Getting Started: Space Marine Successors

At Goonhammer we’ve devoted a lot of words to talking about how to compete and take your game to the next level. In “Getting Started,” we look at how to get started with an army – the basics you need to know, how to start collecting models that will leave you with a serviceable army, and what the best deals are.

Reader, as we all know, Space Marines are cool and good; if you are getting into the hobby and have found this, by googling, you have probably seen the sweet artwork and models that prove this without doubt.

But, you ask “What is cooler and good-er than Space Marines?” The Answer?

Space Marine Successor Chapters. 

The Jade Paladins, arrayed for battle. Credit: Ben Bailey’s Twittar

These successors are known as the “rad” and “actually awesome” Space Marines and are normally played by good looking and fashionable people.

If you too want to find out how to be 20% better looking, more fashionable and nicer smelling you should read this article, where we are going to talk about getting started with a Successor Chapter army, looking at using an existing successor and creating your own from scratch. Also we will look at the various natural starting points like Start Collecting boxes and the like.

I suppose we better figure out what a Space Marine, a Space Marine chapter and a successor is before we really kick off.


Who Are the Space Marines?

They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give of themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them, and in the furnace of war forge them.

They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them.They will have tactics, strategies and machines so that no foe can best them in battle.

They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear. – The Emperor

Rainbow Warriors Intercessors, Tactical Marines, and Infiltrators by Craig "MasterSlowPoke" Sniffen
Rainbow Warriors Intercessors, Tactical Marines, and Infiltrators by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen


The Emperor nails it right there. Well, kind of.

Space Marines are the heroic characters he makes them out to be, but as all things 40k they aren’t necessarily heroes or the good guys by any stretch. Sometimes referred to by their official name of “Adeptus Astartes”,  Space Marines are tip of the Imperium’s spear.

At their core they are an elite army of bio-engineered warrior monks armed and armoured to a ridiculous degree. To put it in real world terms, think Seal Team 6 or the SAS mixed with walking a main battle tank, coupled with psycho/gene conditioning from the tender age of 10 that focuses on religious zealotry and fanatical loyalty to the Imperium. Marines are molded from aspirants to line troopers (Intercessors or Tactical Marines) over the space of around 50 years and can serve for a thousand years or more, endlessly moving from conflict to conflict.

Space Marines were originally organised into 20 legions with distinctive genelines from their Primarchs, who were outright demi gods, who’s actions set the stage for the universe of Warhammer 40,000. A Primarch is the genetic and spiritual father of his legion, with his ‘geneseed’ implanted in a young adolescent, turning them into a 7ft tall 300+ pound killing machine with 19 extra organs, all of which go into making them a faster, stronger, efficient and more enduring soldier than anything galaxy had ever seen before.

It is said that a single Space Marine is a warrior that can best many times his number while a single squad of 5 Astartes can single handedly board and subdue a capital ship. A company of 100 can conquer a world, a chapter of 1000 can hold a sector against the horrors of the universe. While there are forces – such as the Emperor’s bodyguards, the Adeptus Custodes – that can boast individual warriors better than a Space Marine man on man, there is no foe in the galaxy that can compete against the combined effect of the warcraft of a Space Marine Chapter at war.

The Emperor of Mankind took this preeminent fighting force, along with its demi god leaders and conquered most of the galaxy. 2 of the legions vanished for unknown reasons early on, leaving 18 on the active roster.

This dickhead is the reason why we can’t have nice things. Way to go Horus. Way. To. Go. Credit: Forge World

With the Emperor’s power and empire at it’s height, the galaxy in his grasp, one of the said demigods, Horus Lupercal, the Emperor’s favoured son, decided that he had a cooler and better idea than the Emperor, took half of the legions, and plunged the early Imperium into a civil war that it would never recover from. This is known as the Horus Heresy.

Space Marine Swords of Davion Chapter Champion Emperor's Champion
Painted by Tyler “Coda” Moore

10,000 years after the Heresy, the Space Marines still stand guard, holding the crumbling, bloated and corrupt Imperium together. They know that should they fail, humanity surely will fail with them. They are the last bright spark of hope in the dark, a flickering candle against the encroaching darkness. Their enemies are never ending sea of terrors from beyond the galaxy, ancient gods awaken from their slumber, their living metal legions ready to scour the living and hellspawned horrors plague the worlds of man in unimaginable numbers.

