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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

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thy holy boltgun, sacred power armor, and pure, powerful soul, body, and mind.

As expected of an elite army, space marines are very well-equipped. A lot of the time, people forget this, but it's true. Let's take a closer look.
Standard kit for all proper marines is as follows: bolter or combat implement, boltpistol, power armor, krak and frag grenades.

Virtually every infantryman you can include will have this, usually with some slight variations. For instance, masters of the forge wear artificier armor, rather than power armor, and must pay points if they want an implement to beat people with. The biggest offenders of this rule are terminators, but in general, this is the gear you'll have, and can count on.

What this all means for you, the player, is that your infantry is capable of doing more than what's normally expected of simple grunts.

An example; ork boys are fighty, but don't shoot very well, and are powerless against vehicles.
A tactical marine fights adequately, shoots accurately, and hurts vehicles just fine.

This is partially because of his gear. Frag grenades let you charge things in cover, without going last. You also have a pistol, so can take a shot before you charge in. At range, bolters hurt light infantry, and vehicles don't like krak grenades one bit.

The ork boy in the example is cheap, but against an enemy at range, he dies very quickly. Orky bitz only provide a 6+ armor save, and will thus rarly be of any use. You, on the other hand, happen to be wearing power armor. This grants you a 3+ armor save - very good protection, all things considered.

However, as said above, the ork boy is indeed cheaper than the tactical marine - which brings us to the next part.

The boy is cheap, yes, but if he wants to accomplish anything, he needs backup. How much backup? Try eleven to twenty-nine more boyz. Compare this to your tactical marine, who needs four to nine buddies to accomplish things. If the boyz are reduced below 10 (easy to do), they start to falter, and no longer pose an actual threat to your army. A handful of boyz tend to die from bolter buttstocks before they even get to swing.

Everything taken into account and being fairly even, thirty unsupported boyz rushing ten tactical marines will likely lead to the boys dying, or taking heavy casualties before they even get to swing a single time.
Since your aim and gear are both so much better than theirs, they can't outshoot you. In fact, thanks to a very powerful, heavily underrated ability called combat tactics, they can't shoot you at all if their goal is mêlée, as you'll just fall back further from them, giving you more time to kill the boyz with your guns.

Should they ever reach you, your superior statline guarantees that you'll be going first, and that their return blows won't be effective. Even if they manage to win the combat, you're likely to hold - or fall back and regroup successfully, ready for more shooting, or a charge of your own. If you wish, you can even split your ten man squad into two units of five marines each, meaning the boyz now have two targets to worry about, and need to charge at least twice to win.

Tactical marines are weaponskill, ballisticskill, strength, toughness, and initiative 4. That's huge, and means every single squad you field can kill weak stuff in combat, at range, and soak any survivors' return fire.
They're also leadership 8, which is equal to - and sometimes better than - many armies' elites and characters.
Marines can regroup no matter how few of them are left, and will normally do so automatically at the end of their fall-back move. If you elect to do so, marine infantry can automatically fail any and all morale checks they're required to take - meaning you can disengage from losing combats and stalling battles, or fall back before combat even begins, due to enemies being greedy enough to shoot you.
All this in one package.

Veterans - of which you can field entire squads - have significantly more potent statlines, bring more gear, and have additional abilities over the above listed ones.

And now for the bad stuff.

You have limitations. Most are due to your army being formed of generalists. This means that you're capable of doing everything - fighting, shooting, dealing with armor, dealing with infantry, high reliability and durability, etc - but you're not the master of any given task, and specialists from other books will kick your marines' asses if given the chance. Thus, while you can't beat real combat units in combat, you can beat them at range, and enemy ranged specialists can be crushed in assault.

Your army is also small, and individual units are expensive in points. Care must be taken so you get the most out of your filled slots, spent points, and the army itself.

Next up, weapons.

Ed: If you have questions, ask away. Comments are highly appreciated, because they let us know whether you approve or disapprove of what's posted.

15 pinkments:

blackvigil said...

I am curious as to the purpose of this post and the others like it. I think that the common reader of 3++ knows these very basic facts. I am all about having a primer on Space Marines for beginners, but my response thus far has been; "Well written basic information. I wish this guy would post something that I didn't know"

Webway said...

