40K: Where Are The Primaris Close-Combat Specialists

The new Primaris Marines are pretty solid options – as long as you aren’t looking to assault your enemy. Let’s chat about that.

The Primaris Marines are a boon to the Imperium – they have brought relief to a slew of beleaguered and under-manned Space Marine Chapters. With their arrival, they also brought new weapons, armor, and new tactics as well. The standard Intercessor Squad brings reliable and accurate Bolter fire. The Reivers are a stealthy shock unit. The Aggressors rain fire or bolts of death upon their targets. Hellblasters unleash hot plasma death. And the Inceptors Squads can drop in and pulverize a target with Assault Bolters or Plasma as well.

However, there is one combat role the Primaris Marines seem to avoiding – Close Combat Specialists. Now, I know some would argue that the Reiver Squads are the specialists, but I’ll disagree. Yes, they are “good enough” for that role on paper – but even with Combat Knives they aren’t that scary. In general, Primaris Marines have the stats to be in a category I would call “Almost A Threat” in close combat. They are still Strength and Toughness 4, have 2 Wounds, 2 Attacks, and have a 3+ save (not counting Aggressors and Inceptors who have a T5…but sure). With a standard squad of 10 Intercessors, that’s 21 attacks (counting the Sergeant) in close combat. Hitting on +3s that’s not terrible…but they aren’t a dedicated Assault Unit.

Reivers with Combat Knives are marginally better – they have 31 attacks with a full squad of 10. Again, hitting on +3s – it’s not too shabby! But where both of these squads seem to falter is that neither once of these squads have any AP to their CC attacks. That’s where their weak spot is – they might hit and even wound, but if you have an armor save that’s worth rolling, you’re probably going to walk away from this fight – or at least get your attacks back.

So where are the Primaris weapons that deal the damage in Close Combat?!

A Side Rant

Now, before we get too deep into that – and possible solutions – I just want to take a moment to acknowlege the very good reason you DON’T see a bunch of Primaris Marines with super crazy close combat weapons: because if they had them widely available, they would invalidate the old units. Let’s be honest, one of the big reasons folks were so concerned about Primaris Marines in the first place was because they believed they were just going to invalidate 30 years of Space Marines. The way they are equipped now, I don’t think that is the case. I think they are a viable alternative to the “old school” marines and that most of the stuff in the current codex is viable and has it’s purpose.

Except Assault Marines…but that’s because I’ve seen them fail to fight their way out of a wet paper bag one too many times.

But if Primaris came waltzing in with the same load-out options as Tactical Squad – Special Weapons, Heavy Weapons, and a Sergeant with a Power Weapon option – then, yes, they would just be direct upgrades to Tactical Squads and invalidate them. So I get that.

At the same time, these are Space Marines! I don’t get why Primaris can’t ride in transports and I don’t understand why their Sergeants can’t use a stinking power sword… /rantover

Primaris With Power Swords – Officers only!

The Missing Units

There are two units that I think would fit this Primaris sized void. An “Assault” style Gravis Armored Primaris unit and a new Primaris “Assault” Squad.

Now the Captain and the Aggressor Squads already have Gravis Armor. And, again, some folks would argue that the Aggressors are a good assault option. They basically have powerfists and are pretty good – the down side is the squad size is relatively small. They are pretty analogous to a 5 man Terminator Squad, with some obvious options missing. That was a good way to keep Terminators viable and make the Aggressors have a role they could fit, too.

But what about “Aggressor Assault” Squads? Take away some of their firepower and give them CC weapons like Power Swords, Lightnining Claws, and maybe even Thunderhammer/Stormshield equivalents. I don’t think they would replace Terminators – but they could be a cool alternative option to Terminators.

If we took a similar concept and applied it to Assault Squads, we could have a new Primaris “Assault” Squad. This one is tricky because how do you make that squad a good choice and not just over-ride the current Assault Squads? Well, I think you’ve got two options: Make a Close Combat Intercessor Squad or take the 3 man Inceptor Squads and give them all close-combat weapon options. Chainswords and the fancy new Heavy Bolt Pistols would make Intercessor Squads “different” Reivers, so that doesn’t go far enough. They really need Power Weapon options. Same with “Assault” Inceptors. These could be new or modified “Primaris” versions of the current weapons.

