Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Codex : Space Marines review

I've played a fair few games under this new codex and finally I feel that I have a reasonable handle on it now. This here is my review. I'm not going to worry about the fluff as I think I can assume we all know it.

The Adeptus Astartes special rules.
The Combat Squads special rule is still in and I still find it a weak option. Don't do it. I hear arguments that it lets a squad hold two objectives rather than one, and that is worth doing it. I disagree. All this does is allow your small squad to die easier to shooting and assault as your opponent will have weight of dice. It just means your squad will die quicker and sooner. Combat Squad, don't do it.

The Warlord Traits seem fairly average. Only Angel of Death stands out as being really worth it. None of them are bad options but personally I would rather stick to those from the core rulebook than use these.

A new twist introduced in this book are the chapter tactics. Much like the special characters of the last book this codex gives you new abilities based upon your chapter or it's founding chapter. Some are better than others. The Ultramarines CT have never come up in one of my games (my marines are UM successors) so pointless but free. Iron Hands on the other hand is awesome, and I am very tempted to change my primary to an IH and use my UM successors as allies.

Allies I heard you say? Yep. You can ally two space marine chapters providing they have different chapter tactics. I like this a lot.

Chapter Relics are a bit of a joke in this book. They are either too expensive and will never see use or they have a drawback that means they won't ever see use. Allow me to point you to The Burning Blade. The BB is a +3 str, AP 2 melee weapon with blind and incandescent. Looks good so far, but incandescent means that when used in melee there is a chance that the model carrying it takes a S4 AP2 hit. So, I can have a basically a +3st relic blade but it hurts me on a roll of a 1? That can stay in the book. I don't see me use any of these.

HQ: Special Characters.
The special characters are quite nice but for the most part I still think they are over costed when compared to a generic HQ option. The main exception to that is Tigurius who is a real monster with his Master Psyker ability pretty much guaranteeing his choice of psychic powers before a game.

Special characters are now tied to their chapter or founding chapter so you won't find Tigurius in a Salamanders or White Scars list, for example. I like this as it does help make sure that chapters are fielded with more fluff.

Chapter masters and captains are good options. I prefer the captain at the moment over the master personally. Still no terminator bodyguards though which is disappointing. They used to have these a long time ago and I would like to see them return.

The Librarian has become a firm favourite under this codex. I don't like that we don't get the divination discipline. I'd happily swap out biomancy which I don't think is in keeping with space marines anyway.

Chaplains seem ok though I've never been a big fan of them. Only played one once under this codex and he did ok. I'd rather stick to a captain or librarian now though.

The Master of the Forge is still in and seems to be the same as in the previous codex. Only tried a couple times and will probably keep for odd occasions rather than be a common addition.

The Tactical squad is still the main stay of the space marines and with the addition of grav weapons have become a little better in my eyes. Still no chainsword as standard or as an option which what I am still waiting for. Come on GW, these guys need these to be worthwhile in close combat!

Scouts are still handy and I think an addition of a squad is worth while in every game. Cheaper than they were is a bonus. Scouts are the only option where I think combat squading isn't such a bad idea but only to offer sniper support in different corners of the table.

If you are playing as Black Templars then you have the option of taking a Crusader Squad, which is basically your old troop choice from when they had a codex. I don't see the point since you can now take a regular tactical squad which as far as I can see is better than this.

Dedicated Transports.
The Rhino... AKA automatic "first blood" VP to your opponent. I really want to use these but they are so easy to crump that you are just giving your opponent a free VP. Tough call.

The Razorback has gone up in points when pretty much everything else in the book dropped points. I've heard it suggested that it was because tournament players spammed them but that is no reason to make them more expensive. GW, you want people buying your models right?

Drop Pod's are the choice where I have a love/hate relationship. I can't deny how good they are on paper and when other people play them but for me they seem a waste of time. You need to spam them it seems to make it worth while.

