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)
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!