That applies to every army, but what about our line squads? First and foremost, you can ignore Assault and Tactical Marines for the most part. Crusader Squads are better in most scenarios. And the scenarios where you’d want Assault Marines (Bully Units) use Reivers, and Tacticals only benefit is combat squading and melta bomb access. Neither of which should be a major concern in this edition.
A Line fills three roles; Push, Anchor, and Fire Support.
Push is the role you’d see Crusaders used more often and favored by Line Squads with chainswords. It’s is exactly what it sounds like. Their job is to literally push the enemy off the objective. Personally this is my favorite use of Tide Crusader Squads. They have numbers to maintain effectiveness in combat after losing 4-5 models, and with 3 PowSword attacks, can kill 1 MEQ a turn on average. And thats before we factor in in the Chainbro and Pistol attacks each turn.
Reivers are a unit that does this role well too for similar reasons. Biggest difference is Reivers are elites and better as bully units given their diverse deployment option. However Reivers in combat can find themselves stalemated in scenarios where Crusader Squads wouldn't, due to the access to a PowSword.
In general this role will be your Tide or Rhino Mounted Crusaders. At functionally 14-20 wounds and retaining comeback potency till 4-5 Models. The opponent will have to kill a good portion of the squad and risks overshooting. This squad, if Rhino based, wants double specials (Grav or Plasma), and a High RoF Heavy (Heavy Bolter or GravCannon). They jump out turn 2, and they lock and load. Rhino’s do not take Power Swords. As you’ll be wanting to stay as shooting. While the squad should utilizing ChainBros and maybe Shotgun Neo’s. You have to few overall melee attacks at sub 13 Man, to take power weapons to increase your kill rate vs MeQ.
Tide Squads take Double Power Swords. The math has that a power sword is give or take only increasing a one attack model damage threshold by 20% for a 33% upgrade. It does increase your threshold by 20%. And you want to be able to kill MeQ Squads, especially MSU quickly. Only two power sword attacks, even at 13-15 Man. Will see only about 3.22 Marines dead if every Marine makes it in base. So over course of 2 turns you can only reasonably expect 5 dead. The addition of a power sword makes that raw potential into 3.50. Around a 8 damage increase. But at 200 Point Squads, that is only 2% ‘cost’. And increases your likely damage threshold over two rounds to about 6. If you include Pistols and Specials (calculated as Flamers) that is 2 Kill during Charge Turn, and then assuming 7-9 Pistols Shots come your turn 2. That is another dead Marine. After three rounds of combat, expected dad is 9. And had they failed battle shock in the first or second round. A 10 Man MeQ Squad goes by bye during your shooting phase.
Which means...you can charge a second target. And then repeat the process. This is also why Pistols are vital to a push squad as those 2-3 extra net kills are often enough to kill a weakened Squad enabling another charge.
Anchor: is more commonly utilized by Tactical Squads than our Crusaders. Anchors are the portion of your force that is essentially backfield camping. I see little use for Line Squads in such a role. Even 5 Man MSU Crusaders are better services as Fire Support. But they have there place, in the army. My personal term for anchor Squads, are 90 point Lascannons. Take that for what you will.
Anchor Squads are what should be your 5 Man MSU Squads. Devastators also function in a similar manner. They provide long range fire support and defend home field. Their job is quite explicitly to anchor your force. And keep your opponent honest more than anything else.
Firefight: These are 5 Man MSU Squads of Double Special (or Special/Special/Heavy in our case) or basic Intercessor Squads. They are around 100-150 Points. Bully Units, units that frustrate your enemies backfield campers, also belong here. Firefight are Squads seen in Razors and Rhinos. They jump on and unload on the enemy with PuesdoAlpha.
Firefight Line Men are more than anchor or push, support units first and foremost. At 5 man they cannot take charges, or an enemy assault. Even 10 Man Squads, you’ll have only around 16 + 2 PowSword attacks. Or maybe about 2.4 Marines Dead). Meaning larger Squads will stalemate. Pistols exist which add give 0.7 + 1.8 from Plasma and 0.5 from Heavy Bolter. I.e you’ll really kill an MSU Squad if you Charge.
In comparison a tide squad adds 12 more additional and while that is only one more dead on average. It makes death from 4.4 to 5.7. So during battle shock a marine fails on 3+ or 4+. Making the net casualty nearly double. A firefight role is better to a MSU Intercessors Squad with Power Sword.
At 94 Points they put out only a smidge less damage output than a 5 Man MSU Double at 93. (0.88 vs 1-1.15 or about 10-25% less offensive potential). And in firefight range, 1.65 vs 2.1-2.6 or 33% to 66% depending on Overcharge). However in melee, the Intercessors Squad vs that same Tactical Squad (1.84 vs 0.75 or 125% Intercessors Favor). Unlike the Tactical Squad if combat lasts two or more rounds, they retain potency.
A 5 Man MSU Tactical will see itself killed by excess Bolter or Chain and swept aside in close combat/after their initial volley. An Intercessors retains combat effectiveness for 5 received wounds where an MSU Tactical would go the Dodo in the same scenario.
Next week I am going to offer some more in depth detail about, as Templars are two primarily line Squads, Crusaders and Intercessors. How they compare followed by a discussion of Reivers and how they fit into our army in the role of a line. Scouts will get a mention here. And finally, the Tactical (and Chaos Marines) and Assault (and Raptors) Squads will be discussed in the third week. Not because of how good they are for our chapter. But how our unique line squad, the Crusader Squad, then how our use of the Primaris Line will match up against the two most common lines in the game.
That third week, will also see a comparison with Grey Hunters. And understanding how despite both Crusader and Grey Hunters being the gold standard, how intrinsically different they are from another.