Detachment Focus: Firestorm Assault Force

In this series of articles we take a deep dive into a specific detachment for a faction, covering the faction’s rules and upgrades and talking about how to build around that faction for competitive play. In this article, we’re covering the Firestorm Assault Force Detachment in Codex: Space Marines.

The core Codex: Space Marines includes seven detachments, one of which represents the First Company and the other six of which are thematically linked to one of the First Founding Chapters which doesn’t have a supplement. The Firestorm Assault Force draws from the lore of the Salamanders, best known for their love of flame and melta weapons, the high quality of their wargear, and… using a lot of transports? I guess?

Detachment Overview

Space Marines are blessed with more detachments than any other faction, and that can make it hard to stand out. The Firestorm Assault Force is probably not the strongest way to play Marines; all of the Ironstorm Spearhead, Gladius Task Force, and Vanguard Spearhead all show up more regularly in top placings, as does the Black Templars’ Righteous Crusaders detachment. That said, people are putting up some results with Firestorm, and while it isn’t the easiest way to play Marines it has a lot to recommend it. It combines a good and broadly useful detachment rule with a number of Stratagems which unlock powerful capabilities, though with the caveat that a full half of them want you to be doing something about getting in or out of a transport and the most effective one really relies on you putting TORRENT weapons (i.e. flamers) on the table in significant numbers. If you build your list to play to its strengths, however, you should get some good results out of it.

Salamanders Aggressors
Salamanders Aggressors. Credit: Rockfish

Detachment Rule: Close-range Eradication

Let’s start by looking at the detachment rule. There’s two interlinked parts to this; the first is that all ranged weapons equipped by ADEPTUS ASTARTES units in your army (i.e. anything that isn’t an allied unit) get the ASSAULT ability, and the second is that those weapons get +1 Strength when they target a unit within 12″. These two things work well together; all your guns being Assault extends your threat ranges, and also makes it easier to get within that 12″ range to boost their Strength. The +1 helps push a number of weapons over key breakpoints – fittingly for the Salamanders-themed detachment, it helps out melta a lot, with Eradicators hugely benefiting from being S10 rather than S9, making them 4+ or 3+  to wound into most vehicles rather than 5+. Plasma units like Hellblasters and Inceptors going up to S9 helps them for similar reasons, while more basic weapons can see a big jump into MEQ or TEQ targets by moving up to S5 – which again can also help into vehicles, since many of those are T9 and you will now wound on a 5+ instead of a 6+. Flamer Aggressors are going to be a recurring theme of the units that do well out of this detachment, and one of the reasons is that their flamestorm gauntlets (which effectively always get this effect since they’re 12″ range to begin with) jump to S5, which combined with being twin-linked makes them significantly scarier.


Like all other Space Marine detachments, the Firestorm Assault Force has access to Armour of Contempt. The other five Stratagems are:

  • Crucible of Battle – Battle Tactic, 1CP: Used in your Shooting phase or in the Fight phase, an  infantry unit gets +1 to Wound rolls against the closest eligible target within 6″. Note that this is per model, so be careful with positioning. A strong Stratagem that you can almost always find a use for.
  • Rapid Embarkation – Strategic Ploy, 1CP: Used at the end of the Fight phase, allows an Infantry unit wholly within 6″ of an empty transport to get back into it. There’s several conditions on this one – your unit cannot be in Engagement Range, it must normally be able to embark in that transport (no popping Terminators into Rhinos!), and your unit can’t have disembarked from a transport this turn. This one isn’t always going to be your go-to, but if you plan around being able to use it it can be effective, and as a back-pocket option for rescuing a unit from a sticky situation it can be helpful.
  • Immolation Protocols – Battle Tactic, 2CP: Used in your Shooting phase, give a unit’s TORRENT weapons the DEVASTATING WOUNDS ability. 2CP to hand out Devastating Wounds is pretty good, but the Torrent weapon rider really narrows what you can use it on. Aggressors are a strong target thanks to being twin-linked, and players are also out there running Infernus Marines with Vulkan attached to give them re-rolls to Wound to fish for this. Other uses are more situational – a Land Raider Redeemer dropping this can be hilarious if it high-rolls, but 2CP is a lot of investment if it doesn’t. Like many 2CP Stratagems, strongest when you can do it for free.
  • Onslaught of Fire – Battle Tactic, 1CP: Used in your Shooting phase, give a unit that disembarked from a Transport this turn +1 to hit against the closest eligible target within 12″, and also if you destroy a model in a unit you can force the unit to take a Battle-shock test. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t used this one at all yet, but it has potential on something like a unit of Hellblasters piling out of a Repulsor and hitting on 2s. The Battle-shock effect is kind of just there, but it might be handy for swinging a secondary objective your way or stopping Canoptek Court Necrons extending their power matrix in your turn or something.
  • Burning Vengeance – Battle Tactic, 1CP: Used in your opponent’s Shooting phase; pick a transport that was just shot at, jump out the guys inside, and immediately shoot back at the unit that shot their ride. They can only target that unit and it must be an eligible target, so you can’t wallhack indirect fire or anything, but this one does have the potential to be quite funny if an incautious opponent shoots your Land Raider full of Aggressors at shorter range than they ought to have.

