Ultramarines Tactics: Win WITHOUT Guilliman


First I want to say I don’t use Guilliman and if you do it’s just another Bobby G gun line.

Sure the Imperial Primarch is absolutely amazing but as it turns out there are other top notch HQs to choose from for Ultramarines. The points you save can go towards fully fleshing out your army list to keep it competitive in the ever changing meta. I like to build anti meta lists that rely upon synergy between various units and well developed sound tactics. It takes more time and practice to craft an Ultramarine army that does not rely upon Roboute but it can be done. One of the major drawbacks I see inherent to the gun line archetype is its fairly static and if you play in large tournaments such as those run by ITC your army needs to be mobile for optimization to score the maximum amount of points possible. While Maelstrom style missions can be a lot of fun if you like to draw for completely random objectives the missions you’ll see at major events are more in line with Eternal War style – you have a clear set of options to choose from to score objectives.


Plasma is to 8th edition for Space Marines what graviton was to 7th edition. S8/S9 AP4 straight 2 damage with excellent range makes things go away real quick. You’ll notice as review this article I use a lot of ranged plasma weapons for these very reasons.

HQ and Support Character Selection

My go-to HQ (Warlord) for Ultramarines is Marneus Calgar, their old school original Chapter Master. Marneus has some great buffs and auras plus he’s a real beat stick in melee serving a dual role just like Roboute, providing a stiff deterrent to enemy units that venture too close to your battle lines. Another good choice is the Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor with a boltstorm gauntlet and master-crafted power sword from the Dark Imperium box set. If you have the command points to spare the Primaris Captain can be upgraded to Chapter Master saving a considerable amount of points plus he has the same number of wounds (6) as Calgar and is T5 as well. It’s worth mentioning the master-crafted power sword inflicts a straight damage of two wounds. Marneus has the BIG advantage that he hits on 2+ in melee with the rerolls since his Gauntlets of Ultramar aren’t unwieldy and can swing combat in your favor when he’s slugging away at high toughness enemy units. Calgar also provide two additional command points for battle-forged armies which is a big deal – that’s inherent additional 5 command points! Finally Marneus benefits from the new style Eternal Warrior only ever suffering half damage due to his awesome suit of armor shrugging off wounds like a true champ from enemy lascannons and what not.

Next you need some support characters for additional buffs and my first choice is always Tigurius, Chief Librarian of the Ultramarines. One of his special rules, Master of Prescience, grants an Ultramarines unit within 6″ -1 to hit at the start of the enemy shooting phase. If you combine this with the Librarius psychic power Might of Heroes for +1T then suddenly your Redemptor dreadnaught, Repulsor or Agressors are a whole heck of a lot harder to kill. Tigurius can also reroll failed psychic tests and deny twice which gives him a big leg up over any other Librarian. Tigurius is still one of the best psykers in the game and you really need a Librarian to deny enemy psychic powers and reliably cast Smite when you really need to finish off an enemy unit. My other two favorite psychic powers are Null Zone and Veil of Time – Chaos hates on both of these for obvious reasons… heh !

I also regularly field an Apothecary – Primaris Space Marine units have two wounds per model – he helps keep those deadly units like Hellblasters pumping out shots. Another excellent choice is an Ancient which again synergizes very well with Hellblasters… even in death they can still serve for one last fleeting moment. I always take the Standard of the Emperor Ascendent for the greater reliability, it’s well worth it.


I am a big fan of the new Primaris Space Marines and they always serve me well. Chapter Approved was very kind to Primaris Space Marines in general making them even more viable now ! My go-to troop choice is a five to six man squad of Intercessors with the stock bolt rifles (30″ range rapid-fire AP1), auxiliary grenade launcher and a power sword for the sergeant. I have come to find that this particular build has made tactical Marines irrelevant to the competitive game – Intercessors are both robust and versatile as are all Primaris Space Marine units in general due to their inherent characteristics. A five man squad is very easy to hide and camp on objectives. They can also dish out the pain in melee versus enemy troops. The grenade launcher is your special weapon with 30″ range and a nice selection of ammo such as the krak grenade – S6, AP1 and straight 2 damage.

