40K: Little Marines, Big Impact

Don’t activate the Primaris Protocol on all your Space Marines just yet – those Classic Marines still have important roles to fill on the Tabletop!

Primaris Marines might be getting all the attention right now. They are new, shiny, large and are a updated take on an iconic Space Marine – but that doesn’t mean all your old marines are about to sit on the shelf and fight with the dust bunnies. There are still some big combat roles the Primaris Marines are going to have trouble filling and that’s where those Classic Marines will really shine.

The Primaris Blindspots

From our playing, we’re starting to see a trend of them being a dangerous mid-to-short range shooting army. Couple that with the fact that the basic Primaris Marine has a 3+ save and 2 wounds means they aren’t going anywhere – Primaris Space Marines are a tough army to kill. That said, they still have some weak spots:

  • They lack long range, high strength shooting – Plasma is the name of the game for Primaris Marines. Hellblasters are super deadly for most targets and when you pair them with a Captain (who allows them to re-roll those overcharged 1’s) they can really do a number on your opponents. Now, some folks will point to the Hellblasters as being the answer to this problem: “Hellblasters can take Heavy Plasma Incinerators! Those are 36″ range and str 8 or 9!” True. However, that’s just not that impressive compared to a Devastator Squad for roughly the same points. Let me put it this way – Primaris Marines are great at killing infantry but struggle vs high wound, high toughness models (vehicles). I’d rather take 4 Lascannons vs a tank than 4 Heavy Plasma Incinerators, again, for roughly the same points.
  • Primaris Marines Struggle in Close Combat – A basic Primaris Marine has 2 attacks. That’s not too shabby, right? The Sergeant can get a Power Sword and has 3 attacks base. Again, that’s “okay” right? But if you’ve ever been charged by a Tactical Marine Squad and had to endure the slap-fest that followed then you know what I’m talking about. They aren’t exactly rock stars when it comes to close combat – sure, they can do a number on folks. Hitting on 3+ isn’t bad by any means! But if they get into it with a dedicated close combat unit, much like a squad of Tactical Marines, they probably aren’t walking away from that one.
  • Lack of Speed Kills – The Primaris Space Marines are relatively slow. Even Inceptor Squads are only a 10″ move base and that’s the fastest Primaris unit you can take. The Repulsor only moves 10″ base. They don’t have Drop Pods to get them across the board, they don’t have a cheap “Rhino/Razorback” option either. If you take an entire Primaris Space Marine army be prepared to foot-slog across the board. If you’re opponent has the speed advantage you’re in for an uphill battle…

Bring on the Classics

What this means is that if you already have a Space Marine army, you should be glad – all of your old units are NOT invalidated by the introduction of Primaris Marines. You can still do many of the things you did in last edition and you still have the unit diversity to find the right tool for the job. But if you want to mix in some Primaris Marines, you’ll get the best of both worlds!

Drop Podding Space Marines are still an effective way to get your Marines on top of the enemy’s backfield or to snag objectives. Terminators are still a deadly and tough option in close combat – plus they can teleport in and cause problems. Bikes are super fast and tough still – they can deliver the hurt and be the mobile element you need. Devastators have access to more options than “just plasma” and when combined with the right buffs, are downright Devastating. Oh and let’s not forget about the Flyer Support – Stormravens are still really good!

Basically, your old specialized units are still good at their jobs and totally worth taking. They also happen to fill in the gaps an entire Primaris Marine Army has quite nicely. It’s almost like Game Workshop planned it…

Your Classic Marines are still going to play valuable battlefield roles on the table so don’t forget to bring them along! At the same time, don’t discount the deadly short-to-mid range firepower Primaris can deliver to the table. When you combine them you get a solid army that can approach any battlefield and have a good shot at winning the game. Or you could decide to go with the “Rock” approach and hope you don’t fight “Paper” – that’s your call.

“I was gonna walk away Scissors, but then you had to go and bring Paper into this…” – Rock


We like the Primaris Marines – but they need support from the rest of the Space Marine Army. What do you think of them in 8th?A re you planning on picking up some Primaris Marines for your collection? 

  • Ravingbantha

    give it another few weeks or so, and this article will become invalidated. We will all those ‘gaps’ filled.

