Example The Standard Template Construct: Army Overview: Codex Space Marines

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Army Overview: Codex Space Marines

Art by  Sheason

Welcome to our first army book review. To start us out with a bang, and something everyone knows we will be doing Codex Space Marines. You will get a new 'section' every two days, until the codex is finished. I won't be going through and listing stats or wargear options, you'll need to buy the book for that. I'll be giving my opinion on what's useful to you, and what is not.

So sit back, and enjoy.

Art by Nachomon

Chapter Master/Captain
These are our two primary fighting non-unique character selections. Their differences are threefold. Firstly, the points costs, as you'll note the Chapter Master clocks in at slightly more expensive than the Captain (25 points more). Secondly the Chapter Master comes with an ability called 'Orbital Bombardent' which does what it says on the tin. And finally, each unlocks their own personal squad, the Honour Guard for the Chapter Master and the Command Squad for the Captain.

Many people equate the additional costs incured by the Chapter Master to relate to his orbital bombardment ability, but that doesn't hold water with me. To me its mostly to do with unlocking the Honour Guard. The Honour Guard, each bearing a power weapon are the most offensive and deadly close combat group in the entire codex. They trade the defensive power of the terminator invunerable save for more attacks and the ability to sweeing advance.

If you take the honour guard, I feel there is only one way to play them. Out of a Landraider assaulting with your chapter master carrying a chapter banner. The extra attack provided by the chapter banner is what make this unit worth its points cost. However, their lack of an invunerable save means they won't get a save against power weapons, so when i use them I almost always send them into close combat with soldiers that lack any form of power weapons or rending. In these situations, their massive amount of attacks 5 each on the charge with power weapons allows then to cause absolutley massive damage, and they will still get their 2+ artificer armor save in return.

But still for points cost value, I can't see them edging out Terminator Assault Squads. For two reasons. First, for a squad of 4 + Chapter Champion + standard bearer, you are looking a rather steep fee when compared to the cheap cheap 200 points of a 5 man squad with lightning claws/thunder hammers. In addition to take them you are forced to take a Chapter Master who will come without any form of special weapons. If you are using them like you should, assaulting from the land raider, your chapter master will also never have the chance to use his orbital bombardment ability. As much as I love them, for fuff and look, and despite the fact they do perform well on the battlefield the fact they are tied soley to a chapter master and the sheer cheapness of assault terminators makes their usage quite limited. I dont feel the chapter master is a viable option so I tend to only take these when feilding a special character chapter master, like marneus calgar, or pedro kantor.

The Captain on the otherhand, is your best choice for a non-unique combat character selection. His biggest weakness is that he comes with almost no wargear, compared to say, the librarian or the chaplain who come standard with power weapons. This characters cost should really just be included with a power weapon since I fail to see anyone who would ever take him without at least that. He does however come with the exact same statline as the Chapter Master, making him somewhat of a combat monster, not to mention his 4+invunerable. I recommend him for larger point games, over 1000 points, where the additional cost of a power weapon or relic blade won't be too big a deal. For lower point cost games, I recommend avoiding him and takine one of the choices listed below.

As for the Command Squad, if you dont have any other decent close combat unit to attach your lord to I recommend taking them, simply because they provide feel to no pain to him, and the unit. However, if you do this keep in mind you will have to use the squad accordingly and avoid any enemies with power weapons or strength 8 or greater. If your armor save is negated your command squad will die as easily as a tactical squad, and feel no pain will cease to function. Also, be very careful about how you place your wounds in the squad, keep that apothacary alive. Without him, you are left with your lord inside what is essentialy a slightly overpriced combat squad. 

Chapter Master: Unviable. Pass.
Honor Guard: Viable, but better options. Use with a special character chapte rmaster.
Captain: In games over 1000 points with no special characters, great.
If you use special character, pass.
Command Squad: Semi-viable. Requires skill and finesse to use. Better option tho is usually a terminator assault squad to accompany your captain.

Art by Scraps

Master of the Forge
The master of the forge serves pretty much two purposes in the current space marine codex. He unlocks the ability to take an additional 3 dreadnaughts as Heavy Support, and also unlocks the conversion beamer, a weapon that gets more powerful the further away you are from the enemy. I think his repair abilities are simply fluff, and you will rarely find the chance for him to use them, instead of firing his conversion beamer.
If you want to field 6 dreadnaughts, probably for an all drop pod force, take him. I dont think the conversion beamer is good enough to include his justification soley for that.

Master of the Forge: Viable to change your force organization chart. Other than that, pass.

Art by Team-Preston

Librarians got a slight nerf in 5th edition, losing a wound and the ability to find an invunerable save outside of terminator armor and their own psychic powers. Even among the unique characters librarians lack more than 2 wounds, or the ability to get a invun.
Despite these loses, Librarians remain a viable choice, but they require an army based around them. However, I feel they are not worth their HQ slot in higher points games. As we pass 1,000 and go into 1,500 pts, 2,000 pts their abilities get more and more overshadowded by the spcecial characters, or tooled out Captains you could be taking for their slot.

But in 500 pt or 1000 pt games, I feel they are almost the character of choice. Coming with a force weapon (that counts as a power weapon), and a wide use of destructive or defensive psychic abilities, and the ability to nullify your opponents pyskers for only the base cost of 100 pts, needing no upgrading. Their wide range of powers can give them a game changing effect at smaller troop engagement levels. However, if you really want to include them at high points costs games, you cannot pass up terminator armor. I suggest placing them with a very shooty unit, like sternguard, and abuse the ability to continually deepstrike away from danger.

Librarian: Low Points cost games: Highly Viable, recommended.
High Points cost games: Less useful, but can still be functional. Take terminator armor here.

Art by Lordhannu

Our final choice from the HQ section for today. Tonned down quite a bit in the combat department, but nevertheless a viable choice. I can never seem to find the points costs for them in addition to the usual special character I take. however But if you can and you stick them with an assault terminator unit assaulting from a land raider, they are simply golden, with the re-rolling to hit. I don't recomend giving them terminator armor, no matter how cool the model is! Nor is a jump pack viable, with the decline of jump pack marines as viable choices in 5th edition.  Again they come standard with a power weapon in their 100 points price tag. I think they, like the librarian are great for smaller games, but over shadowed in larger games. Take him over the librarian if you wish to have more combat prowess instead of tactical flexbility.

Chaplain: Very good combat character for small point games, 1000 pts or less. Highly Viable.
Over shadowed by the Captain or Special character in higher points games. Semi-viable.

And that's all for today, tune in next time for unique/special characters!

Peace out and happygaming.


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