Next is the tried and true scout squad. You need scouts to serve as a screen to effectively deny the enemy alpha strike. My favorite build is five scouts with camo cloaks for the 2+ armor save in cover, four sniper rifles and a heavy bolter. The heavy bolter is a reliable means to inflict mortal wounds when needed using the Hellfire stratagem while the sniper rifles occasionally score mortal wounds. This squad also synergizes well with the Vindicare Assassin and serves as a fairly resilient meat shield. Scouts are very flexible with more options as compared to tactical Marines and cost less points.

Finally it’s important to note that since Intercessors are more robust (i.e., 2 wounds per model) they don’t need to castle up with your core and can serve as a vanguard if necessary. This makes your army more mobile and in turn versatile. Also as mentioned above as an aside I run a pair of Vindicares to quickly deal with enemy characters by way of two auxiliary support units. Vindicares hit and wound on 2+ inflicting d3 wounds, ignoring invulnerable saves and cover. A tandem can take out an enemy character easily in one shooting phase.

Heavy Support

To me this slot is the most important and vital when designing a truly competitive army list. My first choice is a six man squad of Hellblasters with the stock plasma incinerator – 30″ range rapid-fire, S8 AP4 straight 2 damage when overcharging. Hellblasters make enemy units disappear real fast – to me they are the best heavy support unit for Space Marines. Hellblasters can move and shoot as opposed to a unit such as Devastators giving them another very distinct advantage.

Another great choice is the Predator tank with the Predator cannon turret and lascannon sponsons. It’s fairly cheap points-wise for what it has to offer giving your army the much needed high X long range fire power.

Finally I’ll mention the Repulsor – sure it’s a lot of points but it can lay down the most devastating rounds of fire power when fully loaded and is very survivable – T8 and 16 wounds – it’s the Primaris version of the Land Raider and is superior in every way. The Repulsor is a grav tank and has the keyword Fly so your opponent can’t easily box it in unlike other tanks on treads. It is a lot of points but every point is worth it due to all its amazing firepower. The grav tank also has the repulsor field which causes a penalty of -2″ to enemy units attempting to charge it. Mine has more than once killed multiple enemy units attempting to charge it during one assault phase on overwatch – hilarious !!!


Elites are another important slot. My two favorites are the Redemptor dreadnaught fully loaded including the macro plasma incinerator and Agressors. The Redemptor is a true heavy hitter with base 13 wounds. The macro plasma incinerator is S9 AP4 straight two damage when super charging and 36″ range plus the 8″ move. Aggressors are the Primaris TEQ unit with superior fire power. Aggressors along with Marneus Calgar protect your core and thus serve a vital role.

Fast Attack

Fast attack is required to make your army more mobile. My go-to choice is a five man squad of Inceptors armed with plasma exterminators. Each gun is d3 shots (2 per Inceptor) for an average of ten shots at 18″ range with the sweet 10″ move. I feel five are necessary to make them robust and survivable – they are actually superior to Ravenwing Dark Knights if you do the math hammer and can deep strike. Both units are T5 with 2 wounds per model. It’s best to keep this unit out of melee so they can keep shooting, which is what they do best… that said the have the keyword Fly and have the Ultramarines chapter tactic (redundant in this case) so if they are charged by enemy unit they can fall back and keep pulling the triggers.


My go-to flyer is the Stormhawk Interceptor armed with missile launcher, las-talons and assault cannons. This is another highly mobile unit that can lay down lots of suppressing fire power, able to reach a bunkered enemy fire base and annihilate them. This flyer is +1 to versus enemy units with the keyword Fly, which is just evil in and of itself.

Chapter Tactics

This is why Ultramarines are simply the best now… they can fall back and still shoot. Eighth edition is the most shooty version of the game yet so the more you can shoot the better your odds of winning… shrug off an enemy charge, fall back and pull the trigger again. Raven Guard and Salamanders have solid chapter Tactics as well but Ultramarines are simply the best for these very reasons given.