    • LeroyJenkinss

      Lol I see what you did there

    • GWELLS

      To be honest even now I don’t see the issue. In all the games Ive seen the Hellblasters have never had trouble with vehicles, couple in the new Repulser and Dreadnaght and you have plenty of anti-vehicle.

      Maybe not a few weeks, but come on, lets not kid ourselves here. The endgame of all this (probably in the next codex) will be giving Primaris all the upgrade options they want, along with access to all the vehicles and phasing out the little guys. Right now they can say “Well they still lack the centuries of combat experience” but eventually they will phase them out. Intercessors in Land Raiders with Lascannons in squads is coming. Its inevitable.

    • this article is invalidated even before the codex is out… we know reivers get grav-chutes or grappling hook guns that either give them deep strike or deployment from one side of the board. Inceptors get the meteoric descent or whatever it is, so there is two units that have deep strike, just like a drop pod in effect… as has been pointed out, we will see the gaps filled, by future unit releases, as the rules are in each box, new units can be added to armies without requiring a brand new codex release every time. Or new war zone campaign books can add units for multiple armies suited to their particular war zone.

  • benn grimm

    I think they look kinda funny next to each other. From a purely aesthetic view point, pure primaris is the way forward (imo). Nothing wrong with a few gaps here n there, quite possibly a good thing that they don’t have the perfectly obvious answer to absolutely everything. Encourages thinking.

    • ZeeLobby

      I thought about running landspeeders with the new flying shoe. But the mini pilots are gonna look goofy. Just know it.

      • Pcm979

        New rule: Every time you field a minimarine unit in an otherwise Primaris-only force, you have to declare “We represent the lollipop guild!”

        • benn grimm

          Lol 🙂

        • Mr.Gold

          If you declare that as your chapter tactics, then you may field an additional minimarine per squad for free…

      • Grieux

        The FW variant has the canopy covered 🙂

        • ZeeLobby

          Very true. They looked super tight for SMs to begin with. So clown car to the rescue!

      • evillsvain

        Actually the Land Speeder crew doesn’t look that bad at all. My brother is building a marine force using Primaris miniatures as true scale “normal” marines with normal marine equipment but with primaris stats (we’re just ignoring the primaris fluff and equipment) and the Land Speeder fits in well as you can mostly see the crew from chest up. The primaris use the same shoulder pads so the size difference chest up is minimal. You could just put a bit plasticard etc. on Speeders side so that the crews legs and lower torso wouldn’t show and there you go.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah. I’ll have to check it out. I always thought the landspeeders marines were already really scrunched up. But I’ll have to see.

      • benn grimm

        It’s a bit like running the old Gorkamorka buggies with a modern Ork army; you could do it, (it’s not like there will be an updated model anytime soon) but they just look a bit wrong…

        • Damistar

          Don’t be so sure about that. There was that leak a couple weeks back. The picture of the armored tire.

          • benn grimm

            It was more of an inference that the landspeeder won’t be getting an update anytime soon, but things are definitely different nowadays. Been waiting so long for decent buggies/trakks I’m not going to get my hopes up. If they do finally materialize this decade though, I will be one very happy creature…:)

          • CloakingDonkey

            They definitely are the oldest model at this point right? Or is it the Chimera/Leman Russ? I definitely remember all of them existed during 2nd Edition… Although the Ork Buggy already looked old and tired by 3rd Edition ._.

          • benn grimm

            I think at this point Warp Spiders are the oldest model they still produce which have a unit entry in a codex, they go back all the way to the beginning of second. Lol, the buggy looked old, ugly and tired like a week after it was released…;)

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            That driver and gunner! Ugh!

          • benn grimm

            Lol, yeah can’t get much ugly than than those weird grot/Ork/troll hybrids…)

          • Thomson

            Chimera/Leman Russ was updated shortly after the release of 5th, and they are a huge step forward from the original models. The assembly of the tracks was a pain (The wheels came separately and the length of the track parts required to fiddle around extremely if you did not want huge gaps between them)

          • AircoolUK

            Yeah, last time I bothered with orks was when their buggies and wartracks were metal and the orks themselves didn’t look like green gorillas.

          • benn grimm

            Wow, that was a loooong time ago, they definitely had a lot of character in those days. The original metal skorcha is still one of my faves

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            I’m still a fan of the old flash git nobs. One of the few units that GW made absolutely amazing but so costly in points and cash that I haven’t picked any up yet.

