Hey everybody, Danny here for my usual article, so let’s dig right in with it. This is a fun and easy way to bring some boom to your army.
Source: Mont’Ka Campaign Book Faction: Astra Militarum
1 Company Command Squad
2 Squadrons of any of the following in any combination: Basilisk, Hydra, Wyvern
1 Manticore or Deathstrike
The Command Squad must purchase a Taurox or a Chimera.
Artillery Command: The Command Squad can issue 3 different orders to any artillery in this formation, namely Smite at Will (Split Fire), Fire on my Target (ignore cover), and Suppressive Fire (Pinning). Vehicles count as Leadership 8 for orders.
Target Sighted: A friendly model with a Vox Caster can choose a unit within 18” and Line of Sight (LoS) that gives any model in this formation the twin-linked rule when shooting at that chosen unit.
So, for very little tax (just the lone Enginseer), you get a formation that allows you to issue a few key orders to some nasty artillery, and this greatly increases that artillery’s impact on the field. Basiliks that can split fire or ignore cover? Ouch.
Cool, cool. So what should I do with this formation:
Well, this formation is actually quite flexible, so depending on your game plan, you can tweak it to meet a specific need of your army.
Do you want just full-throated as much shooting as possible? You can go with Basilisks with a Manticore for a ton of S9 or 10 large blasts that can suddenly ignore cover. This means they will shred just about anything they hit, and with their high strength, you can reliably stun, immobilize, or even hull point out vehicles with how much firepower you are throwing out there. If you build the army to make use of lots of small units with vox casters to get twin-linked? Even better.
You can also go for full powered infantry shredding with two squadrons of Wyverns that can split fire to rain a lot of S4, AP6, ignore cover barrages down on many different units, letting you battle MSU or warpsiders like a boss. You can either use the Manticore for 4 turns of some higher power shooting or a Deathstrike for that one glorious knockout punch when needed.
You can also build this as an anti-air platform with 2 squadrons of Hydras that can ignore jink, making them rather dangerous to just any flyer, but especially any AV11 or below. This is an idea way to get a cheaperish formation that can slot into any build where you are worried about flyers.
You can also use this formation as either the artillery arm of a larger AM force or as a nice complement to another force. I actually really like this formation with the new Genestealer Cult Decurion as it gives you a strong shooting phase that is still able to play the mission and threaten your enemy in close combat. A Basilisk, a Manitcore, and a squadron of 3 Wyverns with the Command Squad and Enginseer for 700 points adds a lot of pop, and this still gives you room for a solid Genestealer Decurion with a lot of units and punch (oh, and with the Master of the Fleet, you opponent suffers -2 to reserve rolls).
Ok, why don’t I see this on the table more?
You likely will with the new Genestealer Cult, but this formation does have its problems. The first and foremost is that to really get mileage out of it, you have to keep the Command Squad alive, and in a chimera, that is not the easiest thing to do. A null deploy army can easily get in there and wreak havoc, even if just the first piece that has to come in, and once the orders are gone, these artillery are not getting the same threat projection they could otherwise. You want basilisks to ignore cover or for wyverns to split fire.
Another big issue is that these heavy hitters like Basilisks or Manticores have a large minimum range, 36” and 24” respectively. They have to be deployed in the corner to make sure they can impact as much of the board as possible. This means anybody that gets close is quite safe from them, and it is not that hard to get within 36 or 24 inches of these bad boys. A fast army can easily duck under the big blow while again, any null deploy army can simply land within the safe zone. Wyverns don’t have the same limitation, but they are only S4, so while they murder light infantry, heavier threats can mostly ignore them (unless you roll scatter like a boss).
This formation can also easily get too expensive to be an effective part of a cohesive army. If you start trying to take all the basilisks, you will run out of any real meat the army. A lot of ordnance is great, but you still need to play the mission and control the board. This doesn’t give you a lot of points to really utilize.
Also, again, AV12 is not exactly awesome, so these artillery pieces can get blown to hell rather quickly by any S6 shooting or above. While you can take camo-nets and an Aegis Defense Line for some protection, now you are spending even more points for a formation can at minimum, costs you about 400 but really costs between 500-700 for maximum effectiveness. Vehicles that aren’t super heavy aren’t all that great in the meta since one shaken result suddenly turns off their firepower. So yes, lots of awesome power here, but on a chassis that 7th edition has not been kind to.
So there you, add some artillery for the emperor (two or four armed), and make sure to check out the TFG Radio Patreon. Your friends would think it would be super cool if you did.