Space Marine Tactics: Devastator Centurions Doing Work?

Hey everyone, Reecius here with a bite-sized tactical tidbit for you: getting your Devastator Centurions back on the table! Be sure to check the Tactics Corner for more great articles to up your game!

Centurions, you remember those guys; the scourge of 7th ed? Well, the bizarro Space Marine baby carriers have been absent from tournament tables for some time now, but I’m here to tell you that you can make them work again. Read on to find out if I’m right, or just crazy!

So, I’ve been playing Marines a ton this edition, by far the most of any of my embarrassingly large collection of armies. Mostly I’ve done it to prove to people Marines can win if you put your mind to it and I’ve done really well with pure Marines, taking 15th at NOVA two years in a row with them, and at various smaller events plus in our 80 person league here in San Diego. In fact, I am on my way to the League winter finals game tomorrow to battle it out for the top spot vs. a nasty Eldar list. Here’s that list if you’re curious (and come on, we’re all want to see dem lists!):

Unit Force Org Cost # Total Weapons Cost # Total Total Notes
Brigade Ultramarines Command Points 12 PL
Tigerius HQ 115 1 115 0
Telion HQ 65 1 65 0
Captain on Bike HQ 88 1 88 T.Hammer 21 1 21
0 S.Shield 10 1 10
0 Twin Bolters 2 1 2
Primaris Ancient Elites 63 1 69 Bolt Rifle 0 1 0 Banner of the Emperor
Apothecary Elites 55 1 55 0
Vicitrix Honor Guard Elites 26 2 52 Power Sword 4 2 8
0 Storm Shield 2 2 4
Scout Bikers Fast 21 3 63 Twin Bolters 2 3 6
0 Storm Bolter 2 1 2
Scout Bikers Fast 21 3 63 Twin Bolters 2 3 6
0 Storm Bolter 2 1 2
Scout Bikers Fast 21 3 63 Twin Bolters 2 3 6
0 Storm Bolter 2 1 2
Scouts Troops 11 6 66 Sniper Rifle 2 6 12
Scouts Troops 11 5 55 Sniper Rifle 2 5 10
Scouts Troops 11 5 55 Sniper Rifle 2 5 10
Intercessors Troops 17 10 170 Power Fist 8 1 8
Scouts Troops 11 5 55 Sniper Rifle 2 5 10
Scouts Troops 11 5 55 Sniper Rifle 2 5 10
Thunderfire Cannon Heavy 55 1 55 0
Thunderfire Gunner 26 1 26 Plasma Cutter 5 1 5
0 Flamer 6 1 6
Devastator Squad Heavy 13 5 65 Heavy Bolter 10 2 20
0 Cherub 5 1 5
Devastator Squad Heavy 13 5 65 Heavy Bolter 10 3 30
0 Cherub 5 1 5
Devastator Squad Heavy 13 5 65 Heavy Bolter 10 1 10
0 Missile Launcher 20 1 20
0 Cherub 5 1 5
LoW Detachment Ultramarines Command Points 3
Guilliman LoW 400 1 400 Warlord
Totals 69 1765 235 2000
Command Points: 18 Detachments: 2

That list has proven to be very potent, with a stupid amount of mortal wounds at range, decent melee, loads of CP and devastating close ranged firepower. However, I’ve been playing it a lot and got a bit bored with it as it is a list that likes to sit and shoot, so lately I’ve been playing with some units you don’t see as much to really good effect!

With the changes Bolter Discipline brought to Marines and Chaos, a lot of units have gotten a big boost! It’s surprising how much of a difference it makes. So, I decided to take a unit of Devastator Centurions for a spin with maximum Dakka and you know what? It was pretty damn awesome!

Each Cent kitted out like this has 6 Heavy Bolter shots and 12 Hurricane Bolter Shots! That’s 18 shots a dude, and they can move and shoot with no penalty plus they ignore cover! So, with a unit of 6, you have a whopping 108 shots. That’s serious firepower.

I decided to give them a whirl in my Ultramarines list and found them to be very strong. Moving up the table with Guilliman, an Apothecary, an Ancient with the Relic Banner and Tiggy as my go forth and smash force, they were very nasty. I found they simply deleted anything they shot at, even very tough models like Mortarion withered to that level of dakka. The Apothecary gives them the ability to heal up or revive, and when you bring a Centurion back to life that is pretty amazing! The more I play with Apothecaries the more I love them. I won’t bring a Marine list without one, now.

