Start Competing: Salamanders Tactics

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Salamanders are a First Founding legion that first saw rules with the release of 3rd edition’s Codex: Armageddon, which gave the green marines rules alongside the Black Templars – a weird old set which for some reason made the Salamanders Initiative 3. Since then they’ve received sporadic support, but like the other codex Chapters they got a full Codex Supplement alongside the 2019 release of Codex: Space Marines. While the Salamanders had some good rules in 8th edition, they were broadly overshadowed in a meta which favoured Iron Hands, Raven Guard, White Scars, and Imperial Fists. When 9th edition rolled around though, the tables turned – suddenly their mix of powerful defensive buffs, the ability to put units into Strategic Reserves, and having lots of all-around value made them a powerhouse of early 9th.

Chapter Overview

It was too good to last, alas. Having dominated a lot of the opening months of the edition and remained strong all the way up to the Codex release, Salamanders have taken hits on a whole bunch of fronts – not enough to make them bad, but no longer the terrors they used to be and at risk of dropping further if Ultramarines continue to dominate the “all rounder” slot for Marines. Aggressors took a knock in the codex, the Salamanders’ Chapter Tactic got downgraded, several of the Forge World options the army used to abuse are DOA and the Obsidian Aquila and Never Give Up can now both be passably imitated by other Marines. It isn’t all bad – while flamestorm Aggressors got a bit weaker, you don’t need to (indeed, in the new codex, can’t) base your list on Long-ranged Marksmen to use them out of reserves, Eradicators continue to be a potent unit and Salamanders have great synergy with newly empowered Terminators. That all ensures that they can still put mean-looking lists on the table, but they’ve undeniably taken a huge hit and no longer look to be in the same league as White Scars, or possibly Ultramarines.

Strengths

  • Melta and Flamer weapons. The Salamanders have some pretty nasty buffs for melta and flamer weapons and these pay off extra well on Eradicators. The Promethean Cult Chapter doctrine and stratagems like The Fires of Battle, Immolation Protocols, and Flamecraft all combine to give Salamanders units some nasty boost when using these weapons.
  • Defensive Buffs. While potentially not quite as tough as the Iron Hands in a passive sense, the Salamanders have a ton of great ways to buff their units defensively, from the full protection of the Self Sacrifice Stratagem to the solid AP buff offered by Stand Your Ground to the “get-back-up-again” of Rise From the Ashes to Warlord traits like Miraculous Constitution and Forgemaster. Salamanders units have some real staying power and multiple options for protecting key units you want to keep on an objective.
  • Good All-Rounders. Salamanders have lots of buffs for shooting flame and melta weapons, boosting defense, and a few great buffs for offense as well that give them a lot of flexibility. There are a lot of things they can do reasonably well.
  • Strong characters. Salamanders have several options to buff the generic characters available, and a couple of potent special characters of their own.

Weaknesses

  • Long-Range Shooting. Salamanders are a versatile army but all of their shooting buffs revolve around boosting guns that tend to have a 12-24″ range. You’ll need to plan accordingly.
  • Emphasis on minimum size units. The Salamanders’ Chapter Trait rewards you for taking more small units, where you’ll be able to maximize your wound re-rolls by minimizing squad sizes, but this can potentially make your buff stratagems less efficient.

Rules

Chapter Tactic – Forged in Battle

Each time a unit with this tactic is selected to shoot or fight, you can re-roll one wound roll when resolving that unit’s attacks. Additionally, each time an attack with an AP of -1 is allocated to a model with this tactic, that attack as an AP of 0 instead.

While still a decent ability, this is a huge step down from the rule’s 8th edition incarnation, which also gave a re-roll for a single hit roll. This new version is much more geared toward the Salamanders’ fluffy use of auto-hit weapons like flamers, but it’s much less powerful on the whole. The ability to negate AP-1 is pretty solid, but you may find opportunities to actually use this particular variant of this ability – which only works against AP-1 – harder to find, since many of the units you’ll face will happily pelt you with a ton of AP-2 or better firepower.