          • benn grimm

            The only old models I still use are a few snotlings brandishing mushrooms and Zodgrod Wartsnagga, though he kinda looks a bit stunted compared to my other runtherd (savage Ork conversion), the character in the model more than makes up for it. I actually really like the recent flash gitz, for me they recapture a bit of that 90s Orky magic. I’m thinking about grabbing one of those recent stunty airships, reckon it would make a cool ride for them, once properly Orkified of course…)

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            Just to be “that guy” I still use my Snakebite boar riders. I just changed their type to nob biker…small but I still like the models.

          • benn grimm

            I’ve just bought some savage orc boar boyz to convert into feral Ork ‘warbikers’, I really like the old snakebite ones, but like you said they’re a little small. Especially alongside the savages, which are even larger than std 40k boyz.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            This good Sir is why I love Ork players!

          • benn grimm

            Orkses is da best! 🙂

          • Freebooterz

      • Rafał Pytlak

        What’s wrong with looking goofy? Is everyone arohnd here such an aesthetic that all minis must be the same size? What next, all part of book series need to be with the same graphic/editiona nd comic books inbags in alphabetical order? 😉

        • CloakingDonkey

          The answer to all those questions is yes. 😛

          • Rafał Pytlak

            That’s autistic level heresy. Even more than not having single every one of your minis decaled instead having “random blank shoulderpad legion/chapter” 😛

          • CloakingDonkey

            It comes from playing historicals… you go ahead and deal with this crap for a while and you’ll want your minis to all be the same size, too 😛 http://www.fysh.org/~katie/pictures/miniature-compares/NapInf1.jpg

          • Rafał Pytlak

            Probably couldn’t make myself play something without fantasy/sci-fi elements. That’s why im not a fan of IG
            Still this coming from a guy who doesn’t own a foam case and keeps all his minis in an empty 1 liter ice cream box..

      • CloakingDonkey

        For me the solution are Stormhawk Interceptors and Predators. Predators look too small for regular marines anyway, so it doesn’t really matter and they and the Interceptors bring all the Lascannons you’ll ever need 😉

    • JD Robertson

      Aesthetically, it makes sense to phase out the old marine models over time. Primaris feel more like what marines are supposed to look like compared to regular humans. The concern is that because they have better stats at a higher cost, you will end up making the marine army list play differently than it has in the past.

      • benn grimm

        I think the new guys better fit the fluff of what marines always were; big, elite and rare. Some of the marine armies you saw in 7th were heading towards horde territory, which has nothing to do with how they are represented in the lore at all really.

        • Rafał Pytlak

          But now that RG is back, we will have heresy era numbers of astartes running around. Give him a few decades and he will muster Great Crusade-amounts of marines. All from Papa Cawl

          • benn grimm

            Fingers crossed the inquisition catch up with Cawl soon. As for the Girlyman, some kind of super stroke caused by the sudden realization of how bad his own fluff is, which sends him back into a coma, would be just fine. Or maybe he just gets run over by a gargant. Either would work for me.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            But he has Magic Space Armour of Life Saving! Emperor Smurf cannot be slain! Wardian Heresy has returned stronger than ever!

          • benn grimm

            I can but dream….)

          • Rafał Pytlak

            Roboute whispers to Calgar: “I’m Omegon”

          • benn grimm

            Lol, i would love that plot twist more than the one in GoT where Oberyn gets his head caved in…)

          • euansmith

            Calgar replies, “Well, I’m Alpharius, so get in line, brother!”

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            I have a dream of that as well!

        • AircoolUK

          You are correct, even if some people will call you a heretic.

          Marines are supposed to be nails. Unfortunately, as has happened before, other armies made them appear less than impressive.

          • benn grimm

            People love a good moan, but anyone whose actually seen a primaris up close, next to even the best example of old marine; vanguard, mk 3, deathwatch, whatever, has to admit they better represent the aesthetic/fluff of space marines. They’re like a true-scalers dream come true.

  • MarcoT

    If you care about aesthetics and still want to fill those gaps, remember that Primaris are part of the Imperium. Guardsmen, assassins, admech and, my favourite, inquisition will look just dandy next to them. Just imagine a Land Speeder Storm zooming Greyfax and some Acolytes accross the battlefield. That’s all sorts of awesome, and useful in a slow army.

