This morning I picked up the new Space Marine Codex and have spent the rest of the day reading it front to back (while watching Kelly’s Heroes to put me in the mood, Judge Dredd this evening). These are our first impressions of the book. To begin with we’ll look at the book in general and then look at more individual choices and their use on the battlefield.
At £35 this is the most expensive Codex to date. It’s also the biggest at 180 pages – that’s a mighty 36 pages more than the previous Space Marine Codex. So what’s it full of?
Pictures – this is one of the first things that jumps out. There are two pieces of black and white artwork, the inside front cover and the inside back cover. All the other pictures in the book are full-colour. There is a mix of familiar colour art, all-new artwork and a lot of black and white art that has been coloured.
Background – there’s lots of background information. Lots of inset boxes have quotes from great Space Marine heroes and there’s plenty of different timelines and flavour text. Seven Space Marine Chapters are detailed in depth and then so are some of their successor chapters. If you’re playing with a Codex of your own design you won’t miss out; there’s plenty of generic information about medals, Space Marine equipment and the creation of Space Marines.
Miniatures – there’s a lot of photos of miniatures. This is helped as, unlike previous codices, every single Space Marine model has been released. All seven main Chapters are shown which does mean a fair few black Marine models (Black Templars, Raven Guard and Iron Hands) but variety is provided by a few pictures of Successor Chapters.
The Rules Section
Chapter rules – Each of the seven Chapters receives its own set of extra rules (Chapter Tactics) to reflect the way they fight on the table and background.
- Ultramarines – The most flexible tactics, Ultramarines can choose from three Combat Doctrines over the course of the game either making them better in assault, shooting or moving and shooting.
- White Scars –get a big boost to bikes – they automatically pass Dangerous Terrain Tests, get +1 Strength to their Hammer of Wrath and virtually everything gets Hit & Run, especially useful as Combat Tactics is no more.
- Imperial Fists – Basically the army gets Bolter Drills, they can re-roll to hits of “1” with bolt-weapons. There Devastator and Centurion squads also get Tank Hunter!
- Black Templars – In Challenges Black Templars re-roll to hit and get rending. They all get Crusader which lets them run to the enemy quicker and Sweeping Advance further.
- Iron Hands – Probably our favourite – they get Feel No Pain and all vehicles and characters have It Will Not Die. Techmarines then get a bonus to repair rolls. If you’re playing a vehicle heavy army these could be rather good!
- Salamander – re-roll saves when wounded by flame weapons they also re-roll to wound with their own flame weapons. All Sergeants gain a master-crafted something of their choice.
- Raven Guard – they all have Scout and get Stealth on the first turn. They get better jump packs too.
Warlord Traits – Space Marines now have their own Warlord Traits that they can choose to roll on rather than use the ones in the book. Most of them are ok, maybe a little mediocre (i.e.Cause Fear, Plus one to combat res) but one really stands out. Champion of Humanity gives you an extra d3 Victory points for killing the enemy Warlord. That’s on top of the point you get for killing a Warlord anyhow. It’s a phenomenal ability and really quite game breaking. I wonder if that is deliberate to change the mission to a surgical strike that suits Space Marines but it seems a little OTT.
Units & Characters – Each unit gets its own page with background and rules which is pretty much the norm now. Most of these are familiar from the previous Codex and some of the Black Templar characters have made it over too. There are two new tanks, the new Centurions (Assault and Devastator variants) and the Marine flyers (the Storm Raven and Storm Talon). The special characters then add further Chapter-themed bonuses to your men. These have been tightened up now and only work on members of their own Chapter.
Weapon & Equipment – All of the Space Marine equipment is described in depth. Characters now have a bigger selection of equipment choices including more powerful Chapter Relics that can make them the equal of the special characters.
Notable weapons and equipments are: -
- Grav-weaponry – this is a whole new category of weapon. Basically these use an enemy’s armour save to wound him rather than toughness. This lends itself well to taking on heavily armoured infantry, even better as they are all AP2. They fill in the same section as Meltas and Plasma. They are probably most comparable to Plasma Guns with the advantage of not getting hot and being better at wounding T8 creatures. The downside being they are reasonably poor against vehicles, with the exception of Grav-Cannons.
- Auspex – this now reduces an enemy’s cover save. Not so special now are we Tau players?