The Land Speeder Storm has now become a dedicated transport option for scout squads. Nice idea but I don't rate them.

Vanguard Veterans have been brought over to the Elites sections with a slight points dip. I like them but I find I want to field other options more. If playing a really high point game then these guys come into their own. I really want to field a full squad with jump packs, grav-pistols and storm shields and have them waltz through the enemy.

Sternguard are still too expensive in my opinion. They need to be brought down in line with tactical squads. It seems, much like with the HQs, that points have been added to their cost to represent the corner of the FoC they come from. I don't like that.

Dreadnoughts are another option I want to like but get destroyed far too easily. I still hold to the idea that they should be monstrous creatures just like wraithlords and dreadknights. At least Venerable has dropped enough points that it is worth considering.

Ironclad Dreadnoughts...don't know. Never felt right using them last codex when there are terminators which can do the job.

Legion of the Damned. I still like these guys but they are another unit which are expensive and thus I look elsewhere. Not to say they haven't done well.

The basic Terminator squad... I am trying to reuse these and I do like them but they just die far too easily usually to small arms fire. For the points you pay I want them to last a lot longer and get a chance to do their job.

Assault Terminators are still my favourite Elites option even with the unnecessary points increase to thunder hammers and storm shields. Thumbs up.

The Assault Centurions are a new unit and quite frankly I think they are utterly pointless. When you have assault terminators why on earth do you need these? No invulnerable and can't really fit in any vehicles due to being very bulky. Don't bother.

Fast Attack.
Assault Squads, I like them but I want them as a troops choice not a fast attack. Blood Angels them as troops so why not the rest of us?

Land Speeders are an option I don't see used very often any more. I certainly haven't field them since mid-5th edition. I think with the addition of flyer's to 6th edition that these units have been left on the shelf.

The Stormtalon has finally made the proper codex. I am a fan of this unit but only when loaded up as an anti-infantry aircraft.

Bike, Assault Bike and Scout Bikes are options I really want to get around to using again. So far bikes haven't done me well and they keep driving off the table edge.

Heavy Support.
I still find Devastator Squads too expensive. I like them but there are other options that I think warrant more attention from other slots of the FoC. Having these is a boost to the Black Templars as they can now take them where as before they didn't really have much option for a heavy weapon squad.

Another new unit is the Centurion Devastators. I really want to like these but they don't play as well as I hoped they would. They really need an invulnerable save, even just a 6+ as well. I need to try them out a few more times.

The Thunderfire Cannon is an option I really want to try. I didn't under 5th because I couldn't put the awful metal model together without lacerating my fingers. Now we have a resin version I may well give it a go as it is a great option.

The usual HS options of Predator, Whirlwind, and Vindicator are still here. Every so often I do dig these out and give them a try but they just don't survive long enough. It is a real complaint for me that vehicles don't survive long enough any more.

The Hunter and the Stalker are new anti-air units. On paper I don't think they are great. Although 70 and 75 points respectively, they just aren't as good as the Aegis Defence Line with quad autocannon. I'd take that any day over these two.

The three Land Raider variants are still in and are the only vehicle options I think in this book have any chance of surviving a battle. The Redeemer is still my favoured choice out of the three.

Lastly, we have the Stormraven finally in the proper codex. Another big thumbs up though I have yet to build and use mine. I did proxy one or two games and was pleased with it.


My overall thoughts are that we have a better codex than last time but only because the points reductions allow for the possibility of an extra squad or two that we didn't have last time. That is a good boost. But I am still going to grumble though because we are still lacking reasonable close combat (tactical squads *need* chainswords as standard), and we don't have any means of delivering long range firepower (the Eldar Wraithknight screws us in this regard). I still think every other army out there out manoeuvres, out shoots and out assaults us. The codex still feels like a beginners book. Get new players into the game, let them see how crap the book is and then they spend their money on other "better" armies.

At least it is better than what we space marine players have had previously.