The Ancient is also clutch as when one dies, on a 3+ it shoots in your opponents phase and powered by the magic of G-man, that is lethal firepower. One Centurion can delete a small unit. And again, if you’re Apothecary brings him back to life in your turn, he gets to do it all over again! In my last game my opponent killed 3 of the 6 but I still finished the game with 5. Go, go, Apothecary!

They are pretty slow at only 4″ movement though, and while they lack an invul save, a 2+ at toughness 5 with 3 wounds is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, Tiggy handing out a -1 to be hit is golden. The Castellan is a problem of course, but hey, the Castellan is a problem for everyone. Stupid Castellan… Gripes aside, as they are Infantry, they can move through ruins so that does help offset it a bit.

They don’t like to get stuck in melee but that’s where G-man comes in! He protects them and as Ultramarines, they can leave combat and fire at a -1 penalty. So, as long as you don’t get wrapped up and unable to leave, it isn’t the end of the world if you do get touched in combat. I also find a screen unit for them is important but that is true of anything in the game. If you play pure Marines, I have used Intercessors, Scouts and even Catapharacti Terminators as that 4++ is great, they move the same speed and they also benefit from Bolter Discipline to pump out 40 shots at 24″ which with Roboute cheering them on, becomes very lethal. If you’re a soup lover, a unit of Conscripts or some Guard units to bravely stand in front of them also works quite well.

With the points drop to 40pts per model in CA, they clock in at a reasonable 70pts a pop with full kit. Not too bad considering what you get.

And, if Ultramarines aren’t your thing, you can go with Imperial or Crimson Fists for some truly scary firepower out of this unit with less of an investment. Crimson Fists give you +1 to hit if your target outnumbers you 2 to 1 or more which is amazing as you almost always will be. On top of this, with Bolter Drill, they can get an obscene amount of shots as it would trigger on a 5+.

Imperial Fists have a crazy good detachment for them in Vigilus Defiant in the Siegebreaker Cohort. It allows you to deal Mortal Wounds to your target on wound rolls of a 6. When you combine this with the Bolter Drill strat which gets you an extra shot for each 6 to hit you roll and you have devastating damage output vs. vehicles and buildings. You can expect to deal around 20+ mortal wounds with a re-roll aura in addition to normal damage. That’s a dead Knight!

So far, it’s been a lot of fun to play and is surprisingly nasty. When it fires to full effect there is very little in the game that can take that level of dakka. I take my Vicitrix Honour Guard to help keep the characters safe from all the silly snipers out there these days (and if you aren’t using them yet, you should. They rock!) and some units to hold backfield objectives, run around to score points, etc. and you’ve got a fun, dynamic list. You move up-field blasting things to bits with buckets of dice and then eventually, Bobby G gets close enough to get stuck in, buffed by some of Tiggy’s psychic mind magic, and chop things into even smaller bits!

I think you could have some fun with Grav Cannons, too, if that is how your Centurions are already modeled and it isn’t many more points than the Heavy Bolter version. And, I have been thinking about giving Assault Centurions a whirl, too, as they have the Hurricane Bolter dakka as well, plus some very reliable meltas and fearsome melee attacks it may be a workable unit.

What do you think about Dev Centurions after the changes in CA and Bolter Discipline? Hawt or not?


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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

26 Responses to “Space Marine Tactics: Devastator Centurions Doing Work?”

  1. Jim Griffith March 28, 2019 11:16 am #


    • Reecius March 28, 2019 11:53 am #

      Yeah, they’re really surprisingly effective and fun to use!

  2. Lord Drakon March 28, 2019 11:42 am #

    Can you fire all weapons with banner or just one? wording from codex—–

    On a 4+ that model musters one last
    surge of strength before succumbing to its wounds; it can either shoot with one of its weapons as if it were the Shooting phase, or make a single attack as if it were the Fight phase.

    • Reecius March 28, 2019 12:00 pm #

      That is correct, yes. And typically that’ll be the Hurricane Bolter!

  3. Schmuvness March 28, 2019 12:55 pm #

    Hey Reece, very glad to read your opinions on SM again. Thx a lot.

