and the option for a Hydra or Manticore turret, the Manticore additional can take Heat Seeking Skyfire missiles. You see these a lot less though, as they are so easily destroyed. Either type of the Heavy Artillery’s use is identical to normal IG self-propelled artillery: they blow stuff up from a long way away. These are less common than the above units.
What’s the Big Deal?
You defeat all of these artillery units in the same way: kill the crew. Artillery units are tough cookies and can be very difficult to destroy by engaging them directly. As they use the artillery piece’s toughness of 7 against shooting attacks, and will often be behind an Aegis line or on a Skyshield for protection, trying to shoot them to death with most weapons will be futile. Further, a common trick with IG artillery specifically is to go to ground behind an Aegis when shot at (but remember, the cover save bonus does not help the gun, only the crew) and then use the “Get Back in the Fight” order to shoot normally in the next phase. This makes the guns very hard to kill. They will also often have a Lord Commissar nearby to boost their leadership, and a Company Standard for the same purpose. Lastly, you will often see psykers such as Rune Priests, Librarians and Inquisitors attached to these to buff them with psychic powers.
So what to do?
The same thing you do against any opponent: don’t play their game. When you are faced with a defensive combo your opponent has invested a lot of points into setting up, it is folly if you do what they wants you to do. For example, when a Screamerstar, Ovessastar or Jetseer Council is fully juiced up, don’t waste your time attacking it. That is what your opponent wants you to do. The same principal applies here.
Kill the supporting units first. Just like when playing Taudar or many Eldar lists, you should target the much squishier support units and then target the heavy hitters. Taking out the support makes the artillery so much easier to handle. In this case, it would be the leadership boosting units which tend to be low model count, single wound, T3 units. Wax those guys and the guns are much easier to deal with.
That accomplished, focus on forcing morale checks on the guns. If they run, the gun is removed as a casualty and these units tend to have awful leadership, typically 7. Do this by killing just enough models for a check, Tank Shocking, etc. And, if you can get them in assault, they use the crew’s toughness and are almost 100% going to get run down.
Also, remember these units cannot move. Use terrain and good deployment tactics to limit their ability to shoot you. Lastly, barrage weapons can only hit the top level of a ruin. So, if you can duck under an overhang (including a Skyshield), many of these weapons cannot even affect you.
Imperial Guard Flyers
  • Vulture What is it? A vendetta chassis gun ship that is boss mode! Besides being my absolute favorite vehicle model in 40K, it is also a beast. Twin-Linked Punisher cannon with strafing run (+1 BS and pinning against ground targets), a Heavy Bolter, Extra Armor, a reasonable price point and…wait for it…Vector Dancer. Vector Dancer makes fliers sooo much better. At any rate, this beastie is a murder machine against infantry, most FMCs and many fliers. It can take other weapons but you hardly see them as the Punisher Cannon load-out is not only awesome looking, but really good. It is very common to see a Vulcher in an Imperial list.
  • Avenger What is it? Am AV12/10/10 gunship with pretty solid damage output. These aren’t as common as Vultures but still seen fairly frequently mostly I think due to the fact that they are a beautiful model. The Vendetta is straight up better, though, for the points. The Avenger has twin linked Las Cannon and an Avenger Cannon that gives it 7 strength 6 ap 3 shots. That plus Strafing Run makes for a solid gunship at a reasonable price.
So what to do?
Dealing with these is no big deal, really. Same as any other flyer. It is just good to know what kind of offensive output they have so as not to be taken off guard by it during a game.
* Please note, the Armored Battle Group rules are not in use for the LVO for IG.
Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine Units
  • Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought What is it? An AV13 Dread with Skyfire and Interceptor if it holds still. It also has an invul save. Please note, it got nerfed to BS4 in the latest rules. Basically this is a tougher dread that is good against ground and air targets which makes it quite versatile at a good price point. You will typically see it with two, twin Las Cannons, twin Auto Cannons, or Keres Assault Cannons (6 shot Assault Cannons). These are a solid unit and one of the most common we see due to it being both good and good looking.
So what to do?
Again, these are quite simple to deal with. It’s an AV13 Dread with an invul save. If it is sporting Assault Cannons which have 24″ range, it has fairly limited range if it wants to use skyfire so you can often avoid it’s threat range with your fliers.
  • Land Raider Variants What are they? Better Land Raiders. Also, very expensive Land Raiders! The Achilles is very hard to kill, with defensive bonuses that make it very difficult to kill. It also has potent offense with a Thunderfire Cannon and two, twin linked Multi-Meltas. The Spartan similarly has Quad Las Cannons and a huge transport capacity (25) that is especially good for Chaos armies.
What to do?
These are useful tanks and quite good, however, they suffer from Land Raider syndrome: very expensive and can be taken out in a single shot (although they are very tough cookies, no doubt). Monstrous Creatures particularly, make short work of these in assault and 6th edition is the MC edition. That is why you don’t see them that often. Also, remember the Achilles is not an assault vehicle and it only holds 6 models, so typically the only thing in it will be a Scout Squad.
Odds and Ends
  • Baddab War Space Marine Characters Who are they? Read their rules here. And check out their Chapter Tactics here. There is some super fun stuff in there! Very characterful and adds a lot to the game. However, the only two you really need to be aware of are Severin Loth and Azra Redth. Some of the other characters such as Moloc are cool for example, but the two big dog psykers are the most likely culprits to be encountered.
  • Loth is a Mastery Level 3 psyker with a 2+ save, 3 attacks, and BS 5, otherwise a normal Libby. However, he gets to CHOOSE 3 powers from either Telepathy, Telekinesis, or Biomancy (no mixing and matching though, all powers from one school). That is very, very good. He also can expend 1 warp charge (no psychic test needed) and make his 2+ armor save go invulnerable. He is extremely flexible which is why he is so good. However, he still only has 2 wounds, so is squishy, even with Biomancy. I feel Tiggy is better, but, Loth is a very, very close second and a lot of fun to use! Pro-tip: he can’t go to ground due to his Chapter Tactics.
  • Redth is also a very cool, fun psyker. He has a normal Libby statline but with I5 and 3 wounds at Mastery Level 2. If he is in your primary detachment, he must be your Warlord but his Warlord Trait is ballin. He grants his unit Interceptor and Night Vision which is very useful. He also has a 5++ and can reroll his first failed psychic check which is really useful. He always comes with Mirage, a power that grants he and his unit or a vehicle they are in shrouded and any enemy unit that assaults them counts as making a disordered charge. For his other power, he has access to Biomancy, Pyromancy, Divination and Telepathy. His Chapter Tactics grant him Move through Cover, Hammer of Wrath, Furious Charge out of terrain and a reroll to seize the initiative. Nice one! Still, not as good as Tiggy for my money, but a great, fun psyker to use.
  • Hornet The Eldar Hornet is like a War Walker…but better! They’re very good, AV11, BS4, fast skimmer with scouts, acute senses and the same weapon options as a War Walker plus the option for Pulse Lasers. It can also move Flat Out and still snap fire, which is pretty useful. These are an excellent unit and in the Fast Attack slot for Eldar, coming in squadrons of 1-3.
What to do?
Again, this is more a case of just knowing what to expect. They die quite easily having only 2HP, but pack a brutal punch and are very fast. Just like War Walkers, these should be high on the target priority list as they are relatively fragile and pricey. These look great on paper but you actually don’t see them that often as they fill a similar role as War Walkers, and are pricey in real life dollars. Simply put: Eldar are so powerful they really don’t need them.


