Space Marine Review: HQ: Chaplain


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


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.



  • Bolt Pistol
  • Crozius Arcanum- +2S, AP4, Melee, Concussive (a model that suffers one or more unsaved wounds is reduced to initiative 1 until the end of the following assault phase)
  • Frag Grenades
  • Krak Grenades
  • Rosarius- 4++
  • Can replace his Bolt Pistol with a Boltgun or Power Fist
  • Can take Ranged Weapons, Special Issue Wargear and/or Chapter Relics
  • Can replace the Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades with Terminator Armour and a Storm Bolter (may take Special Issue Wargear and/or Chapter Relics while in Terminator Armour). May also replace the Storm Bolter with a combi-weapon (flamer, melta or plasma only)

Special Rules:

  • Chapter Tactics
  • Independent Character
  • Zealot- essentially gives the Chaplain and his unit Fearless and Hatred



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 Fearless on a unit. In 3rd and 4th edition when the Crozius Arcanum was a power weapon, the Chaplain was a solid marine killer. Now it is AP4, it is poorer at taking out MEQ, but the strength bonus and Concussive makes it great for taking on lightly armoured, tougher units with multiple wounds, such as certain Monstrous Creatures. It is also not a Specialist Weapon, so you do get +1A for having the Bolt Pistol.


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 where 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. Re-rolls to hit are statistically 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 Crozius Arcanum and it is pricey. Same goes for Terminator Armour. 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 extra attack due to swapping the Bolt 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.


I like to use my Chaplain to boost a White Scars ‘ Bike Squad or Command Squad. A Bike and The Hunter’s Eye does not add much to the base cost of the Chaplain. He really boosts a bike unit, granting them Fearless, re-rolls in combat and Ignores Cover (thanks to the Hunter’s Eye). If you are not running White Scars, an Auspex is a useful addition to help reduce enemy cover saves. He is also a great and cheap way of unlocking Mounted Assault, allowing your Bike squads to be taken as troops choices.

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 and the special characters all bring some cool abilities to the table. The Chaplain’s only real advantage is his low points cost and his specialised buffs. I generally prefer the Chaplain over the Librarian in many situations. The Chaplain brings an Invulnerable save to the unit (which is difficult for the Librarian to get cheaply), as well as providing the very useful Zealot abilities.


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. Honour Guard or Assault Terminators in an Land Raider Crusader, an assault Bike Command Squad, etc. These units are pricey and you really need to maximise 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.

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.



The Chaplain is a popular choice in the Gladius Strike Force as he is compulsory to access the Battle Company and pick up those sweet, sweet free transports. In this formation, you probably want to stick him with a unit of assault marines or on a Bike to join a Bike squad. He can also be a useful addition to a Centurion Devastator squad, granting them Fearless and providing an Invulnerable Save where their 2+ armour saves would not be of use.

He can also be taken as part of a Reclusium Command Squad. In this formation, he joins a Command Squad with a Razorback. This gives the Command Squad the Crusader Special Rule, as well as giving all Space Marine units within 6″ Hatred. This can be a powerful boost if you have an assault-based Space Marine army and are concentrating on one enemy unit. The downside of this formation is that the unit must have a Razorback. If you are using this Command Squad as an assault unit, you cannot assault from the Razorback and must brave a turn of the enemy shooting. However, there is nothing in the rules stating that you must begin the game in the transport or that you cannot equip the Chaplain and Command Squad with Bikes.


The Chaplain can also be part of the Stormlance Battle Demi-Company. In this, the Chaplain would do well leading a Bike Squad or unit of Assault Marines. They also get a special 2D6″ bonus move after shooting in the shooting phase, allowing them to quickly re-deploy.

The Chaplain is also an option for the Hunting Force. In this, he must be taken in addition to a Captain and must be on a Bike. This is a great way of getting the Hunter’s Eye in the Hunting Force if you plan on taking Khan as the Captain.

The Chaplain can also be taken in the Pinion Battle Demi-Company and Bladewing Assault Brotherhood. In these, there is little reason to take the Chaplain over the Captain, as the Captain hits harder in combat and has more options available to him.


Overall, the Chaplain is a decent, cheap HQ for the Space Marine army. He is not as good as the Captain or Chapter Master in combat, but I find him a lot more reliable than the Librarian, who suffers from lack of an Invulnerable Save and can be pretty mediocre if you don’t roll decent powers for him.

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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.

6 Responses to “Space Marine Review: HQ: Chaplain”

  1. Bryan01 September 23, 2016 7:42 am #

    In a Demi company, I find the most useful role I’ve found for him, is not his personal buffs, although they can come in handy, rather that he is objective secure and can be placed in a unit that lacks it, like one of the auxiliary formations.

    • Reecius September 23, 2016 8:51 am #

      I find the Chappy to be a great character. He buffs, fights well, is relatively durable, cheap. Really, a great force multiplier.

    • Michael Corr September 25, 2016 8:02 am #

      That is a useful tactic, giving objective secured out to other units that lack it.

  2. Joshua September 23, 2016 4:38 pm #

    Remember in 4th when you had levels of Librarians and Chaplains?

    I’ve thought for awhile now that senior Chaplains could be an HQ choice, while junior Chaplains could be a 1-3 from Elites.

    • AngryPanda September 24, 2016 3:53 am #

      I’d defiantly like to see sepcialized buff characters of lower levels. As in a low level chaplain that isn’t much more than a veteran sergeant that gives buffs. Basicaly the ability to make units better without sticking massively powerful and pricy characters into them. After which they become such a high investment you just have to keep adding more to protect them and build towards Deathstars right away.

      • Reecius September 25, 2016 8:13 am #

        Yeah, the old days where a Chaplain with a jump pack and Lightening Claws in a unit of Assault Marines was terrifying! Lol, oh how the times have changed.

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