The Space Marines are back, and they’ve got some interesting rules going for them in their Codex. But are their Crusade rules as solid as the remainder of their rules? Read on to find out.
Before we swear an Oath to commit to the fair and noble undertaking of this review, we’d like to thank GW for providing us with a copy of the book for review purposes.
While we were initially fairly pleased with the Crusade rules that appeared in the 9th edition Marines codex, with the benefit of hindsight there honestly wasn’t a lot there. Compared to the narrative arcs built into the rules for factions like Genestealer Cults building to the Day of Ascension, Drukhari playing Real Estate Royale like some kind of Comorrite Kazuma Kiryu, or Ork characters picking a fight with the Warboss to try to take control (or even successor chapters like Dark Angels and their hunt for the Fallen), Marines had…honorifics for their Captains? That’s it? Really?
So while Marines did suffer from the sorts of growing pains we expect to see when an entirely new mode of play is added to the game, the question at the fore of the collective minds of the Goonhammer Narrative Braintrust was: will Space Marines have a core Crusade mechanic that’s worth the paper it’s written on?
We are happy to report that they do, and, honestly? It kinda rules. Oathsworn Campaigns offer simple but meaningful narrative hooks to describe your force’s current mission as they Crusade across the myriad battlefields of the 41st millennium. To get started, simply choose the Oathsworn Campaign that fits the story you want to tell, and you’ll instantly get access to a bespoke Requisition and set of agendas to help forge your narrative.
Beanith: Much less to hand wave away when it comes to Tyranids consuming planets or T’au taking over a system IMHO.
The Requisition each Campaign comes with leans into the theme it’s built around, letting you dictate the terms of engagement for an upcoming battle, or select one Space Marine from your force for commendation by Chapter Command. You’ll also find a table of three bonus Agendas that you get to take in addition to the agendas you’ll take from either this book and the main rule book based on your game size. These bonus agenda don’t generate XP, though: instead, they generate Honour Points that you can spend to upgrade your units. And as a bonus, they’re also themed around your chosen campaign
Beanith: What do you do when a 10 foot tall super human clad in some of the heaviest and most dynamic armour and packing some of the finest weapons the Imperium has to offer tells you to “Bog off, this is ours”?
Norn Emissary: *weird clicky noises before trying to eat Norman.*
The Unflinching Bulwark will the campaign of choice for the more static shooty Space Marine forces as two of the three bonus agendas will award you Honour points for killing enemies whilst in your deployment zone and making damn sure they don’t set foot/hoof/tentacle in your deployment zone.
Requisition: Fortification Network
For the measly cost of 1 requisition spent before a battle, you don’t have to roll off for Attacker/Defender, instead you are automatically the Defender.
Beanith: I guess it could be handy for those missions where the Attacker/Defender rewards are different?
Condit: You’re damn right it could. The Tyrranic War supplement in particular has a solid selection of missions that are asymmetric either in the rules during the game, or in the rewards you get for winning. If you’re playing all your Crusade games using the Leviathan cards, then this Requisition won’t do much for you. Unless, of course, the board you’re playing on isn’t symmetrical, in which case that 1RP is buying you your choice of firing lanes over the course of the game.
Are you going to use this in every game? Of course not. But it’ll come in handy more often than you’re likely thinking, and combines well with certain missions (like Against the Swarm or Planetary Evacuation) to create some incredibly thematic games, if you’re up for them.
Each of these agendas help sell the idea that your force is here to hold their location against all odds, offering you bonus Honour Points for standing your ground and forcing the enemy to scatter before you like terrified mice.
- Priority Kill Zone – Gain an Honour Point each time one of your units that’s in your deployment zone destroyed an enemy who had the unmitigated gall to be standing on an objective. You can score this three times over the course of a game, potentially netting 3 Honour Points.
- Defiance Unfurled – Sometimes, though, you need to leave the safety of your deployment zone, ideally with some sort of Death Star Katamari ball of Angry Stabby Lads. This agenda gives you something to aim them at. Simply choose an objective in No Man’s Land at the start of the game (you have to choose the one in the centre if it’s there) and if you’ve managed to tell the enemy to “Bog off, this is ours” by holding it at the end of the game, net yourself a pretty sweet 4 Honour points.
