Return of the AV14?


Hey everyone, Reecius here to talk about heavy armor in the current 40k meta. Be sure to check out the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

Everyone knows AV14 vehicles aren’t that great in the current tournament meta….right? With the plethora of high powered shooting and mega durable, fast, hard hitting assault units out there, the lonely tank just doesn’t stand a chance these days….right? Well, maybe not.

Trends in the meta tend to be self defeating. What I mean when I say that is, a certain line of reasoning becomes commonly accepted and then the environment shifts and that same thing that was “bad” now is good, because no one is taking tools to counter it, anymore. Case in point: AV14 vehicles.

I played a for fun game last night against my buddy, Pablo, on our Twitch channel (which you can tune into every Tuesday and Thursday night for some live 40k games! 7:00pm PST) and we decided to go mechanized lists for a laugh. I busted out 5 Leman Russ tanks as I love the models, have 8 of them, and wanted to give them a go. Now, to be fair, both Pablo and my lists were pretty mild, but we had a super fun game and it got me to thinking….

(You can watch the replay of the two live games form last night here, first match was Ultramarines vs. Astra Militarum, second was Skitarii vs. Chaos)

Watch live video from FrontlineGaming_TV on Twitch

In the current meta, there is a lot of powerful shooting that is all below str8. Most of it is 6 and 7. Things like Missilesides, Flyrants, Scat Bikes, Warp Spiders, Plasma Vanguard, etc., etc. all smoke the average target unit, but can’t scratch a good old fashioned AV14 tank. The problem typically though, is the high points cost associated with that lovely AV14. Land Raiders are just too pricey (make them super heavy!!), Battle Wagons are cheap but pretty easily killed, but then there is old trusty, the Leman Russ.

The Leman Russ had steadily plummeted in points cost. You can now get them for under 150pts for most of the stock variants! Only the Demolisher, amusingly, is over the 160 mark, weighing in at 170 base. The Eradicator, which has a very useful main weapon (large blast, Str6, AP4, Ignores Cover), is only 120pts! That’s incredibly cheap for a vehicle that can stand in the open and not be hurt by most of the weapons in the game. In the current meta, I think there actually is a place for vehicles like the Leman Russ which are durable, put out respectable firepower, provide mobile LoS blocking, and are cheap! That means you can take a lot of them to overwhelm your opponent’s ability to deal with them while still having plenty of points for other goodies! You can find yourself able to overwhelm your opponent, leaving them with few weapons to actually hurt you with if this tactic plays out for you.

A really nice way to get them into your list is to use the Steel Host detachment! It consists of a Tank Commander unit, 3 units of Leman Russes and a Hydra, and all of the units within 12″ of the Tank Commander gain Preferred Enemy. Not bad, and you can upgrade the Tank Commander to Pask who is a beast.

However, there are some very real threats to these heavy hitters that are still quite prevalent: Deep strikers and fast moving assault units.


Deep strikers represent the biggest threat to your heavy tanks. They can go anywhere with impunity, and usually pack ultra-destructive weapons like Meltas, now D Weapons, Grav Cannons, etc. These units, if they land on target, will typically be assured to destroy your tank baring crazy luck. Deep Striking Fire Dragons and/or Wraithguard, gating Centurion Stars, Tank Killing Squads with Meltas in Drop Pods, Scouting Vanguard with Arc Rifles, Crisis Teams, etc. are all the big threat. So what’s a Tank Commander to do? You have several options.

For one, you can bubble wrap your tanks with expendable infantry to physically keep these deadly units from landing close enough to you to do their deadly work. However, this tactic–while effective–forces you to play defense. In missions that use progressive objectives, you need mobility to win the game. Turtling in a corner becomes very detrimental and is a bit boring of a play-style.

