The Space Marine Devastator Squad provides the heavy weapons firepower for the Space Marine army. They are an infantry unit designed to specialise in long range warfare, punishing the enemy army with their superior firepower and providing valuable support for the frontal assault units in the Chapter.
On the tabletop, the Devastator Squad is a great source of long ranged firepower for your army. They can function well enough on their own and can be armed with a variety of Heavy Weapons in order to perform a variety of battlefield roles. However, when augmented by a number of the Space Marine buffing characters, their damage output greatly increases, making them a considerable threat to the enemy army.
The squad consists of one Space Marine Sergeant and four Space Marines, with the option to increase the squad size up to 10. Each Marine costs 13 points (so 65 points for the basic squad).
I would give the Space Marine Devastator Squad the Competitive rating. They provide a nice and cheap source of long ranged firepower for the Space Marine army, and with the right support characters, they can deal a lot of damage to your opponent’s force.
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- The Sergeant may replace his Boltgun with items from the Sergeant Equipment list.
- Up to four Space Marines may replace their Boltguns with an item from the Heavy Weapons list (Grav-cannon and Grav-amp, Heavy Bolter, Lascannon, Missile Launcher, Multi-melta, Plasma Cannon).
- The squad may be accompanied by an Armorium Cherub.
- And They Shall Know No Fear
- Combat Squads- Before any models are deployed, a Devastator Squad containing 10 models may be split into two units of 5 models.
- Signum- Before the unit shoots in the shooting phase, you may choose one model within 3″ of the Sergeant. You can add 1 to the hit rolls for that model during the phase.
- Armorium Cherub- Once per game, after a model in the unit has fired, an Armorium Cherub will allow the model to immediately shoot again. The Cherub is ignored for the purposes of morale.
- Keywords: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Infantry, Devastator Squad.
The Devastator Squad is a great source of long-ranged firepower in the Space Marine army. While they may not be as sturdy as a Predator or Razorback, they are a cheap unit and can be armed in a variety of ways to benefit the rest of your army. For tournament play, my personal preference is to take the Missile Launcher or Heavy Bolter in the squad.
The Missile Launcher is a solid option for the squad. It can provide your army with some high strength, high damage firepower, all for a reasonable 25 points. With the Signum on the Sergeant, a unit of four Missile Launchers can be relied upon to hit at least 3 times a turn on average, wounding most enemy monsters and vehicles on a 3+. On average, you will be looking to do about 7 wounds on a standard enemy vehicle or monster. While this is not going to be destroying any vehicles in one volley, it should be enough to take them down a tier or two in effectiveness.
Another reason that I like the Missile Launcher is the option to switch to Frag Missiles for some anti-horde firepower from the unit. While Lascannons are the better option for taking on most vehicles or monsters, thanks to its boosted AP-3 (and bonus on wounding T8 models), with random opponent pairings, you can find yourself in the situation where you don’t have a prime target for your Lascannons. In these situations, the Missile Launcher wins out for me, as the option to do more hits and wounds on screening chaff units can be key for allowing your assault units to go after prime enemy targets or for clearing space for your own deep strike units to arrive in subsequent turns.
The Heavy Bolter is also a solid option for the Devastator Squad. It is the cheapest Heavy Weapon option and a unit of four Heavy Bolters on the Devastators can actually put out a considerable amount of mid-strength firepower, all for only 105 pts.
The Heavy Bolter and Missile Launcher also gives the squad access to the great Hellfire Shells and Flakk Missile stratagems, respectively. Using these stratagems on your Devastator squad is a great and reliable way to deal mortal wounds on enemy units/models. Thanks to the Signum on the Sergeant, the weapons using these stratagems will be hitting on a 2+ in most cases, meaning there is less chance of the command point being used on a wasted shot that fails to hit (or forces you to burn another command point to re-roll the miss).
The other Heavy Weapon options are also all solid choices with worthy inclusion in a list. The Plasma Cannon is great for multiple shots with good strength and AP, and mid-level damage. In addition, you can always risk an overcharging shot to cause more damage to enemy units or vehicles.
The Multi-melta is fantastic for taking on single models with high toughness and wounds, such as vehicles and monsters. It’s relatively short range for a heavy weapon necessitates some form of transport option for the squad to get the most out of their shots, especially to get into the key Melta range. Such a unit will likely be a prime target for the enemy firepower, so a transport is also useful for keeping the squad safe for as long as possible.
The Grav-Cannon is a solid choice for taking on heavily armoured, multi-wound models. It’s volume of fire is the best of the heavy weapons available, with a squad of four putting out 16 S5 AP-3 shots. The grav cannon will go through units such as Bikers, Marines and Terminators with relative ease, but will struggle against T6 and above as it will only be wounding on a 5+ at best. While they do have a high volume of fire, they cannot be easily relied upon to do so well against tougher targets, but their potential damage output can be really high if you are rolling hot. Again, the relatively short range does necessitate some form of transport option.
The choice of Heavy Weapons really depends on your army build and what role you need the Devastators to perform to compliment the rest of your army.
You will normally see the Devastator Squad fielded in units of 5. This helps to mitigate the effects of morale on the units. An extra model or two as an ablative wound can be useful, but this tends to increase the chances of failing a morale test, though with the right Chapter Tactics, this effect can be lessened. For only 5 pts, an Armorium Cherub is highly advised. Getting an extra shot with the unit for a single turn can be really useful for finishing off a tough target in a single shooting phase. You should always use this on the model benefiting from the Sergeant’s Signum where possible, giving you 2 weapons hitting on a 2+ and more chance of causing damage. As a back up, the Cherub can also be used as an ablative wound on the unit, but this is a bit of a waste of its abilities.
