20 Things To Fix in the Space Marine Codex part 4 by Digital Unicorn

18 Nov

Hey guys, I’d like to start this weeks post with a big thank to all the loyal readers who got in touch to say how much they’ve been enjoying the articles. I really needed the encouragement after last weeks complaint debacle and it was great to hear from so many people who think I’m right about everything. Literally dozens of you said quite specifically how you’d like me too be President of the world and write all future codex’s. I’ve actually had to hire a Personal Assistant to deal with ALL THE ENCOURGING EMAILS I’ve been getting. Non-stop. A digital tide. A correspondance Tsunami. A veritable flood of well wishing.

This week we leave the troops section. Our core choices are now, in my humble opinion, reasonably bolstered and re-balanced in comparison to the others out there. Now I’m going to jump head long into the HQ section. Ol’ Vanilla Marines has quite a few options available to them here, not all of them blow you away, but, that was never the idea. The options and wargear allow you to create hyper individual characters to lead your force, the wargear is designed to let you make epic Leaders and Chapter commanding heros. The changes I’m going to propose will hopefully go a little way towards making this easier to do and with a little more bang for your buck.

So, I might as well start from the top. Chapter Masters. The undisputed great heroes of the imperium. Veterans of a 1000 battles. Tempered and refined by more years of harsh combat that any normal human could hope to live. Not only strong and brutal warriors, they are master tacticians, only attaining their rank after showing exceptional skill at large scale warfare and being leaders of men. In a galaxy where most are impossibly divorced from real autonomy and decision making, they are the chosers of their own, and their Chapters, destiny. Walking Demi-gods. Shards of the Primarchs and the Emperors finest creations. None can withstand them in battle. With the same statline as a Captain. Wait what? And the same points cost for wargear. Your joking right? And no unique choices. Hang on, hold up, this can’t be right.

I personally feel that these guys need to stand out just a little more. It just doesn’t seem fair, especially for the extra points cost. I think I spent 30 minutes, when I first got to this entry, flicking back and forth between the 2 pages, Captains and Chapter Masters, trying to work out what was different. So what is there?

Up in the Club, making it rain…

Well there are 2 that jump right out at you. First is Orbital Bombardment, a Chapter Master is granted a single shot weapon, used to represent a barrage from an orbiting ship receiving the CM’s targeting data. It manifests as an Unlimited range S10 AP1 Large Blast with the Ordance and Barrage rules. The weapon doesn’t use the CM BS and scatters the full 2D6 if it misses. Pretty nifty don’t you think? You’ve all watched Transformers right? its basically that thing that Tyrese Gibson does with the Laser pointer when he says “Let’s bring the rain” but, a little less accurate. Man, Tyrese is awesome!

Anyway… other than this the only other glaring difference is the option to take an Honour Guard or a Command Squad, former for the CM, latter for the Captain. This I feel is an entirely seperate conversation and will have an article all to itself, so I’m going to ignore it for the purpose of this one.

So, basically we pay 25pts more to give him a Laser pointer.

Obviously, I’m being a little flippant there but, is it really worth it? Not only that, is it still worth it if I have to then pay exactly the same to upgrade my wargear? In smaller points games that extra 25pts can really smart. Expecially if we take a good hard look at the reality of the Orbital Bombardment.

First off, the rules state that the IC must not move in the movement phase if he is to fire the weapon. This means that he can’t fire it first turn if he’s with a combat unit you wish to move, granted he could join a back field objective sitter but, I don’t know about you but, I like my multi-wound combat characters, you know, with m combat units. Just seems to make sense. Not only that, if he does join say, a squad of devastators or a Tactical squad, they have to fire at the same target, meaning their shooting is most likely wasted. And I’m sure I don’t have to argue as to why leaving him on his own so he can shoot this thing is a bad idea? Ever heard of a missile launcher?

