Hey, you! Tired of just one heavy bolter? Wish to crush your foes with their own armour? Wonder why your devastator sergeant doesn't have any heavy weapons? Crave GIANT FUCKING DRILLS? Then the new centurion warsuit is for you!
A centurion squad is a new type of space marine squad available with the release of 6th edition, which are a real pain in the ass to paint. Centurion armour is a warsuit whose STC printout was discovered after the Age of Apostasy. After getting the "not heresy" stamp from the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Imperium of Man began supplying space marine chapters with them, who dubbed them "centurion" after the former officers of the Legiones Astartes. The centurion is a specialist piece of equipment used for sieges or line-breaking. Despite not interfacing with the space marines' black carapace, which has no in-game benefit anyway, it gives the marine durability (+T and +S) that is rivaled by that of a dreadnought, without the requirement of losing their spine and three out of four limbs in a heroic but probably avoidable last stand. Instead of recruiting out of the chapter's First Company veterans, centurion pilots are recruited from the assault or devastator squads, as centurions are only useful in specific roles of assault and heavy weapons, and their pilots need to be immersed in a specific type of warfare. This doesn't make much sense as an explanation though, since tactical marines already went through being devastators and then assault marines. Unfortunately, only the sergeant can be upgraded to a vet, which makes assault centurion cry, as that extra attack would be nice. Also, for some reason, the pilots fold their arms over their chest once inside the suit, controlling it with their thoughts. Why they don't simply use their arms is beyond me. (Ever seen how far its shoulders are away from the head, and how far apart; especially when looking at a model from the front? A space marine would probably need at least two extra joints in their additionally lengthened arms to be able to actually stick them in there and control it directly)
While you won't be blam'd for calling them "reasonable dreadnoughts", it should be noted that their current status makes them inferior to true dreadnoughts DUE TO THE LACK OF HEROIC SACRIFICES.
They are also commonly referred to as "Space Marine inside a Space Marine (see above)" or "baby Dreadknights" by fa/tg/uys. Sometimes "tubinators" by less fa/tg/uys or "Matryoshka Marines" by Russian wannabes. Actual Russians call them "Kolobki".
Those who hate how it looks compared to the awesome to fail art can kitbash cataphractii and some weapon bits. Those who are lazy and have some money can use Graviton weapons Forge World bits to represent Grav-Cannons, Maxim Bolters or Rotor Cannons for hurricane Bolters and cyclones for Missile Launchers. Just buy a squad of Cataphractii, the special weapon sets, and the Iron Hands Forge Lord to represent the Sergeant and paint them the colors of your chosen chapter.
If you don't mind how they look you may as well kitbash from other models anyways. Seriously, as selling a kidney or becoming a drug dealer is required to afford two centurion squads and the land raider or flier you want to put them in. Ass-cen kitbashing will require some extra cash and searching to represent the drills with meltaguns or flamers. However, you might happen to be a masochist, as they are not as good as their shooty battle-brothers.
So how are they on the table? Well, it's complicated. You see the squads have a lot of power but come with drawbacks that you're not used to seeing in marine armies. Both squads are very durable with T5 W2 and 2+ saves, have a wide selection of mostly twin-linked weapons, and can move, and fire both in the same turn and still assault thanks to Slow and Purposeful.
Dev-Cens wreck armor with access to lascannons, and missile launchers, or pump out tons of bolt shots, or both if you mix and match, which is generally a terrible idea. They also can be equipped with grav-cannons, which are the ultimate MEQ and TEQ killers. Ass-Cens, meanwhile, can wreck anything in assault, particularly asses, with 2 S10 AP2 Armorbane (specialist weapons, not that that matters) attacks, at initiative, along with twin-linked flamers, or meltas, with either hurricane bolters, or ironclad assault launchers.
On the other hand, both squads are very expensive, clocking in at just under terminator cost before wargear. It costs a fortune to take a 5 man unit of either, the Dev-Cen especially, having to pay an extra 20 pts per if they're replacing their base heavy bolter. Now for the drawbacks. Slow and Purposeful keeps the squad from running, sweeping advancing, or overwatching, which with the exception of the restriction on sweeping advance are very foreign concepts to marine units.
