Building a Space Marine Roster For Kill Team

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With the release of Kill Team: Elites, Adeptus Astartes have gotten a lot of new, cool toys. Lots and lots of new toys, enough that I just dropped money on plastic for a new marine kill team. Here’s my thought process for building up a roster.

Chapter Trait

It’s free so I might as well take one. We should have another article going out soon that compares all of the Chapters, but for the purposes of this article I think I’ll just say that I think that Salamanders is the most competitive. The extra rerolls each turn make your heaviest weapons more reliable and let you save your CP for powerful Marine tactics like Death Denied (my strategy in half of the matchups will involve using Death Denied to win battles of attrition). 

The Opposition

Space Marines

This is the Kill Team I’m building. Note that there are people on GoonHammer that are good at painting and taking photos of them. I am not one of them.

Now I’m going to go through each major matchup and build a roster that I think would be good into it. Keep in mind that this is all before I’ve built my roster and I haven’t gotten a lot of games in yet so some of this is going to be wrong. This is just a starting point so I can iterate. I’m also thinking about what I want to model. For example, I’ll use a Veteran Sergeant w/ Bolter, Storm Shield and Power Sword a few times in the next section. He’d be almost strictly better with the Power Sword replaced with a Lightning Claw, but I have no idea how to model without it getting 

Adeptus Mechanicus and Guard

 

These are the two plasma spam factions. I’m going to expect to see at least 5-6 plasma guns here, and more for guard, so my plan is to get into an attrition based battle. I have the tools to survive their firepower, and any gun or melee option I can take will put them down and force them to take nerve tests. Suppressors turn off some of their shooting if they hit (and ready if they moved six inches), eliminators are hard for BS4 to hit, 3++ saves are good vs plasma and heavy bolters are just good value. The general idea here would be to save cp for Death Denied, move the storm shield models up aggressively to contest objectives and have the rest sitting in the back and trying to kill little dudes.

  • Leader: Eliminator Sergeant
  • Stealth: Suppressor
  • Heavy: Scout Guner w/ Heavy Bolter
  • Combat: Veteran Sergeant w/ Bolter, Storm Shield and Power Sword
  • Company Veteran w/ Bolter and Storm Shield

Heretic Astartes, Death Guard, Adeptus Astartes and Deathwatch

These are the MEQ factions with no real gimmicks besides being good at fighting. Grav is the name of the game here since it is relatively cheap, great against power armor and not terrible against scouts, but plasma and relic blades are also good. Marines tend to have good BS and high quality weapons so I don’t feel confident about being able to protect a high quality leader. That means that we get a coward scout sergeant that can lead from the back. The rest is pretty interchangeable, a grav cannon heavy is a really solid MEQ killer, the grav/chainsword vets are solid at mid range or in melee, the moritat (plasma vet w/ jump pack) has a lot of nice rules interactions that help him act as an assassin and the relic blade sergeant is a way to fight for objectives.

Note: I added Heretic Astartes and Death Guard to this after the fact but the logic is largely the same. Grav Cannons are still 4 shot heavy guns, the relic blade will mulch T3 guys just as well as it kills MEQs and the company vets still have chainswords to kill off things that charge them. The Moritat can even fall back or retreat and shoot so it’s hard for chaff to hold them down and invalidate them.

  • Leader: Scout Sergeant
  • Heavy: Sternguard Gunner w/ Grav Cannon
  • Combat: Vanguard Sgt w/ Relic Blade and Bolt Pistol
  • Sniper: Vanguard Vet w/ Jump Pack and 2x Plasma Pistol
  • Company Vet w/ Grav Gun and Chainsword
  • Company Vet w/ Grav Gun and Chainsword

Thousand Sons and Grey Knights

These are the psyker factions, and we have to contend with them ripping wounds off your models before the shooting phase each turn. We need to be able to survive the psychic phase every turn but also withstand their storm bolter shooting and take some of them out. Primaris are good front liners here since they can soak the psyker powers and aren’t vulnerable in melee, the Grav Cannon will do some damage, same with the plasma. The eliminator leader is also tough against these factions while holding a gun that can do real damage, especially with the Salamander reroll. Against Thousand Sons I’d probably swap the plasma tac over to a demo flamer/chainsword vet because I’ll probably need to kill Tzaangors and plasma doesn’t do that well. A missile launcher scout might also be a decent option since killing a single Thousand Sons psyker cuts their psychic phase output in half or worse.

