Space Marines Unit Tactics: Mortis Pattern Dreadnaught


There’s an old unit with a new twist that’s flown under a lot of people’s radar and we wanted to take another look at it: the Mortis Pattern Dreadnaught. Check out the Tactics Corner for more great reviews and articles.

The Mortis Dreadnaught was originally a Dark Angels dread that came with two of the same weapons systems and specialized in long ranged firepower. This latest version of it comes with the same kit, but also has the very cool ability to gain Skyfire and Interceptor if it holds still, making it a viable AA option. Dark Angels can take as many of them as they have Elites slot in a detachment, and other Marines can take 1 of them per detachment. You can find the rules in IA2 Second Edition.

The nice thing about this Dread is that it isn’t hamstrung if you find yourself facing opponents that don’t have any flyers or skimmers as you would with a unit like a Quad Gun or Stalker. While the Stalker (or similar units) still have the ability to be used as mobile LoS blocking, tank shocking, etc. it really doesn’t do much in the way of contributing firepower. The Mortis Dread however, does. The downside though, is that if you get Immobilized you are stuck in Skyfire mode, but this is a pretty minor con. The other downside is that you have to predict where he will be needed. You need to put him in an exposed position to take advantage of his Skyfire and Interceptor. You can’t hide and wait, and then move into position. You have to hang ’em out there and hope you chose correctly.

And on that note, Dreadnaughts are notoriously easy to take out. AV12 in the current meta of massed high strength shots is like having tissue-paper for armor. They will drop like a fly to focused attention.


That said, the Mortis is cheap as chips. At 115 base with 2 missile launchers, that is a good set-up right out of the box, so to speak. This gives you respectable punch for dealing with flyers and FMCs, and also good tools for light infantry (Frags) and ground armor units at an incredibly cheap price point.


For 5pts you can “upgrade” him to have 2 Twin Heavy Bolters, although I wouldn’t really consider this option, personally. It simply lacks the punch you need to deal with most flyers. If you face a lot of T5 FMCs like Crones or Daemon Princes, this is not a bad option, but in general terms I would pass on this. It does look pretty slick, though!

Alternatively, you can go for 2, twin Auto-Cannons, for 10pts. This is a solid option as for only 5pts over a typical Rifleman Dread, you get a Mortis that can go Skyfire/Interceptor. The dual Auto Cannons are solid for AA, AI, and anti-light vehicle. This is a great choice.


Lastly, for 30pts, you can rock 2, twin Las Cannons. Not bad! This gives you two, move and shoot, highly accurate, powerful weapons. While you lose that AI ability the other options give you, you get some really effective AA and AT punch. While this option costs almost as much as a Dev Squad with 4 Las Cannons, you make up for the lack of punch with accuracy, mobility and of course, AA power.

If you are playing DA, I would consider taking 3 as at the price point and utility, they are very solid. For non Dark Angels marines, taking 1 with dual Las Cannons really helps to fill the AA gap many lists have as it gives you a viable option for dealing with high armor flyers like Stormravens and FMCs, and it gives you great tools for taking down ground based armor units and MCs or heavy infantry with 2+ saves like Broadsides.

Lastly, I just love Dreadnaughts and like to find a way to field any of my 8!


About Reecius

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

31 Responses to “Space Marines Unit Tactics: Mortis Pattern Dreadnaught”

  1. RoockieBoy October 1, 2014 3:21 am #

    Nice! Too bad last day for sending lists forthe tournament I’m heafing next week was closed yesterday! Could have been a great support unit for my lack of AA.

    • Reecius October 1, 2014 8:39 am #

      Yeah, and they’re cheap as chips, too.

  2. Dramagod2 October 1, 2014 4:06 am #

    Im with you. I wish dreads were more survivable so I could field an army of them without getting a knot in my stomach. expecially with the new Champions of Fenris detachment where you can take nothing but them… Oh the possibilities!

    • Reecius October 1, 2014 8:39 am #

      Yeah, they simply aren’t durable enough. They need a boos tin some way to compete, but in the face of things like Wave Serpents and Missilesides, they simply melt.

      • fluger October 1, 2014 12:23 pm #

        Thing is, outside of those two things, they are still pretty capable for their points.

        I’ve been rocking a deff dred in my Orks and it has been WAY more survivable than any previous edition I can think of. The change to smash alone makes a combat dread OK.

        I’m just saying that if you say, “Oh, well wave serpents will kill them.” isn’t that great of an argument because pretty much only AV14 can withstand wave serpents.

        • Reecius October 1, 2014 12:30 pm #

          Fair play. Yeah, combat dreads are better off for sure after the nerf to smash, and especially if they have an invul like the Space Wolf dreads (which I think are viable).

          In general terms Dreads are still subpar to MCs, though, IMO.

          • fluger October 1, 2014 7:02 pm

            In general, yes. They can be one shotted more often (though D weapons in Eldar and also the new hexrifles can also do that to MCs).

            MCs also can get cover saves easier. However, being IMMUNE to low strength shooting is also handy.

            It’s also why the wraithknight is still the cream of the MC crop because it combines what is awesome about MCs with what is good about dreads. I like killing them with my d cannon though.

