Making a Fun, Effective Assault Marine Lists!

shadow captain korvydae

Reecius here with some fun ideas for making the most of the new Assault Marines! Check out the Tactics Corner for more great articles.

So first things, first. Frontline Gaming is running strong with our Pre-Order Special for the new Marine goodies which you can see over at Games Workshop! Just send your order to: and save an extra 5% off of MSRP on your order (which is 25% off for most items!), so long as you order at least one of the pre-order products. Sweet! There are a few exceptions to this sale, we’ll let you know if you order includes anything that does not get the extra discount. The sale ends Saturday, June 6th.

Business aside, the new Assault Marines are so cool looking, and I LOVE Assault Marines in general and have just about 70 of them in my Marine army, lol! They look awesome, they have cool fluff, and the idea of a giant super soldier flying through the air on a jump pack to deliver the Emperor’s fury is awesome. Unfortunately, in the game, Assault Marines can really struggle on the table top. So many things out there are quite simply better in melee for less points, it can be a bit disheartening. But, if you are like me and want to make them work, there are some options! No, will an army built around Assault marines be top tier? No, not even close. But can it be fun and have a reasonable chance of victory? Yes! I’ve been trying to make assault Space marine armies work sense 4th edition, and they just don’t. You won’t win that many games if you need to win combat with MEQs. Baring some awesome formation or a change to the core stats, Assault Marines will remain strictly inferior to dedicated Xenos assault units which are better at it and cheaper to boot. Or, things like assault MCs, which just walk through units of Marines. However, with some clever tactics and good support units you can get it done!


Space Wolves have a lot of fun options for Assault Marines. Sky Claws are very reasonably priced and you can put a Power Weapon or Fist into the unit that is not on a Character and as such is safe from being challenged making it much more likely to actually get to swing. Plus, Sky Claws have Rage which will often come into play due to their speed. WS and BS3 is a bummer, but, worth it for the bargain basement price point. Also, a fun idea is to run a Champions of Fenris idea with loads of Wolf Guard with Jump Packs! I wrote an article about that idea, which you can read here, if so inclined. Much pricier, but hit a lot harder, too.

Blood Angels, obviously, offer up some solid Assault Marine options. With Furious Charge and the ability to gain +1 initiative on the charge through their detachment and formations, plus really solid support units with FnP and psychic buffs, there are a ton of fun options there as well. Dante is a beast now (as he should be!) and packs a wallop, plus makes old style Descent of Angels lists viable and quite good. The ability to take tons of cheap melta weapons in MSU Assault Marine squads in Drop Pods is also a great way to make use of Assault marines, too! Blood Angels also offer up the Veteran Formation that calls for two units of ten Vanguard, all of whom get a free Power Weapon! Not bad.

However, I wanted to focus on a special character that can really bring a lot of tactical depth to an army that features Assault Marines: Shadow Captain Korvydae of the Raven Guard! We all know a new Space marine codex is imminent, so some of this may change, but I think it is safe to say that we will still have Chapter Tactics similar to what we have now with the Raven Guard, and rumors are indicating that one of the Detachments in the new codex will be a Raven Guard detachment, which will be cool if true! Also, I have to give credit to my friend Garrett, who reminded me of this character.

shadow captain korvydae 2


So first of all, Korvydae is a Raven Guard character who can be found in the Raid on Kastrel-Novem Imperial Armor book. Besides being one of the all time great Space marine sculpts (IMO), he has some really solid rules, too. He weighs in at a very reasonable 155pts, and has Captain Stats. He is equipped with Melta Bombs, a Thunder Hammer, a 2+/4++ save, and your standard Bolt Pistol and Grenades. Nothing special there, really, but a good value for decent gear. However, the secret sauce is in his special rules. He makes Assault Marines troops, which is where you can really look to make these guys work as having them gain ObSec makes all the difference. MSU ObSec Assault Marine units will be VERY good at winning missions. Korvydae himself also gains Hit and Run so long as he is with a Jump Pack equipped unit.

You do have to take a single unit of Scouts as a troop if you use him, but that is fine as Scouts rock in 7th ed. Raven Guard Chapter Tactics at present allow jump units to use their jump pack in the movement and assault phases, and lets them reroll failed to wound rolls with their Hammer of Wrath hits. This makes them very reliable at making those critical charges and the I10 HoW hits are surprisingly good against the right targets.