  • Tau Tetras What are they? Tau light skimmers that fire Marker Lights all over the dang place like it’s a dance club! But seriously, these are an incredibly efficient Marker Light delivery unit that puts Pathfinders to shame. They can move and shoot, have Scouts and offer a great way to get those deadly Marker Lights where you want them.
So what to do? 
Again, very straight forward. As always with Tau, you kill the support units first. Tetras are open topped and easily destroyed, so destroy them! It’s just good to know what they do in advance. Think of them as Pathfinders+, and prioritize them as such.
Those are by far the most common units you will see. Yup, that’s about it.
In our experience, that is about the extent of it. You may want to brush up on the other units but if you are aware of the above, you will be well prepared for a FW inclusive event.
You may see the occasional Giant Spawn in Chaos lists as they are a good value but not amazing (cheap, T6 monstrous creature with a 4+, but very slow) and the Blight Drones (Fragile, flying Battle Cannon) are good but don’t touch a Heldrake in terms of utility. Relic Predators are solid, but how often do you see Predators in this meta? Not often and these die just as easily despite cooler weapons. The Dreadnought Drop Pod got nerfed a bit, but is still useful (can’t assault out of it the turn it arrives, anymore). The Storm Eagle is solid but really expensive for what you get. We see the occasional Ork Mega Dread and Eldar Shadow Specters, but rarely and they aren’t anything to be afraid of.The Fire Raptor and R’Varna are still experimental rules (the Fire Raptor is now official in IA2) and as such, not legal for use at most events including the LVO. For the most parts a lot of the other units are either very rarely seen or really not that great and are only flavorful additions to the game.
Now bust out those beautiful toys and have some fun with your game!  Do you fear the Forgeworld?


