Sunday 15 December 2013

Super-Heavy = Super-Fun! Baneblade Variants

Well it's certainly something isn't it. Superheavies in games of 40k. After looking through the datasheets in Escalation it must be said that it looks like the Imperial Guard has come out of this on top, closely followed by Eldar and Orks. Over the next little while, the team will fill you in on the pros and cons of the superheavies available to each race, and how you can best use them.

But in the face of Escalation, and being the Imperial Guard fanboy I am, today I'm going to run through the EIGHT Baneblade variants and deconstruct how useful these fun little fortresses-on-tracks can be to your every-day game of 40k.

Having a rolling super-fortress can be fun and exciting, however I must insist that before you go and assemble that kit you've just rushed out and bought you properly consider each variant. Within the 8 patterns are 3 categories that determine the points and roles of each of these tanks: the hull-mounted cannon variants, the turret-mounted cannon variants, and the transport variants. Each is useful under different conditions (some more than others), but all are hilarious. The transport variants are the cheapest, followed by the hull-mounted cannon variants, and then finally the turret-mounted cannon variants.

Each variant shares the same basic stats and conditions: all are AV14 13 12 9HP; all are BS3, and being superheavies, all the variants can fire each of their weapons independent of one another, and ordnance has no effect on any other weapons to be fired; they cannot be stunned, shaken, immobilised or have their weapons destroyed; and unlike previous editions they CAN be the target of both beneficial and negative psychic powers. All of the variants have the opportunity to take TWO SETS of side sponsons each armed with a twin-linked heavy bolter and a lascannon for fifty points a pair, as well as a pintle-mounted heavy stubber or stormbolter for five points and a hunter-killer missile for ten. Oh yes, and any weapon that has 'Primary Weapon' in its profile behaves exactly like ordnance, without the penalties.

Knowing the basics, we'll kick things off with the transports:

Transport Variants


The cheapest of the Baneblade variants the Banehammer is surprisingly good value for points if you're worried about assault armies. Primary armament is the Tremor Cannon, a s8 ap3 7" blast primary weapon, that forces anything that survives the blast to take a dangerous terrain test. This can be quite funny against fast moving skimmers or lightly armoured but fast assault troops. This is backed up by a twin-linked heavy bolter on the front hull.
The Banehammer can transport 25 models, 10 of which can fire from the troop bay on the rear of the model, a Company Command Squad (or two) with plasmas could be ideal close defence here.

Verdict: Not the greatest of all the available superheavies, but a good support monster


One of my favourites just for the look, the Stormlord is the most expensive of the transport variants. The Vulcan Mega-bolter is a heavy 15 s6 ap3 monster, that can be fired twice in one shooting phase if the Stormlord hasn't moved. The obligatory twin-linked heavy bolter sits on the front hull.
Yet the real benefit of the Stormlord is its ability to deliver up to 40 models directly into the enemy, 20 of which can fire from the troop bay at any one time. It counts as an open-topped vehicle for the purposes of embarking and disembarking, but does not suffer the 1+ damage modifier that would normally apply. Sticking Ogryns into this thing is not only cruel but spectacularly hilarious, and encouraged.

Verdict: Great close-range support, and the potential to do some really stupid things with combat units.


The Doomhammer is a bit of a misfit in this category. Only negligably more expensive than the Banehammer it shares the same transport stats, and loadout, with the difference that the main armament is the Magma Cannon. The Magma Cannon is a s10 ap1 large blast primary weapon, an armour-killer. With a massive 60" range, the Doomhammer is your best bet if you want a superheavy with a punch, and you aren't willing to spend some extra points on the big boys.

Verdict: Not my first choice, but a solid option one for the General on a budget.

Hull-mounted Cannon Variants


The cheapest in this category, the Banesword comes as the first of the true heavy hitters. Equipped with the Quake Cannon, a s9 ap3 10" blast primary weapon (which it must be noted used to have a nifty special rule, but no more!) it packs a solid and devastating punch. A 10" blast is bigger than you think, and scattering up to 5" and still hitting the model the blast was centred on is not to be sneezed at. The ability to take a Commissariat Crew, thereby rendering all models from Codex: Imperial Guard ld10 makes the Banesword a very good anchor for your line.

