For all the attention paid to Primaris Space Marines have gotten with 8th, it is Astra Militarum who really exemplify the new edition.
Primaris Marines are, as we can clearly see, the face of 8th edition. GW has pushed them hard as 40K’s poster-boys, literally putting them on posters for the game. And yet despite being the new hotness, and supposedly a herald of things to come, they don’t really represent the game well. It is in fact armies like the newly redone Astra Militarum the really fit the new rules. It is these armies that will dominate the meta and be the face of 40K. Lets take a look at why this is the case.
The Failings of Cawl’s Creations
Primaris, for all they are amazing models, fail to really represent 40K on two levels. For one they aren’t their own army. The Primaris release was marred by being an add on of new units to an existing army. By being added to an existing army with a large range of units they acted as redundant choices for options you already had. They didn’t fill gaps in an army list, but simply did the same things you could already do. While you could field a whole army of them, their own range is still too small to give this a lot of variety or power.
However the real failing is that they are not an army meant for 8th edition. Primaris take a small elite Marine army, and make it smaller and more elite. The 8th edition rules however don’t benefit small elite armies. 8th edition, more than any before it, is a numbers game; its about putting boots on the ground and rolling as many dice as you can. Offense and “numbers of bodies” is the best defense. Primaris simply can’t compete there. They put very few bodies on the field, and offensively don’t always put more firepower than cheaper options. Outside of Guilliman-built lists they don’t benefit from 8th Edition changes. They might have been a super great list in, say, 6th Edition, but in 8th their philosophy doesn’t match how the rules work on the table top.
Humanities Shield Takes It’s Place
Rather it’s an army like Astra Militarum that really fits in with the rules of 8th edition. The AM has benefited from all the major 8th edition changes: tougher tanks, freely falling back from combat, and anything being able to hurt anything else. And it doesn’t take a genius to see why the rules would benefit armies like AM. When you change the rules so that anything can hurt anything the weakest units are going to benefit the most. Astra Militarum can put huge amounts of bodies on the table, while still being able to field powerful support units.
With cheap units they can field multiply detachments and take more advantage of new ideas, like stratagems than any other army. Throughout the meta we have already seen that AM were a force to reckon with and now, with the new codex, this is only going to be truer than before.
Everything Old Is New Again
Here’s the big kicker to me: When it comes to Astra Militarum not much has changed in a long time. The current book is almost identical to the 5th edition Imperial Guard Book. While a few units have been tweaked a bit here and there, and a couple units from other forces merged (or returned) with the AM, it is at core very similar. Most units act the same as they always have. For all people complain about conscripts and commissars the fact is that they have worked that way since the 4th edition codex. This isn’t new. Ten years ago I was winning major tournaments with conscripts hordes backed up by commissars. The Guard have been able to field powerful horde armies, or tank companies, or a strong mix, for decades. Nothing about that has changed.
The Poster Boys
So yes, somethings (like psykers, stratagems, and doctrines) have strengthened the Astra Militarum. But these things can only build upon a powerful foundation. And it wasn’t the AM rules that changed to make them a power army, it was the core rules. When 8th Edition came around the new rules perfectly fit the way the Astra Militarum play. Now, with a new Codex and core rules that give them every advantage, they are placed to take a center spot in the meta. It is the humble Astra Militarum, not the Primaris, not Chaos, that really are the face of and heart of 8th edition.
The Emperor Protects
So which do you think better represent 8th Edtion, Primaris Marines or Astra Militarum? Let us know down in the comments!