Space Marine Review: HQ: Librarian

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Hi everyone, Michael here with an update on the review of the Space Marine Librarian. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

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. On his own, the Space Marine Librarian is useful enough to an army, but is not winning games on his own. However, with the release of the Librarius Conclave in 7th edition in addition to the Angels of Death psychic powers, the humble Librarian is now a force to be feared 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.

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Wargear:

  • Bolt Pistol
  • Force Weapon
  • Frag Grenades
  • Krak Grenades
  • Psychic Hood- Allows the Librarian to Deny the Witch for friendly units within 12″ as if he were the target. If embarked in a vehicle or building, can only attempt to deny if the vehicle/building were the target of the psychic power.
  • May take items from Ranged Weapons, Special Issue Wargear and/or Chapter Relics
  • May replace the Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades with Terminator Armour.
  • While in Terminator armour, may take a Storm Bolter, Combi-weapon (flamer, melta or plasma), a Storm Shield and may take Special Issue Wargear and/or Chapter Relics.

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Special Rules:

  • ATSKNF
  • Chapter Tactics
  • Independent Character
  • Psyker (Mastery Level 1)- may be upgraded to Mastery Level 2
  • Generates powers from Biomancy, Divination, Daemonology (Malefic and Sanctic), Pyromancy, Telekenesis, Telepathy, Librarius, Technomancy, Fulmination and Geokinesis.
  • Special note: Black Templars cannot take Librarians although there is nothing restricting them from allying with a psyker

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Tactics:

In 6th edition, one of the major drawbacks of the Space Marine Librarian was that they did not have access to Divination. This was arguably one of the most powerful disciplines in 6th edition and the utility of the Librarian was limited by not being able to take these powers.

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In 7th edition, however, not only does he gain access to Divination, the Space Marine Librarian has access to the widest range of psychic powers of any psyker in the game. Sure, he may be stuck at Mastery Level 2, but the wealth of useful powers available to the Librarian makes him a valuable choice for Space Marine armies, especially when boosted by the ridiculously good Librarius Conclave.

On his own, I think that the Space Marine Librarian really struggles to achieve much in a Space Marine army. I always upgrade him to Mastery Level 2 (for casting the second power and the extra warp charge dice) and give him an Auspex for reducing enemy cover saves.

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With only a single psyker in the army, the Librarian may fail to get any decent psychic powers and will generally struggle to cast anything over warp charge 2 (with warp charge 2 powers generally being quite difficult to cast with him). In addition, trying to cast the more powerful psychic powers increases the chance of the Librarian killing himself with a Perils of the Warp roll.

I would generally run a Librarian on a bike with either a Bike Command Squad or Bike squad, or with a unit of Grav Centurions in a Drop Pod (using Prescience to boost the Grav Centurions if I can actually cast it). However, the lack of an Invulnerable Save on the Librarian outside of taking Terminator Armour or the Shield Eternal limits his survivability in combat or against dedicated shooting and the Chaplain has the edge for me over the Librarian for boosting a Command Squad on bikes.

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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 where 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.

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With a Force Weapon, the Librarian can also potentially take out tough Monstrous Creatures or multi-wound models, though you need to be pretty lucky for him not to be killed off before he can strike.

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.

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Formations

As poor as the Librarian is on his own, get him and a few of his friends together and it is a completely different story. The Librarius Conclave is one of the best formations in the Space Marine Codex (if not the game!). Check out the review in the Tactics Corner for tips on how to best utilise this awesome formation.

The big benefit of the Librarius Conclave is Empyric Channelling, allowing you to manifest warp charge on a 2+ if there are three or more psykers from the formation within 12″ of each other (the nominated Librarian and at least two others). Suddenly, those game winning warp charge 2 and 3 powers are far easier to cast compared to a single Librarian attempting to do so. The recent FAQ rulings will diminish the power of the Librarius Conclave slightly, as they are limited to casting a number of powers equal to the Mastery Level of the caster. This generally means that the Conclave can only cast 2 powers each turn, but sharing the powers between all the different psykers helps to ensure that the two best powers are cast each turn (though most Librarius Conclaves feature Tigirius for the additional Mastery Level and bonuses when rolling for his powers).

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Psychic Powers:

With a wide range of psychic powers available to the Librarian, there are many ways he can boost your army. Here are a few of the awesome powers that he can access.

Divination

One of the best disciplines in the game, in my opinion, Divination offers many boost for a Space Marine army. The primaris power, Prescience, is great for providing re-rolls to hit and will benefit many units in a Marine army. Other great powers include Forewarning (4+ invulnerable) to protect your precious units, Perfect Timing to ignore cover (if you don’t have access to the Hunter’s Eye) and Precognition for getting Rending against a single target unit, allowing even your Bolters to take down a tough enemy unit.

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Biomancy

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 Witchfires in this school are ok and have the benefit of AP2, however, you are still rolling to hit for the attacks on BS4. 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.

