SaltyJohn here from TFGRadio and Capture and Control with another Space Marine Review, up today is my favorite character Vulkan He’Stan! For more reviews, bat reps and analysis, check out the Tactics Corner!
The Salamanders Chapter of Space Marines are vaunted warriors, beloved by the average citizens of the Imperium. The tales of their sacrifice for those of lesser stature are known the galaxy over. The Salamanders Promethean Creed speaks of the need to protect those weaker than the mighty members of the Adepts Astartes. Although they may appear soft compared to Chapters like the Space Wolves make no mistake, the Salamanders are also known for the merciless persecution of the enemies of mankind. With bolter, hammer, and flame the Salamanders purge the galaxy of Orks, Eldar, and Chaos among many others; on battle fields of legend like Armageddon. The Salamanders always have one warrior chosen to take up the mantle of Vulkan. This warrior embodies the Promethean Creed as set down by the Salamanders Primarch Vulkan. The warrior chosen to take up the mantle is tasked with finding the lost relics of Vulkan, even being granted the great honor of carrying some of these relics into battle himself. The current Salamander burdened with this solemn task is Vulkan He’Stan; he is a peerless warrior among the lords of Nocturne, the Salamanders home world. Vulkan He’Stan can call upon the Salamanders to aid him in his quest whenever needed and his inspiring presence spurs the already powerful warriors of Nocturne to even greater feats of war. Can Vulkan He’Stan live up to all this hype on the table top?
Overview: As far as Characters go Vulkan looks fairly middling on paper. Clocking in at 190 points he is one of the cheapest characters that comes standard with a 2+/3++. The key with Vulkan is to understand clearly what he can, and cannot, do so you’re never asking him to do something he can’t. For example he will cleave through units comprised of models with a 3+, or worse, save but can stay stuck in combat all game with a unit of Centurions or Terminators. To begin understanding his role(s) let’s first look at his Wargear and Special Rules, you should quickly begin to see what I meant above.
- Bolt Pistol
- Gauntlet of the Forge: Heavy Flamer and Digital Weapons.
- Kesare’s Mantle: Cloak that confers a 3+ invulnerable save.
- Spear of Vulkan: Strength +2, AP 3, MasterCrafter, Two Handed, Melee weapon.
- Chapter Tactics (Salamanders)
- Independent Character
- Iron Resolve Warlord trait. Gives him Feel No Pain.
- The Forgefather: If Vulkan is your Warlord all Meltaguns, Combi-meltaguns, and Multimeltas in his detachment are Master Crafted.
First things first if you’re taking Vulkan then you’re committing to playing Salamanders CT. That is really just a given. Playing to their strengths is actually easy. I piloted a Vulkan led Demi-Company+CAD+Conclave list to a 3-2 showing at last years’ BAO so it is possible to have a winning record and not play Ultrasmurfs or White Scars.
Playing Vulkan can seem really straight forward on the surface. His stat line screams tank character at first, until you realize he’s missing Eternal Warrior. At T4 he’s one failed save against Str8 away from coughing up Warlord. He is your Warlord. There’s no reason to take him if he isn’t. Over the years, I’ve played Salamanders on and off since 5th edition, I’ve come to play Vulkan in a fairly specific way. He’s a MEQ (Marine Equivalent) killing machine. Twin-linked heavy flamers put out massive numbers of wounds and his Str6 AP3 Mastercrafted, digital weaponed, staff carves through Marines like Ser Barrister Selmy through cake, or other Kingsguard. Just not chumps from the Sons of the Harpy.
I used to run Vulkan a lot with Sternguard in a Drop Pod, Assault Squad in a pod, or Command Squad in a pod. With the newer editions canceling the 12 man capacity of the Drop Pod and introducing Conclave I found a new favorite way to use Vulkan. A Stealth Star. The Stealth Star is a unit that is easily overlooked on paper but has the potential to really shock your opponent with their ability in Assault. There are two ways I like to run a Stealth Star with Vulkan.
- Command Squad. Take a Command Squad, 4 meltaguns, 1 Apothecary, Drop Pod. Add in Vulkan and 2-3 Librarians with Axes from a Conclave. Fish for Invisibility/Endurance/Forewarning. What ever fits the situation, getting any combination of those plus Prescience makes for a formidable unit in Assault that can go toe to toe with, and tie up, all but the most resilient Death Stars. Remember as “Veterans” the Command squad members are two attacks base. It’s not huge but it can be the difference between tying a combat on your opponents turn and winning it so the squad is free to act on your turn.
- 5 man Sternguard Squad. I like this combo a bit more than the Command Squad. The Sternguard are still two base attacks each but with the option for 2 heavy flamers you can get a massive twin-linked flamer drop off. If you’re running the new Salamanders formation that means Vulkans HF and the two HF in the Sternguard squad are now Str 6 twin-linked instead of Str 5. Add in the Conclave members for the same shenanigans as above and all you’re missing is the Apothecary. In the end dropping in and roasting a unit is satisfying in and of itself, the ensuing assault phases can be equally satisfying.
If you find yourself in a meta dominated competitively by Gladius Battle Companies you may want to give Vulkan and the Salamanders a closer look. Bucket loads of twin-linked meltas and flamers in Drop Pods and Rhinos backed up by a MEQ killing unit as described above will give your opponents fits. Vulkan represents a great HQ choice for a certain meta and play style. If you want to go the extra mile and really buff his unit, and him, you can get the drop on your opponent in many situations. If you’re looking for a beat stick, tank, character Vulkan isn’t your guy but if you’re looking for an army wide buff character who can hold his own in assault he’s definitely one of the great options!
As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.