Manticore Tactics - Warhammer 40K Blog

Manticore Tactics – Warhammer 40K Blog

This is the third in the series of Astra Militarum - today its Manticore Tactics

Approximate Reading Time: 13 minutes

Today we welcome back Cadian Sergeant Steel for another guest post. Over to him… In this Tactica article, I’ll be covering one of the best pieces of Astra Militarum Artillery. This is not an exaggeration. If all other Guard artillery is the hammer, then this is the anvil falling from the sky onto your opponents. Let us take a look at how the Manticore works and some Manticore Tactics Tactics.This is the third in a series of articles so stay tuned after this one for my last article in the series on the Deathstrike! I was originally going to do the Deathstrike with the Manticore, but for several reasons, I have chosen to separate them into two smaller articles. One reason is they do play so differently and deserve a different kind of focus. Another reason is the time and energy it can take to put an article like this together. I want to make sure you the reader get the most out of it. So I have decided to focus all of my time and energy on just one unit this time. This unit is quite deserving of such attention. Enjoy!

Previous articles in this series by Cadian Sergeant Steel:

Astra Militarum Artillery

Astra Militarum Artillery units are some of the toughest and hardest hitting units in the army. These units smash apart enemy vehicles, turn enemy troop units into dust, and pick out those troublesome units in the backfield and turn them into a memory. Well deployed Astra Militarum Artillery can truly swing the tide of a battle. They are by no means an auto-win but used correctly they can give a commander that extra helping hand. 

Today we will be exploring the Manticore.

Manticore Tactics

The Manticore is a supremely deadly piece of Guard Artillery. It’s Storm Eagle Rockets can annihilate the hardiest of enemy units from the battlefield. At 143 points with its regular weapon load-out of a hull mounted heavy bolter, it’s almost a steal.

Manticore - Manticore Tactics

Manticore – Manticore Tactics

Stat Line and Weapon

This unit’s stats that matter most are Movement 12″, BS 4, S 6, T 7, W 11, Sv 3+.

Did you notice the subtle difference between other Astra Militarum artillery units? This one is toughness 7! I expect this is because it’s not Open Topped like the Hydra, Wyvern and Basilisk. Those models were Open Topped in 7th edition and easier to destroy. Now, in 8th, Open Topped is gone and it seems to be those models now get Toughness 6 instead. A lot simpler indeed now.  That is a big deal for survivability of a unit that has limited time to do what it needs to on the battlefield. More on that later…

Its main weapon is the Storm Eagle Rocket. It has a range of 120″. It is Heavy 2D6, Str 10, AP -2, D3 Damage. However, these bad boys have a huge limitation.  You can only fire one Storm Eagle Rocket per turn. Additionally, you can only fire it up to four times per game. This can cause some anxious moments when deciding whether or not to fire Overwatch with the main weapon. Like other Astra Militarum artillery units though, this main weapon can target enemy units that are not visible to the bearer.

Manticores can be taken in a squadron of up to 3 in which after deployment each model acts and is treated as an independent unit.

A Manticore comes standard with a hull-mounted Heavy Bolter and can swap it out for a Heavy Flamer.

Manticore Weapon Range - Manticore Tactics

Manticore Weapon Range – Manticore Tactics

A note on Overwatch

When using the Manticore, keep in mind its primary weapon can only be fired once per turn. This makes it possible to run out of missiles less than halfway through the game. Each battle round has two turns, your’s and your opponent’s. If you get first turn in the game, fire the missile, then your opponent charges you in their turn and you overwatch with the Storm Eagle Rockets, you have now used half of your shots!

If the enemy unit perishes in melee to your Manticore (maybe you had some Bullgryns that got into the mix too), then it is possible to run out of missiles during the second battle round. This could be a very effective counter to the Manticore, and you, with a responsibility to the Emperor, should be careful not to waste precious munitions.

Using the Defensive Gunners stratagem so your Manticore hits on 5’s and 6’s in overwatch could make it worth firing. That is only one less than your regular ballistic skill which is probably what you’d be at after melee with a formidable enemy unit.

Another point to consider is you can only fire the Storm Eagle Rocket once as overwatch in a turn. Your opponent could plan to charge your Manticore with multiple units. If a unit charging is far away, say 11″, and is unlikely to succeed, you probably shouldn’t use your only chance to fire the Storm Eagle Rocket during this charge phase. Your opponent could do this to intentionally draw fire away from his more important charging unit that is closer and more likely to succeed.

