Vanilla Space Marine Dreadnought Tactica
The dreadnought is a firm favourite amongst many as a means of armoured assault and long range firepower, making it a good choice from the elites section. It provides a unique role in relentless shooting coupled with tank busting close combat abilities making a very flexible unit too.
This is one of the most common types of dreadnought, where the dread is tooled up with a multimelta, and DCCW with a built in heavy flamer, and is sent to go kill stuff via drop pod assault. This is highly effective at taking out armoured vehicles such as battlewagons or land raiders early, leaving their cargo open to the elements; or is equally as good at rooting out heavy weapon teams from behind cover with a heavy flamer blast. The key issues with the Alpha Striker are that it is essentially a suicide unit as your opponent will be desperate to take it out before it causes any more damage, and that it is an isolated unit once landed, so is hard to support with the rest of your army. However, these can be used to your advantage as it allows the rest of your army to move up into position unopposed, and provides a turn free from fire for your transports. This dread works well in a Vulkan list and in tandem with land speeders (HF/MM) who provide a similar role taking out tanks. Also works well for distracting opponents so that your Land Raider full of terminators can get there in one piece.
Overall rating – 8/10 (Worth its points, particularly with Vulkan making flamers and meltas twin linked).
A pretty ubiquitous unit found in many competitive lists for one reason: it is the perfect unit for taking out transports at range. The relentless double twin linked autocannons are just perfect for anti AV11, meaning those rhinos better run run run. Not only this, but they are no less potent when turned on tougher infantry units (Tyranid Warriors or Bloodcrushers spring to mind), due to the volume of high strength AP4 shots. They work well in tandem with gun line armies as well as providing fire support for fast moving armies that may need firepower on the move. They can even tie down units in assault, as it requires specialist wargear to take out walkers in combat, while it punches away no problem at S6. Just don’t try and take out AV14 – that’s what melta’s for.
Overall rating – 9/10 (Good at what it does, but sucks at anything higher than AV12).
This is your man if you want to go heavy infantry hunting. The relentless plasma cannon (no gets hot!) is perfect for taking out MEQ, Necrons, Sisters etc, especially when they’re nice and clustered – after deep striking for example. For a secondary weapon, I find a standard DCCW works fine if the enemy get too close, though some prefer a ML or secondary lascannon for improved ranged abilities. Works well with can opener units so as to get at the squidgy stuff inside, though also works as an armoured assault unit (with Master of the Forge, 6 plasmanaughts is something unpleasant for a lot of armies). It even works occasionally when turned to tank hunting, just don’t expect to be one-shotting predators or land raiders that often.
Overall rating – 7/10 (doesn’t really synergise with a lot of lists, and there are more useful setups.)
Ah, the firm favourite of those who don’t understand the purpose of lascannons
I shall say this here once and once only: the lascannon’s primary role is NOT to take out AV14 vehicles. It is designed to take out normal vehicles or tough monstrous creatures. AV14 is for melta, chainfists and monstrous creatures (Might of Ancients too). Hence, I rarely run this model purely because the TL lascannon is over expensive for a weapon that under performs regularly, being a one shot weapon that tactical squad missile launchers can do better and for cheaper. (rant over). Anyway, like I said, use these mainly as a fear factor against transports and monstrous creatures. I would only really use it if your local Meta features these units (n.b. the rifleman does transports better), as it is a very specialist unit. Works well in tandem with other lasdreads, as supreme MC hunters (DCCW anybody?), but some like to tool it up with a missile launcher and just work as a long range support unit.
Overall – 5/10 (Good at what it does, but too specialist to be useful)
The ultimate say in anti-swarm lists (hello Orks, hello Nids). The Assault Cannon and heavy flamer combo is a nightmare for those guys as it’s relentless, and they’re often lacking in the volume of firepower to take it out, and the other threats you have running round the battlefield. I just love to run 6 of these with a master of the forge against Orks, and watch them hopelessly try to take them out with BS2. They work well with each other (surprise surprise), but also as support unit for ranged specialists – mainly sternguard, but also as counter assault units to defend your squishy scouts or devastators. The main weakness is that it’s poor at reliable
anti-tank (a one in a million rending shot simply isn’t good enough for me), and against MEQ is pretty ineffective when compared to other units.
Overall – 7/10 (Anything with a 4+ or worse armour save better run away (hiding’s no use), but sucks ass against anything that looks humanoid or is in a tank).
I dislike any of the other combinations for the simple fact that they are not as effective as the ones above. The Heavy Bolter is a crap, underpowered weapon when you have the assault cannon at your disposal, the heavy flamer is too short range to be of any use (you don’t really want to have to spend points on a drop pod to get it there and have to wait a turn to assault), and the single autocannon is simple shoddy. Other combinations just don’t work very well as a tandem, as you want to be focussed on one role, not have a multimelta and autocannon etc etc.