However, despite not being able to move before hand, he’s perfectly able to move in the assault phase. A nice consession right? Well, let’s just remember the assault rules shall we, what’s this? I have to assault the thing I shoot at? So I have to place a 5 inch scatttering template that will instant kill me on a unit less than 6 inches away from me. Sounds like a great deal!

So, its by no means useless or underpowered, however, its not all it looks on paper and more often than not is an after thought rather than a bonus. So what’s to be done? Now before you say it, we can’t make this guy any cheaper, that’s really not what I or anyone wants I hope. As I began this article with, this guy should be awesome, he should cost this much, what I’m going to suggest is that we get ever so slightly more for those points and make him a more impressive commander along the way.

Pew, pew, pew…

Now, obviously his combat prowess should be formidable and while WS6 is great it doesn’t scream beat stick either. But, herein lies the problem, there are so few units around with WS7 its a very big line to cross. It would push him into a whole other category of IC and perhaps, leave us a little underwhelmed with the other HQ choices available to us. Plus, we’ve got to remember that, in adjusting his statline, were also adjusting the statlines of all the other SM special characters of this level, especially those who are Chapter Masters. Now I don’t know about you guys but, I really don’t want a WS7 Vulcan Hes’tan charging round with his S6 I5 power weapon. I think this would really elavate them BEYOND their station and take them from a slightly better Captain to a slightly better than ALL other marine IC’s.

So, he’ll stay WS6. But how about BS6? I think this is a way more reasonable proposition. Its really not that much of a boost but, its the first step on a little distinguishment from the Captain statline. The Grey Knights codex has really made this an easy step, most High level, Chapter Master equivilent, HQ’s have BS6 and its also not unprecidented in the Marine book either. Are you trying to tell me some Scout Sergeant can shoot better than a Chapter Master?

This is basically just an Aesthetic adjustment, stock he doesn’t come armed with anything more scary than a boltpistol.



For this point I’m going to start a little point for point comparison. After scouring the MEQ dex’s the closest iv found to a Chapter Master equivilent IC is the Grey Knight Grand Master. Suitably beasty and influencial with a similar role, fluff and table top wise. The first problem we come to is the Terminator Armour. Grand Masters come with it as standard and so I’m going to factor that into our discussion. A Chapter Master is base 125pts, to equip him with Terminator armour cost 40 more points taking him to 165. This handily gives him a stormbolter like the GM and a power sword which for the purposes of this I will pretend is equal to a Force Weapon. The GM stock comes in at 175pts. So, what does those 10 extra points buy him?

To start with, he hangs on to his grenades, our CM is forced to drop his to equip the Terminator armour. What’s that worth in points? Well despite it being a little bit of an old codex, the Black Templar book put the value of this at 3pts for Frag and Krak, once again I’m ignoring the GK unique Psyk-out ones.

Stock, the GM comes with a Nemesis Force Sword. The +1 to his invulnerable save that this grants essentially means he has a storm shield. The option to give our Chapter Master a Storm shield cost 10pts and quite importantly, replaces the power weapon rather than the storm bolter. No, seriously, check your codex, that’s what it does. This is really, really, really dumb and is so easy to fix. Put the Storm shield option in the ranged selections rather than the melee like every other character in the marine dex except this one. Bizarre.

So, were at 13pts so far. Other than these wargear options the GM has several other abilities that increase his usefulness. He is a Mastery Level 1 Psyker, meaning he gets to use 1 Power a turn, once again, a very GK specific bonus but, this one however is quantifiable. It costs 30pts for an Inquisitor to be made a Psyker ML 1, this also comes with a force sword, so I’m going to halve the cost for the purpose of the comparison.

So now our extra points are at 28.

The GM also has the Grand Strategy ability, a nifty little D3 roll that gives other units USR’s, once again GK specific. Its hard to quantify and a little random and isn’t always that useful, wait a minute, doesn’t our Chapter Master come equipped with something just like that? Oh yeah! The Laser pointer! Its a bit of a leap but, I’m going to let this Grand Strategy ability benefit that I can’t quantify cancel out the Orbital Bombardment benfiefit that I can’t quite quantify.