Chapter Doctrine – Promethean Cult

This particular Chapter Doctrine was, in 8th edition, pretty bad compared to the other options available to Space Marines. At the time, Marines – particularly Primaris ones – just didn’t have access to that many meaningful flame or melta weapons and the melta options you had – meltaguns and multi-meltas – left a lot to be desired. Then 9th edition came out and with it, Eradicators. Suddenly able to load up on squads of double-shooting, D6+2 damage 3-wound, T5 Marines, Salamanders’ ability to boost their wound rolls became much more relevant, particularly when paired with double-shooting Long-Ranged Marksman Flamestorm Aggressors. While the double-shooting flamestorm Aggressors are gone, there’s still a ton of value in this for Eradicators and Aggressors, and it’s a big boost on multi-melta Attack Bikes as well. It’s not so much that this is an ability you want to build around as this is an ability which makes some of the best units in the Marine codex even better for Salamanders. The only downside is that it doesn’t stack with other wound buffs any more.

Stratagems

Salamanders have access to 16 Stratagems, several of which revolve around giving boosts to flame and melta weapons.

  • Flamecraft – 2CP: In the Shooting phase, pick a Salamanders unit. Until the end of the phase, when a model in that unit shoots a flame weapon, it automatically does the maximum number of attacks. The key unit that can take advantage of this is flamestorm Aggressors, who can fire off 12 shots apiece on the move to do 60 hits with a 5-model squad, ideally while the Tactical Doctrine is active so your shots have +1 to wound and are AP-1. If you’re looking for another unit that can mass flamers in the same way, Assault Centurions each have two flamers and can cause real damage when they get into combat, though of course they’re not quite the powerhouses they were. B+
  • Rites of Vulkan – 2CP: Use at the start of the Movement phase if the Tactical Doctrine is active. Until the start of the next battle round, whenever you shoot a Rapid Fire or Assault weapon with a SALAMANDERS model, an unmodified wound roll of 6 causes the AP of the shot to improve by 1. Can only be used once per battle. I’m not particularly high on this. It’s interesting as an army-wide buff, but for 2 CP I just don’t think it gets there. Like the other versions of this stratagem, it’s merely ok. C
  • The Crucible of Battle – 1CP: In the Shooting or Fight phase, when a SALAMANDERS CORE or CHARACTER unit from your army is activated, add 1 to their wound rolls for attacks they make until the end of the phase. At its core, this Stratagem lets you take down bigger targets using high weight of fire. Intercessors can take down tanks. Aggressors can blast through Knights. Bladeguard Veterans become truly horrifying, able to take on basically anything in the game with 4+ to wound at worst. Just a great stratagem that is always relevant to something, and for only 1CP. A+
  • Despite the Odds – 1CP: Tactical objectives don’t exist any more. F
  • Strength of the Primarch – 1CP: Use at the start of the fight phase on a SALAMANDERS unit in your army. Until the end of the phase, add 1 to the Strength of models in that unit and when you roll an unmodified roll of 6 on your wound rolls, double the damage of their weapon for that attack. This is also insane, mostly because it combos very well with The Crucible of Battle. Don’t let that “unmodified” scare you off–taking Intercessors from S4 to S5 and then stacking Crucible will ensure they can wound almost any target in the game on a 4+, and the double damage on 6s will just be gravy on top of that. Also very nasty for taking something like Aggressors and flipping them from wounding a Knight or something on 4s to wounding it on 2s, should you so wish. A
  • Immolation Protocols – 1CP: Use in the Shooting phase on a SALAMANDERS unit. Until the end of the phase, all their flame weapons become Pistol type. A fine ability to have handy, should something important or deadly get stuck in combat and decide to shoot its way out instead of Falling Back. B
  • The Fires of Battle – 1CP: Use in your Shooting phase or your opponent’s Charge phase when firing Overwatch with a unit. Pick a single model. When you shoot a flame or melta weapon that phase with that model, unmodified wound rolls of 4+ cause an extra mortal wound on top of their other damage, to a maximum of 3 (see FAQ). At release this was quite something on a flamestorm Aggressor using the max shots stratagem to do a guaranteed 12 shots which did mortals on a 4+, but now it’s capped at 3 so… whatever. C
