Friday, 18 August 2017

Space Marine Codex Review: Part 3- HQ Units

Part three of my review of the 8th edition Codex Space Marines will take a look at some of the HQ units that are available to armies of the Adeptus Astartes. I will not be covering every entry in the HQ slots that are available, mostly just the generic options, rather than every special character. 

HQ Units
The Space Marine Captain is the standard HQ choice and one which I think most players will go with when selecting the leader of their army. He is a solid character, able to perform well in the shooting and assault phase, depending on how you arm him, and provides some important benefits to nearby units. 

I'll start off with the benefits, as it is one of the reasons for taking the Captain in the first place. His "Rites of Battle" special rule allows you to re-roll 1's to hit for friendly Chapter units within 6" of the Captain. This may not seem like a lot, but can actually be a big benefit in games, allowing you to re-roll approximately half your misses in the shooting and assault phase. This really can make the difference in a balanced combat, or allow that Meltagun or Missile Launcher to actually hit the target. Also, the buff applies to Units within 6", not models, so with careful unit placement you can extend the range of this effect to encompass several units each turn. As mentioned in the Stratagems review, using the Chapter Master Stratagem upgrades the Captain to give full re-rolls within 6". Having used the Deathwatch Watch Master, who has a similar ability, I can tell you that it is incredibly useful and makes a big difference to the damage output of certain units. It is well worth the upgrade, if you have the Command Points to spare. Park the Captain next to a gunline and watch almost all your shots find their mark on the enemy army. This is especially effective if you are using other Stratagems to boost the damage output of your shooting units. 

On his own, the Captain is a solid character. In the shooting and assault phase, he hits on a 2+ re-rollable (thanks to the Rites of Battle rule), so should be hitting with all of his 4 attacks in combat. Even the Master-crafted Boltgun he comes armed with as standard is a solid choice, hitting on a 2+ re-rollable and doing 2 damage with each shot. Now that there is no longer any benefit in taking a Pistol and close combat weapon for the additional attack, there is every reason to arm your Captain with a combi-weapon to get an Meltagun or Plasma gun shot at increased accuracy. 

As for combat, you can arm the Captain with whatever weapons you like to use. Go for a Power Sword to cut through armour with ease, a Lightning Claw for re-rolls to wound (quite a benefit, as the Captain is only S4), or a pair of Lightning Claws for the extra attack. Power Fists and Thunder Hammers are also beneficial, as you get the increased strength and damage potential and are still hitting on 3+, re-rolling 1's to hit. It just depends what role you want your Captain to take in the game; support for shooting units or up close and personal, supporting the combat units. 

The gun and combat weapon combination is more effective in 8th edition, whereas in 7th edition, you tended to see the Captain with a Storm Shield almost all the time. A Storm Shield is still useful for the 3+ invulnerable save, but I feel it is not as necessary in 8th edition given the boost in stats the Captain has received and the inability of most units to target characters with shooting unless they are the closest model. Going up to 5 wounds has certainly benefited the Captain, in addition to all the other game changes. 

If you don't want to run the Captain on foot in Power Armour, the Codex provides a number of useful options. You can take a Jump Pack, giving you an increased movement and the ability to deploy from reserve. I have found this to be a very useful tactic for my Deathwatch Captain, as he can be used to seize objectives or go after isolated units to try and take them out. 
Taking a Bike gives you further increased mobility, as well as gaining a point of Toughness and an extra wound, helping the durability of your Captain even further. In addition, you get to fire both the Twin Boltgun and Master-crafted Boltgun, greatly increasing the firepower of your Captain. I will probably be experimenting with a Captain on a Bike to lead my White Scars army for a while. 
I don't normally run characters in Terminator armour, but the option is there is you wish to used it. In Terminator armour, the Captain goes up to 6 wounds with a 2+ save. In Cataphractii armour, you gain an extra wound and 2+ save, as well as a 3+ invulnerable save, but at the expense of reduced mobility. In Gravis Armour, you gain +1T and an extra wound. In addition, he comes with some decent combat weapons in a Master-crafted Power Sword and Boltstorm Gauntlet (x2S, -3AP, D3). 

As I also mentioned in the Relics review, there are a number of useful Relics to boost the offensive or defensive capabilities of your Captain. 

Overall, I think the Captain is a solid choice and will be a useful leader in a Space Marine army. At the moment, I am thinking of a Captain (or Chapter Master) on a Bike with the Teeth of Terra to lead my White Scars army. 

The Space Marines' ultimate psychic warrior returns. The Librarian is back, with a modest statline for 8th edition and access to some decent psychic powers to help boost your army. 

