The Goonhammer Review: Codex Space Marines 9th Edition

It feels like we’ve only just been down this road, but it’s a new edition and so it’s time for another Space Marines codex, accompanied by one of the largest model releases we’ve seen in a long time (though notably not all coming out this week – instead it’s likely to be spaced out over the next couple of months).

Excitingly, this book not only covers the ‘vanilla’ Chapters we’ve come to expect will be included here, but also the divergent ones which previously had their own standalone codexes (i.e. Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Space Wolves) as well as the veterans of the Deathwatch. Fear not if you play one of those chapters – although the base Chapter Tactics are in here, there’s a further run of codex supplements similar to the existing ones for the First Founding Chapters; three of these are coming out in November, while the Dark Angels are ‘early next year,’ whatever that means.

As well as incorporating the Marine Weirdos, this book is a full-fledged 9th edition publication, with Crusade options, unique secondary objectives for Matched Play, a completely revised list of stratagems and relics, and of course a ton of rules for all those new units we mentioned before. With such a stacked set of stuff to look at, this is going to be a lengthy one! As always, our thanks to GW for the review copy. We’re going to cover all the big changes here, along with all the new stuff. The Crusade options we’ll cover in their own article, looking at how they fit into the wider context of Crusade campaigns, and although we touch on some of the key changes to them here, later in the week we’ll have a detailed examination of how all this affects the various different supplements. Finally, as this article goes live Liam and James will be playing with the new Marine and Necron rules, ready to produce an Editor Showdown battle report seeing how it all works out on the table – so look forward to that one later in the week too!

With such a huge raft of stuff to look at, we’re going to opt for the easiest method of starting from the front and working through- so Faction Rules first, and then onwards from there. The review we’re mostly keeping an eye toward what’s changed from last year’s book, but we’ll be following up next week with an article on how to get started with the new book.

 

Welcome to Codex: Space Marines

Faction Rules

There’s been some subtle but important changes to the overall faction rules here, and some helpful clarifications.

First off, there’s the Angels of Death special rule. This is an army-wide special rule for Space Marines that incorporates four key rules: And They Shall Know No Fear, Bolter Discipline, Shock Assault, and Combat Doctrines.

  • ATSKNF (And They Shall Know No Fear) lets a unit ignore Combat Attrition modifiers, a change from the prior edition’s rule that had Marines re-roll Morale checks.
  • Bolter Discipline lets Marines rapid fire bolt weapons if they remain stationary or are Terminators or Bikers. This has been changed to specifically exempt CENTURION units.
  • Shock Assault gives Marine units +1 Attack in any combat phase after they charge, are charged, or heroically intervene. This is unchanged.
  • Combat Doctrines gives Marine armies army-wide boosts to their weapons’ AP depending on the mode the army is in. The version in the 9th edition codex functions the same as it did in 8th edition after FAQs adjusted it to force you to change doctrines from Devastator to Tactical on turn 2, and Tactical to Assault on turn 4. The rule now specifically incorporates the new AGENT OF THE IMPERIUM keyword from Psychic Awakening, rather than you having to refer to those entries and work backwards to know including them without breaking doctrines was allowed.

Deployment Abilities

The codex has a new ‘Deployment Abilities’ box-out for rules which details all the common variants on deployment – Deep Strike (here ‘Death from Above’ or ‘Teleport Strike’, which are the same thing but for fluff reasons have different names), which allows a unit to drop into the battlefield more than 9″ away from an enemy unit, outflank (uh, ‘Outflank’), infiltrate (Concealed Positions), and so on. The Combat Squads rule, which allows you to split larger squads into smaller ones before deployment, also lives here. This takes these common rules off the datasheets and into this section, which is great in terms of quality of life – reprinting all this stuff across multiple entries took up pointless space, so it’s nice to just have it all contained here.

Detachment Abilities

Every unit in in an ADEPTUS ASTARTES detachment gains the Chapter Tactics ability and Troops choices in the detachment get Objective Secured. These are hold-overs from 8th edition, but (as will be familiar to anyone using the 40k app) they are now specifically grouped together as ‘Detachment Abilities.’ Similarly to doctrines, these apply to ADEPTUS ASTARTES detachments that contain only ADEPTUS ASTARTES units (though it can also include UNALIGNED and AGENT OF THE IMPERIUM units). Additionally – and this is the big new one – a detachment can only contain one CAPTAIN and up to two LIEUTENANTS. So if you want to double up on smash captains, you’ll have to double up on detachments (or take a SMASH MASTER, which we’ll talk about a little later).

 

Blood Ravens Outriders. Credit – Soggy

Chapter Rules

Space Marines are organized into chapters, fighting bodies of about one thousand warriors, give or take. Each of these has their own way of doing business, and has special rules that reflect that. Some are better at punching things, some are better at shooting things, some are better at not dying.

One of the most-anticipated changes here is the folding of Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Deathwatch, and Space Wolves into the main codex. For the most part this is an improvement, normalising the unit lists and making future updates to the Marine range hugely easier to manage, but sometimes it’s bad, because it gives Space Wolves units they don’t deserve. A short section at the front of the rules lays out the exceptions – Black Templars still don’t get Librarians, for example – but mostly this standardizes the Marine armory across all the divergent chapters, which is an unalloyed good thing; probably the biggest impact here is on Deathwatch, who are excluded from a few common units but otherwise have access to a vastly bigger range than they did before, and are now much less likely to miss out on updates since GW doesn’t have to jam in new kinds of Kill Team every time the regular Marine book gets a couple of new datasheets.

Additionally, as promised, the datasheets you would expect can now be Deathwing/Ravenwing or Wolf Guard, making them fully-fledged Dark Angels/Space Wolves units that will be able to take advantage of other rules in those upcoming supplements – so yes, go ahead and paint those Bladeguard Veterans in bone or your Outriders in black, or uh, stick a wolf tail on them, whatever. We’re not judging. 

However, and this isn’t news since we knew it was coming, there’s no mention of how the codex-specific units or the old stratagems in those books will be handled. This is likely something only Greg cares about, due to the delayed release of the Dark Angels supplement. It isn’t a huge deal for the other codexes-that-are-becoming-supplements, as it’ll be a short wait to get those books released and clarify the situation, but with the Dark Angels update so far out we can only live in hope for an FAQ that explains things, likely by allowing limited cherry-picking out of the 8th edition codex for them. At least on launch day, though, there will be the slightly weird situation where the three divergent Chapters can utilise stratagems from the very first 8th Marine book which were deleted by the v2 book for codex Marines, and then also use stratagems from their Psychic Awakening books which have been deleted from this book. In a month’s time (indeed possibly less than that if we get FAQs) it won’t matter, and frankly no-one is that excited about using Killshot anyway, but it’s funny to think about.

Chapter Tactics

Chapter Tactics are the subfaction rules for Space Marines, with each one applying to a chapter. They apply to every non-Servitor, non-Beast unit in a Space Marines detachment, provided every unit is from the same Chapter. These have been recently previewed on Warhammer-Community, but we’ll cover them again here. There’s now a girthy 13 Chapter Tactics in the book, incorporating all nine First Founding Chapters, plus the really notable successors who have their own rules: The Crimson Fists, Black Templars, the Flesh Tearers, and the Deathwatch.

