Sunday, 8 September 2013

New Space Marine Codex - special character analysis

This final article will deal specifically with the special characters in the new codex and how they will boltster armies in which they are included. Here is the warlord traits table for reference. Again, all due credit to talkwargaming for the info (I wrote this before the release day BTW) and to the artists I pillaged some of the pics from.

Warlord Traits (Only One Chart for the Codex):

1. Angel of Death - Warlord and his unit have the Fear special rule.
2. Imperium Sword - One use only. Declare that your Warlord is using this at the start of one of your assualt phases. The Warlord and his unit have the Furious Charge special rule until the end of the turn.
3. Storm of Fire - One use only. Declare that your Warlord is using this at the start of one of your shooting phases. For the duration of that phase a single friendly unit from Codex: Space Marines within 12" of the Warlord may re-roll any failed to-hit rolls.
4. Rites of War - When taking morale tests friendly units from Codex: Space Marines within 12" of the Warlord use his characteristic instead of their own.
5. Iron Resolve - When determining your assault results add +1 to your total if the Warlord is locked in that combat.
6. Champion of Humanity - If your Warlord causes the enemy Warlord to be removed from play in a challenge he scores D3 extra victory points in addition in the usual amount of points given for slaying the enemy Warlord in this scenario. Note that killing the enemy Warlord in a sweeping advance does not reward these extra victory points.

Special Characters:

Marneus Calgar:

  • +25 Points
  • Artificer Armor standard (2+)
  • God of War: May use a single Combat Doctrine twice per game
  • Titanic Might: Re-rolls all armor penetrating hits in close combat. He may reroll glancing hits to attempt to get a penetrating hit. Must accept the second roll even if it is worse than the first.
  • Weapons and Ammo still the same. Terminator Armor still has Frag and Krak Grenades. Retain his Teleport Homer.
  • Terminator Armor is 10 points and doesn't prevent sweeping advances.Warlord Trait: Rolls 3 times on the Warlord Table, rerolling doubles, and chooses a single Warlord Trait.
OK, so he gained artificer armour as standard and is the only UM to retain the ability to choose to fail morale checks –this entire tactic seems to have been erased entirely from the book (i.e. backing out of combat) unless you take calgar, in which case you get the best of both the old and new chapter tactics. So, 3 particular special rules include rerolling to penetrate vs vehicles (not clear if this applies to wound also), using a single ultramarine doctrine twice per game and rolling 3 times on the warlord table.

To be honest none of the warlord traits stand out as being that significant. Indeed, one of them (storm of fire) is a very diluted version of the UM tactical doctrine, which you can get two of with Calgar anyway. Still, better than nothing I guess. Speaking of which, as I discussed in a previous article the tactical doctrine is likely the most useful anyway and so I can see that being the most frequently used.

The final specific rule bestowed by Calgar is to make it that you can have 3 honour guard units per FOC rather than the typical 1 per chapter master. This is highly situational, but with the points decrease on honour guard it is now more realistic to squeeze them into a 2000 point list while still being able to field a reasonable amount of troops etc. I think the best way to field calgar is definitely in a transport (even if it’s a drop pod) with his bodyguard of honour guard. The Drop pod is cheap and cheerful and means calgar has to tank for a turn absorbing nasty shots, so if you have the points for an assault transport then that’s the ideal. Overall I think Calgar adds a significant boost to the established UM tactics and in the bargain you get a hard as nails character with a unique and cheaper unit (honour guard) to boot. 

Captain Cato Sicarius:

  • -15 points
  • Surprise Attack: +1 to Reserve Rolls
  • Weapons still the same
  • Battle-forged Heros: Pick a Tactical Squad and they gain Counter-Attack, Infiltrate or Scout.
  • May still use the Coup-de-Grace with his sword.
  • Lost Rites of Battle
  • Warlord Trait: Imperium Sword
Now the points drop is much appreciated, but overall I think Sicarius lost more than he gained. No more tank hunters for a tactical squad, no rites of battle (nor chance to roll for rites of war on the warlord table) and the chance for a one-off furious charge. Plus he gained the ability to manipulate reserve rolls by +1.

I think sicarius may not be particularly popular in this edition as the standard captain can be outfitted to do more-or-less the same job for less points. There is a niche for him leading counter charges, ensuring your terminators/flyers turn up sooner rather than later and the occasional coup-de-grace (pulled it off a few times and it’s great when it happens), but overall (especially with the new captain being so UM inclined) I don’t think he’ll show up that often.


