Supplement Ultramarines: Review part 1 – Characters

Welcome to the poster children. The boys in blue, the Smurfs, the exemplars of the Codex. Ultramarines are what most people think of when they think of Space Marines, and while they may not be as flashy as Salamanders, or as completely brokenly powerful as Iron Hands, they are still very good at what they do. And what they do is be good at everything, but specialize in nothing. This army has to tools to apply pressure wherever and whenever it needs to. For more awesome tactical content, check out the Tactics Corner!

Ultramarines have gotten rather overlooked in the waves of supplements that have come out. They are not flashy, nor are they super exciting. What they are, is good. Very good. They are stable, solid, and reliable. They have multiple good builds they can do, and can really make use of some of the best units Space Marines have to offer. That beings said, there is no fireworks, no real ‘gotcha’s’ and no extreme unit combos. I think this has lead to them getting overlooked a bit, and perhaps unfairly so. Ultras take what a unit says it can do on the tin, and makes it do that more reliably; and in this game of dice, reliability is an amazing thing to have.

We are going to first be looking at their Characters and Unique units

I am going to be using the ranking system utilized on several other reviews, detailed as such

Ranking System

  • Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
  • Efficient: This is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combo’d up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
  • Situational: This is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.

Chapter Tactic

A detachment of Ultramarines gains two unique abilities. Firstly, they get +1 leadership on every unit. This is middling at best – it means a 5 man unit of basic marines will need to lose 4 instead of 3 men to even have a chance to fail morale. Seeing as they can always re-roll their morale checks anyways, this is just ok. It is their second trait that is fairly good. When a unit falls out of combat, it may still fire it’s weapons, albeit at -1 to shoot with. Per the FAQ, units with the fly keyword can shoot normally as they typically can. This is a nice ability to have. It makes shutting down Ultramarines firepower via combats impossible outside of tri-pointing a unit. This is a nice ability to have, but these two are not enough to convince me to stick as Ultramarines. The common traits of Master Artisans and Stealthy work just as well with Ultras as they do everyone else. The Special Characters are nice, but not enough of a draw to stick pure Ultramarines. It’s not bad – but it’s not amazing either.

Scions of Guilliman

If your entire Army is Ultramarines, or the same Ultramarines Successor chapter, you gain this bonus. Whilst the Tactical Doctrine is active, all units may be treated as having remained stationary for the purposes of shooting, provided they did not fall back or advance this turn. This is strong. This allows any unit with bolter discipline to always double tap at the full range. For Heavy Weapons to fire on the move. This takes a lot of units that were simply decent and moves them up to being threatening.

A note on Successor Chapters: As is the case with all the Supplements, if a chapter is a Successor, they may replace the word Ultramarine in all the below powers, traits, strats etc with their own chapter word. In addition, if the entire army is Pure Ultramarine, or pure Successor (same Successor -no mixing and matching) they get access to Scions of Guilliman above. As of the November 2019 White Dwarf, a single Inquisitor model may join any Space Marine army and not forfeit their ‘pure’ requirement for Combat Doctrines.

The Units

Buckle up boys and girls, the poster children get a whopping 12 units! That is more than all the other supplements combined! Unfortunately this is not the Imperial Guard, and quantity does not have a quality of it’s own. This does mean that I will be splitting the Ultramarines review between their units and their everything else.

Roboute Guilliman

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6″2+2+669610 (11)2+/3++

Wargear

The Hand of Dominion: This is a dual purpose weapon. In shooting, it is a strength 6, ap -1, 2 damage, rapid fire 3 gun. In close combat, it is a 4 damage powerfist without the negative to hit.

The Emperor’s Sword: This sword swings at Strength +2, ap -4 and flat 3 damage. Any natural 6’s to wound will also do d3 mortals.

