Space Marine Review: Relics

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the new Relics in the Space Marine codex. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

Much as in previous editions, Space Marines have access to a number of interesting Relics for use in their army. Interestingly, in 8th edition, these Relics don’t cost any points values themselves, but you are generally limited to only one per army. The only associated points cost is that some of these Relics replace an item of wargear, which means you need to purchase that item of wargear for your character before you can replace it with a Relic, but most of these are not too expensive as to prohibit their inclusion. I think the limit of only one Relic per army (without the use of a Stratagem) is a useful counterpoint to the lack of points costs associated with most of the Relics.

The Armour Indomitus– Get a 2+ armour save. In addition, once per game you can activate the armour to give you a 3+ invulnerable save till the end of the turn. A decent bonus, giving you one of the few ways to get a 2+ armour save on your character outside of Terminator armour. The bonus invulnerable is nice, giving you a 3++ for one turn without having to carry a Storm Shield. Nice, but I think it is outdone by the next Relic.

The Shield Eternal
– The old favourite of 7th edition is back in a new form. This replaces your character’s Storm Shield. They retain the 3+ invulnerable save, but more importantly, all damage against the character is halved, rounding up. This is now the 8th edition version of Eternal Warrior, I suppose. This is a really nice ability to have, meaning that your character is more likely to survive a volley from a Lascannon or Missile Launcher. It also makes overcharging Plasma weapons less effective and gives them a better chance against multi-damage combat weapons. I think this is a really solid choice that should see a lot of use. It will be especially useful on a combat character, helping them to survive for longer in assaults.

Standard of the Emperor Ascendant– This is for the various banner-carrying Ancients in the army. This means that on a 3+, any model that is slain within 6″ of the banner can immediately shoot or fight in assault before it is removed. In addition, all Astartes units within 6″ of the bearer automatically pass morale tests and enemy units are -1Ld. This banner is crazy good. I’ve heard from a few sources that it is simply too good, including a few Space Marine players. Put next to a unit of Devastators or Centurions and this will be amazing. Expect to see this a lot in Marine armies until it maybe gets toned down in a future FAQ.


Teeth of Terra– A Chainsword that gets D3 bonus attacks at +1S, -2AP and damage 2. I actually think this is pretty good for a Chainsword, plus it won’t cost any points to give to a character. I like any combat weapons that do multiple damage with each wound, making them more reliable against multi-wound models or Vehicles. This is actually one of my favourite Relics to give to my Space Marine Captain, allowing him to cause a lot of damage in combat against infantry, or to get a lot of attacks against another enemy character. This really boosts the damage output of a character in combat.

Primarch’s Wrath– A Boltgun that is Rapid Fire 2, S5, AP-1 and 2 damage. Again, a pretty solid and not overpowered weapon choice. S5 is great for wounding on 3’s and the 2 damage is awesome again for taking on multi-wound models with a single shot. Could be useful against weaker vehicles such as Trukks, Raiders, Venoms, etc. The extra shots for being Rapid Fire 2 are also useful, giving your character even more firepower. Could be useful on a Bike Sergeant or Space Marine Captain on a Bike.


Burning Blade– A power sword that is +2S, AP-5 and 1 damage. Brilliant for taking out armoured infantry units. This sword will pretty much ignore any armour save in the game (only a 2+ armour save that gets a +1 bonus from some means will get a 6+ save). The strength bonus is nice, but you will generally still be wounding most things on a 3+ and vehicles on a 5+. It would be nice to have more than 1 damage, but this does make it a difficult choice between this and the Teeth of Terra. I would be inclined to go for the Teeth of Terra for the bonus damage and cheaper cost to take. However, if you expect to go up against a lot of 2+ armour saves, this is a solid choice to have on a combat character.


Tomb of Malcador– Your psyker knows one additional power from the Librarius Discipline. Useful if you only take a single Librarian and want that extra power. I don’t think the Librarius powers are all that amazing, so I think there are better Relics to take in your army.

The Salamander’s Mantle
– Salamanders characters only, increases their toughness by 1. This could be pretty useful under some circumstances. Good for a model on foot so that most models are now wounding you on a 5+. Less useful on a Bike, as the change to wound rolls means that against S4 you are not really getting any bonus. Useful on a Bike against S5 or S6 to give you a bit more durability, but you are probably better going for the Shield Eternal for the better invulnerable save and damage reduction it provides.

The Axe of Medusa
– Iron Hands characters only. Replaces a Power Axe, but gets +2S, -3AP and 2 damage. I really like this one, seems to be a big boost to an Iron Hands combat character. You will most likely be wounding on 3’s, reducing your opponent’s save to 6+ or negating completely and doing 2 damage. This would be a pretty effective combat weapon on a character with a lot of attacks.

Raven’s Fury– Raven Guard only, replaces a Jump Pack. The character can advance and charge in the same turn, and can re-roll failed charge rolls. Combined with the Raven Guard warlord trait preventing overwatch, this is a really effective combination, giving you a much better chance of getting into combat and protecting more fragile units from the overwatch fire of the enemy. I can see this being very popular with Raven Guard players and one of the few times you want to charge an enemy unit with your Warlord first.

