The Primaris Marine Project

Hey everyone, Reecius here to talk about a topic that many folks expressed quite a bit of interest in: Primaris Marines. And as always, check out the Tactics Corner for more great reviews and articles.

Primaris Marines, or Space Marines 2.0 as I like to call them, are the progression of the iconic Space Marines of the 40k universe. They’re bigger, badder and have some seriously amazing models. However, they’ve struggled a bit on the tabletop in a matched play setting as 8th has rolled on. With the changes in Chapter Approved and the affordable easy to build kits (such as the new Aggressors) that have come out for them, I think now is a great time to take a closer look at Primaris Marines in a matched play setting and do some experimentation with them to put them to the test. Can you play Primaris Marines in a competitive setting and succeed? Well, let’s find out!

The plan with this project is to see what it would take to buy, build, paint and play a Primaris Marine army. The team here at Frontline Gaming will combine our efforts and resources to take you on this journey with us, and we’ll document it as we go, sharing what we’ve learned.

Here’s the plan in an easy to consume format:

  • Build a generic Primaris Marine army that can be used with any Chapter of Marines so we can try out all the various options.
  • Record how much it cost to put the army together from the Frontline Gaming web-store.
  • Get it painted to our new and very affordable Tournament Standard paint level with the FLG Paint Studio.
  • Record test games with different Chapters and lists and share thoughts on what worked, what didn’t and what changes will be made.
  • Take the army to at least one tournament to put it to the test in the wild.
  • Analyze the results and assess where Primaris Marines are at in the current meta based on this data.

So this should be quite a bit of fun and very informative. I get loads of questions about how to play Primaris Marines so I think this journey will be interesting to a lot of folks out there. What units are you most interested in seeing played? What color do you think we should paint the army? Which set of core Space Marine rules do you think will work best for Primaris Marines? I am excited to try this out!

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



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

63 Responses to “The Primaris Marine Project”

  1. Duh_Ruckus December 17, 2017 3:14 pm #

    This is brilliant and I can’t wait, after chapter approved I think primaris can be very strong, I keep with my blood angel force I have been buying the kits to try them out

    • Reecius December 17, 2017 3:33 pm #

      I have a feeling BA Primaris may be the strongest but we shall see!

      • Adam December 18, 2017 4:48 am #

        Presently doing up Primaris themed Death Company for my new custom Chapter.

  2. Duh_Ruckus December 17, 2017 3:16 pm #


    • Reecius December 17, 2017 3:34 pm #

      Blood Ravens are super cool but we’re sticking with a “generic” chapter so that it doesn’t confuse people if we use them as Space Wolves, or Blood Angels or Dark Angels or what have you.

  3. Maeglin December 17, 2017 3:26 pm #

    Excited by this because I’m doing something similar but on a far smaller scale so I’ve got a relatively simple army for friends to use.
    I’m gonna use the Luna Wolves scheme;
    1. It’ll hopefully look cool
    2. They’ve got a built in colour scheme divide (white standard, black elite) so I can use different detachments if I want.

    • Reecius December 17, 2017 3:33 pm #

      Nice plan! The Luna Wolves color scheme is rad, too.

      Yeah, this I think will be quite popular as loads of people are interested in playing Primaris Marines but don’t know where to start.

  4. Ryan December 17, 2017 4:12 pm #

    Funny enough I have a primaris force that is built, I just decided to do a generic scheme as well so I could flip flop between books! It will be interesting to see how your results compare to my own!

    • Reecius December 17, 2017 4:25 pm #

      Yeah, that is cool! We will have to compare notes as we go.

  5. Yakhunter December 17, 2017 4:53 pm #

    I have had an awesome time with aggressors. I went with a gold/red scheme to run them as whatever successor I wanted until I felt comfortable with a chapter. They have been money for me with Raven Guard, Salamanders (the flamestorm are just nasty with that strat), Ultramarines and now Blood Angels. I run them with a chaplain to make sure those power fist hits leave a mark. Reivers I have only found good success with with BA, give them combat knives and they do work. I often use them as a ‘second wave’ once my Death Company and Sanguinary guard do their thing. Hellblasters are definitely not bad, as everyone says they will roll hard with DA but I have never been disappointed when I fielded them. I have yet to try the new and ridiculously cheaper Inceptors though I have run up against them a few times and their output is respectable, they were just way too expensive before. Really excited to see your findings.

