Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Class Guide - The Devastator

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Class Guide - The Devastator
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The Devastator Class

The most important thing for a devastator is positioning. Whereas the other classes can redeploy at a moments notice, the devastator is much less mobile, due to their heavy weapons. They compensate for this, by being the most destructive of the classes and having the longest firing ranges.

Devastators are defensive and support classes. They’re ideal at and intended for defending points and cutting off approaches. Their status as support classes goes both ways however, as unsupported devastators can easily be overrun if their enemies are able to flank them from one of the many approaches that maps tend to have. Their lack of mobility can make it so they are unable to react in time.

Devastators work best when supporting other troops, as well as when they are supported by them.

However, with the right positioning, devastators can cut swathes through the enemy, without fear of reprisal. In general, the higher ground is always to be desired. You can take greater advantage of the longer weapons range, have a greater visibility over the terrain and therefore have a greater ability to rain death on your foes. It can also mean you are a more visible target, but the devastator’s toughness and increased damage output can serve to negate this.

Tactics: The Heavy Bolter

This weapon requires the most care when positioning. It’s setup time for bracing (increased firing at the cost of immobility) as well as its tendency to overheat, means that a well chosen firing arc is essential.

In the open, the Heavy Bolter can easily mow down groups of enemies foolish enough to step into view or attempt a frontal assault. The high rate of fire coupled with high damage will make you difficult to assail head on, especially from range, with the exception of sniper weapons. With the perks, the Heavy Bolter becomes even more deadly, though no less vulnerable to flank attacks.

Tight spaces are ideal for its use as the enemy will often wander into its firing arc and be dead before they can respond. However, it also can mean that you trap yourself if you are set upon from behind, so choose your positioning with care. This usually means routes that are secured by your team. If you need to make a hasty get away, lobbing a grenade while you un-brace can increase your chances of survival.

A havoc with a heavy bolter.

Unbraced, the Heavy Bolter is a less effective weapon, with a much slower firing rate, but its use shouldn’t be neglected, especially if you are facing off against a foe attempting to close on you, or do not have the opportunity to brace. Make every shot with it count, as its slow firing rate coupled with your lack of speed will make you an easier target than you would be otherwise.

Tactics: The Lascannon

Here’s Titus casually holding a lascannon without a backpack. I don’t know either.

The lascannon is THE sniper weapon. The lascannon has the longest range and a single headshot with it will outright kill any foe who is not a devastator with an iron halo. Even then it will do devastating damage. While it has power, range and accuracy, it also has the slowest rate of fire of any weapon, which means choosing shots and positioning yourself are essential.

The Signum Link perk is an especially good partner for the lascannon, because it means you can spot foes more easily. The lascannon will have trouble with foes who close the range successfully, but the accurate wielder can still dispatch them. Sometimes, raptors who get a bit too friendly are simply lining themselves up for an easy shot. Foes who want to stand around and shoot at you are ideal because the devastators natural toughness coupled with the lascannon’s power mean you will have the natural advantage. Stalker Bolters will still pack a punch however, so don’t get complacent.

Essentially, you want to be using the lascannon where you can’t be seen or reached. Always go for the head unless the opportunity isn’t

Signum Link

there. Body shots will still count, but be less effective. Lascannons work best from the high ground, if only because of the greater view. If forced into a close quarter fight, either place your faith in your own accuracy, or switch to the bolt pistol.

Luckily, while the lascannon does make you slow, you aren’t as mobility challenged as the Heavy Bolter, so you can flee or redeploy if you must. Grenades can be useful as a stalling tool to allow you to line up a shot while the enemy is scrabbling for cover.

Tactics: The Plasma Cannon

Plasma cannon devastators look surprisingly realistic.

The plasma cannon is often seen as the ‘cheater’s’ weapon because it has no setup time, can be fired on the move, has a moderate rate of fire which is faster than the lascannon and unbraced heavy bolter, and does splash damage. Though it does overheat, it doesn’t take all that long to vent it.

The plasma cannon is the closest thing in the game to artillery, so you’ll want to pick a vantage point where you can rain down area of effect fire, rather than be firing up in arcs, as if you were lobbing water balloons.

The charged shot is devastating if used correctly, but the long set up time can leave you vulnerable, so pick occasions to do so when you won’t expose yourself to retribution, or death, before you can execute the charge.

On the other hand, however, the charged shot is an excellent way to obliterate groups of marines clumped together. With the perk for ‘Improved Plasma Charge’ this becomes an even more viable gambit. But it is a gambit, so you have to weigh the costs with the potential glory.

