Faction Space Marines Review: Heavy Support: Hellblasters

Hey guys, David here with another review for the Space Marines: Primaris Hellblaster Squads. As always, be sure to check the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

The Space Marines have a large number of units to choose from. For those wanting to focus on a Primaris majority Space Marine list will have less to choose from, though Hellblasters can be useful in any list for the faction.


Overview:

The Hellblasters are a heavy support choice for the Space Marines. They bring plasma weaponry that is good for killing multi-wound models and vehicles but at the chance of killing themselves in the process. What they are geared for decides how well they do at these tasks.

Wargear:

  • Plasma Incinerator – 30″, Rapid Fire 1, S7, Ap-4, D1. Can be overcharged for +1 S and D, but on a hit roll of 1 the bearers is slain, after all of the weapon’s shots have been resolved.
  • Assault Plasma Incinerator – 24″, Assault 2, S6, AP-4, D1. Can be overcharged for +1 S and D, but on a hit roll of 1 the bearers is slain, after all of the weapon’s shots have been resolved.
  • Heavy Plasma Incinerator – 36″, Heavy 1, S8, AP-4, D1. Can be overcharged for +1 S and D, but on a hit roll of 1 the bearers is slain, after all of the weapon’s shots have been resolved.
  • Bolt Pistol – 12″, Pistol 1, S4, AP0, D1.
  • Plasma Pistol – 12″, Pistol 1, S7, AP-3, D1. Pistol Choice for the Sergeant.
  • Frag Grenade – 6″, Grenade 1, S3, AP0, D1.
  • Krak Grenade – 6″, Grenade 1, S6, AP-1, DD3.

Special Rules:

  • 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.
  • Angels of Death – Provides And They Shall Know No Fear, Bolter Discipline, Shock Assault, and Combat Doctrines.
  • And They Shall Know No Fear – Re-roll failed morale tests.
  • Bolter Discipline – Models in this unit firing Rapid Fire bolt weapons make double the number of attacks if any of the following apply; The firing model’s target is within half the weapon’s maximum range, the firing model is Infantry and every model in its unit remained stationary in your previous Movement phase, or the firing model is a Terminator, Biker, Centurion, Dreadnought or Helbrute.
  • Shock Assault – If this unit makes a charge move, is charged or performs a Heroic Intervention, add 1 to the attacks characteristic of models in this unit until the end of the turn.
  • Combat Doctrines – Allows the use of the three combat doctrines, so long as the entire army has the Angels of Death rule. Servitors, and Unaligned units such as fortifications, are the exception.

Tactics:

The Primaris Hellblasters have the same statline as that of the Primaris Intercessors. They have a 6” move, WS3+, BS3+, S4, T4, 2 wounds, 2 attacks, Ld7, and a 3+ save (with the sergeant having +1 attack and leadership) For 80 more points than them, however, you get a weapon that can dish out the pain to a larger amount of models than the Bolt Rifles they Intercessors have. Their base Plasma Incinerators are 30″ Range, Rapid Fire 1, Strength 7, AP-4, and 1 damage. Overcharging them allows you to hit Strength 8 and increase the damage by 1, with each roll of a 1 per gun being the death of one of the models in the unit. This weapon can be swapped out for either an Assault Plasma Incinerator with 24″ range, Strength 6, AP-4, 1 damage; which overcharges for +1 strength and damage with the same downsides or a Heavy Plasma Incinerator with 36″ range, Heavy 1, Strength 7, AP-4, 1 Damage version that has the same bells and whistles with overcharge as well.

Generally. the best bet is to use the rapid-fire version of their weapon. It allows you to get more shots out of the weapon, which means more chances to hit and wound. They are highly effective against toughness 7 or less monsters and multi-wound models, including lower toughness vehicles, but against toughness 8 or higher, they will be wounding on 4’s and 5’s. Assault Plasme Incinerators will be useful if you want to use them to clear out lower toughness, multi-wound models such as Aggressors or an unlucky HQ model that finds itself out of the safety of closer friendly models. Heavy Plasma Incinerators are best for high toughness vehicles, though require you to not move or have a way to avoid the penalty to your hit roll for moving if you want to use the overcharge to any decent effect.

The rest of their gear is fairly standard. Each model has a bolt pistol, frag grenades, and krak grenades. The sergeant in the unit also having the option to use a plasma pistol instead, though there really is no reason to take it for the 5 points it costs to do so. They have no melee weapons on them, so don’t expect them to do well against a melee-oriented unit that gets into contact with them for the fight phase. They are meant for medium-to-long-range destruction of targets, so try to keep them in cover while also keeping another unit between them and enemy units that want to charge them.

Chapter Tactics

Imperial Fists- This tactic ignores bonuses to saving throws given through cover. This means models wounded by the Hellblasters will, at best, be getting a 6+ armor save or rely on an invulnerable save to keep themselves alive. Bolt weapons also get an extra hit on an unmodified hit roll of 6, so should you need to use your bolt pistols into close combat or for some other reason there is a chance for extra hits with them.

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. Some will think twice of charging them when under this chapter, as a 1/3 chance of taking a S6-9 shot that deals 1-2 damage is not something most assault armies want to take per shot. The feel no pain also means that the 2 wound models have a better chance of sticking around to make their point cost back.

Raven Guard- Hellblasters in this chapter 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. This lets you reroll one of those to hit rolls of 1 that would kill one of your models, should you not have an ability in range of them to reroll 1’s in the first place. It also gives them more survivability against weapons with low AP values.

