Alright, so I started this thing so I might as well go through everything then to get some discussion going about the codex in whole. I'm going to avoid anything that essentially could just get cheaper (from my viewpoint at least) as a fix. The ultimate goal of this will always remain a submission to GW
on why the community is neglecting so much of the book's options, what could change about them to make them a viable option for most players, and generally the point is to get away from just making the army cheaper and cheaper until we start looking like a Guard army with better wargear.
There are two main goals I have for this whole submission:
1. Present a method in which an elite army like Space Marines may be reasonably balanced against other armies, particularly horde armies, while keeping in mind that many changes made here will apply to other armies here when taking into considering wargear or the base mechanics of Marines. Many buffs could end up buffing other armies and it could easilly defeat the purpose of the buff if it leaves the army unable to reach a balanced state within the game.
2. Give each chapter in the codex a faction bonus that provides benefits that every unit can enjoy without imbalancing the game while also giving each a specialization bonus that rewards the choosing of certain wargear or unit types creating distinct types of armies within the framework of the greater codex.
To kick things off, let's go back over those Chapter Tactics again, shall we? Don't worry, this isn't a rehash but rather an update.
Now I've gotten some feedback about these already which has helped me refine the rules a bit more. Each will be a two part bonus to the faction, the first something any unit can enjoy, the second a more focused bonus for specific models or weapons to create an army specialization that will allow each chapter to have a disctinct playstyle from each other if a player builds towards it. I want to start with these first because it creates a picture in your mind on how each change might affect one chapter more than another.
Chapter Tactics: If your army is Battle-forged models with the <Chapter> keyword in a Space Marines detachement gain a Chapter Tactic as long as every unit in that detachment is drawn from the same Chapter.
It's a small change to the way the chapter tactics work, but it's a change every Space Marine player can say should apply. It opens the army up to a lot more flexibility and makes vehicles worth taking knowing that you can kit them to work like the rest of your army.
Ultramarines: Codex Discipline: Ultramarines units never lose more than a single model due to a failed morale test. Models with the Character, Dreadnought, or Vehicle keywords instead gain +1 Leadership. Ultramarine units may shoot in the same turn in which they Fall Back.
The change here is to encourage Ultramarine units to form larger units due to a lower fear of morale as well as giving single model units greater protection against effects that target leadership. The penalty for falling back and shooting was removed to coinicide with the previous change to encourage Ultramarine armies to be aggressive in their approach as they can get stuck in with less fear of morale and then step back and open fire with all barrels.
White Scars: Lightning Assault: Whenever a White Scars unit Advances, Charges or Turbo-boosts it moves an additional 2" in addition to the distance rolled (turbo-boosting models move the full 6" plus the additional 2" for a full 8" instead of rolling). Models with the Biker, Infantry or Dreadnought rule may charge on a turn they Fall Back at no penalty.
The biggest change here is making the army faster overall. The White Scars are known for modifying even their tanks to go faster and it didn't make any sense that they should be going slower. Additionally, as a chapter that basically hits the enemy as they drive through them the chapter isn't known for slowing down, making the bonus to their charges something that just fits naturally. Generally speaking this is the army that moves the fastest, and can slam into the enemy multiple times to kill it making it so they can keep something tied up on your opponent's turn before breaking free, shooting with your army's suport elements and then hitting that unit again.
Imperial Fists: Siege Masters: Enemy units do not recieve benefit to their saving throws for being in cover against attacks made by Imperial Fists, futhermore Imperail Fists re-roll all to-wound and damage rolls against enemy models with the Building keyword. In addition models making a shooting attack with a bolt weapon (and weapon with "bolt" in it's name and Dorn's Arrow are all bolt weapons) may make an additional to-hit roll for every roll of a 6. These to-hit rolls do not generate additional shots. The non-bolt weapon portion of a combi-weapon additionally does not benefit from this rule.
While I feel the rule towards buildings to be incredibly fluffy, it's not enough to build an army around as it's more situational than something you can build an army around. As such I didn't take it away but rolled it into the first effect as it fits well with their removal of an enemy's army protection mechanic. Making them the army that benefits the most from taking bolter weapons was more to make a nod to their special rule in their previous supplement material. This creates an army with a focus on shooting, but with a key focus on using bolt weapons as the basis of that shooting.
Black Templars: Righteous Zeal: You can re-roll either or both dice when a Black Templar unit fails a charge roll. On a turn a model with this rule charges, was charged or makes a Heroic Intervention add 1 to its Attacks characteristic until the end of the Fight Phase .
