Space Marine Review – Stratagems

Space Marines got a total of 34 stratagems in the codex, broken into a number of groups. This article will be focusing on each strat, and rating it by usability. For more awesome tactical content, check out the Tactics Corner!

The stratagems in the New 9th ed Space Marine Codex have been broken down into 5 categories. As of right now, these categories have little bearing on the game, but it does make remembering and finding them much easier. They are also color codded which I find quite helpful. The categories are as follows

  • 7 BATTLE TACTIC stratagems. These tend to be generalized boosts you can use on a few different units. 
  • 6 EPIC DEED strats. These tend to be for characters or other centerpiece models
  • 2 REQUISITION stratagems. These are pre game strats (and it is very nice having them grouped as such)
  • 9 STRATEGIC PLAY strats. These are more specific battlefield tactics that could be considered a signature of a particular unit. 
  • 9 WARGEAR stratagems. These are keyed off a unit having the correct wargear to utilize the strat.  

This is a very well organized, and even characterful way to present the stratagems. The flow makes sense, and it feels appropriate. Lets take a look through each of these then.

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.

Battle Tactics

  • 1 CP – Death to the Traitors – We start out with one of the weakest in the codex. This strat allows you to re roll hit rolls when a unit is fighting in Close Combat (CC) vs a Hereticus Astartes unit. It is decent enough, especially at only 1 CP, but by it’s very nature, this is Situational
  • 2 CP – Honor the Chapter – A fan favorite returns, and cheaper too, but that is for a reason. This strat now only effects Assault Intercessors (both the troops and the Elite Veteran ones). That unit may fight twice. Assault Ints are quite solid, capable of putting out a goodly number of attacks. Being able to fight twice with them is very good. This has definitely come down in power from previously, but that may not be such a bad thing. With good Chapter Tactics, such as White Scars, this can do a lot of damage. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Fury of the First – This allows a Space Marine (SM) unit to be selected when it is chosen to shoot or fight, and gives all Terminator models in that unit +1 to hit. With the rise in Terminator viability, this adds some nice increase in damage for them, and at a fairly cheap price. I am not sure the bonus to shooting will often be worth it, but the close combat certainly can be. Efficient
  • 1 or 2 CP – Transhuman Physiology – Another one returning, many people are familiar with it. Now a Primaris only strat, it states that the models in a unit may not be wounded on any natural roll of a 1-3. The split cost is for 5 man or less, vs 6+ in a unit. This strat is just as good as it has always been, although leaving the First Born Marines behind seems a tad sad. Competitive
  • 2 CP – Rapid Fire – This one is going to get FAQ’d. Used at the end of the shooting phase, it allows a unit of intercessors to shoot again. On Normal or Assault intercessors, this is fine. It is good, great even. But not too broken. I expect to see 10 Stalker Bolt Rifles opening up, especially when combined with Steady Advance. The fact you get to do this at the end of the shooting phase is very nice as well, as you can wait to see if you need to, or try and pick up what enemy unit just barely survived. Expect this one to be used a lot. Competitive
  •  1 CP – Gene Wrought Might – This is one of the few strats that is identical to its 8th ed iteration. It allows a Primaris unit to, on a natural roll of a 6 to hit in CC, auto wound. Any exploding abilities do not have this conferred to any extra hits. This is a rather niche case, where you have a unit that can put out a ton of attacks, but is not sure how well it can wound. Typically punching something that is T5 and above. It can certainly help with that, but it is not needed all that often in my experience. Situational (NOTE: Comment by NinetyNineNo below breaks out some of the math on this Strat. While I still think it situational, I do believe they make a solid argument for when that situation is)
  • 1 CP – Unyielding in the Face of the Foe – Use this strat when a Gravis X unit is selected as the target of attacks. Until the end of the phase, when hit by a 1 damage weapon, increase the armor save by 1. This effectively gives units like Eradicators and Heavy Intercessors a 2+ in the open. With how popular both of those units are, expect this to pop up a good bit. Efficient