    I’ve been thinking about and playing those 210 points cents as well lately. In fact i think your above list fares better when you switch out two units of devastators for one unit of cents. Maybe you have to cut one unit of scout bikes for a trike but trikes for 37 points are awesome as well so that works out fine.

    Another strategy i’ve been pondering to handle dem knights is actually playing that IF Detachment from Vigilus. If you calculate it, 5 Dakka cents with a chapter master and a lieutenant with bolter drill and seismic devastation get rid of a knight in one shooting phase. If you had storm of fire on them its even better, but since a knight has 4++ or even 3++ it doesnt usually matter anyway.
    An issue though is their 4″ speed, so you would have to put them into a crusader to gain those extra 3″ plus 50 mm base. Take them in a spearhead detachment with lets say a TFC and youve got all your anti infantry and anti tank needs covered for ~900 points (and a lot of CP of course).

    Also very cool: Crimson Fists have this new cool Chapter Trait and since Centurions are only 3-6 models you very often get that +1 to hit. Pair that with Bolter Drill and you’re getting a lot of shots 😀

    Oh and since you spoke about assault centurions: Funnily enough a played them a lot as Salamanders right at the beginning of the edition when the world was still whole 😉
    I had them with an apothecary and Vulkan in a stormraven with flamers and bolters. Man that was fun….then codex Craftworlds dropped ;).

    Keep up the good work and get back to showering us with Space Marine articles, good sir.

    • Reecius March 28, 2019 3:18 pm #

      Glad you enjoy them!

      Yeah, they’re quite good. In the list I posted, the list I’ve been playing, the Devs are there for Mortal Wound output using the strat+Cherub to pump out a ton of damage. They’re really good for the points. But, Cents are more fun to play, honestly. I now use a combo of both.

      Those are some cool ideas on the detachments, I dig it! Will have to try them out. I’m going to be taking Assault Cents out next, glad to hear they work for you!

    • Venkarel April 2, 2019 5:15 am #

      Assault Centurions are in a weird place. At 75 pnts per model with flamers and Hurricane Bolter they are more expensive than the Devs. The movement problem is a real for them. I had a teammate play a unit of 4 of them, at the beginning of 8th, coming out of a Stormraven that worked pretty well. WIth Girlyman running behind they really melted hordes away and could wreck they thing behind the screens face (if they could charge it which at the time flyers were everywhere so….).

      • Reecius April 2, 2019 9:30 am #

        Yeah, they are expensive but they hit pretty hard. If you use them it’s largely for fun.

  4. Rob Butcher March 28, 2019 11:52 pm #

    12 Imperial Fists Devastator Centurions did well at the recent GW GT Finals (the official tournament) winning at least their first three games – including a televised game where they chewed through Blood Angles Redemptors and Repulsors. It was great to watch mortal wounds doing so much damage just because of the sheer weight of firepower.

    But without the invuln save and named characters they didn’t win the GW Finals. And at around £50 for three it’s an expensive investment.

    • Reecius March 29, 2019 7:09 am #

      Nice! That’s cool to hear. Yeah, the lack of an invul is the big thing. If you could take them with Dark Angels that would be rad as Azreal would go miles working with them.

  5. WestRider March 28, 2019 11:59 pm #

    The more I think about it, the less it surprises me. They’re not one of the Units that has Rules conflicts that hinder their intended role (Land Speeders with Multi-Meltas), or that are just plain bad at their job on a per-Model level (Hydras), they were just over-priced, so they were less efficient than regular Devastators. That’s the kind of problem that a 32% price drop can solve very nicely.

    • Reecius March 29, 2019 7:13 am #

      Yeah, exactly. The price drop and bolter discipline change made a huge difference for these guys.

  6. Cthoss March 29, 2019 12:52 am #

    So what you are saying is that a unit with over 600 points in support can do damage?

    • Schmuvness March 29, 2019 1:28 am #

      Space Marine units are always about supporting each other. Unless you’re taking Salamanders MSU you will always have to use unit synergies to get the best (or even a fighting chance) out of your SM Units.

      If you want to play units that are very good on their own and need little support, you need to play Custodes, Kingihts, Craftworlds or Covens.

      • Reecius March 29, 2019 7:12 am #

        Yeah, exactly. You always take the support characters with Marines.

