20 Things to Fix on the Space Marine Codex: Blog 7 by Digital Unicorn

12 Feb

Welcome back gang!

Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if we were a gang? With crazy hand signals and what not. We could have a deadly rivalry with the 20 things to fix the Lizardmen Codex gang. T-shirts!! We could have T-shirts! We could even have secret safe houses where were allowed to play our version of the SM dex. Then when we have enough members the next step is obvious, a standing army, I mean its only logical. We’ll storm Nottingham, seceed from the British isles and rule our domain from our mighty bastions at Warhammer World and Maelstrom.

I think from then on the only power strong enough to stop us will come from within and I will be a decisive and ruthless leader. Tayne will obviously have to die, he’s far too prominant a figure head and may create a focal point for a counter revolution. We’ll keep Dave, Nathan and Gary around but, just as figure heads, we’ll inform the general public that they’ve contracted a uncurable disease that leaves them bed ridden. It’ll provide a perfect cover story for what will be essentially house arrest. We’ll let them out to give the occasional, heavily editted, speech to calm the populace and we’ll have sound-a-likes carry on the podcast, with a decided pro-state slant.

By this point we can expect the burgeoning state of Higgstrapstevia to be making aggresive diplomatic overtures, no doubt they’ll wish to establish themselves as the premier 40k based nation. Unicornia will make sure to offer the hand of peace until our military forces have been swelled by the influx of conscripts. Once we are adequately prepared we will crush all who stand in our way. There will be no mercy for those who would seek to place themselves above us.

Now, this is why I shouldn’t be allowed to write a blog… a couple of positive comments and 5 minutes later I’m talking about world domination. I’m never satisfied, hence why I’m writing a wish listing blog, make of that what you will.

Anyway, were still in the HQ section but, were going to move into the fringes and do a bit of house keeping. First off, I’m going to justify a codex’s entry I’m going to pass by. This is after all only 20 things to fix the Space Marine codex and there are definately a few more than 20 codex entries, so obviously some won’t get a shout. Ill try and catch them as I wizz past, but if there are any glaring ommisions you feel need addressing let me know.

First in line for a drive by is the Master of the Forge, he’s the only Independant Character HQ choice I’ve yet to discuss and I don’t think I could justify an entire article on him. With basic Veteran stats with an extra balistic skill, wound and 2+ artificier armour he’s essentially a beefed up Techmarine. He comes with a Servo Harness as standard so, for that extra 25 points on the Techmarine, its a pretty fair deal. His extras justify the cost, only however if you are using him for his single purpose. To run a Dreadnought Spam army. He’s as one trick pony as they get and I don’t think there’s much we can do to change that, I’ve seen him run in a bike army mounted with a Conversion Beamer but, once again another very specific build. If you take him you pretty much need to base your list around his special rules.

Hence the other reason I’m going to talk no more about him, at the moment I don’t own 5 or 6 Dreadnoughts so I’ve never run him. I have no experience what so ever running him and would feel a bit presumptuous writing about how to improve him.

So after that bit of blabbing let’s head into the main Unit up for discussion this week. Were going to be looking through my favourite unit from the codex. I have tried endlessly to make them competitive but, almost all ended in failure. They immediately inspired my love of the 40k background when I read the book, they inspired my army fluff, the first half year of my gaming and made me start reading forums because I couldn’t bloody GET THEM TO WORK! Obviously I’m still a little sore on this front and they are part of the reason I started these articles in the first place.

In case you hadn’t worked it out already, I’m talking about Honour Guard. Available only if you take a Chapter Master, they are hyper elite veterans of scores of campaigns given the incalculable honour of guarding and preserving the life of the Leader of their order. If ever all the honour guard fight together it is a truely dark day for a Space Marine Chapter. Masters of close combat and bestowed with the finest wargear the Chapter has to offer these bog standard Space Marine Veterans can take on almost any opponent. These peerless warriors will regularly charge fearlessly headlong into the thickest of the fighting even though they can’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag. With the best armour and weapons they only thing they fear is any tom, dick or harry Sergeant with a Power Weapon. Truely they are the greatest of the Space Marines.

Or maybe not, 35pt I4 Marines without an Invul save are probably the most expensive glass hammers the game has. At such an average Initiative they constantly suffer from the sneaky power weapon syndrome that most Marine assault units suffer from. Stiking at the same time as most of the things you charge ensures that no matter how many your combat masters cut down, that last Sergeant always takes back his chunk of incredibly costly flesh. Heavens forbid if you come up against a serious combat unit like Blood Letters, Lightning Claw Terminators or Purifiers, you can kiss your unit goodbye.

