Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Ultimate Space Marine Codex Review Part 2

This is the second (first is here) in a series of articles by Scott Prater, resident Space Marine love machine, on the new Space Marine codex. The editor has bedazzled Scott's article with sweet art from Lynxc on Deviantart.

If you haven’t been following the rumors online for the last few weeks, Games Workshop has added several new units to our roster, in addition to overhauling the Chapter Tactics mechanic of the old book. The latter is probably the most significant change to be seen in the new Codex, and is worth going into detail before touching on anything else, as it will no doubt have the largest impact on the way most of you play the game.

Rather than having a fixed set of universal army rules like any of the other books, Space Marine players now get to choose from a list of specially tailored “Chapter Tactics” during the construction of their army. Each is modeled after a specific Founding Chapter of the Imperium, and vary considerably in how they impact your play. For example, taking the Salamanders Chapter Tactics grants a player’s models an improved save against flame based weaponry while increasing the potency of their own. The Imperial Fists Chapter Tactics gives an army undisputed mastery of the bolter and makes them champions of Siege based combat, while the Ultramarines Chapter Tactics give players one use “Doctrines,” that significantly boost the prowess of certain aspects of their army for a single turn.

They’re all very fluffy and give massive fan service to player’s who may have thought their favorite chapter was a bit over looked in the old book. Even player’s who don’t really care about fluff will appreciate the sheer variety that the new Chapter Tactics have to offer; without swapping a single model the feel of an army can be completely changed by using a different Chapter Tactic (players should note that Chapter Tactics must be chosen with their army, so no swapping them between rounds!).

There are seven Chapter Tactics in all, in addition to the above, also including the Iron Hands, White Scars, Raven Guard and the zealous Black Templars. While a few of you might be a touch disappointed that GW pretty much killed the prospect of man’s favorite crusader’s getting a new Codex of their own, there is still plenty of room for expansion in the new Codex Supplements that Games Workshop seems to be trending towards as late. I would expect to see elaborations on current Founding Chapters as well as the possible addition of new ones.

As with the other new 6th edition Codices, players can look forward to see their own personalized Warlord Traits, in addition to a slew of special abilities and war gear to bear. Vulkan He’Stan can further increase the lethality of a Salamander’s army’s Melta weapons, while Lysander can give an Imperial lists army a pretty significant leadership boost. Character’s may only be taken with their parent chapters however, so don’t expect to see Pedro Cantor and Marneus Calgar marching to war side by side anytime soon, at least not without paying for the extra detachment.

A little surprising is that Space Marines no longer have access to their own exclusive list of Psychic powers, and instead have to rely on the tables provided in the basic rulebook. It’s a little disappointing to those of you who were hoping to see the Emperor’s Flaming Phallus of Terra unleashed upon the likes of a belligerent Psyker 3 Daemon Prince, but it does kinda validate the psychic supremacy of the Eldar or the direct influences of Chaos on the Chaos Space Marines, that each would get their own set of powers and the Space Marines would not. Besides, they are just Space Marines, and Games Workshop needs something to differentiate them from the future Blood Angels and Space Wolves releases.

We got more than our fair play in terms of other goodies, and one good look through the unit options will leave the lack of a unique psychic table quickly forgotten.

The most speculated of all the new Space Marine units was arguably the new Centurion models. Sitting somewhere between a Tactical Marine and a Terminator, Centurions sport a better-than-average toughness for a Space Marine, 2 wounds, and a respectable armor save. But their most distinctive feature by far are their massive exoskeletal frames, which support a fierce array of weaponry for either of the two varieties.

Devastator Centurions are exactly as they sound, coming standard each with a Twin Linked Heavy Bolter and a Chest mounted Hurricane Bolter, perfected suited for mowing down light infantry. Or, each can upgrade their Heavy Bolters to Lascannons and replace their Hurricane Bolters with a Missile Launcher, making them a key anti tank support unit. They’re also the only unit that have access to the new Gravcannon weapons (more on those later), meaning players can kit them out to deal with just about anything anyone can throw at them.

With mobility sitting at one side of the spectrum and durability at the other, Devastator centurions sit somewhere in the middle, offering slightly more toughness than the squishier Space Marine vehicles, and a touch more mobility than the more static Devastator Squads. These qualities come at a price, however, as players will be spending no less than 190 points for even a basic squad of 3, and while their firepower is respectable, they still can’t quite match the raw might as their Devastator Marine cousins, especially for cost. Still, players should be find them a great alternative to the usual choices, and of the two variants I definitely see this one as the most heavily used.

Assault Centurions sport two massive siege drills that strike at a high strength and are particularly adept at wrecking enemy vehicles and fortifications.  They can also be equipped with some modest ranged weaponry, and should quickly become the bane of heavy and light infantry alike. Because they strike at initiative, they serve as a preferred option over Assault Terminators as Monstrous Creature hunters; though they don’t possess the same durability, an MC might quickly find itself overwhelmed before it even has a chance to strike back. To an unwary player, they’re definitely sure to prove a lethal opponent in close combat.

But with their limited mobility, a player’s biggest challenge may be getting them there.  And while they have access to a number of transport options that might ease the process of running down a foe, their size means you won’t be able to get there with very many. To me, the Assault Centurion will be a very interesting unit to watch going into this fall, while being undoubtedly good, they might prove very difficult to use. It’ll definitely be fun to see what people can come up with though, and I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying them out for themselves.

The Stalker and the Hunter debut as the Space Marines primary anti-air units. While neither seem very adept at killing anything else, they’re relatively inexpensive to field, and their devastating array of weaponry can quickly become the bane of players who've grown over reliant on flyers.

Check back tomorrow for Scott's take on these two new tanks.


  1. Dont forget skyfire still works against skimmers.

    I think there is no shortage of that in the meta right now.

  2. I'll try the siege drill guys for suresies. I prefer thunder hammy terminators but they might do fun things.

  3. Thinking of throwing in an allied contingent for my BA with the new space marine codex. What do you think Scott?

  4. Thanks for the review

    Chapter Tactics is more of a return of the 4th ed Chapter Traits. They a generally more powerful than those and already included in model prices but are much less flexible for home built chapters. My 4th ed home brew chapter had Inflitrate and true grit with counter attack but I had limited armor support available.

    Centurions are probably better described as between terminators and dreadnoughts. The devastators probably pack the same firepower as the 4 HW devastator teams due to the twin linking with the better saves and toughness.