Space Marine Formation Review: 1st Company Task Force

Hey everyone SaltyJohn, from TFGRadio here with a review! Space Marine Formation Review: 1st Company Task Force. For more reviews, bat reps and analysis, check out the Tactics Corner!

The first company of the vast majority of Space Marine Chapters is dedicated to the most veteran ranks of the Chapter. These Space Marines of peerless prowess, skill, and experience are entrusted with the Chapters most vaunted relics, and priceless wargear. Singularly adept warriors the members of a Chapters first company have proven time and again they can walk into the fires of hell and lead their chapter to victory over seemingly insurmountable odds. It is no wonder then that so many formations feature 1st Company veterans in some way or another. In the end though does the amazing fluff of the first Company live up to the unit(s) abilities on the Table Top? We’ll find out by examining one of the best Space Marine formations centered around the 1st Company. The First Company Task Force.


Honestly, I’m only writing this because my Steam download of Total War Warhammer was delayed by Amazon and their stupid “pending” policy.

Overview: The First Company Task Force is an auxiliary Formation from the Space Marine Codex. It can be taken as part of a Gladius Strike Force or on it’s own as a formation in another detachment. It is a formation composed of 3-5 units drawn from the First Company of a Chapter. Sternguard Veterans, Vanguard Veterans, Terminators, and Assault Terminators. Given the various types of units to draw from the 1st Company Task Force seems like a versatile Auxiliary choice for Space Marines.

Formation Details:

3-5 Units Chosen from the following:

  • Terminator Squad
  • Assault Terminator Squad
  • Sternguard Veteran Squad
  • Vanguard Veteran Squad

Restrictions: NONE

105312_md-Salamanders, Space Marines, Warhammer 40,000

I wish Terminators were better. Especially Assault Terminators. I really do.

Special Rules:

  • Fear
  • Fearless (This one is oft forgotten, even by yours truly and this is one of my favorite Auxiliary formations to play)
  • Terrifying Proficiency– Enemy units subtract 2 from their Leadership whilst they are within 12in of at least three units from this formation. (That includes the Drop Pod dedicated transports…)
  • Extremis Level Threat– Nominate an enemy unit before deployment, units in the formation have preferred enemy against that unit.
Don't forget those Special Rules!

Don’t forget those Special Rules!

Tactics: I already covered a little bit of this in my article on Sternguard. The reason being Sternguard are easily the best fit for use in this formation given the Special Rules. Let us go ahead and say there are only two real viable options for this formation from a competitive sense. You want to take full advantage of the formation rules so unless you go pure Terminators on foot or deep striking it’s hard to make them mesh with either Sternguard or Vanguard Vets. The picture above is from last years’ Hammer of Wrath GT in Pasadena. I used a Gladius with Battle Company in pods plus the 1st Company Task Force and Conclave. I changed out a Sternguard squad for a Terminator assault squad and was not impressed with the results. I love Terminators, especially Assault Terminators. No matter the Marine army I am playing I always build, paint, and play with some. They had their day in 5th sadly and it’s time to leave them by the wayside without some serious love from GW in the rules department. I can’t even remember the last time Terminators, the shooting variety, were good. They had some time in 4th where if you took two 5 man squads with 2 assault cannons (yes you could do that then) in concert with some assault cannon speeders, and three whirlwinds (these shot out minefields the size of CDs) it could be an effective build. I ran it. I miss double assault cannons at 5 men and those pesky Whirlwind minefield missiles.

Now that I’ve tangentially derailed my own article let’s get back to the point. With this formation Sternguard in pods are your best options.


In my opinion the best way to run this formation is with 3 or 5 squads of Sternguard in Drop Pods. If you can get 3 pods to come in turn 1 it is best. If you can get a librarian with Psychic Shriek in one of the units it is even better. Here is the most effective way to use this Formation. On turn 1 your opponents’ units are normally going to be near the table edge. Somewhere within 12 inches normally. If you can drop this formation in and cause a few morale checks at -2 leadership with the Terrifying Proficiency rule you can run 2 units off the table on a regular basis. If you put a Deathwind Missile Launcher in each pod you could potentially cause 25% casualties to two more units. With the librarian casting Psychic Shriek on a unit that is at -2 leadership you could cause enough wounds to cause a fifth morale check at -2 leadership. That is only with 2 pods coming in turn 1. Don’t forget the Drop Pods counts as part of the formation for purposes of the Terrifying Proficiency rule! If you drop in 3 -5 (five will be rare) pods full of Sternguard from this unit on turn 1 your opponent better have really high stock leadership or fearless. Remember Sternguard are excellent hunter units and are capable of causing a lot of wounds to units through the use of their Special Issue Ammunition, especially Hellfire Rounds. Generally I would use the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics for this formation, and for my Gladius Strike Forces.

Ultramarine terminator chapter symbol step by step

Admit it, that’s a cool tutorial for the logo. I wish I could find the original source!

The re-roll is king of 40k. That should be blatantly obvious to 40k players by now. This is a strategy game played with dice meaning there will always be an element of chance. The best players go out of their way to mitigate the element of chance in this game. Make sure you’re always within range to “never” fail that charge. Don’t rely on powers that require you to roll high, 5s or 6s. The list of ways to mitigate chance effecting your game goes on and on. An extraordinarily effective way to mitigate chance in 40k is through the vaunted re-roll. If you build the unit right you can get quite a few re-rolls on the drop increasing your chances to cause enough casualties to force the sought after morale checks. With Extremis Level Threat you can insure a re-roll to hit against one specific unit. With UM CT you can re-roll ones to hit with the Tactical or Devastator Doctrines. If you include the Libby I suggested, and get lucky, you may have rolled Psychic Shriek on your first roll and then switched to Divination for Prescience. That’s re-rolls to hit against 3 separate units! If you’re going for maximum damage, and you should be then I would include 2 heavy flamers on at least one unit of Sternguard. Coupled with the Hellfire Rounds these can really whittle down units of Guardsmen, Tau, Space Marines, Cultists etc. Remember you’re trying to do enough damage to take advantage of the -2 to the enemies leadership!