The other potential solution is Interceptor. Shoot them before they shoot you! The guy everyone knows about for this role is Coteaz, with his 12″ aura ability which allows he and his unit to shoot any and all units that arrive from reserves. That is brutally good, but, the radius is a bit prohibitive as you have to cluster everything together to get it to work. The other character to look to is Azra Redth, chief Libby of the Mantis Warriors. His rules are available here. His Warlord trait is to give he and his unit Interceptor! Nice one. Stick him in a blob squad or with some heavy artillery, and you have a really powerful deterrent unit that can hit most of the table with interceptor. Redth also has some awesome secondary benefits such as Divination powers, 3 wounds, the ability to reroll the seize roll, and a unique Psychic Power that gives his unit Shrouded and essentially defensive grenades. Not bad! The downside is that they can only shoot one unit a turn, but, that is often enough baring a full blown Drop Pod list. Red Hunters Space Marines can also get Intercetpor on a number of units equal to the turn number, once per game, and there are vehicles that come with it, too! Investing in units like these to help protect you is a worthwhile investment to keep your tanks alive and kicking.


You can also go for max defense with things like Aegis Lines+Camo Netting to give your tanks a 3+ cover save or Camo+Shrouding for a 2+, or a Power Field from the Dark Angels, etc.. This allows you to simply take it on the chin and keep on fighting. Just be aware of things that ignore cover, as that can really gunk up your game plan if you rely on cover saves (obviously).


The other big threat is melee. Tanks do not like assault. At all. A quick melee unit will obliterate even a Leman Russ, with ease. Rear armor 10 and 11 simply melts to anything, including Krak Grenades. As the Leman Russ is slow, this is a problem. You need to have a plan for dealing with things like Screamers, Flesh Hounds, Thunder Wolves, Scarabs, Imperial Knights, Wraiths, etc, or be overwhelmed by them. Again, bubble wrap is a great tool which Astra Militarum have access to in spades. Ideally you want to shoot them to death before they get to you, but this isn’t always possible. Look to counter assault units or attempt to keep your distance as much as possible, staying at maximum range. Also, be wary of psychicly buffed units that can go Invisible, or get very high cover saves, etc. which can become very hard for you to counter. I have been banging the hell out of this drum, but take a look at the Culexus Assassin. Played well, he will absolutely shut down a psychic deathstar by himself, allowing your tanks to do what they do. Plus, he’s just good in general terms, I use one in nearly every Imperial Tournament list I take and I have never regretted it.

Are Russ lists going to be the new hot thing? Probably not, but, they can be a ton of fun to play and serve as an awesome counter-meta list! Consider giving them a try, and I think you may be pleasantly surprised. Viva le variety!


About Reecius

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

52 Responses to “Return of the AV14?”

  1. iNcontroL May 20, 2015 8:50 am #

    nice article! There definitely is a place for cheap Leman Russ variants.. Av14 is really tough to deal with and usually the Av14 vehicle doesn’t put out THAT much damage so I find the balance quite nice.

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 9:00 am #

      Some of them can drop an ass whipping, like the Plasmacutioner, but, have limitations due to being blast weapons so–as you noted–there are certainly balancing acts in play.

  2. fluger May 20, 2015 8:57 am #

    I’ve been running two Eradicators since the new dex dropped in my IG. I run them with multimelta sponsons so they are versatile. The big blast and the heavy bolter are good against infantry and the multimeltas are great at taking out vehicles. Bonus that nothing is ordnance so I can shoot it all on the move. At 140 pts a pop, they are dirt cheap and really rugged. They work great!

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 9:01 am #

      Totally agree! I actually also really like the Conqueror and the Thunderer variants. The Conqueror is Fast! And it has a non-ordnance weapon, so it can zip around blasting stuff while still being AV14, which is awesome. The Thunderer is a 140pt Demolisher cannon delivery system, so much better than the Demolisher variant.

      • fluger May 20, 2015 9:28 am #

        Forgeworld I’m assuming?

        • Reecius May 20, 2015 9:32 am #

          Yes! Very fun tank variants. The Thunderer especially, is a favorite of mine. 140 pts for the same thing as a Demolisher without the extra weapons it can’t actually, shoot, lol.

