Master of the Forge - Overview
A Techmarine is already a great choice for Space Marines, since they are so cheap in points, taking up a mandatory HQ slot whilst also happening to be effective at what they do. Honestly, for 45pts (the cheapest cost one can be fielded) you'll not find better value in the Codex. Try. Go away and take a look. Find it? Nope, didn't think so.
We should go over the stock standard options in depth and consider the roles of a Masters of the Forge before we talk about Warlord Traits and Relics, though the over all role may change when you consider these options.
A Master of the Forge can have basic equipment with the Servo Arm, which is likely what you'll consider optimum if you fancy a support role for your inexpensive character. If he's fixing vehicles that act as fire support, this is definitely the most cost effective option. After all, why throw investment on a character to have him never use?
However, that isn't to say a Servo Harness or power weapon/Relic of some kind is totally wasted on the Master of the Forge, as battles often get close and deadly. The guy is already cheap so why not if you got the points spare and expect Blood Angels or Genestealer Cults getting close?
Since he's supporting vehicles, this could be where the Warlord Trait Master of the Machine can be considered an excellent investment. Giving ALL Chapter vehicles within 6" a lovely +1 to hit (both shooting and close combat) will likely see opponents chewing their bottom lip with consternation, especially if one of the vehicles is a Dreadnought with Wisdom of the Ancients.
Has your jaw ever dropped when you see just how many shots a Repulsor gets? Or a Land Raider and it's Lascannons? Get obnoxious and support them with a character that gives bonuses to hit as well repairs them a flat 3 a turn!
On the flip side of this playstyle would be Warden of the Ancients as Warlord Trait, fully equipped with a Servo Harness and marching up the table alongside some heavy hitting Dreadnoughts. Thanks to the benefits we get from the Tactical Doctrine, Ultramarines armies can select a multitude of different ancient heroes to assail an opponent, all of which can lay down a hail of fire as they get close enough to charge the enemy. Don't forget to repair Dreadnoughts as you go, whilst using Strategum support such as Duty Eternal to elongate the survivability of the Master of the Forge's charges.
I consider faster moving Dreadnoughts an ideal choice in this regard, since they can put pressure on an opponent right away. The Contemptor and Redemptor Dreadnoughts are a nice pairing, or better yet a pair of Contemptor Dreadnoughts charging forward under the supportive fire of the Redemptor, since the speed of the former will see them hitting the enemy soon.
Special mention goes to the Forge World Dreadnoughts. Relic Contemptor Dreadnoughts are excellent choices to march up the table and assault things alongside a Warden of the Ancients, whilst a Leviathan and Deredeo can blast the enemy to the warp under the guidance of a Master of the Machine. Healing 3 a turn on a Leviathan that is taking half damage is a joy to behold and will make your opponent do that uncomfortable smile and eye twitch we all get sometimes playing 40K.
I don't consider it prudent to take more than a single Warlord Trait on him, since it will be a Strategum you cannot use elsewhere whilst costing you another Command point for the pleasure. At that point, if you're putting that much investment into your Techmarine I just have to consider the 10th Company recruiters must have picked up Neophytes from the Iron Hands in the Land Speeder Storm by accident!
As you can tell, the wargear you grant your Master of the Forge I consider secondary to the mission of supporting your army appropriately. However, don't forget the Master of the Forge had a BS2+ as well as a 2+ save, so fire that bolter, throw that grenade and remember; he is a Space Marine.
Other Warlord Traits are down to preference but I don't recommend any if I'm honest. The Master of the Forge Warlord Traits should be all a character like this requires. The one exception I might consider is using Exemplar of the Chapter to grant him Iron Will, which should keep him alive a little longer if he's moving up the table for a fight. That would mean he is your Warlord, but then in this circumstance I presume you've surrounded him with Dreadnoughts to back up your investment.
Other than that, remember a combat character is going to give you more bang for your credits, so only consider this if you've got a very specific playstyle in mind. The Techmarine being cheap is an advantage so consider a cheap Master of the Forge his advantage; stick to support.
Starting with the Master of the Forge specific Relics, we have the Endurant Protector. If your Master of the Forge is getting stuck in, working alongside a Dreadnought assault force with Warden of the Ancients, a boost to toughness and a 4+ invulnerable save will go a long way to keep him alive longer.
The other Master of the Forge Relic is the Mortis Machina. It's not a bad weapon but really feels wasted on a model with Techmarine stats. If you give it to a model with a Servo Harness, you're wasting 2 attacks, if you charge your Master of the Forge into a Dreadnought you have to remember you only have WS3+ on this model. However, with a spate of hits and a clutch of wounds, you can cause a little extra damage to a vehicle which is nice. If I'm honest I wish I could give this to a Captain since axes are cool and this would provide quite a buff.
Ultimately, the 2nd specific Relic isn't quite as hot a choice and neither are particularly useful on a Master of the Forge supporting vehicles with Master of the Machine. Tighter games need to manage points and Command Points well, doubly so in tournaments.
Consideration of other Relics must be given and there are a couple that are solid in the hands of any Master of the Forge.
First up I consider the Primarch's Wrath to be very well suited to this model. Hitting on a 2+, with Tactical Doctrine in effect, means your top Techmarine can still contribute to the battle whilst fixing vehicles safely behind the main conflict zone. This is an excellent weapon and one more people in Ultramarines circles should consider - damage 2, 4 shots (most of the time) at Strength 5 AP -2... the bargain this weapon provides is unmatched at zero points.
The other contender here is Vengeance of Ultramar. Replacing a mere 2pt weapon, this gun will give you a volume of fire that will make people think you've appropriated Tau tech! Personally I'd save this for a Paragon of War Biker Captain simply because 12 shots on that platform is pretty nasty, but you definitely haven't made a mistake if you plum for this upgrade. Remember the Tactical Doctrine helps quite a bit here, so you can put down 8 shots at range and expect some to stick.
The Seal of Oath is, as always, a powerful option and since the Master of the Forge is often supporting your fire support units, he will do very well with this Relic.
Other options I don't feel make the cut, however. Why take pistols when you can give the aforementioned Relics to a Master of the Forge? If he's getting close enough to use a pistol, he probably needs protection, in which case the Endurant Protector wins out over things like Articifer Armour, The Armour Indomitus and the Tarentian Cloak as a 2+ save still has a 5+ against AP-3. At only 4 wounds, you're better off preventing them than healing them.
Likewise, close combat weapons are will be difficult to justify on such a character. Does he need the Teeth of Terra when he's hanging behind vehicles? The Mordant Machina is still a powerful weapon remember and for a model that prefers shooting to close combat, you're just wasting potential here.
Similarly a support character like this won't make much use of the Helm of Censure or the Honour Vehement, since his role is to make assist vehicles rather than fight on the front lines. Give such things to other characters if you have to.
Ultimately, a Master of the Forge is a solid selection in an Ultramarines list that includes vehicles. Repairing a guaranteed 3 wounds a turn is just about worth the Command Point investment alone, let alone the Warlord Traits he can have.
My advice is play cheap where possible and don't chuck Relics or Wargear on him he'll never use and try not to get him killed by counter charging a unit. You're better off backing away, shooting them with his bolter and some supporting units.
In a game where force multipliers can make an army of mediocrity roar like lions, the Master of the Forge can be considered one of the best choices available.
Edited by Captain Idaho, 22 January 2020 - 04:01 PM.