Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of a unit that has seen a bit of a resurgence in 7th edition, the Space Marine Assault Squad. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
Space Marine Assault Squads are supposed to be a Chapter’s most sizeable contingent of assault troops, described as ripping their foe apart into a bloody mulch. In practice though, they are less bloody mulch and more light annoyance. However, the introduction of various Space Marine formations have made them a more effective unit on the battlefield and as a result, you may actually see them on the tabletop these days. The unit consists of 4 Space Marines and a Space Marine Sergeant for 70 pts, with the option to increase the squad size to up to 10 models.
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- The squad can take Jump Packs for 3 pts per model
- Up to two Marines can replace their Bolt Pistols with Flamers or Plasma Pistols
- One in 5 Marines can replace their Bolt Pistol and Chainsword with an Eviscerator
- The Sergeant can be upgraded to a Veteran Sergeant, who may be armed with Melee Weapons, a Grav-pistol, Plasma Pistol, Combat Shield or Meltabombs
- The unit may take a Drop Pod, Rhino or Razorback as a Dedicated Transport if they do not take Jump Packs
- Chapter Tactics
- Combat Squads
The Space Marine Assault Squad is billed as an assault unit (unsurprisingly!), but is actually quite poor in this role. A five-man assault squad gets 15 attacks on the charge. Against a unit of basic Marines, you will be looking at one or two dead Marines if you get lucky. Against a weaker unit such as a unit of Guardsmen, you are still only looking at 4 or 5 wounds on the charge. The Assault Squad can put out some decent damage on the charge, but will quickly fold against any dedicated assault unit in the game (especially those with access to AP3 weapons).
I actually think the Assault Squad works better in a support role on the battlefield.
A popular build for the Assault Marine unit is to arm them with two Flamers and embark them in a Drop Pod. This is great for clearing light infantry from cover in your opponent’s deployment zone. Equipping the unit with Jump Packs greatly increases their mobility on the battlefield, allowing them to go hunting for remote, weaker enemy units or go after enemy tanks if you equip the Sergeant with Meltabombs and/or take an Eviscerator.
Jump Packs give the Assault Squad access to Deep Strike, increasing their deployment options. If the Jump Packs are used in the assault phase, they boost the combat potential of the Assault Squad, giving them Fleet and Hammer of Wrath. This is assuming you are not using the Jump Pack in the movement phase.
The Evicerator has the benefits of being AP2 and Armourbane, however, it is Unwieldy. However, equipped on a model with one base attack, 25 pts is a very steep price to pay for it. Don’t take Plasma pistols for the unit (or really, any units in the game). For the Sergeant, I would keep the upgrades light, really only Meltabombs for tank hunting. The Combat Shield is going to be a waste most of the time and paying 15 pts for a Grav-pistol is not really effective when there are much better sources of Grav in the Space Marine army.
The Assault Doctrine for the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics will give a great boost to your Assault Squad, giving them re-rolls To Hit and maximising their damage output for one turn.
The White Scars Chapter Tactics are great for providing the Assault Squad with Hit and Run. This will enable them to escape from protracted combats and charge in again for another round of combat.
The Raven Guard Chapter Tactics possibly give the greatest benefits to the Assault Squad. This allows the unit to use their Jump Packs in both the movement and assault phases, essentially giving all Assault Squads armed with Jump Packs Fleet and Hammer of Wrath. They also get to re-roll failed Hammer of Wrath wounds, making it more likely these attacks will kill their opponents.
There are several formations that will help boost the utility of your Assault Squads in the Space Marine army.
The Battle Demi-Company has the option to include a unit of Assault Marines. A great benefit of this formation is that it makes the Assault Squad Objective Secured. This makes it much easier for the unit to claim objectives during the game. If the unit takes a Dedicated Transport, this will also gain Objective Secured and the transport will be free if taken in a dual Battle Demi-Company Gladius Strike Force.
While the Skyhammer Annihilation Force provides great benefits for the Devastator Squads in the formation, the Assault Squads also gain some useful benefits. The rules for the Formation allows the Assault Squad to assault from Deep Striking and allows the squad to use their Jump Packs in the movement and assault phases. In addition, the squad gets to re-roll all failed To Hit and To Wound rolls against any units that have Gone to Ground as a result of the Devastator’s Suppressing Fusillade rule.
Assault Squads can also be taken as part of the Stormlance Battle Demi-Company. The benefits of this formation are that it gives the squad an additional 2D6″ movement in the shooting phase after they shoot. It also gives them re-rolls to hit against units holding an objective in the shooting phase. This makes Assault Squads equipped with Flamers great for clearing out infantry in cover holding an objective, as the Clear and Sweep rule essentially confers Shred to the Flamers. This is a decent bonus for the Assault Squads, but is perhaps better suited to a Bike Squad who can take better special weapons for benefiting from the Clear and Sweep special rules.
Assault Squads can be taken as part of the Pinion Battle Demi-Company. The rules of the formation allow a Scout Squad to lead the Assault Marines on from reserve, even allowing them to Outflank.
The Bladewing Assault Brotherhood features between 2 and 4 Assault Squads (along with a Captain/Chaplain and 1-3 Vanguard Veteran units). The squad must be equipped with Jump Packs, with the special rules allowing the entire formation to “disengage” from the battle (even if locked in close combat) and go back into ongoing reserves. I’m not a big fan of this formation, it is quite expensive and made up of less than optimal units. The deployment rules for the formation are also a bit weird, forcing you to deploy all units in the formation along the same line, though the entire formation gets to arrive on one reserve roll.
The Assault Squad is not one of the best units in the Codex, but they do have their uses in some forces. The use of formations will improved their use in your games, providing some additional benefits.
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