Post-Standoff Post

The third annual Standish Standoff has come and gone, and I have some mixed feelings about it. This is going to be a long post, so be prepared.

The first thing I did when I arrived was get my army set up on my old display board. I was up the night before working on my Devastator Sergeant, and never did finish the new display box/board. If you remember, I brought a half-company of Ultramarines. Three Tac Squads in Rhinos, one Assault Squad, a Devastator Squad, Cato Sicarius and his Command Squad in a Land Raider Crusader, and an Aegis Defense Line with an Icarus Lascannon. After that, I dropped off my two entries into the painting competition: my 5-man Sternguard squad in the Squad category and my Hive Tyrant in the 60mm category.

My first game was against Daemons, an almost entirely scratch built force run by a guy I've played a couple times before. We were tied 1-1 in lifetime games. We played a kill point mission with objectives as secondary and destruction of all HQs as tertiary. It was a solid, fun game that I took primary on, we split secondary and tertiary. Technically a win for me, so now I'm up 2 games to 1. I discovered that I liked the 96" range of the Icarus, but it wasn't overly useful against the one flying monster in the Daemon list.

Second game was against a Nid list with monsters and Gaunts. Flyrant with double twinned devourers, HQ Tervigon, Troop Tervigon, 20 Devilgaunts, 20 Hormagaunts, Raveners (repurposed Warriors counts-as Raveners), Ymgarl Genestealers, the Doom in a Pod, and a Trygon Prime. Primary objective was objectives (3 on the board, each counting as a Relic from the BRB missions), secondary was kill points, and tertiary was...something I forget. There were simply too many monsters to kill off. The highlight of the game for me was using Sicarius to challenge the incoming Trygon, and lopping off its head with a Coup De Gras attack. I lost the primary, took the secondary, and I can't remember who got tertiary. The ADL was a hindrance for me in this game, blocking in my units and generally being a pain in the ass. I should have jammed it up in a far corner and forgotten about it. There's no rule that the Icarus has to be behind the line, or anywhere NEAR the line, so I could have dumped the ADL and just used the Icarus in my zone.

My final game was against the new Eldar Serpent list. Farseer on a bike accompanied by a bunch of Warlocks on bikes with all the buff powers (+Armor, +Cover, Guide, Fortune, blah blah), three minimum sized Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents with scatter lasers, minimum Fire Dragons in a Serpent with scatter lasers, a Fire prism, and the obligatory Wraithknight with sun cannon and scatter lasers. It was the first time I had played against the new Eldar. Before this game, I'd told the folks who complained loudest about Serpent Spam that it wasn't that bad.
It is that bad.
My opponent was a nice guy, but the army is absolutely zero fun to play against. Every weapon on every unit that isn't buttoned up inside a transport is twin linked or made twin linked with Guide. If it doesn't put out 12 shots of some type a turn, it's an AP3 or better blast weapon. All at long range. After the first turn and Night Fight expired, I felt like I might as well just ask which units should be removed from the board each turn. It would have saved time. My fluffy army that took a comp hit to perfectly represent a Codex formation put up no resistance whatsoever to an army that managed a perfect comp score while still building the most soul-sucking list possible.

I find that this happens to me in every large event/tourney I go to. I have two good games, and then the day is given a black eye when I face a list like this in the final round. I've had it happen with Grey Knights, Necrons, and now Eldar.

At the end of the day was the awards ceremony (duh, lol). I somehow managed second place with my Sternguard, and was very surprised. There were squads I felt were better than mine.
My Hive Tyrant also took second, and again I was surprised.