  • -65 points
  • +1 Wound
  • Master Psyker: May re-roll any or all of his rolls to choose which powers he knows. He has access to all the powers.
  • ML3
  • Hood of Hellfire: Psychic Hood that allows you to re-roll failed psychic tests
  • Rod of Tigiruis: Same as before with the addition of Soulblaze
  • Gift of Prescience: If your army contains Tigirius you may choose to re-roll reserves and apply the result to units of the same attachement.
  • Warlord Trait: Storm of Fire
There’s been a lot of hype about this chap now that he’s had such a drastic decrease in points, although he did lose access to all the former SM powers into the bargain. To somewhat compensate for this he can reroll to choose which powers he knows and has access to all 5 disciplines. (unlike a standard librarian) The hood of hellfire has a useful trick to avoid him suffering PotW and the ability to reroll reserve results is arguably better than sicarius’ +1 in that you can attempt to delay flyers arriving until after your opponents have arrived.

Despite being the only chief librarian in the book (shame other non-UM chapters can’t take one) I personally don’t see him as a commander, more of a second in command character. I prefer commanders to be able to go toe-to-toe with other commanders and to be honest, with a 3+ save, 2 wounds and no invulnerable save, he isn’t going to last long. Still, a good deal at 165, just a shame he can’t be taken in every army.


  • Zealot
  • All equipment the same
  • Warlord Trait: Angel of Death
Not much to say about cassius, except that again it’s a shame the only named chaplain in the book can only be taken for an UM force.


  • Chapter Tactics: Ultramarines
  • Same points cost
  • Same rules
This again I found frustrating. I can understand the logic of making characters such as calgar and Lysander specific to their parent chapter, but making telion specific to UM has meant that my IF Telion is now invalid. Wish that he had stayed neutral like chronus.

Sergeant Chronus:

  • -20 points
  • +1LD
  • He increases the BS of his tank by +1.
  • His vehicle gains It Will not Die
Chronus looks to be a great addition to an UM army with tanks in this edition, be they predators, land raiders or AA tanks. (see my previous article for more thoughts on chronus and AA tanks) The cheaper cost combined with +1BS and IWND is great. (and he retains the ability to jump ship once his ride is destroyed) HOWEVER, again he is limited to being in an UM army. Now I'll have to remove him from both my IH and IF lists, annoying as I'd gone to the trouble of converting the models. 


  • -35 points (bike is still 20 point upgrade)
  • Bike does D3 Hammer of Wrath hits
  • Furious Charge
  • If Khan is your warlord friendly models with the Chapter Tactics White Scars special rule that are bikes or have dedicated transports have the Scout special rule.
  • Khan makes all bike squads who are 5 bikes or more count as troop choices.
  • Warlord Trait: Champion of Humanity
The first almost auto choice for a themed army, Khan, as with captains and chapter masters, makes ALL bike squads of a certain size (5+) troops when on Moondrakken. Points drop is also great and he still retains the ability to make rhinos and bikes able to scout/outflank. This combined with the new whitescar chapter tactics (Hit and run, skilled rider, +1 to HoW strength, +1 to jink saves, ignore difficult terrain) finally makes the all bike (or bike heavy) whitescar list something to fear.


  • The Forgefather: If Vulkan is your warlord, all meltas, multi-meltas and combi-meltas in this detachment become twin-linked.
  • Lost Digital Weapons
  • No longer Master Crafts Thunderhammers
  • Warlord Trait: Iron Resolve
Always one of the more popular choices, Vulkan has lost a few bonuses, some of which have been rolled into/replaced by chapter tactics, one of which he retains. He can still pimp the meltas in an army, adding the final piece of the puzzle to a Salamanders army. This I much prefer as before he did seem very powerful for what he bestowed and the points he costed. Now, the chapter tactics do the flame side of things and if you want melta, you’ll need him too. The master crafting character weapons rule is great and stops spam of a particular unit (we all know which one) while allowing a small boost to most squads in a variety of fluffy ways. In conclusion, he’s an asset but by no means essential for fluffy salamanders.Oh, and lots of early rumours said he lost digi-weapons - he doesn't, they're part of his heavy flamer array but not listed individually under wargear.


  • -10 points
  • Stealth
  • Before deploying Shrike can only join a Jump Infantry unit
  • Lost Fleet
  • Weapons stayed the same
  • Warlord Trait: Angel of Death
Similar to Vulkan, Shrike has lost a few things to the Raven guard chapter tactics. It’s great that now he can’t infiltrate/scout with terminators like some people were doing before. I’m sure we’ll see him attached to Vanguard squads a lot more often now as he has to set up with jump squads if possible and is the only way to get infiltrating, permanent stealth. Plus this applies to the unit he's with, meaning it's the only way to get stealth on your bulky units i.e. jump packs. Not much more to say about him, except that, same as vulkan, he’s now a nice addition to raven guard forces but by no means essential.


