Bray'arth Ashmantle is a venerable Dreadnought and former captain of the Salamanders fourth company. He is unforgiving and a merciless warrior, full of zeal and unflagging in purpose. He often bashed heads with Tu'Shan's predecessor over tactics and doctrine.
Originally known as Sokhar Bray'arth, he fell during the cleansing of Ymgarl's moons from Genestealer taint, and was interred to a unique ironclad dreadnought called the Iron Dragon, believed to be a relic made by Vulkan himself. Bray'arth survived the interment process, as the its Machine Spirit often either overcame or overloaded those interred into it, with the shoulder armor of the machine being decorated with detailed bas-reliefs of his death battle against Genestealers. (which incidentally makes him a bitch to proxy)
He earned his new name of Ashmantle from his actions during the Casvsarae Insurrection, his first campaign after interment. He pursued Abhuman rebels and Black Legionnaires supporting them in a sub-city network for nine days, before smashing his way out through the duct workings, completely covered in soot and ash. He was later awakened by second company captain Pellas Mir'san to participate in the Badab War.
On the Tabletop
Notoriously difficult to kill in previous editions, 8th Edition has seen Bray'arth Ashmantle become nigh unstoppable. Featuring a terrifying stat line (6" M, 2+ BS/WS, S8, T9, A4, W8), Ashmantle is positioned to take on the heaviest hitters in the game. To help with that task, Ashmantle features some of the most terrifying weapons in all of 40k. As of Chapter Approved 2019, Bray'arth has seen a 75 point drop, making him a lean, mean 325 points. Now that 9th edition is upon us, Ashmantle has seen several changes to his rules, namely being T7 instead of T9. However, he's now up to A6 and has dropped 105 points, leaving him at 220 points. Whether bringing this absolute monster along for such a hefty cost is worth it has yet to be seen.
•Dreadfire Claws: Ashmantle's close combat weapons are juiced up Dreadnought claws. With a Strength x2 multiplier and -4 to the AP, they should be wounding anything short of Warlord Titans on at least 3s. The damage, however, is a blessing and a curse at D6 per wound. If you're rolling hot, even Warlords find themselves in trouble.
•Dreadfire Heavy Flamers: These are the real stars. A D6 heavy flamer that will make anything melt, these babies hit at S6, -2AP, with a flat 3 damage per wound.
What makes him truly terrifying, however, is that he has the character keyword AND is under 10 wounds. That's right folks, unless he's your closest enemy model, you can't target him. While snipers have become more and more present in 8th edition as time goes on, they're all still going to struggle to take on this T9 monster, and that's before we get to his special rule:
• Wrought by Vulkan: Our big boy has a 5+ invulnerable save. In addition, you can roll a D6 each time this model loses a wound; on a 4+ the damage is ignored and that wound is not lost. That's right, even if you manage to punch through the obscene armor plating on this monster, he's still looking at negating wounds 50% of the time. (Note that in 9th edition, his FNP is now a 5+, but now any damage he takes is reduced by 1 to a minimum of 1.)
Now, Bray'arth also features the Ancient Beyond Measure special rule, which only allows him to be your Warlord if no other HQ choices are present in a Battle-Forged list.
This used to exclude Ashmantle from getting any extra toys, but with the new Space Marine codex, we now have a stratagem that can extend additional warlord traits to other characters. Re-roll charges? Additional attacks? Extra strength for some reason? 1 CP and you're off. Or with the advent of the Codex: Salamanders supplement you have access to new chapter-specific warlord traits: want to reroll attacks, get +2 to your strength or toughness maxing him S12 or T12 for some fucking reason, or even give a 6+++ FNP aura? You can get extremely silly with his buffs.
As of 9th edition, named characters can't be given additional warlord traits, which is probably for the best, since it prevents cheesy shit like the things listed above. Relic of the Chapter, however can give him a relic for 1CP, which for Ashmantle gives you the choice between Vulkan's Sigil and The Salamander's Mantle, granting additional attacks, and a -1 to wound, respectively.
Even worse (or better, if you're evil) is that Ashmantle benefits greatly from a couple of synergies. Keep a Librarian handy and cast Might of Heroes and you've got yourself a T10 monster with an extra attack to boot (and another on the charge thanks to Shock Assault). If you're using the Promethean discipline from Codex: Salamanders, Even if he manages to be targeted by Lascannons, now they wound on 5s!
Keep Vulkan He'stan nearby and those Dreadfire Heavy Flamers are re-rolling all failed wounds. Since there have been some attempts at reigning in marines 9th edition, Vulkan He'Stan can only give full rerolls to one unit per turn, and even then the list of things he can buff doesn't include Ashmantle.
So how can you get the most out of your dead killy but relatively slow monster? You've got three choices.
•Screen him. Surround your big slab with a bunch of scrubs. Since Bray'arth is a character, that means he's unable to be targeted except by snipers or other shenanigans. Considering how beefy he is, snipers will likely struggle to wound him. If they do pin a mortal wound on him here or there, remember he ignores them on a 5+. 33% of the time it works every time! As snipers become more and more dangerous, screening with the Salamanders stratagem "Born Protectors" active will protect Bray'arth from any and all incoming fire, even snipers, as long as the unit using the stratagem stays between him and the shooter.
•Dreadnought Drop Pod: Forge World drop pods do not feature the Turn One deep strike rule workaround their codex cousins feature, but from turn two on you can bring Vulkan's largest son in the backline. An ideal workaround for Bray'arth's relatively slow movement.
• Stormraven: They can carry box'nauts onto the field, which includes this sucker. More than a little risky as the Stormraven isn't cheap and every gun the enemy has will be trying to bring it down before it delivers its payload, but this allows you to insert just about anywhere you can dream of. For the bold.