I made the drive home feeling...dissatisfied? I can't tell if it's because that last game sent me home feeling abused and taken advantage of, or if it was an inadvertent deflation of ego from the Hive Tyrant not taking top spot in its category. One minor thing I noticed is that some of the efforts I put in for others' sakes go unnoticed. Last month at Shocktober, I wrote a way-too-long story into for my army and attached it to my army list. I think it contributed to my Dorka's Choice award, but my actual opponents, bar one, showed no interest in it. Yes, it was long, and I can understand not wanting to sit down with it before a game. So for the Standoff, I took a different approach. I grabbed some quotes from the Codex Astartes that described each unit in the army and its role, and a Marneus Calgar quote that made the transition to the army itself. I stapled that sheet to the FRONT of each copy my army list that I gave to my opponents. Only one had any interest in it. One flipped it without a passing glance, and one tore it off entirely. Only the first player kept the copy of the list I gave out. The others left it on the table when they left.
Is that the wrong place for an army into? The wrong time? I'm not sure. When I get things like that, I either read them during deployment/setup, or if they're long I read them after the game. If my opponents give me a list to keep, I keep it.

I think my malaise comes from the general question of "Why do I bother with this?" I have always been a proponent of the "social contract" of wargaming. The game involves two people, each of whom is playing a game. For fun. when I build armies for events, I want them to be fun and interesting to play against. A half-company might be boring to some, so I attempt to use fiction or quotes to help explain WHY the army even exists on the table. I'm putting forth great effort in painting, building a list, and including fiction or fluff for both myself and my opponent. When I play the game and get what I interpret as "that's cute, shut up and roll dice," it hurts my tender feelings. The whole lead-in to the event feels like wasted effort if I face a list designed purely to kick teeth, or the effort I expend is dismissed due to indifference. You cannot pick your opponents in a 40-man randomly paired event, but I guess I was hoping for a larger percentage of the field to contain like-minded individuals.

Where do I go from here? Do I continue to expend heart and energy on efforts that may or may not be noticed or appreciated by my opponents, or do I just stop and roll the damned dice? Do I shed the willingness to play within the universe of the game, and just play the hardest list I can? Do I break my brushes and pen in frustration and throw them in the ocean?

40K is a creative outlet for me. I like the quiet times of painting and writing and imagining, but you can only throw so much out into the void before futility sets in. I do all of this stuff because it calms me down and fills a creative need, but I also do it because I want other people to share my vision and stories. I don't want to be lauded for my efforts, but I would like them at least noticed by my opponents, their intended audience.


Three Days and a Wake Up

Taking a little break from the Sergeant Series today to update on my progress towards the third annual Standish Standoff.
I've been plugging along on bolter Marines in order to fill out my Devastator Squad. I'm happy to say that I finished the third and final Marine last night after my hockey game. I then primed the squad's sergeant, and barring disaster, he'll be done for Saturday as well.
if I have time, I'd also like to go back and pretty up my Cato Sicarius stand-in (built from the Marine Commander box aaaaages ago). His power sword no longer matches my current technique, and his gold parts are dull and flat.

I'd spent many hours this past weekend building a new, fancy army display tray. It's a 24x18 flip-top box made of pine and MDF (Eucaboard). I learned to use my table saw and cut grooves for the MDF in the lid section and used pocket screws to join it all. It looks sweet, and I'm very proud of it, but I don't think there's any possible way I can have it ready for Saturday. It needs to have some dents and gaps filled with putty, resanded, stained, and then the display section built. I want it to look like an ancient Macraggian temple, with a large (6-7" diameter) Ultramarine mosaic floor in the center, sand and fallen doric columns all around. I might skip the fallen columns, as that sort of stuff tends to block placement of the actual models cleanly on the board. I also have plans to put strong rare-earth magnets underneath in certain areas so I can paint up small pieces of terrain like ruined temple corners and place them in ways that highlight the army. I left room in the bottom of the box to put a foam tray to hold all those pieces as I create them.
Looks like I'll be bringing the old display board one last time.

I am very VERY happy to report that my entries for the Bronze Spawn painting competition are complete. I'm throwing my Sternguard unit in the Unit category for giggles, but my piece de resistance is my Hive Tyrant, and he goes in the 60mm category. I spent a lot of time on his base, and I feel it really turned out nicely. It's no longer just some painted sand and static grass. It looks like a real landscape that is slowly being sucked of life by the Tyranid invasion. I'm not sharing pics until after the event, though. No one sees the completed model until it's entered (except my wife).