The Librarian has a decent statline, hitting on a 3+ in shooting and combat. He has S4, T4 and 4 wounds, with three attacks in combat. Force Weapons are now a solid choice for your Librarian. They have the same stats as regular Power Weapons, but with D3 damage for each wound. This is a solid bonus for the Librarian, and you no longer have to remember to activate your Force Weapon in the psychic phase. 

The Psychic Hood on the Librarian gives you +1 to deny the witch tests if you are within 12" of the enemy psyker. This is a nice bonus for helping you to block enemy psychic powers if you are in close range. This encourages you to get up close with your Librarian, blocking enemy psychic powers and making the most of your force weapon. 

The Librarius Discipline psychic powers are pretty decent, though I still think Smite is probably going to be used most often in addition to one of the other powers. 

He has a couple of mobility options in taking a Jump Pack or Terminator armour. 

I'll probably give the Librarian a few goes in my army to see how he pans out, but don't know if he will be a regular addition. 

The Chaplain returns to help your units in combat and to stay in the fight for longer. The Chaplain has the same stats as the Librarian, but hits in combat on a 2+. 

The big bonus of the Chaplain is that he provides re-rolls to hit in the fight phase for all friendly Chapter units within 6" and allows units within 6" to use his Leadership of 9 as well. This will help your units do more damage in combat and help them stay in the fight for longer if they happen to lose some of their squad. 

The Crozius Arcanum is also improved from 7th edition. It gives the Chaplain +1S, -1AP and damage of 2. This helps the Chaplain a bit in combat, as before he was not ignoring armour saves better than 4+. Given the re-rolls, he should hit with all three of his attacks, so will be able to cause a fair bit of damage on enemy units. 

The Chaplain also has access to a Jump Pack or Terminator Armour for additional mobility or increased durability. It's just a pity that the Chaplain can't take a Bike anymore, as I was looking forward to the boost to my Bike squads. 

A brand new addition to the HQ section of the Space Marine codex, the Lieutenant provides another important source of re-rolls for your Space Marine units.

The Lieutenant has the same stats as the Chaplain, but with a Leadership of 8. This is not such a disadvantage, as single models don't take morale tests. The Tactical Precision special rule grants re-rolls of 1 to wound for friendly Chapter units within 6". Combined with a Captain, this provides a great area of buffs for your Space Marine units, allowing them to re-roll 1's to hit an to wound.

The re-roll to wound buff will be great for units such as Devastator squads, where rolling a 1 to wound with your Missile Launcher or Lascannon can really mess up your turn.

The Lieutenant can also be equipped with a Jump Pack and a variety of melee weapons or combi-weapons, so can help to support your army in a variety of ways.

Overall, I can see the Lieutenant being a useful addition to my Space Marine army. I see him being parked next to a unit of Devastators or Tactical Marines to maximise their damage output.

This HQ unit is there to keep your vehicles up and running. Vehicles are incredibly durable in 8th edition, able to shake off several Lascannon shots and keep going, where they would have easily been obliterated before. The Techmarine is there to keep them going for even longer; Blessings of the Omnissiah allows the Techmarine to repair D3 wounds to a friendly Astartes Vehicle within 1" at the end of the movement phase. This will be great for keeping your tanks alive for longer during the game.

The Techmarine also has an improved ballistic skill of 2+, meaning that he may benefit from taking a combi-weapon to maximise his firepower. He also comes armed with a Power Axe and Servo-arm, meaning that he is no slouch in combat, able to take on tougher vehicles with the servo-arm (Sx2, -3AP, 3 damage).

If you are planning on running a lot of static vehicles, a Techmarine will be great for keeping them alive for longer. I probably won't be using him for a few reasons. The main one is that I don't own the model, the other is that I don't see much need for him in my general lists.

Primaris Characters
The new Codex also Primaris versions of the Captain, Librarian, Lieutenant and Chaplain. These have the same rules as the regular Marine versions, but come with an additional wound and attack.

The Primaris characters lack the upgrade options of their Marine counterparts for the most part, so no equipping them with Jump Packs or taking other weapons options. If you don't care about anything other than the standard options on these characters, then the Primaris options are a useful alternative; the extra wound giving them increased durability, while the extra attack should help them do a bit more damage in combat.

Kor'sarro Khan
The Captain of the White Scars is in the codex, but unfortunately has lost access to his sweet ride- Moondakken.

Khan has a Space Marine Captain stats, so is a fairly decent combat character and provides some nice buffs for your army in terms of Rites of Battle. In addition, he has the For the Khan! special rule, giving your units +1S when within 6" of Khan in the Fight phase if they charged that turn. This is actually a pretty good bonus, allowing you to wound most other infantry on a 3+. This should boost the damage output of many of your units if you can co-ordinate your charges for several units.

