Space Marines Review: Salamanders

Do you like your fire with extra fire? Do you think your melta’s are just not quite melty enough for you? Do you feel a burning need to protect the innocent and seek out lost treasure? If so, perhaps Salamanders are the army for you. For more awesome tactical content, check out the Tactics Corner!

Salamanders have been a quite a divisive supplement in this latest 8th ed up-gunned version of them with the release of their Codex Supplement of the same name. Many people I talk to look at them as either being over powered or under powered. There Faction Specific Doctrine Bonus is very limited in scope, but powerful in application. They do not have the broad sweeping utility of Iron Hands or even Ultramarines. Like the Ravenguard I reviewed earlier, they are a list that is meant to do specific set of things, and do it very well. Likewise, it will take a skilled general to run a pure Salamanders army and run it well, but in the hands of a skilled player, it has the potential to be quite dangerous.

I am going to be using the ranking system utilized on several other reviews, detailed as such

Ranking System

  • Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
  • Efficient: This is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combo’d up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
  • Situational: This is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.

Chapter Tactic

A detachment of Salamanders gains the following benefits. First, they have the Master Artisan’s ability. Once per unit, per phase, that unit may re-roll a hit roll and may re-roll a wound roll. This ability is amazing and one of the build-your-own traits that many people take. The second half of the Salamander’s trait is they get to treat ap -1 as if it were ap 0. While not bad, and there are a lot of ap -1 guns around, this trait is not as powerful. I would see a lot of armies choosing to pick up a second trait instead. This does lose them access to their two (4 with ForgeWorld) special characters though, listed below, all of which are good enough to merit consideration. The biggest trait that a flame-focused Salamander’s Successor would probably want to pick up is Long Ranged Marksman for the +3″ range.

Promethean Cult

If your entire Army is Salamanders, or the same Salamanders Successor chapter, you gain this bonus. Whilst the Tactical Doctrine is active, all flamer and Melta weapons gain +1 to wound. Wowzers. This is just what the doctor ordered. This pushes flamers from good to amazing, and meltas to become a good deal more reliable. As we shall see below, Salamanders get a lot of tricks to get the most out of their flamer weapons too.

A note on Successor Chapters: As is the case with all the Supplements, if a chapter is a Successor, they may replace the word Salamander in all the below powers, traits, strats etc with their own chapter word. In addition, if the entire army is Pure Salamander, or pure Successor (same Successor -no mixing and matching) they get access to Promethean Cult above. As of the November 2019 White Dwarf, a single Inquisitor model may join any Space Marine army and not forfeit their ‘pure’ requirement for Combat Doctrines.

Before we take a deep dive into the rest of the army here, I want to discuss that there are two styles of playing Salamanders, in a broad sense. The first tries to maximize the usage of the Promethean Cult ability (by taking a lot of flamers and melta units), while the second plays to all the other strengths of the army and treats the Promethean Cult ability as an added bonus when activated. The ratings for the items in this book will vary slightly based on that focus and build. Things that would be Efficient typically will be made more Competitive when the whole army is built around maximizing Promethean Cult.

The Units

Salamanders get two units in the supplement, and have another two special ones from Forgeworld which are worth a mention as well. All four of them are worth a look, and three of them alone make taking a Salamander’s army over a Successor a serious consideration.

Vulkan He’stan



  • Gauntlet of the Forge: This is a strength 5, ap -1 flamer.
  • Spear of Vulkan: A spear that is strength + 2, ap -2, and d3 damage. If he is your warlord, this will push his attacks to Str 8.
  • Frag and Krak Grenades, and a bolt pistol

Special Rules

  • Rites of Battle: As normal for a Captain
  • Forgefather: You can re-roll hit and wound rolls for Melta and Flamer weapons within 6″.
  • Warlord Trait; Anvil of Strength: – This adds 2 to Vulkan’s strength characteristic

So, Vulkan is decent. On his own he is nothing to write home about, but his Re-rolling wounds for Flamers and Melta weapons adds a level of reliability to them that they very much enjoy. Having a Doom-esc ability with a 6″ bubble gives him a solid place in any army that is built specifically to take advantage of his Forgefather rule. With a Heavy flamer as his main gun, and a decent number of good attacks, Vulkan is not going to swing a battle in his own right, but he won’t let you down either. At first glance, not getting the Chapter Master ability over Rites of Battle is a bit of a let down, but between re-rolling 1’s with it and Master Artisan’s allowing another re-roll to hit, you probably don’t need it. For 130 points, he is not a steal but still a very solid choice. Efficient

Adrax Agtone



  • Draksis: This is a 12″ flamer, that bumps up to ap -1 as well.
  • Malleus Noctum: This hammer is a Strength x2, ap 3 and 4 damage. It also requires you to subtract one from the hit roll
  • Frag and Krak grenades

Special Rules

  • Rites of Battle: As per normal Captain rules
  • Unto the Anvil: A 6″ Aura of +1 to wound with Meele weapons on the first round of combat (Charge, was Charged, or heroically intervened). This can seriously crank up the damage potential of squads, with a 5 man intercessor squads able to seriously threaten anything T7 or less.
  • Arridian Drakehid Cloak: This reduces incoming damage by 1 to a minimum of 1.
  • Warlord Trait; Lord of Fire: Friendly Salamanders within 6″ may re-roll the dice when determining the number of shots a flame weapon gets.

