Warhammer 40,000/5th Edition Tactics/Space Marines

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WE ARE THE SPEHSS MAHREENS! WE ARE THE EMPRA'S FUREH!

This is an old Edition's Space Marine tactics. 6th Edition Tactics are here.

Why Play Space Marines[edit]

Why AREN'T you playing them?

In all seriousness, Space Marines are perhaps the best army for beginners. Their units are fairly expensive points-wise, so they can't field as many units as most other armies. While you can't bog down your foes in waves of men, this makes army construction cheaper and painting faster. Additionally, Space Marines are dead 'ard; their basic troops have Toughness 4 and a 3+ armor save (except for the Scouts), giving them great staying power against most basic infantry of other armies. They're also very forgiving in whatever role they're put in; Marines are good shots, and they're not half bad in an assault, either.

Space Marine tanks, on the other hand, while not as robust or as powerful as those of the Imperial Guard's, are dirt-cheap and reliable. Tanks aside, they have Dreadnoughts; while not quite as good at shooting as a tank, Dreadnoughts are cheaper and a smaller target than a tank and are far better in close combat(unless you are one of those bastards who has cheating good luck with tank shocking...), able to take on heroes, units and other tanks and come out on top.

Other benefits include:

  • eBay-ability. Space marines are the most commonly auctioned off army. This makes starting out with them "second hand" cheap (by Warhammer standards...)
  • Easy to paint. The broad, flat areas (legs, shoulders) and defined ridges make painting straight-forward and simple. Little is easier to paint than a space marine. They even drybrush well for the "Lazy painter" who just wants a force finished on the table ASAP.
  • Quick to build, easy to convert. Space marines have the greatest range of bitz available to any army in any game. Not just from Games Workshop, there are several companies out there that make GW-Marine conversion bitz. Almost everyone who plays 40k has some space marine bitz sitting around, and they're almost all plastic, so you can easily make a force that's really "you".
  • Easy for beginners. Your basic troop can take a bit of abuse, as such, they army is relatively forgiving of "newb" mistakes, and you aren't horribly FUBAR because of a single poorly-thought out move. Very little in the codex is "dead weight" so almost any unit purchased will be a welcome addition to your growing force.
  • Rewarding for experts. Space marines are an army that you can really grow with. Once you learn how to shuffle your metal boxes around, and get the gist of the game, a closer examination of the space marine codex reveals a wealth and depth of available army builds and tactics unrivaled in the current 40k codices.

Unit Analysis[edit]

HQ Units[edit]

  • Chapter Master - Not that great of a HQ, mainly due to being near identical with the Captain. 25 points more for the Orbital Bombardment ability, which all in all is a nice ability, but relatively hard to use on such a unit that needs to stay mobile. Can also get Honour Guards instead of Command Squads. Alternatively, you could take a stock Chapter Master and set him at the edge of the board, raining S10 AP1 large blasts on whoever comes near. If you're worried about your opponent having long-range weaponry, simply get a Rhino or other vehicle and hide him at the corner of the board behind the Rhino. Now you have an (almost) invincible Chapter Master who doesn't need LoS to shoot pie plates at anyone. Pure awesome.
    • Honour Guards - Not worth it in my opinion, extremely costly. Hard to kill due to artificer armor, but you're probably better off getting assault terminators. Their only real advantage over Assault Terminators is their ability to cram into vehicles Terminators cannot, most notably drop pods. That's not to say they don't totally shred through opponents in close combat; they can do the job just fine. In fact, consider the other H2H units in the Space Marine codex: you have the Assault squad, which can get some good strength attacks into the fray, but are outclassed by most other pure H2H units. Then there are the Close Combat Terminators, which can annihilate squads by the bucketload, but like a sledgehammer, once they lose their momentum they can be hard to get moving again, and thanks to their low initiative they're dangerously vulnerable to fast power-weapon-armed foes. Honour guard squads, however, give phenomenal offensive abilities while maintaining initiative and speed, and good resilience thanks to their artificer armour. If you ever play an apocalypse game, take one of these with Calgar, a chapter banner (+1 attack to every man in squad), and attach Chaplain Cassius. So basically every honour guard strikes at initiative 4, re-rolls to hit, and each get 5 attacks on the charge (6 for the champion), with power weapons. So cram Calgar, Cassius and 10 honour guard into a Crusader, and roll toward the enemy battle lines as quickly as possible. So when they attack they get a grand total of 63 (!!!!!!1111!!!!ONE) re-roll to hit, power weapon attacks, 7 from Calgar, 5 from Cassius, 6 from Chapter Champion, and 5 from each of the nine Honour Guards.
  • Captain - The Captain is a somewhat decent HQ option, especially for someone who is starting to build their army. The main reason to take one is if you wish to field a Biker list. Costing the same as a Chaplain or Librarian while having a better statline, though not offering the same general-purpose utility that the Librarian does (be it through Null Zone, and providing a Psychic Hood), by himself he is a halfway decent character. However, Biker Marines are a very nasty build, so it is worth taking a Captain for allowing Bikers as troops should you want to do so. His variety of wargear options is rather nice, but don't go overboard on upgrades or he could become very expensive very quickly. One of the smallest, most useful upgrades one could take is Artificer armor, as a 2+/4++ unit with 3 wounds is somewhat tough to take down, and he can still fit inside Rhinos, Drop Pods, and Razorbacks. For a cheap Biker Command Squad leader, give him a Relic Blade and a Bike; or, you can load him out for solo work with Relic Blade, Storm Shield, Artificer Armor and minor upgrades (such as Hellfire shells, which work on bike's bolters). Remember, though, that a single Power Fist will ruin his day. Also, never just take a power sword and bolt gun, as you are wasting the full capabilities of this guy.
    • Command Squad - Pretty nice and versatile squad. Apothecary gives them Feel no Pain, and makes them pretty tough to kill with small-arms fire (they still fold to S8, which is fairly abundant in Krak missiles, GK Psyflemen and power fists), and definitely cheaper than the Honour Guard. Fits excellently in a Razorback or drop pod, and can be equipped with a variety of melee and ranged weaponry. Biker Command Squads, while very costly and vulnerable to S8, provide a beatstick unit to an army in need of it (Bikers are terrible in assault). Tool them out with Storm Shields, Lightning Claws, a Powerfist and two Meltaguns, and they'll beat the hell out of any unit you can't shoot to bits. Remember their vulnerabilities, though, that 3+ invuln WILL fail you from time to time.
  • Librarian - The best generic Space Marine HQ, he goes excellent with ranged focused tactical squads in rhinos, or ranged terminator squads. Unlike the Captain and the Chaplain, he normally has no Invulnerable save, but he can take Terminator Armor, giving a 5+ Invuln, which can be upgraded to 3+ with a Storm Shield. This is extremely useful; Not only are Librarians priority targets, but a 3+ save will be far more likely to save you from Perils of the Warp than a 5+ will (It's still less than 1/2 chance, though), and ups his survivability in case of Vortex miscast. Avenger is good for a Biker Librarian, Vortex of Doom is nasty but very dangerous to use and can only be effectively used by a Terminator librarian. The real "Tactical Gold" from this character comes from his two great support powers, First, "Null Zone", which forces your opponent to re-roll any successful invulnerable saves within 24" of the Librarian. This is excellent against Eldar, Daemon armies (if anyone actually plays those anymore), and pretty much every other beatstick in the game (other THSS, Thunderwolves, Paladins, Nob Bikers, Jetbike Councils etc.). A unit of Thundershield Terminators under Null Zone and maybe Vulkan's Chapter Tactics will beat the hell out of any other elite close-combat unit in the game, period. Second, "The Gate of Infinity", which allows you to pick the Librarian's squad off the table (Even when they're in combat, or inside a transport, read White Dwarf folks) and Deep Strike it back onto the table within 24". Great to abuse with locator beacons, and allows an otherwise slow unit a good deal of unexpected mobility. Use it with shooty units, not assaulty ones, as you still can't assault from Deep Strike. With the recent FAQ, you can even split in combat squads when arriving from the Gate. Other powers (Smite, Curse, Might, Dome, Quickening) are less useful as they don't benefit the army.
  • Chaplain - A wonderful companion for Assault Marines, Vanguard Vets, or Bikers, his melee boosting abilities are quite helpful, and he's pretty awesome himself. Though if you're not putting him on a bike or a jump pack, take Ortan Cassius instead as the cost difference is nil.
  • Master of the Forge - Most often an oversighted, but pretty decent HQ. While he lacks an invulnerable save, he shouldn't go with anything that can be threatened with CC, and he works best as a shooting HQ. Conversion Beamer is nice for a home scoring unit or a biker unit (bikes being Relentless by default). Ultimately, his usefulness is in his FoC moving ability, which allows you to field Riflemen Dreadnoughts as Heavy Support, which is beyond nice as it frees up your excellent Elites slots. He is good, but you must build your list around him.
  • Damocles Rhino (Forgeworld) Yes, a HQ vehicle! At only 60 points it is the cheapest space marine HQ option (but most expensive in terms of real money). Armed with nothing but a storm bolter and a searchlight for defence, with no transport capacity, it may not seem like an obvious choice. BUT, the Damocles true power lies in it's incredible support abilities, it allows a single Orbital bombardment in the same way as a chapter master, lets all deep striking units re-roll the scatter dice, and allows a single reserve roll to be re-rolled a turn. In a deep strike heavy army (terminators and such-like) the Damocles is one of the best choices you can make for your HQ slot.

