Army Review: Codex Gladius Strike Force (Oprah Edition)


The Space Marines have always been the poster boys of 40k. They are a powerful, yet easy army for a new player to learn, so have always been very popular. Their sales account for much of the revenue for 40k, but sales of Rhinos, Razorbacks and Drop Pods had been tailing off. On an entirely unrelated note, 7th edition saw the release of the Gladius Strike force version of Codex: Space Marines, giving the iconic army of the 40k universe some nice bonuses. For more review, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

These army reviews are intended as tongue in cheek looks at popular army builds in 40k. No digs at any playstyles or players are intended, it’s all just a bit of fun!


The forces of the Space Marines are arranged into vast Battle Companies, composed of Tactical Marines, Assault Marines and Devastator Marines. Despite these being the most numerous units in the Space Marine army, they were rarely observed on the tabletop. The reason for this was that other units in the Codex could perform the same roles more effectively. This did not seem right for the core of the Space Marine army and 7th edition saw some rules changes that aimed to make these core units more popular.

The new rules and wargear updates helped to make Tactical Marines and Devastator Marines more popular. Assault Marines, however, are not allowed to take Grav Cannons (at least, not yet……), so something else needed to be done to make their inclusion necessary in an army.


Fortunately, the use of formations allowed the designers to create balanced forces that exemplified the army style of certain races from a background perspective, without being too overpowered or ridiculous. Just like Superheavy vehicles and Gargantuan Creatures.

So, the supplement Codex: Gladius Strike Force was released to give marine players a new and varied way to build the same army as every other Space Marine player. The formation is currently only available for White Scars armies, but should become available for other Space Marine Chapters, as soon as players realise that there are other Space Marine Chapters. Fortunately, the White Scars have a huge number of successor Chapters available to them, so there is no shortage of variety for players to see on the tabletop. For example, they have successor chapters that are the colours Ultramarine Blue, Crimson Fists Yellow, Dark Angels Green, Blood Angels Red, etc.



The core of the Gladius Strike Force consists of the Battle Company. This consists of:

  • Kor’sarro Khan on Moondrakkan
  • Chaplain on a Bike
  • Command Squad- Bikes, 4 Grav Guns
  • Tactical Squad- Grav Cannon
  • Drop Pod
  • Tactical Squad- Grav Cannon
  • Drop Pod
  • Tactical Squad- Grav Cannon
  • Rhino
  • Tactical Squad- Flamer Grav Cannon
  • Rhino
  • Tactical Squad- Grav Gun (for variety)
  • Razorback
  • Tactical Squad- Grav Cannon
  • Razorback
  • Devastator Squad- 4 Grav Cannons
  • Rhino
  • Devastator Squad- 4 Grav Cannons
  • Rhino
  • Assault Squad- Grav Cannon envy
  • Drop Pod
  • Assault Squad- a couple of Flamers, I guess?
  • Drop Pod
  • A unit of Dreadnoughts (pfft, only kidding! No one takes Dreadnoughts)
  • Rhino
  • Rhino
  • Another Rhino
  • A last Rhino
  • Sorry, one more Rhino
  • Drop Pod
  • Another Rhino
  • Rhino
  • And finally, for a bit of variety, a Rhino.
You get a Rhino, you get a Rhino, everyone gets a Rhino!

You get a Rhino, you get a Rhino, everyone gets a Rhino!

The Gladius Strike Force must take an auxiliary choice. There are a large range of options for this, allowing players to select choices to represent the full fighting might of a Space Marine Chapter, as long as it consists of three units of Scouts.

Even though every Gladius Strike Force must contain a 10th Company Task Force, there is a lot of variety in the Scout units themselves. You can arm all three with Bolters. You can arm all three with Sniper Rifles. You can even go crazy and have a mix of units with Bolters and some with Sniper Rifles.


Special Rules:

The Gladius Strike Force gets access to a whole host of great special rules that makes it such a powerful formation.

  • Objective Secured- As long as there is a Space Marine model on the board, you control all the objectives. This rule got even better with the new draft FAQ rulings. Under the new rulings, if you land a Drop Pod on an objective, your opponent cannot move a model within 8 feet of the objective.
  • Company Support- Free transports for everyone! Don’t worry. This is not as overpowered as you may think and hardly anyone complains about it.
  • Codex Astartes- The Gladius Strike Force allows you to enact the Combat Doctrines to give you army-wide re-rolls. In order to keep things fair, the army only gets re-rolls in four of the five game turns.
  • Scout- As White Scars, the whole army gets access to Scout on its transports.



In a standard 1850 pts game, deploy 2500 pts. Hope your opponent doesn’t notice. Suggested conversations to help distract your opponent are:

  • How overpowered Eldar formations are.
  • How overpowered Tau formations are.
  • When the plastic Sisters of Battle are coming out.
  • When the Squats will be returning to 40k.
  • The problem with Kids these days.
  • Who is going to win the Great British Bake Off/The Apprentice/Survivor/Dancing with the Stars/That Singing One, you know, with her from the thing/Game of Thrones?


Advanced Tactics:

There are two types of 40k players; those that think the Gladius Strike Force is ridiculous and overpowered and those that play the Gladius Strike Force.

Opponents of the Strike Force will say that it is inherently unfair. Any formation that gives several hundred points worth of free transport vehicles is a big advantage, giving unfair games with more points on one side than the other. In addition, the main core of the formation gets Objective Secured, a fantastic special rule that almost guarantees board dominance for the Gladius player. They may point out that no other army gets such widespread access to Objective Secured outside of the normal CAD.