It will be nice to breathe a big exhalation of relief once the event is over, win, lose, or draw. I'm starting to feel some painting burnout from the frantic race to get Marine infantry done in time. After the Standoff, I'm going to switch gears and work on three projects: a drop pod (fully magnetized using Ron's tutorial at From the Warp), the five Genestealers I have literally hanging from my paint rack (I hung them all by their claws over the top of the rack, making hissing and roaring noises while I did so), and a Company Champion model with some mid-level reposing work done to him. Maybe a standard bearer after that. I'm trying to avoid doing any "painting for a list" type of stuff for a while. I'm even considering painting something that isn't 40K at all as a break. A Savage Orc Big Boss perhaps? Or a Vampire Counts Wight King?

I'll have an event recap up as soon as I can after the Standoff is over. Til then, radio silence (or another article in the Sergeant Series).


Sergeant Series: The Tactical Sergeant

Next up in the Sergeant Series is the humble sergeant of the Tactical Squad. I'm going to go out on a limb and describe the Tactical sergeant as the most common model in a Marine army. While he might be common and ordinary, I feel the Tactical Sergeant is the hardest one to kit in the whole codex.

The root of the problem is the Tactical Squad itself. The squad is designed to be flexible and durable, but able to be honed slightly towards a specialized role. Marine players have debated the role and merits of the tactical squad for years now, with no clear winner. Typically, a sergeant will complement the role the squad has been given or make up for its failings.

There are so many ways to design a Tactical squad that the best way to look at a sergeant is by analyzing all of his options and deciding which situation each is appropriate for. There is truly no bad option for a tactical sergeant, though there are bad combinations of individual upgrades or upgrade/squad combos.

I'll start with mentioning the teleport homer. Tactical sergeants have had access to this for a while, and all it does is allow a unit in Terminator armor to deepstrike within 6" of the sergeant without scattering. It only works for Terminators! Not drop pods, not units moving by Gate of Infinity, or any of that garbage. I'm so happy they cleared up the language on this one, so we don't have people claiming that Gate is a "teleport because there's no definition of teleport in the rulebooks! NYAH!"
It's a limited utility item that you won't see a lot. First, because the sergeant has to be alive to use it. Second, because the most popular Terminators are still Assault Terminators, who can't do anything but run after the arrive from deepstrike. With the amount of AP2 firepower in the game today, it's an even worse idea to deepstrike Assault Terminators than it used to be. It'll work better with Tactical Terminators who can shoot, but the standard range of stormbolters makes that a dicey choice.
It can be done if you have a specific plan, like dropping the TDA unit behind a Rhino in which the Tactical Squad is riding, or behind terrain features.

Tactical sergeants, like just about every other sergeant, can take meltabombs. They serve the same purpose as mentioned in previous articles. They're cheap insurance upgrades that can put a major dent in armored units. It's cheap enough to tack on to any other upgrade, and not identically redundant to any of the upgrades available to the Tactical sergeant.