Wrapping It All Up

So there you have it. Space Marines are still a very competitive army and I’ve provided a detailed list of my most tried and true units, the right Primaris Space Marines units combined with as much ranged plasma you can cram into your army list. My list is not wholly Primaris though and I think that approach is a road to pure folly. There are still plenty of the pre existing Space Marine units such as those I’ve listed above you can draw from to buff your army….

~Ultramarines for days !!!

  • Borja Saiz Bustamante

    How to play without Girlyman? Buy a few boxes of Primais.

    Srsly?? I would never have guessed myself! Is every problem on W40k solved up just by spending more money or just this particular one?

    • Kayln d’Haene

      Sadly, to be competitive in most tabletop games, and in extension any physical game with a “Collectibles” mechanic, you typically do need to buy up the new-hotness. The author is talking about taking the list to tournaments, in that setting you really need to pull out all the stops, and your wallet.

      • Jeremy Larson

        That being said, the only unit in the primaris line-up that is remotely competitive are the Hellblasters with Ancient support. This article isn’t about being competitive, it’s just a commercial for GW’s new model line.

    • Drpx

      Nope. 40k is a CCG with minis now.

      • Borja Saiz Bustamante

        Omfg! Then, it is just that I am obsolete. I will put my metal Harley-queens back into my biscuit box under in the most remote drawer of my parents basement.

    • Maitre Lord Ironfist

      If you can only allways win with Guiliman then you do something wrong. I guess x)

    • briandavion

      this is how 40k has always been. some units are strong others are weak.

  • defensive

    Would you mind posting exactly what your list is?
    I added up the minimum cost of everything mentioned here, and its 2,308pts with only the upgrades mentioned.

    Call me a spoilsport, but if you aren’t making the article about an actual list, it comes off more as just praising Primaris units under false pretences.

    • defensive

      Side note.
      Your first line complains about guilliman spam, but you also wrote an article telling people to “Get over their beef with guilliman”

      Finding it hard to take anything about this article at face value.

      • Kayln d’Haene

        Fairly, an actual list would be nice but, I think the point the author was trying to make is that following the Gman meta blindly is the issue. If you just take the list you’ll end up with just another gun line which he points out might not be as competitive as you think. Sure, praising the primaris is pretty obvious in the article but, they are pretty great rules-wise. Sucks if you don’t like them, or don’t want to run them but, if they are the best pick for the list, you gotta take them in a Tourny setting.

        As for the other article, I think you missed the point of it too. He just lamented the fact that Chaos players seem to hate Gman out of ignorance rather than objective criticism and found that the constant bemoaning of OPness really ruined the game he was playing.

        • defensive

          I don’t mind if they are the best choice, or the most competitive.
          I don’t like them, but comp lists are never about what you like, but what wins, so that’s fine.
          If he wanted to showcase how good they are, why not just make the article about that? Why try and disguise it as something else, and pretend to be someone that dislikes guilliman?

          Whether or not he actually is OP, I find it quite odd to call people out on using him when he; has used him before, advocated for his use, and called people out for hating on him.

          • I used him one time.

          • I never said I don’t like him but there are more competitive builds without him. I used him one time.

      • Drew

        I also think it’s a bit funny that the “answer” to the “everybody’s spamming Guilliman” problem is to use all the OTHER Ultramarines special characters instead…seems a bit like people in glass houses and all that.

        • The two I mentioned are less points total that Guilliman. The article isn’t against using SC just showing alternatives to the Primarch which actually make for a bettter list.

      • I used him one time and I was out of state using someone else’s army.

    • You should be able to develop a list using the units I spoke about above.

    • LankTank

      Sssssh don’t look to hard. Just drink the BlowFly Kool-aid

  • kero

    hard to believe that this kind of posts aren’t sponsored

    you only said the new miniatures from GW but guilliman

    • HeadHunter

      Tighten the strap on your tinfoil helmet.

  • maverick40

    Or just use continue to use Guliman and win matches. He is also an amazing model. When the other primarchs come out they will be just as powerful

  • Pete Croucher

    “Sure the Imperial Primarch is absolutely amazing but as it turns out there are other top notch HQs to choose from for Ultramarines”

    Robute Guilliman is a Lord of War.

    Second sentence, man. Come on.

