It wasn’t enough for Games Workshop to just release a new Codex for Space Marines; they had to go and release half a dozen Codex Supplements covering major chapters. The first among these, and a complete no-brainer as a release, is Codex: Ultramarines. Having originally been given their own Codex to act as “the default” for Space Marines in second edition Warhammer 40k, for the past five editions the Ultramarines have been part of the standard Space Marines Codex. During that time, they’ve accumulated half a dozen of their own special characters and a few custom units, and moreso than any other codex chapter, so it makes sense for them to finally have their own supplement.
And it’s a hell of a supplement! With a strong array of special characters, custom powers, a strong chapter trait, and good relics, the Ultramarines look like they’ll be one of the most powerful ways to play Space Marines. While the White Scars have some exceptionally strong abilities focused on a specific playstyle, the Ultramarines bring tools to the table that will ehnahce almost any strategy, meaning we’re likely to see them out in force as the first point of call for many Marine armies.
If you missed our review of Codex: Space Marines, you can find part 1 of the review here.
In addition to the faction rules laid out in Codex: Space Marines, Ultramarines get some additional rules of their own. But before we dive into those, let’s cover what you need to do to get access to them.
Accessing These Rules
For most of 8th edition, you’ve only technically gotten access to the full suite of subfaction (i.e. “Ultramarines”) specific rules if your army has literally used the ULTRAMARINES keyword. Homebrew chapters could choose a trait, but wouldn’t get stratagem, trait or relic access (meaning that in tournaments people just used the main keywords).
That’s changed, and you can now get access to 95% of what’s in this book if you are an Ultramarines successor chapter. We broke those rules down in part 1 of our main book review, and importantly “successor chapters” in this case includes those using the “build your own” traits.
The Ultramarines Chapter Tactic is wholly unchanged. The ability to Fall Back and still shoot (albeit at a -1 to hit penalty) is quite powerful, and extending it to vehicles will surely be useful for those that want to run legacy vehicles like the Land Raider and now no longer have to worry about those vehicles losing a turn to being charged. If you are willing to run Guilliman in a Supreme Command or Superheavy (not aux) detachment, even he benefits from it. Lastly, there are are a few ways now to avoid the -1 to hit penalty when shooting after falling back, which can lead to some hilarious situations where a Leviathan falls back and then unloads 20 storm cannon shots at BS2.
For now, we just need to establish that Successor chapters can get most (or in fact with CP expenditure, all) of what’s here, and keep that in mind until we cover them in detail. The breakdown of how to get these abilities is as follows. N.B. This is exactly the same as in our White Scars review, so if you’ve already read that you can skip past.
Successor Chapter Rules - Click to Expand This might seem to be needlessly complicating things, but there are actually some subtleties of who gets what in various soup scenarios. Basically: The takeaway is that you have to have a decent commitment to Ultramarines to get much out of this – you can add a Knight alongside your otherwise Ultras army and get everything except the Doctrine, but you can’t make a Supreme Command of Librarians from three different chapters and stick the best relic from each book on each. This is almost certainly what the rather more restrictive wording is intended to prevent, so good job, GW.
This might seem to be needlessly complicating things, but there are actually some subtleties of who gets what in various soup scenarios. Basically:
The takeaway is that you have to have a decent commitment to Ultramarines to get much out of this – you can add a Knight alongside your otherwise Ultras army and get everything except the Doctrine, but you can’t make a Supreme Command of Librarians from three different chapters and stick the best relic from each book on each. This is almost certainly what the rather more restrictive wording is intended to prevent, so good job, GW.
Doctrine – Scions of Guilliman
Whilst the Tactical Doctrine is active, models with this ability that moved in your Movement phase, but did not Advance or Fall back, can make attacks with ranged weapons in the Shooting phase as if their unit had remained stationary this turn.
This is the Ultramarine doctrine buff and it is a damn good one. The ability has two immediate implications: 1) units can avoid the penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons, and 2) if you’re not advancing, Bolter Discipline always triggers for applicable weapons (extending the bolt rifle’s 2-shot threat range to 36″ for example). This has a lot of useful applications generally, as well as some specific applications for units like Aggressors (see below) that will be interesting to explore. One additional thing I like about this ability is that it creates a tension between Devastator and Tactical Doctrine for Ultras, making the decision to switch doctrines an actual choice as you gain the ability to move and shoot heavy weapons without a hit penalty but lose the extra -1 AP.
The Ultramarines have more unique units and named characters than any other Codex: Space Marines faction, and the variety gives them a big advantage competitively. The good news is that while previously, Guilliman was both an auto-include in any Marine army and the rest of the Ultramarines’ characters and units (with the exception of Tigurius) were unlikely to see the table in serious play, they’ve now improved to the point that we think many of them are worth looking at, and there are likely to be several different (but effective) ways to run Ultramarines.
Captain Sicarius returns, with the same statline and wargear, but adjusted special rules. His Battle-forged Heroes ability has changed; it no longer allows friendly Ultramarines Tactical Squads within 6″ to always fight first in the Fight phase. Instead, you can choose one friendly Ultramarines unit within 6″ of Sicarius to gain the Defenders of Humanity ability until the end of the battle round (for the veterans out there, this is just the “Objective Secured” rule). He’s also 10 points cheaper. His new ability is interesting and novel, but may not see use unless you find yourself in situations where Sicarius is either alone or surrounded by non-Troops. His old ability seemed like it could be very strong, but was ultimately too narrow to see use. As-is, the new rule isn’t likely to be relevant most of the time so if you’re taking Sicarius it’s essentially to get a Captain with a power sword that does D3 damage and the Artisan plasma pistol, though it’s questionable whether those plus his ability is worth 26 points.
Wings Note: I dissent on this one – while I don’t think Sicarius will see that much play (simply because of the density of choices), his ability is very powerful – even just making himself ObSec allows him to trump another character in emergency. I like it a lot more than his old trick.
Chaplains got a big boost with the new Codex, gaining Litanies as a set of powerful effects that turn Chaplains into real force multipliers. Coming into the new book, Cassius has swapped out his Crozius Arcanum for an Artificer Crozius, which has +2 Strength and AP-2 in its profile (instead of S+1, AP-1), allowing Cassius to hit at Strength 6 and take down more heavily-armored targets. To represent that he’s a tough old bastard, Cassius has 5 Toughness. Despite all of this, because he has one less attack and can’t take the Benediction of Fury relic, Cassius won’t be quite the close combat buzzsaw that a Primaris Chaplain can be. On the other hand, Cassius’ real value is that he knows two litanies plus the Litany of Hate and can recite up to two of them each Battle Round. This is a spectacular upgrade on a normal Chaplain, making him way more flexible for not much increase in cost.
