Codex: Space Marines Review Part 2 – Chapter Tactics

Good day, dear friends! Today, we continue our review of the new Space Marines codex with a look at their updated Chapter Tactics.

As I mentioned in the previous article, to gain the benefits of Chapter Tactics (or CTs, for short), you must only use units with the ADEPTUS ASTARTES keyword and with the same Chapter keyword in a Detachment; that means no “Imperial Soup” mix and match of Imperial units. This is admittedly a bit of an inconvenience, but not one that is insurmountable by any means. Given that Defenders of Humanity has almost the same requirements, the incentive to work your list around those limitations is fairly strong.

Chapter Tactics only affects units with the INFANTRY, BIKER or DREADNOUGHT keywords. I have to say I find that more than a little annoying. I sorta get the rationale for some of the CTs – I mean, it’s hard to be stealthy in a Land Raider – but for others its nonsensical. Do Imperial Fist Marines forget everything they learned about siege warfare when they become tank crews? And if Salamanders are such great craftsmen, would it not follow that their armoured vehicles would be of above average construction as well? Gah!

Anyways, Chapter Tactics is still a great rule and one that is a serious force multiplier for Marine armies. Let’s take a look at each Tactic in more details:

This is a seriously strong CT. The extra Ld is nice but the ability to still shoot after Falling Back is where the money’s at. The obvious use here is to disengage when your shooty dudesmen get locked in combat by scary things like Berzerkers, but the nice thing about this CT is that it can be used offensively as well. Indeed, you can use it against Guard or Tau to lock their shooty units in close combat for a turn (hence stopping them from shooting) before falling back to shoot them again during your turn. It is also an excellent trick to increase the mobility of your footslogging units: you essentially trade a -1 to hit malus to get 2D6 + 3 inches of extra movement (assuming you successfully make the charge). Pro-tip: try to keep your heavy weapon troopers well outside of 1 inch from your opponent’s guys when you charge. That way, when you fall back, said troopers won’t need to move and will therefore avoid compounding the CT’s to-hit penalty with the to-hit penalty for moving with a Heavy weapon.

Another seriously strong CT. Raven Guard units in cover are going to be extremely hard to shift. The only relative downside to this CT is that it does next to nothing for you if your opponent is playing an assault-oriented army. In addition, its effectiveness will be reduced in those instances where the mission/situation dictates that you need to get close to the enemy. Nevertheless, given that the majority of 40k armies (even the choppy ones) usually have at least SOME shooting, it’s never going to be entirely lost. And RG have a seriously strong Chapter-specific Stratagem that needs to be taken into consideration.

Yet another very strong CT. This Tactic synergises well with a Tactical-heavy, DoH-focused list as these will be greatly enhanced by the ability to reroll a single failed hit and wound roll each Phase given that Tacticals bring few Specials/Heavies. Naturally, you’ll be prioritising single shot weapons like Lascannons or Multimeltas over Heavy Bolters or Gravcannons. While this CT is good, given how good Guilliman or the Chapter Master/Lieutenant tag team are, I feel like it is kind of easy for other Chapters to replicate the reliability that the Salamanders get. The biggest bonus is that you don’t have to stay clustered around Guilly/the Captain/Lieutenant, I suppose.

Not a bad one, though I think not as good as the Ultramarine CT. Ironically, White Scars have better synergy with Jump Infantry units than with Bikers, given the Jump units can FLY and thus both shoot AND charge after falling back. I suspect a WS list built around CC Scouts and Vanguard Vets as some nice potential to be unlocked.

Essentially, 6+ FNP. Not godawful, but definitely not great either. Difficult to justify going with this CT if you have a choice at all.

Ignores Cover was the bee’s knees in 7th, but it’s not nearly as good in 8th as far as I figure. And the bonus against buildings… fluffy, but lackluster. Poor Fists. It seems strange that they didn’t get a defensive bonus when in cover rather than a pretty meh bonus to offense. I was under the impression that Fists were the defense siege specialists while the Iron Warriors were the offensive siege specialists…

A surprisingly good CT. The extra reliability definitely helps a lot when using assault units. Crusader Squads, Scouts, deep striking units trying for T1 charges… all good stuff. Much better than what their progenitor legion got, in any case.