Clocking in at 140 points, Adrax is the Primaris special character for Salamanders. He is a bit of a Melee powerhouse, and if you want to build to really take advantage of that, you absolutely can. Like Vulkan, he adds some reliability to flame weapons yet in a different way. Both he and Vulkan (and the whole army) have to answer the question of mobility. How to get him where he wants to be to maximize potential. Once delivered, he can change the way your army functions, and when built to take advantage of this, he is quite powerful. Efficient

Harath Shen



  • Bloodfire: A plasma pistol that only does a single mortal on an overheat roll
  • Power Sabre: Str User, Ap -3, 2 damage
  • Frag and Krak grenades

Special Rules

  • Master of Chirurgery: This is the standard Apothocary heal mechanic with two twists. First, he can revive a model on a 3+ instead of a 4+. Second, he heals for d3+1

Coming in at 75 points, Harath Shen used to have the title of best Apothecary in the game. Now though, I think he has some serious consideration from a Chief Apothecary from Faith and Fury. He still does several things very well. First, as a relatively inexpensive HQ choice, he can help fill mandatory slots in any detachment. Marines now have some very good HQ’s, so needing to fill that slot is not a challenge, but for his low cost and good utility, plus the fact all other Apothecaries are Elite, Shen offers a very unique option. Additionally, his resurrecting abilities are more reliable and improved. Reviving on a 3+ instead of a 4+ is a rather large improvement (about 16%). The extra pip of healing is also very welcome. Second, beyond his points cost, Shen does not require any more investment of resources. A Chief Apothecary offers some very unique and good abilities, but at a relatively high opportunity cost. CP and Warlord traits are both a rare commodity in most Marine armies, and Salamanders in particular have lots of nice traits and strats to compete with. Unless an event does not allow Forgeworld units, Shen is one I would expect almost any pure Salamanders army to run. He has the plasma rule I think all characters should have, and a decent sword too. But his real value is in filling a mandatory slot and doing a reliable job with little else needed of him. Competitive

Bray’arth Ashmantle (Forgeworld – Dreadnaught)

Not actually Ashmantle, but a cook looking dread still


  • Burning Wrath: a 2″ 2d6 pistol with all the stats of a flamer (and per the FAQ does count as a flame weapon for the Promethean Cult bonus)
  • Dreadfire Heavy Flamer: A str 6, ap -3, 2 damage flamer. This guy has two of these puppies
  • Dreadfire Claw: Str x2, ap -4, d6 damage.

Special Rules

  • Smoke Launchers: as per codex
  • Ancient Beyond Measure: This model may only be selected as the warlord of your army if there are no other characters. Note: this does not prevent it from benefiting from the Hero of the Chapter strat.
  • Wrought by Vulkan: Ashmantle has a 5+ invul save (as noted in the profile above) and 4+ feel no pain save.
  • Explodes: On a 6+ for d6 mortals on everything within 6″

Ashmantle is an interesting case now. Clocking in at a whopping 400 325 points (revised after chapter approved), this big boy is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. I am split on the idea of getting him a Lucius Pattern Drop Pod. On the one hand, his longest range gun is 8″, and with a 6″ move, he is very, very slow. On the other hand, that is an 80 point investment on a 400 point model, just to get him up the board. That being had, this guy is stupidly resilient. A Smash Captain, with all the bells and whistles, can expect to do about 3 damage to him. The Heavy Laser Destroyer on a 2+ BS Iron hands Repulsor Executioner double tapping into Ashmantle can expect 4 wounds to slip through. That is a very, very tough cookie. Ashmantle’s weakness, as with much of the Salamander’s army, is mobility. He is going nowhere fast. A drop pod or a Storm Hawk (which is still not a good unit) can help mitigate this, but only so much. Ashmantle is a cornerstone of a castle, and will mostly be used to scare things away from him. If we wanted to crank him up to a silly level, he can also take a Warlord Trait for +2 Toughness, Might of Hero’s for an additional +1 toughness and Drakeskin for another +1 toughness bringing him up to toughness 13. Honestly, this is not needed, but it is doable! The ability to take Warlord traits now, and the bonuses from Promethean Cult make Ashmantle better. I doubt he will grace any top tables, but he is certainly not bad, just very niche. Situational

Warlor Traits

Salamanders have some absolutely amazing warlord traits. In a continuing trend for Marine armies, they have more good traits then slots to use them with. There are a lot here that, just depending on the army build, become auto takes. Build changes exactly which, but man are these good.

