Space Marine Chapter Tactics Review 7th Ed.

Hello everyone PeteyPab here with a Space Marine rulebook review! It’s been a while since the Space Marine codex was released so I decided to give everyone a refresher on all the different Chapter Tactics Space Marines have the option to use. Take a look at our Tactics Corner for more great articles! 

Space Marines were my first army, I think it is safe to say that statement is true for a lot of people. These powerful warrior-monks in gleaming ceramite armor are the main selling point for a lot of new players who just want to find their identity in the game, and the Space Marine Chapter Tactics are the first step to establishing that identity.

The first thing I love about all the chapter tactics is how they are represented from a fluff perspective. Each individual chapter’s tactics feel and play exactly the way I would expect members of that particular chapter to act in a battle. The Salamanders are all about crafting weapons and lighting things on fire, the Iron Hands watched their Primarch die and turned that pain and weakness into a unique identity which strengthened their entire legion. Since the inception of chapter tactics back in 6th edition forgeworld has even gone so far as to add even more chapters in the form of the Badab Wars, and given them new shiny Chapter Tactics to match.  Space Marines might not be everyone’s favorite faction, but no one can argue that the presence of so many options for just one codex has been nothing but positive for a faction that used to feature, Lysander, Tigurius, and Pedro Kantor in one detachment while the rest of the members of their chapters stayed behind. (Please save your Battle Brothers rants for after you’ve read the article)

To add a little more fun to the rest of the article I have decided to rank these from my least favorite, to my favorite. This ranking doesn’t reflect each CT’s competitive viability, or how well it is represented from a fluff perspective
First up we have the crafty Raven Guard, and their sneaky Chapter Tactics. Reece’s favorite army has a lot of good things going for them. They have some cool formations from the Angels of Death supplement, and their paint scheme is extremely easy to paint. As a matter of fact, given their new multiple formation based detachment the Talon Strike Force can lead to a competitive build, just ask Anthony D’amore. It’s not all fun and shadowgames for the boys in black however when you take a closer look at their Chapter Tactics.
Strike from the Shadows: This special rule allows Raven Guard models that are neither in vehicles or are vehicles to get shrouded for the entire first game turn. It also adds +1 to the roll for determining night fighting. This rule is just ok, I love the idea of fighting in shadows however why wouldn’t the cunning Raven Guard have the tactical acumen to always fight at night when they want to? Do some Raven Guard stay up too late watching Game of Thrones?
Winged Deliverance: The next special rule lets units with the jump special rule to use their jump packs in both the assault and movemet phases, as well as giving them the ability to reroll failed hammer of wrath wounds. Ok now we are talking! I admit, this was a much worse rule before the Kauyon book came out and gave Raven Guard formations which put space marines on jump packs back on everyone’s radar, but then again, maybe it was GW’s plan all along.
Next on the list are the Mongolian conquerors themselves, the White Scars. These marines have been dominating the tabletop due to their two powerful Chapter Tactics, and the unrivaled mustache of their only named character, Kor’Sarro Khan (seriously check it out).

Born in the Saddle: The first half of their rules, gives their bike units the skilled rider special rule and the ability to hit with Hammer of Wrath at strength 5! Nice! Those Hammer of Wrath attacks are the bread and butter of an already very mobile shock unit which relies on it’s ability to fly around the board and take out any scrubs holding onto backfield objectives. The cover save bonus from Skilled rider is only situationally useful, but really good when because it is essentially just another tool at their disposal. Obviously, passing dangerous terrain is huge for these types of units as you have take the test EVERY TIME you go through terrain, including pile in in combat, etc. it can really grind a unit down and when you have small units of bikes, every casualty hurts.

Fight on the Move: The second half of their Chapter Tactics is the real kicker, though. Hit and Run. Wowzers! Every single model in the army has Hit and Run, that is crazy. There is nothing in the game like this at all, typically it’s a special rule that only 1 or 2 elite units get. Now, you have an entire army that can leave combat at will (assuming you pass the check, of course). White scars models always have the ability to jump out of combat and assure their players that those expensive shooting weapons you bought are going to have a good chance of actually shooting. Hit and Run is game winning and combined with ATSKNF, you can keep your army fluid and mobile the entire game. Combo this with the great mobility and objective secured space marine bikers already have, add in Graviton Weapons which work best on relentless models, the ability to build a totall bad ass character on a bike, and the combat doctrines from the Gladius Strike Force and you have a winning combo.