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

White Scars- The Scars let them to charge in a turn that they advanced or fell back. This lets you advance and charge them into a unit you are sure you can survive the overwatch of and either stick yourself into the safety of close combat with them or kill them in the fight phase. It also allows you to fall back and charge a unit you might want to go first against, should they have been charged in a prior turn.

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 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 Hellblasters coming in units of 5-10 you are not as likely to pull this off as often as you would want to, due to them being good for monsters and vehicles. 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 when using your bolt pistols.

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. For example, you could take Long-range Marksmen and Stealthy to give your weapons an extra 3″ range while also allowing yourself the benefit of cover to armor saves if you are 12″ or more away from enemies that shoot at the unit.

Synergy With Other Models

  • Lieutenants/Primaris Lieutenants- Allows you to re-roll wound rolls of 1. Helpful when you really want to make sure the unit/model you are shooting at takes as much damage as possible.
  • Chaplain/Primaris Chaplain- The Chaplains access to the Litanies of Battle provide some good buffs for the Hellblasters, 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 while also keeping models from dying to to the use of overcharged weapons.
  • Apothecary/Primaris Apothecary- The ability to heal d3 wounds on a model means that, alongside their 2 wounds 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 attempt to get them in the most favorable spot for the weapon you have on them. The rapid-fire and assault variants of their weapons want to be within 12-24″ range depending on which you are using, and the heavy version is fine up to 36″ away. With standard Space Marine toughness, and a normal 3+ save, always try to keep them in cover for the +1 to the roll so they can stay alive that much longer. An opponent with many monsters or vehicles will want to take them out first, so make sure to screen for close combat assaults and provide other units to draw attention away from them. Once something with high strength and multi-damage weapons gets to them they will quickly be wiped off the board.

As they have between strength 6-9 weapons, always try to go for the models that they are most effective at removing first. Whether this is a T’au Riptide, an Eldar Wraithknight, or even an Imperial Knight you want to make sure it goes down before you start looking at lower toughness models. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t kill something with a lower toughness first, such as when you are not in range or to remove a threat that is closing in on them that other units failed to remove. If there is nothing with higher toughness to target, such as with a heavy infantry army with minimal tanks, feel free to move them to an objective and pick off weaker targets that they have no issue removing from the board. Their high strength and AP weapons will easily handle anything they target.

Many stratagems work well with the Hellblasters. For example, ‘Transhuman Physiology’ would allow them to survive a higher strength weapon on a greater chance, meaning S5 and up would still require a 4+ wound roll to force them to make a save. Using ‘Auspex Scan’ to shoot at -1 to hit against a deep striking unit within 12″ of them can simply erase some units before they even have a chance to shoot or charge on the opponents turn, and give those kill points for certain objectives on their turn as well. Also keep in mind that every supplement will have it’s own, unique, stratagems and abilities that you can use to improve upon the Hellblasters and any other unit you bring along in your army. Each supplement will provide different, unique, ways to improve an already good unit while also helping gain the upper hand against anything you come across.

Overall

In the end, Hellblasters are an excellent anti-monster and vehicle heavy support choice. They have multiple options of primary weapon to pick from depending on the situation, allowing them to cover for whatever strength value of weapon you need to bulk up for your army. They are a staple for full Primaris Armies, and a solid choice for all Space Marine lists to take.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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11 Responses to “Faction Space Marines Review: Heavy Support: Hellblasters”

  1. Dakkath October 1, 2019 8:30 am #

    Hellblasters basically boil down to the choice between a 30″ plasma gun or a worse lascannon.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 1, 2019 9:24 am #

      With some armies you have more options now, like Iron Hands can move and shoot with no penalty and re-roll 1’s to hit, Ravenguard can get them up the field easier making more options relevant, White Scars can advance and shoot and charge.

  2. Reecius
    Reecius October 1, 2019 9:24 am #

    Great review, David, you’ve been hitting them out of the park with these reviews!

    • Rob Butcher October 1, 2019 11:20 pm #

      please see my comments below and start using a proof-reader

      Bolter Drill = IF only previous Codex Strategy

      Bolter Discipline = only BOLT weapons (yes the paragraph that wasn’t copied/pasted)

      Ancient = fires again on 4+ but omitted in this article

      • abusepuppy October 2, 2019 10:36 am #

        “please start using a proof-reader”, says the man who hasn’t quite mastered capital letters, punctuation, spelling, or grammar.

        e.e. cummings you ain’t, my friend.

  3. Rob Butcher October 1, 2019 11:16 pm #

    QUERY?

    how does a hellblaster qualify to use BOLTER DISCIPLINE when they don’t have the term Bolt in their weapons name ?? Yes, that’s in the last paragraph that you omitted to copy and paste. (Bolter Drill was a previous IF only stratagem so you also got the name wrong).

    You also omitted the common tactic of firing again using the ancient on a 4+

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr October 2, 2019 7:53 am #

      I think it was included for completeness. Technically, they do have the rule, even though they cannot take advantage of it.

  4. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr October 2, 2019 7:32 am #

    White Scars have some good utility with the Hellblaster squad. They have access to a couple of useful stratagems, allowing them to “outflank” and also to disembark from a transport after it moves. This makes it really useful for getting them into rapid fire range.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 2, 2019 7:41 am #

      Yeah, and there’s some magic there with the Assault version of them, I am sure. You can move+advance+shoot+charge.

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr October 2, 2019 7:52 am #

        Yeah, it’s just a pity they don’t get to ignore the penalty for advancing and firing, like the Bikers in the army. That would be very strong on them.

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 2, 2019 11:52 am #

          Yeah, it would. I don’t think it’s something you count on so much as like, turn 3 you use it as they become melee monsters at that point.

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