Space Marines Reviews: HQs Part 19: Chaplain



Chaplains are up on deck for review. As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more in depth articles and battle reports.

Space Marine Chaplains are both fierce warriors and spiritual guides for their battle brothers. They keep the Chapter’s history and rituals, help scout for new members and lead their brothers on the field of battle to ever greater feats of bravery and sacrifice. Are they so useful as their fluff suggests on the table top?


Chaplains have risen and fallen over the editions in both power and utility. Their zenith was in 4th ed, when they were so good there was no reason to ever take a Captain over them. Since then they have been reduced in individual power but their buffing effects have increased to what we have now: a moderately powerful combat character that also moderately enhances a unit that they are attached to. They are though quite the bargain, weighing in at a Thunderfire Cannon minus 10 points.


  • 3+
  • 4++
  • Bolt Pistol
  • Power Maul
  • Grenades
  • Options for: Boltgun, Power Fist, Ranged Weapons, Special Issue Wargear, and/or Chapter Relics. Can also take Termie Armor for 30pts, which then allows Special issue Wargear, Chapter Relics and/or a combi-flamer/melta or plas but curiously not a combi Grav.

Special Rules:

  • Chapter Tactics
  • IC
  • Zealot: Fearless and Hatred for he and his unit.


The Chaplain is exceedingly straight forward: stick him in a unit, he makes that unit better. He also punches baddies in the face pretty well.

But wait, there’s more! Not much more, but yes, there is more. He’s a bargain HQ, at his price point you get a middling stat line (Space Marine Vet Sarge with LD10, and +1 W and WS) but some solid kit: 4++ and Power Maul and he unlocks the Command Squad. Not bad at all. Zealot is also a really nice bonus.

As for applying him on the tabletop, again, it is very straightforward. He is going to give you maximum benefit from his abilities by placing him in an assault unit were Hatred (rerolls to hit in the first round of assault) is going to reap you the most impact for his points. Fearless also helps to mitigate morale as you will be sticking to an objective or in a fight to the last man. That can be a bad thing when you don’t want to be there, but usually it is a benefit. It also precludes you from going to ground which can be crummy when you are trying to hold an objective and are getting shot at.

Hammernators, Assault Squads, Honor Guard, Sternguard, etc. all really enjoy the buffs the Chaplain brings. He allows them to do what they already do, more efficiently. Rerolls to hit statistically are better than adding an attack for almost every assault unit in the game. In other words, you will end up doing more wounds to the enemy with rerolls than with an extra attack…but hey, take both where you can! Pedro or a Chapter Banner really brings the pain with a Chappy in tow.

As for equipping him: keep him cheap. T4 with 2 wounds is not that difficult to take out, and with only 2 attacks base, points invested into better weapons for him won’t yield you as much efficiency. His standard kit is plenty good for what he will be doing 90% of the time. While snagging that Power Fist not only looks cool but gives you a lot more utility, as a Specialist Weapon, it doesn’t mesh so well with your Power Maul and it is pricey. Same goes for Termie Armor. Looks amazing, but unless you frequently plan on Deep Striking as a part of your game plan, it’s a lot of points to pay to gain a 2+ but lose grenades, the ability to Sweeping Advance, and an attack due to swapping the pistol for a storm bolter. A Jump Pack or Bike, possibly a Combi Weapon and the occasional item from the Special Issue Wargear sections are really the only options you should consider, if any. Keep him cheap and efficient, let the unit he is with do the work.

The only real question for the Chaplain is why to take him over the other HQ choices? Besides his slick Skull Mask, he really isn’t a generally good HQ choice. The Captain and Chapter Master fight much better, the Librarian is more flexible, the special characters all bring some cool abilities to the table. The Chaplain’s only real advantage is his low points cost and his specialized buffs.

For me, you take him when you have a very specific unit you want to hit with maximum impact that you have already invested a lot of points into. Honor Guard Assault Terminators in an LRC, an assault Biker Command Squad, etc. These units are pricey and you really need to maximize their impact to get your money’s worth for them. Adding a Chaplain in these types of units to give them that overwhelming punch on the turn they hit is not a bad idea and he also ensures they don’t fall back at the wrong time with a flubbed leadership test. For example, 7 Hammernators or 10 Honor Guard with the Chapter Banner are units that when you toss a Chaplain in there go from powerful to devastating. Even when taking casualties to enemy assault units that swing first, the rerolls from Hatred help to ensure you pack a powerful counter-punch.

Another viable choice is to play to his low points cost and grab him a Jump Pack, stick him in a unit of Assault Marines to have a mobile, cheap and relatively effective assault/counter-assault unit.