In summary Centurions are marines cranked up to 11, but marines that don't fill any roles their army didn't already have covered by another, cheaper, unit. They have their uses but can be very situational. Dev-Cents are the ultimate TEQ deleters, if you get them close enough, and can also carve chunks out of strong-armored Monstrous Creatures. Ass-Cens, sadly, are useless. (Kidding aside, these guys were released coinciding with Stronghold Assault; they break buildings and do a pretty fine job of it. At-initiative S9 AP 2 and a 2+ also means the serge can hunt for all kinds of challenges. They're a specialized unit, but not a totally useless one.)
A certain build called the Grav-Star has four to six of them with Grav-Cannons and Hurricane Bolters paired with Tigurius rolling for Gates of Infinity and then whatever goodies he can get on other tables, then paired with whatever other HQs you feel like having (such as a beatstick build chaptermaster and/or some psykers for more buffs) that can then be further paired with a Tau buffmander. This can become very expensive (nearing 1000 points for a six cent build with all the bells and whistles!), but has the durability and firepower to devastate just about anything it meets while weathering the storm itself.
For the table below, assume bolters are at single-shot range. Graviton weapons are counted as dealing two glances on a 6 but no glances on a 5-down. This list doesn't count Imperial Fist Centurion devastators, who would get tank hunters which would be a pretty substantial boon for lascannon and missile launcher loadouts and basically make them Ersatz Railgun Broadsides (well before the 6th edition nerf) in terms of lethality to tanks.
|2 Centurions with TL Lascannon and Missile Launcher||160||2.89||2.37||1.85||1.33||0.81|
|2 Centurions with Grav-Cannon/Amp and Hurricane Bolters||160||4.96||4.07||4.07||4.07||4.07|
|4 Lascannon Devastators + Sergeant (Signum)||150||2.83||2.36||1.89||1.42||0.94|
|4 Missile Devastators + Sergeant (Signum)||130||2.36||1.89||1.42||0.94||0.47|
|4 Heavy Bolter Devastators + Sergeant (Signum)||110||2.83||1.42||0.00||0.00||0.00|
As you can see, the incredible rate of fire of grav-cannons (particularly wielded by a Relentless model), combined with, for their BS of 4, the superiority of Shred (multiplies wounding by 1.83) to Twin-Linked (multiplies accuracy by 1.33), combined with their ability to deal 2 hull points when they do get through, means they are consistently the best choice against any target. They are usually paired with hurricane bolters, as neither hurricane bolters nor missile launchers will help significantly against most hard targets but the hurricane bolters help much more against light infantry swarms.
For comparison, how they do against infantry (same range):
|2 Centurions with Grav-Cannon/Amp and Hurricane Bolters||160||-||6.48||6.48||5.59||4.70||3.81||2.93||2.93||2.04||2.04||2.04|
Centurions both have the same base statline: T5, W3 and 2+ means that they can take a beating before going down. However, they are hamstrung by their 4" movement, forcing them to waddle across the battlefield in an adorable but helpless way. Giving them a transport is useful, but they have to take either a Stormraven or a Land Raider because their big adorable butts can't fit in other vehicles. The Devastators won't really need a transport once they're in place, but the Assault Squad will really need one if it wants to do more than punch one tank into scrap and walk around for the rest of the game. Both units can also count as Combat Squads if they're 6 models large (good luck affording that) and thanks to their sergeant's Omniscope they ignore the bonuses enemies get from cover, which is especially nice for the Devastators. Centurions are also your premier multi-wound infantry unit this edition and benefit well from Apothecary support. (Even though with that armour a Techmarine would make as much sense)
Clocking in at 89 points each, Centurion Devastator Squads are costly but effective. But the problems start the moment you remember the prices are added separately. That's right, they cost like damn Razorbacks each! However, with two Heavy Bolters and a Hurricane Bolter they can deliver 6 shots at 36", 12 at 24" and a whopping 18 at 12" each. That means 18, 36 and 54 at those ranges for a 3-man squad. Dropping them in a nice and snug place where they can make entire units of infantry disappear in a single phase. Even if you have to move, because of their Decimator Protocols rule they don't get hit with the -1 penalty when firing heavy weapons on the move. And don't forget that you don't have to shoot all your guns in one go: you can roll them one after the other to make sure you don't waste your rolls or those of your primary guns. And even if you've armed them with something else than Heavy Bolters, you can still use the Hurricane Bolter to really discourage incoming infantry. They have three weapon options if the mother of all Bolter fire doesn't do it for you:
- Centurion Missile Launchers can replace the Hurricane Bolter. The 25 points price tag is hefty, but having Assault D3 S8 AP-2 D3 missiles coming from each of the Centurions will dent all but the toughest tanks. They have a shorter range than their other anti-tank gun, so keep that in mind when positioning.