It’s unfortunate that he can’t take a jump pack, but with some careful maneuvering Cassius will be a powerful force multiplier for Ultramarines armies.
For 12 points more than a Company Ancient (or 6 more than a Primaris Ancient), you get a power sword, a 2+ save and a 9″ range to your Astartes Banner ability (as opposed to the usual 6″). Note that the range increase is exclusive to the ability and will not affect the Ultramarine relic banner’s aura, though this is essentially a free upgrade to the Standard of the Emperor Ascendant (minus the leadership debuff). If you’re bringing an Ancient to buff melee units (such as Aggressors or the Chapter Champion below) the Chapter Ancient is a reasonable choice.
In Part 2 of our review of Codex: Space Marines, we waxed poetic about the virtues of the Company Champion. He makes a great dedicated character hunter and at only 47 points, he’s practically a steal. Well, for only 8 points more (totaling 55 points), you can trade up for an additional base attack, plus an extra Strength (User) AP-2, 1 damage attack from his Champion’s Blade, and a -1 to be hit in combat! You also trade-out his combat shield (which gives the Champion a 5+ invulnerable save) for a 2+ armor save, which is better than or equivalent to the combat shield up to AP-3 (and it’s not like there’s a ton of AP-4 melee around). You still get all the other buffs the Company Champion has, so this guy is really a steal at 55 points. Pair him with a Chapter Ancient toting the Ultramarines relic banner and you’re looking at 7 base attacks on the charge plus his free Champion’s Blade attack.
Chief Librarian Tigurius
Tigurius got a nice boost when they shoved those three extra organs in him. Aside from the typical +1W and +1A Primaris get (and the extra wound is highly valued given his fragility), his wargear got some solid buffs as well. It seems someone tuned up the Rod of Tigurius’ power field because it went from AP-1 to AP-3 (note: I still don’t think you should put Tigurius in combat). More importantly, his Hood of Hellfire now adds 1 to Psychic tests and Deny the Witch tests as well as allowing full re-rolls of psychic tests, not just failed tests. Tigurius should now have no trouble casting just about anything in the Librarius or Indomitus (see below) disciplines.
Lastly, his Master of Prescience ability has been re-mastered (sorry) to be activated at the start of the Battle Round (instead of your opponent’s Shooting phase) and lasts for the entire round. This is something of a sidegrade; its now active for two turns of melee as well as a Shooting phase, but it does mean that your opponent knows what you’ve shielded before they move, so can adapt . From a casting perspective, Tigurius still gets to cast 2, deny 2 and knows 3 powers, although he has to choose between the traditional Librarius discipline or the new Ultramarines-specific Indomitus discipline and all known powers must be from a single discipline. All these changes can be yours for only an additional 15 points over old Tigurius (for a total of 130 points), which is a bargain for the single most potent psyker in the Space Marines repertoire (thus far).
From a survivability perspective, Tigurius still has no invulnerable save, but the extra wound helps and the availability of Honour Guard and Victrix Honour Guard can make stacking ablative wounds on Tigurius pretty effective for surviving pesky snipers. If you run him with Indomitus Discipline powers, it may be worth it to give him Precognition so he can boost his survivability in a pinch, giving himself a 5+ invulnerable save and a -1 to being hit.
Poor Honour guard.
These were largely made redundant by the introduction of Victrix Guard, but they’re no longer a strictly worse source of ablative wounds for your characters. The Victrix Guard probably still get the nod though.
Calgar gained an extra wound along with all other Gravis-armored units to put him on par with Abaddon, and he gained an extra attack from Shock Assault to make him even more of a melee monster than before. Calgar also got the updated Chapter Master re-rolls ability and while he’s no longer a 5-CP boost over a stratagem-induced Chapter Master, Guilliman’s downgrade means Calgar is now worth considering as a Warlord option for Ultramarines armies. He’s a solid fighter who gives a healthy CP boost and doesn’t demand the investment of 350 points and a separate detachment.
It’s also worth noting (and we’ll re-state this again below), that because Calgar comes with the Adept of the Codex warlord trait, on the whole, he’s likely to give you more CP as your warlord than Guilliman would have, since Guilliman no longer has the CP-regenerating trait.
The single most important change in the entire Marine faction: Guilliman lost his aura for re-rolling all wound rolls and now only allows nearby Ultramarines to re-roll 1s to wound, just like a standard Lieutenant. This nerf is actually a great change: It means that the entire army doesn’t have to be balanced around King Chungus making every other unit in range anywhere between 77% and 144% better. He now has Nobility Made Manifest (more on that later) instead of Adept of the Codex as his warlord trait, so it’s in your best interests to put Adept of the Codex on a character somewhere else in the army through Hero of the Chapter. Because Calgar does come with Adept of the Codex, Guilliman no longer gives you more CP than Calgar by being made Warlord overall.
Besides the changes to his function as a force multiplier, Guilliman’s equipment received a refresh; the Emperor’s Sword remains the same but is less capable at taking down big targets without Guilliman’s ability to re-roll all failed wounds, but in exchange the Hand of Dominion has been bumped up to damage 4. Guilliman himself also got significantly deadlier due to the change to the Honour the Chapter stratagem, which now works on all Marine units, meaning that as long as you have 3cp sitting around Guilliman can kill almost any non-horde unit in the game in one Fight phase.
As long as he’s taken as part of a Supreme Command Ultramarines detachment, Guilliman will also benefit from the Codex Discipline Chapter Tactic now, giving him the ability to fall back and shoot. Whether this is worth the investment is up to you – it’s debatable whether falling back and shooting is better than just leaving him in there to go another round with whatever he was fighting.
Chronus’ existing abilities remain unchanged from the old codex, but his options for crewing vehicles were both expanded and simplified: Now while any vehicle he pilots gains the character tag, this action occurs during deployment and so sadly after the time when you are able to designate the tank a warlord or give the tank a warlord trait. Previously Chronus had every datasheet he could pilot listed in his profile but now instead he has every Marine tank listed by keyword in his datasheet and consequently the list of possible rides for the sergeant expanded to “basically half of Forge World’s output”. As is de rigueur with Forge World, the units on this list are either “complete trash” or “ridiculously good to the point that we’ll see them get a points hike that likely penalizes multiple other armies to account for Chronus’ bullshit”. Among the latter, the Whirlwind Scorpius and the Vindicator Laser Destroyer first jump to mind.
