Thursday 27 February 2020

New Space Marine FAQ

A new FAQ for the Space Marines had dropped today. This shakes up some of the more powerful Chapters and units in the game. 

I think most people can agree that the Space Marines have been dominant in the game since the release of the new codex and supplements. These new rules are an attempt to address some of these issues, let's take a look at how they are doing. 

This is a huge change for the rules and will have a big effect on a number of armies, most notably, the Iron Hands, who have been using the Devastator doctrine to very good effect. 

Space Marines now have the Devastator doctrine in turn 1, the Tactical Doctrine in turn 2, then in turn 3 can choose the Tactical or Assault Doctrine, and the Assault Doctrine from turn 4 onwards.  This new rule forces players to move through the Doctrines, so they cannot stick with the most powerful one for their army for most of the game. 

This is a big counter to the power of Iron Hands and Imperial Fists armies that were very powerful in the tournament setting. The ability to move and fire heavy weapons without penalty, as well as re-rolling 1's to hit was a massive boost for the firepower of Iron Hands armies in the game, getting this ability from turn 1 for the whole game made them one of the strongest armies in the game (in combination with a number of other abilities). 

Now, you get one turn with the bonus to your firepower, then must move into the Tactical Doctrine. Additionally, the Tactical Doctrine has become slightly less effective for the Raven Guard, as you can only get the bonus for a maximum of two turns. 

This actually makes armies that have a doctrine bonus in the Assault Doctrine a bit more powerful, as this is the doctrine you will be using the most in games. Depending on when you switch the doctrine, you have to spend around 50% of a standard game in the assault doctrine, or up to 70% in a seven turn game. 

This change will actually have little effect on my White Scars army, as I tended to activate the Assault Doctrine on turn 3 anyway. This means most Marines will be in a similar situation, but the White Scars get the damage bonus that will help them out against other Primaris Marines. 

This won't do much to limit the firepower of the triple Repulsor Iron Hands list, other than having to sit a Captain or Chapter Master next to them to get the re-rolls, if you weren't doing this already. However, for the flyer list, they will be less effective after turn 1, not getting the re-rolls and suffering the -1 to hit for moving and firing. Equally, Intercessors with Stalker Bolt Rifles will only get a turn of damage 3, increased AP firepower. 

This will be a big change, as if you are going second, you can simply try your best to hide your army on the first turn, stopping your opponent from utilising the bonus for their first turn. It will also not do much for artillery-heavy armies on the first turn, as many of these units do not require line of sight to fire, so an army that can smash you with indirect fire on turn 1 will still be able to do so with the bonuses intact. 

The other change is that the Adaptive strategy stratagem is now gone, preventing you from reversing the clock on the doctrine changes to keep in line with the new rules. 

Duty Eternal
A big change for this one, is that the damage is reduced by 1 for Dreadnoughts, rather than being halved. In addition, it cannot be combined with other methods that reduce the damage of the attack. 

This is a big boost for taking out these vehicles, as you can no longer combine the stratagem and Iron Stone. 

High damage weapons, such as the Lascannon and Missile Launcher can now do more damage to these vehicles if you get a good roll on the damage result. In addition, you can no longer reduce the damage on a Thunder Hammer to 1 if used with the Iron Stone, and White Scars in the assault doctrine will still be doing damage 3 on the charge. 

This makes dealing with character Dreadnoughts more manageable, as you cannot simply keep buffing them to stop a ton of damage getting through. 

Cogitated Martyrdom
This stratagem can be used to pass off wounds on characters onto nearby Iron Hands' infantry units. It could be exploited to be used on character Dreadnoughts to keep them alive for even longer. 

This has been changed that it now only works on Infantry characters. This gives your characters a chance to stay safe from sniper weaponry, but no longer allows Chaplain Dreadnoughts to pass off wounds. It also occurs before any ignore wound saves are made, so you don't get to do double "Flesh is Weak" saves on both the character and the unit taking the wounds. 

With the changes to Duty Eternal, this makes the Chaplain Dreadnoughts much more manageable. 

Master of Ambush
This warlord trait no longer works on Centurion models. This stops you from using the trait to move Assault Centurions to the enemy front line, forcing you to either put them in reserve or to march across the battlefield to get into range. 

You can still ambush these units using the stratagem to arrive on turn 2, but this gives your opponent more chance to screen out important units and push your ambush deployment backwards on turn 1, rather than being unable to do anything against the units if you get the first turn. 

As well as the Raven Guard stratagem, you can still use the White Scars' Encirclement stratagem to bring the Assault Centurions in from reserve on a board edge. 

GW have made some significant changes to how certain Space Marine armies will play in the current meta. I think this will have the biggest influence on Iron Hands armies, which is reasonable, as this was one of the biggest problems in the game at the moment. 

As I have said, this isn't going to have much effect on my White Scars army, but I don't think anyone was that worried about the White Scars in competitive play. 


  1. I hope you're with me in feeling sanctified and smug that the White Scars Codex didn't need a new set of FAQs. My Mantis Warriors are certainly rejoicing in their creed right now.

    1. The White Scars did escape unscathed. However, I don't think they were really a problem in the game.

  2. On the doctrines and complied with the new ITC set up and go first rules, going second is a huge advantage. I applaud the damage reduction change as it still fits with the lore of the army, but goes along with the rest of the rule set, like Orks only being able to heal one wound per vehicle per turn. As for the centurions, I applaud this too, as I probably won't see them again, but they are not too tough to take out with some war bikers and buggies...

    1. Agreed. I have my first tournament with the new ITC rules, so interesting to see how they fare. I have included a khan on Bike in my army to test out the Postman rules with him.

  3. I think these are an entirely sensible set of changes by gdubz expect leviathan dreads on ebay. The other thing it makes clear is do not chase meta as you will be wasting your money. As for me I will stay getting my ass kicked with my GSC!

    Nice write as usual Mikey C



    1. Already started, kneejerk neckbeards or joke listings - regardless of the meta and effectiveness of minis, I could not part with any mini I have lavished paint on :) Most of those Levi's bought will probably be re-casts anyway so no loss to FW/GW sales.

  4. Reading the designers commentary and the reasons behind these changes, good work GW, totally in agreement - SM should not be "Guard in Power Armour" sitting back and pummelling from afar, they close the enemy and are a rapid response force.