GW Grognard: Fluff does not equal rules

Hey everyone! Adam, from TFG Radio, here to add some much needed action* into your lives.

The background is what first drew me into the game. When I first read the fluff of the Horus Heresy, in the Adeptus Mechanicus rulebook, it really sparked my imagination and interest into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Once I delved deeper into the lore of the universe as a whole, I became more enamored by it. Although the original fluff “borrowed” a lot of story arcs, characters, and  tropes from older and previously released Science Fiction and Fantasy background, over the 30 plus years that the IP has been around Games Workshop has been able to to make it their own so that it is able to stand on it’s own with a unique setting and tone, so you really can’t compare with anything that’s been created today. That being said, how the fluff is represented on the table top this is much different than what we read, see, and play in the video game. As much as people want it, it’s just a fact of life that the fluff we read is not equal in the rules.

The simple reason is that it can easily make certain armies really overpowered. In some cases, more overpowered than they are now, depending on who you talk to. Since most of the fluff is centered around Space Marines or forces of the  Imperium, it’s safe to say that these forces would easily be overpowered because most people’s expectations would be that they, basically Space Marines, should easily overpower whoever they come up against.  A good example of this is a Space Marine “army” that was presented in White Dwarf, many years ago, called “Movie Marines”. The basic marine had a stat line of the following(note these are old 4th edition rules):

Space Marine

Type Points WS BS S T W I A Ld Sv
Space Marine 1 Infantry 100 5 5 6 6 2 5 3 9 3+/4++

So they basically hit on 2+ and have a 4++ invulnerable save on the basic guy. This is in addition to the weapons that were available to them:


Range S AP Type
Chainsword User 5 Melee, Rending
Combat Knife User Melee, Shred
Lightning Claw +1 3 Melee, Specialist Weapon, Shred
Power Fist x2 2 Melee, Specialist Weapon, Unwieldy
Power Axe +2 2 Melee, Rending, Unwieldy
Power Sword +1 3 Melee, Rending
Power Maul +3 4 Melee, Concussive
Assault Cannon 36″ 7 3 Heavy 4, Rending
Autocannon 60″ 8 3 Heavy 8
Bolt Pistol 24″ 6 4 Pistol, Rending
Bolter 36″ 6 4 Assault 2, Rending
Combi-Weapon (Primary) 36″ 6 4 Assault 2, Rending
Combi-Flamer (Secondary) Template * * Assault 1, Flamer, One Use
Combi-Grav (Secondary) 24″ 2 Salvo 3/4, Concussive, Graviton, One Use
Combi-Melta (Secondary) 24″ 9 1 Assault 1, Melta, One Use
Combi-Plasma (Secondary) 36″ 7 2 Assault 4, Gets Hot!, One Use
Flamer Template * * Assault 1, Flamer
Grav-Pistol 24″ 2 Pistol, Concussive, Graviton
Grav-Gun 32″ 2 Salvo 3/4, Concussive, Graviton
Heavy Bolter 48″ 7 3 Heavy 6, Rending
Lascannon 60″ 8 2 Heavy 1, Instant Death, Puncture
Meltagun 24″ 9 1 Assault 2, Melta
Missile Launcher (Super-Flakk) 60″ 8 3 Heavy 2, Skyfire, Interceptor
Missile Launcher (Super-Frag) 60″ 6 5 Heavy 2, Large Blast
Missile Launcher (Super-Krak) 60″ 10 2 Heavy 2
Plasma Pistol 24″ 7 2 Pistol, Gets Hot!
Plasma Gun 36″ 7 2 Assault 4, Gets Hot!
Storm Bolter 36″ 6 4 Assault 4, Rending
  • Puncture: Draw a straight line from the weapon. Any targets hit or penetrated by this weapon will have the weapon go past them, subtracting 1 from the strength until it either goes out of range, misses, fails to penetrate a vehicle, or fails to wound a non-vehicle unit. When rolling for penetration, the user can roll 2d6 and take the best result for the initial roll, but not for any re-rolls.

For those that have only played 8th edition, the AP value is the armor save that the weapon ignores. So if a weapon is AP 3, it means that they ignore any armor of 3+ and up. Just look at that puncture rule. Why wouldn’t you take a lascannon? I took the movie marines to Games Day Los Angeles(in Ontario Convention Center) and ran a 1500 point Chaos Space Marine army against 1500 points of Movie Marine (which was 10 marines and a razorback with twin lascannons). Out of all the games that were played, the Movie Marines won them all.

If you really want, try to come up with your own set of rules for your Orks, Aeldari, or whoever, and see how that goes. It may be fun for you but I’m not sure if it will be fun for everyone else. And if we do it for all the armies, then we are basically just playing regular 40K.

That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know your thoughts, and if you would want to try and go against Movie Marines, in the comments section. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook, Twitch, and Patreon pages to stay up to date on what we’re up to and when episodes drop!

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



*By action, I just mean words




About Adam

Adam, aka Latin Gandalf, has been gaming since the early eighties and has played 40K since Rogue Trader (among a number of other games). He listens to more podcasts than any healthy person should and is currently the host for TFG Radio. He also is judges for LVO and head judges other major 40K Grand Tournaments.