Epic Deeds

  • 2 CP – Only in Death does Duty End – Almost exactly the same as before, this fight on Character death is just as powerful as ever. The difference is now, it can only be used if your character has not already fought. It means that your  beat stick characters, they will always get at least one round of damage in, provided they make it to combat.  Efficient
  • 1 CP – Armor of Contempt – Another familiar one, providing a Vehicle a 5+++ against mortal wounds for a phase. Viability of this will entirely depend on the match up, and what vehicle you are trying to save. Efficient
  • 2 CP – Power of the Machine Spirit – This strat allows a Vehicle to count as being at full wounds for the purposes of it’s degrading chart. Seeing as you activate it in your command phase, and it continues till the start of your next phase, it can be a very nice last hurrah for a damaged vehicle, some of which get quite slow on their bottom bracket (looking at you Repulsor with your 3″ movement…). Efficient
  • 1 CP – Wisdom of the Ancients – The dreadnought Captain strat is back but improved! Now, you can pick to either have a Captain buff, or a Lieutenant one. Considering the Dreadnoughts are CORE, means they have more incentive to be included in lists, and can benefit from their own buff, I think this may very well see some play in 9th ed. Efficient
  • 2 CP – Commanding Oratory – This strat is used in any of your phases, other than command, selecting one Chaplain that has not yet recited a Litany. They get to auto  recite a litany not already recited this turn. No rolling for it, it just passes. This allows Chaplin to come in out of reserve and shout, or disembark from a transport.  Removing the variability and making it an auto pass is very powerful, and allows generals to build strategies around it that they know they can rely on.  As a Master of Sanctity, this strat becomes 1 CP too. Competitive
  • 1 CP – Combat Revival – The Apothecary Strat. Remember, as a Chief Apothecary this strat becomes free. Used at the end of the movement phase, you may revive a single Infantry or Bike model back to full wounds. This is powerful. No rolling. No chance to fail. Spend CP, here is your model back. This is very good, and I expect a lot of armies to run Chief Apothecaries just for this. Competitive

Requisitions

  • 1 CP – Relic of the Chapter – The typical 1 CP for one relic strat. It does not increase in cost, but it is limited now in uses based on the size of the game. One use at Patrol or Incursion (500 and 1k games respectively), twice at Strike Force (2k games) and three times at Onslaught (3k games) level games. Combined with the one free Relic , this gives you 3 Relics in a 2k game. SM have a ton of relics to choose from, and will often have little problem using this strat on a few of them. Competitive.
  • 1 CP – Hero of the Chapter – This one is much like the Relic one above, but now War Lord (WL) traits. It follows the same restrictions. This is quite nice, as you can now have three different WL traits. You may not use this to double up on WL traits on one model, nor may you give the same trait out. Between this and may supplements allowing a second trait on your actual WL, you can get access to 4 different traits. Competitive

