Dark Angels Techmarine
Having my interest in the Cult of Mars rekindled after reading Mechanicum, I went and bought myself a new Techmarine with Servitors. Now how best to use him?
I have always thought the Space Marine Techmarine a fascinating part of any Chapter but more often the not his rules in gameplay have never quite matched the characterful models available. As a consequence he is rarely seen in tournaments and with only the occasional appearance in friendly games.
1. The Techmarine — go forth and mend, assault or shoot?
In order to field him at all you must have a non-transport vehicle model in your army. So for DA that means Dreadnoughts or the various Heavy Support tanks. He can't be taken if the only vehicles present are transports (Rhinos, Razors and Drop Pods). More than that you can field one Techmarine per every tank/dread model you are using. Frankly why anyone would wants more then remains a mystery — perhaps GW envisaged a wall of advancing vehicles each with a 'fixing' Techie trailing behind however unlikely that sounds. And I'm not too sure on the non-transport restriction item either as he is a rare enough figure in games as it is without making even him harder to take.
He is an Elite unit, but doesn't take up a space in the force org chart leaving the three slots free for Dreads, Deathwing, Scouts or Veterans.
2. What you get
In his basic form you get a cheapish 2-wound model with Artificer armour and two power weapon attacks. His built in servo arm is the equivalent of a power fist (always as an additional attack) which isn't too shabby providing he makes it to strike last that is. On the shooting side you get a useful bolt pistol that you can upgrade to a more deadly plasma pistol, or a bolter. He also has frag and krak grenades. In my view in his basic Techie form the plasma pistol isn't worth considering as it makes him quite pricey for what he does.
He has the unique Blessing of the Omnissiah special rule and this is where things get interesting. It enables him to attempt to repair any vehicles that suffer an Immobilised or Weapon Destroyed result. Now, this can be useful if you can throw a 6 and you happen to have him in base contact with the vehicle to be mended from the start of the turn. These two restrictions mean that the chance of fixing anything are slim unless you run him behind a Dreadnought or [ insert vehicle type here* ] with the express purpose of being able to repair it when the need arises. To me this seems a bit hit and miss but people do use him this way. Servitors can help his chance to fix things and I'll cover these later.
Unfortunately our Techmarine is not an Independent Character and in many ways this is a real restriction as you can't attach him to a squad say and put him transport to leap out and help them in cc. But as he is he's the classic hidden power fist so to speak and that means he can't be singled out in close combat.
The good thing is that he doesn't take up any room in the force org chart, a great way to sneak in an extra contending unit.
3. Techmarine upgrade options
If you feel the basic Techie is a bit lacking then you'd be right. The main reason to take one is to get your hands on the excellent servo-harness and this is pretty much a must-have item.
This option greatly enhances his ability offensively both in assault and shooting, as well as his capacity to repair things. Let's see what upgrading the servo-arm with the harness gives you:
- Two power fist-equivalent attack [I1 Str8 ignores armour saves]
- A twin-linked plasma pistol
- A flamer
- Re-roll a failed attempt to repair a vehicle
He can shoot both of his harness weapons per shooting phase and being short-medium ranged these is ideal for softening up units before charging in. He can alternatively fire one harness and one personal weapon. It is worth pointing out that with a harness, if the Techie has been upgraded with a plasma pistol, then as he gets two plasma pistol shots one being twin-linked. It does make him expensive mind so best to keep with the bolt pistol unless points are going begging.
As far as fixing things the harness increases his chances of success by granting a re-roll on the Blessing of the Omnissiah dice. All to the good as it is his main raison d'être after all. He becomes not quite but the closest thing vehicles have to an Apothecary.
So, how about his little helpers?
Well they are fun models for sure and open up additional converting possibilities for those inclined. They are bought as part of the Techmarine's 'unit' and he cannot leave them. Note that for Annihilation games Techmarine and Servitors are one Kill Point only as the Techmarine is never an IC thus his Servitors are not a true Retinue.
You have to be careful with this because although it does render some protection for the Techie, it means that in any cc situation the majority Toughness rule kicks in, meaning if more than one Servitor is in the Techmarine's unit then the Techmarine's Toughness reduces to T3 when being attacked.
Luckily though their relatively poor saves for a Marine army have been helped somewhat by intervening cover saves in 5th edition — although this is no substitute for proper saves in anything other than getting shot at. So put 'em behind cover or behind another unit.
Fluff-wise the idea is that some are gun Servitors and these cover/protect the Techmarine any other Servitors involved with mending. Game wise this mixing isn't ideal as you end up being good at neither shooting or fixing. So if you do take Servitors, as most things in 40K, it's better to make the commitment and fully specialise in one or the other. Unfortunately, what you get model-wise in the Techmarine box set is two of each, meaning finding/converting the two more of whichever you want to specialise in.
You can kit all, some or none of your Servitors to carry guns. They can be armed with heavy bolters, multi-meltas or plasma cannons in any mix you like. It's tempting to think that taking four plasma cannon Servitors you will have an effective mini-dev squad but beware keeping the guns firing means keeping them all static — including the Techmarine. This is a waste of good cc potential from the Techie, not to mention his own weapons are all 24" or less in range so he might well be out of range much of the time.
It is also tempting to kit out the Servitors with plasma cannons as it's a cheap upgrade — reality check: four gun Servitors with plasma cannons, and their base Techmarine will cost you 215 points — with servo-harness 240. A five-man Dev squad with four plasma cannons will cost 190 points and have better armour saves, toughness, strength and initiative not to mention a bolt pistol each.
The heavy bolter seems a better bet considering it's a free option. The other free weapon and excellent value is the multi-melta, a cool tank-killer but to use it you need to be within (ideally) half range, meaning a transport would be needed to get close with relative safety and this again adds to the points total.
These have a servo-arm which grants them an additional power fist-equivalent attack. This makes them a very cheap mobile powerfist option — but a full unit plus the cost of the Techmarine with servo-harness is 200 points so don't get too carried away as a squad of basic Deathwing Terminators isn't that much more.
When a Techmarine attempts a repair on a vehicle each mechanical Servitor with him adds a 1 to the Techie's Omnissiah total to add to the D6 — couple that with the servo-harness and the Techmarine becomes a real Mr Fixit. Give him three mechanical Servitors and a repair is automatic as a 6 result is the minimum possible.
The main use for these guys though is in close combat. Each Servitor packs one servo-arm attack in addition to their base attack. OK not at powerfist initiative, but they nevertheless pack quite a punch. Truthfully their main use is against vehicles were poor initiative isn't an issue and I'll cover this later.
The Techmarine and any Servitors with him may take a dedicated transport in the form of a Drop Pod, Rhino or Razorback. They also of course have the ability to hop into any friendly passing LR should they want to, or indeed any transport once its dedicated load has been emptied. But I'm not sure that a transport is necessary really, it's better when he's in mending mode to keep him in contact with a vehicle or walker, when in cc mode keep him hidden out of LOS until enemy units are whittled down and then strike with him. Of course if you specifically kit out your Techie and any servitors for close combat than a drop pod could be useful to get close to enemy armour fast. Indeed for tank-hunting purposes, two melta Servitors accompanying the Techie from a drop pod can be fun.
Unfortunately Unforgiven Techies can't be given a Space Marine bike which is a shame as this is their best option to get around the battlefield— gives them added Toughness too.
4. How to use him
Given his strong and numerous base attacks, he makes a great backstop counter-assault unit to hit outflanking, scouting or deep striking units. Stick him on your nearest objective and let your opponent figure out how to get rid of them. As his standard bolt pistol or optional plasma pistol, plasma cutters and flamer are either pistol or assault class weapons, he can chuck out a load of effective firepower on the move and still assault the same turn. And I haven't mentioned his optional bolter that to be honest is not the best shooting weapon for him as he can't assault after firing it. Stick to the pistols.
If he has a full load of mechanical Servitors with him, he and they can unleash five power fist-equivalent attacks minimum, more than a Deathwing squad, plus two power weapon attacks, all of which comes as a surprise to those not expecting it!! On the charge that's a tidy punch. Be careful who you take on though as you don't have the 2+/5+ termy saves throughout but the Techie's Artificer armour can be tough to crack.
Where they work best is in assaulting vehicles. Even the Techie on his own can excel at this. Put him in a transport (Land Raiders are best) and have him trot out and hit an unsuspecting passing vehicle. Transports are fun to hit with a Techie, easily punching through their rear armour value.
Should you require him to fix stuff then he must hang back with vehicles/walkers ideally in base contact with them to minimise his time getting to them. Keep him trundling along in their skirts until required — all the time he can snipe at anything in range and LOS.
Or, put him in a Land Raider with his mechanical Servitors, and roll the Land Raider together with Vindicator tanks. Vindicators are useless when they're Immobilized or Weapon Destroyed, so having the Techie close at hand might be very useful indeed.
If you want to use him and his Servitors in a shooting role, place them either behind cover to boost the Servitors saves in particular — and use them as you would any Devastator squad.
Just one thing to remember: always always always take him with the servo-harness. Without it he is very lacklustre and not really worth the effort so he's a straight 100 points.
5. The DA Techmarine compared to his Codex Space Marine brother
The inevitable comparisons must be looked at — and actually it's six of one and half a dozen of the other as to which is better. Considering all these guys were trained on Mars, the two Codexes treat them in different ways.
The Codex Space Marines Techmarine is superior in many ways:
- He's an Independent Character. So he can join units to add his weight in close combat.
- He can take a Space marine bike.
- He is 25 points cheaper.
- He only needs a 5+ to mend something.
- He can be taken without any other armoured units on the table.
- He can take a thunder hammer or power weapon.
- He may replace his bolt pistol with a storm bolter or combi-weapon, besides the plasma pistol swap.
- He has the excellent Combat Tactics.
But inferior in others:
- He has one less base attack.
- He has one less wound.
- He can't take a dedicated transport.
- He takes up an Elite slot.
- His Servitors have worse WS, BS, plus suffer from Mindlock.
- Servitors' weapons are much more expensive.
A 'fun' item to use and very characterful. Use him right and he can bring something special to the table that can't be gotten from elsewhere. In that respect he's totally unique.
What I've found is that he is often completely overlooked by your opponent (despite being red and big) and can survives to game end so keeping his Kill Point or can contest an objective. Best of all is to tie something up in cc for a few turns so preventing them shooting, scoring or contesting.
The real joy though is to mend a Dread's lascannon or re-mobilise a tank. To keep something firing or moving in this manner is immensely satisfying and will make you grin from ear to ear. It's great when he completes his primary function.
If you use the criteria of justifying something in an army list by making their points back alone, then maybe this guy isn't for you.
If however you are a little more open-minded and enjoy experimenting then give him a go. At a straight 100 points with servo-harness, he is a good option to fill those awkward largish points holes, particularly in Deathwing lists, rather than resorting to wargear you don't really want or a Tornado Land Speeder.
It's a shame that although nearly good, somewhere the Techmarine's rules are not quite there yet. Compared to a must-have Apothecary for instance, the Techie who can be equally as vital, just seems less appealing somehow. There are ways that he could be improved, but that is not the subject of this article.
Overall as an honest appraisal he's an game-frustrator against any opponent for sure, rather than a game-winner for you.
I hope you've found something useful from this tactica.
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