Here’s the thing: the entire squad would need to be loaded out the exact same – just like their standard versions. No room for one-off weapon options for a Primaris Marine. That’s kind of what makes the Primaris Squads different – and keeps the other squads viable. If you want a take-all-comers unit that is tactically flexible, use the “old school” marines. If you want a hyper-specialized unit that is good at one particular job – then you go with Primaris Marines.

Now the question is how could GW introduce these types of units…

There are two new Marine books coming out soon. Are you honestly going to tell me you haven’t thought about the implications of Primaris Marines with the Blood Angel’s Black Rage? Primaris Death Company Marines? Or what about Deathwing members in Gravis Armor? And later on down the road when we get a new Space Wolf Codex, are you honestly telling me that they aren’t going to give Primaris Marines a Wolf Pelt and a Frost Axe and say “GO!” ??? Yeah. That would be pretty cool in my book.

Will that happen? It’s really up to Games Workshop, isn’t it? However, these ideas seem pretty straight forward and I’m positive that GW has already had these talks before. I would be a shame not to see SOMETHING new and exciting for the OTHER Space Marines. It’s not like they are all getting a Primarch back, right?


What do you think about Primaris Close Combat Specialists? Would you want to see them or are you happy with how Primaris are used now?

  • Ronin

    You mean, terminators? 😉

    • DoctorBored

      Only problem is the scale of Terminators right now. They look like dwarves next to the Primaris marines, squat and short. Primaris in Gravis armor with close combat weapons would be awesome, since they’d be large and in charge again, like Terminators should be. :/

      • Ronin

        They’re not so bad standing next to my space hulk terminators, but those were definitely a slightly bigger scale. Marneus Calgar, on the other hand, is dwarfed despite posing on a rock.

        • Watcherzero

          try putting Primaris next to a rogue trader era marine, they are shorter than imperial guard.

          • Jiraya

            LoL my whole army is a 30K salamanders army, I still have thunder warriror scouts, and my new primaris reinforcements dwarf my legionnaires. oO

      • SilentPony

        To be fair that’s more a problem with Primaris scale than Terminator scale.

    • Munn

      Are those still around? They’ve been so consistently terrible for so long I would have thought people wound of abandoned them by now.

      • Ronin

        I’ve ran my Strike Force Ultra lists a couple times with surprising success against casual to semi-competitive lists. It was basically 25 terminators, a stormraven, a land raider, and Marneus Calgar. This was pre-codex, though.

  • Stephen Henry IV

    Better question, where are the Primaris Terminators?

  • thereturnofsuppuppers

    Better Question, where are my female marines.

    • Ceekh

      Nowhere. As sad as it may seem, all Primarchs were men (even those that are lost, the Primarchs are known as the Emperor’s sons), and the process that changes a mere human into a space marine requires compatibility with the gene-seed for its implantation in order to pass on the primarch’s traits. Gender is one of these conditions, as the process also changes the man’s appearence to look more like his Primarch. Unless GW decides to retcon the Primarch’s history (which they won’t, because it would mess with the Horus Heresy), they simply cannot exist a female Space Marines.

      • Aurion Shidhe

        there’s a whole faction of Emperor’s Children that plucked their eyebrows and shaved their legs.

        Doot, di-doot, di-doot

      • SilentPony

        During the Primarch project Malcador told the Emperor to make them Sisters, not brothers.
        So its entirely possible to make female Marines, but the lore was written in the 80s, and they can’t admit its a bad holdover from that time.

      • benn grimm

        They change the lore when they feel like it, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be female marines other the reason SilentPony gives below.

        • Jabberwokk

          So when Can I expect Male Sisters of Battle?


          • zeno666

            They all look very male as is 😉

          • Jabberwokk

            Sanginius for sure. Oh he was a primarch of the Blood angels? Couldn’t tell the difference. Say there’s an option….If you want girly Space marines just play those Blood Angels……Well I mean what’s left of those gits.

          • benn grimm

            Around about the same time as plastic sisters…;)

          • Drpx

            Those are Black Templars.