Verdict: Hard-hitting and the potential to be a great support tank.


The Stormsword claims the title of being the most expensive tank in this category, and for good reason. Keeping the standard loadout of a hull-mounted twin-linked heavy bolter, the Stormsword throws up the Stormsword Siege Cannon. S10 ap1 10" blast primary weapon.... that ignores cover. That's right. It ignores cover. The only downside of this weapon is the 36" range, but there's a fair certainty it's going to kill SOMETHING every turn.

Verdict: Probably the strongest of this category for regular games, the Stormsword offers a lot for the points cost.


My baby. I love the Shadowsword. It has always been my favourite superheavy, simply because of its reputation. There's something about the profile of this variant that just..... does things to me (harr harr penis jokes). The Shadowsword is armed with the only Destroyer weapon available to the Imperial Guard at this time, and as a result has a fluff reputation for being a titan-killer. If you've seen the Destroyer weapon table, you know this is entirely possible, and in any game that will include an enemy superheavy the Shadowsword is my pick every time. The Shadowsword can claim the same Commissariat Crew upgrade as the Banesword, and can further increase its BS by 1 point (to BS4) by exchanging the lascannons on a pair of sponsons for targeters.

Verdict: My personal choice, and while not the most useful in games that don't include enemy superheavies, I still favour it for the beauty that it is.


Turret-mounted Cannon Variants


Ah the Baneblade. There is no vehicle that says more about the Imperial Guard than the Baneblade. Rugged, intimidating and armed to the teeth of its teeth the Baneblade is welcome wherever it goes. Packing in a hull-mounted demolisher cannon, a hull-mounted twin-linked heavy bolter, the Baneblade's primary armament is the turret-mounted Baneblade Cannon, backed up by the ever-present autocannon (not co-axial in these rules, sadly). The Baneblade Cannon is a s9 ap2 10" blast primary weapon that can leave serious holes in your enemy's line. With the ability to take a Commissariat Crew, and can deal out punishment like there's no tomorrow, this tank can hold your line and throw hell on the enemy without breaking a sweat.

Verdict: It's a Baneblade. Do I need to say more?


Now I've left the Hellhammer until last for a number of reasons. It's equipped in the same manner as the Baneblade, with the same available upgrades with one exception. The turret weapon of the Hellhammer is the Hellhammer Cannon, a s10 ap1 7" blast primary weapon with a 36" range that, you guessed it, ignores cover. As a result of this the Hellhammer is the most expensive of ALL the Baneblade variants. It's not hard to see how much damage the Hellhammer could do in games where the enemy has no access to superheavies, in fact in my opinion the Hellhammer is the most fearsome of all the Baneblade Variants. While it lacks the true instant-death qualities of a Destroyer weapon, the Hellhammer Cannon is literally the next best thing, and mounted on a turret, it can prove to be deadly without having to expose vulnerable side or rear armour like the Stormsword.

Verdict: The Hellhammer is the best choice in games with little chance of an enemy superheavy. Even then, if the enemy lacks destroyer weapons, the Hellhammer has a good chance of making a good account of itself before anything untoward happens.

So there you have it. I'll finish by saying that no matter your choice, I'm glad that superheavies are now a part of 40k. Despite the griping and inevitable banning from tourneys, the fact that these units are even present has broken an omni-present hegemony of 'power lists'. While they may not come into the mainstream for some time, I for one welcome the opportunity to use superheavy units, and to play against them.

It's going to make 40k a lot more unpredictable.

Make good choices,


  1. Replies
    1. You're very welcome! We'll be covering all of the available super-heavy datasheets, and hopefully keep you informed for whatever Escalation challenges you may face!

  2. Fallen guard stormlord & hellhammer are wip.. Cant wait to burn some loyalists!

    1. I've seen those photos, and I can't wait to see them on the table! Sexy stuff!


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