And yet, somehow, they Adeptus Astartes still know no fear.

Somehow, they hold against all odds.

That is what it is to be a Space Marine. 

Anyway, we now know what the hell a Space Marine is. But what the hell is a chapter and a successor chapter?

What Are Successor Chapters?

Australius Tactical Marines by Tyler "Coda" Moore
Australius Tactical Marines by Tyler “Coda” Moore

So those legions? For the Imperial Loyalists, they don’t functionally exist anymore.

Well. Kinda.

There are these things called Space Marine Chapters that continue their legacy, with the 9 loyalist legions being continued by a first founding chapter of 1000 Marines, who inherited their colours, heraldry and history.

This was done because one person controlling millions of hyper powered super humans, of which a force of a mere 10 to 100 of them is a planet threatening event was considered “OP” and “Could cause major problems, as seen by the massive, empire crippling civil war we just had” by the Imperium.

The Ultramarines, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Imperial Fists, White Scars, Space Wolves, Salamanders, Iron Hands and Raven Guard are these lads. They are cool but they aren’t rad.

And do you want to be rad?

A successor chapter is an offshoot of one of the original Space Marine legions, but instead of inheriting the old legionary colours, they take on a new name, colours and command structure. So when each of the 9 loyalist legions was broken down into 1000 Marine chunks, with one “Chapter” continuing the legacy of the original legion, additional chapters where the formed of the left over members.

These nerds’ geneline is responsible for 50% of all loyalist chapters. Credit: SRM

Large legions like the Ultramarines, who made their way through the Heresy mostly intact, spawned 25 (there could be more) successor chapters, others who weere mauled in the civil war like Salamanders managed only 3. These chapters were known as the second founding. As the years progressed there were further foundings, each spawning new chapters to defend the Imperium.

This is cool for two distinctly different takes.

Established Chapters:

Raptors On The Field. Credit Cyph_Au

The kind of cool take about successors is that you can pick one of the named and fleshed out ones, like the Crimson Fists, Emperor’s Spears or Flesh Tearers, which have rules baked into codexes like the founding chapters while keeping enough mystery about them that you can play around with getting creative with the lore while allowing you to access WHTV painting guides. This is rad if you really like the rules and lore of say, the Imperial Fists but have an irrational totally normal and reasonable hatred of the colour yellow. Normally these chapters know who their Primarchs are, which is important to what rules you can access. We’ll go into what I mean by that in a bit, for now let’s move on.

Homebrew Chapter:

The Swords of Davion arrayed for battle
The Swords of Davion, a homebrew successor army, arrayed for battle. Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore

The extremely cool and good take is to make up your own chapter from scratch. Good examples of this would be Kevin’s tactically flexible Regal Skulls or my the reckless duelists of The Swords of Davion. Doing this gives you a hell of freedom to make the exact army that you want. This means that so called ‘homebrew’ Successor Chapters tend to attract hobbyists that want to push themselves to create something totally unique on one hand and people that want the freedom to switch their rules on fly (again, more on that later) to suit the changing times. While good looking people play successor chapters, good looking people who also smell really nice and are fashionable make homebrew successor chapters.

For me, your friend, the author of this article dear reader, that freedom we talked about in the last paragraph is why I love Warhammer. The ability to take this shared universe with it’s very cool and distinctive language and come up with something I can share with my friends and wider world. Custom Successors are what fired my imagination as a 10 year old, with the likes of Andy Chambers saying “here is your sandbox, go forth and create young lad.” No other setting or game system can match this and custom Space Marine Successors are the zenith of that creative shared sandbox.

Let’s talk about how Space Marine successors play on the table. I’m perennially bad very cool and good at playing 40k. In fact I’m so good that any advice I give will probably be incomprehensible for the layman. Instead I’ll now copy and paste from the Space Marine Start Competing by Corrode, who I could probably beat at 40k, if you know, I wanted to. Anyway here is what he said.

Army Strengths

  • Huge, diverse range. Space Marines have an answer to basically any question, and usually several. If you find yourself struggling against a particular opponent or army, you can probably find something in the book to help.
  • Jacks of all trades, masters of… all. Many, many Marine units offer both powerful shooting and combat abilities, making them very flexible on the table.
  • Varied playstyles. You can completely change the character of a Space Marine army simply by changing which supplement it draws its rules from.
  • Tough and reliable. Space Marine units have great profiles, with even the basic Marine offering high Strength and Toughness and a 3+ save. They’re a resilient army which can be forgiving for newer players.

