Space Marine Formation Review: Armored Task Force

Hello everyone SaltyJohn here from TFGRadio bringing you a review of an underutilized Auxiliary formation from Codex Space Marines, the Armored Task Force! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!


My trusty 4th edition Whirlwinds. Do you remember they used to shoot out CD sized mine fields that couldn’t be removed? So much cheese. my painting has come a long way…

The Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes utilize many weapons of war in the name of the Emperor. While the holy Boltgun is standard issue and many members of the Adeptus Astartes prefer to meet their foes face to face in battle; the Space Marines recognize that not all enemies can be vanquished with bolter and blade. When the enemies of the Emperor are deeply entrenched or take to the battlefield in large echelons of armored vehicles the Captains and Chapter Masters turn to the Techmarines and their weapons of war to handle the job.


The Armored Task Force is an auxiliary choice for Space Marines and is a potential component of their Gladius Strike Force.  The ATF is often an overlooked Auxiliary choice and an equally overlooked Formation. It would be an absolutely amazing option if you could take Relic Sicaran Battle Tanks in the formation or if the Space Marine tanks received their unit of 3 special bonus even when taken individually in the force. Be that as it may the formation still has a few viable options for how to use it and can be a decent addition to a Space Marine CAD designed to castle up led, by Tigurius of course.


Formation: Auxiliary

  • 1 Techmarine
  • 0-3 units of Thunderfire Cannons
  • 3-5 units of: Vindicators, Predators, Whirlwinds.
  • 0-1 Chronus
  • Restrictions: None


Special Rules:

  • Paregoric Cant: Vehicles from this formation ignore crew shaken or stunned results when within 6 inches of a Techmarine/Techmarine Gunner from this formation.
  • The Will of the Omnissiah: The Techmarine, and Techmarine gunners, from this formation have +1 to their Blessings of the Omnissiah roll when attempting to repair vehicles from this formation.

At it’s cheapest, Techmarine + 3 Whirlwinds, you’re looking at 260 points. Unfortunately for this Auxiliary choice the cheap route is definitely not the best route.

Tactics: If you want to field a lot of Space Marine tanks then this is the formation for you. Unfortunately that won’t be a great way to win a lot of games. The current vehicle rules, and meta, don’t lend itself to Space Marine vehicles lasting long on the battlefields of the 41st millennium. Luckily though artillery, specifically ordinance and barrage, does well in this edition and this formation has access to that in spades.


I loved fielding these in games. Never a good option but fun to field none the less.

Most players reactions when reading this formation is generally one of two. First they either dismiss it out of hand because vehicles suck. Understandable. Or they look at it and say, wow I can field 3 of x or 9 of y! Both those responses are problematic and miss a possibility with the list. While running a unit of 3 Vindicators to take advantage of their special rule is cool, it is also super expensive. 3 Whirlwinds in a single unit, again nice but not amazing and the same goes for 3 Predators of any load out. The other problem is, except the Whirlwinds, the formation is cost prohibitive and you still need 2 more units of tanks to flesh out the formation. So what are a lot of players missing then? Whirlwinds are cheap and Thunderfire Cannons are good. If you can figure out a way to reliably twin-link, plus give ignores cover, and rending to a unit of TFC or even the lowly Whirlwind then you’re on to something special.


MRLS?… You mean Whirlwind heretic?

Luckily for Space Marine players one of the most popular HQ choices in the game right now can do all the aforementioned buffing. Tigurius. Tigurius to the rescue yet again. Is there anytime it’s acceptable not to take Tigurius if you’re playing with Ultramarines Chapter Tactics? No. The answer you were searching for is most assuredly no. The Storm of Fire Warlord trait means Tiggy can give rending to one of your units in the shooting phase. If you roll on Divination for him you’re more than likely going to get Prescience, since it’s the Primaris, and you have a great chance at Perfect Timing. The best part is even if you don’t get Perfect Timing both Thunderfire Cannons and Whirlwinds have a munition option that already Ignores Cover.

m1860130_99110101394_40ksmthunderfire2_873x627The suggestion for taking this formation, and please make no mistake this is by no means a hyper competitive build out, is to take the minimum of 3 Whirlwinds as separate units and a unit of 2-3 Thunderfire Cannons. 3 is probably overkill as anything 3 can kill outright will probably die to 2. 3 might just be what the doctor ordered however so testing it out is the best policy. Put the 3 Whirlwinds, 2 TFC, Techmarine, and Tigurius in some Ruins with good vantage points and the Techmarines up the cover save of the terrain piece by 1. Then Tigurius joins the unit of Thunderfire Cannons making him much harder to kill. This way Tigurius can use his Warlord Trait and Psychic powers on which ever units you want and if the TFC get wiped and Tiggy lives he’s still around to help out the Whirlwinds. It’s a lot of firepower to throw out each turn from this formation load out.