Special Rules

Armor of Fate: This gives Guilliman his invulnerable save as noted above. In addition, the first time he is slain, he gets to roll a d6, at the end of the phase (emphasis mine), and on a 4+ he raises back to life with d6 wounds left. He gets placed as near to his previous position as he was, but more than 1″ from enemy units. While some other codex’s have this ability as a two CP strat, Guilliman gets it built in, and that makes all the difference. The fact it is at the end of the phase means Guilliman can take advantage of the Only in Death Does Duty End Stratagem, and then still possibly rise from the ashes. This is a very annoying ability for your opponents to deal with (Speaking from experience here…)

Author of the Codex: If Guilliman is your warlord in a battle-forged army, you get 3 extra command points. His warlord trait is decent, unlike many Characters, but you would lose out on the Exemplar of the Chapter stratagem to take an extra trait on your warlord. I think the +3 CP is worth that loss though.

Master of Battle: Imperium units within 12″ may add 1 to their advance and charge rolls. Additionally, they may re-roll hit rolls of 1 and may re-roll morale tests.

XIII Primarch: Ultramarines within 6″ may re-roll hit rolls and wound rolls of 1.

Warlord Trait; Nobility Made Manifest: Friendly Ultramarines Infantry and Bikers within 3″ may heroically intervene.

Guilliman has seen some changes in this supplement. His re-roll wounds aura came down to only 1’s and his weapons got tweaked about a bit. This however was coupled with him coming down to 350 points. As the only Loyalist Primarch, he is a beast on the tabletop. The synergy he provides is not to be underestimated. He can be added into an Imperial Army for soup, but he really shines in an Ultramarines army. The biggest drawback to him is his cost, and the fact that being a Monster he must foot-slog to where he wants to go. This makes him a tad slow but he was already favoring a gun-line style play. Sure, he has a mean punch in combat, but that is really more a factor for counter charging than going supper offensive with it. If your army is built around taking advantage of Guilliman, he can be very good, but you really need to be planning to use all his rules and abilities to their fullest. Efficient

Marneus Calgar

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6″2+2+48869(10)2+/4++

Wargear

The Gauntlets of Ultramar: This is all this guy gets. A pair of gauntlets with which he can dakka away or cuddle quite well. In close combat, there are effectively power fists without the minus to hit. At range, this is a storm bolter with ap -1 and 2 damage. Not too shabby.

Special Rules

Armor of Heraclus: This gives him his 4+ invul save (shown in his profile) and lets him half all damage.

Master Tactician: If Calgar is your warlord, you get 2 extra CP.

Chapter Master: Exactly as per the stratagem

Warlord trait; Adept of the Codex: If Calgar is your warlord, you may regain a CP on a 5+ per CP you spent.

Calgar is not bad, not bad at all. He doesn’t scream out as amazing or an auto-include. But he is not bad. Getting the Chapter Master as a free ability, and halving damage as well makes him a very solid character that does not need much support. The kicker, and why Calgar is not taken a lot, is his cost. 200 points is a lot. A Captain with a power fist and storm bolter clocks in at 85 points. Sure, Calgar gives you some other bonuses, but a Captain can net you that full re-roll for 2CP. What Calgar is really giving you, is better CP. He saves you 2 CP (really 3) by giving you the Chapter Master ability, and as he is a named character, he cannot be selected for Exemplar of Ultramar to pick up a second Warlord trait. Seeing as Marines have a lot of good traits, this is more of a downside, but at the end of the day, Calgar nets you 2 CP for him being you warlord and 3 more in stratagems saved. Is that worth 60 points more than a Smash Captain… I am not sure. There is definitely space to make him work, but, much like his big boss, you really need to be pulling the whole army around him and the extra CP you get. Efficient

Victrix Honour Guard (2 Models)

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6″2+3+44349 (10)2+/3++

Wargear

Power sword, frag and krak grenades

Special Rules

Honour Guard of Macaragge: Much like tau drones, these guys may intercept a hit for nearby characters. On a 2+ they may take a wound-to-wound ratio of mortals for your character within 3″. Neat idea, but this is not tau.

Heros of Ultramar: This unit may heroically intervene

Calgar’s Honour Guard: If your battle forged army has Calgar in it, this unit does not take up a slot.

I am not really sure who wrote the entry for these guys. It was certainly not the same writers that did the rest of the supplements… 60 points for a 6 wound squad that has no ranged weapons (beside grenades), is not much of a threat in combat, and are meant to protect characters that normally can be well screened by other units; this does not a strong argument to take them make. I think the icing on the cake is that if you run Calgar, they don’t take a slot. Ask any Dark Eldar player how much they enjoy things not taking up slots, and they will tell you; it is not good. Taking up slots unlocks detachments, which unlocks CP. This special rule actually hurts them more than it helps them. Situational

Chief Librarian Tigurius

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6″3+3+44549 (10)3+

Wargear

The Rod of Tigurius: How awesome do you have to be to have a weapon named after you… while you are still alive and get to swing it about? This rod is a fairly nice stick, giving Tiggy +3 str, -3 ap, and d3 damage.

Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Hood of Hellfire: This gives Tiggy a +1 to cast and to deny. This is a better Psychic Hood as it does not have a range restriction on the deny.

Master of Prescience: At the start of the battle round, Tiggy can select a friendly Ultramarines unit with 6″. Until the end of that battle round, they are -1 to hit

Psycher: This model knows Smite and either 3 powers from either of the trees he can choose from. He can cast and deny 2 per turn.

Warlord Trait; Master of Strategy: Once per Battle round (not specified as to when during the battle round), Tiggy may select a friendly Ultramarines unit within 6″ of him and have that unit count as if the Tactical Doctrine is active. This is a nice trait, but don’t burn it on a named character.

Tigurius is priced to move at 130 points. That is a lot of Librarian that you get for that cost. His psychic mastery gives him a lot of flexibility and both trees open to him have some very nice options. With another librarian casting Empyric Channeling on Tiggy, he can get up to a +3 to cast, which makes super smites a much greater possibility. Outside of his Psychic Mastery, his Master of Prescience is a nice bonus that he can even throw on himself. I would not build a strategy around that -1 making a unit much more survivable. Ironically, Space Marines have fairly well invalidated the -1 to hit bonus. -2 is the new -1. That being said, it’s a nice extra ability to have. The fact Tiggy has crossed to being Primaris means he can hitch a ride in an Impulsor now too.  Competitive

Chaplain Cassius

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6″2+3+45439 (10)3+/4++

Wargear

Infernus: This is a master crafted combi-bolter. The bolter part has it’s ap kicked up a pip to -1

Artificer Crozius: A beating stick with 2’s across the board. Str +2, ap -2, 2 damage.

Frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Spiritual Leader: Friendly Ultramarines within 6″ may use Cassius’s LD instead of their own.

Inspired Retribution: When a friendly Ultramarines model is destroyed by an enemy unit in close combat, and that enemy unit is within 6″ of Cassius, that unit takes a mortal on a roll of a 6.

Priest: Cassius knows the Litany of Hate and two more of his choice. He can shout out two per turn, which go off on a 3+.

Warlord Trait; Warden of Macragge: This allows Cassius to Heroically intervene 6″. This trait makes his Inspired Retribution much stronger – too bad it’s locked behind his Warlord Trait instead of being a special rule

Cassius is a decent Chaplin. I would have said he is an amazing Chaplin, but then Faith and Fire came out, and he has some serious competition with a Master of Sanctuary. Still, for 85 points, Cassius is solid for what he offers. A Chaplain shouting two litanies is nice, as the litanies as a whole are very, very good. Outside of that, he is a Character with some decent threat in CC and at ranged, but nothing too exciting. His biggest gimmick, is the Inspired Retribution rule. I am not a huge fan of counting on losing models to do something, and a 16.67% chance for that to trigger is nothing to rely on either. Sadly, Cassius only has 4 wounds, meaning any dedicated attacks directed towards him will probably see him downed in short order. For 85 points, his redeeming quality is the two litanies.  Efficient

Captain Sicarius

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6″2+2+44549 (10)2+/4++

Wargear

Artisan Plasma Pistol: A permanetly over charged Plasma Pistol, with no chance of overheating! Why can’t they make all the Plasma like this!