- Drive Them Back – Last, but not least, we have the nice and simple agenda of “Get Off My Lawn:” if there no more than two enemy units in your deployment zone at the end of the game, you gain 4 Honour points.
- Beanith: I feel the sudden urge to paint up a ton of Gargoyles purely for some last-turn shenanigans… why yes I am mainly filled with Spite with a touch of titanium.
Precision Strike will be the campaign of choice for the Space Marine player whose understands the proper meaning of their “ABCs”: Always Be Charging. The bonus agendas award you Honour Points for moving up the board and kicking those pesky enemies off of objectives or having a Warlord fit enough to move all the way across the board, or just be lazy and teleport in or something.
Requisition – Storm-Swift Destruction
The opposite of Fortification Network, this requisition lets you spend 1RP to automatically become the Attacker. Not only does this let you set up narrative games on maps where it matters, it also lets you force your opponent to deploy first, potentially letting you take the advantage before a single unit hits the table. Not to mention that there are several missions that automatically let the attacker go first, which could wind up being decisive.
- Punish Their Daring – The enemy dares to hold objectives in No Man’s Land or their own deployment zone? Get in nice and close and deliver a dissertation on why that’s a bad idea with your power fists. For each enemy unit in range of an objective outside your deployment zone that you destroy in melee, your force gains 1 Honour point, to a maximum of 5.
- The Tip of the Spear – Simply ensure your Warlord is within 6” of your opponent’s battlefield edge at the end of the game–or in the case of the rare missions like Routed Prey where one player doesn’t have a battlefield edge, wholly within the enemy deployment Zone–and pick up a cool 3 Honour points.
- Beanith: Not my favourite one, I’d much rather my Warlord lead the charge rather than spending the game sprinting 30” across the board.
- Alpha-Threat Protocols – Sod the rest of the enemy, but those three units in particular are in for a world of hurt. At the start of the battle, your opponent must select three of their units as Priority Targets, for each of those units destroyed by a unit from your army, gain 1 Honour point.
- Beanith: Keen eyed “That Guys” will have already spotted ‘units destroyed by a unit from your army’ and might be keen to accidentally leave those Priority Targets in Reserves at the end of the game. Try not to be “That Guy” and maybe people will want to play a second game with you.
The Forging of Legends
Forging Legends is all about your characters being brave and strong guys who do heroic stuff. You get honour points by having your Characters kill monsters, other characters, or be in dangerous scary places.
The Esteem of the Chapter
You purchase this one after a battle your Warlord lived through. You select a character that was in the battle to tell them they did a good job and they gain 5 XP. Unfortunately, your Warlord is too humble to tell himself he did a good job so it’s gotta be someone else. Good news, though: if you want, you can tell some dude who died that he did that real good. If you’re angling for this bonus, it won’t be that hard to get. Just make sure your Warlord stays out of sight of anything too dangerous.
- Duel of Honour – Everytime your character honourably duels another character in melee you get 2 Honour Points, to a max of 4 points in a game. Keep in mind you can be a bit less honourable about it and use Epic Challenge to bypass a character’s bodyguard with a combat character and snipe them out.
- Norman: Also keep in mind this doesn’t specify Adeptus Astartes Character so if you have an assassin in the mix you might be able to use that too!
- Hunting the Behemoth – Each time a character unit from your army kills a monster in melee you get 2 Honour Points, up to a max of 4 per game. This is objectively harder than the Duel of Honour agenda since monsters and vehicles will almost always be a less-than-ideal target for a Space Marine character.
- A Show of Dominion – If, at the end of the battle, your Warlord’s unit is on an objective marker in No Man’s Land, you’ll pick up 1 Honour point. But if you get on an objective in your opponent’s deployment zone, you get 3 Honour points instead. This one is fine, but it’s a bit taller of an ask compared to the other two Agendas.
We’ve talked a lot about Honour Points, but now it’s time to talk about what they are and how to use them. In essence, Honour Points represent how well your Crusade Force is doing as they go forth on their Oathsworn Campaign. You’ll gain them for completing the bonus agendas associated with your chosen campaign, as well as by winning games: +2 for Incursion, +3 for Strike Force, and a nice +5 for Onslaught.