About Reecius

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

53 Responses to “Common Forge World Units and how to Defeat Them”

  1. Charlie January 29, 2014 3:42 am #

    Thanks for the write up. I think you are pretty much spot on in regards to what folks are likely to use in regards to FW. I just encountered a new SM character at an event recently that likely has some synergy; an Apothecary that provides +1 to FnP saves. He combined him with Iron Hands Clan stuff to make a beefy biker deathstar unit.

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 8:18 am #

      Nice, yeah that Apothecary is a Salamanders character IC, very cool!

  2. Evan January 29, 2014 5:58 am #

    Love the write up. Very useful. Thank you, Reece!

  3. TrueKnight January 29, 2014 6:12 am #

    I dont think yins get enough credit for all you do for the community. From these kinds of articles, bat reps, mega-mat etc… A heartfelt thanks and big props to you all. Plus this stuff helps me kill hours a day at “work” lol

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 8:29 am #

      Thanks, TrueKnight! Much appreciated. We think knowledge is power so we want to spread the info around. That way folks don’t fear new stuff like FW units.

    • The Apothecary January 30, 2014 5:57 am #

      +1 on this one, Truenight! Reece’s enthusiasm and energy are a refreshing change in an internet often full of whiners.

      Keep ’em comin’ Reece!

      • Reecius January 30, 2014 9:00 pm #

        Thanks! I appreciate that.

  4. colin sherlow January 29, 2014 7:36 am #

    Don’t forget that Eldar Hornets also have scout/outflank and accute senses. Which makes them sneaky. And turbo boost 24 which is cute

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 8:30 am #

      Very good point!

      • Gordy January 29, 2014 11:57 am #

        They’re also about as tough as a pair of Rhinos, for nearly quadrupedal the cost (for 3 Hornets). I’ve had one or two people complain “those things are so OP”, and I tell them “that’s because you didn’t frikin’ shoot at them”.

  5. Hotsauceman1 January 29, 2014 8:08 am #

    Something I wondered, since when you fire at artillary, you always use Artilleies Toughness, would it be the same with gravguns? Always using their save?

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 8:31 am #

      With Grav Guns you use the majority save which will almost always be the crew.

      • Hotsauceman1 January 29, 2014 9:00 am #

        Lame. Artillery and their rules are just stupid sometimes

        • Reecius January 29, 2014 10:25 am #

          They’re confusing only because you don’t see them that often.