- Shield Eternal – this makes your character into Lysander – it’s a Storm Shield with Eternal Warrior and Adamantium Will.
- Burning Blade – Strength plus three and AP2 this sword also causes Blind. Sure there’s a chance it will kill you too but that’s because it’s so much awesome! (maybe take a Storm Shield too)
- Armour of Indominus – This provides a 2+ armour save and then for one turn an Invulnerable 2+ save! Oh, and you get Relentless too…
Our first impressions and observations of the units themselves. Be warned this is quite rules intensive: -
Marneus Calgar – More points. 90% the same. Titanic Might is now designed for use against vehicles rather than infantry so it’s not so great. The Armour of Antliochus is much better as you can now pursue units in close combat and he has Frag & Krak grenades unlike normal terminators but we’re still not sure if it’s that much better than his Artificer Armour. He gets to use one of the Ultramarine Combat Doctrines twice. He gets to pick his Warlord Trait from three rolled, basically improving your odds of getting Champion of Humanity or Storm of Fire.
Overall he’s better but at 275 points he’s an awful lot of points.
Captain Sicarius – He’s 15 points cheaper and pretty much the same as before. The big change for him is that he now gives a +1 to Reserve Rolls rather than re-rolling seize the initiative. In 6th Edition this is great as Reserves now turn up on a 2+! As before he’s a solid choice, able to hold his own in combat and offering a nice buff to your army.
Varro Tigurius – He’s amazing! He’s 65 points cheaper and has got much, much better. He is the only librarian who can have Divination and can re-roll the dice to choose his powers. Oh and he can re-roll failed psychic tests and reserve rolls. Point-for-point he is the best psyker in the game offering plenty of protection from psychic powers while supplementing other units. If you’re playing Ultramarines you would be mad not to take him.
Cassius – He’s pretty much the same although he now gets a definite Warlord Trait which gives his unit Fear, sadly one of the worse traits. If you want a Chaplain take him as he’s tougher.
Kor’Sarro Khan - If you’re taking bikes then Khan is a great choice – he gives White Scars with Bikes Scout which makes them the equivalent, if not slightly better, than Dark Angels Ravenwing. He has the best Warlord trait, Champion of Humanity, and with a bike is in a good position to use it with d3 Hammer of Wrath hits when he charges and a further five S5 power weapon attacks. Like Sicarius he will struggle against other races serious close combat specialists but should be more than a match for the average Warlord.
Vulkan He’Stan – Statwise he’s the same. He gets Iron Resolve as a Warlord trait which is ok but as with all the other Warlord Traits is let down by not being Champion of Humanity. The big thing for Vulkan is he gives master-crafted to melta weapons. At first this doesn’t seem as good as making them twin-linked but actually doesn’t matter as all melta weapons are only one shot anyway. Vulkan is a must have if you’re building an army around him (i.e. collecting Salamanders).
Kayvan Shrike – Shrike’s been powered down a little as he can now only infiltrate with Assault Marine or Vanguard units. In terms of game balance this is a good thing. He now has Stealth so those Marines would also gain a +1 to their cover save. We’ve not thought about this too much but perhaps he could join a jump unit from an Allied Contingent of Battle Brothers and let them infiltrate. Blood Angels could benefit immensely from this.
Lysander – Ouch! He’s gone up 30 points now and costs nearly as much as a Land Raider. He’s also lost Bolster Defences and Bolter Drill. His offensive capability is still the same and Champion of Humanity means he can get stuck in to close combat and potentially win games. Basically if you want a character to get stuck into combat and beat things up Lysander is still your man but he’s lost some of his versatility. It may be better to build your own Lysander with a Captain armed with the Shield Eternal Chapter Relic.
Pedro Kantor – Pedro has gained an extra wound which is bit of a boost although he will still suffer from Instant Death a little too easily as his power fist is too slow. If he does survive he’s also gained an extra attack. Pedro is great at the centre of a gun line where he gives other Crimson Fists an extra attack or deep striking in with a unit of Sternguard who he makes scoring. Pedro also gives Crimson Fists hatred against Orks.
High Marshall Helbrecht – Helbrecht receives a much needed update. His weapon skill is better and he can once per game give all Black Templars Fleet and Hatred. It suits the style of Black Templars very well although we’re not sure of the wisdom of Marines running towards the enemy as quickly as they can.