I suppose I should go through their stats a bit more shouldn’t I?

115pts will buy you a 3 man squad made up of 2 Honour Guard and 1 Chapter Champion. The Honour Guard have basic veteran stats, a 2+ artificier armour save and come equipped with Bolter, boltpistol and a Power Sword, a slight caveat being that they also have LD10. Each additional Honour Guard will cost you 35pts and any veteran can swap their Power Sword for a relic blade for 15pts, they can also purchase an additonal Auxilary Grenade launcher for the same price. Quite importantly one veteran can take a Chapter Banner, this grants the unit and any IC’s attached +1A and +1 to combat res as well as rerolls for morale and pinning checks.

The Chapter Champion is a barrel of fun and special rules, with a similar statline to his compatriots he has an additional Attack and WS5. He has the option to take either a Relic Blade or a Thunder Hammer for 15pts and can take digital lasers for 10. He can also inexplicably swap his bolter for a Combat Blade, which adds nothing……

Anyway, he also has the special rule Honour or Death which means that if he’s placed in base contact with an IC during a close combat he gets rerolls to hit and wound against it. He’s a bit of a beast and in a squad with the banner he could get 5 Thunder Hammer Attacks on the charge or 6 with a Power Sword.

As a squad they can take the standard dedicated transport options of a Rhino, a Razorback or a Droppod.

So altogether a very interesting unit, until you look a little deeper. At 35pts they are prohibitively expensive, what’s that you say? Be reasonable? Their pretty good for their points? I would love to agree with you but, the reality is that in comparison to other units in the book they are flimsy as hell. For 5pts more I could take a Terminator squad, that all come equipped with 2 shot assault weapons and S8 power fists, they also get that all important Invul save of 5++. For that same 5pts I could make them Thunder Hammer Storm Shield Assault Terminators and give them a 3+ Invul save!

For the amount your shelling out for these guys they are completely left in the lurch when it comes to any Ap2 weapons or Close Combat weapons that ignore armour. I know I keep drilling this point home but, I really can’t overstate how many times they have died to a man in a flurry of plasma and I’ve watched the game slip from my grasp. They are so easily countered, which coupled with their incredible overkill against average units ( which are the only reasonable targets for uch a small unit without a Invul) in the assault phase means they are often just a one shot charge and with an average cost of about 200ish thats a lot to just throw away.

I’ve got them moves like Jagger…

So what could we do to combat this? Well first off, we can’t give them a 5++. With that they just essentially become cheaper LC Terminators, just swapping the wound rerolls for an extra attack. I know it seems like a simple solution but, we’ve got to remember were just rebalancing and not making the next power dex.

So, a permanent Invul save its out, but, I think we can draw some inspiration from the forbidden tomes, also known as the Xeno dex’s. Doing my research for this article I tried to think about other units that have a similar background, the combat master trope, I came across something which I think would be a good compromise. The Dark Eldar Wyches hve a very interesting rule called Dodge, it grants them a 4+ invul save against wounds caused by close combat attacks. I think this would fit the Honour Guard perfectly with a few slight tweaks, change the name of it to something like ‘Deflect’ or ‘Parry’ to represent it as more of a swordplay save and reduce it down to a 5++. I know, why should it be worse than the Wyches? Well it just wouldn’t be fair, these guys have a 2+ save, Wyches wrap themselves in bog roll and hope for the best.

With this ability I think they start to have much better odds against other dedicated assault units, without making Terminators obsolete. Shooting armies can still counter them and hard hitting units stand a chance but, now that heroic Sergeant has been taken down a peg or two.

Here in my Car, I feel safest of all…

Ok, now were getting somewhere, ironicly the guys that are going nowhere fast are the Honour Guard. I know, I know they can take a Rhino chassis, but give me a break, what iis it with Codex Space Marines being so stingey with assault vehicles? I mean for goodness sake, if the Chapter Master and his Honour Guard can’t requisition a Landraider someone needs to talk to HR about finding some new Techmarines to maintain the fleet. I mean seriously, Blood Angels ASSAULT SQUADS can take them!! What the hell? That’s like giving the Company show car to the freaking work experience kid!

Here’s guys that have been fighting twice the time these guys have been alive and they have to slum it in a ruddy Rhino. Sort it out Marines!

