40K: Move Over Primaris Marines, Astra Militarum is the New Face of 8th

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! 

  • Luca Lacchini

    Elite-type armies work admirably in smaller point games, where the horde-type armies either field really big numbers or average numbers plus vehicles/monsters, but not both.
    In bigger games, elite armies are best fielded as allied detachments, filling gaps in option lists.

    To be honest, it’s a kind of design that I find reasonable. But I also understand that it’s quite a departure from previous editions and not everyone is happy with that.
    And Primaris Marines fail because their tank is ugly as sin and they can’t use Land Raiders as transports.

    • zeno666

      They are also too small 😉
      They are larger than normal marines, but since normal marines are too small…

    • kloosterboer

      Hmm…I love that tank. I guess I love sin.

      • Mr.Fister

        slaanesh approves

    • Bigalmoney666

      “And Primaris Marines fail because their tank is ugly as sin”

      amen!

    • Marco Marantz

      Well when 8th ed first dropped a group i played with started a slow grow campaign kicking off with 500 points. The AM player was able to bring Pask in a Punisher, a Leman Russ and two Infantry Squads. Everyone else just had infantry. AM dont really have weakness requiring you to take allies to cover gaps. Agree about Land Raiders =/= Primaris. Its typical GW logic.

  • Carey_Mahoney

    Rightfully so.

  • Austin Kennedy
  • 40KstillRulesTheTT

    The problem is hordes with big guns. Especially when you can allocate wounds to the dudes with the lasguns, up until only the plasma gun and the lascanon are left standing… Ork and nid hordes don’t generate any complaints, IMHO a lot for that reason.
    Also, 4 points should be the minimum for a model, 3 is simply not enough…

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      Conscripts don’t get plasmaguns or lascannons, though… and everyone else is a standard unit size of 10 (or 6, in the case of special weapons teams).

  • Heinz Fiction

    8th edition lacks dedicated anti horde weapons. Morale rules are supposed to be a counter to large units, but everyone is immune to it and there is no quick and easy way to remove this immunity.

    • Piotr

      I’ve had good success versus hordes with stormravens and dark talons. For example I was able to delete a 40 man unit of cultists with one stormraven (after morale check).

      • Heinz Fiction

        the thing is: all weapons that are good vs hordes are equally efficient vs small units or single models. If you factor in points/wound they are even often times more efficient vs elite targets even if they don’t damage them as easily.

      • Marco Marantz

        Yes but we all know Stormravens are broken. Using an example of one OP unit to counter another is not a valid argument.

    • Spacefrisian

      Sonic blasters do a wonderfull job killing hordes.

      • euansmith

        And Noise Marines rock.

        • Erich Schoenholtz

          I see what you did there….

    • John Henry III

      A unit of snipers can take out a commissar in one turn, two at the most. Then you’ll see that blob of guard melt to morale.

      • Heinz Fiction

        Yes if:
        1) you are playing an army that has snipers
        2) they have LOS to the commisar
        3) they aren’t more expensive then the commisar and the consript horde together

        • BrianDavion

          Pure Primaris for example lack snipers.

          • Muninwing

            there are reasons for fielding vindicares…

          • BrianDavion

            sure except field those and you lose chapter tactics. unless you use a seperate detachment.

      • swiftscythe

        i play nids where are my melta, plasma and sniper weapons??

        • LankTank

          In their bellies =p

    • LankTank

      Actually I agree, anti horde weapons without the templates is damn hard.
      Except Quad Bolter Rapiers. God I love them…
      In regards to blast Templates our group has adopted a House Rule. Add 1 to the amount of shots on the D6 for each 5 models in the enemy units.
      So a Battlecannon shooting at 20 Cultists is between 5 and 10 shots which still need to roll to hit. Not exactly game ending but mitigates it somewhat

    • Marco Marantz

      agreed and again this comes back to poor/failed game design. Remember when we were told morale was supposed to mean something….well now those cruddy conscripts dont even have to take any kind of test when engaging some horrific beasty like a greater deamon.

  • Spacefrisian

    I have yet to see a horde army that can beat my elite army, unless Nids and Orks dont count as horde armies.

    • 40KstillRulesTheTT

      They are subpar armies (fielding 200 ork boys can get you places but it’s a drag for the ork player), look at tournament representation army wise and you will see. I play both armies, and I know perfectly well why chaos and guard have much better horde potential

  • Cergorach

    Primaris weren’t made to fill holes in the SM list, they are meant to eventually replace the current range of SM. That will be a slow process I suspect, but eventually…

    • Matthew Hoag

      I don’t know who told you that, but it is completely wrong. GW went to a great deal of trouble trying to make sure that none of the Primaris units is a straight upgrade of an existing Legiones unit. They also have more releases planned for the Legiones marines (in the same scale as the deathwatch killteam). GW has no interest in replacing Legiones marines with Primaris as long as their customers keep buying both.