Army Weaknesses

  • Target-rich army: All your units are good, but that makes them all valuable targets. Since they mostly trend towards the lower end of the mobility spectrum (at least once they’re on the board), opponents with high powered mobile units like Aeldari and some Chaos lists can strike surgically and do a lot of damage.
  • Meta leader: Marines were the meta leader for the last few months, and any competitive list is going to have them in mind as a list to beat. You are unlikely to get a good run of favourable match-ups.
  • If you play Iron Hands, no-one will like you. But it’s ok, because the flesh is weak and logic dictates that they’re the best and most effective army in the game, so you should play them anyway.

Recommended Steps

Crimson Fists Assault Centurions
Crimson Fists Assault Centurions. Credit: Corrode

Continuing the theme of stealing from other articles, let’s look at what Rob said about Chaos Marines in their start collecting and twist it to suit our ends. If you are looking for a general ‘start 40k guide, click me now.’

  • Pick a chapter or make one up
    • Established Chapter
    • Homebrew
  • Who is their dad Primarch
    • Get the relevant Codex/Rules
  • Plan your army
  • Buy some starting units
  • Expand on that

That’s pretty solid. We will need to expand on what the hell I mean by that.

Pick A Chapter Or Make One Up

Gaius Atalus (deceased)

This is the most important and coolest bit.

As we talked about, there are two main methods of Successor-ing. Established Chapters and Homebrew.

Established Chapter:


Raptors Intercessors. Credit Cyph_Au
Raptors Intercessors. Credit Cyph_Au

According to the 40k wiki known as Lexicanum, there are approximately 550 Loyal Chapters that have mentions in official Games Workshop works. I had science people quantify how much this is and they said it was ‘a lot’.

Some of these chapters are fleshed out almost as much as the non-rad founding chapters. They know their dad (more of that in a second) and may have rules. Others are nothing more than a colour picture or even just a name. Let’s look at some examples. We’ll check in with each of these in them in the other bits of this as well so you can see how varied the level of detail is and where you can fill in the blanks, in effect you can determine how much Games Workshop branded sand ends up in your sandbox.

Raptors: The Raptors are a well known Raven Guard successor and have had a fair bit written about them over the years in various Black Library books and Forge World Imperial Armour books. They are a second founding chapter that focuses on being tactical, using concepts like ‘camouflage’ and other down right irredeemably sensible methods.

Flesh Tearers: Flesh Tearers are Blood Angel successors, like the Raptors they have a fair bit written about them in Black Library novels and have a small chunk of the Blood Angel Codex devoted to them. They even have some models in the main range! Flesh Tearers are rampantly bloodthirsty warriors, who refuse to maintain the paper thin nobility of the Blood Angels and instead embrace the savagery of the Black Rage. In other words they are way, way cooler at being Space Vampires than their older brothers. Think Interview with the Vampire vs Blade and you’re in the right ballpark.

Emperor's Spear Intercessor Credit: Tyler "Coda" Moore
Emperor’s Spear Intercessor Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore

Emperor’s Spears: The Spears hail from the Ultramarine line and have one very, very good novel written about them. They also are called out in the FAQ. More on that in a bit. The Spears are a chapter trying to hold together an area of space that was once held by three times their number. Besieged on every side  and cut of from the Imperium, these United Kingdom Dark Ages inspired warriors must hold on against impossible odds, watching their home sector crumble way to chaos while waiting for reinforcements from the Imperium that will never come.

Minotaurs: No one knows who the Minotaurs’ dad is.But they do know that they are total bastards, even by Space Marine standards.

These guys have some Forge World support and get featured in the odd novel here and there. There is also a ton of built in mystery, with the chapter frequently being used as the mailed fist of the High Lords of Terra. Armed with the finest weaponry in the Imperium, some whisper that they specialise in destroying other Astartes chapters that have fallen out of favour of the high lords…..

Sons of Orar: We know that the Sons Of Orar have red power armour with white bits. Which is totally cool. Also that they have Ultramarine linage. That’s about it though.

Homebrew Chapter:

I’m going to roll ‘GW official’ successors that are literally just a name into this as it’s effectively just as much graft. Anyhow, my friend you are in for a doozy.

