Space Marine Review: Elites: Vanguard Veteran Squad

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the assault specialists of the Space Marine army, the Vanguard Veteran Squad. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.


The Vanguard Veteran Squad is a great elite unit for adding some serious combat punch to your Space Marine army. They are a squad that has greatly benefited from being able to assault from reserve, allowing you to keep them safe until they are ready to deploy and hopefully lead a devastating charge on the enemy army. They have a wide variety of armament options to suit many tasks you would like them to perform. The Vanguard Veteran Squad consists of a Veteran Sergeant and four Space Marine Veterans, with the option to increase the squad size up to 10 models. The basic Vanguard Veteran costs 16 points per model, or 18 points per model if equipped with a Jump Pack.


  • Bolt Pistol
  • Chainsword
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • The Veteran Sergeant may replace his Bolt Pistol and Chainsword with two items from; Storm Shield, Relic Blade, or an item from the Melee or Pistols list.
  • Any Veteran may replace his Bolt Pistol and Chainsword with a Storm Shield and an item (or two items) from the Pistols or Melee weapons lists.
  • One model may take Meltabombs.
  • The entire squad may take Jump Packs.


  • And They Shall Know No Fear
  • Combat Squads- Before any models are deployed at the start of the game, a 10-man Vanguard Veteran squad may be split into two units of 5 models.
  • Jump Pack Assault- During deployment, if the entire unit has Jump Packs, they may be set up high in the sky. At the end of your movement phase the unit can assault from above, set them up anywhere on the battlefield more than 9″ away from any enemy models.
  • Fly (if equipped with Jump Packs)
  • Keywords- Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Infantry, Vanguard Veteran Squad.


Given their wargear options, Vanguard Veterans are unsurprisingly a combat-centric unit, able to add a lot of assault punch to your army. This can be used either as a frontline unit to go after enemy threats, or as a potent counter-assault unit to help protect a gunline army or support units in your deployment zone.

Each Vanguard Veteran comes with a Space Marine Veteran’s statline, so a regular Marine profile with an additional attack and an extra point of Leadership, taking them to 8 (9 on the Sergeant). The extra attack is great, given the wealth of close combat options available to the unit, and the boost to Leadership means that they are less likely to suffer the effects of morale in small squads when combined with ATSKNF. In a 5-man squad, you will generally need to lose at least 4 Marines in order to have a chance of failing a morale test (if you keep the Sergeant alive till last), so morale is not really an issue for smaller squads.

I would always give the squad Jump Packs. This allows them to increase their mobility to get into combat or deep strike onto the battlefield for a surgical strike against the enemy army.

The high number of wargear options means that you can arm them how you wish to perform the combat role in your army. My favourite option is to go for a pair of Lightning Claws. This takes them up to three attacks each and allows them to re-roll failed To Wound rolls. This gives a squad of five 15 attacks with re-rolls to wound. This allows them to threaten a wide range of enemy units, even vehicles thanks to the re-rolls from the Claws. This takes each Veteran up to 30 pts, so 150 pts for a unit of 5. This is a bit pricey, but still worth it for the damage output they can do.

If you want, you can add a couple of Storm Shields (a bargain at only 5 pts each) to help protect them from enemy firepower or powerful combat attacks. A Thunder Hammer or two is also a great option for some really punishing attacks, and a bit cheaper than in previous editions.

The points reduction in power weapons in 8th edition also makes it perfectly viable to arm all your Vanguard Veterans with these weapons. For only 20-25 pts, each Veteran in a 5-man squad can take a power weapon, greatly boosting their damage output.

If you want to keep the unit cheap, arming each Veteran with two Chainswords is a great choice. This gives each Veteran four attacks, making them great for taking on horde units or trying to take out other targets through volume of attacks. Each Veteran only costs 18 points, only two points more than an Assault Marine. For those two points you get an extra attack and point of Leadership. I think this is well worth the cost and don’t really see a reason why you would go for a squad of Assault Marines over Vanguard Veterans, unless you don’t have the Force Organisation slot to spare for an Elites squad.

