Space Marine Heavy Support Review: Devastator Centurions

Hey everybody SaltyJohn from TFGRadio here to review a unit that’s as prolific as bacteria in medieval London; Devastator Centurions! For more reviews, bat reps and analysis, check out the Tactics Corner!

Centurions, both the Devastator and Assault variety, arrived on the scene with the 6th edition Space Marine codex and have been a mainstay in SM players’ lists ever since. Well, the Devastator variety at least, and then only the ones loaded to the teeth with Grav Cannons. Still, there’s a lot of these out there! Normally I would give some fluff background here but who are we kidding. The amount of salt in the community over the fluff, and models, for Centurions is surpassed only by the mountains of salt over the power of them equipped with Grav.

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Overview: Centurions represent a major boost to Space Marine players. It gave them a solid platform upon which to build a shooting death star. Toughness 5, Strength 5, 2 Wound, 2+ armor save units were something SM players really needed. 5th through 6th editions really ratcheted up the fire power in this game and the basic Space Marine (T4, 3+, single wound) really suffered as a result. There are draw backs to the unit to be sure both Very Bulky and Slow and Purposeful are rough. If their ham fists were strength 6,7, or 8 even that would be much better than Str 5. Or AP2. In the end though the access to Grav on a stable, survivable, and easily buffed unit was a boon to SM players everywhere. Their baseline cost of 165 points for 3 S5, T5, 2+ models that put out a ton of Heavy Bolter and Hurrican Bolter shots is a little insane. Getting them amped up to their full Grav potential costs a bit but it’s absolutely worth it. The most common load out is 3 Grav-cannons and Amps plus an Omniscope on the Sergeant, for a mere 250 points. 15 Grav Shots re-rolling to wound, with the ability to split one Cannons fire onto a different unit is nothing to thumb your at.

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Centurions like good vantage points. So does your camera.

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Wargear:

  • Twin-linked Heavy Bolter
  • Hurricane Bolter
  • Options:
    • Replace TL-HB with Grav-Cannon and Grav-Amp, or Twin-linked Lascannon.
      • Grav-Amps allow you to re-roll failed to wound rolls when firing Gravcannons.
    • Replace Hurrican Bolters with Missile Launcher.
    • Sergeant may take an Omniscope.
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Devastator Centurion weapons load out. I know, I was shocked there were options besides Grav Cannons and Amps too!

Special Rules:

  • Chapter Tactics
  • ATSKNF
  • Decimator Protocols- A model with this special rule can fire up to two weapons int he shooting phase.
  • Slow and Purposeful
  • Very Bulky
  • Split Fire (if Omniscope is taken)
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Many peoples’ initial reactions to reading the rules for Grav-Cannons and Amps.

Tactics:

First off you shouldn’t mix weapons systems on any unit that falls into the Devastator category unless you plan to Combat Squad. This has been true since time immemorial in 40k, and since Devastator Centurions don’t Combat Squad were going to apply that mantra here. If we accept that you don’t mix weapons then let’s approach this unit by looking at the 3 load outs available. First though, let’s talk unit size.

Many might take it for granted that Devastator Centurion squads are 3 models strong. You have the option of more, most people simply don’t avail themselves of this option. The reasoning is simple. The most common build is Grav+Pod or Grav+Gate of Infinity. In both those cases the 3 man unit is best. To fit the Very Bulky cents in a pod means a minimum 3 man squad is mandatory, with the obligatory Librarian for Prescience, or Sanguinary Priest for Feel No Pain, included you’ve maxed the pods transport capacity. If you’re gating the unit around then you want a small footprint to avoid mishaps, so 3 is again ideal for models with large bases. When would you take more than 3? If you’re going to take either of the non-grav load outs you might.

When the dust clears the Centurions will appear.

When the dust clears the Centurions will appear.

Twin-linked Lascannon Centurions with Missile Launchers. This long range vehicle hunter load out is useful in some builds. Naturally twin-linked Lascannons who don’t need Prescience means you can probably save points on the Librarian and add in another Cent! When you combine this unit with Tank Hunter you have a great anti-vehicle platform. With the number of Battle Companies rolling around the table tops of the 41st millennium this build has some use in Space Marine lists. 3-5 Twin-linked LC plus 3-5 Missiles is a lot of Str 8 and 9 weapons to crack open Rhinos and put the hurt on GMCs from a relatively safe distance. If you find yourself in need of some more anti-vehicle firepower in your meta this isn’t a terrible place to look to.

Twin-linked Heavy Bolter and Hurricane Bolters. This is the “basic” load out you get for 165 points. It’s a great anti-infantry unit, it is also good at taking down units of Eldar bikes. I know you never see Eldar bikes on the table top these days but you never know when killing them reliably through volume of fire might be necessary. It’s definitely the least popular build for Centurions, with the resurgence of horde armies, thanks to the Eldar effect, this unit may see more time on the table top. But with access to better anti-horde units like Thunderfire Cannons which can be good against a myriad of units I doubt we’ll see too many of these.