  • Self Sacrifice – 2CP: On release this was mental and now it’s been toned down in the FAQ, so make sure you’re using the right wording. It now reads: ‘Use this Stratagem at the start of your opponent’s Shooting phase. Select one SALAMANDERS INFANTRY unit that contains 5 or more models from your army that is not within 1″ of any enemy units, and then select one other INFANTRY unit from your army that is wholly within 6″ of the selected unit. Until the end of the phase, your opponent cannot target the second unit you selected unless that unit is the closest enemy unit to the firing model and visible to it, or it is no longer wholly within 6″ of the first unit you selected. In addition, until the end of the phase, the first unit you selected is always an eligible target for enemy shooting attacks provided it is within range and is visible to the firing model (i.e. it can be targeted even whilst under the effects of any rules that would prevent it from being targeted, such as the Shrouding psychic power).’ It’s still very good – unlike a lot of similar stratagems it is not faction-locked, so you can guard anything IMPERIUM, and there’s fun things you can do there in soup – or even just using it in pure Salamanders to let a tough unit like Assault Terminators protect something squishier. It’s worth noting also that the “sacrifice” unit doesn’t actually have to be visible, so you can use this with something in a ruin protecting something outside, for example. Still an A.
  • Rise From the Ashes – 2CP: Use when a SALAMANDERS CHARACTER dies to have them stand back up with one wound on a D6 roll of a 4+ at the end of the phase. You can only use this once. Very useful for protecting a key model and getting that little bit more out of them A
  • Relentless Determination – 1CP: Use this at the end of your Movement phase on a unit that didn’t Advance or Fall Back. That unit counts as having remained stationary until your next Movement phase, and if it has a damage table, double the number of wounds it has remaining when determining its profile. Considerably less insane now that the “interpretation” that allowed said this could be used to fall back and shoot has been firmly corrected, but still a very good version of this effect – great on drop-podding Devastators, or really any unit that wants to move and shoot with Heavy weapons, since it’s just a 1CP effect that does the same thing as a codex stratagem for 2CP. A
  • Vengeance for Istvaan V – 1CP: When you fight Word Bearers, Iron Warriors, Night Lords, or Alpha Legion, you can re-roll hit rolls in the Fight phase. If you ever do use this against a Word Bearers player, go ahead and take a photo and shoot an email to us with the photo at contact@goonhammer.com because it’ll be the first time it’s ever happened. F
  • Exemplar of the Promethean Creed – 1CP: Give your non-unique Warlord an additional Warlord trait. Can’t be used to give someone a trait that you’ve already given a model in your army. This is especially good for Salamanders, because they have some great Warlord Traits. A
  • Stand Your Ground – 1CP: Use on a SALAMANDERS INFANTRY unit in any phase if it’s not a Servitor and didn’t Advance and it’s being chosen as the target of an attack. Until the end of the phase, when you make saves against attacks with a damage characteristic of 1, you get +1 to your armour save (and not any invulnerable saves). Another all-around cheap and good effect. B
  • Master Artisans – 1CP Give a Sergeant a piece of Special Issue Wargear from a subset of the list (Master Crafted, Digital Weapons, Drakeblade, Dragonrage Bolts). OK if you have a specific use-case for it, like giving a Master-Crafted Weapon to an Aggressor Sergeant. B
  • Born Protectors – 2CP Use when your opponent declares a charge at one of your Salamanders units. Pick another Salamanders unit that isn’t in combat and is within 12″ of the unit being charged. It can fire Overwatch at the charging unit too. Also, if the charge is successful, that unit can perform a Heroic Intervention and move up to 2D6″, ending up closer to the enemy unit that charged and not within 1″ of any other enemy units. This is pretty neat, and makes it really easy to deter units trying to charge the weak parts of your lines. A
  • Trust of Prometheus – 1CP Give a Salamanders Relic to a Successor Chapter. Not bad, given that the Salamanders have good relics. A