Note: RAW you can construct at least a moderately compelling argument that while putting a warlord trait on Chronus doesn’t do anything, you can actually put one on the tank he’s commanding thanks to the precise way the ability is worded. We are 95% sure this isn’t intentional and will get swiftly FAQed from orbit with maximum prejudice. We’ll update this if we’re wrong. Please don’t @ us about Chronus in an LR Crusader with Paragon of War in the meantime.
Telion returns and is largely unchanged. The one functional change made to his abilities is that is Voice of Experience ability makes a single unit of Scouts within 3″ BS 2+ instead of giving them +1 to their To Hit rolls, which is technically an extremely mild downgrade (although most abilities that this might have mattered for are now “unmodified 6s”). He’s OK, and possibly worth a look in a Scouts-heavy army, though Ultramarines will probably want to spend more of the game with the Tactical Doctrine active, not Devastator.
Wings Note: This guy is slightly interesting simply by dint of being a very cheap HQ choice who can contribute something from the backline. In formats where you actively want models to sit back on an objective I can see him being at least looked at, though ultimately I don’t think it’ll come up that much.
Tyrannic War Veterans
These guys are like bolter-only Sternguard (and retain the STERNGUARD keyword) that costs 2 points more per model and get to re-roll hits and wounds against Tyranids. In almost every case you’ll be better off running vanilla Sternguard. They’re cool models, though.
Victrix Honour Guard
These guys were already great, they’re still just as great and 2 points cheaper per model at 60 points for the unit. A Solid way to protect your precious Ultramarines characters from Vindicare Assassins, Sniper Scouts, and Eliminators.
In addition to their bespoke units, there are a few regular Space Marines units worth additional consideration in Ultramarines armies.
- Aggressors: We note in Part 2 that Aggressors may be the Most Improved Unit of the codex and Ultramarines kick them up another notch with Scions of Guilliman. Now, you can move Aggressors 5″ and still double-shoot, which increases their double-shoot threat range to 23″. That’s a lot of AP-1 bolter shots! Combine them with a Chaplain for +1 to hit or +1 to wound or run them with the relic banner and you have a unit that is quite terrifying both up close and at range. If you land these guys in combat, you can also use Fall Back and Re-Engage to fall back, shoot at full BS and then charge back in! There isn’t a lot that will survive that kind of punishment. Some Goonhammer authors have been asking for Primaris Terminators for an age, and it seems that Aggressors may have now answered those prayers.
- Grav Devastators: We talked in our Space Marines review about the prospect of running Grav-cannon Devastators in Drop Pods and taking advantage of their reduced cost and potent stratagem. The biggest downside to doing this is incurring the -1 penalty to hit for moving and shooting, which you can avoid by holding the squad in orbit for a turn and dropping them when the Tactical Doctrine – and so Scions of Guilliman – is active. You trade off the AP bonus for additional accuracy, but the sheer volume of shots you put out should make up for it.
Wings Note: I ran the numbers on these, and as Ultras they are “real” – you get a unit that will come out of deep strike and properly body something of a size that makes it “worth it”. They’re still very fragile on the strike back though.
- Sternguard Veterans: In Tactical Doctrine, Sternguard become real dangerous glass cannons, able to march up the table putting out 2 Strength 4, AP-3 shots each per turn.
- Intercessors: Likewise, Ultramarines Intercessors are among the strongest version of the unit, able to move and still double-fire their bolt rifles at AP-2 in the Tactical Doctrine.
- Dreadnoughts: Dreadnoughts have always suffered slightly at the hands of being armed with heavy weapons but wanting to stay on the move. The Ultramarines doctrine mitigates this significantly in key turns of the game.
- Invictor Warsuit: Every trick from the Ultramarines book stacks up at the same time to make the Invictor rather monstrous for the boys in blue. Rapid Redeployment combined with their infiltration means you can either deploy aggressively to scare your opponent with 400pts of aggressively costed walkers and then pull them back out of harms way if you lose the initiative, or deploy them further back and redeploy to capitalise on any mistakes your opponent makes in deployment and pull off a considerable 1st turn alpha strike. You can arm them with Incendium cannons and keep them within 6″ of each other to put out 6d6 heavy flamer hits if anyone feels like counter charging you thanks to Defensive Focus. If anyone does tag them into combat then you can use Fall Back and Re-Engage to go wherever you like in the enemy line and charge them with a melee Dreadnought’s worth of damage. A trio of Invictors are packing enough anti infantry firepower to clear basically any screen to give them the freedom to charge and put down key enemy units in melee, and all the additional capabilities they gain from being Ultramarines mean that the absolute worst case scenario is that you’re short 2CP at the start of the game. The autocannons are also way more appealing in Ultramarines because of the lack of move/shoot penalties from turn 2.
Note: It looks like (based on precedent from the FAQ on Master of Deceit) you probably can’t redeploy these into your opponent’s face with Rapid Redeployment. It’s still a good combo, you just now have to lean towards setting them up aggressively and pulling them out if you end up going second. It makes the autocannon build look even more appealing compared to the flamers, as you’ll get the most use from them if you have to pull them back to your deployment zone.
The Ultramarines now have their own set of psychic powers: The Indomitus Discipline. Ultramarine Librarians can choose to know all of their powers from this new discipline instead of the Librarius or Obscuration disciplines, so you can’t mix and match powers on the same Librarian. While overall the Indomitus powers are interesting, with the possible exception of Scryer’s Gaze none of them are slam-dunk auto-takes on the power level of Null Zone or Might of Heroes.
