Space Marine HQ Reviews: The Captains


Hey everyone SaltyJohn from TFGRadio and Capture and Control here. Up for review today: Space Marine Captain, Space Marine Terminator Captain, and the new fanged Space Marine Captain in Cataphractii Terminator Armor!

As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and videos! These guys will be reviewed together as they are essentially the same model.

Each Space Marine chapter has 10 companies (except Salamanders, Black Templars, Space Wolves but hey, who’s counting!?) each lead by a Captain. Space Marine Captains are second in rank and ability only to the Chapter Master himself, and potent fighters in their own right. Generally speaking the leaders of the Companies take on a special role in the hierarchy and organization of the Chapter above and beyond their duties as Captain. For example on Captain, often the third company, is the Master of the Arsenal. As such he is in charge of the Chapters weapons, armor, and is often equipped with ancient and highly artificied weapons and armor. The Terminator Captain leads the veteran 1st Company and is typically the most experienced of them. In game however can they live up to their fluff hype?


The Captain is a mainstay in Marine armies and an old favorite. He’s risen and fallen in power over the editions. With the advent of 7th edition and the almighty Battle Company the Captain is seeing times of more popularity than ever before. He isn’t the beatstick the Chapter Master is, but is cheaper, and allows bikes as troops if he is on a bike. I feel that he strikes a nice balance in ability and points cost but that he pales in comparison to the Chapter Master or Librarian in a pure efficiency comparison. Speaking of points, he weighs in at a Thunderfire Cannon -10pts, and the Termie Captain is 30pts above that. You’ll see below that for no additional cost you can upgrade the Terminator Captain to have the much better Cataphractii Terminator Armor.


Wargear for Captain:

  • 3+ armor
  • 4++ from halo
  • Bolt Pistol
  • Chainsword
  • Grenades
  • Options for: melee, ranged, special issue wargear and relics.

Wargear for Terminator Captain

  • 2+/5++
  • 4++
  • Storm Bolter
  • Power Sword
  • Options for: Terminator weapons, special issue wargear and relics
  • Relentless

Wargear for Cataphractii Captain

  • 2+/4++ with a re-roll on failed Invul saves of 1.
  • Storm Bolter
  • Powersword
  • Options for: Terminator weapons, special issue wargear and relics
  • Slow and Purposeful

Special Rules

  • IC
  • Chapter Tactics


The first and most important question you should ask yourself when looking at a Captain of either variety is why are you taking him and not a Chapter Master who does everything he does, better? The answer may be because you’re running a Battle Company in a format that doesn’t allow the Captain to be upgraded to a Chapter Master.

That answer to that question will define how you equip him and use him, if you use him at all. The Captain lacks a wound and attack from the Chapter Master’s profile (3 of each) and lacks orbital bombardment. He is significantly cheaper (40pts cheaper for the Captain, 10pts cheaper for the Termie Captain), but, that extra attack, and especially the extra wound, are REALLY big reasons to take the Chapter Master. Orbital bombardment is just a pleasant bonus.


Why is that such a big deal? Because if you are making your Chapter Master the eternal warrior tank character you should be making him, he is 33% more durable than the Captain. That means you get more out of every single point you invest into him as he will last longer. For example, abilities such as the Iron Hands, “It Will Not Die” rule (more chances to regenerate, more wounds to increase the odds of making your 6+ FnP even better if you take the Gorgons Chain), or the greater number of attacks to maximize Black Templars or Salamanders offensive buffs, etc. It also means he is less likely to be taken out in a single round of combat. He also hits harder which means you get more efficiency out of any special weapon you buy for him due to more attacks and him lasting longer to swing the weapon more times. Let’s not forget, he has the ability to lay down the Emperor’s Pimp Hand with Orbital Bombardment which can be game winning…but it can also miss and do nothing so we won’t weigh that too heavily.

Essentially, if you are taking a model to be your answer to assault it needs to be the most powerful assault model you can get because if it is not, you run the risk of being out-classed in a fight if you find yourself facing a more powerful assault asset across the table from you. The issue is that with even 1 wound, assault units hit at full power so if your opponent takes out your assault asset with his, he can then run roughshod over your units that are unable to counter it even when heavily damaged. Therefore, somewhat obviously, a Chapter Master with like equipment to a Captain is better. Period. Yes he costs more points but who cares? If he (or any similar unit) kills your captain in a fist fight and then goes on to eat several more units you just took a serious bloody nose. You stand to lose a hell of a lot more than 40pts.