  • The Dark Angels’ Grim Resolve Chapter Tactic has changed significantly; it now gives units +1 to their To Hit rolls if they didn’t move this turn (excluding pile in and consolidate moves), and they fully ignore combat attrition. This is a fairly powerful buff – sources of re-roll 1s are a penny a pound in Space Marines, but +1 to hit is a bit rarer and Dark Angels can also use their Chapter’s litany to count as not moving so they can be mobile and still get the best of the tactic.
  • The Space Wolves’ Hunters Unleased tactic has changed as well; they retain their +1 to hit in melee in any turn in which they charged, were charged, or Heroically Intervened, but now instead of characters heroically intervening 6”, all of their units can always perform a heroic intervention. This is an extremely powerful ability, since it gives every Space Wolves unit a deadly threat radius at all times and gives them the ability to move (and capture or clear objectives) off-turn if opponents aren’t careful.
  • The Crimson Fists’ No Matter The Odds Chapter Tactic gives them +1 to hit with shooting attacks against units with at least 5 more models than the attacking unit (with vehicles counting as 5 on both sides), and gives them an additional hit when rolling an unmodified 6 to hit with bolt weapons. This is a slight downgrade from their prior ability, which also boosted melee attacks. Thanks a bunch GW.
  • Black Templars’ Righteous Zeal lets them re-roll Advance and charge rolls and allows them to ignore mortal wounds on a D6 roll of 5+. This is a sidegrade from their prior ability, which only allowed re-rolls on charges, but now they have to re-roll all the dice on a charge roll rather than any of the dice, which is not as good. As we’ll see when we come to the Warlord traits section, ‘any or all’ seems to be a mechanic they’re moving away from. 
  • Iron Hands’ The Flesh is Weak gives them the ability to ignore lost wounds on a D6 roll of a 6 and their vehicles count as having double the number of wounds remaining when you’re looking up their stats with a degrading profile. Compared to the last book they’ve lost the ability to hit on 5s with Overwatch, which is a downgrade but Overwatch is less relevant than it was, and they can still spend a CP to Overwatch on a 4+ if they really want to. If you’re an Iron Hands player, you likely won’t feel this change much.
  • Salamanders have Forged in Battle, which gives them a re-roll to wound each time a unit is selected to shoot or fight and they treat incoming attacks with AP-1 as being AP 0. This is a big step down for them in that they’ve lost their free hit re-roll but kept the wound re-roll. On the whole this is fine, and how much you’ll feel it depends on how many flamers you’re planning to field.
  • The Raven Guard’s Shadow Masters tactic gives them the benefit of light cover (+1 to their save) when they’re being targeted from more than 18″ away (rather than 12”), similar to the Stealthy successor tactic. Also Raven Guard INFANTRY get the benefits of Dense Cover (-1 to be hit) from more than 12″ away.
  • Finally there’s Deathwatch, whose Xenos Hunters trait lets them re-roll hit rolls of 1 for melee attacks against xenos factions, and they keep their mission tactics ability, which gives them the ability to re-roll wound rolls of 1 against a single Battlefield Role of their choice during the game. The Xenos benefit is new, and fluffy, while the Battlefield Role choice is now any, and not a limited list as before.
  • The five remaining chapters – White Scars, Imperial Fists, Blood Angels, Flesh Tearers, and Ultramarines’ Chapter Tactics are unchanged (except that Fists is clarified to ignore Light Cover, which is how it worked anyway but is now explicit in the text). Of these, the Ultramarines’ and White Scars’ tactics haven’t changed but have gotten better in 9th edition thanks to broader rules changes.

The Ignis Brethren. Credit: SRM

Successor Chapter Tactics

Successor Chapter Tactics return, giving players the ability to create their own special chapters and assign rules to them by picking two abilities from a list. In 8th edition these were very powerful; competitive marine lists would often see Master Artisans combined with Long-Range Marksmen or Stealthy for some truly frightening armies. In this new book they’ve changed these traits quite a bit, dialing them back to the point that taking a First Founding chapter is likely to be a better play.

For the most part these are the same, but a few have changed significantly:

  • Born Heroes is now completely different – instead of allowing Characters to Intervene 6”, it gives charging units +1 to hit with melee attacks.
  • Fearsome Aspect gains the (Aura) tag. That means that e.g. Ad Mech can turn it off, not that anyone was taking it before or is taking it now
  • Indomitable now lets units automatically pass combat attrition tests. Mostly a wording change – the overall effect is the same.
  • Inheritors of the Primarch now includes Dark Angels, Blood Angels, and Space Wolves. No Deathwatch or Flesh Tearers, for obvious reasons
  • Long-Range Marksmen has been nerfed a bit; it adds 3” to the range of Rapid Fire and Heavy weapons, excluding Flame weapons. Less of a hit that it might seem at first, since most flame weapons have been bumped from 8” to 12” anyway.
  • Master Artisans now only lets you re-roll one hit roll instead of a hit roll and a wound roll.
  • Preferred Enemy now gives you one more option for your choices: CHAOS KNIGHTS, and only lets you re-roll hit rolls of 1 rather than all hit rolls, but you get it on all melee attacks instead of just attacks the turn you charge/intervene/are charged.
  • Stealthy got a big nerf – now the range on it is 18” rather than 12”.

 

Chapter Command

This is a whole new section, and there’s lots going on here. Chapter Command represents the top-ranking officers in the Space Marine army, the highest respective person in their role, such as the Chapter Master or Chief Apothecary. These are upgrades to existing units that you’d take, making them more powerful and giving them access to new warlord traits and relics. Rules for these were first introduced in Faith and Fury, but they’ve been changed significantly here from that first iteration. The biggest change is that the upgrades for your chapter leaders are now paid for with regular-old army building points rather than by using stratagems for CP. They all return here, plus there’s a new section for Chapter Masters to come into their own, with some light restrictions –  Deathwatch can’t take Chapter Masters and Blood Angels can’t take Chapter Ancients, since those already exist in different forms in their individual supplements.

Many of the custom relics and warlord traits for Chapter Command units have returned from Faith & Fury, although now there’s only one Warlord Trait and one Relic for each entry, so those have been adjusted and in some cases, combined or baked into the main sheet.

The new Masters of the Chapter, as per Warhammer Community

Chapter Master

If you were losing your mind over the potential loss of the Slam Captain thanks to aura changes, we’d like to welcome you to the new era of SLAM MASTERS. The Chapter Master costs +40 points on a Captain and now, as well as the regular re-roll 1s to hit aura, he has an ability which lets him pick a single CORE or CHARACTER unit within 6” to get full re-rolls to hit. As such he can help himself out and smash things with force, just like he used to – and while 40pts is a lot to pay for this ability, thunder hammers have normalised to 20pts, so he gains some back there. Also a Chapter Master has an exemption that lets you take him and a captain, so you can have your SLAM MASTER cake and eat your captain aura too – though coming in at 180pts for the equivalent to the 8th edition loadout is pretty steep.

Chapter Masters also get their own bespoke Warlord Traits and Relics now, just like the other chapter command units got in Faith & Fury. The Chapter Master appears to have pulled rank on the Chapter Champion, stealing the Angel Artifice relic; this gives him a 2+ save and +1 to his Wounds and Toughness characteristics. This is pretty good on a jump pack model, essentially turning the model into a more mobile, FLYing Terminator. The Master of the Codex Warlord trait lets you score 1 CP each turn on a 4+.

Crimson Fists Slam Captain

Crimson Fists Slam Captain. Credit: Corrode

Master of Sanctity

The top Chaplain returns. He loses The Sacrosanct Rosarius and Bellowing Firebrand abilities (points to anyone who could tell you what those did to begin with) but The Emperor’s Judgment Relic returns with a minor tweak. You’re still never going to take it, Benediction of Fury is right there. The Wise Orator Warlord trait gets a massive overhaul however, giving +1 to reciting litanies (marginally worse than re-rolling like before) and dropping the cost of the Commanding Oratory Stratagem to 1 CP.

Primaris Chaplain. Credit: SRM

Master of The Forge

The Master of the Forge loses the Endurant Protector relics and the Master of the Machine Trait (no one is sad about this) but keeps Warden of the Ancients and Mortis Machina. These things are otherwise pretty much unchanged. Warden turns him into a dreadnought buffbot – on top of the techmarine’s ability natively to natively give one +1 to hit with their shooting, he gives +1 strength and +1 attack to all dreadnoughts within 6″. This feels a bit like it was copy-pasted from the previous book without much thought as to how it works in 9th – previously that +1 strength would have been +2 thanks to the way weapon modifiers worked, but now it will have zero effect on how effective your Dreadnought is unless they’re somehow punching a Titan. Mortis Machina is an upgrade to his power axe, hitting at strength 7 for 3 damage with an additional mortal wound against vehicles. As good as it is, it’s still probably not something you’re ever going take.

Chief Librarian

A Chief Librarian knows a third power (from their chosen discipline, no mix-and-matching), and can deny a second. They can take Psychic Mastery to give +1 to their psychic tests, and a Neural Shroud to increase their deny range to 24″. Taking this guy with his trait is a good no-nonsense pick for getting key powers off – your odds on a WC7 power increase from 58% (i.e. just over half the time) to 72% (nearly 3/4s of the time).

