Space Marine Elite Review: Dreadnoughts

Hello everyone SaltyJohn here from TFGRadio bringing you a review of an unappreciated Elites Choice from the hallowed tech adepts of the Adeptus Astartes, the Dreadnought! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!

The Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes each maintains a cohort of Dreadnoughts. These mechanical walking behemoths are equipped with potent weaponry and can be fitted to fill innumerable roles on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium.  Space Marines are warriors of nearly unmatched ability. The training of a Space Marine is a massive investment of time and material and the loss of a Space Marine is as costly to a Chapter as the loss of entire battalions of Guardsmen to a detachment of the Astra Militarum. Those brothers of the Adeptus Astartes who are too mangled to continue serving in Power Armor, but whose will to fit lives on, are chosen to be interred in the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. In this way the Space Marine can continue his mission for the Emperor and his chapter for centuries beyond that of a normal Space Marine. Those interred in this way can be truly ancient, the Space Wolves dreadnought known as Bjorn the Fellhanded fought alongside Russ himself at the Battle of Prospero.


The regular, vanilla, Space Marine Dreadnought has seen it’s uses ebb and flow from edition to edition. In 5th the Rifleman, and Psyfleman, Dread were king. In 4th the Twin Linked Las plus Missile Launcher was the build to use as a mobile shooting platform. In 6th, and through 7th, the Ironclad has come to eclipse it’s less well armored brethren. Much of this has to do with the improved armor of the Ironclad and the decline in the need for long range weaponry on the Dreadnoughts. The Space Marine army just isn’t a long range, gun line, style army like it was in much of 4th and 5th. Clocking in at only 100 points base though means they aren’t all bad news.

Wargear: 1-3 Dreads per unit.

  • Multimelta
  • Powerfist with Stormbolter
  • Searchlight
  • Smoke Launchers
  • Options: Missilie Launcher, Twin Linked (TL) Autocannon in place of Powerfist Arm. Heavy Flamer can replace Storm Bolter. Mulimelta may be replaced with TL Autocannon, TL Heavy Bolter, TL Heavy Flamer, Plasma Cannon, Assault Cannon, TL las Cannon.
  • If only one Dread is in the unit it may take a Drop Pod.

Look at all those autocannons on the hill…

Special Rules:

  • Chapter Tactics



When it comes to vanilla Dreadnoughts there are really two ways to run them that work in the current 40k world. One of which provides a really interesting fire base. At only 100 points each they come with a nice base load out with a Multimelta. Generally when running a Dreadnought you would put it in a Drop Pod. If you’re using a Double Demi Battle Company build then you’re all set and don’t have to pay for the pod. If using a pod then shelling out 10 points for the Heavy Flamer to replace the Stormbolter is very nice. If you’re running a Vanilla Dread like this then you really should be using the Salamanders Chapter Tactics, and have Vulkan too. Using a Salamander BC build with 2 Vanilla Dreads instead of Ironclad dreads saves you quite a few points. And with a base of 4 attacks the Vanilla Dread really isn’t that far behind the Ironclad in the Assault department. In a BC build the dreads are more likely to live, especially if you also dropped in a lot of Grav turn 1. Those Gravturions and Gravistators are going to take a lot of the enemies heat turn 1.


Assault on Black Reach was a great set.

This load out became extremely popular in 5th edition Salamander lists because of the Assault on Black Reach box set. It came with a lot of cool minis including the bad boy above. At the time it was the only way to get a Multimelta weapon on a Dread except buying Forgeworld. With the dominance of Thunderhammer/Storm Shield Terminators in Salamander lists everywhere and these cheap guys in Drop Pods became quite popular. The close range, Drop Pod deploying dread is still popular among many players of all Chapters today.

99120101014_smdreadnought360crimsonfistsThe LasCannon/Missile Launcher Dread had it’s day in 4th edition. In 5th edition the shooting platform of choice for many Razorback Spam lists like Space Wolves and Grey Knights were the Rifleman/Psyfleman dread. These were Dreads armed on both sides with Twin-linked Autocannons. Pumping out 4 twin linked Str 7 shots a turn in an edition saturated with Rhinos and Chimeras was not a bad idea. While the heyday of the Rifleman dread may have passed us by there is still a place for these super shooting dreads in some lists. I particularly like them as a compliment to an Iron Hands Fist of Medusa Strike Force. If you take the Armored Task Force as your core and build it for a lot of long range barrage shots like was discussed here you can then take a unit Dreadnoughts as the Auxiliary Choice. For just 360 points you can take 3 Rifleman Dreads, put them in bolstered terrain with a Techmarine for repairs. That gives you a lot of options for shooting. If you also run the Armored Task Force with a Conclave you can put the two formations near enough that you can further boost the unit of Dreads if needed.