All in all, I like the new CTs. The focus on making them more broadly useful if less powerful will allow for a greater variety of lists able to make use of them, which is a good thing in my book. It’s sad that once again there are clear winners and losers between the Chapters, but that’s life, I guess.

Join us next time when we take a look at the new Stratagems available to Marines. Cheers!

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57 Responses to “Codex: Space Marines Review Part 2 – Chapter Tactics”

  1. feydan13 says:

    I think perhaps you're underestimating the benefit of the Imperial Fists tactic here – I use them a lot and so far in my games of 8th there has always been something in the enemy army looking to use the cover mechanic to give them more protection – havocs, lootaz, devastators etc. Taking these out without having to get up into close combat is something that can really help you in terms of list building and in-game strategy. At least that's what I've found to be the case in my games!

    • Desc440 says:

      It's not awful by any means, but compared to what the Smurfs or RG got? Much less useful.

      • dietrich43 says:

        Agreed, less useful because it's situational. The relic is bad too. The Warlord trait is disappointing; I was expecting the warlord trait to be some sort of leadership bonus (since in previous editions, they've usually had Stubborn in some fashion). And the strategem is not that helpful (a 10-man unit will get a couple extra bolter hits). It's not that the Imperial Fists seem bad, but they're clearly not as good as other chapter tactics. And don't even have an awesome named character like Vote for Pedro!

        My hope is they do a future supplement with additional strategem(s) and warlord trait(s) and relic(s). I wouldn't be surprised if they continue to recover Primarchs (and the current fluff appears to make him Merle in TWD S1 – found his hand, but not a body) to see a future supplement (maybe Dorn vs Pertaubo for all the siege warfare bragging rights).

        • Desc440 says:

          Well said.

        • Max says:

          I Think we will get supplements for fists and iron hands

        • Lemondish says:

          I disagree. The Warlord trait is pretty great for adding even more durability. Place a gunline next to an Ancient in an Imperial Defence Line and you get +2 LD from those two, and the trait means you're at 2+ armour save against a vast majority of your enemy's mobile shooting. Apply that to some Intercessors or Hellblasters and you have a 30'' range fire base with 2Ws each and 2+ armour save. That's damn durable. Lysander is also a beast, even if he's not a straight up CM.

          The funny part about the pistol is you can use it to assassinate enemy characters while locked in combat with the chaff they were using to screen them. That's pretty fun, if not really all that great. I'd rather spend the CP on paying for a CM myself because I'm not super thrilled about always having to play Smurfs since Robby is so damn powerful, and that will have a much, much bigger effect on your shooting than the Stratagem will, but that's just how it goes I guess.

  2. Cato says:

    It really is too bad that IF didn't get a defensive bonus with IW getting the offensive bonus. That would have really shaped the IF armies and provided a nice point of difference. Our group is starting to use much more area terrain, though, so the cover bonus elimination is not overly bad. Also useful if you play with defense lines (from Advanced Rules).

    Did they really have to throw in the leadership bonus on top of the fallback and shoot mechanic for Ultramarines? Seems a bit over the top.

    • Tomguycot says:

      Yeah that seems like a really big missed opportunity to me and would also be a trait that you could actually build around (by bringing fortifications) rather than hoping ignores cover both comes up and is relevant.

  3. Dakkath says:

    Ultramarines trying to lock up Tau shooty units before pseudo-flying out of combat doesn't work, since most Tau have actual fly and will do the trick better than you.

  4. Prometheus says:

    Dreadnoughts are still people, still marines, and a tank is not, that's why they get the Chapter Tactics.

    • Aquila says:


    • Desc440 says:

      Tanks are still crewed by Marines, so…

      • Prometheus says:

        Dude, it's given to the marines, not the equipment. Some of them are broken enough, you'll be OK.

        • Desc440 says:

          The equipment is operated by Marines, so…

          It's just frustrating that vehicles keep getting cut out because it would give extra incentive to try different lists rather than sticking to the same thing all the time.

          • Prometheus says:

            You don't think people have enough of an incentive to use vehicles??!??…………….???


            • Desc440 says:

              Certain ones, sure. We know which those are. Generaly? No.

