Space Marine Review: Elites: Terminator Squad

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Hi everyone, Michael here to review one of the most iconic units in the long history of 40k; the Terminator Squad. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

In the background, the Terminator is the elite of the Space Marine Chapter, the best of the best. The Terminator Squad features some fantastic models and is truly an icon of the 40k universe. Unfortunately, the current state of the game and current meta means that the Terminator is frequently relegated to the sidelines to simply cheer on its Battle Demi-Company and Biker comrades. The Terminator Squad consists of 5 models, with the option to include an additional 5 Terminators.

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Wargear:

  • Terminator Armour
  • Storm Bolter
  • Power Fist
  • Power Sword (Sergeant Only)
  • Any model can replace the Power Fist with a Chainfist
  • One model in every 5 can replace their Storm Bolter with a Heavy Flamer or Assault Cannon, or take a Cyclone Missile Launcher
  • The unit can take a Land Raider as a Dedicated Transport (either of the three codex variants)

Special Rules:

  • ATSKNF
  • Chapter Tactics
  • Combat Squads

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Tactics:

On paper, a Space Marine Terminator Squad seems like a solid unit.  Space Marine stats with an additional attack, Ld 9, a 2+ armour save and 5+ invulnerable save are pretty solid. Add in a power fist, ensuring it will kill most things in the game, and it is a wonder why we do need see them in every competitive lists. However, I have always found that Terminator Squads simply do not perform well enough on the table to justify their high points cost. Coming in at 35 pts each, that is a lot of points to pay for a single wound model.

The 2+ armour save does help the durability of the Terminator Squad. Ever since 6th edition, where Power Weapons went from ignoring all armour to being AP3, a 2+ save in close combat is actually pretty valuable. Only Power Fists and their equivalents or Monstrous Creatures will be able to negate the armour of the Terminator, and you will still have your 5+ invulnerable save to help you a third of the time.

A 2+ armour save will also give you a save against most of the weapons in the game. However, in an age where Grav is prevalent and many armies have access to high strength, high rate of fire weaponry (Scatbikes and the like), Terminator armour just doesn’t cut it, as you are bound to fail some of those saves eventually. Hell, I’ve seen entire Terminator Squads cut down by Lasgun fire, simply due to the volume of shots levelled at the squad.

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The ability to Deep Strike is great for the Terminators, allowing them to get where you need them to go on the battlefield. Terminator Squads, therefore, work well in conjunction with units and wargear that allow them to Deep Strike without scattering (such as Homing Beacons and Teleport Homers). However, once they are on the table, Terminators move no faster than standard infantry, making it very easy for them to get out of position in the game.

A Terminator Squad has a reasonable amount of firepower, but 175 points for 5 Storm Bolters is not a cost effective option. Adding the additional Heavy Weapons boosts their firepower, but adds more expense to an already expensive squad.

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Armed with Power Fists, a Terminator Squad can actually be a potent threat in combat, provided you choose your target properly. At S8 and AP2, they will make a mess of most vehicles in the game, but again, there are far more effective units in the codex to do this. A Terminator Squad will generally do well in combat against small elite units that are unable to negate their 2+ armour save or have no invulnerable saves to stop the Power Fists. Against larger horde units, the Terminators will quickly find themselves bogged down in combat. With two attacks each, your Terminator Squad will only be hitting and killing 5 models a turn on average. This will be of little consequence to a unit of 30 Orks, Guardsmen or Gaunts, who can afford to tie up your expensive unit for several turns (assuming of course they are unable to kill off the Terminator Squad through volume of attacks).

You can mitigate the mobility issues of the Termintors by purchasing a Land Raider as a Dedicated Transport, but at a cost of over 400 pts for the unit and transport, this is a lot of points to pay for a unit that will likely not have a massive impact on the game.

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Chapter Tactics

Some of the Chapter Tactics in the Space Marine Codex add some additional utility to the Terminator Squad.

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The Ultramarines Chapter Tactics give some additional re-rolls to the unit, depending on which doctrine is used.

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The White Scars Chapter Tactics now provide your Terminators with Hit and Run, great for preventing you from being bogged down in a protracted combat. It also allows you to re-roll run moves, giving the Terminators a bit more mobility in the game.

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The Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics will help get the most from your Storm Bolter shots.

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The Iron Hands Chapter Tactics will help increase the durability of your Terminator Squad, providing a 6+ Feel No Pain roll.

Formations

The Terminator Squad can be taken as part of the 1st Company Task Force or Strike Force Ultra.