Chief Apothecary

Holy shit. This guy. This fucking guy. He loses the re-roll abilty he had before, but picks up the old Selfless Healer Warlord trait that lets him heal two models instead of one. Now hold on, you might be saying, what if I wanted to take Father of the Future for that 6+ ignore wounds? Well, you’re in luck, because that’s now baked into the Apothecary’s datasheet (though notably, it now has no bonus effect for Iron Hands, who instead have to live with the same 6+ as everyone else gets. Boo hoo). So for +15 pts, you’re essentially getting both of the Faith & Fury Warlord Traits with the option of a new-and-improved Selfless Healer, which makes him heal a flat 3 wounds instead of d3 on both of his targets, and also lets them use the new Combat Revival stratagem for free, letting them revive a dead model at full wounds without having to spend your precious CP. You can also give him the Acquittal relic bolt pistol, which has a decent profile at strength 5, AP-3, damage 2. It only gets better when you point it at an INFANTRY model, though, since it always wounds on a 2+ and goes up to an impressive damage 4.

GREGNOTE: If the Deathwing Apothecary is still legal I am loving the concept of playing Combat Ambulance with him, deep striking in to heal twice and then revive a guy, before giving everyone a 6+ FnP. This upgrade is hilariously good and I straight up don’t know why you would ever take a regular apothecary when the Chief is so rude.

Imperial Fists Primaris Apothecary

Imperial Fists Primaris Apothecary. Credit: Jack Hunter

Chapter Ancient

The Chapter Ancient has gotten a major overhaul; the Chapter Banner ability only affects a single CORE unit within 6” and gives +1 to hit with melee attacks. Otherwise, Steadfast Example, granting Objective Secured to all Core units within 6″ and making existing Objective Secured models count twice, and Pennant of the Fallen, allowing models to make 2 attacks in melee rather than just 1 when they die return. In 9th edition objective-heavy games Steadfast Example can be a solid pickup, bumping up the effective size of an Intercessor squad or giving Objective Secured to some Bladeguard Veterans.

Chapter Champion

The Chapter Champion returns and picks up the Exquisite Swordsman ability for free, letting him re-roll wounds against enemy CHARACTERs in melee. Master Duellist and The Angel Artifice Relic are gone (with the latter becoming a Chapter Master option), Martial Exemplar now affects CORE units and CHARACTERs, and the Blade of Triumph relic goes from S+2 AP-4 to S+3 AP-3, making it better against most T6/T7 targets. 

Overall, this is a good consolidation of what already existed – some abilities have been sensibly in-lined, a few others have gone to the pit of hell from which they were spawned (Master of Machines), and we’re down to a generally more svelte design. Making these points rather than CP is going to hurt a little in terms of getting things into lists, but on the plus side it’ll help getting to use some of the huge new selection of stratagems. 

Ultramarines Chapter Champion

Ultramarines Chapter Champion. Credit SRM

Datasheet Changes

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the datasheets! There are a huge number of changes to these, ranging from ‘minor tweaks’ to ‘fundamental alterations.’ There are also quite a few abilities or wargear options here that have now been moved to be stratagems instead – melta bombs and smoke launchers, for example, but there’s more on this below – and some stratagems have been moved to being abilities. The Primaris Hover Tanks all lost the FLY keyword and their ability to reduce enemy charge distance has been moved to the Grav Pulse stratagem. In general, most of the same pieces are here, but as a microcosm of the change from 8th to 9th writ large, enough minor shuffling of small moving parts manages to completely change the whole. 

What about that CORE keyword we saw so much of in the previews? Well, uh, I wouldn’t worry about it. Almost anything that isn’t a vehicle, a character, or a Centurion is CORE. Dreadnoughts and bikes are, ATVs are not. The big losers here are non-Dreadnought vehicles, which are completely absent from CORE.

Codex: Space Marines has a lot of units. More than any other faction in the game, and Marines have more units in some Battlefield Roles than entire armies have across every book. We’ll be talking about the new datasheets in detail in the next section and next week. For now, we’ll break down changes to the returning datasheets broadly across the unit categories to make some kind of sense of them, and put them in a nice list format (if you’re reading this and asking where the new datasheets are, these have their own section further down):

HQ

  • The Primaris Captain gets his new Indomitus loadout added to the datasheet. Other than that he’s pretty much unchanged except the obvious with his aura only affecting CORE units, which excludes himself (which is common to all the Captains, naturally). This is also our first sight of some of the new and slightly confusing wording for loadouts – if he doesn’t have an MC power sword he can get the plasma pistol/power fist thing from that one exclusive model, or the Indomitus wargear set by swapping out his MC auto bolt rifle. Or if he doesn’t do that he can swap that auto bolt rifle for a stalker version. If he has either of those he can also, uh, take an MC power sword. If he’s a Dark Angel he can swap either of those guns for a special issue bolt carbine and if he has that and doesn’t already have an MC sword he can take a power fist. There’s a few instances of this elsewhere in the book with wargear kind of swapping around to accommodate all the different fixed model variants that came out through 8th edition, and it’s not exactly the neatest bit of rules-writing.
  • The Phobos Captain is unchanged, but both he and Infiltrators now have an important clarification – Omni-scramblers does not have the aura tag, so it isn’t one and can’t be turned off or otherwise ignored.
  • In a reverse from the Primaris Captain datasheet, the Lieutenant in Phobos armour has now been split into two, with one sheet for the Reiver loadout and another for the Phobos version. This is eminently sensible since his sheet was a mess before. The Reiver guy keeps REIVER and picks up SHOCK GRENADES, which will play into a couple of stratagems later on. 
  • The Techmarine now has an Omnissian power axe rather than his regular one, making him +2 Strength, AP-2 and D2. His repair ability now changes to 3” from the 1” range it was before, and he gains a new ability called Awaken the Machine Spirits – in the Command phase pick a vehicle within 3”, and add 1 to its hit rolls. Master of Machines hasn’t totally gone away! Servo-arms have also lost their -1 to hit rule, which is nice (for this guy and for Servitors)
  • All Chaplains now get a +2 Strength Crozius, which brings them up to S6 – nice for squishing puny elves

Troops

White Scars Assault Intercessor

White Scars Assault Intercessor Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

  • Assault Intercessors get a substantial upgrade over their Indomitus version, as the Sergeant can now take a hammer, fist, or power sword.
  • The Infiltrator Helix Adept now no longer heals but instead sets the damage of the first failed save to 0. They also gain the SMOKESCREEN keyword, of which more in the stratagems section
  • Incursors no longer get extra hits on 6s with their paired combat blades, but they are AP-1 now, which is nice. The haywire mine is no longer deployed, but instead on a 2+ it does d3 mortals to a unit that charged your Incursors (or 3 if that unit is a VEHICLE). There’s a slightly ridiculous attempt to get around the whole ‘we made a model with a base to be your deployable haywire mine’ thing by suggesting you use the mine as a marker, which is pretty funny when you remember the box comes with a guy modelled holding one. Like Infiltrators, they also gain SMOKESCREEN
  • Tactical Squads obviously get a big change, going up to 2 wounds (and 18pts!). They also pick up the MELTA BOMB keyword, which is cool and gives them a further little bit of utility to separate them from Intercessors