The plasma cannon works best when it comes to dealing with enemies trying to close range because its area of effect damage and high firing rate means that you can back away and shoot just the area that your assailant is in, rather than the assailant themselves, and still damage them. If they get too close, you can give them a kick in the chest and shoot them again. Don’t use the plasma cannon at point blank range unless you are prepared to kill yourself too. It’s a good way to get a revenge or ‘Victory in Death’ kill if you’ve no other options left.

Tactics: Bolt Pistol

Titus demonstrates the correct way to use the bolt pistol.

That’s right. This is the devastator’s valuable sidearm. Why is it valuable, you ask? Did you ever wonder what makes the devastator so slow? It’s the weapons they carry. Switch to the bolt pistol, and all of a sudden, they can run as fast as a tactical. The bolt pistol is an essential tool for getting to and from places with speed. It can make all the difference in situations where a fight might be pushed in your team’s favor through your presence, or when a boost of speed is needed to successfully escape an assailant, allowing you to fight another day… without dying first.

It also allows you to shoot on the move with a high rate of fire and high (health) damage at close quarters, without wasting heavy weapons ammo. It’s useful for fending off close quarters attackers and will kill anyone stripped of armor in a single headshot. Do not forget you carry the bolt pistol with you.

Against Tacticals

Havocs double as mobile coat racks.

These are your easiest prey. They can’t close distance as easily as assaults, and they can’t bring heavy weapons to bear to smoke you out of your position. Make no mistake, they can still flank you and still take you out at distance with the proper tools. A tactical with Favour of the Armoury emptying his pockets can make short work of you and a stalker bolter wielder has the range.

But in a ranged fight in the open, where they come at you, you have the advantage. Just don’t let them change the conditions of the fight to take it away. Sometimes grenades can be used to confuse and surprise tacticals long enough to strike the killing blow. Sometimes backing away while shooting can be enough too.

Against Devastators

Loadouts are important.

Another battle that typically results in standing and shooting, with good reason. This usually boils down to who does the most damage first, but you might be able to get the drop on them by using the bolt pistol and flanking them, if you’re desperate. This won’t work as well against plasma cannon users, but lascannon and braced heavy bolters may have trouble with it. Switching between weapons can work to your advantage too.

For example, if you’ve redeployed, with a new, lighter, high rate of fire weapon, and have the foe on the back foot. They’re readjusting to your tactical shift, when you bring out your heavy weapon and gun them down while they’re still processing what you’re doing. Grenades will probably be essential in pulling this off.

Against Assaults

These are your most difficult adversaries. In the grand scheme of the rock-paper-scissors class system, they’re the paper to the devastator’s rock and will definitely smother you if you aren’t careful.

Their speed and abilities cover lots of ground, which when mixed with a stun on arrival and their close combat focus means they can exploit your weaknesses by ambushing you without warning, and then flank or get behind you with ease and inflict lots of damage in the one place you’re handicapped, hand-to-hand combat.

Some more devastators.

There are ways to deal with them though.

The first is the tried and tested “grenade and evade”. You take an educated guess at where they’ll land (on you, most likely), throw a grenade at your feet and evade away (might be better off running). This will weaken the attacker and set them up for a few shots, another grenade, or being stomped or kicked.

The dev’s stomp is useful for stunning attackers, allowing you the chance to follow up, but you must be ready. Too often, devs rely on the stomp to finish the job, and even upgraded, it rarely will work. You have to follow up with some gun fire or a kick to the chest.

In fact, the kick will progressively stun your foe if you get the right rhythm going, and it’s quite funny to boot. While the kick will do damage, its most important role again is to set up the killing blow of either the bolt pistol or a heavy weapon.

Really, the most important thing is to not let yourself be cornered and to not let the enemy make hand to hand contact in the first place. If you can retreat while firing do so, if they get too close, kick them, BUT FOR EMPEROR’S SAKE, REMEMBER:

Kicks go in the direction you hold down. So if you are pressing back, because you’re backing away while pressing kick, you will end up kicking the thin air behind you, while you get a chain axe in the back. This also mean that if you are being snuck up on however, that you can press back and kick and kick your assailant in the face before they can successfully assassinate you like the underhanded blagard they are.

In Summary:

- Positioning is everything.

- High ground is desirable.

- Use your range to your advantage.

- Press your support role to both protect yourself and bolster your teammates.

- Arm the bolt pistol to run like a power armored gazelle.

- Keep your distance from attackers and evade and stun as needed.

- Don’t be afraid to switch weapons.

Now, enact the sacred Rite of Shooting Stuff and shoot some stuff!


  • Picture credit to Space Marine Wikia.
  • Tips based on author’s experience with Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine