Hey guys Cavalier here, co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast and commission painter for Frontline Gaming. Sharing my playtesting impressions of the new Space Marine codex.
Being part of the Narrative Playtest crew playtesting the new Space Marine dex was a massive under taking. It was the most time intensive bit of playtesting we’ve done but also the codex that I most enjoyed playing against even after we had moved on to new projects.
With the book not out yet, I’m limited in what I can say but the thing that struck me most as an Aeldari player. Previous to this new dex, Marines have been stuck in a weird spot for quite sometime. They flashed in the Index with Guilliman, Storm Ravens, Razorbacks and even Raven Guard had a brief period of excellence but that was 2 years ago if you can believe it. Since then they’ve been mired in mediocrity. The Primaris brought some much needed toughness to your basic Astartes, but the offense was just not there. That has completely changed and the basic Primaris infantry units are now the all-stars of the Astartes.
Throughout all the games I played against the new Marine dex, it has been the high impact shooting of all the new Primaris infantry units I found to be the biggest threat. The combination of Doctrines + Bolter Discipline is the bread and butter of new Space Marines and this really comes to shine with the incredible versatility of all the bolter variants available for Primaris units. Great range, volume of shots, with the ability through Doctrines to improve the AP was the game changer in my experience -especially in the case of Imperial Fists- which was what I played against the most.
They can attack you at almost all ranges with the biggest threat being a steadily advancing block of Primaris Marines with their buff characters and banners nearby being just hellacious. I found it incredibly difficult to survive in a protracted firefight with them even with my Alaitoc+Flayed Skull combo which has served me so well throughout the edition. The penalties to hit while vital, are not enough (unless you are running all Flyers lol) to save you, because of the massive pile of wounds you need to chew through to take them out of the fight. Their ability to circumvent penalties to hit is also a major deal for Aeldari players who have survived on that for most of the edition.
Old and New Approaches
I found that by turn 2 with big blocks of Primaris mid-table (expect prepared positions a lot with Primaris players) they exerted excellent board control and were a massive pile of wounds that took a ton of effort to make a serious dent in. Ravagers, Hemlocks and Crimson Hunters are all certainly your friends against the new Marine dex, but I found that even still, against all infantry Primaris armies they had more bodies than I could handle with dissie/starcannon equivalents and that just stock bolter variant toting Primaris were hammering my go-to scoring options like Rangers and Warriors in Venoms through sheer volume of firepower.
The trick I found is getting them in combat. To this end I really think Shining Spears will take a tick-up in popularity again after the changes to Ynnari, but also Wyches with Shardnets (my personal favorite), Harlequin Caress Troupes, Skyweavers with Zephyr Glaives, dual blade Wraithblades and especially Howling Banshees.
I’ve written about Howling Banshees a number of times, but being able to tag multiple units without threat of Overwatch is so massive. Their offense without psychic support will most likely be somewhat disappointing, but they are the go-to table setter for setting up an Eldar assault. Shutting down the Overwatch so fragile units like Wyches, or expensive units like Shining Spears/Skyweavers, with a natural -1 to hit when targeted in combat truly makes them worth it. If there was one combo I’d recommend its Wyches with Shardnets + Howling Banshees. I’ve found again and again this combo to shut down Overwatch, then trap deadly shooting units, you couldn’t root out in your own turn, just to give yourself breathing room and focus your firepower on easier to handle units.
So the new approach I’d recommend is brushing up on your close-combat tactics, as trapping Astartes infantry units in combat can really help save the firepower of your best guns for the highest priority threat.
I definitely feel the new Astartes book has what it takes to make for some top-tier builds. The already considerable toughness of the basic Primaris unit is now supplemented with extremely versatile and dangerous firepower that will wear out any opponent. Trying to simply outlast them in a fire fight is very difficult if you allow them uncontested board presence, so get in there pin them down in combat and allow your big guns to focus on the highest priority units.
If you are interested in Aeldari discussion check out our podcast: Splintermind for exclusive Drukharii and all things Aeldari news and discussion. If you are interested in following my painting exploits check me out on Instagram! Thanks for reading and stay tuned!
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