The Talassarian Tempest Blade: Dare you to say that 10 times fast. This power blade hits with d3 damage. In addition, if you get a natural 6 to wound, it instead does d3 mortal wounds. No more damage on that attack gets made. (i.e. if Sicarius hits with 3 attacks, and 2 of those are 6’s, that would be 2d3 mortal wounds, and an armor save your opponent needs to make).

Frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Rites of Battle: As per a normal captain

Battle-Forged Heroes: At the start of the battle round, a friendly Ultramarines unit within 6″ may be nominated to have the Defenders of Humanity (Objective Secured) ability

Warlord Trait; Paragon of War: A natural 6 in combat to wound equals a mortal wound. Combined with his Tempest blade, that is d3+1 mortals for each 6 to wound.

Sicarius is a slightly upgraded Captain. His price tag of 100 points I feel is quite fair for what he gives – a little bit of board control and a fun set of weapons. I think that is what would best define Sicarius; fun. To really maximize his potential, you want him to be a Warlrod to get those d3+1 Mortals on a wound of a 6. His Plasma Pistol is nice to be able and hit hard and not fear killing himself, and his sword is fun as well. With only 5 attacks on the charge (6 with Might of Hero’s.. but are you really gonna drop that on him?) he is not gonna get a lot of 6’s to wound. Those you do though will really hurt and put a smile on your face. He is not Priamaris though, so he is forced to take more traditional avenues of deployment. Overall, he is not going to punish you for taking him, even if you don’t make him your Warlord, and offers a nice trick and so decent damage. Efficient

Sergeant Tellion

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6″3+2+44428 (9)4+

Wargear

Quietus: This Bolt weapon is a 36″ sniper rifle. Str 4, ap -2, and 2 damage is nice. Pity it is Heavy 2. Sure, he will get ap -3 while Devastator Doctrine is active, but turn two when the army drops to Assault, he loses the AP bonus.

Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Voice of Experience: A the start of your shooting phase, Tellion may guide a friendly Ultramarines scout unit to have a BS of 2+ for that phase.

Camo Cloak: As per Codex

Concealed Positions: As per Codex

Warlord Trait; Master of Strategy: Once per Battle round (not specified as to when during the battle round), Tellion may select a friendly Ultramarines unit within 6″ of him and have that unit count as if the Tactical Doctrine is active. Again, this is a nice trait, but don’t burn it on a named character.

Tellion has been a staple character for Ultramarines for quite some time now, featuring in both the Space Marines and Tyranids books in 5th edition. In his latest guise, he is still doing what he has always done – leading scouts. He can get up next to them and really help improve their accuracy. This is especially nice for when you have a heavy bolter or missile launcher in that squad and are planning to drop some mortals down range. That being said, let’s talk about the bad – Tellion is a T4 character with a 4+ and no invul. He is probably getting screened by scouts, and those are not hard to remove. At 65 points, he is not a big investment, but he is probably not gonna see the end of the game either. His bonus trait is also very, very specialized, and his special weapon, while nice, is nothing special. 3 Eliminators are just 7 points more than him and are a much better sniper option. Also, his gun, Quietus, is classified as a bolt weapon. I cannot figure out what advantage he gains from this… if anyone can, please let me know! Situational

Sergeant Chronus

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6″3+2+44428 (9)3+

Wargear

Servo-Arm: This added appendage allows Chronus to swing at double strength, ap -2 and flat 3 damage. He does suffer the -1 to hit penalty.