Easy fix, give them the Option to take 1 of the Landraider variants as a Dedicated Transport. No discount shenanigans or anything like that, just give them a ride worthy of their name. The addition benefit being it gives them a nice bit of protection from that infuriating long range AP2 fire that spells death for them.

Level 68 One-Handed

Ok, guys, I’m stretching quite far here and I’m incredibly bised towards this unit, so you have to call me up if this, or any of the other changes for that matter, are swinging too far the other way.

I’m just gonna lay it out there, these guys need a better WS. I realise that it would make them a very unique unit in the marine book but, I think if anybody should get it, its them. WS5 just makes sense, these guys are the future Captains and Chapter Masters, are you telling me they just magically jump two Weapon Skills the day their elevated? Where’s the missing link?

It makes them stand out as special and introduces a level that’s somewhere between Veteran and HQ choice.

I’d also like to suggest that the boost goes across the board and affects the Chapter Champion as well bringing him up to WS6. Seeing as he’s the CHAPTER Champion and all, it only seems right that he’d be able to cross swords with the best the Chapter has to offer, ie the Captains and Reclusiarchs.

Everyday I’m shuffling…

Now on to a bit of fine tweaking, I think that’s about it for big sweaping changes. To answer a few questions before they come up, No, Yes but, it would have been impratical, maybe, no, how dare you, ok which hotel room is yours? Never, I’ve thought about it and Yes I have passed GCSE english. That everything cleared up? No? Ok.

I thought about lowering their cost but, that didn’t seem right, their not fundamentally underpowered they’re just a victim of 5th Ed and its propensity for massed anti tank weapons. They are also tied very strongly to the internal balance of the codex, guess what? If you take a Vanguard Veteran slap a power sword on him and call him an Honour Guard he costs 35 points. Shocker I know, identically equipped units costing the same? Preposterous. It would knock over too many other dominoes altering their price.

Yes, I looked through the Honour Guard entry in the Blood Angels book, but looking at it, its almost an entirely different kettle of fish and much more closely resembles the Command squad. No power weapons, Feel no Pain, 5 man squad with no additional members able to be added, the option to take special weapons, in fact they only have a 3+ save. Despite literary appearances they are not the same unit, not by a long shot. How does this influence me? Very little, some of the options in the entry are tempting but, stray so far from the mandate of the Codex Marine unit that they really wouldn’t fit.

So, all that’s left too do is a little points shuffle on the Wargear. I think the main one is the Auxilary Grenade Launcher, this never gets taken as on already expensive units balistic Rolex watches seem to just smack the budget in the face. Its a shame as they are incredibly rare and cool pieces of wargear but, at 15pts each they just cost too much to be worth it. I think it should be changed to 10pts.

I’d also like to do the same to the Relic Blade option, 15pts is too much, why? Well as I’ve previously blabbered on about a million times already, if they cost 50pts a model, why not just take Terminators? What benefit does it really give them for that 10pts extra? Sure, with the banner they have 1 extra attack over the Thunder Hammer Terminators who have similar odds to wound MEQs and they get to strike at initiative. But, the LC Terminators have almost exactly the same odds to wound with their rerolls as the Honour Guard wounding on 2’s. I think its pretty balanced to shift it down to 10pts per Blade.

While we’re still in the Wargear, i’d like to make one last suggestion, i’d like to see the option for a Master Crafted version of all their weapons, following the Grey Knight system of a 5pt upgrade. Give the option to take a Master Crafted Power Sword for 5pts, a MC Relic Blade for 15 and so on and so on.

And that’s a wrap…

To round up this monstrous creature of a Blog post, what changes have we made?

We’ve raised the Honour Guard WS to 5 and the Chapter Champions to 6.

Given them a 5++ Dodge/Deflect save in close combat.

Given them the option to take Landraider variants as dedicated transports.

Change the price for Relic Blades and Auxilary Grenade Launchers to 10pts.

Added the option to Mastercraft their weapons for 5pts each.

So that’s the show guys! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed, oh before I forget, this weeks question, well 2 questions actually, fistly, should the Chapter Champion have I5? Like his HQ cousins? And secondly, do you think they should have the option to take a Storm Shield? Or a Combat Shield?

Thanks for reading, sorry it took so long and remember, hold fast, hold the line and don’t stop reading until……

Digital Unicorn is GO!!!!


8 Responses to “20 Things to Fix on the Space Marine Codex: Blog 7 by Digital Unicorn”

  1. Digital Unicorn February 12, 2012 at 18:14 #

    Hey guys, just wanted to reiterate, if you think I’ve gona too far with this one don’t hesitate to critique me.