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Relics

The Salamanders have access to two sets of relics – seven Relics of Nocturne and eight Special-Issue Wargear. The Relics of the Nocturne can be freely taken by Salamanders characters, or given to a successor chapter with the Trust of Prometheus Stratagem. The eight Special-Issue Wargear items can be given to either Salamanders or their successors, and through Master Artisans a subset can be given to a sergeant.

Relics of Nocturne

There are seven Salamanders-only Relics of Nocturne.

  • Vulkan’s Sigil: Gives the model +1 Attack, and once per battle at the start of the Fight phase you can activate this relic to give every SALAMANDERS CORE unit within 6″ +1 Attack (also giving the bearer +2 Attacks that turn). A great add-on to a fighty character supporting a hard-hitting assault unit like Bladeguard. A
  • Drake-Smiter: An AP-4 relic Thunder Hammer that, on unmodified wound rolls of a 6, does +3 damage to the target. It’s a pretty powerful effect if you can get enough attacks and a Lieutenant bonus on the model using it, but you still get -1 to hit with it, so you’ll want to put this on a Chapter Master if you can. A
  • Wrath of Prometheus: Replaces a boltgun or master-crafted boltgun (so, small Marines only for this one) with a superior model: 30″ range, S5, AP-2, D3 Rapid Fire 1. The 3-damage makes this a pretty spicy upgrade for a Lieutenant placed with a gunline. B
  • The Tome of Vel’Cona: Gives a Librarian an additional power from the Promethean Discipline. Also you get a +1 bonus when you attempt to manifest a Promethean power with this model. Helpful for when you want to combine the Librarius and Promethean disciplines on the same model, but usually you’ll want someone who knows both Drakeskin and Fire Shield if you’re taking a Librarian. That +1 to manifest is incredibly useful though, since every Promethean power has WC 6 and lowering that to 5 is a big deal, bumping your unmodified chances of a cast up from 72% to 83%. A
  • The Salamander’s Mantle: Attacks against this model subtract 1 from their wound rolls. This is an interesting ability. On its own, it’s solid. Taken with the other Salamanders powers and warlord traits, it creates some rough combinations, where you can have very difficult-to-crack characters that can only be wounded on a 6+ by small or medium arms fire.  B
  • Nocturne’s Vengeance: Replaces a combi-flamer. The bolter half is AP-2, D2 and the Flamer half is 12″ range, AP-1, D2. An interesting weapon to have, and good for dissuading charges on a key unit. Not particularly powerful, though. C+
  • Helm of Draklos: PRIMARIS model only. Gives them +1 wound and enemy units within 6″ get -1 to their Leadership. The extra wound is nice but the Leadership doesn’t matter and there are already a ton of better ways to make a Salamanders character tougher. C

Special-Issue Wargear

In addition to the four standard pieces of Special-Issue Wargear, the Salamanders 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 Nocturne 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
  • Obsidian Aquila: When a friendly <CHAPTER> model within 6″ of a model with this Relic would lose a wound, roll a D6; on a 6+ the wound isn’t lost. This is a powerful effect to have, giving nearby models a real boost in staying power, though in the 9th edition book it’s replicable by any ordinary Apothecary and loses a bit of currency just on that basis. B
  • Dragonrage Bolts: Shooting a bolt weapon, make one hit roll that causes D6 wound rolls. The target doesn’t get the benefit of cover, and the weapon has AP-1 and 1 damage for this attack. 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
  • Promethean Plate: When resolving an attack against a model with this relic, unmodified wound rolls of 1, 2, or 3 always fail. This is a strong way to protect T4 characters that might otherwise be vulnerable to high-strength weaponry, or who want to take on big targets. B+
  • Drakeblade: Replaces a power sword, master-crafted power sword, or combat knife. An AP-4, D2 power sword that does a mortal wound to the target every time you make an unmodified wound roll of 6. Has gotten a bit better in 9th, as it gained the same +1 Strength as other power swords – which makes it at least mildly spicy. B

Credit: Chris ‘whiteshark12’ Cowie

Warlord Traits

The Salamanders have an Imperially-Mandated Six Standardized Warlord Traits to choose from. Overall, this is probably the strongest list of Warlord Traits in the game. Even the worst among them is still usable in the right list, and the traits you can access here do some things you rarely see in other books. Salamander characters are legit, y’all.

