Welcome back, all you power-armoured ladies and gentlemen! It’s time to accept a promotion and lead the elite 1st Company Task Force Detachment into battle from the new Codex Space Marines.
As with all of the Detachments in this book, while the concept of each Detachment may seem to incline itself towards a certain First Founding Chapter or descendent Chapter, you can play this Detachment regardless of how your army is painted. In particular, I think that this may be a good Detachment for an alternate playstyle Blood Angels list or perhaps a Deathwing-inclined Dark Angels force (at least until the Unforgiven get their own codex sometime in the future), but those are all just fluffy, style-based choices. You can run your custom Storm Eagles Chapter or Ultramarines as a 1st Company Task Force, or even run a mix of units painted as different Chapters and say that it’s a true multi-Chapter task force assembled to combat a major threat to the Imperium. That is something that I really like about the move away from codex-specific builds to these Detachments: we are not locked into one playstyle just because we chose to paint our models in a certain way 10 years ago.
So, without further ado, let’s Deep Strike into this unique Detachment!
NOTE: I’ll be using an A, B, C, D-Tier ranking system, but only for purposes of internal comparison. As a general rule, I don’t like ranking systems and ladders because people read them and assume that that ranking is correct or approximately correct across the board, when the reality is that what I might think is a C-tier unit, could be taken by someone else and used as the S-tier cornerstone unit of their list. So, take my rankings with a grain of salt and decide for yourself if you agree or not.)
The 1st Company Task Force Detachment Rule is named “Extremis-Level Threat,” which makes sense, since, as we are reminded in the lore going back as long as I’ve been playing 40K (ca. 1995), Terminators and other 1st Company assets are rare and should only be deployed en masse in extreme circumstances. The rule text reads: “Once per battle, in your Command Phase, you can use this ability. If you do, until the start of your next Command Phase, each time a model from your army with the Oath of Moment ability makes an attack that targets your Oath of Moment target, you can re-roll the Wound roll as well.” In short, for one turn only, you can remember the joys of Oath of Moment as it was in the Index.
That’s it. Find the biggest threat in your opponent’s army and, when you’re ready, push the Big, Red, Threatening Button and your entire army can gang up and delete that threat.
I think it’s great. History has proven that it’s very useful. My concern is that only being able to do it once per game is a bit limited. Most Detachments in the game have an ability that lasts for 5 turns. This is for just one turn, and that limitation kinda hurts, especially in a Detachment where you are conceptually taking a lot of Terminators with a lot of storm bolters. Is it enough? Time will tell, but for the moment, I’m scoring this ability lower than some other Detachment rules, because it’s a once per game ability and because if your dice fail you (as we all know dice are wont to do), then it can be a real disappointment:
As a quick summary, the Enhancements in this Detachment are interesting. Each of the four has a persistent, passive ability that benefits the character bearing said Enhancement, but they each also have a once-per-battle activated ability that spreads to other models around it, either to the character’s Bodyguard unit or to enemy models in range. I like the idea conceptually. Obviously, individual opinions will vary, but overall, I think these will be fun to play and a couple will be particularly beneficial if you activate them at the right time.
First up is a familiar name for those who played 9th Edition, The Imperium’s Sword: “Adeptus Astartes model only. Add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of the bearer’s melee weapons. Once per battle, at the start of any phase, the bearer can use this Enhancement. If it does, until the end of the phase, add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of melee weapons equipped by all other models in the unit as well.”
Simple. Straight forward. Effective. I like it. Now, is it worth the somewhat hefty 25 point price tag? That will depend on the individual player and what character/unit combo you put this on. Perhaps a Lieutenant, a Bladeguard Ancient, and 6 Bladeguard? Trigger this Enhancement along with the Bladeguard Ancient’s ability for another +1 attack, and you’re putting 48 attacks with [LETHAL HITS] into something. Not bad.
Or go ham with a Captain in Terminator Armour leading a 10-man Terminator Assault squad? Equip your Terminators with Lightning Claws for 60+ attacks with [TWIN-LINKED] or get to smashing with Thunder Hammers to flatten an enemy unit or two with 40 Thunder Hammer attacks?
The real downside is that you’re only doing this once per game. So this is not something to build your list around, but it is also something that when you use it you won’t regret it.
Next up is Fear Made Manifest: “Adeptus Astartes model only. While an enemy unit (excluding Monsters and Vehicles) is within 6” of the bearer, each time that unit fails a Battle-shock test, one model in that unit is destroyed (chosen by its controlling player). Once per battle, when such an enemy unit fails a Battle-shock test, you can choose for D3 models in that unit to be destroyed in this way.”
