It has only been about two weeks since the release of Warhammer 40k 7th edition and we now have our first Dataslate for the new edition. Though in hindsight it is pretty clear all Dataslates were written with 7th in mind, with their open-ended spamability. Dataslate: Space Marine Strike Force Ultra is a return to large-scale Formations with a special box set tie-in. Much ranting and raving occurred the first time this happened last December, but attaching special rules to discounted models is actually smart marketing, not price gouging for the sane of mind.

Since we know Games Workshop's intention with many of these Dataslates its hard to argue with their thought processes; out of the box, you get an instant army, with its own story, and unique rules. In addition, you get a unique Terminator Captain; another smart move by GW to capture wealthy collectors as well. As for Dataslate: Space Marine Strike Force Ultra itself let us look at what you get for $4.99.

Strength is greatest when focused into an unyielding first.
                                  --Obsidian Glaives 1st Captain Dynares

Dataslate: Space Marine Strike Force Ultra

Chapter I: The Emperors Finest
Chapter II: A Legacy of Might
Chapter III: Datasheets
Chapter IV: Glossary

$4.99 iPad

The first Chapter of Dataslate: Space Marine Strike Force Ultra covers the Formations evolution and how it was added to the arsenal of the Space Marines. Strike Force Ultra was created early on and is an integral formation found in the Codex Astartes. The formation from a storytelling standpoint, is used as a surgical strike force comprising the élite of any Space Marine 1st company.

Outside the genesis story of Strike Force Ultra, the rest of the chapter is running list of generic Space Marine fan fiction, with war stories of Lysander of the Imperial Fist and Agemman of the Ultramarines as minor highlights.

The second chapter is short timeline of famous Strike Force Ultra engagements and isn't anything you haven't read before. The real meat of Dataslate: Space Marine Strike Force Ultra is of course the formations players can use. Luckily, there isn't just one possible formation; something we have constantly seen since the holiday formations were released. So, are the three formations available worth a damn?

Formation: 1 Terminator Captain, 1 Terminator Squad, 1 Terminator Assault Squad, 1 Land Raider Crusader or Redeemer.

Formations Restrictions: Terminator Captain & Terminator Assault Squad must deploy embarked in the Formations's Land Raider

The Terminator Squad must be composed of only five models, and most be deployed via Deep Strike.

The Assault Terminator must be composed of only five models.

Special Rules: Maximum Impact, Swift Deployment

Units from this Formation have the Hammer of Wrath special rule on any turn in which they disembark from this Formation’s Land Raider.

This Formation’s Terminator Squad can Run and shoot on the turn it arrives by Deep Strike.

Analysis: This formation has some interesting ideas, but the focus on only the Terminators is a major drawback, as is the inflexible nature of the unit construction. Hammer of Wrath for S4 hits isn't all the devastating especially when you only have 6 models at most doing it. Swift Deployment though is tactical asset for any Deep Striking force to avoid template shots.

Formation:  1 Terminator Squad, 1 Terminator Assault Squad, 1 Stormraven Gunship, 1 Venerable Dreadnought

Formations Restrictions: The Venerable Dreadnought and Terminator Assault Squad must deploy embarked in the Formation’s Stormraven Gunship.

The Terminator Squad must be composed of only five models, and most be deployed via Deep Strike.

The Assault Terminator must be composed of only five models.

Special Rules: Fury of the Storm, Swift Deployment

Units from this Formation have the Hammer of Wrath special rule on any turn in which they disembark from this Formation’s Stormraven Gunship.

This Formation’s Terminator Squad can Run and shoot on the turn it arrives by Deep Strike.

Analysis: This formation is just too similar to the previous formation and only really offers the Stormraven as a tactical difference. It is also a lost opportunity, by not giving some special rule to the Venerable Dreadnought. As it is this formation seems like nothing more than an extraneous way to shoehorn a model for people to buy.

Formation: Hammerfall Assault Force Formation, Skyspear Assault Wing Formation

Formations Restrictions: The units in this Formation must adhere to all of the restrictions detailed in each of the corresponding Formation datasheets.

Special Rules: Fury of the Storm, Swift Deployment, Maximum Impact, Ultra Strike

The units in this Formation retain all of the special rules specified in the corresponding Formation datasheets.

As long as this Formation’s Terminator Captain is still alive, the controlling player makes Reserve Rolls for any of this Formation’s units from his first turn.

Analysis: The the final formation is an epic, with a tactical special rule that makes it quite unique. Not only does it bring an element of Deathwing to the table, but allows you to bring on a flyer on in your first turn! You can also deploy your entire force in reserve for the first turn, now to make sure you don't lose instantly to bad rolling, make sure to take a Comm Relay or Tigurius for some assurances. This biggest drawback with this formation if the point costs; even if you didn't take any upgrades Strike Force Ultra will cost 1485 points, leaving only 15 to spare in a 1500 point army.

Dataslate: Space Marine Strike Force Ultra because of the point investment is a interesting way to play a non-apoc force. If you have dreams of a Terminator army without playing Dark Angels you cannot go wrong with Strike Force Ultra. Since the new edition of Warhammer allows everything to score you won't feel like you have to take Troops to complete the rest of your army. Exploiting the right Chapter though can really help out if you want to get the most out of a Strike Force Ultra only force. Salamanders, Black Templars, and Iron Hands come to mind as the best exploiters of these formations. The Salamander Chapter Tactics really helps this formation with the more Heavy Flamers the better, but the Iron Hands with their reliance is your best choice if you want your units to stay on the battlefield the longest.

In summary...

Dataslate: Space Marine Strike Force Ultra isn't the best Dataslate, but is a fun addition, used properly can be a great storytelling device for any narrative game. As for competitive play, the smaller detachments don't add enough, and there lack the flexibility make them expensive investments without providing clear tactical advantages. The Strike Force Ultra formation itself, while can present many foes with problems, is susceptible like any other élite force to mass shooting and a few bad dice. Unlike the Leviathan Rising series their isn't enough extra filler to make the $4.99 purchase really worth it, but if you are diehard Marine player or just bought the new box set you will get something out of this Dataslate.

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