Codex Supplement: Imperial Fists – The Goonhammer Review

An article by and    Gaming Reviews Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

Nearly two months since the Space Marines Codex v2.0 released, the Imperial Fists are finally here with a Codex Supplement of their own. Was it worth the wait? Are half the rules in the book weirdly obsessed with Buildings, a thing which has never been seen in 8th edition? How many times can a single boltgun hit an enemy model, anyway? All these questions and more will be answered in the following review. It’s worth noting right up the top here that the Imperial Fists book is a little different to the others, because it includes rules for their successor chapter, the Crimson Fists, as well. This has some slightly weird effects, some of which require an errata or FAQ, so when we reach them we’ll highlight them so you know what to look out for.

Imperial Fists Primaris Army

Imperial Fists Primaris Army. Credit: Jack Hunter

Army Rules

In addition to the faction rules laid out in Codex: Space Marines, Imperial Fists get some additional rules of their own. But before we dive into those, let’s cover what you need to do to get access to them. We’ve covered this before in our Ultramarines, White Scars, Raven Guard, and Iron Hands reviews, so if you already know this part, feel free to skip ahead – though things are a little different in this supplement, thanks to the presence of the Crimson Fists.

Accessing These Rules

For most of 8th edition, you’ve only technically gotten access to the full suite of subfaction (i.e. “Imperial Fists”) specific rules if your army has literally used the IMPERIAL FISTS keyword. Homebrew chapters could choose a trait, but wouldn’t get stratagem, trait or relic access (meaning that in tournaments people just used the main keywords).

That’s changed, and you can now get access to 95% of what’s in this book if you are a Imperial Fists successor chapter (90% if you are actually playing Imperial Fists). We broke those rules down in part 1 of our main book review, and importantly “successor chapters” in this case includes those using the “build your own” traits. If you’re going down-the-line Imperial Fists, this is the tactic you get:

The Imperial Fists gained hugely from the 2019 codex. They retained the good part of their original trait, ignoring cover, and swapped the completely irrelevant “re-roll wound rolls against Buildings” for “unmodified hit rolls of 6 on bolt weapons score 1 additional hit.” This is a great change – Imperial Fists units laying down bolter fire will score 1/6th more hits, which is decent enough on Intercessors and the like, but really nasty on high rate of fire units like Aggressors or Centurions. 

Crimson Fists get a similar trait, sharing the “bolter drill” rule, but swapping the “ignores cover” part out for a modified version of their White Dwarf trait:

The big change here is going from “units with twice as many or more models” to “units with at least 5 more models.” This is a great change – it now makes more sense to take large squads in a Crimson Fists army, whereas the previous tactic pushed you hard towards MSU.

If you want to instead pick your own trait we’ll go through what we think the best successor combos are a bit later on. For now, we just need to establish that Successor chapters can get most (or in fact with CP expenditure, all) of what’s here, and keep that in mind until we cover them in detail. The breakdown of how to get these abilities is as follows (note: this is actually a little bit different to the other supplements thanks to the Crimson lads, so it’s worth checking out):

Successor Chapter Rules - Click to Expand

  1. If every model in your army is IMPERIAL FISTS or are from the same Imperial Fists successor chapter, models with the Combat Doctrine ability gain the “Legacy of Dorn” ability. This is an improvement to the Devastator doctrine and we’ll talk about that in a moment.
  2. IMPERIAL FISTS detachments and Imperial Fists successor detachments can make use of most of the stratagems and psychic powers in this book. That “most of” is important – there are two Crimson Fists stratagems which Imperial Fists cannot use, though Crimson Fists can freely use all the Imperial Fists ones. It’s not clear at this point how other successors interact with this.
  3. If your warlord is IMPERIAL FISTS or CRIMSON FISTS you can freely choose from normal Codex: Space Marines relics, and/or use either the Relics of the Fists or the Special Issue Wargear pages in this book. In practice this is limited by the relics themselves, which are keyworded to IMPERIAL FISTS or CRIMSON FISTS models.
  4. If your warlord is from an Imperial Fists successor, you can normally only use the Codex: Space Marines relics or the Special Issue Wargear page in this book to pick relics, and can access one of the relics on the Relics of the Fists page via a stratagem. Yes, this means that Crimson Fists can access the Imperial Fists relics, but the reverse isn’t true.
  5. If your warlord is IMPERIAL FISTS or an Imperial Fists successor, you can pick his trait from the list in here. Again, Crimson Fists have their own, truncated, list of 3 traits which they pick from.

This might seem to be needlessly complicating things, but there are actually some subtleties of who gets what in various soup scenarios. Basically:

  • You are pure Imperial Fists – you get… slightly less than everything. Hooray?
  • You are pure Crimson Fists – you get… slightly less than everything. But, from a certain point of view, more than the Imperial Fists themselves. Hooray?!
  • You are a pure Imperial Fists successor other than the Crimson Fists – you get almost everything, but less than either of the “proper” chapters. Hooray…?
  • You have a soup list with at least one full Imperial Fists/successor detachment – you unlock the stratagems (except the Crimson Fists ones). Imperial Fists/successor Librarians in that detachment can use the powers, but if for some reason you have an Imperial Fists Librarian in another detachment they can’t.
  • You have a soup list with some Imperial Fists/successor characters in it:
    • If one of those characters is your warlord, you can use the special trait table for him, and can use relics from this book.
    • If none of those characters is your warlord, you can’t use the relics from this book, even if you buy an extra relic and add it to an Imperial Fists character. However, if you add a warlord trait to an Imperial Fists character via the “Sentinels of Terra” stratagem they can use the traits table – or at least you can as currently worded.

The takeaway is that you have to have a decent commitment to Imperial Fists to get much out of this – you can add a Knight alongside your otherwise Imperial Fists army and get everything except the Doctrines, but you can’t make a Supreme Command of Librarians from three different chapters and stick the best relic from each book on each. This is almost certainly what the rather more restrictive wording is intended to prevent, so good job, GW. Although, maybe you should have thought through that whole Crimson Fists thing a little more, huh?

Doctrine – Legacy of Dorn

Credit: Games Workshop

The Imperial Fists doctrine buffs Heavy weapons while the Devastator Doctrine is up, which is fitting for the sons of Dorn. Attacks made with Heavy weapons which target a VEHICLE or BUILDING (lol) add 1 to the Damage characteristic. As things go, this is an uncomplicated buff. It encourages exactly the kind of playstyle you’d hope to see from Imperial Fists – masses of heavy weapons aiming to tear down enemy armour in the early turns. It’s a little disappointing that it’s only VEHICLES and not MONSTERS or even BATTLESUITS as well – there’s no real reason the Fists should be great at blowing up Land Raiders but not Carnifexes or Riptides – but so it goes.

Imperial Fists Centurion Devastator Squad

Imperial Fists Centurion Devastator Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter

Putting aside that rather lukewarm criticism, the cool thing about the doctrine is that it makes some units really nasty. The above-pictured Centurions throw out a sickening amount of damage, particularly with their heavy bolters benefiting from the “bolter drill” rule as well, and being AP-2 while in the doctrine. Suppressors are suddenly rocking S7, AP-3, damage 3 against their main targets. Hellblasters can potentially deliver S9, AP-5, D3 shots from 36″ away – that’s a savage amount of firepower. Las-fusil equipped Eliminators are now a flat damage 4, which is hard to say no to. Even “incidental” anti-tank weaponry becomes a lot more deadly. It’s not hard to imagine an Imperial Fists army downing their opponent’s armour early on in the game under a hail of bullets.