If this were an Enhancement in the Tyranids Codex, I might be quietly intrigued, but since this is Codex Space Marines, I will not-so-quietly say, “Who cares?” I could probably be less excited about this… but I’m not sure how.
In all fairness, I will mention now that there is a Stratagem that causes Battle-shock tests and can even cause a -1 penalty on a Battle-shock test, so there is some limited combo play with this Enhancement. VERY limited.
In further fairness, it does say that you just destroy the model, not inflict wounds. That, too, is something, when you could theoretically take something with multiple wounds off of the table, but since you can’t use this on Monsters or Vehicles, you’re not clipping off a Crisis Suit, a Paragon Warsuit, or most anything with more than 3 wounds, and things with lots of wounds that you really want to kill with this for it to make a difference are all things that also have a better-than-average Leadership stat. So the chance of this actually killing anything beyond a Cultist or a Tzaangor is slim-to-none.
Now factor in that it is 30 POINTS, and you will NEVER take this.
The third Enhancement is another familiar name, Rites of War: “Adeptus Astartes Terminator model only. Improve the Objective Control characteristic of the bearer by 1. Once per battle, at the start of any phase, the bearer can use this Enhancement. If it does, until the end of the phase, add 1 to the Objective Control characteristic of all other models in the bearer’s unit as well.”
I mean… it’s better than Fear Made Manifest, so there’s that. I’m sure some of you readers are surveying this and thinking that extra OC stat is never bad. You’re right, but for 4 of 5 rounds in the game, that is just the meager +1 OC on the character. Yes, arguably, that could be the difference in flipping or holding an objective, but realistically that won’t happen often.
The real problem, if you want to call it that, is that this can only go on Terminator characters, which means that it is only being used on a Terminator squad when you trigger that once-per-game effect. Remember that Terminators are only OC 1 to start, though. So, when you flip this switch, your squad is doubling its OC to 2. Can you use this to definitively hold the middle objective in a key Round 3 with your 10-man brick of Terminators? Absolutely. Is this going to make your Terminators live longer or help them hold that center objective for multiple turns? No, probably not.
The real selling point here is its cost: 10 point. Yup, for 10 points, you can put this on your Terminator Captain or Terminator Librarian or Terminator Chaplain, slot him into a brick of Terminators, and then park them on a mid-board objective and challenge someone to take it off you. Did they just march a squad of Battleline troops onto the territory you have lovingly staked out and filled with Tactical Dreadnought armor? Flip the switch and say “no, thank you. I do not wish to sell you my land at this time.” Realistically, when you activate this Enhancement, your opponent won’t likely even be able to flip the objective with a Norn Emmissary and its 15 OC (so long as it doesn’t kill more than 3 Terminators from the squad).
So, while this isn’t the Enhancement that you take to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women (“Conan the Barbarian” fans out there know what I mean), it is definitely something that has mission and objective play, particularly for its bargain price.
Last Enhancement for this Detachment is Iron Resolve: “Adeptus Astartes Terminator model only. The bearer has the Feel No Pain 5+ ability. Once per battle, after the bearer’s unit is selected as the target of one or more attacks, the bearer can use this Enhancement. If it does, until the end of the phase, models in the bearer’s unit have the Feel No Pain 5+ ability.”
Okay, let’s be honest. You are NOT taking this Enhancement for the passive ability. Your Terminator armored character gets a FNP 5+ all game, which won’t likely even come into play at all until Round 4 at the earliest unless everything went sideways for you (unless your opponent has got a bunch of precision attacks coming at you). The reason that you take this Enhancement is so that you can, once per game, trigger this for your entire unit and (remember that this has to be in a Terminator squad because it only goes on Terminator characters) stand there flying the middle-finger flag at your opponent as he/she impotently flings attack after attack trying to kill your squad and you stand back and sip your drink knowing that, when the dust settles, your squad will have taken losses but it will still be there.
Bonus Round: it costs you only 15 points!!
Now, just to get silly, remember that delightful Rites of War Enhancement we just discussed? Yeah, put that on a Terminator Ancient. Now put Iron Resolve on your Terminator Captain. Put BOTH of them in the same squad, because that’s legal. Now park that 12-strong brick of adamantium and bad attitude on a middle objective (preferably in cover), and that objective is YOURS. Forever. Your squad will stand there and, by its mere existence, do violence upon your opponent’s peace of mind and emotional harmony for the rest of the game.