  • orionburn III

    I click to laugh at the hypocrisy. I hit the back button because of the 4th grade level writing. FFS…

    • ZeeLobby

      Lol. Right?! If your playing to win, just use Guilliman. If you don’t want to play Guilliman, then don’t care about winning.

  • J Mad

    IMO the SM book isnt very good at all, i’m actually ok with a new SM book already (and i’m a xeno’s player) the book doesnt do anything fun, or worth wild and some of the styles are literally the opposite as to what they need to be (looking at your SW).

  • ZeeLobby

    Ah. Another BoLS “Let’s try to win-more while restricting ourselves in some way we never would in real life because it’s interesting?”

  • LordKrungharr

    I love my biker chapter master so much I promise I will never ever use the robot guillotine. Especially because I play Iron Hands. For Chaos however I will definitely give Abaddon and 9 Obliterators a try….when my wife gives them back after I finish our remodeling. So maybe by ninth edition. Can a primarch help with remodeling?

  • Jose Luis Camarasa

    This seems more like a primaris advertisment to me

    • Why ?

    • generalchaos34

      Primaris get a bad wrap on the forums and its nice that someone is trying them out and giving them a shot, i enjoy my Primaris and find them to be very hearty and with the new point cost very efficient

    • Read the article – there are other units besides PSM.

  • Kabal1te

    Ultramarines without girlyman? That would be like death guard without Morticia. You could probably do it but the inquisituon would probably brand it some form of heresy. Not to mention if you got the model why not use it?

    • This is an article for designing competitive Ultramarine army lists.

      • Kabal1te

        Given that the second half of your first sentence of the article is straight up false, as I have seen gulliman in assault oriented marine armies more than once as well as more complex lists besides, I figured my response was quite justified.

        • I stated the article is how to design competitive army lists. Guilliman leading an assault based army is not. Can you name one major tournament won by one ?

          If you go back and read my article you’ll find plenty of great advice how to design complex Ultramarines armies.

        • Do you remember I talked about the ever changing meta ?! That list has been super nerfed by the new beta rule. Just like Ravenspam is no longer viable.

          I am all about building rock solid armies that are technically sound not one trick ponies. I highly encourage you to go back and read my article again. Let me know if you have any questions.

      • briandavion

        more partiuclarly it’s an article for desinging competitve Ultramarine lists without leaning on “big blue”

  • Thanks for the positive comments !

  • banana raccoon

    All I can think while reading this is why? You keep plastering the word “competitive” all over the place, and it just doesn’t seem to stick.

    Why a Gravis Captain instead of something far more efficient like a Captain with a jump pack? The trade off of 1 toughness, 1 wound, and 1 attack does not seem worth the cost of losing movement, access to transports, deep striking, and all the different wargear options available.

    Why are you recommending tooled out scouts compared to tactical marines and claiming they cost less? They don’t. Why would you be using sniper rifles and a heavy bolter on a unit used primarily to screen your advances? If you’re hiding in cover like that, what is blocking charges to your devastators and such? How do your scouts provide any synergy with your Vindicares when 2 of them are enough to pick off priority targets? They shots by simply being closer with bolters all while stopping the unit of Gene Stealers before the rest of your army lines up and fires. Why do you spend the extra 38 points per squad to tool them out with stuff they don’t need?

    Aggressors don’t have a 2+ armor save, nor a 5+ invulnerable. In what way are they a TEQ?

    Why is there no mention of Devastators, who remain point-for-point more efficient with their weapons than virtually anything else in the book? Why is the Repulsor in the Heavy Support part?

    Skipping a few more questions, without your scouts speed bumping the truly terrifying melee units, how do you plan on surviving with things to retreat and shoot with them? Barring the tanks and dreadnaught, what in the list statistically lives through a genestealer assault, or a unit of death company? How do you stop yourself from getting screwed over by multiples of these?

    There’s no competitive insight here, just ramblings. You’ve explained why the units are cute, or what they can do, not how effective they are in a competitive game. In fact, there are precious few mentions here on common things you’ll see from optimized lists and how the suggested units are tailored particularly to either dealing with them or asking their own unique question. Playing cool stuff because it’s cool in a competitive setting is why we love Heresy!