These guys are probably my favourite dread of them all. For an extra 30 points you get an increased armour value, better
weapons, and extra armour. What’s not to like? The melta and flamer as standard just screams Alpha Striker at me, which is how I normally run it. Mostly it doesn’t need any upgrades, as it has better staying power than a normal dread and is equally or even more devastating. However, if you have points to spend then the first thing I recommend is the frag assault launchers to take out those pesky units in cover. The hurricane bolters are utterly useless, so bun them, and I wouldn’t drop the flamer and melta for the alternative as they’re perfect already. The Hunter killers are nice if you can afford them for added shock the turn they drop in, but I tend to find they push the cost up too much. Finally, seismic hammer vs. chainfist. Essentially, I only pick the latter if there’s an abundance of AV14 around, as at S10 you don’t really need 2D6 armour penetration.
Overall – 9/10 (Useless as a support unit or for ranged firepower, but bloody brilliant at shock assaults).
Utter crap. I mean 60 points to potentially get a worse role than what you got the first time? Wtf is that all about? You want venerable dreads; play Dark Angels where it’s a 20 point upgrade. BS5 WS5 is all very nice, but if you have twin linked weapons, what’s the point (Rifleman, Alpha striker with Vulcan, Plasmanaught doesn’t roll to hit etc etc). I would personally never use this unit, not even as an improved fire support unit, as it is too expensive for what it’s worth. Get out.
This section is divided into two main tactics: assault and support.
Assault – these dreads are your main forward units, either supporting dedicated CC units such as terminators, or spearheading against the brunt of enemy forces. When on foot, assault tactics actually require a great deal of thought and planning. As the dreadnought can only move 6” a turn, pick one unit that you want to assault with it and stay with that unit. Don’t get side-tracked until that unit is wiped or no longer a threat, or else you’ll never get anywhere. Try and plot your route to that unit so that you expose yourself as little as possible to enemy heavies to ensure longer survival. Alternatively a screening unit works equally well for a nifty cover save. Dreads that come into this category are alpha strikers, AssCan dreads, Ironclad dreads, and sometimes plasmanaughts.
Units to be avoided are anything with multiple high S CC attacks (TH/SS termies spring to mind), anything with multiple melta, and monstrous creatures.
Support – this basically covers any dread that has a ranged main function such as Riflemen, Lasdreads, Plasmanaughts, and if you really really really
insist, Venerable dreads. You just wander around your back field, shooting units that present themselves, and occasionally move up to support a main assault. If you’re planning on staying back, may I recommend you stay within 12-18” of your home objective so you can help out your camping home unit if enemy nasties show up. Also, I’ll say it again – shoot the right target. No use targeting terminators with autocannons!
Units to be avoided are long fangs/devastator equivalents, melta deep strikers, land speeder typhoons.
The main overall strength of using dreadnoughts is their excellent flexibility. Not many units are able to boast impressive ranged firepower, have the strength in CC to KO a land raider, burn units out of cover, enter play via drop pod, distract your enemy from the rest of your army in sheer fear, and be back home in time for tea! Oh wait, sternguard. But that’s beside the point… anyway, use dreads to the maximum advantage by leaving your options open. Unless you’re using an Alpha Striker or Rifleman, deploy in a position that you can provide fire support and/or assault within a turn or two – the DCCW is a godsend.
Advantage no. 2 – relentless firepower. There’s nothing quite like shredding an Ork mob with an Assault Cannon, torching their mates, and then munching their rivals in assault all in one turn. This is even more fun against space marines (plasma slag for dinner), and more often than not they won’t be able to hit back.
Advantage no. 3 – fear factor. Face it, people often get terrified when they see a dreadnought in the midst of their army, and this is something you can use against them. If your dreadnought or three is walking up towards their lines, chances are they’ll target it first, so if you’re cunning and use a cheap screening unit like scouts, it’ll use up most of their firepower which is diverted away from your more expensive units.
Fragility is a weakness that cannot be avoided no matter what. I like to think of dreadnought as a slightly more chunky wooden hammer (glass sword is DE, glass hammer is Sisters). When used, it hurts like hell, but there are ways to easily break it. A lucky missile/rend/grenade/scatter can cause misery for your dread, and once immobile they lose most of their usefulness. To work with this, make sure your dread is screened as often as possible for that lifeline cover save (unless you’re deep striking).
Secondly, dreads aren’t very fast movers, at just 6” a turn with no running capabilities. This means you can easily be outpaced by bikes and speeders, and it’s hard to catch up with fleeing units. To work with this, ensure you know what you’re aiming for right from deployment – there’s no use running around the battlefield after various units that you’ll never catch.
Finally, it is ridiculously easy to tie up dreads in combat for turns on end. If possible, avoid assaults with swarms/grunts at all costs as it wastes your dreadnought’s effectiveness, and means you could potentially be bogged down all game, swatting one grot per turn. Just watch out for those units really as they aren’t too hard to dodge.
N.B. – Potential dirty tactic!
If running a 6 dread list (or less), line them up in a pyramid formation, so that half of each dread other than the front one is obscured by the dread in front. Then put an EW character (Lysander) in front of the first dread, and simply march up the field with your own portable cover save, and Lysander won’t die easily, so you’re almost guaranteed to reach their lines.
Disclaimer: this tactic is purely theoretical and probably wouldn’t work in real games
Comments and criticism are much welcomed, and if anyone would like to add any insight about SW/BT/BA dreadnought tactica, or anything about the Contemptor Dread, feel free to. Any DA dreadnoughts tactics can be found in the DA Unit Breakdown and Tactica thread (see sig).