Again, like Rites of War, this is not the Enhancement that will turn one unit into Godzilla all game. It’s an Enhancement that will score you points and destabilize your opponent’s plans.
The Enhancements for this Detachment are certainly a mixed bag as tends to happen in most Detachments that we’ve seen in the game so far. The Stratagems are similarly of mixed benefit, but they are definitely of benefit. The real trick here is that you have to lean into the theme of the 1st Company Task Force, or these strats will just be so much wasted paper and ink for you:
Armour of Contempt (1CP) – You know what this does. Reduce the AP of incoming attacks against your unit by 1 for the rest of the phase. Works on anything that has the Adeptus Astartes keyword. To make things even better, it’s still a Battle Tactic Stratagem, so even after the September 2023 Balance Dataslate, your Captain can allow you to use this twice, the second time for free.
Heroes of the Chapter (1CP) – This is the first of four of the six Detachment Stratagems that can only be played on Terminators, Bladeguard Veteran Squads, Sternguard Veteran Squads, or Vanguard Veteran Squads, which is why I mentioned that you will need to lean into the theme of the 1st Company when you build your list if you really want to make the most of this Detachment and these Stratagems. This Stratagem is played during your Shooting Phase or either player’s Fight phase on a unit that has not yet been selected to shoot or fight yet.
Effect: Until the end of the phase, each time a model in your unit makes an attack, add 1 to the Hit roll. If your unit is Below Half-Strength, add 1 to the Wound roll as well.
I am unaware of a world where +1 to Hit for 1 CP is a bad thing. Stack this with your Imperium’s Sword Enhancement activation, and this Stratagem will sing for you. Also consider that this is a Battle Tactic Stratagem, so you can use this for free repeatedly throughout the game (though, flip side, this is also going to be a choice target for opponents who have a Callidus Assassin or similar model with a Vect-like ability to increase a Stratagem’s cost).
Only downside: you are grossly limited in what you can use this one, so your list building needs to be on point. No Gladiators. No Dreadnoughts. No Assault Intercessors with Jump Packs. Plan accordingly and you’ll love this Stratagem.
Terrifying Proficiency (1CP) – Another Stratagem that is limited to being played on Terminators, Bladeguard Veteran Squads, Sternguard Veteran Squads, or Vanguard Veteran Squads, this time only during the Fight phase, if the unit has made a Charge move this turn and destroyed one or more enemy units this phase.
This is the Stratagem that I mentioned earlier that causes Battle-shock. Specifically, you play this in your Fight phase, and every enemy unit within 6” has to take a Battle-shock test. If that unit is Below Half-strength, then they also suffer a -1 penalty to said Battle Shock test.
Meh. I remain unconvinced that Battle-shock is anything to build around. Perhaps Tyranids will prove me wrong, or perhaps we will eventually get a CSM book that makes Night Lords a true source of unbridled terror. Until then, I rate this strat and things like it as something just above a curiosity and not something that I will spend my jealously hoarded CPs to play. And no, it’s not a Battle Tactic strat, so no free uses just to see what happens, either.
Combine its middling effect with its very specific and somewhat challenging prerequisite conditions and timing, and you have a stratagem that is just not going to get played much.
Duty and Honour (1CP) – The third of our four Terminators, Bladeguard Veteran Squads, Sternguard Veteran Squads, or Vanguard Veteran Squads-restricted Strats, this one gives the targeted squad “sticky objective” ability (it must be played on a unit that is within range of an Objective marker). For those who haven’t heard that particular colloquialism from our community yet, that means that if a squad has this ability while on an objective and then leaves that objective (whether by choice or in a body bag), the objective remains under your control until your opponent puts a unit on it to take control of it.
Not a Battle Tactic strat, but for only 1 CP, you will probably use this at least once, if not twice in a game. You will likely be playing a limited number of expensive units with this Detachment, so you won’t have the resources to leave a 5-man squad of something cheap on a backfield objective. Better to make an objective sticky, then push everything forward together, confident that your opponent will have to commit resources away from your armored fist to take that objective away from you, which will mean fewer resources elsewhere to try to survive said fist.
Only because its not something you’ll have a use for every turn, but its strategic value will certainly be felt every game at least once.
Orbital Teleportarium (1CP) – This one is limited to being played on Terminator units only. Remove the unit from the battlefield, at the end of your opponent’s Fight phase, and put it into Reserves. Then bring it back down in the Reinforcements step of your next Movement phase via Deep Strike. The only caveat is you cannot use this on units that are in Engagement Range of an enemy unit.