      • Cergorach

        There will come a time that the Tactical Squad will need an update and instead of getting that, they’ll phase out the TS. Same with scouts. I’m not talking about months, I’m talking about years.

        There might be some more standard releases for 40k SM, if GW is really bent on going all plastic. But I expect no more updates, just replacing non plastic units with plastic units. I suspect that anything new will be for Primaris OR a 30k crossover product.

        • Muninwing

          i’m betting that it will be a bit more complicated than that… i wouldn’t be surprised if the Primaris kit were a test run for a later upgrade, but they needed to be released to feel like they were relevant or worth it for the studio to work on.

          i’m betting that as they are they will be the template for later regular SM releases, jut in a larger size.

  • ZeeLobby

    It’s almost like templates worked at discouraging hordes…

    • Richard Mitchell

      I was thinking the same thing. I wonder though if this is just how the game is supposed to be played now. If GW is doing 4D MANGA Hungry Hungry Hippos.

      • OctopusVolcano

        The current system work work fine if legacy template weapons either had more shots, or had a minimum number of shots. D3 + 3 instead of D6 for example.

        • Matthew Hoag

          More of the old template and blast weapons need rules that give them more hits against larger units. The grav-bombard on the Leviathan Dreadnought is a good example of such a rule.

          • OctopusVolcano

            Yeah definitely. Certainly for old large blasts. I kinda feel d3 for shots should exist. The variance is too much.

          • LankTank

            I was just saying above we have a house rule. Add 1 to the amount of shots on the D6 for each 5 models in the enemy units.
            So a Battlecannon shooting at 20 Cultists is between 5 and 10 shots which still need to roll to hit. Not exactly game ending but mitigates it somewhat

          • Muninwing

            what about the variance of the scatter?

            on average the current makeup is less feast-or-famine than the old way, but averages out to about the same number of hits if you include all those big whiffers that scattered into nowhere.

            the biggest difference now is that you can’t hit your own models.

    • Muninwing

      it would be great if flame weapons had a rule that doubled the number of hits if the unit was over a certain number… really all blast should do double damage against units of 20+

  • Marco Marantz

    Pretty bad article.

    • It was a chance to moan about Primaris…

      • Marco Marantz

        i dont disagree the new uber elite primaris look utterly second rate compared to the new AM but the article could have done a comparison of why this is so.

        • Most people hate the Primaris Marines, although I think the Aggressors kit would be good as Centurions instead of the actual Centurions.

  • Charon

    ” For all people complain about conscripts and commissars the fact is that they have worked the way they do now since the 4th edition codex.”
    While yes, they kinda worked the same there are a lot of differences to how the game now works.
    1) they have become 33% more survivable due to armor modifiers. Most elite type armies (SM, CSM, Tau, CWE, DE,…) had AP5 and ignored their save. Now most of them ended up with no modifiers at all so IG gets their full save against most basic weapons.
    This helped IG a lot while at the same time dimnishing the alue of armor on elite models (a measy -1 instead of Ap4 means the SM saves 16.6666% less than before.
    2) WS was a thing. So even my Chaos cultists would hit them on a 3+ in melee. This is another change that negatively effected elite armies and catered to IG. You hit that berzerker on a 4+ instead of a 5+.
    3) Templates. Heldrakes used to roast lots of blobbed up consripts instead of… well 3 on average. Even stuff like soulgrinder took out 3 – 4 with their blasts instead of… well… 1 – 2.
    4) different S/T table. Got this shiny heavy bolter? Well.. it wounds on a 3+ now… and… they can save against it.

    There has not been a single change that did not benefit horde over elite (hell even smite favores hordes a lot as psykers are dirt cheap and spammable, they do a lot more damage to a terminator army than a conscript army). Battleshock was ment to be the balancing factor here with elite armies losing a lot less due to LD. Interesting enough, elite armies are at the moment the only armies that can lose models to battleshock as horde armies are basically immune overall.

    • Marco Marantz

      Agree. Clearly we are seeing where the design of 8th ed fails….and fails badly.

      • Dusty

        Actually, this is how I like the game. Troops, troops, troops.

        • Valeli

          Agree completely (except I don’t like how vehicles basically became “big people” and lost av/facing… although I do like how they don’t tend to become useless with one good roll).