Chaplain Grimaldus – Robin Cruddace gives with one hand and takes away with the other. Grimaldus is no longer the immortal character that he was but has gained It Will Not Die and an extra Leadership. Cenobyte Servitors no longer give Black Templars a bonus move but do give nearby Marines a 6+ Invulnerable Save. To us Grimaldus might not be a game breaking character but he embodies the character of Black Templars and is a must have in such an army.
Emperor’s Champion – He’s more points but you no longer buy vows so he’s really about the same. He’s AP2 at his initiative so he’s a good Marine killer. Re-rolls to hit in challenges makes him nice and choppy in close combat although not sure he’s 145 points of choppy. On the plus side he’s no longer a mandatory choice but he does seem iconic to Black Templars.
Chapter Master – Orbital Bombardment is the same devastating laser blast from outer space as we know and love. A few tricks can be used by either putting him on a bike, in terminator armour or attaching him to Centurions to give him Relentless and let him move and fire. When on bikes they also make your bike squads troops which used to need a Captain. Relentless is also rather handy when using the new Grav Guns as they’re Salvo Weapons.
They’ve also gained an extra attack and wound all for an extra 5 points. The Chapter Relics can add some really nice abilities that make them more than the equal of the named characters so now you can create your own Chapter with its own legendary character. This is one of my favourite things about the new codex.
Honour Guard – 30 points less and almost the same abilities Honour Guard are a much more tempting choice so I think we can expect to see more of these.
Captain – Cheaper than before the Captains are basically Chapter Master Lite. They can take all the relics and other cool stuff but haven’t received the same buffs and lose the Orbital Bombardment.
Terminator Captain – For 30 points you get a Captain with Terminator Armour, Storm Bolter and Power Weapon. There’s a small saving there and it allows you access to Terminator Upgrades, so you can now have a Captain with a Chain Fist. The options are all slightly cheaper but that’s because you have already paid for decent weapons.
Command Squad – Pretty much unchanged the significant change is that bikes are much, much cheaper as an option. You also pay for Apothecaries separately now. Expect to see a lot more Bike Command Squads on the table, especially with White Scars armies.
Librarian – Librarians are cheaper but you no longer choose your powers and must roll for them instead. Black Templars can’t have them although if you really wanted one you could take an Allied Detachment.
Chaplain – Apart from a points reduction Chaplains are the same.
Master of the Forge – cheaper (there’s a theme here), the same stats and the same job role. Most importantly he still makes Dreadnoughts Heavy Support if you’re that way inclined.
Techmarine – Techmarines no longer take up a slot but instead you can take one for each HQ you have. Then for each Techmarine you can take a unit of Servitors. Servitors remain the same price but the Heavy Weapon options are a lot cheaper.
Bolster Defences has had a nice improvement and now works on any area terrain rather than just ruins. This greatly increases the versatility of this ability.
Tactical Squad –They’re cheaper – yay! But now you have to pay for all the extras – boo! You still need units of ten to get both a special weapon and a heavy weapon. Once you’ve paid for these extras it’s more or less the same. You can also take special or heavy weapons in squads of five.
You can read our more in depth look at Tactical Marines here. Most of it still applies although Combat Tactics no longer exists and Grav weapons weren’t around way back then.
Scout Squad – Scouts are actually cheaper. Even if you buy the extra Veteran Sergeant and pay for Sniper Rifles they are still cheap.
Sergeant Telion – Sergeant Telion is a great choice for using on Fortified Gun Emplacements with his high ballistic skill. He has Stealth which is transferable to the rest of his squad. Give the scouts Camo Cloaks for 2 points a model and then you could be looking at a 2+ cover save behind Aegis Defence lines without Going to Ground!
Crusader Squads – Another new entry! Only available to Black Templars these squads combine Tactical and Scout Squads into one. They can have an extra Power Fist or Power Weapon on an ordinary marine which will be impossible to pick on in challenges. They’ve lost a lot of their charm as they no longer run forward when they take casualties.
Rhinos – Exactly the same as ever
Razorbacks – Heavy Bolter Razorbacks are now more expensive – by 15 points. This makes the Lascannon & Plasma Gun or Twin-linked Lascannon Turrets look a lot better value.