The ranged weapons available to a Tactical sergeant are plasma pistols, grav pistols, storm bolters, and each flavor of combibolter (grav, plasma, melta, flamer).
The ideal range for a Tactical squad is 12" in order to put as many bolters on target as possible. That's also a great range for pistols. Ok, it's the ONLY range for pistols. If you can stomach the steep points cost of a plasma pistol or grav pistol, they're pretty solid options. I'd take them alongside special weapons of the matching type. Grav gun+grav pistol, or plasma gun+plasma pistol. An interesting side note: Tactical sergeants are able to take two pistols by trading their bolter for a chainsword, and then their bolt pistol and the chainsword for plasma or grav pistols. So the tactical sergeant is now the gunslinger, while the Assault sergeant, who could reliably get range for those weapons, is not. Of course, double pistols would be usable when leading a drop pod squad...
Alternatively, you can go with the combibolter for fewer points, but a single usage. This more closely matches the special weapon in the squad, but just the one time. Some players argue that a Tactical squad will only ever get one chance to fire is special weaponry, and combis fit exactly with that "one is all you get" mindset. However, the conflicting view point contends that the idea of "one is all you get" is incorrect. The big decision for people who think this way is [I]when[/I] to use the combi part of the weapon. Do you burn the flamer at the first opportunity, or wait from an ideal moment? It's a decision that becomes easier with practice.
A storm bolter is an ok choice for a Tactical sergeant. It ensures you always get two bolt shots from him, regardless of whether you moved or not, and all the way from 24" to 1". I haven't built a sergeant with a storm bolter yet, but I have plans to do so. I think it's a nice touch for a unit that won't be driving upfield much. One of my favorite plans is to run Cato Sicarius, and give one Tactical squad Counter Attack. This squad is a pure objective holder. They pour out bolter fire into oncoming infantry, and then when the wave hits they roll a Ld test and double their attacks when charged. The plan requires the squad to be armed with a heavy bolter and a flamer, and a sergeant with a storm bolter would slot in nicely there. Of course, a regular bolter or combiflamer will still fit in this squad and do just fine. but the storm bolter puts out two shots all game long, both of which are subject to Precision Shots. If you believe in long odds, the storm bolter gives you greater chances to put bolt shots where you want them.

Melee upgrades should be planned alongside your shooting upgrade, if you're taking a shooting upgrade. Tactical sergeants have access to the standard field of melee options: power weapon, lightning claw, power fist, and thunder hammer. You can also take two of any of the options by trading bolter for chainsword, and then boltpistol and the chainsword for the two melee weapons.
You can either go with the complimentary selection if you're into specializing an entire squad for one task, or you can elect to try the gap-filling selection if you like your squads to be able to do a little of everything.
An example of complimentary armament would be taking a power sword or lightning claw in a squad geared towards killing infantry, with a missile launcher or heavy bolter and flamer. An example of a gap-filling selection would be taking a power fist in a squad armed for heavy infantry work with a plasma cannon and plasma gun. The idea behind the first is to add more power of the selected type to a single target type. The idea behind the second is to make up for the shortcomings of the unit so it cannot be taken advantage of by specific enemy units.
I've been known to use both methods, depending on my feelings for the day and the composition of the rest of my army. For example, if I have multiple units with power fists, I probably won't take one on the Tactical squad.

I've never been a fan of loading up a single sergeant with tons of war gear, and that goes double in the age of Precision Shots and challenges. A sergeant tricked out with a thunder hammer, combibolter, meltabombs and Veteran status is sniped out of a squad just as easily as a sergeant with a bolt pistol and chainsword. I like to keep purchases at or under the 20-point mark for Tactical sergeants.

Next up is Veteran status. On a Tactical sergeant, veteran status depends on the overall role you've envisioned for the unit. If it's a unit designed to advance forward, a Veteran Sergeant improves the odds of the squad passing morale tests to KEEP moving forward, as well as adding an extra attack should they get stuck in combat. If the unit is supposed to hold a rear objective at all costs, the bonus Leadership is helpful to keep you from failing morale tests, and thereby running off the board. A general all-rounder squad might not need Veteran status to accomplish its mission.

There are a few Chapter Tactics that directly affect Tactical sergeants. Ultramarines is pretty obvious, giving you rerolls to shooting for a turn when using the Tactical Doctrine. This can help you get combibolters on target when they're most needed.
Imperial Fists gives a sergeant with a storm bolter or bolter better odds of landing hits.
A Black Templars sergeant (yes, they CAN take regular Tactical Squads) will make better use of melee upgrades doe to rerolls to hit and the addition of Rending when in a challenge.

So, to sum up, Tactical sergeants are as flexible as the squad they lead. You can use them to help the squad shore up a deficiency, or to further hone the fine point of a specialized squad. these guys can really do almost anything, within reason.


Sergeant Series: The Assault Sergeant

I enjoyed writing the article about Devastator Sergeants so much, that I went back and renamed the post, and plan to write an article on sergeants for every codex unit that has options.

