GW have just dropped a new FAQ that makes some big changes for the Space Marines. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.
The new FAQ will shake up a number of Space Marine armies. You can read the new FAQ in the link, but I will repeat some of the text below to cover the main changes.
Combat Doctrines is an ability that we always intended to be purposefully rigid, in that you have to progress through a combat doctrine sequence in a specific order, starting in the Devastator Doctrine and finally ending up in the Assault Doctrine. We maintained a degree of flexibility by letting players choose when they would progress to the next doctrine, imagining that every Space Marines player would wish to progress through the sequence as quick as they could – after all, an average ‘combined arms’ army has more melee weapons in it than it has Rapid Fire weapons (every model technically has a melee weapon) and fewer still have Heavy weapons. The idea was that as the game progressed (and the enemy got closer) you’d get more of a bonus by switching combat doctrines. However, that has not come to pass, and in the months since its release many players attending competitive matched play events have built lists that are designed to excel in one particular combat doctrine – typically the Devastator Doctrine – to the exclusion of all else, and without any intention of ever progressing through the doctrine sequence. The flexibility of being able to choose when to progress (or not) has ironically led to very inflexible armies, albeit very powerful ones, that dominate the battlefields with an excess of Heavy weaponry throughout the game. We have received plenty of feedback from players on the receiving end of such lists and, after much thought, agree that such armies are currently too powerful. Such armies also do not encourage players to collect the ‘typical’ combined arms force Space Marines are famed for. As a result, we are changing how the Combat Doctrines ability works so that your army must progress through all of the combat doctrines over the course of the battle. You will still start the battle on the Devastator Doctrine, but you will not be able to stay on that doctrine for the duration of the battle and, at the start of the second battle round, you must change to the Tactical Doctrine. We have maintained some modicum of flexibility, in that you can choose to progress to the Assault Doctrine at the start of either the third or fourth battle rounds, but what you can’t do is stay on Tactical for the remainder of the battle. The effects of the combat doctrines themselves remain the same, and all the combat doctrine bonuses found in the various codex supplements remain unchanged.
Errata to Codex: Space Marines (pg 109), Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal (pg 34), Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned (pg 35), Combat Doctrines Replace the Combat Doctrines ability with the following (note that the Devastator Doctrine, Tactical Doctrine and Assault Doctrine remain unchanged):
‘If your army is Battle-forged and if every unit from your army has this ability (excluding Servitor and Unaligned units), this unit gains a bonus (see below) depending on which combat doctrine is active for your army, as follows:
• During the first battle round, the Devastator Doctrine is active for your army.
• During the second battle round, the Tactical Doctrine is active for your army.
• At the start of the third battle round, select either the Tactical Doctrine or Assault Doctrine: until the end of that battle round, the doctrine you selected is active for your army.
• During the fourth and subsequent battle rounds, the Assault Doctrine is active for your army.
Unless specified otherwise, this bonus is not cumulative with any other rules that improve the Armour Penetration characteristic of a weapon (e.g. the Storm of Fire Warlord Trait).’
Given the change to the Combat Doctrines ability, we are also deleting the Adaptive Strategy Stratagem. This Stratagem allowed you to push the combat doctrines ‘back’ by a turn. Though rarely used presently, if a player was forced to move through the combat doctrine progression it would essentially undo what we are trying to achieve with the changes to the Combat Doctrines ability.
Errata to Codex: Space Marines (pg 183), Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal (pg 56), Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned (pg 53) Delete the Adaptive Strategy Stratagem.
