The Centurion Assault Squad is designed to be a brutal hammer to crush the enemy force, used where speed is not an issue and relying on their durability against the foes guns to get them into battle. On the tabletop, they are a solid combat unit. Their Siege Drills are a powerful melee weapon, able to kill most infantry and Biker units with ease, while making short work of other heavy units in the game. However, their weaknesses are their speed on the field and their vulnerability to heavy enemy firepower.
The Centurion Assault Squad consists of 1 Centurion Sergeant and 2 Centurions. The unit can be fielded in a squad of up to 6 models. Each Assault Centurion costs 74 points for the basic model (including wargear).
I would give the Centurion Assault Squad the Situational rating. They are an effective melee unit, able to put out a lot of anti-infantry or anti-armour firepower based on how you arm them, and there are few units that can stand up to them in assault. However, in order to be used effectively, you will need to buy them a lot of support. This increases the cost to field them effectively considerably. If your plan revolves around the use of the Centurion Assault Squad, they could prove to be an effective asset to your army, but your force may suffer in other areas of the game.
- Two Siege Drills- Sx2, AP -4, 3 damage.
- Two Flamers
- Centurion Assault Launchers- If a model equipped with Centurion Assault Launchers finishes a charge move within 1″ of an enemy unit, roll a D6. On a roll of a 4+, that unit suffers a mortal wound.
- Any model may replace their two Flamers with two Meltaguns.
- Any model may replace their Centurion Assault Launchers with a Hurricane Bolter.
- And They Shall Know No Fear
- Combat Squads- A squad containing 6 models can be split into two units of three models before deployment.
- Omniscope- Enemy units do not receive the benefits of cover to their saving throw against attacks by a unit including a Centurion Sergeant.
- Keywords: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Infantry, Centurion, Centurion Assault Squad.
Let’s check out the statline for the Centurion Assault Squad. They have WS and BS 3+ (average for Marines), strength and toughness 5, 3 wounds, 2 attacks (3 for Sergeant), Ld 7 (8 for Sergeant) and a 2+ save. They only have a 4″ move, which is one of their key flaws as I will discuss below.
The Centurion Assault Squad are primarily designed to be a close combat or close quarters unit in the Space Marine army. Their role is to get up close to the enemy army and cause as much damage as possible. The Siege Drills are a pretty effective close combat weapon. Unlike most other high strength weapons, they don’t suffer from -1 to hit. This is actually a big deal, making them more effective in combat. I can’t tell you how many times my Power Fist or Thunder Hammers have whiffed in combat, or crucially been denied a re-roll after rolling a 3 to hit. Hitting on a 3+ in most cases in melee is actually a big boost for the Centurion Assault Squad, more so as they only have 2 attacks on a standard Centurion. The Siege Drills will hit at S10, so will be wounding just about everything on at least a 3+, and wounding most infantry and Bikes on a 2+. With -4AP and 3 damage with each wound, there is little that will survive a wound from these powerful melee weapons. Only a strong invulnerable save or some sort of FNP-type save is going to keep an enemy unit safe from their attacks.
A unit of 3 Assault Centurions has the potential to do up to 21 wounds in a single round of combat. With the right buffs from nearby characters, it is quite possible to do the full number of wounds in a single turn and decimate a small elite unit or powerful vehicle/monster in the enemy army.
In addition, with the Centurion Assault Launchers, you might be able to cause some Mortal wounds on the charge, further boosting your damage output.
Where the Assault Squad will struggle is against horde of cheap infantry models. With only 7 attacks on a standard three-man unit, the Centurion Assault Squad will have problems getting through any chaff models your opponent will throw at them. A large unit of Ork Boyz, Grots, Termagants or Conscripts, etc. will have little trouble in tying up the Centurion Assault Squad for several turns of combat, possible for the whole game if the chaff unit has some form of morale mitigation. The Centurions may go through them eventually, but it will be a big waste of their potential to spend the whole game hacking through a unit costing a fraction of their points cost.
To help mitigate this somewhat, the Centurion Assault Squad does come with 2 Flamers each as standard. Six D6 automatic Flamer hits in the shooting phase or in overwatch can help make a dent in some bigger sized squads that the Centurions may come up against. It is a bit of a deterrent to charging the Centurion Assault Squad, especially for smaller, elite units, as a single round of poor saving throws from overwatch fire can seriously hurt these units.