The downside here is that it all falls flat if your opponent doesn’t have any, or many, VEHICLE units. It also doesn’t totally work with the trait and, as we’ll see later, some of the Stratagems – heavy bolters love it, but massed bolter fire from Aggressors or Intercessors would much rather you were in the Tactical doctrine. It creates a weird tension in your decision-making, which is going to be a bit of a theme for this book.

Specialist Detachments

The Imperial and Crimson Fists are somewhat unique among chapters receiving supplements as they both got specialist detachments in Vigilus Defiant. The specialist detachments can be unlocked by spending a single command point on a Specialist Detachment Stratagem, and they apply to all the units with a specific set of keywords in a detachment, unlocking two stratagems, a relic, and a warlord trait. We’re going to go into a quick overview of the detachments here, and go into details on their effects in the appropriate sections below.

Imperial Fists Siegebreaker Cohort

The Siegebreaker Cohort is the big draw to stick with the Imperial Fists rather than playing their somewhat bluer successors. The Siegebreaker Cohort applies to Captains, Centurions, Dreadnoughts, and Vindicators. The specialist detachment doubles down on killing vehicles and buildings – there’s one stratagem that relates specifically to destroying buildings, and one that applies to both buildings and vehicles. Both the warlord trait and relic have been overwritten by the release of this supplement, so we won’t be looking at them.

Crimson Fists Liberator Strike Force

The Liberator Strike Force is all about the Primaris – it applies to all the Primaris characters, Intercessor Squads, Reiver Squads, and Hellblaster Squads in a detachment. The stratagems, warlord trait, and relic are all unique, so don’t get overwritten by this supplement.

Crimson Fists Hellblasters.

Crimson Fists Hellblasters, ready to liberate. Credit: Corrde

The Units

There’s three units in the book, which is 300% more than Raven Guard or Iron Hands had. So far, so good. Two of them are returnees from previous editions, in the shape of Captain Darnath Lysander of the Imperial Fists (still not worth it) and Chapter Master Pedro Kantor of the Crimson Fists (extremely worth it). Neither of these got a Primaris upgrade, and Lysander is basically not changed at all from his previous version, though Pedro gained an extra Attack, better re-rolls, and an improved storm bolter. Joining them is the new boy Tor Garadon, first announced a few weeks ago after grainy leaks started showing up on the Internet.

Imperial Fists Captain Tor Garadon

Imperial Fists Captain Tor Garadon. Credit: Jack Hunter

Tor Garadon

Continuing the theme of all the new Space Marine supplements getting a Primaris character, the Imperial Fists get Captain Tor Garadon. Garadon gives friendly Imperial Fist units the standard captain re-roll 1s to hit, has a gigantic fist with a x3 strength modifier, and has a Signum Array that provides a friendly unit within 3″ BS 2+. Garadon also has a pair of abilities that increase his potency against Vehicle and Building units, the Siege Captain ability and Siege Master warlord trait (we’ll cover this below). Combined, these give Garadon 6 s12 punches on the charge that do 4 damage to Vehicles, and a d3+1 damage grav-gun, both of which get +1 to wound (so he’s wounding knights on 2s with his fist, or 3s with the grav-gun). He, of course, can’t do this to a Carnifex, but at least he can punch out Rob’s semtex filled Kytan.

Garadon also only provides captain re-rolls, unlike the more powerful chapter master re-rolls. This gives an Imperial Fists player an uncomfortable tension between a chapter master to buff multiple units, or Tor Garadon to help buff a single unit (and be a bit of a melee powerhouse). We did some math to look at this – Garadon is marginally better at boosting a single unit than a Chapter Master, but when either shooting with multiple units, or as hit modifiers and extra hits from the Siege Masters and stratagem Bolter Drill come into play, the Chapter Master re-rolls step ahead.

Captain Lysander

Captain Lysander is almost completely unchanged from his previous incarnation in the 2017 Codex Space Marines, and like in that version of the Codex, he kind of sucks. He doesn’t really have enough attacks to be a melee beatstick, and he’s not tough enough to cause anyone real problems. His special buff is now “no more than 1 model can flee” rather than “+1 Ld”, but how relevant either of those is in a codex with small, tough, high-Leadership units with a free re-roll is questionable. You kind of get the sense that GW don’t really know what to do with him, so here he is.

Pedro Kantor

Pedro, on the other hand, has stepped the fuck up. For some reason he’s gained a base Attack, giving him 5 (effectively 6, since he benefits from his own aura). He also gets the new, improved, version of Chapter Master re-rolls, and his gimmick storm bolter is damage 2 as well. At an unchanged cost of 150pts, he’s a fantastic force multipler to drop in to your pile of guns, and of course he doubly buffs melee too since he’s handing out both re-rolls and more attacks. Even Intercessors are pretty nasty when a basic unit of them can be throwing out 5 attacks per model re-rolling all hits. The only slight downside to Kantor is that he continues to tote a regular old power fist, and therefore has -1 to hit on his own attacks, but punching things himself isn’t his primary role, it’s shouting at others to do it. And in any case with Shock Assault he’ll usually be throwing out 7 attacks which hit on 3s and re-roll, which is plenty to be getting on with.

Other Units

The doctrine bonus causes several codex units to particularly stand out for Imperial Fists. Mostly, these units are things that have significant volume of heavy weapon fire to maximize the benefits from the doctrine.

    • Centurion Devastators: Having picked up a fourth wound in the codex, and with each Centurion packing 6 heavy bolter and 12 bolter shots, Centurions provide fantastic firepower and solid durability. With the Siegebreaker detachment they chew through vehicles just as efficiently as lighter targets.
    • Thunderfire Cannons: While not actually equipped with heavy bolters, they put out a bunch of heavy-bolter-equivalent shots, ignoring line of sight. Thunderfires are also able to slow two units to half-speed each turn, invaluable when running a gunline army.
    • Stalker Bolt Rifle Intercessors: Taken in sufficient volume, stalker intercessors are terrifying. Strength 4 won’t wound a vehicle all the time, but at AP -3, damage 3 every single shot that gets through hurts.
    • Quad Heavy Bolter Rapier Carriers: 12 heavy bolter shots from a 76 point platform. As durable as a Centurion, a Rapier is an incredibly cheap way to add a bunch of firepower to the army – the only real downside is not getting the mortal wounds from being a Siegebreaker detachment.
    • Fire Raptor: We’re calling this a solid maybe – both the quad heavy bolters and the avenger bolt cannon take full advantage of Legacy of Dorn and Siege Masters, giving it incredible firepower, but the Fire Raptor is still a fragile hull for the points cost.
Imperial Fists Leviathan Dreadnought