Anvil of Strength: +2 Strength. Short, simple, and very powerful. Turn a character into an absolute beatstick. Since this is added to the Characteristic, it is applied before any weapon mods. So, a Smash Captain with this jumps to Str 12, or a Slaplin (Chaplin with the Manta of Strength and Benediction of Fury relic – jumpkit optional but advised) can be hitting at Str 9. This makes your melee threats very threatening to everything. Competitive

Miraculous Constitution: This trait confers a 6+ Feel no Pain save and an auto Regen of a single wound at the start of your turn. This is not bad, but the other traits are better. The Wound regen is almost funny to put on Ashmantle as a troll job. Situational

Never Give Up: The Warlord may select a unit within 6″ and give them the Defenders Against Humanity special rule. This certainly has its uses, especially on a very tanky unit you use to steal an objective. Again, though, the other traits are just better. Situational

Forge Master: +2 Toughness. Speaking of tanky units, this can be used to really push a character up to Knight levels of toughness. Getting a touch ahead of myself with unit combos, but a Captain on a bike, with Forge Master goes up to toughness 7. Might of Hero’s and Drakeskin pushes that to toughness 8 and then 9. With a 3+ armor save and a 4+ or 3+ invul save, this warlord can take some concentrated fire to bring down. Every warlord likes to be harder to kill, and this trait helps a lot. Competitive

Lord of Fire: The warlord has a 6″ aura that allows the dice for the number of shots on flame weapons to be re-rolled. This is very powerful for an army that is trying to take good advantage of Promethean Cult and flame weapons. With Dreadnought Chaplins not going to Legends, this has a strong play as a bonus trait on one of them even, when equipped with a Inferno Cannon. The reliability offered by this really helps this one shine. Competitive

Patient and Determined: Once per shooting and/or once per fight phase, auto hit with a single attack. No risk overcharged plasma? Auto hitting Melta? Auto hitting powerfist/Thunderhammer? This is good. Very good. A techmarine with a Combi Melta and Servo Harness with this trait becomes very, very reliable. Competitive


One of the focal points of Salamander Lore is them seeking out the Relics left by Vulkan. Some have been found, others are still missing. Add in their focus on craftsmanship, and it is reasonable to expect the Relics of the Salamanders to impress. They do not disappoint.

The relics of the Salamanders, like all other supplements, are broken into two categories. Relics of Nocturne, which are limited* to pure Salamanders lists only, and Special issue Wargear, which successors and ‘Manders both may access.

*Barring a strat to allow successor chapters to pick up a ‘Manders relic

Relics of Nocturne:

  • Vulkan’s Signal: Increases the attacks characteristic of the wielder by one. Once per game, may activate it to have a 6″ aura of increase attacks by one, and the wielder increases by 2. In a list that has a nice castle position that moves up and wants to lay some smack down on an opponent, this is quite nice. Especially if that list is running Adrax. While Salamanders want to focus a lot on their flamecraft, they are still Space Marines, and New Marines have a lot of punch in combat now. This ups the ante even more. Efficient
  • Drake-Smiter: This Relic really brings the hammer. Replacing a Thunder Hammer, it picks up an extra point of AP. In addition, any Natural 6’s to wound do an extra 3 damage. A 6 Damage Thunderhammer is scary. Efficient
  • Wrath of Prometheus: I normally don’t much like the replace ranged weapon options, but this one is pretty good. Replacing a Bolt Gun or Master Crafted Bolt Gun (so on a 0 cost weapon – that’s a win), it becomes Str 5, ap -2 and Damage 3, Rapid fire 1. Seeing as Salamanders want to sit in the Tactical Doctrine, this will often be ap -3. This is solid. It is a serious threat, which if able to get two shots off, can even go after vehicles. It is a bit of a waste on light infantry, but 2 almost guarantee kills is nice. Even Aggressors don’t like this, needing 6’s or dying. Competitive
  • The Tome of Vel’cona: Librarian only, gains an extra power from the Promethean Discipline and gains +1 to cast powers from that tree. This also is very good. It can be combo’d with a psycher pulling from a different tree to dip into the Promethean one, or going full bore on Promethean and picking up that nice +1 to cast. Making powers be more reliable is very good. The Faith and Fury book opens up even more possible combos with this relic. Many Salamander strategies will revolve around getting off specific powers, and this pushes the Warp Charge of Drakeskin and Fireshield down to a 5. Competitive
  • The Salamander’s Mantle: The bearer is -1 to wound. Simple, powerful, effective. Seeing how high a Captain on a bike can push his toughness to, this can make a very hard character to kill. Competitive
  • Nocturne’s Vengeance: Another Ranged weapon relic – and this one I am less excited about. It replaces a Combi Flamer and has the normal Combi Weapon rule set. The Flamer and Bolter both go to ap – 1 and 2 damage. This is not bad at all. It is not amazing, but it certainly has it’s uses. If this relic could go onto a Sargent I’d call it Competitive, but on a mainline character who has better options, it is Efficient
  • Helm of Draklos: Primaris model only, who gets +1 wound and enemy models within 6″ are -1 Leadership. The obligatory Leadership relic/ability every army seems to get. Like almost all of them, this one is Situational

Seeing as the above are limited to Pure Salamanders, that is a pretty strong argument to not run Successors. Their relics really have you making some difficult list building choices, which to me is the sign of a well made book.

