The good old Space Marine Librarian. A mainstay of the game going way back. The Librarian is a hero of a Space Marine chapter, physically at least the equal to his battle brothers but also intellectually and psychically powerful; able to both manipulate the energy of the warp while simultaneously protecting himself from its constant temptations and dangers. Does he walk the walk on the tabletop?
The Librarian is a support character with moderate combat ability. He buffs friendly units, debuffs the enemy and packs a decent punch in a fist fight. He is without question a highly useful asset in the Marine arsenal but he has two, large drawbacks: he does not have access to Divination powers (although he does have access to all the others) and he can only go to Psychic Mastery Level 2. He is quite the value though, weighing in at a Thunderfire Cannon – 35pts before upgrades.
- Bolt Pistol (Can be replaced with a Bolter)
- Force Weapon
- Psychic Hood
- Options for: Ranged Weapons, Special Issue Wargear, Chapter Relics
- Terminator Armor which unlocks Special Issue Wargear, Chapter Relics, a Storm Bolter, Combi-weapon or Storm Shield
- Chapter Tactics
- Psyker level 1 (can be upgraded to level 2) with access to Biomancy, Telepathy, Telekinesis, and Pyromancy
- Special note: Black Templars cannot take Librarians although there is nothing restricting them from allying with a psyker.
Ah, the old trusty Libby. He’s been a strong HQ for a long time, and last edition he was easily the most common non-special character HQ choice in the book. Powers such as Gate and Null Zone were game winning. However, those days are gone and while the Librarian does have access to a much wider range of psychic schools of power, all of which are good in different ways, he doesn’t get access to Divination which is the money maker.
Every single Divination power is good. Amazingly good. Particularly in the context of a Space Marine army which relies quite heavily on shooting to win the day. While the other schools of power all bring something to the table with a little creativity and some are downright brutal (Invisibility, Hallucination, Enfeeble, etc.) a lot of them are a poor fit for Marines.
Most of the Biomancy powers benefit the caster directly which with the rather mediocre stat line on a Librarian doesn’t do a whole lot, particularly when you consider that he is often not going to be in a unit designed for assault. The Whitchfires in this school are pretty crummy too, and make pulling powers from the Biomancy all that much more of a risk. Yes, Life Leech can be useful in a pinch and Haemorrhage has the potential to go crazy (particularly with Enfeeble) but they’re honestly not worth investing in an HQ for. Smite just stinks, period.
However, if you do get Enfeeble it REALLY buffs your small arms fire. Check out this video battle report where a full unit of Heavy Bolter Centurions with a Librarian with Enfeeble just brutalize enemy infantry.
The issue is that Enfeeble and Endurance are really the only powers that are worth going for. Yes Iron Arm, and Warp Speed can be great, but a 2 wound/2 attack MEQ is still a 2 wound/2 attack MEQ. You can only polish a turd so much. There’s a lot of risk going Biomancy with a Librarian as if you end up with two craptastic Whitchfires, your HQ points are not going to do much for you.
I love Telekinesis powers in general, particularly for my Nids, but they don’t suit Marines quite as well. The Primaris, Assail, is actually really nice to combo with anything that causes initiative tests such as Jaws or Blind attacks as with the Cerberus Launcher or Burning Blade and for HtH were it helps the middling I4 quite a bit. Hitting a high initiative MC (Note: Strikedown does not work on Vehicles or MCs) with it and allowing your boys to swing first can mean the difference between getting wiped out and killing the beast!
Telekine Dome is nice, particularly against things like Ion Cannon Riptides and Heldrakes which both ignore your armor and usually cover. If you are playing very aggressively, it’s always a blast to bounce powerful attacks back at the enemy and destroy them with their own weapons! While it is certainly better to have a 5++ from shooting than nothing at all it still hurts. Big units of cheap models like Nids bring to the table love it but smaller units of more expensive models like Marines can’t rely on a 5++ from shooting to keep them at functional strength. Each casualty hurts too much, particularly for Bikers.
Gate is still a game winning power as being able to teleport across the table on turn 5 to snatch an objective is what it is. Shockwave is OK. Really nothing to get excited about and certainly not a power to hope for.
Vortex of Doom is nice and can be awesome but the potential for hurting your own unit, cripplingly short range and Warp Charge 2 hurts it a lot. Plus it has a ton of failure points with the psychic check, Deny the Witch roll, having to hit, wound, armor pen, cover saves, etc. Again, just not a reliable or desirable power.
Objuration Mechanicum though, is pretty awesome. I love this power and feel that it is really underrated. The Haywire effect is nice, but for me that is not it’s real use. Forcing enemy models to reroll 6’s to hit and wound is REALLY good. If you have a unit of high Toughness, high Weapon Skill models, it gets even better. For example, a unit of bikers hits a target with Objuration, then assaults. The target unit essentially loses overwatch (rerolling 6’s to hit means only 1/36 gets through) and as most things wound bikers on a 5 or 6, it means they will largely be immune to damage from basic or low strength attacks. It makes units so much more resilient and as it is a Malediction, it works on all of your units going after the target unit. This is the power I always hope for from this school, followed by Telekine Dome and Gate. The others are fair to poor, again, making Telekensis a risky school of powers to work with.
