Corrm here, welcome to my review of the Space Marine Drop Pod, stalwarts of the Adeptus Astartes. For more reviews, battle reports and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.
Space Marine Drop Pods are one of the iconic vehicles of the Space Marine army. The image of hundreds of pods raining their deadly cargo down on an unsuspecting planet appears in the fluff and imagery of the 40k universe many times. Given how iconic the vehicles is in the game, it is surprising how long it took for the humble drop pod to get an official model.
The drop pod is the ultimate transport vehicle for Space Marines, able to get your forces almost anywhere on the table cheaply and with an improved degree of safety and accuracy.
The Drop Pod is a transport vehicle that can either be purchased as a dedicated transport for many of the units in Codex: Space Marines on in a Fast Attack slot on the force organisation chart. It’s purpose is exactly what it is in the background; to get your space marine forces into optimal position on the tabletop to help win you the game. It comes with several special rules that can help you achieve this aim.
The drop pod is a vehicle with armour 12 all round and three hull points.
- Storm Bolter
- Option to replace the Storm Bolter with a deathwind launcher
- Can take a locator beacon
- Immobile- Once deployed, the drop pod counts as suffering an Immobilised result (though it does not lose a hull point).
- Drop Pod Assault- Drop pods (and the units embarked in them) are held in deep strike reserve. On turn 1, half of the drop pods in reserve (rounding up) arrive automatically. The rest of the pods roll for reserves as normal. Once landed, all passengers must disembark and no models can embark on the drop pod.
- Inertial Guidance System- If the drop pod scatters on impassible terrain or another model, reduce the scatter distance by the minimum to avoid the obstacle. It can still Deep Strike Mishap if the pod scatters off the board.
The Drop Pod is a fantastic unit that has made its way into many Space Marine armies and is a strong and competitive choice.
The drop pod is an easy and safe way to deploy most units on the board. Thanks to the Inertial Guidance System, the only way for your pod to mishap is if it goes off the board. As long as you deploy far enough from the board edge, your unit will always arrive safely (barring any enemy Interceptor fire). Remember though, if landing in difficult terrain, the drop pod will lose 2 hull points on failing a dangerous terrain test as it is already immobilized when it lands. It is a 1 in 6 chance it will occur if you land in terrain and will make the pod much easier for your opponent to destroy.
Generally, you shouldn’t bother with any upgrades for the drop pod, keeping it as cheap as possible. The Deathwind Launcher can provide a nasty surprise to some opponents though, as a S5, large blast weapon can cause quite a bit of damage to some units in the game. The short range of 12″ though does run the risk of your shot scattering back onto the unit that deployed from the drop pod or that the drop pod will scatter out of range on deployment to be able to fire the deathwind launcher. I would generally just stick with the storm bolter and taking the odd pot shot at your opponent, as it can be quite funny when the drop pod actually kills something.
The drop pod will work well in synergy with any unit or wargear that prevents it from scattering on deep strike (such as the Homing Beacon on Scout Bike Squads).
The drop pod is also favoured as an excellent alpha-strike platform. As half of your drop pods will arrive on turn 1, you can ensure that units with strong firepower can arrive at the start of the game and generally within range to strike a crippling blow on the enemy army.
You will generally want to deploy a unit with strong firepower in the drop pod for maximum effect on turn 1. Popular choices include Centurion Devastator Squads armed with grav cannons (with attached Librarian for Prescience), Devastators squad with grav cannons and attached Cataphractii Terminator Captain (to confer Slow and Purposeful), Command Squads with 4 or 5 special weapons, as well as Sternguard squads armed with combi-weapons.
The benefit of the drop pod is that even if you don’t get first turn, the unit can arrive at full strength (barring any Interceptor fire) to strike at your opponent. There are several formations that can boost the abilities of your squad in drop pods, some of which will be described below.
The drop pod improved greatly in the 7th edition codex, where it moved from a dedicated transport option to also being available as a Fast Attack choice. This allowed units that could not previously embark upon a drop pod to gain access to them, opening up some new tactical options for the Space Marine player. This meant that powerful units such as the Grav Centurions to no longer have to foot slog their way into range of their guns and hope that they were not taken out in an alpha-strike before they could fire.
Another use for the drop pod, as well as transporting your units, is to hold objectives. If the pod is purchased for a unit that has Objective Secured, it too will gain Objective Secured. This makes drop pods a great unit for planting on objectives, forcing your opponent to deal with them or give up precious victory points and maelstrom points. With armour 12 all round and three hull points, a drop pod can actually be quite difficult to destroy for most infantry without any dedicated anti-tank weaponry.
Just bear in mind though, as the drop pod is immobile, it will be hit automatically in combat and will suffer additional damage when hit with grav weapons. Also, as it is open topped, any melta or other AP1 weapons will only need a 4+ on the penetrating hit table to destroy the pod in shooting or assault.
There are several Space Marine formations that feature drop pods and give some great bonuses to the units embarked.
The Skyhammer Annihilation Force features two squads of Devastators in drop pods. This formation was decreed as game breaking when first introduced, thanks to the special rules it grants. One of the key special rules is that the Devastator squads gain Relentless on the turn they arrive, allowing them to fire their heavy weapons to full effect when deployed. This is obviously a very strong ability, allowing a squad of Devastators to pump out 20 grav cannon shots the turn they arrive or 4 Lascannon/multi-melta shots at an enemy vehicle. The two drop pods do not count towards the Drop Pod Assault rule, allowing you to bring on at least 3 drop pods on your first turn automatically.
The drop pod has also found great success with the Battle Demi-Company. This formation will grant any drop pods purchased for the tactical squads, assault squad or devastator squad objective secured. In addition, taking a dual Battle Demi-Company in the Gladius Strike Force will give you the drop pods for free! Most armies would struggle to deal with 10 drop pods, never mind the addition of the units embarked in them. This has found great utility in tournament lists, with the drop pods landing on all the objectives and presenting too many units for the opposing army to deal with.
The drop pod is a cheap and cheerful transport vehicle for Space Marine armies. It doesn’t do a whole lot on its own, but its power comes from being used in combination with the more powerful units in the Space Marine Codex. It used to be that drop pods were even more popular, as the Battle Brothers rule allowed incredibly powerful combinations such as drop pods full of Astra Militarum Veterans toting Meltaguns or Adeptus Mechanicus Kataphron Destroyers armed with heavy grav cannons to embark in them. The new GW FAQs seem to have put an end to this, no longer allowing battle brother to deploy in other transport vehicles.
Despite this, the drop pod is and will remain a strong choice for any Space Marine army.
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