So a while ago myself and Shadowstalker Grim started on Codex Space Marines 101, a guide intended on telling the basics of the Space Marine army, allowing new comers and veterans alike to have a quick look through what our army has to offer. I intended this to be used in conjunction with Shadowstalker Grim's Enemies 101 article, which can be found here: Enemies 101. I hope you find them informative and instructive.
PLEASE NOTE, THIS TACTICA WAS MADE WITH AN EARLIER EDITION IN MIND. THAT EDITION IS NOW PASSED, SO NOT EVERYTHING IN THIS TACTICA WILL NECESSARILY APPLY. REGARDLESS, SOME ASPECTS OF IT MAY STILL HOLD RELEVANCE. READ AT YOUR OWN ACCORD
Codex: Space Marines 101
'SPACE MARINES ARE A SHOOTY BASED GENERALIST ARMY' Bartali
[The Low Down]
[The weaknesses of the Marine]
[The strengths of a Marine]
['Your game or mine?']
[Making the most of mobility]
[How much is too much?]
[Master of the Forge]
[Legion of the Damned]
[Land Speeder Storm]
[Land Raider Crusader]
[Land Raider Redeemer]
[Weapons of the Astartes]
[Building an Army]
[The low down]
An army of any kind uses several things:
HQ: Usually your toughest close combat fighter and best leader in your army, it’ll usually be accompanied by the armies’ best and be a real threat to anything on the field. The HQ will pack a range of gear to use in a variety of different situations and armies.
The best your army can offer, whether it be better shooters or better close combat fighters. This unit will pack the ability to really kill of enemy troops fast and will likely be dangerous to the rank and file units.
Your rank and file, generally you’ll task them with something at the start of the match, they pack anti infantry weapons with their guns and can in some cases fight effectively in close combat. These guys are your scoring units and so need some protection, but will also be most likely your most numerous bodies. Guard them, but don’t be shy to use them for their offensive abilities.
It’s all in the name. These units move faster than regular troops and fill a variety of roles but you can bet these units will be best used to sneak around and move fast through enemy lines and can be a real problem due to the fact they can rapidly respond across the battlefield against your opponents.
Again fairly obvious. These units will be your big guns, generally blowing things apart with large guns from a range they offer support in a more static way. They spend their time shooting and not moving, helping your advance with heavy fire and quite often being a tough vehicle. These units can be a real problem for the enemy if used right.
Ok so let’s look at the basic Marine:
WS 4 BS 4 S 4 T 4 W 1 I 4 A 1 Ld 8 Sv 3+
Now at an Ork Boy:
WS 4 BS 2 S 3 T 4 W 1 I 2 A2 Ld 7 Sv 6+
And a Tau Shas’la:
WS 2 BS 3 S 3 T 3 W 1 I 2 A1 Ld 7 Sv 4+
Now why have I compared these? Well the Ork is a numerically superior close combat army, whereas the Tau is a decent shooting army. The Marine tends to have a better profile than either of these armies, a better shooter and a reasonable fighter, but most of all that 3+ save which is something that commands respect in the world of 40k. Marines pay for this by being numerically inferior in many battles, fielding very small numbers of units overall, but generally each one is a capable warrior whose armour makes them much more survivable.
[The weaknesses of the Marine]
So where do our capable Marines fall down? Ok so they have a good basic troop profile, so what? Generally they are fielded in far smaller numbers than any other army. So the enemy will almost always have two or more troops for every single one you field, which immediately stacks the odds against you. The next problem, marines are generalists, we do a lot well but nothing great, if we focussed on one thing another army would do it better. Then most other armies have a strong focus, Orks will fight you in close combat most of the time and though they pack a terrible shooting skill and poor armour save, they have numbers, both in attack and in number of models whereas Tau would out shoot you with better guns and more numbers. Trying to fight in close combat against numerically superior close combat focussed armies is suicide, trying to outshoot a better shooting army is suicide. We also have some of the most costly troops around to field. So yes that about sums it up, we can’t compete against an army with a prebuilt ideal as we’re already generalists and don’t have the numbers to spare, but in that lies one of our strengths too.
[The strengths of a Marine]
An army isn’t made of up one focus, so what is it that Marines can rely on overall? Marines have a good overall profile and a very respectable set of armour on all their basic troopers. This makes them a reliable unit on the battlefield and easily able to do what the situation requires, whether it is stand and shoot or fight in close combat. The general Tactical squad is a decent squad and can pack lots of gear for lots of scenarios and has special rules which make it very reliable. After all most Marines in your army will have a similar profile, what separates most of them is their wargear and position in the force organisation slot.