You can do literally anything. Any. Thing. Sky’s the limit. Which is a lot to think about!

To deal with this it would be a good idea to get a simple, one sentence ‘this is what they are about’ and a general colour idea like “they are a sick olive green”. This sentence also gives you a quick “yeah these are my dudes, they are all about xyz”. This will give you a frame for your sandbox and let you start pouring in detail as you go. This is hell of a lot easier and more achievable than writing/planning out 1000+ years of chapter history. Think elevator pitch over Lord of the Rings appendix levels of detail and you won’t go far wrong. You can find further inspiration for this in White Dwarf 453, which discusses the Dwarfers coming up with their own successor Chapter of Space Marines, the Tome Keepers.

CHOOSE YOUR DADDY aka Who is their Primarch

Space Marines
Space Marines
Credit: Pendulin

So you know those demigods we were talkin’ about earlier? Who you chapter calls ‘dad’ actually effects their rules in game in a pretty heavy way.

There are 9 loyalist dads. If you are playing with a established chapter, this may be picked out for you, like Blood Angels for Flesh Tearers or Raptors for Raven Guard. This is where it gets tricky. You armies rules are determined by who you pick to be your primarch. Here are your options:

Lion El'JohnsonDark Angels Dark Angels
Jaghatai Khan White Scars Space MarinesWhite Scars
Leman Russ Space Wolves Space Wolves
Rogal Dorn Imperial Fists Space MarinesImperial Fists
SanguiniusBlood Angels Blood Angels
Ferrus Manus Iron Hands Space MarinesIron Hands
Roboute Guilliman UltramarinesSpace MarinesUltramarines
Vulkan Salamanders Space MarinesSalamanders
Corax Raven Guard Space MarinesRaven Guard

If your dad is covered by Blood Angels, Dark Angels or Space Wolves then your next stop is their Getting Started(s). The problem is they haven’t been written yet. If you want a slightly crunchier look, check out their Start Competings.

If your chapter is one of the GW official ones, they may already have their dad picked for them. In that case you will most likely have to use that book. The Emperor’s Spears for example are directly called out as having to use the Ultramarines Supplement in the Marine FAQ.

If your chapter’s dad is unlisted or if you are making a the chapter up, GREAT NEWS, you can pick whatever you want. This is a reason why custom successors can be popular in tournaments, they can hunt the meta of using the ‘best’ book at the time.

So you maybe asking ‘what the fuck is a supplement? Let’s talk rules my friend.

Next Step, Get The Codex And Rules

We’ve talked about the rules a bit in our general Getting Started article on the rules, so let’s drill down into detail about Space Marine Successors.

The Codex

For a start you are going to want the codex. This coupled with the rulebook is technically all you need. Released in August 2019, it is a very cool and good book. Mostly because it lets successors go down three distinct paths. More on that in a bit.

The Supplements

Space Marine Codex Supplements

Backing this book up are 6 more books. These are supplement codexes that focus on one Primarch’s, expanding the rules out for their genetic legacy. These books own and you want to use them.

As totally rad Successor chapters, we don’t get access to special characters and units but we do score the really tasty themed stratagems and warlord traits. However the most critical thing we pull out of the supplements is their effect on Doctrines.

When you run a pure space marine army, you get access to Doctrines, a powerful buff though the game that changes turn by turn, simulating the way Space Marines wage war. The supplement books each take on the of the doctrines and turbo charges it. For instance, Ultramarine successors mobility sky rockets during the Tactical Doctrine, allowing them to out maneuver their foes, while Imperial Fists successors will find their heavy weapons dishing out extra damage in the Devastator Doctrine.

So as you can see, the supplement books can really enhance your army to fit a playing style that you prefer. They are what make space marines a competitive force to be reckoned with on the table top.

Other Cool Books With Rules You Can Use

Marines also have access to a Psychic Awakening book, Faith And Fury, which adds some nice rules for spending command points characters like librarians, chaplains, ancients. You can ignore this if you like but it can be nice to have, especially if you start looking at the options it provides high level narrative/tourney play.

Finally we have the Forgeworld Imperial Armour Adeptus Astartes Index. If you want to be mega competitive or use the shiny forgeworld toys then you will need this.

Finally there is one specialist detachment in Vigilius Defiant called Indomitus Crusaders. It’s cool, but hardly essential.