Drop Pods – Drop Pods now only have the capacity to transport ten men which isn’t the end of the world but is a bit of a nuisance. Especially when you used to use them to Deep Strike Pedro, a ten-man Sternguard Squad and a Librarian deep into enemy territory.
Land Speeder Storm – Now a Transport choice, a few points cheaper and with a better Jamming Beacon (enemies deep striking within 12” now roll twice as any dice when scattering!). The Cerebus Launcher now Blinds enemy units, great for disrupting an enemy unit. These are now a great choice for a cheap scoring unit that still packs a nice punch. Combined with the various Chapter Tactics these can add a boost as well.
Vanguard – have moved from Fast to Elites. A bit of a shame as they could score in some missions as Fast Attack. Basically they are now cheaper but they’ve lost their Heroic Intervention ability or rather it no longer works in the same way, instead they never Disorder Charge, so can make multiple charges without penalty and aren’t affected by defensive grenades.
Sternguard – Cheaper, but the combi-weapons are more expensive. But then that does include the rather awesome Combi-Grav weapon. Otherwise Sternguard are relatively unchanged. The wording does mean that you are stuck with the same special ammo as you fired in the shooting phase if you then Overwatch but it’s no big thing.
Dreadnoughts – marginally cheaper these are largely unchanged although the Venerable Dreadnought is now 40 points cheaper. With a better Stat line and better survivability Venerable Dreadnoughts are a much better buy than before.
Ironclads – There’s no discernible difference between the two editions. The good news is this means they’re still awesome. Assault Launcher upgrades are a bit cheaper too, probably because no one else took them.
Legion of the Damned – these have changed immensely. They’re now massively cheaper and ignore cover saves which is a great ability at the moment as Cover Saves are rather common. They still have their Invulnerable save which will be useful in some situations but I’m not too convinced by as they are still T4 and are likely to be boltered to death. They Deep Strike with a re-roll as well. To summarise they’re no longer god-awful as they have been, aren’t cheap but in the right army could be useful.
Terminators & Terminator Assault Squads – nothing’s changed here apart from a small tax on Thunder Hammers meaning they now cost 5 more points. We might see a return to Terminator Squads over Assault Terminators as the ranged weapons are now a tiny bit cheaper too.
Centurion Assault Squad – New toys! Basically these are super-terminators. T5, 2 wounds and a 2+ Armour Save is going to take some shifting. At first they don’t look too much of a big deal in assault with just one attack but this quickly becomes two for two weapons and three on the charge. Siege Drills are also not unwieldy so they could be good for Dreadnought bashing and other slow armoured targets. They can also take Land Raiders as a transport option just like Terminators. 10 points will also give the Sergeant Split Fire and Night Vision.
They have Slow and Purposeful which I’m sure will be frustrating as it means they can’t Run into position and neither can they fire Overwatch – especially frustrating when armed with Twin-Linked Flamers and Hurricane Bolters!
They’re not a cheap option but should last a while on the table. First impressions are that they will need a Land Raider to work but we look forward to hearing how you fare with them!
Assault Squads – Same as before but 17 points rather than 20 points. You have to buy the Veteran Sergeant separately but he’s only 10 points and other options are cheaper too.
Land Speeder Squadron – No change apart from a reduction in price for the Missile Launcher and Assault Cannon.
Bike Squad – A huge price drop from 90 points to 63 points for a unit of three. One nice addition is they now have access to Grav-guns. Grav-guns are a Salvo Weapon so benefit greatly from the Relentless bikes.
Attack Bike Squadrons – for some reason these are now 5 points more expensive. That is all.
Scout Bikes – Cluster Mines have changed, they are a little more expensive but make a piece of terrain Dangerous to enemy units for the game. A few prices have been tweaked but nothing significant. Locater Beacons are still in which is a great combination together with Scout moves and a first turn Drop Pod Assault.
Storm Talon – It’s now officially in and I can bin my battered White Dwarf! A small change in points suddenly makes Skyhammer Missile Launchers look a lot better value over the Typhoon Missile Launcher. The rules are otherwise the same. The Escort rules are now useful when combined with a Storm Raven to have a proper Space Marine air force!