Mantle of the Stormseer– White Scars psykers only. Gain +1 when casting Smite. Pretty good, giving you a better chance of casting Smite, as well as a bonus to getting the great D6 mortal wounds from rolling more than 10 on the casting value. Would have like to maybe have seen +1 wounds when casting smite instead. Pretty decent, but not sure I’d take it for my White Scars over any of the better Relics in the codex.

The Fist of Vengeance– A Crimson Fists power fist. This is x2S, -3AP and damage 3. This is a solid option for a combat character. Three damage is great for taking on other characters or making a mess of vehicles. I think one of the big bonuses is no longer being at -1 to hit. This means Captains will be hitting on a 2+ re-rollable with a Power Fist, sure to get a whole heap of attacks punishing enemy units.

The Sanctic Halo– Ultramarines Captain only. Gives the Captain a 3+ invulnerable save and allows them to deny one power each turn as if they were a psyker. I really like this one too. Gives you a solid invulnerable save while still taking a shooting and melee weapon. Getting to deny a power can also be useful, saving you from Smite attacks on your units or Captain, without having to take a Librarian in your army.

The Crusader’s Helm– Black Templars characters only. Increases any aura ability by 3″. This is fantastic. Getting a 9″ aura ability on most characters is going to greatly increase the range of effect for many of the models in your army.  Would work really well with a gunline army, boosting your re-roll bubble. Not really fitting with a Black Templars army in the fluff, but effective nonetheless. If you are going for this, upgrading your Captain to a Chapter Master is a great idea, giving you a 9″ bubble of full re-rolls to hit. I can see this one being very popular with Black Templars players.

The Spartean– Imperial Fists only. A Bolt Pistol that gets an extra shot, -1AP and 2 damage. In addition, it can target characters even if they are not the closest model. Nice for potentially sniping a few wounds from a character. Not great, but decent.


A really solid set of Relics for the Space Marines. I can see the Shield Eternal and Standard of the Emperor Ascendant being very popular choices. As a White Scars player, I would probably stick to the generic Relics over taking the Mantle of the Stormseer in most cases, though some of the other Chapter Specific Relics are great.


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!




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.

23 Responses to “Space Marine Review: Relics”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius September 14, 2017 7:25 am #

    I have come to absolutely LOVE the Space Marines relics. The Banner is a bit OTT, IMO, but otherwise they’re all incredible. I buy a second relic almost every game. If I am playing a horde, I often give the Lt. the Teeth of Terra. If I am facing a melee army or an amy with lots o fmultiple damage weapons such as Plasma Spam, I give my Captain the Shield Eternal. If I am wading through Cultists and Conscripts, I go with the 2+ save Armor. They all have their place and the flexibility they give you is awesome.

    • Avatar
      N.I.B. September 14, 2017 9:40 pm #

      woot, you tailor your list before casual games, not cool man! 🙂

      • Michael Corr
        Michael Corr September 15, 2017 1:28 am #

        I don’t know, Relics are kind of build for tailoring.

        I view them the same as psychic powers, you pick the best options for the game you are about to play, no point choosing powers or Relics that are going to be useless in the game. I think there is a difference between army list tailoring and picking things like powers and relics before the game starts. Same with Stratagems. you pick the ones useful to use at points in the game or before the game (in the case of some of them).

    • Avatar
      Nogle September 15, 2017 4:59 am #

      We’ve been having a discussion locally about what needs to be set in your list going into first round of a tourney. Warlord and traits, relics, psychic powers and stratagem upgrades (chapter master, extra relics). One local GT is mandating all must be set and can not change. As a world eater player I feel at a disadvantage when players can customize their psychic powers to me pre game.

      • Reecius
        Reecius September 15, 2017 8:56 am #

        It is more fun to play it where you can choose each game. There’s no downside to it, either.

  2. Avatar
    Don Tomaso September 14, 2017 9:12 am #

    Feel sorry for the poor fists. Their copypaste counterpart iron warriors get one of the best armours of the meq range and the fists get a bolt pistol.

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 14, 2017 11:30 am #

      lol, true. IW warlord trait is ace, too.

      • Avatar
        Threllen September 14, 2017 11:41 am #

        I kind of like the Bolter Drill on the Imperial Fists stratagem over the IW stratagem, though, if we’re comparing them. Depending on what kind of bolter dakka you have, you can get some decent mileage out of the drill.

        The 6+ FnP from the IW stratagem just seems so RNG-based and is dependent on your opponent causing A LOT of wounds to one unit. Bolter drill on some HB devs with a captain/chapter master nearby could potentially get some nice extra hits.

        • Reecius
          Reecius September 14, 2017 12:08 pm #

          Yeah, it isn’t all bad by any means. Bolter Drill is solid. Especially on Sternguard comboed with the Storm of Fire Warlord Trait.

          • Michael Corr
            Michael Corr September 14, 2017 12:16 pm

            I have a friend running Crimson Fists who keeps taking the Primarch’s Wrath. The more I play against it, the more I am coming to respect its firepower. Great for taking out Bikers.