          • DtLS

            Probably after we get female Sisters of Battle

        • Drpx

          Yup. The Primaris’s whole existence shows the lore is subject to change depending on what the marketing dept. thinks will work.

        • GrenAcid

          Yeah, change the lore….are you crazy or just stupid?
          If they change the lore it wont be Warhammer, world need continuinity to be cool, rectoning some or its core fundations bring only ruin, pls destroy something I dont care about like your country and leave Warhammer out.

          • benn grimm

            Wow. Back at ya, weirdo. Learn a little about the game you claim to care about so much about before you go insulting random strangers on the internet. You clearly don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

          • GrenAcid

            Tell me than when GW changed lore so dramaticaly, hardmode dont use RT.
            One example was Necrons….and Oldcron>>Newcron.

          • benn grimm

            Well that’s one example… Go look it up. Or don’t, I don’t really care tbh. Lost all interest in communicating with you when you started hurling insults to cover your own lack of knowledge of something you claim to care about.

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        They made new spacemarines that make no sense in the fluff, and look out of place compared to the old boys.

        plenty of room for some ladies.

      • Spacefrisian

        The Sigilite himself stated that the Emperor made a mistake making the Primarchs male, he could have made them female instead. Than there is the part stating its near impossible to do the process on a woman, and last but not least there are at least 5 chapters made up of female astartes according to rogue trader stories. 1 of the chapters is also known as the Sunstrokes there chapter symbol being a hand holding a sword.

        • SilentPony

          Sunstrokes? I’m not familiar with that part of the canon…

        • Rasheed Jones

          Rouge Trader also said the chief Librarian of the Ultramarines was a half Eldar and he wasn’t even an Astartes.

        • GrenAcid

          RT is like food fight of concepts hardly make any sense.

    • Spade McTrowel

      Check in the Emperor’s Children. 🙂

    • PrimoFederalist

      Honest question: why do you feel the need to have someone else change their intellectual property in a way you see fit rather than creating your own which you find more satisfying?

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        Same reason people call for more balance or certain units to better reflect the fluff, it would make the game a more complete and enjoyable experience.

        • RocKM001 .

          Aren’t you being a bit disingenuous by making a completely apples vs oranges comparison there?

          Balance and Units are stats and and tables and how the game as a game is played. We know its interchangeable with balance changes with new editions. And most changes/editions come about from a need to make the game “balanced” for everyone in the game regardless of personal preferences

          Fluff/Lore on the other hand is the story/world building element that the universe is based on. Sure you can *add* to the lore or extreme cases do a retcon. But a complete overhaul of a universe to suit your own personal needs is a tad different.. and as the person mentioned you responded to said something you can personally do with your own kitbashing/modding anyway?

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            They are different, yes, but all these things are asking for a change in design.

            They all directly effect the end experience of 40k and call for a direct change/addition in design.

            We’ve seen a complete overhaul in gameplay in 8th, many people have been asking for a simpler more accessible game. It seems to have contributed to the design of the new system, though its always hard to tell.

            How is this overhaul in game design different from asking for an overhaul in fluff design (probably a better word for this?)

            If you’d like another comparison, maybe asking for more humans in AoS would be more apt, it could really do with some more relatable human warriors in its strange world, but their addition would effect the stormcast heavy narrative they have atm.

          • GrenAcid

            How is this overhaul in game design different from asking for an overhaul in fluff design.

            Its simple, changing fluff is changing history, its like saing USA started the WW2 and they are the bad guys.
            Drop that marxist talk, some thing have to stay the same, with no past there is no future.

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            Why is changing the fundamentals of the game system not also changing history? 8th is pretty much a complete rewrite of the fundamentals that have been in place since 3rd edition.

            I’m pretty right leaning, and I’m might be wrong here, but I’m sure Marx didn’t call for more female astartes.

            Maybe its in his treatise on the Exploitation of the common Wargamer.

      • ReverendTiberiusJackhammer

        Honest reply: Because if one enjoys the vast majority of a property, but finds a small portion of it frustrating, they are well within their rights to critique that portion. Simple.

        Honest counter-question: Have you never made any comments about how you think 40k could be improved in some respect? Assuming you have, what makes those critiques different from saying that the inclusion of women in the setting’s protagonist faction would be an improvement?