Keep a level head under pressure, guardsman! Don’t let the enemy make you waste precious munitions! Remember, it is better to die a martyr than to be found guilty of wasting resources by the Departmento Munitorum.

Right back to the Manticore Tactics article…

Manticore Weapon Range during friendly games at the shop :-)

Manticore Weapon Range during friendly games at the shop :-)

How to Use – Manticore Tactics

Just like other guard artillery, you should find somewhere within your deployment zone to put them where the enemy either can’t see them or can barely see them. You should protect your Manticore with either plenty of infantry bubble wrap or plenty of other units so the enemy cannot Deep Strike or charge into your Artillery. Most importantly, hide this one the best of all the artillery you bring. Most of the time it only has four turns to do its job and you will most likely have spent more points on the Manticore than other artillery units.

With its long range and no need of line of sight of enemy units, you’ll be hitting anything you want on the table so tuck it into the deepest and most covered deployment area you can.

At Str 10, you’ll be wounding everything known to the Imperium on 3’s and even elite infantry on 2’s. Having AP -2, the Manticore will be punching through standard armour enough to make a difference. Enemy 3+ armour falling to 5+ is nothing to shrug off as an opponent.

The Manticore works best against big, heavy units such as Daemon Primarchs or Renegade Knights and also is highly effective against tough multi-wound elite infantry. With its 2D6 shots, you will on average get 7 attacks with the Storm Eagle Rocket. 7 Strength 10 shots? That’s definitely good enough to make those renegade traitors think twice about continuing the fight against the mighty Astra Militarum! If not, you’ll be delivering those fools quickly and mercilessly to their false gods!


Another use to consider is against Fortifications. Strength 10 guarantees you wound even the greatest of bulwarks on a 4+ and the majority of them on 3+. However, be careful not to think you could outdo the mighty Imperial Fists when doing a siege on a Fortification. Believing you could outperform the Holy Space Marines is heresy!


So let’s use Cadian Shocks’ MathHammer App and see how this stacks up to a traitor Space Marine Predator tank.

Enemy Unit: Toughness 7, 11 Wounds, and Save 3+.

  • 7 shots
  • 3.5 hits
  • 2.3 wounds
  • 1.6 failed saves
  • 3.1 damage dealt

You’ve already taken this heretic tank halfway to its next statistic profile which starts at 5 wounds remaining. Not bad for shooting a tank who needs to see you to shoot back. But you’re a well trained Imperial Guardsmen. Your artillery is superior and well hidden!

If you’re Manticore is not well hidden from the enemy, report to your regimental commissar should you survive the battle to receive your punishment, a swift and just execution, for clearly aiding the traitors.

Cadian Regiment Manticore

Cadian Regimental Doctrine Born Soldiers & Stratagem Overlapping Fields of Fire

The Cadian Regimental Doctrine Borne Soldiers allows all Cadian regimental units who didn’t move in the previous shooting phase to re-roll ones during their shooting phase. For 2 Command Points, after a unit from your army has inflicted an unsaved wound on an enemy unit, you can add 1 to the hit rolls for all other units that target that enemy unit this phase. Once you’ve gotten a couple Battle Cannon wounds through thanks to your Leman Russ armoured support, time to lay mass destruction upon your opponent’s unit with a 3+ Ballistic Skill!

MathHammer – Cadian Revisited

With Born Soldier and Overlapping Fields of Fire in place, let’s look at the math again.

  • 7 shots
  • 5.4 hits
  • 3.6 wounds
  • 2.4 failed saves
  • 4.84 damage dealt

Fething amazing, Guardsmen! With that single wound already dealt (if not more) from your supporting Battle Cannon earlier in the shooting phase, you’ve more than halfway taken down the traitor Predator tank.

Cadian Sergeant Steel's Manticore - Manticore Tactics

Cadian Sergeant Steel’s Manticore – Manticore Tactics

Catachan Regiment Manticore

Catachan Regimental Doctrine – Brutal Strength

The Catachan Regimental Doctrine allows each vehicle with ranged weapons that make a random number of attacks to re-roll one of the dice used to determine the number of attacks. That means you roll 2D6 and re-roll your worst roll. This will help you maximize the number of shots you can make each time you fire the Storm Eagle Rocket. Note that this doctrine isn’t limited to your shooting phase meaning you can also do this during overwatch. If my math is correct, this gives you an average of 8.46 shots!

