Space Marine Review: Elites: Legion of the Damned

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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.

Overview:

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.

LotD Codex Cover

Wargear:

  • Bolt Pistol
  • Boltgun
  • 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.

Special Rules:

  • Fear
  • Fearless
  • 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.

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Tactics:

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.

Old School!

Old School!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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!

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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.

9 Responses to “Space Marine Review: Elites: Legion of the Damned”

  1. Bryan September 9, 2016 1:35 pm
    #

    Hey, just a heads up, LOTD can’t take Grav-Cannons, or Grav-Guns. Only the combi-grav on the sarge. Probably a good thing for balance!

    I actually find them to be a pretty good unit, I run them as min squads, with multi-melta, meltagun & combi-grav. They can surprise people, with their host of special rules. A pretty specialist unit, but I can’t think of any other SM unit that fills their niche?

    If they could fit into some of the formations, or could deep strike turn one, they would see allot more use imo! As is though, I have few complaints. The LOTD codex, is a way to sneak some into SM armies that aren’t running a CAD.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr September 9, 2016 2:00 pm
      #

      Ah, yes. I missed the footnote on the grav weapons when I was reviewing the rules!

  2. westrider September 9, 2016 3:23 pm
    #

    Altho they don’t benefit from Chapter Tactics, in a CAD with Vulkan, they will get to Master Craft any Meltas they might have, since that applies to all Units in his Detachment, regardless of whether or not they have Chapter Tactics.

  3. westrider September 9, 2016 7:25 pm
    #

    Oh, and they actually pre-date 2nd Ed. I have a reprint of a RT-era WD about them. The “mysteriously appearing from nowhere” thing did start in 2nd Ed, tho. In RT, they were Marines who’d caught some sort of hideous warp plague that caused temporary boosts, but long-term degradation, so they hurled themselves as hard as they could at any enemies of the Imperium they could find. They still needed space ships and stuff to get around, tho, they didn’t just phase into existence.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr September 10, 2016 1:59 am
      #

      Did not know that. I thought they appeared when they got models in 2nd edition.

  4. hillshire September 9, 2016 9:45 pm
    #

    I had a lot of fun and minor success with Legion of the Damned before hordes of Monstrous Creatures became a thing and people still bothered to take vehicles bigger than a rhino. Once the meta changed, their lack of volume of fire and inability to contribute in the first turn pretty much side lined them. Which is a shame, they are pretty awesome.

  5. Anggul September 10, 2016 1:38 am
    #

    Plasma gun and plasma cannon seem like they could be good on these guys. Ignores cover slow and purposeful plasma blasts.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr September 10, 2016 2:00 am
      #

      As long as you don’t kill yourself with them, plasma are still a good weapon.

  6. punchymango September 13, 2016 1:41 pm
    #

    It’s less a testament to how strong the Space Marines book is, and more a testament to the way grav cannons warp the meta.

    If they could take grav cannons, they’d totally see play. But they can’t, so they don’t.