This second article focuses on the sergeant leading the much-maligned Assault Squad. Yes, "much-maligned." The world at large seems to hate Assault Marine squads due to their points cost and limited armament options. Everyone wants Space Marine Assault Squads to have the same armament options as Blood Angel Assault Squads. If we had that, what would make the Blood Angels special? That's a tired debate I don't care to rehash here, so on to the discussion of Assault Marine sergeants!

The very first thing we have to look at when talking about an Assault Marine sergeant is the unit's role on the battlefield. The default setup for Assault Marine squads provides the default Marine statline, power armor, a bolt pistol, a chainsword, frags and kraks, and a jump pack. You can trade in all of the jump packs in the unit for a free Rhino or Drop Pod if you want.
This wargear load makes Assault Marines into a bully unit that relies on weight of dice to bring things down. Without purchasing any sort of upgrades, a 10-man Assault Squad throws out 30 S4, WS4 attacks on the charge, and 20 when receiving one. This is the kind of unit you want smashing into units with low Toughness or poor saves, like Guardsmen or Orks. The unit also excels when charging Marine equivalent units that aren't specialized for melee (Tactical Squads, Bikes, etc).

The unit is mobile, being Jump Infantry. They can hop across the table 12" at a time or arrive by deepstrike.

So, how does a sergeant augment those abilities?
The first upgrade he has access to is a pistol swap. he can trade in the trusty bolt pistol for a plasma or grav pistol. Both cost the same number of points and they have similar primary targets. However, up to two squad members can also take plasma pistols, but none can take grav pistols. I feel the plasma pistol is slightly more useful due to the matching squad pistols. It's important to note that the sergeant only get ONE pistol upgrade. The 5th Edition codex allowed the sergeant to trade both his pistol and chainsword for a plasma pistol. That option no longer exists. Sadly, that means the model I made with two plasma pistols is no longer legal.
The plasma pistol upgrade carries the Gets Hot risk, on a single-wound model who may or may not be crucial to the unit he leads. The double-plasma sergeant I used to use was designed to make full use of deepstrike and combat squad rules. I would split the unit on arrival to contain one half with all the plasma, and the other half with all basic models. I'd then sink all those plasma shots into a Terminator unit, Monster, or other vulnerable target. This can still be done, but you'll lose 25% of the plasma shots, as well as the ability to decide to combat squad on arrival (you have to declare combat squadding before the game begins now). It's a very niche role, and not really worth the effort any more unless you're really hard up for sources of plasma, or are going for a themed list.

Sergeants can now only trade their chainsword (and/or pistol) for a melee upgrade: power weapon, lightning claw, thunder hammer or power fist. This is where the sergeant in an Assault Squad earns his paycheck and he's got a lot of options to choose from.
Because the Assault Squad is a bully unit that picks on weak or low save units, Assault Sergeants can actually get away with using a power maul. It bypasses the armor of the squad's ideal targets, and provides a bunch of S6 attacks against vehicles. However, it falls flat against 3+ armor or better.
A power lance is also useful on this sergeant because Assault Squads tend to be the aggressors in a melee because of their speed.
The power sword is the "Average Joe" of the power weapon options. It gets more attacks than its closest equivalent (lightning claw), but fewer wounds. it's the jack-of-all trades of the power weapon world.
I've never been a big fan of I1 weapons on single-wound characters due to the challenge rules. The points investment involved in equipping a sergeant with a power axe or fist is quickly flushed down the toilet when challenged by some chump Guard sergeant with a power sword, or assured mutual destruction when pitted against an Ork Nob with a power klaw. I don't like losing 40+ point models before they can swing. That being said, both weapons give added AP2 punch to the unit and in the case of the fist, the ability to peel open vehicles or cause instant death to a wide range of opponents.
The thunder hammer is similar to the powerfist in its role, but is also Concussive. It's neat, but falls into the same traps the fist and axe fall into.
A lightning claw is a nice alternative to a sword. it allows attacks at initiative (though one fewer) and wounds more often. If you really want an extra attack, you can also take a pair of claws by trading in both the pistol and the chainsword. In fact, you can get two of any of the melee weapons this way.
Fans of flexibility could take a power sword and a power axe, power maul and axe, lance and axe, and so on. Double power fists are available, as are double hammers. Those last two options are astronomical in price, so I'd skip them entirely as they both only add +1A for the crazy investment in points. Two power weapons would get you the +1A, and some flexibility for only a small number of points over the Veteran upgrade. You'd lose out on a single bolt pistol shot, which shouldn't be a consideration at all.