Elites

Salamanders Judiciar. Credit: Rockfish

Salamanders Judiciar. Credit: Rockfish

  • Speaking of abilities being moved to stratagems, Apothecaries can now only natively heal models which haven’t died yet (this is more useful now that all Marines have 2 wounds); the “bring an INFANTRY/BIKER model back to life” trick is now a 1CP stratagem (or free for Chief Apothecaries with their new warlord trait), but it also brings the model back at full wounds… and yes it works on Invader ATVs. All 8 wounds of an ATV. Have fun with that.
  • Scouts are elites now and as predicted stay at a single Wound, so you officially have zero reason to take them (watch us be proved wrong on this by the very first top 4 Marine list post-codex).
  • If you take Company Vets, you can now take an Apothecary, Company Champion, and Company Ancient without spending a FOC slot. Neat if you want more than one of these, but they have to be the non-Primaris version.
  • Speaking of the Company Champion, the combat shield picks up the same +1 to saves as its bigger brother, the storm shield
  • The Bladeguard Ancient is unchanged from Indomitus except that he picks up the ANCIENT keyword, so he can actually take the relic banners now
  • Bladeguard gain the option of a neo-volkite pistol or a plasma pistol on the Sergeant, can now come in squads of up to 6, and are otherwise unchanged
  • The Judiciar gets some huge changes. His Tempermortis ability is now only 3”, but a wording change now means that it works how many people online thought it did – the enemy unit he picks is not eligible to fight this phase until after all eligible units your side have done so. This now definitively works to prevent you using Counter-offensive to break out of it, because that unit is no longer eligible to fight, and also stops chargers being eligible to fight.
  • Terror Troops on Reiver (and the Reiver LT, which is now a separate datasheet to the Phobos guy) is now -2 Ld, I guess. Reivers also gain AP-2 on their pistols
  • RIP Aggressors – they lost Firestorm and Relentless Advance, though their fists are now flat damage 2 and their guns can split fire which is… ok.
  • Terminators and Terminator Assault Squads are up to 3 wounds, and got the changes to wargear you would expect. They also gained a new ability with the teleport homer – once per game, they can redeploy by being removed in your Movement phase and being redeployed in your next Movement phase, either wholly within your own deployment zone or within 3″ of any friendly <CHAPTER> model (and also in both cases, more than 9″ from enemy models). This is a huge increase in their maneuverability on the table
  • Tartaros and Cataphractii Terminators are just gone now, and replaced by the Relic Terminator datasheet. This lets you mix and match them and is pretty flexible on loadouts, though they don’t get access to teleport homers
  • Centurion Assault Squads get the ASSAULT LAUNCHERS keyword now (unsurprisingly) and are otherwise unchanged.
  • Invictor loses Heavy Sidearm, which basically means it has to take the -1 to hit for Big Guns Never Tire. It does still have a regular heavy bolter and not the 1 shot thing that people were anticipating from the box datasheet, though, which is nice
  • All Dreads: Duty Eternal is in the datasheet and is a flat -1 to all damage (to a minimum of 1). Dread explosions also got toned down, with regular Dreads now just 1 mortal wound instead of d3, and the Redemptor (and Invictor) going down from d6 to d3 mortal wounds.
  • Redemptor fists are now d3+3 damage!
  • The Contemptor is now 9W – this is a buff for Iron Hands, as you can now have them benefit from Look Out, Sir! combined with March of the Ancients. I’m sure what everyone wanted to see here was ‘a buff for Iron Hands.’

Fast Attack

  • Assault Squads are basically the same, besides the obvious changes to their wounds and gaining Astartes chainswords. The Eviscerator is now S+3 AP-4 damage 2 and still -1 to hit, which is just as relevant as it was before. They also get MELTA BOMB as a keyword, which is nice
  • Bikes do get 3 wounds! Hooray.
  • Scout Bikes don’t.
  • Attack Bikes are still 4. 
  • Suppressors gain an extra shot on their accelerator autocannons! But then they lose a point of AP. Maybe one day Games Workshop will remember they made these guys and revisit them.
  • There are three types of Land Speeder now. The base model can only carry a single gun, but moves an extra two inches and has Datalink Telemetry built-in (+1 to hit for Whirlwinds if they tag a unit in LoS and within 18”). The other two option packages available at the dealership  – the double-gun Tornado and the good old Typhoon – don’t get access to that ability at all. Anti-Grav Upwash is entirely gone.

Ultramarines Outriders. Credit: SRM

Heavy Support

  • Like Land Speeders, there’s two types of Predator now. The Predator Annihilator/Destructor thing is a nice throwback to older editions, but they’re the same unit except for the turret weapon. It’s genuinely confusing why anyone did this.
  • Hellblasters gain another shot on their assault incinerators, bringing them up to a cool 3 shots, and +1 damage on the heavy incinerator, making them 2 base or 3 when overcharged. They stay at 33pts/model – maybe this is enough to push them into usability?
  • Eliminators ignore LoS (look out sir) but don’t ignore LoS (line of sight) any more. Also if the sarge has a carbine they get to move after shooting if they’re not in Engagement Range, so that’s neat. However, they can’t fall back on overwatch any more, and they no longer get the +1 to hit/wound for giving up the Sergeant’s shooting. Mortis rounds go to a flat 2 damage instead of d3, as is the pattern.
  • Eradicators gain the option of a heavy melta rifle, Heavy 1 S8 AP-4 Damage D6+2/+4 at half range, go up to squad size 3-6, and can take 1 multi-melta per 3. You also can’t Total Obliteration after advancing any more.
  • The Hunter’s gun is now wildly better at shooting planes – it gets +2 to hit against AIRCRAFT and does D6+6 damage when it wounds them. It no longer has penalties against non-FLY things.
  • The Stalker follows suit, with its gun now being 2 hit rolls for each shot against AIRCRAFT and +1 to hit them. 
  • Vindicator siege shields exist again after having an edition off, and if you take one now they get +1 to saves against ranged weapons. This is cute, I guess
  • Repulsors are HS now, not Transports, and get a free Hunter-Slayer missile. Auto-launchers give it the SMOKESCREEN keyword.
  • RepEx Aquilon Optics is now +1 to hit with the main gun rather than shooting twice. The macro-plasma mirrors the Redemptor version, becoming 2 or 3 damage instead of 1 or 2. The plasma… might be good now?
  • Thunderfire Cannons take a further nerf, going down to Strength 4, losing their point of AP, and not being CORE. They did at least go down a few points from Chapter Approved, to 120
Blood Angels Eradicators.

Blood Angels Eradicators. Credit: Corrode

Dedicated Transports

  • Drop pods explicitly let you null-deploy, because lol, why not
  • The Land Speeder Storm (the scout transport) gets Assault Transport (the Impulsor rule)
  • Impulsors lose FLY. Their shield is now a 5+, as accidentally previewed on WarCom a little while ago. The -2 to charge is now a stratagem. I don’t know who in the studio was upset by Impulsors, but it’s had a lasting effect and I am distinctly Not Here For It. On the plus side, they’re slightly cheaper now since their weapons are free.
Crimson Fists Impulsor

Crimson Fists Impulsor. Credit: Corrode

Flyers

  • The Stormhawk Interceptor gets a change to its Infernum Halo-Launcher, which now gives +1 to saves against incoming attacks from AIRCRAFT rather than an additional -1 to hit, and loses the Interceptor rule. Its equipment has now substantially changed, too – by default it comes with the skyhammer instead of the Icarus stormcannon. Both weapons are the same as before except that in line with others they are just +1 to hit against AIRCRAFT, and additionally the stormcannon makes 2 hit rolls against AIRCRAFT for each shot.
  • The Stormtalon loses Strafing Run, which is probably fair enough now it doesn’t take a penalty to hit for moving. Like the Stormhawk, the skyhammer is now the default option, and can be swapped for two heavy bolters, two lascannons, or a Typhoon missile launcher.
    Imperial Fist Stormtalon Gunships

    Imperial Fist Stormtalon Gunships. Credit: Jack Hunter

We can’t figure out the rhyme or reason for condensing some sheets (Relic Terminators), expanding others (Land Speeders), and introducing entirely new ones (three for Gladiators, and six different Lieutenants), but in general it seems…fine, I guess? It’s admittedly a little strange that of the 98 touted datasheets in here, fully 21 of them are HQs, but there’s certainly no shortage of units to choose from in any slot regardless.

 

New datasheets

It wouldn’t be a Space Marine codex without an entire faction’s worth of new units, and this book doesn’t disappoint, with a veritable feast of additions to the range. Remember, this is not even including all the stuff that was already featured in Indomitus, which we’ve included in ‘Datasheet Changes’ above.’ The new units flesh out the Primaris range, adding a new Troops choice, new HQ options, and new vehicles. Plus a turret.

Captain with master-crafted heavy bolt rifle

Probably the least exciting of the new sheets, for a Gravis captain. He has a master-crafted heavy bolt rifle and a master-crafted power sword, and naturally he’s T5 with a bonus wound to normal. Personally I rate the model but this sure is A Guy To Fit The New Releases. Does make you wonder where the Gravis LT is, or why the Dark Imperium Gravis Captain is still stuck in limbo.

Primaris Chaplain on Bike

Or, as he’s otherwise known, Bikertaker. The Bike Chaplain does not get +2 Attacks on the charge, as many people were loudly insisting he would, but he does get a chunky 2 extra wounds over the normal version to be 7 full wounds of biker goodness. Otherwise his datasheet is exactly what you would expect from ‘a Chaplain, but on a bike’ – and like all other Chaplains he can be a Wolf Priest or, since he’s on a bike, Ravenwing.