Strategic Ploys

  • 1 CP – Hit-and-Run Warfare – Used when a BikeLand Speeder, or Storm Speeder unit falls back, allowing it to Shoot and charge. Not as exciting on the Speeders, but Outriders and Dark Angels are quite excited by this one. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Hammer of Wrath – Used when a Jump Pack unit finishes a charge move. Roll a d6 for every model that charged and is within engagement range. For every roll that equals or exceeds the units Toughness, the unit suffers a mortal wound. There are not a lot of big Jump units that most armies (Although BA players may want this in their back pocket) want to take, but even on a 5 man unit picking up an extra 2-3 mortals can be quite useful in the right circumstances. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Skilled Riders – Use on a BikeLand Speeder, or Storm Speeder unit that advanced and when chosen as the target of a shooting attack. That unit is -1 to be hit. Most armies will not be advancing their shooting units, but White Scars, Raven Guard using Swift and Deadly, and Dark Angles (who sadly lost Speed of the Raven) may see use in this. Efficient
  • 2 CP – Uncompromising Fire – Used in the shooting phase, this allows an Infantry unit to shoot while performing an action. This opens up so much flexibility for units. It makes taking something like the Banners secondary very strong. Competitive
  • 2 CP – Steady Advance – Used after an Infantry model makes a Normal move. That unit counts as having remained stationary until the end of the turn. This is a beautiful strat, letting a lot of heavy units (Heavy ints, Eradicators, Eliminators, Devestators, Hellblasters, Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles). This is also an amazing strat for Dark Angels, who pick up +1 to shoot when they count as being stationary. This is one that can be quite powerful when built around. Efficient
  • 2 CP – Adaptive Strategy – So long as one of your warlords is on the table, and a doctrine is active, you may use this. Select a single Core unit in your Command Phase, and that unit counts as being in every doctrine for the rest of your turn. This is very good. From turn 1 Assault doctrine on Blood Angels and Space wolves to Turn 4 Imperial Fists Devastator Doctrine. Every chapter can find a use for this, and it allows a beautiful amount of flexibility. Competitive
  • 1 CP Suppression Fire – When choosing a Whirlwind to shoot with, and while using using the blast profile, you may utilize this strat. If the attack hits, then the unit hit may not fire overwatch, set to defend, and may not be selected as the to fight until all other eligible units have done so. I can certainly see a use for this, but it is rather niche. Being able to target a unit means it is not locked in CC. As such, charging it means you will typically fight first anyways. Seeing as firing overwatch is now a CP cost, the threat of overwatch is significantly less. Of course, this could be better against Tau… but the poor Xenos really don’t need any more licks while they are down.  Situational
  • 2 CP – Terror Troops – Select one Reiver unit in your command phase. It gains two abilities. The second, and less powerful is that it can shut off enemy units trying to do actions by surpassing their LD on a 3d6, while moving within 3″ of them. It is worth remembering that Reiver units will also be subtracting 2 from enemy units LD at this range as well. The first part of the abilities granted by the strat is that it can turn of Obj secured and other such abilities whilst within 3″. This is a pretty good strat, all things considered. The issue arises, that Reiver units themselves are quite lack luster. Their Combat Knifes are basically old Chainswords. They have lost the exploding hits, and have no innate AP. Considering that a unit of 5 of these is only 5 points cheaper than a unit of Assault Intercessors, I do not see many a time to choose a Reiver Squad. While you could also choose a LT in Reiver Armour, the weapons available are likewise lack luster. This is a good strat strangled by being on bad units. Situational
  • 1 CP – Guerrilla Tactics –  When a Phobos unit that is more than 6″ away from enemy units and selected to move, you may use this strat. The unit may be placed into Strategic Reserve. This strat is a very interesting one. It allows a Phobos character to reposition, or a unit of Eliminators, Infiltrators or Incursors. Anything that give you more movement options is very good. Especially on these units which, excepting the LT, can use Concealed Positions to deploy up the field and then use this Strat to reposition. Efficient
  • 3 CP – Orbital Bombardment – Same name, same cost, different rules as from 8th. Use this in the Command Phase whilst a Warlord is on the field. Pick a point on the battlefield, and place a marker. In your next command phase roll a die each unit, friend or foe, within 6″ of it, adding 1 if the unit is within 3″. On a roll of a 2-5, the unit suffers d3 mortals, and on a 6+, it suffers d6. This is quite an interesting strat… It has potential to do a fair amount of damage, especially against castle style armies. That being said, most armies in 9th need to not castle but rather advance to take objectives. It could be used on an enemy home objective and try to force a unit off, or against a point highly contested. The high cost of this start makes it rather prohibitive, but I do see a number of times it could be quite handy. Efficient