Get used to seeing these guys.

Get used to seeing these guys.

Proponents of the Gladius Strike Force will counter with “Nuh uh, your army is overpowered!” or “At least they’re not Eldar”.

Kor’sarro Khan leads every Gladius Strike Force in existence from his bike, Moondrakkan. Apparently, he can be taken on foot. There is even a model and everything. Who knew?!? Khan is the very latest in the Emperor’s cloning technology, being reproduced thousands of times to fight on a thousand different worlds. The reason for this advanced cloning is to provide Scout to all the free transports in the army. No other Space Marine Captain has been able to figure out that driving closer to the enemy is good.

A variant of the Gladius Strike Force that utilises all Drop Pods for its free transports can frequently be observed at many tournaments. These players are often decried as the worst of WAAC players who take the Gladius, unable to have fun in their games.


In truth, these players should not be scorned, but should be pitied. Most start off as fun-loving and fluffy players who wish to build an assault-based Space Marine force, arriving by Drop Pods to crush the enemies of the Emperor. However, the act of painting twelve Drop Pods is enough to destroy the soul of even the most ardent narrative gamer, leaving a black heart that abandons their original path of a fluffy and fun force to load up on as many Grav guns and Grav Cannons as possible.

All is not lost though and such individuals can be rehabilitated in some easy steps using a sharp, pointed stick:

Step 1- Make them read the Ork codex cover to cover. When they eventually break down into tears, hug them and repeat the mantra “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault”.

Step 2- Encourage the player to paint a Marine that is not a White Scar or one of its many, many successor Chapters. The act of deep research to find such a Chapter should help to rekindle their love of narrative play.

Step 3- Reacquaint them with the points values of Drop Pods, Rhinos and Razorbacks.

Step 4- Do not let them play Terminators, no matter how much they beg! Actually fielding this iconic and fluffy unit in a game may cause a reversion to their power gaming ways when they realise just how awful they actually are.


Most players seem to stick to Rhinos and Razorbacks for the free transports in their Gladius Strike Force, as these are marginally less soul destroying to paint. The Razorback has the added advantage of an extra free heavy weapon in the army. Don’t worry about the reduced transport capacity of the Razorback, as no one actually fields 10-man squads in a Gladius Strike Force.

As powerful as the forces of Codex: Gladius Strike Force can be, there are many ways that it could be improved. The recent draft FAQs gave some great insight into how the formation could evolve in future editions. For example, some of the questions posed included:

  • Can I take the Skyhammer Annihilation Force as an auxiliary choice for the Gladius?
  • Can my transports get a Scout move, even if they are not White Scars?
  • Why don’t I get re-rolls every turn with the Combat Doctrines?
  • How about if I take only one unit of Grav Cannon Devastators, can I take the Skyhammer then?
  • It says I can take 0-3 Command choices. Are you sure this is correct and I can’t take 7 Librarius Conclaves in my army?
  • My Space Marine supplement from 15 years ago gave me this special rule, which I no longer have. Can I get that special rule back along with all the new special rules too?
  • Are you sure I can’t take the Skyhammer as an auxiliary choice?


The release of Codex: Gladius Strike Force was a breath of fresh air for Space Marine tournament players, bringing new variety to a stale tournament scene. Things are completely different since its release. Now, your tournament Space Marine army can be a White Scars Gladius Strike Force, a White Scars Bike spam army or a White Scars Deathstar.
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!



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.

9 Responses to “Army Review: Codex Gladius Strike Force (Oprah Edition)”

  1. Peteypab October 24, 2016 7:52 am #


  2. Laserfrog October 24, 2016 1:09 pm #

    Absolutely brilliant. Sad is the world we live in where no one can even remember the points cost of Drop Pods, Rhinos, and Razorbacks. I also love how Assault Marines have one model in every five armed with “Grav Cannon Envy”. How many points do you have to pay for Grav Cannon Envy? Are other armies overpowered because they get Grav Cannon Envy for free?

    Speaking of free points, are there any plans for Codex: War Convo? It is a codex so convoluted, complicated, and mind-bending that to fully understand, implement, and actually use all of the various special rules, upgrades, and items would cause the player to achieve perfect harmony with the universe. Or drive them to the depths of incurable Lovecraftian madness. Probably both.

    It is so reality-warping that it actually exists twice in our universe, once as a two-page codex with more information than a thousand gibbering and whispering tomes, and again as two separate 120-page books with no useful information whatsoever. To understand this paradoxical existence is to begin to understand the madness that is War Convo.

    • Michael Corr October 24, 2016 1:20 pm #

      Grav Cannon envy is a serious complaint amongst many wargamers, but the symptoms can be managed with a liberal dosage of Orks. Ask your physician if Orks are right for you.

      I will have a think about a War Convocation review, will see what I can come up with.

  3. Brutishcard October 25, 2016 4:53 am #

    Best one yet!

  4. andrew irwin October 25, 2016 5:43 am #

    This one really hit home lol. I will make my fluffy Carchardons work if its the last thing i do!

    • Michael Corr October 25, 2016 12:58 pm #

      You forge that narrative! You forge it hard!

  5. Adam Wright October 25, 2016 9:25 pm #

    I think Guilleman wrote the Codex Astartes in the past so that some day in a distant future it would be found by the Space Marine hero of legend and used to make the Imperium Great Again! The name of this great hero was spoken in whispers as Kosarro Khan. Leader of the mightiest Chapter to rule the galaxy.

    “Help me Obiwan Khanobe, you’re my only hope!”

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