Let’s talk about the new Space Marines FAQs and if it will really fix what ails 40K right now.
In case you’ve been living under a rock (or just a normal life where you don’t read and think about 40K every hour of everyday) last week GW dropped a major set of FAQs for Space Marines. These changes where designed to curb the dominance of Marines in the meta and with a couple of Marine lists/combos in particular. They are large scale changes that will change a number of Space Marine lists. The idea was the break up the trend of Marines, and Iron Hands in particular, dominating the vast number of major events. Today we look at if they went far enough.
The largest change is to how doctrines work. In essence where you once had freedom to advance through he doctrines or not, you are now forced to progress forward. Devastator Doctrine will only be in effect on turn 1, you can then have 1 or 2 turns of Tactical Doctrine, before being forced into Assault Doctrine. This represents a major change, especially for Iron Hands and Imperial Fists, the two chapters whose “super ability” worked in Devastator Doctrine. There were a number of other more targeted changes, generally aimed at reducing the durability of dreadnoughts, and some tied into doctrines. The Iron Hands Cogitated Martyrdom got changed to to only affect infantry, and the Raven Guard lost the ability to infiltrate Centurions with their warlord trait.
So who loses out in this FAQ? The most obvious one is Iron Hands and especially the so called “Brohammer Lists” built around an unkillible Leviathan Dreadnought. The Dreadnought can now be killed, but is now a challenge rather than being almost impossible. Iron Hands in general wanted to stay to Devastator so this is a blow, and their powerful flyer lists are done for. Imperial Fists where also hit hard. A huge loser is the Stalker Bolt Rifle, which had become the go to weapon for a lot of armies due to how good it was in Devastator Doctrines, and in particular for Iron Hands and Imperial Fists. Those are the real losers here.
Going Far Enough?
If the goal was to break up Space Marine dominance of the meta, we have to ask if this move went far enough. For my part I’m not sure it really did. Certainly one or two types of Iron Hands lists aren’t going to be viable any more. Likewise Imperial Fists took a huge hit, but they weren’t ever really a meta dominating force. Otherwise though Space Marines have ways to adapt. While these changes will force movement at the top of the meta I suspect it will just be other Space Marines armies moving to dominate potions.
Take Raven Guard for instance. They were already an extremely powerful list. They were held back mainly by just how good Iron Hands were. The effect of the FAQ on Raven Guard is pretty limited. They are an army that wanted to move though the doctrines. Yes they can’t turn one drop in Centurions, but they can still do that on turn two, and hit you with Aggressors or something similar turn one. White Scars where another army that was “almost there” and that hasn’t been effected by the FAQ. I suspect that these two armies are going to be taking top spots a lot more now. Even Iron Hands may not be done. While the Brohammer lists is dead, Iron Hands still pack a punch. Their lists will get more castle-y and less mobile, but aside from the AP, aura’s can make up for the abilities lost by having to move out of Devastator Doctrine. Between their strats and Chaplain Dreads you can still build a list with 4 dreadnoughts that can’t be targeted and a bunch of Intercessors with a 3+, 5++, 5+++ save.
Overall the FAQ feels like a quick band-aid that will limit a couple lists but doesn’t fix any of the structural problems that lead to Marines dominating the meta. Looking at Iron Hands this is now the second Major FAQ aimed at them since their supplement came out. 5 out of their 16 stratagems have seen major changes. Even with all that they are still looking at being a player in the meta. That’s pretty crazy and argues that the FAQs are simply playing wack-a-mole as new combos pop up, or become more popular do to the last “big thing” getting hit (it is possible that this FAQ was meant as a quick place holder and that more major changes are coming the Spring BIG FAQ). The Marines are such a powerful group of factions that even these major changes may only result in new Marine lists rises to the top. I think that we all generally agree that an FAQ was necessary, but I really worry that this one hasn’t gone far enough to curb the worse excesses, while also unintentionally hurting armies that were not causing issues. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe the FAQ is enough and we can return to the simple time when the meta was all triple Rip-Tides and Eldar Flyers. Yay.
Let us know if you think the FAQ was good enough, down in the comments!