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.
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.
3-5 Units Chosen from the following:
- Terminator Squad
- Assault Terminator Squad
- Sternguard Veteran Squad
- Vanguard Veteran Squad
- 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.
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.
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.
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.