Notably, all but one of these is a Battle Tactic, which is good for you if you want to use a Captain’s Rites of Battle to make them free or double-tap them, but also makes you vulnerable to an opponent with an ability like the Callidus’ Reign of Confusion.

Rainbow Warriors Land Raider Redeemer by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen


The enhancements available to the Firestorm Assault Force are:

  • Champion of Humanity – TACTICUS model only, while the bearer is leading a unit that unit can ignore any or all modifiers to their characteristics or tests made for them (excluding saving throws). Cheap with a decent effect; might be effective if you wanted to run a Hellblaster squad and had concerns about Death Guard.
  • War-tempered Artifice – Infantry only. Add 3 to the Strength characteristic of the bearer’s melee weapons. The most expensive enhancement, but can help make a character’s melee much more threatening – a power fist-equipped character striking at S11 has a much better time into most vehicles than one striking at S8.
  • Forged in Battle – While the bearer is leading a unit, you can make a Hit roll or saving throw for that unit into a 6 once per turn. Since you can change this after rolling the dice, it can be really useful for keeping a key unit alive. Don’t miss the potential for triggering Critical Hit effects either, such as Lethal Hits from an Apothecary Biologis.
  • Adamantine Mantle – Each time an attack is allocated to the bearer, subtract 1 from the Damage characteristic of that attack, or change it to a 1 if that attack was made with a Melta or Torrent weapon. As a straightforward -1 damage this is fine, but be wary with the melta part – with the way modifiers work you will set the damage of the attack to 1, but then any additional damage from the melta rule hits at full effect, so a high-powered one like a thermal spear or Fuegan’s insane MELTA 6 gun can still bust right through your character.

The enhancements are probably the most pedestrian part of the detachment. They’re not terrible, and there’s uses for them, but you aren’t necessarily building around them in the same way you do Fire Discipline in Gladius Task Force or the two Techmarine ones in Ironstorm Spearhead.

Playing This Detachment

As you might expect, the detachment really encourages you towards a fast-moving, maximum-aggression playstyle – you don’t want to be sitting back plinking away.

Fittingly, both flamer and melta weapons see some significant boosts here – the increased Strength is great for both of them, though melta feels the benefit more as it moves from S9 to S10 in most cases, a very important break point for many of its key targets which tend to be T9 or T10. Eradicators never look better than in here, and Assault helps them too since they’re able to be more mobile. Inceptors, similarly, move from S8 to S9, which can help into weaker vehicle targets as they’re now on evens to wound instead of punching up.

As you might expect, the Land Raider Redeemer looks particularly good in this detachment – you want to be up close to fire its flamestorm cannons anyway, and since their range is 12″ they’re at an effective S7 all the time. It also totes a multi-melta and an assault cannon and both love the Strength boost too. Cargo-wise, flamestorm Aggressors with a Captain in Gravis armour are highly popular – twin-linked flamers with (effective) S5 and AP-1 which can use Immolation Protocols for free are exactly what you want to be using here.

The other unit which has become surprisingly popular is the Infernus Squad. When paired with Vulkan He’stan for maximum Salamanders flavour, these guys are putting out 10d6 S6 shots with Torrent and Ignores Cover, and Vulkan can grant Wound re-rolls against whatever their target is so that they’re effectively also twin-linked. You can indeed run both, since the Captain in the Aggressors allows them to double up on Immolation Protocols – that means a lot of flamer-based Devastating Wounds coming your opponent’s way.

Storm Speeders also look good here – the Hammerstrike is a similar melta-toting model which likes the buffs in here, while the Thunderstrike and Hailstrike both offer different benefits depending on whether you want to help your flamers and meltas destroy vehicles or infantry.

Finally, let’s mention some of the divergent Chapters. Blood Angels have seen some strong play with Firestorm, as Death Company are a good target for massing hand flamers or inferno pistols, and with the latter they bring their own Hit re-rolls. They also benefit a lot from the Crucible of Battle Stratagem for both shooting and melee; Black Templars players are also enjoying this one, and you’ll see people running Templars in this detachment too.

