BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

40K: Three Years of Primaris Marines – From Ignored to Kickass

5 Minute Read
Aug 3 2020

Today we go back to look at the rollout of the entire Primaris range, seeing at how they upended the Grimdark in 3 years.

Only three years ago, GW gave us the Primaris range. Widely ignored at first, they have now moved to the front seat of the game. Let’s take a look back at what happened, and see how and when the army flipped the game on its head.

Wave 1 – 8th Edition Launch July 2017

The Start of 8th Edition was a crazy time. The game was completely reinvented, all the rules were redone – oh and GW gave the Grimdark’s version of Stormcast Eternals – The Primaris Marines. At the time, people appreciated the models, if not thier rules. While some individual units like Hellblasters got  play out of the gate, overall the Classic Range was more points efficient. Shortly after the Starter Sets launched, the Codex and some remaining characters like the Chaplain and Apothecary arrived to further round things out. While these early Primaris didn’t change the game, the foundations were being laid for their ascent.

  • Primaris Captain
  • Captain in Gravis Armor
  • Primaris Lieutenant
  • Primaris Librarian
  • Primaris Chaplain
  • Intercessors
  • Primaris Apothecary
  • Primaris Ancient
  • Redemptor Dreadnought
  • Reiver Squad
  • Aggressor Squad
  • Inceptor Squad
  • Hellblaster Squad
  • Repulsor

Wave 2 – Shadowspear March 2019

It took over a year for GW to rapidfire release their way through all the faction codexes, but by 2019 they were wrapping things up and gearing up for the next Primaris expansion. Shadowspear would arrive tied to the Vigilus Narrative campaign and greatly expanded the range. This was the wave that opened up the TROOPS and other other infantry options for the Primaris. More than just models, the new units such as Infiltrators and Eliminators came with solid rules and players began to slowly replace old standbys like Marine Scouts in their lists. There were some duds like the Suppressors, but overall the Primaris range was starting to be looked at more seriously as a viable force. The were approaching parity with the Classic range.

  • Captain in Phobos Armor
  • Lieutenant in Phobos Armor
  • Librarian in Phobos Armor
  • Infiltrators
  • Incursors
  • Suppressor Squad
  • Eliminator Squad

Wave 3 – Orphans June 2019

A few months after Shaowspear, GW kicked out a small set of Primaris kits. These “orphans” further rounded out the range.  Their rules were provided as PDFs, and were well recieved by the community. The Executioner was a truly frightening standoff tank that could reliably take out heavy targets in a single turn. The Invictor started to sneak into infiltrating lists to get off nasty turn on assaults into the bad guys, and the Impulsor at long last opened up cost effective mechanized Primaris units for the first time. This small but effective wave started to give Primaris only lists real tactical flexibility.

  • Repulsor Executioner
  • Invictor Tactical Warsuit
  • Impulsor

Marine Codex & Supplementals – August 2019

This is when the magic happened. You could almost feel the gears turning and GW deciding NOW was time for the Primaris to come of age. At this time the game got the 2nd 8th Edition Marine codex and the 6 Supplemental codexes. The changes were sweeping, and overnight marines went from a middling army to the strongest in the game. This was the era of the feared Iron Hands lists. But the codex didn’t only make all marines better, it shifted many points, rules, and stratagems to shine more light on the Primaris units, making them more than viable at long last.

Wave 4 – 9th Edition Launches July 2020

The New Edition is here and with is, GW is greatly expanding the Primaris range. With the core of the range done, the new units are filling out the holes. Things like dedicated Assault and Heavy Support units, alongside much ignored units like Bikers and Attack Bikes are getting new versions. Little odds and ends like the  Hammerfall fill in for counterparts like the Drop Pod.  With this expansion wave players now have to look very hard to find viable Classic marine units without Primaris counterparts. Overall, the 9th Launch wave makes the Primaris army truly flexible. Players now have a deep toolbox to do what they want with all the units.

  • Assault Intercessors Squad
  • Bladeguard Ancient
  • Bladeguard Veteran Squad
  • Eradicator Squad
  • Firsestrike Servo-turret
  • Invader ATV
  • Judiciar
  • Outrider Squad
  • Primaris Chaplain on Bike
  • Hammerfall Bunker

Wave 5 – 9th Edition Marine Codex October 2020

Of course a new Marine codex is just around the corner. It is still unknown exactly what the rules will hold, but the book teases replacements for the venerable Land Speeder, Predator and more. It also heads into the unknown with new units that have no direct Classic counterparts. I believe that Wave 5 represents the final departure for the Primaris range. It is now eclipsed everything the Classic range was, and I have no doubt that GW will chart a new course for it in the future. I can hardly wait to see where it goes.

  • Captain with Master Crafted Heavy Bolt Rifle
  • Lieutenant in Reiver Armor
  • Primaris Techmarine
  • Heavy Intercessor Squad
  • Veteran Intercessor Squad
  • Stormspeeder Hellstrike
  • Stormspeeder Variant 2
  • Stormspeeder Variant 3
  • Gladiator Valiant
  • Gladiator Lancer
  • Gladiator Reaper

~ What do you think of the speed of the Primaris releases, and when did you really start paying attention to the new units as viable?


  • Warhammer 40K: 5 Troop Units We Want Remade