              • Prometheus says:

                Rhinos, razorbacks, LRs, SRs, Predators. Everyone uses TONS of those.

                What, you think because people don't use stalkers that Las Predators should get chapter tactics? Gimme a break.

                • Desc440 says:

                  Razors and Storm Ravens are good. You should be using Dreads, not Preds, and those already have CT so the point is moot. Land Raiders? lol ok.

                  Maybe people are using those where you play… but they shouldn't.

                  • Prometheus says:

                    Las predators have 4 lascannons. As do the LRs, and they're much harder to bring down.

                    I don't really care to debate the pros and cons of every model, nor your particular brand of "lol, only noobs take X" snobbery.

                    It sounds like you just want all the things, and I really have no sympathy for you there.

                    • Desc440 says:

                      We're talking about things from a competitive aspect, so yes, "lol only noobs take X" is perfectly warranted, snobbery or not.

                    • Prometheus says:

                      Not really.

                      I'm competitive af. I've made something of a career taking "unexpectedly good" units. You can't just mathammer and say "this model does X wounds per Y points, therefore it's better than this other model". Movement, positioning, durability all matter, even before you get into special rules and combos. Nevermind that theoretically, we're trying to get all models around equal, so any unit should be viable.

                      Anytime you're saying "lol only noobs take X", assuming the ruleset is even vaguely balanced (and I would call it vaguely balanced, atm), your analysis is almost certainly being simplistic, sophomoric, even.

                      Lets take a clear cut example: stealth suits. Stealth suits do not do as much dmg per pt as FW, gun drones, or just about anything else. They're not even the best way to deliver fusion blasters. Stealth Suits are, nonetheless, completely fucking awesome, as any Tau player who has used them recently will tell you.

                      (P.S. pretty sure even a venerable dreadnought with two lascannons loses out to a las predator with 4, from a strictly mathhammer perspective)

                    • Desc440 says:

                      They aren't balanced. Every unit SHOULD be viable, but they aren't. We all had high hopes that 8th would be different than previous editions, but that's not how things worked out.

                      I'm well aware that going purely by how much shooting a unit isn't looking at the whole picture, thanks.

                      A venerable dread can't take 2 las. A Mortis dread can. Is it better? Between being able to use CTs and not losing effectiveness as it loses wounds, I would say yes.

                    • Prometheus says:

                      I think they're much closer to balanced than before.

                      If you're allowing FW in competitive play (I'm against it) that's a differenct situation. But unless the Mortis is 2+ to hit (I don't believe it is) then it's not really going to be better than a las predator. That's not to say it doesn't have a use.

                      Don't be simplistic, is what I'm saying.

                    • Desc440 says:

                      They're closer than they were, but still, the dread is better.

                      And I'm not being simplistic. The pred has it's advantages: more wounds, faster. But factor in the fact that it has a degraded performance as ti takes wounds and that it has long range guns (which makes its speed less important) and its much worse in CC and it can't use CTs… it starts to pile on.

                    • Prometheus says:

                      The degrading statline doesn't actually matter very much. It takes 6 wounds before you're suffering penalties, the dread only has 8 wounds.

                      At 8 wounds, would you rather have a penalty to hit, or be dead?

                      All that really matters here is that the las pred has 4 lascannons, and the ven dread has 2 with a 1 to hit, for around the same cost.

                      None of which means I'm saying the ven dread is bad! It's great! The board control is quite nice. But to say the las predator isn't good at what it does (shooting things with lascannons) is completely silly.

                      Like I said, simplistic.

                    • Prometheus says:

                      And here I said I wouldn't debate units with you.

                      No, your tanks shouldn't get Chapter Tactics. Quit whining.

                    • Desc440 says:

                      Well reasoned. Not.

                    • Kirby says:

                      I do not think Stealth Suits are completely fucking awesome having used them recently.

                      That being said, I agree with tanks not getting Chapter Tactics, particularly as Chapter Tactics are now (imagine every RBack / Pred getting 6+ FNP, single re-rolls on shooting and wounding, fall back and shoot, etc….). They would have to be very different I think for them to be balanced.

                    • Prometheus says:

                      Allow me my hyperbole.

                      Also, OBVIOUSLY you were using them wrong.