I heard you need “moar dakka” greenskin?

It is by no means an amazing build. 12 twin-linked Strength 7 shots isn’t great in the current meta, but combined with some increased durability and the long ranged threat of a barrage heavy Armored Task Force and you have what’s needed for a very stable Space Marine shooting army. Normally in these articles a list isn’t included but this time around an exception is going to be made. Here is a list using the Fist of Medusa Strike Force. It is a super small army, designed to sit back, camp objectives, and counter assault in a mean way.

Fist of Medusa Strike Force

  • Command
    • Librarius Conclave. 3 Lvl2 Librarians in Terminator Armor with Axes.
  • Core 1
    • Armored Task Force: Techmarine, 3x Whirlwinds, 2 Thunderfire Cannons as a single unit.
  • Core 2
    • Battle Demi-Company: Chaplain in Terminator Armor, 3x Tactical Squads with Missile Launchers, Assault Centurions, Devastators with 4 Missile Launchers, a unit of 3 Rifleman Dreadnoughts.

These conversions were EVERYWHERE in 5th edition, especially near the end with shiny silver paint jobs…

It’s only 38 models but all of them are more survivable than usual marines. While within 12 inches of an Independent Character from this detachment (so all ICs) you get +1 to all Feel No Pain saves. With 3 Techmarines you get a lot of bolstered terrain to set up in. The Librarians, Chaplain, and Assault Centurions make for a nasty counter assault unit for any enemy units that get in too close. With Str 10 AP2 Siege Drills those guys can put the hurt on most Deathstars in the game. The Battle Company provides Objective Secured to the three Rifleman Dreads who can now camp an objective and reach out across the board to kill units. Because a Techmarine will be with them they now benefit from having Power of the Machine Spirit. So you can effectively split the fire of those Dreads across two targets.


Picard approves of the Rifleman Dread.

While not an amazing list it is certainly interesting and would cause quite a few heads to turn at the least. It has little answer for Tau Gunlines other than to hope it goes first, and it lacks a way to effectively deal with Stormsurges and Wraithknights. I know, who plays those terrible units? Vanilla Dreadnoughts suffer from being outclassed in many respects by much better choices in Codex Space Marines. But with a little ingenuity and some help from some new detachments and the Angels of Death supplement they can be used in a few effective ways.

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.

6 Responses to “Space Marine Elite Review: Dreadnoughts”

  1. Avatar
    Elmariachi November 4, 2016 6:48 am #

    24 shots from three Rifledreads? What are you smoking?
    One twin “linked” autocannon has 2 shots. One dread fires 4 twin linked s7 shots.

    The only possibility for 24 shots on 3 dreads is in the blood angels formation chapter acients and that only for one round if they did not move that turn.

    • Avatar
      Truesight November 4, 2016 7:18 am #

      That’s what I was thinking. ’24 s7 twin linked shots for 360 points doesn’t sound good in the current meta’. Sounds good to me!

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn November 4, 2016 9:13 am #

      Ha! Quite the typo. My bad, I’ll fix it.

  2. Avatar
    AngryPanda November 6, 2016 2:53 am #

    Those damn overpowered Dreads. People are scared to even take out their Knights these days. Also their box-shape makes them suitable to throw at people. Another dangerous trick in their arsenal.

    • Avatar
      AbusePuppy November 6, 2016 5:00 am #

      The small price drop and doubling of their attacks makes them a lot more viable these days, but the hyper-proliferation of weapons that ignore AVs (most notably Grav, Haywire, and Destroyer) mean that AV12 just ain’t what it used to be. The small HP values across vehicles do it no favors, either, since Krak Grenades can still hurt them and it doesn’t take many glancing hits to put you out of the fight.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn November 6, 2016 9:10 pm #


Leave a Reply