Let’s take a look at the new Space Marine chapter tactics and find out which one is best.
The new Marine Codex is right around the corner, and right now we are all eagerly lapping up the information that’s been previewed. Of great interest is the new enhanced Chapter Tactics which were shown off the other day. Most of these got a rework, with some getting significant upgrades. Also, they will now apply to ALL units (aside from servitors) in the Codex, which alone is a nice boost. Two years ago, Adam ranked the old tactics, and I ranked the chapters in the original Codex. Now it’s time to take a look at the newly updated rules (for just the main eight chapters) and see how they stack up, and which chapter is the best now.
Black Templars got some nice bonus to their tactics – getting to re-roll any or all of the dice on the charge and getting a 5+ FNP vs. mortal wounds. It’s an upgrade for sure, it’s a pretty decent tactic. Shock Assault has made Space Marines better in assault, and BTs can get there better. Still, I think overall it’s a little underwhelming. The White Scars ability to advance and charge is better than a re-roll in my book (3d6 range, over 2d6 with a re-roll). It also isn’t something most vehicles benefit from. Mortal wounds are also kind of situational and something you have no control over. You might have games vs. Thousand Sons where it’s amazing and might play 3-4 games where the enemy have next to no way to do mortal wounds and it’s wasted. That, for me, puts them near the bottom of the pack.
Iron Hands are likely the most improved of the Chapter tactics – going from a meh 6+ FNP roll. They are also getting to overwatch on 5+ and have tanks that stay in fighting shape longer. The fact that these apply to vehicles now is huge for them since they are all abilities that vehicles will use nearly every game. The being said, it’s still a little lackluster. Not because it’s not useful, but it doesn’t really open up any new tactics or tricks on its own. Your stuff is just a little more survivable. Overwatch aside, I think some of the other chapter tactics are actually better at making your units survivable.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Two years ago, when the first Codex came out, I declared Salamanders the best chapter. Now they are middle of the road. Even though their chapter tactic got an upgrade, allowing them to ignore AP -1, they’ve fallen a lot. So what happened? A large part of it is because I was wrong about them. It was the early days of 8th, and we all still had a lot to learn. 40K has moved to a game that is much more about mass firepower than it is about single powerful attacks. Re-rolling one hit and wound from each unit seems great, but just doesn’t end up being crazy good like I had thought. Tactics have moved away from a five-man Tactical squad with a lasconnon, and more towards massed bolter fire. You can still build cool armies around it, and tanks will love it, but it’s not game-defining. The extra protection is also appreciated, but won’t protect the army against either high power marine killing weapons or hordes of attacks.
Raven Guard got a bit of a nerf, but I actually think their tactic, from a rules perspective, is my personal favorite. The change from getting a -1 to be hit over 12″ to counting as being in cover is no doubt a nerf, but it’s still a good ability. It’s also helpful for tanks which have a hard time getting cover. In fact, I’d say its a better rule for tanks than either the ignore -1 AP of Salamanders or the 6+ FNP of Iron Hands. Of course, non-vehicle units in cover still get the -1 to be hit; giving you a bit of both worlds. I like it because it tries to make positioning and terrain actually matter in the game.
White Scars also got a nice boost, getting to charge after advancing or falling back. They also got a bit of bonus to Bikers moving and shooting. Now the biker part is flavorful, but ultimately very me to me, at least based on the current codex. Bikes aren’t a great unit and are pretty limited. Now if the White Scars supplement book gives them something extra this could change, but right now it’s not a big deal. The other part is pretty nice, however, and makes the White Scars the best assault chapter of the core eight. Like I’ve said before, advancing and charging is better to me than charging with a re-roll, and being able to fall back and charge lets the units benefit from Shock Assault more. The only real issues are that A.) Space Marines aren’t the best assault army, and B.) most tanks won’t gain any benefit from the tactic.
Ultramarines remain pretty much unchanged. They remain one of the top stratagems as they allow units to fall back and shoot. The fact that this now applies to tanks as well is pretty big, though most of the main Space Marines now have fly, so they get to do it anyway (and potentially suffer a -1 to hit for no reason). Overall it’s a solid tactic.
Crimson Fists are new to this Codex, after a White Dwarf introduction, and are jumping right up to nearly being tied for the best tactic. +1 to hit is a great ability and something you will use all the time. Now some people have said it’s a nerf; it used to be when targeting a unit twice your size, now it’s one with five more models than you. I don’t think this is really true. While it got worse for single models, like characters, it remains the same for five man squads, and actually got better for ten man squads. The fact that vehicles got this is also pretty big. While it won’t help vs. single large targets, it makes them that much better at controlling hordes. The extra free hits on 6s with bolt weapons is also a nice bonus.
And The Winner Is… Imperial Fists!
Wow, last time around the Imperial Fists were hanging out at the bottom of the list, and now they are on top, that’s a big jump. Now in part, it’s due to to the slight change in the rule. Gone is a useless bonus vs. buildings, instead it’s replaced by bonus hits with bolt weapons on 6s. This is solid, but not game-changing. The big reason they are jumping up isn’t so much that the tactic changed, but that things around it changed. Firstly all units getting to use it is huge. Tanks in 8th, especially some of the new Primaris ones have a ton of shots, and getting to ignore enemy cover is great for them.
On top of that, you have to add in the new combat doctrines that let certain weapons get an extra -1 AP. I’ve talked before about how one of the iissuesMarines have in 8th is that units like Guardsmen, which used to get no save against them, now get decent saves. Combining the chapter tactic and combat doctrines now means that large swath of the army can be firing weapons with AP-2 (bolt rifles, heavy bolters, Onslaught Gatling Cannons ) that ignore cover. This allows them to rip light and median troops apart with easy. It’s a huge upgrade in killing power for the army and puts them at the top of my list.
Let us know which tactic you think is best, down in the comments!