I thought I would put the proverbial pen to paper and spend a bit of time thinking about Space Marine Captains in the new Codex. I’ll go over the role they play in the Codex, the loadouts, potential combos and how they fit with an army. This is pretty much a preamble to a painting guide I’ll be putting up in the next week that features a Captain from a lesser known Chapter.
Captains are in a busy section of the codex, there’s no denying that. In order to assess their role we must first look at what they’re competing with:
Chapter Master – a more badass version of the Captain, hampered only by a +40 point price tag and no access to command squads. They now however have mounted assault also and options for terminator armour unlike captains (see below). Access to the same wargear and relics as Captains makes them a somewhat better choice as for the same points you get more survivability (+1W) and more offensive ability (+1A).
Librarian – no longer a front-line combat monster for the past few editions, these chaps are best if you want cheap psychic defense or just a cheap HQ. The lack of an invulnerable save hampers them (so terminator armour +/- storm shield is always an option) in challenges but they, like Captains, have access to special issue wargear and chapter relics for beefing them somewhat. Whether you want to sink the relic points into a 2W character with a mediocre statline is another matter.
Chaplain – same as with the librarian, this chap is more of a second line HQ or a force multiplier in close combat. He’s OK in combat and packs an invulnerable save to boot. He is a good one to compare to the Captain as he’s the same points, same saves, just weaker stats. He does pack a special ability and power weapon though.
Master of the Forge – same as the Chaplain, he’s the same points as the Captain and packs a slightly different statline to the Librarian and Chaplain, swapping WS/BS and coming equipped with several weapons in the form of a servo harness and artificer armour as standard. This guy is a bit of a wildcard and can fulfil a number of different roles, be they shooty or CC orientated. He’s quite nice as a loner or as part of a squad and TBH requires an article all on his own. His FOC ability is a bit mediocre, but his ability to repair vehicles (especially in an IH army) and bolster defences are a nice little trick too, though beware underutilising any equipment you give him by putting him on repair duties.
Terminator Captain – an odd little entry this one that I still haven’t got my head around. The Chapter Master entry has options for terminator armour yet the Captain doesn’t, and has this separate entry instead. The only reason I’ve found so far is that the Terminator Captain isn’t specifically mentioned under the Command squads entry, though Lysander can take them so it’s a bit ambiguous on the reasoning. For the purpose of this article I will assume they are one and the same and consider the wargear later.
Special characters – 5 of the 12 special HQ characters are Captains and each fills a different niche – a terminator Captain (Lysander), a JP captain (Shrike), a bike Captain (Khan) and a couple of artificer armed footslogging Captains. For the most part, these chaps are about 25-40 points more than building a Captain with similar equipment (Shrike is more than that and arguably overpriced this edition). However, for this you get a guaranteed Warlord trait and a benefit in the form of their special rules. For the most part these chaps will see more action on the tabletop than a generic Captain, mostly as they fit with themed armies specific to their Chapter. They don’t, however, gain access to the Chapter relics, one of the areas where generic Captains and Chapter masters can shine.
In conclusion, the Captain is primarily a combat/challenge beast and should be used accordingly. If he’s not killing things then he’s not justifying his points nor the points of any upgrades you give him. If you skip spending many points on him then you have to accept that his survivability and offensive potential will be limited. However, tool him up to be expensive then be prepared for him to go to town on your opponents army.
That’s it for now, next up wargear. Cheers.