Much like Tactical Marine spam, Assault marine spam relies on mobility, ATSKNF, and numbers to win games by winning missions. You almost always Combat Squad, and fly around the table picking up Maelstrom points and saving your ObSec assets for end of mission objectives, too. As everything is so fast and can Deep Strike too, or come in a Drop Pod if needs be, you have a ton of deployment and movement power which is important to winning missions. Assault Marines are very sub-par in melee in general terms, but can beat up on non-dedicated assault units and vehicles reliably (particularly with that new Eviscerator!). Their real worth to you is in staying alive though, to grab mission points, so use them with that in mind. Hunt weak units, vehicles and grab objectives: that is your game plan with a list like this. You can beat up on some tough units with Assault Marines if you throw enough bodies at them, but that should only be a tactic of last resort. You will find that you just feed the meat grinder if you pick a fight you can’t win.

Now, you also need the ability to actually take a bite our of your opponent’s army, too. So, selecting solid support units is important. Things like Grav Cents, Hammernators with support characters, and shooting units will help you to apply pressure to your opponent and not just play keep-away. By hitting the right mix of mission winning ObSec Assault Marines and offensively powerful support units, you can find yourself with a tactically flexible army that scratches that Assault Marine itch, and still has a good chance at winning a game.

How do you all like using your Assault Marines?


About Reecius

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

36 Responses to “Making a Fun, Effective Assault Marine Lists!”

  1. Lord Krungharr June 3, 2015 4:08 am #

    If only Chaos could get a Raptors as troops! With thunder hammers 🙂

    • Reecius June 3, 2015 8:10 am #

      That didn’t get run down =(

  2. Life of Adept Brian June 3, 2015 4:33 am #

    Love the aesthetic of Assault Marines – really embody the feel of a SM rapid assault. I don’t have a chapter that showcases Assault Marines (I have 2 full companies of Novamarines and therefore use Ultramarine tactics), but I still love to include them. You are correct in that you need good support for them, as they cannot take on everything. They are a good distraction, and can be used to tie up shooty units that can threaten other parts of your force. I’ve had a 10-man unit tie up a wraith knight for 4 turns… Occasionally they even win a combat or two. I tend to play an entire company in an 1850: a Captain, 6 tac squads, 2 assault and 2 devs – all pretty barebones, but there are enough bodies that I can usually put forth a decent opposition, and the assault squads are a big part of that. I put 2 flamers in each, one squad has vet sarg with lightning claws, usually combat squad. Krak grenades threaten a lot of things. Backed up by the rest of the company, I have had some success. Again, enough of a distraction that the opponent has to deal with them in some way. Now I am not a very competitive player so I already know this is not optimal, but it is fun to play.

    Love the aesthetic of Marines just jumping right in…

    • Reecius June 3, 2015 8:30 am #

      I’m with you, Marines work best as a horde army if you want to use the infantry to win the game. That list actually sounds like a ton of fun, and I have considered fielding it, too. Might have to give it a go on the live stream!

      • Life of Adept Brian June 4, 2015 5:11 am #

        I’ll save you some time – this is what fits perfectly into 1850, and is a generally decent all-comers list:

        Captain, PW
        4x tac squads with HB and flamer
        1x tac squad with ML and flamer
        1x tac squad with ML and melta
        1x assault squad with Vet sarg, 2 lighting claws and 2 flamer
        1x assault squad with 2 flamers
        1x devs with 4 LC
        1x devs with 4 MM

        Pro tips (as in: to the pro, not from the pro): a lot of guys will combat the devs so that the heavies are in one squad and boys in the other… 2 heavies in each is better; the captain is just there to fill the HQ slot, provide a minor boost through warlord trait and is decent enough at CC to help out a tac unit that is holding a valuable position, nothing more; combat squaded/deep striking assault squads in the backfield, obscured from view by terrain is best so they are not so visible, and become a threat the FOLLOWING turn (not the one the arrive) – people are always trying to have the game locked down by turn 2, it is more fun to play a WHOLE game; as far as the opposition goes – shot the assaulty units, assault the shooty units (seems like a no-brainer, but I have watched so many people try to “take on” an assault-oriented unit with their own, sub-par assault unit).