- Precognition. WC5 – The psyker gains a 5+ Invulnerable save and units attacking it suffer a -1 penalty to hit. The penalty to hit won’t matter much unless you’re in combat since you’ll usually be screening the Librarian, and this power is really about protecting your Librarian in combat. The problem is, most of the time you’ve got better things to do with your Librarian. C
- Scryer’s Gaze. WC7 – Either generate 1 command point if your army is Battle-forged, or once this turn you can reroll a single To Hit or To Wound or damage roll for a friendly Ultramarines unit within 18″ of the psyker. If you have an ultramarines Librarian, you’re almost certainly taking this since its a bonus 3-4 command points a game. Alternatively you can combine it with command reroll to reroll two seperate las cannon damage rolls in the same phase. A
- Telepathic Assault. WC7 – Pick a visible enemy unit within 24″ and roll 2d6+2 against their leadership; they take the difference in mortal wounds. One of the better not-smites by virtue of being able to do 6 mortal wounds to Ld8 every now and then but largely useless against high leadership armies. C
Wings Note: 95% of the time what’s good about Smite is how reliable it is. Smite with *wild* variance is thus not super appealing, although using a CP re-roll on this does give you more routes to a big hit.
- Storm of the Emperor’s Wrath WC6. – Roll 1d6 per model in a visible enemy unit within 18″ and it takes a mortal wound for every 6 you roll. Hopefully kills 1/6th of a horde unit but overall not particularly meaningful against most targets. C
- Psychic Shackles. WC6 – A worse version of Tenebrous Curse from the Obscuration discipline as it only applies -1 to enemy charges and advances rather than halving them. This means enemy units with the ability to Advance and Charge will only move slightly slower than normal. Unlike similar effects it does however apply to units with <FLY> so you can hamper the movement of enemy jetbike units significantly. Sadly as it’s modifying characteristics rather than move distance, you can’t use it to force a plane to crash, but if it’s damaged, you can at least limit its movement options. B
- Empyric Channeling. WC5 – Pick another Ultramarines Librarian within 12″; they get +2 to cast and don’t suffer perils of the warp on a double 1 or 6. Not to be confused with not suffering perils at all as effects such as those employed by a Master of Possession or Chaos Knight will still cause a perils on double 2-5. Potentially very strong if your strategy revolves around getting off a specific power, but 80 to 100 points for an extra Librarian to up your cast rate is a big price to pay. C
Wings Note: If you have two librarians around getting key powers past denies or loading up super smites is also a possible use of this.
Scryer’s gaze is a huge win here, but the rest of this discipline is somewhat mediocre. With that in mind, there’s a good chance that we’ll see lots of Ultramarine librarians buying the Tome of Malcador to take one power from here and picking Scryer’s Gaze, as the CP cost will quickly pay itself back.
Ultramarines get six Warlord traits now, padding out the list beyond Adept of the Codex. There is a mild problem that none of them are as good as Adept of the Codex, itself being pretty much a must-.take for a CP-thirsty monofaction Space Marines army, but because you can now add extras they’re still worth looking at. The others range from middling to good, and are really only worth taking if you’ve already got Adept of the Codex on someone.
- Adept of the Codex. Unchanged rules-wise, but potentially even more useful now that you can pay 1 CP to either take it as a second trait or put it on a backfield character where it will probably make back more than 1 CP and pay for itself. T
he ability combos well with the command point generation from Scryer’s Gaze and might allow Ultramarines and their successors to fund their stratagem shenanigans without having to spend several hundred points on a second battalion.Doh! Stratagems that recover CP can stack with other regain sources, but psychic powers can’t, as eagle-eyed Reddit user Bowgs has pointed out. As any Thousand Sons player will know, lining up the ability to use a second re-roll in a single phase for later in the turn is still excellent, but it’s somewhat less good with Adept around. A (in armies without Adept)/B (armies that have it).
- Master of Strategy. Once per battle round, shift a single unit within 6″ of the warlord into Tactical Doctrine. This lets you trade a point of AP for fire on the move for any vehicle but becomes largely useless after round 1 of a battle unless your plan revolves around keeping the whole army in Devastator Doctrine. Can be combined with the Big Guns Never Tire stratagem to move multiple tanks up the field faster on turn 1 without losing too much punch. Good on a Chaplain as you’ll already need to be positioning him to load up Litanies at the start of the Battle Round. B
- Calm Under Fire. Friendly Ultramarines units within 6″ don’t suffer the -1 penalty to their To Hit rolls when using the Chapter Tactic to fall back and shoot in the same turn. Less useful now that the interaction of rerolls and modifiers is mostly gone for Marines, but if you’re running armour-heavy Ultramarines/successors then you’ll be able to fall back and still hit at maximum ballistic skill. Nice to have, but only situationally useful. B-
- Paragon of War. Unmodified 6s to wound on attacks made by this Warlord deal a mortal wound in addition to any other damage. Potentially amusing on a Teeth of Terra Captain with their 8 attacks on the charge before outside assistance, or on a Captain armed with the Vengeance of Ultramar, who can spit out 8 bolter shots at 12″ range. Most of the time you’re not going to get enough wounds going to make this feel worth it, though. B
- Nobility Made Manifest. A trick picked up from the Custodians; all units within 6″ of your warlord can heroic intervene 3″ as though they were characters, has potential given the massively increased melee output of Astartes across the board. It’s now Guilliman’s warlord trait instead of Adept of the Codex so it will see use like it or not. It’s a bit like an assault version of the Tau’s “For the Greater Good” ability, in that charging one Marines unit means getting your ass beat by every other Marine unit within 3″. B
- Warden of Macragge. Warlord can heroic intervene from 6″ and move 6″ when they do. Useful if you have a Gravis captain or beatstick Chaplain to dash into a gap in your line when they haven’t been declared against and surprise-murder half the enemy unit, so a good one to apply with Hero of the Chapter when you think you’re getting charged a lot. Decent, but situational. C
Ultramarines have 16 stratagems of their own, several of which let you play around with the Tactical Doctrines for your units. Overall, the stratagems Ultramarines get fit the fluff pretty well – they give Ultramarines a tactical, flexible feel and don’t lean too hard into shooting or punching things.