Space Marine players also have access to a variety of special characters, most of which change how the whole army works. They're all fairly expensive, and, as such, should be viewed as force multipliers rather than stand-alone units.

  • Marneus Augustus Calgar - Aka "Big Papa Smurf", is the most expensive character in the codex, and also the most powerful in hand-to-hand. He's a Chapter Master with double power-fists, an AP 2 storm bolter , Eternal Warrior, and the ability to re-roll all failed "to wound" rolls. His main power is "God of War" which lets him, and all units in his army, CHOOSE to pass or fail ANY morale check they take. He can also swap-out his power armour for Terminator armor (allowing him to deepstrike) and even gets a free teleport homer if he does so. He also has a power sword, you know, in case you don't want to hit at Initiative 1, but nobody ever uses it. He also has the most useless rule that lets him take 3 Honour Guard units which is pointless outside of Apocalypse games, if only because no one has that many spare points lying around (and even in Apocalypse, why not simply take more Chapter Masters?) If you've noticed, pretty much his entire arsenal makes a mockery out of armor saves, even his ranged weapons. Still, the Papa is horribly expensive for what he does.
  • Cato Sicarius - A very expensive Captain. He allows one *tactical* squad to take a single skill, gives you a re-roll on the seize the initiative roll, and, most importantly, lets every one of your marines on the table use his impressive LD of 10 as long as he's on the board. Cato is pretty average in hand-to-hand combat. Being a bit tougher than most Space Marine characters (2+ armor, Feel No Pain) and having the option to make a single attack that causes Instant Death. But other than that, he's just got 4 power-weapon attacks. He's got a nice laundry list of utility, great durability, and fair combat prowess, though it comes at a fairly high price. He also has the benefit of being the Captain of the 2nd Company so 99% of Smurf players are already using his Company Heraldry on their models and therefore he should be taken in all Ultramarine armies, unless its one of the 3 Ultramarine armies that isn't 2nd Company. Btw, his loadout is the default loadout for 4th Edition Captains, so he is somewhat nostalgic.
  • Varro Tigurius - Special character Librarian. Very expensive, knows every power, and can use three a turn. Perhaps his greatest strength is that he allows you to re-roll any and all of your reserves rolls, helping you get what you want, when you want it. His greatest weakness is his complete and total lack of an Invulnerable save his need to cast Force Dome every turn, its the reason why he gets to use an extra psychic power a turn, therefore he must absolutely be squadded kept away from anti-psychic units that can block the casting of Force Dome and leave him vulnerable for another unit to finish off. But, the only power you really need is the Null Zone, and Tigurius is more expensive than two Librarians.
  • Ortan Cassius - Special character Chaplain. He's pretty much a normal, artificer-armored Chaplain, but at T6 with feel no pain and a master-crafted combi-flamer that always wounds on a 2+. If you're planning on taking a Chaplain in power armor (or even terminator armor), it might as well be this guy, he's only slightly more expensive than a stock Chaplain, and a lot more survivable.
  • Pedro Kantor - One of the most reasonably priced characters in the codex, Pedro Kantor is a Chapter Master, with a Power Fist, 4 shot AP4 Storm Bolter and a few special rules. The first replaces your army's "Chapter Tactics" rule with the Stubborn Universal special rule (a mixed blessing). The second makes all Sternguard Veterans scoring units (not Troops; pretty useless as you should contest enemy objectives, not hold them, and you do have your Tacticals for scoring duty). The third gives all friendly units within 12" of Pedro +1 Attack. He's one of the most commonly used special characters, and a total badass to boot. His boost to Sternguard squads has some synergy with Lysander.
  • Darnath Lysander - One of the toughest kids on the block. Lysander is a Space Marine Captain, but has Eternal Warrior, 4 wounds, Terminator armor, a Storm Shield and a S10 Thunder Hammer (that adds +1 to vehicle damage rolls!). He also replaces your army's "Chapter Tactics" with Stubborn. Additionally, any unit Lysander joins gets to re-roll all failed "to hit" rolls when firing any bolt weapons (Boltguns, bolt pistols, storm bolters, heavy bolters). Lysander doesn't commonly find his way into competitive lists due to his high cost, and schizophrenic rules (he amplifies shooting, but is a pure h2h character). However, he's nigh-impossible to kill and brilliant for popping vehicles and monstrous creatures alike, if you can get him within range. Often-used setup is Lysander with 10 Sternguard packing Combi-Meltas/-Flamers and Powerfist on the Sarge in a Drop Pod with a locator beacon. Drop it next to any unit or model in the game and remove it, excluding that stupid Tyranid Apocalypse Blob, Flyers and Titans. Lysander lets you reroll the Vengeance rounds and unless there is a surviving melee monster like the Swarmlord or a blingthirster (which should be dead because you're supposed to kill them first), your opponent will either a) pull everything back and shoot the unit, fail to kill Lysander and the Sarge, force a Morale Check on Ld 10 Space Marines, ignoring the pod that will call down more Deep Striking shit into the center of his deployment zone and ignoring the rest of your army while it advances. Or b) push everything into the unit in vain hopes of killing it before it can shoot again, this normally wipes the Sternguard or tarpits it for the rest of the game, except you have Lysander and a powerfist so whatever assaults it will take some serious wounds. If they kill the assaulting unit or survive the firestom, you have successfully placed Lysander in their deployment zone, setup a forward position to safely Deep Strike shooty Terminators, more Drop Pods of Sternguard and even allows your Vanguard Veterans to actually use their special rule, eliminated 1-2 units, 1 of which is guaranteed to have been important and its still only the first turn. This has lots of synergy with Pedro Kantor.
  • Kayvaan Shrike - A Space Marine Captain with a Jump Pack, and two Master-Crafted Lightning Claws (which also have Rending, so he won't be stuck fighting a Dreadnought). Shrike replaces "Chapter Tactics" with Fleet of Foot (Great for FLEETING ASSAULT TERMINATORS OH MOTHER OF CHRIST) and allows any one squad he joins to infiltrate or outflank. A captain with the same wargear (and artificer armor) costs less, so you must carefully consider how valuable the special rules he lends are.
    • NOTE: Shrike has a Jump Pack but a Command Squad cannot take Jump Packs, either put him in an Assault Squad for mediocrity or a Vanguard Squad for Awesome But Impracticality. Or just for shits and giggles, give your command squad bikes in order to keep up. Or just ignore his Jump pack, join him to your Assault Terminators and outflank/infiltrate them.
  • Vulkan He'Stan - Possibly the most common special character, Vulkan has the same stat-line as a Captain (while not actually *being* a Captain, and, as such, not having access to a Command Squad). Vulkan is tricked out for up-close-and-dirty face-bashing with essentially the best gear possible (Artificer armor, 3+ Invulnerable Save, Master-crafted Relic Blade, and a Heavy Flamer). He replaces the "Chapter Tactics" rule with one that causes ALL your flamers, heavy flamers, and melta-weapons to become twin-linked, and all your Thunder Hammers to become master-crafted. This, obviously, makes a Space Marine army far deadlier at close-range fire-fights, which is why he's so popular. Taking him results in a chain reaction — he is only worth it if you really focus on all these weapons, which are short-ranged. Being short-ranged, and stripped of Combat Tactics, means your army is open to assault, thus you need combat units (read: Assault Terminators) yourself to defend. So, Vulkan drastically changes the way you approach list building. Do not forget that. Also take note that his rule doesn't apply to the Redeemer's sponson weapons.
  • Kor'Sarro Khan - This crazy Mongol replaces "Chapter Tactics" by giving every squad and dedicated transport outflank, allowing them to come in from the side of the table; additionally, the squad he joins gains Furious Charge and Hit and Run, meaning he can make a Bike Command Squad even deadlier than it was beforehand. Other than that, he's an average Captain (who can be upgraded to ride a bike) whose power weapon just so happens to cause Instant Death on a roll of 6. He's a situational character; the loss of Combat Tactics in a Biker Army in exchange for Outflanking is problematic, but the ability to make a Bike Command Squad deadlier than it was beforehand helps provide a hammer that many Bike armies do not have. At higher point-levels, he teams up well with Vulkan for this reason. Outflanking is also a gamble if you take Kor'Sarro Khan in a No Bikes Mech army, screwing up the outflank rolls can put all your scoring units on one side and anti-tank fire will make them all footslog. But goddammit, an outflanking FC/HaR Assault Terminators in a Land Raider? Hell yeah.