        Have fun with it – 101 marines look great on the table!

  3. Thomas June 3, 2015 6:26 am #

    Assault marines will be absolutely brutal against vehicles with the new book if the hint on GW’s What’s new today about every marine being able to take a Eviscerator holds true.

    • Reecius June 3, 2015 8:31 am #

      Every Marine in the unit able to take an Eviscerator? WTF, lol, if true that is brutal.

      • Thomas June 3, 2015 10:01 am #

        “There are new weapons in the box, too, such as the eviscerator wielded by this Sergeant. It’s not just a weapon for officers, though – any Space Marine in the squad can carry this tank-shredding blade.”'s-New-Today-from-the-White-Dwarf-Team/2015/05/27/The-true-Angels-of-Death

        • Reecius June 3, 2015 10:09 am #

          Wow, nice! Too bad they only have 1 attack each =(

          • Thomas June 3, 2015 10:21 am

            Yeah, but that’s still two attacks on the charge.

          • TinBane June 3, 2015 2:57 pm

            They may still be restricted in number. Would be cool if you could take any number of them though.

          • Thomas June 4, 2015 12:29 am

            Rumours say that one in five can take it, 25 pts. 14 pts per assault marine, 3 pts per jump pack.

      • dr.insanotron June 3, 2015 3:31 pm #

        Not really. It will more then likely be way to costly to really take

  4. Hotsauceman1 June 3, 2015 7:44 am #

    I would give my left nut to make assail marines good.

  5. westrider June 3, 2015 8:05 am #

    I ran a Dante List with 30 Assault Marines, 5 Death Company, and 5 Sanguinary Guard a little while ago, and they were excellent in Maelstrom. I could get pretty much anywhere I needed, whenever I needed.

    Definitely going to have to check out Korvydae, that sounds right up my alley. The RavenGuard Chapter Tactics are so close to being great, and he sounds like he might have the missing piece to make them work.

    I’ve got about 30 Assault Marines, plus a full Pack of SkyClaws right now, so I’m always excited to see stuff about using them well. Conceptually, visually, and fluff-wise, they’re one of my favorite SM Units, and I’m always kind of disappointed in how they actually end up working on the table.

    • Reecius June 3, 2015 8:32 am #

      I agree, aesthetically they are so cool, but they do struggle to actually win a fight.

  6. fluger June 3, 2015 8:17 am #

    When the SM codex rules were being leaked and we thought that Ravenguard Assault Marines could scout move I thought that they were finally going to be good. Too bad GW didn’t do that (it’s idiotic that the best way to use Ravenguard CT is to play a list that looks nothing like a Ravenguard force: Rhino Rush Tac Spam…), because it could’ve really helped.

    I’ve always thought that SM chainswords should get shred to represent their superiority to IG chainswords (goes for Chaos too) and give them a bonus compared to say Sternguard. That might be too strong, but just SOMETHING to give them some more love.

    Honestly, just a drop in points to like say 15 pts would help them substantially.

    • Reecius June 3, 2015 8:33 am #

      I agree 100% that they need some type of boost in melee to make them viable. Shred would be awesome, actually.

      • fluger June 3, 2015 9:53 am #

        Shred might be too much, maybe… Or give it AP5 or something. Just..just SOMETHING to make them better. I mean, Stormboyz have 4 S4 attacks on the charge for basically HALF the points. Sure they die easier to shooting and are slower, but their damage output is more than double point for point. That’s beyond dumb.

        • AbusePuppy June 3, 2015 9:59 am #

          Stormboyz are faster than ASM, not slower.

          • Thomas June 3, 2015 10:03 am

            Slower as in lower Initiative.

          • fluger June 3, 2015 10:38 am

            What Thomas said. I meant I2 vs I4.

        • Reecius June 3, 2015 10:11 am #

          Yeah, agreed. Compare them to a unit like Daemonettes and it gets even more depressing.

        • Warmaster_GIR June 3, 2015 11:06 am #

          Didn’t they give Necron Flayed Ones Shred this addition? Or was that last edition

          • Reecius June 3, 2015 11:23 am

            This edition.

          • Warmaster_GIR June 3, 2015 11:34 am

            Well then we at least have some sort of precedent of adding Shred to awful close combat units to make them somewhat viable.

