NIGHT LORDS: TERROR SQUAD TACTICA – UPDATED FOR BOOK 9

“Sat on the tail ramp of the Storm Eagle Gunship with a set of magnoculars; I watched the Drop Pod land and the iris portal slide open revealing darkness within. Soft red lights began to glow, set in pairs, close together. The red foreboding glow indicating that the Spectre of Judgement’s hand was upon the world.

Suddenly; the movement barely registering, ten hulking figures in midnight clad leaped from the hole and were amongst their targets.

Their white skull helms were a stark contrast to their Midnight armour, though both quickly gained a sheen of blood and bodily discharge. The violence the Terror Squad meted out was a manner of horrific that words cannot convey.

Skin-suits, devoid of the carcass-mass that it normally incased, fluttered in the downdraft of the Dreadclaw as it was discarded; the mass of blood in the rough shape of a human left on the floor could do nothing but utter a stark liquid-esque scream that made the hair on my arms stand up. How they flayed their enemies so quickly and kept them alive so long I will never fully understand. Nor do I want to.

Then, with none of the artistic flair Night Raptors are seen to have, they slowly walked through the devastation, casually stepping on still living sacks of meat, breaking and silencing them; climbed up inside the Dreadclaw, and departed.

The onlookers, who seconds before were screaming for their lives, were left to become the messengers of the consequence of denying The Night Haunter compliance.

Remembrancer Aleksenter Malaek, assigned to the VIII Legion.

Note: Terror Squads were mostly unchanged in Book 9; receiving a points drop, the ability to take a Squad full of Rotor Cannon and a new Dedicated Transport Option.

Terror Squads are a band apart from their Legion brethren. They lack the artistry in extreme violence that the Night Raptors have made their own niche area; they instead have a far more cold and calculated approach to the VIII Legion modus operandi.

Torturers and Assassins; Terror Squads combined extremely unstable and brutal individuals with the cold, calm tactical prowess of an Astartes. Their efforts resulted in truly unsubtle elimination actions; infiltrating with with utmost stealth before tearing their target to pieces slowly and publicly before displaying the corpse and melting back into the night.

Most of those who made up the ranks of the Terror Squads were marked for death by Red Gauntlets – spared only by Curze until such a time that their usefulness ran out.

Base Stats – Terror Squad – 125pts

Starting off at 125 points for a five man squad, the Terror Squad comes equipped with Power Armour a Bolt Pistol, Chainsword, Frag & Krak Grenades. You can take a further five Executioners for 12 points each (a price decrease in Book 9 from 15pts). So they’re a little more expensive than Veteran Tactical Squad members. Their basic stat line is very much the same as a Veteran Tactical Squad, with the only difference being that all squad members are Ld 9. This isn’t a bad start.

WSBSSTWIALdSv
Headsman444414293+
Executioner444414293+

Outfitted in Power Armour they have a 3+ save characteristic. Though the Headsman may take Artificer Armour for 10 points. What has changed in Book 9 is now that Terror Squads can take Melta Bombs en masse for 5 points each – its all or nothing mind you.

Terror Squads are Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) and therefore they have access to a 5+ cover save in the first turn of the game due to the From the Shadows rule. However, this isn’t something that you’ll be especially relying on – especially with Terror Assault Rite of War – which I’ve covered in the Night Lords Rite of War Tactica.

Terror Squads are lacking a few rules that Veteran Tactical Squads have and have fixed tactics. They don’t have Implacable Advance, so when taken as elites – their natural position in the force organisation, they can’t score for you.

The fixed tactic they come with is arguably better than what Veteran Tactical Squads have access to; Infiltrate. This means that you can set them up on the battlefield after deployment, but before the first turn, 12″ from an enemy as long as the enemy has no line of sight to them, or 18″ if they can draw line of sight. This is quite a good tactic to have as it means you aren’t fully reliant on Dedicated Transports to get them to where they’re needed. However, they will be less maneuverable once on the ground which can hinder you later in the game.

As with all mainstream Night Lords 2012 units outside of Sevatar; Terror Squads didn’t receive any love in the FAQ. This means they are more expensive than they should be – however they are more acceptably priced than Night Raptors are. Terror Squads are also Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) so have access to the normal Legion traits such as A Talent For Murder. The main difference between Terror Squads and Night Raptors comes in their special rules – mainly the fact they have decent ones.

Credit: Warhammer Community

Key to the way the Legion operates, Fear is a rule that comes baked into the Terror Squad. They don’t have Trophies of Judgement, so aren’t operating at -1 Ld out of the box – you’ll still need Horror Cult or to run Curze for that. It’s a thematic rule considering the narrative behind them and its addition is much appreciated.