I agree with black vigil "get on with it"!

Looking forward to an explanation of why combat tactics is so great - never saw it myself....

Polymorphine said...

This is more likely intended for the faint-of-heart, starting out noobs who just recently recovered from forumitis. Having said that, I think the article is very well written and should be able to enlighten the most helpless new player.

Purgatus said...

Combat tactics can be amazingly useful. In my Marine Biker army I have used it many times to great success. 3d6 fallback away from the assaulting enemy is the closest thing 40k has to a Fantasy "flee" reaction. It's gold.

Kirby said...

This was a massive article (like 30+ pages) sent into my by VT2. Rather than posting it all at once myself I let him post it in bits :P. It does trickle in and get into more nitty gritty but it is aimed at newer 40k players. Hopefully the later articles will be more suited for the veteran players where discussion and flaming can ensue happily =D.

Sage said...

It makes me want to play Rines, and I've never really liked them.

Icareane said...

I have to disagree with the ork boys/tactical marines comparison.

Against regular boys, a tactical squad can expect 1/2 long range volleys and 1 short range ->
(8+8+16)*2/3*1/2 = 10 dead orks on average without any sort of cover
missile launcher will kill maybe 2 more

On the charge (with waaagh we can assume the orks will charge).

Marines 12*1/2*1/2*5/6 = 2.5 dead orks (or 1.5 plus a wound on nob)

Orks 16*4*1/2*1/2*1/3 = 5.33 dead marines ... from the boys alone.

Second turn of combat :
5 marines kill 1.5 orks
14 orks kill 3.5 marines

See where this is going? And we're assuming the orks have no cover for the approach.

Shoota boys are even worse 30*2*1/3*1/2*1/3 = 3.3 dead marines, at 18" they outshoot you and if you close within 12" they will charge.

I play Ultramarines, with a heavy emphasis on tactical squads, and I love them. But please don't tell beginners that they can crush ork mobs unsupported.
Boyz are point for point one of the best troop in the game, whereas Tactical marines are at best average. Its the support and synergy with the rest of the army that makes them playable.

GreyICE said...

@Kirby - ugh. Seriously, I feel bad responding to this, as an article (since it's a small fragment, and maybe what I'm seeing will be addressed the very next bit), but I feel bad not responding to it.

Okay, well, might as well run it off - I'd rather have boyz than Marines. There, I said it.

The emperor's finest are not that good. For 15 points, they like getting 1 attack while sitting around. A 6 point boy gets 3. So when you have 2 marines sitting there, they get... 2 attacks. For the same points, 5 boyz can slam home 15 attacks. Lower strength, lower initiative, worse saves, but the marines are still dying.

Shooting? Those rapid firing bolters are nice, but I'd trade those 4 bolter shots for 10 Shootas, even at half the BS - you can charge afterwards, you're at full strength 18" away, and you just have weight of dice behind you.

The heavy weapons on the marines are nice... if their army didn't have better places to get virtually every one of them.

Vanilla Tac Marines do not excite me. Grey Hunters excite me (extra attack, cool upgrades, countercharge? YES PLEASE). Blood Angels excite me (all that AND sanguinary priests and other toys).

No, the problem with Orks has never been the boyz... it's that the boyz never get there. Ever. It's like having the Callidus Assassin... (that's the one that gets bonus AP 3 shots per psyker, isn't it?) it's really cool when it's working, but at the end of the day, it's got a 12" range and the model isn't exactly a terminator.

Oh yeah, and they tend to do smart things like claw a rhino off the board and then sit there and get shot by the squad inside and every nearby squad and then charged (hey GW, why not make units that destroyed a vehicle automatically locked in close combat with the occupants next edition?).

What's the best thing Marines have? They're transported by Rhinos and Razorbacks. Ork boyz get to ride in fail and lose.

AbusePuppy said...

Keep in mind that Flamer is going to inflict a bunch more casualties as well, ~4 or so in my experience (since they will generally get to make pretty ideal use of it.)

Tacticals are better than Boyz because:
-They get heavy and special weapons that are effective, and they get them for cheap. (Rokkits are not cheap, Big Shootas are not effective.)
-They get an excellent transport. (Trukks are terrible transports for Orks.)
-They have good support units and mesh well with the other units in their codex.