  • There are also a lot of special characters from Forge World Badab War IA-s:
    • Anton Narvaez: Marines Errant captain, with -1 WS, power weapon, bolt pistol, MC plasma gun and 3+ invuln instead of 4+ (with 50% chance to loose it each time it fails). He also can give Scout and Move Through Cover USR’s, to one tactical squad (and void hardened armor, which is only useful in boarding missions). And he is cheap for 135 pts. – like vanilla captain + plasma pistol + power weapon
    • Corien Sumatris: Red Corsairs Astral Claws captain, with +1WS, -1BS, MC power weapon, which gives him +1 additional attack on charge, storm shield, and some weird 12’’-range assault bolter. His main ability is to give Furious Charge to his squad (and himself) and +1WS to all your infantry within 12’’ of him. At 165 pts. he is a bit costly, so use his special powers properly (obviously, by putting him in dedicated CC squad).
    • Elam Courbray: Legion of the Damned Fire Hawks captain with jump pack and rending power sword. He can make one S8 power-weapon rending attack instead of fighting as normal, give his squad Hit and Run and Counter Attack USR’s, and trade Combat Tactics for making all flamers and heavy flamers TL, and assault marines and vanguard scoring (but not troops). So, if you want jump-pack-heavy army, this guy could be helpful. But if you do so, why don’t you play Blood Angels?
    • Mordaci Baylock: Novamarines terminator-captain with MC chainfist and storm bolter (WTF?). He can make his terminator squad choose to fail or pass any morale and pinning test, make terminators scoring and… that’s all. He cost 30 pts. more then vanilla captain with his wargear, so, take him only if you have a lot of termies.
    • Tarnus Vale: Fire Angels captain with… WHAT? Plasma pistol and chainsword? What the fuck? Why 175 points? But then you realize, that he trade combat tactics for tank hunters! Sweet Jesus, this would put mech-armies you face in to world of hurt. In fact, he would allow you to glance AV11 and penetrate AV10 with only bolter fire. Even if your opponent doesn't bring Mech, you get free Extra Armour on all of your Razorbacks and Rhinos so every piece of mech you take is 15pts off of his exorbitant cost.
    • Zhurukhal Androcles: Star Phantom captain with power fist and combi-melta. Like Vale, Androcles is designed to reduce mech-players to tears: he gives one unit within 12’’ of him +1 bonus for armor penetration, and make Devastator Elites AND Heavy support. Though not being such devastative, as Vale, he is cheaper and actually have some decent wargear.
    • Silas Alberec: Exorcists captain with MC thunder hammer (which always wound daemons automatically, if S10 isn’t enough), bolt pistol, teleport homer and FNP. He gave some anti-magic and anti-pinning protection to his squad, and is reasonably priced for his wargear.
    • Pellas Mir’San: Salamanders captain with artificer armor, two power weapons and combi-flamer. He has some interesting tricks in close combat, and can do some Calgar-like morale magick with his squad. Unfortunately he suffers the crippling disadvantage of not being Vulkan He’Stan.
    • Harath Shen: Salamanders master apothecary with artificer armor, plasma pistol and power weapon. For 135 pts. Shen allow you to put FNP to the squad you need it. Pitiful, he has no invuln, but at least he can sink wounds to his squad in close combat. If you ever want 2+/3++ FNP assault terminators (and who don’t?), this guy deliver.
    • Lugft Huron: Red Corsairs Astral Claws chapter master, with terminator armor, heavy flamer, and lightning claw which force opponent to reroll successful invulns. His orbital bombardment is ordnance 2, his “living legend” rule make all your army Ld10. He can come back from the dead... but only once. But he is expensive as hell for 235 pts.
    • Carab Culln: Red Scorpions chapter master, with terminator armor, teleport homer, MC relic blade and MC storm bolter. He gains extra attacks for having more WS than opponent, but his main ability is to replace sergeants in tactical squads with apothecaries, so they can camp on objectives, and doesn’t fucking die no matter what. For free. Well not for free, because Carab himself cost 215 pts.
    • Lias Issodon: Reasonable Marines Raptors chapter master. He have only power sword and pistol for close combat, and -1WS, compare to standard chapter master, but he armed with some monstrous R30 Heavy4/Assault2 bolter with special ammunition and +1BS, so he is shooty chapter master, which is rare. The main reason you would like to take him is his special abilities: he forces a -1 on enemy reserve rolls, can cripple (or even kill) one enemy’s squad or vehicle, before game even starts, and replace combat tactics with stealth. For some reason he haven’t invulnerable save and orbital bombardment, but he is relatively cheap, so shut up, camp his raptors in 3+ covers (or even 2+, if you take master of the forge) and shoot people to death like reasonable marines should do.
    • Asterion Moloc: Minotaurs chapter master with terminator armor, storm shield, relic blade (which can shoot once per game), one extra wound, and ethereal warrior. He also gives assault grenades and fearless to his squad, and replace combat tactics with Preferred Enemy: space marines (any non-chaos). While being tough to kill, he still don’t worth his relatively high price.
    • Tyberos The Red Wake: Carcharodons chapter master with terminator armor and two weapons, which could cont as lightning claws or chainfists. Tyberos himself is a terrifying murderous machine in close combat, but he also can replace combat tactics with furious charge (and rage after first slaughtered non-vehicle enemy unit), replace any bolter in his army with bolt pistol and chainsword, and allow you to take one claw-terminator unit as troops. With this guy your army would transform into brutal manly variant of Blood Angels, who rips thing to shreds in close combat. And you pay only for his wargear, as he costs as vanilla chapter master with two chainfists.
    • Sevrin Loth: Red Scorpions chief librarian. Like Tigurius he have all psychic powers and can use three per turn. Unlike Tigurius he can not reroll reserves. But hey! He have 2+ armor save, which can become 2+ invulnerable, while Tigurius only can have 5+ for Force Dome, his stat-line is also better then Tigurius one (+1BS, +1A), and he is a bit cheaper (though not cheap at 205 pts.)
    • Azhara Redth: Mantis Warriors chief librarian. He is not a monster-psyker, like Tigurius or Loth, and only cast 2 powers per turn, but he have in-built 5+ invuln. His special psy-power “Mirage” is fairly useful. He also forces a -1 on enemy reserve rolls and replace combat tactics with Infiltrators USR. On top of this, epistolary librarian cost only 15 pts less than Redth.
    • Armenneus Valthex: Red Corsairs Astral Claws master of the forge with conversion beamer and some weird techno-thing called “Indynabula” which counts as two power weapons, and give him 5+ invuln, counter-strike USR and reroll failed Blessing of Omnissiah. He can make one squad’s bolters poisoned 2+, which is pretty useful. He is also surprisingly cheap, assuming his shiny wargear.
    • Vaylind Cal: Iron Hands Sons of Medusa master of the forge with iron halo, thunder hammer, servo-harness, and monstrous creature stat line. He also replaces combat tactics with fearless (not really worth it), and can make your devastators feel no pain for free. While being expensive as hell, he could put a lot of hurt in close combat and extremely hard to kill for his T6.
    • Thusla Kane: Executioners high chaplain with artificer armor, plasma pistol and relic blade. With +1WS/BS/W/A, ethereal warrior and big 12” aura of “reroll 1 on to-wound” he also can replace combat tactics for stubborn. The only thing, Kane don’t have, is jump pack to join assault squad.
    • Ivanus Enkomi: Minotaurs reclusiarch with standard corrosius, power fist, jump pack and (for some reason) auxiliary grenade launcher. With +1 initiative, +1 attack, and extra +1 attack on charge for him and his squad he costs only 15 pts more then vanilla chaplain with fist and jet pack.
    • Chaplain-Dreadnought Titus: he is venerable dreadnought with +1 attack, which can reroll failed to hit roll in CC, and make everyone within 12” fearless. For 15 pts. more then ordinary venerable dreadnought. Fair trade.
    • Bray’Arth Ashmatle: Salamanders dreadnought, forged by primarch Vulkan himself! Bray’Arth is a hell of a monster: with his front armor 13, venerable and immune to ALL extra dice roll to armor penetration he is almost impossible to kill him. He is armed with two DCCW’s with inbuilt heavy flamers, which also can count as single multimelta or twin-linked meltagun, an he can forgo one close combat attack to auto hit anything in BtB contact with S5 AP4, so he can fuck up near anything, from tanks and monsters, to the big tarpit blobs. Off cause, he is extremely expensive at both points and pounds, but he totally worth every point. Put him into Lucius pattern drop pod. Drop him in to the middle of enemy formation. Laugh maniacally.