  1. Anvil of Strength: Your Warlord gets +2 Strength. This is Vulkan’s base warlord trait and it’s pretty cool. It’s especially good for him because it means that his spear hits at Strength 8 if he’s your warlord. It also means that if he isn’t, he kind of stinks at punching things. Just a generically good buff, though less so in 9th where you no longer get to turn a power fist or similar into a S12 monster weapon. B+
  2. Miraculous Constitution: When the warlord would lose a wound, roll a D6. On a 6, they don’t lose the wound. Also, at the start of your Movement phase, your warlord regains 1 lost wound. This is also pretty good, and you’ll get the most mileage out of it when its paired with high-wound characters like Bike, Terminator, and Gravis Captains. Helpful when you think your Warlord will be out in the open or potentially sniped by Raven Guard or something. B
  3. Never Give Up: At the end of your Command Phase, pick a friendly SALAMANDERS CORE or CHARACTER unit within 6″ of the Warlord. Until the end of the battle round, that unit has the Objective Secured ability. This can be a useful way to hold objectives, particularly because the Warlord can just drop it on himself as needed. B
  4. Forge Master: Your Warlord gets +2 Toughness. Helpful for putting Captains out of 2+ wound range for S8/9 guns and protecting them a bit from snipers. You’ll get the best returns out of giving this to a Captain or Chaplain on a Bike, where you can cross another threshold by having a T7 warlord riding around. A
  5. Lord of Fire: You can re-roll the dice to determine the number of attacks made with flamer weapons for friendly SALAMANDERS units within 6″ of this warlord. This is Adrax’s Warlord Trait and while it has some great potential uses with Aggressors and Centurions, it’s probably the weakest on the list. B-
  6. Patient and Determined: Once per shooting phase and once per Fight phase, one of your attacks automatically hits. This is pretty sick, especially given that you can also re-roll one of the wound rolls – it makes one attack very likely to hit and wound That said, it’s not for everyone – To hit probabilities are already pretty high for Captains and better yet for Chapter Masters under their own command ability. B+

Psychic Powers

Salamanders get access to their own set of psychic powers – the Promethean Discipline, which has a pair of very strong defensive buffs that you’re going to want any time you bring a Librarian.