Wargear

  • 2 CP – Auspex Scan – Similar to the previous iteration of this strat, it allows you to shoot at an enemy unit that arrives from reserves within 12″. This now allows the unit to shoot at full ballistic skill. Depending on the unit using it, and depending on what is coming in, this can be quite useful. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Tremor Shells – Used when a Thunderfire Cannon is selected to shoot. The Thunderfire is subsequently -1 to wound. If it scores a hit on a unit that does not have fly and is a non-titanic unit, that unit is -2″ to advance and charge moves, and has a halved movement profile. This is a pretty nice strat, restricting the movement of other units. It can certainly shut down some enemy Melee units. The issue, like with the Terror Troops strat, is that the unit itself which the strat is used on, is sub par now. Thunderfire Cannons have taken a bit of a hit and have lost their double shoot strat. As such, if you take a Thunderfire, it is quite useful, but very few would take a Thunderfire just for this strat. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Shock and Awe – When a Land Speeder Storm or a unit with the Shock Grenade keyword (Reiver or LT in Reiver armor) is chosen to shoot. Select an enemy unit within 6″. That unit may not fire overwatch nor set to defend. It also must subtract one to its hit rolls until the start of your next turn. This is another decent strat that is hamstrung by poor units. Situational
  • 1 CP – Assault Launchers – Select a unit with the Adeptus Astartes Assault Launchers keyword (Ironclad Dreadnought and Centurion Assault Squads), and at the start of the charge phase, select an enemy unit within 9″. That unit may choose to either Duck and Cover (can not overwatch, set to defend, and is -1 to it attacks), or it may brace (suffer d3 mortal wounds). It is interesting to note the Duck and Cover option is a straight -1 to attacks, not to a minimum of one. This means, as currently written, you could completely shut down a unit if the models only have one attack each. This very well may get an FAQ, but as it stands is quite good. While the Cent Assault squads have taken a bit of a down grade (and quite rightly so), and Ironclad with launchers is only 140 points and rather tempting having CORE and Duty Eternal. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Melta Bomb – Used in the Fight Phase, a unit with the Melta Bomb keyword (Tactical Squads, Vanguard and Assault Squads) may have one model make a single attack against a Vehicle. If that attack hits, it does 2d3 mortals. This is a very nice strat to have and gives some basic 1st gen marines some bite against vehicles. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Grav Pulse – You may use this strat in one of two phases, either your movement or the opponents charge phase. In your movement, you may use it to fall back and shoot. In the opponents charge phase, it may be used subtract 2 from the charge roll. This is usable on any unit with a Repulsor Field (Both variants of repulsors, impulsor and the new Gladiators tanks). Especially the fall back variant of the strat, it gives quite a bit of flexibility to these tanks. With the ability to pick up a 5++ from a nearby librarian, and a decent shooting platform, there can certainly be some play for this. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Hellfire Shells – When an infantry unit fires a Heavy Bolter (including the different Heavy Bolter variants), it may make a single attack. If it hits, it does d3 mortal wounds. If the target is a Monster, it does a flat 3 mortals. This is quite solid, and picking up mortals from any source is always good. Considering that Heavy Bolters have gotten a significant increase in damage output, it makes it quite nice to have this in your back pocket. Competitive
  • 1 CP – Flakk Missile – Use when an Infantry model fires a Missile Launcher at an Aircraft. You may only make one attack, but may add 1 to the hit roll. If it hits, the target takes 2d3 mortals. While this is no longer any unit that can fly, but only Aircraft, it still has some play. I personally like the Missile Launcher as I like the flexibility it offers. There are a number of Aircraft that are rather good and may see some use. Having this strat can be quite handy, but as for now, I do not believe a lot of armies are running a lot of Aircraft. Efficient
  • 1 CP – Smokescreen – Used when a Smokescreen unit (Infiltrator, Incursor, Scouts, Scout Bikes, Supproessor, and non-primaris vehicles)is chosen as a target of a shooting attack. Ranged attacks against that unit are -1 to hit until the end of the shooting phase. This offers a fair bit of flexibility to units, especially dreadnoughts, which have picked up a lot of small buffs. Efficient 

If this is the direction GW will be moving all strats I am quite pleased. The strats are mostly all useful, but few are overpowered or broken. A couple need some clarification, but they give a lot a play to the army.

Next time we will be looking over the Warlord traits, and Relics

Thanks for reading, and happy Wargaming!

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

secondhandhsop

13 Responses to “Space Marine Review – Stratagems”

  1. Avatar
    CThoss October 19, 2020 10:11 am #

    Only in death does duty end is NOT identical to its previous version, as characters who have already attacked that turn may not fight again with the stratagem. Which makes it significantly weaker.

  2. Avatar
    Zweischneid October 19, 2020 10:20 am #

    “2 CP – Only in Death does Duty End – Exactly the same as before, this fight on Character death is just as powerful as ever. With certain beat stick characters, it is down right brutal.”

    Uh. Might wanna read the new wording again 😉

  3. Avatar
    NinetyNineNo October 19, 2020 10:55 am #

    I think Gene-wrought Might gets a bit of a bad rap. Once you run the numbers it gets more enticing — on WS3+ models, it’s roughly equivalent to a flat +1 to wound, which as BA can tell you is pretty great (and can combo with it). The math is a bit weird since it gets worse the better your to hit and to wound are but in most situations it’s a cheap and effective buff, and damn near every Marine unit is at worst competent in melee.

    Also, a note on Only in Death — it picked up a subtle nerf in that now it can only be used if the target hasn’t fought yet. So if a character gets one-shot on the charge he can still get his licks in before biting the dust, but no longer can you charge a smash captain into a knight, take half its wounds, then get pasted in return and deal the other half as he dies.

    • Faitherun
      Faitherun October 19, 2020 2:12 pm #

      I’d be interested to see the math on Gene-Wrought. From personal experience, I have typically only found it worthwhile on T5+ units.

      • Avatar
        NinetyNineNo October 20, 2020 5:30 am #

        Sure thing. To illustrate, I like thinking of the hit and wound rolls averaged over 36 attacks, because it makes for clean and easy to compare numbers. So, for example, if you’re hitting on 3s (like most things Marine) and wounding on 4s you’ll make 12 successful wounds out of 36 (24 hits, 12 wounds). With a +1 to wound, you’ll wound 16 times.

