"Now you are a devastator, brother."
- – Avitus
"Some people think they can outsmart me. Maybe. Maybe. I have yet to meet one that can outsmart bullet."
- – Meet the Heavy, Team Fortress 2
Devastator Squad is the Codex Astartes designation for a Space Marine squad of heavy weapon specialists. The Devastators' purpose can be put in simple terms: blow shit up. If something needs more than a bolter to crack, the commanding battle-brother will call in his Devastators to crack it. Devastators can kill fortifications and armored vehicles with Lascannons, Plasma Cannons, and Multi-Meltas and lay waste to infantry with Heavy bolters, Heavy Flamers and Grav-Cannons. Missile launchers can fill both roles depending on which type of missile they're outfitted with.
Like many things Space Marine, the origin of Devastators dates all the way back to the Great Crusade (maybe even as far back as The Culling of the Thunder Warriors), when they were called Legion Heavy Support Squads. You can see why they were shortened to just Devastator Squads/Devastators after the Horus Heresy. Unlike Devastators, instead of only four Astartes the whole squad were able to use heavy weapons, though sometimes the fluff writers will forget this.
A Codex-compliant chapter maintains two Devastator squads in each battle company and a reserve company of Devastators. According to the Codex's writings, a scout will be assigned to a Devastator squad after receiving the Black Carapace implant. In the process of becoming a full battle-brother, he will learn how to control his power armor while he serves as an assistant gunner. In time, he will be permitted to handle the heavy weapons himself, learning their strengths and weaknesses as he gains combat experience.
Chapters that pay less homage to the Codex organize their heavy weapon brothers differently. Among the Space Wolves, the heavy weapons are the responsibility of units called "Long Fangs." They are veterans of centuries of warfare, with ash-grey hair and enormous canine teeth, who have enough skill and experience to know when and where the firepower of their Chapter's irreplaceable relics will be needed. The Blood Angels promote their scouts into Assault Squads first and then into the Devastators once the battle-brothers have worked out their aggression. Blood Angels Devastators must have control over their Red Thirst, lest they throw down their weapons and charge their foes. The Black Templars specialize in mobility and armored assaults and therefore have no formal Devastators in their ranks, instead handing the duties to the initiates and neophytes, which means they possibly have incredibly high numbers of Devastators up to the number of battle-brothers in the Chapter/Legion (assuming one Neophyte per Initiate trainer). The otherwise Codex-compliant Star Phantoms maintain an extra Devastator squad in each company over a sixth tactical squad. This is partially because they suffer such high losses in campaigns and therefore keep extra newbs, and partially because they're team-killing fucktards that like to blow shit up. As another note, the Devastator kit has a lot of sergeant Wargear for making your dudes looking cool, more so than the Tactical marine kit.
Havocs are their Chaos counterpart, just as Retributor Squad are the Sisters', Heavy Weapons Squad the IG's, and Seeker Cadre the Sisters of Silence's. Grey Knights' Purgation Squad also bear resemblance.
On the Tabletop
A Devastator squad is a unit of five to ten tactical marines with heavy weapons (much like the options available to tactical squads) with one Sergeant, who likes to pose in the light from all the explosions his squad are bound to make in his wake.
Like all firstborn Space Marines, Devastators have picked up an extra wound. Though this comes at a 5-point increase, bringing them up to 18pts per model, everything but the Heavy Bolter has gotten a points decrease and so the unit is not only much tougher but actually cheaper with most loadouts! 9th edition has been very kind to your chapter's newbies so far - and with up to 10 ablative wounds, you can feel confident loading them up with the good dakka knowing that they're far less likely to be shot off the board before they get a chance to make their points back.
- The Grav-Cannon is 10 points, down from 28. Four shots of S5 AP-3 and D2 against targets with a 3+ save or better mean it's tailor-made for shredding MEQs, while an increase in range to 30" gives you a much better chance of making the most of your doctrines and shooting something expensive off the board outright on turn one. Best of all, a whopping 13-point effective drop in price means it's gone from overcosted to incredibly points-efficient in its role. If you're facing enemy Space Marines of either flavour and want something to shred troops and elite infantry, Grav-Cannons are practically an automatic pick.
- The Heavy Bolter is 10 points, unchanged from 10. Unfortunately, despite the bump to D2 the venerable Heavy Bolter has been rendered essentially obsolete by the buffed Grav-Cannon against MEQs. For the same points cost, you gain an extra 6" of range but lose 2 points of AP and have one fewer shot. Permanent D2 instead of only against models with a 3+ save or better means it's better against things like daemons, monsters or exposed lightly-armoured characters.
- The Lascannon is 15 points, down from 25. A squad of Lascannons are cheaper than ever and bring a beefy statline of 48" Heavy 1, S9 AP-3 D6 damage. The big attraction here is S9, reliably wounding T8 heavies like the Land Raider and Monolith on a 3+, while Titans and things with Quantum Shielding, Transhuman Physiology, or other abilities that make wound rolls of 1, 2, or 3 always fail. Though the arrival of Eradicator squads is a serious nerf by proxy due to their terrifying power and point-efficiency, the Lascannon is still an effective tool, and having your heavy hitters behind 10 wounds' worth of bubble-wrap means they'll reliably be doing their jobs well after the Primaris have been shot off the board.
- The Missile Launcher is 15 points, down from 25. A classic choice, giving you a choice of either Heavy D6 S4 infantry killing or S8 AP-2 Dd6 vehicle hunting. Blast rule changes mean you'll always get the full 6 shots against infantry but even then it's far weaker than the Grav-Cannon against them, and can't keep up with the Lascannon against vehicles. Nonetheless, it's a versatile pick and means you'll always have something to fall back on, letting you adapt to the game as it progresses.