However, as I have said before often and loudly, MEQ stat-line assault units are quite simply inferior to xenos assault units on a point for point comparison. Therefore, building a Space Marine assault army will often leave you flat and as the Chaplain plays best in that type of army or those types of units, his usefulness diminishes along with theirs. As stated above, there are only a handful of Marine units that will almost always be useful in an assault and if you do want to use one of them, then a Chappy isn’t a bad choice but as with so many other characters we’ve reviewed: will often fall flat in a comparison to what you could take in HQ for Marines.

Annnnnd, that’s about it! Haha, he is just a very simple, straight forward model to use. As for some other fun little ways to use him pertinent to a few Chapter Tactics:

  1. Black Templars: with BT Chapter Tactics he becomes a lot better. Rerolls to hit in a challenge plus rending really jives well with his Power Maul and this guy becomes actually pretty decent in a fight. It will make him quite deadly against other mid-range Chaacters such as Farseers, Librarians, Sarges, Suit Commanders, etc. Plus, as he adds Adamantium Will and Crusader to his list of USRs, all of which transfer onto a unit he joins, he can make a great ally!
  2. Raven Guard: getting Scouts means you can join him to a unit of say, an IG Blob Squad and they get Scouts, Hatred, and Fearless. Wow, not bad at all for the points!
  3. Iron Hands: The usual buffs of a 6+ FnP and It Will Not Die are nice to keep him going longer.
  4. White Scars: again, these Chapter Tactics are just so incredibly good. Hit and Run, Hit and Run, Hit and Run. Such an amazingly good ability. As it transfers onto his unit, this helps to not only override Fearless to get you unstuck from Tarpit units, but, he can join a unit of allies to give them his normal buffs plus these. Stick him on a Bike to increase his durability and the assault range of a unit he is with and profit.
  5. Sallies give him a Master-crafted weapon for free and defense against flame weapons. Nice.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

16 Responses to “Space Marines Reviews: HQs Part 19: Chaplain”

  1. skari October 11, 2013 3:19 am

    i love a good ol chappy. I would mostly use him in smaller games. I dont mind the terminator armour when he is riding with some assault termies… this is because the 2+ save really helps as he lacks the choice tor artificer armour.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 8:32 am

      Yeah, it’s just a high price to pay for that 2+. They should have made Termie Armor no more than 20 for him. More like 15.

  2. fluger October 11, 2013 7:03 am

    I think Chaplains have the best value as IG blob buff machines. A bare-bones chappy with White Scars CT and then 5 bolter scouts is only 145 pts and gives one of your combat blobs a real nasty kick. Fearless with Hit and Run at I4 is tasty tasty, and he makes all the power axes in there super good.

    I also can see him being a on-the-cheap HQ choice. Slot him in with a unit of vanguard vets with packs and they are a credible threat to a lot of things.

    Biggest regret to me is that the terminator chappy is so not ideal as it is my favorite GW model. 🙁

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 8:31 am

      I feel you there. That is one of the best SM models made, IMO. I am probably going to convert mine so I can use him as the Chappy Termie is pretty awful.

  3. jeremy October 11, 2013 8:13 am

    It’s Chaplain Action, he man of the cloth!

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 8:16 am

      The Emperor’s word and a big hammer! haha

  4. anonymou5 October 11, 2013 9:29 am

    This article needs more Ellis era Authority, less Millar stuff….

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 11:28 am

      Comic nerd alert!

    • jeremy October 11, 2013 12:50 pm

      Ture. I was a grim day when Ellis ended his run.

  5. Hotsauceman1 October 11, 2013 10:04 am

    Im really looking forward to the rest of your reviews. Especially The Master of the Forge. My favorite unit 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 11:36 am

      He’s coming up next!

  6. jack sparrow October 11, 2013 1:49 pm

    With a jump pack he can hang with the assault unit, but also jump into units that have gone to ground allowing them to get up early. The mobility allows for his going unit to unit a little easier. Makes them a little more resilient for the charge as well.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 2:00 pm

      True, and a Bike does this too, but even better. Only downside is that it can’t go up levels.

  7. Cruzcontrol39 October 12, 2013 8:35 am

    I plan on taking a Chap with a jump pack in smaller games also…

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 12, 2013 10:01 am

      I think he’d great in smaller games.

  8. Kastor Krieg October 19, 2013 3:00 pm

    If you can’t use the Chaplains with their own rules, do as I did.

    I use my Chaplains as “Reclusiam Guard” (free power mauls all around, wheee! :D) and the TDA “Chaplain Master” as a Chapter Master of Sanctity, with Chapter Master stat line and bling on him. Works wonders and I get to
    a) use the models I love, perfectly legally
    b) get to skip GW’s attempt at ditching the Reclusiarch / Master of Sanctity stat lines.

    Yes, you can tell I’m a Templar 😉