Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The 4 Best (and 2 Worst) Parts of the New Space Marine Codex

I know I've been on an Eldar kick recently, but I still love my Space Marines. I picked up the new codex and gave it a good read-through. I have to say that I'm pretty darn pleased with it. I'll get to a more thorough review once I play some games (and finish the Codex: Eldar review), but here are some initial thoughts.

The Best Parts:

 1) The Chapter traits

The Chapter traits are exactly what I wanted to see. They're fluffy but still very useful, and they seem pretty well balanced. The Ultramarines give them tremendous flexibility, the Iron Hands are as tough as they should be, and the White Scars are tremendously mobile. I'm particularly happy with the Imperial Fist rules since they boost damage output consistently. Nothing flashy but lots of utility. Traits for the First Founding Chapters are all they need, eliminating the abuses of the 4th Edition trait system. Best of all, you can now run a themed army without special characters!

2) Cheaper Units

There are point drops in many places that we needed them. Land Speeder Typhoons dropped to a reasonable cost. The all lascannon Predator Annihilator dropped to the point that it's worth taking (which is great because that's my favorite loadout). Devastators dropped to be on par with the other Space Marine codices. Sternguard and Vanguard Veterans both dropped to more appropriate costs, given their limited durability. Interestingly, Honor Guard now seem like a viable assault unit. I may convert some up for my Executioners.

3) Tactical Marines

Tactical squads are worth a special mention. They didn't actually get a point break, but you can now choose their upgrades with much more flexibility. Squads of five marines can take a heavy weapon. You're not required to take a Veteran Sergeant. The flexibility really makes them more interesting and not the same millstone that they used to be.

4) Generic Characters

The generic HQ choices now seem like viable alternatives to the named characters. Chapter Masters picked up an extra attack and wound, and can now use Orbital Bombardment when he moves (This last bit is incorrect. I misread the rule, and was corrected in the comments. Chapter Masters are still pretty awesome though). Librarians and Chaplains became cheaper, even if the Librarian is upgraded to mastery level 2. In addition, Chapter Relics allow you to make generic HQ pretty nasty, giving them some great assault weapons as well as very durable armor. There's even a pretty awesome special bolter.

Those are all great, but there are a few bits I'm not crazy about.

1) Special Characters and Chapter Tactics

You can now only include named characters in armies that share their chapter tactics. This makes complete sense fluffwise and cuts down on some previous abuses. However, they didn't add any new characters, so this becomes very limiting to non-Ultramarines. In the previous codex, Ultramarine characters could slot into any force without interfering with Chapter Tactics. Now, other Chapters can't take superior Librarians or Chaplains. They don't have veteran tank commanders or scout sergeants. I hope the rumored supplements do something to fix this imbalance. Also, where's the Iron Hands' special character?

2) Bolter Drill Limitations

This one may seem nitpicky since I'm using the Imperial Fist traits, but I cannot figure out why Bolter Drill doesn't work with Sternguard ammunition. It would hardly be overpowered if their accuracy improved a bit, and it makes sense since Sternguard are fluffy Fist units (especially for the Crimson Fists). I will grant that it might be too good with vengeance rounds, since you could essentially ignore Gets Hot, but it could still work with the other rounds. On a similar note, I don't see why the Raven Guard traits don't let jump infantry Scout.

Aside from those small gripes, I'm really excited to use the new codex. I'll be interspersing my experiences with the new Executioners with my thoughts on the Eldar.


  1. With as many 1's as I roll to hit, I've been clinging to the bolter drill like its a life line! lol, that and my army has in the past been called 'bolter hell' as it lacks an assault element, but is instead just 10 man tac squads and also has an all heavy bolter dev squad.

  2. I totally agree with you regarding chapter traits, i think they've been done very well on the whole. Couple of things I think you may have missed though - Chapter Masters can't use orbital bombardment if they move as it's an ordnance weapon (ok, they can if you put them on a bike).

    My guess as to why the raven guard jump infantry can't scout (and i need to check the exact wording of the rules on this) is because they'd then be able to scout 12", then move 12" and charge on their first turn, re-rolling failed hammer of wrath wounds. Seems to fly in the face of 6th editions 'Though shalt not get into assault on turn 1' philosophy.

  3. @Da Masta Cheef

    How have the heavy bolters been working out for you? I've been thinking about adding some to my Tactical squads since it accentuates their anti-infantry role and they fire better on the move.

    @Nick Thrower

    My mistake on the orbital bombardment. I read that it didn't prevent the Chapter Master from assaulting and assumed he could move without thinking it through.

    As for the Raven Guard Scout question, your logic makes a lot of sense until you look at Khan's rules, which give all his bikes Scout. They have the same speed, as well as a bonus to their Hammer of Wrath attacks. Both have to deal with the fact that they can't assault during the first player turn, but Khan can easily assault immediately after that. Fortunately, Raven Guard Assault Squads should only be marginally slower since they can use their jump packs in both phases.


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