    • Crevab

      And what happens when GW starts making larger humans?

      • benn grimm

        The caucus race starts all over again… 😉

      • MarcoT

        Never gonna happen

        • Crevab

          Based on….?

          • MarcoT

            Scale creep over 30 years has been limited to a few mm here and there, more by accidents than anything else, and Forgeworld has different proportions. Very minimal. And basing any decisions on what one day might happen is a bit of a downer don’t you think? If the guardsmen I’ll paint up now look awesome next to my Primaris marines, who cares if something slightly bigger comes out in 10 years? They’ll still looks just as cool next to each other.

            Try optimism, it’s great.

          • couldn’t agree more. people are so quick to point out the bad and have a moan.

          • GnomesForge

            Like your moan… about people moaning? At least they are moaning about something that affects them out of their control. You on the other hand seem content to moan about views you could just pass over and go read something else. Don’t moan so loud, you’l wake the people down the road.

          • Hahaha very true! I’ll do my best not to disturb the neighbours 😉

            Got to say though that is the first time I have moaned about the negativity. It just gets wearing. If people don’t like a new taller ranger the standard marines aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and the range is huge.

            I could have just glossed over the moaning and in hindsight probably should have. A mistake I will endeavour to avoid in the future.

          • Crevab

            Optimism? You’re ignoring or excusing anything that goes against the answer you want. Apply that to something important and thats stupid and dangerous

          • GnomesForge

            Yeah man, you have no guarantee they wont be encouraged by fanboys like yourself and start just making everything bigger knowing that people will chase big things. Why would they stop? Because it might invalidate your big boy army? Why would GW care about that? They’ll laugh in your face and the next fanboy will be there to rub it in when it happens to you.

            Holy crap, thanks for the tip! This optimism trick is great!

    • Foxdonut

      Inquisition sadly cant take landspeeder storm because authority only removes faction keywords (‘adeptus astartes’) and the storm can only take keyword ‘scouts’.

      • MarcoT

        NOOOOOO you’re right. Snif. A Corvus Blackstar will have to do than.

  • Dan Wilson

    I’m looking forward to using my Reivers. The combo of 3 attacks in close combat, shock grenades preventing overwatch, and being able to grav chute in goes some way to negating points 2 and 3.

    • AircoolUK

      All Primaris is fine by me. The gaps will be filled with my old Dreadnoughts (and new one’s) plus three Predators.

      I’ll probably stick my Centurions in the Land Raider, either with lascannons (both Centurions and Land Raider), or the close combat version with the Redeemer.

      • CloakingDonkey

        It’s absurd to me that Centurions can hitch a ride in the Land Raider but Primarines can’t -.-

        And for Shock Grenade usage it’s probably best to just infiltrate them with the Grapplers instead of the Grav Chutes. Otherwise you have to awkwardly wait a turn after chuting in.

        • Dennis J. Pechavar

          If they could then you wouldn’t buy the new tanks. GW is thinking ahead. It’s silly fluff wise but they are thinking.

          • AircoolUK

            That will be one of the reasons, although they’re likely to claim that balance is the main reason.

    • Adam David

      Playing Inquisitors so Space Marines aren’t that much of a concern, but I do plan to retire my pending Salamander Tac and Devas and switch them for ten Salamander Reivers and maybe nine Aggressors with He’stan in the middle of it all as one of the many support retinues for my Inquisitors.

  • Pirate_Prince_Navarion

    Primaris sergeants can take power swords? So far I haven’t seen that option anywhere. Not in the leaked datasheets, the pictures of the models or the sprue of the Reivers.O_o If it’s true I might actually fall enough in love with them to try to build a small force.

    • Dan Wilson

      Yeah I think that should be “Lieutenants”.

      • Pirate_Prince_Navarion

        Thought so, thanks. 🙁

        • Garthantash

          Intercessor Sarges can take power swords, Reivers cannot.

          • Pirate_Prince_Navarion

            Is that in the Codex? Can’t wait to see the sprues then. 😀

  • AircoolUK

    Old Marines just look a bit silly now. The really old one are ok, like, 1980’s old, but anything after that… no thanks.

    However, you could always ‘pretend’ that your old marines are squats… after all, they are squat.

    • Darkcat

      In 10 years we will have suprimus primarius ultimus astratis. That are now part of the fluff and are double the size of primaris marines.