11 Responses to “GW Grognard: Fluff does not equal rules”

  1. Avatar
    Xerxus July 27, 2019 5:46 am #

    The fluff is inconsistent, the rules can’t represent all of the incarnations of space marines at once. Still, it’s a bit tiresome to see the space marine rules treated as a baseline to be arbitrarily exceeded by other units. Like aberrants reducing incoming damage by 1 and having a 5+++.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy July 27, 2019 6:30 am #

      I don’t really love the Aberrents’ rules, but I _think_ they are actually supposed to be tougher than a Space Marine, that’s like a big part of their being a giant, fleshy mass of muscle, rage, and devotion several times the size of a regular human being.

      Being a baseline doesn’t mean everyone necessarily exceeds you-it means you’re a measuring point that the rest of the game revolves around. Eldar are considered “fragile” only because Space Marines are the baseline- in old Warhammer Fantasy, T3/5+ was a “standard” statline, not a fragile one, but in 40K it’s different. Space Marines have got issues for sure, but they have been an extremely strong army in the past despite being the baseline for the game.

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        Ppmi July 27, 2019 3:20 pm #

        Yes it is in deed their thing but aren’t space marines exatcly that the only diferente that insted of being a aberración that doesn’t have more inteligence than a dog with a hammer ( that somehow compares to a masterpiece that takes years to create) and the other is a super soldier created by the brightest mind of human kind with centuries of expirience in combat and with a servo armor equiped with a weapon created to kilo everithing that humankind could encounter

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    Verena July 27, 2019 7:01 am #

    I remember reading a black library novel (one of the Gaunt’s Ghosts” series) where the regiment is reinforced by a total of three normal tactical marines. In the ensuing battle against hordes of heretics the marines more than hold their own, they are probably more devastating than the regiment itself.
    Personally I deal with these differences with some imagination: To me, one space marine model equals one marine (they are rare, after all), but one imperial guardsman or hormagaunt stands for a whole squad or platoon. This makes for much larger battles (at least in my mind) and explains why superheroes and -villains like Guiliman or Mortarion deign to lead their army.
    Another difference between fluff and rules is the longevity of units: How can a predator or knight survive long enough to become an actual relic of the chapter or household with the amount of losses and explosions in an average tabletop match?
    But then, if my knight crusader succumbs to a patriarch’s mental onslaught and rolls a 6 to explode, the pilot actually suffers a seizure and accidentally activates the emergency plasma vents, bathing everything around it in the hot coolant. The knight is still out of action, but wether or not it can be recovered and the pilot rescued will be revealed only after the battle.

    After all, as long as I roll the correct amount of dice, I can ascribe whatever meaning I want to it.

  3. Avatar
    NinetyNineNo July 27, 2019 8:04 am #

    I think there’s a bit of a disconnect because there’s so much “bolter porn” lore (mainly in novels and such) that significantly oversell Marines in comparison to other armies on account of them being the protagonists. Stuff like a single Sergeant holding off a hundred Orks with nothing but a chainsword, tanking an army’s worth of shooting on their power armor, and so on. And since so dang much of the lore is centered around Marines, many new (and not so new) Marine players never really read anyone else’s lore, in which by and large the other factions are also presented as the coolest baddest dudes, and are left with the idea that Marines should be much better than they are.

    Don’t get me wrong, Marines are rather underpowered at current and the humble tactical is easily one of the worst troops in the game, but that owes to a lot of factors not necessarily related to them being fluff-inaccurate. Though there’s not much justification for them having one attack when stuff like Boyz and Acolyte Hybrids have two. Which is probably where Primaris come in, in both scale and rules they (particularly Intercessors in comparison to Tacticals) appear to be a grog-friendly way of introducing lore-accurate Marines while at least trying not to invalidate regular ones.

    • Avatar
      Ppmi July 27, 2019 3:23 pm #

      So true

  4. Avatar
    Dakkath July 27, 2019 7:26 pm #

    If fluff equaled rules a single tactical squad would beat hundreds of orks and a single custodes would be an entire apoc formation unto itself.

  5. Avatar
    Purple Prose July 27, 2019 8:43 pm #

    The fluff is completely accurate for what it is. Imperial propaganda. If it influences you in our world, and makes you feel that space marines should behave in a certain way, imagine how powerful it must be for the citizens of the 41st millennium, who are relying on those space marines for their actual protection.

  6. Avatar
    NeonKatt July 27, 2019 10:39 pm #

    If people want fun. Steve from Miniwargaming and a really cool player who I completely am fluffing the name of do a fun style of movie marines. Where they play giant scenarios and Steve has an army of marines each one is a captain statline. The other guy has sweet ass custom models that they fight against. I recommend it for fun

  7. Avatar
    Anggul July 29, 2019 3:50 am #

    The lore is wildly inconsistent and GW clearly has no desire to nail down any specifics, so honestly in-game stats are the best measure of anything we have because they’re fairly consistent.

  8. Avatar
    Klickor July 29, 2019 9:24 pm #

    Sure the statlines are consistent but the core rules are not. And core rule changes is almost like changing the laws of physics so unless you change the statline according to the changes in the laws of physics they arent really that consistent if you use them to compare between units.

    The marine statline doesnt represent the same abilities now compared to 4 editions ago.

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