- Martial Precision – 1CP Use on an Ultramarines model before resolving a shooting attack. It automatically scores a hit on the target (do not roll). Small but extremely useful when you want to make a perfidious Aeldari plane not be alive anymore courtesy of a laser destroyer shot. B
- Rapid Redeployment – 2CP At the start of the first round before the first turn, you can redeploy up to 3 Ultramarines units. It’s Phantasm, but for angry men in power armour instead of elves. Easily the most significant stratagem in the book (and likely to be the most underrated), as it opens up a vast array of plays that just weren’t possible before. Redeploying units is an incredibly good ability. A+
- Vengeance for Calth – 1 CP An Ultramarines unit can re-roll melee To Hit and To Wound rolls against a Word Bearers unit until the end of the Fight phase. This stratagem will never matter because Games Workshop has put so much work into making sure that Word Bearers are so bad no one will ever want to play them. If you do ever end up playing against Word Bearers, you’re 100 percent going to forget that you have this stratagem and it won’t matter. F-
- Sons of Guilliman – 1 CP The old Ultramarines chapter stratagem renamed, giving an Infantry or Biker unit the ability to re-roll hit rolls of 1, or all hit rolls if the unit has the TROOPS battlefield role. It’s still a useful tool for having units operating far away from the rest of the army and makes plasma Inceptors slightly less suicidal (but only slightly, still a 1/10 chance you lose someone). B
- Inspiring Command – 1CP At the start of the shooting phase, increase the aura range for a Captain, Lieutenant or Chapter master by 3″. A good utility stratagem to have on hand, just don’t set it up to use against Drukhari or GSC when they have a counter stratagem prepped or you could see your whole turn go sideways. B
- Avenge the Fallen – 1CP When an Ultramarines unit is destroyed, mark the bastards that done it for the remainder of the battle and get a permanent re-roll 1s to hit against them with any unit in your army. This is going to be a lot more fun than it is useful, but I can see it being really helpful for punishing a Knight that took out one of your characters or squads early. The big issue is that re-rolls to hit are going to be easy to come by in an Ultramarines army. C
- Cycle of War – 1CP Once per battle, cycle from Assault Doctrine back around to Devastator Doctrine. Combined with Adaptive Strategy from the main book, this means Ultramarines can move up or down the chain once each. A strong ability, and useful if your punchmans have done their job and/or been wiped out. Likely to be more situationally useful than something you’ll plan around, though. B
- Courage and Honour! – 1CP Add +1 Ld to every unit of your army during the Morale phase. Any long time Ultramarines player will tell you that morale is a thing that happens to other players and rarely if ever more than one unit. If you want to take out that 1/36 chance that the last member of a squad runs away from an objective then it’s cheaper than paying the 2 CP to autopass morale. D
- Tactical Expertise – 2CP Used at the start of your Movement phase if you’re in the Tactical Doctrine. For the rest of the battle round, when you shoot with Rapid Fire or Assault weapons, unmodified wound rolls of 6 give the shot improve the shot’s AP by 1. Can only be used once per battle but stacks with the AP bonus from The Tactical Doctrine. Might have some legs given the sheer number of shots coming out of a squad of Ultramarines aggressors or 10-strong Intercessor squads using the Rapid Fire stratagem, where going from AP-2 to AP-3 is a real boost, but you need a lot of bolter shots to make it really do work. B
- Squad Doctrines – 1CP At the start of your movement phase put a single INFANTRY or BIKE unit into any of the 3 doctrine modes until your next Movement phase. A very strong ability to have. Being able to shift a unit into Tactical Doctrine so it can fire on the move on turn 1 without shifting the whole army is very strong. Likewise it allows you to reap the benefits of Assault Doctrine for a single unit without having to commit the whole army to Assault Doctrine, which I suspect you’ll rarely want to do as Ultramarines. A
- Fall Back and Re-Engage – 1/2CP A unit that falls back can shoot and charge in the same turn. If they also have the Codex Discipline chapter tactic, this costs 1 CP less and the unit doesn’t suffer the -1 penalty to its To Hit rolls from Chapter Tactics. This is an absolute steal at 1 point for Ultramarines but will still frequently worth the 2 CP it costs for any non-“Inheritors of the Primarch” successors, as it allows you to back off with your Captain/Dreadnought/Aggressors and shoot at whoever is vexing you with the rest of your army without sacrificing their significant melee capabilities. Will be absolutely crucial to bringing down that one Knight that’s charged your lines. A
- Honoured Sergeant – 1CP A stratagem we’re likely to see in every chapter supplement, Honoured Sergeant lets you give a model with the Sergeant word in its profile a Master-Crafted Weapon, Digital Weapon, Hellfury Bolts, or the Sunwrath Pistol from the Special-Issue Wargear list. You can’t have duplicate relics in your army. Most of the time this is going to be used to master-craft a weapon to give a squad some extra hitting power. B
- Defensive Focus – 2CP Allows up to three other unengaged units within 6″ of a charged unit to fire Overwatch at the charging unit. Essentially a For the Greater Good (of Ultramar), the very hard place to pair with the rock that is the Omniscrambler. 2 CP to have up to 3 unengaged Ultramarine units within 6″ of a friendly join in on Overwatch lets you set up basically unwinnable charges for that unit of Da Jumping Boyz or Bloodletters charging out of deep strike. Don’t forget that improved Chapter Master Rerolls also considerably up-gun overwatch anyway –B
- Tactical Insight – 2CP Pitch your hand and draw a new one in a Maelstrom of War game. Yes, people do play these. This is a pretty good ability since it will hopefully save you from having a completely dead turn due to bad draws and used early that can make or break your game, though less so if you are using the (far superior) Schemes of War rules. C
- Exemplar of the Chapter – 1CP When you pick an unnamed character to be your warlord, they can take an Ultramarines warlord trait in addition to their existing choice. Very useful if you’re playing friendlies or if you need a way to fit Adept of the Codex and another trait onto your custom warlord, but won’t work for you if Guilliman or Calgar are in their necessary warlord spots which, if you aren’t playing successors, they will be. B
- Honoured by Macragge – 1CP Strictly for Ultramarines successor chapters, spend 1 CP once per battle you can take a Relic of Macragge. Useful if you need more oomph for your custom boys than Special-Issue Wargear will give, most likely for the Standard or the Sanctic Halo. B
Ultramarines and their successors have access to two sets of relics. The first, Relics of Macragge, are only available to Ultramarines normally, but successors can use the Honoured by Macragge stratagem to take a single one. The other set, Special-Issue Wargear, are available to successors freely and some can be given to squad Sergeants via the Honoured Sergeant Stratagem.
Relics of Macragge
The Relics of Macragge are solid, if unexciting. They’re all pretty decent, but none of them scream out to be built around. That said, none of them are complete duds, either.