Once you finish your Oathsworn Campaign, you can spend the Honour Points you’ve racked up for one of several pretty neat effects:
- You can promote your Adeptus Astartes Characters to Chapter Command
- You can promote units from Scout or Vanguard Companies to Reserve or Battle Companies
- You can promote units from Reserve or Battle Companies, they can be promoted to First Company or Veteran status
If you have Honour Points left over, whether because you didn’t have enough to buy an upgrade, or because you decided not to spend them, they’re lost after your Oathsworn Campaign, but every 5 unspent Honour converts to 1XP for a unit of your choice. Not the greatest, but at least you’ll get something.
Assuming you’ve done well for yourself, you can spend Honour Points to upgrade your characters to Chapter Command. These upgrades start at 10 Honour Points to upgrade Company Heroes to Honour Guard, or for the criminally-undercosted Chief Apothecary, and go as high as 25 Honour Points to name a new Chapter Master, who comes with rules that justify the cost.
Each promotion is unique and you can only have one of each so until your ‘Chapter Master’ has an accident and finds themselves sealed into a Dreadnought sarcophagus, you won’t be permitted to promote another Captain to take their place. And while upgrading a Captain to Chapter Master won’t be easy, it’s definitely attainable within the course of a single campaign.
Chapter Master – 25 Honour
The pinnacle of the Space Marine evolutionary path (other than Primarchs, of course). When you name your new Chapter Master, you get to choose between a rule that helps your entire army, or one that makes your Chapter Master into an incredibly potent beatstick.
- Master of the Codex – This path gives you the ability to select a second Oaths target once per battle. This is pretty strong! Not as great as it used to be now that Oaths doesn’t grant wound re-rolls, but still a massive buff to your force and can lead to some decisive turns. And unlike Guilliman’s rule, this one runs concurrently: you don’t even have to kill your first Oaths target for it to work.
- Master of Combat – Once per battle, you can add 2 damage to the weapons equipped by this model. You might assume this is only melee, but it also works on your ranged weapons, which can lead to some sneaky damage with a storm bolter or something. And since you use it in your Command phase and it lasts for the whole turn, you don’t have to choose between the two.
Chief Apothecary – 10 Honour
The cheapest Chapter Command upgrade available, the Chief Apothecary is criminally uncosted for one of its upgrades, but the other can be a bit of a waste.
- Selfless Healer – For the Apothecary who isn’t fumbling around in Gravis armour, the unit he’s leading gains the Feel No Pain 5+ ability. Along with the Narthecium bringing back a model in each of your Command Phases, your opponent is going to find it much tougher than usual to destroy this model’s unit. Solidly worth the upgrade.
- Battlefield Chirurgy – Either your finger slipped and you chose this one by accident, you’re running the chonky Apothecary Biologis, or you’re incredibly unlucky with Out of Action tests and need the ability to ignore the first two failed Out of Action tests for your poor battered Infantry units. In any event, this probably doesn’t compete with the other option if you have a Tacticus Apothecary on your roster.
Master of Sanctity – 20 Honour
The second most expensive Chapter Command upgrade on offer, you’ll have to work if you want to upgrade one of your Chaplains. But once you rack up 20 points and decide to go for it, you’ve got a question to answer: does your Chaplain prefer to Show or Tell their troops how it’s done?
- Wise Orator – This a once per battle ability that grants the Chaplain an Aura which will add +1 to Melee Wound rolls to any friendly Adeptus Astartes unit within 6”. Basically, you get to turn your Chaplain’s Leader ability into an aura, letting you relive the glory days of 9th edition force multipliers for a round.
- Mantra of Strength – For those favoring the direct approach, this Chaplain adds 2 to the Attack, Strength and Damage characteristics of his melee weapons. Pushing a Crozius Arcanum to strength 8 and 3 damage is nothing to sneeze at.
Master of the Forge – 15 Honour
Still flying those Iron Hand colours? Is your Crusade being led by Iron Dad Dave supported by a few jerks that might be technically ranked higher than him? Well, these are the upgrades for you…and anyone else running Techpriests too I suppose. Both choices are excellent choices for a Techmarine: he’s either really good at battlefield repairs or he keeps a spare Iron Halo in his back pocket. You decide.