Catachan – Sergeant Harker

Sergeant Harker, an elite slot choice, gives all Catachan units within 6″ of him re-roll 1’s in the shooting phase. Now your artillery units have the Cadian Born Soldiers Doctrine. Yikes!

So let’s look at it via MathHammer!

MathHammer – Catachan

With the regimental doctrine and Sergeant Harker in place trying to kill a toughness 7 Predator you get:

Enemy Unit: Toughness 7, Wounds 11, and Save 3+.

  • 8.5 shots
  • 4.9 hits
  • 3.3 wounds
  • 2.2 failed saves
  • 4.4 damage dealt

That much damage to a Predator is an excellent use of this mighty unit. A few more shots from a reliable Veteran Lascannon Team or a brave guardsman with a Meltagun and that Predator tank will be nothing but the cover for your advancing regiment!

Master of Ordnance – Re-rolls for All Regiments

The Master of Ordinance is a 30 points Elite choice that allows re-rolls for fellow regiment Basilisks, Wyverns, Manticores, or Deathstrikes when they target enemy units more than 36″away as long as the regiment unit is within 6″. This model is a good choice for those Regiments that are not Cadian.

As soon as the enemy is within the 36″ bubble though, the Master of Ordinance is only good for his one use only artillery barrage attack. It isn’t bad at 100″ range, Heavy D6 shots, S 8, AP -2, d3 damage. MathHammering it, with all available Cadian buffs (Born Soldiers, Overlapping Fields of Fire) and line of sight (if you can’t see the target, it is -1 to ballistic skill), you will do 3 wounds to a Predator tank. Add the 4 or 5 you just did with the Manticore, the traitors will realize they never had a chance against the Will of the Emperor!

4 Shots: Turn 5 and Beyond

As stated earlier, the Manticore can only fire four Storm Eagle Rockets total before it runs out. Without being pressured into firing any in overwatch, this means you should run out of missiles by turn 5.

Two things can happen because of this. First, your opponent can feel pressured to act on the Manticore as soon as he can knowing how strong it is but also that you won’t need it after turn 4 (or so he thinks…). Take advantage of this in your tactics if so.

Second, if your opponent hasn’t beaten your Manticore down, you just got a very tough 12″ moving unit in Turn 5 that can score objectives! Don’t forget you also have a Heavy Bolter mounted on the front. You may even be able to knock down a few more infantry models in the late game.

A Short Story – 2017 Steel City Showdown Grand Tournament

A fellow Cadian player did this to me during our match-up at the 2017 Steel City Showdown Grand Tournament. He hid his Manticores deep in his backline out of sight of my primary force. He pressured me into using my two Earthshaker Carriages on his Leman Russ’ and super heavy Baneblade variant. This left his Manticores unscathed. I ran Bullgryns and other units up as fast as my list would allow in an attempt to tie the Manticores up but to no avail. I got one squad of Tempestus Scions in on a charge around turn 4.

However, being mostly unscathed, he drove 12″ away and then burned the Scions to oblivion with a Hellhound. By turn 5, the Manticores were driving out of cover and onto critical objectives. That strategy helped drastically to win him the game.

Photo from Steel City Showdown - Upper left corner are two Manticores deep in cover - Manticore Tactics

Photo from Steel City Showdown – Upper left corner are two Manticores deep in cover – Manticore Tactics


Manticore Tactics in Narrative Style Play and Apocalypse Games

During large narrative or Apocalypse sized games, the Manticore is a fantastic unit. Having that deep in your backline can help you and your opponent feel the scale of the game. You can truly reach out and touch almost anyone with the 120″ range while driving your opponent to want to infiltrate or overrun your lines to stop it.

Adding the Forge World Trojan Support Vehicle to buff it can make it that much deadlier. You will be getting an average of 6 wounds a Shooting Phase against models you can’t see with the maximized buffs.

Manticore Tactics Conclusion

The Manticore is probably the strongest Astra Militarum artillery unit in the codex. Having one is great for competitive lists and wonderful for narrative games. Having 2 or 3 may leave your games ending a few turns earlier than anticipated.

I hope this MathHammer and in-depth rules breakdown about Manticore Tactics helps you decide how to build your lists moving forward. Until next time, be sure to report any fellow guardsmen who might be mumbling apparent gibberish to your Commissar and most of all have fun!

Cadian Sergeant Steel's Manticore, Wyvern and Hydra - Manticore Tactics

Cadian Sergeant Steel’s Manticore, Wyvern and Hydra – Manticore Tactics

Finally, expect more on Astra Militarum Artillery in the future with the Deathstrike!