Of course, you can go the other way with the Vanguard Veteran squad and arm each Veteran with dual pistols to provide a potent threat to enemy infantry or armour. A squad of 5 Veterans with dual Plasma Pistols and Jump Packs comes in at 160 points. This unit can deep strike into pistol range of their target and unload 10 plasma shots at an exposed enemy unit to cause a fair bit of damage. You could even risk an overcharge if you have a source of nearby re-rolls or are feeling lucky, to cause even more damage. Dual Grav Pistols can also be very effective against a number of enemy targets such as Terminators, multi-wound models with 3+ saves or T5 vehicles, as you will generally be doing D3 damage with each successful wound.

Just a note on keeping the Vanguard Veterans in deep strike reserve. You should carefully consider whether you need to do this in each game, and be sure to keep a spare command point to help re-roll the charge distance if they fail to make it on the turn they arrive. I have had plenty of games where the Vanguard Veterans have arrived from reserve, failed their charge (even with the single die re-roll) and then been butchered in the subsequent enemy turn without really achieving anything. Although the unit is reasonably cheap, it is not cheap enough to throw away without doing anything. Sometimes you may be better to hug cover or line of sight blocking terrain to advance on the enemy army, especially if they don’t have much in the way of weaponry that doesn’t require line of sight to target a unit.

Chapter Tactics:

The additional rules provided by Chapter Tactics can serve to boost the abilities of the Vanguard Veterans.

The Ultramarines provide some nice bonuses for the Veterans. Boosting their Leadership to 10 (with Sergeant) effectively makes a 5-man squad immune to morale casualties under normal conditions. The ability to fall back and still fire is more useful if they squad is armed with pistols, rather than solely combat options, but is still a nice boost, even with Bolt Pistols.

White Scars Chapter Tactics are a big boost for Vanguard Veterans, allowing them to fall back and assault once more (great if Khan is nearby for the strength bonus), or for moving off to target another enemy unit in the same turn.

Imperial Fists chapter tactics are less useful for the Vanguard Veterans, I feel, but could be useful if you go the dual pistol route or have a few Plasma pistols in the unit to negate the effects of cover on enemy targets.

Black Templars tactics are obviously a big boost for the Vanguard Veteran squad. Getting to re-roll your charge distance is great for ensuring that the squad makes it into combat, especially on the turn they arrive from deep strike reserve.

Salamanders chapter tactics are great for boosting the combat effectiveness of the squad. This is especially useful on Thunder Hammer Veterans, who you want to be hitting with at least one of their attacks and ensuring that you don’t fluff the wound roll if they do happen to hit.

Raven Guard chapter tactics can be less useful, as you generally want to be close to the enemy army with this squad. However, it can be useful if you eliminate your target unit, perhaps reducing the amount of enemy firepower coming your way in retribution. It can also be useful if you do fail a charge from deep strike, giving you better odds of surviving to perhaps assault in the following turn.

Iron Hands chapter tactics will be useful for keeping the squad members alive for longer, if you get to roll some lucky 6’s on their “feel no pain” roll.

Unit Synergy

Being a primarily combat-centric unit, the Vanguard Veterans get a lot of use out of a supporting Chaplain. Armed with the Jump Pack, the Chaplain can provide the Vanguard Veteran squad with full re-rolls to hit in combat and really maximise the effectiveness of this unit. He can even charge in with them and provide some additional combat punch to the unit if necessary. If you are running the Vanguard Veterans/Chaplain combo, it can be useful to have a few “bare bones” Vanguard Veterans in the squad, along with your close combat loaded Veterans. This has a dual benefit; you can remove these Veterans if you happen to suffer a few overwatch casualties. In addition, these are useful models to string out and keep in range of the Chaplain’s 6″ re-roll bubble in case the Chaplain fails his charge (so will likely be out of range) or you don’t wish to charge him into combat against the same target as the Veterans.