Devastator Squad – Cheaper. All the costs seemed to have gone down apart from Missile Launchers. Much like Chaos Space Marines the Missile Launchers now have the option for Flakk Missiles although again this comes at a premium. As there are some good choices in Heavy Support I’m not sure we’ll see many Devastators on the table.
Centurion Devastator Squad – The same stats as the Assault Centurions the Centurion Devastators come equipped with Hurricane Bolters and Twin-linked Heavy Bolter. They can be upgraded to have Missile Launchers in their chests and a Twin-linked Lascannon or Grav-Cannon. Our favourite option is the Grav-Cannon as they can fire 5 shots each and the Grav-Amp re-rolls to wound and to penetrate. It is short ranged at 24” and so again a Land Raider wouldn’t go amiss to get them in close.
Thunderfire Cannons – These have had a big win. Bolster Defences is now more useful and the Cannon is now a Barrage weapon and so can be used to snipe characters and special weapons within units.
Predators – The basic Autocannon Predator is more expensive but the upgrades are all a few points cheaper so as soon as you take extras you’re better off. Snap Fire makes sponson weapons more useful on a moving vehicle so it’s time to dust off those sponsons and glue them back on.
Whirlwinds – Cheaper! They’re now 20 points less than their previous incarnation. As a barrage weapon they can snipe characters. If you’ve got a few points spare and a Heavy Support slot you can’t go too wrong with this.
Vindicator – it’s gone up a little. Not too sure why, maybe it’s because they are a great counter to Centurions as they are strong enough to kill them instantly. Which makes them the perfect choice if your opponent starts showing up with them. They are versatile enough to take out vehicles, armoured infantry and hordes.
Hunter – Another new toy. This fires a single missile that if it misses a flyer or flying monstrous creature will continue to try to hit them in subsequent turns. It has Skyfire so only fires Snap Shots against ground targets. Basically this is a must-have if your opponent has flyers but at 70 points isn’t going to break the bank if your opponent doesn’t have any. Be warned though that it will do NOTHING that game.
Stalker – Another new toy with a similar anti-flyer them to the Hunter. Again it’s limited to flying targets but has the option of firing 4 twin-linked shots or 8 single shots. Those 8 single shots come in handy against ground targets as there’s so many shots some are bound to hit! The Stalker is probably the better choice of the two new vehicles unless you are sure your opponent has flyers when the Hunter will come in handy.
Land Raider / Crusader / Redeemer – Not much has changed here although the basic Land Raider has been reduced to a transport capacity of 10. This means that you’ll have to take a Redeemer or Crusader is you want to take a Terminator Squad and a Chaplain or other Character.
Dozer Blades are now an option for Land Raiders. This extra reliability makes them great assault vehicles, bursting through cover without any risk to themselves.
Chronus – Chronus is an upgrade to any Space Marine tank. He isn’t a must have choice but at 50 points he’s not too shabby. He gives BS5 to a vehicle as well as ignoring Crew Stunned and Crew Shaken as well as gaining It Will Not Die. On a vehicle with lots of guns and hull points, namely Land Raiders, he’s not a bad investment at all. He’s more survivable than he used to be too and as an upgrade to a unit rather than an extra character he shouldn’t give away any kill points (although this may benefit from an FAQ).
Storm Raven – The Storm Raven had now found its way into the Space Marine army. It’s gained a few upgrades on the way and the missiles have gained Concussive over the otherwise identical Blood Angel missiles. Combined with Storm Talons and the anti-flyer tanks the Space Marines should be able to hold their own in the air and Heldrakes may have breathed their last flames. Combine with Tigurius or Sicarius to improve the chances of them coming on.
Bikes seem to be the big winner here. They’re both cheaper and White Scars add a whole host of new abilities to them. The army will pretty much write itself.
Ultramarines are nice and versatile and their characters help them more so.
The other Chapters will depend on your style of play. Lots of vehicles and you may want Iron Guard, Flamers and Meltas (unsurprisingly) suit Salamanders, and an infantry army would do well with Imperial Fists.
This is a great looking Codex and almost certainly my favourite so far. The only disappointment is the loss of Combat Tactics and Black Templars who seem to have a bit of a rough time of it. There are no units that I wouldn’t want to play with and there’s plenty of variety through a good mix of units choices, characters and Chapter special rules. Marine vs Marine games used to be a bit boring but hopefully this will provide enough variety to make it easy.
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