- "The deeds of one bold warrior can alter the course of a battle. I have four such men under my command, and our every deed changes the shape of the galaxy."
Veteran Marines are those Astartes in the Loyalist Space Marine Chapters who have gained considerable experience in the service of their Chapter and often serve in the Chapter's elite 1st Company which is comprised solely of Veterans or as an elite corps within a Chapter's other companies.
Veteran Squads are exclusively a part of the 1st Company of the Chapter. The Veteran Squad's white tactical symbol is based on the Crux Terminatus used by the Chapter's Terminators. There are many variations of this symbol and the Codex Astartes not only approves the use of these variations but also encourages the Master of the Chapter to regularly change the symbol to confound the Chapter's foes.
Company Veterans form the fighting centre of the company command. They will often serve as bodyguards, a small but elite strike force or a bulwark on the battlefield, ready to lead an offensive or shore up any flagging battle line. All Company Veterans are hand-chosen warriors; they may be selected for their long and accomplished service, or simply for their courage and combat abilities.
The Chapter Armoury is opened for these Veterans, allowing them to equip themselves for the task ahead; for instance, those expecting to find themselves in the press of melee might trade Bolters for Power Weapons and Storm Shields, while Veterans serving in a more back-field role have a variety of ranged weapons available to them. Regardless of armament, it is their role to protect their commanding officer and any of the company-level specialists that might attach themselves to the company command in which they dutifully and valuably serve.
Of all the fighting formations that make up a Space Marine Chapter, it is the 1st Company that is invariably the most powerful and feared. For a Space Marine to join the prestigious 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 fire.
Most such Veterans have served as Sergeants elsewhere in their Chapter -- sometimes for centuries -- before being accepted into the 1st Company, but a notable few are elevated after performing singular acts of insane heroism. These Space Marines are legends one and all, warriors who have become part of the Chapter's history, and it is every Battle-Brother's ambition to join the ranks of their Chapter’s most elite company.
Each and every member of a Chapter's elite 1st Company is proficient in fighting with all the various types of weaponry available to the Adeptus Astartes. With their Veteran status comes the right to select weapons of personal choice from the Chapter's Armoury and, as a result, Veterans Squads are much less rigid in composition and battle doctrine than other Space Marine formations.
Veterans are most often assembled and equipped to deal with the requirements of a specific theatre of war, such as embarking on seek-and-destroy missions to slay an Ork Warboss and his bodyguard of Nobz, or crippling an inbound wave of Eldar Aspect Warriors before they can reach the battlefield. In most Chapters, there is a rivalry of sorts between the Vanguard and Sternguard elements of the 1st Company. They compete endlessly for honours and hazardous combat duties -- the glories and shames of their adherents celebrated and atoned for by all. Despite this rivalry, Vanguard and Sternguard Veterans remain Battle-Brothers above all else, and fight unto death for one another.
Veterans are exceptional warriors, even by the elite standards of the Adeptus Astartes. They excel at all forms of combat and are supplied with the best equipment the Chapter has to offer. They are normally at the forefront of the fighting, leading by example, inspiring the less experienced troops around them with their determination, fortitude and skill in battle.
Those Veterans who have been trained in the use of Terminator Armour are entitled to wear the Crux Terminatus honour badge. Of course, this great stone badge is fixed to the left shoulder of the actual Terminator Armour suit. If the Astartes is not fighting in a Terminator suit he will carry and display a small metal version of the Crux. Supplmenting this badge will be various painted or stencilled Crux on the Astartes' armour. Collectively these markings are known as Terminator Honours.
All of the Battle-Brothers and the Sergeant of the 1st Company are Veterans, vastly experienced Space Marine warriors who have seen many combats and have survived them all. All of these Astartes would have been recruited from within the ranks of the Chapter's Battle and Reserve Companies. A Sergeant of the 1st Company will have received special leadership training to fully equip him for his additional command responsibilities as the leader of a squad, although any of the Veteran Battle-Brothers is capable of leading the squad should the Sergeant be taken out of action.
Space Marine Veterans can be deployed in multiple ways on the field: Individual Veterans are often detached to another Company to serve as Squad Sergeant, granting their younger Battle-Brothers the benefit of their many standard centuries of combat experience. The most esteemed of the 1st Company's Veterans will serve as either their Captain's or the Chapter Master's Honour Guard. The remaining Veterans will form up into either Terminator Squads (when the use of the rare and invaluable Terminator Armour is warranted), or either as Sternguard or Vanguard Squads.
- 1-4 Veteran Marines
- 1 Veteran Sergeant
Of all Space Marines, Veterans are most likely to have a mix of different patterns and configurations of Power Armour within their ranks. Space Marine Power Armour is individually produced, with each suit adapted to its wearer. Each Astartes treasures his suit and repairs and maintains it religiously. Furthermore, in their careers Veterans are likely to have acquired an extensive personal catalogue of honours and blessings. These will be displayed on the Astartes' armour, enhancing its customised look.
As in a Tactical Squad, two of the Battle-Brothers of a Sternguard Veteran Squad may be chosen to carry other weapons into combat. One Space Marine may be designated as a Heavy Weapon Trooper and will carry one of the three types of heavy weapons available to the squad: the Heavy Bolter, the Lascannon or the Missile Launcher. These options dramatically improve the tactical flexibility of the squad and improve its chances of success in a wide variety of combat situations.
This is equally true for the Special Weapon Trooper who may be chosen to carry one of the following weapons: Flamer, Meltagun or Plasma Gun. The Flamer is suseful for clearing obstacles of enemy troops and can be especially deadly in confined areas. The Plasma Gun is a medium-range armour-piercing weapon useful against foes with a preponderance of body armour. The Meltagun is particularly effective against armoured vehicles although it has a very short range. The Heavy Bolter is an anti-personnel weapon with limited use against armoured troops or vehicles. The Lascannon is a potent anti-tank gun with few war machines able to withstand its lancing beam. The Missile Launcher offers a multi-role use, able to load and fire various different types of missiles. Frag Missiles provide effective anti-infantry support, whereas Krak Missiles add a vital tank-busting capability to the squad.
Vanguard Veterans, on the other hand, often equip themselves in a similar way as an Assault Squad, favoring the Jump Pack, pistol and close-quarter weapon combination that has served the Astartes so well over the millennia since their inception. However, as befits their seniority, Vanguard Veterans have access to a much larger choice of weapons drawn from their Chapter's Armoury, and it is common to see such a squad wielding devastating weapons such as Relic Blades, Lightning Claws and Thunder Hammers. The whole Veteran Squad will also usually carry grenades, of which the most common types are anti-personnel Frag Grenades or anti-armor Krak Grenades. Other grenade types are occasionally used on special missions but are generally restricted to the use of officers and squad leaders. Veteran Squads are often provided with armoured transports; usually Rhinos (armoured personnel carriers) but sometimes Razorbacks (Rhinos with a cupola-mounted heavy weapon). This enables the Veteran Squad to advance quickly on the battlefield or rapidly redeploy to a new sector of combat.
- Insignium Astartes
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 67, 154
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 73
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 86
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 62-63; 136-139