We have a good range of units too, some of which aren’t generalists either. For instance an Assault Marine is a better close combat fighter and Devastators are more static shooting Marines. We can use different tools for different jobs which make Marines highly useful, though we can use the same unit for different jobs too making Marines highly flexible.
Generally the basic Tactical squad means you can’t go far wrong, the Sergeant has one more attack and better leadership, making him better in assault than regular troops and improving the overall squad, it also packs a flamer which is good anti infantry and a missile launcher for anti-tank (but can also blow apart squads). Overall a good mix, but you won’t want every squad being generalist; you want to diversify a little so that other squads can do other things. After all each squad packs 8 regular boltguns which can wither enemy infantry how much do you need? A plasma gun can work well against tougher troops, a meltagun can work well on enemy tanks, a heavy bolter is good anti infantry and a multi-melta is even better against tanks, the Sergeant can be given more effective combat gear too.
Marines have innumerable tactics, simply put. We have a huge number of units do different things. So I’ll break this down into something more simplistic: ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. I break that into, anti-infantry, anti-tank and anti-elite. Marines can do anything, we can specialise in something (using many CC units or shooting units) and against armies that are weak to it may mean a strong capitalisation, but it will suffer heavily against units which are tough against it (assaulting an army that specialises in assault as a focus for example). Marines overall are designed to work together and do a bit of everything. A very useful rule I heard was ‘shoot the choppy ones and chop the shooty ones’ effectively meaning whatever the enemy does best, do the opposite. Fighting scary close combat fighters? Shoot them. Fighting volleys of tough fire? Fight them in close combat. Generally a Marine’s profile will help it do the opposite against the enemy.
The best thing to know is build your army round a solid core of troops, and then tool them up how you like but keep in mind they won’t do as well as other sections in your army, and then fill the rest with units that complement each other. For instance your basic troops are decent, but you may want a tougher unit such as
Terminators to inflict some better close combat than your rank and file troops, or you may want something like a Predator to aid your advance with its big guns.
Redundancy is also a big issue, if you have one good anti-tank unit and it gets wiped out, what are you going to do against enemy tanks? Taking two or three anti-tank units is better and also helps target saturation (the art of giving the enemy so much to shoot at the end up doing nothing useful). Also keep units working together, sending an Assault squad off into enemy territory alone and unsupported is risky and likely to leave it shot down to a weak number and unable to do much at all, using a Tactical squad to support said Assault squad means that you can provide steady fire support and give the enemy more to shoot at giving the Assault squad a better run at the enemy.
[‘Your game or mine?’]
Whatever enemy you face, they are likely to have a strategy for fighting you. If it is a close combat oriented enemy you can expect them to run up to chop you, if you fight a shooty army you can expect them to shoot at you a lot. You aren’t going to win many battles getting into close combat with enemy close combat armies nor are you going to win protracted shoot outs against shooty armies, then that would be playing their game. To win you have to deny enemies their strengths. For instance, Tau can be shooting my army and I could shoot back, but I’ll speed to their front lines and since my Marines fight better in combat than those pansies I can simply assault them and very likely I can win. Balanced enemies are harder and you’ll need to identify key points in their armies to bring them down. Think about this when building your army, does it depend on certain units too much?
[Making the most of mobility]
Whatever units you field, you need them to be mobile. Every element of your army needs to move at more or less the same speed to keep coherency. For instance if you use assault troops that move faster than your support troops you can quickly find the assault troops cut off and in trouble and your support won’t be of much use. Therefore it is vital that squads can be mobilised efficiently (vehicles move at their own speed so you cannot do much about that). Yes Marines can run but this generally isn’t something you want to be doing unless you have to, a better solution is to give every unit something to make them move faster. This means giving units a transport or giving them jetpacks if they have the option, or making use of rules that deploy them further in the field. The options we have are simple: Rhino, Razorback, Drop Pod, Land Raider. These 4 units are what your units will use to move around the field of battle. The Rhino is pretty good, a decent armoured box that can speed your units into place and has room for your 10 man teams whatever they may be. The Razorback has only 6 spaces (making it poor to transport full squads) but for small units such as combat squads or Command squads it is ideal, adding a large gun to the field. The Drop Pod lands your unit in right where it needs to be, but it is going to be walking after that, the Drop Pod therefore is not good for squads that need to relocate but it can help with many aspects of good deployment and even help out in the battle. The Land Raider is a terrifying thing; firstly it has the best all round armour you can get on a vehicle which makes the thing pretty darn safe from most weapons. Next it packs a fierce armoury and is a dangerous tank in its own right, which helps the fact that it can be used for more than just transporting. On top of all that it can transport Terminators who cannot ride in any other vehicle and allows troops to assault out of it which makes it great for taking in your tough close combat troops such as Assault Terminators and getting them right where they need to be. The only problem with this mobile fort is the points. A rhino is 35 and a Land Raider is 250.