          But I don’t really like the guard complaints. The winning lists we’ve seen have been very fluffy.

          There’s no nid or ork complaints now, but wait till they get their books. People will find the next new thing and move on.

          Is this a generally good edition for IG? Yes. But an edition is always better for some folk than others (there have been plenty that favored assault over shooting heavily).

          I just suggest playing nice. Don’t be a tool and not play someone because all of a sudden their IG list is “in” . You’ll almost certainly be in their shoes one day if you stick around long enough.

          • Charon

            “The winning lists we’ve seen have been very fluffy.”
            Which is part of the problem. As long as optimized tourney lists have been strange compositions you did not run into them very often.
            A Fluffy Blood Angel army vs an army of 5 different detachment from 5 different books consisting of 5 units was a clear cut case of an intentioal uneven game.
            Now a fluffy blood angels army vs a fluffy IG army gets blown away as that fluffy IG army is also a top tier tournament comp.

        • Marco Marantz

          Yes but those hordes of troops are always backed up by tanks/arty.

        • Nyyppä

          If other than cheap horde troops were actually viable as a horde this would be true. Now, to be precise, it’s “cheap fearless masses, cheap fearless masses, cheap fearless masses”.

    • Frostasche

      Actually there is one change, that benefits elite units slightly more then hordes, rerolls for cp. Rerolling one of two dices, has a bigger impact, then rerolling one of hundred dices.

      Overall i agree, the changes to the basic rules, are good for the astra militarum. I would wait for some test games with the new codex before giving a final verdict, if they are overpowered now.

      But if that is the case, i would like to see them balanced out, with battleshock/changes to commissars, not by “fixing” the basic rules. I feel this would also add to the character of the army. I prefer an army, that has recognisable strengths and weaknesses. So for me adding a weakness to counter a strength is preferable to toning down a strength.

      • Charon

        The impact is basically the same as you only pick crucial dice rolls which are the same for both armies (for example that lascannon damage that came off as a “1” on a 3 HP vehicle ist the same crucial roll for IG as for every other army – and IG has an easier time to spam CP). Even more beneficial is the bonus of auras. that “reroll all rolls of 1” is a lot more useful on that 50 conscripts as on that 10 space marines.

        • Frostasche

          The impact is really small, i agree. And i never argued about rerolling all rolls. I was mostly nitpicking with that sentence, and it was not ment as the main point of my comment and not an argument army x better then army y.
          For cheap units with crappy weapons (the purest definition of a horde), it is great that now everything can hurt anything, but the one reroll is ignorable, while for the lascannon it is obviously the other way around.
          The imperial guard does not get more from the reroll, because this reroll is good for hordes, it gets it because it has also access to some more elite weapons or less horde like weapons.

          But overall i think hordes needed a buff, i am not sure yet, if GW overdid it. And i myself am an drukhari player, my best choices for anti-horde weapons , well let just say, for example with the same number of shots i would need to take a 230point C’tan Shard of the Nigthbringer down, i would kill 8 conscripts in cover. Antihorde is definitly not the speciality of the dark kin.
          But still i think the rule changes are good, if the balance is broken, it is not the fault of the core rules, instead the AM should gain some distinctive weaknesses, which they are lacking right now in my opinion.

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      Worth noting: conscripts have a WS of of 5+, so #2 hasn’t changed at all.

    • BrianDavion

      definatly agree, they need to rethink Morale in the next edition, make mitigating it less. if commissars simply give a “re-roll at the comissars LDR” with the sacrifice of a unit. it’d be a LOT more situational

    • Nyyppä

      There’s one horde army that still suffers from battle shock. It’s WB and ironically their moral boost is not making a dent on those numbers.

      Just saying.

      All other hordes are essentially immune, that is true.

  • Rainthezangoose

    Frankly a horde dominated meta sounds like a chore for me. The issue is not in a horde army but in a horde vs horde match. I feel like by ramping up the number of wounds and bodies on the table alot of this edition is going to be long drawn out meat grinders over inches of table, ala some kind of miniaturized trench warfare.

    • Dovydas Bulanavicius

      So true, heh even a 1000 point game now can take several hours.

      With Cultists and Pox Walkers and their stratagems, you can loop the units by returning and resurrecting (basically putting the miniatures on, off, on off… the table).

      Even with ~100 miniatures this becomes a long game

      • Rainthezangoose

        I agree. I uploaded a battle report to my blog (land of aporia in the off chance your interest) it was 1000pts of Nids Vs Necron and between reanimation, my tervigon feeding into a 30 man termagant brood and it being the relic mission. The game took nearly four hours and was really boring. Now I know that’s some extreme and unfortunate variables but it put me off a little. Especially when it was my first game since 7th.