Primaris Techmarine

The Techmarine finally joins the plus-sized section of the Chapter command with a Primaris version. Naturally this one is absent all the options the small guy can get, but his base loadout is pretty cool – he has a ‘forge bolter’ which is basically an Assault heavy bolter, including the damage 2 bit and which also allows him to still shoot his pistol or throw a grenade, and as with his spanner-bothering brothers he totes an Omnissian power axe. He also has a mechadendrite, Adeptus Mechanicus style, which lets him throw out 2 extra attacks at S5, and because that still isn’t enough weapons he also has a grav-pistol and a servo-arm. So yeah – this guy has three different CC weapons, two guns, and grenades. It’s a lot, for only 10pts over a regular Techmarine – though with fewer options to change any of that kit, whereas the small Techmarine has a huge weapon list to pick from should he feel like it. Weirdly this guy doesn’t seem to be able to be an Iron Priest.

Heavy Intercessor Squad

Heavy Intercessors make their appearance here as the sixth Space Marines troop choice. We won’t spend too long on them as Warhammer Community previewed them already – yes they’re T5 W3, yes they have ‘heavy’ versions of all the regular bolt rifles, and yes at some point in playtesting the names were clearly changed from heavy stalker and heavy auto to executor/hellstorm respectively, and then forgotten in the options list. I am gonna paint so many of these.

Veteran Intercessor Squad

Veteran Intercessors used to be a stratagem but now they’re a datasheet in the Elites slot. They’re like regular Intercessors but with +1 attack, and they can swap the Intercessor bolt rifles for the Assault Intercessor heavy bolt pistol and Astartes chainsword. Neatly, these can also be Wolf Guard. Is it ever going to be worth it to pay 2ppm extra for Intercessors with +1 attack but no obsec (+3 for the Assault version)? Probably not, but it’s nice that the option exists for people who just want to make really cool Intercessors and have it mean something.

Invader ATV Squad

This is what you’re here for. Yeah, the leaks were right – these are 80pts for the onslaught gatling version or 85pts with a multi-melta. Honestly, either version looks good – with the twin auto bolt rifles a single ATV can put out 14 shots per turn for clearing hordes, or of course they can be tankbusters with effective 38” range multi-meltas. They do explode, which is quite funny, for a single MW at 3” – and note of course that this means an ATV can explode and then an Apothecary can resurrect it, which is the kind of miracle that the Sisters of Battle wish they could make happen. They can also be Ravenwing, which I’m sure won’t cause any problems.

Storm Speeders

These three are separate datasheets – the Hailstrike, the Thunderstrike, and the Hammerstrike. They all share most of the statline previewed on Warhammer Community. The Hammerstrike, a close range tank hunter, you can see on the graphic below.

The Hailstrike is anti-infantry focused, with an onslaught gatling cannon, a twin ironhail heavy stubber, and two fragstorm grenade launchers making for 16+2d6 shots per platform.

The Thunderstrike is an anti-tank/anti-flyer platform. With a base BS of 2+ it’s effectively countering the -1 to-hit from supersonic, and its weaponry works out to being roughly 3 lascannons between the Thunderstrike Las-Talon (at strength 10) and Stormfury Missiles. It also packs a twin icarus rocket pod, which no longer has a penalty to hit ground targets – just the +1 to-hit against Aircraft.

All of them can be Ravenwing. Seriously this book has like tripled the options available to Ravenwing armies. 

Gladiators

Like the Speeders, there’s three variants of the Gladiator – the Lancer, the Reaper, and the Valiant. At a first look all of are somewhat overcosted. The guns are pretty fun – the Reaper can throw out a cool 40 shots at rapid fire range, and they’re all T8 and W12 which is a substantial upgrade over the Impulsor chassis in terms of Toughness, but uh, the Lancer is the cheapest at a flat 200pts and for that it gets 2 fragstorm grenade launchers and a weaker version of the Repulsor Executioner’s heavy laser destroyer, with 2 shots at S10 AP-3 damage D3+3. It does share the Aquilon Optics rule making it +1 to hit with the turret. You can get 5 Eradicators for one of these, with 3 more wounds and access to re-rolls. Like a lot of Marine units these aren’t really bad per se, but there’s better options for the same job in the same codex, never mind all the Forge World kit, and these are directly competing with Eradicators 

Firestrike Turret

I nearly forgot the turret in writing this up. It’s here, its rules already leaked, it looks fine I guess? Its output is pretty decent and they can come in squads of 3, but on the other hand they’re 90pts for a T5 W5 model that doesn’t move anywhere fast and isn’t CORE. On the smaller board the twin las-talon might have decent output, but it costs another 40pts.

Hammerfall Bunker

The Bunker is here! It is kind of bad, actually! It can take either a heavy bolter array or a heavy flamer array, each of which fires at everything in range and line of sight each turn, as well as having a Hammerfall missile launcher which is either heavy 2D6 S6 AP0 D1 with Blast, or 2 shots at S10 AP-2 Dd6. Notably, it’s only BS4+, and it degrades. Otherwise it’s T8 with 14 wounds and costs a princely 175pts – and amusingly, explodes 6” for d6 wounds, just what you want stuck in the middle of your army with a huge footprint. No, it can’t deep strike or anything. The idea is cute and the concept of ‘it shoots heavy bolters at everything it can see’ is quite funny, but with a lot of talk about having good terrain on 9th boards, you would hope this thing couldn’t see too much when it’s stuck in a deployment zone, and at that point you’re really asking ‘how many heavy bolter shots is 175pts worth?’ and the answer is probably not going to be ‘however many this can put out.’

 

Miscellaneous Weapon Rules and Changes

Redemptor Dreadnought. Credit: SRM

Where we haven’t picked them out above, here’s a set of the other changes to weapons and such:

  • Grav-cannons – now 30” range and flat 2 damage.
  • As previewed, the multi-melta is now 2 shots, and d6+2 damage at half range
  • Power weapons – now +1 strength over their previous profiles, as already previewed
  • Power fist – flat 2 damage
  • Thunder hammers – now only AP-2 but still flat 3 damage
  • Combat shields – In addition to the 5+ invulnerable save, these also give +1 to armor saves
  • Relic Blades – now +3 strength and flat 2 damage
  • Reiver pistol – now AP-2 instead of -1
  • Aggressor melee – flat 2 damage
  • Lightning claws – +1 attack per claw, not for the pair. Puts Assault Terminators with dual claws up to 5 attacks on the charge.
  • Chainfist – d3 damage, or flat 3 into a vehicle
  • Dreadnought Chainfist – 2d3 damage, or flat 6 into a vehicle
  • Heavy Onslaught Cannon – up to strength 6
  • Onslaught gatling cannon – 8 shots, up from 6
  • Icarus rocket pod – +1 to hit AIRCRAFT, no penalty for shooting other stuff
  • Impulsor Icarus Missiles – flat 2 damage, +1 to hit AIRCRAFT, no penalty for shooting other stuff
  • Impulsor Icarus Skytalon Array – up to 8 shots from 6, +1 to hit AIRCRAFT, no penalty for shooting other stuff
  • Heavy plasma cannons go up to damage 2, 3 overcharged, just like the macro plasma
  • Speaking of plasma, it’s now universally unmodified 1s to hit – good for shooting at planes, bad if you could make yourself unkillable with a +1 to hit before

Stratagems

Space Marines have a whopping four pages of regular stratagems and one of the first things you’ll notice when you thumb through them is that the stratagems have been split up into five broad categories:

  • Battle Tactic
  • Epic Deed
  • Requisition
  • Strategic Ploy
  • Wargear

Requisition is the smallest category with just two stratagems – Relic of the Chapter and Hero of the Chapter – and the big upside is that this makes it clear that these are the “pre-battle” stratagems you’ll be spending RP for in your Crusade games. The interesting thing is that these stratagems now have scaling effects – Relic of the Chapter is one use only for Combat Patrol and Incursion, two uses for Strike Force, or three uses for Onslaught. Hero of the Chapter is the same – so you can have up to three models with a Warlord trait at 2,000 points, plus the supplement stratagems allowing you to double up on one guy.

Rainbow Warriors Judiciar by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen

The Battle Tactic category has 7 stratagems, which are mostly returning names, if not effects:

  • Death to the Traitors!
  • Honour the Chapter
  • Fury of the First
  • Transhuman Physiology
  • Rapid Fire
  • Gene-wrought Might
  • Unyielding in the Face of the Foe

Despite the familiar names, every stratagem here except for Gene-Wrought Might has changed. Some in more subtle ways – Fury of the First can affect any unit but now gives Terminators +1 to hit (making it work on mixed armor units in Space Wolf and Deathwatch armies), others in major ones – Honour the Chapter only works on Assault Intercessors now, which is something, alright. Transhuman Physiology is now Primaris-only, and costs 1CP for units of 5 or less – or, as Space Marine players typically call them, ‘units.’  Others have gotten a complete overhaul – Rapid Fire lets an Intercessor (or Veteran Intercessor) Squad shoot again at the end of a Shooting phase. Unyielding in the Face of the Foe is new here, a 1 CP stratagem that gives a Mk. X Gravis unit +1 to its saves against incoming attacks with a damage characteristic of 1. 