        Enter GWM. 6s automatically wound, so you take those out of the equation, leaving you with 18 normal hits out of 36. Wounding on 4s that’s 9 wounds, add those 6 autowounds and you end up with 15 wounds — almost identical to the effect for +1 to wound. If your to-wound is worse, the effect gets better. So for instance, all of these hitting on 3s and over 36 attacks:

        – Wounding on 3s: 16 wounds (normal), 20 wounds (+1tw), 18 wounds (GWM)
        – Wounding on 4s: 12 wounds (normal), 16 wounds (+1tw), 15 wounds (GWM)
        – Wounding on 5s: 8 wounds (normal), 12 wounds (+1tw), 12 wounds (GWM)
        – Wounding on 6s: 4 wounds (normal), 8 wounds (+1tw), 9 wounds (GWM)

        So as you can see, even wounding on 4s the effect is worth it (though you’re right that it really kicks in on 5+s). Slightly better than +1 to wound when wounding on 6s (though by then it’s a hail Mary), equal on 5+s, slightly worse otherwise. The effect gets slightly better when hitting on 4s (a bigger proportion of your successful hits will be 6s) and worse on 2s, but the overall gist is the same. Basically the weaker and less accurate you are, the bigger the benefit.

        (Apologies for the formatting, I don’t think this site supports markdown or the like.)

      • Avatar
        NinetyNineNo October 20, 2020 5:32 am #

        I have a whole thing typed out, but the site won’t save my comments. Is there a character limit?

  4. Faitherun
    Faitherun October 19, 2020 11:22 am #

    Ah, you are indeed correct. Thank you

  5. Avatar
    NinetyNineNo October 20, 2020 5:31 am #

    Sure thing. To illustrate, I like thinking of the hit and wound rolls averaged over 36 attacks, because it makes for clean and easy to compare numbers. So, for example, if you’re hitting on 3s (like most things Marine) and wounding on 4s you’ll make 12 successful wounds out of 36 (24 hits, 12 wounds). With a +1 to wound, you’ll wound 16 times.

    Enter GWM. 6s automatically wound, so you take those out of the equation, leaving you with 18 normal hits out of 36. Wounding on 4s that’s 9 wounds, add those 6 autowounds and you end up with 15 wounds — almost identical to the effect for +1 to wound. If your to-wound is worse, the effect gets better. So for instance, all of these hitting on 3s and over 36 attacks:

    – Wounding on 3s: 16 wounds (normal), 20 wounds (+1tw), 18 wounds (GWM)
    – Wounding on 4s: 12 wounds (normal), 16 wounds (+1tw), 15 wounds (GWM)
    – Wounding on 5s: 8 wounds (normal), 12 wounds (+1tw), 12 wounds (GWM)
    – Wounding on 6s: 4 wounds (normal), 8 wounds (+1tw), 9 wounds (GWM)

    So as you can see, even wounding on 4s the effect is worth it (though you’re right that it really kicks in on 5+s). Slightly better than +1 to wound when wounding on 6s (though by then it’s a hail Mary), equal on 5+s, slightly worse otherwise. The effect gets slightly better when hitting on 4s (a bigger proportion of your successful hits will be 6s) and worse on 2s, but the overall gist is the same. Basically the weaker and less accurate you are, the bigger the benefit.

    (Apologies for the formatting, I don’t think this site supports markdown or the like. Also the site seems to be glitching out and won’t let me comment, hope this one goes through.)

    • Faitherun
      Faitherun October 20, 2020 6:54 am #

      Ah, I like that analysis, mind if I reference it in the start in the article?

      • Avatar
        NinetyNineNo October 20, 2020 9:57 am #

        Be my guest! I feel I might make a proper table or two for clarity, though.

    • Avatar
      NinetyNineNo October 20, 2020 7:47 am #

      And now it got double posted. Oh well, site admins feel free to delete this one.

  6. Avatar
    Kitani October 20, 2020 6:18 am #

    Stratagems got a but of a tone down, which is good. Maybe other factions will enjoy having better strats for once, before their codexes come out.

    • Faitherun
      Faitherun October 20, 2020 6:55 am #

      They definitely did. They feel to me more useful, but less powerful. There are a lot of things you *can* do, but they won’t turn the game as much now. As I said, I really like this direction and would love to see the trend continued in the other books. Sadly, I don’t have the Crons Dex to compare though…

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