Deciding which melee upgrade to take depends on whether or not you upgrade the sergeant to Veteran status. As we talked about in the Devastator article, Veteran status gives +1A and +1 Ld. Assault squads will benefit from the increased Leadership early in the game because they fall back 3d6" on a failed Morale test. When you're still in your deployment zone, there's a good chance the unit will run right off the board early.
The bonus attack greatly impacts how different power weapon options perform against different targets. For example, in the hands of a non-Veteran sergeant on the charge, both a power sword and a lightning claw will cause .75 unsaved wounds to an MEQ statline. But in the hands of a Veteran sergeant in the same situation, the sword causes 1 wound, while the claw causes 1.13. 13% better.
A power maul in the same situation, which allows armor saves by the MEQ model, would result in 1.09 unsaved wounds by a Veteran, while only .82 by a non-Veteran.
Whether you take Veteran status is your choice to make, but in the majority of situations it will be a useful addition.

Assault Squad sergeants also have access to a combat shield for a marginal points cost. It gives a 6+ invulnerable save. I feel that a 6+ invulnerable isn't worth any number of points on a Space Marine model. The situations in which a sergeant would need a 6+ invulnerable are few, and the Look Out Sir! rules outshine the appeal of that long-shot save. The only time I can see it being remotely useful is in a challenge against a weaker opponent with a power sword, like that chump Guard sergeant. It fights long odds with long odds. If that's your play style and mindset, buy the shield.

Assault sergeants also have access to meltabombs, which are always a good buy. I'd rather spend points here than on a 6+ invulnerable save! Meltabombs on a front-line unit are wonderful walker repellent, as well as being threatening to just about every assaultable vehicle in the game (minus the Land Raider Achilles, but who runs that?).

So there you have it, the gamut of options available to the sergeant in an Assault Squad. Which is best? Well, if you're going hunting for weakling units, I'd stick with a pistol and lightning claw, Veteran status, and meltabombs if you feel like it. If you think you can pull off the TDA-hunter build I used to use, take the plasma pistol, skip Veteran status, and no meltabombs. The last option is to take a power fist and Veteran status to make a transport-killing unit that clamps krak grenades and punches in the back armor of those Rhinos and Chimeras.

A quick note should be added here for Chapter Tactics. Only two directly affect Assault Squad sergeants: Raven Guard and Black Templars. Raven Guard gives the sergeant an always-on Hammer of Wrath attack. HoW is nice, but it comes into its own in challenges. You still get the HoW hit when challenged, and it MUST be directed at your challenge opponent. That S4 hit can put an extra wound on an Ork Nob, allowing your power sword to finish it off at I4, or knock down the Guard sergeant before he can swing at all. Never forget to use those hits! They can save an expensive power fist sergeant.
Black Templars will give you an edge in a challenge with Rending and rerolls to hit. This gives the so-so power sword sergeant some teeth, or makes the lightning claw into a blender that can score AP2 hits. People have complained that Templars were neutered with their inclusion in the Marine codex. I think they're a little short sighted.


Sergeant Series: The Devastator Sergeant

My Standish Standoff list contains a full unit of Devastators. Every Devastator unit has to include the obligatory sergeant, and I kept mine bare bones. Bolter, bolt pistol, and signum.
While cleaning parts and deciding on a pose for my Devastator sergeant, last night, I got to thinking about all the possible armaments and load-outs this one guy can have.