As with Duty and Honour, this is a Stratagem designed to aid your list of limited, elite units. This is also pure money for scoring Tactical Secondary Objectives. No, it’s not a Battle Tactic, but that would just be silly.
Legendary Fortitude (1CP) – Last but not least, Legendary Fortitude is played in your opponent’s Charge phase, just after an enemy unit ends a Charge move. This, too, can only be played on Terminators, Bladeguard Veteran Squads, Sternguard Veteran Squads, or Vanguard Veteran Squads, and the unit targeted by this strat must be in Engagement range of an enemy unit that just charged it.
Until the end of the turn, each time an attack is allocated to a model in your unit, subtract 1 from the Damage characteristic of that attack.
Remember that time a few paragraphs ago when I mentioned about an Enhancement that gives a unit a 5+ FNP ability? Wouldn’t it be nice if every attack that got past your armor or invulnerable saves were lower damage so that you didn’t have to make as many of those FNP rolls? Yeah. Agreed.
Even without that, though, reducing damage on attacks that are coming at your units is always good. Knocking incoming Heavy Bolter shots from Damage 2 down to Damage 1 is always a good thing. Taking enemy plasma shots from Damage 3 down to Damage 2 against your 3 Wound Terminators or Bladeguard Veterans is also VERY nice.
This also has the benefit of reducing the efficacy of incoming Devastating Wounds attacks. Yes, they aren’t counted as mortal wounds anymore (thank the Emperor!), but that means that this is about the only way to avoid some incoming Devastating Wounds damage, since you still can’t save against them.
Key Units for an 1st Company Task Force
Obviously, any unit in the Codex will benefit from the Extremis-Level Threat Detachment rule. The better Enhancements only work on Terminator characters, though, so if you want to play any of those, you are already being steered to play in a certain build. The Stratagems in particular mandate that you play with a significant number of Veteran units, even if you don’t make your entire list out of them. So when we’re talking about key or ideal units for this Detachment, it’s largely already been spelled out for us. Please note that these are my personal picks, and individual opinions may vary:
- Terminator Squad.
- Terminator Assault Squad.
- Bladeguard Veteran Squad.
- Sternguard Veteran Squad.
Land Raider. Pick your flavor, you pretty much can’t go wrong. The granddaddy of 40K transports had a resurgence in 9th edition, and has really come into its own in 10th edition. It’s ridiculously high Toughness and Wounds, combined with its weapons and transport capacity make this almost an auto-take for this Detachment. You already are leaning into Terminators and other infantry units that aren’t real fast on their feet. Why not call them a Nightmare Uber to get them to the party much sooner and bring Hell along with them for the ride?
Repulsor/Repulsor Executioner. In the event that you want to get a Land Raider but need to save a few points, the Repulsor and Repulsor Executioner offer you some alternate options that also have some unique play that is more of a sidegrade to a Land Raider than an up- or down-grade. Maybe you only plan to transport a small squad of 5 Sternguard and a Librarian but want them to ride in style with a really big gun over their heads. The added firepower of an Executioner with a Heavy Laser Destroyer is a good fit in this list, shoring up the need for some anti-tank firepower while still helping get your elite troops downrange. A regular Repulsor can transport 12 infantry models in a Land Raider-equivalent chassis for 40+ points less. Good options both that are worth your consideration.
Terminator characters. I won’t go through each of the four options. The new models for the Captain, Chaplain, and Librarian are all cool. I’m still personally shocked that GW has given us 83 versions of the Lieutenant on Tactical Rock, but we still haven’t gotten one in Terminator armor, yet. I’m confident that that’ll happen eventually. For now, in this Detachment, I’d review carefully the Captain, Ancient, Librarian, and Chaplain in Terminator armor, and apply the ones that provide the most benefit to your list.
Chaplain (non-Terminator). Besides Terminators, this Detachment wants you taking Bladeguard. If you are so inclined, a Chaplain with his Litany of Hate ability to give +1 to Wound is a nice choice that will squeeze some extra efficiency out of your sword-and-board-bearing, power armored knights.
Adrax Agatone. Love Salamanders but don’t want to play the Firestorm Assault Force Detachment? Then may I interest you in a character who can join Bladeguard and Sternguard squads, and gives full Wound re-rolls to his unit in melee, and who halves the OC score of enemy units that are in Engagement Range of his unit?