  1. Flaming Blast (WC 6) – Pick a point on the battlefield within 24″ of the psyker and visible to the model. Roll a D6 for each enemy unit within 3″ of that spot; on a 4+ it suffers 1 mortal wound. We’ve looked at non-smite MW powers in the past and powers like Flaming Blast take a lot of work to make viable. Maxing out at 1 mortal wound to any given unit just isn’t good enough in most situations. The only thing this really has going for it is a 24″ range. C-
  2. Fire Shield (WC 6) – Pick a friendly SALAMANDERS unit within 18″ of the psyker. Until the start of your next psychic phase, enemies attacking that unit with ranged weapons subtract 1 from their hit rolls. In addition, units that declare a charge against the shielded unit subtract 1 from their rolls. This is a fantastic power for protecting key units. A+
  3. Burning Hands (WC 6) – Until the start of your next Psychic phase, when you make an attack for a close combat weapon with the psyker, every time you hit, the target takes a mortal wound and the attack sequence ends. Basically turns all your psyker’s hits into mortal wounds. This is an interesting power, but the problem is that psykers are kind of terrible at combat. You can get more attacks on a Primaris/Phobos Librarian but you’ll have a better chance of making it to combat with a jump pack Librarian, but neither one is going to really bring it. It’s better than a lot of similar attempts at muscle wizards in the Space Marine range, but it doesn’t do enough to be a thing you actually want. C
  4. Drakeskin (WC 6) – Pick a friendly SALAMANDERS unit within 12″. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, add 1 to the Toughness characteristic of models in that unit. This is has a number of very good use-cases. It’s great for protecting units sitting on objectives (and very good when combined with Fire Shield), combos well with a number of effects, and can be used to push key units over important Toughness thresholds, like making a Redemptor T8. A+
  5. Fury of Nocturne (WC 6) – Pick a visible enemy within 18″ and roll 2D6. If the result is more than the highest Toughness characteristic of models in that unit, it takes D3 mortal wounds. This is going to get you your best results on infantry, where the chances of rolling a 5+ on 2D6 are 83%, and less so on tough vehicles, where you only have a 28% chance of rolling an 8+. That still means that on average, your chances of doing any mortal wounds with this power to a T4 unit are about 48%. You’re better off finding another power to fill this slot most of the time. The good news is, you have them. D
  6. Draconic Aspect (WC 6) – Subtract 2 from the Leadership of enemy units within 12″ of the psyker. Better than it was in 9th but still just ok. D

Units

Salamanders have two units in this book: Vulkan He’Stan returns, clothed in all his original glory (and also Kesare’s Mantle), along with the new guy, Adrax Agatone. There’s also Bray’arth Ashmantle from Forge World, still kicking around in the Imperial Armour index.

Adrax Agatone. Credit: PierreTheMime

Adrax Agatone

The Salamanders’ new character is Adrax Agatone, a Primaris melee monster practically designed for leading Bladeguard into combat. He carries a 12″ flamer for chapter solidarity purposes and carries an AP-3, 4 Damage thunder hammer called Malleus Noctum. While he only has S4 base, the real money for Adrax is his Unto the Anvil ability, which adds 1 to wound rolls for melee attacks made by friendly Salamanders models within 6″ if they charged or performed a Heroic Intervention that turn (in your codex it will say “was charged” as well – this was erratad out). This is huge for turning any squad into a bunch of jacked-up monsters, and pairs particularly well with Bladeguard and the like who can turn into true blenders wounding Custodians on 2s when comboed with Strength of the Primarch. One downside to Adrax is that as a footslogging Primaris Marine he isn’t that fast, but ultimately any way you can get him to the front lines to support a devastating charge will work, and in 9th with its smaller boards it’s not such a disadvantage as it was. He doesn’t have Vulkan’s 3+ invulnerable save, but he’s got 6 wounds and the Arridian Drakehide Cloak, which reduces incoming damage he takes by 1 (to a minimum of 1), which boosts his survivability a bit. His biggest downside is his price – you’re definitely paying for that thunder hammer.

Vulkan He’Stan

Vulkan remains simply solid. He gets a pseudo Chapter Master ability in Forgefather, which lets him pick one CORE or CHARACTER unit within 6″ and give it full re-rolls to hit and wound with melta weapons – potentially utterly disgusting with Eradicators. He’s also not a bad fighter when he’s your warlord– it gives him the ability to attack with his spear at Strength 8 and his 3+ invulnerable save gives him real staying power – but he’s ultimately going to serve you better lending his unique ability to a flamer and/or melta-equipped unit.