  2. Graeme Nicholls (@TheTayne) February 12, 2012 at 21:50 #

    Gone too far? Bah! You’re still letting them talk on occasion.

    And as for bumping me off, I play sneaky-sneaky Tau. I have tools of my own…

    • Digital Unicorn February 12, 2012 at 22:59 #

      Hmmm, maybe I could try convincing the rest of the fishmen its for the Greater Good?

  3. Shem Lucas February 13, 2012 at 03:28 #

    I tried to make Honour Guard work in an army, i tried really, really hard.

    They were routinely kicked in the nuts by generic marine squads, and all manner of embarrassing close combat opponents,

    I like a lot of the proposed changes here, they do need bringing into line, the thing that really strikes me about the Grey Knight Codex is that it has plenty of units with ridiculously costed upgrades, but quite a few of those actually work, i don’t know if it’s just the framework of the army that they are dropped into or if the points balance is generally pretty good, but these guys definitely need a re-jig, when you look at a unit, even for a friendly game, you look at your unit upgrades and weigh up whether they are gonna make the unit more killy or likely to pull it’s weight, the Honour Guard are just a bit too light on that whole thing.

    A Note on the Master of the Forge, i like the way the Grey Knight ones are Grenade caddies, i think it actually works with the background, it makes sense that the weird grenades wouldn’t be shopped out to bog standard infantry, so to see some equally weird grenades (Like, Antiplant or anything at all!) would just give the unit another nice little reason to take him and make it less “Secular”

    • Digital Unicorn February 13, 2012 at 10:13 #

      Uugghh! Soo much! I’ve had them lose to Necrons! Necrons! From the old book!

      What combinations have you tried?
      To date I’ve probably used them and the chapter master paired with every other HQ choice except the MotF.
      At the moment the best but, most hideously expensive, way I’ve found to run them is, with a Nullzone Librarian with Epistolary. The second power I give him is Force Dome so they all get a 5++, put them in a Heavy Support Landraider. Then I pair them with some deepstriking TH Terminators, the Termies drop down, get Charged or chage next turn, then Honour Guard swoop down and obliterate everything. Its super expensive but it does “work” I stomped about 1K points of Wolves in 2 rounds of combat.

  4. Andy Ovel February 15, 2012 at 19:01 #

    Another good post 🙂

    I agree with everything you said as per usual.

    I love the idea of Honour Guard, but at the moment they are just giant point sinks 😦

    I’ve tried using them, and I have an opponent that uses small squads of them with his Grand Master, and I don’t think they have ever once earned their points back. An invulnerable save would help, and your right at the moment I would rather take THSS Terminators, as they are still very “killy” but also very tough to kill themselves.

    I like the fluff, and the idea of using them, but they just don’t last when you put them on the table top, which makes me quite sad because I want them to be awesome (which they should be).

  5. Mark Perry February 20, 2012 at 10:38 #

    Power weapon and artificer as standard makes them tempting, but agree you are in terminator territory here. Maybe you would take if you have 3 elite slots already used? One good point they have over command squads as well is that you can have more than 5 …

    LR as a dedicated transport is a good idea, but they need something special to reflect their elite status. Pistol/power weapon gives them 4 attacks on the charge, but I would want them to be able to take say fleet/furious charge – maybe allow a choice of upgrade to be selected before the game. Or make Shrike a Chapter Master rather than a Captain …

    Aux grenade is a problem due to 12″ range as you’re then in CC range – especially if they get fleet. Make it 18″ range and they become a bit more workable.

    • Digital Unicorn February 20, 2012 at 13:19 #

      All good points there Mark, thanks for them. To address a couple, the Aux Grenade is an assault weapon so I’m not sure the 12″ range is a problem as its designed to be a charge aid.
      As regards fleet, without sounding sarcastic, how many units are there in the game that can buy an assault vehicle and fleet? That’s a potential 24″ in charge. From a unit with easy access to 5 power attacks on the charge. So essentially, I4 DCA, that can get a first turn charge, potentially. That’s a little OP, I can see 1 or the other but not both.

      The 3 elites thing is what I tend to use them for, my standrd list is elite heavy and for any games above 2k I’ve basically maxed out everything but Fast Attack.

      Shrike……I dunno that guy is already pretty awesome, a 2+ save, an orbitl bombardment to boot? Seems pretty OP.
      The one you really need to watch with Honour Guard is Marneus Calgar, these guys get a bit extreme when you can take 3 squads.

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