    • Reecius December 17, 2017 5:09 pm #

      Yeah, I think all of your points are spot on. I also think Space Wolves can do it very well with their new strat allowing them to outflank.

  6. Darthdiggler December 17, 2017 6:12 pm #

    Build a Primaris army with Crimson Fists tactics. Go higher than .500 in a 20+ man ITC Tourney and I will buy the same army models from Frontline Gaming. I am serious.

  7. KingCro December 17, 2017 6:40 pm #

    LOVE IT! I cant wait to see the article outlining your initial thoughts, strategies and army list. I always love the articles you write that shine a light on things that are “not good” and give people the tips and tricks to use them effectively.

    As for color scheme suggestions i think it would be cool to stay away from the colors of the major chapters and really use some unique color combos. I haven’t seen many orange, purple, silver, or brown chapters so it would be cool to maybe see one from FLG! I’m sure the fabulous studio painters are up to the challenge to make something cool and unique!

    • Reecius December 17, 2017 7:21 pm #

      Glad you enjoy the articles =)

      I was thinking Orange, too, with Red trim. Thought that would be cool and very striking.

      • KingCro December 17, 2017 7:59 pm #

        Yea orange would be awesome! A light blue color might also work for the trim and of course black and white work too but then they might end up looking like tigers. But that might be cool! Again, can’t wait to see what this project.

        Obviously this is down the like but it would be cool if you could make this an ongoing “Series” and make different “under powered” armies and explore how to use them effectively.

        • Reecius December 18, 2017 9:57 am #

          I think that is a very cool idea.

      • Anggul December 18, 2017 7:54 am #

        IRN-BRU colour scheme! Orange armour, blue trim, silver helmets!

  8. Dan December 17, 2017 7:18 pm #

    Well, not sure about pure primaris army, but i definitely rate the full squad of plasma inceptors for dark angels. 12-36 shots at 18″ S8 AP-3 D3 (with the weapons of the dark age stratagem) is really good. Especially considering that they always strike first, as they deep strike in.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 9:58 am #

      That is very strong indeed.

  9. abusepuppy December 17, 2017 7:34 pm #

    There are a few main obstacles to fielding an all-Primaris army at this point in the game, at least if you’re trying to do it competitively. Some of them you can work around, others are less easy to do so.

    The first and biggest is that you just don’t have a lot of bodies. Primaris Marines aren’t cheap and they have no Scout-equivalent that deploys do the table early in order to deny the enemy space. Although SM does have the Auspex Scan stratagem to help discourage enemy reserve shenanigans, this alone isn’t enough and doesn’t help bring the bodies needed to claim multiple objectives per turn effectively.

    The second largest issue would be their vulnerability to many types of weapons. The main advantage of Primaris Marines is that they come with a second wound- and last edition that would have been fantastic, but this edition it is a lot less impressive because there are so many weapons that deal multiple damage per hit. Overcharging Plasma is the most ubiquitous of these- and the most problematic for them- but it’s not limited to just that, as virtually all factions field powerful multi-damage weapons in their arsenal. Having a squad of Scions, or Dark Reapers, or Hive Guard, or something else shoot at your expensive Primaris only to lose the whole squad in one go is extremely problematic, and will likewise be extremely common.

    The third problem, and most easily solved, is that Primaris Marines, generally speaking, lack any sort of mobility. This isn’t absolutely universal- Reivers, for example, have some alternate deployment shenanigans they can use. More notably, Raven Guard and Space Wolves both have stratagems that allow them to sneak multiple units forward, allowing things like Aggressors (arguably the best Primaris unit) to get in range of their weapons. Most Primaris Marines, however, are stuck on foot with mediocre movement values, and that just doesn’t cut it in this edition or any edition; they will consistently find themselves outranged and outgunned as the enemy maneuvers around them and selectively cuts the army apart. I’m not sure why GW decided that Primaris are such fatty-fat fatsos that not even a Land Raider can carry them, but the lack of any real transport vehicles (and no, the Repulsor doesn’t count) is a major blow to their effectiveness as a unit.

