Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of a great new Elites choice for the Space Marine army, the Company Ancient. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.
The Company Ancient is sort of a new addition to the Space Marine army in 8th edition. Previously, the Standard Bearer was a member of the Command Squad, but much like the Apothecary and Company Champion, he is now a separate character model that can be taken in the army. The Ancient’s Astartes Banner provides a brilliant boost to your Marine army, helping to mitigate alpha-strikes to some degree, the ability getting even better with the application of a Relic. The Company Ancient costs 63 points base.
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- The Company Ancient may replace its Bolt Pistol with a Boltgun, or an item from the Pistols, Combi-weapons or Melee Weapons list.
- And They Shall Know No Fear
- Astartes Banner- <Chapter> units within 6″ of any friendly <Chapter> Ancient add 1 to their Leadership. In addition, roll a D6 each time a <Chapter> Infantry model is destroyed within 6″ of any friendly <Chapter> Ancients before removing the model as a casualty. On a 4+, the model can either shooti with one of its weapons as if it were the Shooting Phase, or make a single attack as if it were the Fight Phase.
- Keywords: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Character, Infantry, Ancient, Company Ancient.
The Company Ancient is an incredibly strong choice in a competitive Space Marine army. While he does not possess the awesome shooting or combat ability of other characters, his Astartes Banner buff is a tremendous ability to use for a number of shooting units that really boosts their ability to strike at the enemy army.
First up, let’s take a look at the Company Ancient’s statline and wargear options. The Company Ancient has a standard Marine profile, but with four wounds and 3 attacks. This gives him some reasonable durability against small arms fire, especially as he is a character and cannot be targeted unless he is the closest model (visible or otherwise) and should help keep him alive for a reasonable length of time. You are unlikely to be advancing with the Company Ancient, given his most effective battlefield role, so you only need to worry about the enemy army coming to you. You ideally want to put him in cover to help boost his 3+ armour save and keep him alive for longer. His three attacks base means that he has the potential to do some damage in combat against standard infantry, but is not going to be slaughtering enemy units in a single round.
He has the option to replace his Bolt Pistol with a number of options. I would personally go for a ranged weapon, such as the Boltgun, or take a combi-weapon if you have the points to spare. The Ancient is likely to be sitting in your backfield, so getting an extra ranged attack is a nice bonus. You could also arm him with a Melee weapon if you want to use him as a counter-assault unit, as he is likely to be near backfield shooting units and objective holders. If you want a backfield counter assault unit, you are probably better off with the Chapter Ancient thanks to his boosted armour save of 2+.
Before we get to his battlefield role (and the main reason you are taking him), we need to look at the Standard of the Emperor Ascendant. This is a Space Marine Relic that the Company Ancient can take. If you are taking a Space Marine Ancient, the Standard of the Emperor Ascendent is practically a compulsory upgrade and is definitely essential in a competitive list if you are building your list around using an ancient. The Relic Banner gives you +1 to the ability of the “shoot back” roll, meaning that it activates on a 3+. In addition, all friendly Adeptus Astartes units within 6″ automatically pass morale tests and enemy units must subtract 1 from their Leadership characteristic. This turns an already awesome ability into an incredible ability.
As you may have guessed from his special rules, the Company Ancient works well in your backfield, surrounded by units with improved firepower, such as Devastator Squads, Command Squads with Special Weapons, Hellblaster Squads, etc. These units will preferably be holding an objective and in cover to improve their durability.
This type of firebase provides a nice deterrent to the enemy army. They will probably want to shoot at them to get rid of all your Heavy or Special Weapons, but each casualty they cause has a 50% chance (or 66% chance with the Relic) or being able to fire back at them and causing some damage before they die. This provides a nice defence to an alpha-strike, as your models in range have the potential to still be able to fire at least once before they are removed from play. This strategy can work really well with Plasma weaponry. If the Marines are killed by enemy fire, you can overcharge your Plasma shots and fire back to cause maximum damage. You don’t have to worry about rolling 1’s to hit, what are you going to do, kill yourself again? This can also be used if you overcharge your Plasma weapons in your own shooting phase. The rules for the banner do not specify being removed as a casualty by enemy fire/attacks, only that you are removed. If you kill your Marines with an overcharged Plasma shot, you have the potential to fire another overcharged Plasma shot with the same Marine. potentially getting double the number of shots in a turn.
I haven’t really talked about using the Astartes Banner to attack again in the Fight Phase. There is a bit of a discrepancy for using this ability between the Shooting Phase and Fight Phase. You can either fire a single weapon or use a single attack. If a weapon has a multiple shot profile, you get more shots with each successful roll on the banner, whereas you only ever get a single attack in the Fight Phase. This obviously makes the Banner more effective in the shooting phase if you are around weapons that can fire more than one shot. I’m not sure if the single attack allows you to make additional attacks, such as if you were armed with a Chainsword or with a Relic that grants bonus attacks. For me, this makes the Company Ancient much better at backing up a static gunline than combat units.
If you are not going with the Standard of the Emperor Ascendant (and why wouldn’t you be), the Astartes Banner provides a nice morale buff for your units. The +1 Leadership is great when combined with And They Shall Know No Fear. On a standard Marine squad with a Sergeant, you will be going up to Ld 9 (or Ld 10 with Ultramarines). This means you need to lose at least 4 Marines from a squad before you have the chance of failing a morale test. Even then you are failing on a double 6.
The Company Champion is a great choice for a competitive Space Marine army. For only 63 points, he is a cheap Elites choice that is well worth taking with the right army build. He certainly favours having several units with good long-ranged firepower that he can support, and provides a nice way to mitigate not having the first turn or simply give you additional shots as you take enemy fire. When armed with the Standard of the Emperor Ascendant, he turns into an incredible force multiplier that will find a spot in almost any competitive list.
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