- Liturgy of Resanctification – Blessing of the Omnissiah now restores D3+3 Wounds instead of the original D3. A solid upgrade if you’re running multiple vehicles. Great for anyone running an Ironstorm Spearhead detachment.
- Shielded by the Machine God – Blessing of the Omnissiah now also grants the Vehicle a 4+ Invulnerable save until the start of your next Command phase. This keeps a nearby vehicle alive, which pairs well with the Techmarine’s innate ability to gain Lone Operative and become untargetable when standing next to that same vehicle.
Honour Guard – 10 Honour
The Company Champion isn’t dead, he’s just got some groupies now. And if you’re looking to upgrade him and his entourage, you can do that for a mere 10 Honour Points.
Beanith: Not going to lie, I thought this was an upgrade for the two chumps that shadow Calgar (the Victrix Honour Guard) which I immediately hated because it sullies my campaign with named characters…booooo. But it quickly reveals these two upgrades are for your Captain’s squad of best friends, the Company Heroes, so yay maybe? *checks Goonhammer review* Ok, cool models and not terrible. I’m down.
- Ardent Protectors – While the captain is alive and kicking, attacks targeting this unit suffer a -1 to wound if the Strength of the attack is higher than the unit’s Toughness. This seems neat, but unfortunately it’s completely useless: the unit already gets -1 to wound from all attacks when it’s being led by a character. And since modifiers to wound are limited to +/-1, this will only come into play against an enemy who has an ability that grants them +1 to wound, which is very rare.
- Roused to Fury – This one is once per battle, lasts one turn and increases the Attack Characteristic of the unit’s weapons by 1. Thankfully, this one is actually pretty good, as it makes the unit’s decent ranged output that much better, and can turn a Captain and Company Champion into a frightening pair of melee threats. Thankfully at least one of the choices here is worth the Honour Points.
Chief Librarian – 15 Honour
They might have once laughed at this bookish nerd and shoved him against a locker. But now they’re running scared, because this large buff lad either knows the secret to the old-school Super Smite of 9th edition, or can simply throw out a giant shield of “No Thank You” if the urge takes. And at 15 Honour, they’re both priced to move.
- Psychic Scourge – At the start of your shooting phase, select a visible enemy unit within 12”, and roll a d6. On a 3+ that unit takes D6 Mortal wounds. But if you manage to roll a 6? It still deals D6 Mortal wounds, that enemy’s Movement characteristic is halved, as are its Advance and Charge Rolls until the start of your next turn.
- Empyric Castellan – Once per battle at the start of any phase, you can grant this unit an 6” aura that grants a 4+ invulnerable save to any friendly Marine unit in range. While it’s a potent ability, the fact that it’s once per game can be limiting, especially given that a Tacticus Librarian grants the 4++ to his unit anyway. You’ll likely find yourself defaulting to Psychic Scourge as it opens up more options.
Chapter Ancient – 15 Honour
Lastly, the dude with the bedsheet nailed to a stick. He’s worked extra hard with decorating it with badges, ribbons and the blood of xenos artfully spattered across it, so why not reward his hard work with some recognition?
- Steadfast Example – A once per battle ability, this one grants them an aura which extends their +1 Objective Control powers to other units within 6”. Neat, but not particularly useful unless you have multiple units contesting the same objective.
- Pennant of the Fallen – When the Ancient is leading a unit, everytime a Bodyguard model is destroyed in melee and hasn’t had a chance to fight yet, on a 2+ the model is not removed from play. The destroyed model can then fight once the attacking unit has finished its attacks and then is removed from play. A solid upgrade that will save you CP in a Gladius Task Force, and can open up access to a great effect for several other detachments.
Assignment and Promotion
Bringing honour to the Chapter isn’t just for the lads with the fancy titles: sometimes you want to spend those sweet points on some upgrades for the rank and file and promote your units up through the ranks without having to lose their .
That said, you do lose out on a Battle Honour when promoting a unit this way, but those can be recouped by winning a particular mission reward to still stay within the Battle Honour limit, or by pushing the unit all the way to Legendary, if that’s your thing.