This Stratagem can be used to boost the durability of Dreadnoughts to extreme levels, in some cases doubling the amount of damage these ancient warriors can endure. In conjunction with a nearby character such as a Techmarine – who can easily repair any damage incurred – it can create a disheartening experience for your opponent to face, especially if the Dreadnought in question is something as tough to damage in the first place as a Relic Leviathan Dreadnought. We have listened to this feedback and agree that, in its current form, this Stratagem is too powerful. As a result, we have decided to slightly tone down the damage reduction effects of Duty Eternal. We have also taken the opportunity to make sure this Stratagem will no longer combine with other damage reduction rules, such as that afforded by the Iron Hands Relic, ‘the Ironstone’. Note that, where this Stratagem appears in publications other than Codex: Space Marines, the Adeptus Astartes keyword changes depending on the faction the Stratagem relates to. See the FAQ documents for those publications for the exact errata text.
Errata to Codex: Space Marines (pg 180), Psychic Awakening: Blood of Baal (pg 54), Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned (pages 51 & 69) Change this Stratagem to read: ‘Use this Stratagem when an Adeptus Astartes Dreadnought model from your army is chosen as the target for an attack. Until the end of the phase, when resolving an attack made against that model, you can reduce any damage suffered by 1, to a minimum of 1 (this is not cumulative with any other rules that reduce the damage).’
This Iron Hands Stratagem has been used by some players in order to transfer wounds taken by Dreadnought Character models. This was an oversight on our part – the Stratagem is not intended for use on such durable models who, amongst other benefits, already enjoy the protection of being a character with fewer than 9 wounds. Being able to do so creates situations where certain character Dreadnoughts are virtually invulnerable to enemy fire. Furthermore, several questions regarding the exact timing of this Stratagem have also been raised – this errata should also resolve this commonly asked question.
Errata to Codex Supplement: Iron Hands, page 61 Change this Stratagem to read: ‘Use this Stratagem at the start of the Shooting phase. Select one Iron Hands Infantry unit from your army. Until the end of the phase, when a friendly Iron Hands Character model (excluding Vehicle models) within 3″ of that unit would lose any wounds as a result of an attack made against that model, that unit can attempt to intercept that attack. Roll one D6 before any rolls to ignore wounds (e.g. The Flesh is Weak, Adamantine Mantle etc.) are made; on a 2+ that model does not lose those wounds and that unit suffers 1 mortal wound for each of those wounds. Only one attempt can be made to intercept each attack.’
Master of Ambush
A tactic that has come to light in recent events is using the Raven Guard Warlord Trait ‘Master of Ambush’ to position a unit of Assault Centurions extremely close to the enemy front lines, almost guaranteeing a first turn charge. Assault Centurions – warriors in mobile warsuits closer to the stature of a Dreadnought than an infantryman – have been designed and costed with their low speed in mind, but this Warlord Trait essentially overcomes the Centurion’s builtin weakness. We feel this combination is too easy to utilise for its devastating effectiveness. As such, we are preventing Centurions from being able to be so stealthy.
Errata to Codex Supplement: Raven Guard, page 57 Change the first sentence of this Warlord Trait to read: ‘At the start of the first battle round, before the first turn begins, if this Warlord is on the battlefield you can select one other friendly Raven Guard Infantry unit (excluding a Centurion unit) on the battlefield.
I think most people can agree that the Space Marines have been dominant in the game since the release of the new codex and supplements. These new rules are an attempt to address some of these issues, let’s take a look at how they are doing.
This is a huge change for the rules and will have a big effect on a number of armies, most notably, the Iron Hands, who have been using the Devastator doctrine to very good effect.
Space Marines now have the Devastator doctrine in turn 1, the Tactical Doctrine in turn 2, then in turn 3 can choose the Tactical or Assault Doctrine, and the Assault Doctrine from turn 4 onwards. This new rule forces players to move through the Doctrines, so they cannot stick with the most powerful one for their army for most of the game.
This is a big counter to the power of Iron Hands and Imperial Fists armies that were very powerful in the tournament setting. The ability to move and fire heavy weapons without penalty, as well as re-rolling 1’s to hit was a massive boost for the firepower of Iron Hands armies in the game, getting this ability from turn 1 for the whole game made them one of the strongest armies in the game (in combination with a number of other abilities).