    It will be interesting to see what Reece comes up with, but speaking realistically, I don’t think that it’s feasible to make a Primaris army that stands a chance to getting to the top tables at anything larger than an RTT. Primaris as a primary force (backed by Scouts, other Imperial allies, etc) could maybe do it, but even then I am a bit skeptical- the Chapter Approved and Beta changes help some, but not nearly enough to turn the overall tide in favor of them, I think.

    • rvd1ofakind December 17, 2017 8:28 pm #

      Yeah, they suffer from the fact that 1 wound models are underpriced and 2 wound models are overpriced. There are plenty of times when a multiwound weapon has to be shot into 1 wound models. So all the points going into that +1 wound are wasted. Meanwhile 1 wound models don’t have the same weakness.

      • rvd1ofakind December 17, 2017 8:31 pm #

        Basically +1 wound should be worth about 0.75 of a 1 wound model.
        arbitrary numbers incoming
        It should be: 1 wound model is 6pts. 2 wound model is 10pts.
        It, for some reason, is: 1 wound – 4 and 2 wound – 20.

        • abusepuppy December 17, 2017 10:05 pm #

          Well, I mean, those arbitrary numbers are actually a really bad representation of how models are “actually” costed, because you’re comparing an Imperial Guardsman statline to a Space Marine one. So you’re not paying 16pts for +1 wound, you’re paying 16pts for +1 wound, +1 Strength, +1 Toughness, +1 Weapon Skill, +1 Ballistic Skill, +1 Attack, +1 Leadership, and +2 Armor Save.

          I dn’t think you’re necessarily wrong about the relative costing of things, but you’re ignoring a lot of other important factors.

          • rvd1ofakind December 18, 2017 2:04 am

            Which is why the numbers are arbitrary. Right now the 2nd wound costs more than the first one, when it should cost less (maybe a lot less) so pretty much all 2 wound models are overcosted compared to their 1 wound equivalents.

            And I can’t really compare primaris to tacticals. It’s like comparing trash to garbage, just doesn’t work. /salt

            And I can’t really compare every single aspect because my post would become too big, causing the TLDR syndrome

          • Reecius December 18, 2017 9:59 am

            Yeah, they have some challenges to work through for sure. I don’t think it is insurmountable, though.

            And Tactical Marines aren’t bad at all. I use them in my tournament army that I have had a lot of success with. I never once wished I didn’t have them. They are good on defense.

    • Dr Zaius December 18, 2017 2:22 pm #

      The first and third problem are why I think Space Wolves are the best marine army for primaris. They can outflank and, at least, they can bring their puppies to the battle. At 9 points a fenrisian wolf is not cheap, but not expensive either and has a big base.

      • Reecius December 18, 2017 2:45 pm #

        I think you may be right, there. The Outflank strat is ace and Fenresian Wolves are actually now 6pts! They got a huge reduction and are a very, very good screen unit, now. They hit hard, too.

        • Dr Zaius December 19, 2017 8:45 am #

          Wow, now they are beasts!

          • Wulfey December 19, 2017 2:43 pm

            Now you guys got me thinking about a Greyfax + 3×15 dogs fast attack detachment. I call it the “IMPERIUM can hormaguant too” screen detachment. Greyfax gives the dogs LD10 can can turn off overwatch on WC6 at 18″. Too bad there isn’t a good way to keep those poor dogs alive if the enemy brought a whole lot of str4 shooting.

          • Reecius December 19, 2017 4:32 pm

            lol, you can call it “Who Let the Dogs Out?” lolol

  10. StayHandsome December 17, 2017 7:37 pm #

    Based on what’s in the Dark Angels codex, DA Hellblasters is the first place I’d start if I wanted to build a Primaris army. Doesn’t follow your faction-agnostic criteria but shit a squad of Hellblasters doing 3 damage re-rolling 1s is nipple-hardening.