BA Assault Marines in a Rhino pretty much trade a special for a heavy and +1 attack for more points. Both they and GH are much more aggressively-oriented than Tacticals, which are at their best pillboxing on an objective and wrecking shit with their Multimelta.

Kirby said...

And do people not pay attention to the posters of articles? You all clamored to have the Post By line at the top of posts and it's there yet people still mis-attribute things!

Irregardless, Boyz fail at both combat and shooting. Ya you can put decent amount of torrent out but Shoota Boyz have minimal utilty and need to have a lot of numbers to be of any use and Sluggaz need the charge and even then are only okay in combat. Lots of A is great but when you lose 10+ Boyz when you charge because of Mob Rule against a semi-decent combat unit, well what't the point of a unit that does jack diddly?

Tac Marines don't do much either in terms of output but they can take a combi, special and heavy weapon plus their statline makes them hard to remove from objectives. Add in a 35 point transport which is one of the most cost effective things in the game, and they are a soild troop choice. Their offensive output is limited by that's what the rest of the FoC is for. That's also ignoring the firepower they can bring in Razorbacks.

You guys should know better than just spamming mathammer.

VT2 said...

Yeah, pretty much everything so far has been for newer players, but some of it's useful for older ones, too - like pointing out the basic principles.

It's a comparison that new people get.
Rather than type 'statistically speaking, if the flux capacitor is aligned to the phase-quad dish, and we point the math phasers at the power crystals...' you make a scenario.

Slugga boyz versus tactical marines.
The example teaches people that mass isn't everything, and while the boyz may be better at combat than marines, if they can't get there, it's kinda wasted.

For those interested, they're both bad troops, but like puppy said above, marines can do more, and they have something else that raises them far and above other bad troops in the game.

GreyICE said...

@AbusePuppy - You mean Tac squads get heavy weapons? Thanks! Never knew. They're still terrible places to get them, like I said (150 for base squad, another 5-10 points for Heavy Weapon 1, Rhino is an extra 35... 190 points? And Sarge doesn't even have a power fist).

If you didn't need troops to camp obectives, I'd happily ship out with zero troops choices from vanilla marines, and as is, if your troops aren't bikers (BIKER TROOPS!), Inquisitorial Stormtroopers would be my choice for anything beyond the 2nd troops choice.

As said (I wish ya would read me ;) Tac Marines are SLIGHTLY better than Ork Boyz, because they have more ability to bring threat to bear thanks to Trukks sucking and Battlewagons not even carrying a full squad (WTH GW, WTH).

You did also note Blood Angels and Space Wolves get good marines. Like me ;) Yes, yes they do. I will never mock Grey Hunters. I'll never knock BA Assault Marines. But they ain't tac squads, and tac squads don't even play them on TV.

Assuming Rhinos carried 20 ork boyz and Razorbacks 12, I'd HAPPILY throw away Tac Marines, with all of their awesomeness, and go take Ork Boyz instead. I think that would honestly upgrade itself to 'terrifying' in a real big hurry.

VT2 said...

It's actually 170 for 7 bolterdudes, a sergeant, one dude with a flamer, and one with the choice of heavy bolter, multi-melta, or missile launcher.

The standard pattern tactical squad (10 marines, rhino, multi-melta/missile launcher, flamer) is 205 points.

I'll get into that later.
Not a fan of tactical marines, either.

GreyICE said...


Wow. Sorry, been a tad since I tried to make a 'solid' vanilla marine squad. Nowadays every time I fire up the vanilla codex for Army builder, it always starts to look like Bikers or some Gun Dread build (and as for that, every time I get to troops, I remember why I don't play vanilla marines).

I was trying to minimize points cost, but 205? Jeez. I could spend another 40 or so points and just take a damn godhammer, and I could slap a melta on the top of that too. Not that I'm advising that anyone take a godhammer, they're kinda ass, but... ow.

VT2 said...

Yeah, it's kinda dire, and I'll get into that in two-three posts.

Note that most players will take a powerfist (+25), upgrade the flamer to a meltagun (+5), and give the rhino a hunter-killer (+10).

Tactical squads are very expensive, but essential if you're not running two certain builds.

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