Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Space Marine Codex Reviews - Chapter Tactics & Warlord Traits

Here's the first of what will have to be many posts covering the new Space Marine codex, there's a lot to get through with this book (as it's the biggest 6th edition book yet). Before getting stuck in I'd like to say this is one of the best books so far. I can't help but think it's a shame that they couldn't have done something similar with the Traitor Legions but it is what it is. Sadly GW seem to be proceeding down this path of supplements instead. I'm really not a fan of them as it feels to me like a patch or DLC for a video game. You're kind of left thinking, "hang on a minute I've paid £30 (£35 in this case) for something that isn't even complete!?!". Anyway, that aside let's start to look at the latest 6th edition book.

Chapter Tactics
This is the big talking point of the new book. Any unit with specific chapter tactics can only be used for that chapter. It's a kick in the teeth to those Space Marine players who had a version of Marneus Calgar in their Iron Hands list for example. Still if your opponent doesn't mind that the army is the wrong colour I'm sure you could still have these combinations. The difficulty is you'll be stuck with a certain set of tactics.

There's been much talk already about which set of Chapter Tactics is superior but as ever time will tell as we start to see the new combinations people are coming up with. The Ultramarines tactics are probably the most flexible but you only get each once per game. Tactical Doctrine is the stand out here in a game that's dominated by first turn firepower a lot of the time. Devastator Doctrine helps with taking down flyers but only if you've got enough high strength shots available to you. I'm also somewhat confused by the Assault Doctrine. Re-rolling charge range is useful at times but the second part giving certain units Fleet doesn't make sense. Bikes and Attack Bikes can't Run so that re-roll isn't much use and your assault squads can't run if they want to charge anyway. The only thing I can think is that Fleet allows you to re-roll particular dice rather than both like other units would. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

Everyone is excited about White Scars with this release but I'll get to why I'm not really convinced. Their Chapter Tactics last the whole game and essentially give them Skilled Rider and Hit & Run. Both are useful but I'm not convinced about bike armies in the current meta. Grav weapons are the kicker here but I'll get to that.

The Imperial Fists get a toned down version of Bolter Drill and an army packed with tactical marines could be nice for dealing with infantry blobs. Tank Hunters for your devastators makes for a nice bonus to devastators and centurions but I'm not overly convinced by the effectiveness of either of these units.

It's a shame Black Templars got rolled into the book but there wasn't all that much in their old codex to prevent this from happening. At least they now get access to flyers unlike my Space Wolves and Dark Angels. Anyway, their Chapter Tactics are probably the least useful, they fit in with their fluff nicely but ultimately aren't going to win the game for you. Psychic armies will be frustrated by Adamantium Will but frankly there's only a limited number of offensive powers that are widely used and you won't be stopping Blessings.

The Iron Hands get FNP (6+) which is nice but only saves the odd marine here and there. There'll be times when it wins the game for you but those will be few and far between. However, It Will Not Die on all of your vehicles and characters is going to be pretty irritating to your opponent. Creating a mechanised Iron Hands army appeals to me in this time of infantry spam.

The Salamanders will need a lot of flamers to make their Chapter Tactics worthwhile. Giving Master-crafted to your characters weapons is a nice touch but again is unlikely to make a huge difference. Salamanders will be excellent against infantry hordes though if they can pack in enough flamers.

Finally, the Raven Guard have Stealth for a turn (great combined with Night Fighting) and Scout. Their bonus to assault marines is nice but again I'm not convinced about the effectiveness of Jump units in this new book. It's a huge shame you can't have them as troops.

Ultimately all of these Tactics fit in well with their respective chapter's fluff but they aren't hugely exciting. There are some great combinations that are opened up though.

Warlord Traits
These are probably the weakest Traits we've seen from the recent books. GW seem to think Fear is a lot more effective than it actually is. Furious Charge is nice but kind of sucks if you've built a shooty army around a warlord that now wants to go into assault. Storm of Fire is nice and an improvement on the Tau version which only allows re-rolls on 1s.

Rites of War might come in handy but Morale isn't exactly a big deal for Space Marines anyway. Similarly adding one to combat results could actually be a hindrance if you were hoping to break and then regroup before shooting at your assailants.

Champion of Humanity is easily the standout trait. Obviously it's situational and the odds of you getting your warlord into combat with your opponent's are pretty slim but if you do manage it then D3 extra VPs will be huge in tournament play.

In some of the other new books the warlord traits given to the special characters have been a bit irritating. There might be a character you want but his trait is crap. These traits are suitably mediocre so you don't have to worry too much. Special characters with Champion of Humanity will be sought after but it wouldn't make me pick one character over another.


  1. The thing about White Scars is if you not a Centurion, Vehicle or Terminator ... you get Hit and Run, and as great as And They Shall Know No Fear is, it's very easy to Tar Pit some marine units.... so now that unit of Stern Guard get's to break free and unload all that sweet juicy ammo and special weapons etc.

  2. Nice write up pal, I forgot about the UM devastator doctrine affecting skyfire with the snap shots. Yes, frustrating for those of us with an IH Calgar counts-as........Grr


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