Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Space Marines Codex - Initial Thoughts From a Mantis Warriors Captain

So the new Space Marines codex came out this weekend along with a number of other releases. It is fair to say that the Marine book was a bit outdated with no AA and lots of choices that had come down in cost after new codexes released. It was still a fair and balanced codex, but deserved some cool options.

The options were definitely increased. I'm going to provide some quick hits from my time with the new models and new codex this weekend; later on, Scott, our resident Space Marine fanboy, will hit the blog with some in-depth discussion.

The Book
The new codex is beautiful. There is quite a bit of new art and many of the more forgotten chapters are detailed with lots of panels. You can tell GW has put a lot of time into the design of the new codexes. Quotes and purity seals and stuff are everywhere. I'm not sure if it is recycled art but the 'making of a space marine' section is pretty awesome.

They definitely listened to feedback about the last book being ULTRAMARINES, BRO! and fixed that, providing all kinds of fluff and art for the other chapters. Still no Mantis Warriors, but I feel like they're probably leaving that stuff to FW.

I don't like how the new items section is laid out; you have to refer back to it for point costs for stuff instead of it being laid out in each unit section. Kinda annoying. Sure, I can just use BattleScribe or Army Builder, but I'm looking at the book and constantly have to flip back and forth.

The book is $58. I feel like a price of $40 is probably fair. The PP hardcovers are $40. At $58 you're making it intensely hard for many people to justify purchasing the new book, not to mention the kids who you're trying to get into your hobby.

Compare it to the RPG hobby where $59.99 gets you a beautiful Fantasy Flight RPG book that more than doubles the amount of pages and has tons of new art (not to mention new development in rules). Pretty ridiculous, but that is the direction GW is going.

Right now I'm part of the problem I suppose, but I am less and less of it because I am spending my cash elsewhere.

The Forge the Narrative idea is strong with this new codex. They want you to pick out a chapter ancestry and run with it from the start. I'm going to use White Scars since the Mantis Warriors are a successor of the Marauders, who draw White Scar lineage. This will help out with bikes (not that I have any painted yet!).

The main idea I could see them drawing on a whiteboard when designing this codex is versatility. Space Marines are supposed to handle any challenge; they're jacks of all trades but mostly masters of none. They're not an assault force like the Blood Angels; they're not a crazed shooting army like the Space Wolves. They draw a little from both and provide an army that can be very balanced on the tabletop.

With this new codex, new units, and new point costs, it is easier than ever to balance your force and avoid a skew. Lay down covering fire with predators or (cheaper) whirlwinds. Drop in with a drop pod to disrupt your opponent's lines, then fly in a Storm Raven with terminators to shoot then blow things up. Throw down a line of devastator marines to shoot their big tanks.

Things I like: The land speeder storm is now a dedicated transport for scouts. Awesome. Makes sense. Even with snipers you can fly them in, land, and then blow things up with the storm.

Point cost reductions for many units. Bikes are cheaper, devastator marines are cheaper and probably usable now, sternguard are cheaper, even land speeders are cheaper.

You can make your warlord a 65 point model! This saves a ton of points that can be used to equip other units. You can also give your warlord eternal warrior with one relic, which is amazing (plus it is a storm shield). You have the choice to make a HUGE dang epic space marine hero or a cheap dude who basically runs a detachment.

You can use a tactical squad with only one special weapon! Sweet. Seems like a no-brainer.

The combat squad rules have been tightened and make sense. So much easier to use and explain to newbies.

Grav weapons are a really cool idea and a cool mechanic. I hope they remain something that only codex marines use. I am probably not going to give any to any models I have already built and painted, but centurions and sternguard models will certainly have them.

It is easy to get AA in your army with flakk missiles available across the board and a new dedicated AA tank. (The tank can be built as both variants, with the top part interchangeable!)

Terminators can select as many land raiders as they'd like as dedicated transports! Pretty cool. You could do a six LR list with terminators.

The orbital bombardment that the Chapter Master has no longer requires that he sit still from what I can tell. Chapter Masters in terminator armor moving forward blowing you up :P

Thunderfire cannons are barrage now too! No LOS needed.

Things that could be done better: command squads can no longer take special weapons. Seems like an oversight. Many of the models in command squads through the years have been modeled with special weapons. They hardly seem worth taking now.

It is sweet the whirlwinds are cheaper by 20 points, but a bonus rule would be great - something like AP 3 if you hit straight on, or leaving smoke clouds that obscure LOS, something. They're AV 11 and die to a stiff breeze =/

Thunder hammer / storm shield terminators probably didn't need the points increase. I feel like they're a signature unit for vanilla marines.

Drop pods can only carry 10 guys now. What about the characters? Argggh.

Bottom line: I don't think this codex is going to break the game, which is great. A fair and balanced codex is the best way to make a codex. 40k is inherently not a balanced game, but we can do our best with what we've been given to make cool stories on the tabletop (which is all I want out of 40k).

New Models
Cerberus and I put together Centurions and the new Hunter / Stalker tanks. The centurions were much-maligned on the interwebs and I think rightfully so. The poses they're taking does not suggest a sweet model; they look like they're waiting to get on a bus.


I managed to cut up their legs a bit and re-pose them to make them look like they're actually fighting. The bald heads do give them a fighting look as opposed to the emotionless helmets. I also left off the codpieces and I feel they look much better without them - they actually look like they might be able to move and they don't look so tanky.

