Sunday, 1 September 2013

Getting the most out of the new chapter tactics

This is a brief article more for sorting the new rules out in my own head that anything else. I won’t really be going into detail about the strengths of the new units or the possible combos with relics aliies and special characters (maybe next Sunday), but will instead focus solely on the new chapter tactics. Caveat being this is based on the rumours rather than being concrete fact, but I think at this stage most of it will hold true. Note, all credit due to talkwargaming for the rumour roundup I borrowed HERE. My text added in red:

Ultramarines - Combat Doctrine: This detachment can utilize each of the following combat doctrines once per game. To do so at the start of your turn you state which combat doctrine you wish to use, if any, until the start of your next turn. You can only use one combat doctrine per turn.
  • Tactical: Units in this detachment re-roll ones while shooting, unless they're tactical marines and they re-roll all failed to hit rolls in the shooting phase.
  • Assault: Units in this detachment can re-roll their charge range. Assault squads, bikes, or attack bikes instead have the fleet rule.
  • Devastator: Units in this detachment may re-rolls to-hit on snap shots, including overwatch shots, in addition models in this detachment's Devastator squads have the relentless unless they disembarked from a transport in their movement phase.
So, this is the chapter tactic that rewards the most balanced army, and rightly so seeing as they are the most rigid followers of the Codex Astartes. Note that only units with chapter tactics benefit, so no vehicles even dreadnoughts as it stands. An army with lots of tactical marines will benefit from the tactical doctrine, but rerolling ones when shooting on every unit (including devastators, sternguard, psykers etc) is none too shabby. A carefully planned execution with your units in the right place at the right time could see this being devastating. Note though that it only applies in the shooting phase, so no overwatch shenanigans. 

The assault and devastator doctrines are, in my view, less useful. I can see the reroll charge range being good for terminators and vanguard (shame they don’t get fleet), but fleet is a bit more confusing. (someone clear this up for me please) I thought bikes couldn’t benefit from fleet and obviously there’s little advantage to using your assault doctrine in a turn when your assault marines are going to run as then they can’t assault. Bit confusing as it essentially seems good for a turn of all out assaulting, but to me doesn’t seem to benefit the assault marine part of your force. The devastator doctrine I can see being very useful in a turn when you are expecting to be charged to death the following turn. Allowing a reroll on overwatch when you get charged may prove useful and allowing your units to reposition anticipating the charge and reroll snap shots is also very useful. In addition, your devastators can similarly reposition (outside charge range?) and still fire as normal. I think it’s good that this doctrine doesn’t apply when disembarking, otherwise how many 3x 10-man squads combat squadding in drop pods with multi-meltas would have appeared on the tournament scene!?!

In conclusion, I can only recommend taking a balanced force with as many tactical marines as possible and then planning on using your chapter tactics in the right situation. Timing will be crucial to get the most out of this, so plan when you want a full-on ranged assault, close-combat assault or need to redeploy and brace for an assault yourself. Very nice set of rules that should hopefully portray space marines (UMs especially) as they were meant to be.  

  • Born in the Saddle: Models in this detachment with the Bike Unit Type automatically pass Dangerous Terrain tests, and recieve a +1 to their Jink Cover Saves. In addition add 1 to their Strength when resolving their Hammer of Wrath hits.
  • Fight on the Move: Models in this Detachment have the Hit and Run Special Rule. Note that this does not include models in Terminator Armor, Devastator Centurions or Assault Centurions.

These rules are similarly a great representation of the whitescars and will reward players who stick to the fluff and field a themed force. This is reflected in the fact that centurions and terminators do not get one of the special rules, namely hit and run. This is a great addition to the whole army for getting your squads out of a scrape (if you’re on the receiving end of a charge that isn’t going well) or for turning up the damage factor by backing out of an assault in your opponents turn, shooting at the target with several units and then charging back in with an assault bonus. A great rule for all units in one way or another.

Born in the saddle makes whitescar bikers on par with Ravenwing finally. This will reward bike heavy lists allowing them to gain +1 to their jink saves, worry not about dangerous terrain and give them a bit more punch in assaults. Though outflank charges are now a thing of the past, this should hopefully encourage some bold cross-table charges now that dangerous terrain isn’t a problem and cover saves more favourable. I will talk about how this only gets better with a bike captain or Khan in a separate post.

In conclusion, whitescar lists now favour bikes heavily and encourage less bulky units to be taken. Hit and run should hopefully allow more tactical flexibility and manoeuvrability thus encouraging some non-bike units to be taken also. No perks to transports, although I will still be fielding a pair of rhinos with tactical troops in. (again, Khan seems the best option for this but will discuss later)  

  • Bolter Drill: Models in this detachment may re-roll all to-hit rolls of 1 made with a bolt pistol, boltgun, stormbolter, heavy bolters, or combi-weapons that are firing as boltguns. This rule does not apply to Helfire, Kraken, Vengence or Dragonfire rounds.
  • Siegemasters: Models in this detachment in Devastator squads and Centurion Devastator squads have the Tank Hunter special rule and add +1 when rolling on the building damage table.
Well, Imperial fists certainly got a boost in the form of bolter drill being universally available. It’s a good thing that special issue ammo didn’t benefit from this as triple sternguard lists would be cropping up everywhere. This obviously will benefit any unit with chapter tactics and a bolt weapon which, handily, all the infantry in the army have. (wish I didn’t have those sniper scouts now) Tactical squads with heavy bolters may show up a bit more now, especially with missile launchers costing more. 

