Space Marine Character Review: Vulkan He’Stan!

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
  • Grenades
  • 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.

Special Rules:

  • 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.

Book Barristan > Show Barristan.

Book Barristan > Show Barristan.

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.



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.

17 Responses to “Space Marine Character Review: Vulkan He’Stan!”

  1. Avatar
    dantejr July 6, 2016 1:33 pm #

    Hi, very insctructive article as always 🙂

    i play only salamanders (because i love this chapter) space marines from recent years (i play 3, 5, and 7 drop pods, depending sun’s position XD).

    on my area’s metagame (1650pts), i have a question:
    what do you use with flameblade strikeforce?

    i am trying 1st company with 30 sternguards (5pods) but it’s expensive and i can’t use librarians conclave.

    Do you have a better idea?

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 6, 2016 2:06 pm #

      That’s way too expensive for the First Company Task Force IMO. You should check out my article on that formation if you haven’t already. I’m not sure why you can’t take a Conclave? It won’t be part of the Flameblad but you could always take it as a formation on its own.

      I haven’t dived too deep into the Flameblade so my advice on that specific formation is limited.

  2. Reecius
    Reecius July 6, 2016 3:50 pm #

    Vulkan is a G. Salamander pale in comparison to White Scars unfortunately, but are a very good alternative choice. Vulkan allows a lot of very fun options. Too bad he doesn’t also Master Craft T.Hammers anymore!

    Great article, John.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 6, 2016 6:38 pm #

      Thanks, I too miss the days of master crafted t-hammers! That was legit.

  3. Avatar
    Rob July 7, 2016 1:57 am #

    How do you think he fairs in a full battle company with drop pods these days?

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 7, 2016 3:23 am #

      That’s my favorite battle company to run. I think Ultramarines are still better for Drop Pod BC but a Vulkan based version is still very good. Playing to Vulkans/Salamanders strengths is key. You’ll want to make sure you take plenty of Melta and Flamer based weapons. As mentioned in the article Vulkan works well with a Command Squad, 4 meltas or 4 flamers pairs nicely with him.

      I don’t think it is a top tier build for Space Marines but as far as battle company goes I would put a Vulkan/Salamander DP BC 3rd.

      1. Whitescars Rhino/Razor Company
      2. UM DP/Rhino/Razor Company
      3. Salamanders w/ Vulkan DP Company

  4. Avatar
    Alex r July 7, 2016 3:56 am #

    Yeah i run him the flame strike company with 1st company and a imp knight instead of a conclave

  5. Avatar
    Alex r July 7, 2016 3:56 am #

    But my meta is heavily in eldar favor so those flamers are delicious

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 8, 2016 5:52 am #

      Yes. Twin linked flames ar excellent against Eldar bikes. Especially if they’re getting boosted to str5 and str6!

      • Avatar
        Alex r July 9, 2016 7:22 pm #

        Played against a heavy dark eldar army with jinks all over the show. Well several flamers later they all dead

  6. Avatar
    dantejr July 7, 2016 5:48 am #

    i read all salty’s articles but i should be read again^^.

    i will try 10th company instead 1st and add a conclave on my next game.
    With 7 pods, it will be fun ^^.

    thank you for advices guys.

    For finish, i play salamanders because i love. White scars is better but i don’t like this chapter and i hate white paint XD

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 8, 2016 5:53 am #

      Thanks for reading! Glad to be of help.

  7. Avatar
    hillshire July 7, 2016 8:52 am #

    I had some success with Legion of the Damned back when vehicles were more common. While I didn’t run them in a Salamanders CAD at the time (I was running Iron Hands), Vulkan was always tempting for the twin linking. They’re still solid against Imperial Knights but serious overkill for knocking out transports. But in the era of the Gargantuan Creatures, LotD just don’t have the volume of fire needed.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 8, 2016 5:54 am #

      Yes, Legion of the Damned were near auto includes in 6th and when Serpent spam/all Knights lists were still a thing. They’re more of a conditional inclusion based on your local meta these days.

  8. Avatar
    Schmuvness July 9, 2016 3:15 am #

    Hello Salty John,

    great article on my favourite character Mr. He’stan.

    I’d love to get in contact with you to discuss some potential Salamanders lists, but couldn’t find your contact info on the website.
    If you’re up to it, plz send me a mail to the the adress provided.

    I am a tournament player from Germany who is frantically trying to make Salamanders work again in this very tough metagame.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


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