Space Marines Formation Review: Battle Demi-Company

SaltyJohn from TFGRadio here to talk shop about an incredibly popular formation in Warhammer 40k, the Space Marine Battle Demi-Company! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!


My Salamanders Demi-Company + Salamanders CAD+ Conclave from BAO 2015.


The core of every Space Marine Gladius Strike Force is the Battle Demi-Company. A formidable force on the battle fields of the Forty-first millennium with a flavorful array of firepower, flexibility, and firm leadership the demi-company can be called upon by their commanders to handle any task. When the task is even more potent than usual, a Space Marine commander can organize his Gladius Strike Force to utilize an entire Battle Company of Space Marines, composed of two demi-companies, and augment those with a plethora of auxiliary choices. As the backbone of the Gladius Strike Force the Battle Demi-Company, or Demi-Company, is a mainstay in many players’ 40k lists in 7th edition.


Ok, so a Gladius with Demi (or even double demi) doesn’t field this many models but it can seem like it sometimes!




  • 1 Captain or Chaplain (multiple ICs can replace the Captain, even the Chaplain).
  • 0-1 Command Squads.
  • 3 Tactical Squads.
  • 1 of the following: Assault Squad, Bike Squad, Attack Bike Squad, Land Speeder Squadron, or Centurion Assault Squad.
  • 1 of the following: Devastator Squad or Centurion Devastator Squad.
  • 0-1 Dreadnought, Ironclad Dreadnought, or Venerable Dreadnought.


Special Rules:

  • Objective Secured: All units taken as part of this formation have the Objective Secured rule. Yes, the ICs have it too.
  • Tactical Flexibility: If your army contains one or more Battle Demi-Companies you can choose to enact the Tactical Doctrine once per game.



The Demi-Battle Company has become a mainstay in Marine lists across the spectrum in 7th edition 40k. As such I would be surprised if anyone didn’t understand the basics of the formation. So I’ll give a quick overview of the basic tactics of the Demi-Company and then do a bit of a build by build breakdown for the most prominently played chapters and build types. The biggest benefit to playing Demi, or full, Battle Company is the huge number of Objective Secured units you get to put on the board. In a normal CAD only your troops are ObSec, but in Battle Company everything from the Tactical Squads to the HQ choices through your uber unit of Centurions or Command Squad on bikes have the ObSec rule. Oh, and their transports too. That last bit is important. If you’re playing a Full Battle company then you get the Dedicated Transports for those units for FREE and they’re also ObSec. There’s nothing quite like dropping 6-20 Objective Secured Drop Pods onto the board or Outflanking 6-20 Razorbacks with free Heavy Bolters and their Obsec cargo onto the board. It should come as no surprise then that this build is controversial. Not as controversial as Librarius Conclave or the Wolfkin but it’s up there. Do you sense a theme in my article selection yet?


The basic idea behind most Battle Company lists is to flood the board with Objective Secured units, mix in some Grav and Melta, and hope to out last your opponent. There are many variations of the list though and one of the cool things about taking 1-2 Demi-Battle Companies is that it really fits the fluff of the game and allows you to tailor the Company to fit your personal play style, and/or, the theme of your Chapter. Ultramarines and White Scars are easily the most popular Battle Company builds but they are by no means the only good ones. Here are some basic build types and why they are good.

  • CentStar: The most common form of Demi-Company, or Double Demi-Battle Company, is usually built around a Grav Centurion Star. You use the heavy support choice to take a Devastator Centurion squad, kit it out with Grav and ally in a Pod for it. A common tactic is to make the CentStar more resilient in a few ways. Old tried and true Blood Angel allies can provide you with the Drop Pod for them and a Sanguinary Priest for Feel No Pain. If you’re playing as Iron Hands then you’ll have a 4+ FNP. All of this of course is until the GW FAQs go into effect. Putting a Captain with Shield Eternal and Artificer Armor to tank wounds is good. A librarian isn’t a bad idea if you can get Forewarning for a 4+ Invulnerable save. The most common Chapters for the Centurion Star build are Iron Hands, Ultramarines, and White Scars. Iron Hands we covered, Ultramarines get the Devastator Doctrine for re-rolls to hit, White Scars get access to the Hunters’ Eye for ignores cover and Hit and Run.