Another way to run the Devastator squad is as a minimum heavy support choice to help fill out a Brigade or other Detachment. A unit of 5 Devastators with a single Heavy Bolter is a cheap HS choice, coming in at only 75 pts. This gives your army some more Bolter shots and a Heavy Bolter that will be hitting on a 2+ each turn (in most cases). This can be a useful unit for gaining access to more command points in your army for use with the Stratagems.
The Sergeant can take a combi-weapon, but I would generally avoid this option in most cases. At the range your Devastator squad is likely to be firing at, the combi-weapon is simply wasted points. The only exception to this is if you are taking a squad armed with Multi-meltas or Grav-cannons. These shorter ranged heavy weapons will need to close with the enemy army, so additional shots from a Combi-Melta or Combi-Plasma can provide additional damage output for the army.
I would also probably avoid taking a melee weapon on the Sergeant for the same reason. If your Devastator Squad is getting into combat, then things are probably looking bad already, an extra power weapon on the field is probably not going to swing the odds in your favour.
While in 8th edition, you can fire at different targets with different weapons in the unit, you are probably still better sticking with one dedicated role for your Devastator Squad. Arming them with a variety of weapons makes it more difficult to decide which to remove as a casualty, as well as giving you fewer of the weapon type you may need in a game.
There are a number of Space Marine characters that really boost the damage output of the Devastator Squad. Any character that provides re-rolls is going to be a great boost to the squad, so a Captain and Lieutenant nearby will help the Devastator squad to cause maximum damage each turn they fire.
An Ancient is also a great unit to park next to the Devastator Squad. This gives you a nice pseudo-protection from alpha-strike lists, still giving your Devastators a chance of shooting back at enemy units when they are slain. An Apothecary is also a useful choice, giving you the option of reviving slain members of the squad each turn to keep your firepower up for longer. The Ancient/Apothecary combination can really up the firepower of the squad, allowing slain members to fire back at enemy units and then be revived in the following turn to begin the cycle again.
The Devastator Squad works really well as a backfield objective holding unit. You will normally want to sit them in terrain next to an objective. This gives them some really strong durability against enemy small arms fire and allows the squad to still fire to full effect thanks to their generally increased weapons range.
While the unit is not objective secured, there are normally various screening units between the Devastators and the enemy units, so it will take a fair bit of effort for the enemy army to get to them. Proper use of screening units and deployment is also key for keeping the Devastator squad safe from enemy deep striking units. Try not to leave space behind the Devastator squad where enemy units can be brought in to shoot at them at close range or charge the squad, thereby negating their firepower.
I tend to run two squads of Devastators (one armed with Missile Launchers and one armed with Heavy Bolters), supported by a Lieutenant and Ancient. These units form a solid firebase for a Marine army, able to block out a decent amount of your deployment zone. The Lieutenant and Ancient are great support characters for the unit. With the Missile Launchers wounding most units on a 3+, getting to re-roll half your failed wound rolls is great for the squad.
It is rare for my Devastator squads to be wiped out in a game. Most opponents focus on the faster and tougher threats in my Space Marine army, leaving the Devastator Squad free to fire to full effect each turn.
There are some great Chapter Tactics for boosting the effectiveness of the Devastator Squads.
Raven Guard makes a very strong Chapter Tactic for the squad. As they are likely to be deployed at range, they will generally be getting -1 to hit against enemy firepower for much of the game. Combined with a 2+ cover save, the squad will be very hard to shift without some dedicated firepower. Strike From the Shadows can also be useful on the Devastator Squad. While more likely to be used for your assault units, a unit of Devastators with Multi-meltas or Grav-cannons starting that close to the enemy army can be a nasty shock to your opponent, forcing them to deal with them quickly, lest their firepower cause serious damage.
Salamanders is also a solid option for the Devastator Squad. Getting a free re-roll to hit and to wound each turn is great for boosting their damage output. A unit of Multi-melta Devastators can also get a big boost from Vulkan, getting re-rolls to hit and to wound with the squad.
Imperial Fists is a strong tactic for the squad. Ignoring cover is great for getting the most out of your Heavy Weapon’s higher AP values. In addition, a squad armed with Heavy Bolters can potentially cause more damage using the Bolter Drill stratagem, giving them additional shots on a 6+ to hit. This is great when using the Signum, giving one Heavy Bolter additional shots on a 5 or a 6 to hit.
Dark Angels Chapter Tactics are also great for the Devastator Squad. As they are unlikely to be moving, they will get re-rolls of 1’s to hit in the shooting phase. This essentially gives them a free Captain re-roll, which should really boost their damage output. In addition, only losing a single model from a failed morale test means it can be cost effective to field them in larger squads than 5 models. This gives the squad more ablative wounds and helps keep the Heavy Weapons Marines alive for longer. There are a number of useful stratagems and synergies for the Dark Angels Devastator Squad that will be discussed in more detail in their own review entry.
The Devastator Squad is great for providing your Space Marine army with some relatively cheap and effective firepower, and great for securing backfield objectives. All of the Heavy Weapon options have valid uses in your army, but the Lascannon, Missile Launcher and Heavy Bolter are certainly the most popular, thanks to their range and rate of fire. Properly supported with the right characters, the unit can cause a lot of damage to the enemy army and will likely be a prime target for the enemy firepower. The trick is to use your forward assault elements in the army to distract the enemy units and make themselves more appealing targets. This allows the Devastators to fire as much as possible and earn back their points cost over the course of the game.
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