Space Marines Unit Review: Elites: Aggressors

Hello everyone, David here with a review for one of my favorite elite units for the Adeptus Astartes: Primaris Aggressors with their update in the 2019 Space Marine Codex. Be sure to check the Tactics Corner for more great articles.

Overview:

Aggressors are a core elite choice for Space Marines, and will soon see a place in many lists due to the updated codex. This update gave them plenty of buffs and a points decrease, with supplements out and on their way to bring more positives to them depending on each chapter as well. They bring a high volume of shots as well as have a good amount of survivability that puts them in a good place for any Space Marine list.

I would rate Aggressors as Competitive. With, or without, support they can do their job well while also surviving against anything with less than three damage in one wound.

Wargear:

  • Flamestorm Guantlets – 8”, Assault 2d6, S4, AP0, D1, Automatically hits target.
  • Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets – 18”, Assault 6, S4, AP0, D1
  • Fragstorm Grenade Launcher – Comes with the Auto Boltstorm Guantlets. 18”, Assault D6, AP0, D1
  • Guantlet Melee – Comes with both primary weapon options. Sx2(8), AP-3, D3, -1 to hit when attacking with this weapon.

Abilities:

  • Combat Squads – Before any models are deployed at the start of the game, this unit when containing its maximum number of models, may be split into two units each containing an equal number of models.
  • Fire Storm – Models in this unit can fire twice if they remained stationary during their turn. (Including when firing Overwatch.)
  • Relentless Advance – Models in this unit do not suffer the penalty to their hit rolls for advancing and firing assault weapons.

Tactics:

Aggressors are a slightly buffed version of their Primaris brethren. They have a 5” move, WS3+, BS3+, S4, T5, 3 wounds, 3 attacks, Ld7, and a 3+ save (with the sergeant having +1 attack and leadership) This gives them the toughness needed to survive most standard weapons that infantry use while also being able to dish out a guardsman gunline level of firepower with ease. Their ability to fire twice while remaining stationary allows them to unleash a large amount of shots, no matter the weapon choices used, during the shooting phase or during Overwatch allows them to force more saves than most units will be able to survive.

You are probably going to want to use the Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets and  Fragstorm Grenade Launcher while bringing them as a full squad of six to maximize the damage then can do at range. This allows them to, on a turn they remained stationary, to fire off 72 shots with the Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets and 12D6 Shots with the Fragstorm Grenade Launchers. If you decide to use the Flamestorm Guantlets instead you will manage 24d6 automatic hits with them with the same thing, which makes for a good screen if that is what you are looking for.

Their melee weapon, while normally not planned on being used, allows for them to easily kill any infantry that does not have an invuln save due to the high strength and AP, while also being able to deal considerable damage to tanks at the same time. The newly updated rule also gives them all an extra attack when they are charged/are charging and allows them to get in a lot more attacks than one would expect from a high volume shooting unit. Keep in mind that being in close combat means they are either not shooting at all in your next shooting phase, should they be surrounded and unable to fall back, or are not benefiting from their Fire Storm special ability due to falling back.

Chapter Tactics

Imperial Fists- This tactic ignores bonuses to saving throws given through cover, which is a blessing when your weapons on Aggressors are all AP0. On top of that, all bolt weapons get an extra hit on an unmodified hit roll of 6. More value out of your shots means more wounds.

Iron Hands- This chapter gives you a 6+ feel no pain and allows you to hit on a 5+ instead of a 6+ during overwatch. This is a good way to keep them from being charged when using boltstorm guantlets, as no one is going to be willing to take 72 shots that have a 1/3 chance to hit during their assault phase.

Raven Guard- Aggressors in this chaper that are more than 12” away from a unit shooting at them get the benefit of cover automatically. On top of this, if they are wholly within cover the unit targeting them has a -1 to hit. This gives them even more survivability than they already had to begin with.

Salamanders- Salamanders allow you to reroll a single hit AND wound roll for each unit per turn during both the shooting phase and on overwatch. It also causes AP-1 weapons to be considered AP0 when targeting them.

Ultramarines- The Ultramarines give +1 to leadership. They also can shoot after falling back with a -1 to hit. This allows you to use Aggressors that may have been caught in close combat.

White Scars- The Scars let them to charge in a turn that they fell back, which is not quite as useful with them unless in dire straits and you want to get the first attack off against a unit they are already in combat with.

Black Templars- The Templars you to re-roll any or all dice of a charge roll, should it come down to charging or being charged. But the better part of their tactics is the 5+ save against mortal wounds. This allows them to survive against standard anti-infantry weapons due to their toughness while also getting a chance to ignore mortal wounds that many armies like to push onto them.

Crimson Fists- Their tactic lets you add 1 to hit rolls if the unit being targeted outnumbers you by five or more (with vehicles counting as 5!). With Aggressors coming in units of 3-6 you will pull this off quite often. They also get an extra hit with bolt weapons on an unmodified hit roll of 6, letting you increase the number of potential wounds onto a unit.

Custom Chapters- The option of choosing from a list of special rules for a custom chapter allows for great customization when it comes to maximizing units in your list. Taking Bolter Fusillades and Long-Range Marksman allows you to re-roll hit rolls of 1’s for the Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets as well as increase the threat range of all their weapons by 3”.