Thematically it may not be what you initially have in mind for the 1st Company, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think outside the box a little. Adrax can functionally bring one of your squads back to the glory days of un-NERFed Oath of Moment when you mix his Unto the Anvil ability with your Oath target for that turn.
Other Epic Heroes. I won’t go into detail for reasons of time, but suffice to say that there are several other Epic Heroes in the book who can lead either a Terminator Squad, a Bladeguard Veteran Squad, and/or a Sternguard squad. All have some unique and powerful abilities that you can build a strategy around, including Marneus Calgar’s Advance or Fall Back and charge ability (not to mention the extra CP that he gives you every turn), Darnath Lysander’s -1 to be wounded by weapons that exceed the unit’s toughness (remember Transhuman Physiology? Like the idea of your Terminators generally not being able to be wounded by anything better than a 4+ and never better than a 3+?), and Kor’Sarro Khan’s ability to make all ranged weapons in the unit [ASSAULT] and all melee weapons gain [LANCE].
Sample List (Remember that this is just what I would take in an initial test list for this Detachment based on my playstyle. It’s something to help your creative energy start flowing, and then modify to your own preferences):
Adrax Agatone – 90 pts
Captain in Terminator Armour with Iron Resolve Enhancement – (95 + 15 =) 110 pts
Ancient in Termintaor Armour – 90 pts
Bladeguard Ancient – 50 pts
Lieutenant with Combi-Weapon – 70 pts
Lieutenant with Combi-Weapon – 70 pts
10 Assault Terminators (all Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields) – 410 pts
5 Terminators (storm bolters, power fists, and 1 cyclone missile launcher) – 205 pts
6 Bladeguard Veterans – 180 pts
10 Sternguard (Sternguard Bolt Rifles and 2 Pyrecannons) – 220 pts
Land Raider – 240 pts
Repulsor – 195 pts
Drop Pod – 70 pts
Total: 2000 pts
How does this list play? The Captain and Ancient lead the 10 man Terminator brick. Adrax Agatone and the Bladeguard Ancient lead the Bladeguard (it’s legal because Adrax has the CAPTAIN keyword). The two Lieutenants with Combi Weapon gets to do all of their fun LONE OPERATOR things.
Deployment: The 5-man Terminator Squad deploys in the Land Raider. The Bladeguard squad with Adrax and the Ancient ride in the Repulsor. The Sternguard come down in the Drop Pod. The 12-strong Terminator brick starts in Deep Strike.
Because this list has limited but very strong units, the game play has to be appropriately focused. The two Lieutenants will run around scoring missions and holding backfield objectives. The large Terminator squad will Deep Strike and take a midboard objective.
The rest of the army picks key targets, the ones that pose the largest threat to you, and take them out early. Lascannons on the Landraider and Repulsor combined with all those Thunder Hammers and Bladeguard swords should eliminate your opponent’s big guns which threaten the tanks. Then you move to the things that could theoretically pose a threat to your Terminators.
The Sternguard in their Drop Pod should come down someplace that affords you both a couple choice targets and also sets up future scoring options if you’re playing Tactical secondaries (though realistically, this is probably a list that wants you to play Fixed secondaries since your limited resources don’t lend themselves well to Tactical play, which requires a more spread out formation with lots of less resilient units).
The 1st Company Task Force Detachment is a unique challenge because it wants to play a game of fewer, larger, more powerful units, rather than lots of MSU squads of Infiltrators, bikes, and jump packs. You are playing a game of chess with 3 queens, 3 rooks, and that’s about it.
Honestly, it’s not my preferred playstyle. Those who listen to our podcast know that I love my Tau and Votann, but when I do go back to my Space Marines, I like more mobility and tactical flexibility. The 1st Company Task Force is about stomping your way into small, select areas of the board and leaving the other 70% of the board to your opponent, who doesn’t dare challenge you on your little slice of the world. If your first thought is “you can’t possibly win 40K that way,” then I would refer you to Knights and Custodes as examples of factions that do the same thing and play a similar game. This just happens to be the detachment that lets Space Marines play a similar way: limited elite units that hit hard and can take a punch.
Is this a play style that works for you? That’s for you to decide. Hopefully this summary has given you at least enough information to make an informed decision as to whether or not you think this detachment will work for you. If you have the models, I would at least give it a try. You may find that the 1st Company Task Force Detachment, like all of the detachments in this new Space Marine Codex, has more to offer than some people may think.
FINAL SCORE: B
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Editor’s Note: No one at Vanguard Tactics endorses or supports any of the “Dad” jokes made by the author in this article or elsewhere in Vanguard Tactics media.