- The Multi-Melta is 20 points, down from 27. Space Marines love Melta this edition and this is no exception, gaining an extra shot for a 24" Heavy 2 statline of S8 AP-4 Dd6, with an extra D2 if fired within half range. Sucky against large groups, but if they can roll up next to a juicy target (vehicle, monstrous creature) it'll die. Note that this works against EVERYTHING, not just vehicles. A reliable but expensive pick, Multi-Melta Devastators (especially with the Cherub) make ideal "suicide melta" unit for drop pods: they'll take a slight ding to their BS since they count as having moved after Deep Striking, but the Signum can compensate for that easily. Just don't expect them to survive.
- The Plasma Cannon is 15 points, down from 21. Plasma has been hit hard by a series of indirect nerfs this edition, the extra wound on MEQs meaning they MUST overcharge to have a chance of killing, and the changes to modifiers make doing so much riskier as you'll always overheat on a roll of 1. If you're not going to support them with a reroll aura, just pick something else, you'll get better results without the high risk of becoming a 33-point crater whenever you fire.
- Note that with re-rolls, Plasma Cannons become MUCH safer and more effective. A rerollable 2+ to wound means you'll be wounding MEQs ~97% of the time, whereas the Grav Cannon's 3+ is only capable of 77%. S8 also allows you to threaten light and medium vehicles like Predators and Rhinos. And while there's no way to guarantee safe overcharging anymore, it's still a ~3% chance of blowing up under a reroll aura (~8% if you fire three shots): you will lose a model every turn or two but it's not completely suicidal. Plasma Cannon Devastators get a huge benefit from captain and lieutenant auras, and do enough damage that it isn't a waste of points to give them a couple of babysitters (especially if you take multiple squads). But if you want to use those auras elsewhere, just choose another weapon.
The Blood Angels have access to one more Heavy Weapon: the Heavy Flamer. Clocking in at 17 points each they deal D6 hits each at S5 AP-1 D1. This makes them very effective against most horde units but have a VERY short range and deal an average of 14 hits, which has a decent shot of really thinning out enemy units using Morale. But against regular Flamers, which are a lot cheaper and deal a similar amount of damage, they are not all that better. Plus, the Heavy Bolter does the same thing albeit at a lower damage output at more than four times the range, and with the difference in points you can buy two additional meat shields.
On top of that there are two other additions. The Signum of the Sergeant now lets you add 1 to all to hit rolls of a model within the unit (this can include the sergeant himself) and does not prevent the sergeant from shooting. ALWAYS USE THIS, for it is a free +1 to hit. RAW you can give him THREE pistols: one is the standard Bolt Pistol and the other two can be a mix of Bolt, Plasma and Grav pistols. The latter two are not in any way cheap, clocking in at 14 and 16 for a pair, but your opponent's face when you tell him that your Sergeant is going to shoot THRICE at 12" range with some rather nasty damage. In addition, for a small 5 points you can get yourself an Armorium Cherub who can reload the weapon of a model within the unit to let him shoot a second time and doubles as an ablative wound. This can really save your ass in certain situations, especially when using the unit as a suicide squad. Because of the way shooting works in 8th Edition you can now let any model from your unit shoot at any target within range. This means that yes, you can finally field your Devastators with a variety of guns as they're always depicted on the boxes. It's best to pick guns with similar ranges so that some guns won't have to sit the round out because there are no targets within range. Taking ablative wounds in the form of extra Devastators is advised, but not required. Similarly, Devastators get more out of fortifications in 8th, with a nice 2+ and +1Ld for a Defense Line or a Bunker for close to the cost of making the squad 10-man.
When using Power Ratings instead of points Devastators become radically more effective. Now you can pick whatever heavy weapon you want without looking at the cost, making Devastators very lethal while being only 2 points more expensive than a Tactical Squad. And not only can you take the Cherub for free, you can also gear up your sergeant at no cost. In addition to opting to give your Sergeant three pistols you can also go for a Combi-weapon instead. The Combi-Plasma has the longest range at 24" with both the Bolter and Plasma, but if you want to drop a Multi-Melta squad within 12" taking the Combi-Melta for that extra oomph might be interesting. You can fire both guns at the same time at the cost of a -1 to hit penalty. While this might seem hilarious to do it's not that good, since most targets that you need a Multi-Melta for can easily shrug off a Bolter. And having that free hidden Thunder Hammer to drop might be worth it for your opponent's look alone. You can still take the 5 extra Marines at 4 Power Rating, which will help greatly when your opponent brings their ordnance to bear against you.
|Forces of the Blood Angels|
|Command:||Apothecary - Brother-Captain - Brother-Sergeant - Chaplain |
Chapter Master - Librarian - Sanguinary Priest - Techmarine
|Troops:||Assault Squad - Devastator Squad - Sanguinary Guard - Scout Squad |
Tactical Squad - Terminator Squad - Veteran Squad
|Death Company:||Death Company - Death Company Chaplain - Death Company Terminator|
|Walkers:||Contemptor-Furioso Dreadnought - Contemptor-Incaendius Dreadnought |
Death Company Dreadnought - Dreadnought - Furioso Dreadnought
|Transports:||Razorback - Rhino|
|Vehicles:||Baal Predator - Land Raider (Land Raider Crusader - Land Raider Phobos |
Land Raider Redeemer - Land Raider Angel Infernus)
Predator Tank - Vindicator - Hunter - Stalker - Whirlwind
|Flyers:||Stormhawk - Stormraven - Stormtalon - Storm Eagle - Thunderhawk|
|Spacecraft:||Boarding Torpedo - Drop Pod - Space Marine Landing Craft|
|Allies:||Space Marines - Primaris Marines|