Troops[edit]

  • Tactical Squad - Your bread-and-butter scoring units. These guys don't excel at anything but are decent at everything. Unfortunately, their balance tends to be their downfall as most other basic troops tend to be better at everything than they are (see: Grey Hunters), and they're a tad expensive when fully kitted out (mostly due to requiring 10-man squads in order to get any special or heavy weapons). Keep them at a distance if possible, but keep in mind to make effective use of your Rapid Fire range. Great for camping objectives as the one thing they're best at doing is staying alive for a good while. Always take Rhinos or Razorbacks with your Tacs, even if they're camping an objective. Metal Boxes make excellent walls and mobile shields for your troops. Take at least 2 squads of these guys in every army.
    • Important side note, if you plan to assault with these men remember they all have Bolt pistols, meaning you can unleash 10 bolts while still being able to assault. Generally, though, you shouldn't assault with Tacticals, but if you do shoot the incoming enemy and fall back on the first morale check.
    • If you manage to run away and your enemy catches you, your Marines aren't auto-killed but continue the fight instead (you take No Retreat, though, which is painful). Remember this! Next thing to remember, if your enemy does not catch you and you broke out in their close-combat phase, on your next turn which comes right up your Marines are auto-rallied as usual. They also count as not moved. In other words, rocket launcher in the face or 9" move (you do get your 3" regroup move as well as usual 6").
  • Scout Squad - A decent unit, especially if you want to focus on more expensive units for your army. You really don't need more than one squad of these guys, if any at all to go along with Tacs. Scouting and Infiltrating, they can put a Teleport Homer on the board rather fast and very uncomfortably close to your enemy forces, so keep that in mind if you run Terminators of either flavor. Not the worst unit in the world, but your points are more often better spent elsewhere.
    • One of the classic Scout-Combos is to take a Techmarine (Master Of the Forge, the Special Character Lysander, or a Thunderfire Cannon's crew also count). Give your scouts Camo Cloaks, put them into a ruin that you "fortify" with the aforementioned Techmarine's special power, and enjoy a 2+ cover save.
    • A second is the "Scout Missile" in which a small suicide squad of scouts (often with a PowerFist and/or melta bomb) is placed in a Land Speeder Storm and tasked with turn 1 assassination of a vital target (such as a high-cost Tank, vulnerable shooting unit, etc). Not good, but fun.
    • A Final tactic worth mentioning is the "Shrike Stampede" in which the special character "Shrike" is used to give your army Fleet of Foot. You then load up on scouts armed for hand-to-hand combat, Infiltrate as close as possible to the enemy (18") take your 6" scout move, and on turn one, scream "kekekezergrush" while charging in and hoping for the best. Not actually a good tactic, but fun, and catches some people off guard.
    • Torias Telion - An upgrade to a Scout Sergeant, Telion gives you a rending, pinning, sniper-boltgun that you get to allocate the wounds from. He can also forfeit his shooting (aww) to allow one model in his squad to shoot at BS 6 (say, a scout with a missile launcher). Useful for putting pressure on your opponent and picking off specialists, which he will at least once in a game (problem, hidden powerfists?) Pricey, so consider your points. Also worth noting that he gives free Stealth to his unit (so you don't need to buy camo-cloaks).

Dedicated Transports[edit]

  • Rhinos - Very cheap and good transport since space marines are KNOWN TO HIDE IN MEHTAL BAWKSES, DA KOWARDZ! TEH FEWLZ! There's not much to say about it beyond "use it!" Seriously, don't footslog your marines. A walking marine is a dead marine, and dead men hold no objectives. The only upgrades recommended are Extra Armor, Dozer Blade, and maybe Hunter-Killer Missiles (if you have a lot of HK's in your army already). Once the guys are out of it, you can basically throw it away in petty dick moves like preventing charges, blocking line of sight, and tank shocking people into tight formation to be hit with flamers, more useful for shielding your own guys as it's side armour is 11, as opposed to the 10 most transports have (*cough* Chimera *cough*) so str 4 weapons (standard infantry power) can't penetrate it. You can also use its speed to dick around with Necrons if you feel like trolling them and don't really care about winning.
    • NOTE: look on the entry for the rhino in your codex and you will notice a rule that no-one ever uses. Opt out of shooting for a 1/6 chance of repairing an immobilized result, yay.
  • Razorback - The Razorback is a basically a Rhino but you can fit heavier guns on it including anti-tank weapons and of course more expensive than a standard Metal box. Carries six, enough for a combat squad and an HQ with Artificer armor. It fits with certain squads, but I would advise against it for your tacticals. It can also be very costly to put any good weapons on it, especially considering how fragile it is. One of the most popular configurations is to give it a Lascannon and Twin-linked Plasma Gun. Can be used to bring in a combat squad of 5 Marines with flamer/melta up close, and keep the other 5 behind with a heavy weapon. The largest problem is that you want to get things up to the enemy, and hardly have time to fire when moving flat out. The "stock" Razorback isn't a horrible choice; if you're not planning on putting the whole squad in the rhino (or if it's a small squad to begin with) why not pay the 5 points and get a Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter out of the deal? Not like it will change anything huge, but MOAR DAKKA is good. Another tactic is to use the Razorback to transport a 5 man Devastator squad to a good position, then augment their fire-power with its heavy weapon; works with both anti-infantry Devastators and anti-armour Devastators because the weapon can be easily changed.
  • Drop Pod - Also great, mainly because of it's ability to deep strike in the most useful position. Another great reason is the ability to avoid impossible terrain and models, thereby avoiding deep strike mishaps. Excellent tool to hunt tanks with squads of melta, or drop down a dreadnought where they least expect it. These transports suffer from the "Half on turn 1, half regular reserve" rule common to deep-striking forces nowadays (bring an odd number of them if you bring more than one, because the "half on turn one" is rounded up). However, even a single Drop Pod is a major psychological tool. A Deep-striking Dreadnought is almost guaranteed to change how your opponent deploys. Consider this carefully.
    • - Also note that the drop pod is one of two units able to take a Locator Beacon.

Elites[edit]

  • Terminator Squad - It's terminators, what's not to like about them? Expensive, but good. The regular terminators are best teleported in, but it depends on your enemies composition. If he has no AP2 or AP1 weaponry, footslogging them can be good, especially if you have an assault cannon or cyclone. If the enemy does have heavy weapons, it's best to deep strike them, and hope you can eliminate that weapon before that, or put them out of harms way. Can also go in a Land Raider, but I think it's a waste on normal terminators.
  • Assault Terminators - Is where you want a Land Raider at. They should absolutely not be footslogged if at all can be avoidable. Always keep a majority of them with thunder hammers, a composition of perhaps 4 thunderhammers and 2 lightning claws are the best, to get that 3+ Invulnerable save if he brings out anything big and nasty. These guys attract a LOT of firepower (i.e. all of it) so keeping them alive can be difficult. They wreck just about anything in the game. Be aware of anything that ignores both armor and invulnerable saves (Tyranid Swarm Lord, Necron's War Scythe etc) As that will ruin this expensive squad's day nothing does this anymore GREY KNIGHTS, so just watch out for shit that makes you reroll invul saves. Also, make sure you aren't tar-pitted (Nurgling etc). An interesting option is Kayvann Shrike allows all units to trade Combat Tactics for Fleet! Assault Termies have Combat Tactics, so suddenly your footslogging Assault Terminators are fleet, and become an incredibly dangerous unit, Shrike is expensive however.
    • As cool as they are, remember that they're expensive. Quite expensive. Like, A ready-for-battle-in-a-raider-squad will cost you 450+ points. Is that the best use of 450+ points? Choose carefully...
    • Also remember that a Land Raider is not 100% mandatory. If you want their Close Combat ability, but shrink at the price, consider putting a teleport homer or two in your list. It allows them a "Kinda safe" means of entering play that doesn't cost more points than the squad itself. Just be sure you have enough storm shields in the squad to cover your ass or you WILL be shot off table!
    • A third note: remember, a single Land Raider is a massive bullet magnet. Viable competitive lists bring two, but that's only viable at 2k pts, because you still want some support for your Termies.
  • Sternguard Veterans - Expensive 25 points models, but a very versatile ranged squad. Give combi-weapons to as many of them as you can, they're only five points and still let them use their special ammo for the boltgun. If you are fond of having a good ranged unit that can deal with almost any threat, bring in a squad of these in a Rhino. Razorback is bad as it requires disembarkation with the inevitable "SHOOT THEM OFF" from your enemy afterwards, while Rhino has the hatch. They also have access to a mix of two special/heavy weapons. If you take Pedro Kantor, they're scoring units (NOT troops, you still need to take tacticals) which allows you for some good ol' 4th edition style Las/Plas teams... but at too high a cost to be worth it. Another thing to be aware of is that although a storm bolter looks like a good upgrade, apparently you can't use their special ammo with it, which is TOTAL BULLSHIT, but them's the breaks.
    • Oh, and don't forget: Sternies get base 2 attacks. Not a lot of opponents know this, so when they get 3A on the charge or 2A when defending some players are a little surprised. Still, they should shoot first, assault only if completely necessary. Even Pedro Kantor doesn't make them super efficient at CC due to their cost.
    • A particular tactic of note, is to attach a Librarian to the squad, and use Gate of Infinity to jump around the battlefield and abuse their rapid fire range, and, should they get caught up in combat, the Librarian can still teleport them away. This all comes together to form incredible hit-and-run dickery.
  • Dreadnought - The charm about dreads is that they pack quite a lot of firepower, and melee power. They might not be the meanest killers in the field, but they can crush almost every vehicle in the game, and can tie up hordes of enemies without even being scratched. The most common configs are MM/HF for killing everything in the path and providing mobile multi-meltas, and the Rifleman. The Rifleman is the King of fire support, armed with two twin-linked autocannons (the S7 AP4 Heavy 2 kind), which allows it to rip through transports, monsters and infantry alike. The best part about Dreadnoughts is their versatility, you can kit one out in almost any way and it'll still be useful in some fashion or another (unless you're an idiot and replace the DCCW with a Missile Launcher, there is literally NO reason to ever do this).
  • Ironclad Dreadnought - The ultimate melee dread. Tough as nail with his 13/13/10 armour, and will tear your enemy a new one up close. Even better to use in as a close-threat in a drop-pod than the normal dread due to his increased durability. Sadly, like everything in this damned edition, it goes down to meltaguns rather easily, so be very careful about how/where you use him. Keep the Seismic Hammer unless you know you're going against a lot of AV14 vehicles, in which case use the Chainfist.
  • Venerable Dreadnought - Grandpa Dread has high BS and WS and will do a good job, and his reroll to the damage table can save him more times than not. He is however 60 points more expensive than a normal dread, and doesn't pack that much more *oomf*. One of these is nice if you like reliable vehicles. His special rule can be quite fun to use. "Using the rule. Reroll. What's that, you rolled a 1? That's too bad." Add a Techmarine and it becomes the second hardest vehicle to break in the game, the hardest being the Grey Knight version because they can nullify the Crew Shaken result. But generally, avoid it due to his high cost/low return, unless you really don't care about winning all that much and enjoy trolling the hell out of your opponent.
  • Siege Dreadnought (Forgeworld): An interesting, somewhat cost effective alternative to the Ironclad, albeit not as heavily armoured. Has an inferno cannon with (which can be replaced with a multi-melta for free) and an assault drill with a built in heavy flamer. Can also mount two hunter-killer missiles just like an Ironclad, but the standout feature is that assault drill: +D6 for armour pen rolls on bunkers, fortifications, buildings and motionless vehicles. Then you get to take a free heavy flamer shot against anyone inside.
  • Techmarine - Can be a useful unit in smaller point games (1000 or lower). Unfortunately, he has a hard time keeping up with the vehicles he's supposed to repair. However, an overlooked aspect of the Techy is that he's an absolute monster in close combat against non-power weapon wielding opponents. Fitting him with a Servo-Harness will have him crank out ten shitloads of attacks, so throw one on and watch a tarpit vanish like magic. However, he takes up one of your Elites slots that could probably be better filled by Dreads, Terminators, or Sternguard Vets.
    • Run a Techmarine alongside a Venerable Dreadnought or two, despite their cost its retarded how much firepower it takes to down them and it psyches out most players when the only thing they can do is Crew Shaken results.
  • The Legion of the Damned - I've never seen anyone field these guys. Ever. They're fairly expensive, but come with a 3+ invulnerable save, and get to re-roll their deep-strike result if it's not to your liking. (handy). They're also "Slow and Purposeful" (very bad). They can take a meltagun + MultiMelta, deepstrike in, and fire away. This will also cost you 200 pts. Or take some other configuration of special/heavy weapon, but their high cost prevents you from fielding a large squad. Unfortunately, despite their 2 Attacks, their slow movement usually sees them bogged down in some pointless combat instead of hunting priority targets. Because of these downsides, most people find this role better served by Sternguard with combi-meltas in a drop pod.
    • Don't use them, just cross that part of the codex out with a marker. Its just a Tactical Squad that can't be mechanized and is hard to move off a point... oops it can't Score and it can barely move to contest a point. The Special/Heavy Weapon is crap, its stupidly overpriced and can be taken elsewhere. The Sarge can dual-wield Powerfists, so thats a 3+ Invulnerable, 4 WS5 S8 powerfist attacks on the charge but doing this on the basic squad means you're paying slightly more then a Terminator unit of either flavour. Easily the most useless unit in the entire 'dex, and also the only unit in the 'dex that can't be used in some sort of interesting or effective strategy.
    • Alternate Opinion: Yes, the the Speis Zombies are 'spensive, but remember that you're basically getting a unit of Stern Guards that come with an accurate drop pod. Running against lots of Melta? That 3++ means you can (accurately) deep strike them into any zone and know that they'll most likely be around to harass your opponent long enough to pop a tank. Run them in a Vulkan list with a Multi-Melta and you should be able to pop at least one tank or two.
  • Contemptor-Pattern Dreadnought (Forgeworld) - A more advanced dreadnought, with more weapons options, greater base strength, 13 12 10 armour, a weapon skill of 5 and a substantial points hike. Also comes with 'fleet' (VERY useful), and automatic shielding (5+ inv. against shooting, 6+ inv. against close combat, and +1" to explosion if it suffers a 'vehicle explodes' result). Adding an extra dreadnought CCW would be best to take full advantage of 'fleet', but a shooty dread may be good since at range it retains a 5+ inv. save, and because the Kheres Pattern assault cannon is murderlicious (it's an assault cannon that's assault fucking 6!). However, the better loadout is two dread CCW's (one of which may be a chainfist), because contemptors get access to some nifty built-in guns to their hands: there's your standard storm bolter and heavy flamer, plus a plasma blaster (assault 2 plasma gun with an 18" range) and the freaky-deaky graviton gun. This gat shoots an AP3 small blast that forces a strength test or die and makes the terrain it hit difficult; vehicles are auto-glanced. Oh, and you can give the contemptor BS5 to go with its WS5 for a small upgrade.

