Sunday, January 15, 2012

Space Wolves Apocalypse Formation: The Spear of Russ

The Spear of Russ                                                              Points:  100 + MODELS

No one truly knows remembers why the Imperial Guard's mainstay tank was named after the Primarch of the Space Wolves. Some say that it was Leman Russ' Crusade that discovered the STC for the tank, others insist that it was the Space Wolves which started using Leman Russ Battle Tanks en masse. Although they are usually seen as detachments in Imperial Guard infantry companies or seen fighting as part of an "Emperor's Fist" or "Emperor's Lance" armored regiment, the Leman Russ Battle Tanks are also sometimes fielded by the Space Wolves Chapter. The most commonly used variant in such rare instances is the Leman Russ Exterminator. 
Armed with a pair of twin-linked autocannons and usually a few heavy bolters, the Leman Russ fulfills a role similar to that of a Predator Destructor. Its simple design, durability and efficiency on the field of battle are literally unmatched by any other Astartes vehicle - whether tasked with obliterating hordes or dealing with light vehicles or flyers, the adaptable as a wolf Exterminator always succeeds.

At first manned by skilled Imperial Guard aces, the few Leman Russ Exterminators in the possession of the Space Wolves were used on many planets and campaigns in and beyond the Imperium of Man. 
It was Egil Iron Wolf's idea to allow Space Wolf veterans to man the vehicles instead. Egil, who was the Wolf Lord in charge of the Leman Russes decided that the few Exterminators in the Chapter should be driven by more deserving men - men with centuries of experience on the battle field. Instead of trusting mortal men with his few battle tanks, Egil decided to give the honor of manning a vehicle bearing his Primarch's name to some of the best Long Fangs his Great Company had ever known.
Thus, "The Spear of Russ" armored regiment was created. The honor of going to battle inside the ferro-steel plating is given to some of the older Long Fangs - Space Wolves with centuries of experience, nerves of steel and an extremely reliable and stable demeanor. When a Long Fang's pack becomes too small or too precious to be on the battlefield unprotected it is given the privilege of dispensing indiscriminate justice from the inside of a Leman Russ Battle Tank. Ideally the remnants of a pack receive a dedicated vehicle, with the Squad Leader in control of the vehicle and the rest of his Long Fang pack manning the various turrets and sponsons. "The Spear of Russ" is composed of at least three similar vehicles and one of them, usually the tank with the oldest Squad Leader, is chosen to be the command tank. Although uneasy at first, the different Long Fang packs eventually adapt to the situation and learn to function as one with the rest of the Exterminators.

3+ Leman Russ Exterminator Tanks (from Codex: Imperial Guard)
One tank must be marked as the command tank.

Astartes Crew - To represent the Long Fangs operating the Leman Russ Exterminator tanks, every tank in The Spear of Russ formation gains +1 BS. The extra cost of this upgrade is already included in the points value of the formation.

Auto-targeting System - The Leman Russ Exterminators have the Anti-Aircraft Mount special rule.

Fire Control - If a tank from The Spear of Russ formation is within 12'' of the command vehicle (or is the command vehicle itself) it can shoot each of its weapon at different targets.

Strike Force:  All units in The Spear of Russ must be deployed within 6" of the command tank, or, if coming on from reserve they must enter the table within 6" of the point entered by the command tank.


  1. Some time ago there was a retcon saying that it had nothing to do with the wolves. (naming the LR)

  2. I'll believe it when I see it. Do you have any links to support that? It's kind of interesting...

  3. I think that the Auto-targeting System is overpowered; when you have BS4 and Twin-linked Autocannons, it seems far to harsh to fragile fliers (talking about Apocolypse fliers here, not things in army books like Valkyries). Also, as far as I'm aware, LREs have never been mentioned to have AA capacity before.

    Likewise, the free Multi-tracker from Fire Control seems a bit much; it looks like you've just cherry picked one of the better things out of Codex: Tau Empire.

    Also, considering how Leman Russ tanks are set out in Codex: Imperial Guard, I'd suggest rewriting the Formation part to discuss Squadron. I.e. whether you intend them to be in separate squadrons, whether they can be in a single squadron, whether they MUST be in separate squadrons, etc.

