Space Marines Preview: Enhanced Chapter Tactics

As we revealed last weekend, the Space Marines are about to re-enter the Era Indomitus with renewed vigour and boltguns blazing! As well as some shiny new miniatures, the Adeptus Astartes will be freshly augmented by additional rules and abilities thanks to the most awesome edition of Codex: Space Marines to date. We’ll be taking a closer look at what lies within its hallowed pages every day this week. First up, it’s the new Chapter Tactics…

This article was originally published on the Warhammer-community site.

Before we focus on some of the changes to the existing Chapter Tactics, it’s worth mentioning the Crimson Fists – fresh from their recent appearance in White Dwarf’s Index Astartes – are also in the new codex! That’s right, Pedro Kantor’s famously stoic Chapter now joins their fellow Imperial Fists successors, the Black Templars, as one of the eight featured Chapters in the book, complete with their own tactics…

To make the most of this powerful Chapter Tactic, fielding multiple small units of Crimson Fists is the way to go. Units of five Intercessors equipped with your bolt rifle of choice will do you especially proud. With careful target priority, many of your Crimson Fists units will be hitting on a 2+, which is a massive deal – especially if you have a Captain nearby for those handy re-rolls to hit, making their precision even more lethal.

The chance of an additional hit on a roll of 6 is a nice perk too – especially when firing the new and improved stalker bolt rifle.

That’s a potential 4 wounds from a single shot! Next up, we have their fellow Imperial Fists successors, the Black Templars.

The subtle change to their ability to re-roll failed charge rolls – namely the freedom to re-roll just one of the dice if desired – will have a significant effect on the average charge distance rolled. Furthermore, the ability to ignore mortal wounds, be it from psychic powers or deadly weaponry, is a welcome new addition to their Chapter Tactics and indicative of their fiery determination. Successful charges in your second turn, after disembarking from a Rhino or Land Raider Crusader, should be no problem at all!

We’ve seen the Imperial Fists’ two legendary successors, now we’ll look at the First Founding Chapter itself…

As you can see, the Imperial Fists still deny the enemy the effects of cover, but they can also score additional hits with bolt weapons. Centurion Devastators or Aggressors with boltstorm gauntlets are therefore excellent choices to bolster your mighty Sons of Dorn. The enemies of the Imperial Fists can expect to face punishing salvos with nowhere to hide.

It’s time to see the archetypal adepts of the Codex Astartes…

The Ultramarines Chapter Tactic remains as versatile as ever, bolstering the effectiveness of And They Shall Know No Fear with an extra pip of Leadership, and granting them the powerful ability to Fall Back and still gun down their foes. However, a crucial change to all Chapter Tactics in the codex is that they now apply not merely to Infantry, Bikers and Dreadnoughts, but to ALL UNITS in a Space Marines Detachment!* This means that even Ultramarines vehicles engaged in melee can simply pull back from combat and blow the offending assailants away! This strategy is especially useful with a flamer-toting vehicle, such as a Land Raider Redeemer, as they won’t even suffer the penalty to hit! That’s a pretty sneaky “practical” trick for an Ultramarine…

The Chogorian Sons of the Great Khan are up next.

If you thought the White Scars were swift as the wind before, now they’re EVEN FASTER! The ability to Advance and charge grants them the equivalent of a 3D6 charge range. White Scars Bikers are also now free to stay on the move, all the while firing their Heavy weapons with no penalties to their hit rolls. They take mobile warfare to a whole new level, just as you imagine they would!

We’ve covered speed, now for some stealth…

At ranges of over 12”, Raven Guard essentially always count as being in cover, and if they’re already in cover they’ll also be harder to hit, unless they’re a vehicle. This gives the Raven Guard a huge advantage in the early stages of the battle by heavily restricting anything but the closest incoming firepower. Of course, vehicle smoke launchers and the smoke grenades used by Infiltrators can hamper the aim of enemy units further still! With the right combination of units, you’ll be able to control the game, forcing your opponent to engage you at close range – right where you want them!

The Sons of Vulkan already had a powerful Chapter Tactic on account of the re-rolls offered by their masterwork wargear, so how that it possibly get any better?

Well, in addition to their vehicles now benefitting from those incredibly handy re-rolls to hit and wound, the saving throws of Salamanders units will be unimpeded by those pesky -1 AP weapons… nasty! Five-man Tactical Squads armed with a single special or heavy weapon are great options here, both for re-rolls to their hardest-hitting weapon and their increased survivability.

Last, but by no means least, are the cybernetically enhanced Iron Hands…

In addition to effectively ignoring a sixth of their wounds lost, the Iron Hands are deadly accurate when firing Overwatch and their vehicles will fight at full capacity until they’re all but destroyed. If your opponent is trying to pick off your Repulsor Executioner before it can wreak havoc on their army with its murderous main gun, they’re in for quite a challenge!

With their augmented Chapter Tactics and the additional Attacks generated by the new Shock Assault ability,** the Space Marines are set to become a dominant force on the gaming table once again. Be sure to check back every day this week as we continue our previews of what awesome new rules content lies within the new codex, and grab yourself a Start Collecting! Space Marines set to help kick-off or bolster your Adeptus Astartes collection. If you haven’t already signed up to our newsletter, do it now to make sure your finger is on the pulse with all the latest news.