If you don’t want to go with the Chaplain, a Captain with a Jump Pack is still a solid option. While he will only provide re-rolls of 1 to hit, he provides a more potent combat character than the Chaplain if armed with the appropriate wargear. In addition, some of the warlord traits, such as the Raven Guard one that prevents overwatch, provides a nice bonus to the abilities of the Vanguard Veterans. Even though the Chaplain could be your warlord and take a warlord trait, a lot of the times it will probably be a Captain.

A Librarian with a Jump Pack is also another great supporting character for a unit of Vanguard Veterans. As well as casting Smite to weaken potential targets for a charge, the Librarius Discipline offers some great boosting abilities. Veil of Time is great for re-roll the charge range to ensure you get into combat, as well as allowing you to strike first in your opponent’s turn if you don’t happen to finish off the unit in one turn of combat. Might of Heroes can also be great when used on a Sergeant equipped with a Thunder Hammer, taking him up to four attacks at S9. In addition, Null Zone is a great power for making the most of your AP busting power weapon attacks by negating any invulnerable saves that the enemy may have to potentially reduce your damage in a turn. The only downside of this is that it is reliant on your Librarian also making it into combat with the same unit as the Vanguard Veterans or a closely adjacent unit in order to utilise the short range on the power.

A Lieutenant with a Jump Pack is another great support choice (unless you go with the Lightning Claw armed Veterans) for ensuring you make the most of your wounding rolls.

If you don’t want to go with Jump Packs for the Vanguard Veterans, you can always put them in a sturdy transport vehicle to protect them unit they get into combat. This has the added benefit of allowing you to put any supporting characters inside the transport vehicle with them, giving you fewer deployment drops in your army and potentially giving you a better chance of getting the first turn.

Some of the Stratagems can be used to really boost the effect of Vanguard Veterans on the table. The few that stand out are Strike From the Shadows and Honour the Chapter. For Raven Guard Vanguard Veterans, the ability to deploy close to the enemy army and still move on the first turn is a great boost for getting into combat. If the squad has Jump Packs, you may be fortunate to be able to deploy out of line of sight and use the Jump Pack move to move over intervening terrain if you don’t happen to have the first turn or get seized on. Honour the Chapter is also great on a combat unit, allowing them to fight twice in the fight phase. While pricey at three command points, it can help you decimate a key enemy unit or units in a single turn.


Vanguard Veterans provide a great assault unit to add to your Space Marine army. For only a few points more than Assault Marines, you get a unit with more attacks and greater potential to be properly equipped for combat to take on a variety of enemy units.

I am a big fan of Vanguard Veteran Squads, as they have the ability to take out isolated enemy units in your opponent’s deployment zone or go after key threat in the enemy army to neutralise them or reduce their effectiveness (by tying them up in combat and stopping them shooting). I have also found them to be a great tool for going after enemy flyers if equipped with Jump Packs. If your shooting is not getting the job done, a unit of Vanguard Veterans may have the combat punch to seriously damage or destroy an enemy flyer in assault, their Jump Packs allowing them to arrive next to the flyer in most cases. I think they are a great squad to add to your army and much prefer them over Assault Marines.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



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.

13 Responses to “Space Marine Review: Elites: Vanguard Veteran Squad”

  1. Avatar
    Highmarshal Morgan November 2, 2017 1:13 pm #

    The ultramarine trait is redundant on vanguard vets with dual pistols and jetpacks as the fly keyword already allows them to shoot after disengaging without penalty. That being saidI am currently working on making a 10 man lightnine claw squad two throw with helbrect in a crusader so they reroll, hits, wounds, and charges while being s5 from Helbrect’s buff. Another cool combo would be to drop them with or near some Reavers so they can hit a unit with the no over watch grenade and then lay into them a tricked out vanguard squad.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr November 3, 2017 12:52 am #

      Yeah, if they have jump packs, Ultramarines is a bit redundant. If you take them on foot though, it can be of limited use.