Special Issue Wargear

This list starts off with the standard four options available to every suppliment; Adamantine Mantle (5+ feel no pain), Artificer Armor (2+/5++ save), Master crafted weapons (+1 damage on one weapon) and Digital Weapons (a bonus attack that if it hits, does a mortal). None of these are very exciting, although some may have a place in armies, they do not lend ‘Manders anything unique. Let’s take a look at those that only the sons of Vulkan may take.  

  • Obsidian Aquila: This relic provides a 5 6+  feel no pain save in a 6″ Aura. This is on a model by model basis, so careful positioning is required, but this is very, very strong. When combo’d with all the survivavbility tricks Salamander’s can pull off – yikes! I would expect to see this on a character just behind a ‘Wall Unit’ (More on that latter) that is using Self Sacrifice to shield a juicy target. This 1/3rd damage negation is amazing. Competitive
  • Promethean Plate: The bearer can not be wounded on anything less than a 4+, irrespective of any abilities by weapons or units. A permanent Trans-human Physiology buff is nothing to sneeze at. I believe the Salamander’s Mantle above is better, but this is a good consolidation prize for Successors. Efficient
  • Dragonrage Bolts: The Salamander Bolt weapon upgrade. When firing a bolt weapon, the bearer may chose to fire a single Dragonrage shot. If it hits, it does d6 wound rolls, at ap-1 and 1 damage. There are only two viable candidates in my mind for this upgrade. An Apothecary may fire it’s Absolver Bolt Pistol (Range 16, str 5) or an Eliminator Sargent using the Executioner Round to target a unit hiding behind cover. In either case this is a decent upgrade, although the Eliminator is the better option. While not bad, I think the other relics are pushing this one out. Efficient
  • Drakeblade: This replaces a Power Sword, Master Crafted Power Sword, or a Combat Knife. The last option is the only fringe case I see this being used for, as on anything else the Burning Blade is better. The Sword is Str User, ap -4, and 2 damage. Any Natural 6’s to wound does an extra mortal wound. A Phobos Captain appreciates the ability to trade his combat knife for this, especially as he can often push up towards the enemy lines easily. Otherwise, grab the Burning Blade (Str +3, ap -5, 2 damage). Efficient

The power of Salamander Relics is certainly in the Relics of Nocturne, but that is not to say the Special Issue is bad. It feels quite appropriate too, when considering lore. Overall, between these, those in the main Space Marine book, and that newly added by Faith and Fury, a Salamander’s player has some tough choices to make.

Psychic Powers

Salamanders have, like most of the supplements, two really good powers, and the rest are a bit lackluster. These two, however, are good enough to want to take The Tome of Vel’cona relic. Without further adieu…

Flaming Blast: This Warp Charge (WC) 6 power allows the psycher to select a point on the battlefield within 24″ and visible, every enemy unit within 3″ of that point takes a single mortal wound on a 4+. This power is ok at best. There are situations where this could be decent to hit multiple squads all bunched together, but doing a single mortal on a 4+ really limits it. Unless playing against a castle army with multiple small units, I really don’t see this doing much. Situational

Fire Shield: The first of the two really good Salamanders powers. Let’s get this out of the way now and say this is CompetitiveWC of 6 (5 with the relic) lets the psycher select a friendly Salamander unit within 18″, and make it -1 to be hit with ranged weapons and -1″ to be charged, until the start of your next psychic phase. That unit that is Self Sacrificing; -1 to hit. Your Relic Leviathan; -1 to hit. Storm Hawk gunship; -2 to hit. Ashmantle jacked up to toughness 13; -1 to hit. This power is good. WC 6 makes it very good. WC 5, with The Tome of Vel’cona makes it incredible. Sure, with all the re-rolls available now, a single -1 to hit is not what it used to be, but this is stacked with the toughness boosts ‘Manders can also put out, makes this so very, very good. 

Burning Hands: I really want to like this one. At WC 6, the psycher turns into an almost-scary melee threat. Until the start of your next turn, every hit in close combat does an automatic mortal wound. Don’t roll to wound, or do damage, 1 hit = 1 mortal and done. Hitting on a 3+, a normal libby has 3 attacks with primaris getting 4. Shock assault, Imperium’s Sword/Champion of Humanity, Vulkan’s Sigil, and Might of Hero’s could potentially boost this all the way to 9 attacks. That is a lot of investment on something that amounts to a pretty squishy character. All of those abilities, traits, and powers are better invested elsewhere too. I would pick this up as my third power from the Tome relic, and have it as a fringe case should he ever find himself stuck into CC. Efficient

Drakeskin: The other power you are running a Salamander’s Librarian for. Also, for the low cost of WC 6, you select a Salamander’s unit within 12″ and add 1 to that unit’s toughness. Toughness 5 Terminators who are -1 to be shot at with a 3++ are actually a bit of a pain to chew through. Pushing Vehicles up to T8 or even T9 makes a pretty big difference. A Bike captain will also appreciate this making him go up to T6. As mentioned in the Warlord trait section, this can combo with the Forge Master trait and Might of Hero’s to push him to T9 as well. The crowning jewel is the reliability of this power as well, coming down to WC 5 with the Tome relic. 100% expect to see this power. Competitive

