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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Primer: Why collect space marines?

Space marines are the posterboys of warhammer 40,000, and games workshop as a whole. They have the best, the biggest, and the most expansive model range, the most official support, and are always - ALWAYS! - guaranteed to have a functional, up-to-date codex, built for whatever edition the game is in. Marines will never be unplayable, and never outright useless. They will never have units dropped for real, either, because if any of these things were to happen, GW would lose such serious amounts of money that they'd risk going out of business. With marines, you run zero risk of getting an 'experimental' codex, having your investment in models devalued, or feeling that you just can't compete.

Up until 5th edition, marines used to suck - but not so much that they were the worst army. They were the very definition of average, and no one took them seriously. Third edition: lascannons and plasmaguns in tiny units of veterans and tactical marines. Fourth edition: assaultcannon terminators and sniper scouts.

No more.

With the advent and rise of Mat Ward, the emperor's finest have been upgraded. You have effective, cheap, ubiquitous transports. Powerful anti-tank and strong anti-infantry in almost every codex entry. Reliable units. Tanks that are actually worth it. Arguably the most killy and 'ardest mêlée unit in the game. Arguably the most points-efficient, effective, and useful psyker in the game. Cheap melta almost everywhere. Lots and lots of templates. Fast attack that's actually fast, and can attack.

Your armylist is extremely flexible, containing few dud units, little outright trash, and almost no weaksauce. It allows for a multitude of builds and options, plus scales fairly well both up and down - to a point. The one thing you don't have - and never will have, by design - is killy, effective troops. Or do you? Yes, you actually do, but they require a captain on a bike to unlock (yet more on this later).

The reality is, tactical squads will never cut it (more on this later), but your other troops usually do. This is a conscious choice on GW's part, since tactical squads are required by archaic law to be run in certain ways, with certain limits, and never officially allowed to have a focused role.

"An army with useful units in all slots, and built for 5th edition!? How could I have missed this?" Because you're a victim of forumitis. Forumitis leads you to believe that orks are 'top tier,' space marines are horrible, and eldar of both types require 'expert tactics' to play. Reading a million and one 'armylists' with dual chaplains, assault marines with jump packs, 4 tactical squads, a lascannon predator, a land raider, and a vindicator doesn't help, either.

The truth is, marines have the power, but unless you know this, you won't get much out of the book.
Marines have a lot in common with the force. Everybody's got access to it, but only a select few, who understand and embrace it, can wield it effectively.

This week, we'll be taking a closer look at 5th edition's most underrated codex, how it stacks up, and what 5th edition is really all about.

18 pinkments:

Chumbalaya said...


Behemoth said...

"Reading a million and one 'armylists' with dual chaplains, assault marines with jump packs, 4 tactical squads, a lascannon predator, a land raider, and a vindicator doesn't help, either."

Punching the 'like' button so hard right now

Steve said...

I wish this blog had a hand so I could high five it.

VT2 said...

*accepts virtual high-five*

fudal said...

Great post, I'm writing a post at the moment talking about why I don't think Space Marines are a good beginner army. However, I am a C:SM player and I do agree with you and think that they are a powerful army in the right hands. Looking forward to your follow-up posts!

VT2 said...

What makes marines the best starting army is the fact that pretty much all things you buy can be used for something. When they can't, due to say being legion of the damned, you can easily convert or paint them up as something that better fits your style, or has a place in your short- and long-term goals.

This makes new players feel great peace in their souls.

GMort. said...

I'm amazed that there are so many people who seem to believe that the Chapter specific Marine codices are automatically the best.

'Vanilla' Space Marines do Mechanised lists as good as (if not better) than BA or SW, can have scoring bikes, get a special character (Vulkan) that improves both your anti-tank AND your anti-infantry and also get access to Null Zone which is one of the best psychic powers in ANY codex.

Oh, and who can forget TH/SS Assault Terminators which are probably under-pointed by about 10 points a model, lol.

My original 'Vanilla' Mech. Marine list quite regularly kicks the fucking shit out of 'Flavour of the Month' builds even now.

Dezzo said...

My last Marine army was Black Templars.

I never played or owned a Space Marine army after that.

After seeing the trend of how the Marine codices are scaling up nicely, I'm reconsidering owning one again but definitely not the Grey versions (no gw support for TWC = not good sign).

The Blue and Red versions are on my shortlist but I am willing to wait for a bit more to see what eventually happens to the Black, Green and Spiky ones.

Sorrowshard said...

Vanilla marines are great , for the price point , which is what they should be, some of the builds possible when played well are brilliant, and there are more than one or two like some books.

Its an army that will be forgiving to a beginner due to not really having much that could be considered pants but will reward a seasoned vet of the book also.

Look forward to your write up very much as I fully agree with the above.


Auretious Taak said...


"VT2 said...
What makes marines the best starting army is the fact that pretty much all things you buy can be used for something. When they can't, due to say being legion of the damned..."