- Soldier’s Blade Replaces a power sword or combat knife and is a S+1 AP-4 2 Damage melee weapon. On the whole a pretty nasty weapon to have, particularly if you don’t want to fork over 40 points for a Thunder Hammer. Really helps Phobos Characters as they don’t otherwise have access to power-weapon equivalents. B
- The Sanctic Halo Captain or Chapter master, grants a 3+ invulnerable save and the bearer can attempt to Deny the Witch once per turn as though they were a psyker. Still as good as it ever was and basically never a bad choice of relic. B
- The Standard of Macragge Inviolate Friendly units within 12″ autopass morale and friendly units within 6″ have +1 attack, bringing your standard Primaris body up to 4 attacks in the first round of combat. A really good ability to have, and worth spending some effort to build around where you can combine something like 5-attack Veteran Intercessors with a re-rolls aura. A
- Armour of Konor The old Shield Eternal, but now for Terminator Armour only and slightly worse. Gives the model a 4++ invulnerable save and halves incoming damage. Good if you have a Terminator Librarian you want to protect. C
- Helm of Censure The relic bearer re-rolls To Hit and To Wound rolls of 1, unless it’s against ADEPTUS ASTARTES or HERETIC ASTARTES units, in which case the bearer also gets +1 to their To Hit and To Wound rolls. Exists solely to be given to slam Captains, but more useful than most faction-keyed relics because Marines and Chaos Marines make up like 70% of all armies. B
- Vengeance of Ultramar Replaces a storm bolter with a storm bolter that is Rapid Fire 4. Because it replaces a bolt weapon, it benefits from Bolter Discipline, meaning that you can use it to pop out 8 shots at full range with -1 AP while you’re in Tactical Doctrine. Combine with the Paragon of War warlord trait to push out extra mortal wounds on every shooting volley. B
- Tarentian Cloak Gives a 5+ Invulnerable save and the character heals d3 wounds at the start of each of your Movement phases. It’s extremely useful when given to a Librarian as it allows them to continue casting without worrying about chipping themselves down through Perils of the Warp and gives them some defense against people trying extremely hard to stop you from using Null Zone on them. It’ll probably see most of its play with successor chapters and in friendly games where you don’t have Tigurius. B
The Banner is probably the biggest winner here (something of a trend after the White Scars) – +1A is the kind of buff that turns your normal line infantry into capable combatants, opening up new avenues of play at a low cost.
The Ultramarines share four Special-Issue relics with the White Scars, and we expect to see those four show up again multiple times in other supplements. They also have four unique Special-Issue relics, two of which are very good and two of which are just OK.
- Adamantine Mantle Grants the bearer the ability to ignore lost wounds on a D6 roll of 5+. Solid, particularly for units that already have a 4+ invulnerable save and who won’t benefit as much from the defensive Relics of Macragge. A decent fall back to have. B
- Artificer Armour Grants the bearer a 2+ save and a 5+ invulnerable save, bringing the total of possible characters with 2+ saves through relics for marines to 2. Most useful for characters who lack an invulnerable save or can’t improve their save for whatever reason, such as jump pack Librarians or Lieutenants. B
- Master-Crafted Weapon Apparently common to all Space Marine codex supplements. Add +1 to the Damage of any weapon that’s not a relic and doesn’t have master crafted in its name already. This wargear has a pretty broad set of uses between damage 4 thunder hammer Captains, Aggressor sergeants firing 12 2-damage shots per turn at range with damage d3+1 in melee, or Suppressor sergeants having the ideal gun for killing Custodians at flat 3 damage. Ideally you’d never be taking this as your free relic, but an excellent use of the “pay a CP for an extra relic” stratagem since being able to use it to buff up various units depending on your opponent’s army is a useful tool. A
- Digital Weapons Whenever the bearer fights they get to make an extra attack that causes a mortal wound if you hit. Cute but not really worth the relic slot. C
- Reliquary of Vengeance Once per game at the start of the Fight phase you can activate this to give everyone within 6″ of the bearer +1 to their Attacks characteristic until the end of the phase. This is a strong effect and combos well with both the Standard of Macragge and Squad Doctrines stratagem for some downright filthy melee build-arounds such as Intercessor sergeants having 6 thunder hammer attacks each for a turn or just piling in with an insane number of AP-1 Veteran Intercessor attacks. A
- Seal of Oaths Could also have been called “Screw That Guy In Particular.” Gives original flavour Guilliman rerolls of all To Hit and To Wound rolls in a 6″ aura around the bearer against a single enemy unit chosen at the start of the first battle round. Pick the most important and expensive unit in the enemy line and watch it melt. A+
- Hellfury Bolts The ranged counterpart to digital weapons, when firing a bolt weapon the bearer can choose to fire a single shot that deals a mortal wound if you hit (instead of the regular attack, not in addition to it). This has some potential against armour-heavy lists if applied to an Aggressor sergeant as it lets you deal 2 mortal wounds to a target each turn by firing their boltstorm gauntlets twice. C
- Sunwrath Pistol Replaces a plasma pistol with an upgraded 2-shot S8 AP-3 D2 pistol. More useful to have, but there are better things to spend your points and relics on. C
The Seal of Oaths is an outrageously big winner here – against any opponent with a key unit you absolutely want it. It’s probably the best relic in the book, which in itself makes successor Ultras a lot more viable than successor Scars.
Strategy and Tactics
Now that we’ve covered the massive amount of new stuff Ultramarines get, let’s talk about how to use them on the table. We’ll break this out into two sections: One for pure Ultramarines and one for Successor Chapters, and we’ll look at how those might vary as well depending on what successor traits you took. Finally, we’ll look at soup options, since Guilliman creates some interesting opportunities for soup that other chapters don’t really have.
Running Pure Ultramarines
Unlike White Scars, Ultramarine armies are likely to devote themselves primarily to mid-range shooting, and will naturally want to spend most of the game in the Tactical Doctrine in order to reap the AP bonus and the ability to count as stationary at all times. Also, because they can switch units to whichever Doctrine they need without shifting the whole army, they don’t have to dedicate themselves as fully to a single combat type. This has a few important consequences:
- Ultramarines will naturally have less need for Terminators and Bikes, as they can get similar or better shooting results from Intercessors, giving up two shots for increased range, lower cost, and an additional -1 AP.
- Ultramarines can run more multi-faceted armies, relying on abilities like Squad Doctrines to get the most out of melee units without shifting their entire army into Assault Doctrine.
- Ultramarines can put Tactical doctrine units into their best firing mode immediately, making drop pods for shooting units potentially more useful on turn 1.