The First Company Task Force has the potential to be a great auxiliary choice in the right hands. The key is to avoid the trap of trying to take units from the formation that are sub par. It would be really cool to have 3-5 units of Assault Terminators charging across the table to put the hammer to the enemies of the Emperor. Or a mass of Vanguard vets falling from the skies to reap a deadly toll on mass of Chaos Marines. 50 Terminators marching across the field mowing down Greenskins with storm bolters and a veritable fusillade of Assault Cannon rounds would be equally satisfying to witness. The sad reality of this formation is that while those are potentially possible scenarios they are simply not the best option nor the most likely to happen. The formation is an expensive one as it is and if you’re beefing it up with Terminators and expensive Vanguard vets then you’re losing points for your Demi, or full, Battle Company. In the end the First Company Task Force is a useful formation but only when built and run a very specific way.


The unit of Iron Hands Assault Terminators I took to Hammer of Wrath last year as part of my 1st Company Task Force.

I understand that some people will want to argue for one of the other 3 First Company options as being worthy of inclusion. I honestly would welcome that conversation as I always like seeing what other people have thought of that I simply haven’t seen yet. In our group we like to say certain players can “see the matrix” of 40k and have an innate sense for what works, what doesn’t, and why. That doesn’t mean those who see the “matrix” are always seeing it clearly. In this case I would most definitely love for someone to show me how this formation would work amazingly with Assault Terminators!


As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.



About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

14 Responses to “Space Marine Formation Review: 1st Company Task Force”

  1. Avatar
    Alex r July 5, 2016 12:26 am #

    The question is do you make them 10man or 5men strong

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 5, 2016 5:27 am #

      5 man! If I’m running it in a Gladius with double Demi Company it has to be 5 man squads. Running it sans gladius at 10 men each and combat squad in would be a legit way to insure -2 ld tests.

    • Michael Corr
      corrm July 5, 2016 5:29 am #

      I would go for a 10 man squad. If you combat squad them, that gives you 3 units in the one drop pod (including the drop pod) to activate the formation special rules.

  2. Avatar
    westrider July 5, 2016 12:41 am #

    I can’t particularly advocate for any Units besides SternGuard here, but I do really want to try this alongside an IronWolves Detachment to force some Tank Shock tests at -4 Ld. Even Necrons are going to be hoofing it more often than not at that point.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 5, 2016 5:28 am #

      I can’t see running anything but SG competitively with this formation.

      I hadn’t thought of the Iron Wolve’s combo, nice one!

  3. Avatar
    Rob July 5, 2016 5:02 am #

    I like the idea of this with a crimson fist gladius with Kantor. All that OS! 😀

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 5, 2016 5:29 am #

      Reece ran Kantor with this formation on one of the Twitch stream battles a month or so back. It is cool to have them as OS.

      • Reecius
        Reecius July 6, 2016 7:25 am #

        If only he was available in the Sternhammer detachment =(

  4. Avatar
    Lysere July 5, 2016 5:50 am #

    Vanguard only really work with the formation if you also have a land raider spearhead, which will only really work depending on the meta. I’ve used the combo with some stern guard as well quite well locally but it probably wouldn’t work well atm in a tournament. If grenades in assault do get nerfed once it’s official then it might be a bit better.

  5. Avatar
    Dirtydeeds July 5, 2016 8:03 am #

    I want to try this one day with the Skyhammer as part of the Sternhammer Strike Force. The Sternguard will have twin linked bolters.

  6. Reecius
    Reecius July 6, 2016 7:26 am #

    1st Company Task Force is so good, one of my favorite formations. I run it with 30 naked Sternguard and they rock. Just so punishing, an extremely good and fun formation.

  7. Avatar
    Kartr_Kana July 14, 2016 6:54 am #

    3 squads of 10 in pods as the Auxiliary for the Sternhammer Strike Force should be good. Re-roll all the special ammo! Of course not much room for anything else in that list and you better hope you’re not facing lots of vehicles.

  8. Avatar
    Tom October 31, 2016 1:50 pm #

    If you have any drop pods in the battle (Demi) company, give it a locator beacon. Put the Dreadnaught with an assault cannon (although a tactical squad will also do) in the pod and use it to clear a landing zone (the second arm is up to you although a heavy flamer will scorch a lot of tightly packed blob units). Use the locator beacon to accurately deep strike 3-5 squads of assault termies from the 1st company task force and bam! There goes a lot of the enemy by mid-game. I’d say if you were running 5 squads of termies have two of them with Storm bolters/ assault cannon to help clear the drop zone and have two more with lightning claws and the fifth one with hammers to take out vehicles/the enemy HQ unit. Maybe use the librarius conclave in terminator armour to buff the termies if you have enough points.

  9. Avatar
    Alex November 15, 2016 1:24 pm #

    I have run this before and i find if you run this alongside a land raider spearhead, assault or tactical terminators become a lot more plausaible choice, as you dont have to footslog them up the board and they are protected the way there. not too mention the land raider spearhead allows you to get there ignoring anything short of vehicle destroyed results. Assault with them wen you get close enough and watch them melt 90% of tank lines or firing lines people would of tried to set up to stop you.

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