          • Hotsauceman1 January 29, 2014 4:27 pm

            See, that just doesnt make since. Because with toughness you use the majority, but not with artillery. You use the artillery. Ok, So if im firing a bolter and a grav gun, for some reason the bolter hits the artillery, but the grav-gun hits the crew?

          • Reecius January 29, 2014 4:48 pm

            We went off of the toughness rules as a precedent as it was the closest corollary.

  6. 6thstreetAlan January 29, 2014 8:28 am #

    Giving away all my secrets bro… sup with dat?

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 8:30 am #

      Revenge for that last picture you sent!

  7. Panzer1944 January 29, 2014 8:31 am #

    Man that is one nice looking Vulture. I’m pretty sure I have two just like it and a matching Avenger as well that might be fly onto the table at LVO.

  8. Schadenfreude January 29, 2014 8:43 am #

    The best counters to IG artillery is tank shocks and assaults. A full battery of 3 earth shakers is only a dozen regular guardsmen in CC, and a pair of sabers can only hold 4 guardsmen with the extra crew. It hardly takes anything to kill them in CC, all you really need to do is to get to where they are.

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 8:45 am #


      • Gordy January 29, 2014 11:58 am #

        Solo Farseers and the like wreak havoc on Guard artillery.

    • anonymou5 January 29, 2014 10:10 am #

      Unless you’re running 3 Earthshaker Batteries, 4 Sabres, various other guard stuff, and you’ve allied in a Lord of Change and some Flesh Hounds to screen your gunline… hehe (I was running that list for a while, mean!)

      • Reecius January 29, 2014 10:27 am #

        Yeah, that is a really good list. What I see a lot also is a big blob squad bubble-wrapping the artillery. Triple Dragon still shits on it, though! Sabers are good but they aren’t a sure bet against Drakes at all.

  9. Tangentical January 29, 2014 9:46 am #

    My 3 Hornets do serious work, guided they kill a Riptide a turn with ease in most circumstances and at 48″ range they can stay out of HY missile pod range where W Walkers can’t

    Work we’ll with a Beastpack bomb pushing forwards preventing the enemy shortening the range to the Hornets.

    No lance effect but 25 points less than a stock Ravager gets you 4 St8 AP2 shots at 48″. It’s just the cost stopping these bad boys from being more prevalent. That and Serpents can kick their butts with ignore cover shields against armour 11.

    In Escalation together with a Lynx and void shields the group is still cheaper than a Revenant and will kill it dead!

    Just spreading my unnatural Hornet lurve.

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 10:28 am #

      Yeah, Hornet’s are ballin, no doubt. You just don’t see them as much as you would, I think, because the Eldar codex is so powerful on it’s own. They are damn good, though.

    • colin sherlow January 29, 2014 11:10 am #

      Yeah hornets and the beasts work great together. I need to order a few more so that I can run 2×2 hornets with pulse and 3 scatter walkers and the beasts. 🙂

      Will be bringing hornets to the LVO. 🙂 and beasts

      • Reecius January 30, 2014 9:01 pm #

        Yeah, I thought about 9 Hornets and 9 War Walkers, too., SAVAGE damage output! But so fragile, you can get Alpha struck off the board by another shooty army if things go badly.

        Nice, I look forward to seeing your army!

  10. Captaina January 29, 2014 9:58 am #

    I can’t believe some of the comments over on BOLS…It always astounds me about the kind of comments I see over there. You are providing free info with a very narrow title “Common FW Units” you might see…

    Typical bols comment: “What! No Squigothro Malathantroprix Blasta Dread on the list! You Fail! I use that all the time in my basement Grand Tournaments. We have 200 players that consist of me and my Gi Joes and Mr Puffy by teddy bear as players! I always win too!”