Reserve and Battle Company Assignment costs 5 Honour Points, and lets you promote a Vanguard unit, such as Scouts, Reivers, Incursors, or other Phobos-equipped marines with “standard” Battle Company, such as Intercessors, Hellblasters, Aggressors, or other similar units.
If one of your Infantry or Mounted units did something particularly cool or spectacular in the recent campaign, why not reward that bravery and daredevilry with a promotion to the First Company? 1st Company Promotion allows you to replace that unit with a unit of the usual suspects like Terminators, Company Heroes, and Bladeguard Vets. As a bonus, if that unit already has the Terminator Honours Battle Trait, then this promotion is free!
Finally, did your Captain kick the bucket, get poured into said bucket and then placed into a Dreadnought? Well why not spend the 10 Honour points to promote someone else to Captain? Company Command Promotion lets you do just that, swapping out a Lieutenant for a Captain.
If you’re looking for XP and not just Honour Points, never fear: the Space Marines have a set of agendas that actually score XP for their units. Some of them even pull double duty, gaining both XP and Honour Points if you’re able to complete them.
- Angels of Death – Table your opponent and every surviving unit gets 2XP and you get 2 Honour Points.
- Norman: As always, the table your opponent Agenda is the coolest and if you don’t take it every game I simply do not respect you.
- Know no Fear – At the end of the battle, everyone who didn’t fail a Battle-shock test gets 1XP and if they’re below half strength they get 2 instead.
- Norman: So this one doesn’t have a clause requiring them to be alive, which begs the question “is a dead unit below half strength?”. Regardless this might be an auto take because you won’t fail Battle-shock 99% of the time and anyone who just dies gets free XP.
- Condit: I hate you so much right now.
- Armoured Assault – Every vehicle that survives the battle gets 1XP, and if a vehicle dies and killed 2 units on its way out it also gains 1XP. A solid agenda, but it’s competing with Know no Fear so just take that one.
- Quest of Atonement – Pick a character with the Battle-weary, Disgraced, or Mark of Shame battle scars at the beginning of the battle. If at the end of the battle, they kill a Character, Monster, or Vehicle in melee they lose that Battle Scar and get 5XP. This is neat, thematic, cool, and not Know no Fear so you still probably won’t take it.
- Condit: With the way Battle Scars work in 10th, you might find some use for this if you really want to keep a character in your list: the ability to not only clear a Battle Scar but also gain some XP in the bargain is fairly potent, even if you won’t take it every game. It’s not likely to find itself at the top of your list in any given game, but when it’s worth considering, it’s a potent option.
The Space Marine book gives you access to four bespoke requisitions to help you maintain your forces.
- A Legacy Preserved – This one’s neat. When you take a Battle Scar on a unit you can ditch them, put them into a compost heap and generate 5 Honour points for your Crusade force. This is meant to represent the Apothecary recovering their geneseed for future Space Marines, but it’s kinda funny since the battle scar you get might be something like “Bruised Elbow” and the apothecary decides to take the whole squad behind the shed for recycling.
- Vaunted Triumph – Once per Oathsworn Campaign, you can mark a second unit for greatness. Not a ton to talk about here, neat but not splashy. Useful for getting a new unit up to its first Battle Honour.
- Enduring Legacy – Lets you enact mandatory overtime at the crusading factory for your Oathsworn Campaign by giving you a 4th game to play. This can be clutch if you see your Honour Points just short of that shiny chapter command position you have your eye on. Unfortunately, it’s expensive at 2RP, but if you’re a few points shy of Chapter Master, it might be just what the Apothecary ordered.
- Even in Death I Still Serve – Ah, the classic cool-as-hell requisition. This appeared back in the 9th edition Space Marine book and gave us an inkling of how rad crusade rules could be. When your Space marine character takes its second battle scar, you can put them in the forever box and add a new Dreadnought to your crusade force with the same XP as the character had. This still rocks, even if getting 2 Battle Scars is still a bit of a tall order.
Space Marines get a ton of options for Battle Traits, coming in with 4 tables of special upgrades for your special guys. It’s worth noting that the Infantry and Mounted table can also be used on the units that the non-vehicle tables are meant for, so when evaluating what table to use, don’t forget you can use the basic one if it’s more enticing.