  • Leader: Eliminator Sergeant
  • Comms: Intercessor Gunner w/ Bolt Rifle and Grenade Launcher
  • Heavy: Sternguard Gunner w/ Grav Cannon
  • Sniper: Tac Gunner w/ Plasma
  • Intercessor w/ Bolt Rifle
  • Intercessor w/ Bolt Rifle

Aeldari

I’m expecting Aeldari to run an Exarch Council (Dire Avenger, Howling Banshee and Striking Scorpion Exarchs w/ ranged weapons on the DA Exarch and multi-damage melee weapons on the others), fusion storm guardians, a Starcannon Heavy Weapons Platform and some guardian defenders to round it out. This is really hard to fight because that’s a bunch of really, really good shit. I’m still thinking about the matchup but I need to be able to but out a bunch of S4 firepower, I care a little about AP but not that much, multiple wounds aren’t that great and I probably need some invuln saves.

  • Leader: Scout Sergeant w/ Bolter
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Missile Launcher and Cloak
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sergeant w/ Special Issue Bolter, Lightning Claw and Chainsword
  • Combat: Veteran Sergeant w/ Bolter, Power Sword and Storm Shield
  • Company Veteran w/ Storm Bolter and Chainsword
  • Scout w/ Pistol and CCW
  • Scout w/ Bolter

Harlequins

TBH I just have to gimmick this. They don’t have great melee answers to high 2+ saves or invulns so I’ve got to just run that. Lightning claws are cool, so are just having a bunch of attacks. I’m not sure that this is optimal but Harlequins have one gameplan and I feel like I can just take it head on. Harlies also have a little trouble with T4, decent armor and chainswords so I could probably get by with a team full of vets with chainswords and primaris.

  • Leader: Terminator Sergeant w/ Lightning Claws
  • Combat: Vet Sgt w/ Bolter. Power Sword and Storm Shield
  • Demo: Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sgt w/ SIB (Special Issue Boltgun), Lightning Claw and Chainsword
  • Company Vet w/ Storm Shield and Boltgun

Drukhari

These guys are T3 and 3+ to 4++/5++  so most of our weapons are fine. We want S4 or S6, with a point or two of AP being nice. Defensively we have to decide if they’re going Coven, Cult or Kabal, with Kabals bringing reasonably high quality shooting and Covens/Creeds bolstering the one damage attacks that mandrakes and incubi get. My plan here is to take a decent number of Primaris marines since Drukhari have to get through them wound by wound and get high quality melee weapons that can put down the elves.

  • Leader: Eliminator Sergeant
  • Demo: Company Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sergeant w/ SIB, Lightning Claw and Chainsword
  • Combat: Vanguard Sergeant w/ Relic Blade and Bolt Pistol
  • Intercessor
  • Reiver Sergeant w/ Carbine and Knife

Orks

Orks have leadership issues. If I can kill a bunch then they’ll run, and they’re mostly T4 with bad saves. On the other hand, they’re also able to take 6 point dudes that can realistically threaten a marine in a straight melee fight and they can get access to some nasty weapons. If want a reiver or two to deep strike into the back and threaten a grot leader. Otherwise I just want a front line that’s good at short range and melee.

  • Leader: Scout Sergeant
  • Combat: Vanguard Vet w/ Relic Blade, Bolt Pistol and Jump Pack
  • Demo: Company Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sergeant w/ SIB, Lightning Claw and Chainsword
  • Company Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Reiver Sergeant w/ Carbine and Knife

Tau

Fuck Tau. Seriously, just fuck them. Their gimmick is turning off other team’s gimmicks, which isn’t much fun. Melee sucks vs them because they all get a chance to shoot you, and multi-damage weapons are bad vs the pathfinders since they’ll put the wounds on a 7 point drone. Since I can’t really do gimmicks I’ll just take a bunch of vets with decent guns and decent melee. Targeting priority gets a little strange here but you want to kill off the Recon Drone, then target any pathfinders with high rate of fire weapons. Remember that if they use Savior Protocols they don’t get any modifiers to their injury roll since the drone is applying the mortal wound to itself.

  • Leader: Scout Sergeant
  • Demo: Company Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Comms: Intercessor Gunner w/ Grenade Launcher
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Heavy Bolter
  • Company Vet w/ Bolter and Chainsword
  • Company Vet w/ Storm Bolter and Chainsword
  • Intercessor

Tyranids

Nids are interesting because just killing a bunch of bugs doesn’t get you much. You need to be able to fight the nids on the objectives or kill the synapse creatures. My plan here is basically to take a single scout gunner with a missile launcher to threaten their synapse creatures and otherwise go for a scary melee team that can win on the objectives. I might be better served with some number of scouts to just sit there and hold things.

  • Leader: Intercessor Sgt w/ Chainsword
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Missile Launcher and Cloak
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sgt w/ Lightning Claw, SIB and Chainsword
  • Combat: Vanguard Sgt w/ Relic Blade and Bolt Pistol
  • Company Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Veteran Sgt w/ Bolter, Power Fist and Chainsword

Genestealer Cults

I think i just take the Tau team here. They’re not that tough but they will still kill me in melee, so I want to put out a bunch of S4 firepower to put them down.

