Monday, October 6, 2008

First Impressions of Codex: Space Marines

It’s thick.

There’s a huge background section which focuses on the Ultramarines. The Ultramarines are really being pushed as THE ultimate Space Marine chapter, which, in a way, they are.

This is bound to anger some of the other founding chapter players, like Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, etc. But there’s a reason why the Ultramarines are dominant. They came out of the Horus Heresy largely intact, which cannot be said for the other loyalist chapters. Their dominance shows in the fact that 3/5 of all Space Marine chapters are descended from the Ultramarines, and that the Codex Astartes is so prevalent. Some players may argue that the Ultramarines are "boring." Boring they might be to some players, but they make up for that with sheer power. If you want to play one of the more "characterful" chapters like Blood Angels, Dark Angels, or Space Wolves, that’s perfectly fine, but don’t complain when the Ultramarines are described as being more powerful. Those chapters are cool because of their character, not their raw power, and that’s why you wanted to play them in the first place. Still, a line like this is bound to cause some legitimate gnashing of teeth: "Some [chapters], such as the Blood Angels and their successors, strive to be worthy of Guilliman’s legacy, but their recalcitrant gene-seed drives them ever further from it." (p.24)(emphasis added) I would think that the sons of Sanguinius would want to tell the person making that statement that Guilliman’s successors should be striving to be worthy of the legacy of their angel-winged primarch, rather than the other way around. But then, Codex Space Marines is a book about the Ultramarines and their successors, so some creative license is expected.

Some of the background seems to have changed for some chapters, directly contradicting previously published works, for example:

  • For my beloved Raven Guard, previous background has stated that the Raven Guard never fully recovered from its decimation at Isstvan V, so they are constantly low on vehicles and other heavy equipment. Yet the new codex states that since Deliverance has the production capacity of a small forge world, the Raven Guard "rarely lacks for the materiel to prosecute its campaigns."(p.25)
  • For the Brazen Claws, it used to be canon that the chapter sent all 10 companies to fight in the 13th Black Crusade. Now, apparently the Brazen Claw embarked on a crusade into the Eye of Terror after their Chapter planet was destroyed by daemonic forces. (p.29) I suppose that these two statements can be reconciled, but the old canon seemed to indicate that they went on crusade along with all the other imperial forces, whereas now they seem to be on a lone crusade motivated by revenge.
  • In the 5th Edition 40k rulebook, it states that in 546.M32, the Halo Brethren, Imperial Fists, and Sable Swords Chapters kill the traitorous Drakan Vangorich, Granter Master of the Officio Assassinorum. (p.124) Yet in Codex: Space Marines, it states that the Sable Swords Chapter was "[f]ounded in the latter years of M41" (p.28).

    Here’s a list of the things that jumped out at me while looking at how my armies would be affected by the new codex:
  • Assault Marines essentially get their jump packs for 2 points a model. They can forgo the jump packs as in the past, but they do not get a points credit like they used to. But since the packs are cheaper now, it doesn’t matter much.
  • Techmarines lose their signum, but the Devastator Sergeant gets one as standard, which is a net gain as far as I’m concerned.
  • Terminator Honors is gone, so my captain effectively loses an attack. But then, my captain can get Hellfire rounds for his bolter, which is very cool.
  • Space Marines did go up in cost, but Rhinos went down in cost, and the basic special/heavy weapon loadout (flamer/missile launcher) is free, so a standard tactical squad with transport costs less now than it used to. (205 as compared to 219 points)
  • Captain Shrike can get a command squad all armed with Lightning Claws, but there is NO option for them to get jump packs. I have to think that this is an oversight. (Update: As somewhat_damaged pointed out, it is possible to get Shrike's Wing by using a Vanguard Veterans Squad instead of a Command Squad, and you can always field a Command Squad separately. A little roundabout way of doing it, but it works.)
  • Razorbacks get the Lascannon & twin-linked plasma gun option again, which allows players to use the old school Razorback again. I don’t own one, but I know this will make some players happy.
  • The Landspeeder Storm looks to be really cool, and their Cerberus Launcher seems cool to supplement the scouts assaulting, but it begs the question: Why on earth would you assault anyone with a 5-man scout squad? There are very few targets that would make this worthwhile, unless they’re supporting the assault of another friendly unit, or attacking extremely weak units. It doesn’t seem like this will happen enough to make them worthwhile to get.
  • Scout shotguns are now S4, which makes them worth getting now.
  • My Brazen Claws are begging me to get them some Sternguard and a Land Raider Redeemer.

    Somewhat_Damaged said...

    A couple of things:

    A vanguard veteran squad can take twin lighting claws and jump-packs. So theres Shrikes wing.

    If you dont want a 5 man scout squad; take 10, split them into combat squads, and put 5 in the storm. Problem solved.

    Darkwing said...

    Ok, Vanguard Veterans will work then, but then why allow Shrike a normal command squad then? He has a jump pack, and they don't.

    As for scouts, the problem is not that I don't want a 5 man squad, but rather that a 5-man squad (the most a Landspeeder Storm can carry) isn't exactly a close combat monster. You'd have to choose your targets extremely carefully in order to ensure that your 5 man scout squad will win the combat. Scout squad in general are much better used, in my opinion, as ranged harrassment squads, not as assault units.

    Somewhat_Damaged said...

    why allow shrike a command squad?

    because he doesn't need to join them.
    command squads are seperate units now and not retinues like they used to be (so no IC safety in combat).

    Darkwing said...

    Ok, that makes sense. I'm just used to running captains with their command squads...

    Varchilde said...

    The Storm Speeder is the epitome of combined arms.

    You can double team the assaulting scouts with another squad to generate the wounds. Basically use the scouts to allow another assault unit to benefit from the Cerberus Launcher.

    If you win an assault by 1 wound with a Cerberus Launcher in play the best your opponent can test on to break is Ld7 assuming non fearless, non stubborn.

    And don't forget you can soften up a unit before assaulting it! Heavy Flamer from the Storm, combi flamer from the Scout Sgt. Charge!

    You can do light weight tank busting. Multi Melta from the Storm. Kraks from assaulting scouts. PFist/Combi Melta/Melta Bombs from Sarge.

    In the age of Pedro/Stern Guard/Khan/Outflanking Assault Raider Termi Spam I quite dig the subtlety of the Storm.

    I've actually got a Storm built and painted up (with magnetic weapon loads I might add!!!) that I'm itching to try out. Got a game next week where it'll hopefully see use.

    Darkwing said...

    Good luck with your game. You'll have to tell me how the Storm does.

    Varchilde said...

    The Storm and the Scouts got to play against Necrons.

    Not too sure the set up would do too well against MEQs.

    I loaded the Storm to support an assault (Heavy Flamer, Scouts with pistol and combat blades, sgt with power weapon).

    The speeder outflanked and turned up behind the necron lines on turn 3. (The same turn my assault marines hit the Necron lines).

    The scouts picked on a warrior squad camping near an objective.

    Hit half a dozen warriors with the heavy flamer. Not a single casualty due to some jammy armour saves. Same for the scouts shooting.

    However the scouts did win the assault. 2 regular wounds. 2 power weapon wounds. None taken in return. Count in the cerberus launchers and the Warriors test on 4. Warriors failed and then got swept.

    That's pretty jammy for the scouts to be honest so I don't think they will do as well in general. Loads of fun and a big surprise when they wasted that warrior squad though!

    Unfortunately the scouts massacre move wasn't good enough to get them into cover and they were executed by an immortal squad (AP4 shooting) on the next turn...