Well they're here. Months after the initial teasers that a fair few decried as conversions (I personally always believed them to be the real deal) we now have official photos and the lowdown on marines 2.0, or Primaris Astartes as we now know them to be called. I thought I would talk a bit about them and give my thoughts. To best go about this I'm going to split the article into 3 and talk about first the concept, then the models and lastly the rules.
So GW are continuing with their storyline advancement and revealing what it was that Guilleman tasked Cawl with for the past 10 millennia. There has been some outrage about this from fans, calling weak plot device and cheap sales gimmick. I don't mind the storyline myself and see it as a natural progression of things. The Imperium is at its lowest ebb, enemies striking from all sides and now one of the Emperors sons returns with a new crusade to, if you'll excuse the TF reference, light their darkest hour.
But as we know GW is mostly driven by money, and this new AoS style ruleset now has its very own 'Sigmarines'. This isn't as surprising a move as one would expect given the current SM range and the last releases. One got the impression that, between Centurions, the stalker/hunter and the Stormhawk, GW were getting a little desperate to find units to fit into the SM range. They filled this gap nicely with the Horus Heresy marines, but there's only so many plastics one can release without invalidating the FW range. As far as I can tell, the only units that need plastic representation in the SM codex (if you ignore those such as dreadnoughts, scouts and teminators desperate for updates) are techmarines/servitors/thunderfires and honour guard, neither of which are going to be huge sellers. (Note, I still hold out hope that we will get chapter upgrade sprues for the other first founding Chapters at some points and, given that the pads are compatible with Primaris I actually think it's all the more likely)
Anyway, back on track. There was a need for them to revitalise the SM range and rather than take a gamble (which they would probably lose) and invalidate the entire range with a revamp, they chose the middle ground and designed these chaps, the Primaris Astartes. Bigger, better and faster than a regular Astartes, they chose to make them so they could be both used as an army on their own (more on that later) or as a supplement to an existing force - from a collectors point of view this is ideal as you can either ignore their existence, add a single unit to your collection or go all out and buy a whole army of them. Speaking of which, it has been stated that we will be getting about half a dozen units which I expect to fill out the regular assault, devastator and terminator roles as well as a dreadnought and vehicle.
I do like the dynamic of how some Chapters are willing accepting of them as reinforcements but others are more hesitant, seeing them as an abomination of the Emperors work. (Templars I'm guessing) Also, it is implied that the enhanced abilities come with enhanced gene flaws, which may not work out too well for BA and SW. The nomenclature, however, is one thing I don't like as it doesn't fit with the rest of the SM range. We go from tactical, vanguard, scout to Intercessor and likely a whole range of such named models. (again, shades of AoS here) As for Mk IX armour, I can't believe this is lazy or an oversight by GW. I'm sure we'll get Mk IX at some point in the near future.
Standing broader and a head taller than regular marines, the design features from several past MKs of armour can all be seen. GW have stated that they are cross compatible with heads and shoulder pads from the standard lines, making it easier to accesorise them to fit in with other chapters such as BA/DA/SW. I love the look of the bolters and also the plasma weapons we have seen. The 'Captain' also looks great and is noticeably on a 40mm base while the others remain on 32mm. Squad markings remain consistent with their Astartes brothers and, when viewed next to each other, it's actually quite tricky to tell them apart.
One thing I haven't quite managed to get my head around thus far, however, is the starter set pic we have seen. Firstly, I'm 99% sure it's a starter set that's pictured. The contents, concept, way the scene is set all points to it. Secondly, it is defintely Ultramarines Vs Nurgle, as some of the Death Guard models we have already seen can be picked out (i.e Bellman). Now initially I was of the thought that The starter set will contain new snap fit regular marines and that the Primaris will be released later as their own release. Now I'm not so sure. Having scrutinised the pic it's clear there are 22 models on the UM side and that 5 of these appear to be assault marines on the new flying bases. The others are presumably 3 5-man squads and two characters. Really couldn't call it either way at this stage so we will have to wait and see.
I'm going to glance over the insights the profile gives us to relative power levels, grenade rules etc and just point out the obvious. The differences over a standard marine profile is that they get an extra attack and an extra wound. That is aside from any other rules the keywords may give. They come with the same equipment as a standard marine except that the bolt rifle has a -1 save modifier and an extra 6" range over the standard bolter. Now for the drawbacks. Squad size is fixed at 5 and the Veteran Sergeant is a compulsory upgrade with no options. Speaking of options, they don't have any. It's bolters only for this squad at least.
As for how they fit in a SM army, it looks to me as if GW have very sensibly decided to put them in all SM armies. We know the Intercessors are troops and thus we could assume that, rather than being an individual faction, they will get rolled in to the SM army list, allowing you to pick and choose the new units for an army of Primaris, or simply adding them to your existing list.
So we finally got the 'moviemarines' that people have been raving about for as long as I've been in the hobby. How much transport capacity they take up in vehicles remains to be seen but in theory you could take an army of just these chaps and play them as being more resilient and with more attacks / nastier bolters than your standard marines, playing them as movie marines. Or you can pretend they don't exist and play your regular marines as normal. That's the beauty of how GW have executed this - you get the best of both worlds and can pick and choose as you wish.
Excited for all things related to 8th so far - new rules, new starter set and new Primaris marines. Obviously they will be on the shopping list whether in the starter set or not but exactly how to use them remains to be seen. I suspect that if they are in the starter then I will be tempted to make them an army rather than add to existing. If not then I will probably add a few units to existing armies over time. Cheers.