The centurions are priced downright insanely. At $78 they're outside of most peoples' budgets and come out to 28 cents a point if you make them devastators with grav options. Compare the unit to an Iron Fang Uhlan unit on the same size bases in pewter at $60. Sure, they don't come with 10 different heads for each model, but do you really want to have to pay for that?

The hunter / stalker is pretty nice as far as rhino variants go but it comes in at an astonishing $65 for some extra armor panels and two new turrets. $30 extra for that. GW definitely has a problem.

I also put together some new sternguard. The models themselves are beautiful. They come with a ton of options and I can put in graviton guns. For the collector, they're amazing. The price isn't SO bad, but $10 a model for a space marine dude is still highway robbery. For the same price you could get 13 plastic Winter Guard.

Bottom line: the new models are beautiful GW plastic kits, and the centurions can be salvaged, but the prices are beyond insane and there is no justifying it. None.

Check back later for some more in-depth looks and tactics from our resident Space Marine expert, Scott.


  1. Thanks for the run down.

    If the prices are so bad why did you buy it? Especially a ugly kit like the centurions.

    I think that your things that you say could have been done better a boggles my mind.

    Every model does not need special rules or AP3 or better. ~25% point reduction on a unit pretty much says that GW just makes this shit up let alone adding better AP..

    Thunderhammer/Stormshield terminators as signature marine units. I have a 668 page GW catalog from 2005-2006. The models are not even in it. I can find images of the old metal ones in the 4th ed codex so they must have been transitioning to the plastic but pretty much tells you where assault terminators where on the importance scale. GW screwed the pooch so badly in the upgrade of the storm shield in the 5th edition codex that it essentially total removed the lightening claws from consideration. Take 4+ inv in close combat and make it 3+ for everything without price change. That was Crazy. If they do not need a price increase now than pretty much point deflation has taken hold but what is the value of bothering with points if they have no consistance.

    10 Man drop pods are what they always were. The techmarines did not magically find 2 more seats for a 10000 year old design. The 12 was just since they went so overboard against the 5 man 2 special weapon tac squads that tac squads could only take drop pods in 10 man units. As long as that rule was changed going back to 10 is the right call.

    1. I bought the kits and the book because I like Space Marines and wanted to add them to my collection. Plus, if I want to play my Space Marine collection in the near future, I'll need this codex. I purchased the Centurions because the rules seem cool and I felt like I could make them look better with some alterations.

      The difference? I didn't buy more than one of anything. I have 30 terminators, 3 predators, numerous rhinos, 3 whirlwinds, etc. The prices are too high to actually collect much of the new stuff.

      Re: the whirlwind, you can't polish a turd too much. A pyrovore at 25 points probably still doesn't get taken because it is awful. I understand that this codex is probably the best for newbies, but some special rules a la Tau and Eldar and Dark Angels and Chaos Space Marines would be nice to make things like the Whirlwind seen more on the tabletop.

      re: thunderhammer / stormshield terminators, I am talking about signature unit since about 2008, when the last codex was released. They've been extremely popular for vanilla marine forces. I agree, lightning claw terminators are underrepresented... perhaps they could have done something with them.

      Re: the 10 man drop pods, I don't really see the problem with being able to attach a character to a drop pod unit with 10 guys in it. It just makes sense.

    2. Thanks for replying. They still got you to buy close to 200 hundred retail dollars worth of stuff it sounds like. They will not change until enough people just walk away. I would love fore GW to change direction so I can bring my 200+ space marine infantry models back to the table but the cost increases, point deflation, codex creep, poor balance, allies, flyers, and some rule changes made me have just no interest investing over a hundred dollars just for rules to auto lose games since I do not have the "right" models now in my 7K points of marines. Mercer over ay Imperius Dominatus would always respond to complaint with something like "What are you going to do pack up your marines and quit?"

      Yes, that is a perfectly acceptable action. Being into GW games is like being in an abusive relationship. You can see by my still following 40k releases even if I have not bought any main line GW in over 2 years.

      Adding new special rules to stuff and cutting points just continues down the line of codex creep. Unfortanutely they will never stop it since it is a driver of sales but the stuff that is out there now just crushs all the older stuff. They try to keep the balance by having weaknesses but that just feeds the rock paper scissors of the list builds.

      Saying something is iconic because it was so mispriced that you pretty much had to take it is just is just funny. Iconic is in the fluff not the points costs. Necron Air is not iconic Necron.

    3. Trust me, I know abusive relationships. I am a Lions fan.

  2. Thanks for the initial review, looking forward to seeing your new stuff on the table top. I am not sure what it is about 40k compared to other games, but there are so many negative reviews in the blogosphere. I get the GW price criticism, but the game itself seems to be the subject of a lot of ire. I still have fun playing, modeling/painting, and list building. I guess people still take time to critique because they still care about the amount of money and time they already invested in their army(ies).

    1. I don't really have a problem with the game besides TLOS and some of the broken codex entries that make the game negative play experiences.

    2. I generally was not following very closely until the new marine release but yes the 254 built space marine infantry models (plus like 20 unbuilt) does leave a mark that you want to be drawn back in. The new vanguard and sternguard models interest me even without a codex or current rules to get different gear so I can build some marines that are differently equipped but since GW still is pretty good at making unit entries or equipment that rarely sees the field. Another honor guard, sternguard heavy flamer, jump and foot thunderhammer+stormshield vanguard, jump and foot dual lightening claw marine. That 90 dollars would be good money after bad but I did enjoy kitbashing marines.