Generally your troops will be safe in Rhinos, but do not rely on the Rhino to survive. Any reasonable anti-tank weapon or concentrated fire will most likely bring down your unit, a Land Raider is better for those units that absolutely must survive because it gives it the best chance.
[How much is too much?]
Every single thing you field in the game can be destroyed. From the lowliest Scout to the mighty Land Raider, it can all be killed off. Not nice to hear, but bear it in mind when making army lists. I say that because it is easy to look at a unit and think ‘Wow all those options can make a super killing unit of doom!’ such as the Vanguard Veterans: 10 men with jump packs, plasma pistols, a relic blade, a thunder hammer and power swords for the rest adds up to 655 points. This unit will probably kill anything it assaults. However if anyone were to shoot and kill said marines you would quickly find that each marine is a huge loss of around 60 points a Marine! Three marines is then one whole 10 man tactical squad! But if you were to tone down that squad with less men and less gear it would be a whole lot cheaper and still a threat to enemies. Equally that Land Raider you spent 250 on with extra weapons and armour may still die, wasting 250+ points, be considerate when spending.
The best trick I use is look at a unit and try to make it effective in reflection to other units. For instance Assault Terminators are 200 points for 5 men (and these are probably our toughest CC troops when given thunder hammers and storm shields) and my basic 10 man tactical squad troops are 170. Even a geared up tactical only comes to just over 200 points. Therefore 200 points is a good benchmark, try and keep troops below this marker if possible and especially if it’s less than 10 men. This way if the unit dies or underperforms, it is only a small section of your army that doesn’t do so well. Eg Command squad: Give it a small amount of gear and keep them cheap, they’ll do quite well in assault or at shooting and although they can’t face down tougher squads, you can whittle those down with your own support elements.
That said a unit such as 10 Terminators with 2 cyclone missile launchers and 2 chainfists on foot can really make its impact felt and will draw a lot of fire at 470 points for the unit. But it threatens everything on the field and can be quite hard to shift perhaps allowing the rest of your army to go unhindered.
Your army will need to split up each unit into being able to do different things. For instance an Assault squad will be tasked with assaulting enemy infantry and a Rhino will be tasked with transporting. The jobs should look something like this roughly:
Units can do multiples, for instance a Tactical squad with their bolters are already anti-infantry, with a multi-melta and a power fist they can become anti-tank too. Generally your whole army should be able to hit all categories and with more than 1 unit. This will help you see if you have a key weakness, for instance if you had only one anti-tank unit you may want to rethink how to deal with enemy tanks and add more choices in. You can also pick this apart some more, for instance: Heavy anti-tank, medium anti-tank and light anti-tank. Then give units a way of dealing with big weapons and make sure that smaller ones aim for lighter armour, for instance shooting a missile launcher at a Land Raider won’t get you far, but shooting it at a Rhino might well kill it off, equally that multi-melta attack bike will probably destroy that Rhino, but that Vindicator is much more of a threat.
Target priority is probably the most difficult thing in the whole game, especially if you don’t know much about enemy units. The enemy will most likely have units that do more or less the same as you no matter the army. For instance you can expect that every army will have a way to deal with your own tanks and their own form of transportation, even if it is a little different. The question is what to shoot at?
Generally your units should have a task at hand and applying them to that task is the best thing to do straight off the bat. Identifying key units in the enemy army is essential, that way you can see how best to take them apart. The enemy may have key weak points such as small scoring units, which means if you remove them you make life much easier for your own scoring troops and if the enemy is relying heavily on a certain anti-tank unit to get rid of your vehicles removing it gives your vehicles an easier time. One of the best things to do is remove mobility from armies you can, so shoot apart their transports (particularly if it’s an assault unit, so you can shoot it to bits before it reaches you!) If your own troops can use transports and the enemy is walking you’ll have much stronger control of the battlefield. This is effectively an extension of the above section, try to deny the enemy their most effective units by killing them and make sure yours don’t fall into the path of something that will outright butcher them (Marines get slaughtered by power weapons for instance).
This really deserves its own section because special characters can change the whole of an army with what they bring to the table, heck that’s why you bring some of them to the table in the first place! Special characters tend to be HQs (though not all of them are) and so are around 170+ points. This isn’t a cheap price tag, but your own HQ will probably cost a fair bit normally anyway so it’s not so bad.
Marneus Calgar, Lord of Macragge: 265 points – A walking titan, as far as stuff goes Calgar is packing a fearsome set of gear which he can rip opponents apart with in close quarters with and afar, is tough to kill, packs up to three Honour Guard and an Orbital Bombardment. But it is his special rule to allow squads to fail morale tests or win them which powerful as it means troops can escape nasty combats and run far enough to whittle down enemies with their guns or remain in fights they are winning. He costs as much as a land raider because he’ll be very hard to put down without real effort and with just a Tactical squad supporting him he’ll probably dominate whatever side of the battle he’s in.