Credit: Chris ‘whiteshark12’ Cowie

Bray’arth Ashmantle (FW)

Bray’arth is a bonus Forge World option for the Salamanders, a Venerable Dreadnought character who comes with some fun, unique tools – two dreadfire heavy flamers (S6 AP-2 D2), the unique Burning Wrath which is a Pistol of all things with a mere 3″ range but 2D6 auto-hitting shots at S4 AP0 D1, and two dreadfire claws – which give him a mighty 6 base attacks at Strength 16 AP-4 D4. He also has a 5+ invulnerable save and 5+ Feel No Pain, so he’s a tough cookie – though he’s no longer T8 as he used to be. As a Venerable Dreadnought he retains BS2+ and WS2+ (the former doesn’t matter given that he auto-hits). As a beatstick he’s pretty great, offering a lot of punchiness, and the dreadfire heavy flamers are potentially horrific with the doctrine and can benefit from Flamecraft should you want to unleash a torrent of death. The only downside is that the whole package here is quite short-ranged, and he’s not cheap at 220pts in the FW Compendium. He also can’t access Warlord traits other than Inspring Leader thanks to the restrictions in the Forge World book, which loses him some of the potentially fun combinations he has available. We haven’t seen a post-Codex Salamanders list using him, but it feels like there’s enough there to get something out of the big guy.

Other Notable Units

In addition to their bespoke units, there are a few regular Space Marines units worth additional consideration in Salamanders armies because of the buffs they get from the chapter’s unique rules.

Flamestorm Aggressors

Thanks to the weapons update in Codex Space Marines increasing the range on flamers (and flamestorm gauntlets) to 12″, these guys got a bit of a boost and are no longer dependent on taking the Long-Range Marksmen successor trait to fire out of deep strike, freeing Salamanders players up to use the chapter proper rather than a successor. The downside is they can no longer shoot twice if they remain stationary, and that’s a huge blow – literally cutting their damage potential in half. They did better out of changes to the chapter tactic, since not rolling to hit means they don’t feel the loss of that particular rule. If there’s a place that these guys are viable in 9th, it’s here.

Eradicators

The other half of the duo for Salamanders, Eradicators are just an all-around good unit made better by the ability to get +1 to wound from the chapter doctrine, and their small unit size makes them a great fit for the chapter tactic – never mind them hanging around with Vulkan who turns them into one of the most destructive units in the game.

Multi-Melta Attack Bikes

Great in many lists, multi-melta Attack Bikes get the very obvious benefit of being +1 to wound here when in the proper doctrine, and are another good potential target for Vulkan’s ability – especially as he can hand it out and then they can go flying up the pitch bearing their hit and wound re-rolls, ready to unleash melta death.

Captain/Chaplain on Bike

Either of the two is great in Salamanders because of the combo of Warlord traits and relics that can push their resilience to dizzying levels –

 

Salamanders Primaris Chaplain on Bike. Credit: Rockfish

Salamanders Primaris Chaplain on Bike. Credit: Rockfish

Playing Salamanders

So how do you get the most out of Salamanders? Once upon a time the answer was “hope that Primaris Marines get a melta unit that’s meaningful” and, well.

An obvious starting point is to lean in to the powerful characters available to Salamanders – either of the special characters, or a generic utilising the excellent range of relics and Warlord traits on offer. Bikers with bonus Toughness are a great place to start, since they can become truly hateful for your opponent to try and take out with anything less than dedicated anti-tank weaponry – and even then it’s an ask. The Primaris Chaplain can also benefit a lot from +2 Strength, which takes him from S6 to S8 – a big leap, especially if comboed with Imperium’s Sword to get up to 9 on the charge.

As you’ve probably already guessed, flamestorm Aggressors and Eradicators are great picks to take advantage of everything that Salamanders have to offer from their doctrine and Chapter tactic. Multi-melta Attack Bikes also benefit a lot from the same things, and these 3 units provide a kind of neat triad of different approaches to getting the most out of the Promethean Cult. Slightly less obvious choices could potentially include Invictor Tactical Warsuits, who can also mount a terrifying flame weapon, and potentially also Assault Centurions who are just glad that some of the key stratagems are not CORE-locked and therefore available to them. Relentless Determination can also unlock some potential from multi-melta wielding Devastator squads on the cheap.