Next up, Terror Squads have Preferred Enemy (Infantry). This means that against unit types denoted in the brackets, in this case Infantry; you re-roll failed to hit and to wound rolls of 1. This is a straight up good rule. It’s not overpowered – but provides a nice bonus to the average WS/BS 4 that the Terror Squad has.

With their lore showing them being used to conduct public assassinations, their last rule is genuinely a narrative gem that some players tend to forget about. It is useful though. Precision Strike means that on a to hit roll of a 6+ in melee; wounds can be allocated against an engaged model of your choice. So if you want to decapitate that Veteran Tactical Squad Sergeant – you can! It’s a fluffy and useful rule, even if it isn’t entirely reliable.

If Infiltrate isn’t your idea of a good time, then don’t worry. Terror Squads have access to a Rhino for 35 points (added in Book 9), or an Anvillus Dreadclaw Drop Pod for 115 points. Why would you choose a drop pod? Well, they get Drop Pod Assault meaning that at the beginning of your first turn you choose half of your total number of pods (rounding up) and deploy them.

This means that you can effectively null deploy your forces; wasting an opponent’s first turn and dictating the game to them. It’s a powerful, but risky tactic as you need something left on the table at the end of turn 1 to not auto-lose the game – so ensuring you have enough to maintain the presence is key. Furthermore, the remaining number of drop pods arrive as per normal reserves, so you could find yourself in a difficult position of not having the forces you really want on the table when you need them due to reserve roll fails.

Better yet, Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw Drop Pods aren’t immobile pods – therefore upon arriving you determine whether they are in hover or flyer mode (as per the Drop Pod FAQ) and can rapidly move to redistribute forces to where you need them. Indeed, I prefer the utility the more expensive Dreadclaws provide – with my game on the30kchannel showing the land, prosecute target, redeploy tactic, and its benefits. You can’t Jink on arrival from reserve, but there is always risk with an army like this.

As said, Terror Squads don’t get Implacable Advance, but there is a way to use them as troops. The Terror Assault Rite of War is currently both the most beneficial and narrative Legion specific Rite of War for the Night Lords. It also means that Terror Squads become compulsory troops. You do have to take a third Terror Squad as part of the limitations – but three Terror Squads in Dreadclaws will definitely serve you well – mainly because of their wargear.

Credit: the30KChannel – My Terror Squad Dismounts from a Dreadclaw Drop Pod ready to cause carnage

Offensive – Ranged Capability

As mentioned, Terror Squads come with Bolt Pistols as their basic ranged weapon, however any model in the Squad may also take one of the following options:

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Boltgun (Free – Book 9)24″45Rapid Fire
Volkite Charger (+5pts each)15″55Assault 2, Deflagrate

This means that if you want a bit more ranged punch, you can retain your Bolt Pistol and take a Boltgun – which is now a free option in Book 9. If Martian Death Rays, aka the Choom train, are more your poison; then Volkite Chargers are also on offer for 5 points per man – this is a good price.

There’s another reason, other than the frankly good stat line for Volkite Chargers, which have Deflagrate. Because it’s Assault 2 you can still use it and charge. This is important when you remember that with Infiltrate or getting out of a Drop Pod, you’re normally in fairly close proximity. Whilst you can’t charge on the turn you arrive from reserve or from Infiltrate, the Assault rule will definitely help with assuring A Talent For Murder when the time comes to charge in.

Don’t forget here, that despite a measly BS4, Preferred Enemy (Infantry) means that you are rerolling your to hit and to wound rolls of 1. This, coupled with Volkite wounding most Power Armour outfitted units on 3+ means you get a nice little bonus to your hits and wounds – all before Deflagrate comes into effect. For those unaware of what Deflagrate does; after all normal attacks have been resolved with the weapon, you count how many unsaved wounds the target took and get that number of additional automatic hits to resolve. It’s a lovely little rule that’s balanced out by the AP of the weapon.

If you fancy something a bit heavier or flashier – then one model in the unit may take either a Rotor Cannon or Flamer.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
Rotor Cannon (+5 points per man – Book 9)30″36Salvo 3/4
Flamer (+10 points)Template45Assault 1

Whilst it’s nice to have the option and internally I have a deep wish to bring an Infiltrating Terror Squad comprised entirely of Rotor Cannons; this is now possible thanks to Book 9! The Flamer is limited to one per squad, but can certainly do some damage using the Template, however you’ll need to be close. Alternatively, it makes Terror Squads somewhat worrisome for an opponent to charge – with the Flamer having the Wall of Death rule.