Fast Attack[edit]

  • Assault Squad - Melee troop that can work both for deep striking or flying across the map. Not too expensive for what they do, and with a special character and a decently equipped sergeant they can handle most situations. They might not fare so well against super-melee squads, but their mobility helps them pick and chose, and dual-flamers even the odds against foes that would normally be far too numerous for them to consider taking on. Also if you can, give 'em melta bombs and see them ravage through enemy armor columns. Upgrade the Sergeant to give em' at least one guy with a power weapon.
  • Vanguard Veterans - Too expensive and unreliable; regular assault squads are more cost-effective. Their main ability is to charge after they deep strike, but it's both dangerous, and they need to land very close to the enemy, making them prone for mishaps (especially since it only works if they strike with their own jump packs and not drop pods). Additionally, they can't take any characters along for the ride. Simply not worth it. For what a decently-equipped squad of 8-10 Vanguard cost, you could easily get 10 Assault Terminators. Or 5 and Most of a Land Raider. Which would you rather have?
    • If you deep strike them anyway, a locator beacon is the best bet: first, drop pod an Ironclad dreadnought directly on top of an powerful enemy tank, and the drop pod will scatter to right next to it (Scout bikes work too, but less reliably). Then while the dread ties up the tank, use the pod's locator beacon to swoop in 5 Vanguard vets with melta bombs, then charge them straight into the tank and melt it into little pieces. With 5 vets all with melta bombs, this will work on anything from warbuggies to BANEBLADES!!! Once that's done, your vets and the Ironclad can go hunting.
  • Land Speeders - One of the most awesome and rage-inducing in the right hands units in the Codex. These little buggers are very fragile, but also very underrated. They come very cheap with a multi-melta, and can bring a heavy flamer for infantry hunting. Deep striking, they are excellent tank or infantry hunters. Only problem is that they may not last very long after they get their shots off, but if they do, they can deal some real damage to the enemy. Can also work with the Typhoon Missile Launcher and keep far out of harms reach, raining missiles at shit. When tackling enemy armour with multi-melta's, use the land speeder's maneuverability to your advantage, put the target between the speeder and the rest of his army, and pray you destroy the vehicle in one salvo, WITHOUT blowing it up, with any luck, the burning wreck will keep your flimsy aluminium speeder out of the kill zone. Obviously, this means you take on flank vehicles, charging this into the center of his army is useless...UNLESS, it's to kill a Leman Russ or something (an enemy's primary tank/threat) in a turn 1 suicide. Do remember to BLOCK enemy transports and tanks, since they can't move through the Speeder (and only AV14 tanks have the tiniest hope to ram him off). Great for delaying that big fat Land Raider from reaching your lines, for a 70 pts sacrifice (and a decent chance to kill said Raider with your underslung multi-melta).
    • Vulkan He'Stan makes the land speeder into an overpowered vehicle unit that will always get some hurt in, spamming 9 of them with Vulkan is like Turkey Slapping your opponent.
  • Stormtalon Gunship (White Dwarf) - Bastard son of Thunder Hawk and Land Speeder, this fast flyer comes with AV 11 round, aerial assault, supersonic and TL assault cannons and bolters, and can exchange HB's for lascannons, typhoon ML, or skystrike ML (which is basically 3-shot autocannon). While being more expensive than Land Speeder, this little fucker is a lot more survivable, and have some interesting rules.
  • Bike Squad - Bad as a Fast Attack choice, but a Biker Captain turns them into good Troops. Field squads of ten, get a flamer/combi-melta/multimelta or a variation thereof and hunt vehicles and light infantry. Try not to be bogged down in CC, remember to use Combat Squads and Combat Tactics, and that Bikes are a shooting unit with Relentless, and you'll be golden. Again, DO NOT take them as Fast Attack; putting them in a Troops slot lets you bring more Attack Bikes/Speeders instead.
  • Attack Bike - The Yang to Land Speeders' Yin, this is the Marines' other great FA unit. The debate on merits of the Speeder and the Bike is endless. Great for their two wounds, and heavy weapons. Can fit a variety of roles, from tank hunting to infantry harassing, but their low number of attacks, and inability to take a powerfist means they should be kept out of all but the most token of melee situations.
  • Scout Bike Squad - Pretty decent anti-infantry shooting unit, with Infiltrate, Scout and 6 Frag blasts, means they can quite hurt light infantry from a safe distance (24") right on turn 1, but they're a glass cannon (T5 helps, though). Krak grenades can glance or penetrate a bawks, too, so use them.
    • Locator Beacons. They're one of two units that can take them, and the only unit that can both start on the board, and be mobile.
    • Infiltrate + Scout move. They can turbo-boost up within 12" of the enemy before the game actually starts. This, combined with a Locator Beacon, allows for tactical insertion of your drop pods and, if you should so fancy, a scout-missile.
  • Land Speeder Storm - Pretty bad. The famous Scout Missile (see the Troops section) is easily countered by deploying a bubble-wrap unit around your tanks (so Scouts won't reach them due to 1" rule), and the Storm isn't good for anything else as it's VERY fragile, costs the same as a regular Speeder, and takes up a FA slot. Stay clear from this one.
  • Caestus Assault Ram (Forge World) - Craziest vehicle in the game, designed to ram things (hence the name), and accomplishes this by having a 5+ inv. save against attacks on the front (inc. rams, either from the enemy ramming you or you ramming them), re-rolls the armour penetration dice when ramming, and +1 to the vehicle damage roll, and fairly-impressive-for-a-skimmer armour of 13 13 11. Contains a twin-linked MAGNA-MELTA (WTF?), which is: range:18" str:8 AP:1 type:Heavy 1, large blast, melta. Sound fun, eh? Holds ten men, ideal for punching a hole in the enemy battle lines and disgorging troops, AND it's an assault vehicle, so straight into close combat (and no restriction against terminators, in fact, they only count as one man inside this, not two!). Now this means that the Caestus has to be fast, and it is! Its type is: fast, skimmer, and when going 'flat out', it moves 36"(!) instead of 24". Comes stock with extra armour, and Ceramite shielding (immunity to 'melta' rule). Options are: Firefury missile battery (range: 36" str:6 AP:4 type:Heavy 4, blast, twin-linked, one-use), Teleport homer, and Frag assault launchers. One should use the Caestus to ram straight through the strongest point in your enemies force, in most battles you'll be there on turn one, thanks to the 36" afterburner. Ram a tank with this (Generally given the colossal afterburner you'll give them a S10 hit) and then deploy the men inside (preferably dedicated H2H troops), and charge straight in against the nearest infantry, or if you feel like it, shove a grenade up a nearby tank's tailpipe.
  • Storm Eagle (Forge World) - Heavy flyer (Skimmer, Fast). Occupies the middle-ground between the Stormraven and the Thunderhawk. Transport capacity of 20, with terminators and jump infantry counting as 2 models each. Impressive arsenal of weaponry, standard armament: Hull-mounted twin-linked Heavy Bolter, Hull-mounted Vengeance Launcher (Range:48"|Str:5|AP:4|Heavy 2, Large Blast). Optional armament includes: Switching Heavy bolters for Multi-meltas or a Typhoon missile launcher, and adding 4 Hellstrike Missiles or 2 Twin-linked Lascannon under the wings. Also get ceramite shielding, and the 'Power of the Machine Spirit' special rule, along with 12|12|12 armour. Can also deep strike, and disembarking infantry can assault in the same turn.
  • Lucius Pattern Drop Pod (Forge World) - big dreadnought drop pod, which allow your dread to assault the same turn it deep strikes (with 1/6 chance of immobilize). Absolutely trollastic way to use your ironclads, especially, when your opponent have a lot of meltas. Though, it’s a bit expensive, have no weapon, no options (like teleport beacon) and take your Fast Attack slot.

