Hey everyone, Reecius here to discuss the Space Marine HQs, starting with the man himself, Marneus Calgar! As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!
Yesterday, we hit the Chapter Tactics.
Today, we’re going to look at the HQ section. As this is such an important, and list defining section, we’re going to break it up into several sections. Today, we’re going to hit the Ultramarines characters, specifically Marneus Calgar. HQs in this book alter the FoC in some cases, grant army wide rules, kick ass in a fist fight, or act as force multipliers. Each has their own use and their role in your list can alter how the entire army plays.
So, let’s get right to it, shall we?
Let’s dive in with the big boss man and king shit of the Boys in Blue himself: Marneus Calgar!
And what a chief he is! Marneus Calgar is a legendary figure in the fluff: hero of the Imperium, ultimate bad ass in a fight and peerless leader. And, his rules in the game back all of that up! So does his points cost. Ouch, weighing in at a Land Raider + 25pts, he’s not cheap. However, thankfully that is pretty much his only downside.
Calgar is primarily a force multiplier. His role is to buff your army which fits his fluff as a leader first. However, he is also a two fisted, red blooded Space Marine after all, and packs a wallop in a fight. He may not match Abaddon in terms of pure damage output, and may not be as durable as Draigo, but he isn’t far behind. Calgar makes your entire army better though, and that is what you should keep in mind when writing a list with him in it.
- Artificer Armor
- Power Sword
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- Gauntlets of Ultramar: A pair of melee power fists (important to note as he can swing his sword and still get the bonus attack) that also have an AP2 Storm Bolter built in.
- For the cost of two Melta Bombs you can “upgrade” him to the Armor of Antilochus. Upgrade is a misnomer though, as he loses Grenades, takes up two spots in a transport and prevents you from riding in a Rhino or Razorback, but can still sweeping advance and gains a Teleport Homer. It does however, allow him to move and fire the Orbital Bombardment whereas in Power Armor he’d have to hold still. This is really useful if you plan on Dropping him in a Drop Pod as he can let lose with the blast when he arrives. In all though, I feel it is a net loss unless you plan on deep striking him with Termies or in a Pod as a consistent part of your game plan. He can then bring in Termies off of his Homer after arriving via Pod. In general use though, I would forgo it, personally.
- Eternal Warrior
- Orbital Bombardment (which you can now assault after using! Very nice)
- Ultramarines Tactics
- Roll 3D6 on the Space Marine OR BRB Warlord traits and pick the one you want. That is really good.
- God of War: All Ultramarines with their chapter tactic can choose to pass or fail any morale check (WOW!!!). Also, he can choose to use a single Combat Doctrine of the Ultramarines again in a game, chosen on the fly.
- Titanic Might: Calgar can reroll failed armor penetration rolls against vehicles in assault, including glances.
Calgar is a mother &%Q*$(!&* bad ass. He rocks a standard Chapter Master stat line and can swing with 5/6 Power Fist attacks or the same amount of Power Sword attacks at I5. His AP2 Storm Bolter is a nice little touch, too. Orbital Bombardment can be game winning if your opponent deploys poorly and you get lucky. EW, 4 wounds, a 2+ and 4++ is not as resilient as some units in the game, but it is hardy enough to take a beating and keep on trucking. Calgar is tough in a fight, not the best, but powerful enough to be scary to most units.
As stated though, Calgar’s primary benefit is in force multiplying your army. His best ability is, IMO, God of War. Allowing your army to choose to fail or pass any morale check is stupid good. It turns one of the flukiest, and potentially devastating rules mechanics in the game into an asset. This ability is absolutely amazing for so many reasons, but here are a few:
- Point saver. You don’t have to buy sarge upgrades for any squads, ever! Primarily you take a sarge to increase leadership, but this power bypasses that.
- Combat Tactics never left! The enemy shot you before assaulting and did enough casualties to cause a break test? Choose to fail and run away out of assault range! Possibly still get to overwatch, too! Rally in your turn, shoot them, possibly charge them, or run away. Awesome.
- Stuck in a crappy combat? So long as you lose, you can choose to break and try and get away.
- Crazy assault unit bearing down on you and you toss out a speed bump unit? So long as a single marine lives, they are not going anywhere. Clever casualty removal can also move the enemy squad to where you want them.
- Never worry about backfield shooty units falling off of the board edge.
- Never worry about objective holding units falling off an objective.
- Never fail a Tank Shock check….unless you want to!
- However, don’t forget pinning and psychic checks are Leadership tests, not morale, so these aren’t covered.
The list goes on, but this ability is absolutely amazing. It is better than fearless. Anything in the game that reduces variables and increases player choice shifts the game more in favor of the better player. Ultramarines are definitely a faction that favors the thinking general, and Calgar is right in line with that. Knowing when to break and when to hold will be critical to using him to best effect.
The other half of this rule allows him to roll 3d6 on the Warlord table which is good. Space Marine Warlord traits are OK, but some of them, like Champion of Humanity can be game winning (and Calgar is the man to win that challenge!) and Storm of Fire is pretty much always good. The point being, some of the traits can be great but can suck hard, too. It all depends on the match-up. With Calgar, you get much better odds to get the power you want which again, favors the skilled player that can recognize which Trait to take vs. the current opponent.
The ability to use a combat doctrine twice is also huge. You can just punish your opponent by twin linking your army twice, fire doubly effective overwatch twice, double your odds against flyers twice, get critical charges off twice, etc. It’s more of a good thing and again, your CHOICE of which good thing you use. Noticing a trend? The skilled player sees who they are playing, and as the game develops, chooses the best doctrine to double up on at the right time.
Calgar is the thinking man’s warlord in the thinking man’s army: Ultramarines. He is a powerful model in his own right, but learning when to use his special abilities is how you take him from good to great. In my mind, he works best with an army of infantry to maximize his leadership buffs and combat doctrines. Tactical Marines, I think, are the best bet with him. Lots of them. 6 in Rhinos or Pods will be great as they can jump out on the offensive, all go twin linked which is crazy, and then do it again! Plus, they are ultra reliable, and you have an army of scoring units. Not bad. You can add in Devastators and Assault Marines, too, but remember that the Ultramarine combat doctrines effect the entire army, not just those types of units. Feel free to add in those all star units such as Thunderfires, Storm Talons, Sternguard, etc.
That isn’t to say you ONLY take that type of build, there are tons of options, just that maxing infantry is maximizing his points efficiency.
The only real downside to Calgar is his high points cost and that he is slow. You have the same quandary with him as with many of the other very expensive, heavy hitter characters: what do you run him with? It’s easy to grab him some assault Termies or Honor Guard to roll with, and then a Land Raider to carry them, and hey, now might as well take a Libby or Tigerious too, etc. His cost can quickly balloon out of control. Now, running him with Termies/Honor Guard in a LR isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That is a mobile, resilient, incredibly hard hitting unit. In a high points game, go for it. However in your typical 1750 to 1850 game, it may be too much. I believe the strength of Marines will be in taking LOTS of units.
That said, you do need to get him where you need him and a Rhino isn’t the right choice for a primarily assault oriented character. A Drop Pod is a solid choice though, as is a Storm Raven, as Marneus in the backfield with some buddies is almost certainly going to alter your opponent’s game plan. No matter how you choose to run him, keep in mind that regardless of how powerful of a fighter he is, it doesn’t amount to squat if he’s too far from the scrape to contribute.