Infantry and Mounted Units
These Battle Traits can apply to all infantry and mounted units except characters
- Markman’s Honours – +1 BS to all your ranged weapons. One of the best Battle Honors out there, just don’t get it on a melee unit
- Bladesman’s Honours – +1 WS to all your melee weapons. One of the best Battle Honors out there, just don’t get it on a shooting unit
- Service Studs – +1 XP if the unit survives a battle. Unfortunately, we’re not huge on Battle Honors that enable you to get more Battle Honors when you’re so limited on how many you can get. This is a pass if you can avoid it.
- Purity Seals – 5+ Feel No Pain against psychic attacks. This is generally not amazing, but could come in serious handy in certain matchups.
- Terminator Honours – +1 wound and attacks for a model in a unit, which as to be the unit champion if it has one. Just like Marksman’s Honours and Bladesman’s Honours, this one is great. Basically, if you get a trait with “Honours” in the title, that’s a good one.
- Aquila Imperialis – You can use strats on the unit even if they’re Battle-Shocked, and can reroll Out of Action tests. Slightly more likely to wind up being useful than Purity Seals, but not by much.
Scout Company Units
All your Phobos nerds and Scout bozos get some bespoke Battle Traits as well:
- Execution Order – +1 to hit against a character unit. Real nice on some Eliminators for confirming a kill on an enemy character, but could have some play on Reivers too, if you’re running them for some reason.
- Tactical Repositioning – Lets you move 3” when you’re selected as the target for a charge. This is a very strong ability for things like Infiltrators who may be out on their own in no man’s land and might find themselves early charge targets.
- Death’s Own Shadow – You always get cover. This is… fine. Most of these units won’t be caught out in the open and will almost always be in a terrain feature, but it gives you a bit more protection if the unit has to move out of cover at some point. Good for Reivers if you’re running something unusual I guess.
1st Company Units
Here we have some traits for anything with “Veteran” in the name, as well as Terminators, who apparently are not “Veterans.” Who knew?
- Abiding Duty – Lets you reroll battleshock tests when you’re below half strength. Well, they can’t all be winners.
- Echoes of the Primarch – Once per battle, at the start of the fight phase, you get Sustained Hits 1 on your melee weapons. This is really good! Especially considering most veterans do their business in melee. Just don’t roll this for your Sternguard. Easy, right?
- Defenders of Humanity – gives you a once per battle +1 to your OC. Pushing Terminators or Bladeguard up to OC2 is huge, and there are games where this might just win the whole thing for you. I’m gonna call this one good.
The vehicle traits reward aggressive play, primarily benefiting things like Redemptors and other Dreadnoughts.
- Bellicose Machine Spirit – On the charge, you get +2 strength with a single melee weapon. Kinda worthless on anything outside the Brutalis or Redemptor, but it could be pretty solid into targets between toughness 7 and 11. That said, while it’s 3+ to wound toughness 12, that’s probably not enough to really push the unit over the edge. Solid, but not incredible.
- Resilient Machine Spirit – Gives a Vehicle an extra 2 wounds. Probably the best of the three here, since it’ll frequently mean moving to 14 wounds, but ultimately kind of boring.
- Focused Machine Spirit – This is a bit of a weird one, letting you ignore the penalty to the hit roll for firing at things within engagement range. Essentially, it lets you fire everything on your vehicle other than Blast weapons as though they were pistols. Could be solid on something like a Gladiator Reaper, but a Redemptor with macro-plasma will find it somewhat uninspiring.
- Norman: This sort of feels like it was written for the 9th edition rules for Big Guns Never Tire because this doesn’t work when you’re shooting out of combat.
Space Marine narrative wouldn’t be complete without their signature special doodads and whatchamacallits. Just like the core relics these are broken into Artificer, Antiquity, and Legendary Relics with the normal limitations
Some really solid stuff from the Artificer section:
- Adamantine Cuirass – gives the bearer +1 Toughness and Wounds. A really solid buff to most combat characters, but there are a few relics competing for this spot so this may not be your first pick.
- Astartes Teleportation Transponder – gives the bearer’s unit Deep Strike. Very valuable with the right units.