The Epic Deed category has 6 stratagems, and again most of these are familiar names. There doesn’t seem to be all that much to distinguish these mechanically from Battle Tactic and Strategic Ploy stratagems.

  • Only in Death Does Duty End
  • Armour of Contempt
  • Power of the Machine Spirit
  • Wisdom of the Ancients
  • Commanding Oratory
  • Combat Revival

Again, we have a mix of unchanged (Armour of Contempt) and tweaked stratagems – Only in Death Does Duty End is basically the same but it can only be used on models that didn’t already fight (so no more double-fighting with a dying character), plus a few new ones. Commanding Oratory and Combat Revival are used on Chaplains and Apothecaries, respectively. The former lets a Chaplain automatically pass his roll to chant one litany, but it only works in non-Command phases on guys who didn’t chant – which is a small cost on a regular Chaplain, but has a big impact on a Master of Sanctity who can normally cast two. It might, also, allow you to cast a litany your Chaplain doesn’t know, although the wording here isn’t totally clear. The latter allows an Apothecary to automatically revive a dead INFANTRY or BIKER unit. Both of these get cheaper for a Master of the Chapter – Commanding Oratory goes down from 2CP to 1CP for a Master of Sanctity, while Combat Revival is free for a Chief Apothecary. Rounding out the category, Power of the Machine Spirit is new and lets a MACHINE SPIRIT vehicle operate at its top profile for a turn, while Wisdom of the Ancients functions similarly to its former version – but now lasts from Command Phase to Command Phase, and lets you pick either a Captain or Lieutenant’s aura.

Crimson Fists intercessors

Crimson Fists intercessors. Credit: Corrode

There are 10 Strategic Ploy stratagems, and most of these are all-new, though there are a few returning faces with major changes:

  • Hit-and-run Warfare
  • Hammer of Wrath
  • Skilled Riders
  • Uncompromising Fire
  • Steady Advance
  • Adaptive Strategy
  • Suppression Fire
  • Terror Troops
  • Guerrilla Tactics
  • Orbital Bombardment

Hammer of Wrath sees a welcome update here. Now when a JUMP PACK unit finishes a Charge move, it can pick one enemy unit within Engagement Range – roll one D6 for each model in your JUMP PACK unit, and each roll that equals or exceeds the target unit’s Toughness does 1 mortal wound. This is a nice boost and makes your fat jump packers slamming into a unit of weaker stuff feel actually impactful. Suppression Fire sees a major overhaul, turning off Overwatch and Set to Defend, and forcing a unit to fight last in any turn in which it takes a hit from the Whirlwind you use the strat on. Steady Advance gets a huge upgrade here, now allowing an infantry unit that made a Normal Move to be considered stationary, which would’ve been big-time money for Aggressors.

Adaptive Strategy is back, baby; for 2 CP, if your Warlord is on the battlefield you can pick a CORE unit on the table and it’s treated as having all of Devastator, Tactical, and Assault Doctrine active for the next turn. Great for getting some more use out of your special Doctrine for Iron Hands and Imperial Fists players, but also don’t sleep on the potential to jump a White Scars units forward a turn and into their +1 damage mode, or even just for a unit with mixed weaponry to get to benefit from AP-1 to all of them for a turn. Orbital Bombardment also has a major overhaul. It’s used once per game in the Command phase if your warlord is on the battlefield – pick a point on the table and in your next Command phase roll a D6; on a 2-5 anything within 6” of that point takes D3 mortal wounds and on a 6 they take D6. Units within 3” of the marker are +1 to the roll – and yes, that means they can be auto-hit – while CHARACTER models are -1. Do take care to note that it hits units in this range, not enemy units; the Battle Barge bombarding you from the stratosphere is not in fact able to avoid hitting your own guys if they stand on the point. That’s a very cool adjustment that both works thematically while also making the stratagem as much about area denial as doing damage – you can pick a key objective that you aren’t going to be able to contest, and dare your opponent to come and take it at the risk of their unit being obliterated from space.

Skilled Riders gets an equally big change – it’s now -1 to hit for BIKERS and SPEEDERs instead of the invulnerable save.

Among the new stratagems, there’s a lot to like. Uncompromising Fire lets a unit perform an action and still shoot, while Hit-and-Run Warfare lets a BIKER, LAND SPEEDER, or STORM SPEEDER unit Fall Back and shoot. Guerilla Tactics lets you put a PHOBOS unit that’s more than 6” away from an enemy unit back into Strategic Reserves, which makes Infiltrators even better as they have additional value after their screening abilities have done their job. Terror Troops gives a unit of Reivers an aura that turns off Objective Secured for enemies within 3” and causes actions to automatically fail if the Reivers come within 3” of an enemy performing one and can roll over the enemy Ld on 2D6. This likely still isn’t enough to make Reivers worth fielding – though as highlighted above, the Reiver LT gains some utility here, as a regular LT which can also be a vector to turn off ObSec or cause actions to fail.

Imperial Fists Redemptor Dreadnought

Imperial Fists Redemptor Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

Finally, the Wargear Stratagems category has 9 strats in it, all of which have either changed significantly or are new.

  • Auspex Scan
  • Tremor Shells
  • Shock and Awe
  • Assault Launchers
  • Melta Bomb
  • Grav Pulse
  • Hellfire Shells
  • Flakk Missile
  • Smokescreen

Auspex Scan works at the end of your opponent’s Movement phase on units set up as Reinforcements, and no longer gives you a -1 to hit penalty – so it’s no longer possible to try and draw it out with careful stacking (but on the flip side, you can put CHARACTERS down safely in the knowledge that a later unit can LoSir for them if necessary). Tremor Shells is much the same as before, halving movement and giving -2 to Advance and Charge rolls for a target hit by it – but a key wording change means it now actually works against charges, which is nice. Flakk Missile now does 2D3 mortal wounds and gets +1 to hit, but must target an AIRCRAFT instead of just FLY. Hellfire Shells was rumoured to also do 2d3 mortals, but instead it remains at d3 and a flat 3 against MONSTER units. Shock and Awe gets ported here from the Black Templars’ list in Faith & Fury, and has gotten an overhaul – now SHOCK GRENADES (Reivers or, again, the Reiver LT) or LAND SPEEDER STORM units can use this in the shooting phase against an enemy within 6” to prevent an enemy from firing overwatch or setting to defend and giving them -1 to their hit rolls. So, same effect but not on Land Raiders. No word as yet on how Black Templars are affected by this change, but it would be weird if they kept two strats with the same name and effect but affecting a different unit.

Melta Bomb is new, and lets a MELTA BOMB unit make a single melee attack against a vehicle that does 2D3 mortal wounds on a hit – it’s worth keeping in mind here that MELTA BOMB units includes Tactical Squads and Assault Squads as well as Vanguard Veterans. Grav Pulse is also new, and works with a REPULSOR FIELD unit to either let the unit fall back and shoot or give a charging unit -2 to its charge rolls, effectively giving Repulsors and Impulsors back some of their lost functionality after the changes to their datasheets and the 8th edition FLY rules. 

Smokescreen is a new Stratagem that for 1 CP gives a SMOKESCREEN unit -1 to be hit in the enemy Shooting phase. Also ported over from things that were previously on the datasheet are Assault Launchers – though these are completely new, as they can now target a non-VEHICLE or MONSTER in 9” and force it to either brace (take d3 mortal wounds) or duck for cover, which makes them -1 Attack and unable to fire Overwatch or Set to Defend. This is a fun one because the -1 Attack is not a minimum of 1 – so yes, you can fire these at a unit and give them 0 attacks.

 

What’s Not in this book

With all the new stratagems, we were bound to lose some of the old ones. So pay your respects for the following stratagems: Duty Eternal (now a unit rule), Veteran Intercessors (now a unit), Boltstorm, Hunter-Slayer Missile (now a unit rule), Cluster Mines, Gravitic Amplification, Masterful Marksmanship, Big Guns Never Tire, Target Sighted, Skyfire, Vengeance of the Machine Spirit, and Tactical Flexibility.