All in all, you’re probably better off saving the 10 points and just taking Volkite Chargers to assure you outnumber in the following fight phase. I wish we could take these options en masse – but I am doubtful of it being a change we will see in Book 9: Crusade. It would make the Terror Squad slightly more powerful, but still nowhere near the projected greatness of Interemptors.

The Headsman has a few further ranged options that are avaliable to only him (note, he is included in the any model criteria for the Boltgun and Volkite Charger):

WeaponRangeStrengthAPType
Hand FlamerTemplate36Pistol
Plasma Pistol12″72Pistol, Gets Hot

As with other options on your Sergeant equivalents in the units, these are in my opinion, wholly a personal choice. I tend to keep my Terror Squads cheap and outfit them all with Volkite Chargers for maximum damage before charging in.

If you’re at all lost amongst the options; let’s hone you back in with what I take and normally see as a result.

I take a ten-man squad, all with Volkite Chargers, with the Headsman taking Artificer Armour and everyone taking Melta Bombs – This is 295 points. This means I get Assault 20 shots out of a single Terror Squad. Any rolls of a 1 to hit get re-rolled and then you’re wounding on a 3+ against Power Armour, again with a re-roll to any rolls of a 1 to wound. The enemy then attempts their saves – with any failures causing additional hits equal to the number of failures due to Deflagrate. If you’re not getting A Talent For Murder off by a significant margin in the fight phase after that; something has gone wrong.

Credit: Warhammer Community – A Volkite equipped Terror Squad supports a Leviathan Dreadnought.

Offensive – Melee Capability

Being a melee focused Legion, the Night Lords do tend to have some nice options. This actually isn’t really the case here, which is most odd.

All Terror Squad members come stock with a Chainsword, which is ok, but won’t be winning fights outright for you, especially when against 2+ armour saves. The only other option for you is to take a Heavy Chainblade – which again, isn’t exactly a solid performing weapon for killing Power Armour, something that we keep seeing the Night Lords marketed as the kings of. Although it provides a lovely Strength 6 attack, Two-Handed denies the extra attack for two melee weapons (bolt pistol and close combat weapon) and the final nail in the coffin for it is AP 5. A Talent For Murder adds +1 to your to Hit/to Wound rolls, so you’ve got to ask yourself – in most situations, is the Strength 6 a real benefit for 5 points? No. Not in my experience.

Oddly, you can only equip the Headsman with a Nostraman Chainglaive. It’s odd because Night Raptors can all take one and it isn’t a weapon that’s outright declared as strong – so it wouldn’t cause balance problems. Further complicating matters is the fact that the banner for Forgeworld’s Night Lords section seems to depict a few Terror Squad members, all holding Nostraman Chainglaives. Awkward.

WeaponRangeStrAPType
ChainswordUser~Melee
Heavy Chainblade (+5 points each)+25Melee, Two Handed

The Headsman is really where your true melee weapons reside as the rules sit currently. The Headsman has access to:

WeaponRangeStrAPType
ChainswordUser~Melee
Power Sword (+10 points)User3Melee
Power Maul (+10 points)+24Melee, Concussive
Power Axe (+10 points)+12Melee, Unwieldy
Power Lance (+10 points)+1/User3/4Melee
Single Lightning Claw (+15 points)User3Melee, Shred, Specialist Weapon
Power Fist (+15 points)x22Melee, Specialist Weapon, Unwieldy
Nostraman Chainglaive (+10 points)+13Melee, Two-Handed, Rending

Chainswords offer a solid amount of attacks, but at only AP~ it will hurt when it comes to the enemy rolling their saves. It also means that any challenges you end up in will be reliant on you maximising your attacks and hoping the enemy won’t be so good on their saves.

Power Axes have AP 2, but strike at Initiative 1 with them being unwieldy. As a result, you’re relying on that 2+ armour save to stay in the fight. This is the same situation with Power Fists which at least provide you with Instant Death against Power Armour. Whilst it’s a personal choice, I feel that it’s a trap to go for it on a unit like this.

Power Swords at least have the AP 3 – but that’s it and you’re paying 10 points for any power weapon. In this option-group, it has stiff competition.

Power Mauls have Concussive, which is great for reducing the enemies Initiative to 1, however you need to remember it’s effects are for when a model suffers one or more unsaved wound to a weapon with this rule. If you’re bullying Power Armour, they’re most likely 1 wound – so potentially a waste of a rule. Against Mechanicum, the Maul is effective though – especially against Thallax, which are multi-wound with a 4+ armour save and Toughness 5; forcing the attack straight onto their 6+++ Feel No Pain. Concussive will then dampen their already average close-combat abilities.