Khan also comes armed with Moonfang, a Power Sword that is strength user, -3AP and D3 damage. If he is targeting a character in combat, he attacks at x2S. This means that Khan is going to be pretty potent in combat against other characters, hitting at S8 (or S9 in the charge) and doing D3 damage per roll.

I can see Khan being of use in a combat squad in a transport vehicle, supported by Bike squads. As the White Scars can fall back and still charge, you can use this ability to get multiple attacks at +1S. Khan also got a points reduction to 107 pts, meaning it is even cheaper to take Khan in your army. It sucks that I can no longer take him on a Bike in the codex, but he can be used with the Index if you want.

So that is my review of some of the HQ units available in the new codex. Which characters stand out for you in 8th edition?
Space Marine Codex Review
Part 3- HQ Units
Part 4- Troops
Part 5- Elites
Part 6- Fast Attack
Part 7- Heavy Support
Part 9- Flyers


  1. Damnit, I still haven't finished writing this one, you beat me to it! ;)

    Of them all, I think the Captain is the big winner. A 'bare bones' chapter master is a great investment if you can spare the command points, as he's not all that expensive, but librarians are also definitely a good investment. If you're looking to be more aggressive, a chaplain with the crozius and a power fist isn't a bad shout, particularly if you've got an assault element in your army.

    Unless you're going vehicle heavy, don't bother with the techmarine, all his stuff is short ranged and he's not great in combat, if I could take one without the servo arms then I would be he gets comparatively expensive once you add in all the wargear. I'd only recommend if you're taking a thunderfire (actually not a bad option now that it's got some AP).

    Look out for my review of the HQ's over the weekend, and I'll be including all the special characters :P

    1. Haha, sorry Nick! I hoped to get my reviews done on release, but just haven't had the time. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts though.

      I think the Captain is the big winner. Shame you simply can't field the Chapter Master without using Command Points, but it does force you to make that decision when building your army or waiting to see your opponent's force before deciding.

      Still miffed I've "lost" my Biker Chaplain and Librarian. Guess I need to buy a Chaplain and get him a jump pack. I think the Crozius/power fist combo is a solid suggestion. Gives you the right tools to deal with a range of targets. Thinking of a Chaplain to "lead" my Vanguard Veterans and assault squad.

    2. Still in the process of building a list, but I'll be trying out a thunderfire cannon and two dreadnoughts with long range weapons on the back line, the techmarine can run the thunderfire and repair the dreads.

      Michael, you haven't "lost" your Bikers, you just need to refer to the inex rather than the codex to get them. I read an article where the developers were saying the codex focuses on mini's GW has a line for, and not things that require a conversion. Here is an article listing the units and linking to a GW FAQ on the topic.

    3. Yeah, I know they can still be used, but it would have been nice to have them all in one book and not have to flip through multiple books to use my army.

  2. I often played 1000pt games in 7th and always struggled to find a cost effective HQ for marines (usually a naked librarian, although Telion also cropped up A LOT...) so for me the biggest winner is the new Lieutenant, as they still give you a buff, are pretty decent in their own right and are dirt cheap if you run them bare bones.

    Also miffed at the lack of bikes for Chaplains/Librarians - all mine are Dark Angles though, so here's hoping the Ravenwing retain this ability when their codex drops.

    1. Having a range of lower cost HQ units should be great for lower points games.
      I too hope that the Ravenwing retain the ability to take Bike-mounted characters, other than the ones you can buy.

    2. My only issue is that, as far as I know, you can only take a primaris lieutenant and not a "regular" one. If I could take a "regular" one I would definitely run one.

    3. Ok, actually finished the article. So the lieutenant model is in the codex then? Only have access to the index entries. That's good if he is and I will have to wait and see if he pops up in the BA codex as well.

      Also, Khan not on a bike? That doesn't sound right to me, I don't think I've ever seen him without it!

    4. Yeah a lieutenant is well worth it!

      They never made a Khan model with a bike, hence no codex entry for him.

    5. Yeah, I understand why they did it, but it sucks for those that have gone to the effort of converting Khan models (and other Bike-mounted characters) for them to be excluded from the Codex.

  3. Boo sucks, I have a tasty Libby on a bike to paint, but why now bother.... might get his bike back in 9th Edn... is the Khan, Chappy and Libby have bikes in the Index? If so, could use those profiles?

    1. Yeah, GW have officially said you can use the Index for units not in the codex, such as bike-mounted characters or some of the Warhammer world command vehicles.