    • 40KstillRulesTheTT

      You mean like a TT version of the Dawn of War III video game 😀 😀 ?

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      I agree! I really hated Warhammer Fantasy! Please GW, I picked 40k because I didn’t want to have to paint troops, I just wanted to field 3 transport vehicles. Now you tell me that I should be playing Kharadron Overlords in Age of Sigmar?! Why do people even field troops?!

      … I’m sorry, the longer I typed that, the more I realized it might have been taken seriously. I was disagreeing with you in a sort of mocking tone… partly because my guard friend owns all the pieces of trenchline terrain GW has made and loves exactly that sort of game.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Errrrm why can’t it be both?*

    Primaris Marines and Astra Militarum both have their roll and, more than any edition a distinct style of play. Indeed if you consider all the formal codices that have come out they all play wildly different. If anything I would say this is the broader aim of 8th edition. I also get the feeling there is a distinct emphasis on encouraging people running allied armies, via different individual, Battle-forged detachments to make use of all the synergy combinations or fill in the gaps** of how an army plays.

    *and eventually every army as their formal codices roll out.
    **This could even be internally in a codex e.g. for instance, SM by having Imperial Fist “allied” with Raven Guard.

  • I am actually kind of happy to see hordes come back as a powerful thing.

    I don’t like every game being a low model-count elite on elite battle. I actually want to see armies clash, not rpg-groups and their bodyguard.

    • Nyyppä

      I agree. I don’t agree that those hordes that are practically immune to morale should be so cheap though.

  • m3g4tr0n

    Ha! Keep dreaming. Orks is best.

    • dave long island

      ya dats rite

  • Tijmen

    Sonic blasters do a wonderfull job killing hordes.

  • Anasa

    Adding a large amount of easily accessible moral immunities (or immunities in general) seems like a poor design choice by GW. It removes aspects from an already streamlined game. It’s what made Ld and pinning tests mostly irrelevant for 4th-7th editions, while also turning the combat into a neverending slugfest. This is especially bad if hordes were designed with a weakness to morale shocks in mind. Oh well, I guess Stalin was right:

    “Quantity has a quality of its own.”

  • Chris Hateley

    Ahahahaha! As if anything other than space marines will ever be the face of 40k! GW can barely go a month without a new space marine release and when the range was so flooded that they could no longer feasibly shoehorn in new models, they just invented a new kind of space marine so they could begin the process all over again.

  • Erich Schoenholtz

    The thing that bothers me is that once again, they are missing one of the key points in the initial reboot of the game. and that was faster games. If hordes will be the new normal in the games…then the games will take longer again.

    • YetAnotherFacelessMan

      As a guy who was fighting against hordes in his local meta in 7th, I assure you that the hordes are still faster in 8th. One reason for that is the way that movement works now.

      If my friend wanted to move a horde and part of the horde clipped a piece of terrain, he would roll 2d6, move all his models the higher number, do half his shooting so he made sure he wanted to move rather than shoot, then roll a d6 for running, move all his horde that amount, then finish up his shooting phase.

      Between the editions, we’ve shaved about two hours off our average game, I kid you not. But yeah, compared to an army consisting only of a single unit of hyper-specialized custodes in a land raider? Of course the turns will be longer.

  • Carol Wohlmuth

    One of the big boosts to guard was actually th change in AP. Run of the mill guardsmen used to get no saves vs basic weapons; suddenly they are much tankier than ever before. Old weapons that used to be Marine killers (ap3) are still costed as such (AP-2) but are now best suited for killing guardsmen.

    To diminish th power of hordes, GW needed to keep the idea of AP 5 alive.

    • 40KstillRulesTheTT

      To boot, strengh 5 weapons wound guardsmen on a 3+, whereas before, they did so on a result of 2+. Strengh 5 weapons are very widespread now (at least among the 6 armies I play)

  • Deacon Ix

    All this sounds like is – “My Spheehs Merins are not the bestest and this is clearly not right” – I for one welcome the role reversal and our new Conscript overlords!!

    And tho I do not do Tournoments I would surmise that horde army’s will be at a disadvantage due to the time restrictions?

  • Carlos Irala

    If at least, some Flamers (Like Heavy Flamer or Grey Knight’s Incinerators) were 1d3+3 rather than 1d6 I think we could have some point of interest against hordes. Also, the cost of points still unbanlanced, while this new kind of system theoretically should equilibrate it.
    Plasma Gun for AM cost 7 points, while Plasma rifle for Tau cost 11 points, and is strictly worse (1 less of damage without supercharge and don’t have the posibility of supercharge).