Grav-Centurions, or Gravturions, were the great new unit in 6th edition. They’ve remained a firmly entrenched unit for many 40k players and they can be seen in large numbers at tournaments. The two most common ways to deploy Gravturions are in a pod or with a Gate librarian. The unit has all the benefits of grav with the added bonus of being able to re-roll to wound. Excellent Gargantuan Monstrous Creature hunters, Monstrous Creature hunters, 2+ save hunters, reliable vehicle killers, the unit can do it all. The pure versatility of Grav coupled with a strong platform that allows it to shoot at full Salvo even after moving, with a re-roll to wound makes Gravturions easily the best shooting unit in the Space Marine codex.

You need an answer for this. Grav has you covered.

You need an answer for this. Grav has you covered.

Gravturions are the SM answer to the Stormsurge and Wraithknight problem most players will run into at a major tournament. While the unit is awesome on its own, it does need some help to be a truly effective tool. I’m not going to go into too much detail on gravturions because everyone knows them but I want to run down a few things to remember about how to buff the unit for maximum efficiency.

  1. Twin-link. Finding a way to twin link the Gravturions is a must. Either through Devastator doctrine or by adding a librarian to the unit for Prescience.
  2. Getting into range. Either through Drop Pods or Gate of Infinity. You need to get Grav Centurions closer than you would other centurions due to the shorter range of Grav. Personally I prefer the Drop Pod to Gate, it’s more reliable.
  3. Increasing their survivability. While T5 and 2+ seems good the amount of AP2 weaponry in the game has bloated. Finding a way to get them additional survivability is a good idea. If you Ally with Blood Angels a Sanguinary Priest will work, if you play Iron Hands this is even better. If you’re going to rely on a Librarian for Prescience then you could hope to roll the 4+ Invul save also on Divination. Unless it’s Tigurius you’re dropping in with them though I wouldn’t bank on it. A tough Tank character like a Captain with 2+3++ Eternal Warrior from the Shield Eternal is good for soaking up damage. That’s also very expensive.
Do you have a Warithknight problem? Call 1800 Grav Cent.

Do you have a Warithknight problem? Call 1800 Grav Cent.

Devastator Centurions, especially Grav-Cents, can fit well with pretty much any Space Marine chapter. There are a few notable examples of Chapters whose Tactics mesh best with the Centurions.

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  • Ultramarines: Everything works well with smurfs because they get doctrines. Lots and lots of doctrines. If you’re playing UM more than likely you’ve got at least 1 demi battle company, if not two, so taking Cents with 2+ Devastator doctrines is a good idea.

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  • White Scars: A common way to take Devastator Centurions out of the game is to tie them up in close combat with a blob or other squad that won’t kill, or be killed by, the cents in close combat. Hit and Run via White Scars is a good way to keep your expensive Cent Star from being tied up all game by nurglings, zombies, etc.

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  • Iron Hands: With a natural 6+ Feel No Pain there is already some added protection we talked about earlier. If you take a conclave you could reliably get Endurance for a 3+ FNP on the Cents due to the +1 from IH CT. Alternately you could ally with Blood Angels, as noted above, and take a Sanguinary Priest in the unit for a 4+ FNP. If your Centurions never seem to last long enough for you this may be a route to look into.

Centurions start off cheap at 165 but if you want them to be effective and survive for more than one turn you’ll need to invest in them. Items 1-3 above are the blue print for making Centurions work. That blue print though will balloon the cost of the unit from the base of 165 to upwards of 500 points if you’re trying to use a Tank character to keep them alive. While not as likely to cause a high saline reaction from your opponent as Warp Spiders or Librarius Conclave, the unit is still seen as an “easy” button for some; despite this reputation the unit can be easy to mess up. Careful play and attention to detail when putting the unit into your lists is necessary, just shoe horning one unit of gravturions into a list won’t work if it doesn’t mesh well. That’s generally true of any unit but is especially important for expensive high output, big target, type units like Devastator Centurions.

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

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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 Heavy Support Review: Devastator Centurions”

  1. westrider July 23, 2016 11:14 am #

    The main thing I would add is that Centurions actually have the other ability besides Combat Squads that can let mixed Weapons work. Split Fire can make it worth having one dude armed differently from the rest, especially if you’re not pumping it up to DeathStar levels, where you’re often going to want to use Split Fire for an IC’s Bolt Pistol to let you Charge something.

