How to Burn the Competition with Salamander Tactics


I am the Lord of Fire.  That is to say that I am the number 1 ranked Salamanders player in the ITC. This is David with Nights at the Game Table and yes, I am the Lord of Fire. I can attribute this to key Salamander Tactics. The goal is to keep that ranking in regards to Salamanders but to place in the top 100 of the overall rankings as well. 

#1 Salamanders

How I started with Salamanders

Ever since my wife chose her army to be Salamanders I have had a Salamanders army. The runner up was Crimson Fist as she enjoyed the back story of Pedro Kantor. Sergeant Adnil was her champion on the field as there are not any lady marines at this time. Throughout 6th and 7th editions he was a Scout Sergeant who ran around the field with a master-crafted Melta Bomb. Salamander Tactics have changed since then. Now In 8th he has been Primarisified and enjoys hopping out of his Impulsor and smacking folks with his Mastercrafted Thunder Hammer. 

This is all why I choose to keep playing Salamanders. I choose to play in hard mode knowing that they are not the best or the most efficient at what they do. This is because I can still forge the narrative at competitive events. That being said, trying to keep that number 1 ranking I have to look at Salamanders with a competitive eye as my peers try to knock me down. Looking at you Aaron.

Playing Salamanders Competitively

There are 2 keys to being the number 1 in your field. Winning games and the size of the events that you attend. Or you can lower your goals. Number one Adeptus Astartes is a very broad field.  Number one Iron Hands player may be hard to pull off as well due to the number of people who play them. like with Raven Guard. Howling Griffons or even more obscure chapters may be easier to pull off. The same could be said if one was trying to be the number one Vostroyan player.  There are a lot of guard players, and even more Imperium players but pure Vostroyan players are fewer. There are only 60 or so ranked Salamander players.

Knowing the weakness of the Salamanders is important as we plan to make use of our strengths with Salamander Tactics. The goal is to be a sharp rock to the paper of other players’ armies. To combine their many second-tier abilities in a first-rate way. 

Salamanders are second or worse at everything compared to other marines. Half of the super doctrine bonus for running pure Salamanders doesn’t even apply to Primaris marines. One day there will be Primaris marines with Melta weapons. There are at least some Primaris marine units with flamers. Other Marine armies can use their abilities near army-wide. The limitation still being weapons. With the recent nerf to combat doctrines and the mandatory move through the doctrines, those bonuses may not last as long as the two rounds Salamanders can use their doctrines. Lacking movement and reserve Stratagems slows this army down. 

What makes Salamanders Hot.

Ignore AP-1 works well against Xenos and Chaos. It has gotten better now with the mandatory cycle of Doctrines against Marines. Hurricane Bolters are deadly in volume but not so much when you have a 2+ armor save versus AP-1. 

Master Artisans became a Chapter Tactic that any successor could choose stealing the unique appeal of Salamanders. Regardless it is a great if time-consuming ability. 

Salamanders are tough. With Rise from the Ashes, key characters may live longer than expected. Forge Master for a +2 toughness can turn it up to 11. Bray’Arth AshMantle is unlikely to be the warlord due to his restrictions but starts at a 9 going to 11 with this warlord trait. However, A Chaplain dreadnought with this warlord trait, Might of Heroes and Drake Skin would be toughness 11 as well. Toughness 8 Characters are much more likely to happen and with The Salamander’s Mantle relic for -1 to wound, Strength 4 weapons will need to roll a 7+ to wound. The Dak did this himself in his Salamanders Battle Report. Of course, mortal wound spam will ignore this altogether. 

Our Best Stratagems

Self Sacrifice was broken and got nerfed unnecessarily hard but it’s still a usable stratagem. Unfortunately, it can only be used in the shooting phase so units that shoot outside of that phase such as Grey Knights will bypass this completely. In regards to using it for Salamander tactics, I currently use it on a squad of 3 or more Centurion Devastators with Lascannons. The trick is to place the self-sacrificing unit out of the line of sight. The first floor is usually a good spot as the measurement between units is usually base to base. The second-floor corners often hide a model as well. If the Self Sacrifice unit can’t hide Incursors or infiltrators with smoke grenades along with Flame Shield for a combined -2 to hit will still work. Consider Drake Skin for +1 Toughness and Stand Your Ground for +1 to non-invulnerable saving throws if need be. 