          • fluger May 20, 2015 12:29 pm

            Is that the one that looks like a Leman Russ version of the Vindicator?

          • Reecius May 20, 2015 3:44 pm


          • fluger May 21, 2015 7:42 am

            It seriously bums me out that Demolishers got more expensive. I was running two out of the 5th ed codex through 6th edition until the new book came out. They were pretty solid for dealing with a variety of issues I had, but the price drops on the other variants was too much to ignore.

            The only LR chassis I want to run that I haven’t because I don’t have the models is the Executioner (or is it Exterminator?) with the triple Plasmacannon gun. I’ve seen those do some serious work and they aren’t really that pricey. Combo them with a lascannon and multimelta sponsons and you have an albeit expensive gun platform that kicks out a serious amount of high strength AP2/1 shooting. If also had the Exterminator (or is it Executioner? I get them mixed up!) with the 4 shot autocannon used against me a lot and it is money as well. Again, just add multimelta sponsons to give you some anti-tank threat and they are money.

          • Reecius May 21, 2015 2:51 pm

            Yeah, the Plasmacutioner (as it is commonly called) is a BEAST. It does so much damage, you just have to have preferred enemy or twin link on it or it kills itself due to overheating.

            Try the Thunderers out. If you were using Demolishers before, you will be happy with these, now. They do the same thing, but 20pts cheaper. You just lose the turret (which can be a big deal in some situations) and the sponson weapons but who cares as you would have had to snap fire them, anyway.

  3. Andrew May 20, 2015 9:20 am #

    I’ve found you can do a similar style with mass AV13, usually at a lower cost and with more choices than you would have for AV14 vehicles. Something else to remember is for a lot of vehicles only the front armor value is baller. Predators can shrug off a lot of fire coming in from the front, but positioning is crucial because they have the equivalent of NASCAR windows on the sides.

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 9:33 am #

      Yeah, totally agree. Necrons can do the AV13 spam really well, but poor Predators and Vindicators have such crappy side armor, it really hamstrings them.

    • greggles May 20, 2015 10:02 am #

      If the ork dread mob could field more av13 walkers, it’s effectiveness would skyrocket.

      I find most opponents usually just target the killa kans, so I end up reserving or hiding them. The deff dreads go next, but those AV13 FW walkers and gork/morks can take a beating as they tend to eliminate most of the spammy weapons.

      Oh that and if the ork walkers were 25% cheaper in points cost and could move 12. 🙂

      The only issue I see with the russ’s is their poor rear armor means flyrants/scatter bikes would still have a field day with them.

      • Andrew May 20, 2015 10:26 am #

        the thing about russes is they have the range and good side armor to just put their asses against a table edge to protect it, although you then get into that issue of needing other models to be your objective grabbers.

        On a slight tangent, the last few releases have seen walkers get more natural 4+/5+ cover/invul saves, which my friends and I hope will continue as a way to balance AV walkers versus MC’s.

        My personal beef is that even with the new damage chart it’s still too easy to ruin a turn of shooting for a vehicle, or even blow it up in one shot, while MC’s get to remain at full effectiveness even on 1 wound. This sucks even more for AV10-AV12 vehicles that get hosed down just as easily as MC by Strength 6-7 fire AND suffer damage results.

        • greggles May 21, 2015 6:09 am #

          Agree Andrew. It’s a hard thing to remedy. If walkers “ignored” damage results, that could definitely be a step in the right direction…though generally i rarely end up with a wounded walker these days (other then the AV13 guys). They all get glanced to death.

  4. Hotsauceman1 May 20, 2015 9:44 am #

    I’m planning on running a Vulcan for just this reason.
    And thanks for telling me about Azra redth. My guard will love him.

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 10:06 am #

      Yeah, he is a boss with Astra Militarum.

