In the Grim-Dark, there can only be one chapter who’s 1# – let’s talk about all those chapter tactics!
Yesterday, Games Workshop pulled the covers off the Chapter Tactics for all the “main” Space Marines in the upcoming Codex Space Marines. We’ve taken a hard look at each one and rated them on how we think they stack up compared to each other. Now, we do want to call out two very big caveats:
- We are looking at these in a vacuum – we’re only comparing them against each other. We’re not including and Relics, Stratagems, Character Specific buffs (aka access to Chapter Heroes), or Warlord traits.
- We’re looking at these from a more competitive stand point – we’ve ranked these based on how effect they are, how often they come up, and how game changing they can be.
So with that said let’s dive in. Here is our ranking of the Space Marine Chapter Tactics starting with the bottom and heading to the top!
Chart via Warhammer Community
Ignoring Cover and re-rolling failed wound rolls vs Buildings sounds decent on paper. But there are two very big issues with this one. The first is that getting cover saves in 8th is a tad more tricky than it used to be so this one is heavily dependent on LoS and cover terrain. If you’re board has a ton of cover, then this ability goes up in value, if you’re not playing with lots of forest or ruins, well…it’s kind of useless. The other issue is that re-rolling vs wounding Buildings really just applies to fortifications. If your opponent doesn’t have any then this is entirely wasted. Their Chapter Tactic is very situational and just doesn’t seem that impressive. Sorry Sons of Dorn, maybe stick to narrative games with lots of Siege Games?
#6 Iron Hands
We were pretty conflicted about this one. On one hand, it’s a free 6+ anytime an Iron Hands model loses a wound. It’s going to happen pretty much all game! So it’s rated high on the “how often” scale. Unfortunately it’s still just a 6+ so it’s hardly reliable. Will it randomly save a model from biting the big one on a pivotal turn? Well, ya! It’s random after-all. I’m guaranteeing that you’ll inevitably hear about “that one guy who happened to roll enough 6+ saves to keep his lone marine alive and win the game.” However, it will certainly never happen to you as you can’t roll a +6 to save a tactical marine’s life. We both know it’s true…
In all seriousness, it’s one of those abilities that won’t matter most of the time but will happen enough to be statistically annoying for your opponent. But at least it’s more useful than re-rolling a wound vs a building that was never there to begin with.
Re-rolling a single failed hit roll AND a single failed wound roll per unit each time they shoot or fight will certainly add-up. This ability scores pretty high on the “how often” scale as it will apply to pretty much each unit. Things like Dreadnoughts, Predators, or Devastator Squads are going to get a lot of mileage out of re-rolling a single to hit and wound. But units like tactical squads with tons of bolter shots? Sure. One more hit and one more wound from a bolter is all it takes some times…But you can see the slide on this scale.
It’s fantastic for units with low shots and high damage attacks, but your “meat-and-potatoes” units with massed bolter fire probably won’t care as much. Then again, it will certainly make those Tac-Squad meltaguns or random heavy weapon more reliable. Maybe this one should be ranked higher? It’s not terrible! But it’s not as game changing as some of the other ones.
Remember – we’re not counting character buffs or outside factors. Otherwise this one goes from middle of the pack to “holy crap” with the right Primarch standing around… Anyways, adding 1 to all your Ultramarines means that those Morale checks aren’t going to cost you models. That’s a nice benefit but really the kicker is the ability to still shoot after Falling Back. Did you want to tie-up that Predator by charging it? That’s cute, take a double lascannon to the face! Were you hoping to hide in the safety of close combat from with that Tactical Squad? Think again as they Fall Back and unload on you, conveniently in rapid fire range.
Basically, the Ultramarines don’t lose out those extra shooting phases they normally would. Sure, they take a -1 to their to hit rolls, but they are MARINES. This one ranks above average on the “how often” scale and gets higher marks on the “game changing and effectiveness” charts. The Ultramarines ability is a really solid one – and only gets better with a character standing next to them…
Hey, do you want to make a Close-Combat Space Marine force but wish you had a way to get into close combat more consistently? Well let me introduce you to the Black Templars! Re-rolling failed charge rolls is HUGE. First off, it makes those “sure fire” rolls even more sure fire and it makes those long distance charges better in every case (statistically speaking). With this ability those 8 or 9 inch charges suddenly become a lot more consistent. Keep in mind you can’t re-roll a re-roll, but if completely flub a roll for a charge you can save your command points and just flat-out re-roll the dice. Or if you roll one dice that’s say a 5 or 6, you can spend a command point to re-roll the other one and skip your ability.
Now, you have to build an army around Close Combat but you’re a Black Templar! It’s not like you weren’t going to do that already. With the speed of units in the game and the amount of charging, this one scores well on the “how often” chart. This ability also rates well on the effectiveness scale because it shifts that probability curve quite a bit AND having reliable charges is a pretty big game changer – if your army is designed for it.
#2 White Scars
Okay, the White Scars are borderline bonkers. The extra 2″ per unit on advance rolls is just great. Bikes zooming 8″ is pretty solid! The real gem here is their ability to charge after Falling Back. It’s Hit-and-Run 2.0 and that is down right amazing. Why? Because units will be able to “Yo-Yo” in and out of combat. Dictating charges is one of the most important things for close combat in 8th. Protracted combats are going to be a pain vs them because they are going to just Fall Back and then charge the unit again – or a different unit altogether! Now White Scars will get to strike first in close combat because they will always get the charge. That’s a HUGE game changer and that’s why it’s our #2 pick.
#1 Raven Guard
The Raven Guard ability is going to throw off the fire power of so many armies it’s not even funny. Basically, armies that normally hit on a +4 are now hitting on a +5 (looking at you T’au). You just cut down their odds to hit you from 1/2 to a 1/3 – statistically that a big deal. Was that a heavy weapon that moved and is trying to shoot? That’s cute. Take a -2 to your to-hit roll. The only way to remove that penalty is to get within 12″ of the target. Because that’s something that T’au Firewarriors want to do – get closer to the enemy! Are you an Ork? HAHAHA – have fun fishing for 6’s. Eldar? Yeah it’s now a +4 but it’s still going to sting. And those Dire Avenger Catapults and Shuriken Cannons “pseudo rending” CANNOT trigger outside of 12″ now (modifiers, man). But the real pain is for the Heavy Weapons – moving and firing is going to suck now.
This one is a massive game changer for shooting armies. The crazy part is the Raven Guard players can use this to either make their close combat better (by getting more models across the board more reliably) or by building a shooty army that can trade shots with the best of them. Shadow Masters is going to come up the entire game, it’s very effective, and it’s going to be a massive game changer. That’s why it’s our top pick.
So how would you rate the Chapter Tactics without any outside factors? Do you agree with our list or what order would you put them in?