Necrons

The special necron gimmick is that they’re tougher against high damage weapons, but other than that they’re a fairly standard force. I want power weapons, lightning claws, heavy bolters and storm shields, but I also just like bodies. I’m a little worried about the new Elite models, but they seem mostly killable with concentrated firepower or my melee models.

  • Leader: Scout Sergeant
  • Combat: Vet Sgt w/ Bolter, Storm Shield and Power Sword
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Heavy Bolter
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sergeant w/ SIB, Lightning Claw and Chainsword
  • Intercessor
  • Sternguard Veteran
  • Scout

Custodes

I’m honestly not going to worry about them. I can build a team out of a roster if I have to fight them but it probably just involves tarpitting with storm shields and death denied to win on objectives.

Results

Now we push everything together.

Leaders – 4

  • Scout Sergeant
  • Eliminator Sergeant
  • Terminator Sergeant w/ Lightning Claws
  • Intercessor Sergeant w/ Chainsword

Specialists – 12

  • Combat: Vanguard Vet w/ Relic Blade and Bolt Pistol
  • Combat: Vanguard Vet w/ Relic Blade, Bolt Pistol and Jump Pack
  • Combat: Vet Sgt w/ Bolter, Power Sword and Storm Shield
  • Comms: Intercessor Gunner w/ Aux Grenade Launcher
  • Demo: Company Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Heavy: Sternguard Gunner w/ Grav Cannon
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Missile Launcher and Camo
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Heavy Bolter
  • Sniper: Vanguard Vet w/ 2x Plasma Pistol and Jump Pack
  • Sniper: Tac Gunner w/ Plasma
  • Stealth: Suppressor
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sgt w/ SIB, Lightning Claw and Chainsword

Standard – 12

  • Vet w/ Bolter and Chainsword
  • Vet w/ Storm Bolter and Chainsword
  • Vet w/ Bolter and Storm Shield
  • Vet w/ Grav Gun and Chainsword
  • Vet w/ Grav Gun and Chainsword
  • Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Intercessor
  • Intercessor
  • Reiver Sergeant w/ Carbine and Knife
  • Scout w/ Bolter
  • Scout w/ CCW
  • Vet Sgt w/ Bolter, Chainsword and Power Fist

If you’ve noticed, 4 + 12 + 12 = 28, which is over our 20 model roster limit. I need to cut it down, and I can do that by finding the models that lack a specific niche or general usefulness. For example, I was only bringing the Intercessor Sgt against nids, but he isn’t that special compared to an Eliminator or a Scout. Similarly, I’m only bringing the plasma sniper against grey knight and he isn’t necessary. I can replace him with the Sternguard Sergeant in my list for a model that can still shoot but can also kill knights in melee. Overall he’s probably a little worse but he still has a lot of uses. The Relic Blade Sergeant should probably either have a jump pack or not have it, I can probably drop an intercessor and just use the Reiver Sgt, I probably don’t need two small scouts and a Vet w/ a Bolter, etc.

After paring it down I get this.

Leaders – 2

  • Scout Sergeant
  • Eliminator Sergeant

Specialists – 10

  • Combat: Vanguard Vet w/ Relic Blade and Bolt Pistol
  • Combat: Vet Sgt w/ Bolter, Power Sword and Storm Shield
  • Comms: Intercessor Gunner w/ Aux Grenade Launcher
  • Demo: Company Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Heavy: Sternguard Gunner w/ Grav Cannon
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Missile Launcher and Camo
  • Heavy: Scout Gunner w/ Heavy Bolter
  • Sniper: Vanguard Vet w/ 2x Plasma Pistol and Jump Pack
  • Stealth: Suppressor
  • Veteran: Sternguard Sgt w/ SIB, Lightning Claw and Chainsword

Standard – 8

  • Vet w/ Storm Bolter and Chainsword
  • Vet w/ Bolter and Storm Shield
  • Vet w/ Grav Gun and Chainsword
  • Vet w/ Flamer and Chainsword
  • Intercessor
  • Reiver Sergeant w/ Carbine and Knife
  • Scout w/ Bolter
  • Vet Sgt w/ Bolter, Chainsword and Power Fist

 

I lose my Terminator Sgt gimmick vs Harlies but it wasn’t really necessary or even good. I also can’t build every roster I decided was optimal but this gives me a good selection of the different elements and I would have been customizing the team for every mission and opponent anyway. 

The Final Step

Now I’ve got to actually build all of this and play the game. As I’m playing I’ll see that some of what I thought didn’t work and I’ll have new ideas, so I can rotate new models into the roster. As I do that I’ll want to look at the roles the models coming out played and make sure that I don’t unbalance my roster when I swap things.

 

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