Somebody tell the Astramiliwhatsit they misplaced their tracked artillery pieces again.

If you shoot the moon and get all the powers you want you can throw out 8 twin-linked, Barrage, Str 6, AP 5, Rending, Ignores Cover, small blast templates a turn. That type of anti-horde firepower is just what Zombie Hordes, Cultist Hordes, even GMC and MC spam don’t want to see. Ravenwing heavy lists, and Battle Company also suffer from so much rending fire power. Add to it the 3 Ordnance Large Blasts from each Whirlwind at Str 5 AP4 or Str 4 AP 5 ignores cover and you have a formation that can dish out a lot of cover ignoring shots. To reiterate this is by no means a sleeper uber formation biding it’s time until it can come into the limelight of winning competitive 40k lists. In the iteration being discussed this formation would cost 460 points. If Tigurius is added as part of the build, as he should be, the cost clocks in at 625 points. 625 points for the aforementioned amount of shooting is a lot to pay, especially in a book that is already strapped for points even with all the free vehicles available to it.

Space Marine tanks are all cool looking. Forgeworld Heresy era tanks doubly so. Unfortunately the most effective tanks available to Space Marine players, Sicarans, aren’t available as a choice for the Armored Task Force. In the end making the formation work requires a lot of points. However if you’re looking for a great way to field all the Space Marine tanks in your collection for an Apocalypse game or a fun game night, non-competitive pick up, then this formation is great. The ATF is a wonderful way to get a lot of Space Marine tanks on the table top and give them some effective rules at the same time. The bonuses for taking 3 Vindicators plus a Techmarine on a bike to repair them with a bonus to the repair is amazing in a game where you’re not looking to beat the best players in the world at a tournament. 3 Predators with all Las Cannons hunting down a Super Heavy like a Chaos Knight or even a Warhound would be fun with this formation. There is a lot of great fun to be had with a formation like this one, but if you’re looking for a hyper competitive Auxiliary choice in the Space Marine codex this just isn’t it.

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 Marine Formation Review: Armored Task Force”

  1. Rob October 7, 2016 5:52 am #

    Do you feel it may work better in an Anvil Strike Force or Iron Hands Medusa Strike Force?

    • Szatmári Péter October 7, 2016 7:15 am #

      If I am correct, it is a core choice for the Medusa. sS such, if you want to supplement the infantry with something more durable (IWNT, PoMS), you can easily do so, Also works well with the SmashF*cker deathstar build, because it is a bit cheaper, and actually can do stuff, while the marines wouldn’t, because you just don’t have the point for transports, and on foot they quite rubbish.

    • SaltyJohn October 10, 2016 8:38 pm #

      Absolutely. I am only slightly aware of those two detachments rules but from what I’ve read, I haven’t played it, it would definitely seem like a good fit.

  2. WestRider October 7, 2016 6:34 am #

    I can also see some value in using the massed Barrage to do an end run on Tanking ICs in DeathStars. With the number of Hits you’re generating, failing a couple of LOS Rolls and taking out a key Librarius Conclave member isn’t too unlikely, and it can definitely do work clearing out the chaff in a FenWolf Wolfkin DeathStar.

    • SaltyJohn October 10, 2016 8:38 pm #

      I’ve had both those scenarios occur to me with my Conclaves and Wolftide lists! Barrage is great.

  3. Lord Krungharr October 9, 2016 5:45 pm #

    This is my favorite choice for the Fist of Medusa core choice. Works so well with their special rules ; and if that new FAQ about POTMS and ordnance weapons sticks around for the official one then the vindicators can keep up with the super tough command grav bikers and Extra tech-marines and blast on the move or coming in from reserves with the super blast!

    • SaltyJohn October 10, 2016 8:39 pm #

      Great stuff guys! I am definitely checking the Fist of Medusa rules etc much more closely now. I may even give it a go in the next week or so.

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