If you choose to take the Hurricane Bolters, this will gain the unit a further 36 Bolter shots at Rapid Fire range. Combined with the Flamers, this will put an average of 22 wounds on a standard T4 infantry model. That will put a serious dent in any chaff unit in the shooting phase, making them much more vulnerable to a charge from the Centurion Devastator Squad.
You can also choose to swap the Flamers for two Meltaguns. This increases the cost of each Centurion to 90 points per model. This is pretty pricey, but will supply you with 9 Meltagun shots. If you can get into Melta range with the unit, they will likely cause a lot of damage to whatever they are firing at. Combined with a subsequent assault, there is very little in the game that will stand up to that much high strength, high damage attacks.
So, the Assault Centurion Squad can do a lot of damage in the shooting phase and assault phase, why aren’t we seeing them in every Space Marine army?
First up, they are incredibly slow. With only a 4″ move on a melee-orientated unit, you are pretty much obligated to buy them a transport vehicle in order to get them into assault range and to get them there safely. Unfortunately, the only transport options available to them are the Land Raider or the Stormraven, as they can no longer be put in a Drop Pod. While both these vehicles are a very effective way to get the unit into combat, they are not the cheapest of options.
I would be inclined to go for the Stormraven as a transport option. It will practically guarantee a turn 2 charge for the Centurion Assault Squad if your opponent does not have a way to easily take out the Stormraven. In addition, the Stormraven has a lot of potent firepower for targeting a range of threats in the enemy army. The Land Raider is a solid option for getting the Centurion Assault Squad into combat, but may take up to turn 3 to get them into range of an assault depending on how deep your opponent deploys or the deployment zones being used.
Another issue with the Centurion Assault Squad is their durability to enemy shooting. In assault, they are pretty durable. With T5, 3 wounds and a 2+ save, most standard infantry units will struggle to put much of a dent in them in combat. Any strong melee unit or unit that can muster a ton of attacks might be able to take them out in combat, but hopefully you will be charging first from your transport vehicle, so will have a chance to take them out first before they can harm you.
However, there is a lot of potent shooting in the game that could make short work of the Centurion Assault Squad if they are out in the open. This is why a transport option is key for the effective use of the unit. It should hopefully keep them safe in order to get into melee or shooting range. Once they are on the table, it will be more difficult to keep them safe. They will likely annihilate any target you charge in melee (if you choose the right target), so will either need to try and consolidate into another combat to keep them safe or just hope they can withstand the firepower. Even if you do make it to another combat, your opponent can always fall back and open fire with the rest of their army.
As a result, you can only really expect one strong assault and shooting phase from the Centurion Assault Squad. They are a pretty expensive unit (222 pts base) to throw away on a single turn of damage, so it will really depend on whether you can make that one turn count by taking out a key enemy unit. In most games, they will be pretty strong, but may struggle to make their points investment back.
The Honour the Chapter Stratagem will be very useful for this unit. While expensive at 3 command points, it would allow the Centurion Assault Squad to attack again at the end of the phase. This can allow you to go after a second key enemy unit if they are close enough to your first destroyed target (within 6″ at least) or to attack again if you fluff your first attacks or you opponent gets lucky with their invulnerable saves.
Aside from the almost compulsory transport vehicle for them, there are a number of other units in the Space Marine codex that can benefit the Centurion Assault Squad.
A Chaplain or Captain is a great option to accompany the Centurions. The Chaplain gives the benefits of full re-rolls to Hit in melee, which is great for the squad. The Captain allows re-rolls to hit of 1 in shooting and assault. The shooting is only really useful if you take the Meltaguns or Hurricane Bolters, but re-rolling half your misses in melee will help maximise their combat effectiveness.
A Lieutenant is also a great support character for the Centurion Assault Squad. Given that you are probably going to be going after tougher units with the squad, they will generally be wounding on a 3+, so getting to re-roll half your failed wounds on average will also help to boost their damage output. Against weaker units where you are wounding on a 2+, they will get great benefit from the Lieutenant, re-rolling all their failed wounds.
