Friday, May 31, 2013

Space Marines and Allies

Until we get a new Space Marine Codex (and potentially after), allies are an important part of keeping the army competitive. I’ve been very resistant to allies so far, mostly due to my love of fluff. Allies are to 6th Edition what Special Characters were to 4th; they may be very useful on the table, but they rub an old fluff gamer like me the wrong way. How many battles would Mephiston be personally present for? How often would Craftworld Eldar really bring their dark kin along to the battlefield?

I must admit that my resistance is not only from a background perspective. I also have some stubborn pride. If I can’t win using my own codex, I don’t deserve to win. After all, what’s the point of playing Space Marines if I’m bringing in the Imperial Guard to win my battles?

Even so, it’s become obvious to me that allies are an integral part of doing well on the table in 6th Edition. Just as I don’t think it’s possible to win by ignoring flyers, I don’t think a stubborn refusal to use allies is going to win me many games.

So what do I want from allies? As I see it, there are several weaknesses to the Space Marine codex where allies can take up the slack.

1)      Skyfire. This is a continuation of my well-documented hatred of enemy flyers. The only answer Space Marines can bring is their own flyers and one fortification. Many of the new codices have better access to skyfire, and even the older IG codex has access to some.

2)      Really efficient scoring units. While they got better in this edition, no one mistakes Tactical Marines for the best Troops in the game. They’re expensive compared to their alternatives (Dark Angels Tactical Marines, Blood Angels Assault Marines, Grey Hunters), and they’re not at all flexible. Scouts are cheaper and are a fairly durable objective sitter, but they don’t do much damage and they die easily if targeted by anything that ignores cover.

3)      Numerous infantry. There’s been a real increase in the viability of massed infantry in this edition. They’re great at holding objectives, produce tons of anti-infantry firepower to swamp heavy infantry, and can make up for their weak armor with fortifications. In addition, there seem to be a proliferation of rules that provide buffs to entire units, and larger units benefit most from these.

This will be the start of a series of articles addressing which allies I think really benefit Space Marines. Of the many options, I think a few stand out. Adding more power armor to the army doesn’t seem to add too much, so I won’t be discussing the other Astartes codices or the Sisters of Battle. This leaves Imperial Guard, Tau, and Eldar, all of which I think fit my criteria for a good ally.


  1. bring guards to hold objectives with massed infantry with vendettas for AA and ground attack and you are swell.

  2. I feel the same way. I hate the concept of allies with a burning passion, and the 'allies chart' doesn't help the cause as it seems the xenophobic marines are more happy to work with Necrons and Tau than Sisters of Battle. Makes no sense to me. Buuuuuut, the meta has changed and we have to change with it.
    I'm thinking that SM with Tau will be a great mix. Taking the long range and cheapo Fire Warriors to camp, with a cheap Ethereal to boost them, plus maybe a Riptide to get that all-too-rare pie plate of doom, plus maybe a broadside or two to get that best skyfire in the game, and BLAM! It's not hard at that point to drop some Vanguard and a Termies-riding-in-Land Raider focus to make the Marines truly scary. But this is 'spitballing' for me, I haven't given any real serious thought to that.
    My IG, on the other hand, are going to have some GK allies added. I'm set on this as a)that fills the weaknesses spectacularly in an already cheap army, and b)THAT'S HOW IT ALL STARTED ANYWAY! Less thought, more fluff-head on that one. :-)


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