Flesh Tearers Death Company. Credit: Drybrush Threepwood

Ethan Armstrong’s Salamanders – Hobart GT 2023 (November 2023) – 3rd Place

++Ethan's List - Click to Expand ++

Double redeemer (1995 points)
Space Marines
Strike Force (2000 points)
Firestorm Assault Force


Apothecary Biologis (70 points)
• 1x Absolvor bolt pistol
1x Close combat weapon
• Enhancement: Forged in Battle

Captain in Gravis Armour (80 points)
• Warlord
• 1x Boltstorm gauntlet
1x Power fist
1x Relic blade

Vulkan He’stan (100 points)
• 1x Bolt Pistol
1x Gauntlet of the Forge
1x Spear of Vulkan


Aggressor Squad (220 points)
• 1x Aggressor Sergeant
• 1x Flamestorm gauntlets
1x Twin power fists
• 5x Aggressor
• 5x Flamestorm gauntlets
5x Twin power fists

Ballistus Dreadnought (140 points)
• 1x Armoured feet
1x Ballistus lascannon
1x Ballistus missile launcher
1x Twin storm bolter

Brutalis Dreadnought (175 points)
• 1x Brutalis bolt rifles
1x Brutalis fists
1x Twin Icarus ironhail heavy stubber
1x Twin multi-melta

Eradicator Squad (190 points)
• 1x Eradicator Sergeant
• 1x Bolt pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Melta rifle
• 5x Eradicator
• 5x Bolt pistol
5x Close combat weapon
5x Melta rifle

Infernus Squad (170 points)
• 1x Infernus Sergeant
• 1x Bolt pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Pyreblaster
• 9x Infernus Marine
• 9x Bolt pistol
9x Close combat weapon
9x Pyreblaster

Infiltrator Squad (100 points)
• 1x Infiltrator Sergeant
• 1x Bolt pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Marksman bolt carbine
• 4x Infiltrator
• 4x Bolt pistol
4x Close combat weapon
4x Marksman bolt carbine

Infiltrator Squad (100 points)
• 1x Infiltrator Sergeant
• 1x Bolt pistol
1x Close combat weapon
1x Marksman bolt carbine
• 4x Infiltrator
• 4x Bolt pistol
4x Close combat weapon
4x Marksman bolt carbine

Land Raider Redeemer (260 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
2x Flamestorm cannon
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Multi-melta
1x Storm bolter
1x Twin assault cannon

Land Raider Redeemer (260 points)
• 1x Armoured tracks
2x Flamestorm cannon
1x Hunter-killer missile
1x Multi-melta
1x Storm bolter
1x Twin assault cannon

Storm Speeder Hailstrike (130 points)
• 1x Close combat weapon
2x Fragstorm grenade launcher
1x Onslaught gatling cannon
1x Twin ironhail heavy stubber

Fittingly, Ethan’s list features double Land Raider Redeemers, a strong starting point for the “burn things” chapter. Mounted inside one of them is a 10-model Infernus Squad, accompanied by Vulkan He’stan – the Infernus Marines haven’t made much of a splash since showing up in the Leviathan box, but as we talked about above this unit with Vulkan is perfectly suited to what this detachment wants to do. Also featuring is the other big user of Immolation Protocols, the flamestorm Aggressors with a Captain in Gravis armour, and thanks to his Rites of Battle both units can drop the Stratagem in the same turn for a truly hellish volume of Devastating Wounds output.

Speaking of units that benefit a lot from this detachment, the anti-tank threat here isn’t solely from fishing for wounds from flamers. An Apothecary Biologis with the Forged in Battle enhancement accompanies a brick of 6 Eradicators – with their built-in re-rolls, he has the option of fishing for Lethal Hits here, and the enhancement allows him to auto-6 one Hit roll after the re-rolls to make sure at least one melta is always getting through.

There’s three units here that can go inside the Redeemers and Ethan has the flexibility to prioritise which two go in game to game – I suspect it’s always the Aggressors and then either the Infernus Marines or Eradicators depending if he wants to heave the Eradicators into a key vehicle or monster target early game or not. Either unit is fine coming out of Strategic Reserves or just starting on the board and walking thanks to army-wide Assault on their weapons.

The Ballistus and Brutalis are just regular good, though the Brutalis really likes this detachment thanks to the +1 Strength on its twin multi-melta and the Crucible of Battle Stratagem meaning its twin-linked claws will wound pretty much anything in the game on 2s re-rolling if it feels the need.

Finally there’s the Hailstrike – one thing that the Aggressors and Infernus Marines lack is significant AP on their weapons, and Devastating Wounds might not be enough to push you all the way there, so being able to pick a target and improve the AP of attacks against it by 1 will help there too as you’re now at AP-1 (or AP-2 for the Aggressors if their datasheet rule is in effect) ignoring cover.

Overall a really solid list that takes great advantage of what the detachment encourages you to do, and a great model to build from.

Infernus Squad. Credit: Rockfish
Infernus Squad. Credit: Rockfish

Final Thoughts

The Firestorm Assault Force isn’t showing up as regularly as the Vanguard or Ironstorm Spearheads, but it still offers a lot of power to the discerning player and encourages you to think differently about some units that may not be top of your list in other builds. I’ve been having great fun playing it recently, and I hope you will too.

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