Bolt pistol, frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Tank Commander: When you select Chronus, he becomes an upgrade to a tank from the below list. Whilst he commands that tank it has the Character keyword, it always has a 2+ BS, which will not degrade, and he auto repairs his ride one wound at the start of each of your turns. Should the the tank die, he may attempt to disembark same as if it were a transport. He may not use any of his wargear whilst commanding the tank

  • Rhino
  • Razorback
    Predator
  • Vindicator
  • Whirlwind (but not the Whirlwind Scorpius or Hyperious as they lost the Whirlwind key word per this FAQ)
  • Hunter
  • Stalker
  • Land Raider

Chronus momentarily spiked in popularity when this book first came out, as people shoved him in the Forge World Whirlwinds, which subsequently had GW remove the Whirlwind tag from their keywords. Chronus is a 30 point upgrade to  make a tank more reliable. Part of his issue is that none of the vehicles he can take are sub 10 wounds, nor can they pick up an invul save. This make Chronus are rather large and easy to pick on target. In ITC missions, he then becomes a rather easy secondary to to pick on. Probably the best use is still the Whirlwind, which while not being the scariest of units, appreciates the ability to hide. Another thing to note is Chronus does not have a Warlord trait, which means he is eligible for Hero of the Chapter. There are only a few traits he could actually want though, and this is probably better spent elsewhere, but it can be used to make him a touch better. If you insist on runing him up the board in a Tank, Iron Resolve for an extra wound and a 6+++ is not to bad, while Storm of Fire to help increase the AP of a gun line could be decent as well. At the end of the day though, Chronus is a fun unit that lends himself to more causal games. Situational

Chapter Ancient

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63+3+44439 (11)2+

Wargear

Power Sword, Frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Chapter Ancient: The Astartes Banner get a 9″ aura instead of 6″

Astartes Banner: This does two things – first it makes all Ultramarines within 9″ get +1 LD. Second, any Infantry or Biker models that die whilst within 9″ may, on a 4+ shoot their gun or make a single Melee attack.

As with many of these abilities in the game, the shooting version of the banner is better. And let’s be real – the banner is the only thing this guy has going for him. His banner is exactly the same as that of a Company Ancient. He loses options on his weapons as well as his bolt gun. The only thing he gains, is an extra 3″ on his aura. A Company Ancient with Power sword clocks in at 67 points. This Chapter Ancient comes in at 75, so a 7 point upgrade. This ability is the same as the 1CP upgrade offered in Faith and Fury, except those characters can pick up bonus abilities in special relics and warlord traits. While the Warlord traits are not great, the one relic, Standard of the Righteous Hatred allows your retaliation attacks to have a WS/BS of 2+. If you insist on running an Ancient, this is probably the way to go instead of the Chapter Ancient. Situational

Chapter Champion

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6″2+2+44459 (10)2+

Wargear

Champion’s Sword: This blade is also str user, but ap -2 and 1 damage. Why would you ever use this instead of the below Master Crafter Power Sword (Str user, ap -3, 2 damage)? Well, you wouldn’t – except, every time the Chapter Champion fights, he gets an extra attack with this. So, on the charge, 6 attacks with the Master Crafted Power Sword and one with the Champion’s Sword he will do a solid 3-4 damage vs most infantry characters.

Master Crafted Power Sword, Frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Honor or Death: If there are any enemy Characters within 6″ of this model, it may heroically intervene up to 6″ towards an the closest enemy Character.

Skillful Parry: In close combat, this model is -1 to be hit

Martial Superiority: If withing 1″ of an enemy character, this model may fight first. The normal such wording of such abilities applies here also, of alternating if they have other fight first units

Superlative Duelist: Melee attacks made against an enemy Character allow you to re roll the hit and wound rolls.