                    • Desc440 says:

                      They might have had to adjust the points on the best vehicles, but that in itself is not a good reason not to give them CTs.

  5. Ish says:

    Am I crazy or would a White Scars army making liberal use of Bike Squads and Inceptors / Assault Squads not make a very efficient 8th Edition take on the old “Blood Rodeo” list? It would lack the FNP shenanigans of the Blood Angels’ Sanguinary Priests but it would have the “hit and run and hit again” trick to avoid prolonged combats with tar pits.

  6. Tirend says:

    I wanna see a Black Temar drop list.

    Drop in termies and vanguards, follow with a second wave of crusaders

  7. Kadeton says:

    Your use of the word "malus" as the antonym of "bonus" makes my inner word-nerd simultaneously cringe and cheer. 🙂

    • LSTT says:

      Why? Bonus and Malus are quite common antonyms

      • Kadeton says:

        Not in any conventional sense of the word "common". 😛

        Cheering because I appreciate the creativity of pseudo-Latin and the symmetry of form, cringing because it's an unusual usage for which a more common and accessible word already exists.

        • hellgore says:

          Not quite true. Maybe for English nativespeakers, but as you can see under the first paragraph with the latin descendence the Antonym “bonus” is clearly stated. For example in the German Duden (Thesaurus) Malus and Bonus are defined as Antonyms, where bonus is the latin word for “good” and malus ist the latin word for “bad” (and for apple plants). As the root is latin I would br inclined to use it this way.

        • Desc440 says:

          Keep in mind I'm not a native English speaker, so sometime more common and accessible to you might not be more common and accessible to me.

          • Alastores says:

            As a native english speaker I have NEVER heard the term "malus" used once.

            It's an interesting word, but common as an antonym to bonus it is not. It seems to be specialist business language rather than common usage. I think the usual antonym would be 'penalty' (You gain this bonus if you do the correct thing, pay a penalty if you fail).

            Note however that this is in the UK. I'm assuming it's probably not common in the US either, otherwise it would've shown up in the predominately US-English of television, but perhaps in Australia or elsewhere it's more common as an everyday word.

            • Hellgore says:

              That's why I made the restriction in the post above. Per se – both words root in latin and ARE logically antonyms. So, even if malus isn't commonly used in English (not every foreign rooted word is taken over into every language) it is the correct use.

              • Alastores says:

                Yeah, I don't disagree. I'm just saying it's not commonplace. It IS an antonym. It's just not a common usage one.

                Looking it up, it's mostly used in business.

                • Desc440 says:

                  Welcome to 3++!

                  Come for the 40k analysis, stay for the polite discourse on the finer points of Anglicised Latin vocabulary! 😛

              • Kadeton says:

                'Malus' was adopted into English – it's where we get words like 'malice'. The problem is that the 'mal-' root has retained essentially the same original definition ('bad') while 'bonus' no longer means anything so broad and simple as 'good'. This is called semantic narrowing – claiming them to be antonyms in English now is very much like saying that 'extra' and 'evil' are antonyms. In a certain light, that's kind of true… but most English speakers would look at you strangely for asserting it.

                • Hellgore says:

                  Well… in German, bonus means an addition to something while malus means that something is taken away. It is also not used in the broad sense anymore but still very explicitly as antonyms, there is even a term used in economic sciences called bonus-malus-system.
                  It is quite interesting that this easy pairing didn't make it as well into english usage.

                  • Kadeton says:

                    I also hadn't realised the extent to which German has borrowed words from Latin (you've got me researching it now) – in English etymology, you tend to expect that Germanic (usually Anglo-Saxon) roots and Latin (usually French) roots are quite discrete lexicons. Of course, the real world is much more complicated. 😉

          • Kadeton says:

            Good to know, thanks. I didn't intend to slight you for it – apologies if I sounded harsh! – it was just a word choice that really stood out to me. It's very interesting that the meaning of 'bonus' in English has drifted over time to be far more specific than the Latin 'good', and has left its Latin antonym 'malus' behind (in favour of more specific terms like 'penalty'), while in other languages this is not necessarily the case.

            • Desc440 says:

              No harm done – just wanted to explain why sometime certain cryptic/archaic/odd words or formulations pop up in my writings (or as Kirby calls it, "doing a Desc440").

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