Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Space Marine Lieutenant returns! My take on how to best use them in 8th.

Hi folks. Hot on the heels of my tactical squad reviews I thought I would delve into one of the new units for the codex – the Lieutenant. I was really excited to see primaris Lieutenants in the Index and even more so when their non-primaris counterparts showed up in the actual codex. This article will aim to give an overview of how the unit works in 8th and explore my meagre insight as to how they can be used. 

Background-wise, the Lieutenant harkens back to the days of Rogue Trader but disappeared in 2nd edition era. Guilleman’s codex (and fluff) retcon sees them reintroduced as a new rank in the Astartes organisational hierarchy. Demi-companies were introduced last edition and now the unit background/entry suggests that basically every company has a Captain and a pair of Lieutenants to each lead a demi-company into battle. 

Now onto the rules. There are two ways to run Lieutenants in-line with other entries in the codex – as Primaris or as regular Astartes. The pros and cons to each are pretty much in-line with the Primaris vs regular comparisons across the board and we’ll come to that later. For now suffice to say that they have a few things in common. Firstly, they are both HQ choices. Secondly, they have chapter tactics (or DA/BA equivalent) and ATSKNF like other marines units. Thirdly, company heroes allows Lieutenants to be taken as 2 models per entry which are deployed at the same time but otherwise act independently (more on that later). Last but not least, the tactical precision rule gives them a 6” reroll 1s to wound bubble. 

The role they fill is therefore as both a hero character who is slightly less adept than a Captain, but whom synergises perfectly with a Captain to bolster the effectiveness of the units in the vicinity. He is also a cheap HQ choice if you are on a tight budget. As for the Company heroes rule, there are pros and cons. I often find when list-building that I want more HQ slots filled to enable me to take more detachments and therefore gain more command points. In this case, taking two per slot would be counterproductive. If, however, you are tight on slots and would benefit from two in the army, being able to deploy simultaneously (but act independently from then on outside normal coherency) may aid you to get first turn by finishing deploying first.

Let’s look at points and stats now. The regular guys are 4 power / 60 points and the primaris 5 (70). Stat wise they are a level below their respective Captains (lacking a point of BS/W/A/Ld by comparison) and obviously with a different aura ability and no invulnerable save. A Primaris Lieutenant is only just below a regular Captain in terms of stats, which on a like for like basis generally involve an extra attack and wound over the regular Lieutenants. However, there is an associated points increase by making the jump from regular to Primaris and differing wargear options, which we will address now.

Options For a regular Lieutenant are not quite as lavish as for Captains despite them having the same bare-bones equipment, consisting of frag/krak grenades, bolt pistol, master crafted boltgun and chainsword. Notably missing are the options for a storm shield, relic blade, space marine bike and of course an iron halo. However, and this is where regular marines still shine over their larger cousins, the regular Lieutenant still has access to jump packs, melee, pistol and combi-weapons galore. Also, don’t’ forget the model can be your Warlord should you wish and, as a character, can take a relic. The Primaris is far more restricted in its weapon options, having just a bolt pistol, frag and krak grenades, plus a master-crafted auto bolt rifle which can be swapped out for a master-crafted stalked bolt rifle or power sword.

Before delving into builds, we should talk a bit about the battlefield role of the Lieutenant. He is a 4/5-wound character with no invulnerable save and thus is unlikely to be a game-changer no matter what you load him out with. What he does do very well is lend extra support to areas of the battlefield that may need it as well as bolstering the offensive capability of the units nearby. Speaking of which, this fits perfectly with his status as a character, as you can surround him with other units making him protected from all but sniper fire while granting rerolls to 1 for all units in 6”.

Lieutenants will fit nicely into most builds and should be there to complement an army rather than have the army built around it. For example, if you have a backfield gunline with devastators and predators, placing a lieutenant nearby will allow you crucial rerolls to to hit rolls of 1. Considering most heavy weapons will be wounding on rolls of 2-4+, this can greatly increase your chances of a successful to wound roll and hopefully leave you a command reroll free for the dreaded 1 on the damage roll. This can be further stacked with abilities such as the salamander Chapter tactic, armorium cherub and signum abilities to maximise the killing potential of the big guns. 

You may decide that you want to get the Lt up close and personal with the enemy, using either a jump-pack or transport for mobility. (note the Repulsor is the only transport option for the Primaris Lt) Whether or not you want him to support a drop pod full of sternguard or a squad of assault terminators, he will likely give you several extra wounds per turn as well as bolstering his own wargear, which we will discuss shortly. Last couple of points. I rarely deploy Lieutenants without a captain also – it makes it easier to build a bubble around both characters and then you are increasing the amount of hits and wounds from all units within 6” of both as well as having a couple of decent characters nearby. There’s also no reason you can’t use 2 of each for around the same cost as Guilleman and take a pair in the backfield and a pair in the vanguard should you so wish. 

Now for loadouts. I’ll start with the Primaris as it’s easier being you only have the option for A B or C. The MC rifles are a decent shout at any time due to their damage output of 2 plus the rerolls to wound he grants himself. For a backfield role, the stalker may be a good shout at s4, Ap-2 and damage 2 if you plan on staying put. The auto-bolt rifle is a good all-rounder allowing him to advance and still shoot if you need to change positions. Power sword would only leave you a pistol or grenades but takes advantage of his WS2+ and the extra attack primaris have over the regular chaps. Really depends what you want to use him for, but as their all s4 his auto-reroll of 1 to wound may help a bit. 

For the grand finale let’s look at the regular Lieutenant loadouts. He benefits from being able to swap out his master-crafted boltgun and / or chainsword while retaining his bolt-pistol allowing him more utility than his Primaris counterpart. I’m a fan of his basic MCBG which for 3 points can potentially deal out 4 damage a turn (especially given his rerolls) but you can swap this out for a combi-weapons, pistol or melee weapon while also being able to swap out his chainsword for a melee weapon. 

I prefer to stick to one of each melee and shooting and also prefer combi-weapons to pistols. If you are going to swap out the MCBG then don’t bother with the stormbolter (same maximum damage potential at both ranges) and go for a combi-weapon. For melee, he benefits from WS2+ and rerolls
to wound so any weapon you fancy will be as good as it gets on him, from a cheap power sword to a thunder hammer. The bare bones Lt will cost you 63 points, my preferred all-rounder loadout adds a power sword or power fist for 67/75 points and, if you want to go all-in, swap out for a combi-melta and thunder hammer for maximum damage. (plasma too risky on an expensive aura model)

I hope this guide has been useful. Happy gaming.


  1. I like using a Jump Pack Lieutenant in my Raven Guard. Drop him in along with Shrike and a bunch of Vanguard Vets, and they just shred stuff. I generally give him a Chainsword (usually replaced by the Teeth of Terra), and I do go for the Plasma Pistol, but I never overcharge it unless it's a literal case of do or die.

    Model-wise, I feel like it's worth noting that it's incredibly easy to make the scope/magazine part of the various Bolt Rifles swappable, so there's no reason to lock yourself into a Stalker or Auto.

  2. Hi,
    Very good point about the teeth of terra - I came up against this a few weeks back and it is indeed nasty.