Who knew these guys could take Heavy Bolters!?

  • BikeStar: Perhaps tied as the most popular build for marine players this usually White Scar centered build has done well in many GTs. This build usually focuses on a lot of Outflanking Razorbacks and Rhinos with a single Command Bike Squad mini-star. Normally a Librarius Conclave on bikes will be joined to this Battle Company. The Command Squad will usually have an Apothecary, 2-4 Shield and Fist marines, Khan, and a Chaplain on Bike if it’s a double demi build. The basic idea for the list is to use the many fast out flanking/scouting Objective Secured units to hold down the objectives while the mini BikeStar and Conclave go to work on the enemy. A few Grav Cannons on Devastator squads in Rhinos will help whittle down the enemy as well. Sometimes this version of the Demi, or double, demi Battle Company will be played using Iron Hands so the Bike Star has a natural 4+ Feel No Pain without needing to roll Endurance on the Biomancy table.


  • GravOverload: I’ve been on the receiving end of this list. It can be quite brutal. Usually built around fitting as much Grav into the BC as possible. Normally eschewing the Grav Centurions in Pods for Gav Devastators in free pods. A grav heavy command squad is normally included. Most commonly run with the unit on bikes. As the “fast attack” choice 1, or 2 if full BC, 3 man Bike Squads with full Grav come along for the ride. The Captain and/or Chaplain can take Combi-Grav as well. Again, White Scars are the most popular of CT to take here as you get to Scout or Outflank all the Grav on bikes and/or in Rhinos. This list is painful for Tau and GMC lists. You can easily get over 50 Grav shots a turn a lot of which can be made twin linked through CT and/or Ignores Cover through Hunters’ Eye on a White Scars Character.


  • DropPod Overload: Perhaps my personal favorite way to run Demi, or double demi, Battle Companies is the all Drop Pod lists. You can really cram those pods in when they’re free to a double demi but at 35 points it’s still a good deal to take the pods when playing a single BC. This build sees more Chapters that can use it effectively. I personally like to run Salamanders with Vulkan and run melta spam all over the place. Vulkan can feel a bit like overkill here but remember the melta will always be twin-linked no matter the Doctrine enacted. Plus Vulkan is a great little CC character who will cleave through 3+ save units like a hot knife through butter. The extra resiliency of Iron Hands makes them a decent choice here, if you plan to take some Dreads in pods then IH are an even better choice. This build is the only one I really like for the Imperial Fists CT but even then the 1-2 Tactical Doctrines are still going to be more useful in general. White Scars, except for Hunters’ Eye, really isn’t that great in a DP list. Ultramarines again are probably the run away best choice.
  • Maximum (free) Unit  Overload: The idea behind this one is simple. Load as many units, plus their free transports, into the list as possible. To do this one the only option is to run the Double Demi. In this list you simply swamp the board with as many Objective Secured units as possible. Not as popular as the other builds listed here but popular enough that is bears mentioning as you may run into it. Here is an example of this list:
    • White Scars (duh)
    • Khan Chaplain
    • Command Squad Razorback x2
    • Tactical Squad Razorback x6
    • Devastator Squad with 2 Grav Cannons Rhino x2
    • Assault Squad Razorback x2
    • Ironclad Dreads in Pods x2
    • Anti-Air Suppression Force 1 Hunter 2 Stalkers
      • 81 models, 78 of which are Objective Secured.
      • As is the list is only 1725 points of the usual 1850 so plenty of room to flavor it with Special Weapons however you want.