    Personally, I feel that all you need to have, for this Formation, are the Astartes Crew and Strike Force abilities. For the points cost, that seems about right, considering that you could, in theory, get any number of LREs with BS4 for that.

    Considering the background that you've written up, I'd suggest perhaps even making it a Legendary Unit rather than a Formation, as that seems to fit better.

  4. @Masked Thespian:
    Thank you for the constructive criticism.
    To begin with, I wouldn't really call the Auto-Targeting System on a Leman Russ Exterminator overpowered. Not going to comment on the whole "too harsh" part, because flyers are the only thing in Apocalypse that don't have it harsh already. They cannot be assaulted, range is reduced by 12'' to anything shooting them, templates never hit them, 99% of all things always hit them on 6's and they get cover saves. Considering the Exterminator is the worst Leman Russ tank out there, the combination of twin-linked, BS4 and ATS makes it actually.. kind of alright. Yes, it might excel at taking down light flyers, but point for point it cannot compete with Hydras, for example. Fluff-wise, Exterminators have been used against flyers as well.
    It is true that no Leman Russ Battle Tanks have ATS, but the rule is not supposed to represent technology, it is supposed to reflect on the centuries of experience, superhuman accuracy, instincts and stoicism of some of the best Long Fangs in the Space Wolves Chapter. Add to that decades of vehicle-hunting with the Packs and being able to efficiently take down some harder to hit targets becomes possible and quite realistic.

    Fire Control was basically supposed to represent the Fire Control mechanic that Long Fangs have in Codex: Space Wolves, but I can see where you're coming from. Maybe if I make them a Squadron, rather than being individual vehicles it will be fine? Then I'll just say that each tank can shoot at a different target. Might make it more balanced..

    The Strike Force I've always seen as a disadvantage, really. Which is why they have to be 6'' apart, rather than 12''.

    The price thing from the BS4 is an ovesight, I suppose. Maybe I'll make it 100 for each squadron + the price of the vehicles, of course.

    I also like the idea for a Legendary Unit. Never thought about that.. I guess I've never seen on in the books. Any examples?

  5. The thing is, whilst I understand you wanting to give the LRE a niche, I don't feel that anti-air is it. Traditionally, Marines take their anti-air from Hyperion Launchers (either on Whirlwinds or on turrets) and giving that to the LRE seems a little... I dunno. It just feels off. Especially considering the actual model's Autocannons seem a little short and stubby; they just don't look like AA weapons.

    Now, giving them something to make them feel more like they're crewed by Long Fangs is certainly something that I can get behind. Long Fangs can, of course, split fire (as you've previously pointed out) so I reckon that is probably the way forward. Your idea of giving each tank in a squadron the ability to fire at different targets is a nice middle ground between the Long Fangs' Fire Control and the Tau Empire Multi Tracker.

    If you wanted to give them an additional ability based on the fact that Long Fangs are awesome, I'd possibly suggest adding that any unit that is fired upon (not just takes casualties from) by two or more tanks from this Battle Formation must take a Pinning test at the end of that Shooting Phase (to represent the Long Fangs' decades of experience, combined with the sheer rate of fire that the LRE provides, to create a hail of fire that no-one really wants to advance in the face of). Not only is it characterful in terms of Long Fangs, but it also gives the player fielding them a tactical choice; do you spread your fire out to try and kill as many things as possible, or do you concentrate firepower to force Pinning checks?

    As you point out, Strike Force is, of course, a disadvantage, but is necessary for pseudo-squadron Battle Formation datasheets.

    There's no need to change the price, though; almost all Battle Formations in any of the Apocalypse books have a fixed price and often add a bonus to each unit in the Formation regardless of how many there are, so doing the same is simply following GW's lead.

    Legendary Units are simply the name for any unit in an Apocolypse book that isn't actually a Battle Formation. Examples include the Baneblade, the Thunderhawk Gunship, and the Brass Scorpion. They give the rules for units that don't already exist in the game rather than giving us a different use for an existing unit.


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