So, all said and done, as close as we can manage our 2 HQ’s have approximately the same stuff. As said before the GM comes in at an even 175 our Chapter Master however comes in at a less than impressive 193. Seems like a bit of raw deal to me, so how can we sort it?

The best I’ve been able to come up with is Artificier armour. Venerable distinguished armour that although not as bulky as Terminator armour, offers the same protection against small arms fire. Its normally a 15pt upgrade and doesn’t remove any grenades or replace any weapons. But were already paying 25pts more for him and how much is that Orbital Bombardment actually worth? It also means he’s still paying the more expensive tariff for his upgrades, its not like we’ve given him terminator armour and now alll his options are cheaper, his wargear still costs the same as if he were in power armour and means there still an incentive to take Terminator armour.

I also feel it fits the fluff quite well, the Chapter Masters armour would be one of the Chapters most most mastercrafted relics. Worn and perfected only by the greatest warriors and craftsmen it would be a living embodiment of the ancient splendor of the space marines. Artificier armour fits that bill perfectly.

So to sum up the changes our Chapter Master now comes equipped with Artificier armour, is Balisitic skill 6 and the Storm shield has moved from the Terminator Melee weapon options into the Ranged weapon options.

Wow, that was a marathon wasn’t it? I think I’ve entered some sort of lucid dream state its so late. Anyway, I always try and leave you with something to discuss or comment on, so here’s this weeks.

All these new beneifts are all well and good but, do you think there needs to be an ever so slight increase in points to account for them? I love 125 as a nice round number than slots nicely into lists and matches up with the wrgear but, do you 130 would be more reasonable?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks blog and remember, hold fast, hold the line and don’t stop reading until…

Digital Unicorn is GO!!!


10 Responses to “20 Things To Fix in the Space Marine Codex part 4 by Digital Unicorn”

  1. Mark Perry November 18, 2011 at 10:05 #

    Agree on the artificer, especially as the Honour Guard get it as standard. Seems a bit strange that his Guard get better armour than he does!

    Biggest difference between Captain and the Chapter Master is the Command Squad v Honour Guard rather than the characters themselves. I like the fact that only 1 can take bikes and that Honour Guard come with power weapons as standard as it makes them very different.

    Orbital bombardment would only work if you attached him to a devastator squad, otherwise when else would he not be moving unless in CC. Maybe make him relentless so he can call it in while moving – then I’d take him seriously.

  2. Mark Perry November 18, 2011 at 10:09 #

    Oh, just noticed. Where’s part 4?

    • Digital Unicorn November 18, 2011 at 11:36 #

      No idea mate, lol, this is part 4, lol.

      Relentless would be cool but, I tell you what I forgot, termie armour gives relentless, so I guess he could move and shoot in that. But, then any transport he’s in doesn’t have firing points so he’d have to foot slog :-S

      I think relentless would be a little OP and hard to justify, there’s nothing else marine that can have it in power armour equiv except for Logan.

      I thought about maybe giving them a Saga like system but, once again, hard to justify and just plain plagerism.

      • 40KUK November 18, 2011 at 15:21 #

        Oh, that will be me unable to count to 4.

        Will make a little sheepish change now.

      • Digital Unicorn November 18, 2011 at 22:51 #

        Thanks Dave! 😀

  3. Andy Ovel November 19, 2011 at 10:55 #

    I agree with this article 🙂

  4. Gary Morris November 19, 2011 at 12:29 #

    As with the mythical (and some say Factual) codex creep with every new codex comes new and arguably better rules. Now alot of people say Space Marines get the best of the best, and they do to some extent. The issue arises where like now, there are so many Marine dexes that the good old Vanilla Marines basically get overlooked. You want combat, go Blood Angels, better Devestators, Space Wolves, Generally better, Grey Knights.