Imperial Fists Leviathan Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

  • Leviathan Dreadnoughts: With double storm cannons the Leviathan puts out incredible firepower. Though not as durable as an Iron Hands Leviathan, it’s still tough to kill, and when standing next to a chapter master will have no issues killing an Eldar airplane with each arm.
  • Las-Fusil Eliminators: Bumping a las-fusil up to a flat 4 damage puts it in a fantastic place – the sergeant buff makes each unit put out 2 shots that hit and wound most targets on 2s, don’t allow armor saves, and do 4 damage. The only downside is losing the equally awesome bolt sniper rifles.
  • Invictor Warsuits: An Invictor pulls double duty for Imperial Fists – a scary presence in your opponent’s lines to distract them from your gunline, and a great way to tell airplanes to go away. Almost all their weapons are heavy and do extra damage to vehicles, which is especially powerful on 2d6 shots that autohit at 12″.
  • Marine Fliers: All varieties of Marine fliers are pretty standout units for Imperial Fists, particularly the Stormraven. All three can carry a twin assault cannon, which is 12 shots at S6, AP-2 D1 or 2 (target dependent), an extremely potent horde murder weapon that doubles up at ripping apart light vehicles. They can also all take a twin heavy bolter for another 6 shots at a similar profile, and the Stormraven tacks a pair of hurricane bolters on top of that. Being flyers they’re able to deliver that damage wherever it needs to go, and can be key to board control.

Stratagems

The Imperial Fists have access to 14 stratagems, two fewer than any other supplement (and fewer than Crimson Fists, their own successor chapter). Imperial Fist stratagems are a bit of a grab bag – some of the stratagems continue the inexplicable love for the BUILDING keyword, some are great at increasing the sheer volume of bolter fire they put out, and some don’t seem to mesh at all with a doctrine that encourages staying in Devastator Doctrine.

Imperial Fists Stratagems

    • Bitter Enemy – 1CP: In the Fight Phase, re-roll any Hit and Wound rolls against Iron Warriors. Does this work against Iron Warriors that are using Iron Hands rules? Probably not. D
    • Close-range Bolter Fire – 2CP: In the shooting phase, Bolt weapons change their type to Pistol. This sounds really cool – but rapid fire bolt weapons will only be shooting one shot, and if you are using stalker bolt rifles to take advantage of the doctrine you’ll lose the doctrine AP bonus. The main use for this is on auto bolt rifles, where you could see a squad of Intercessors charging in, tying a unit up for a turn, and then freeing themselves up with a concentrated blast of firepower – but auto bolt rifles are kind of discouraged by the rest of the codex. As such, this stratagem doesn’t mesh well enough with the rest of the army to be something you build around, and is on the expensive side for a reactionary strat. C
    • Bolster Defences – 1CP: Once per battle, at the start of the Movement phase, one Imperial Fists Infantry unit entirely on or within a terrain feature can get an additional +1 to their armor save for as long as they remain stationary. Solid, though limiting in only being usable once per game. Combined with cover, a unit can have +2 to their armor save, putting an example unit of Centurions at a 0+ save (requiring AP-3 to save at worse than a 2+). If you have something that wants to sit on an objective and never leave, while putting out a hail of firepower, this is a great way to spend a point and keep them around forever. A
    • Bolter Drill – 2CP: When a unit shoots a bolt weapon, an unmodified 6 to-hit scores an additional hit. This doubles up on the Fist chapter tactic, turning a 6 to-hit into three hits. Doesn’t really need much explanation – more bolter hits are great. A pile of Aggressors utilising this puts out a lot of bolter fire. A
    • Sappers – 1CP: In either the Shooting or Fight phase, give a unit plus one to hit and wound a BUILDING. Nobody takes buildings. Without a comprehensive rework of building rules, there will never even be an opportunity to use this. You might as well give +1 to hit the moon. F
    • Stubborn Defence – 2CP: Use at start of battle; as long as your Imperial Fists Warlord isn’t deep striking, in a transport, or otherwise not on the battlefield. You can’t discard Storm or Defend tactical objectives, but scoring them gains you an additional victory point. A solid take when playing with tactical objectives. Can be risky if you don’t have a lot of mobility to capture any points in the opponent’s deployment zone. in those games, F outside of that context.
    • Pain Is A Lesson – 1CP: Give a unit that is not a Vehicle or Servitor a 6+++ Feel No Pain for a phase. Incredibly useful, gives a taste of Iron Hands durability to a unit of Centurions or Hellblasters. Just a 6+++ alone won’t be enough to save a unit from concentrated fire, but combined with Bolster Defences a unit ends up quite durable. B
Imperial Fists Deimos Vindicator Laser Destroyer

Imperial Fists Deimos Vindicator Laser Destroyer. Credit: Jack Hunter

    • Tank Hunters – 2CP: In the shooting or fight phase, give one Imperial Fists unit +1 to wound against a selected enemy Vehicle unit. Combined with the volume of fire Imperial Fists can put out, this is fantastic at allowing bolters or heavy bolters to punch up into enemy vehicles. Like the doctrine, it’s aggravating that it doesn’t work on monsters. A
    • Champion of Blades – 1CP: Give an Imperial Fist relic to a successor chapter Character, including a Crimson Fists character. It doesn’t work the other way around to give a Crimson Fists relic to an Imperial Fists character. We’ve seen this same stratagem in all the other supplements, but sadly/thankfully there’s no Imperial Fists Ironstone. B
    • Gift of the Phalanx – 1CP: Give a Sergeant a Master-crafted Weapon, Digital Weapons, the Fist of Terra, or Gatebreaker Bolts. Either a Master-crafted Weapon or the Fist of Terra are likely choices for this, put on a veteran Intercessor Sergeant. Either option is a potent melee threat in an Imperial Fist gunline, but none of these are must-takes. B
    • Sentinel of Terra – 1CP: Give an additional Imperial Fists warlord trait to your non-named-character warlord. The Imperial Fists have some solid warlord traits, so this can come in very handy. It also, as written, allows giving an Imperial Fists trait to a Crimson Fists warlord. A
Imperial Fists Phalanx Warders

Imperial Fists Phalanx Warders. Credit: Jack Hunter

  • The Shield Unwavering – 2CP: At the end of your Morale phase, get +1 attack and +1 to armor saves on an Imperial Fists Infantry unit within 3″ of an objective, until the start of your next turn. This stratagem is great everywhere else it appears, and here it can win games – it can let an infantry unit absorb a significantly increased amount of damage while holding an objective, and you can combo it with Bolster Defences to make one unit truly stupidly resilient. It also puts Intercessors getting charged at 4 attacks each, which is a very respectable melee threat for many things which might want to try and push them off an objective they’re holding. (Corrode: imagine veteran Intercessors using this under Pedro’s aura – 6 attacks each. Woof.) A
  • Clearance Protocols – 1CP: Up to 10 models can throw a grenade instead of 1. Can give a unit of stalker bolt rifle Intercessors a whole lot of weak shots if they’re facing down a horde, but those shots are essentially lasguns (with -1AP assuming you’re still in devastator doctrine), or hit a light vehicle with 10 krak grenades. Doesn’t give any extra range on the grenades, so still needs a unit to get close before they become usable. This is one of those stratagems that you’re unlikely to specifically build around, but having it in your back pocket to unleash in the right context can be devastating. B-
  • Praetorian’s Wrath – 2CP Once per battle, while in Devastator Doctrine, unmodified 6s to-wound with heavy and grenade weapons get 1 additional AP, across the whole army. The equivalent of the same stratagem across the other supplements, but with Imperial Fists being likely to throw out prodigious volumes of heavy bolter fire this can actually make a difference. B

Siegebreaker Cohort

The Siegebreaker Cohort also gives the Imperial Fists two additional stratagems. One stratagem is fantastic, and the other continues along with GW attempting to force Buildings to be a thing.