Now, you get one turn with the bonus to your firepower, then must move into the Tactical Doctrine. Additionally, the Tactical Doctrine has become slightly less effective for the Raven Guard, as you can only get the bonus for a maximum of two turns.
This actually makes armies that have a doctrine bonus in the Assault Doctrine a bit more powerful, as this is the doctrine you will be using the most in games. Depending on when you switch the doctrine, you have to spend around 50% of a standard game in the assault doctrine, or up to 70% in a seven turn game.
This change will actually have little effect on my White Scars army, as I tended to activate the Assault Doctrine on turn 3 anyway. This means most Marines will be in a similar situation, but the White Scars get the damage bonus that will help them out against other Primaris Marines.
This won’t do much to limit the firepower of the triple Repulsor Iron Hands list, other than having to sit a Captain or Chapter Master next to them to get the re-rolls, if you weren’t doing this already. However, for the flyer list, they will be less effective after turn 1, not getting the re-rolls and suffering the -1 to hit for moving and firing. Equally, Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles will only get a turn of damage 3, increased AP firepower.
This will be a big change, as if you are going second, you can simply try your best to hide your army on the first turn, stopping your opponent from utilising the bonus for their first turn. It will also not do much for artillery-heavy armies on the first turn, as many of these units do not require line of sight to fire, so an army that can smash you with indirect fire on turn 1 will still be able to do so with the bonuses intact.
The other change is that the Adaptive strategy stratagem is now gone, preventing you from reversing the clock on the doctrine changes to keep in line with the new rules.
A big change for this one, is that the damage is reduced by 1 for Dreadnoughts, rather than being halved. In addition, it cannot be combined with other methods that reduce the damage of the attack.
This is a big boost for taking out these vehicles, as you can no longer combine the stratagem and Iron Stone.
High damage weapons, such as the Lascannon and Missile Launcher can now do more damage to these vehicles if you get a good roll on the damage result. In addition, you can no longer reduce the damage on a Thunder Hammer to 1 if used with the Iron Stone, and White Scars in the assault doctrine will still be doing damage 3 on the charge.
This makes dealing with character Dreadnoughts more manageable, as you cannot simply keep buffing them to stop a ton of damage getting through.
This stratagem can be used to pass off wounds on characters onto nearby Iron Hands’ infantry units. It could be exploited to be used on character Dreadnoughts to keep them alive for even longer.
This has been changed that it now only works on Infantry characters. This gives your characters a chance to stay safe from sniper weaponry, but no longer allows Chaplain Dreadnoughts to pass off wounds. It also occurs before any ignore wound saves are made, so you don’t get to do double “Flesh is Weak” saves on both the character and the unit taking the wounds.
With the changes to Duty Eternal, this makes the Chaplain Dreadnoughts much more manageable.
Master of Ambush
This warlord trait no longer works on Centurion models. This stops you from using the trait to move Assault Centurions to the enemy front line, forcing you to either put them in reserve or to march across the battlefield to get into range.
You can still ambush these units using the stratagem to arrive on turn 2, but this gives your opponent more chance to screen out important units and push your ambush deployment backwards on turn 1, rather than being unable to do anything against the units if you get the first turn.
As well as the Raven Guard stratagem, you can still use the White Scars’ Encirclement stratagem to bring the Assault Centurions in from reserve on a board edge.
GW have made some significant changes to how certain Space Marine armies will play in the current meta. I think this will have the biggest influence on Iron Hands armies, which is reasonable, as this was one of the biggest problems in the game at the moment.
As I have said, this isn’t going to have much effect on my White Scars army, but I don’t think anyone was that worried about the White Scars in competitive play. These changes may actually allow you to see more varied use of Chapters on the tabletop, as some of the strongest factions have seen some reduction in power level.
What do you think of the new changes? Do they strike a nice balance, or do they not go far enough?
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!