Where the plot thickens is with siegemasters. Devastators and dev centurions both benefit from now being able to add +1 to the building damage table (a bit situational but still fluffy) and also, more handily, gaining tank hunters for a reroll to penetrate. This has many possibilities, such as making long-range multi-melta shots more effective, lascannons very attractive options and also making even gamble shots with flakk missiles a bit more attractive. Then the paradox sets in. devastators with 4 heavy bolters or devastator centurions with hurricane bolters and heavy bolters suddenly benefit from bolter drill, but find tank hunters mostly wasted. Also, devastator centurions are the only unit in the game to pack grav-cannons – which look like they will be popular but won’t benefit from either rule.

In conclusion, I think that missile/lascannon devastators/centurions will be a great addition to Imperial fist armies and will make the best use of their siegemasters rule at the cost of bolter drill. Leave the bolter shooting to the rest of the army in the form of tactical squads mainly.  

Black Templars - BOTH RULES ALL TIME
  • Accept Any Challenges, No Matter the Odds: When engaged in a challenge, Black Templar Characters reroll all failed to-hit rolls, and have the Rending Special Rule.
  • Crusaders: Black Templars have the Crusader and Adamantium Will Special Rules. In addition Black Templars have access to a special unit called a Crusader Squad.
A matter of great controversy so far is the inclusion of Templars in the main codex and the adjusting of their rules. Accept the challenge is good assuming you have enough characters in the army capable of going toe-to-toe to make good use of it. Even a Sword brother with a power sword would have a reasonable chance vs, say, a terminator sergeant. Sure they’d strike at the same time but assuming the templars charged, you’d be looking at 3 hits needing a 6 to rend and inflict the AP2 wound. When you put this on a chapter master with storm shield and relic blade, the unit becomes excellent at penetrating rear armour and taking on 3+ (and potentially 2+) save armour. (though I wouldn’t fancy their chances vs Lysander still)

Crusaders gives (surprise) the crusaders rule to Templars, allowing a further D3 follow-up out of combat and an additional dice for determining run distances. Not bad, but not as effective as the old rules perhaps. Admantium will is a great and fluffy addition considering they have no way outside of allies to gain psychic defence. The loss of librarians is balanced by the gaining of crusader squads. These chaps can be double the size of a tactical squad by filling out with cheap neophytes (scouts) and can now have a sword brother (sergeant) leading them also. One other thing makes this squad really stand out and that’s the fact that they can apparently take both a special weapon and a heavy/melee weapon regardless of squad size. Therefore we are left with two, unique Templar builds which are both very useful and historically unique to templars. A 20-man squad with a special weapon and ‘hidden’ power fist/weapon, and a 5-man special and heavy weapon squad for fire support. On the surface of things this greatly benefits templars (las/plas minmax squads in a rhino anyone) compared to their codex bretheren.

In conclusion, I think Templars have come off OK from the adjustment and that we will see crusader squads dominating in various different builds. Sadly, the limitations of the crusader rule compared to Templars old righteous zeal rule means that we’re unlikely to have the horde-marine army I had hoped for.   

  • The Flesh is Weak: Models in this detachment have the Feel no Pain on a 6+ Special Rule. Note that if they benefit from more than one instance of Feel no Pain they use the best version available.
  • Machine Empathy: All vehicles and characters in this detachment have the It Will Not Die special rule even though vehicles do not have Chapter Tactic special rules. Furthermore, Techmarines and Masters of the Forge in this detachment add +1 to their Blessing of the Omnissiah rolls.
Nice, fluffy rules for these chaps. The flesh is weak grants all models in the army with chapter tactics a 6+ FnP roll – useful when the dice Gods are on your side and not too overpowered as plain FnP would have been. One other thing worth mentioning is that thunder hammers are now back on the cards for tactical sergeant! No Terminator armour (supplement maybe?) but a step in the right direction.

Machine Empathy is another great, fluffy rule which gives all vehicles (note that other chapter tactics do not affect vehicles) and characters (not much use on sergeants) It will not die, so they can try to regain a wound or hull point at the end of each turn on a 5+ if they’re not already dead. Awesome! This will be great for land raiders, venerable dreadnoughts and captains/chapter masters. In addition, blessing of the omnissiah now gains an additional +1, helping to keep these units alive even longer still.  