  • Structural Demolition – 1CP: After destroying a Building with a Siegebreaker Cohort unit, roll 2d6 instead of 1d6 per model disembarking, and for each roll of 1 a model is destroyed. This would be very interesting if buildings were a thing, and putting units in buildings were a thing, but neither of those are true so this is a waste of ink. F
  • Seismic Devastation – 1CP: At the start of either the Shooting or Fight phase, pick a Siegebreaker Cohort unit from your army. Each time you roll a wound roll of 6+ against a Vehicle or Building, the attack inflicts a mortal wound as well as the normal damage. Mostly used with a squad of hurricane + heavy bolter Centurions, but also usable on a dual storm cannon Leviathan or a Redemptor Dreadnought, this stratagem turns anti-infantry weapons into brutal tank-killers. As the mortal wound is based on modified wound rolls, the Chaplain litany Catechism of Fire combined with Tank Hunters can give you mortal wounds on a 4+, assuming the target is the closest unit. A+

Crimson Fists Stratagems

Then you’ve got the two Crimson Fist ones, which they can use in addition to the other 14 Imperial Fist stratagems. These are straight ports from the January White Dwarf index:

  • Slay The Tyrant – 1CP: In either the Shooting or Fight phase, add 1 to hit against a Character unit. A cheeky little +1 to hit with a Repulsor Executioner against a character Knight is never a bad thing. A
  • A Hated Foe – 1CP Re-roll wound rolls against an Ork unit with one Crimson Fists unit, in either the shooting or fight phase. While this is one of the many mostly useless stratagems that only apply when fighting a single enemy, this goes against an entire faction rather than a more typical subfaction. It also works on either shooting or fighting, so can be reliably used at any time. A when facing Orks, in any other situation.

Liberator Strike Force

The two stratagems given to the Crimson Fists out of Vigilus Defiant increase the potency of Crimson Fist Primaris units.

  • Heroes of Rynn’s World -1CP: At the start of the shooting phase, select a Liberator Strike Force unit, and an unmodified hit roll of a six inflicts two hits instead of one. This can be used to either give a unit of Hellblasters a handful of additional hits, or stack with the chapter tactic and Bolter Drill stratagem to have an Intercessor’s bolter hit 4 times for every 6 rolled to-hit. A
  • Paragons of Dorn – 1CP: At the end of the shooting phase, pick a Liberator Strike Force unit from your army that was targeted by an attack this phase. That until can immediately shoot. Another great stratagem, this provides a unit a free shooting phase (always great), and disincentivises incidental shooting at dangerous units. A

Relics

Imperial Fists Primaris Captain with Power Fist

Imperial Fists Primaris Captain with Power Fist. Credit: Jack Hunter

The Imperial Fists have access to two sets of relics – four Relics of the Fists and six Special-Issue Wargear. The Relics of the Fists can be freely taken by Imperial Fists characters, or given to a successor chapter, including Crimson Fists, with Champion of Blades. The eight Special-Issue Wargear items can be given to either Imperial Fists or their successors, and through Gift of the Phalanx a subset can be given to a sergeant. The Crimson Fists have access to an additional two Relics of the Fists, again duplicated from the White Dwarf index in January.

Relics of the Fists

The four Imperial Fist relics are a mix of one weapon and three different upgrade options, ranging from a generally useful aura boost to a magic banner that doesn’t synergize with an army in Devastator Doctrine.

  • The Spartean: Upgrade an Imperial Fist bolt pistol or heavy bolt pistol to 18″ range, 2 shots, strength 4, AP -3, damage 2, and give it the ability to target Characters. A cool little trick, but between the other Relics of the Fists and the relics in Codex Space Marines there’s little reason to take a slightly improved bolt pistol. C
  • The Banner of Staganda: Imperial Fists Ancient model only. Add 1 to hit rolls in the Fight phase for units within 6″. This is a strong and useful ability that has nearly no synergy with a gunline. Might make sense to take this in a Crimson Fists army and combine it with Pedro Kantor’s additional attack aura. C
  • The Eye of Hypnoth: Turn one of your characters into a Lieutenant, for shooting only. This relic existed previously in Vigilus Defiant, though it was previously only able to be put on a Captain, and only worked on Siegebreaker Detachment units. Working on all shooting significantly improves the Eye, as it now boosts your Intercessors and Repulsors as well. This is a generally viable replacement for a Lieutenant in an army that’s trying to limit tax characters, though losing the melee re-rolls can be painful when things go wrong. A
  • The Bones of Osrak: For an Imperial Fists Librarian, when attempting to manifest a power from Geokinesis, they can re-roll the psychic test. Additional reliability when casting psychic powers is very useful, though none of the Geokinesis powers have a particularly high warp charge value. C

Relics of the Crimson Fists

As befits the more aggressive successor chapter of the glorious boys in yellow, both the Crimson Fist relics are weapons, and pretty decent ones at that.

  • Duty’s Burden: Replaces the weapon on a Crimson Fists model with a master-crafted auto or stalker bolt rifle. Upgrades to a 30″ range, rapid fire 2, strength 5, AP-2, damage 2 rifle. Useful, but it’s an incremental weapon upgrade rather than an actual shift in what a character can do, so isn’t always useful to spend your CP on. B
  • Fist of Vengeance: Upgrades a Crimson Fists model with a power fist. Removes the hit-penalty, and increases the damage from d3 to flat 3, a significant increase in reliability. Much more interesting than Duty’s Burden – besides anything else, there’s now a 31pt disparity between a slam captain with a power fist and a thunder hammer, and being able to get a better, cheaper weapon is very relevant. B+

Liberator Strike Force

  • The Vengeful Arbiter: Upgrade a bolt pistol to pistol 2, S:5, AP-1, Damage 2. The upgraded bolt pistol also gains an ability that you can make an additional hit roll any time the weapon hits, giving a potential of four hits. The additional hits from this ability can’t explode, so the chapter tactic will only work off the first two shots. Usable on a character to add additional damage in a protracted melee fight, but again suffers from being an ok gun upgrade to a not particularly exciting gun in a world where there’s a whole range of better choices. C

Special-Issue Wargear

In addition to what we can now say for sure are the four standard pieces of Special-Issue Wargear, the Imperial Fists and their successors have four unique items. As seems to be common, the unique bolt ammo is underwhelming; however some of the others are competitive with the genuine Relics of the Fists as options to take in a list.