The Sons of Medusa were at one point one of the least represented chapters in the new book. They never had a named character (they still don’t I believe) and until they got supplement representation their chapter tactics were really the only identity they had. What I liked about this however was that their chapter tactics didn’t single out one type of weapon, or unit. No matter what, if you had an Iron Hands model their Chapter Tactics would always assure that, with the right amount of luck, that model would survive enough to the point that your opponent would pull thier hair out.

The Flesh is Weak: Models with the Iron Hands chapter tactics get feel no pain 6+. They also add 1 to the feel no pain value if the model already has a better feel no pain rule. This is absolutely amazing at keeping in an entire army alive. As Reece once pointed out to me, this increases an army’s entire durability by 15%. Not only are you more durable but you also get a save (albeit a small one) against things that normally destroy marines, like plasma, and grav.

Machine Empathy: This rule gives characters and Iron Hands vehicles the ability It Will Not Die, what this means is that every time the end of your turn comes around you can actually rest a little easier knowing that the injured Iron Hands model you placed on an outskirt objective is possibly just that much harder to kill. With the buff to the vehicles damage chart this actually makes cheap transports like rhinos and drop pods really good at forcing your opponent to divert more shooting power at useless units while the bulk of your army hammers at them from another side.

Next up we have the only Chapter Tactics that two named characters have, despite the fact that they are from different chapters. Imperial Fists chapter tactics. The Crimson Fists are probably my second favorite chapter inside the Space Marines Codex. Both them, and their father chapter are deathly efficient on the field of battle and it shows inside their simple and solid chapter tactics.

Bolter Drill: Got a buff from last edition. Before it only gave “bolter” like weapons the ability to reroll ones and now it also applies to the special ammunition fired from the sternguard units Crimson Fist players like to take. Combine this with the doctrines or the bolter drill buff from both formation based detachments available to the Imperial Fists and you have the makings of a very potent gunline marine army.

Siege Masters: Gives Devastators and Centurion Devastators Tank Hunters and get +1 to damage rolls against buildings. It means your devastators are just punishing against vehicles (including with Heavy Bolters which also reroll 1’s to hit). Also, this confers onto weapons the unit fires, such as Quad Guns and Icraus Las Cannons which is very helpful in clearing the skies of enemy flyers. Talk about covering all your bases, not only do you get efficient small arms fire, but you also get the ability to easily take down opposing vehicles. Oh, and the +1 damage to buildings is nice too. I mean honestly every single model should be able to take down a building with ease after all, they don’t even move!

The Salamanders have not changed much over the years, and why should they? Their chapter tactics are a cool representation of everything the Salamanders stand for, and are also the shining beacon every chapter tactics special rule seeks to become because they are not really game breaking (looking at you white scars) and are also not terrible to the point of unplayability.

Flamecraft: This special rule is the Salamanders godly ability to withstand all sorts of flame manifested into rules. They get a 4+ feel no pain against flamer weapons, but not the baleflamers from heldrakes, and can also reroll failed to wound rolls and armor penetrations with their own flamer weapons. If the Salamanders ever come knocking to your planet looking for one of Vulkan’s lost artifacts you better not be hiding in a grass hut.

Master Artisans: Though their chapter tactics are not my favorite, this special rule is arguably one of my favorite special rules in the entire game. During army selection you may elect to make any Salamanders character’s weapons master crafted. Wow! Not only is this cool from a fluff perspective but the sheer amount of wargear options available to space marines means this rule is actually always going to be used. I mean, a good Salamander never leaves home without his ornate frag grenade collection. I wonder if this means Salamanders trade grenades like pokemon cards? Gotta Krak em’ all? Anyways that’s enough of that.


Next up we have the poster children of all thing imperial and shiny, the Ultramarines. If you aren’t aware, I am a huge ultramarines homer , however I will try to keep my bias out of this write up as best as I can. The ultrasmurfs have very different chapter tactics then all the other chapters in the fact that if played poorly you will have a point in the game where your marines essentially have no chapter tactics at all and that is because you only get a limited amount of time to utilize their tactics (unless you have a demi-company, or a gladius strike force, or Calgar…).