White Scars Chapter Champion Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

White Scars Chapter Champion Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

 

Warlord Traits

As before, there are 12 Warlord traits in the book, six regular and six for Phobos-armoured characters. The effects are now all neatly set out in bullet points instead of just being blocks of text, which is nice presentation.

For the regular traits, we have: 

  1. Fear Made Manifest which keeps its previous effect and is also -1 to Combat Attrition rolls for units within 6”
  2. Imperium’s Sword is re-roll charges (not any/all dice any more) and is otherwise unchanged
  3. Iron Resolve is unchanged
  4. Champion of Humanity is unchanged
  5. Storm of Fire has the aura tag now and only affects CORE, otherwise unchanged
  6. Rites of War has a big change – like Storm of Fire it has the aura tag now and only affects CORE or CHARACTER, but instead of its previous effect it now gives those units Objective Secured – which in the objective-flipping game of 9th edition could actually be a strong pick, particularly as you can now take up to 3 characters with traits

Over in the Phobos category, there’s some bigger changes:

  1. Shoot and Fade is similar to before except you declare after shooting instead of at the start of the phase, and Advancing is optional (but you still can’t charge)
  2. Lord of Deceit gets BIG changes, as you can now redeploy anywhere instead of having to pull back into your deployment zone, or even put units into Strategic Reserves for free, but you have to do it pre-roll off – which ends up being a big nerf to its effectiveness, as you no longer get to redeploy after knowing who’s going first
  3. Master of the Vanguard gets the aura tag, and a slight nerf as now you get +1 to your Move characteristic instead of Move and Advance rolls
  4. Stealth Adept completely changed from the previous version, as your Warlord can now not be targeted with ranged attacks unless it is the closest eligible target. Basically a super version of the old character rule, as not only does your Warlord have to be the closest eligible unit, you can’t ignore it with snipers now. A Phobos Captain with this can now conceivably be untargetable with ranged weapons, and use his own aura to prevent units from deep striking into the position where they can see him or be able to charge him
  5. Target Priority is unchanged except it happens in the Command phase now
  6. Master Marksman is just a renamed Marksman’s Honours

Salamanders Space Marine. Credit: PierreTheMime

Chapter Warlord traits

Like the previous book, there’s a get-you-by Warlord trait for each of the Chapters, most of which are unchanged from the supplements.

However, for Dark Angels specifically there is some good news despite their late update, though: Brilliant Strategist is completely changed, and is Double S-Tier Platinum Ultra good now. Rather than being a 5+ CP regen, it now allows any unit (not just Core!) within 6” of your Warlord to roll back one doctrine step, either from Tactical to Devastator or from Assault to Tactical. That means three full turns of blasting away with heavy weapons with the extra AP and range from their Chapter Doctrine, helping offset the fact that Dark Angels lost their coolest trick to an FAQ change right after they got it.

The Space Wolves trait is also suggestive of changes – there’s nothing about Sagas any more, and instead the trait is just ‘Beastslayer’, giving +1 to hit and wound for attacks that target VEHICLE and MONSTER units as well as +1 Attack to the Warlord if they are in Engagement Range of a VEHICLE/MONSTER. Without seeing the supplement it’s hard to know if this is a deliberate choice or not, but maybe we’re going to see the end of Sagas and a move to more normal traits for Wolves.

Flesh Tearers get Merciless Butcher from their Blood of Baal update,but with a significant update – now you get d3 attacks if there are 5 or more enemy models within 3”, instead of +1 for each 5. Overall more effective in a world where there’s lots of armies with 5 model units.

Deathwatch also get a change to Vigilance Incarnate, which previously allowed you to change your Mission Tactic – instead, now, you can pick one CORE unit within 6” in your Command phase, and that unit can until the start of your next Command phase pick a different Battlefield Role to re-roll 1s to wound against. Once again, a straight buff, and less all-or-nothing than the previous version.

 

Relics

Around half the relics have been changed, but they’re mostly just tweaks here and there. These and psychic powers are the least changed parts of the book, though there’s a couple of key surprises. We’ll just list the changes here:

  • The Armour Indomitus now gives +1 wound as well as its other effects
  • Shield Eternal is now in line with other storm shields i.e. 4+ invulnerable, +1 to armour save rolls, and still gives its FNP
  • Standard of the Emperor Ascendant now gives re-roll Morale instead of auto-pass, replicating the old ATSKNF
  • Primarch’s Wrath gained a point of AP
  • Purgatorus gains another shot and is now 18” range
  • Ghostweave Cloak is completely changed – now the bearer moves over other models as if they were not there when making Normal/Advance/Fall Back moves, and is -1 to hit.
  • Vox Espiritum still does not increase the range of psychic power auras but does increase the range of Litany auras (or, rather, they are not exempted as they used to be)

Psychic powers

As with relics, there’s only minor changes to Psychic powers. Powers now have types like 7th, too, which is neat if they end up doing anything with it.

In the Librarius discipline, we have:

  1. Veil of Time – Blessing, otherwise unchanged
  2. Might of Heroes – Blessing, only affects CORE or CHARACTER
  3. Null Zone – Blessing, gains the aura tag – also changes back to the old wording where it affects ‘units’ rather than enemy units, so as worded right now it removes your invulnerable saves as well!
  4. Psychic Scourge – Witchfire, otherwise unchanged
  5. Fury of the Ancients – Witchfire, WC6 now, increased to 18” range, and instead of having to draw closest to closest the line can now be drawn from any part to any part. Still probably never going to be taken.
  6. Psychic Fortress – Blessing, WC6 now, 5+ invulnerable save for ALL units within 6” instead of the previous effect. This is much better, especially with a Chief Librarian handing it out and casting on a 5+.

Over in Obscuration, we have some other small changes:

  1. Shrouding  – Blessing, can now not be targeted by Overwatch either
  2. Soul Sight – Blessing, otherwise unchanged
  3. Mind Raid – Witchfire, otherwise unchanged
  4. Hallucination – Malediction, no longer rolls 2D6 against leadership, just automatically makes them -1 to hit with shooting attacks
  5. Tenebrous Curse – Malediction, WC7 now, halve Movement but -2 to advance and charge rolls
  6. Temporal Corridor – Blessing, WC5 now. You don’t have to advance but if you do your unit auto-advances 6”; on the other hand, you are completely exempted from shooting or fighting this turn. Weirdly it doesn’t stop you charging, just fighting, so White Scars can potentially use this to move 12” and charge and then just not get to swing – but still potentially fire across the table and take an objective. Presumably this will end up getting errata’d.

Litanies

All Litanies are now CORE or CHARACTER only (except Mantra of Strength which obviously only affects the Chaplain himself). Most are otherwise the same, except Exhortation of Rage – which is now +1 to wound in melee for one unit within 6″ instead of its previous effect, thus catapulting it way up the list in terms of relevance. The big difference for litanies is something we’d already seen in the Indomitus release – Litanies are now changed in your Command phase rather than at the start of the battle round, making defensive abilities much less useful. This isn’t such a big deal for marines’ standard litanies, but it does have implications for Litany of Faith, which can only become active to protect you from mortal wounds on your turn. 

One thing we don’t know is quite what’s happened to the Chapter litanies. They were printed in Faith & Fury and they’re not reprinted here. They aren’t in the individual supplements, naturally, so have they gone completely? If Blood Angels et. al show up with their litanies in those books, then do we just assume that the other chapters still need Faith & Fury for a single paragraph of rules text? This is one more question that we hope will shortly be answered by the expected FAQ.