Heavy Support[edit]

  • Predator - A unit that has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside. They serve two real purposes, Infantry killing, or Tank Hunting.
    • Infantry killing predators should be equipped with the default auto-cannon, and Heavy Bolter sponsors. It's dirt cheap (85pts) and can dakka pretty well. Upgrades are usually not necessary: Extra Armor is not critical, as you will in 99% cases be out of reach of any units with CC anti-tank, and 24" Storm Bolters won't get to shoot much after the 36" guns are done. The only thing worth considering is the Hunter-Killer missile, but even then, it's only efficient in numbers (like, 7-8 HKMs).
    • Tank hunting Predators are a bit over-priced for the fire power they deliver. The "cheap" configuration is auto-cannon turret with Lascannons in the sides. Optionally, you can upgrade the turret to Twin-Linked lascannons, but that starts getting pretty expensive (165 pts minimum, plus extra armor). Because it needs to sit largely stationary to fire, and because lascannons ain't what they used to be, most people have abandoned the las-pred in favor of melta-based tactics. If you really need some anti-vehicular firepower, the Land-Raider Terminus Ultra will do the job far more cost effectively by virtue of having twice as many lascannons and a lot more armor, all at a manageable price increase and less risk of going kaboom.
  • Devastator Squad - These are your tactical marines. Except they don't score. And their heavy weapons cost more. Some special weapons costs so much as to be totally impractical (lascannon most notably, but also the plasma cannon thanks to Gets Hot, and the template doesn't really hold up compared to cheaper, rapid-firing plasma guns). And the short range (and zero mobility) of the multi-melta will get ignored by all non-Salamander lists, unless for some insane reason your enemy's vehicles all have ridiculously short range (or a monstrous creature gets in your face, whereupon the AP1 will really do its magic). The most commonly used weapons here are Missile Launchers and Heavy Bolters. The first is somewhat versatile, able to threaten infantry and tanks both, and really shines in <1500 point games, while the second is much better against troops (but neigh-upon worthless against tanks; prioritize your targets).
    • Don't forget the Sergeant! He can take combi-weapons for one turn of extra punch. Or can be given a Power Fist for when someone charges your poor, vulnerable shooting squad. He also comes, stock, with a Signum. No one ever remembers to use it, which is a shame because +1BS to a single model in the squad can come in handy...
  • Vindicator - This guy has a big, scary gun. Hampered by its short range, this S10 AP2 pie-plate causes most people (especially other marine players) nightmares. It's bound to draw fire, lots and lots of fire. This is good because it keeps guns trained away from the rest of your army, but bad because it's easily shot down from the side (especially if your opponent deploys his anti-tank in opposite corners) and easily neutralized (seriously, EVERY damage result either makes it useless for at least a turn, if not permanently). If you're going to take one, take two, then you *might* actually get a chance to shoot it. Three of you're feeling gutsy.
    • Extra armour is a must. People go to great lengths to kill this guy, and keeping him alive and mobile is important. AV13 in the front is great for tank-shocking when your gun gets blown off.
      • Have a few mechanized units behind the Vindicator line, Las/Plas Razorbacks are the best, and hit the enemy lines fast and hard. Don't try to hold back or play finesse tactics, just use the Vindicators to make a hole and then pile as much stuff into the gap in one turn. Alternatively, play prudent and always reserve it. Then it can demolish something within 30" of your table edge easily, acting like a counter-charge of sorts. In the long run, neither of these ideas are particularly great, meaning your Vindi will have real trouble in "serious" games.
  • Land Raider - The biggest metal box of all. Can carry termies, and lets them assault after disembarking. Comes in eight flavors:
    • Classic (or Godhammer) pattern Land Raider - 2 sets of twin-linked lascannons and a twin-linked heavy bolter. Carries 12. You'd think its good for tank hunting. You'd be wrong. It's just too expensive for that. Land Raiders need to be transporting stuff, and running forward at great speeds. This Land Raider is a confused beast, best left alone. If you want a little bit more reasoning for why the classic Land Raider is comparatively useless, here's a bit more explanation: for the cost of having it on the table, this Land Raider needs to be able to do both of its roles effectively at the same time, but since transporting soldiers doesn't work well with standing up front and shooting too, there's no real way to make this one as effective as it needs to be. It's not completely useless thanks to Power of the Machine Spirit which allows an additional weapon to be fired at a different target (even while shaken/stunned), theoretically allowing you to move 6" and destroy two enemy tanks (if you're lucky). This tactic works quite well with Antaro Chronus as his BS 5 makes this more likely.
    • Crusader - 2 sets of "Hurricane Bolters" (3 regular bolters, all twin-linked, counts as defensive) and 1 twin-linked Assault cannon. Carries 16(!) This was, and sometimes still is, the old standby transport for terminators. Often with a multi-melta added (for popping shots at tanks). This carries up to 8 Terminators up close to the foe where they do their work. The Crusader WANTS to be up close, where its short-ranged, anti-infantry guns work wonders to support the squad it was escorting. Give it Extra Armor, nothing sucks more than a stunned Land Raider. This used to be the ultimate in Terminator delivery, but recently a challenger has appeared...
    • Redeemer - Keeps the twin-linked Assault Cannon of the Crusader, but replaces the side-mounted Hurricane Bolters with a pair of Flamestorm Cannons, nasty S6 AP3 flamers. Carries 12. The only other Land Raider you should even consider, even if it doesn't fit as many Terminators. Far Nastier against infantry than the crusader, but needs to be up closer... which means melta-range. Whoops. Also needs extra armor at all times. Multi-Melta optional, but nice. And the cherry on top: 10 points cheaper than the other two Land Raider varieties.
    • Terminus Ultra (Apocalypse) - Leman Russes and Baneblades got you down? Are Hammerhead gunships making you throw fits? Tyrannofexes slaughtering your tanks? Titans kicking your ass when you have none of your own? Do Predator Annihilators simply fail to cut it for you? Are your desperate, suicidal charges against a Monolith with only two tactical marines, two Predator Destructors, and three Land Speeders proving to be totally ineffective? Then the Terminus Ultra is a tank for you!!! Coming equipped with three(!) twin-linked lascannons and two single lascannons, it's only a measly 50 points more expensive than the standard Land Raider and has no troop carrying capacity. It is extremely effective against enemy armour, the Land raiders special rule allows the Terminus Ultra to easily take out 2 light vehicles in a single shooting phase or completely annihilate one heavy vehicle, I once managed to destroy a Warhound Titan with this thing. But some unlucky rolls can lead to the tank blowing up, through overheating of the lascannon batteries. Best used at long range, picking off the enemy vehicles one by one, or two by two. Pretty much, it causes enemy vehicles to suffer critical existence failure to an even greater degree than the Redeemer causes enemy infantry to spontaneously combust (probably because the Redeemer doesn't have an additional two weapon mounts.) If you could stick on a multi-melta or an additional Las-Cannon, all your anti-vehicle problems could be fixed but not even Matt Ward is willing to go that far. Antaro Chronus turns this into pretty much the final word in Imperial tank destroyers.
    • Achilles (Forgeworld) - Oh hell yes. For the same price as the Terminus Ultra, this beast sports a Thunderfire Cannon and twin-linked multi-melta sponsons, has immunity to the Melta and Lance special rules, puts a -1 penalty on most other attacks, can carry six models, and doesn't go 'splodey. Put a scout squad and a techmarine in it, plonk it down on an objective, and watch your opponent throw a shit fit.
    • Ares (Apocalypse) - This is for when a Vindicator just won't cut it. Comes standard with a Demolisher cannon, twin linked Assault cannons, twin-linked heavy flamer sponsons, and a siege shield, can take extra armour for +15pts, and always do have extra armour on it, the whole point of this tank is to get to the enemy lines as quickly as possible, therefore as soon as it's stunned, it's losing an entire turn of blowing the enemy apart as you'll reach them a turn later. When it was released there were those who questioned the point of the Demolisher cannon (By 'those', I mean Idiots, who wouldn't want a demolisher cannon...), as it's an ordnance weapon, no other weapons can be fired. HOWEVER, with the new 'Power of he machine spirit' rule, just make sure the Demolisher is the extra weapon you fire with POTMS, and you can still unleash all your weapons when stationary. Costs as much as two-and-a-half Vindicators, but a hell of a lot more survivable, and has more close-combat attack options into the bargain. This tank is the absolute final word in terminal close quarters battle, the demolisher cannon will annihilate half a unit, many more will be mown down by the Assault cannon, then move in to mop up with twin-linked heavy flamers (re-roll to wound), so...it's pretty good its armour can stand up to the punishment it will no doubt sustain on it's way to the enemy front lines.