        • Drpx

          Space Marines.

          Protagonist faction.

          40k has a protagonist faction.

          This is why the new lore sucks.

          • Munn

            Space marines were always the protagonist faction, because ‘protagonist’ doesn’t mean ‘hero’ or ‘good guy’ it means ‘guy you see the most.’ Which is why villian protagonists exist.

            READ a book before you critisize people who write them please.

    • Jabberwokk

      on Ophelia VII


    • Drpx

      Best question, why aren’t you converting some? Could have made a battle company in all the time you’ve been copy-pasting this.

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        A lack of female heads.

        I want some grimy, buzzcutted angels of death. Kind of like a grimdark Zayra form overwatch.

        The better female heads out there all tend to be quite feminine and lack that Astartes charm.

        Do you know of anything that would fit? A strong jawline, scars, and a grumpy expression would be a must.

        • Drpx

          Exacto knife carving a male face to look thinner maybe? Could also add some scars.

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            I think I’m going to bastardise the Escher kit. Give them a more military haircut and tweak the jaws a bit.

            Ill have to see really when I get them up close. I only need a few good ones as I’m going for a mixed army.

    • Rasheed Jones

      They’re waiting to get plastic minis and called Sisters of Battle.

    • David Leimbach

      Don’t worry, Cawlina – Cawls sister is working on it. They’ll come out next time GW needs a bit more cash to meet some targets. Grrrl power!

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        ooh female admech would be cool, though they are probably too meched up to tell on a model.

        Are there any female characters?

  • SilentPony

    Better Question, how are you doing really?

  • Alexandre Ménard

    Got a better option; ditch the old marines.

    Like they did the Thunder Warriors.

    Their time is over 😀

    *Shields himself from the incoming rain of death*

    • Snord

      I think they will. The Primaris models look like ‘real’ Marines, and the older ones are obviously undersized now these exist. It’s just a matter of time – the Primaris concept is just them dipping their toe in the water to see what the take-up is before starting to re-do the range. If I’m right, GW won’t release any more kits for the current Marine range – except maybe some upgrade sprues – but we’ll see a gradual expansion of Primaris kits. What I’m hoping is that they take the opportunity to re-think the Marine range, so that they are truly an elite expeditionary force. That would mean their vehicles would be more sophisticated, and probably multi-role. It could be quite exciting – while we’re all attached to familiar vehicles like Predators and Landspeeders, it would be good to see Marine vehicle design move forward.

      • Drpx

        Shelves at my local GW are fat with Primaris models. Chapter Approved could change things, though, but till then it’s marinelets all the way.

    • Drpx

      Yeah, let’s ditch the old units so Marines fall to where Orks were last edition. GW gimping their flagship faction to try to sell Marines to Marine players for the umpteenth time is hilarious.

  • Job Rademaker

    My guess is that there’s going to be Primaris units showing up alongside the Primarchs ovr the next few years. Primaris bikers with the Khan, Flamer/Melta units with Vulkan, etc.

    • Spacefrisian

      Aggresors with plasma or melta claws?

      • Iconoc1ast

        volkite hammers

  • Michael Cameron

    Intercessor Sergeants can have powerswords. No need to rant about that. The transports thing makes some sense. I get that they wouldnt fit in Rhinos but Landraiders could take Primaris. But GW has a new flash tank for the Primaris so they want sales.

    • Spacefrisian

      Normal marines dont even fit the current rhino.

      • Spade McTrowel

        They’re bigger on the inside… just not Primaris big, apparently. 🙂

      • Michael Cameron

        Not talking model scale, but fluff size. A Rhino would struggle to fit a Primaris Marine. But GWs tanks have always been too small to take the models they are assigned. But imagine the size of Landraider model that could take 10 Terminators or 15 Marines? It would be massive and cost a fortune.

        • Spade McTrowel

          They could simply take up two slots like Terminators, Wraithguard, and other larger infantry models. I could easily see 5 Primaris a fitting in a Land Raider.

          • Michael Cameron

            They should only be 1 slot but GW has not allowed it because they want to sell the Primaris hover tank.

        • NNextremNN

          Primaris are not that much bigger they could still fit inside a correct scaled rhino.