    • GnomesForge

      I find the opposite, like putting GI joes on a war gaming table. It just screams over compensating for something. I guess some boys love big toys… Ill stick with scale models myself.

      Yup in a few years your big marines will be rather small sized. Average at best.

  • MightyOrang

    So they struggle with everything but mid range anti infantry fires? What are you paying for then?

    (But the models are badass. I’m hoping they upscale Orks next.

    • Chris Hilliard

      You’re paying for mid range anti infantry firepower. More specifically, you’re paying to not be picked off with impunity by Fire Warriors while you’re trying to hold objectives. (Or returning the favor. I won’t judge.) The Primaris Marines aren’t a new army, they’re new assets that cover holes in an existing army.

    • CloakingDonkey

      I would already be happy if the Orks got new sculpts that got rid of their tube butts.

      • MightyOrang


        • CloakingDonkey


    • GnomesForge

      Why? Its a miniature game. Just use action figures if scale models are too much for you.

      • MightyOrang

        Has nothing to do with the size of the figurine. Am reacting to the fact that they’re pushing a line of Space Marines that aren’t points efficient.

  • Tushan

    Primaris lack in the melee department, oh I seem to recall saying just that a little while ago and a bunch of knowitalls instantly berated me for claiming the primaris line lack dedicated melee.

    One doesnt know weather to laugh or cry.

  • Krizzab

    yeah important role, being bullied by their taller, prettier, stronger, and better equiped Ubermarines.

  • pokemastercube .

    there is a good point to what happens when a dedicated combat unit gets in……..my death company spent a game just tearing down primaris marines all over the place

  • Spacefrisian

    Iam considering to run som AoS dwarves as marines next to my Primarus guys, fits the lore as they bring cosmic rage as the Astral dwarves from Aberdeen.

  • Rob brown

    Primaris marines on the board next to classic marines… eurrrgghhh

    NO thank you.

    • Darkcat

      Pretend they are squats?

  • Sonic tooth

    My only problem with primarines is beakie helmets prob wont fit for my raven guard (Havnt tried it yet)I don’t mind the primarines, its the constant ultramarine stuff I don’t like


    Who play HaLo did you remember those armored cars the have there maybe that’s what primaris will have …at this point primaris are not that strong for me there don’t have the soul they are like plastic toy soldiers..lol…they are angels of death and we have Ken in body armor

  • Philip Estabrook

    I don’t see any issues with using the old models with Primaris. If you are a new player, I’d use exclusively Primaris. But with 11,000 in older marines, I am fine with it.

    • Deathwing

      Im in the same boat, great company of shadow dragons with over 300 infantry. ill add a few primaris eventually, but as my entire army is air cav i really have no place to put them unless i dedicate the hawk to them, and Id rather not.

  • badmojo1966

    40k with the ShortyK marines.

  • Gian Carlo Peirce

    the ravenguard chapter tactic and stratagem just solves everything.

  • wong40k

    GW should have just come clean and upgrade all the space marines to Primaris scale instead of this Primaris mess we are having right now. And no, I don’t buy into Primaris fluff or their table top performance at all as of this moment.

  • The new figures are just so gorgeous I’ll just live with the weaknesses for a while. 😛

  • GnomesForge

    Primaris are lame and ham fisted. Classic is classic for a reason. This is the new coke of warhammer.

  • To everyone bemoaning the new primaris marines………calm down, it’s just plastic murder dollies. We can all play however we want to, that includes you.

  • ReveredChaplainDrake

    What about D2+ weapons? I always figured that was the real point of Primaris Marines from a mechanical perspective: to give Marines a 2-wound model that can make up the backbone of an army. Harder to kill, yet more susceptible to weapons that cause more than 1 damage. My Exocrines don’t care at all because they literally don’t have a weapon that doesn’t do exactly 2 damage per wound.

    Nope, for me it was always their stupid “new Marines appear and are somehow immediately accepted wholesale by the otherwise backwards and paranoid fanatics of the Imperium” fluff and the blatant “this new unit only exists to make money off Marine players with large collections in the least subtle way possible” notion that got me about them, rather than any notion that they’re super-good or something.

  • Damir Setanta

    No worries there mate, Primaris are utterly ignored since they are worthless gamewise and fluffwise.