The Goonhammer Hot Take: Space Marines FAQs

Holy crap. Just when we were starting to think that GW wasn’t interested in revising Space Marines again, they drop a bombshell on us with a massive new set of FAQs and errata that completely change everything about the faction. OK, maybe not everything, but there’s enough here to create a seismic shift in the tournament environment moving forward, starting with Adepticon, the first Super Major ITC event where these rules will be legal. We’ll be covering what these rules mean in more detail in a Goonhammer Round Table tomorrow, but for now, here’s a guide to all the changes with some quick thoughts about what they mean.

On a personal note, we’d like to mention that Start Competing: Space Marines was slated for a release tomorrow, but 60 thousand words in, GW released this bombshell and now we have to delay it for a few weeks until we can see how these shake out. Fun times at the Goonhammer offices!

If you want to go read these yourself, you can find them here:

There’s a ton to go through here so strap in.


Credit: SRM

Codex: Space Marines Errata

Combat Doctrines Now Force You to Progress

This is the single biggest change in the book and affects every single Space Marines army in a big way. Now if your army is battle-forged and every non-Servitor/Unaligned unit has Angels of Death, your Combat Doctrine progression moves as follows:

  • In the first battle round, you start in Devastator Doctrine.
  • In the second battle round, Tactical Doctrine is active.
  • In battle round 3, you get to pick whether Tactical or Assault Doctrine is active
  • In battle round 4 and after, Assault Doctrine is active

This is a huge change — armies can no longer sit in Devastator or Tactical Doctrine all game, and are instead forced to shift forward. This is also a huge nerf for armies that relied on Chapter Doctrines that were active in the Devastator Doctrine: Imperial Fists, Iron Hands, and Dark Angels will now only get their respective doctrines’ benefits during a single turn. “But what about the Adaptive Strategy Stratagem?,” you say, clearly thinking ahead. Well…

The Adaptive Strategy Stratagem is Gone.

Totally gonezo. Deleted. Take a sharpie and cross it out in your codex. Marine armies no longer have the ability to roll back their current doctrine by a turn. This makes sense, because if you were Iron Hands you’d just windmill slam 1 CP every game to keep Devastator Doctrine active for one more turn, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t have been OK to make it 2 or 3 CP instead. Anyways, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for GW to be cautious here given how things worked out with the last set of FAQs.

What This Means

We’re going to dive into more detail on this all tomorrow in our roundtable, but the big takeaway here is that Iron Hands, Imperial Fists, and Dark Angels take a big hit. They’re at their strongest in Devastator Doctrine and now they only get those benefits on turn 1, when good deployment may make it difficult to take advantage of those benefits. There may still be room for flyer-heavy lists in these Chapters that alpha strike the crap out of the enemy, but it’s a big hit to take. Raven Guard also take a tiny hit here, losing some flexibility, but they typically want Assault Doctrine active at some point anyways, so it’s likely they’ll come out of this OK. The Space Marine armies that come out of this the best are the ones that already wanted to be in Assault Doctrine. Namely, White Scars and Blood Angels. And also technically Black Templars I guess but that doesn’t matter.

Duty Eternal Now Only Reduces Damage by 1

The Duty Eternal Stratagem no longer halves incoming damage, but now reduces it by 1, to a minimum of 1 and isn’t cumulative with any other rules that reduce damage (so you can’t combine it with the Ironstone). It’s still a fine stratagem, but this is one of several changes squarely aimed at nerfing the “Brohammer” Iron Hands list. I’ll come back to what this means in a moment, because it’s really part of a set of changes to Iron Hands. Speaking of which…


Iron Hands Intercessor by Booley
Iron Hands Intercessor. Credit: Jack Hunter

Iron Hands Errata

Cogitated Martyrdom No Longer Works on Vehicles and Happens Before FNP Saves

Cogitated Martydom got two major nerfs: The first is that you can only tank hits for non-Vehicle characters within 3″, so no more using this to tank hits for Leviathans and Venerable Chaplain Dreadnoughts. The second is that the FAQ explicitly lays out that you roll the D6 to pass on the attack before any rolls to Ignore Wounds are made (e.g. such as for The Flesh is Weak or Adamantine Mantle). This was something that wasn’t explicitly laid out, but had been ruled differently for LVO and so had trickled down through the ITC format, where Iron Hands dreadnoughts could roll their saves, then their ignore pain attempts, then pass the failed damage off.

What This Means

This, in combination with the Duty Eternal nerf, effectively kills the Brohammer Iron Hands list. When combined with the Doctrine Changes, it might kill Iron Hands overall. Not kill completely mind you–if you’re a casual player, you’ll still have an army that’s fun to play and competitive with other marine lists. But in the competitive environment, the time of the Iron Hands’ dominance has ended.


Raven Guard Aggressors
Raven Guard Aggressors. Credit: Dan Boyd

Raven Guard Errata

The Master of Ambush Warlord Trait Can No Longer Redeploy Centurions

The trait now explicitly excludes CENTURION units from being re-deployable with this ability. You can still move them forward with the Infiltrators Stratagem or Deep Strike your Centurions with the Strike from the Shadows stratagem, but you’re going to have to spend CP to do it now and your opponent will know what’s coming much earlier, and you can’t use it to engineer turn 1 charges with it any more. That was especially valuable under the new ITC rules, where you’d know well in advance of using the ability whether you were going to have the first turn, and kills that particular strategy for Raven Guard. Still, while this hurts Raven Guard, it only targets one specific strategy and overall the Raven Guard/RG Successor armies should remain viable, albeit having to shift tactics a bit. This also might mean that White Scars Centurions will see more play.


Blood Angels Death Company
Blood Angels Death Company. Credit: Jack Hunter

Blood of Baal/Ritual of the Damned Errata

Dark Angels and Blood Angels Get Revised Doctrines, Lose Adaptive Stratagy

No surprise here. I expect we’ll see day 0 errata for Saga of the Beast doing this for Space Wolves as well.

Dark Angels, Blood Angels, and Grey Knights Get Revised Duty Eternal Stratagem

Same here.


Our Long National Nightmare is Over

I think that for the vast majority of players in the field, these are welcome changes. Even if you didn’t think the game was complete bullshit, it’s hard to argue that the meta was healthy, and this should really open things up for more armies and strategies now that Iron Hands aren’t going to be the 65%-win percentage juggernaut they’ve been up to this point. This may open things up for vehicles a bit more as well, with Imperial Fists also losing a step (though you could argue they didn’t need it). It’s unlikely we’ll see much movement out of Ultramarines, Salamanders, or Black Templars as a result of this, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If you’re looking for deeper commentary on this, we’re working on it! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s articles, where our first post will be a Goonhammer round table talking about these changes and what they mean for the game and different play styles. And as always, if you have any questions or feedback, shoot us a note in the comments below or email us at