Oh Pyromancy, the seldom seen school of powers! Pyromancy can actually be quite good on the right Psyker, typically if the Psyker is a powerful model such as Monstrous Creature. Fiery Form, for example, is a fantastic buff! For a Librarian though? Meh. Fire Shield is also quite nice, but so many things ignore cover these days that IMO, relying on cover is a fool’s errand and setting yourself up for disappointment. The hits against charging models is nice though and can really help a unit of Tacticals or Hammernators thin the herd when assaulted by light infantry such as Termagants, Daemons or Orks and it is another nice buff to a unit holding an objective.
The various witchfires range from poor to pretty good. The Primaris, Flame Breathe is solid, a Heavy Flamer with Soul Blaze, but can be shut down with psychic defense. Not bad, though. Inferno is awful, in my opinion, as is Sunburst due to its terribly short range. 12″ diameter on this and it would have been solid. That said, in a Drop Pod or Biker list against the right opponent, this could be great under good circumstances.
Spontaneous Combustion is actually really solid with luck, but generally pretty crummy. It gives you the ability to kill a model a turn (assuming the power goes off and they don’t deny the witch) which against certain armies like Grey Knights or White Scars biker armies, etc. is pretty brutal where every casualty hurts and there is a high concentration of special/heavy weapons in the unit to increase the odds you take out something important. However, in general terms it is not super useful. It’s one of those powers you need to know when to try and pull.
Molten Beam is rock solid, though. It’s a Melta Gun that keeps on truckin! Under the right circumstances, in a Drop Pod for example, it can be devastating as you hit 2-3 valuable targets with a Melta weapon. Again, it is really situational and weighing in at 2 Warp Charge, it is a heavy investment and not a power that you will always want to have. It’s great when it is applicable, though.
That brings us to Telepathy. Telepathy is really good. Really, really good. Every single power is good, some are amazing. Psychic Shriek is a solid offensive power, particularly when the Libby is mobile such as in a Rhino or Drop Pod or mounted on a bike. Dominate can be devastating to low leadership armies such as Daemons, Orks, etc. You can literally shut down key enemy units, allowing you to focus on other targets.
Mental Fortitude is awesome, perhaps not as great for Marines due to ATSKNF, but when you really need to hold in a combat or stick to an objective, this is how that happens. Puppet Master is another awesome power, and one that has won me the game on more than one occasion, particularly against a mechanized opponent.
Terrify is also game winning. Taking away Fearless at the right time to tank shock, assault, etc. is brutal when your opponent counts on having it. Plus, just forcing the immediate Morale check is amazing. A little luck and a unit goes flying off of the table, or you break them, then assault them, force another check which if they fail, so long! Any subsequent Morale tests forced while a unit is broken are automatically failed. You can send a unit packing quite easily with additional shooting, Tank Shocks, etc.Terrify is a very, very powerful power against the right opponent.
Hallucination is game winning. You can cause a key enemy unit to do nothing at all, become pinned, or attack itself. Brutal. This is just so powerful when it works and can swing a game from a loss to a win for you. Marines can have a tough time with some powerful assault units and this level’s the playing field. With a little luck, it can even shut down a powerful enemy shooting unit for a critical turn.
Invisibility is similar. Not with the same potential upside to Hallucination, but consistently fantastic. Giving a unit Stealth and Shrouding (so long as your opponent doesn’t largely ignore cover of course) is a huge defensive buff, great for camping an objective or keeping a key unit safe. Plus, it denies enemy units Counter Attack, and reduces them to WS 1 while in combat with the effected unit. For Marine assault units like Hammernators, etc. this helps a ton to mitigate their low model count and can extend the effective life of these low model count units by reducing the casualties they take throughout the course of the game.
It comes down to risk vs. reward. Are you willing to risk your HQ slot and the Librarians points for a potentially game winning hand of powers? You may get an utterly crap hand of powers, too. Telepathy to me is going to be the consistently most useful school to choose from, but there is a place for the others against the right opponent.
All of that said though, in a tournament list I don’t see the Librarian having a place. Over the course of 5-8 games the odds of getting that awful hand of powers goes up, and as each game gets harder, you really want consistency. The Librarian competes with the Chapter Master, Captain, and Special Characters and while his upside is huge, his downside is equally crummy. I do not see many players making the choice for competitive play. For casual play? All day! As secondary HQ? Sure.
If you do choose to run him, keep him as cheap as possible. He dies easily and every point invested is points potentially wasted. I would upgrade to level 2 (with the powers available to him, level 1 is a total waste of points and a huge risk of getting just a worthless power) and then leave him alone, maybe an Auspex if he’s in a shooty unit that will be getting close to the enemy.
Being a 2 wound model, taking Psychic checks were he may die to perils, or just get squished during the course of play he is too much of a liability to invest points into. You may be tempted to give him Termie armor for the improved saves, but again, don’t bother unless you plan on Deep Striking him consistently. Just leave him bare bones and hide him in a unit and let him be the force multiplier he is meant to be that also fights decently well in combat. I prefer the Force Axe myself for the AP2 and as he is 2 wounds, if he does find himself in a challenge with a Sarge or something similar, he should survive to swing.
In all, a solid HQ, but not the best and when compared to the other choices you have as a Space Marine player in your book or with allies, he rapidly slides down in comparative efficacy to the lower rungs of HQs.