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40K: Where Are The Primaris Close-Combat Specialists

6 Minute Read
Nov 17 2017

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?

Author: Adam Harrison
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