Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the Strike Force Ultra formation from Codex: Space Marines. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
Described as a Chapter Master’s ultimate weapon, this very expensive formation is essentially an entire army in one. An entire army composed almost entirely of units seldom seen on the tabletop.
- 1 Captain (must have Terminator Armour)
- 2 Terminator Squads
- 2 Terminator Assault Squads
- 1 Venerable Dreadnought
- 1 Stormraven Gunship
- 1 Land Raider Crusader or Redeemer
- All units in the formation (except Transport vehicles) must begin the game embarked in a Transport Vehicle or in Deep Strike reserve.
- Ultra Strike- All units in the formation must be placed in reserve, but you start rolling for reserves from turn 1. Any units that don’t arrive on turn 1 make reserve rolls as normal.
- Fury of the Storm- When a Terminator Squad arrives from Deep Strike or first disembarks from a Transport Vehicle, all their ranged weapons get +1 shot until the end of the turn.
- Force of a Thunderbolt- When a Terminator Assault Squad first disembarks from a Transport Vehicle, all models get +1 attack until the end of the turn.
This formation is composed of perhaps the least cost-effective units in the entire codex. Terminator Squads (regular and assault), Land Raiders, Dreadnoughts and Stormraven Gunships are rarely seen in regular Space Marine armies, so an entire army comprised of these sub-par units is not ideal.
The formation costs a minimum of 1395 pts with no upgrades to the units (excluding the compulsory Terminator Armour for the Captain). Just a few upgrades on each squad will quickly fill up the points remaining in a standard 1500 pts or 1850 pts army, so the units in this formation will essentially make up your entire army in most cases. I don’t think that additional transport vehicles for the Terminator Squads or a Drop Pod for the Dreadnought can be purchased for the formation.
All units must start the game in a transport or in reserve, but you get to start making reserve rolls from turn 1. With between 4 and 7 reserve rolls being possible for the formation, you should be able to get at least one unit on the board in turn 1, meaning that you will not automatically lose the game. However, with so few units in the formation (and most likely your army), you will probably want them arriving as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the formation does not give you any reserve rolls manipulations other than allowing you to start rolling from turn 1. It would be nice if the formation allowed you to come in on a 2+ or automatically come in on a turn of your choice like some of the other formations available to Space Marines, but this is not the case.
The formation does give you some nice bonuses the first time you arrive from Deep Strike or disembark from a Transport in the form of an additional shot for each of your weapons or an additional attack in the case of Terminator Assault Squads. This will give your Terminator Squads 3 shots each on their Storm Bolters when arriving and will provide a great bonus for Terminator Assault Squads (5 attacks on the charge with Lightning Claws and 4 attacks for Thunder Hammers. This bonuses are nice, but would be even better if they applied every turn. I don’t think this would be too overpowered, as with such a small model count army, you will not be firing too many shots or have too many attacks anyway.
Obviously, this army has a low unit count (maximum of 8) that, unless you are very lucky, will be arriving piecemeal over several turns. This will make it very difficult in objective-based games or maelstrom missions that may force you to spread out your units all over the board. It may do well in kill point missions, but if your opponent has a lot of manoeuvrability or access to many AP2 weapons (such as grav), it will quickly fold.
Overall, this formation gives you a small, elite army, comprised of units that never normally see the tabletop, even in regular lists never mind competitive ones. I would be interested to see if anyone has ever actually used this formation and how they got on with it.
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!