"We go where we wilt. We slay who we wilt. Let the Emperor judge the righteousness of our deeds."
- — Sergeant D'Kestrel, 1st Company, Raven Guard
Vanguard Veterans are Veteran Space Marines of the elite 1st Company in Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters who specialise in close combat. Every member of the 1st Company is proficient in all manner of weaponry and stands as a living exemplar of the ideals and purpose of the Chapter. Often referred to as a Captain's "Iron Fist," Vanguard Veterans are constantly in motion. As soon as one foe is annihilated, fresh orders dispatch the Vanguard Veterans to another corner of the battlefield, there to apply murderous skill in the Emperor's name.
A Vanguard Veteran Squad is formed from those Space Marines of the Chapter's 1st Company who have completely immersed themselves in the art of close-quarters combat. Most of them have served lengthy rotations in the Chapters' Assault Squads prior to their promotion, and their skills with Chainsword and Combat Knife have been honed and tested in the crucible of bloody melee on a thousand war-torn worlds. It is said that, were a Vanguard Veteran armed only with his fists and his wits, he would still best dozens of foes, and when armed with the Bolt Pistol and Chainsword of his trade, the same Veteran could face ten times that number and emerge victorious. With the vaunted weaponry of the Chapter's Armoury at their disposal, Vanguard Veterans take to the fray armed and ready to reap like a bloody whirlwind through entire armies. These weapons are each ancient and revered heirlooms. It is an enormous privilege for a Space Marine to wield such an instrument of destruction in battle. It is of little surprise, therefore, that a Vanguard Veteran fights all the harder with such weapons in hand, not merely to survive the deadly cut and thrust of combat, but to honour both his battle gear's Machine Spirits and the memories of every hero who wielded the same relics in past wars.
Whilst they can be deployed at the forefront of an assault, most Chapters employ their Vanguard Veterans as rapid-response forces, using Jump Packs or Rhinos to reposition and apply crucial pressure to an already over-taxed enemy defence, or to reinforce overmatched allies. Vanguard Veterans are famed for arriving at the time and place where their onslaught can make the most difference to a battle. Vanguard Veterans use speed itself as a weapon, to strike at the foe wherever he least expects; this was the way of war for jump troops in the ancient days of the Space Marine Legions, and it still serves well today. Such duty is arduous and never-ending, and Vanguard Veteran Squads are often referred to as a Captain's "iron fist." They are constantly in motion: as soon as one foe is annihilated, fresh orders dispatch the Vanguard Veterans to another corner of the battlefield, there to apply their murderous skill in the Emperor's name.
Of all the fighting formations that make up a Codex-compliant Space Marine Chapter, it is the 1st Company which is most feared. For an Astartes to join the 1st Company is for him to have won renown on battlefields uncounted and to have earned the respect of his Battle-Brothers through deeds of blood and honour. Most such Veterans have served as Sergeants elsewhere in the Chapter-- sometimes for centuries -- before being accepted into the 1st Company, but a notable few are elevated after performing insane acts of heroism. Every member of the 1st Company is proficient in all manner of Astartes weaponry and stands as a living exemplar of the ideals and purpose of the Chapter. With such status comes the right to select weapons of choice from the Chapter's Armoury and, as a result, Veteran Squads are much less rigid in composition and doctrine than other Space Marine formations. They are often equipped and ordered to undertake highly specialised missions that can prove to be force multipliers, such as slaying an Ork Warboss and his bodyguard of Nobs or preventing a wave of Eldar Aspect Warriors from joining the main body of an enemy Eldar force. Vanguard Squads are formed from those members of the 1st Company that completely immerse themselves in the art of close-quarter combat. Most have completed lengthy service rotations in their Chapter's Assault Squad, their skills tested and honed in the crucible of bloody melee on a hundred worlds.
Power Swords, Plasma Pistols and Power Fists are all common sights in Vanguard Veteran Squads, and Thunder Hammers, Lightning Claws and rarer weaponry are also employed as the engagement requires. These weapons are not employed lightly, for they are without exception all ancient and revered artefacts of the Chapter. A Vanguard Veteran who returns from the field of battle without his armament is subject to the Chapter's gruelling rites of penance. Whilst they can be deployed at the forefront of an assault, most Chapters employ their Vanguard Veterans as rapid-response forces, using Jump Pack or Rhino transport to apply crucial pressure to an already over-taxed enemy defence, or to reinforce overmatched allies. Often referred to as a Space Marine Captain's "Iron Fist," Vanguard Veterans are constantly in motion.
- Artificer Power Armour
- Terminator Armour, Optional
- Bolter or Bolt Pistol
- Storm Bolter, Optional
- Frag Grenades and Krak Grenades
In addition to all standard Astartes wargear, Vanguard Veterans can choose various close-combat weapons from their Chapter's Armoury, including the following:
- Lightning Claws
- Thunder Hammer
- Storm Shield
- Power Fist
- Power Sword
- Relic Blade
- Plasma Pistol
- Melta Bomb
Optional Vanguard Veteran Wargear
- Plasma Pistol
- Combi-Melta, Combi-flamer, or Combi-plasma gun
- Missile Launcher
- Plasma Gun
- Plasma Cannon
- Heavy Flamer
- Heavy Bolter
Vanguard Veterans can also choose one of the following transport options to move into combat rapidly:
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 86-87, 170
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 62-63, 139