Now they may have been screwed with the special characters, but despite initial community scepticism I can see Iron Hands armies being very effective. I think that a dreadnought and vehicle heavy army with dual HQs (chapter master and MoTF) plus techmarines would be very competitive, especially with use of relics and wargear on the chapter master. (more about that next week)  

  • Flamecraft: Models in this detachment can re-roll their saving throws against wounds caused by flamer weapons as defined by the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. Furthermore, flame weapons used by models in this detachment re-roll failed to-wound rolls and armor penetration rolls that don't cause a glancing or a penetrating hit.
  • Master Artisan: During the army selection each character in this detachment may upgrade on of his weapons, even one they have purchased as an upgrade, to have the Mastercrafted Special Rule at no additional cost.
Flamecraft works both offensively and defensively, in that all flame weapons (now including flamestorm cannons) reroll to wound. Even better, they also reroll to penetrate so if you get a lucky collateral hit on a vehicle from the right angle you never know. In addition, salamanders can reroll saves against flame weapons. Pretty situational and sadly the most common flame weapons tend to be of the AP3 heldrake variety, but still with orks and Tyranids on the horizon it could be handy to have around.

Master artisan is a nice touch which will reward every character in the army. Obviously the more characters in your army, the more benefit you will get. Each of these upgrades can be tailored to the needs of the squad, so a TH/SS sergeant can get the reroll in case he ends up in a particularly hairy challenge, or a tactical sergeant with a combi-melta that absolutely needs to pop a transport or tank. A nice if somewhat situational touch that will make people think twice about loadouts on their characters.

In conclusion, I think we may see a drop in the TH/SS spam of old and perhaps a drop in the amount of melta (unless they bring vulkan) compared to other special/heavy weapons. Other than the flame weaponry, there are no real contra-indications or benefits to particular units and thus anything goes for the most part still, compared to say whitescars where bikes will predominate and imperial fists where devastator units will be commonplace.

  • Strike from the Shadows: Models in this detachment have the Scout Special Rule. In addition, on the first game turn, models in this detachment have the Stealth Special Rule. Note that units that include models with the Bulky or Very Bulky Special Rules do not benefit from either rule.
  • Wings of Deliverance: Jump Infantry Models in this detachment may use their Jump Packs in both the movement and assault phases of the same turn. Futhermore, they must re-roll all failed to-wound rolls caused by their Hammer of Wrath hits.
Raven Guard have been another much talked about army (along with Imperial Fists) as being the stand-out choices in the new codex. Strike from the Shadows gives all non-terminator/centurion foot-infantry scout, allowing you to close with the enemy frighteningly quickly or respond to enemy deployments. Alternatively you can choose to outflank the enemy with these units. Although they can’t be made troops, wings of deliverance means your jump troops can both ignore terrain in both phases and gets to move 12” in the movement phase, reroll charge distance and make hammer of wrath attacks that reroll to wound! I’m very glad I have two full size assault squads in my army!  

I think infantry heavy Raven Guard armies with a focus on tactical squads and assault squads will be a great way to play raven guard. Mechanised tactical squads will also be able to outflank same as their whitescar bretheren can with Khan in tow. 

That's all for now. Please chip in with any other thoughts and discussions as I'm eager with anticipations for the Codex and keen to discuss any and all things Space Marine. Cheers. 


  1. Great write up, enjoyed the read and hearing your thoughts on the different chapter tactics.

  2. Hey, found your blog through a plug from From the Fang, and I just wanted to say I'm ecstatic to have another blog devoted to Loyalist marine armies to add to my favorites list. They're much harder to come by than one would think.

    I used to play Ultramarines and contemplated picking them up once again, but once I learned the tactics weren't nearly as broken as they were first rumored to be (permanent re-rolls) I think I will leave them on the shelf. Though the new Tigurius, Calgar, and reduced Honor Guard are definitely on my mind.

    Will be going Raven Guard myself. I need to buy at least 10 ASM just because I've always wanted to play with jump pack units and now I have the excuse. The RG tactics say "model" whereas White Scars say "vehicle" but depending on how it goes, you MIGHT be able to give Scout to dedicated transports including the Land Raider to have one squad of scouting Terminators. Probably not though, but it would be nice considering Shrike no longer can join Terminators nor Infiltrate a squad.

  3. Welcome to the blog - nice to have you visit. I'll be posting shots of my armies over teh next week so check back to see the full extent of my power armoured depravity!

    I wouldn't give up on the UMs just yet. I think their tactics look very well balanced added to the fact that, as you say, both Calgar (allows use of one doctrine twice), his honour guard (cheaper) and Tigurius (much cheaper) are all good options.

    As for Raven Guard, yeah load up on those assault marines as they'll definitely from their chapter tactics. My interpretation was that all infantry except those with bulky/very bulky (so no terminators) gain scout, and as per the scout USR they gain the ability to confer this to their transports. The main difference therefore being that WS DTs including land raiders for terminators (though they don't get H+R) can benefit.

    Looking forward to trying out all these new play styles!