On the surface, Aggressors seem like a fairly simple unit – shoot a lot at infantry, make them die, repeat. You’ll certainly get a lot of mileage out of them that way, but, like all Space Marine units, they’re surprisingly versatile. When playing with Aggressors, you’ll want to remember the 3 Ds – Distraction, Defense, and Destruction.
Firstly, it’s worth running down the key features of the Aggressors:
They’re durable – 2 Wounds apiece, at Toughness 5, with a 3+ Save.
They’re quicker than you’d think – Aggressors can advance and fire without penalties to hit.
They’re shooty – they can fire their weapons twice if they remain still.
They pack a nasty punch in close combat – each has a couple of power fist attacks.
Aggressors are a valuable distraction unit in any Space Marines army. A popular tactical concept in Warhammer 40,000 circles is the “Distraction Carnifex” – named for the iconic Tyranid unit, a “Distraction Carnifex” is a unit that’s durable and has the potential to cause a lot of damage if it’s ignored. Aggressors are great for this role; for about 120 points, you’re getting three Toughness 5, Space Marines with 2 Wounds each and a 3+ Save with a pile of power fist attacks and respectable shooting.
While they might be a little slow, your opponent will be forced to dedicate a considerable amount of fire to getting rid of the Aggressors before they get into combat range; a squad equipped like this will need, on average, 60 (!) bolter shots to shift.
As the unit is made up of 3 models, you’ve even got a little insurance against lascannons and other high damage weapons that larger units like Dreadnoughts and Carnifexes lack because excess Wounds are not carried over to the rest of the unit once a model is slain. This is further improved by an accompanying Primaris Apothecary. Throw in some durability-boosting Chapter Tactics like Shadow Masters or The Flesh Is Weak and your opponent is going to have to work very hard to take these guys off the board – while your more fragile offensive units like Hellblasters are free to wreak merry havoc.
Aggressors are perhaps the best defensive unit in the Space Marines codex, and are perfectly suited to shielding your other, more vulnerable models. Again, they’re very effective for their points cost, meaning a unit or two isn’t a significant investment, and you’ll only need a few to fill this role.
Positioning is one of the most important new mechanics in Warhammer 40,000 – remember that you can’t move units within 1″ of any enemy units. In practical terms, you can use this to your advantage by placing your Aggressors so that enemy units either cannot approach you or are forced to charge the Aggressors if they want to get into combat with a more vulnerable unit – and thus will have to eat a double overwatch attacks from them in the process. Two units of 3 Aggressors can deny an enormous amount of ground.
The best use of Aggressors in this way is at the front of an Ultramarines gunline. This force enemy assault units to charge the Aggressors first, allowing you to double tap them with flamers on Overwatch, then after they fall back, you can hit them AGAIN with flamers thanks to Codex Discipline, and then finish the job with a couple of Devastator squads.
Aggressors add considerable anti-infantry firepower to a Space Marines army, and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of using them just for offence. Once the Aggressors are in range, they put out a dizzying amount of firepower – the average casualty counts for an optimal shooting attack says it all:
3 Aggressors with flamestorm gauntlets, firing after remaining stationary, against:
(all numbers are after saves!)
Imperial Guardsmen and Ork Boyz have turned out to be some of the surprise stars of the new edition, and thanks to the sheer volume of attacks and useful morale-manipulating mechanics are deadly on the tabletop. If you’re building a tournament army, you need something to deal with these units, and as you can see, the Aggressors are an excellent choice.
While it’s not their primary role, high volumes of flame weapons can be surprisingly effective against light vehicles and monsters. One popular skimmer is the Voidweaver, and a unit of Aggressors equipped as above can handily destroy one in a round of shooting, while combining the Aggressors with the Salamanders Stratagem Flamecraft (+1 to wound with flame weapons) and Vulkan He’stan (reroll wounds with flame weapons and melta weapons) allows them to destroy even larger targets such as Carnifexes with ease thanks to sheer volume of fire.
Combining the 3 Ds:
Aggressors are ultimately best used as a combination unit. Place 2 units of 3-6 Aggressors at the front line of your forces and keep them ahead by advancing every turn and firing. This is your Defence. As you advance up the board, your opponent will be forced to deal with the Aggressors fist, shielding your other units – this is the Distraction. Finally, once you’re in range, either charge into a brutal melee or unleash hell with your weapons – this is the Destruction.
You’ll want to support this battleline with some characters – many Space Marine armies will include a Captain, a Lieutenant or two and a Primaris Apothecary, which serve this role quite well. Combined, this makes for a 600 point anvil which a variety of armies can be built around with plenty of space for experimentation in a 2000 point list.
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