    • Warmaster_GIR June 3, 2015 11:04 am #

      I had the same thought about marines getting shred with chainswords. I thought it would be an easy addition that would up their value against most targets. On average it would net you around 50% more wounds which means more forced saves which means more dead enemies.

      Space Marine Chainsword – Melee S User AP – Shred


      Then they can give normal Tac Marines CCW in the form of Combat Blades while still making the Assault Marines better in combat.

      Also if Crusader squads had access to the chainswords on both Initiates and Neophytes that would be pretty sweet. 20 Guys with S 4 Shred attacks would be fun.

      • fluger June 3, 2015 3:27 pm #

        Yup. And it helps the more melee-focused chapters like SW and BA as well.

    • westrider June 3, 2015 7:09 pm #

      I really think they need either a Points adjustment or some kind of buff. GW’s stuck on this thing where a Bolter is an equal swap with a Bolt Pistol+CCW, but while that was true in 3rd, since then, the Bolter has steadily been getting better by a greater and greater margin. Three Points per Model is probably reasonable for the Jump Pack upgrade, but the basic dude with Pistol/CCW should be at least a Point cheaper than his equivalent with a Rapid Fire Weapon, possibly two.

      The other difference is the Weapon options. BA/SW Jumpers are so much more flexible, because they’ve got the full range of Special Weapons available, so they can actually become all-rounders. Being stuck with just Flamers or stupidly overpriced Plasma Pistols is a substantial downside for other Assault Marines.

    • VonCrown June 5, 2015 6:02 pm #

      Shred would be ridiculous, but I could see them getting like ap 5 or something.

  7. bigpig June 3, 2015 10:31 am #

    The Blood Angels Sanguine Wing formation is awesome fun to play. Free power weapons on 20 vanguard vets is spectacular and really makes them scary. 4 attacks each on the charge with power weapons for 20ish points is really solid. With the right weapon mix they can pretty much take out most threats. I back them up with some 5 man triple melta assault squads in drop pods

  8. zero-charisma June 3, 2015 2:05 pm #

    Good article man. would you say more of your practice has been with them and 7th ed or before they got Raven Guard chapter tactics? I’m new to the game and love the spectres so I started making them thinking I would play as Raven Guard. But then everyone was says how bad they are and I became a sad panda. I know they won’t all make it into combat but starting with 40 attacks on the charge 10 of which auto hit and rerolI wounds seems like it could do at least okay and even if you don’t smash somebody at least you’re in combat and protected from shooting. I dunno I just want my pretty Marines to work!

    • Reecius June 3, 2015 2:19 pm #

      Raven Guard Assault Marines are pretty good, one of the better ways to run them. They don’t always get HoW though, only the models that make it into B2B on the charge move, so usually it’s only a few of them. You can make it work though, just play them as objective grabbers first and actual fighting units second and you will have much better results with them.

      • zero-charisma June 3, 2015 3:12 pm #

        Ahh, good to know thanks. Guess I’m not changing mine to 32mm bases!

  9. CNitram June 3, 2015 3:54 pm #

    I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Raven Guard. Their fluff is soooo good. I specifically enjoyed the way they’re described in the later books of the Ultramarines Omnibus.

    The only downside to loving Dark Angels and Raven Guard is that Gav Thorpe is the main author for both; His books are decent, but he doesn’t always do his homework and gets DA stuff wrong.

  10. amnesiadidit June 3, 2015 5:25 pm #

    Such a tough choice between raven guard and blood angels for who would be a funner assault marine army to run, i think in the end tho it would have to be raven guard, obj sec is just too good in msu and sure assault marines will never be champs off cc, they are decently quick with the raven guard tactic and can catch thos much needed obj without needing transports, or can jump into combat with a unit to tie it up in order to let another assault squad catch an obj.

    So reece, you have done tacs and assault marines as focus points of articles, whats next? Scouts? maybe show some terminators some love? I feel termie lists can and will come back. With SW, BA, and DA able to spam them in formations for special rules (well soon DA will get their formations) and the maelstrom missions forcing players to play objectives, maybe the deep striking walls of TDA will find a new nitch.

    I guess thats wishful thinking tho, that and my poor dreadnaughts :/

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