    Wish the upgrade kits for DA and BA were cooler.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:00 am #

      I will certainly try that out! I think DA and BA will field strong Primaris Armies.

  11. Beau December 17, 2017 8:46 pm #

    I really want to see this guys. I am torn on what to work on in the future, and am leaning towards DA, SW, or BT. I think I will try to go for a silver colored chapter so I can also occasionally use them as counts as GK.

    Let us know how it works out!

  12. Mitchell Woerner December 17, 2017 9:07 pm #

    I’m guessing this won’t be pure Primaris but just a very heavy contingent?

    I’m most curious about how Reivers will be used. Although in general I’m just curious what units you’ll be leaning on. One thing I find that hurts the Primaris a bit is that not a ton of stratagems apply to them.

    There are a few, but I feel like they don’t really combo well.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:01 am #

      Pure Primaris. At least at first.

      And yeah, many of the strats don’t apply to them, unfortunately.

  13. Alex R December 17, 2017 9:15 pm #

    After chapter approved I’m using 10 intercessor marines and a squad of 5 hellblasters. They’re really good as I’m trying to take advantage of the company ancient

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:02 am #

      Nice one. I plan on using all 3 of those units, etoo.

  14. Dakkath December 17, 2017 9:38 pm #

    I’m looking forward to reading about the “trials by fire” you put these primaris forces through.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:02 am #

      Yeah, that’s the idea, you know? Let’s try them out in a competitive setting and really see what they can do, not just theory.

  15. cayesq December 17, 2017 9:47 pm #

    Brilliant idea. Just today I was googling “what’s the best chapter tactic for Primaris army?” As a second bit, might I suggest Dark Imperium set as the core starting point for the army since so many new players are likely building around that force anyway? I tend to agree that I don’t see Primaris as truly “competitive” at least isn’t tourney context, but they’re playable for a friendly local game. I think Imperial Fist tactics could be surprisingly effective; shoot their dudes in cover with effectively AP-2 weapons, while sitting on a 2+ save yourself.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:03 am #

      Glad you like it and yeah, I am doing exactly that: using Dark Imperium to get started.

  16. SacTownBrian December 17, 2017 10:05 pm #

    I’m really interested to see what you end up complimenting your Primaris Marines with. Tanks, Flyers, Forgeworld, there are lots of choices that still remain pure Primaris. If you are going generic I really hope you pick a quartered color scheme: orange and brown Hallow Knights! I think quartered looks fantastic but I’m sure what ever you end up with will look great.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:11 am #

      We’re going to start with the basics and go from there. Should be an excellent learning experience.

      And a quartered scheme…you crazy! lol. We’re going to make it easy on our selves but get something striking.

  17. vybert December 17, 2017 11:04 pm #

    What I like is that you are trying something outside the standard accepted facts. Even in this thread there are self appointed experts coming on and saying “Primariz suxorz and this will fail because, blah blah blah.” Groupthink is a real thing and it takes critical evaluators willing to go out on a limb to challenge it. Go for it.

    My son has been loving playing Primaris. He’s got 10 Reivers on his Christmas list 😉

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:24 am #

      Yeah, people get caught up in group think so easily, often without ever trying something out for themselves. Turns in to an echo chamber.

      However, we will give it the old college try and see how it goes. I think it will be good fun at the least!

  18. John December 18, 2017 2:19 am #

    I have done the work for you. Dark Angels are competitive but not game breaking. Blood Angels are meh and Ultramarines are the best use for them.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:23 am #

      Well, thanks for the input but the point of this exercise is to try it out for ourselves =)

  19. GeekmasterK December 18, 2017 7:28 am #

    While you’re testing this, I’d be very curious as to how well Redemptor Dreadnoughts work with Blood Angels. The Redemptor is my favorite Primaris model, and I want to run at least one, maybe two of them, but I don’t know how viable they would be in a competitive Blood Angels list, especially in a brigade. I’ve heard that the Redemptor is generally accepted as a beast on the table, but it’s the synergy with the rest of the army that I’m not entirely sure of.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 10:26 am #

      I think the Redemptor will be quite good, actually. In this current horde meta, he’s got a lot of dakka and he can pack a punch in melee, too. I will certainly be using one.