It’s not all about the shooting, though – Salamanders also benefit from some absolutely fantastic combat punch thanks to Strength of the Primarch and The Crucible of Battle. 9th favours a melee presence, and while Salamanders are more shooting-focused than their cousins in the White Scars or Blood Angels, bringing at least one tough and punchy melee unit will help a lot – and Space Marines have a few great choices, including Bladeguard Veterans and Vanguard Veterans, and of course Terminators who look just great in Salamanders green. They also get more out of Aggressors than most, thanks to the ability to utilise their stratagem set – or Adrax’s aura – to get their melee punching up, which lets them fill a dual role. The other half of their Chapter Tactic really gets the best out of these units, as anything with a storm shield is rolling with a 2+ save and ignoring AP-1, and can also make use of Stand Your Ground if needed.

Lists

As is traditional we’re going to close this out an army list. Good Salamanders lists are harder to come by since the 9th edition codex released, with players seeming to favour Ultramarines or White Scars, but they’re still more than strong enough to win at the RTT level and have decent showings at larger events. Whether this is a case of the book losing a step or just going out of fashion a little is hard to tell at this point – there’s only been a few events since the 9th codex arrived.

Brad Chester’s Salamanders

Brad Chester won the Death or Glory RTT with this list.

Salamanders
9CP

One Battalion:

HQ:
110 Bike Captain w/ power fist + Storm shield, Relic: The Salamander’s Mantle, Warlord: Forge Master
150 Primaris Chaplain on bike, Master of sanctity/benediction/imperium sword/ hate/strength/plus 1 to wound

Troops:
95 5 Assault intercessors
120 5 Infiltrators
120 5 Infiltrators

Elites:
120 3 Flamestorm Aggressors
280 10 Vanguard Vets LC/SS/JP
48 2 Company vets SS
48 2 Company vets SS
105 Primaris Apothecary Chief Apothecary Selfless healer

Fast Attack:
110 2 Multi melta attack bikes
300 6 Liquid hot plasma inceptors
150 3 Liquid hot plasma inceptors

Heavy:
120 3 Eradicators
120 3 Eradicators

++ Total: [100 PL, 9CP, 1,996pts] ++

The Standout Features

  • A T7 Bike Captain with a Storm Shield and The Salamander’s Mantle to give enemies -1 to wound rolls is truly a nightmare to try and kill
  • Primaris Bike Chaplain who can give additional wound bonuses (Brad has neglected to note whether this is melee or shooting – either works, really)
  • Six Eradicators to take advantage of Salamanders’ Chapter Doctrine
  • Multi-melta attack bikes and Plasmaceptors provide shooting backup

An absolutely vicious list, as one would expect from the 2nd-place finisher at LVO 2020. Combining a healthy dose of units which take advantage of the powerful Chapter Tactic with character head-smashers and a brick of lightning claw and storm shield equipped Vanguard Veterans, this is an army that can seize the game by the throat and absolutely go to town with the array of combat and shooting buffs that Salamanders bring to the table. Almost every body in the list is a biker, in Gravis armour, or toting a storm shield, and that makes it very difficult for an opponent to pick an initial angle of attack – target the weaker Troops units and leave the extremely murderous shooting presence alone? Try and chunk out the pile of T5, W3, 3+ save bodies protected by an Apothecary and with multiple different ways to improve their saves (and which ignore AP-1 all the time in any case)? Go for an early charge into an army that can make a credible go of stopping and rucking for a turn with just its basic units? Whatever you choose to do it’s a rough prospect, and that makes for a list which can hold its ground on turn 1 before driving forwards in turns 2 and 3 with the Tactical doctrine up to take advantage of all those flame and melta weapons it has – never mind the 9 plasma Inceptors who can problem-solve anything that catches their eye. Brad’s army here is a good reminder that Salamanders still have potential in spades, and all it would take is a skilled player to unlock it.

Where to Read More

We hope you’ve enjoyed this run through Salamanders, an interesting Marine faction with some fun defensive options that can make them a real pain to try and move off objectives. This article is of course paired with the main Start Competing: Space Marines where you can find coverage of the core book, or check out other faction articles if you’re interested in multiple supplements and trying to make your mind up. As ever, if you have any questions or feedback, shoot us an email at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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