A lot of players viewed the Demi, but even more so the double demi, as a money making scheme from GW. My response below.

jdIn all seriousness though the Battle Company changed the face of 40k and what it means to be a Space Marine player. It is not without it’s drawbacks however. Some of the most powerful Space Marine units are difficult, to near impossible, to fit into a Gladius with Battle Company(ies). The Relic Sicaran tank and Fire Raptor are good examples. Pretty much every FW unit is near impossible to get into a Gladius because they require a CAD or Allied Detachment as well and you’re already pushing the points envelope with a Gladius as it is. I maintain that the First Company Task Force is one of the best, and most overlooked, Auxiliary formations mostly because it is too expensive to take with a Full Battle Company at a size that makes it effective and survivable. The Battle Company and Gladius means you’ll always be strapped for points so loading out units can get problematic, not to mention is almost 100% guarantees you’re running the units Min/Max. Minimum size but Maximum numbers. The play style isn’t for everyone but knowing it’s out there is a necessity due to the sheer popularity of the formations.


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.

7 Responses to “Space Marines Formation Review: Battle Demi-Company”

  1. Dakkath August 20, 2016 9:30 am #

    Personally instead of cramming in grav cannons everywhere I go for las/plas-backs and meltas on the squads.

    • SaltyJohn August 20, 2016 10:52 am #

      That’s a cool way to run it too. I like like the BC lists that mix the weapons on the Razorbacks rather than go all Heavy Bolters.

    • westrider August 20, 2016 1:51 pm #

      It’s amazing how many more Points you can end up with to play around with if you don’t take Grav Cannon all over the place. Really unlocks a bunch of interesting options, including the First Company Task Force mentioned in the article.

      • SaltyJohn August 20, 2016 2:51 pm #

        That’s how I normally can fit in the First Company Task Force. If I am running Salamanders with melta spam instead of Ulrtas with Grav Spam it’s much easier to get 3 Sternguard in Pods to compliment the BC.

      • bigpig August 22, 2016 1:54 pm #

        I agree. Grav is expensive, though to be honest it is very effective. I enjoy running Salamanders because it ISN’T grav though.

        • westrider August 22, 2016 3:10 pm #

          Oh it’s undeniably effective. It’s just that the buy-in for mass Grav is so high that it locks you into a relatively narrow range of builds. And some of the builds that get excluded are also very effective. Even without Vulkan, I’ve seen massed Multi-Meltas be quite effective, just because they’re so cheap by comparison that you can fit in a ton.

  2. Dr Santa September 16, 2016 5:06 pm #

    I have an ObSec Obscenity List –

    Chapter Tactics: Imperial Fists

    1 Pedro Kantor for ObSec Sternguard and anti-droppod, anti ObSec spam like my own army

    Battle Demicompany 1:
    3 x 5man Tactical Marines, each with Meltas and HB RazorBack
    1 Devestator Squad, Rhino, Grav Cannon (for BS 5 Goodness) and Flakk Missile Launcher (because my FMC demon friend antagonizes me so)
    1 Assault Squad, Drop Pod, 2 flamers
    1 Chaplain, Auspex

    Battle Demicompany 2:
    2 x 5man Tacticals, HB Razor, each with meltagun
    1 x 5man Tactical, Drop Pod, Meltagun, Combimelta (Tactical Docturine on turn they drop)
    1 Assault Squad, Drop Pod, 2 flamers
    1 Devastator Squad, 1 grav-cannon, 1 flakk Missile
    1 Captain

    1st Company Task Force
    4x 5 man Sternguard, each in a Rhino

    Comes to 1850 points.

    What makes this different is the Auxillary gets the benefit of ObSec too, so even more ObScenity for your army. TBH I feel like this sort of Marine Horde army is not why I got into Marines, but whatevs. Haven’t actually ran it yet. My biggest worry is something like the Vulcan list because of so much melta can destroy my precious Rhinos, but my returning bolter fire is slightly killier than theirs.

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