Synergy With Other Models

  • Lieutenants/Primaris Lieutenants- Allows you to re-roll wound rolls of 1. Helpful when Aggressors are all S4 weapons for ranged.
  • Chaplain/Primaris Chaplain- The Chaplains access to the Litanies of Battle provide some good buffs for the Aggressors, so long as you make the 3+ roll to allow the Litany to go off successfully. “Litany of Faith” grants a 5+ save against mortal wounds for those looking for more survival. “Catechism of Fire” lets you add 1 to wound rolls for a unit when targeting the closest visible enemy unit from them. With “Recitation of Focus,” you get to add 1 to hit rolls when making an attack roll with a ranged weapon, allowing for a lot more of those shots to hit against their target.
  • All Captain/Primaris Captain variants- Allows you to re-roll hit rolls of 1. Allows you to pile on more hits by re-rolling half of the die rolls that would fail when shooting.
  • Apothecary/Primaris Apothecary- The ability to heal d3 wounds on a model means that, alongside their higher toughness and 3+ save, they are much harder to kill off and should a model die there is a chance of getting it back with 1 wound left.

Tactics and Gameplay

When on the table, always ensure you place them in a spot you are happy with them staying. You want them to remain stationary as often as possible, and with an 18” weapon as the optimal choice this means a forward position is best. This allows them to not only be a threat that needs to be targeted, but also means that if there is something else bigger than them that your opponent has to choose his targets carefully. You can try and kill the 3 wound models with their higher strength weapons, or you can target the tank that might actually die easier to the same weaponry that would be used.

As they only are S4 on their weapons you want to eliminate all units that are T4 or lower with them as soon as you can. Once there are no more targets of that type for them to shoot you can choose to either move them to objectives, should one be close enough, or simply fire at something with a higher toughness. With proper synergy it is still possible to put a handful of wounds even on T8 models due to being able to re-roll hits, misses, or even adding to your hit and wound rolls.

Proper use of stratagems, such as “Transhuman Physiology” to survive a round of T8 stomps from a knight, will allow you to keep them alive to continue on to their next shooting phase. Even on your opponents turn, which you would also count as being stationary, the unit is likely to be avoided by anything that can be wounded on a 5+ or lower due to the amount of shots they put out. They also make for a good screen against deep strike, should one wish to spend the command points to use “Auspex Scan” when something is placed from reserve within the 12” range of the stratagem.

Ultramarine Supplement Extra

In the Ultramarine Supplement that came out alongside the updated codex, a special rule for the chapter was released that pairs with the Aggressors perfectly. With the tactical doctrine going, which is the one Aggressors want due to their assault weapons, standard movement without advancing or falling back counts as remaining stationary. This means that we can now move our Aggressors and still fire off all of the weapons twice, adding 5” to our threat range; from 18” to 23”!

They also allow us to bring either Calgar, who allows us to re-roll ALL hit rolls rather than just 1’s when within 6” of him, or Guilliman who allows us to re-roll all hit rolls and also re-roll wound rolls of 1 when within 6” of him. Both are great force multipliers, and it shows when they are put next to a full unit of Aggressors.

Overall

In the end, the Aggressors are an excellent anti-infantry elite choice while also being an amazingly bulky unit to get in between your enemies units and your characters. They are harder to kill, nearly the stats of a death guard marine, while also being able to put out 95+ shots per turn with a unit of 6 standing still. They are a staple in my lists when I make them, and they have yet to fail me in the matches I have played. With more supplements coming out we may see even more chapter special rules that make this unit even more competitive than they already are.

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6 Responses to “Space Marines Unit Review: Elites: Aggressors”

  1. Gorson September 10, 2019 9:55 am #

    White Scars have some good things to offer these lads.

    For a command point you can use Encirclement and have them outflank into a very nice position.

    Being able to advance and shoot without penalty and then charge can also be very clutch. If the Assault Doctrine is active then these guys will be punching very hard indeed. Spiking up to 4 strength 8 AP -4 Damage D3+1 attacks is no joke.

    You don’t even necessarily have to sacrifice their shooting. Activate Feinting Withdrawl, fall back, shoot and charge again for those slick bonuses.

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 10, 2019 6:53 pm #

      Yeah, not bad options for sure but IMO for what we’ve seen so far Ultramarines take the cake.

  2. Akaiyou September 11, 2019 1:33 am #

    Yeah Aggressors are going to be good in any chapter. I was working out the math on Ravenguard Aggressors when shooting at characters getting the +1 hit/wound. A full unit of Aggressors can basically kill any Imperial Knight (people tend to make those characters)

    The Ravenguard ability seems so lackluster I spend a lot of time yesterday figuring out which units it would be good against and which units are deadliest to use. Turns out Ravenguard are possibly the best anti-pure knights army in the game now. Considering the volume of Knight players in competitive 40K I think the Sons of Corax are not so bad after all.

    Even thousand sons players need to thread lightly a single unit of Aggressors with rerolls will drop an entire supreme command detachment of Daemon Princes.

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 11, 2019 7:02 am #

      Oh yeah, wait till you see the rest of what they offer. Ravenguard are so good.

      And think of adding in the Chaplain’s +1 to wound ability, too!

      And I agree, Aggressors went from pretty good to one of the best units in the game, IMO. No question.

  3. happy_inquisitor September 12, 2019 2:24 am #

    I think you zoomed past the Long Range Marksman successor chapter tactic a little too quickly – without looking at the flamestorm gauntlets.

    11″ range flamers are seriously good, a successor chapter with a way to deliver these close to enemy lines can pose a real threat. A White Scars successor could deliver some quite serious turn 2 pain with a unit of these and then having cleared the chaff they are a worthwhile threat to harder targets with the melee gauntlets.

    Its not like very many things in the game will want to charge into that many 11″ flamers to tie them up in combat.

  4. Dontes September 13, 2019 2:22 pm #

    A subtle but crucial change in their Firestorm ability that I think most miss is that it activates when they don’t move in the current turn as opposed to their turn as it was previously. With this change they can pretty much always shot twice for overwatch.

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