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 the two Witchfires, your HQ points are not going to do much for you.

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Daemonology

Obviously, Malefic Daemonology is a big boost for any army. The ability to summon free units onto the table is great, but you will generally struggle to cast these powers unless your Librarian is part of a Conclave.

Sanctic powers are also very useful for a Space Marine army. Gate of Infinity is still great for quickly re-deploying units for maximum effect. Vortex of Doom is a great way to get D weaponry in your army, though is a hefty warp charge 3 (for good reason). Sanctuary is also a great boost, especially if you can cast it on a tooled up Command Squad with Storm Shields.

The issue with Daemonology powers is the added risk of Perils that they bring for most armies, increasing the chance that your Librarian will kill himself trying to cast the powers.

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Pyromancy

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, in my opinon, 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 Tactical Marines 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.

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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.

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Telekenesis

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 where it helps the middling I4 quite a bit.

Telekine Dome is nice, particularly against things like Ion Cannon Riptides and Heldrakes which both ignore your armour and usually cover. 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, 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.

Shockwave is OK. Really nothing to get excited about and certainly not a power to hope for.

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Telepathy

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 and that he now no longer need to roll to hit with the power. 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.

Hallucination can also be 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 obviously a game winning power on its own, little needs to be said about the benefits of this power to an army.

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Librarius

Veil of Time is an amazing power, giving your unit re-rolls to its saves, and one you hope for with the Librarius Discipline. Null Zone can also be useful for taking out that key enemy unit or Deathstar with your firepower.

My only issue with the Librarius Discipline is the Psychic Scourge only affects enemy psykers. Don’t get me wrong, it has a great chance of seriously harming enemy psykers, but if you are not facing any, this is just a waste of a power.

Technomancy

These give some really nice bonuses if you take a lot of vehicles in your army (so suited for Iron Hands chapters) or are facing a number of enemy vehicles or a Knight. Warpmetal Armour is nice, giving +1 toughness to a unit can be game changing and Machine Flense is great for potentially destroying an enemy vehicle in a single shot.

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Fulmination

The movement spells Magnetokinesis and Electrodisplacement are the real winners here and are a big boost to a Marine army. Any power or ability that increases your movement and ability to control the board is very powerful in 40k. These powers are so good that they have mitigated in many tournament rules packs, including the ITC.

Geokinesis

Some really good powers in this Discipline, but Phase Form and Shifting Worldscape stand out. Phase Form is incredibly powerful, allowing you to ignore Cover and line of Sight! Shifting Worldscape is equally insane, allowing you to move terrain around the board at will (Shifting Worldscape is banned an most competitive events, simply because it is so powerful and the logistical nightmare it presents for TO’s).

Landquake is also great for shutting down your opponent’s mobility by preventing them from running, turbo-boosting or moving Flat Out. This can be game winning if you can use it to stop your opponent grabbing objectives on the final turns of the game.

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Overall:

The Space Marine Librarian is a decent HQ choice on his own. With the right psychic powers he can really buff your army or harass the enemy army, assuming you can cast the powers and you don’t kill yourself trying to cast them. In the Librarius Conclave, however, his power level increases dramatically and you will see him in many competitive lists and with good reason!

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!

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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

10 Responses to “Space Marine Review: HQ: Librarian”

  1. Vercingatorix September 20, 2016 11:17 am
    #

    “I may not be an adventurer, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am. ”

    “and that is?”

    “I….Am a librarian”

    • Vercingatorix September 20, 2016 11:19 am
      #

      I apologize for any inaccuracies, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the mummy.

  2. Blight September 21, 2016 2:49 am
    #

    I would be interested in an article about how the space marine exclusive psy lores work with and for CSM.
    If there’s one thing we have over on regular SMs it’s our psykers. If the conclave didn’t exist I would says ours were always better.

  3. AngryPanda September 21, 2016 2:59 am
    #

    What is this about Tyranids using book powers? Did they change that again?

    • Threllen September 21, 2016 5:41 am
      #

      Not that I know of. Genestealer cults can roll on Telepathy but I’m thought the new nids codex made them stick to their own book.

      • AngryPanda September 21, 2016 7:06 am
        #

        Thought so too but they are mentioned under Telekinesis and I got confused. Thought maybe the 7th core book changed it again or something.

  4. Threllen September 21, 2016 8:02 am
    #

    Maybe it’s just me, but has anyone been having troubles with the website recently? I keep getting “frontlinegaming.org has re-redirected you too many times.” If I delete my cookies for the site, it works for a bit but then it happens again. This happened on both my work and home computers (both use the same google chrome account).

    • threllen September 21, 2016 8:06 am
      #

      By the way, this is happening on multiple browsers which points to a server-side issue.

      • AngryPanda September 21, 2016 9:23 am
        #

        Yeah. I just asumed the site is trying to grow an immunity to miserable cynic like me.

      • Dakkath September 21, 2016 12:16 pm
        #

        Same here. It’s really annoying.