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Warhammer 40k Salamanders - a brotherhood forged in battle

Salamanders Space Marines bring the fires of their wrathful homeworld against their foes - our guide introduces their lore and their tabletop tactics

Warhammer 40k Salamanders - cover art from Deathfire, showing three green-armoured marines advancing through a firestorm

The Warhammer 40k Salamanders Space Marines are loyal servants of the Imperium. They hail from the volcanic world of Nocturne, and take their name from the great reptiles that stalk its mountains. Every brother is a skilled artisan, able to craft arms and armour that rival the masterworks of other chapter armouries.

The Salamanders are unusually hardy warriors, even for Space Marines, with regenerative capabilities similar to the saurians they are named for. Their favoured weapons are the hammer, the flamer, and the meltagun, and they channel the fiery breath of the dragons of ancient Terran myth.

You’ll enjoy fielding the Salamanders Warhammer 40k faction on the tabletop if you think ‘firepower’ should be a literal term – they have a number of bonuses that give them a deadly advantage when setting their enemies alight.

Warhammer 40k Salamanders - illustration by Games Workshop of the Primarch Vulkan, a giant in ornate armour wielding a sword

The Promethean Cult

While loyal to the Emperor of Mankind, the Salamanders also follow the Promethean Cult, which incorporates Nocturnean folklore and the teachings of the Primarch Vulkan. This philosophy shapes the legion both in battle and outside it.

The Salamanders creed uses images and metaphors from forge craft: the flame, the hammer, the anvil, the tempering of metal. The Salamanders war cry reflects their beliefs: “Into the Fires of Battle, unto the Anvil of War!”

Salamanders successor chapters

There are very few Salamanders successor chapters. At the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the Salamanders legion was in the first wave of troops to deploy to the surface of Istvaan V in an effort to crush the traitorous Horus Lupercal. They were betrayed – instead of reinforcements, the legions in the second wave of the assault met them with a hail of murderous gunfire.

Caught in the crossfire, the Salamanders were almost annihilated on the black sands of Istvaan V. Some few escaped, and would play a small part in the war that followed as guerillas, but the legion was broken.

When Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines enacted the second founding, which saw the legions broken up into the far smaller Space Marine chapters, there simply weren’t enough Salamanders alive to warrant the legion being broken apart.

In the millennia since the Heresy several chapters of unknown provenance are rumoured to have been created using Salamanders genestock, but it wasn’t until the Era Indomitus that a substantial number of Salamanders successor chapters would appear. These chapters were founded from the Primaris Space Marine created in their tens of thousands by the Adeptus Mechanicus arch-magos Belisarius Cawl.

Warhammer 40k Salamanders army - diorama photograph by Games Workshop, a massed force of green armoured Salamanders Space Marines, dreadnought walkers and tanks


The Salamanders recruit from their Primarch’s home planet Nocturne and have their fortress monastery and great forges on the moon Prometheus. Nocturne is an inhospitable, volcanic world, its surface cracked by volcanoes and stalked by the great lizards from which the chapter draws its name.

The baleful light of Nocturne’s sun, as well as the gene-seed of their forefather Vulkan, give each Salamander night-black skin and burning red eyes.

Relics of Vulkan

Vulkan was an artisan without equal, and many relics of Vulkan endure to this day – indeed, the living ancient Bray’arth Ashmantle is interred within a dreadnought chassis forged by the Primarch himself. Nine great artefacts belonging to the Primarch are recorded in the Salamanders’ Tome of Fire.

It is a holy task for the Salamanders to recover their Primarch’s lost legacy, and five of the ancient artefacts have already been found. Legend has it that when all nine are reunited, the Salamanders gene-father will be returned to them once more.

Warhammer 40k Salamanders - cover art from Deathfire, showing three green-armoured marines advancing through a firestorm

Are Salamanders the good guys of Warhammer 40k?

Salamanders are 8 foot tall genetically manipulated super-soldiers who fight on behalf of a violently racist theocracy – Salamanders aren’t good guys. They have burned whole cities of Imperial civilians to guarantee the deaths of Chaos renegades, and they have committed genocide against entire xenos races.

However, Salamanders have a well-earned reputation for being the most human-like of the Space Marines, and the most likely to attempt to preserve human life. Salamanders who aren’t in active duty are partially integrated with the population of Nocturne, acting as community leaders. Salamanders see their duty as a shield of the Emperor’s people, as well as his righteous sword.

This has led them into conflict with other chapters. A company of Salamanders joined the Black Templars in the defence of Hive Helsreach during the Ork War on Armageddon. Several Black Templar counter-offensives were stymied when the Salamander chose to defend civilians rather than press the assault.

Warhammer 40k Salamanders - a mixture of Primaris Aggressor and Terminator models, partially painted as Salamanders

Warhammer 40k Salamanders army

Salamanders are an up-close and personal Space Marine army. Like all their brethren, they have access to a huge armoury of elite troops and specialised vehicles. They combine this with durability, exceptional skill with flamer and melta weaponry, and surprising melee punch.

Key army features Salamanders
Current codex books Codex Space Marines 9th edition
Salamanders Codex supplement 8th edition
Chapter Tactic When a Salamanders unit is wounded, it ignores the AP characteristic of any weapons with AP-1.
Each time a unit is selected to attack, it can reroll a single failed to-wound roll.
Combat doctrine bonus While the Tactical Doctrine is active, Salamanders gain +1 to wound with melta and flame weapons
Unique units Advrax Agatone, Primaris Captain
Vulkan He’Stan, Forgefather

Warhammer 40k Salamanders - diorama photograph by Games Workshop, an army of Primaris Salamanders space marines in Green armour advance in front of their vehicles

Salamanders flamer and melta weapons

During the Tactical Doctrine, Salamanders get +1 to hit and +1 to wound with flamer and melta weapons. Space Marines have several ways to load up with these types of gun – Primaris Eliminators remain the premier anti-tank platform for Space Marines, while Primaris Aggressors and Centurion Assault Squads both bring giant fists and flamethrowers to the party.

The Warlord Trait Lord of Fire automatically maximises the number of hits that units near the warlord score when using flamer weapons, and the Flamecraft stratagem does the same thing for 2CP. Vulkan He’Stan’s Forgefather ability allows him to pick a single core unit to gain rerolls to hit and to wound with flamer and melta weapons for the round.

All these buffs pair well with the stratagem The Fires of Battle, which for a single CP allows you to generate additional mortal wounds when making to-wound rolls of 4+ with flame or melta weapons. While this is capped at three mortal wounds, it’s an incredibly efficient way to guarantee your foes end up extra crispy.

Warhammer 40k Salamanders, primaris captain in green gravis armour

Salamanders melee tactics

Salamanders aren’t a premier close combat faction like the Blood Angels or Space Wolves, but they shouldn’t avoid it either – Salamanders melee tactics are perfectly valid.

The Strength of the Primarch stratagem grants a unit +1 strength, and causes to-wound rolls of six to deal double damage. Apply this to a Vanguard Veteran squad with Thunder Hammers and they will strike at an effective Strength 10, with some hits dealing six damage.

Add The Crucible of Battle stratagem, which grants an additional +1 to wound in any phase, or Adrax Agatone’s Unto the Anvil aura which applies a similar buff to charging units, and you have a melee unit that can remove almost any vehicle in the game in one round of combat.

The Immolation Protocols stratagem allows a unit to treat its flame weapons as pistols – this allows them to shoot into melee, and importantly allows your army to progress into the Assault Doctrine while retaining an option for an AP bonus on flame weapons.