Flamecraft to max the number of shots of flamer weapons is best used on Successor Salamanders with Long Range Marksman as the additional +3” on flamers makes them usable on deep striking units. 10 combi flamers on a Sternguard unit in a drop pod is good but they need a little something extra to make them shine. A Lord of Fire Lieutenant either with a jump pack or at the cost of one of the Sternguard in the pod. The Company Ancient adds a level of troll to your Salamander tactics. The problem is the cost of the drop pod. While in one game a drop pod managed to kill a Knight in overwatch, they tend to do worse than nothing. They let your opponent go a turn of not being shot at while they are locked in combat during your shooting phase. 

“Check with your TO”

Relentless Determination can help offset the penalty for heavy weapons. The bonus to be treated as if you have double your remaining wounds is nice. This beats Big Guns Never Tire as the units count as stationary and is a roundabout way to fall back and shoot. Salamander Tactics like this should be brought up with your Tournament Organizer because unlike similar abilities that specifically state not when you fall back, Relentless Determination states for all rules purposes. The argument goes along the lines of “You fell back so you can’t shoot.” “I didn’t move, I remained stationary for all rules purposes” Most likely Games Workshop will clarify that

Crucible of Battle is the Veterans of the Long War for Salamanders. The +1 to wound stacks very well with Catechism of Fire for another +1 to wound versus the closest visible unit. Promethium Cult for Flamer and Melta weapons rarely comes up for me as people focus down the Flame Fist Aggressors or the Invictor Tactical Warsuit. The Warsuit can be a Distraction Carnifex. 

The Fires of Battle stratagem isn’t dead but it was a hard blow to take considering the 20ish mortal wounds Imperial Fist can still do. Up to 3 mortal wounds for 1 command point can help.

Our Codex Characters are Great.

Adrax Agatone can kill a Knight by himself in one activation. With 6 attacks on the charge, Strength of the Primarch to do double damage on a wound roll of a 6 and wounding knights on a 2+, he can put the hurt on a Knight. If they do not have an Invulnerable save in close combat or 2+ armor, to begin with, makes that even more likely. Adrax’s innate rerolls for Captain and Master Artisan helps get the volume of attacks in as well.

Vulkan and his full rerolls to hit and wound with melta and flamer weapons is nice. His point cost is most often the reason I do not take him as I may as well grab Adrax. When I do take Vulkan with Devastators carrying Multimeltas in Drop Pods, he encourages folks to screen out which usually makes it easier for my army to engage the enemy. Holding off until turn 2 for the bonus to wound is nice as I have to clear those screens anyways. The problem is with the new ITC format, it’s too easy for my opponents to get a corner deployment where they can screen for multiple turns and the Multimeltas are too short of range for what I need them to kill. 

I will play them competitively.

Combined Arms has worked best so far for me. Melee, Ranged, and Support units have all helped me reach success. Units to push forward, units to shoot and units that can support your army. Think Psykers, Chaplains, Centurion Devastators, Impulsors to move up with. Marines have an answer for everything but they can’t take them all at once. Finding that balance can be hard for Salamanders but the mixed approach lets you apply our stratagems at key points in the battle. In a Meta of Grey Knights and Possessed Bombs, the Thunderfire Cannon is mandatory. The same goes for Eliminators to eliminate key units. 

Competitive 40k is nowhere near as physical as climbing a mountain but there can be an achievement in reaching your personal goals. My goal is to be the number 1 Salamanders player and the top 100 overall using Salamander tactics. This is my Mount Deathfire. I am the Lord of Fire and if anyone else wants that title, I’ll see you at the top…

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