Hi everyone, Michael here with a topic that is sure not to get heated in the comments, my problems with the Marine meta (and aspects of 8th edition 40k in general). For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.
I recently attended a great ITC tournament, the Beachhead Brawl in Bournemouth. I took my Infantry-heavy White Scars army, hoping to have some fun games of 40k against some tough opponents. I ended up going 3-3 in the event (unfortunately, a pretty good result for me in 8th edition!). Over the course of the weekend, I played a lot of Marines (obviously) and had a think about some of the issues that I think are plaguing the game at the moment.
From previous events, I find my best tournament experiences at big events generally come from losing my first game. I will frequently get smashed in round 1 by the latest netlist or power army and find myself on the bottom tables from round 2. After that, I tend to find myself playing against my level, against reasonably sane or thematic armies that provide a challenge without being ridiculously overpowered.
However, I tend to find that in 8th edition, you can be facing very strong Marine lists for much of the event, regardless of how well you do. In my first game of the tournament, I faced off against Raven Guard taking triple Thunderfires, two Whirlwinds and three units of infiltrating Assault Centurions, all with Long Range Marksmen and Master Artisans. A resounding loss for my first game.
In my second game, I faced essentially the same list, but with three Whirlwinds and two Thunderfire Cannons instead. But the infiltrating Centurions were still there. After another few losses, I was still coming up against Iron Hands triple flyer, multiple Thunderfire Cannons and Repulsor lists. It was a pretty brutal and exhausting tournament.
I have to say, all my opponents and games were great, even when I was getting utterly crushed! I get the irony of a Marine player complaining about how powerful Marines are. However, I think we can agree that White Scars are not exactly crushing it at all events, and I don’t really run a power-heavy list, just going for units I like and an army more focused on maelstrom missions than ITC missions.
To get to the point, I’m not here to complain about what a bad player I am and how I need an easier ride at tournament. Below are some of the issues that I have with the current game, in my own opinion. This is not an exhaustive list of the current problems with the game, but just some issues that have come up in previous tournaments. Feel free to disagree or add your own list of grievances below.
Command Points and Command Point re-rolls were a revelation when they were first introduced at the start of 8th edition. The ability to re-roll the die on a crucial hit or wound roll was great, and could turn the tide of battle in your favour at the right time. It’s hard to imagine a time when we did not have them in the game. How would you like dozens of free CP re-rolls, not just every turn, but in multiple phases?
The term “Salamanders re-rolls” is used to define an ability that now applies to several armies. This ability generally allows you to re-roll a hit roll and a wound roll each time a unit in your army shoots or fights.
An army with this ability essentially gets 20+ free CP re-rolls each shooting phase, as well as more in the fight phase if they ever need to fight anything, as well as free re-rolls in your opponent’s turn thanks to overwatch fire. This allows you to save your precious command points for powerful stratagems or even for a CP re-roll if you fluff a damage roll.
In my opinion, this ability needs to disappear, or else you give every army access to it. Armies that do not have this ability aren’t playing in the same league as those that do, they are barely playing the same game at that point.
Choose your own Chapter Tactics
This was first introduced in the Space Marine book, but is slowly being rolled out to other armies with the Psychic Awakening expansions. This gives you the option to pick two abilities from a list to take as your army’s “Chapter Tactics”.
While this is a nice way to build a thematic army, it is frequently used to take the most powerful combination of abilities. As mentioned above, Master Artisans is almost always taken on a Space Marine “Successor Chapter”, along with another powerful ability, such as Long Range Marksmen or Stealthy.
This allows you to take the best abilities of several Chapters in one, with no down side in many cases. Even worse, it stacks with the Doctrine bonuses of whichever Chapter you choose to use for your Successor Chapter. Want access to the Raven Guard Doctrine bonus and stratagems, but also want Salamanders re-rolls and increased range on your weapons? No problem! Mix and match the army how you wish.
Want access to the Iron Hands Doctrine bonus, but also want to re-roll those pesky 2’s that you happen to roll on your flyers? Take your Iron Hands successors with Master Artisans. Throw on Stealthy too, so that your opponent has a harder time for firing back if you leave anything left alive.
I’m not sure how you would fix this. It’s nice to keep them as an option for some armies to create thematic list. There are 18 options for your army, but realistically, you keep seeing the same 3-4 in every list. Maybe remove the more powerful ones, or split them into two tables, one major and one minor, so that players can’t pick two of the most powerful. Alternatively, go back to the system of picking two advantages and one disadvantage.
Another way to go would be removing the doctrine bonus if you choose to make your own Chapter. This way, you couldn’t stack powerful Chapter Tactics you select with the powerful Iron Hands or Imperial Fists Doctrine Bonuses.
