Chaos Space Marines Review: Elites: Rubric Marines

Hello fellow heretics and renegades. Chandler here fresh from the Eye of Terror with an updated look at the new Rubric Marines for Chaos Space Marines.  For more reviews, tactica, and battle reports check out the Tactics Corner.

Most people are familiar with Rubrics and the Thousand Sons Legion.  These once proud Space Marines led by Magnus the Red turned traitor when the Space Wolves decimated their planet Prospero. Since that time, Magnus has returned to unleash revenge onto the Imperium leading his own forces of daemons and Rubrics.  But not all Rubric Marines remained true to the Thousand Sons.  In the centuries spent in the Eye of Terror, many Rubrics, led by powerful arcane Sorcerers, split off from the Thousand Sons casting their lot with other Chaos warbands, or forming their own in pursuit of their own foul goals.


Rubric Marines for Chaos Space Marines, unlike their Thousand Sons brothers, are Elites rather than Troops.  And while there are certainly no shortage of solid Elite choices for Chaos Space Marines, Rubrics can definitely have their uses given the proper Legion Traits to work with. They make great backfield objective campers in cover with their All is Dust rule, or in the right circumstances, punishing units capable of infiltrating and roasting enemy units with their Warpflamers.  With their Leadership of 8, they also become difficult to remove in smaller squads due to Morale failure.

Rubrics come standard with 4 Rubric Marines and 1 Aspiring Sorcerer, but can include up to 20 in a squad.  Each comes standard with an Inferno Boltgun, while the Aspiring Sorcerer comes equipped with an Inferno Bolt Pistol and a Force Stave. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay an additional cost for the Aspiring Sorcerer beyond his wargear options, of course.  This squad can become expensive very quickly, however. Especially when you start stacking on wargear options.


As noted above, each Rubric comes standard with an Inferno Boltgun that is 24″ range Rapid Fire 1 STR 4 AP-2 and 1 Damage.  Against any Infantry unit, they are capable of producing some deadly firepower with these weapons. Additionally, each Rubric can replace their Inferno Boltgun with a Warpflamer, which is an 8″ Assault d6 STR 4, AP -2, and 1 Damage weapon that auto-hits. That is quite a nasty flamer profile with -2 AP, but an incredibly pricey option when you start stacking multiple Warpflamers per squad.

If the unit has 5 models, one of them can replace their Inferno Boltgun with a Soulreaper Cannon, which is a 24″ Heavy 4 STR 5, AP-3, 1 Damage weapon. You can take one additional Soulreaper Cannon if the squad has 20 models.  For the same cost as a Warpflamer you can arm one of your Rubrics with this weapon and since Rubrics don’t suffer the penalty to hit for moving and firing a Heavy weapon, the Soulreaper is not a terrible option.

The Aspiring Sorcerer can replace his Inferno Bolt Pistol with a Warpflame Pistol and can exchange his Force Stave for a Force Sword or Axe.

Additionally, one model in the unit can carry the Icon of Flame, which for only 10 points isn’t a bad option as it causes the closest enemy unit within 12″ to suffer a Mortal Wound on the roll of a 6 at the start of the Psychic Phase.

Special Rules:

Rubrics come with 3 particular special rules:

  • Death to the False Emperor – Allows you to make an additional attack in the Fight phase when you roll a 6 To-Hit against armies of the Imperium. Pretty standard rule to Chaos Space Marines.
  • Favoured of Tzeentch – Gives the unit a 5++ Invulnerable Save
  • All is Dust – Allows you to add 1 to saving throws for Rubrics if the attack has a Damage characteristic of 1 and allows them to not suffer the -1 To-Hit penalty for moving and firing a Heavy Weapon.

Additionally, the Aspiring Sorcerer is a Psyker, but he only knows the Smite power. When he attempts to cast Smite he only deals a single Mortal Wound on a success, and d3 Mortal Wounds on a roll of 11 or higher on the test.


Rubric Marines, although expensive, can provide you with some good back field objective support. The fact that All is Dust can also stack with a cover save, and also can apply to an invulnerable, makes them highly resilient. And their weapons have a decent threat range and the ability to make even heavy infantry units like Terminators think twice about getting too close. If you have a unit of Rubrics in cover they effectively have a +2 to their 3+ save against Damage 1 weapons.  Of course, a 1 always fails a saving throw, but any weapon that deals only 1 Damage in it’s profile, which are usually your infantry clearing weapons, will struggle to remove these guys from the table.  Popular weapon choices like Plasma, for example, are granting Rubrics a 4++ out in the open.  When you consider their resilience to incoming fire, it somewhat offesets the high price point you pay for these guys.

Rubrics can also benefit greatly from Psychic buffs.  Prescience thrown on a large squad means they will hit on 2s.  Tack on the Veterans of the Long War stratagem and suddenly they are also wounding most things on 3s or 4s with that -2 AP boltgun can really hurt just about anything you might face.  A Tzeentch Psyker with Weaver of Fates can throw it on a Rubric squad and, combined with All is Dust, the unit is now rocking a 3++ against all Damage 1 weapons.  Obviously, most of the time you’re going to throw that power on Magnus in a competitive Tzeentch army, but the option is still there when you just can’t afford to lose that objective and the game is on the line.