Captain Cato Sicarius: 200 points – Sicarius makes Tactical squads all the better because they are all leadership 10 with him! He also allows 1 Tactical squad to get a special rule from a variety and allows you to reroll to seize the initiative. Combined with artificial armour that allows feel no pain, a plasma pistol and his power weapon he’s no slouch in combat and can even attempt a special one hit kill with his sword.
Chief Librarian Tigurius: 230 points – A very costly character, especially since he only has two wounds, you can find this chap dying in battle quickly. His usefulness comes from his vast array of powers and used well can utterly devastate things on the battlefield; however this requires a little more finesse. He is very fragile as a leader for such a price tag and if used, should be used carefully.
Chaplain Cassius: 125 points – An absolute steal at 125 points, Cassius is a Chaplain that packs great shooting with his hellfire rounds and a flamer which can help close combat where chaplains belong. He also has feel no pain making him tougher to kill. His only downside is that he moves on foot which means he can’t join jump infantry, oh well, he’s still amazing.
Chapter Master Pedro Kantor: 175 points – A character used more for his special chapter rules than his combat profile, Kantor lets you take Sternguard as scoring units. Sternguard themselves are an expensive unit and a very strong unit on the field, with good close combat and an excellent bolter they become even better with Kantor and can take over from Tactical squads so you could field small scout units instead as mandatory troops and leave the Sternguard to cover the objectives! Kantor himself packs a power fist (so he’s a bit slow in close combat himself) and a unique storm bolter. But he also has an attack aura that adds +1 attack to units nearby which means that he can really help units become even more dangerous in close combat. Remember, that as a Son of Dorn he gives Stubborn to the entire army in exchange for Combat Tactics. He also packs Orbital Bombardment and Honour Guard options because he’s a Chapter Master, not too shabby at all!
Captain Darnath Lysander: 200 points – For 65 points less than Calgar and almost as tough in a fight, Lysander is a nasty HQ for any enemy to face. He doesn’t bring great special rules to the table, but he is so survivable that he’ll probably flatten anything he walks into at least eventually without much damage in return. He brings Bolter Drill which is good if he’s with units that use a bolter of some kind and makes your army Stubborn. He’s not a bad HQ for 200 points and is certainly very tough; he does lose you Combat Tactics though.
Shadow Captain Kayvaan Shrike: 195 points – Equipped with twin master crafted lightning claws that have rending, Shrike will make mincemeat out of most infantry units and with his jump pack does it speedily. He’s best used to plug in with other jump pack units such as Assault Marines and Vanguard but brings to the table some good special rules, Shrike and his squad gain from infiltrating, plus allows the rest of the army to move with the fleet special rule at the cost of Combat Tactics, so Marines can now move faster on foot!
Forgefather Vulkan He’stan: 190 points – A decent close combat assailant, this character is best for his special rule. It twin links all melta and flamer weaponry and master crafts thunder hammers. This means that all your standard flamers and meltas become twice as useful! This alone means that such weapons in number will slaughter infantry and tanks alike making it a very powerful combination. Add a unit of thunder hammer terminators and you’ll smash apart even hardened enemy units. He’s an impressive character and whilst not as formidable as say Lysander, what he brings is definitely worth it.
Kor’sarro Khan: 160 points – On the cheaper end of special characters, Khan is nonetheless pretty dangerous, though he can take his faithful bike Moondraken at a further 45 points. This means that he can either ride around by bike and take a bike army or go it on foot like a regular captain. His bike means he gains fleet and his special sword Moonfang is a power weapon that causes instant death on a roll of a 6! He’s a nice character since he also grants you outflank for the army at the loss of Combat Tactics.
Sergeant Telion: 50 points – More of an upgrade for sniper scouts than a single character, Telion can make the Scouts quite deadly and pick off troublesome units and make that little bit more dangerous. With the most recent FAQ he also confers stealth to the entire unit, so if you can keep him alive there is no need for you to buy camo cloaks for your fragile Scouts. A good investment if you can afford it.
Brother Sergeant Chronus: 70 points – A tank upgrade, he’ll deal some real damage if he crews any tank with increases weapon skill and ignoring crew stunned and crew shaken results, but the more dangerous the tank to start the more likely he’ll get targeted for it. Put him in a cheap tank and combine it with other tanks and with more upgrades and he’ll soon show his worth, he is a tad pricey though.
Edited by DarkGuard, 20 July 2016 - 10:34 PM.