On the surface, a Dev sergeant is identical to a sergeant in a Tactical squad. You start with the typical Marine stat line, a bolter, bolt pistol, frags/kraks, and power armor. However, the Devastator sergeant gets a signum, which allows one model in his unit to fire at BS5, so long as the sergeant is alive and does not fire in the Shooting phase himself. It's a very handy tool.

The Dev sergeant is able to purchase any upgrade you can typically purchase for a Tac sergeant. Ranged weapons like pistols and combi-bolters, as well as melee weapons like power weapons and fists. You can also take the Veteran upgrade, as well as meltabombs.

In my opinion, the first thing you have to decide on is Veteran status. Taking the upgrade gives you one extra Attack and one point of Leadership. So, two attacks base instead of one, and Ld9 instead of Ld8. I don't feel an additional attack in melee is useful for a model in a shooting-dedicated unit. The additional point of leadership, however, is useful.
Devastators are typically a backfield unit. They have a nice, long range band with all of their weapons, which means they're often sitting near your back table edge. This position means that failed Morale tests are dangerous. Lose two or three Marines in a turn and you're risking falling back off the board. Even if you don't fall off the board, the involuntary movement means you lose a turn of shooting as you regroup and regain your fire lanes (unless you are running Ultramarines Chapter Tactics and burn your Devastator Doctrine for the turn).

Meltabombs have always been an upgrade you take as a safety net or last-ditch option. They're cheap enough to throw in without thinking too hard. For Devs, they don't make quite as much sense. You can' throw meltabombs, so they're only applicable in melee against a monstrous creature or a vehicle. Most MCs that charge into a unit whose sergeant has meltabombs tends to challenge out that sergeant to remove the bombs entirely (either by killing the sergeant with AP2 wounds or forcing the denial of the challenge). Walkers are seriously threatened by meltabombs, but if anything but a drop podded Dreadnought ends up in close with your Devastators, I think you may have done something fundamentally wrong that meltabombs won't fix.

That brings us neatly into the melee weapon options. Every one of these falls under the same logic as meltabombs and the Veteran upgrade: Devs aren't a melee unit. If they find themselves in a fistfight, something has gone terribly wrong. Do you really want to spend the heavy points investment in something like a power fist that you may not/probably won't use?

By my thinking, the only viable options besides Veteran status are the ranged weapons, as they match the role of the unit. But which one to take?

I'd write the pistol options (grav and plasma) off immediately, due to their 12" range. Both pistol types are too expensive to take as insurance, single-shot weaponry. I'd skip the combi-flamer and combi-melta for the exact same reason, though they are less expensive as insurance.
A combi-grav is a neat little gem, but its max range is only half that of the weapons it most closely shares a target priority with (plasma cannons, fired at medium and heavy infantry). It does put out a solid three shots when stationary, and the signum is nearly useless for plasma cannon Devastators. I'd say a combi-grav is an "ok, not great" choice.
All that's left is the storm bolter. It's an Assault 2, 24" range weapon, and is as cheap an upgrade as you can get. That range band is at least useful for some of the heavy weapons it'll be alongside. When the unit packs multimeltas, you'll want to use the signum. Plasma cannons make the storm bolter shots into an afterthought, but more dice rolled for shooting is never a bad thing. Lascannons are like multimeltas, where you want the signum instead. Missile launchers split the difference, where they want the signum if you're firing krak/flakk, but the storm bolter shots if you're firing frag. Your closest relative for the storm bolter will be heavy bolters. If you calculate it all out, upping a single heavy bolter to BS5 over BS4 will net you about the same number of wounds on Toughness 4 models as using the storm bolter instead. The difference is only about .30 wounds in favor of the storm bolter.