* OK, so not Servitors. Being essentially braindead, they don’t really understand battlefield tactics, bless ’em!

** If you’re a fan of the Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Grey Knights or Deathwatch, don’t worry – you can look forward to official rules updates coming soon via free PDF download. And remember, you Heretic Astartes players out there will also be gaining Shock Assault for your units in a similar update!


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About Reecius

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

24 Responses to “Space Marines Preview: Enhanced Chapter Tactics”

  1. Avatar
    Ishagu August 5, 2019 12:40 pm #

    They need to clarify that Ultramarine tactic because as written, units with fly also suffer the – 1 to hit penalty.


    • Avatar
      Ty August 5, 2019 7:15 pm #

      It’s the same wording as the current version.

      • Avatar
        abusepuppy August 5, 2019 7:37 pm #

        Vehicles currently don’t benefit from Chapter Tactics, which makes the wording irrelevant for the Repulsor et al right now.

        • Avatar
          Diomedes August 6, 2019 6:07 am #

          The new rules extend chapter tactics to all units (except servitors) according to the warhammer community post.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy August 6, 2019 3:32 pm

            Yes, that was the point- the Repulsor is currently unaffected by the Tactic, so the wording is not relevant, but unless there is some additional text somewhere it will mean that the falling back from combat will incur the -1 penalty even though the vehicle already has the Fly keyword.

            (It would similarly affect units such as Inceptors or Assault Marines.)

  2. Reecius
    Reecius August 5, 2019 1:13 pm #

    Ooowee! So much more to see, too. This book is going to be a game changer.

  3. Avatar
    NinetyNineNo August 5, 2019 1:21 pm #

    This is all pretty cool. After seeing what armies like GSC brought to the table, Marine traits were solely lacking, and these have a nice balance of power and fluffiness. I’m curious about the custom traits, since you can pick two I expect there will be some pretty powerful combos (at the expense of not getting the chapter-specific goodies from the upcoming supplements). Since there’s gonna be six supplements and there’s eight traits here I expect IF, CF and BT to be folded into one and the other first founders to get one each.

  4. Avatar
    Dakkath August 5, 2019 2:10 pm #

    Well now marine players can finally stop complaining that they don’t get chapter tactics on their vehicles.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy August 5, 2019 7:38 pm #

      Don’t worry, they’ll find something new to complain about. I have faith in them. Perhaps the fact that several of their model kits are fully two years old and need to be replaced immediately? Or that they only have more HQ choices than three other books put together have unit entries? I’m sure they’ll find something.

  5. Avatar
    JimV August 5, 2019 4:01 pm #

    Chaos players can still complain about chapter tactics on vehicles though.

    • Avatar
      vybert August 5, 2019 4:25 pm #

      Hopefully will change soon as well. Been a long time coming. Also nice to the see the hopeful future of Alaitoc in that Raven Guard tactics.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy August 5, 2019 7:39 pm #

      Yeah, while it’s nice to see SM getting improved Tactics, these really make the CSM traits look like dogshit, not to mention many of the ones from other factions (e.g. all of the non-Tau Sept traits in Tau, etc.)

      • Avatar
        The Traitor August 5, 2019 11:39 pm #

        Well, actually AL have a pretty strong trait right now compared to the new loyal ones since it hasn’t been needed yet.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy August 6, 2019 3:34 pm #

          I suspect that most AL players would be more than willing to trade the conditional -1 on their units for the ability to have it affect their various vehicles and whatnot.

    • Avatar
      Zweischneid August 6, 2019 4:06 am #

      As can Genestealer Cults players

  6. Avatar
    vybert August 5, 2019 4:24 pm #

    Stoked for muh Salamanders to see the table again!

    • Reecius
      Reecius August 6, 2019 8:41 am #


    • Avatar
      Zweischneid August 6, 2019 11:38 am #


      Though even the new version of Salamanders still isn’t half as good as the insane Deathskullz equivalent.

      • Reecius
        Reecius August 6, 2019 12:35 pm #

        Perhaps, you do have to consider the fact that Salamanders have higher stats typically.

        • Avatar
          WestRider August 6, 2019 8:39 pm #

          And better ability to run MSU to take full advantage of it.

  7. Avatar
    ghostvalley August 5, 2019 7:15 pm #

    Looks like my Imperial Fist scout list will hit the table again. Extra hit on 6s is something, especially for centurions and maybe even iron class with hurricane bolters and with the extra attack on the charge for all Astartes I might be able to make them work.

    • Avatar
      ghostvalley August 5, 2019 7:16 pm #

      *iron clads

  8. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr August 6, 2019 6:07 am #

    These are looking solid so far. I hope the White Scars supplement gives a similar rule to Landspeeders as Bikers. Would love to see them zooming around the table again and still getting to fire to full effect.

  9. Avatar
    Andrew M. August 6, 2019 8:38 pm #

    Hi Frontline,
    Do the Imperial Fists have the ability to nullify the Raven Guard’s tactical gift?
    Is this from the Warhammer lore (fluf)?
    Thank yall.

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