  • Adamantine Mantle: Grants the bearer the ability to ignore lost wounds on a D6 roll of 5+. A solid defensive choice, particularly on a captain or chaplain that already has an invulnerable save. Some of the other Special-Issue Wargear may be a better choice defensively on other characters, however. B-
  • Artificer Armour: Grants the bearer a 2+ save and a 5+ invulnerable save, bringing the total of possible characters with 2+ saves through relics for Marines to 2. Most useful for characters who lack an invulnerable save or can’t improve their save for whatever reason, such as jump pack Librarians or Lieutenants. B
  • Master-crafted weapon: Add +1 to the Damage of any weapon that’s not a relic and doesn’t have master crafted in its name already. This wargear has a pretty broad set of uses between damage 4 thunder hammer Captains, Aggressor sergeants firing 12 2-damage shots per turn at range, or Suppressor sergeants having the ideal gun for killing Custodians at flat 3 damage. Ideally you’d never be taking this as your free relic, but an excellent use of the “pay a CP for an extra relic” stratagem since being able to use it to buff up various units depending on your opponent’s army is a useful tool. A
  • Digital weapons: Whenever the bearer fights they get to make an extra attack that causes a mortal wound if you hit. Cute but not really worth the relic slot. C
  • Fist of Terra: Replaces a power fist with the following profile: Sx2, AP-3, Damage D3, Bearer can make 1 additional attack with this weapon. Notably this doesn’t have the -1 to-hit penalty of a normal power fist, so not only does it punch more, it punches more reliably. A
  • Gatebreaker Bolts: Shooting a bolt weapon, make one hit roll that causes D3 wound rolls. Each wound roll is at AP-5, D1. This could be an upgrade for a sergeant using a regular boltgun, or a model with a bolt pistol, but in neither case is it worth spending a CP to take. D
  • Auric Aquila: This relic grants a 4++ invulnerable save, and an additional 5+++ Feel No Pain against mortal wounds in the psychic phase. This is another decent defensive choice to drop on a Lieutenant or Librarian that wouldn’t otherwise have an invulnerable save, especially the latter which now gets some protection from Perils of the Warp. B
  • Warden’s Cuirass: Adds one additional wound to the bearer. Most useful in an army that’s CP heavy but had to take regular sized characters for points, effectively turning one of them into Primaris. C

Warlord Traits

The Imperial Fists and the Crimson Fists each have their own unique set of warlord traits, with the Imperial Fists having six and the Crimson Fists having three. There is an additional trait for each chapter gated behind Specialist Detachments, and the Field Commander stratagem can be used to have as many as three separate characters with warlord traits.

Imperial Fists Warlord Traits

Imperial Fists Gravis Captain

Imperial Fists Gravis Captain. Credit: Jack Hunter

  1. Siege Master: Add 1 to wound rolls against Building and Vehicle units. Great on a slam captain or anyone else that’s going to be in melee against Knights or tanks. This is Tor Garadon’s required trait. B
  2. Indomitable: This warlord can only be wounded on a 4+. Essentially the opposite of the above, rather than being good at killing Knights this trait makes you good at not being killed by Knights (or other large scary things). Use Sentinel of Terra to combine this with Stubborn Heroism, and take the Adamantine Mantle on a Gravis Captain and that character’s not going anywhere. This is Captain Lysander’s required trait. A
  3. Fleetmaster: Once per battle, roll a lot of D6 to maybe do D3 mortal wounds to a unit. This is far far too random to be a reliable source of mortal wounds. F
  4. Stubborn Heroism: The warlord halves incoming damage, but cannot fall back. See above for combining this with Indomitable, this trait is great for keeping your warlord alive. A
  5. Architect of War: Reworded slightly from Codex Space Marines, this trait is still confusingly worded and allows units within 6″ to ignore AP-1 while in cover. It can, maybe, be stacked with the Indomitable trait out of Vigilus Defiant (which is completely different than the trait in this supplement with the same name, and will require a FAQ to address if they both still exist) to allow an Imperial Fists Infantry unit to gain the benefit of cover even in the open, and subsequently ignore AP-1. Still, it’s a niche use and not tremendously powerful. B-
  6. Hand of Dorn: If your army is battle-forged, gain D3 command points before the battle. Simple, powerful, always worth taking, even if it requires spending a command point for Sentinel of Terra. A

Crimson Fists Warlord Traits

Crimson Fists Primaris Lieutenant with Power Fist

Credit: bonds0097

The Crimson Fists get a set of three unique warlord traits, and can use Sentinel of Terra to take an additional one from the Imperial Fists table on their warlord, as long as the warlord isn’t Pedro Kantor (he won’t be).

  1. Refuse to Die: The first time your warlord dies, they return to life on a 4+ at the end of the phase, with D3 wounds remaining. This trait is best taken on a character that’s being used to provide buffs, as even if they eat it to snipers at the top of turn one they can pop back up, hopefully clearing out the snipers so they don’t die again on turn two. Less useful for a melee beatstick, who will pop back up out of combat and on low wounds, potentially needing to eat overwatch again to make it back into combat. A
  2. Tenacious Opponent: This warlord gains D3 additional attacks if there are at least 5 enemy models within 6″ of them when they’re chosen to fight. A strong ability defensively, helping a warlord cut down a unit assaulting your lines, this is also very rewarding offensively. The old version of this was much worse, so it’s nice to see it get buffed. A
  3. Stoic Defender: Friendly Crimson Fists units with 6″ of the warlord gain Defenders of Humanity (objective secured), or count as two models if they already have it. Only occasionally useful if a warlord is being used to aggressively secure objectives in the backfield, most of the time Space Marines don’t have many issues killing chaff to hold the midfield objectives. This is Pedro Kantor’s required trait. C

Liberator Strike Force

Unlike the Imperial Fists specialist detachment, the Crimson Fists trait is unique, so can be used in addition to the traits in the supplement – as long as you take the Liberator Strike Force.

  • Expert Instructor: Expert instructor provides a 9″ to-hit re-roll aura on a Liberator Strike Force character. Using this trait, a Primaris Lieutenant can provide both hit and wound re-rolls, and if he’s given the Vox Espiritum relic out of Codex Space Marines the to-hit and to-wound re-rolls will both have 9″ range. A

 

Psychic Powers

Imperial Fists Terminator Librarian

Imperial Fists Terminator Librarian. Credit: Jack Hunter

Imperial Fist psychic powers are a bit weird, in that several powers seem to encourage an army that fights in close, something at odds with the doctrine bonus to heavy weapons and lack of a way to mitigate the movement penalty. Once again we also have a power that gets bonuses for targeting buildings. At this point we’re hoping that this is a prelude to Psychic Awakening making buildings good, but don’t have a lot of faith in that.