- Norman: The thought of some Sword Brethren using Rapid Ingress to show up in charge range is not one I treasure.
- Halo Indomitus – gives the bearer a 4+ invulnerable save and a 4+ Feel No Pain against mortal wounds. Slightly less effective with the change to Devastating Wounds (the balance dataslate is officially applied to Crusade now, so no getting around this one) but the 4+ invulnerable is still very valuable, and the Feel No Pain is useful when it comes up.
Antiquity relics keep up the pace of solid entries, offering a pair of solid choices for the discerning Marine commander:
- Paragon Blade – gives you 6 attacks at WS 2+, strength 6, AP -3, damage 3. Usually replacement weapons are kinda iffy, but this can go on anyone, like an Ancient or Chaplain on Bike, which can catapult a support unit to a really lethal threat. Or you can just throw it on a Captain or Lieutenant to upgrade his melee weapon. Wherever you put it, it’s solid.
- Standard of Righteous Hatred – Can only go on an Ancient and gives the unit it leads +1 strength. This one’s kinda just…fine? Not bad, but with the newly-expanded strength range of weapons, just adding one is less likely to move the needle into tougher targets. That said, if you have a squad full of attacks at strength 4 or 5, this standard could be just what you’re looking for.
Last up, we have the stuff that the Master of the Armoury only dredges up from the reliquary on the most auspicious of occasions:
- Vortex Bolt – Ah, the Vortex Bolt, something Games Workshop has been trying to figure out for a while. In this iteration, we get a single shot at BS 2+, strength 4, Ap 0, and D3+3 damage. It also packs the Anti-Infantry 3+, Anti-Psyker 2+, and Devastating Wounds traits. This is decidedly less good with the change to Devastating Wounds since it’s made to proc against infantry that are just begging to get sucked into a vortex. And will it will kill one infantry model so incredibly dead that your opponent should have to grind it up into a fine powder in a nearby blender, that’s all it’s going to do. Unfortunately, kind of a dud.
- Beanith: To be fair, Vortex Grenade is right there and so much better…
- Relic of the Primarch – This is a bit of a doozy. For upsides, you get a once-per-battle aura that hands out an extra attack to all enemies within 6”. Unfortunately, that’s it. On the (sort of) downside, if the bearer dies, you drop an objective marker and if you hold it at the end of the battle the unit on marker gets 3XP. Unfortunately, if you don’t you lose 10 VP. Not sure that with this downside this is worth a legendary relic. Kind of a bummer after the bangers in the Artificer and Antiquity Section.
Beanith: Shout out to GW for slamming my concerns from our Tyranid Crusade Review out of the park. Updating the cool thematic rule sets we had from the 9th edition Tyranids I still think is a good call but I’m so very happy to see GW is still willing to go back and flesh out the more vanilla rule sets like this one.
I like the Assignment and Promotion section a lot, being able to switch units and retain all of their growth and stories is powerful without being too overpowered overall. It’s always great to see the mooks get a bit of love in campaigns because they typically tend to die in hilarious ways while your characters are either busy shepherding the deathball around the table or buffing the rearguard.
Norman: Finally some good crusade rules. I was pretty iffy on the Nids book, but this is the kind of stuff I love to see. The Oathsworn campaign rules are a fantastic glow up compared to the Space Marine rules from last edition and just seem like a fun time all around. Here’s hoping future books look more like this one.
Condit: One of the biggest problems I’ve had with Crusade in the past is that things just took too long: it wasn’t unlikely that you might play in a Crusade weekend event and not come anywhere close to finishing out your chosen narrative “hook.” And the Space Marines crusade rules were always kind of a disappointment next to the other factions’ rules.
But no longer. Now, with Oathsworn Campaigns, Marine players can get meaningful upgrades for their force in a mere 3 to 4 games, building up to some seriously powerful effects over the course of a single weekend. And the various Battle Traits and other upgrades include a lot of very cool upgrades that any player will want to have in their list, letting you build the army of your dreams over the course of your campaign.
If this is the new standard for what Crusade campaigns look like, we’re excited to see what’s coming down the pipe.
Comments or questions? Hit us up in the comments below, or at firstname.lastname@example.org