Sons of Guillaman: The Ultramarines each get one extra use of the three available doctrines in the space marine codex. This essentially means that they will always get at least some force multipliers going no matter what kind of detachment you play them in. This is key because in combination with other sources you can essentially give your entire army to reroll ones to hit in the shooting phase, the assault phase, or both for the entire game.

Something to note, although the Ultramarines only get one special rule instead of 2+ like every space marine chapter 6 out of the 14 named characters in the book are all specific to the Ultramarines, which gives them a chapter-wide secret chapter tactic that makes them a lot more flexibility when it comes to building your army. Because of this I feel like Ultramarines are one of the better chapters to build a Combined Arms Detachment with, because of their ability to buff multiple types of units and fit in characters into almost any style of army.


Finally we have my absolute favorite chapter tactics, the Black Templars. The ugly, angry red-headed stepchildren of the Imperial Fists. Maybe it’s their hatred for psykers, or maybe it’s because they almost caused a second civil war, but the Black Templars certainly do not get a lot love from GW. Despite having some cool looking models and fluff they never seemed to have the same amount of presence on the battlefield as they did back when they used to have their own individual codex. I believe all this changed when the new space marines codex dropped. They still don’t have a strong presence on the table, but if you underestimate them you may just get punched in the mouth.

Holy Crusaders: Templar models have the crusader and adamantium will special rules. Right off the bat Black Templars get fluffy, solid rules. Good job GW! Crusader makes them slightly faster and gives them a better chance at sweeping advances. A deceptively good rule that makes black templars really good against models that arent fearless, or ATSKF, also adamantium will is helpful with the prevalance of more psychic shooting attacks, and chaos daemons resorting to fateweaver as a psychic gunboat.

The Lost Librarius: Ha! Black Templars have THREE chapter tactics instead of everyone else’s two…. Oh, what’s that? The second one isn’t very good? What do you mean you can’t take librarians in Black Templar detachments?! Yes I know the psychic phase is still amazing! Anyways they still get three chapter tactic special rules and that counts for something!

Righteous Zeal: If one of your units suffers any amount of casualties in the shooting phase or overwatch all the models in the unit get counter-attack and rage. This rule synergizes really well with the large crusader blob squads you can take in a Black Templars detachment. It essentially means that with all the extra bodies you take you will always have extra attacks for the entire game as long as your opponent is shooting at you. This can be the difference between losing a combat or winning a combat and also works well for every single unit. With the way people play marines now in hordes or deathstars the dreaded angels of death find themselves in more and more combats either through sheer durability or mass of bodies. This means that you will always have a leg up on your opponent in the assault phase unless they choose not to shoot at your units, which in that case means you only lose models in one phase. Value!


Well that’s all I have for you guys today! Tune in next week when I continue the Space Marines tactics with named characters!

Are you eager to try out any of the Chapter Tactics I talked about today? Frontlinegaming sells GW product at up to 25% off MSRP! Check it out!



About Petey Pab

Aspiring 40k analyst, tournament reporter and Ultramarines enthusiast, Petey Pab only seeks to gather more knowledge about the game of 40k and share it with as many people as he can in order to unite both hobbyists and gamers. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin.

15 Responses to “Space Marine Chapter Tactics Review 7th Ed.”

  1. Alex D June 19, 2016 1:16 am #

    You mean Imperial Fists chapter tactics and not iron hands right? lol

    • Petey Pab June 19, 2016 6:26 am #

      I completely meant Imperial Fists tactics! Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Dakkath June 19, 2016 4:09 am #

    Black Templar’s Righteous Zeal only works for that player turn according to the GW faq, so basically unless you’re blowing yourself up with plasma pistols, it’s only going to trigger off of overwatch casualties.

    • Lysere June 19, 2016 10:46 am #

      Well if someone shoots you and then charges you’ll get counter attack. I’ve played it per player turn since it came out and it still works great.

      If you shoot me and then charge you better hope you killed more than one marine. If you shoot me when I charge then you’re really gonna feel it.

