In Goonhammer Hot Takes, we do quick-pass reviews and reactions to new releases, rules, and events. In today’s Hot Take, we’re covering the the newest addition to the Space Marine Legion armoury – the rapid, manoeuvrable, (adorable) Sabre Strike Tank.
Yesterday, Forge World dropped a casual Christmas surprise gift to players of the Horus Heresy – a new tank!
This is the Sabre Strike Tank – described as “fast, rugged and heavily armed”, designed for evasion and counter-attack at the weak points in an enemy formation. They are piloted by a single Astartes, and essentially built around a massive main weapon.
Visually, it evokes a combination of three classic Heresy-era chassis scaled down and merged together. You can see the distinctive Sicaran tracks on the front, combined with the Land Raider top and sides, and the overall size and shape is more like that of the common Rhino. Personally, I love it, and I hope that this chassis will spawn some more variants – a fast Rhino anyone?
Rules-wise, there are a couple of angles to consider. The first is that, on its own, the Sabre may not seem to fulfill a role which isn’t already covered by units in the Fast Attack slots of the Legions army list. At first blush, it looks like it does something similar to a Legion Javelin – rapid, flanking anti-armour strikes.
However, I think to relegate it to that role is not thinking hard enough about how to use it. Let’s start by considering the points costs and options available.
At its base, you are looking at a 65 pt model with 12/11/10 armour and 3 HP – comparable to a Predator in terms of its durability, albeit weaker and cheaper. It is a Tank with the Fast rule (very important!), and has the rule Missile Lock – so any “One Use Only” weapons are effectively twin-linked. You can also take them in squadrons of two – and given that they are quite cheap, I think most people will run them this way, so you have to factor in that many of the weapon options will be “doubled up” in practice.
The fact this is a Tank, and not a Skimmer, is where this gets interesting – as I will consider below, this unlocks it for bonuses in a number of Rites of War which wouldn’t be available to, say, a Javelin.
In terms of weapons, you have four “slots” on this vehicle – the primary gun, a secondary hull-mounted weapon, a pintle-mounted weapon and then up to four “Sabre Missiles” which are stuck onto the sides of the tank.
The basic primary weapon – the Anvilus Snub Autocannon – is a cut-down version of a Deredeo’s array, sporting the same stats with a reduced range. This is a cracking gun, as it can hit reliably (Twin-Linked) as well as trouble most armour reliably (Sunder), and in a pinch it can cause Instant Death on Space Marines, but with a high AP this isn’t to be relied upon.
Its other options – a Neutron Blaster (20 pts) and a Volkite Saker (15 pts) are extremely interesting.
The Neutron Blaster keeps it in an anti-vehicle role, and clever use of the Shock Pulse ability can be game changing if used on an opposing Super-Heavy, as it forces it to Snap-Shoot. This will limit an opponent’s effectiveness at best, or completely stop it shooting if it is a Blast or Template. I’m keen to see if this weapon becomes popular, as previously it has been limited to only a few, reasonably expensive, vehicles such as the Sicaran Venator or the Cerberus. I think if you use this, given it is a single shot at a time, you will need to take two in a squadron. Remember the Sabre is a Fast vehicle, so moving around to get a side shot off with the Neutron Blaster is possible.
The Volkite Saker continues Forge World’s trend of wanting to encourage mass usage of Volkite – which is not something I am complaining about, as they are iconic Heresy-era weapons. The Saker switches the Sabre into an anti-infantry role with the ability to trouble light tanks – it is an up-gunned version of a Volkite Culverin, with 2 additional shots.
The secondary hull weapons are uncontroversial for the most part – a Heavy Bolter by default, with options for a Heavy Flamer (free), Volkite Culverin (15 pts) or a Multi-Melta (25 pts). I would question the cost of the Multi-Melta as being oddly expensive, but I could see a niche use for it in a Salamanders Covenant of Fire list, which would twin-link this upgrade for no additional cost.
The pintle weapons are similarly standard-issue – a twin-linked bolter, Combi-weapon or Havoc launcher. You can also buy Armoured Ceramite or Extra Armour as upgrades – note that the Sabre comes with an Auxiliary Drive for free.
The last weapon to discuss are the Sabre Missiles, which are a curious stripped-down version of the standard Hunter-Killer missile. 20 pts will buy you 4 (at 5 pts each), and they are Str 6, AP 4, 36”, One Use, Rending (with Twin-Linked from the Missile Lock rule).
I want to like these, but I’m not sure at the moment. Rending makes them too unreliable to take out vehicles, but I could see them being used against heavy infantry in conjunction with a Volkite loadout to good effect. I think we will need some “battlefield data” here to know more. 40 pts for 8 shots in a squadron is quite expensive given they cannot reliably punch through armour.
Using a Sabre
So, overall thoughts on the Sabre. I think it is a very interesting vehicle, and I can see it being used in the following three common load-outs:
- Neutron Barrage – x2 Sabres with Neuton Blasters, no other upgrades – 170 pts
- All-Rounder – x2 Sabres with Snub Anvilus Autocannons, Volkite Culverins – 160 pts
- Volkite Massacre – x2 Sabres with Volkite Sakers, Volkite Culverins – 190 pts
All of these loadouts are quite cheap, and I think they can find their way into the vast majority of Legion lists with no trouble – the only time you might struggle to fit them in would be if you have a Fast Attack heavy list already, or a Rite of War which restricts usage of Tanks.
In terms of Rites of War which would complement these, the few that come to mind are:
- The Maru Skara – a squadron or two of Sabres would be a nice “Hidden Blade” in this Rite of War, as use of Outflank could really boost their ability to come onto the field and take out a key piece of enemy armour.
- The Head of the Gorgon – You are restricted to only one Fast Attack choice in this Rite – but in many ways, the Sabre is perfect to fill this. As it is a Tank it will gain Blessed Autosimulacra for free, and if it is held in Reserve it will get Outflank. I would view this as a no-brainer!
- Armoured Spearhead – You are going to have a lot of Land Raiders in this list, but use of Sabres will allow you to bump up your armour saturation while keeping points down. This is important, as if you simply field a few heavy vehicles your opponent will be able to focus them down.
- Armoured Breakthrough – While the Sabre doesn’t take advantage of the best bonus this Rite gives – Fast to vehicles of HP 3 or under (the Sabre already has this!) – it can, again, be used as cheap armour saturation. As it has some unusual weapons like the Neutron Blaster, it can also be used to plug “gaps” left by your Sicarans or Predators which make up the bulk of the force.
Stuffing Our Stockings Full of Tank
And that wraps up our “Hot Take” on the Sabre – a great new addition to the Legion armoury, and one that I look forward to seeing on the battlefields of the historical far future. I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and please check out the rest of our Horus Heresy series as it is rolled out. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or thoughts, feel free to drop us a note in the comments below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heresy is dead! Long live Heresy!