  1. Tectonic Purge – WC6: Any enemy units that start their charge within 12″ of the psyker must subtract 2 from the result. A strong defensive buff, this trait can combine with the debuff from a Repulsor to make even a Blood Angel unit think twice about charging out of deep strike, or work alone to help keep a unit of Centurions safe. The only major downside is the enemy needing to start within 12″, meaning the Librarian needs to be near the front lines. B+
  2. Wrack and Ruin – WC6: Target a Building or enemy unit wholly on or within a terrain feature, within 18″ and visible to the psyker. Roll 9D6, adding +1 if the target unit is a BUILDING, dealing 1 mortal wound on a 5+. Potentially better than smite, as it can target anything and doesn’t take a penalty to hit characters, averaging 3 mortal wounds with the potential to spike very high. The building half is never going to come into play, and with Imperial Fists ignoring cover there’s a definite incentive for your opponent to avoid terrain that isn’t line of sight blocking. B-
  3. Iron Inferno – WC6: Select a point on battlefield within 18″ and visible to psyker. Roll one D6 for each enemy unit within 6″ of that point, deal one mortal wound on a 4+. Better than most area of effect powers, this doesn’t suffer from a penalty to damage characters or random radius. Still, only dealing one mortal wound per unit makes this need to hit multiple units to do much, making it far from a safe take. C
  4. Fortify – WC4: Restore D3 lost wounds to one Imperial Fists Infantry or Biker model within 12″. Trivially low warp charge for some healing? Sign me up. Only downside is that Apothecary resurrection happens in the movement phase, so this can’t heal a model to full and allow the Apothecary to resurrect – but it can heal up a resurrected model to full. A
  5. Aspect of Stone – WC5: Add 2 to psyker’s strength and toughness until your next psychic phase. Counters the positioning vulnerability in the use of Tectonic Purge, and turns a psyker into something of a melee threat. That said, putting your key anti-charge psyker into melee generally isn’t what an Imperial Fists gunline is likely to be doing, so this power has limited viability. C
  6. Chasm – WC6: Select enemy unit that cannot Fly and within 18″ and visible to the psyker. Roll 2D6; if the result is less than the lowest Move characteristic it takes one mortal wound; if it’s equal it takes D3; if it’s greater then it’s flat three mortal wounds. Another power that can be used to snipe out a character, this power has a 58% chance to do a full three mortal wounds against something with the standard six-inch movement, and of course that only increases against slower units – things like Terminators spring to mind. B+

Overall, Tectonic Purge and Fortify are probably must-takes in a gunline army, though cases can be made for the other powers on either an army that fights at close range or on a secondary Librarian, or against enemy gunlines which aren’t going to want to charge at yours.

Strategy and Tactics

Imperial Fists Veteran Intercessors

Imperial Fists Veteran Intercessors. Credit: Jack Hunter

Looking individually at the Imperial Fist psychic powers, warlord traits, relics, and stratagems there are quite a number of powerful options that any army would be happy to have – but there’s also a strange tension with how all the individual parts are going to interact. Legacy of Dorn encourages high volume heavy weapons – heavy bolters, assault cannons, onslaught gatling cannons, autocannons, and the like. Siege Masters and Bolter Drill encourage the use of bolt weapons, with the heavy bolter and stalker bolt rifle some of the only weapons that fit into both categories. Close-Range Bolter Fire and The Shield Unwavering encourage playing close where you can leverage the melee potential of Intercessors, but works best with auto bolt rifles for volume of fire, and being in assault doctrine to gain AP after changing their weapons to be pistols and then melee attacks if the bolt fire wasn’t enough. This ends up with the Imperial Fists in an interesting position where they may not want to remain in Devastator Doctrine all game, unlike many other Space Marine armies that want to sit in their bonused doctrine. Start the game out in Devastator and stay there while vehicles get chewed up, but switch over to Tactical or even all the way to Assault as the game progresses and heavy targets are harder to find.

With this in mind we’re going to take a look at two different Imperial Fists lists, one designed to take advantage of the Siegebreaker Cohort and one we recently saw at the LGT and were interested by. We’re also going to forgo our usual dive into potential successor chapter traits and take a look at how the unique Crimson Fists chapter tactic, stratagems, traits, and relics can create an army that feels different from the Imperial Fists.

Imperial Fists Infantry Horde

Army List - Click to Expand

Imperial Fists - Indomitus Crusade - Battalion

Primaris Lieutenant, master crafted stalker bolt rifle-70
Chaplain-72

10 Intercessors, Sergeant with chainsword, 10 stalker bolt rifles, 2 auxiliary grenade launchers-172
10 Intercessors, Sergeant with chainsword, 10 stalker bolt rifles, 2 auxiliary grenade launchers-172
10 Intercessors, Sergeant with chainsword, 10 stalker bolt rifles, 2 auxiliary grenade launchers-172
10 Intercessors, Sergeant with chainsword, 10 stalker bolt rifles, 2 auxiliary grenade launchers-172
10 Intercessors, Sergeant with chainsword, 10 stalker bolt rifles, 2 auxiliary grenade launchers-172
10 Intercessors, Sergeant with chainsword, 10 bolt rifles, 2 auxiliary grenade launchers-172

Ancient, stormbolter-62

Imperial Fists Siegebreaker Cohort Battalion

Primaris Captain, master crafted stalker bolt rifle-83 WARLORD The Vox Espiritum, Indomitable
Chaplain-72

10 Intercessors, Sergeant with chainsword, 10 stalker bolt rifles, 2 auxiliary grenade launchers-172
5 Infiltrators-110
5 Infiltrators-110

3 Eliminators-72
3 Eliminators-72
3 Eliminators-72

1999

11 CP
Wings covered this list by James Ramsay in great detail in his London Grand Tournament preview article, but we’re going to revisit here and look at how it changes with the new supplement. At the London GT James ended up taking this list to a 4-1 finish, placing 47th out of about 360 players.

The primary detachment is Indomitus Crusaders, so the Primaris Lieutenant can take the Greyshield trait, allowing both Siege Masters and No Matter the Odds to be used by the entire detachment, so every 6 to-hit turns into three hits, and one unit can use Bolter Drill as well so each 6 turns into 4 hits. The supplement has also given this army a 50% buff to its anti-tank power, previously based around volume of low strength 2-damage shots, now hitting for 3-damage. Assuming that the Siegebreaker Cohort version of the Indomitable trait remains available, this army has 160 wounds that will nearly always be in cover and immune to morale, a tough ask to push through.

The supplement also shores up some of our concerns about the list at LGT, Tank Hunters on a unit helping push those three damage hits into a Knight, and Close-Range Bolter Fire giving each Intercessor squad some potential two damage hits if they end up stuck in combat (though it will sacrifice the third damage and additional AP). We’re very excited to see how much stronger this list ends up now.

Previously, he was taking the Indomitable warlord trait out of Vigilus. With it going away, we think that Hand of Dorn is the best single warlord trait to take here, though taking Architect of War and using Sentinel of Terra to grab Hand of Dorn as a second trait is better – at worst you end up breaking even on CP.