    • Snord

      Yes, I saw the power sword point and wondered if I’d misread the codex. It’s true that there’s a serious lack of options though. I put that down to a lack of space on the sprues – they didn’t even include a power sword with the Intercessors (maybe a last-minute codex addition?).

      Maybe there’s a Primaris Land Raider coming?

  • Aurion Shidhe

    Keep in mind I only play fun games and don’t do tourneys. Our group has a pretty good internal rule of fluff. If we aren’t laughing (and maybe a little drunk) by the end of the game we’re doing it wrong.

    The codex calls the Inceptors and the Reivers the close support squads of the Primaris. Why would anyone, in their right mind, drop the bolt carbine for combat knives on Reivers? Don’t they already get a “close combat weapon” in the fight phase with the same stats? They seem like horrible CC specialists. Maybe I just don’t see it.

    I’ve seen White Scars Inceptors with plasma do some fun things in assault on flanks. Plasma death, crushing charge (not dependable at ALL but it’s cool when one or two mortal wounds pop off), melee, fall back on their next turn (if the enemy hadn’t done so already), plasma death, crushing charge (yay, white scars), and so on. Nothing you’ll see in a tourney list but cool to see White Scars doing their thing.

    I think that the Aggressors (especially flamestorm version) are a pretty dedicated assault squad as well. If you’re going to get within 8 inches of the enemy to shoot them (and you’re armed with power fist-type melee weapons), you’re going to want to get that charge to generate first hits vs. the enemy charging you on their turn.

  • Pietro Di Lorenzo

    3 men squad, bulky armora, melee weapons, more powerfull than a terminator but not so powerfull as a dreadnought… Mmm… Are you talking about Centurions assault squad, right?

  • zeno666

    No more primaris needed really. The idea of them is boring.

    … and they’re too small 😛

    • Spade McTrowel

      Someone wake me when we get fully posable 12″ Primaris action figures – complete with combat grip and spring-loaded bolt rifle.

    • Matthew Pomeroy

      I hate them personally, the new armor I really dislike and them as a concept as well. They were really a completely unnecessary addition to the game. though I cant shake the feeling that the ultramarine colors make them look like the new york giants (whom I also hate)

      • Spade McTrowel

        For their concept, I’m rather meh. However, as a painter, I do like the new guys. My style of painting lends to a nice clean look – these guys are made for that.
        Now, if I could only make myself want to use them on the field…

        • Matthew Pomeroy

          I am having a real hard time getting motivated to paint them, I have a group for a friend who is a major blood ravens fan (even got the transfers for them) but they are just so…..blargh I cant seem to get motivated (that and putting them together 🙁 )

  • pokemastercube .

    well i think you covered it perfectly there with the IX chapter. given blood angels are drawn to cloce combat, so they would want to gear up for that, especially when any succumb to the black rage

  • V0iddrgn

    Screw Space Marines. They don’t need to be amazing at EVERYTHING!

    • SilentPony

      Honestly they could cost 25% more and work. They’re supposed to be space special forces. Only 1 in 1000 warzones ever sees a single Marine deploy. They’re rare, powerful, small in number, but enough to make a difference.
      5 terminators is a major commitment. It should cost the same.

      • V0iddrgn

        I don’t care about the fluffy BS. SM have enough working for them.

    • Drpx

      They were never amazing at everything. They were good at everything and amazing at nothing while every other army was amazing at something.

      Also, where on the doll did the power armored guys touch you?

      • Matthew Pomeroy

        in the naughty parts and that gawds awful wanna be NYG helmet

    • zeno666

      In 8th edition they’re really not that amazing.
      Power armour isn’t that powerful when armour modifiers comes around.

  • MarcoT

    Don’t forget that intercessors can have a power weapon sergeant and redemptor dreadnoughts eat face. Plus characters obviously. HtH shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Mateusz Kuzio

    I wish GW had done primaris crusader squads, which alone would be enough reason to play BT. But for now i focus on AM and see what will future bring for SM.

  • Chris Hateley

    Don’t worry, they’re coming. Every couple of months, for the rest of time.

  • Matthew Pettengill

    Intercessor Sergeants can take power swords.