Imperial Fists Primaris Chaplain

Imperial Fists Primaris Chaplain. Credit: Jack Hunter

Codex-Specific Objectives

One much-touted feature of the new codexes is the inclusion of army-specific secondary objectives. Per the rules in the book these can be used in any setting where you pick secondaries, including the GT pack. You can only use these if your army and Warlord are pure ADEPTUS ASTARTES (except for AGENT OF THE IMPERIUM or FORTIFICATION models). Whether TOs will allow these or not, especially at this early stage where most armies don’t have access to them, is an open question – as is the possibility that the Chapter supplements due next month have more of these things in. For now though we can only look at what’s in front of us, and here they are in the format objective name – category name – description:

  1. Codex Warfare – Purge the Enemy – score 1pt per unit destroyed with Heavy or Grenade Weapons while your army is in Devastator Doctrine, 1pt per unit destroyed with Rapid Fire or Assault weapons in Tactical, 1pt per unit destroyed with melee or Pistol weapons in Assault
  2. Shock Tactics – Battlefield Supremacy – score 3pts at the end of the battle round if you control one or more objectives with an ADEPTUS ASTARTES unit at the end of the battle round that were controlled by your opponent at the start of the battle round
  3. Oaths of Moment – No Mercy, No Respite – score points at the end of each battle round if a) any ADEPTUS ASTARTES unit in your army destroyed an enemy CHARACTER, VEHICLE, or MONSTER unit (1pt/round), or b) as long as no ADEPTUS ASTARTES unit in your army failed Morale or fell back (1pt/round), or c) if an ADEPTUS ASTARTES unit from your army is wholly within 6″ of the centre of the battlefield (2pts/round)

Codex Warfare is pretty much total junk and I can’t imagine anyone ever picking it. Your opponent needs to have 15+ units and then you have to gamble that you’re going to kill at least 5 of each in the right doctrine with the right kind of weapon, including killing 5 with Heavy weapons on turn 1. Adaptive Strategy doesn’t even help here, since your army has to be in the right doctrine. This feels like it might have been written before Doctrines were changed to move in fixed progression, and no-one returned to look at it since.

Shock Tactics, on the other hand, is pretty good in an edition where you’re looking to take objectives off people, and is very thematic. It’s even good for a ‘go second’ objective, as you score it at the end of the battle round. The downsides are that a) if you’re expecting to go out and dominate the majority of objectives on your own terms, you end up not scoring anything from it, and b) your opponent has to control the objective at the start of the battle round to count – so if you’re repeatedly trading the same point, you might end up taking an objective back every turn and scoring nothing for it.

Finally, there’s Oaths of Moment, which is probably the pick of the bunch – No Mercy, No Respite is a fairly weak category against a lot of factions, and being able to score 4pts per turn allows you to control the tempo of scoring a little bit.

Formatting Improvements

Enough about rules and models, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite subject, we know you’ve been waiting for it, that’s right, the time is now: print formatting and document design. 

  • Get a load of the DPI improvements on this bad boy. And all with those fonts.
  • We love that they put all the deployment changes into one section at the front instead of printing it everywhere on all the sheets.
  • The new points section is staggeringly well laid-out.
  • BULLET POINTS 

The datasheets are generally pretty clear, and seem to have been set up with a focus on limiting options. This could be seen as a bad thing, but so far as we can tell, anything non-Legends is still legal, and the only hangup seems to be that you might have to poke around a bit to find the sheet your chosen layout lives on now. Some of them are still a bit complex – Vanguard Veterans are kind of a nightmare, for example – but in general the trend toward streamlining datasheets has come close to apotheosis, with only a couple of options to choose from and lots of things that were ‘optional, but you’re going to take it every time’ in-lined to be default, and many common abilities filed away together instead of being reprinted a dozen times.

I’m sure someone out there has a list built that doesn’t work anymore, but typically the split-out datasheets aren’t preventing you from doing anything you weren’t already not doing (Oh no, you mean I can’t mix HB/AssCan speeders in with MM ones! Say it ain’t so!), and the condensed ones aren’t either (Aaah, my list that used three squads of Cataphractii and three more of Tartaros violates the Rule of Three now!), but in exchange everything got clearer and cleaner and the sheets aren’t nearly as confusing. Big fan.

FAQmageddon

By our conservative estimate, there are no fewer than fifteen books out there with marines rules that are still valid until FAQs are issued – this Codex only invalidates the prior one, meaning that we’ll need FAQs for Faith & Fury, Ritual of the Damned, Blood of Baal, Saga of the Beast, each marine supplement (Ultramarines, White Scars, Imperial Fists, Iron Hands, Salamanders, and Raven Guard), and each of the Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Deathwatch, and Dark Angels codexes until those supplements come out. 

Overall Thoughts

We’re closing in on 10,000 words on the new book, so overall – what do we think of it?

First up, the very simple observation here is that there are a lot of changes. Anyone expecting this to be a near-reprint of the 8th ed book is completely off the mark; instead we see substantial alterations all across the piece, even down to the fundamental level of changing the MEQ statline to 2 wounds.

In general, it feels like there’s been a effort to reduce the amount of castling and reliance on powerful aura effects, with substantial reductions in both their prevalence and impact. Dropping Chapter Master to a single unit is a particularly big change – units with -1 to hit modifiers are the biggest winners, as Marines no longer simply brute force their way through it.

There’s some interesting decisions in terms of which abilities have been in-lined natively such as with Techmarines or Apothecaries, and which have been moved to be stratagems and therefore have an associated cost and effectively become once per turn (smoke launchers, repulsor fields). It seems like the thrust is for the support characters to be more impactful and meaningful, without them just offering huge buffs to everything around them – though the Apothecary still seems like a prime target for auto-inclusion in any list.

There has been a definite attempt to push Dreadnoughts to the fore – unlike other vehicles they retain CORE, they have Duty Eternal built in natively, and their explosions are less damaging if they go off in your lines. The Redemptor in particular has gotten some big changes, with the plasma becoming a very powerful option and its fist now being far more consistent in its damage output. We are officially long on Dreadnoughts.

Jack: I’m a bit disappointed by this. With the Core keyword it seems like they’re opening up space to build armies around different categories of units, but then they went hard on buffs for dreadnoughts, with nothing for other tanks. Sure, the Techmarine can buff one – but why wouldn’t you have him buff something that gets re-rolls and has Duty Eternal? Not the end of the world, but still a miss in my mind.

Though there’s no doubt we’ll have another dozen Marine additions in a year or two, the new units go a long way towards ‘completing’ the Primaris range – a Primaris army now has all its possible characters, a broad spread of roles for infantry, its own bikes, and the complete set of vehicle equivalents. At the same time, though, the old Marine units make huge gains against their bigger counterparts thanks to gaining an additional wound, and retain a great deal more flexibility in their weapon options. Whether we’re one step closer to the entire old range being squatted or whether Space Marines really stabilise around there being a hundred datasheets with big and little versions of the same units is an open question; our guess is that as long as people keep buying the little guys, they’ll stay relevant and therefore in production.

Picking out a couple of recent trends in list design, it’s interesting to see what will change. Impulsors have been substantially depowered – going to the 5+ is one thing, but also losing FLY and the repulsor field carrying a CP cost is a big hit to their effectiveness. A lot of armies were utilising multiple of these filled with Bladeguard Veterans, and whether that trend continues when they’re harder to get around the table and to utilise as bumper cars is uncertain. Grav Devastators may not be completely dead but with Gravitic Amplification gone they’re probably not going to be showing up 10 to a list any more – losing access to wound re-rolls is a substantial drop in their effectiveness, and being flat damage 2 lowers their utility against all the new 3-wound models in the wild, though they’re a bit tougher to clear off the table now after the initial drop – at an added 3ppm.

Aggressors, who were also experiencing something of a renaissance, may also be back on the bench. Losing both their key abilities is a big strike to their effectiveness, and they didn’t get any cheaper to compensate. The minor change to be flat damage 2 in melee and able to separately target their guns probably doesn’t help them enough, though there may well be a place for them still just to offer a small, tough infantry unit which can help deal with the recent trend towards hordes.

The recent trend for Land Speeder Storms looks likely to wane, as the Scouts inside them are no longer Objective Secured and therefore substantially more vulnerable to being demeched and then flipped off an objective – though gaining Assault Vehicle does now make them great for bursting forwards with the Scouts jumping out to do an action.

What about the general power level of the book? That’s a hard one to answer, since we’re not just thinking about this codex but also the 10 supplements, at least 4 of which are due to be released and potentially substantially changed in the next few months. It definitely seems like some of the most obnoxious features of the previous codex have been altered. The new units are mostly very cool, but with the possible exception of the Invader ATV they don’t seem that powerful – though I’m sure that someone will find some horrendous list using the turret or something that will immediately prove me wrong.

There’s lots more to think about – summing up 98 datasheets with literally hundreds of different stratagem, relic, and psychic options – but we’ll have to leave it there for now. Do check back later in the week for our look at Crusade, our review of the impacts on the individual supplements, and of course a battle report using the new options both for this book and the Necrons – which review you should also go and read right now, because Space Marines are not the only army with a raft of changes from their 9th ed book!

 

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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