          • Reecius
            Reecius September 14, 2017 12:19 pm

            Yeah, it is quite good.

  3. Avatar
    WestRider September 14, 2017 2:28 pm #

    The Teeth of Terra seems like the go-to melee Relic. The extra S and AP on the Burning Blade just don’t feel as useful as the extra Damage and Attacks from the Teeth. Well, unless you’re playing Crimson Fists. The Fist of Vengeance is sweet.

    You mention taking the Primarch’s Wrath on a Biker Sgt, but Sgts don’t have the Character Keyword, so they’re not eligible to take Relics.

    All the generic ones seem at least decent, tho the Tome of Malcador is definitely the weakest, or at least the most situational. The Axe of Medusa, Raven’s Fury, and Crusader’s Helm all jump out at me from the Chapter-specific ones.

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 14, 2017 5:31 pm #

      The Burning Blade is good on a Chapter Champion if you are using him.

      • Avatar
        TrexPushups September 14, 2017 8:44 pm #

        Teeth of terra makes me sad because there is no Primaris character with a chainsword…

        • Avatar
          Nogle September 15, 2017 5:00 am #

          I’m just sad that you can’t customize primaris characters much at all. My bitz box wants to give them presents.

  4. Avatar
    Don Tomaso September 14, 2017 8:28 pm #

    I see a great potential for gw to further down the line release small relic addons so that every chapter and legion can get a handful of fluffy relics to choose from.

    That would be something very welcome by us hobbyists and if done properly, not op or up and fluffy would add much fun to the game.

    That was one of the few actual fun things in 7th with those late fluffy collection codexes giving chapters and legions special rules and a list of relics to choose from.

  5. Avatar
    AbusePuppy September 15, 2017 1:11 am #

    Teeth of Terra is almost always better than Burning Blade, even against single-wound models. The d3 extra attacks are a big swing, and dealing two damage per swing is no joke either. Admittedly, its AP is a bit lackluster, but when you’re putting 6-8 swings down on the enemy that almost doesn’t even matter, especially against other characters (who usually have an invuln anyways.)

    Banner of Biggy E is ridiculous, further enabling what is arguably the best SM army.

    Salamander’s Mantle is pretty weak, although a good joke with it is to stick it onto a Chaplain Dreadnought (who yes, is in fact a character- and under 10 wounds, to boot.) Chappy Dread is also a hilarious place to put the Armor Indomitus.

    Sanctic Halo is fantastic- it’s a free Storm Shield for characters who can’t normally get one that also gives you good odds of shutting down a power each turn. You can never have too many Denys.

    People tend to pooh-pooh the Spartean, but I believe by its wording it allows you to fire at a character even while locked in combat with another model (since it is a pistol.) That actually makes it fairly solid, though IF themselves are unfortunately kinda a garbage chapter.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr September 15, 2017 1:29 am #

      Haha, nice one AP! Never thought about giving Relics to a vehicle character!

    • Avatar
      Threllen September 15, 2017 5:55 am #

      I believe you could only fire the Spartean at a character in close combat if you are ALSO in close combat (as the wielder of the Spartean).

      The pistols rules say that you can fire at enemy models within 1″ of other friendly units only if you are locked in close combat yourself. So you couldn’t tie up a character with some chaff and then just fire the Spartean at them from outside combat.

      But even still I think it’s a decent pistol. A 2 damage way to target characters isn’t bad. Especially playing against weak characters like commissars.

    • Avatar
      WestRider September 15, 2017 7:40 am #

      Yeah, when I was thinking about the difference in AP between the Teeth and the Burning Blade, I really couldn’t come up with many examples of situations where the difference in AP wasn’t washed out by the target having multiple Wounds and/or an Invul.

  6. Avatar
    Don Tomaso September 15, 2017 7:29 am #

    “Banner of Biggy E is ridiculous, further enabling what is arguably the best SM army.”

    I´m not sure.
    Taken in the right salamanders build this can be even more devastating.

    Banner + Salamanders MSU shooty death line + Harath Shen = all dead shoot on dath with a reroll to hit and wound and then one comes back up on a 3+.

    There is still some debate over the banner-salamander reroll though.
    If anyone here knows the final word on it do let me know.

    “though IF themselves are unfortunately kinda a garbage chapter”
    Careful there, only I am supposed to point out weaknesses in this game, the rest of you are supposed to cheer on and defend everything no matter what! lol
    (attention: a so called joke. Dont loose your minds choking over how very very bad it is now.)

  7. Avatar
    NAramyth September 15, 2017 8:18 am #

    I played the banner at Flying Monkey and it was…ok. In the two games it could have mattered I rolled low, otherwise my devs really didn’t get killed or the counterfire didn’t matter. I think adding a banner guy is too expensive and devs lack of mobility hurts if there is any amount of LOS blocking on the boards.

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 15, 2017 8:55 am #

      I find that it is either meh or WOW. There’s not a lot of middle ground. It is particularly deadly in a game between two stand and shoot armies.

Leave a Reply