    To compare the Chapter Master to a Grey Knight Grand Master is always going to be an auto lose. And In my opinion one unit from one codex should never be compared to one unit from another. Because the Grey Knight GM is better than a SM CM, does that make the Grey Knights better and Vanilla worse? No. It just makes them different. And there are options that the Chapter Master can take that Grey Knight Players would kill for. Power Armour being the simplest of them all. The Grand Master must come in TDA and therefor must be transported in a Land Raider or a Stormraven. The CM comes with 3 Attacks basic, 4 with two close combat weapons which is more than the GM, can take a jump pack to allow tactical felxability and so on

    I do agree the Vanilla dex has the unfortunate position of being first in a presumably long line of codexes, Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Grey Knights, Black Templars, Dark Angels and maybe more I have just forgotten. When the time comes for the new SM codex, this will presumably trump all of those and then all other armies will be looking for reasons theirs should be better.

    In my opinion we should be looking at how to make the most of the units Vanilla Marines has. The Thunderfire Cannon causing units to move through difficult terrain, Legion of the Damned with 3+ Inv all around and relentless, scoring Sternguard etc. These kind of things will enable the Vanilla players out there to take on the Grey Knights without saying “I wish I was WS6”

    • Digital Unicorn November 19, 2011 at 12:58 #

      That’s fair, an iv played and continue to play with all those units and options. Its a versatile book and is well worth playing. The comparison to the GM was more just to get an outside reference, this was more an internal balancing within the book itself.

      As regards the other stuff, I know I’m sort of asking a lot, I’m looking at an imperfect system and asking for perfect balance.
      I would just wish for a system where Damage Output = Points
      I’ve been trying my best not to rip stuff from other books and just copy and paste the best units. The Fluff was my first love and especially as regards the CM I’ve always found the table top version to be a little off.

      I’m a strong believer that the imbalance between the marine books is what leads to the imbalance between the xeno books and the marine books. Its hard to make a marine equivelent but, individual, xeno book when the Marines keep moving the goal posts.
      If the marines = X then its easy to make a xeno book that equals X. But the marine books are V W X Y Z, so you see the problems?
      If we balanced the marine books, we can start getting awesome Xeno books.

      Thanks for your opinion though, I’m definately not trying to say mine is law. One question tho, do you disagree which the changes I’ve suggested in the article?

  5. Gary Morris November 20, 2011 at 07:40 #

    I agree with you completely that the Chapter Master should be a much better fighter than the Captain, it does not make sense for one to be just as good as another. +1WS, A and I should make the extra 25 points worth it.

    The problem with Chapter Masters is that they are very close to the points of the special characters and they come with special rules. The changes to the Storm Shield seem obvious and its a shame it wasnt written that way in the rules.

    If someone decides to take a Chapter Master it must be due to the appeal ofhaving their own and not a named character. Thus these people are forfeiting a better unit for one that matches fluff or whatever theyre looking for.

    • Digital Unicorn November 25, 2011 at 11:11 #

      Are you sure that’s not a bit much? He would kick a GM’s ass! 6 attacks on the charge striking before him hitting on 3’s. And even he didn’t it’d be close which doesn’t do the GM justice.

      The problem with changing it to that is that all the special Characters get much better too. Calgar, Kantor and Vulcan are all chapter masters and would be inline to get the boost. Admittedly the Initiative doesn’t affect Calgar and Knator coz of the PF but, the A and WS do. To be fair it’d make Calgar takeable but, Kantor becomes an absolute steal and Vulcan becomes a monster!

      I was doing research for this weeks article and the jump from Chaplain to Reclusiarch is +1BS, meh, +1W, good, +1I, good, +1A, good. More attacks but, doesn’t change what you have to roll to hit unlike WS. And that costs 30pts!

      And I6 is crazy, DCA proved that.

      +1W is an idea tho.

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