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 10:25 am #

      I just gloss over them, lol! A lot of them don’t actually read the article, they just skim it and then spew their daily vitriol. It doesn’t event phase me anymore =P

    • The Apothecary January 30, 2014 6:04 am #

      Tell me about it. I read the articles over at BoLS, but I’ve taken to skipping the comments section.

      • Reecius January 30, 2014 9:02 pm #

        Yeah, some of the regular posters there are so incredibly negative. Why? Who knows, but oh well, mostly I ignore them or laugh at them, these days.

  11. anonymou5 January 29, 2014 10:09 am #

    I love the Vulture so much, lol. Such a cool looking model, and really fun rules. I think a Vendetta probably brings more overall value to a list, but why not bring both!

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 10:26 am #

      Exactly! They’re both bad ass, and the Vulture shoots FMCs out of the sky like a boss!

      • anonymou5 January 29, 2014 10:29 am #

        /pours out his drink for his fallen friend.

        Had to remind me of that tragedy!

  12. iNcontroL January 29, 2014 5:49 pm #

    ty for writing this!

  13. Alex January 29, 2014 8:29 pm #

    Hey Reece, I’m bringing a mortis contemptor and an a Achilles to LVO beer hammer and apocalypse. The latest rules I have are IA apocalypse 2 second edition and IA aerenotica, but they have been releasing tons of books lately. $75 is expensive to just have the one unit you need out dated a few months later 🙁

    • Reecius January 29, 2014 8:44 pm #

      Yeah that is a bummer, but that doesn’t happen too often.

      • Alex January 29, 2014 8:48 pm #

        So are those rules recent enough or do I need to buy the ones?

        • Reecius January 29, 2014 10:13 pm #

          No, the IA2 book is more recent. The Mortis is the only one that gets changed, you can just play it as BS 4. Beerhammer is pretty laid back. He’s 180 for the dual assault cannon, +35pts for the Cyclone.

          • Alex January 30, 2014 5:56 pm

            Awesome, thanks

    • The Apothecary January 30, 2014 7:19 am #

      We’re in the same boat, Alex. I kinda wish that FW had digital rule books that could be kept up to date.

      That being said, I always felt a bit guilty rolling 12 dice for the assault cannons that hit on 2’s. My friends would always ask “and that unit costs HOW much?” I was leaving my contemptor out if friendly games, just so that they can stay friendly.

      Now at least I can bring him out again without having to cringe self consciously when I reach for the pile of dice.

      Silver linings and all that…

      • Alex January 30, 2014 5:56 pm #

        Lol totally agree

  14. yriel January 30, 2014 1:34 pm #

    The tougher IG lists I’ve played against had Sabre, Thudd and the earthshaker battery but they had Inquisitor allies and a Lord Commissar for Ld10 and stubborn 10 to throw around…Suddenly those units are a lot tougher to shift via Ld or CC =(.

    Plus, if sufficiently “bubble wrapped” there isn’t too much you CAN do to get to them. All around these are some tough nuts to crack in terms of IG FW.

    • Reecius January 30, 2014 1:46 pm #

      Yeah, those are all points I touched on in the article and they do make those units much better.

  15. Craig March 11, 2014 12:54 am #

    Hey Reecius.

    I would also add to the Tetra entry that they come standard with Homing Beacons which as per the wording in the Tau codex are always active, even the turn they come on from reserves which makes and a excellent Crisis deep strike delivery system allowing precision deepstrike almost anywhere on the table that is in reach by outflanking a fast skimmer.

    The TL marker lights are super awesome for sure, but the homing beacon is the real reason i take Tetras.

  16. Talon of Anathrax October 28, 2015 8:24 am #

    Will you be making any more of this? A few updates would be great, especially after IA13 revolutionized Chaos!
    And FW has made some great stuff for Knights and Tau since, with Eldar rumoured to be getting love soon too…

    • Reecius October 28, 2015 9:16 am #

      We certainly can, yes!

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