One of the most fun parts about any new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is going back through the rules to see how old units interact with the new rules. The first 40k miniatures I ever purchased were the 2nd edition CSM terminators; they had just come out, and they were some of the sexiest pewter models ever. They’ve aged well; the current plastics look very similar. But how about the rules? In this article, I’ll be discussing some of the changes in 6E that affect CSM terminators.
The BRB rule changing generic power weapons from “ignores armor” to “mostly AP3″ was a huge benefit for every unit with a 2+ save. You will sometimes run into power axes, but AP2 in melee is a lot more rare now. This gives terminators without storm shields a new lease on life, because not every Grey Knight will be able to just carve them up like so much butter.
The changes to rapid fire were very beneficial to CSM terminators in particular. Being able to fire bolters and combi-plasma at 24″ on the move gives them more of a ranged punch. I don’t think it’s a game changer, but anything to give CSMs some more mid-field power is welcome.
CSM Terminator Champions are now considered characters; this gives them access to “Look Out, Sir! (4+)” and precision strikes. For example, champions rapid-firing bolters into a mob with a 5+ save have a significant chance of “sniping” important enemy models, and could use LO,S! to try to distribute wounds away from important models when taking return fire. If you take multiple champions in a squad, you can also game the challenge system somewhat. I think the jury is still out on whether the champion upgrade could be considered essential, but it’s certainly a plausible option now.
Sharp-eyed readers of the 6E BRB and codex will notice that CSM terminators can now take their choice of power weapons. I would suggest that power axes are a potentially useful way of retaining AP2 and reasonable strength while avoiding paying for a power fist… those ten points can often be essential elsewhere. I wouldn’t leave the powerfists at home entirely, since they’re necessary for instant death purposes and popping vehicles. Chainfists are still somewhat unnecessary, albeit if you’re not packing combi-meltas, it may be worth taking one in a squad.
The new overwatch rule and decreased emphasis on melta has made the heavy flamer weapon option more compelling, but it can’t snipe if used by a champion. If you’re running a squad full of champions, you might consider downgrading the guy with the heavy flamer to just a normal CSM terminator. (Maybe the champs pick a loser from the warband and make him haul around their heavy flamer.)
It’s too early in the meta-game cycle to know if CSM terminators are actually a good unit or not; lack of grenades still hurts them on terrain heavy boards, Reaper ACs still suck, and not having access to storm shields is still painful. But there’s certainly a lot more room to try to run them at a lower cost by utilizing power axes. I would suggest one new load-out for CSM terminators that wasn’t viable in 5E:
1x CSMT w/ heavy flamer and power axe
2x CSMT w/ combi-plasma and power axe
2x CSMT w/ combi-plasma and power fist
Total cost: 195 points
This is basically a squad to exploit situations where opponents are ill-equipped to deal with 2+ saves. You could upgrade one of the models with a combi-plasma and power axe to a champion with a lightning claw to pick out hidden powerfists, or maybe upgrade one of the models’ powerfists to a chainfist if you expect to be mashing lots of vehicles. The use of combi-plasmas is purely to taste, and it would work just as well with combi-meltas (if you think they are necessary).