      • Irritatingly, there is no way to buy a kit for this vehicle, Forgeworld or otherwise, so you have to build it from scratch.
    • Helios (Forgeworld) - A Whirlwind on steroids, which comes stock with twin-linked lascannon sponsons. More survivable and versatile than the Whirlwind, but is not worth the points cost. Also carries six models for some insane reason. If you ask us, it'd probably be better off not being able to transport infantry in exchange for two more gun mounts, probably autocannons. Mais c'est la vie.
    • Prometheus (Forgeworld) - Absolute and complete garbage. Don't even think about taking this; there is always a better way to spend your points. One would imagine something named Prometheus would be pretty legit like an uber Redeemer or something.
  • Antaro Chronus - Not really a character so much as he is an upgrade to a tank. An expensive upgrade to a tank. He makes it BS 5, and ignores shaken and stunned results. Great, for a shooty tank... but you don't really have many shooty tanks expensive enough to merit this upgrade, except the Land Raider Terminus Ultra, conversely you could put him in an Achilles and make it even MORE resilient, resulting in absolutely 3PIC RAGE by your opponent as ridiculous amounts of firepower are literally thrown at the Achilles and nothing happens. Plus, you have a 2/3 chance of making the tank worth 2 kill points, as the 1W mook who pops out won't do much but die horribly.
  • Whirlwind - An often forgotten option, the cheap whirlwind tank is actually an excellent troop hunter. Especially against the "swarm" armies (Nids, Orks, Guard). It comes stock with a choice of two shots, one with a better strength and AP for hunting troops in the open, and another, weaker shot that ignores cover saves (quite useful). The Whirlwind's real boon is it's ability to fire indirectly, and only having one gun means you can shuffle around every turn without compromising your fire power, on top of this, the 'barrage' type of its weapon means approaching units that have poor leadership(guardsmen, gaunts etc.) can be easily pinned and stay there while you pound them. While it lacks the sheer range and firepower of the Imperial Guard's Basilisk, it is pretty damned good for an artillery unit. But, unfortunately, in MechHammer 40k it's useless as it can't deal with vehicles whatsoever.
  • Thunderfire Cannon - Another often forgotten option. This one's almost never worth remembering though. In case you care, while it is cheap, and does put out an impressive amount of firepower "on paper", it's Artillery, and therefore extremely fragile. Like, worse-than-land-speeder fragile. And completely stationary. Works fine in small (sub 750pt) games where you'll be facing relatively little firepower, but in larger games it will die right off the bat. Most forget that it even exists in Apocalypse games where you'll have access to units with even more firepower and the sheer amount of dakka that will be tossed around will cause this gun to spontaneously explode. The Thunderfire Cannon does have one saving grace, however: it comes with a free Techmarine with a servo-harness. If you plan on taking Techmarines anyway and have the slots open, you might as well get one cannon round out of it for 25 points. Against armies that are heavily mechanized and must bunch up all their transports, 1-2 Thunderfire Cannons can cockblock the entire army with the earthquake shells, provided you actually have something else in the list for breaking those transports. Also the Earthquake shells can really fuck vehicle squadrons by making them waste movement to go around the templates (but again, if you're using this as a big tactic, you sure as fuck need something else to break those vehicles!!)
    • TFCs can be Awesome in Apocalypse if you use them right, especially against horde armies you can just spam the Subterranean shells at. The key here is the Subterranean Shell's Tremor rule; opponents really don't like it when you're constantly putting down Blast templates of difficult/dangerous terrain in their way, even if the shell doesn't hurt anything. Do this every turn you're not firing on infantry, and many start trying to spread out and attempt a pincer rather than risk terrain tests.
  • Deathstorm Drop Pod (Forgeworld) - Expecting the drop pod that just landed to contain troops or a heavy weapons platform you don't have to worry about until next turn? SURPRISE! Whirlwind missiles! For you! In the face! When this modified drop pod lands, it immediately attacks every unit (friend or foe) in 12" and in line of sight d3 times, then attacks normally every subsequent term. It can also be upgraded to assault cannons for an extra 20 points, but this should only be done if you expect it to survive more than one turn (and you really shouldn't). Very situational, but if your opponent fields lots of small units relatively close together, dropping this in the middle of them is almost guaranteed to ruin his day. Can't take a locator beacon, though.
  • Contemptor Mortis (Forgeworld): Probably the best Contemptor variant, this guy trades in fleet for BS5 and AA shots if it stands still and can mount a big gun in each arm PLUS a cyclone missile launcher. Here's your loadout: ignore everything and take 2 Kheres pattern assault cannons and a cyclone missile launcher. There! You're done. If you find yourself not in range of the assault cannons, move forward and throw down with a couple of BS5 missiles. If you DO have something in assault cannon range, hold still and let the rape flow - your dread will loose a total of 12 S6 AP4 rending shots at 24" on a hapless unit and if you stood still, you can drop 2 more missiles on the poor fuckers ALL OF IT HITTING ON 2'S!

Super Heavy[edit]

  • Thunder Hawk Gunship - There is only one reason why you don't already have one, it costs a shitload of cash(£399), apart from this...small...price, the Thunderhawk has virtually no downsides, at 900 points it's certainly expensive, and it doesn't have much armour (12,12,12) but it does have 3 structure points and is immune to the 'melta' special rule. It's title of gunship is well deserved, it has a turbo laser (yes a fucking strength D weapon with a 5" blast!!!), four twin-linked heavy Bolters, two Lascannons and 6 weapon pylons, which can contain bombs or Hellstrike missiles. It also has a "modest" transport capacity of 30, so you can hold an entire 10 man squad of Terminators in this thing AND a techmarine and servitors to keep the thing running (they ARE allowed to repair vehicles they're embarked on, awesome). As the only super heavy vehicle in the space marines armoury, you will almost never field more than one of these, fortunately, you only need one. The best way to use this vehicle is to get close combat Terminators right into the middle of the enemies most dangerous shooting formation, then use the fearsome weapons on the gunship to destroy enemy vehicles that can insta-kill your guys, allowing your Terminators to destroy the shooty infantry and keep your grunts alive. Used properly this vehicle WILL make your opponent shit bricks, used improperly, it will do nothing but die uselessly as it gets pummelled by 900 points worth of enemy lascannons, rockets, missiles, battle cannon and lances, then it will explode and take the most of the rest of your army with it, because of this NEVER EVER keep it static, it's tempting to just hang back and pummel the enemies vehicles with the turbo laser, but don't.
  • Fellblade - This is your ELEVEN BARRELS OF HELL, + 1BS,+ ignore one "crew" result per turn, + reroll morale in 24" radius, +100 points. Though, Fellblade is "semi-approved", so don’t expect to use it on tournaments.
    • Broadsword - Fellblade with turret mounted Vulcan Megabolder, Inferno Cannon or Heavy Frag Cannon. This thing absolutely RAPES any infantry, within its range.
      • SACTIMONIA CRUORIS - Named Blood Angels Broadsword. Can Must deep strike, which is not a good idea, because this is fuckhuge tank. But it can score objectives. Trololo.
    • Glaive - Fellblade with two big "Siege Breaker" cannons (R48/S10/AP2/Ordnance 2, 5" blast) instead of demolisher and main turret. What Broadsword is to infantry, Glaive is to vehicles and buildings.
      • IRON BREAKER – Named Imperial Fists Glaive, loaded with siege breakers and FOUR twin-linked sponson-mounted multimeltas. It can forego normal siege breakers shooting for one S10 AP2 Ordnance 1, 10” blast shot with no halving strength on partials. And it scores too.
    • Lancer - Fellblade with turret-mounted Warhound-calss main gun. Totally worth it.
    • Hercules - Command tank. No turret weapon, no demolisher cannon, only five twin-las+twin-HB sponsons. But! It can transport up to 40 models, 20 of which can shoot from top platform. It gives you Flank March and Orbital Bombardment strategic assets, AND, its shield generator makes everything in 12” 4+ invuln.

