BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

Pimpcron: Pump the Brakes on Space Marines

5 Minute Read
Sep 26 2020

We’re about to have a whine tasting.

Hey ya’ll. I have a Space Wolves army and a Celestial Lions Primaris army. I like Marines, I have played Marines for a decade now. But I feel that now is the time to suggest something that many of you won’t like: Pineapple is delicious on pizza.

Another suggestion: stop buffing Marines.

I’m No Hater

As stated above, I don’t hate Marines. I have played for them a long time and I played them through all the dark years. The years that they were mid to bottom tier and very underwhelming. The years where Tau, Eldar, Imperial Guard, Dark Eldar, and Necrons had their days in the sun. I feel like Marines were due for some love and improvements. But have you ever tried to get a single ice cube from the bottom of your empty cup, and you tip further and further but nothing comes out? Then suddenly ALL of the ice comes out all over your face?

I feel like the Warhammer fans are being pummeled by a barrage of ice cubes. A never-ending stream of ice cubes pouring out of this cup like they opened a bag of holding. You’re knee deep in ice cubes, and you tip the cup back up but the cup is now a vertical fountain for an impossible number of ice cubes. Ice cubes are hitting the ceiling now, your dog is freaking out, a neighbor called the cops, and you lay motionless like a frozen caveman under the frosty tide of cubes.

Moderation is Close to Godliness

Look, updating the Marine line with new Primaris models was fine. Giving them Chapter tactics was great, like Space Wolves +1 to hit or Blood Angels +1 to wound (though getting the benefit for charging AND being charged seemed a little too good, but oh well). When Astartes gained the Shock Assault rule I was like “Okay, GW really wants to buff these guys, but hey, they haven’t been good for a while”. Then they added Combat Doctrines and things seemed to be getting wonky. Too much stuff stacking on top of one another. Now all Marines will be getting another wound? Good God man, GW needs some responsible adult to step in and take charge.

“No, Forgeworld! I’m not listening to you! You’re not my real dad!”

Now, I don’t think any of these buffs are game breaking on their own. But Games Workshop has a bad habit of saying, “Oh you want an ice cube? HERE’S A DUMP TRUCK OF ICE CUBES”. This company has never really known what moderation was, and now it’s getting crazy with Marines. They have a nasty habit of adding not one, not two, but seventeen things that buff the same element.


Where’s the Xenos Love?

I am also not one of those people that say Xenos suck, or they’re unplayable. But the amount of lop-sided favoritism is getting kinda ridiculous. Let’s play a game. Let’s envision a Warhammer where all armies Imperium and (gasp!) the other ones all bring some cool, unique, and deadly to the table. The abilities and synergies of pretty much every other army, even other Imperium armies, pale in comparison to the Space Marines situation currently happening.

Imagine a Tyranid army that gets an extra attack when charging or charged. Then they have different doctrines that benefit different parts of their army. Plus all Tyranids get an extra wound. Then Tyranids get a whole line of better, more deadly Tyranids. This scenario would find tons of players joining the Tyranid hype train. They say Marines sell the best, so they need to be buffed to sell more. But nobody ever says that about Xenos armies or Chaos. What if, now hear me out, they gave all the armies equivalent buffs to what marines keep getting?! Make all the armies equally but differently good.

Here’s How Games Are Designed

Coming from a game design background, I can tell you how someone who is worried about balance designs a game. Obviously this is not the case with GW’s piece-meal system of additions and band-aids but here’s how it goes.

If you want all armies balanced, you set the parameters of what the stats will be and decide to only allow X amount of each thing. There should be a giant spread sheet of all the different stats and the minimum and maximum values. But when designing a new unit, you can only use what stats are left. I’m making this up here, but let’s say that out of all the models in Warhammer across all armies, there will only be allowed 30% of units with a 3+ save, 30% with a 4+ save, 30% with a 5+ save, and 10% with a 6+ save. Likewise, you’ll decide that there will be 30% Tough 3, 20% Tough 4, 10% Tough 5, 30% Tough 7, and 10% Tough 8. Every time you make a new unit with Toughness 7 and a 4+ save, you’re taking one of those slots from each of those categories, which can never be used again.

Doing all of this gives you a *pretty good* feel for balance before play testing. But that is CLEARLY not the way GW does it. Seriously, pump the brakes games Workshop. Give another army some love.

Hey! This article is brought to you by my top-tier Patreon supporter Mike Cowley!


Thanks Michael, smooches!

We’re on Podbean, Stitcher, iTunes, Spotify, and others!

Pimpcron’s Narrative Wargaming Supplement

Free PDF version, full PDF version, or hardback version!

  • Warhammer 40K: 9th's Surprise Meta Contenders