      The combo with the Reavers is a nice one, allowing you to ignore enemy overwatch with the Vanguard Veterans is pretty effective.

      • Avatar
        Highmarshal Morgan November 3, 2017 2:26 pm #

        Yeah I like your reviews though and always enjoy them keep up the good work! Are you going to do one on chaplains?

        • Michael Corr
          Michael Corr November 3, 2017 2:33 pm #

          Thanks very much. I am currently looking for ideas for a new batch of articles, so will definitely give Chaplains a go.

  2. Avatar
    WestRider November 2, 2017 2:28 pm #

    Bare bones Vanguard actually end up with two extra Attacks over an Assault Squad: One from the profile, and one from the second Chainsword. Theoretically, one of those is interchangeable with the Bolt Pistols the regular Squad has, but there are a lot of situations where you really don’t want to shoot before Charging in.

    Raven Guard have one more fantastic synergy, and that’s with Shrike. When he’s within 6″, they get to re-roll their Charge distance, and all their to-hit rolls. The only thing that’s a bit awkward is that you generally don’t get to use his Warlord Trait (can’t fire Overwatch against him) because it will generally pull him further than 6″ from your other Units if he Charges first.

    I like mine mixed. Mostly dual Chainsword, but I give the Sarge a Thunder Hammer, and 1-2 out of every 5 I’m taking get a Power Axe or a pair of Lightning Claws. Keeps the volume of Attacks up, but adds enough extra punch that they can handle some harder targets as well, especially when supported.

    • Reecius
      Reecius November 2, 2017 4:22 pm #

      Yeah, double chainsword Vanguard are my favorite, personally. Cheap, hit hard, fun to play.

    • Avatar
      Desc440 November 2, 2017 5:51 pm #

      Throwing a few Stormshields in there as well if not a bad idea. Not every guy needs it, but 2-3 per 5 guys I think is good.

      • Avatar
        WestRider November 2, 2017 9:08 pm #

        Yeah, that probably is a good call. I need to re-do all the ones I built for 7th (e.g. the Claw/Fist ones), so I’ll pick up a few Storm Shields from that lot.

        • Michael Corr
          Michael Corr November 3, 2017 12:53 am #

          I agree, they are so cheap for standard infantry now that it is well worth the addition of one or two.

          • Reecius
            Reecius November 3, 2017 11:31 am

            It is, and it gives you some stopping power vs. things like Magnus and such.

    • Avatar
      James November 3, 2017 9:34 am #

      Don’t forget the SftS strategem, which lets your vets jump over that first line of bubble wrap to get to the juicy bits behind.

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr November 3, 2017 2:35 pm #

        Yeah, if your opponent leaves you any gap to deploy them, they can do a lot of damage. However, I think most players are getting used to the way reserves work, so many will deploy to counter your own reserves deployment options. It may be useful to hold off on them until turn 2 or 3 to wait for things to open up or to see where the Vanguard Veterans would be most useful.

  3. Avatar
    Petehappens November 6, 2017 11:25 am #

    I published a Vanguard Vet article recently with a focus on Raven Guard, but I ran the math.

    “My favorite option is to go for a pair of Lightning Claws. This takes them up to three attacks each and allows them to re-roll failed To Wound rolls.”

    Twin lightning claws is actually the worse of all the the options. But one thing the math doesn’t show is standard deviation… So while the lightning claw option is an inferior option, it is the most consistent option, with is worth consideration in smaller squads.

    Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Vanguard Vets are the hardest hitting glass cannon in the entire Space Marine codex, and while most chapter might have a bit of risk deploying them in to HTH, Raven Guard have re roll to charge for jump infantry and the “strike from the shadows” strategem, which is basically any auto charge option, if you go first.

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