Deep Strike Stratagems
In a recent tournament, I faced off against Raven Guard Successors with Long Range Marksmen and either Stealthy or Master Artisans. One army had three large units of Assault Centurions, the other had two large units of Assault Centurions and a unit of Devastator Centurions. All the Centurions were able to “deep strike” from reserves using a stratagem, allowing them to come on almost anywhere on the board, and still fire to full effect on the turn they arrived.
With Long Range Marksmen, a squad of 6 was putting out 72 Bolter Shots and 12D6 flamer shots on the turn they arrived. Three units were putting out 216 Bolter shots, 24D6 flamer shots and 12 Meltagun shots. That is an insane amount of firepower that almost no army could stand up to.
Assault Centurions have a low move characteristic and very limited transport options, which may explain their cheap price for their damage output. However, taking them as Raven Guard (or even White Scars to some extent) allows you to eliminate that disadvantage and make it almost meaningless, allowing you to deep strike almost anywhere you want on the table.
Many armies require some sort of Deep Strike stratagem to function; my Deathwatch would be pretty useless without it. However, in combination with certain units, it is ridiculously powerful.
It would be nice to see some sort of limit to this, either in power level or points, costing much more to deep strike in powerful units such as Centurions or Aggressors, such as other armies pay for such stratagems.
Space Marine Doctrines are incredibly powerful and offer some fantastic benefits to armies in addition to their AP bonuses.
Iron Hands and Imperial Fists are two examples that are strongly prevalent in the current meta. They stack numerous buffs on top of already powerful armies, and make it impossible for some armies to compete in the game as it is.
Even the White Scars are not immune to this. I have a Chapter Master with a Relic Thunder Hammer. Once the Assault Doctrine is active, each wound is doing 5 damage at AP-4. I’ve had the Chapter Master take out an Imperial Knight in a single round of combat in several of my games. That is insanely powerful for any character in the game.
Other armies are starting to get their own versions of Doctrine-type bonuses, but many are not as powerful as for the Marines, or are leading to a further power creep, bringing back alpha strike armies to the fore of the game once again.
There are several options that could be implemented to adjust this.
One option might be to go back to the Doctrine style of 7th edition. What if each Doctrine could only be activated for a single turn? You then have a tactical choice to decide when to activate the doctrine for maximum effect. Do you go in first turn for the alpha strike, when your opponent may have units hidden or units in reserve? This would also allow some Chapters to activate their Doctrines at other times. Going into Assault Doctrine on turn 1 or 2 would be useful for Chapters, such as Blood Angels and White Scars.
Another option might be to make the Doctrines a stratagem. It could cost 2CP each turn in order to activate the doctrine or to activate the Doctrine bonus for each Chapter. This would limit your ability to always have the bonus in play, and would make you choose whether you want to have your Doctrine Bonus or to activate Transhuman Physiology for that turn.
Seize the Initiative
This is not really Marine specific, but I think Seize the Initiative has to go for competitive play.
It’s not so bad for the alternating deployment model, as you still roll off for going first. In addition, you get to counter each other’s deployment, as the game goes on, and can deploy in such a way as to mitigate the effects of going first or second.
However, in deploy first-choose first deployment, it is an absolute game killer. In these situations, your opponent gets to choose the deployment zone, then counter your own deployment as they set up their army second. Getting the first turn in addition to all of that is a huge advantage for one side in the game, and makes it really hard to come back from a successful seize.
Yes, by deploying first, you can be more cagey with your deployment in case you get seized on. However, your opponent can still capitalise on this more defensive deployment. In addition, getting the first turn is the only defense against some of the powerful armies in the game at the moment.
For example, against an artillery-heavy Space Marine force, you need the first turn to try and shut down as much of the enemy army as possible before it can eliminate your army in the first turn of shooting. By deploying your army first, your opponent can place their artillery in the optimal position that as few of your units can get to it as possible. If they then get the first turn on a seize, the game is generally decided on a single roll of the die. That is not a great position to be in in any game.
Those are some of my thoughts on the current issues in the game. Admittedly, I am a regular player at tournaments, but not a top level one. You are not going to see me rolling at the top tables at LVO or most major events. However, I do enjoy going to tournaments, and feel I am in the position of the vast majority of 40k players. Those that go to events for fun games, with no real hope of winning the whole tournament, but to have a great experience. Unfortunately, I think a lot of issues with 8th edition 40k are turning those players away from an enjoyable tournament experience.
The problem is that this is starting to spill into the casual game. We have a player at our local club that plays a beautiful Dreadnought and vehicle-heavy Iron Hands army, and has done for several editions of the game. Now, through no fault of his own, the army is ridiculously powerful and no one in the club really wants to play against it, as they know the game is likely to be over in turn 1 or 2.
Do you agree with my assessments, or have your own issues with some of the rules in the game? Do you like any of the proposed solutions, or do they go too far/ not far enough? As I said, these are only the opinions of one gamer, who has absolutely no influence on the ITC or GW. If you disagree, let me know why?
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