  3. omega June 19, 2016 8:04 am #

    Really good article! But I feel you should also review the Forgeworld chapter tactics. There is some really good ones in there, Carchardons, Red Scorpions, Raptors, etc. I also feel like the Iron Hands’ decurion is monobuild since it resorts to a deathstar (please correct me if I’m wrong). And I feel like its really hard to build an effective Iron Warriors list counts-as using the Iron Hands. Just would like to know how you would build an Iron Warriors list using the chapter tactics .

    • Petey Pab June 19, 2016 9:25 am #

      Omega, an Iron Hands battle company list is perfect for an Iron Warriors list. Give everyone free vehicles and good shooting options then you can ally in a CAD for maybe a fortification and some extra heavy support options.

      As for the Angels of Death supplement there is an all vehicles mech detachment you can use Iron Hands chapter tactics on. Just make the techmarine an Iron Hands techmarine.

      Yes the Iron Hands formation based detachment can be used to build a deathstar but I think there are also other cool options like the infinite amount of dreadnoughts you can take!

      • omega June 19, 2016 10:53 am #

        Well for a competitve standpoint (which is where im coming from) the all tank formation is not that good (unless once again, you can prove me wrong) Its just for me to play my favorite legion and struggle to make a good competitve to fluffy ratio.

        • Petey Pab June 19, 2016 12:51 pm #

          Well, competitive play in most games often requires you to play with things you may not agree with, or like. Rapidash is my favorite pokemon, and I love Gambit openings in chess but neither are going to get me to the top.

          If you are deadset on running Iron Hands Chapter Tactics without a deathstar I do suggest you take a look at the Gladius.

          • Lord Krungharr June 19, 2016 7:15 pm

            I was looking at the Fist of Medusa and you can take the Armored Task Force as a core choice, a Command choice with Captain and Command Squad which could be all bikers (pretty good mini-deathstar), Librarius w 3 on bikes (bigger deathstar), auxiliary with a Raptor Wing with stormtalons and landspeeders (anti-air or other), and then a couple Techmarines on bikes (for bigger deathstar) because of the Iron Hands special rules for extra Techmarines for each IC in the detachment.

            All the vehicles would get IWND, and give someone the Ironstone, even better IWND; plus they’d get Machine Spirit with 12″ of any IC in there too. I think that would be a mighty fist of an army indeed!

    • Bryan June 19, 2016 9:34 am #

      The Forgeworld Chapter tactics are pretty great imo, mostly fluffy and good, without going over the top, like White Scars.

      I think Imperial fists (Dorn will love this..) or Iron hands make a good Iron warriors army. The only tricky bit is imperial weapons, as technically Iron warriors should not have access to Multi-Meltas or Grav. I think you can pretty easily explain this away though, as Chaos should have Grav weapons from the Horus Heresy, and plundering imperial equipment for use against the Imperium is very chaosy.

      Pity the Space Marine codex does more justice to non daemon chaos then the chaos one!

      • westrider June 19, 2016 1:42 pm #

        I figure if there’s any legion that would have gone out of their way to get their hands on man-portable Multi-Meltas, it would be the Iron Warriors. The Traitor Legions also got a bunch of the new stuff before the Loyalists as well, so it’s perfectly reasonable that the IW would have been the first Legion equipped with man-portable MMs, and thus the only Chaos Legion to still rock them.

        • Nurglitch June 20, 2016 9:29 am #

          Why bother when you can get entire squads of 5 Marines toting 4x Melta Guns + 1 Combi-Melta?

          • westrider June 20, 2016 1:15 pm

            Because Chosen are badly overpriced, and a delivery system that will let them make good use of all that Melta is even more so.

          • Threllen June 24, 2016 4:28 am

            You don’t need Chosen to get 4 meltas and a combi-melta. Havocs do the same thing for much cheaper.

  4. Charlie June 19, 2016 1:36 pm #

    Nice write up. I’ve been playing with and against Ravenguard since the Kauyon book was released. The RG Chapter Tactics combined with the Talon Strike Force Command Benefits, and other formation specific rules have made for some really fun and challenging games. Just wish I could play faster as there are so many rules that take me a bit to wrap my head around during a game.

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