- Lascannons can replace your Heavy Bolters. Note that you have to replace both of them, so no mix and match godness on the same model (but you can within the same unit and still aim for different targets). While a 30 point bump per Centurion, having six Lascannons in one unit will really ruin a tank's or monster's day. Problem? It costs like a lazorback. While being three times more squishy, unless the enemy is using S2 AP- weapons.
- Grav-Cannons with Grav-amps are a bit of an odd duck. Only a bit more expensive than the Heavy Bolters, you only get one of these per Centurion. Which is a good thing, because otherwise they'd be ungodly expensive. ANd even then, a dozen shots at S5 AP-3 1 damage that goes to D3 against anything with a 3+ save or higher, this can really ruin the day of heavy infantry. And with the limited range on this gun, they work together pretty well with the Hurricane Bolter (as long as you aim that at a different unit).
Centurion Assault Squads are 91 points and come with Siege Drills, two flamers and Centurion Assault Launchers. The drills deal a whopping S10 AP-4 3 damage hit each, so whatever they hit will feel it. The Centurion Assault Launchers let them do a Mortal Wound on whatever they charge on a 4+: useful, but not a game changer. They also come with two Flamers each, meaning 6 of them on the whole unit. And yes, that means you get to sling 6d6 Flamer hits if the enemy gets too close. You have two options to replace either of your weapons that's not the drills:
- Meltaguns can replace the Flamers. While this costs 18 points per model, you can now have 6 melta shots on a 3-man unit. Some simple mathhammer tells you that this is an average of 7 damage... when you're not within 6". Expensive, but it can turn tanks to slag like it's nobody's business.
- Hurricane Bolters can replace the Centurion Assault Launchers at 4 points a pop. Oh yes, the Assault Squads can have these too. They work especially well with Flamers, because if you can hit a target with your Flamers you can hit them with your Hurricane Bolters. Sure, a S4 AP0 hit doesn't do diddly, but 45 of them (3x6 shots, double at half range, 2/3rds hit plus the average of 6d6) will ruin the day of ANY infantry that comes too close.
Devastator Squads are an expensive but useful tool to deliver a truly massive amount of firepower. While taking the anti-tank approach sounds fun, this will mean that your Centurions will cost 140 points each, which will put a major dent in your budget. If you want a large number of Lasguns, take a Predator instead. Two of them fully kitted with Lascannons are not only cheaper they are also tougher, have more Wounds and can move three times as fast. The Heavy Bolter approach is cheaper: two full Devastator Squads with three Heavy Bolters each have roughly the same firepower, but are some 40 points more expensive and a lot more fragile, if more easily transported.
Assault Squads are more of a mixed bag. 285 points for a full squad with Hurricane Bolters is quite the investment, but nothing can lay down a smackdown like such a unit can. Two units of Tactical Marines could try and match the same degree of firepower, but they're 33 or so points more expensive and are still two Flamers short, as well as lacking the sheer durability. The Meltagun approach can reliably pop tanks, but once popped they're kinda out of options. Because they can waddle at only 4" per turn they're easy pickings for anyone wishing them harm, and even when you bring a Stormraven (expensive) or a Land Raider (even more expensive) they're still sitting ducks for one turn. Attacking enemy units is an option if parked besides their transport, but with 7 attacks at WS 3+ means that you're going to have trouble with units that are more than 5 models large.
Centurions hit a bit of a snag with Power Ratings. Sure, you can pick all those expensive guns and upgrades for free... except that a 3-man Assault Squad clocks in at 15 Power. You can get three 5-man Tactical squads with only three Bolter shots short for that cost. Sure, they're more fragile but they're faster and can take just about any transport for a ride. And the Devastator squads cost 17 per 3 Centurions. For one point more you'll get 8 Lascannon shots on two sturdy Predator tanks. Sure, you'll trade your missiles in for those shots and durability, but two tanks can do more than one small squad. And the Heavy Bolter route is not much better. A six-man squad of Centurion Devastators can have 12 Heavy Bolter and 6 Bolter shots for 34 points. For that same amount you can have three 10-man Devastator squads that are far more flexible to deploy.
So are they still useful? Yes, if you're willing and able to make the investment and can deal with all your firepower in one point. If not, it might be best to look at other options.