Imperial Fists Siegebreaker Cohort

Army List - Click to expand


Imperial Fists, 2,000 Points, 13 CP

== Battalion Detachment == Imperial Fists [832pts] 5 CP

HQ: Chaplain w/ Storm Bolter – 74 pts
Litanies: Litany of Hate, Catechism of Fire

HQ: Librarian w/ Storm Bolter, Force Stave – 90 pts
Psychic Powers: Tectonic Purge, Fortify

Troops: 5 Infiltrators – 110 pts

Troops: 5 Infiltrators – 10 pts

Troops: 10 Intercessors w/ Bolt Rifles (sgt. w/Thunder Hammer) – 186 pts

Elites: Invictor Tactical Warsuit w/ Incendium Cannon – 131pts

Elites: Invictor Tactical Warsuit w/ Incendium Cannon – 131pts

 

== Battalion Detachment == Imperial Fists [976pts] 5 CP
Specialst Detachment: Siegebreaker Cohort

HQ: Chaplain w/ Storm Bolter – 74 pts
Litanies: Litany of Hate, Recitation of Focus

HQ: Captain in Gravis Armor – 108pts
Relic: The Eye of Hypnoth
Warlord: Architect of War

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifles (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifles (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifles (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Heavy Support: Thunderfire Cannon – 92 pts

Heavy Support: 6x Centurion Devastators w/ Heavy Bolters and Hurricane Bolter – 420 points

== Fortification Network Detachment == Imperial Fists [192pts] 0 CP

Fortification: Imperial Bastion – 192pts

Here we’ve got a second list with a double battalion. While Space Marine battalions can get expensive due to troop costs, Imperial Fists take full advantage of them with all the bolt rifles getting extra shots. Our first battalion has two squads of Infiltrators, and one big block of regular bolt rifle Intercessors. How we use these three units will depend a ton on our matchup, as they can be effective in multiple ways. Against anyone with a strong deep strike presence we want to keep the Infiltrators back towards our lines, providing a 12″ bubble of screening and keeping our Centurions safe. If our opponent lacks a deep strike threat the Infiltrators pivot effortlessly into claiming objectives and in ITC possibly kicking Recon scoring off on the first turn. Our ten man Intercessor block can be upgraded to Veterans, giving them an extremely scary 5 thunder hammer and 36 regular attacks to accompany their bolter fire, a threat to any bigger blocks of light units. Two Invictors also give us additional dangerous distraction away from our centurions, tying up front line units, and literally flamethrowering planes out of the sky. What’s not to like?

Our second battalion has three more squads of Infiltrators, this time with stalker bolt rifles. We’ll use these mostly to hold objectives in our deployment zone, but because they hit vehicles for three damage they provide some respectable extra firepower to chip a couple wounds off a vehicle if your Centurions failed to kill it. Speaking of Centurions, we’ve got a full size block of six of them. With Bolter Drill they can easily be hitting 144 times on their 108 shots, dropping 24 mortal wounds from Seismic Devastation onto a target even before rerolls. To help maximize the efficacy of our Centurions we’re actually taking a rather unusual unit – an Imperial Bastion. While expensive at almost 200 points, this is one of the few times that it makes sense to take one.

We’re going to use the Bastion to do several things at once – it’s toughness 9 and has 20 wounds, so it can absorb a lot of firepower. It can be garrisoned by one squad and an unlimited number of characters, letting us drastically reduce how many drops we have and protect all our characters from snipers on the first turn. Finally, it compensates for the short range of Centurions. We’ll deploy it right up on the edge of our deployment zone, where we’d probably be deploying our Centurions anyways. When the Centurions disembark, they’re placed within 3″ of the Bastion, and then can take their normal 4″ move. Accounting for the size of a 50mm Centurion base, they get almost 9″ of movement. Units that thought they deployed well away from the Centurions may not be quite so safe anymore. Due to some amusing interactions with terrain rules we can actually deploy the bastion into a ruin, as long as there’s space for it. If we can get it at least toe-in, and the ruin is big enough to obscure at least half of it, the bastion ends up getting a cover save.

We round out the list with two Chaplains, a Librarian, a Chapter Master and a Thunderfire cannon. The thunderfire is nearly a must-take, the power of being able to slow two separate units to a crawl each turn can’t be overstated, especially in a gunline. We’re taking Tectonic Purge on our librarian for a similar reason, as although our centurions have an awful lot of overwatch they still don’t do tremendously well in melee. If something does make it into melee with the centurions we’ve got Close-Range Bolter Fire to knock them back off, but that’s an expensive stratagem that we’d rather not need to use. Our other choice of psychic power is going to be Fortify, which will keep our Centurions around as long as possible. We’re taking a chapter master for the improved re-rolls. Tor Garadon is very cool, and a beast in combat, but as our main source of damage is using entirely bolt weapons the extra rerolls end up giving us more hits as soon as any hit modifiers are involved, and are only very slightly worse without hit modifiers. It’s also a huge improvement when shooting overwatch. He’s taking the Architect warlord trait to help provide additional survivability to the centurions, and the upgraded Eye of Hypnoth to double up as a lieutenant. Having both the Chapter Master and Lieutenant rerolls combined into one gives us the option of taking two chaplains, so we take one with Recitation of Focus and one with Catechism of Fire. Seismic Devastation operates on modified wound rolls, rather than unmodified, making both Catechism of Fire and Tank Hunters key benefits when taking on knights or other extremely tough targets. We’re going to use Sentinel of Terra to also take Hand of Dorn on our warlord, as there’s absolutely no reason not to – it ends up being between 0 and 2 CP for free.

Strengths
Lists like this are going to perform well playing against other lists that have just one or two primary sources of damage. The Centurions will kill nearly anything they’re pointed at, or maybe two things at once if they aren’t working through a Knight, but when their firepower gets too heavily split it becomes very easy to leave important targets with a handful of wounds left. They also do extremely well against any army that relies on invulnerable saves. Instead of low-volume high-damage shots, this army puts out a huge number of moderately powerful shots. Those shots are going to overwhelm invulnerable saves through pure volume, and a great many of them will be hitting at ap-2, degrading armor saves significantly. Thirty five Primaris bodies is also no slouch to kill, so once on objectives this list does a good job of holding them.

Weaknesses
While this list holds objectives well, it doesn’t do nearly as well at getting to them. Although the Infiltrators and Invictors are both able to deploy out of the friendly deployment zone, the only models moving faster than 6″ a turn are the Invictors. A faster opponent may be able to snag any mid-field objectives and build up a solid lead from them, and this list will struggle to put significant numbers of bodies into your opponent’s deployment zone. Significant threat saturation is another concern for this list. Fighting against a list with three Knights or six flyers can be troublesome, as a huge chunk of offensive firepower is tied up into the one Centurion unit. If it gets blown off the board before accounting for a good chunk of your opponent’s firepower this list could have trouble recovering. It’ll still end up as a pretty close game, with most of that type of list running relatively light on units to take objectives.