Boiling the above down, the Codex is a must, the supplement is extremely nice to have and heavily recommended. The rest, pick it up as required. 

Pick Your Chapter Tactic

This is a seriously cool thing.

Chapter tactics are what makes an Ultramarines army built out of Codex Space Marines different from a Iron Hands army out of the same book. These favour rules change the army.

So your dudes, your successor lads. They aren’t locked into their founder’s chapter’s tactics. Instead we get to pick out our own from a list.

The system is pretty simple: Instead of taking one of the defined chapters, you pick two from the list of Successor Chapter Tactics. Most of these replicate half of the main Chapters’ tactics. There is an option for you to spend both your points and keep your founders tactic if that takes your fancy. You can make a army of reckless melee fighters by picking Hungry for Battle and Whirlwind of Rage or go for a hyper tactical army with Long-range Marksmen and Stealthy.

Let’s check in with our examples.

Established Chapter: 

Excoriators Intercessors By Skails
Excoriators Intercessors By Skails

Raptors: Are a Raven Guard successor and if you want a supplement, you have to use the Raven Guard book. You can however pick your own chapter tactics. For example you could keep the Raven Guard one or ditch it and pick something like Long-range Marksmen and Stealthy

Flesh Tearers: Flesh Tearers are Blood Angel successors, and therefore need to go looking at Codex Blood Angels and the Blood Angel Getting Started/Start Competing.

Emperor’s Spears: As we saw earlier, the Spears hail from the Ultramarine lineage and therefore are locked into their supplement. Like the Raptors you can however pick your own chapter tactics. For example you could keep the Ultramarine one or ditch it and pick something that would fit their depiction in the novel Spear of the Emperor. For example, Whirlwind of Rage and Stalwart.

Minotaurs: If you wanted to play as the Minotaurs you could pick any marine codex. If you do pick codex space marines you could pick any of the supplements and run that founders chapter tactic or pick whichever two take your fancy from the successor chapters list. A viable take for these total bastards would be the Imperial Fist Supplement and use Inheritors of the Primarch to keep the Imperial Fist Chapter Tactic, Siege Masters.

Sons of Orar: Would use the Ultramarines supplement. Other than that they are a blank canvas. Go full ham and pick between Inheritors of the Primarch (Ultramarines) or the whatever two picks you think is rad for their chapter tactic.

Homebrew Chapter:

Space Marine Assault Marines
Swords Of Davion Assault Marines , Painted by Tyler “Coda” Moore

Like the Minotaurs example above, you can pick whatever supplement your want and elect to keep that founders chapter tactic using Inheritors of the Primarch or pick two from the successors list. The combination of picking the supplement book and chapter tactics will wildly change how the army plays on the table top. This is good for two reasons.

One is that you can really show off the cool concept you came up for your custom chapter in the game. The second is that if you are a bit more on the tournament side of things, you can ‘hop’ from supplement to supplement, changing chapter tactics until you find the most gamey combo possible.

Alright you have your chapter and it’s dad book picked out and traits selected. It’s time tooooooo….

Starting Your Army

Experienced folk will talk about making a 2,000pts list and building towards that. However this normally never happens. Instead lets look at some common start points and where to go next.

Start Collecting! Space Marines

Space Marine Start Collecting

This box contains

  • A Terminator Captain Storm Bolter and a cool Power Sword
  • 10 Tactical Marines
  • A Venerable Dreadnought

Alright. So this would have been a cool core army a few years ago, now not so much. However you can still springboard off this to glory. You can immediately play this army as a Patrol detachment of around 300 to 400pts, meaning you are technically have a battleforged list from the get go.

While most of this boxes units aren’t the state of the meta there are a few things you can do to get the most mileage possible out of your lads.

Slap the twin lascannon on Venerable Dreadnought. This weapon coupled with it’s 2+ BS gives you a good anti tank fire support platform. Split the tactical squad into 2 5 man units and ether run them as cheap and nasty basic bolter objective holders or go ham on upgrades. If you do the later, push them into a role.

The terminator captain is passable, he can deep strike to get into combat or hang around with the tactical squad and dread to aid them with his re-rolls of 1s to hit. This doesn’t sound like much but seriously buffs like this are one of the strengths of a space marine army.

Overall if you have this box, don’t panic. It will give you a place to start with, especially if you aren’t going to include any primus units.