The Rubric Marines presented in the Chaos Space Marines Codex cannot benefit from taking the Thousand Sons keyword, as it specifies in the Codex that no units in the book can take Thousand Sons or Death Guard keywords to replace the <Legion> keyword in their datasheet.  That means we are left with the Legions in the Codex to choose from. Naturally, because of the Tzeentch keyword, it also leaves out Emperor’s Children and World Eaters as well.  That leaves Black Legion, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors, Night Lords, and Word Bearers to choose from, along with Renegade Chapters.

Of these, there are three Legions that can benefit the most from Rubrics.

Black Legion:

The ability of Rubrics to have Leadership 9 as well as Advance and shoot their Inferno Boltguns is not bad at all.  Quite a change from years past when traditionally Rubrics could never move beyond their standard movement on their profile. Now these guys can Advance AND shoot their rapid fire weapons in a Black Legion detachment. That increases their threat range quite a bit. Couple that with the Black Legion Stratagem, Let the Galaxy Burn, and these guys are re-rolling 1s to hit!  Throw on Veterans of the Long War when they shoot and they become even more deadly. That can produce some pretty devastating firepower when you are trying to remove infantry off the table.

Alpha Legion:

One of the more popular competitive choices, and for good reason, Alpha Legion offers some great benefits to Rubrics.  -1 to hit when more than 12″ away, combined with All is Dust only increases their ability to survive in the backfield while babysitting objectives.  Or, you can be more aggressive and arm a squad with Warpflamers and use the Forward Operatives stratagem to put them out in the mid-field.  They will certainly draw a lot of firepower, but your opponent will think twice about charging them.  And if you go first, it gives you the ability to deploy and move to get in range of their flamers to roast up infantry.

Iron Warriors:

The Iron Warriors trait, which prevents enemy units from gaining a cover save bonus against shooting attacks makes Rubrics quite an attractive option considering their -2 AP is already so deadly.  Now you’re taking your opponent’s cover bonus away which makes those Inferno Boltguns all the more nasty.  A basic squad of Rubrics with no upgrades suddenly becomes very, very deadly to the opponent.  Throw down the Iron Within, Iron Without stratagem when they start getting shot and now an already resilient Rubric squad becomes even more difficult to take out with a 6+ to ignore any wound. Typically you want to run Rubrics in smaller squads, but with Iron Warriors, a 20 man squad of Rubrics is a very scary unit to deal with. This allows you also to make the most of the Iron Within, Iron Without stratagem.


While Rubrics can offer a lot for a Chaos Space Marines army, there are definitely some drawbacks.  First and foremost is the price point.  Rubrics are quite expensive even in 5 man squads.  There are certainly better Elite options in the book which can make use of many of the amazing Legion Traits and Stratagems more effectively.  The best thing Rubrics can offer your army is the increased survivability when camping objectives in cover.  They are incredibly difficult to remove, and require little to no help with Psychic powers or Stratagems to fill this role in your games.  That said, it’s hard to argue that Rubrics can be nearly as optimal as say a squad of Noise Marines with the ability to shoot twice, or Slaanesh Chaos Terminators loaded down with combi-plasmas or meltas.  There are certainly more competitive options, but in the right set-up and with the right combination of Legion Traits and Stratagems, Rubrics can still pack quite a punch for your army.


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



About Chandler

Sometimes I play 40k. Sometimes I drink beer. Oftentimes I do both. I host an annual ITC Grand Tournament, Come the Apocalypse GT, as well as a podcast called Come the Apocalypse - a Warhammer 40k Podcast which you can find on iTunes or the Google Play Music store.

5 Responses to “Chaos Space Marines Review: Elites: Rubric Marines”

  1. Avatar
    Dirgepiper November 24, 2017 12:02 pm #

    How is the icon of flame ever worth the points? It’s 12″ range, can’t choose the target, effective on a 6. In a standard game, if you go six turns, and you’re within 12″ of something the entire game, you may do 2 mortal wounds. The whole game.

  2. Avatar
    Horton November 24, 2017 4:19 pm #

    I like Rubric Marines, and I think they are a unit that you can “make work” due to the options available to them, but they are ultimately not as good in a CSM army as the other Cult Troops.

  3. Avatar
    Danny Janevski November 24, 2017 8:29 pm #

    Yeah I love them but they are too expensive.. and won’t be changed anytime soon… Warpflamers are too expensive as well… For a staple thousand sons army as troops yeah I won’t pick them

  4. Avatar
    Craig Roberts November 25, 2017 3:26 pm #

    You can use the spell familiar stratagem to swap the squad’s smite out. Can be useful if you don’t want to fork out for a separate psyker or want to get the drop on someone with a death hex or prescience.

  5. Avatar
    Ravenbiker November 30, 2017 1:08 pm #

    In order to take a soulreaper cannon in the Index, you needed to have a ten model squad. Did they change that in the CSM codex?

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