      • Hotsauceman1 May 20, 2015 4:20 pm #

        I know. I wanna intercept with barrage weapons lol. Or a medusa

  5. abusepuppy May 20, 2015 10:33 am #

    >Things like Missilesides, Flyrants, Scat Bikes, Warp Spiders, Plasma Vanguard, etc… can’t scratch the AV14 tank

    Do keep in mind that Flyrants and Warp Spiders are both quite capable of killing Leman Russes, and theoretically Vanguard/Bikes can do so as well (though getting into that rear arc is a lot harder for them.)

    AV14 can be very resilient against some armies, it’s true- perfect immunity to Scatter Bikes is no small thing to take as a feature. However, they are also _intensely_ vulnerable to some other guns that are common in the meta- Str D shots and melee, Melta/Meltabombs (either the Drop Pod variety or fast-moving versions), Grav weapons, Haywire, etc. All of these scythe through your heavy armor and will typically inflict serious damage due to AP2+ or weight of shots and can make short work of even well-protected vehicles.

    The takeaway should be not that AV14 (and AV13) are bad, but that they shouldn’t be relied upon wholly, as there are many ways to bypass them. Investing ~150pts into a Leman Russ or some Vengeance Batteries can be fine when taken as a one-off inclusions, but an army based around leveraging it will actually perform surprisingly poorly much of the time.

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 12:52 pm #

      AV14 are a meta buster, I agree. I think you can build a list around them, but you may not set the world on fire with it, or anything. I think you can do quite well, though.

  6. cuddles May 20, 2015 10:34 am #

    The renegade tanks are even better, considering the lower BS doesn’t hurt blasts as much and you can always upgrade the BS if you want. I like running 3 lemans with wyverns backing them up. The only problem I run into is everyone is pre-occupied with melta and getting it everywhere fast. In any event, the tanks are great as a part of your army, but trying to make an entire army of lemans is almost impossible unless you’re playing a boob.

  7. DCannon4Life May 20, 2015 10:37 am #

    Blowing up squadrons of things is the kind of cinematic my Fire Dragons live for! Bring them on!

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 10:45 am #

      Fair enough, that is why you need interceptor, lol! But only the Tank Commander comes in a squadron, so that helps a lot.

      • abusepuppy May 20, 2015 5:00 pm #

        You CAN field the other tanks in a squadron, you just shouldn’t do so. >.>

        • Reecius May 21, 2015 2:52 pm #

          Lol, yes, exactly. I wish you didn’t have to take the Tank Commander in a squadron, either, it is annoying, but at least he has his split fire order which works 5/6 times….

  8. DCannon4Life May 20, 2015 11:31 am #

    How do you know my preferred Fire Dragon delivery method?!

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 12:51 pm #

      I can read your thoughts! Muahahaha!

  9. DuhRuckus May 20, 2015 11:42 am #

    I dream of running a Steel host list at tourney, the thought of 9-12 leman russes is such a beautiful thought,

    • abusepuppy May 20, 2015 5:00 pm #

      Steel Host + Adamantine Lance.

      ALL the vehicles.

      • Reecius May 21, 2015 2:52 pm #

        Yeah, that is brutal if it fits!

        • abusepuppy May 21, 2015 4:05 pm #

          It doesn’t in 1850. At least not without trimming down to really janky versions of the Russes. ;_;

  10. Anonymous May 20, 2015 2:31 pm #

    Don’t heavy vehicles suffer from people bringing anti-Knight weaponry? People are definitely making sure they’re prepared for Knights, and if that means things like melta, this isn’t good for heavy tanks.

    • Reecius May 20, 2015 3:43 pm #

      True story, but it also requires you to actually get in range to use the weapons which, if the armor players counters with good tactics, should be mitigated.

  11. Noah May 20, 2015 6:06 pm #

    How funny you just wrote this as literally last night I’ve been writing lists trying to use the Blitz Brigaide formation. I’m hoping that Knights drop off of the scene for a bit while Eldar runs amok.