        Salamanders did really well at the LVO compared to other Marine chapters, there’s a lot there to like if people want to give them a whirl.

    • Reecius March 29, 2019 7:10 am #

      Cthoss, Lol, come here for them sweet pro tips, baby!

      But, jokes aside, yo ualways take lots of support units with Marines. That part is a given, it’s about what they support. I was running a gunline which was very effective but static armies get a bit dull. I decided to switch it up and was very pleased with the results. It was more fun to play a mobile firebase with some melee elements added in.

  7. ghostvalley March 29, 2019 4:38 am #

    I played a few games with a 4 man grav/bolters. Crimson Fists with an upgraded captain to chapter master and the relic fist and an Apothecary and ancient. The bad movement and lack of transport wasn’t as big an issue than I thought it would be, but I play at home with the full Field base Terrain so I have tons of enclosed ruins and LOS blocking when I do play there. I even tried them out of a stormraven once and coordinated with the bike captain for rerolls. Not bad but them and the raven is too much points for me.

    I would have kept on it, but I’m having too much fun with the admech servitor maniple and am now building and painting black legionaires, so I’ll likely not return to OG Marines…but I recommend marine players trying them out.

    • Reecius March 29, 2019 7:11 am #

      I really need to try out the new AdMech stuff, again. I have an AdMech army I rarely play with but I see it doing well and people saying it’s fun.

      • ghostvalley March 29, 2019 7:51 am #

        I made the pivot from dragoons and shooty robots to kataphron destroyers and 4 punch-bots and I have been having a blast.

        Obviously 72 shots reroll with cawl and wrath of mars is insane with shooty bots, but usually i’d get that off once, overkill a unit and then get tagged.

        Now with the punch bots, I can control space – give myself room to breathe and move in my own zone and draw a lot of fire while being more dynamic in general. The punch bots do not match the shooty bots point for point but what they have enabled me to do with the rest of army is invaluable.
        And the destroyers in the servitor maniple are great. I think Ad-Mech will be a real surprise dick punch to a lot of people out there who were used to them being lackluster

        • Reecius March 29, 2019 8:38 am #

          That sounds like a lot of fun, actually. I’ve had great results with infiltrators popping up and using Wrath of Mars, too.

          • ghostvalley March 29, 2019 8:57 am

            for sure. a key part of my brigade. 50 shots (hit on 2’s with a strat) w/mortals on wounds of 6 is not a joke!

  8. KingCro March 29, 2019 3:00 pm #

    Love this article and would love more unconventional tidbits like this! These things are what I think really separates Frontline from the rest!

    Any word on the primaria project?! All these new vigilus toys probably have made some big shakeups

    • Reecius March 29, 2019 3:34 pm #

      That poor project has been cursed. I cannot get it finished despite trying for ages, lol. I may just have to proceed without the models being painted. Really annoying.

      But, thanks! Glad you have enjoyed the articles. I prefer to play different stuff and find ways to make it work rather than just dismissing things off hand.

  9. Kristjan Blondal March 30, 2019 1:21 am #

    Took mine out against a Eldar soup list and they did great with Bobby G next to them, took out a flyer turn 1 and second unit turn 2 even if i lost the first dev. before the unit even got to shoot.

    I didnt have the banner and i retrospect that was a big mistake which i have fixed.

    • Reecius March 30, 2019 8:16 am #

      Nice one! Yeah, the more I use mine the more I like them. Been experimenting with other chapters but Ultras work best so far due to being able to leave combat and still shoot. Crimson fists are solid though, too, you can run 3 strong units and usually get the +1 to hit which is fun, plus Bolter Drill is a great strat.

  10. Mike P April 5, 2019 9:30 am #

    After having played Dark Angels with Azzy’s Hellblaster blockparty for a while, this looks like a very interesting list to both play and fight against, and actually shows how damn annoying and powerful marines can be if played well. The bikes provide amazing threat, and examining how to take this list apart with my Tau is surprisingly challenging. Personally I really don’t like Guilliman for being too good of a buffer compared to basically every other faction, but his use here is way, WAY more interesting than the double Repulsor list. My one problem with Centurions is that even with buffs they fall so easily to autocannon-style profiles, though the Imperial Fist version has a decent chance to kill most of the platforms that mount them for very little CP.

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