Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of one of the most enigmatic forces available to the Space Marines, the Legion of the Damned. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.
First introduced to the tabletop in 2nd edition, the Legion of the Damned represent the Emperor’s Wrath on the enemies of the Imperium. The Legion of the Damned are essentially a Tactical Squad with Veteran stats and a heap of special rules that really boost the unit significantly. The basic squad comes with 4 Legionnaires and a Legionnaire Sergeant, with the option to increase the squad size up to 10 models. Each Legionnaire costs 3 points more than a Sternguard Veteran.
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- One Legionnaire may take a Special Weapon.
- One Legionnaire may take a Heavy Weapon.
- The Sergeant can take Ranged Weapons, a Chainsword, Power Weapon or Power Fist.
- Slow and Purposeful
- Unyielding Spectres- All Legion of the Damned have 3+ invulnerable saves.
- Aid Unlooked For- The unit cannot be joined by Independent Characters. They must start in Deep Strike Reserve, by can re-roll their Deep Strike Scatter (both the scatter dice and 2D6).
- Flaming Projectiles- All ranged attacks by the squad have the Ignores Cover rule.
The Legion of the Damned are an unusual unit that can have a number of battlefield roles.
First, lets look at their advantages. They are Fearless and have a 3+ invulnerable save. This means that they are very durable against power weapons or AP2 attacks such as those from Monstrous Creatures, Gargantuan Creatures or Imperial Knights. Even a small squad of Legion of the Damned has the potential to hold up a Wraithknight or Imperial Knight for several turns, more if you are using a comp’d version of Stomp that allows Invulnerable saves to be taken on a Stomp roll of a 6. The Legion of the Damned have the potential to hold up an enemy combat unit or other threat your army may not be able to deal with if you are not too unlucky with your Invulnerable saves. Unfortunately, the Sergeant cannot be armed with Meltabombs, meaning he may struggle in combat against certain vehicles or monstrous creatures if you don’t give him a Power Fist.
Another advantage of the unit is that all their ranged attacks ignore cover. This includes any Special Weapons or Heavy Weapons carried by the unit. In addition, they are Slow and Purposeful, meaning they can fire such weapons at full effect the turn that they arrive from Deep Strike. I think most players would be able to find a use for an Ignores Cover Grav Cannon, Grav Gun, Meltagun or Multi-melta.
A unit of Legion of the Damned with a Meltagun and Multi-melta would be a potent vehicle hunting unit, able to fire both shots on the turn they arrive and ignoring any cover the vehicle may be deployed in or ignoring the Jinking of a target skimmer.
The unit also gets to re-roll its Scatter, ensuring that you have a better chance of landing on or near your target. If you want to be sure, pair them with a unit with a homing beacon (such as a Drop Pod or Scout Bikers).
The disadvantages of the unit are that they are expensive and must start in Deep Strike Reserve.
The basic Legionnaire comes in at 3 pts on top of a Sternguard Veteran (an already expensive unit). While the Sternguard Veterans do not benefit from Fearless or an Invulnerable save, they do benefit from Special Issue Ammunition, the ability to take two Special Weapons or Heavy Weapons, the ability to take multiple combi-weapons and the ability to take a transport vehicle. I think that these advantages make the Sternguard Veterans a more useful unit than the Legion of the Damned, able to deal with a number of different threats thanks to the Special Issue Ammunition.
The Legion of the Damned also suffer from having to start in Deep Strike Reserve. Yes, it allows them to deep strike with a greater degree of accuracy, but we have all had those games where your reserves simply do not arrive until turn 4. In addition, once they are deployed, they do have limited mobility as they cannot run. This is, however, mitigated by the fact that they can move and fire Heavy Weapons to full effect with Slow and Purposeful.
The other downside of the Legion of the Damned is that they do not benefit from Chapter Tactics and cannot be taken in any of the Space Marine Formations, particularly the very popular Battle Demi-Company and Gladius Strike Force.
Overall, the Legion of the Damned are a nice unit to take in a Space Marine army. They provide some very useful buffs to the unit and any army they are taken in. However, they pay a premium for these abilities. They are somewhat limited by their inability to take multiple Special Weapons, Heavy Weapons or combi-weapons in a single unit. This is probably a good thing. I think that if the unit could take 5 Meltaguns, 5 Grav Cannons or 5 Grav Guns, all with Ignores Cover and Slow and Purposeful, on a model with a 3+ invulnerable save, there is not a Space Marine army that would not feature a unit of them.
I think that is a prime example of how strong the Space Marine Codex is at the moment. A Fearless unit with a 3+ invulnerable save and Ignores Cover weapons is rarely seen on the table, as there are cheaper and better options available!
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