    Before Drop Pods became available, I saw several people running 2 Cents with Grav and then a third with Las/Missile. The Las dude would give them something to do if they had to spend a Turn getting into Range, and then could Split Fire and hit something else once the Grav is in Range.

    I’ve also thought about including a single Heavy Bolter/Hurricane dude who could serve as both a relatively cheap ablative dude and as a “finisher” to take out those obnoxious little 1-2 Model remnants that aren’t worth dedicating a whole Unit’s firepower to.

    • abusepuppy July 23, 2016 2:30 pm #

      The issue I would have with “finisher” guy is that he’s still far from guaranteed to kill a MEQ by himself, even in double-tap range- he’s forcing around four armor saves, which is not all that unlikely for the enemy to pass them all. A Grav guy, while a bit more expensive, will absolutely _vaporize_ those MEQs unless they are going to ground in a ruin or something and is much more functional outside of that niche use as well.

      Las/Missile can be a good loadout for Imperial Fists due to getting Tank Hunter, but otherwise feels rather lackluster. Since the rules for wound allocation changed, there’s no longer a real need to have one long-range guy in the squad.

      • westrider July 24, 2016 12:43 pm #

        Just trying to round out the possibilities. Magnets make it easy to fool around with alternate builds.

        The ability to take FA Pods for them has changed the relative usefulness of the Las/Missile versions, too.

        • SaltyJohn
          SaltyJohn July 25, 2016 6:34 am #

          Magnets are an excellent idea with Centurions, given the way the weapons are slung under arm they’re actually relatively easy to magnetize.

  2. Petey Pab
    Petey Pab July 23, 2016 10:09 pm #

    Good article John! One thing I would like to add about Iron Hand Cents is that the it will not die! SR makes the centurions just that much more sruvivable because even one centurion sergeant late game can spell doom for an opponent.

    Also, I like imperial fists CT for tank hunting hurricane bolters. It isn’t the most optimal but with misfortune it can really make AV 13 vehicles sweat.

    • Dakkath July 23, 2016 11:16 pm #

      I think you’re confusing Tank Hunters and Armorbane. Hurricane Bolters can at best glance av10.

      • abusepuppy July 24, 2016 1:57 am #

        He mentioned Misfortune and AV13, so I presume he really did mean Tank Hunter. Lacking the divination buff they won’t be able to hurt anything above AV10, but with it they are indeed pretty dangerous to tanks (although due to the way Misfortune works basically ANYTHING becomes dangerous at that point.)

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 25, 2016 6:33 am #

      Thanks! I always forget at IWND… 😀

  3. xthexclincherx July 25, 2016 5:41 am #

    Nice overview article! I like articles that really key in on a specific unit and open it up for discussion.
    I play Red Hunters and use Devastator Centurions all the time; the lascannon/missile/omniscope loadout is my favorite because of the ability to take advantage of monster hunters, tank hunters, or skyfire at a nice long range! I find that they are often left alone and over the course of a game can really be an all-star unit that slowly sneaks up in effectiveness over a few rounds of steady, reliable fire. At a distance, they are a reliable harassment unit, and can be a real thorn in the side since they can move and shoot… they’re like a pair of predator tanks… except, you know… actually good 😉

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 25, 2016 6:32 am #

      Thanks! That sounds like a really effective way to use the Las/ML load out. I should give it a try.

  4. xthexclincherx July 25, 2016 7:20 am #

    Yeah, for sure! Don’t forget that they can gain Interceptor too… which can really be great. If you are playing a large enough game, test out two units of them. I really have been enjoying that. It’s a big points investment, but they can essentially hold two objectives by themselves and shoot anywhere… they’re a real nice turn 2 harassment unit seeing as they can effectively target any type of unit. It’s not the most optimal thing in the world, but it’s a whole lot of fun to play!

    • Vercingatorix July 25, 2016 11:15 am #

      I just recently played with two units of 3 in a 2500 point game and we used them with the grav and hunters eye in one squad and perfect timing in the other. Turn 1 we removed the eldar player from the game. Harrassments nice, but its hard to argue with killing 900 points in one round of shooting.

  5. Lord Krungharr July 25, 2016 1:16 pm #

    I don’t think allying a Sanguinary Priest will benefit the Iron Hands Centurions anymore. As I recall, allying with other Astartes Codices prevents Chapter Tactics from having effect per the new FAQ.

    • Reecius
      Reecius July 25, 2016 4:35 pm #

      It will, yes.

      • Dakkath July 27, 2016 1:00 am #

        Well they’ll still have the 5+ fnp from the narthecium, at least.

  6. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr July 26, 2016 4:13 am #

    Hit and Run is great for keeping your Grav Centurions out of combat to shoot. At least it would be, if my Centurions would ever pass their test………

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn July 26, 2016 6:21 am #

      I feel bad, this made me laugh harder than it should have.

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