Corrode’s Crimson Fists

Army List - Click to expand


Crimson Fists, 2,000 Points, 10 CP

== Battalion Detachment == Crimson Fists [1,063pts] 5 CP

HQ: Captain with jump pack, thunder hammer, storm shield – 143pts – Warlord: Imperium’s Sword
HQ: Primaris Chaplain – 77pts

Troops: 5 Infiltrators – 110pts
Troops: 6 Intercessors with bolt rifles, auxiliary grenade launcher, power fist – 112pts
Troops: 10 Intercessors with stalker bolt rifles, auxiliary grenade launcher – 171pts

Elites: 6 Aggressors, boltstorm gauntlets – 222pts
Elites: Relic Contemptor Dreadnought with cyclone missile launcher and two twin lascannons – 228pts

== Spearhead Detachment == Crimson Fists [366pts] 1 CP

HQ: Pedro Kantor – 150pts

Heavy Support – 3 Eliminators with bolt sniper rifles – 72pts
Heavy Support – 3 Eliminators with bolt sniper rifles – 72pts
Heavy Support – 3 Eliminators with bolt sniper rifles – 72pts

== Spearhead Detachment == Crimson Fists [366pts] 1 CP

HQ: Primaris Lieutenant with master crafted stalker bolt rifle – 70pts

Heavy Support: Thunderfire Cannon – 92 pts
Heavy Support: Whirlwind with vengeance launcher – 85pts
Heavy Support: Repulsor Executioner with heavy laser destroyer – 324pts

 

Corrode: This is far from an optimised list, since I haven’t yet had chance to actually play any games with the Fists yet. That said, it has some basic ideas that I think make use of the strengths of the Crimson Fists trait and the stratagems available.

The first port of call here is the slam captain. This guy could arguably be 31pts cheaper and take a power fist instead, to upgrade to the Fist of Vengeance, and arguably should do that. That said, my plan with him is to sneakily grab Siege Master from the Imperial Fists Warlord traits with Sentinel of Terra and then master-craft his thunder hammer, so that he’s throwing out 6 attacks hitting on 3s and wounding any vehicle in the game on 2s at AP-3 D4.

The Primaris Chaplain is a bit of more of a toolbox. Depending on opponent, he can take any of Recitation of Focus, Litany of Faith, or Catechism of Fire, or maybe just throw Mantra of Strength on himself and pick up the relic crozius in order to act as a linebacker.

Down in the Troops, we have the Infiltrators doing what they do, providing deep strike protection, and incidentally hitting most trash units on 2s with their bolt carbines, then a big unit of stalker bolter Intercessors who, along with the Eliminators, can threaten any enemy characters that dare to show face, and then filling out the third Troops slot another, smaller, squad of Intercessors throwing out bolt rifle shots. They’re also toting a power fist, though the better play here may be to drop that and the extra Intercessor and find another use for the 26pts (very possibly to throw the extra guns on the Repulsor Executioner). Arguably, you might swap the stalker bolt rifle guys for more bolt rifles, taking advantage of the Chapter trait to pour out a greater volume of shots and giving up the potential of clipping 3 damage off vehicles or to Target Sighted a character off the table.

The first big unit here is the Aggressors. A big block of 6 of them offers a lot of shooting and a pile of power fist attacks. Like the Intercessors, 5 rather than 6 may be better to be able to utilise the Chapter tactic against 10-man units, but really these are gunning for bigger targets – Plaguebearers, Ork mobs, and other such large blocks of light infantry where the Aggressors will be piling in bolter shots which hit on 2s.

The Relic Contemptor offers some of the best anti-tank output in the game, and is a great target for the Tank Hunters stratagem. Stood next to Pedro and the Lieutenant, he’ll be hitting on 2s, mostly wounding on 2s, and re-rolling both. If you really want something dead, you can’t argue with that.

Speaking of Pedro, he heads up our first Spearhead detachment. As discussed above, you can’t really argue with him – extra attacks for Aggressors and Chapter Master re-rolls for them is a lot and he also offers a good gun and a fair bit of melee potential of his own. Accompanying him are 3 sets of Eliminators, who are just fantastic for Crimson Fists – you can stratagem them with Slay the Tyrant for a squad to get +1 to hit characters, meaning you don’t have so much reason to give up the Sergeant’s shooting, plus they can do work against hordes with hyperfrag rounds hitting on 2s, plus their guns are Heavy and so under the doctrine the mortis round becomes S5, AP-3, damage d3+1 against vehicles. They’re very flexible units and make for a cheap Spearhead.

Finally, we have the grab bag of units in the other Spearhead. The Lieutenant is maybe a luxury piece here – you could also recreate his effect by stealing the Eye of Hypnoth from the Imperial Fists relic list. Swapping him out for a Librarian (by dropping the spare Intercessor and the power fist from that squad) could be a much better play, though you are then committed to spending CP and your single Imperial Fists relic to replicate his effect. Otherwise we have a Thunderfire Cannon – a generically awesome unit for Space Marines, even better here with +1 damage against vehicles – plus a Whirlwind, equally offering +1 damage against vehicles, and finally a Repulsor Executioner. The Executioner is another great possible target for Slay the Tyrant if you’re facing down something like a Knight, or to get the Recitation of Focus from the Chaplain if not. It’s also a possible Tank Hunters target – your choices are basically between this or the Contemptor. Having a redundancy of targets is always good, and you can potentially utilise some redundancy here – in the right situation, you can throw Slay the Tyrant and Tank Hunters on this, and Catechism of Fire on the Relic Contemptor, and watch a Knight go away.

Overall, I’m looking forward to playing it, and getting the Crimson Fists on the board again – it’s been a while.

Final Thoughts

Imperial Fists Primaris Veteran Sergeant

Imperial Fists Primaris Veteran Sergeant. Credit: Jack Hunter

Although the Imperial Fists supplement is stuck with a couple decisions that feel odd in comparison with the rest of the books, everything does work out into an army that has a lot of flavor and will end up playing significantly differently than either Ultramarines or Iron Hands, the other ranged shooting chapters. Legacy of Dorn is a fantastic damage boost against any vehicle targets, but unlike other chapters isn’t a compelling reason to stay in Devastator doctrine all game. Imperial Fist armies will be more likely to swap down into Tactical, or possibly all the way into Assault doctrine on occasion. In a faction that seems to encourage actually moving through the doctrines it does feel odd that there’s no stratagem to have one unit operate as though they’re in Devastator doctrine, but the entire army can always be cycled back up if the need arises. There’s also quite a bit of emphasis on BUILDINGS, something almost never used in the game, and what buildings do exist all have the VEHICLE keyword as well. We think it would be incredibly cool for an addendum on the Cities of Death rules, or even the Ruins rules, to allow for the terrain on the board to be shot.

Tor Garadon is another odd step, with full chapter master rerolls being so important, especially combined with extra bolter shots from Bolter Drill and Siege Masters. He’s fantastic in melee, but in an Imperial Fists gunline won’t always be getting there, and a Gravis Captain can provide the same durability and better rerolls, especially if you have more than one unit shooting. He could just as easily have been Chapter Master Gregor Dessian, who also has nearly no fluff written about him and is effectively a nobody, as this supplement marks his first appearance in the fluff.

Finally, the way Crimson Fists are worked into the supplement is strange. In some ways they actually have more access to the Imperial Fists codex than the Imperial Fists themselves do, as their stratagems and relics took several away from Imperial Fists, while the Crimson Fists are still able to access everything the Imperial Fists use. It’s hard not to feel a little grumpy that there’s two stratagems, two relics, and a set of Warlord traits which neither Imperial Fists nor their other successors can access at all, while Crimson Fists can currently go the other way and get hold of just about everything they might want.

Overall, Imperial Fists are already one of the stronger Space Marine chapters, and while this supplement may not push them up to the pre-FAQ Iron Hands level it is certainly a bump in both flavor and power, and will lead to more variations on Marines getting fielded.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.