The Black Templars are quite clearly the melee focused army in the codex and it needs to show. Making their charges more reliable through rerolls ensures these zealots will make it to combat more often while the extra attack seperates them from their fellow Astartes as being the army that throws the most dice in combat. Basically the intent is to make them feel like an army that benefits from being stuck in, and gets stuck in more often.
Salamanders: Master Artisans: Salamander units with this rule may re-roll a single to-hit and to-wound roll each time they shoot or fight. Additionally when using a weapon that rolls to determine the number of shots or attacks you may roll two dice and take the highest result.
The biggest benefit for this rule is undoubtably to vehicle with lower numbers of shots such as lascannon predators, but also helps weapons that swing the other way by making weapons that roll random number of shots more reliable for the army. Ultimately this makes Salamanders a strong contender for certain heavy weapon options as well as weapons such as the flamer which are less than reliable at times.
Raven Guard: Shadow Masters: Raven Guard units that have not advanced or charged this turn gain the benefits for cover. Models that are already in cover and have not moved instead gain an additional +1 to their cover save bonus. Additionally, when targetting Infantry models with this special rule, your opponent must subtract 1 from their to-hit rolls if they are more than 12" away.
There were two changes here: the first was to make it so the army still has a benefit for their ability to hide themselves and their use of camoflauge, allowing them to feel like the ambush masters they should be, while giving Infantry models the existing bonus as a means of encouraging lists that aren't just a mass of tanks that get a cover bonus in the open.
Iron Hands: The Flesh is Weak: Roll a die each time an Iron Hands model loses a wound. On a unmodified roll of a 6 the damage is ignored and the model does not lose a wound. Models with the Character, Terminator or Dreadnought keywords instead ignore the lost wound on an unmodified roll of 5 or 6. Additionally Iron Hand models ignore penalties for moving and firing heavy weapons.
Not only are the more heavilly augmented of the chapter more likely to ignore wounds like they do in the lore, though with future proofing so that the mechanic can't be boosted or reduced by any other rules. Of course, the augmented nature of the Iron Hands become the army that benefits from bringing the most heavy weapons, though due to the way the rules work, they'll be different than the ones seen in a Salamanders army due to the benefits being different. This allows two different kind of armies to come out of the codex that both favor heavier weapons, but favor different ones due to the nature of how the rules interact with the weapons.
With how each chapter operates laid out and given a bonus that makes them feel more in line with their lore now it's time to look at the Warlord Traits. Not all of these need to be looked at as most are pretty solid as is and frankly work as viable options for the army that can take them. So in the interest of not making this longer than it already is going to be, let's keep to the ones that actually need addressing:
Angel of Death: Subtract 1 from the Leadership characteristic of enemy units that are within 6" of your Warlord. If your Warlord has slain an enemy Character during the game instead Subtract 2 from the Leadership characterisitic of enemy units within 12" of your Warlord.
Not a big change here, but it encourages you to use your warlord more aggressively to take out enemy characters during the game.
The Imperium's Sword: Re-roll failed charge rolls for your Warlord. Models with the Black Templars keyword instead roll 3 dice and pick the two highest when making charge rolls. In addition in a turn that your Warlord has charged or makes an Heroic Intervention add 1 to their Attacks characteristic until the end of the fight phase.
Biggest changes here were to make it less redundant to Black Templars while also giving a bonus for Heroic Interventions to make it more likely to see the table for armies who need a defensive melee character escorting their deathball on the table.
Iron Resolve: Add 1 to the Wounds characteristic of your warlord. In addition, roll a dice each time your Warlord loses a wound. On an unmodified roll of a 5 or 6, your Warlord shrugs off the damage and does not lose the wound. Models with the Iron Hands keyword instead ignore a lost wound on an unmodified roll of a 4, 5, or 6.
Due to the proposed changes in the Iron Hands tactic it was basically a necessity to make this work on a 4+ for an Iron Hands warlord. That said, if you want a tank of a character, they're the ones who'll most likely allow you to be one. That's the perks of replacing most of your body with robotic parts I suppose.
Rites of War: Friendly <Chapter> units within 6" of your Warlord automatically pass Morale tests. Additionally units within 6" of your Warlord count as hitting on a 5 or 6 when firing Overwatch.
Biggest change here is to give player better benefit out of the trait for huddling models up on the board. A bonus to overwatch makes this a viable choice for gunline or deathball style armies even when paired with units that don't tend to run full sized squads (Primaris or Devastators for example who don't worry about morale as much).
Champion of Humanity: You can add 1 to all hit and wound rolls made for your Warlord in the Fight phase when targetting an enemy Character or Monster.