After all of that rambling, my theory is that there are only two real choices to make when kitting a Devastator Sergeant: veteran or not, and storm bolter, combi-bolter, or regular bolter.
Vet status depends on what other Leadership mechanics are in your army and where. For my Standoff list, I'm running Cato Sicarius, who gives a blanket Ld10 to your army, so long as he's alive. That makes Vet status moot for the Dev sergeant. I feel that if Sicarius is dead early enough for the Devs' Leadership value to matter, I'm on the downslope anyways.
The other option is a banner in a Command Squad or Honor Guard. Honor Guard can't be made into fire support units, so their banner probably won't be anywhere near the Devs. Command Squads can take a whole lot of plasma guns and become some sort of mid-range firebase unit, parked near the Devs, but it's unlikely.
The bolter-or-not-bolter question really depends on how you arm the heavy weapons Marines, and if you're a fan of small points spent on small probability wargear (the statistical chance a storm bolter by itself will kill a MEQ model is small, but when stacked up alongside other factors, it can add up).

Well, there's some mental vomit of "40k tactics" talk for you. I'm sure I've missed something in this pages-long post, so feel free to discuss the math, the options, and the situations for which you'd arm a Devastator Sergeant.


Situation Report, beginning of November

It's the beginning of a new month, and sometimes I like to use the beginning of a month to sit down and map out my hobby progress and plans. it helps a tiny little bit in clarifying what I'm doing hobby-wise, and why I'm doing it.

First up is my army list for Standish Standoff 3. Way back at the beginning of summer, I'd planned on bringing a retooled "all fast" bike list. The composition requirements we use at the Standoff require that you fill all your FOC slots (1-1-3-1-1) before taking a second slot of any type, if you want to avoid penalties. I had a solid 1750 list a couple months ago after the new Marine Codex dropped, but it would be obliterated purely on composition points at the Standoff. I could apply for a theme waiver, but I don't think it would warrant enough of a waiver to be worth it. It runs with 2 HQs, two non-slot HQs, three or four Troops, three Fast Attack, no Elites, and no Heavy Support. My plan was to expand the list to match the slot-filling composition scoring. I wanted to add Vanguard Vets as Elites (hooray for moving them where they belong!), and a Stormraven in Heavy Support. None of those models happened, so that plan is out the window.

Instead, I'm planning to run a list I've ALWAYS wanted to run: Classic Half-Company. The list takes the standard Ultramarine Battle Company layout of 6 Tactical, 2 Assault, and 2 Devastator squads and halves it to fit into a non-Apocalypse points level. So, the list contains 3 Tactical, 1 Assault, and 1 Devastator squad. Add in Cato Sicarius and a Command Squad, and give them a Land Raider Crusader to ride in and you've got a Codex-perfect army list. It does take a 5 point hit for having a second Heavy slot without having any Elites, but that's a surmountable number. I'd tried some other iterations of the list that had perfect comp scores, like swapping the Command for some Sternguard, but it just didn't "feel" right. Cato doesn't run with Sternguard in any of the fiction I've ever read. He runs with a Command Squad.

So, I'm painting toward that list. Funnily enough, the only thing keeping me from running this in the past (besides old points costs) was not having enough bolter-armed Marines. I was three short, so I'm currently working on those three grunts. The first one is done all of his base painting, and awaiting a coat of sealer tonight before he gets freehand symbols on his shoulders.

I'm also planning on painting up a new sergeant for the Devastator squad. Allof the sergeants I have now are armed for tactical Squad duty with bolt pistol and some form of melee weapon. Devestator sergeants don't need any of those, so this one will have just his pistol and a bolter, as well as his signum backpack and a head with some bionic targeters.

I've made progress on the base for my Hive Tyrant, which also needs to be done by the 23rd for the Standoff. I'm collecting images for a step-by-step post on the base, so I won't share them early. It looks great though.

The brood of five Genestealers I've been staring at for months is still sitting at the wash stage. They're just not urgent enough of a project to work on right now. I'm also considering selling off all the Nid sprues I have collected, but I might wait until the new book drops next year in order to maximize on sales price (due to popularity).

As for Marines going forward, I'm juggling some plans. I'd like to get my two drop pods built and painted, but have also been hankering to get a Bike Chaplain done (I've already bought most of the parts I needed), as well as a Company Champion and a Company Standard Bearer to round out the options available to my Command Squads.