Melee in 8th: The Go-To Choices for Imperium

Hey all, Danny here to talk about assault in 8th edition.  Shooting is king right now, but assault is the phase where a canny player can make full use of their skills.  We are going to look at the Imperium today and see which units really bring the noise in melee.

For a melee army to be viable, it needs to do at least two if not all three of the following things: It needs to be able to pump out enough attacks to clear through chaff; it needs to be able to kill high Toughness, high Wounds models, and it needs to be able to get where it needs to go.

Bobby G (Roboute Guilliman): What else can you say about the big guy? Not only is he a powerful force multiplier with this 6 inch aura of reroll everything, but he is a damn scary melee beatstick.  His attacks do multiple damage at AP -3, so he is more than capable of taking on big targets, but with his sword also doing mortal wounds, he can even start to cut through larger units.  Add in his shiny super-bolter, and Bobby G can cut through chaff screens pretty easily.  As a 9 wound character, he can also hide, so it is easy to move him up the field, and he is still quite fast on his own.  Don’t forget that his aura applies to him, so he is rerolling to hit on a 2+ and rerolling wounds, which is everything on either 3s or 2s (outside of Titans).

Celestine: Another damn scary melee beast.  While not as overtly powerful as Bobby, Celestine is fast.  Her attack power is not quite as high with no ability to do mortal wounds, but her big advantage is speed.  Celestine is an easy first turn charge, and because she can fly, she can jump chaff screens and snipe out support characters if your opponent is not wise in model placement.  She can also double her offensive output by using her Act of Faith to fight twice in a turn.  Just like Bobby G, she can also get back up from the dead, and with her double move ability, she can easily get put down and re-position herself for another strike where it needs to be.

Arco-Flagellants: 2d3 attacks per model is already good but with a Priest nearby, 3d3 is even better. Especially at S5, Arco-Flagellants are great for threshing through chaff units, and with S5, they are wounding hard targets on 5+, so with good attack rolls, a squad of 10 can still threaten harder targets through sheer volume of fire.  They also have a 5++, so they have a bit of resilience (although you probably want a Rhino for them to help them get where they need to be).  That is really their own downside, but they are a nice mix of blender and somewhat resilient (although don’t expect them to tank a lot of hits).

Death Cult Assassins: Much like Arco-Flagellants, DCAs rely on rolling a lot of dice, but 4 base attacks at S4 AP -2 means that these girls can blender through chaff and even threaten heavy infantry.  They also receive the benefit of a Priest nearby, so having 5 attacks per model is pretty sweet.  They are more consistent in their output than Arcos, but they actually excel at killing Terminators and other heavy infantry than Arcos.  They are not exceedingly fast, but again, a Rhino helps solve this.

Assault Centurions: While slow, Assault Centurions are pretty damn good at taking on any just about any threat.  The trick here is that Assault Centurions bring a high volume of low strength shooting to help them punch holes through chaff, and their siege drills are S10 AP -4 Dmg3.  While Assault Centurions don’t have a ton of attacks, they can land some big, big hits, and with Hurricane Bolters, each Assault Centurion pumps out 12 S4 shots at 12 inches and another 2d6 autohitting S4 hits within 8.  Let’s also not forget that they are 3 wounds with a 2+ save, so they are resilient, and with an Apothecary nearby, you can keep getting them back into the fight. They also benefit from Bobby G’s aura if you want to run that combo, which really makes them nasty as they are going to shred through infantry screens and put some big damage on hard targets.  They definitely need a ride though so a Stormraven isn’t a bad idea at all.

Grey Knight Chapter Master in Dreadknight: The new Grey Knight Chapter Master is an absolute Greater Daemon Killer.  At WS 2+ with 5 attacks base, rerolling 1s, you can effectively utilize the Nemesis Daemon greathammer, which does 3-6 damage per hit at S12 AP -4.  5 attacks at 3+ rerolling 1s is much better than a flat 4+ like a standard Dreadknight.  Let’s not forget that the CMDK has a 4++ that is easy to bump up to a 3++, and you have a durable fighter that is great at taking out other hard targets.  Oh, and with some extra firepower too from its guns.  You can kit a CMDK to have high volume of fire to help him clear through infantry screens, and then with a hammer, he is going to annihilate just about any heavy target.   With either Gate of Infinity or a Teleporter, you can also increase this bad boys mobility and get him where he needs to be.

Fulgurite Electro-Priests:  While not too fast or too well protected, Electro-Priests have the ability to do massed mortal wounds in close combat, and this means they can take down well-protected big hitters like Magnus (and jumping through that 3++) but mortal wounds also spill over to a unit, so against chaff, the Electro-Priests can start scything through them pretty quick.  Even if you don’t get those 6s, with D3 damage weapons, a mass of Electro-Priests is still a threat to a hard target.  They are not that fast or resilient overall, but the ability to simply start doing a ton of mortal wounds is a total gut punch to a lot of different units.

Wulfen: While not cheap, Wulfen are one hell of a customizable melee unit.  You can load them up for durability and take Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields for a 3++ and essentially a 5+ Feel No Pain.  That’s about as durable as you are going to get on an infantry unit.  You can load them up with Great Frost Axes and Thunder Hammers to take on harder targets with S8 or S10 AP -3 D3 or 3 damage, depending on the weapon.  You can also kit them to take down hordes with Frost Claws that give them 4 attacks at S6 AP -2 attacks that reroll wounds.  You can also do a mix if you want, but I tend to favor concentrating my roles when possible to not dilute abilities, but that’s your call really.    Let’s not forget that Wulfen are faster than they look with the ability to advance and charge, and they are always going to do damage in melee as if they are killed in melee, they still get to swing, even if they swung already that turn.  Against other tough melee units, Wulfen tend to win the war of attrition, especially if they charged as they can come in, swing hard, and if survivors manage to take down a few in return, the Wulfen get to swing again.

Knights: These guys need little overview.   With melee weapons that do a flat 6 damage to the fact that they still have their dancing shoes, pumping out almost 12 S6 attacks a turn, Knights are still legitimate melee threats who can take down hard targets as well as doing decent damage to chaff.  They are expensive though, and they lack any save beyond a 3+ in melee, so they are also vulnerable in melee as well.  Still, 24 Wounds of T8 is pretty nice.

So there’s the big hitters (in my view) for Imperium.  There are certainly other combos like Death Company in range of a bunch of auras, but for me, these are the units that you want to look at it for being a bit more plug and play.  Thanks as always for reading, and be sure to check us out at Facebook, our now semi-regular Twitch channel, and of course, a few bones helps everyone over at Patreon.  We have to get ready to give out some more cool stuff, after all.