  20. Dbiesto December 18, 2017 11:48 am #

    The best tactic with primaris is probably to be taking as many as possible since anything can woubd anything this edition. Any affordable upgrade guns will be necessary but you will have to find a perfect ratio to get enough models on the table competitively. I would say get as many to come in from reserve as you put on the tabletop for max efficiency.
    Blood Angels:

    1.Primaris Captain [6 PL, ]: Master-crafted auto bolt rifle [ power sword
    2.Primaris Librarian [7 PL, ]: Force sword []
    3.Primaris Librarian [7 PL, ]: Force sword []
    4.Primaris Librarian [7 PL, ]: Force sword []
    5.Intercessor Squad [5 PL, ]: Auxiliary grenade launcher [], Bolt rifle, 5x Intercessor [], Inter
    6. Intercessor Squad [5 PL, ]: Auxiliary grenade launcher [], Bolt rifle, 4x Intercessor [], Intercessor Sergeant []. X 6 squads
    7.Inceptor Squad [10 PL, 135pts]: 2x Inceptor [50pts], Inceptor Sergeant [25pts]
    . Two assault bolters [60pts]: 2x Assault bolter [60pts]. X 7 squads

    11 units on the field, 7 in deepstrike 2 battalions. 9 shots x 7 squads is 63 str 5 ap -1 1 damage shots. 9 CPs should allow max use of strategems. A lot of ppl are running forgeworld T8 now so wounding on 5+. Maybe throw in 1-2 reiver squads dropping in with the anti overwatch grenades and drop 2 inceptor squads.

    • Dbiesto December 18, 2017 12:00 pm #

      So estimate would be around $600 for my list if I wanted to create it.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 2:01 pm #

      Damn son, 7 units of Inceptors! I like it, that is unique.

      I prefer Rievers for Blood Angels, myself.

  21. WestRider December 18, 2017 1:13 pm #

    I’m slowly working on a (nearly*) all-Primaris force. Painting them up in a pre-Heresy Alpha Legion scheme so I can Chapter-hop if I get bored with one playstyle. I still need an HQ before they’re playable at all, and some more Intercessors to do anything on a reasonable scale, but I’m in no hurry.

    *One of the first things I did in that paint scheme was a Comtemptor Mortis, and I don’t want to repaint it, so it’s staying in, even tho it’s not actually Primaris.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 1:37 pm #

      That sounds like a solid plan, and we’re doing the same thing pretty much.

  22. Colinsherlow December 18, 2017 4:09 pm #

    Are there any articles just about primaris marines? Link me?

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 4:26 pm #

      Not on FLG. Not yet, anyway =)

  23. JasonWolfe December 18, 2017 5:43 pm #

    There is a big one that i think people are missing right now. The space wolves strategem lets you get an outflank/deepstrike an infantry unit for 1cp. Primaris have no way to deepstrike without that. A Spacewolves army with Logan (terminator for deepstrike), Wolfguard battle leader (terminator for deepstrike), and 2×10 hellblaster stacks can put 1000 points off the board in outflank reserve for 2CP. Normally when you play hellblasters, your opponent is on the other side of the board and they just pick away at your guys while they are well outside of the 15″ double tap. But space wolves hellblasters (tho way weaker than darkangles), can appear on board edges and wipe out units using double tap.

    • Reecius December 18, 2017 6:17 pm #

      We were discussing doing the same thing but with Aggressors, drop down a Rune Priest and pop the -1 to hit and Cover power to make them very durable, they start lighting things up.

  24. Yakhunter December 18, 2017 7:04 pm #

    I know this goes a bit against the theme but it would be wicked to do a detachment of Space Wolves and one of Dark Angels. You could then take advantage of the DA stratagem on top of having amazeballs Hellblasters and outflanking Space Viking Werewolves in Gorilla armor! Everything in your army is going to have multiple wounds so losing 1 to get the bonuses won’t hurt at all.

    Just do it.

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