The 1st Company Task Forces consists of 3-5 units of Terminator Squads, Terminator Assault Squads, Sternguard Veteran Squads or Vanguard Veteran Squads. The formation gains Fear, Fearless, Preferred Enemy against one selected enemy unit and gives Leadership penalties to the enemy army under certain circumstances. Fear is not the best of rules, but can be useful when it comes off. Fearless on all the units is great, making them much more reliable. A decent formation, but at a high buy in for the army depending on which units you take.

Strike Force Ultra consists of a Terminator Captain, 2 Terminator Squads, 2 Terminator Assault Squads, a Venerable Dreadnought, A Stormraven and a Land Raider Crusader or Redeemer. The formation gives bonus shots and attacks to the Terminator units the first time they arrive from Deep Strike or disembark from a vehicle. At a minimum cost of 1395 pts, this formation is essentially an army. Not the strongest of choices given the limitations of Terminator Squads in the game.

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Overall:

Terminator Squads are one of those units that your head knows you should not field, but your heart wants to take them and wipe out all the enemies of the Emperor. I occasionally succumb to the fantasy and take a squad or two in my games, only to be disappointed with their performance and put them back in the box for another 6 months. Then there are those games where the Ork mob charges your Terminator Squad and they tank 20+ wounds. There are also the games where you kill half your squad deep striking into difficult terrain.

Get any group of Space Marine players together and the topic will sometimes shift to how to fix Terminators. There are several suggestions on how to do this, including making them toughness 5, increasing the number of wounds they have, increasing their attacks and just making them cheaper.

Does anyone field Terminators on a regular basis? Are they better than I am giving them credit for? How would you go about fixing Terminator Squads to make them a staple of the marine army once more? Comment below and let me know.
And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!

secondhandstore

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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

7 Responses to “Space Marine Review: Elites: Terminator Squad”

  1. Bryan August 18, 2016 7:07 am
    #

    Give them an extra wound, objective secure, and a plethora of weapon options!

    Played vs terminators in 30k, they were acutually scary due to the lack of weapons that could scythe them down. That and a spartan assault tank to carry them.

  2. westrider August 18, 2016 9:49 am
    #

    To my mind, the basic problem is their per-Point vulnerability. They’re twice as durable as Tactical Marines to AP4+, but cost 2.5 times as much, so a given Points Value worth of Terminators is actually less durable than the same Points Value worth of Tacs against anything but AP3 fire. Against AP2, the 5+ Invul isn’t enough to even out the equation, with Tacs taking ~2/3 the damage in terms of Points lost, even in the open, and pulling way ahead if they have Cover of any kind. Add in the fact that Grav is still more brutal against them, and it’s just over.

    FNP (with something like the Iron Hands Rules so it stacks with another source of FNP) would be my first choice for improving them, and possibly T5 as well. You could also make them cheaper, but they’re at the point on the power curve relative to their fluff where I feel like making them better would be the superior option.

    • punchymango August 19, 2016 3:06 pm
      #

      I don’t think terminators have ever been tougher than tacticals point-for-point. They’re face-beating specialists, or at least they’re supposed to be; their value is in extreme melee lethality.

      I mean, I suspect they’ll never be *good* as long as ubiquitous grav is a thing, since the tacticals in particular just get vaporized by it.

      More wounds would be cool, though; I’d like to see more multi-wound elite infantry since 40k isn’t very good at systematizing those kinds of troops otherwise.

  3. Alex r August 18, 2016 2:02 pm
    #

    Give them options. Currently they have one of the worst upgrade lists in the codex. People take centurions over these guys because they have better gear

    • westrider August 18, 2016 3:04 pm
      #

      Even the Terminators that do have better option lists (Chaos, Space Wolf, Dark Angels) don’t get seen very often. Cents also get taken more often because they’re more durable, even at twice the per-Model cost, in addition to having better options.

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr August 18, 2016 11:21 pm
        #

        After seeing how much damage normal centurions can take, I think a toughness increase for Terminators would be a great boost.

  4. Julien August 19, 2016 12:58 am
    #

    In an age of widespread rerolls, this may not seem welcome but I think the only thing they need is a native rerollable armor save.

    These guys should be able to stroll through a storm of flak laughing but on the tabletop it’s their downfall. Rerollable armor save would make them nigh invulnerable to mass shooting/attack while still keeping them vulnerable to the stuff that should kill a termie: AP2/1 attacks.

    My 2 cents.

    Cheers.