Fury of Nocturne: Select a visible enemy unit within 18″. On a WC of 6, you roll 2d6 and compare it to the highest toughness characteristic in that unit. If you beat it (not equal, must exceed), that unit takes d3 mortals. This power is ok if you want to target a unit, or find that you have already cast smite twice already, and want to go after a T5 or lower unit. Otherwise, smite is better. I see Salamander’s taking maybe two psychers in total (the second to pick up Null Zone and Might of Hero’s), so I doubt there will ever be more than two smites cast. Targeting with it is nice, but not nice enough to compete with Drakeskin of Fireshield. This also could be a pickup from the free power off the Tome. Efficient

Draconic Aspect: The psycher, on a WC of 6, has a 12″ bubble of -2 leadership to enemy units. Most psycher’s don’t want to be within 12″ of enemy units. But hey, let’s run with this… Draconic Aspect + Helm of Draklos + Fear Made Manifest Warlord Trait = a -4 leadership bubble within 6″.  Best case scenario, you can make an additional 4 models run from a leadership check. If they don’t have a way to auto pass, or ignore, or only lose one… etc. This could be good the day Leadership becomes relevant again.  Situational

To me, a Librarian with Flameshield and Drakeskin are pretty much an auto include. The Tome relic is optional, but amazing. It becomes a lot more optional when running Successors and you only get one relic from the Salamander’s proper list – vying with the Mantle for your choice. Otherwise, in a pure ‘Manders army, I see no reason not to take it.

Salamander’s also have some pretty nice stratagems, including one that the internet complained broke the game. I don’t feel it was anywhere near as broken as everyone made it out to be (we did not see Salamander armies shoot to the very top of the brackets and dominate the tournament scene… like another supplement did. You know what you did…), it was strong enough to get a complete re-write in the FAQ.


