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And They Shall Know No Subtlety

As we all wait for the Space Marine codex pre-orders to go up later today, I can’t help but think about what the new book will mean for the good old Team 3+.

Recent articles on BOLS articulate the almost total lack of Marines at major events like NOVA and the ETC, and it really isn’t difficult to figure out why. They have a decent bag of tricks (but very few of them occur in the Troops section and all of them are very familiar to opponents), some decent utility HQs (that cost way more than recent Codex equivalents), and generally they are paying a lot for mediocre defensive stats in a game where everybody is packing an overwhelming amount of offence. That’s a an uphill battle if I ever saw one.

So when it comes right down to it, the current/soon to be previous edition Space Marine codex doesn’t really have the teeth of the newer books (80% of your shots being S4 AP5 doesn’t quite cut it anymore) nor the defense to really deal with heavy hitters. How is the new book going to address this?

Option A – Centurions

Just begging to be swapped out for Castellax conversions.

Centurions – Just begging to be swapped out for Castellax conversions.

Yo dawg, I heard you like power armor…

These guys are really weird and I don’t know how I feel about their rules just yet. Obviously the full rules will help clear them up a bit, but they are somewhere between a Devastator and a Terminator, but without the invulnerable save. I really worry about their durability, as AP2 isn’t exactly hard to come by.

On the bright side, they do appear to pack a fearsome array of weapons. Heavy bolters and hurricane bolters are kinda neat I suppose, but when you start getting into lascannons, missile launchers and graviton cannons mounted on a Slow and Purposeful platform, you start to get a little scary.

Still, probably too much of a glass cannon for my tastes. Giving plain old shooty Terminators the Broadside treatment in terms of new models and weapon options could have still been useful, and would have avoided the criticism about goofy models and changes to the canon (heresy!).

Option B – Graviton Weapons

These things are really interesting. Mid-range, Salvo, to-wound roll based on enemy armor save, and always Immobilize on a Penetration roll of 6. Yes, they are pretty bad when shooting at Termagants or Orks, but against juicy targets they could be pretty effective. A squad rolling a half dozen shots that wound a Riptide on a 2+ and ignore its armor save is far from terrible, and being able to cripple/kill a Land Raider even faster than Gauss weapons is nice too.

The Salvo type is the bottleneck for sure. Will these things be useful on infantry platforms? Questionable. Luckily it seems like they can be taken by Bikes and the above Centurions, and the Ultramarines chapter tactic seems to give Devastators one turn of being Relentless so they could move up and fire 5 shots each at 24″ with grav cannons.

The last tournament I played in (the GT Finals) I ran into a Tau/Eldar combo, and I simply didn’t have enough big guns to drop their MCs. Adding 2×5 biker units with grav weapons could help alleviate that problem, and if there is a way to make them scoring (Captain on bike, the Khan, etc.) then all the better! I would also love to take a Dreadnought with a grav cannon, but I doubt this is going to be an option (unless Forgeworld wants to step in and fill that void…).

As a side note, if graviton weapons do in fact have Concussive as a speical rule, then Space Wolves allied with Marines will be the source of many headaches for MCs. I1 + Jaws… yikes.

Option C – Adjusted Points Values

While GW had been moving away from this effect with other recent books, preferring to make units (eg, Eldar Guardians) better rather than just cheap and spammable, Marines are getting a Dark Angels-esque points drop.

I would rather have more useful troops than more plentiful troops, but either way this will help the army out somewhat. When paying 16+ points for a model in the previous book, you were often both outnumbered and outclassed by your opposition. Tau were a good example of this, having all their big gribblies and heavy hitters backed up by heaping piles of Fire Warriors and Kroot hiding behind an Aegis.

Marines will still die in droves, as everything is designed to kill them, but if you can take a few more of them and/or a few more Elites/Heavies/Fast Attack units for support, maybe things aren’t so bad all of a sudden.

Additional Tweaks and Changes

There will obviously be many more changes, tweaks and re-writes in the book as well. The Chapter Tactics seem very interesting and well thought out (ie, Ultarmarine Devastators NOT getting to be Relentless if they disembarked that turn, so Drop Pods and multi meltas won’t be quite so hot after all).

Legion of the Damned could be interesting if they gain a bit more punch, either in the form of Ignores Cover and/or Soulblaze for their shooting attacks. It will be quite interesting to see if these guys become viable, and being able to bypass Aegis cover saves would definitely help them find a role worthy of their 30+points per model price tag.

The base cost of Veterans will be going down, but the Vanguard lose their charge from reserves ability and Sternguard will pay full price for combi-weapons. I still don’t know how jumpers will fare in the new book, but Pedro with cheaper Sternguard to spam won’t a bad way to go about playing Marines. Dragonfire and Hellfire rounds are an absolute godsend against some armies.

The part about Sternguard and combi-weapons also makes me happy. As a Salamanders player from day 1 after the Armageddon pamphlet ‘dex came out, I used to get pretty choked to see everyone jump on the bandwagon with Vulkan’s re-rolling, Drop Podding Sternguard spam. I was happier when Salamanders sucked and only the Edmonton GW staffers like me (and Steve, and Chris, and Mark…) played them.

Yes, I am a total hipster when it comes to the XVIII legion. Deal with it!

Conclusions

Obviously it’s too early to see how everything will come together, but I think it will be neat to convert my BA/Vanilla army list over to straight Codex Space Marines and see what I can do with all the spare points. Not paying 195 bloody points for a L2 psyker, 105 for Corbulo, and getting a discount on every single model in the list will definitely add up (at the expense of my tanky characters to help the Tacticals survive).

I’m definitely thinking that I could do up another squad of bikes, probably with dual graviton rifles and a combi-graviton rifle for the Sarge. More MC hunting wouldn’t be bad at all! Raven Guard incestuously allied with counts-as White Scars could be a very fun, very mobile way to play. At least until Heldrakes fry my bacon a few times. That might not be so fun.

Looking forward to trying things out! Painting a couple thousand points of Raven Guard over the last 12 months suddenly seems like a brilliant idea, I can experiment without spending a small fortune…

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2 comments on “And They Shall Know No Subtlety

    • Fair question! I quite like them, they give a little bit extra without being too over the top.

      IF are reliable with bolt weapons (although it doesn’t apply to Sternguard ammo).

      Iron Hands vehicles and characters are a bit more durable, and 6+ FNP for the army is better than nothing.

      White Scars and Raven Guard get some nice buffs for bikes and infantry respectively.

      Salamanders still have good flamey flame weapons, and Vulkan can revive the melta spam. Getting free master crafted weapons is also a nice touch for an army of artificers.

      Ultramarines definitely get one good turn for each main unit type, so they are very flexible.

      Templars — well at least they aren’t stuck in 4th edition anymore.

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