Power Lances are fairly good on the charge, but poor when you get charged. It’s all about timing – so if you mess up, you haven’t got a weapon you can rely on to fight back with.

A Single Lightning Claw, whilst a good option with Shred allowing you to re-roll failed to wound rolls. It’s expensive at 15 points and has Specialist Weapon; removing the extra attack for the Bolt Pistol.

The Nostraman Chainglaive has Strength +1, which helps with the to wound rolls, whilst the AP3 with Rending (AP 2 for to wound rolls of 6+) definitely helps out with the denial of successfully saving wounds. It’s Two-Handed so you never get the benefit of having the Bolt Pistol however.

I tend to stick to the Chainsword. Although a Nostraman Chainglaive would be a good option to take – my Terror Squads cost me 235 points without Melta Bombs (295 points with), plus the Dreadclaw I inevitably take – because they’re a cool model. It’s personal preference and if you want to hit at initiative with AP 3 and the chance to get AP 2; then take the Nostraman Chainglaive for 10 points.

Lets look at a typical round where you’ve charged in. Having Fear due to a good set of narrative rules, your enemies need to take a Fear Test unless they are Fearless. Due to the lack of Fear being a Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) trait and then having Trophies of Judgement baked in to Legion specific squads you won’t get that -1 Ld modifier.

With 2 Attacks base for both the Headsman and the Executioners, this gives you 20 Attacks base in a ten man squad costing 235 points. You get the normal +1 attack on the charge and +1 attack for having a Bolt Pistol and Chainsword per man too. This brings us neatly to 30 attacks.

Weapon Skill 4 means that against Tactical Squads you’re hitting on 4+, but with Legiones Astartes (Night Lords) granting A Talent For Murder you’ll be hitting on 3+ at Initiative 4, re-rolling to hit rolls of 1 due to Preferred Enemy (Infantry). Don’t forget that if it’s Night Fighting with Terror Assault you also gain +1 Initiative.

So you’ve hit at Initiative 4 (or 5) and at Strength 4 you’re wounding Tactical Squads on 4+. This is when A Talent For Murder triggers again for the 1+ to Wound, bringing us to 3+ to wound, re-rolling to wound rolls of 1 due to Preferred Enemy (Infantry). Then it’s over to your enemy to make their armour saves.

Even with just Chainswords, a decent amount of unsaved wounds normally occur. If you could take Nostraman Chainglaives on Terror Squads in their entirety, you’d get an increase in unsaved wounds and beat that AP 3 armour. If that isn’t “bullying Power Armour” I don’t know what is – come on Forgeworld! Make it so!

Credit: the30kchannel – Even with just Chainswords, Terror Squads can take on more exotic weapons to good effect.

Summary

So, a shorter article for what is in reality one of our more flavorsome and narrative units. Terror Squads are a commonly seen unit mainly due to the fact that their rules were written well (but not overwritten or bloated) and with an underlying narrative vein.

They still cost a significant amount of points even with the reductions in Book 9 – however, they are far more flexible than they used to be. If you don’t want to pull double duty and drop the Melta Bombs a 10-man squad with Volkite Chargers and the Headsman having Artificer Armour is a mere 235 points – representing a 45 point drop from pre-Book 9 prices.

You don’t need Dedicated Transports, especially with Infiltrate, but you can really make the army sing with the use of drop pods. Even immobile Legion Drop Pods give you a solid punch capability – but you’ll lose the ability to manoeuvre later in the game. Of course, the risk for armies focusing on this form of deploying is if you have nothing on the table at the end of turn 1. There’s no reward without risk, however, as at the end of the day our rules are not overwritten or bloated to compensate.

The army below is a sample of what I quite like to run:

The army is elite, there’s no doubt about that. With just 40 troops and a total of 48 scoring units on the table; it needs a steady hand to steer it to victory. However, the damage output is hidden in plain sight, much like with White Scars Chogorian Brotherhood armies – and this is where their power lies.

In short, to get the best out of Terror Squads, you need to focus in on what they do best, a little sneakiness, some light shooting – preferably via the choom-train, followed by a nice charge and a lot of melee. Regardless of what you choose for your Headsman, Terror Squads have an uncanny ability to perform slightly better than what you thought they would with just Chainswords.

You have to apply a little more thought to the more static deployments to stay in the game later on, but can really get into the manoeuvre warfare mindset with Dreadclaws.

AVE DOMINUS NOX!

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