Start Collecting! Vanguard Space Marines

Vanguard Space Marine Start Collecting

  • Lieutenant in Phobos Armour
  • 3 Suppressors
  • 3 Eliminators
  • 10 Infiltrators, including one Helix Adept

This start collecting rips. This is the one to get. Running in at 473pts and themed around phobos units, this box gives you a really solid firebase and a good springboard to take the army a number of different directions.

The Lieutenant gives you buff on your wound rolls, so hole him up with the eliminators and watch as they dish out mortal wound after mortal wound with their comically efficient sniper rifles. The infiltrators are great line troops that can do board control/area denial in equal measure. The suppressors give you a decent light anti tank unit with great mobility.

All of these units are usable up to a fairly high level of play, with eliminators being almost must have unit in some tourney lists.

Once again, this army packs out a patrol detachment. Note that these are all monopose models, the separate unit boxes are multiparts and have more bitz and weapon options which means you aren’t getting an as big saving as the contents initially suggests. That said if you are using this box to get into 40k, don’t stress, this box still owns.

Dark Imperium

Dark Imperium

  • 1 Primaris Space Marine Captain in gravis armour
  • 2 Primaris Space Marine Lieutenants, one armed with a power sword and bolt pistol, the other an auto bolt rifle and bolt pistol
  • 1 Primaris Space Marine Ancient
  • 10 Primaris Space Marine Intercessors with bolt rifles
  • 3 Primaris Space Marine Inceptors with assault bolters
  • 5 Primaris Space Marine Hellblasters

This box is about to go the way of the dinosaur. However it’s also pretty damn good value, especially if you can split the Death Guard half with a mate, so if you’re buying in currently then you should aim to get it before it’s gone. Let’s have a ganda at it.

This is a box that encourages you to play to the Marine codexes’ strengths. Lots of good quality units that can do a bit of shooting and assault clumped around a group of characters’ buff auras.

What this means in English is that you will want your units ideally within 6″ of the captain, one of the LTs and ancient. They hand out a reroll of 1 to hit, 1s to wound and allow people to shoot or fight when they die on a 4+ respectively. This owns as it makes your units a hell of a lot more effective. The Captain is a punchy monster also.

Unit wise bolt rifle Intercessors are flexible decent troop choices in most lists. Inceptors with assault bolters are great for dropping in and dishing out a boatload of bolter shots. Hellblasters a great unit but also are your only method of AT in the box, they’ll have to do a lot of heavy lifting.

Overall this box is pretty rad and gives you a great place to kick off from. If you luck out and have a friend playing death guard that’s also interested in picking up a DI box, one box of DI clocks in at a massive 773pts, so adding two of these together gives you a sizeable 1546pts army of good units on the cheap. When most tourneys and games run at 1250~2000pts, you can see why this box is such good value.

Know No Fear

Know No Fear


  • 1 Primaris Space Marine Captain in gravis armour
  • 5 Primaris Space Marine Intercessors with bolt rifles
  • 3 Primaris Space Marine Inceptors with assault bolters
  • 5 Primaris Space Marine Hellblasters

First Strike

First Strike

  • 3 Primaris Space Marine Intercessors with bolt rifles
  • 3 Primaris Space Marine Reivers with Heavy Bolt Pistols and Close Combat Weapon

So I’m clumping both of these together because they are pretty much stripped down versions of DI box. Like the larger box they are both good to start with. First strike technically has no legal units in it though, so if you can spring for DI or Know No Fear instead, go for those.

Alternative Option: Start Collecting! Primaris Space Wolves

Prnarus Space Wolves Start Collecting

  • 1 Primaris Battle Leader
  • 3 Primaris Aggressors
  • 10 Primaris Intercessors
  • 2 Space Wolves Primaris Upgrade Sprues

This box is a hell of a deal, containing a bunch of multi part kits.

Aggressors and Intercessors are brilliant units that feature in a bunch of high level armies.  Split the Intercessors into two 5 strong squads, throw bolt rifles on them. Couple this with the Aggressors and you have a core army that can throw out absurd amounts of firepower.

The Battle Leader and Upgrade sprues might not be massively useful, unless your successor is wolf themed. However it is possible to sell those or find a power sword to throw onto the battle leader, transforming him into a  Primaris Space Marine Captain or Lieutenant. If you feel brave and want to do some simple conversions, running the Wolf Guard as a Primaris Lieutenant with Power Sword clocks this box in at 350pts. While this is lower than the other boxes, you are getting multipart kits and hellishly good units.

