The Art of Vengeance: Using Sternguard Rounds
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Hello everyone! I've been a huge fan of Sternguard ever since the codex came out. I wrote this article because I wanted to go over what they do for my own benefit as well as everyone on TO. I just started collecting a Space Marine army, and I will use these guys quite often, and hopefully to great effect.
Using Sternguard's special rounds, and deployment
Sternguard are one of the greatest units in the game at killing things really fast. Unlike other options like harlequins or genestealers- these guys get it done in shooting. I'm going to look at all the different rounds, what they're good for, and why the Sternguard are one of my favorite units in the game.
Sternguard- A bullet for every occasion…
Kraken rounds- extra 6" range, AP 4
Dragonfire rounds- ignores cover
Vengeance rounds- lose 6" of range, AP 3, gets hot!
Hellfire rounds- always wound on a 2+
Bolter rounds- nothing new
MeQ- T4, 3+
OeQ- T4, 6+
SoBeQ- T3, 3+
TeQ- T3, 4+
GeQ- T3, 5+
1. Kraken rounds
These guys are the bane of Tau and Eldar. As they're all T3, you don't need hellfire to hit them, and AP 4 will ensure they get no save at all. It's also gifted with longer range, so if you're on the defensive, you don't have to get right up in that squad of howling banshees's faces right away. When in the open, always choose this round against TeQ's and send them packing. Other targets you'll commonly see are carapace armored IG veterans and Ork 'ard boyz and nobz.
Best against: TeQ
2. Dragonfire rounds
Use dragonfire rounds for when you're shooting at units in cover with armor 5+, such as GEQ Definition: Guard Equivalentand OeQ, this way you can ignore their armor and cover saves and kill them outright. Seeing how cover is bountiful in 5th ed, these rounds are more valuable than they may seem at first. This ammunition is perfect for taking out units that rely on cover as well, like Eldar Pathfinders. Ignore their 2+ covers save, their 5+ and take out the whole unit with ease!
For units in cover who still get an armor save, you're always better off using hellfire. They'll get an armor save anyway, so your ignoring of cover is useless.
Best against: GEQ Definition: Guard Equivalentand OeQ in cover
3. Vengeance rounds
Vengeance rounds are obviously best against MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalenttargets. Since it is 'gets hot!' you only want to use it in optimal situations. These are whenever you need to take out the majority of a 3+ save unit, such as a squad of necron warriors, or some berserkers that just piled out of a rhino. They should also only be used on T4 or T3 units that are out in the open. At 5 or higher, you're better of using hellfire. For small units that you can kill in a normal salvo, also use hellfire. There's no sense in risking your own models for overkill.
In the case of cover: your drastically more wounds will make up for the fact that their save is a little better. Also, there's no 'gets hot' risk. In the case of say, a daemon prince, it may appear that vengeance rounds are good at first. However, you're hitting on 5 and 6, and he still gets an invuln. When you hit on 2+, you're making him take twice as many armor saves. This means it's pretty much even, assuming he only has a 5+ invuln (not always true) once again, go with the one that isn't 'gets hot!'
Best against: MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalentnot in cover and w/o and invulnerable save, and SoBeQ
4. Hellfire rounds
This is the best kind of special ammunition, simply because it improves your odds of wounding on anything between toughness 3 and 10. Not only does it work in these higher levels, but it excels. You can easily take out a wraithlord, carnifex, or C'tan god with a full squad's salvo. It's also great against high toughness units without good armor: namely ork boyz. Sternguard exterminate orks, where normal tactical squads can very easily be overwhelmed. If the unit is in cover, and airburst rounds won't get rid of its armor save as well, then hellfire is your choice.
If you're going to penetrate the entire unit's armor anyway, why not use hellfire? Wipe out an entire squad of guardsmen with a single volley, or half a mob of orks! Hellfire is also great at finishing off MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalentsquads if you don't want to risk losing your precious Sternguard to 'gets hot!'
Best against: Monstrous creatures, OeQ
5. Bolter rounds
If you want bolter rounds, then you can take Space Marines. In almost every instance, your better off using hellfire rounds to have better odds of wounding. The one exception is against grots, in which case shoot them with something less important! You're not spending a minimum of 125 points to kill a units whose minimum cost is 40.
Best against: nothing
Sternguard Deployment and Usage
There are three ways to deploy Sternguard: In a rhino (or other treaded vehicle), drop pod, or on foot. On foot isn't such a good choice because they're very vulnerable, and their optimal range isn't until they get into double tap, as they have to be unmoving to get the 24" single shot range. This leaves them wide open to templates, long range fire, and crazy stuff you don't even think of until it happens.
Let's look at the alternative: rhino vs. drop pod. It kind of depends of what the rest of your army is like. You don't want to send them deep striking in unaccompanied, otherwise there dead and the best they can hope to kill is one squad, or maybe pop a vehicle with combi-meltas. Drop pods make sense if you got some more guys going in in order to soak up fire and also wipe out more of the ground resistance. In a fully drop pod army, they are one of the deadly key features.
Anywhere from a foot-slogging list to fully mechanized, it's good to have them in a razorback or rhino. The rhino is nice because it's cheaper, and vehicles tend to get shot less when they're not firing giant laser beams into enemy tanks. It also lets you focus on speeding towards the enemy so your S-vets can really shine. It allows you to coordinate with the rest of your force; whereas the drop pod, albeit accurate, has a random chance of coming in.
There's one other thing to talk about with Sternguard: Pedro Kantor. He's a great chapter master, has an overpowered storm bolter named after the Imperial fist's primarch, an aura that grants bonus attacks, and most important to the topic: make Sternguard scoring. This ability is fantastic. Not only do they function they normal marines, they now hold objectives like normal marines. You can split them into combat squads when they pop out of the drop pod, or split them up before the game: one in the rhino, the other on your closest objective in order to hold it. Kantor is a great character, and gives the Sternguard just that many more possibilities.
Know Thine Enemy
Most importantly with Sternguard is to your enemy. Find his key unit, his elite force, or the center piece to his army, and use Sternguard to wipe it off the face of the board. If he hides a deciever behind a monolith, deep strike behind it and waste him. If he has a farsight bomb, roll your rhino over and vengeance round them. These guys are meant to be sent into the meat grinder against the toughest foes and come out guns blazing. They're not invincible, however. They die just as easily as normal Space Marines. Give them the support they need, though, and they will do wonders.