Requizen here with another Militarum Tempestus tactics and review article! Check the Tactics Corner for more great articles.
Welcome to the next part in the Militarum Tempestus Tactica, where today we’ll be talking about the basic (and only) Troop choice in the book, the Tempestus Scion. If you’re building your force mainly or solely out of the MT codex, these guys will be your bread and butter. Maybe not your heaviest hitters, but they’re going to pull a lot of weight.
Let’s look at them from a quick glance. For the price of a Tactical Squad, you get 5 dudes with the statline of a Veteran and 4+ armor. That doesn’t seem like a great trade, but then you look a bit closer – each one is equipped with the Hot Shot Lasgun we talked about in the last article, and basic, cheap units with AP3 guns are pretty good. Then, there’s the fact that they can have 2 Special Weapons per unit at the squad size of 5, whereas Tacticals can only get a Special/Heavy and then only at a squad of 10 (though the Sergeant can pick up a Combi-gun). On top of that, if you remember, they also get Deep Strike and Mover Through Cover baseline, giving them pretty solid mobility for cheap infantry units. And just like that, having a slightly worse statline doesn’t seem so bad.
You have a couple options when it comes to kitting out each squad, and they can do a variety of things depending on the role you need them to fill.
Lead from the Front
Your Tempestor (sergeant) comes stock with a CCW and either a Bolt Pistol or Hot Shot Laspistol, and can be upgraded to a Power Weapon and/or a Plasma Pistol. I think keeping him with the stock CCW is best – that Power Fist or Power Axe might help you out in combat, but you really don’t want to be there in the first place, and those points can be used on more shooting or more bodies.
The Plasma Pistol is an interesting option. It’s clearly a better option than the other two pistols, with the downside of being relatively expensive and having a chance to blow up in your hand. It can make your squad slightly better at shooting, but for even cheaper you can just get another dude. It depends on your preference, I think – do you want to have more AP2 in your unit, or do you want more boots on the ground? It’s a bit easier to justify putting in a Plasma Pistol with a Melta or Plasma squad, since the targets are the same, relatively, but probably pass in a squad with Flamers or Volley Guns.
Speaking of which, the guns you give the squad can really change how they operate. Note that, per usual, it’s never advised to mix and match guns. You don’t have Combat Squads, so if you put two Special Weapons in a unit, make sure they’re the same!
A basic unit with no upgrades will scare the pants off many infantry opponents by themselves. Deep Striking in and ignoring armor can be pretty terrifying. A unit of 5 can drop down into some Terrain and threaten a unit of any given infantry that’s not wearing 2+ armor. Cheap, efficient backfield threatening, and if they scatter and die, then that’s only 70 points gone, nothing too devastating.
Meltaguns need to be close to the enemy – they’re short ranged, and need to be even closer to get the Melta rule on the vehicles they’re shooting. A unit containing these will want to probably stay in Reserve and then Deep Strike aggressively to get their Meltas in range. They’re probably the most likely to mishap – they need 12″ to even hit the target, and you want to be within 6″. They really want to stick their landing to do their thing.
Plasma Guns have a bit longer range, and despite being slightly weaker to vehicles, they’re effective against many of the same targets as Meltaguns. Plasma squads are the most expensive, but they have the best damage output against the largest number of targets, with the downside of occasionally burning their arms off. They can be effectively used in most deployment fashions – Deep Strike gets them down the field quickly, but the relatively long range lets them also be able to hoof it or ride in a Taurox.
Grenade Launchers are a bit of a poor choice in my book. Neither grenade option is particularly amazing compared to other options, but the draw here is that it is relatively cheap. Krak Grenades are only S6 AP4, but at half the price of a Meltagun. If you need to shave off a few points, you can bring a unit with these, but you may just be better bringing a stock unit instead.
Flamers are a bit more tricky to utilize, but are extremely effective against certain armies. Deep Striking them is difficult, given their short range and positioning requirements. But they also can’t footslog and hope to be utilized efficiently, unless the opponent comes to you. They work fairly well in a Taurox, or safely Deep Striking to Flame on the next turn, or use Wall of Fire to discourage enemy charges.
Hot Shot Volley Gun units are more of your all-arounders. Mass AP3 is good, and since they’re basically suped-up versions of your regular guns, you’re rarely ever “wasting” shots. These bad boys will tear through most Infantry and medium-sized units, especially if you can hunker down and get the full Salvo off.
You’re not going to make an army of any one gun, and you won’t play the different units similarly. Meltaguns will often be dropping into the back field, but may stay in your lines if you’re expecting lots of Drop Pods. Plasma Guns will want to hunt down 2+ units or multiwound T3 models like Ruststalkers/Infiltrators. Flamers will want to position themselves to deal with light Assault units, or take advantage of their cheap cost and just go after objectives.
Once you figure out the mix you need, I would recommend thinking of the squads not as the same type of unit, but specialists that need to be strategized separately. While you do have your basic guns in there, the squad is basically defined by the special weapons they carry.
I find that often you’ll want to include at least 2-3 Melta units (redundancy is key when you need to aggressively DS them and risk mishaps), and then split the rest between Volley Guns or Plasma Guns, depending on what you expect to see. If the meta is filled with high Toughness units or Terminators, Plasma will take up more slots, but if you see a lot of MSU, Volley Guns will serve you well. On the other hand, if you see a lot of Deathstars in your meta, you may just be more tempted to bring cheap units with a stock loadout or Flamers/Grenade Launchers so you can spread out and have more bodies.
A lot of my discussion is about utilizing Scions as just 5 man squads with two Special Weapons. And that’s probably the best min/max way to run them, but it’s not the only way. 10 dudes in cover (or a Fortification if you brought one) can make a very solid hard point that will shred up anything 3+ and T6 or lower that comes in range. 10 guys piling out of a Taurox will also do a pretty solid amount of damage and get there pretty quickly, especially if ranged anti-tank is relatively light around you.
For weapons, since you have larger squads and don’t want to waste mixed fire, I would think that Volley Guns are a solid choice. Plasma can be as well, since there’s a moderate amount of overlap between targets, but shy away from Melta. Flamers are probably a better choice here than they would be in a 5 man DS unit, as they can dissuade charges or give more rate of fire when hitting a nearby unit, especially if they get a Taurox to run them up to said unit.
All in all, there’s a choice to be said between larger or 10 man units and minimal units. If you want to play Reserve heavy and gain map control via DS squads, keep them small. If you want to use Tauroxes or hold a fortification, 10 man units are not a bad choice at all. Mixing is an option, but often you will want your force to focus on one skillset, rather than trying to make it do everything.
You’re not spoiled for choices in this book. In fact, you don’t have any! Luckily, the one Troops unit you have is very solid and versatile. The humble Scion unit can play an aggressive tank hunter, a variable backfield dropper, or a semi-elite unit for hunting 3+ infantry enemies. This makes them quite good for allying to armies that lack things like cheap but effective bodies, special weapons, or deep strikers. When list writing, figure out what special weapons you need and in what amount, and then be ready to change the way you use them in any given game. It will depend a lot on the meta – either your local meta or what lists are making the rounds at tournaments lately.