  • 2CP – Flamecraft: When rolling for a Salamanders unit to determine the number of shots a flame weapon gets in the shooting phase, do not roll – the max number is made. For example, d6 becomes 6. Starting off strong in the stratagem section. Everyone’s first though is a unit of Flamestorm Aggressors double shooting for a max of 144 auto-hitting flamers with +1 to wound when Promethean Cult is active. Is that good? Yes. Is it overkill? Absolutely. It will do an expected 25 wounds to a Knight (or Toughness 8 3+ model). This is not what should be targeting a knight, but it can certainly take on down. Versus anything T7 with a 3+, you are killing it 3 times over. Due to the high threat of this, the only time your opponent will let you get 6 flamestorm aggressors within range to double tap, they don’t know what you can do. Don’t club baby seals with this. In practicality, anytime you have 2 flamers in a unit in range, this stratagem becomes viable. I will cover this more later, but many units can get up close and make very good utility of this strat. Competitive
  • 1CP – The Crucible of Battle: Used in the shooting or Fight phase, this applies to a Salamanders unit and makes it +1 to wound. +2 to wound on flamers? Or in Combat when combo’d with Adrax. This is scary good, and can be applied to any unit with any weapon. Competitive
  • 1CP – Strength of the Primarch: Used in the Fight Phase, the unit gains +1 strength to their profile, and any wound roll of a 6 doubles damage. Aggressors, Centurions, even basic Intercessors can be quite threatening with this. Combo this with the above Crucible of Battle for wounding most infantry on a 2+. Competitive
  • 1CP – The Fires of Battle: Not to be confused with the Crucible above (what it is with New Marines and similar sounding names…), this strat allows you to, on any flame weapon, do a mortal wound on a 4+. Per the FAQ, this is capped at 3 mortals. Pre FAQ, this was probably a bit too good, but capped at 3 makes this a tad weak. That aside, it is not bad. Efficient
  • 2CP – Rites of Vulkan: This is the strat all the suppliments got a version of. For ‘Manders, when the Tactical doctrine is active, an unmodified wound roll of a 6 increases the AP of the weapon by one. This applies across the entire army and is once per battle. I don’t like these so much. Perhaps if there was a way to get massed flamers in range, but that is something the army really struggles with. The times this really is efficient I think will be few and far between. Situational
  • 1CP – Despite the Odds: Used with Tactical objectives, and as such, if you are not playing with them it is not even valid. So long as your warlord is alive, you may generate an additional tactical objective at the end of your turn, if you did not achieve any this turn. Again, hilariously, as this is out of phase, you could use this as many times as you want. Situational
  • 1CP – Immolation Protocols: Used in the shooting phase, this allows a unit to treat all their flame weapons as being of the pistol type. While this will not come up often, when it does, it is quite good. This is one to keep in mind when facing Salamanders. Efficient
  • 2CP – Self Sacrafice: The strat that “broke the game”. Seriously, it was not that bad. A few small tweaks would have made it perfectly fine. GW however went and re-wrote the whole thing in their FAQ. It is now activated at the start of your opponents shooting phase, and it allows a Salamander’s Infantry unit of 5+ models to become human shields for another Infantry unit that is wholly within 6″ of them. The unit they are shielding may not be shot at unless they are the closest unit. In addition, the unit that is self sacrificing may not benift from powers such as the shrouding to make them un-targetable. Boo. This power, went from being amazing to being just good. Honestly, I think they over did it on the nerf here (The only change that I feel was needed was to not allow this to be put on Characters) – but that is neither here nor there. As it stands now, this strat requires you to have a durable unit able which is a large points cost (and you can probably get a good transport for about the same or less) and use it to slowly move up the board and shield your aggressors or centurions. It can also be used in soup to shield any imperial unit, but the only one that springs to my mind as maybe being worthwhile is Dark Angels Hellblasters. As this strat has been re-worked now, I don’t think it is worthwhile anymore, except for lore purposes. Situational
  • 2CP – Rise from the Ashes: When a Salamander’s character is slain, it may resurrect on a 4+ with a single wound left.  This. Is. A. Trap. Don’t do it. No. Not even then. No. Ynnari have this stratagem. I have used it in about 50 games. It is not worth that 2 CP, plus the one you almost always need for the re-roll. A 1 wound character who was already pounded into the ground should not be rezed at 1 wound to just die again. Not even you warlord. And it is such a feel-bad when you burn 3CP just to have them die anyways. That 3CP can be better spent elsewhere. And I know, people will tell me the times it worked for them, but in 50+ games, I found it just not worth the investment. Situational
  • 1CP – Vengeance for Isstvan V: Another fun and fluffy one – when making a melee attack against a Night Lord, Word Bearer, Aplha Legion, or Iron Warriors unit, you may re-roll the hit roll. Honestly, with the Faith and Fury book, this may be trash or may be quite good. Re-rolling all hits is still kinda nice though. Situational/Efficient
  • 1CP – Stand your Ground: Used on a Salamander Infantry unit which did not advance in your previous movement phase (but not servitor) is chosen as the target of an attack. If the damage characteristic of any weapons is one, you may increase the saving throw of the Salamander unit by 1 (but may not increase invul saves). There is a lot of caveat’s to look at here. Has to be an infantry unit, and the attack needs to have a damage of 1. You cannot have advanced in your previous turn. If all of those are satisfied, then you may increase the save. This means vs small arms fire you can be ignoring ap -1 and get a 2+ save in the open. Since this is not cover, it does not get ignored by things that ignore cover. A squad of marines with a 2+ save in the open, ignoring -1 can be quite difficult for small arms fire to shift, and require other weapons. This is not a bad strat, but the limitation of 1 damage weapons brings it down a touch. Without that I’d say this is Efficient, but as it stands it is Situational
  • 2CP – Born Protectors: Use this in your opponents charge phase. When they charge a unit of Salamanders, another unit that is not within 1″ of enemy models and within 12″ of the unit being charged may overwatch. But wait – there is more. Additionally, if that unit successfully charges, the unit you played this strat on may then heroically intervene 2d6. You get to charge their chargers. This can move a unit of yours up the board, and if they didn’t declare the unit you use this strat on as a charge target, they cannot even attack it. This is solid gold. While it is not a strat you may see every game, any army that wants to charge into Salamander’s lines has to be very much aware of this. Competitive
  • 1CP – Relentless Determination: Used at the end of the movement phase, a Salamanders unit (not restricted to infantry) may count as having remained stationary, so long as it did not advance. If the unit has a damage table, then it may also count as double wounds on that table. Very strong. Between this and The Big Guns Never Tire out of the SM ‘Dex, you can have two vehicles able to move and shoot without penalty. Or, it can be used to let aggressors double fire even after moving up the board. This is a solid, solid strat. Competitive
  • 1CP – Exemplar of the Promethean Creed: This is the Salamander trait to have your warlord take a second warlord trait, provided the second one comes from this supplement. Salamanders have some of the best warlord traits in the game in my opinion, so this is almost an auto take. Competitive
  • 1CP – Master Artisans: Allowing a Sargent to take any of the following special issue wargear: Master Crafted, Digital Weapons, Drakeblade, Dragonrage bolts. Dragonrage bolts on an Eliminator is decent. The rest are passable. Some people wanted to master craft a flamer, but I don’t think it’s worth the 1CP. Efficient
  • 1CP – Trust of Prometheus: This allows for a Successor Character to take a Pure Salamander’s relic. The worst thing about this strat is it’s only one use per game.Competitive

And there you have it – the Salamander Stratagems. A few decent ones in there, some very good and a couple that are more lore based or just not that good. Unfortunately, I believe that after the Iron Hands fiasco (which I personally still feel has not been corrected), when people lost their minds over Self Sacrifice and the Fires of Battle strats, GW reacted a bit too harshly. I really liked the dynamic game play Self Sacrafice offered your opponent, but that is neither here nor there any more.

