Space Marine Elites Review: Venerable Dreadnoughts

Hello fans of Frontline Gaming, SaltyJohn, and TFGRadio (are you triggered by my assumption you’re a fan? Too bad.) today I bring you the often forgotten Space Marine Venerable Dreadnought in all its glory! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!


The Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes each maintain 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.



Through the editions the use of Dreadnoughts, Dreads, has ebbed and flowed and the weaponry given them has adjusted to the meta. One of the coolest parts about the Dreadnought is their flexibility. The standard dreadnought has long been a part of the hobby, including some lists that could run all dreadnoughts in several editions. The Ironclad was introduced in 5th edition and has some very nice options for weaponry along with a more stable platform than the normal. The Venerable Dreadnought has been around as long as I can remember and has always had a few nice boosts in it’s rules over the standard Dreadnought.  In modern 40k you often see the. The Venerable Dreadnought isn’t a bad unit, it just suffers from the same fate several units in the Space Marine codex suffer from, it’s the lesser of 3 good options.



  • Vehicle (Walker)
  • Searchlight
  • Smoke Launchers
  • Multi-melta (may take Plasma Cannon, Twin-Linked Autocannon, Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter, Twin-Linked Heavy Flamer, Assault Cannon, Twin-Linked Las Cannon)
  • Power Fist (May replace with Missile Launcher, Twin-Linked Autocannon)
  • Storm Bolter (may replace with Heavy Flamer)


Special Rules:

  • Hammer of Wrath
  • Venerable- If your opponent rolls a penetrating hit you can force him to re-roll it. You must accept the second result.

At 125 points base the Venerable Dread is a good weapon platform with its Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill of 5!



With it’s increased Ballitstic and Weapons Skills over other Dreadnoughts for a nominally higher price it can be tempting to take a Venerable instead of a regular or Ironclad Dreadnought.  For the most part though you don’t see Venerable dreads because the increased point cost, while small, isn’t worth it. With the amount of twin-linked weaponry available to all the dread variants, and some chapter tactics like Salamanders that twin-link some weaponry further, the increased Ballistic Skill isn’t worth the higher points. If the Venerable Dread were AV 13 or had additional Hull Points it may then be worth the increased price. The most common way you see Dreads fielded are as part of a Battle Company, these are usually going to be Ironclad dreads in Drop Pods. If you want to try your hand at a gun line style Marine list that uses one of the Dread heavy formations of even a CAD then the Venerable Dreadnought makes sense to take.

Take a squadron of 3, give them all Twin-Linked Autocannons on both arms and have the BS 5 unit go to town, the good old Rifleman Dread.. You could even load them out 4th edition style with Twin-linked LasCannons and Missile Launchers. They would be a great addition to a list that was Grav Heavy. A lot of grav  heavy lists can become mired down against armor or flyers when a lot of those 6s fail to show up for you. Building in redundancy is a key part to succeeding at 40k. Any unit that can provide redundancy will help you out. The problem with the current Venerable dreadnought is they fill a role that isn’t really needed. Whatever they do, they do it marginally better, or maybe marginally worse, than the cheaper vanilla/Ironclad dreadnought variants. Can you field them? Yes, absolutely. Are they a bad unit? No absolutely not. They just aren’t good enough in their current form to really warrant a player taking more than a passing interest in fielding them. All the different models for them from Forgeworld though are absolutely beautiful. So if you’re a hobbyist firs, player second, then you can at least rest assured that using those beautiful venerable dreadnoughts you bought from Forgeworld won’t make you a laughing stock.

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.
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5 years ago

Although sad, a good factual review! I still field them with Iron Hands and techmarine nearby and they’re near unkillable.

5 years ago

I think you’re being overly charitable with the Ven Dread. They’re just godawful for the points, unfortunately. Even the Ironclad is not “good” good, it’s just the most functional one of the 3 variants, and even then…

Makes me sad, as dreads are one of my favourite units in 40k, but they just don’t live up 🙁

5 years ago
Reply to  Desc440

The lucius pod makes them function in some competitive builds, but yeah the ven dread is probably the weakest one.

jordan s
jordan s
5 years ago

For dreads, the blood angels Ancients command formation seems the most powerful. 3-5 dreads, once per game they can shoot/pile in&attack at the beginning of the turn. That means with 5 rifle dreads backfield deployed, you can get off 20 TL lascannon or 40 TL autocannon shots turn 1.

jordan s
jordan s
5 years ago

For dreads, the blood angels Ancients command formation seems the most powerful. 3-5 dreads, once per game they can shoot/pile in&attack at the beginning of the turn. That means with 5 rifle dreads backfield deployed, you can get off 20 TL lascannon or 40 TL autocannon shots turn 1.. for less than 600 points

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