I'm gonna have to disagree here that Legion of the Damned don't have a place. It might be just me, because I do agree that the unit is overpriced horrendously and that the oversight of giving the LotD an invulnerable save only and not also regular power armour making them failtastic verse say Grey knights or anything packing allied inquisitors and invulnerable save ignoring weapons of win, I ahve found through my 5/5 comp legion of the Damned theme force that there is one make up, though still a little expensive, that is fantastically effective for the legion of the Damned:

5 legion of the Damned incl. Multi-melta, Meltagun and Sgt with Combi-melta = 215pts.

These chaps you deepstrike 4-5" or so next to your opponents biggest armour threat and the 3 melta's on average destroy any armoured vehicle comes into effect. the re-roll on the scatter dice is what does it. You pay out your arse for it but it hasn't let me down yet (well I mishapped against Chumbalaya and he placed them on the opposite side of the board in range of a Daemon Prince, 30 Bloodletters and a bunch of Fiends but other then that one time, lol!). Legion do have a place in the right army, there are usually better chocies elsewhere in the codex which makes such a get up inefficient costwise however. :)

Great opening article. I play Space Wolves and Space Marines yet at any tournament i've gone to I've run my Vanilla much cooler at times. :) Looking forwards to the next article in the series man.

Kirby said...

Good first article and there's another in the pipeline. I feel like I can put my feetup! lol

@Steve; do you know a computer programmer...?

@GMort; they don't think! I think Vanilla mech is better than BA/SW mech. BA mech is different (mini-Eldar) and SW does hybrid so much better *drool.*

@Taak; LotD are overpriced I'm afraid. It's a Marine statline essentially but only brings the ++ to the table and slow & purposeful. Sternguard are better expensive marines. The models are great though :P.

VT2 said...

Glad so many find this useful.
If you frequent forums or other blogs, point them here.

Auretious Taak said...

@Kirby, did I not say the LotD are horrendously and stupidly overpriced? You don't need to tell me something i've already stated.

Sternguard are what 125pts base, 35 for a pod and then a MG, a Combi-melta and a MM would come in at like 20-25 more points from memory meaning you are at 185pts, roughly 30 points less then the LotD, bringing 2 KP's rather then 1, no ability to move and fire that MM (the extra range is nice when the scatter takes you outside of melty death range at short) and more importantly, die VERY fast. Sure LotD die to torrented small arms fire just as easily but they don't die to Krak missile spam from say a strategically placed squad of LF's/Devastators/Land Speeder Typhoons and those Mystics with an allied inquisitor which is a common enough occurence that this is a plausible example, unlike the sternguard who just die. Throw in the fact the LotD are have that wonderful re-roll on the DS roll and it's quite a solid little investment, if only for occasional useage as, like I said, there are better choices. Whilst Sternguard are useful, they don't bring the same callibre of mobile melta to the table at a similar points value. Sure you can load up on bog standard combi-meltas and take a unit of 6 in a DP for the same points as that LotD unit but you are also then still at the same weaknesses as stated above. Suicide melta are what Sternguard in this role are,w hilst the LotD with soem luck aren't a suicide melta unit at all.

Throw in the fact that yes, it may be a veteran marine statline with2 attacks, but the sternguard are what? 5 pts cheaper base then a LotD model and bring something totally different to the army then just a reliable if somewhat less suicidal melta role then the LotD in this make up. Also, your Veteran Sgt doesn't have WS 5, which whilst it may not seem like a huge difference, ahs happened enough that the Sgt is alive with 1 other guy in ongoing combats that hitting MEQ's on 3's in combat does add up nicely. Oh, and fearless means you can tarpit if needed. Sternguard don't have that.

So ummm, no, your comparison is woefully wrong and generalistic without looking at the overall match up completely. Sternguard are better at other roles then the LotD. In a normal army there are better units for the price then a LotD unit, at the very least I'd be popping a Venerable Dread in a Pod with MM+HF and tempted by Extra Armour to keep him a solid threat for 200-215pts instead, but meh.

VT2 said...

5 legion. Multi-melta, combi-melta, meltagun.
215 points.

5 sternguard. 5 combi-melta, drop pod. 185 points.

Sternguard is the best shooting unit in the codex, and probably the game as a whole.
Legion of the damned are overpriced, useless, weak, and extremely expensive metal models, that have no role whatsoever, because everything they can do, sternguard do better, and for less points.

Auretious Taak said...

So just ignore all my other points.


Auretious Taak said...

P.S. "because everything they can do, sternguard do better" Oh you mean roll armour saves verse AP 1/2/3 weapons or against any of the multiple weapons which ignore armour saves in combat.


VT2 said...

4+ cover save is available to pretty much everybody.
If you just run 5 dudes, you're doing so with the knowledge that they won't survive after they've taken out their target, so spending less points is in your best interest.

The legion should have had 2 wounds and toughness 5.

VT2 said...

While we're on the subject of combat, let's look at the most important thing ever.

Sure, the legion can tank power weapons, but if they get charged, they're not going anywhere, ever - for any reason. Their fearless asses are stuck, so the enemy can chop them to bits over how many turns it takes. All that melta, locked in combat forever.

Sternguard, on the other hand, have combat tactics, so can break off if they survive the first turn of attacks.

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