I Haven’t Bought Anything Yet!

If you haven’t bought anything yet, that’s great – you’ve come to the right place! Where you should start will depend on what kind of chapter you want to play and how competitive you want to go.

For most players, the Start Collecting Vanguard Space Marines, Start Collecting Primaris Space Wolves and Dark Imperium boxes are pretty good deals, and a great starting point regardless of which Chapter you’re playing.

Expanding Your Army

Squad Safir, Swords of Davion Relic Contemptor Dreadnought . Credit: Tyler "Coda" Moore Credit: Tyler "Coda" Moore
Squad Safir, Swords of Davion Relic Contemptor Dreadnought . Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore

So you’ve got your base (or not), and are looking for ways to expand. Here’s what I’d personally recommend looking at for taking your next steps:

If You…

…Just Want to Build a Competitive Army for Events

Jade Paladins Primaris Ancient Credit: Ben Bailey

I can’t stress enough that this is going to cause you spend wallet hurting amounts in the short term and then have you spending even more when the units and strategies are “good” changes, but then again there are a ton of people out there that love chasing down the meta and the perfect list. Hell, that’s why this site more less exists!

There was a massive Marine FAQ shake up at the start of the year and thanks to Covid, we haven’t really seen the results yet. I’m pretty much the most under qualified writer on this site for this subject so I would implore you to read more about competitive play and lists in our rather excellent and comprehensive article Start Competing: Space Marines. Seriously it’s about the same length as some novels. Also don’t tell the Corrode/The Chirurgeon I said that I’m not good at 40k though. If they ask it’s your duty to tell them I’m the coolest, goodest and the bestest at warhams.

…Want to Go More Narrative

Space Marine Vanguard Veterans Swords Of Davion Squad Constantine Credit Tyler “Coda” Moore


This is where successor armies come alive. Most narrative players go for a mono chapter force that plays into the chapter’s theme. This owns bones and is really fun to play with and against.

Because of the ‘create your own’ and ‘insane amount of official GW’ successors, I’m going to give you some examples using the chapters we referenced above, along with a few Goonhammer faves.


Raptors take the Sneaky, infiltration tactics of Raven Guard and add a health portion of tacticool. Snap up the Raven Guard Supplement book and then start looking at units that will pump up your infiltration and character assassination plays. If you pick something like Long-range Marksmen and Stealthy for your chapter tactics and couple with a bunch of Eliminators with bolt rifles, Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles and Infiltrators and a Phobos Captain/LT combo. This gives you a hellishly good firebase that you can season with whatever takes your fancy.

Emperor’s Spears

With the Ultramarines Supplement in hand and some aggressive chapter tactics like Whirlwind of Rage and Stalwart, the spears can make a really fun tactical army that can mount a devastating counter charge or get up in their enemy’s grill if required. A cool list would centre around a bunch of hardened Primars Captains and Lieutenants, riding along a bunch of auto bolt rifle Intercessors buffed with the Veteran Intercessor stratagem. Slap thunder hammers on the veteran intercessor sargeants and throw these squads and the characters into a bunch of shield dome Impulsors.

Back this combat element up with two Repulsor Executioners and you have something that is wild to play, with the Impulsors rushing their squads up the field while the Executioners pop any targets that are too spicy for the assault element.


I secretly think Minotaurs dad is really Perturabo of the Iron Warriors. If we look at the Chaos Space Marine codex, they have fairly similar legion rules to the imperial fists. So let’s grab Codex Supplement Imperial Fists. The Minotaurs are also mentioned of having the best-of-the-best equipment and fight with unrestrained brutality, so Master Artisans and Hungry For Battle will do nicely.

While it may not be the best competitive option, Asterion Moloc can form the core of a hellishly good deep striking force. Build a solid fire base that can survive turn one of stalker bolt rifle Intercessors and take advantage of the Imperial Fist doctrine rules. Then slap a trio of infiltrating Invictor Warsuits down to give people something to think about turn 1 and attempt to knock out critical threats. Follow this up with a deep striking hammer of Terminators and Vanguard Veterans, clustered around Moloc for his charge reroll aura.