  3. rexscarlet October 1, 2014 4:35 am #

    Dreads; good in a drop pod turn one, try and poach first blood, slay warlord, or rear armor of a pricy vehicle, depending on load-out of dread.
    (one that low armor infantry players hate is the heavy flamer/fist, twin linked heavy flamer popping out of a DP wiping out scouts, or whatever infantry they have set up in cover or on an objective) and do not forget to snap fire that DP, lol…
    that is all…
    Hull down (behind cover) as a long range weapon platform, nope, there are less expensive and way better alternatives. (aegis line with quad gun is less points)

    • Logan October 1, 2014 5:22 am #

      You are correct though in the cheaper options if you are ONLYlooking for AA and snap fire ground. I would prefer the stalker over the ADL+QG and/or the Dread.

      Now if you want to have options to shoot ground AND air at full BS, the dread is the better option You are also not including the points of the unit/model that has to sit on the QG to fire it. With most armies ADL+QG+Unit/Model points > Mortis Dread points.

      • rexscarlet October 2, 2014 3:18 am #

        Agree, the Quad Gun was nerfed in 7e, better examples are out there, like MSU with one heavy weapon in cover?
        Contemptor dreads now have to move if they want to fire at ground targets, as they gain skyfire/interceptor only if they stay still.

    • Greggles October 1, 2014 7:03 am #

      Ironclads are usually pretty survivable, depending on how you use them. Though they can’t pack the TL hvy flamer…they can still pack two normal heavy flamers!

      • Reecius October 1, 2014 10:15 am #

        Yeah, that AV13 makes a HUGE difference in survivability.

      • rexscarlet October 2, 2014 3:11 am #

        Yes, getting that AV 13 into Assault is bad news for most opponents, krak cannot even scratch them.
        DP delivery turn one or later for “Line- Breaker” and any loadout you choose. (I still prefer turn one for Poach)
        Very inexpensive distraction/sacrificial/annoyance for opponent to deal with while the rest of your army does what it does…

        • Reecius October 2, 2014 8:44 am #

          I have always wanted to make a 6 Ironclad list work! But, it is just too susceptible to a lot of the top lists out there right now to be anything other than a for fun army.

  4. Logan October 1, 2014 5:12 am #

    Did the Contemptor Mortis Dread change?

    Last I remember he did the same things as the normal Mortis Dread, but with AV13 front and a 5++. Granted its a higer point cost, but I rather pay the higher points for AV13 and 5++.

    • Reecius October 1, 2014 8:40 am #

      The Mortis is more potent defensively by a mile, but there is a good case to be made for quantity over quality.

      • Hotsauceman1 October 1, 2014 9:46 am #

        And you dont need FW models for it

  5. Deuce11 October 1, 2014 5:42 am #

    been rocking two of these fellas all year. They make mince meat of Nid flyers. The only AA you need. Match up with a techmarine to bolster defenses in a ruin… straight money

    • Reecius October 1, 2014 8:41 am #

      Yeah, a 3+ cover goes a long way to keeping these guys alive.

  6. Julien October 1, 2014 6:46 am #

    The Contemptor Mortis is great but a much bigger point investment. Whereas the Mrk V Mortis is 5pts more expensive than a standard rifleman (with same setup). It’s a cheap way to add some decent AA and as mentioned it’s more multi-role than an Aegis Line.

  7. iNcontroL October 1, 2014 8:54 am #

    Nice article sir! It always saddens me with how much Dreadnaughts struggle in competition.. they are up there with terminators, genestealers and the plain ol spacemarine in terms of being a hugely iconic model/unit in the game. Sadly that list doubles as a “remember these guys” list for tourney armies.

    • Reecius October 1, 2014 10:14 am #

      Yeah, they used to be really good in 4th ed, and in 5th the Rifelman was everywhere to serve as a can opener, but they fell off big time in 6th and 7th.

  8. Jural October 1, 2014 11:05 am #

    I love my dreads (well, walkers in general)- it’s too bad their rules suck. Jump infantry and dreads drew me to the game, lol! They really underperform now though.

  9. Logan October 1, 2014 11:44 am #

    I think they need to get rid of the generic walker. Just make all generic walkers into MCs. This will standardize the issue between walkers and MCs and reduce the amount of rules need between both units.

    • Reecius October 1, 2014 12:28 pm #

      Totally agree.

    • Jural October 1, 2014 8:35 pm #

      I think they do a really interesting job differentiating between super heavy walker and gargantuan monstrous creature. But the Walker vs MC thing is a joke.

      Than again, the Wraithknight is just a joke in and of itself with T8…

  10. Narfwak October 1, 2014 11:30 pm #

    is it possible to upgrade mortis to venerable for extra BS? I’m guessing not (can’t see anything in IA2) but, hey, a mahreen can dream…

  11. CNitram October 2, 2014 7:59 am #

    Sadly, no option to upgrade to venerable at the moment, but who knows what’ll happen when FW “updates” to 7e.

  12. Kartr October 7, 2014 6:46 am #

    Don’t forget that there’s no restriction on the number of contemptor mortis dreads. So take three as elites or more if you have a MotF.

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