Psychic Awakening: Faith and Fury Chapter Litany

As with every other Marine Chaplin, Faith and Fury gives away a free toy in the form of an extra litany. Salamanders get Selfess Saviors which when inspiring, gives a 6″ aura that any units within may heroically intervene. Seeing as Litanies are cast at the start of the Battle Round, and heroic intervention is done at the end of your opponent’s charge phase, a canny opponent can recall this and account for it. This will probably be more ‘gotcha’ moments than anything else. Or, they can accept it and charge in anyways. It is not bad, and as a free upgrade it is nice to have in those situations where it is needed, but overall it’s not needed. Situational

Unit Combinations

I would like to take a look at some of the combinations of units, strats, etc that a Salamanders army can pull off which other Marine’s cannot do as well. This list is not exhaustive, just some that immediately jump out to me. Some of these I have hinted at above, but I want to really delve into here. I am not going to talk about flamestorm aggressors as everyone knows those are begging for Salamanders’ love.

  • Bike Captain: Taking a Combi Melta and a Thunderhammer, along with the Salamander’s Mantle, he rocks in at 145 points. Make him the Warlord and burn Exemplar on him to pick up +2 toughness and an Auto hitting attack. You now have a T7 6 wound character who is -1 to be wounded and can auto hit with a melta gun and a Thunder Hammer attack. Not bad as far as a beatstick character goes
  • Chaplin Dreadnought (Master of Sanctity) : This one is not cheap. Running an Inferno Cannon, he clocks in at 162, but also wants a drop pod to bring his total to 242. He is probably being run is successor with +3″ to get his flamer in range, and for litanies he has Catechism of Fire with either Mantra of Strength or Canticle of Hate. If no other chaplains are nearby to give him Canticle of Hate, he is probably taking it himself. His flamer becomes a Str 6 ap -1, 2 damage with d6 shots, and on turn 2 + Catechism of fire is +2 to wound with. In combat he is wrecking most things with his 5 attacks at strength 12, ap -3 and 3 damage flat. A fun unit to throw into a flank or backline and cause some havoc with it. 
  • Assault Terminators: Yup. Assault Terminators. This one has a few moving parts to it. We also will need Adrax, an Implusor and a Chaplin. Chaplin is probably going jump pack and with the Canticle of Hate for +2 to charges. Adrax, in the impulsor can impact the unit of terminators up to 29″ away from him on the turn they drop in (14″ impulsor move, 3″ disembark, 6″ move, 6″ aura – assuming he does not advance so he can charge). These Terminators will use Fury of the First for 1CP and Strength of the Primarch for 1CP. What does this all net you? 16 Attacks, hitting on a 3+, re-rolling 1’s and a single 2, wounding on 2’s vs anything toughness 9 or less, re-rolling a single fail. Any 6’s to wound do 6 damage, otherwise it’s 3 per. For a 205 pt unit, that is a lot of hurt. You could drop Adrax out and burn another strat for 1CP, Crucible of Battle, to get that +1 to wound instead. Personally, I prefer it with Adrax, especially as the impulsor can potentially charge in first to absorb overwatch. 
  • Deimos Pattern Relic Predator: Clocking in at 163 points, this tank can mount two heavy flamers and an Infernus Cannon (a 2d6 heavy flamer that does 2 damage). With a 12″ move, this tank can lay down some serious hurt once Promethean Creed is active. And it is begging for Flamecraft letting it put out 12 Heavy Flamer hits and 12 Infernus Cannon hits on a target. Moving one of these up the table and advancing t1, popping smoke, and putting fire shield and/or drakeskin on it can greatly improve it’s lifespan.  
  • Relic Leviathan with dual Cyclonic Melta Lances: At time of writing, I know the lances have come down in points but not by how much yet. Lets just say this build is sub 350 points for now (323 after chapter approved changes). What does it net you? 4d3 melta shots, hitting on 2+. With a 21″ range (you did run this in a Long Range Marksman Successor right?) you get 4d3 shots that hit on 2+ and wound anything Toughness 8 or less on a 2+. The option to deepstrike in or just start on the board and move up are both valid, although I think I’d rather the latter most of the time. Able to benefit from two different stratagems to let it move and count as being still for firing, as well as a litany for +1 to hit. The best bet though, for my money, would be Master of the Forge from Faith and Fury and take the +1 to hit warlord trait (Master of the Machine). This also lets you auto heal your Leviathan 3 wounds each turn. 
  • Bike squad, 2 flamers and a combi flamer: Giving Salamanders an actually useful unit in their weakest slot, bikes can help unlock a brigade. At just 89 points for a unit that can advance 20″ and then flame a target with 3d6 hits (or 18 if we use Flamecraft), they are not a threat to be lightly ignored. Not a stellar unit, but certainly not a bad choice for ‘Manders. Just be careful not to throw them away unnecessarily as they will tend to move much faster than the rest of your army. 

And there you have it. Salamanders are certainly a very deadly army, and they have quite a number of tricks up their sleeves. The problem any Salamander general will have is learning how to get their forces where they want them to go. If they can manage that, this army is scary strong. There are certainly ways to do it, and all the tools are there. I believe this is not going to be an easy to pick-up-and-play army. This army is for those who are dedicated to learning how to squeeze every last bit of promethium from their flamers.

Thanks for reading, and happy Wargaming!

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6 Responses to “Space Marines Review: Salamanders”

  1. Anvil
    Jeffrey R Sas December 10, 2019 12:33 pm #

    Few thoughts, feel free to disagree on them:

    – Obsidian Aquila is a 6+ FNP, not 5+, just as a clarification. Still a solid relic.