  1. Whether or not to combat squad depends on the mission and the opponent, if you’ve rolled the scouring then combat squadding makes sense, but if you’re playing purge the alien then you’d be a fool. Splitting the squads is also a tactical decision, as it lets you focus certain weapon types on appropriate targets without wasting as much bolter fire on a model it can’t hurt.

    Warlord Trait Angel of Death is really average, I can’t think of a situation when I’ve ever seen fear affect the game.
    Imperium’s Sword can be great, since marine assault troops need all the help they can get (and combines really well with the Burning Blade).
    None of the warlord traits are a complete game-changer, but that’s the point – it wouldn’t be fun if you winning was entirely due to a random 1 in 6 chance of getting the right warlord trait.
    I really can’t understand how you’ve not used Ultramarines Chapter Tactics, re-roll tactical squads missed shooting? Re-rolls for missed snap shots and overwatch? These will make a big difference over your whole army over the course of a turn!

    Disregarding things like Chapter Relics strikes me as lazy – taking the burning blade as your example, your HQ is now S7 (and therefore rolling to wound is much easier) and AP2 – that Riptide is now looking much less scary, and the incandescent rule is a hit, not a wound, so if your HQ is walking (put him on a bike for an extra point of toughness and bike squads as troops) there’s a 50/50 chance of it wounding you, then you’ve got a 50/50 of passing your invulnerable save, and he’s a multiple wound character anyway (possibly with an apothecary around to give feel no pain…). Shield Eternal giving your Warlord Eternal Warrior is similarly massive for Marine HQ’s to avoid that lascannon instant kill. Others are similarly useful, though I would have appreciated a few more ranged options (longer range stalker bolter would be good!)

    Marine Librarians don’t get divination because of variety, given the choice, everyone would like access to divination. Fluff-wise it’s limited because marines (blood angels excepted) aren’t traditionally bothered about being able to foretell the future.
    Chaplains as a support HQ - the zealot rule makes a massive difference when you assault with your main HQ and a command squad/honour guard.

    Tactical Squads will never get chainswords as well as bolter and bolt pistol, Crusader squads can swap bolters for chainswords, which is as close as you’ll get. Give a chainsword as an addition to the normal tactical squad and no-one would ever bother with assault squads.

    The point of Crusader squads is chainswords. And power weapons carried by non-character models so they can’t be killed in a challenge. And scouts to bolster the damage output.

    Deploy Rhinos out of line of sight, they survive much longer if your opponent can’t see them in turn 1 if you go second.

    You need to take at least three drop pods, or place them very carefully so the models within aren’t unsupported. Don’t forget you don’t have to put the unit inside them, they can start on the table and you just drop the big missile launcher option in the enemy lines so they focus on taking them out instead.

  2. Sternguard are more expensive because they’re much better than normal tactical marines, the special ammo means they can adapt to whatever target they need to shoot at, though I accept they’re no more survivable

    I agree that Terminators are too fragile, they either need to become 2 wounds or higher toughness, too easy to lose lots of them to massed lasgun equivalent fire.
    Assault Centurions fit nicely in land raiders (as dedicated transports), which as assault transports is perfect since you don’t have to get shot at before you charge.

    Assault squads aren’t troops because Blood Angels are different to other marines. Put assault squads in troops and fluff-wise you’d have to put devastators there too. What I really want for assault squads is for the chainsword to be better than a knife in combat, which currently it isn’t. AP4-5 would be good.

    Bikes are best when taken in large numbers, with a bike HQ to make them troops. 3D6 fall back hurts though I agree, the secret is to get them as far across the table as possible early on.

    I’ve used Centurion Devastators a lot now, and weapon loadout and table positioning is key – they are awesome provided you keep them out of range of most return fire. This means lascannons and missile launchers, not grav cannons.

    The Stalker, to all intents and purposes, is a quad gun that can’t fire well at ground targets but can fire at two different flyers. So for 25 points less it’s viable.