Change here is that some of the things you want to throw a beatstick warlord at aren't characters and really any hero of the Imperium should be able to fight either of these things on equal measure.
Adept of the Codex (Ultramarines): While your Warlord is alive and on the table once per phase you may reuse a previously used Stratagem. Stratagems that target friendly units this way may not target the same unit twice, and can not be used to exceed any limitations within the stratagem on how often it may be used. Additionally, once per game you may attempt to regain Command Points spent on a stratagem. If you choose to do this, roll a die for each Command Point, on a 2+ that CP is immediately refunded.
Oathkeeper (Black Templars): At the beginning of the first Battle Round, but before the first turn begins, your Warlord swears a Vow against the enemy forces. Choose a Vow from the following list and apply it's effects immediately:
Abhor the Witch: Your Warlord can attempt to deny one psychic power per turn as if they were a psyker. If they have the Armour of Contempt special rule they may instead attempt to deny one additional psychic power per turn.
Purge the Heretic: Your Warlord may perform a Heroic Interventions if the enemy are within 6" (instead of 3") and move up to 6" while doing so. Additionally all friendly Black Templar units within 6" of your Warlord may roll an extra die and choose the highest when making charge rolls.
Suffer not the Unclean to Live: Your Warlord gains +1 to hit and wound rolls made against models with the Character keywords. Additionally all friendly Black Templar units within 6" of your Warlord roll an extra die and choose the highest while Advancing.
This is a long one but generally the idea is to give the Black Templars their vows back. Each has an obvious bonus against a specific enemy in combat, but comes with an additional use that may cause the vows to be taken against other opponents instead.
With Warlord traits covered, let's talk Wargear. As before I'm only talking about changes here, but the point of these changes is as always going to be with the mind that other armies may see the changes just as well. As such there won't be as much changed her because any bonus to bolters (for example) would equally apply to an army like Sisters of Battle who typically greatly outnumber Space Marines and would negate any bonus that weapon would have against the cheaper bodies. Ideally I'd love to say that every bolter is Rapid Fire 2 and -1 AP to make Marines have the shooting output of a horde army on a smaller body count (and making every casualty take more out of the army in return) but realistically it doesn't work when you consider that the bolter is spread across a number of other armies and a higher body count army with bolters like Sisters or Scouts would become a broken mess in terms of balance.
Bolt pistol (on Primaris models): Replace with Heavy Bolt Pistol. The Primaris are a more elite form of the regular Space Marine army and as such require more quality damage output to make up for their smaller numbers. The additional AP doesn't break balance for the army while giving the units a bit more punch when locked in combat, which is important for a group that lacks a number of melee options.
Demolisher Cannon: When targetting a unit of 5 or more models change this weapon's Type to Heavy 2D3. Generally speaking feedback I've seen time and time again is players prefer to have 2D3 shots over D6 as the average number of shots is higher for the 2D3 (4 versus 3) and it means firing at least 2 shots instead of 1. Basically it just does so much more to make the gun more likely to see the table with this change even without a points change.
Flamestorm gauntlets (shooting): 12" range, Assault 2D6 Generally speaking no one takes these guys due to the range of their weapon being so short and with the loss of templates the fixation of 8" being the range for flame weapons can go away now. The weapon was left unchanged as the Auto Boltstorm Gauntlet pattern comes with the Fragstorm Launchers standard and fires 6+D6 shots meaning the minimum number of shots for the boltstorm variant is higher, but the Flamestorm varient trades that for automatically hitting.
Grav (all varients): If the target has a Save characterisitc of 3+ or better, this weapon's Strength caracteristic is doubled and the Damage characteristic is increased to D3.
Grav-Cannon and grav-amp: Heavy 2
The heavier something is the harder this is supposed to hit, so the way it hits should reflect that. As such increasing it to S10 makes it more likely to hurt those bigger models. However, keeping the Grav-cannon at Heavy 4 wasn't a balanced choice as that would give a Devastator Squad 16 S10 shots against anything with a 3+ or better which would be outright mad.
Heavy Flamer: 12" range, Heavy 2D3. Honestly I don't get the original change from Assault to Heavy, but regardless, we've given up the flamer template and as such it's a good way to make the Heavy Flamer a different weapon from the regular Flamer. An increased range makes it possible for it to reach out and touch the things easier while the 2D3 shots gives it a better average on it's number of hits over a standard flamer. Basically it's moving the weapon beyond just being a slight S and AP boost over the base flamer and makes it feel like a proper heavy weapon on the table.
