BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

Space Marine Unit Review: Chaplains

7 Minute Read
Feb 15 2018
Warhammer 40K Hot story icon


Hi everyone, today we review the spiritual leader of the Space Marine army, the Chaplain.

For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.


The Chaplain is primarily a mid-level melee character in the Space Marine army, who provides some useful combat and morale buffs to nearby Space Marine units. On his own, he is a decent character to add to a Space Marine army, especially if you are going with an assault-based force. However, when stacked up against the other HQ units in the book, he doesn’t really match up well, in my opinion. He is pretty cheap though, with a base cost of 72 pts (including basic wargear), so if you want to include one, he is not going to each up too many points in your army.

For this reason, I give the Chaplain the Situational rating. With the right combination of units, he could be an effective force multiplier on the tabletop, but he is unlikely to find a place in most competitive lists.


  • Crozius Arcanum- +1S, AP-1, 2 damage, Melee.
  • Bolt Pistol
  • Frag and Krak Grenades
  • May replace the Bolt Pistol with a Boltgun, Power Fist or an item from the Pistol or Combi-weapons list.
  • May take a Jump Pack
  • The Chaplain in Terminator Armour comes with a Crozius Arcanum and Storm Bolter. He may replace the Storm Bolter with an item from the Terminator Combi-weapons list.


  • And They Shall Know No Fear
  • Litanies of Hate- You can re-roll all failed To Hit rolls in the Fight phase for friendly Chapter units within 6″ of the Chaplain.
  • Spiritual Leaders- All friendly Chapter units within 6″ may use the Chaplain’s Leadership instead of their own.
  • Rosarius- 4+ invulnerable save.
  • Jump Pack Assault- If he has a Jump Pack, the Chaplain may be set up in reserve. At the end of any movement phase, he may be placed on the battlefield anywhere as long as he is at least 9″ away from an enemy unit.
  • Teleport Strike- If he has Terminator Armour, the Chaplain may be set up in reserve. At the end of any movement phase, he may be placed on the battlefield anywhere as long as he is at least 9″ away from an enemy unit.
  • Keywords: Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, <Chapter>, Character, Infantry, Chaplain, Jump (Jump Pack only), Terminator (Terminator Armour only).


Based on his wargear and abilities, the Chaplain is primarily a melee character. He is actually pretty good at this. He has WS 2+, 3 attacks and S4. I think 3 attacks is low, but it is average for this level of character in a Space Marine army. With his Litanies of Hate ability, you can probably count on hitting with all three attacks in most situations. The Crozius Arcanum gives him S5, -1AP and 2 damage. This is decent, but not overly impressive. This means he will be wounding most Marine equivalents on a 3+, but will still be giving them a 4+ armour save, so he is not exactly going to be shredding entire units on his own. The 2 damage is nice, so he can be useful for going up against multi-wound models with poor armour saves. An extra attack or higher AP on the Crozius Arcanum would make him a greater melee combatant (obviously), but in its current state, most units in the game won’t have too much to fear from the Chaplain in combat.

Giving the Chaplain a Power Fist is actually a good option. This will make him more of a combat threat, especially with his melee re-rolls, and will allow him to be a threat to a greater range of enemy units.

I also think he needs to be equipped with a Jump Pack or Terminator armour. The Jump Pack gives him a mobility boost for getting into combat, as well as the deep strike option to get him closer to the enemy armour. The Terminator Armour gives him the additional benefit of an extra wound and a 2+ save, as well as the deep strike ability. However, when on the board, his reduced movement will not help him much, so I think the Jump Pack is the better option. A Chaplain with a Jump Pack and Power Fist comes in at 105 points. Not hugely expensive, but quite a lot for his abilities.


The real benefit of the Chaplain is the buffs he provides to a Space Marine army. All units within 6″ get full re-rolls to hit in combat. This can be very useful when paired with a combat unit such as Assault Marines or Vanguard Veterans. A Chaplain is a great support unit for a unit of Vanguard Veterans with Jump Packs, helping to make the most of their combat abilities.

His Spiritual Leaders ability will also help mitigate the effects of morale on nearby units. Added to ATSKNF, most 5-man units will have to be very unfortunate to be wiped out from morale with a Chaplain nearby.

I think the Chaplain can be useful if you are going for a combat heavy force and want the extra re-rolls to hit in combat these units. However, I think there are better characters available to the Space Marine army. The basic Captain is only 5 pts more expensive than the Chaplain. For those 5 points, you get an extra wound and attack, as well as increased BS of 2+. While you don’t get the Ld buff bubble, you do get a re-roll bubble on the Captain as well. You can only re-roll 1’s to hit (rather than the Chaplain’s full re-rolls) but more importantly, these re-rolls for the Captain also work in the shooting phase, arguably where the greater strength of the Space Marine army lies.

If you want to take a Chaplain in your list, you need to take a number of combat units for him to support. I would recommend a unit of 5-10 Vanguard Veterans with Jump Packs. Armed with 2 Chainswords each, a unit of 10 Vanguard Veterans will put out 40 attacks in combat. With the re-rolls from the Chaplain, a full unit will kill around 7 Marines or 16 Guardsmen in combat in a single phase. However, at around 250 points for both units, this may not be much of an efficient investment in your army.


Chapter Tactics

The right Chapter Tactics can help make the Chaplain an even better choice.

The Ultramarines tactics are great, taking the Chaplain up to Ld10. This means that his Spiritual Leaders ability will have a greater effect, essentially making 5-man Marine units within 6″ immune to morale.

White Scars Chapter Tactics can be great on a Chaplain with a Jump Pack. The ability to fall back, shoot and still assault will be useful on a Jump Pack Chaplain. You can use his fall back move to jump over an enemy screening unit he was in combat with and charge a weaker supporting character that is nearby. There his increased strength and 2 damage with each wound could be useful for taking out a mid-level character.

Black Templars is also a useful tactic to use, allowing the Chaplain to get into combat, or more importantly, keep up with a melee unit hoping to gain the benefit of his re-roll aura. The Crusader’s Helm Relic is also a great choice for the Chaplain, boosting his Litanies of Hate ability to 9″.


Salamanders Chapter Tactics are also useful for boosting your damage output in combat with a re-roll to wound (he already gets re-rolls to hit in combat).


In editions past, the Chaplain was a key unit in the Space Marine army. His ability to grant a unit Fearless and with one of the few ways to access re-rolls to hit in combat, he could be a key player in any army. In 8th edition, I think his abilities have been lessened somewhat. Morale is not really too much of a risk for Space Marine armies, and there are other ways to access re-roll to hit bubbles in the game.

~As a result, the Chaplain can be a fun addition to a Space Marine army, but there are better competitive choices out there for your force.



And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



Author: Pablo Martinez
  • 40K: Making Vehicles Cool Again

    Warhammer 40K