Building Your Army[edit]

  • Games workshop advocates it in all their codices, and I'm going to repeat it here: Start with an HQ, and two troops.
    • Good starting HQs are:
      • Captain (who's an adequate h2h threat in low point games)
      • Librarian (who is an adequate shooting threat in low point games) and grows well with the army
    • Good starting troops are:
      • Tactical squad with Flamer, Missile Launcher. Cheap (Assault on Black reach set) versatile, convert Sergeant to have a power fist for bonus points.
      • Another Tactical squad. Melta gun. Missile Launcher. Branch out on your weapons. Melta weapons are key at higher point values...
      • A small scout unit with shotguns. Shotguns are fun, good flanking unit. Can become a "Scout missile" later on.
      • A small shooty scout unit with Camo cloaks and (possibly) Telion.

Once you've got a start on your army, the most important thing to do is play the game. A lot. Learn what you like. Build your army around that. Space marines can be build with more assault or shooting aspects as suits your preference. Experiment a lot. Very few units are outright bad, so if something's cool, you can find a way to make it work in your army. If your really stuck for ideas, just make a space marine company (6 tacticals, 2 devastators, 2 assaults, 2 dreadnoughts, 1 captain & command sq.), everything here has it's place, and provides and exceptional infantry base if you want to expand with armoured vehicles.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Note that generic marines are a "jack-of-all trades, master of none" type army: each unit type has a loose yet specific role that they're best at, and because something in the Codex covers each base the army itself is adaptable to pretty much any tactic... BUT the army as a whole can't really excel in 1 general area.
    • With that in mind, find what your opponent is most vulnerable to, then organize your stuff accordingly. Tau will outshoot you, but they're are weak to assault, so get some bikes to close the distance. Eldar will try to break you apart and escape, but they're fragile, so keep your big armor in their way and hit them with more guns than they can run from, and just outlast them.
  • MEHTAL BAWKSES save your life and time. Space marines love being in metal boxes. They make the tough marines even tougher. Stop them from getting bogged down in pointless hand to hand combats, prevent them from being pinned, and, perhaps most importantly, let them move faster and prevent them from being tarpitted. Invest in rhinos/razorbacks.
  • You're not a Khorne Berserker. You're not even a Blood Angel. You cannot turn anything at close range into mulch while being fearless. Pick your close combats wisely. Pure H2H focused space marine armies will struggle against codices that were actually designed with close combat in mind.
  • You're not a Tau Fire Warrior. You can't out-shoot *everything* no matter how many guns you take.
  • You're not a Guardsman, Sluggaboy, or Gaunt. You cannot defeat your enemies through weight of numbers alone. Don't sacrifice your men without careful consideration.
  • You're not a Grey Knight, Movie Marine, or Necron Immortal. You cannot rely on individual strength to win. Do not rely too strongly on small numbers of high priced units.
  • You're not a Necron Immortal or a Necron Warrior. You are tough, but you can't get back up. Stay under freaking cover!
  • You're not a Leman Russ Squadron. You can't take a bunch of vehicles and just crush everything in your way. Your tanks are good, but not great, so keep them just as alert as the rest of your minis and let them do their jobs.

Overall, space marine armies require BALANCE to succeed. As Charles Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

Tactics[edit]

"Yee who dare enter within these sacred walls, heed thee wisdom of the ancients as it is written, but see past the mere limitations of words and bold statements.

1) thou shalt ne'er dismount from thy sacred steel coffin. Doing so is equal to doing the enemy's work. He cannot hurt thou until he hast dismounted thou power armored asses from thy rhinos, and all thy most fearsome weapons are usable from thy blessed rhino hatch of potent power and might.

2) thou shalt fear no evil, for thou ist fear incarnate, but thou shalt not let this power go to thine head. Thou shalt respect the enemy as thou respect thy own forces, for arrogance leads to your downfall, and the swift loss of massive chunks of thine army to 'only lasguns,' and 'puny long-ranged meltaguns,' or 'that immobilized chaos dread in the corner.'

3) while thine sacred, holy, blessed space marines are an elite force, the likes of which has ne'er been seen prior to, or since, strength is still to be found in numbers, for while a single squad of thine most esteemed sternguard will fall versus 20 chaos marines, 3 squads will not.

4) thou shalt ensure thou uses the enemy's strengths and weaknesses against them equally. If your foe is strong up close, you will prevent him from getting there. If he is slow and plentiful, thou wilst thin his ranks with potshots, while biding thine time to lay into him with tankshock, sacred heavy flamer, and assaults on your terms. If he is powerful at range, you will drive towards him most fearlessly, making careful use of terrain, smoke launchers, the superior armor value of thine vigilant and invincible predators, and bunkering up where his guns are the thinnest. If his numbers are few, but strong in spirit and of body, thou shalt focus fire on one unit at a time, until it is no more. if the enemy is fast, you will present him with a wall of rhinos shielding thy sacred space marine infantry, and careful placement and redeployment to make his valiant efforts for victory futile.

5) thou shalt not, under any circumstance, allow the vile enemy to have her or his way. If faced with a charge from 20 ork boyz, thou shalt famously unload thy blessed boltpistols and free flamer into their ranks, and thereafter take the charge most gloriously and defyingly, denying them the initiative, all charging bonuses, and catching the enemy commander unprepared, for yours is the gear, the profile, and the abilities to turn certain death into certain victory.

6) thou will fight on all ground, in all terrain, on all fields of combat, and thou wilt do so with stubborn cunning, and the unrelenting, unlimited imagination held by all human beings. Thou wilt use the pieces of the board for all they're worth, and attacking the flanks of any entrenched, isolated firebase with no doubt or hesitation in mind, for it takes a lot of autocannons to guarantee the kill of even a single rhino, and thou wilt field at least 4 at all times.

7) the only way to waste firepower is to be out of range.

8) thou shalt always hold the initiative. Thou shalt press on, and use thine forces expertly, while applying pressure to the enemy from the flanks, the rear, and the front - anywhere it is possible. Thou shalt never remain immobile, for giving up thy movement is tantamount to rolling over like a bitch, and presenting thy previously mentioned power armored ass to the enemy.

9) thine space marines are few in numbers, yet strong and reliable. They will hold the line where lesser men may not, and survive firepower that would render any ordinary squad dead. Thou shalt trust in thy power armor, thine krak grenades, holy boltgun, boltpistol, and thine most underestimated frag grenade, for few of the foe's elite are as royally equipped as thine grunts, or as capable of using them.

10) thou shalt learn to appreciate a very powerful, versatile, unfocused profile, for yours is the strength and power of three lesser men, contained in one package. Where a man may be exceptional at shooting or combat, thine grunts are capable of both in equal measure, and blessed with the gear to make both a reality.

11) while a plasmagun will ignore thy power armor, it will not ignore thy high leadership, or thy sacred cover save. Unless you elect to fall back, you will hold most stubbornly on a consistent basis.

12) cowardice does not exist. The popular sentiment is 'he who runs away lives to fight another day.' This is not so. He who runs away lives to rapid fire bolters against the foe that made him run away.

13) knowledge is power, but power is useless if it's not being put to use. Study thy opponent's tome of lore and wisdom. Read it again, closer. Put the words to mind, so thou wilst not hesitate that destroyers are indeed toughness 5, and a krak missile thusly wilst not inflict instant death on eet.

14) thou shalt ne'er do the opponent's work for him. While the lesser races, such as eldar, are wont to kill their own units with Yriel's eye of death, you know better. Thou shalt not ever, under any circumstance, nuke too close to your own units, or 'assault' with a depleted 3 man tactical squad - no! For that tactical squad shall hide inside the nearby, immobilized rhino, so that thy foe has to dig them out to score the killpoint, and make thy 3 space marines stop firing bolters.

15) though it may take a lesser foe 10 shots fired to damage armor, thy space marines bring melta, and thy blessed profile gives thou a significantly higher chance to score hits, cutting the necessary firepower down considerably. Thou wilst not forget this, for it is the mark of a fool to focus too little or too much dakka and manpower on the task of destroying a single chimera.

16) thou shalt not load up on tactical marines, for it weakens your army immensely. Thine two mandatory meltabunkers are plenty, and thy further troops slots shalt only ever be employed in case thou needeth more plasmaback or assbacks."

Source (this blog also has a wealth of useful info about playing tabletop 40k, so check it out).

Warhammer 40,000 Tactics Articles
General Tactics
Imperium
Chaos
Eldar
Necrons
Orks
Tau
Tyranids