Heavy Plasma Incinerator: Heavy 2. A slight points increase on the gun might be needed but honestly the reason this version of the Hellblaster's gun is left off the table beyond proxy is because the increased strength isn't enough to counterbalance the loss of mobility from making it a Heavy weapon as well as decreasing the number of shots. Giving it extra shots makes it more into the Primaris answer for more heavilly armoured models (such as vehicles, Custodes and Monsters) while still retaining the same limitations the current gun has: slower movement with decreased efficiency when you need to move.
Master-crafted Stalker bolt rifle/Stalker bolt rifle: Heavy 2 OR the ability to target characters. Either of these options would fix the Stalker bolt rifle so that it would see the table more often. As it currently is the Stalker has the same basic problems the Heavy Plasma Incinerator does: the loss of mobility AND number of shots with no bonus to targetting isn't enough to justify taking this weapon for just about anyone. Being able to target Characters like a Sniper Rifle or giving it Heavy 2 to allow it to offset it's lowered movement would put these into people's lists, even if it brought a slight points increase.
Melta (all types): Double weapon strength at half range instead of the bonus to damage rolls. Additionally change the damage characteristic to D3+3. These are weapons meant to slag even the heaviest of armour at close range and even from further away it could still do a severe amount of damage if it punches through the armour. For obvious reasons this means the Melta bomb should always be S16 as well.
Plasma weapons (all types): Change the bearer being slain to the bearer taking a mortal wound. While having your guys have their faces melt off is a long standing featur of the lore, the introduction of Mortal Wounds really fits this mechanic better and would allow for better synergy with armies that have mechanics to allow them to ignore Mortal Wounds, such as Iron Hands or Death Guard.
Chainsword/Combat Knife: -1 AP. This may require a small (1-2 point) bump as it'd still give an extra attack, but considering the lower number of attacks that can be put out by a Marine army compared to larger armies like Orks or even Guard there needs to be a quality bump to offset the lowered quantity of attacks.
Power Sword: Abilities: Parry: Increase the bearer's save by 1 during the Fight Phase. Generally the Power Sword is seen as a lot less of a choice. It doesn't make wounding models easier like the other options, and while it's better at ignoring armour there is a diminishing return on this against most targets. Increasing the defensive ability of the bearer at least gives it a utility beyond strictly trying to more effectively stab the other guy.
Dozer Blades: Double the bearer's Attacks characteristic until the end of the Fight Phase on a turn it's completed a successful charge. Yes, bring these back and then let use them to ram people.
Siege Shield: The bearer's Save characteristic is increased by 1 against shooting attacks. Giving a Vindicator tank an increased save against shooting for a points cost doesn't break the army as much as it gives a tank with rather limited firepower more staying power so it might actually weather more than a unit's shooting before it's reduced to a smoking puddle of slag on the table.
Terminator Armour: Models with the Terminator keyword reduce all weapon damage by 1 to a minimum of 1. Additionally increase their save to 1+. Since a 1 always fails this means that the save only negates the first AP of a weapon and reduces how effective multidamage weapons are. Essentially it means they won't go down quite as fast to anything less than dedicated heavy weapon fire or weight of dice.
Power Armour: Has +1 to it's save Characteristic against weapons with an AP profile of -1 or greater (-2,-3,ect). This was a hard one to puzzle over as Power Armour is on so many different armies. Increasing the save like All is Dust could just lead to us having Sisters running around with effective 2+ saves all the time, and a FnP
effect wasn't really going to work either. In the end negating 1 of the weapon's AP seemed like the cleanest solution, though it does mean that you need to hit Thousand Sons Rubric models with -2 AP just to get them to a 3+. Magnus would be proud I guess?
Centurion Armour: Models with the Centurion keyword reduce all weapon damage by 1 to a minimum of 1. Increase their save by 1 against weapons with a Damage characteristic of 1. Yes, even the waddlebots are getting a look here, because honestly all that extra armour should be doing something more than it is.
Gravis Armour: Models with the Gravis keyword reduce all weapon damage by 1 to a minimum of 1. Increase their save by +1 against weapons with a Damage characteristic of 1. With how durable Gravis is supposed to be it needed something to feel like it was going to stay on the table longer. As lazy as it is to just reuse All Is Dust, here and on the Centurion armour, the extra armour being stronger against weaker weapons makes sense in terms of the lore. Reducing the weapon damage fits equally well and gives them more staying power. With these additions the need to push points down on the models becomes rather moot as they become the durable weapon platfoms they're shown as in the lore.
It's still going to take time to go through and look at every unit so I'm stopping here and opening up my ideas (and those I've taken from submissions so far) and asking you to give me some feedback. I've tried to keep these in the realms of reasonable while staying true to the lore that inspires these things when considering how to change things and why those things need to be changed.