In most pure Ultramarines armies, we expect to see either Guilliman or Calgar acting as Warlord, since the CP bonus is just too good to give up otherwise. That means that non-named character warlords and their builds are going to be more useful for Ultramarines Successor Chapters. In addition to the leaders, Tigurius and Cassius are also well worth taking, as the best possible Librarian and Chaplain space marines can take, respectively. Tigurius will usually want to be working the Indomitus Discipline with Scryer’s Gaze and something else.
Beyond that, Ultramarines armies will likely want to go heavy on mid-range, high volumes of firepower, using the Tactical Doctrine to stay on the move while pushing out a shedload of high-AP firepower. Because their ability applies to vehicles, being in Tactical Doctrine is also a great deal for Ultramarine dreadnoughts, who can act as more mobile gun platforms without having to spend CP to ignore the penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons. Because of this, I believe that the best Ultramarine armies focus on a mix of infantry and dreadnoughts.
Ultramarines Army – Artum’s Primaris Mob
For pure Ultramarines, we’ve got Artum’s updated post-codex list, which retains Guilliman as the warlord but leans on the new-and-improved Tigurius and Cassius rules to get more out of the army’s Intercessors and Aggressors. The core of the army is a 10-strong Intercessor Squad who can be made Veterans to soak up the overlapping auras from Guilliman, Cassius, and the Ancient. Meanwhile the Victrix Guard are a cheap way to protect characters and the Eliminators give the army a way to take out characters and harass the enemy long enough for the main force to close in. It’s also worth looking at the Hero of the Chapter stratagem to give a Warlord Trait to the Phobos Lieutenant, where giving him Lord of Deceit will give you the ability to redeploy up to half the army when combined with the Rapid Redeployment stratagem (with the trait moving the three PHOBOS units).
Army List - Click to expand == Auxiliary Superheavy Detachment == Ultramarines [350 pts] 3 CP Lord of War: Roboute Guilliman (Warlord) – 350 pts == Battalion Detachment == Ultramarines [pts] 5 CP HQ: Chief Librarian Tigurius – 130 pts HQ: Chaplain Cassius – 85 pts Troops: 10 Intercessors (sgt. w/Thunder Hammer) – 188 pts Troops: 5 Intercessors – 85 pts Troops: 5 Intercessors – 85 pts Elites: 5 Aggressors – 185 pts Elites: Primaris Ancient – 69 pts Elites: Victrix Guard – 60 pts Elites: Relic Contemptor w/ 2x Twin Las, Cyclone Missiles – 222pts Elites: Relic Contemptor w/ 2x Twin Las, Cyclone Missiles – 222pts == Spearhead Detachment == Ultramarines [pts] 1 CP HQ: Lieutenant in Phobos Armour – 77 pts Heavy Support: Thunderfire Cannon – 92 pts Heavy Support: Eliminators w/Instigator Bolt Carbine – 74 pts Heavy Support: Eliminators w/Instigator Bolt Carbine – 74 pts
Ultramarines, 1,997 Points, 12 CP
== Auxiliary Superheavy Detachment == Ultramarines [350 pts] 3 CP
Lord of War: Roboute Guilliman (Warlord) – 350 pts
== Battalion Detachment == Ultramarines [pts] 5 CP
HQ: Chief Librarian Tigurius – 130 pts
HQ: Chaplain Cassius – 85 pts
Troops: 10 Intercessors (sgt. w/Thunder Hammer) – 188 pts
Troops: 5 Intercessors – 85 pts
Troops: 5 Intercessors – 85 pts
Elites: 5 Aggressors – 185 pts
Elites: Primaris Ancient – 69 pts
Elites: Victrix Guard – 60 pts
Elites: Relic Contemptor w/ 2x Twin Las, Cyclone Missiles – 222pts
Elites: Relic Contemptor w/ 2x Twin Las, Cyclone Missiles – 222pts
== Spearhead Detachment == Ultramarines [pts] 1 CP
HQ: Lieutenant in Phobos Armour – 77 pts
Heavy Support: Thunderfire Cannon – 92 pts
Heavy Support: Eliminators w/Instigator Bolt Carbine – 74 pts
Heavy Support: Eliminators w/Instigator Bolt Carbine – 74 pts
The Ultramarines rules are going to combine best with any Successor traits that encourage you to be in Tactical Doctrine with most of your army. Because of its general utility and how it smooths your variance, Master Artisans is a great pick here. Depending on what your other strategy is, Bolter Fusillades, Long-Range Marksmen, Stalwart, and Stealthy are all strong secondary choices.
- Bolter Fusillades is a good pick if you’re going heavy on bolt weapons and infantry. It’s solid in particular if you’re going to use Drop Pod Sternguard, and may not have a Captain nearby to give them an aura.
- Long-Range Marksmen compliments Aggressors and Inceptors very well, giving them a useful +3″ boost to their range, upping it to 21″.
- Stalwart compliments large groups of Primaris Infantry, making them tougher overall against the kind of S8+ heavy weapons that also tend to deal multiple damage per shot.
- Stealthy is a strong general boost to your army’s resilience, and takes advantage of the fact that your army won’t need to be within 12″ to double-tap its bolter weapons while in Tactical Doctrine. It also helps if you’re going to be taking more dreadnoughts, since they don’t really benefit from Stalwart or Bolter Fusillades much.
Because you are giving up Ultramarines named characters to walk the Successor path, you’ll actually have a reason to play around with Warlord traits and Relics on a Captain. Because there’s no other time it will ever get used (sigh), here’s where I’d recommend trying out a Terminator Captain upgraded to a Chapter Master with the Paragon of War Warlord Trait and the Vengeance for Ultramar Relic (given with the Honoured by Macragge Stratagem). Pair him with a Terminator Librarian running the Librarius Discipline to cast Might of Heroes on him and pair them with either a bunch of deep striking Terminators for the AP-1 storm bolter shots or some Drop Pod Sternguard for a nice punch with lots of extra mortal wounds.
Successor Army – One_Wings’s Dread Mob
Wings: As soon as I saw the full summation of what the Ultramarines got access to and had digested Successor Chapters, I came up with a very silly army list idea – a massive Dread Mob. One of the conceptual problem with Dreadnoughts in 8th edition has been that they’re often paying points for both melee capability and heavy shooting weapons. This creates an intrinsic tension between wanting to advance on the enemy and wanting accurate shooting, and tends to be why the Forge World Dreads, which are more focused gun platforms, are better.