    • Reecius May 21, 2015 2:52 pm #

      Eldar smoke Knights, so that may happen.

      • abusepuppy May 21, 2015 4:05 pm #

        It ain’t gonna be Eldar that kills Knights, Reece, it’s gonna be 2VP per unit in their army. 😛

  12. Commandant Blitz May 20, 2015 8:41 pm #

    Another thing I don’t think many people realize about 7th: tanks can tank shock and still fire at full BS. I’ve had a blast tank shocking infantry, causing them to break, and then shooting them in the back as they run away.

    I used to run the forge world tank company not to long ago, which means beast killer rounds and objective secured Leman Russ troops. When you easily put ten Leman Russ tanks on the board and still have a few points to spare at 2000 points people get a little confused.

    It’s not the most competitive thing to do, but it does show how many people don’t expect AV 14 anymore.

    • Reecius May 21, 2015 2:53 pm #

      I want FW to update that list so badly! Beast Slayer rounds would be so good in the current meta.

      • abusepuppy May 21, 2015 4:06 pm #

        Beastslayer are CRAZY strong. With any luck it’ll get made into a single-shot (rather than a blast) so you can lob ’em at Flyrants.

  13. Julnlecs May 21, 2015 1:04 am #

    I won a RTT two weeks ago with this list. It was so much fun.

    Khan on Bike
    Librarian Lv 2 Force Axe


    THSS Terminators
    Land Raider Redeemer
    THSS Terminators
    Land Raider Crusader

    3x Grav Cents
    Thunderfire Cannon

    Inquisitor Lv1 RadNades Psychotroke

    It was Hammer Time!

    • Reecius May 21, 2015 2:53 pm #

      That does look like a fun list!

  14. Stainless Steel Rat May 21, 2015 4:38 am #

    “I played a for fun game last night…”. Good for you Reece! With all the tournament obsession on forums these days it’s easy to lose track of the fact that the overwhelming majority of games are played with friends or within your local gaming community. Given the inventive yet narrowly focused thinking involved in the tournament world, it is good to see an example of how liberating and creative it can be to come up with “regular game” lists. Continue to have fun, de-stress, and get outside of the tournament “box” if you want to figure out the point of why most of us play this (or any) game.

    • abusepuppy May 21, 2015 5:26 am #

      I’m gonna tell you a secret, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else:

      Tournament players play the game for fun, too. They just enjoy the game differently than you do.

      • Nomeny May 21, 2015 6:51 am #

        I’m pretty sure tournament players enjoy the game just like everyone else does; they just try harder to win.

      • Julnlecs May 21, 2015 8:16 am #

        Exactly. I agree.

      • Jural May 21, 2015 3:39 pm #

        In most cases, playing for fun means playing with the main goal of just having fun as opposed to winning.

        In basketball, for example, I might spend a whole game playing left handed or only shooting hook shots from outside for fun; but that doesn’t mean when I play a really competitive game and try as hard as I can to win at any (legal) cost that it isn’t fun too.

    • Noah May 21, 2015 12:33 pm #

      I would say that fluffy players are far more narrow minded than tournament players. Tournament players are constantly thinking of different ways to use different units from all sorts of different books together for combos. The casual gamer tends to stick to what’s cool looking or already painted. Everyone has their own way of having fun. Hell I’m an Ork tourney player which is considered bottom rung of the competitive ladder yet I still get wins while having fun.

      • Jural May 21, 2015 3:40 pm #

        Hmm, I would think tournament players are more narrow minded, as they would never field uncompetitve units!

        Let’s just agree both groups are focusing on different things!

    • Reecius May 21, 2015 2:54 pm #

      Thanks, Mr. Steel Rat! We really enjoy playing fluff lists here, too! It is a blast, and I like the change of pace.

  15. Dom May 21, 2015 5:17 am #

    In which publication is the Steel Host to be found?

    • Narfwak May 21, 2015 5:41 am #

      Sanctus Reach: The Red Waaagh!

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