I really want to like this guy. He has a job, and it is a good one. He is a counter attack unit to target and go after enemy characters. He has a ton of attacks, and can easily do some serious damage to most infantry characters. Again, however, we have to compare him to his ‘standard’ counter point. The Chapter Champion rocks in at 55 points compared to 47 for the Company Ancient. For that extra 7 points, he loses the 5++, but picks up and extra attack, the extra sword attack and the -1 to be hit in combat. He also losses out on the Faith and Fury options. Unlike with the above Ancient options, the Champion actually has some good choices – should you take him. Upgrading him gives back the Skillful Parry ability, and he has a chance to make his power sword a relic; the Blade of Triumph. This kicks him up to Str 6, ap -4, and 3 damage. This kicks him up to doing 4-5 damage on a Smash Captain or 6 -7 damage on a Farseer. That relic makes him dangerous. As such, I think if you are going to take a Chapion, you once again forgo the Chapter version and invest in the Company one and boost with Faith and Fury. Situational

Honour Guard (2 models)

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6″3+3+44229 (10)2+

Wargear

Power Axe: Str +1, Ap -2 and 1 damage

Boltgun, Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades

Special rules

Honour Guard: Again, like the Victrix above, these guys may intercept a hit for nearby characters. On a 2+ they may take a wound-to-wound ratio of mortals for your character within 3″. This is no better than it was above.

While the Honour Guard are cheaper than their Victrix brethren by a whole 10 points each, they suffer from many of the same issues. They lose the invul save, but at least pick up a ranged weapon. They also will fill a slot in a detachment. As such, if you are absolutley bent on getting some body guards for your characters, these guys are the better option. The mitigation of wounds over means at most 4 wounds can get placed onto them instead of the character, and being a 4 wound unit, with no invul, they are very succeptable to getting picked up and targeted first anyways. Situational

Tyranic War Vets (1 Sergent and 3 Tyranic War Vets. May include up to 6 additional Vets)

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6″3+3+44128 (9) 3+

The Sergent has the standard bonus of +1 Attack and LD

Wargear

Special Issue Boltgun: As per a regualr Boltgun, but ap -2 and a 30″ range. This is actually very, very nice, as in the Tactical doctrine, you are always double tapping at 30″ and an ap -3.

Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades

Special Rules

Combat Squad: As per codex

Bane of Tyranids: When resolving an attack vs any model with the Tyranid key word (so Tyranids and Genestealer Cults), you may re-roll the hit and wound rolls

This is another unit that I really like the feel and lore of. It has a job, and it does that job well. At 16 points per model, they are a touch more expensive than a Tactical squad (12 points per model), but I think they gain a fair bit. The basically have the Bolt Rifles that Intercessors are rocking out with, but are 1 point per model cheaper than them. You do lose the extra wound, but the extra ap is a nice bonus. And if you think your meta may have some bugs in it, they can do some serious damage vs them. If you are already taking an Ultrmarines list, these guys would not be a terrible addition as a single squad.  Efficient

And there you have the Characters and special units of the Ultramarines. Sadly, some of their units are already dated by further supplement releases. The only really strong character is Tigurus, while Calgar, Sicarius, Guilliman and the Bug-War Vets all offer some fairly solid options. Thankfully there is no Iron Father level ridiculousness in here, but I think some of these units probably could have gone the way of Legends and others be brought up to on par with Vulkan or even Adrax from the Salamanders supplement.

Thanks for reading, and happy Wargaming!

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

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One Response to “Supplement Ultramarines: Review part 1 – Characters”

  1. Kicker December 23, 2019 9:18 am #

    Awesome Stuff. Great review! Yea, the Ultramarines definitely have more characters than the rest of the SM Chapters, but only a few really shine. Like you said, Tiggy is pretty solid. That -1 to hit getting established at the beginning of the round has been amazingly beneficial for me each time! I love how you don’t have to roll a dice or anything to make this happen…is just happens automatically. That reliable -1 to hit on something critical is just so freaking awesome. Tiggy is for sure an auto include in any Codex Ultramarine list!

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