An Apothecary can also be useful for healing or reviving lost members of the squad. For expensive elite units such as the Centurion Assault Squad, the Apothecary is well worth the cost to include to keep the unit alive for longer.
A Librarian can also be a useful addition. If he can cast Null Zone, removing an opponent’s invulnerable saves, there is little in the game that could stand up the to the Centurions in combat. Veil of Time can also be great for ensuring that the Centurions can charge and helping them to strike first in a protracted combat.
As you can see, there are a number of strong support Characters that can benefit the Centurion Assault Squad. My preference would be the Captain and Lieutenant. Even though the Captain only gives re-rolls of 1’s to hit in melee, his re-rolling in the shooting phase can be effective for other units, especially the Stormraven if it goes into hover mode after dropping off the Centurions and support characters. Plus, the Captain can be a potent melee threat on his own.
The right Chapter Tactics can further improve the effectiveness of the Centurion Assault Squad.
Ultramarines is great if the Centurions get tied up in combat from a chaff unit. Being able to fall back and launch 6 Flamer attacks (and maybe some Hurricane Bolters) at an enemy unit should do a lot of damage. Especially if they had to suffer from overwatch fire from charging the unit.
White Scars Chapter Tactics can also be useful, allowing you to bounce from one enemy unit to another in assault. This could allow you to charge a unit that will tie you up to keep you safe from enemy shooting, then move away from the chaff unit and go after a more important target in the enemy army.
Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics can be useful for the Centurions if you go for the Hurricane Bolters. At short range, the unit can pump out a lot of S4 firepower, so denying your opponent the benefit of cover will help add to the number of failed saves if they are going from a 2+ save to a 3+ save. In addition, if you ever do fight a Building, they Centurions will probably tear through it.
Black Templars tactics are great for ensuring the unit gets into combat, with re-rolling failed charges. In addition, the Abhor the Witch Stratagem will be useful for helping to keep them safe from Smite or other mortal wound dealing psychic powers.
Salamanders Chapter Tactics are really good on the Centurion Assault Squad. Getting a free re-roll to hit and to wound in the melee will really help to boost their damage output. In addition, the Flamecraft Stratagem is great on a unit with 6 Flamers, giving you +1 to wound with the Flamers and helping to cause more damage with their shooting.
Raven Guard Chapter Tactics can be brilliant for the Centurion Assault Squad. The -1 to hit might be less effective as you will likely want to be getting close to the enemy army, but may be useful for protection from further away firing units. This Chapter Tactic does give the unit access to the awesome Strike From the Shadows Stratagem. This allows the unit to be held in reserve and then be deployed at least 9″ from an enemy unit at the start of the first battle round. This will allow the Centurion Assault Squad a very good chance of getting a first turn charge and allow them to bring their potent firepower to bear. It also means you don’t need a transport vehicle, effectively more than halving the cost of the unit. However, this tactic can be incredibly risky. If you don’t get the first turn, the squad could be targeted and eliminated without having done anything of note, a waste of their big points investment.
Iron Hands Chapter Tactics will be useful for keeping them alive for longer, with a 6+ FNP roll.
A squad of three Centurion Assault Marines in a Stormraven will cost you 517 pts for the standard load out. If you take Hurricane Bolters on the Centurions and Stormraven (which I would recommend), it will take you to 558 pts. For over a quarter of the points of a standard army, that is a significant points investment.
If your opponent has a way to deal with the Stormraven on turn 1 (quite likely in a competitive army list) and destroy it before it has moved, they probably won’t even need to target the Centurion squad, as they are unlikely to make it to your opponent’s lines. However, if they do get to assault, they are a threat that will need to be dealt with quickly in some fashion, either through shooting them off the board or tying them up with a sacrificial unit.
I think the Centurion Assault Squad could provide a nasty surprise to an opponent if they don’t know what to expect and allow them to make it into combat. The squad is pretty effective in the shooting phase and assault phase, but does need a significant points investment to get the most out of them in a game.
By contrast, the much cheaper Aggressor Squad has increased firepower thanks to its special rules, and while it is not as formidable in melee, it is still a potent melee threat. For this reason, it is hard to recommend the Centurion Assault Squad as a competitive unit. It should be fun to field and will probably do a lot of damage, but most competitive lists will be able to deal with them without too much bother.
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