    – Promethean plate is good for a smash captain that is taking 2 warlord traits to be as offensive as possible (Imperium’s sword + Anvil of Strength)

    – I think if you want to play pure salamanders competitively, go with a successor, as I agree with your assessment that the characters outside of harath shen aren’t worth taking, and there are good enough relics in the successor table that you can forgo Trust of Prometheus

    – I think they have the weakest/2nd weakest chapter doctrine (tough call between them or black templars), but make up for a decent amount with strong Stratagems and warlord traits, and can make one of the best smash captains (i think BA, WS, and maybe BT beat them out on that).

    – I think the point above lends them to being one of the better chapters for soup lists.

    – If going pure salamanders, and you want to take one of the 2 supplement characters, i think adrax does better due to him covering the weakness of flame-heavy armies being close enough for assault and him helping out against that. That being said, if you go soup, Vulkan I think is better depending on your army build as he can make up for the loss of the chapter doctrine.

    – Where do dual-heavy flamers stand for tournaments? They’re not in legends or the codex, but were in the index. If they can be taken, they are really good in pure salamanders.

    That’s all i can think of for now. I’m still testing out games with the supplement (with not good results so far).

    • Faitherun
      Faitherun December 10, 2019 2:00 pm #

      Hey Jeffery, good catch on the Obsidian Aquila! Wishful thinking on my part – still a very good relic. I am not sure I would agree with Salamanders having the weakest, but it certainly is weaker than some of the others we have seen. I would argue they have one of the hardest to use. I definitely agree they are one of the best to soup with.

      For the Dual Heavy Flamers, I am assuming you mean the Landspeeders? I was not sure where they fell either, so omitted them for the time being… Would love some clarification on that.

  2. Robert Nathan December 11, 2019 9:15 am #

    As Ashmantle has gone down in points (325?) In Chapter Approved, is this enough to push him to efficient or would he still be situational? Particularly as he is 8 wounds, he cant be targeted easily which is a bonus.

    • Faitherun
      Faitherun December 11, 2019 2:29 pm #

      Ah – Ashmantle. 325 for him is not bad… as if he can make it to combat he is a huge threat. However, we have to look at him for his opportunity cost. 325 is a lot. And if you want to give him a drop pod (which I am not sure is the best call) he becomes 405 points! Lets address the drop pod first – since he must be taken in a Pure Salamanders army, there is no +3″ for him, so the turn he drops in he is a do-or-die unit on the charge. a 9″ charge is about a 28% chance – a rather large gamble for such an expensive unit. Of course, a chaplain could push that to a 7″ charge, and you have a CP re-roll, but that is now increasing the cost of him in resources.

      So, let’s look at without the drop pod. He is now walking, or running up the board. This means turn 3 at best he can probably make it to an enemy gun-line. Of course, if facing a melee army, he may be able to engage much sooner… but the risk of a Tau or IG line just playing keep away with him is a real risk. Even when he makes it to combat (because if he is able to get within 8″, you may as well charge), his damage is nice but not spectacular. That feeds nicely into the second issue with him, beyond getting to his prey, is opportunity cost.

      325 is a lot of points. That is a Smash Captain, a Jump Chaplin, and a Librarian. Or 9 flamestorm aggressors, or 6 Assault Centurions with Hurricane Bolters, or a Repulsor Executioner with Laser destroyer. All of the listed units are actually cheaper, if not by much, than Ashmantle.

      The sad fact is, when it comes down to it, there are simply better options to spend those points on. Marines as a whole are not a cheap army, and blowing 325 on a single unit with a max 14″ threat range on it’s guns is sadly never going to be optimal, despite how tough it is. That is not to say it is unusable, just not optimal. At 325, he is a lot easier to stomach to through into a fun list. However, as I say this, I would love for someone to now prove me wrong and go win a major with him!

  3. Dakkath December 11, 2019 9:36 pm #

    Curious what the original wording of Self Sacrifice was.

    • Faitherun
      Faitherun December 12, 2019 8:04 am #

      It allowed a Salamander’s infantry unit to shield all other infantry units within 6″. Those shielded could not be targeted unless they were the closest unit. Where this broke down was that characters could shield a large number of units and be untargetable themselves due to the character rule and a scout squad hiding further up the board.

      While the stratagem did need to be changed, simply stating it could not be used on characters or have the shrouding power cast on the unit self sacrificing would have sufficed. Instead, they made it be on units of models 5+ (which nicks characters, but also say a damaged unit of intercessors), can only protect one unit, and the unit protected must be wholly within 6″. One, Two, Three strikes and out. For the high cost of 2CP, they took was was a very good strat with slight issues needing to be addressed, and turned it into a sub-par start.

      What I really liked about the original as well, was it would force gun-line armies to move and try to position themselves to be able and negate the strat. It offered your opponent a way to counter it through the movement phase. It certainly would take a bit of skill, but it was doable. Sadly, I doubt GW will un-nerf this strat, and it will go the way of Agents of Vect; useful in a few niche situations but typically not worth doing

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