Luckily, the Ultramarines Doctrine turns this on the head – from turn 2 you can move and shoot with impunity, and can load this up early via the Warlord trait for making Tactical active on unit, and also have the option of Big Guns Never Tire from the main book. Combined with them being a great place to run one of my new best friends, the Invictor Warsuit, this creates a list that I feel demands a workout.
- Master Artisans
- Tactical Withdrawal
Army List - Click to Expand == Battalion Detachment == Ultramarines [1090pts] 2 CP HQ: Primaris Captain w/Power Fist/Plasma Pistol – Chapter Master – 92pts HQ: Primaris Librarian – Null Zone, Might of Heroes, buy Tome of Malcador for Scryer’s Gaze – 98pts Troops: Intercessors – 85pts Troops: Intercessors – 85pts Troops: Intercessors – 85pts Elites: Invictor w/autocannons – 136pts Elites: Invictor w/autocannons – 136pts Elites: Invictor w/autocannons – 136pts DT: Impulsor – 79pts DT: Impulsor – 79pts DT: Impulsor – 79pts == Vanguard Detachment == Ultramarines [905pts] 1 CP HQ: Primaris Chaplain – Relic: Benediction of Fury – Litany: Recitation of Focus – Warlord: Master of Strategy – 77pts Elites: Redemptor Dread w/Gatlings, Rocket pod – 161pts Elites: Redemptor Dread w/Gatlings, Rocket pod – 161pts Elites: Relic Contemptor w/Lascannons, Cyclone – 222pts Elites: Vendread w/Lascannon + CCW – 142pts Elites: Vendread w/Lascannon + CCW – 142pts
== Battalion Detachment == Ultramarines [1090pts] 2 CP
HQ: Primaris Captain w/Power Fist/Plasma Pistol – Chapter Master – 92pts
HQ: Primaris Librarian – Null Zone, Might of Heroes, buy Tome of Malcador for Scryer’s Gaze – 98pts
Troops: Intercessors – 85pts
Troops: Intercessors – 85pts
Troops: Intercessors – 85pts
Elites: Invictor w/autocannons – 136pts
Elites: Invictor w/autocannons – 136pts
Elites: Invictor w/autocannons – 136pts
DT: Impulsor – 79pts
DT: Impulsor – 79pts
DT: Impulsor – 79pts
== Vanguard Detachment == Ultramarines [905pts] 1 CP
HQ: Primaris Chaplain – Relic: Benediction of Fury – Litany: Recitation of Focus – Warlord: Master of Strategy – 77pts
Elites: Redemptor Dread w/Gatlings, Rocket pod – 161pts
Elites: Redemptor Dread w/Gatlings, Rocket pod – 161pts
Elites: Relic Contemptor w/Lascannons, Cyclone – 222pts
Elites: Vendread w/Lascannon + CCW – 142pts
Elites: Vendread w/Lascannon + CCW – 142pts
Is this list super, hyper competitive? Prooobably not. Is is absolutely hilarious? Yes.
Basically, your goal with this is to get right in your opponent’s face and punch them clean out. A wide spread of powerful gun platforms squeezes the maximum benefit out of the Salamander re-rolls – you still want to try and get the Redemptors and Invictors into your Captain’s bubble if possible, but the Vendreads and Contemptor will largely look after themselves. You can also be very tricksy with the “Assault Transport” ability of the Impulsor in this list – generally on turn 1 you want to start the Chaplain out of his transport to apply start-of-battle round buffs, then for him to hop in to move up the board, while the Librarian and Captain can disembark post move to allow them to start casting powers and providing a buff aura. Ideally, you’re looking to rendezvous the Captain with the Invictors and Redemptors mid-board turn 1 to apply Chapter Master to all of their Heavy anti-screen guns, allowing you to clear the chaff out the way, then rock forward with everything and start punching from there. If your opponent has been incautious, you can instead use Rapid Redeployment to throw the Invictors straight down their throat – taking on one of these in combat when they can reroll a hit and wound each is a formidable prospect indeed.
Scryer’s Gaze can compensate for this list’s one serious weakness, which is low CP. With the sheer number of re-rolls you get from other sources, however, you shouldn’t need too many once you get rolling.
I’ve seen Dread spam lists attempted in tournaments, but I really feel Ultramarines might launch them over the top, as once the Doctrine goes up the mobility afforded is phenomenal.
Imperial soup options took a major hit with the new Space Marines Codex; losing Combat Doctrines for your Marine units if the whole army isn’t made of codex Marines means that you’re giving up some of their most powerful advantages in favor of having more tactical flexibility. That said, there are a few ways you might still want to consider Marines as part of a combined Imperium or “soup” list, where the upside outweighs the loss of Doctrines.
The first among these is to take Roboute Guilliman in an Auxiliary Super-Heavy Detachment for Imperial armies. Aux Super-Heavy detachments lose most Space Marine benefits anyway, and Guilliman’s ability to give re-rolls for morale and To Hit on rolls of 1 to Imperial units within 12″ is strong enough that it could still see play with some heavy-hitting Imperial units that otherwise don’t have good access to commander re-roll auras (we’re talking mostly about Knights here). The biggest downside to souping Guilliman is that his new Warlord trait is much, much less useful than his old one, but even without it giving +3 CP is a good deal for many armies.
Another potential option is to take a Spearhead of 3 squads of Eliminators with Tigurius. Take instigator bolt carbines on the Sergeants to make them a pain to dislodge, and use Tigurius as a way to add powerful anti-psyker strength to an Imperial army (and farm CP with Scryer’s Gaze) while having the Eliminators to, uh, eliminate character targets and screen against deep striking melee units (as they’re extremely hard to charge from DS thanks to getting to move after Overwatching). You give up Devastator Doctrine on their guns, but they’re still good enough without it to be worth using in a soup list.
Overall, the Ultramarines book’s rules are a huge flavor win. The faction gains a ton of powerful rules, but they’re primarily through the faction’s ability to be tactically flexible and do a number of cool strategic tricks. As the remaining supplements are released, Ultramarines are likely to stay the most tactically flexible of the armies, with a bias towards troop-heavy armies that employ a small number of elite or specialty units to help shore up the force’s weak spots (while comparatively the White Scars want to get into Assault Doctrine as soon as possible and charge and we expect Imperial Fists to want to spend more time in Devastator Doctrine). On the whole, we expect to see Ultramarines armies make a strong showing in the post-Marines meta, as they’re uniquely positioned with the faction’s strongest named characters and a ton of cool tricks.