  • +30 Points
  • No more Bolter Defenses
  • Icon of Obstinancey: All models with the Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics re-roll failed morale and pinning checks
  • Same wargear
  • Warlord Trait: Champion of Humanity
The big man is still a beast, and his points have gone up slightly to reflect this. Shame he lost bolster defences and obviously bolter drill is back, bigger and meaner as a chapter tactic now rather than a squad trait he bestowed. Icon of Obstinancey is a beautifully phrased and fitting rule harkening back to the Imperial Fists prior rules (i.e. stubborn) and I think his warlord trait will come in useful seeing as he’s still a beast in combat and hard as hell to kill.

Chapter Master Pedro Kantor:

  • +1 Attack
  • Oath of Rynn: If Chapter Master Kantor is your Warlord all models in Crimson Fist detachments have the Preferred Enemy (Orks) Special Rule. Furthermore, all such models within 12" of Kantor have +1 Attack while he lives. This bonus does not affector Kantor, and is not cimulative with the similar bonuses that the Chapter Banner gives.
  • Still has Hold the Line: Crimson Fist Sternguard Veterans are scoring
  • Same Wargear and points
  • Warlord Trait: Iron Resolve

Now Kantor I think has changed for the better, seeing as his warlord trait now help in assault and he now has proper chapter master stats (this was one of the best changes for the whole codex IMO) with 4A and 4W. He can of course still be instant killed, but his 3+ save armour is all the better for the extra wound and that power fist a bit more deadly for the extra attack. Still no reason to take a chapter banner with him around (again, a nice intrinsic bonus) and thanks to chapter tactics, all the army gain bolter drill and siegemasters. Bolter drill is great in the only army that can take sternguard as scoring and is likely to pack a fair amount of bolt weapons. I can see it now, a tide of orks vs a thin blue line of crimson fists, who get to reroll 1s to hit, then the same for overwatch, then all get +1 attack in combat.  Love it. 


  • +5 points
  • +1 WS
  • Rites of Battle - Gone
  • Crusade of Wrath: Once per game, during the Assault Phase, all models with the Black Templar Chapter Tactics gain Hatred and Fleet until the end of the phase.
  • Sword of the High Marshalls is the same (+D3 attack on the charge)
I must confess to not being all that familiar with BT characters, but on the surface of it Helbrecht seems pretty solid. He for some reason lacks an orbital bombardment – ironic considering how many crusade ships he commands. +D3 attacks on the charge is nice, but where he really seems to shine is with the crusade of wrath rule. Awesome for a spectacular charge with all your Templars, who can all of a sudden reroll charge ranges and to hit rolls. Pretty situational and you need the right sort of build for it, which is presumably why you brought Helbrecht along though right? I can’t say though that I’ blown away comparing him to say Kantor.


  • -10 Points
  • -1 BS
  • +1 Wound
  • -1 Attack
  • It will Not Die (replaced "Only in Death Does Duty End")
  • Zealot
  • Relics of Hellsreach: Any Black Templar of a servitor in 6" gains a 6++ Invunerable save.
  • Unmatched Zeal: Black Templar models within of 6" of Chaplain of Grimaldus have the Zealot special rule.
Grimmy seems a decently hard sort of bloke, with an extra wound, it will not die and Zealot. The 6++ is kind of flimsy and you need to buy the cenobytes to make it happen, but the ability to bolster not only his own squad but those around him with zealot seems to make him kind of like a better version of Helbrecht that you can use all the time, on the charge anyway. In fact, the role for both of them seems very similar so I’m not really sure which one has the benefit over the other. Grim is better for bolstering nearby units, Helbrecht a bit more of a tank. They both benefit from being in the thick of it surrounded by templars, however, which is how it should be! 

Emperor's Champion:

  • Uses HQ Slot
  • +50 Points
  • 2+/4++
  • Black Sword: AP2, Mastercrafted
  • Combat Stances: Smite the Unclean - +2 Strength, Black Sword is two-handed and unwieldy; Slay the Heretic - Rolls of 6s to wound are Instant Death
  • Bolt Pistol gives extra attack (unless using Smite the Unclean)
A bit lacklustre to be honest. Only 2 wounds depite the decent saves and even though he has an AP2 MC powersword, I can’t see many reasons to use the smite the unclean stance (+2S but unwieldy) over slay the heretic, especially in challenges. Take him for fun maybe but a marshall with burning blade is probably the same points.

Phew, well that about rounds things up with my thoughts on the SM codex. By the time this article goes live I will have pawed through the book several times and assembled many a model I'm sure! This looks to be a great release, though it does beg the question what lies ahead for the other Space Marine chapters needing a 6th edition hardback update. Will the wolves get some air support or simply AA? Will the Blood Angels once again become lords of the skies? Will the Grey Knights remain a separate entity or get rolled into an inquistion book with Sisters? The SM release has broken a few rules in terms of releases (no finecast, multiple plastic characters, larger than standard book) and so whether this is a one-off exception or whether future releases can also diverge from the established pattern remains to be seen. Cheers for now.                                                                                                                                                          

No comments:

Post a Comment