Strike Force Agastus: Datasheet Review

It may not have escaped your notice, if you were paying attention to Warhammer Community yesterday, that Strike Force Agastus has launched a daring raid on the Goonhammer offices. Not only has that resulted in plenty of fancy painted models showing up, which you’ll find out a lot more about in our model review, but we’ve also had a good look at the two new datasheets that the box set provides Marine players with – the Brutalis Dreadnought, and Desolation Squad. Heavy hitters up close and at range respectively, these units have got a lot of people very excited, so how will they perform on the Battlefield? Let’s find out.

Many thanks to Games Workshop for providing us with review copies of this box.

Primaris Lieutenant

Credit: Wings

…and just before we get onto the totally new stuff, this box brings us a new Primaris Lieutenant kit, featuring plenty of the existing options for kitting one out, and also a new choice – the elegant, sophisticated power fist.  This has been duly added to the datasheet. As an option, it’s mostly going to show up if you want to use some sort of relic fist, as for pure efficiency the sword/shield build basically can’t be beat, but having more options is always nice. The model also begs to be assembled with the fist – I’m normally a committed Sword Guy, but as you can see above I couldn’t resist this option, as the pose is perfect for it.

Brutalis Dreadnought

Imperial Fists Brutalis Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

The angriest box in space. The Brutalis Dreadnought trades out some of the firepower you see on a normal Redemptor for a melee-tuned profile (10″ move and 5A) and access to a couple of nasty melee options. You can either take dual fists, which come with two build in twin bolt rifles, adding an extra scattering of anti-infantry firepower as you advance, or eschew extra guns in favour of the Brutalis Claws. We’re going to be real here – claws 100% of the time – these give you AP-4 and wound re-rolls on the S14 big swings (for a cool d3+3 damage) or a sweep attack if you need 10 S7 AP-3 D1 attacks to ruin the day of enemy chaff. This is such a huge level up to the versatility and reliability of the Brutalis up close that it’s basically no contest, as both melee options come in at the same price.

There are some choices gun-wise too. While the Brutalis doesn’t have space for anything other than bolters on its arms, some enterprising soul has stapled two heavy bolters to the chest, which is cool and all, but you can also upgrade these to a pair of multi-meltas for an extra 30pts, at which point this is a meaningful ranged threat too, and a very powerful all-rounder.

That does end up a little expensive though (170 with bolters, 200 with meltas), and one of the question marks on this (and the next unit) is whether they’re going to get a quick errata downwards on points, as these datasheets were clearly written prior to the Arks point changes (the Primaris Lt. is on old costs). It’s certainly not a bad unit at current price, but you might be able to find slightly better value elsewhere – drop 10pts off, and you’re seriously cooking. Even just as is, we definitely expect to see these tried out – the extra speed and spectacular melee boost over a regular Redemptor makes them appealing in pressure builds, and just by existing they open up the possibility for someone to try running a six Redemptor list, perhaps as Wolves, Deathwatch (for the Dominus Aegis) or Templars (for Uphold). If these get a 10pt drop expect to see plenty of them, if they go down by any more than that expect to see a lot of them.

Desolation Squad

Imperial Fists Desolation Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter

If you prefer blowing your enemy apart at range, the Desolation squad has you covered, finally adding a “true” Devastator-style option to Primaris Marines. That’s extra clear because the sergeant shares the Devastator’s Signum, letting them buff a model to BS2+ each time the unit shoots.

What are they shooting with though? Missiles, and lots of them. Every model packs a castellan launcher, proving d3 S4 AP-1 Indirect Fire shots (at 36″ with Blast), and the squad as a whole supplements these with either superfrag or superkrak launchers for targets they can see. The former gives them a lot of anti-infantry firepower, adding d3+3 shots, while the latter provides only a single shot, but hits at S8 and AP-3 for the juicy, juicy sum of d3+3 damage. The Sergeant can choose to forgo this in favour of a vengor launcher, adding more indirect fire (d6 S6 AP-1 D2 Blast), and having built-in Targeter Optics to give the model +1 to hit (which applies to their castellan launcher as well). That does notably mean that the Sergeant can still be hitting on 2+ even when firing at indirect, as the Signum can cancel out the BS penalty, then the Optics give +1 to hit.

This is all pretty cool, but does come with a fairly steep price tag of 35pts per model (+10 for the vengor launcher), so will they see use? In the current metagame, I think there’s a reasonable shot that they do, simply because they broaden your game plan into some top options by bringing a reasonable volume of Indirect in a CORE unit. Notably, while you might not take them on pure rate, adding shots that can chip down Kasrkin, Mortars or Aspect Warriors lurking behind cover is extremely helpful, and the guard matchup in particular feels like a place these could shine. The castellan launchers are perfectly statted for Kasrkin hunting, while the vengor launcher is very good at picking off Mortar Teams (and has 48″ range rather than the 36″ of the castellans, so is almost impossible to hide from). Granting that utility alongside the ability to stroll out and unleash four superkrak missiles on a “go” turn might be enough to get these onto the table as a one-of, especially in an army with any sort of Chapter Master for big re-rolls.

If these get any sort of point drop, all bets are off, because given changes above 30pts are usually in increments of 5 and Marine squad upgrades are mostly now free, the most likely change would be for a standard squad with the vengor to go from 185 to 150. At that point, you’re getting all that utility above, but priced to move, and you’d start seeing at least a unit of these in many Marine builds. Even just making the vengor free might honestly tip them over the line. Definitely one to add to your Marine toolbox, especially if you’re being bullied by Guard or elf players.

Wrap Up

Let’s be real, if you’re a Marine player you’re probably already angling to pick up these units and nothing we say is going to stop you, but there you have it – both the Brutalis and Desolation Squad seem like plausible additions to some lists as they are, and very, very good if these turn out to be pre-buff points costs.