Friday, 18 December 2015

Ancients of the Legions: Dreadnoughts in 30k

Dreadnoughts in the Legions

Pretty much every 30k (and 40k) gamer loves the story, look and effectiveness of marine dreadnoughts on the the table. These machines boast an exceptional stat line and can pack a vast array of potent weaponry making them a potential game changer when used in the right way. I'm going to give my views and experiences on some of the best ways to utilise and deploy your dreadnoughts in 30k

I always model and play as if the fluff and background of the 30k/40k world is happening right there. Its what the game and hobby was about when i first started playing in 1989 and i have always kept that feel since. To me that means dreadnoughts aren't just effective anti flyer platforms or an extra force org slot to get heavy weapons in, but ancient heroic Astartes who have been gifted the honour and curse and being able to continue the fight in a dreadnought chassis for their legion. These guys have experiences in battle above their normal brethren and can bring that experience to their companies and commanders. Also just because they are interred into and armoured shell and given power beyond any normal marine doesn't make them a powerful yet expendable piece like a rook or bishop in chess. That's just my view.....

There are a vast array of ways to use dreadnoughts in the game but i am going to simplify into two categories. Offensive or Non-offensive, or in other terms, assault or support. 


In simple terms this group refers to the dreadnought that likes to close range, typically to engage in melee. This might seem like the natural place for a dreadnought to be and rightly so. Supported properly a dreadnought can easily collapse a flank and turn a game around. 

The obvious choice is the Elite choice of a Contemptor talon or a Heavy choice of the new Leviathan Siege Dreadnought. Both offer the best in armour and close range armament an assault dread would need. The key thing for assault dreads is speed and support. A dread that can get into assault quickly is fine but if unsupported it can be bogged down until something that CAN hurt it comes along. Contemptors are well equipped for this having the fleet rule which helps if deployed on foot. Alternatively the other option is aerial insertion by drop pod.

a galaxy in flames
To keep each dreadnought cheap, twin claws is a good option. Each fist is still armed with an array of close range deadly weapons which can still do some damage on various targets at range. However the benefit of a second claw is only a extra melee attack (not considering the special weapon) so if the points are spare, a heavier ranged weapon might add some extra punch to the assault dread. Flamestorm cannons, multi meltas, plasma cannons, volkite culverin or assault cannons are all good options. One of the main benefits of arming your assault dread in such a way is that it will significantly increase its threat value as it can significantly engage other valuable targets with dangerous results. This will mean the enemy will most probably attempt to destroy your assault dread with more enthusiasm. The overall result being your standard marines get some of the heat taken off them, allowing them to get onto objectives with less hassle. This is the true role of an assault dread. Blowing things up and flipping tanks is great, but to do that AND protect and support your smaller power armoured brethren (and survive) is the key to assault dreads.

  • Close range heavy weapons increases the effectiveness of their strategic role.
  • They should be delivered or be able to move fast in order to reduce incoming fire.
  • armoured and shielded dreads are best suited for this role.
  • they should never be isolated and should have ample support to eliminate the things that would kill them.


This category of dreads refers to those who provide fire power and presence in a supporting fashion. Deredeo pattern dreadnoughts is a perfect example of this sort of dread though others such as the Mortis pattern and even the Leviathan can fulfil this role.

a galaxy in flames
Weaponry that has range and power is the preferred kit for this sort of dread. Anything from 24" and up is the range these guys want to be engaging in.These guys want to be hitting targets of choice with impunity and the key to that is range and power. Usually these dreads are tailored to kill a particular type of enemy and this can sometimes, though not very often reduce their efficacy once they have taken out their target.

The Support dread often packs as much fire power as a battle tank, but is slightly slower. He makes up for this by being a walker and being able to make better use of terrain. Also a slightly smaller profile allows him to utilise cover slightly better. This means that a support dread, although not as speedy in open ground, is more manoeuvrable in dense terrain, which can make a difference when needed to obtain a new firing position quickly in the backline for when say outflanking or deepstriking enemy threaten a rear objective. The primary purpose of these dreadnoughts is to eliminate a high value target at range as quickly as possible, often the lynchpin to an enemies battle plan. Taking out that spartan full of elite troops first turn and forcing them to cross no mans land in the open or dropping that storm eagle that's busting your tanks and dropping a scoring unit in your back line. When used in that effect a single turn of shooting from a support dread can turn the tide of battle. Sometimes waiting for that shot is key to victory as well.

  • long range big guns are the weapons for support dreads.
  • target high value targets at range.
  • will often operate alone in the backlines.
  • need to use cover and terrain to shield from enemy threats.


  1. As a min/maxing (but not necessarily competitive) player at heart, 40k is one of the few games where I stopped trying to min/max and started playing what I enjoy instead. I've been doing this for a lot of video games too, and while I am no longer as successful as I was when I was younger (this may also be due to getting older), I find myself enjoying the games I play much more. I don't have to use a gun that I don't like, even if I die more often. I don't have to worry about which new 40k/30k model to buy, and I can buy those Terminators and Dreadnoughts I love so much and enjoy painting them.

    What I hadn't done though, was bring this mindset to the table. This article really pointed that out to me in the second paragraph, and from now on, my Dreadnoughts won't be "that token AV12 guy to match the official artwork" or "that cool new Leviathan that MAYBE will dice an enemy gargantuan", but they will be the towering, inspiring Ancients they should be. When one of them is in danger of going down, I might move some of my squads more aggressively, as if they were outraged, while others which may have been better off cowering out of sight may make a suicidal trip to try to aid their venerable brother. I'll probably lose a lot of games because of it, but my army will be even more flavorful for it, and it's not like my army had maximized its chance of victory to begin with, with all the cool models with bad rules that I took.

    I didn't learn much that I hadn't known before from this article in terms of rules or tactics, but this article has changed the way I'm going to play my future games immensely, and I think they'll be far more entertaining and enjoyable for it, win or lose.

    1. This^^^....this is the message i have been hoping to impart on many players in the past and to hear you understand that and see its value, even if just for your own satisfaction and enjoyment in the hobby, makes me happy.

      We play this game to stimulate our imagination and to sate that sense of story telling that's so ingrained in the human psyche, and to know that you might now squeeze that little bit more excitement and entertainment from your games and hobby is what this blog is all about Red.

  2. It would be interesting to hear your opinion on Contemptor Vs Legion Dreads.

    1. Contemptor vs Castraferrum dreads.....very little in comparison i feel. The main differences are an extra 1 point frontal armour, slight weapon options variances, fleet special rule and atomantic shielding for the contemptor. Of course with a high points cost. The extra rules make the contemptor a better choice for assault dreads leaving the castraferrum better off in the support role, mostly as a mortis pattern....though in essence both can fulfil either role.

      when i overlay points requirements and restrictions over the needs of a role i see the castraferrum dreads as better, simply because they are cheaper. The minor deficiencies in the castraferrum dreads compared to the contemptors can be mitigated with some smart battlefield tactics making them a sensible first choice in terms of points efficiency.

      However....the contemptor will be the better option if you have a specific strategy (rite of war or unit selections) which will specialise the dread in its chosen role and make more use of its benefits over the castraferrum.

      Bottom line.....i always choose the castraferrum simply because its cheaper unless i know i need the perks of the contemptor.

  3. Sure, casteferrums are cheaper, and often provide pretty similar firepower in the support fire role, but most importantly contemptors look amazing, and isnt that really what it's all about?