Therefore, in my mind if you are looking to make an assault beat stick, the Captain is simply inferior and I would pass on him in that role every single time for the Chapter Master. Unless of course you have the aforementioned format restriction or a formation restriction etc. It’s also important to note that in Battle Company you’re often pinching for every last point so even if the format allows it upgrading to a Chapter Master may be just too expensive. In that case many times I find myself preferring to give the Captain some useful wargear rather than use the points for the upgrade to Chapter Master.

Sable Sword Terminator Captain front

So, why would you take the Captain? For one, he is a solid character. Bear in mind, that the Chaplain and Librarian are solid as well but have different advantages, so you need to weigh his usefulness against theirs for that role if you’re using a CAD or Allied detachment. The Chaplain isn’t as powerful of a fighter but buffs the unit he is with and costs the same points (and we’ll get into a full review of him in time of course), and the Librarian is again, less powerful in melee but is very flexible and  considerably cheaper. Prior to Gladius and 7th edition you would rarely have seen Captains included in serious competitive 40k armies due to the previously discussed benefits of a Chapter Master over the Captain. Now however you need to use him, indeed you may be forced to use him. You can make a case for keeping him cheap and mobile as a non-primary assault model, especially in the pricey Gladius Battle Company formation.

With the arrival of the Gladius and Battle Company it is important to take a deeper look at the role you wish for him to play. While you can run him stock as outlined above I feel there are a few better ways to run him. In an Iron Hands BC you could run him as a mini-CM on bike with Hammer, Storm Shield, and Gorgons Chain and take a unit of Bikes in one of the Demi-Companies or a Command Squad on bikes to go with him. Grav bikers are never a bad investment. You could give him a combi-grav and just shoehorn him into a Grav tac squad for a cheap option. The best option for the captain now in my opinion is to take him in a Drop Pod heavy Ultramarines Battle Company and give him Cataphractii armor. You can put him into a Drop Pod with one of the Devastator squads armed with 4 Grav Cannons. If you give him a Stormshield he now can tank wounds for the unit on a 3++ re-rolling 1s! Further his Slow and Purposeful confers to the unit of Devs meaning they will fire their Grav Cannons as if they hadn’t moved the turn they drop in and using the Ultrmarines Devastator doctrine they will be re-rolling to hit. No need to try and shoe horn in some allies for a drop pod for your Grav Centurions!


While the Captain was often overlooked in 6th edition for the almighty beat stick Chapter Master 7th edition has forced us to revisit our faithful old friend and I feel we’ve found a nice niche for him in the new Battle Company lists. While not as good as the Chapter Master he is more readily available in formations and detachments making him a cheaper and still effective choice. In the end, I do not at all think the Captain is bad and he can be outstanding in the right circumstances, he just isn’t as good as the Chapter Master and therefore will be the inferior choice on paper. However in the new world of formation hammer he can’t be disregarded.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.


About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

10 Responses to “Space Marine HQ Reviews: The Captains”

  1. Reecius June 17, 2016 7:05 am #

    Great review, John!

  2. Blight1 June 17, 2016 8:03 am #

    I would actually say that a gorgon’s chain cataphractii captain is almost more survivable than a chapter master. Re-rolling 1s on a 3++ is nothing to sneeze at.

    • Vercingatorix June 17, 2016 8:52 am #

      Eternal warrior though? I don’t think the captain has that? That was the part that always drove me nuts when trying to kill a chapter master.

      • OverwatchCNC June 17, 2016 10:14 am #

        Chapter Masters aren’t automatically EW though. You need the Shield Eternal for that usually.

      • RyanTSG June 17, 2016 10:56 am #

        Gorgons chain is an IH relic that grants EW until down 3 wounds (Where the Cap is at 1 wound left the CM is 2 wounds left so you have a chance to get doubled out for the last wound that cost so much. It also bumps FNP

        • OverwatchCNC June 17, 2016 1:40 pm #

          Right, I thought he was saying that Chapter Masters automatically would have EW. Just misunderstanding what he wrote.

    • Reecius June 17, 2016 9:35 am #

      Yeah, that is VERY good.

  3. westrider June 17, 2016 1:00 pm #

    I feel like the Cataphractii Captain is the clear winner in a lot of circumstances, because he makes Dev Squads so much better, and because he brings something that a Chapter Master can’t, since the Cataphractii Captain is a separate Datasheet with different options. In Power Armour or regular Terminator Armour, the Chapter Master wins out most times.

    • OverwatchCNC June 17, 2016 1:41 pm #

      Given the fact you’re required to take a Captain, and to a certain extent Devastators, in a Battle Company the Cataphractii is a big boost to the slot as a whole.

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