Greetings, fellow male catalogue underwear models! Today, we finally start digging into the core of the Marine codex with a look at Chapter Master Marneus Calgar, Chief Librarian Tigurius, Chaplain Cassius and Captain Sicarius, all of whom are Ultramarine special Characters. In the past, only Tigurius has been worth a damn, competitively, and I’m afraid this state of affair continues in 8th edition. Unfortunately, the shadow of the 13th Legion’s progenitor looms large over his children; it is impossible not to take him into consideration when analysing units that fulfill a similar-ish role in the army, and he’s so ridiculously good that he casts a damn long shadow that is nigh impossible to get out of. Let’s take a closer, Ultramarine-hued look, shall we?
Clocking in at 200 points, Papa Smurf is one spicy meatball. He does have a rather long list of perks, however: an impressive statline, a Ap -1 2D Storm Bolter, a Power Fist without the -1 WS, a suit of Terminator Armour that halves (rounding up) all damage, 2 bonus Command Points if he is your Warlord and the all-important Chapter Master “reroll all failed Hit rolls” ability. With that said, I find it reeeally hard to justify taking him when Roboute Guilliman – Lord Commander of the Imperium, Primarch of the Ultramarines, the Avenging Son, the Uniter, the True Master of Ultramar, the Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt, the… woops, bit of a character titles mix-up, there – just does nearly everything better: a better statline, a better gun, a better special Power Fist (and let’s not forget the Emperor’s own freaking Sword), better survivability, more Command Points when Warlord, a much better reroll aura on top of giving all IMPERIUM units a bonus to their charge and Advance rolls (and reroll failed Morale test and to-hit rolls of 1… always nice when you have some Conscript bubblewrap). All that for a frankly insulting 360 pts. Really, the only advantages Calgar has over his sire is 1) the fact that he’s an HQ, allowing him to fill those mandatory slots in almost all Detachment types and 2) can teleport to nearly anywhere on the board whereas Bobby G is limited to an 8 inch move plus Advancing. That is… pretty shallow grounds for picking him over Guilliman. To paraphrase our very own AbusPpuppy: Calgar is good, Guilliman is meta-defining. Oh and let’s not forget that if you’re aiming for a cheap(er) to-hit reroll bubble, a Captain with the Chapter Master Stratagem upgrade brings the same one but for 126 fewer points (albeit at a rather dramatic difference in Command Points, admittedly). Bottom line: don’t take Calgar unless your list has that niche need for a Chapter Master that can teleport and can bring the hurt while soaking it up in return.
Chief Librarian Tigurius
Coming in at 130 pts (23 more than a normal Librarian with Force Staff), the Head Libby of the Ultramarines does bring quite a bit for his increased cost. For starters, he can deny an extra enemy psychic power and knows an extra psychic power from the Librarius discipline. That is already not bad – not great, but not bad. Now, add an improved Force Staff (+3 St instead of +2), the ability to reroll failed Psychic Tests (crucial for those tougher-to-get-off ones), the Master of Prescience ability ( which allows you to select a friendly ULTRAMARINES unit within 6 inches at the start of the enemy shooting phase; enemy units shooting at the selected unit suffer a -1 to hit rolls) and you can start to see where those extra 23 pts are coming from. While the significance of rerolling failed Psychic Tests is lost to no one, I’m sure, Master of Prescience requires a bit more explanation. While you could just throw this unto any old juicy target in the hope that your opponent is a moron and will waste his firepower on your chosen unit, with a bit of forethought, you can make your opponent really pay for neglecting to direct his fire where you want it to go. Example: take Tiggy in a Drop Pod (I know… ugh, Drops Pods…) and drop him along with a 10-strong unit of Assault Termies or tooled-up Vanguard Vets (on whom you’ve cast Veil of Time, obviously) to go smash the enemy’s line. When the opponent’s turn comes around, your adversary is going to be hard-pressed to ignore the bad muthas tearing up his dudes, but if he tries to shoot them down, he will be doing so at reduced efficiency. Either way, it’s win-win for you: if he shoots at your designated unit, he’s giving up potentially quite a few hits on another target, and if he ignores your assault unit, they will be free to bring the pain come your next assault phase. Now, I brought up Drop Pods, and this is where Tigurius really trips up: no innate mobility, and no ability to purchase a jump pack or bike. As discussed in the review of the Librarius powers, most of the spells are short-ranged and/or necessitate careful positioning to get the most out of them. Therefore, being stuck on foot is a real annoyance for good ol’ Tigs. Is it enough to say Tiggy is a bad choice? No, but it is enough to give standard Librarians (who CAN purchase a jump pack/bike) some consideration instead of going straight to Tigurius.
Oh boy… Cassius has always been kinda underwhelming, and it seems this trend is perduring in 8th edition. He does have a few perks over a regular Chaplain: increased Toughness, a master-crafted Combi-Flamer and the Inspired Retribution special rule that states that ULTRAMARINES models (versus units) that die within 6 inches of Cassius during the Fight phase cause a Mortal Wound to the unit that slayed them on a roll of 6. He also comes with the standard Chaplain panoply: a Crozius Arcanum (a S+1 AP-1 2D Melee weapon), a 4+ Invulnerable Save, a Ld-improving Aura ability and another Aura that allows units within 6 inches of him to reroll all failed hit rolls in the Fight phase. The thing is, Inspired Retribution is a pretty lackluster rule given that it triggers so rarely and only affect the MODELS within 6 inches of Cassius, meaning that you have to limit how much your assault elements spread out to even get a chance at getting a couple of triggers. Combine that with the lack of innate mobility and you’re left with sub-par performance. The improved Toughness and special combi are nice, but not enough to save him. For the points, I would much rather have a Jump Pack Chaplain (assuming I wanted a Chaplain at all).
Some people are getting their knickers in a twist over this guy and his ability to boost the effectiveness of Tactical Squads… and I have to say I don’t get it. The rule in question, Battle-forged Heroes, allows ULTRAMARINES Tactical Squads within 6 inches of Sicarius to always fight first in close combat… unless the enemy charged you/has a similar “always fights first” ability, in which case you alternate which unit(s) fight. Given that Tactical Marines are in no way, shape or form competent close combat troops to begin with, Battle-forged Heroes leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of meh-ness. Now, Sicarius himself is not too bad in combat, what with hitting on 2s with what is essentially a Force Sword with the added bonus of causing D3 Mortal Wounds instead of the normal damage whenever Sicarius rolls a 6 to wound. He is also sporting 5 wounds shielded by a 2+ save supplemented by a 4+ Invulnerable save. He also has the Rites of Battle special rule common to all Captains; said rules allows all friendly units of the same Chapter as the Captain to reroll failed hit rolls of 1 (both shooting and assault). For 132 pts, that is not bad at all, but as with Marneus, the fact remains that Guilliman just brings soooo much more to the table than Siccy does. Even Tacticals get comparatively more from Guilliman, since his to hit and to wound rerolls makes their bolters that much more effective. I would be a bit more forgiving if Sicarius could be upgraded to a Chapter Master (and indeed, his past fluff seemed to indicate that he was Marneus’ heir apparent), but alas! he cannot. Oh well!
So in summary, Tigurius is still pretty good though probably nowhere near as much as he used to be (regular Libbies give him a run for his money), Calgar and Sicarius are both vastly outdone by Guilliman, and Cassius is just plain bad. Not a great start for the Marine special Chars, but we’re not done yet! Join us next time as we continue to delve into the deep, dark recesses of the Space Marines codex. Cheers!