    • Dan

      but you see one is a bs3 model, while the other is also a bs3 model so it all makes sense.

      • Grandfathernurglescleanbrother

        *thumbs up*

      • Ronin

        Not when it’s in the hands of command squads and veterans. 😉

        • YetAnotherFacelessMan

          But Ronin… command squads and veterans can’t even take markerlights. 😉

  • Moonsaves

    I’m sure we won’t get this every codex, with everyone dramatically going on about how the newest codex is the greatest.

    • Valeli

      Right?

      People love spotting strength and getting jelly more than spotting weakness.

      Back as a child playing 2nd in school with my friends I’d /always/ switch armies around every time I heard news through my friends about a new list that could do x/y/z I couldn’t. (This was easy, since as no-money kids we just proxies it all).

      You know what happened? I kept about the same (awful) win record each time.

      Exact same thing here, only amplified by Internet hysterics.

    • Charon

      To be fair, IG already was a top tourney table army with just the index. I dont see how making a top tier army better has anything to do with “newest codex is the greatest”, especially as DG is pretty “meh”

      • OctopusVolcano

        This is half the problem imo. It’s not that the guard codex is so good that people are complaining about. It’s that all other codexes before it haven’t had nearly as much coherent thought gone into them.

        Also, where are my forge world unique canticles? Lol

  • Calgar

    My guard army is Steel Legion, played the way they are represented in the fluff. I used to even pay for the armored crew compartments when there was no reason to, just because of the fluff. Since I started the army in 3rd edition, it has not had a stellar record on the fid of battle, as I refuse to embrace the new hot was to make them better.

    I am just pumped that the army now plays well when represented fluffily. I do get that there is plenty to be abused with the new guard, but the worst excesses will be curbed by GW as they have shown with 8th that they are prepared to make changes to the health of the game.

    • Mr.Fister

      and let us not forget as one of the early codex this one needs to last a couple of years…so it is better to start strong than get irrelevant in 2 months

  • Valeli

    I think this is good.

    The space marine obsession has gone way to far, to the point that GW basically canned whf to try and shoehorn in “fantasy marines” . In 40k they have a billion different codexes (less offensive in 8th now that it seems all lists are being given playstyle suboptions, but this discrepancy has been enormous for decades).

    Marines are cool and all. I like them. But the attention lavished on them has been drawn from elsewhere. Some lists have ended up neglected. Others have been almost entirely ignored.

    Having the IG soar in popularity and sales would go a long way to show GW that it”s not just marines that move product. And the more they realize that, the more of a chance there is everyone will see some attention.

    (Although I also think IG could get supplanted in short order as flavor of the month by Eldar or Kids or Orks or anyone who gets a new book… IG have the benefit of being Imperial though, which makes them a more valid poster face for the game imo. I don’t think GW would want or let a xenos race take over if only from a narrative awkwardness pov).

  • Drpx

    GW has no idea how their own game plays and their fluff doesn’t match the crunch. This is my shocked face.

  • Nyyppä

    Is this really news? I mean, we all know that AM is not realistically beatable right now.

  • Anselm Hofmann

    Hi,

    while I can agree on some level with the statement above, its very simplistic, no offence. The point you make is simple more men(boots) under x and y conditions perform better.
    But you leave out a lot of conditions in your comment.
    What about cover and line of sight blocker. I know most of you tend to ignore any kind of cover and line of sight in the game. Mostly due to the battle reports that can be found online. In those games you rarely see any LOS blocker. Smaller numbers of models and better weaponry can make a huge advantage out of LOS blockers and cover.
    you can never stick a whole army of AM in cover or out of line of sight. But SM can do that with good terrain. Then they choose there targets and eliminate parts of the enemy forces. Also shocking your jump pack units out of sight and charge with out penalty and overwatch is very good. It is the only thing GWs new range of terrain kind of lacks. Games should be played mostly on tables that look like those from city fight.
    Else it should be clear that a front line army like Tau and AM are hugely in favor in open terrain games slug fests. Its even not very fluffy to field an elite army like SM in this settings.
    Never the less you can easily get rid of those commanders with snipers, greatly reducing the efficiency of AM turn 1 or 2. (10 Scouts + 1 Vindicare)
    The 1 point I still agree on is you play AM like you did from 5th onward. Same army same story. But SM have to adapt much more list wise to still be successful.