Swords of Davion

The Swords of Davion are a create-your-own chapter. The Swords love their blades and jump packs. While outwardly projecting a reckless presence with little thought to finer tactics, the Chapter seeks to keep their enemies off balance with deep infiltration and maneuver warfare while their assault elements openly compete for the most honourable duels.

While no one except the author of this article knows who their dad is, by building an army that uses the Ultramarine’s Supplement and the Hungry for Battle/Whirlwind of Rage chapter tactics  we have a force loves to get into combat while remaining surprisingly mobile while it’s in the tactical doctrine.

Twin quad lascannon Relic Contemptor dreadnoughts provide anti vehicle firepower, while a solid core of Intercessors and characters provide a firebase. Three units of Eliminators target characters and critical vehicles while two small Infiltrator squads screen shooty elements. On turn two, the Sword meets stone, with Vanguard Veterans and buffed relic using characters using the Chapter Master and Exemplar of the Chapter stratagems dropping from deep strike.


There’s obviously a huge number of ways you can build out Successors – the variety is part of the fun – but given how great the Vanguard Start Collecting is for a new player, we thought we’d cover an example that shows off how you can effectively use it. The toys in the Start Collecting box have pretty strong synergy with Raven Guard successors, as the power of Eliminators goes up hugely once their doctrine is active, so let’s decide that we are Raptors. You can also get some use out of the Primaris Space Wolves start collecting too, as Aggressors are nice with the options out of the Raven Guard book and everyone needs Intercessors. Starting Marine armies tend to skew quite heavily towards spamming infantry because of the cost-efficient ways of getting big squads, so let’s lean into that by choosing Bolter Fusilades as one of our traits (which also helps our Eliminators). For the other, let’s focus on the fact that the core of this army wants to push right into your opponent’s face and choose the Whirlwind of Rage trait.

This gives us a decent core but it’s a little one dimensional, and to fill it out we can buy:

  • A Vanguard Veteran box. This gives us parts to convert a jump pack captain, and lots of spares to work with in general, including a power fist to go on some intercessors.
  • A Phobos Librarian. This gives us some psychic support.
  • An Invictor Warsuit. This guy is just great value, and lines up nicely with out plan to get in the opponent’s face straight away.

Adding this all together you can build the following:

Raptors Battalion


Captain w/jump pack, thunder hammer, storm shield, warlord trait The Imperium’s Sword, Master of the Trifold Path for Master of Ambush – 143
Phobos Lieutenant w/bolt carbine – relic Ex Tenebris (via Token of Brotherhood) – 81
Phobos Librarian – 101


10 Infiltrators w/Helix Adept – 230
9 Infiltrators w/Helix Adept – 208
9 Intercessors w/power fist on sergeant, one grenade launcher -163


3 Aggressors w/auto-boltstorm gauntlets – 111
Invictor Tactical Warsuit w/Ironhail – 136

Fast Attack

3 Suppressors – 90
3 Suppressors – 90

Heavy Support

3 Eliminators – 72
3 Eliminators – 72

Total – 1497pts

This army can bring almost everything it has into the mid board straight away, where it can start getting value out of the successor traits through bolter re-rolls and punching people in melee. The main thing it’s a bit light on is answers to big tanks (as the Start Collecting boxes aren’t great for this), but the Captain will kill almost any vehicle he touches, and the Aggressors and Invictor are also a real threat. Don’t be afraid to try and use the Eliminators to plink mortal wounds off as well – using the Sergeant’s ability to improve the rest of the squad gives you a reasonable chance of scoring one, especially as the bolt rifles will then be hitting on 2s re-rolling 1s thanks to Bolter Fusilades. You’ve also got some real threat to enemy characters between the Eliminators and the Phobos Lieutenant.

There’s also a good stepping stone towards this on the way to 1500pts – if you take out the second copy of Start Collecting Vanguard and the Phobos librarian, you’re left with just over 1000pts and can get under it while keeping a Battalion by shuffling the model counts on the Infantry.

As you grow beyond this you’d want to try and shore up the weakness against T8 vehicles, but it should give a good feel for how Space Marines should play – up close and personal, mowing down their enemies with bolters then lamping them in the face.

Be The Bulwark Against The Darkness

You should now have everything you need to start building a totally rad Space Marine Successors army. If you have any questions or feedback, comment on this article or shoot us an email at . Also you can ask us questions on the Goonhammer Facebook page, or tag us on Twitter or hit something with the #goonhammer tag.

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