Goatboy here to give a big ole finger to those saying that codex Space Marines killed counts-as. It’s alive and well!
In fact it is more alive in a lot of ways. So let’s start with a trip down memory lane to see how and why Counts As is in a lot better place then it was before.
Counts As started as a way for inventive modelers and army builders to find “rules” and “play styles” that fit the army they wanted to play. The important word there is the idea that you get to play what you want. This hobby is not cheap so getting shoved into a particular rule set or army design because some angry typers decide you are a jerk is not fun. In fact this is what the game is really about and most of the time it feels like the hate is just trying to bully you into whatever play style they think is right.
I think you should play whatever way you want too. There is no right or wrong answer and it really comes down to how you want to spend what little free time you have left with life, bills, school, and hopefully a significant other who tolerates plastic crack addictions. All Counts-As does is let you play with actual rules that people won’t have to argue over. You can go into a store, tournament, or basement and say – these models rules are Ultramarines and people will not have to question what you are doing. Plus it lets you play with new toys when your original book might be really old with very boring or locked in rules.
So the new Marine book shoves a wrench in the old way you built Counts-As. You used to be able to throw in whatever Special Character you wanted because they unlocked abilities. This is an older style of army building and one of the more abusable options in the game. I remember throwing down versus a Khan/Shrike army that was designed to infiltrate 10 Terminators and give them hit and run and fleet. These small character combos over shadowed the rest of the army and changed it into an almost Pokemon style battle as you picked and chose your “Chapter Tactics” based on which ever character decided to lead the way. Ole Lysander was friends with a ton of odd characters in the old book and I saw him on the table top a ton of times. I am sure he said “I’m too old for this s$$t”, drank his Metamucil, and complained about all that loud rock music.
The new book has you pick your Chapter Tactics before you decide on the army. From there you can add special characters based on the Chapter Tactics and move on from there. Characters from different chapters can only be part of your army if they are with an allied attachment. Their rules only effect that allied bit of marines so don’t look for Lysander to give Bolter Drill to your Ultramarine Sternguard jerks.
I like this way a lot more as it moves away from the game of Hero Hammer and instead lets you create armies based off a specific set of rules. It also helps that the basic Characters are pretty good with decent Artefacts and rules to allow for customized Marines of doom. You can see that in reality we got 7 mini books to Counts-As with to add onto the Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and the Grey Knights.
With that in mind each chapter seems to mix well with specific Chaos Options. They also start to mix in with other things as well and I will go over the things I think you can easily Counts-As with some elbow grease, green stuff, and different paints.
Their rules are helpful with utilizing a just “turned” Chaos force. The Marines are still Marine like with very little effect from the Warp. Heck you might try to utilize the idea of Huron and his Red Corsairs here as he seems more in-tuned with getting power instead of morphing everyone into flesh guns and other nonsense.
I always liked an army full of Horsemen and this would be a great place to start as some kind of Marauding band of Evil Knights. The plastic Chaos Knight set is a great place to start and you can easily add bits to make them more “futuristic” with daemonic steads, evil weaponry and other bits and pieces. Their ability to scout with a Special character could also be used as an Alpha Legion heavy striking force.
Imperial Fists – Super Fisters of Justice! – Crimson Fists!
The pain in the butt army to paint is another flavor of Iron Warriors you can try out. I think another Chapter is better but the rules presented in this Chapter do fit some of the aspects of the Iron Warriors. You could always use the Ally system to add some of these guys here. The Centurions make for good initial Obliterators so I expect some conversions on the table top in the future. You could also create some really crazy Sternguard squads with bonkers special weapons and other items stolen from the Warp.
The Black Templars
The Templars are a great place to start with some World Eaters. The Neophytes are the “better” cultists and the blood thirsty nature of the army fits. The lack of Librarians is also perfect and the ability for their Champions to kick a$$ in challenges is an excellent starting point for a pre heresy World Eaters army.
I have never been a fan of this chapter. I saw it too much in the beginning and grew tired of facing green marines day in and day out during a tournament. I think you could do some DIY chapters with this option as Flamers do a good job of hurting people and I expect to see a lot more of them as the armies shift around to easily deal with vehicles and moves on to more boots on the ground.
The Raven Guard
Here you have another great option for the Night Lords. I still think the Blood Angels work better here but if you want to play normal marines then this is your best choice for the 80’s inspired Night Lords with their creepy vans covered in wizards, dragons, and lightning bolts.
The Iron Hands – My Favorite so far!
Here you get into the army I think has the most gas in the tank of Counts As. I can see them being used for Iron Warriors because both armies love technology. I really can see people using this as the base army for Adeptus Mechanicus and allying in the Tau to create weapons from the prayers of Mars. I even can see them used as a crazy Death Guard force with their army wide FNP and It Will Not Die on their Characters and vehicles. The Sky is the limit with their chapter set as it feels basic enough to cover lots of options and still give you room to build and design.
In conclusion the Counts-As movement is not dead at all. It just has to change to conform to newer and a better set of rules. The only thing holding anyone back is just crazy notion that a game we invest all or time in should only be played on specific way. I don’t want my marines to only be blue. Think of it this way if that Chaos Marine army is a Counts As Space Marine Chapter then you won’t be having to face a Hell Turkey on the table top.
So what armies are you thinking of creating with this new ruleset? Or you just going to wait for an expensive supplement to help bulk up and create the best vitamin enriched Chaos Army? Do you think they will come out with all the legions? Are they going to fix the Chaos Marines to make them actually worth wile to take? Do you think the Cultists get a dental plan when they sign up their souls? What should the Space Goats morph into now we have a ton of new rules?