Friday, October 3, 2008

Divine Secrets of the Space Marine Brotherhood?

If there's one thing I believe space marine armies need, it's force multipliers. The two assault cannons you could (previously) take in a 5-man terminator squad was a perfect example of a force multiplier -- having those two assault cannons greatly expanded the damage that unit could do per turn. Now that we've all had a chance to get a look at the new marine codex (and hopefully digest at least some of it), what combinations of units/abilities create meta-units whose total is greater than the sum of its individual parts?

Here in Austin, there are a few favorites that seem to be rising to the top:

  1. Captain Lysander joining a full squad of Sternguard: with his "Bolter Drill" special rule, those Sternguard will be pumping out the Hellfire rounds with re-rolls to hit and re-rolls to wound. Plus, re-rolls to hit means you'll never overheat when firing the Vengeance rounds. Nasty!
  2. Join an epistolary librarian with the Gate of Infinity power (probably coupled with The Avenger) with a full squad of Sternguard. Add in either several drop podding units or scout biker units with locator beacons and it's bounce-tastic, no-scatter, deep-strike-to-where-you-really-wanna-be fun. Every time your movement phase comes up, if your Sternguard aren't where you need them to be (for example, if you need to avoid an oncoming charge or put yourself in rapid fire range), have the librarian cast Gate of Infinity and bounce out. Also, if your Sternguard/librarian get stuck in an assault you really don't want to be in (which is all of them, because every round they're assaulting is a round they're not shooting), Gate of Infinity out to safety (and by "safety," I mean "rapid fire range to the unit you were in assault with"). You don't have to have a few locator beacons around to use this combo, but I think it's very highly recommended to avoid that whole deep strike scatter issue, which can really ruin your whole day (or at least your battle plan). Also, if you're like me, you want to do everything you can to remove the potential impact random chance can have on your army/units. I originally thought this power was used during the librarian's shooting phase, but an anonymous commenter (who may go by the name "lord-o-doom") pointed out that GoI is cast during the movement phase. So while it may be a little less useful than I originally thought, this combo is still my current favorite.
  3. Drop-podding a pair of tooled-up dreadnoughts (either ironclad or venerable) into your opponent's backfield and then opening up with heavy flamers and/or multimeltas/assault cannons/twin-linked auto-cannons. To follow that, charge on in for some DCCW/Seismic Hammer close combat lovin'. Support these dreads with a full squad of Sternguard (probably with a librarian rockin' Gate of Infinity) and maybe a full tac squad (or two) and you're in business. Just make sure you have enough drop-podding units to get all the units you REALLY want in the backfield on the first turn (which probably means you're going to need at least 5 units with pods). Don't forget locator beacons on the pods!
  4. I created a 2000 point list with Pedro Cantor and 90 other marines (3 full Sternguard squads and 6 full tac squads). That makes a total of 91 power-armored marines on the table, and with Pedro...90 of them are scoring. Granted, they're all footsloggin', but I think it would be pretty impressive (and not to mention, hard to kill).
  5. Honor Guard. Yes, they're ridiculously expensive. But let's think about it: for 385 points, you get 10 Sv2+ marines with power weapons, including the company champion and company banner. That will yield 51 S4 power weapon attacks on the charge (4 from the champ, 27 from the others, 10 from the company banner and 10 for the charge bonus) and 41 S4 power weapon attacks during a regular round of assault. If the S4 doesn't float your boat, you can give 'em all (or just a few) relic blades for some S6 power weapon goodness (at the cost of one attack for each model that has one). Giving the entire squad relic blades costs 150 points...and for the same price you can give the whole squad auxiliary grenade launchers for some added shooting power if you like. Granted, you have to take a chapter master to get them, so choosing one with some heavy CC power is probably a given (or not, they can run around by themselves). At first I didn't think these guys were worth it, but the more I look at what they're capable of, I think they're at least worth testing out...
What do you think of these combos? What interesting little gems of space marine goodness have you found lurking in the new codex? Share with the group and discuss!


  1. What do I think? I think I'm not playing against marines anymore! Well, at least until I read their new codex more thoroughly and find a couple of ways to stop those beasts.

    Damn, the worst part of this is that I really love their new models...

  2. I gotta agree with Juahn here. Those combinations look particularly tasty. Sternguard look like turning into the stalwart unit for all comers.

    Still, it'll sell some new models for GW. It's unfortunate though, and it beggars belief that GW still can't get the balance right!

  3. What CAN'T Sternguard do?

    Nice post, this is the first I've seen of someone taking the time to highlight some possible uses/approaches and not just the stats of the new units.

  4. I saw a SternGuard marine arm wrestle a Dreadnought and win once!

    Well, that might be an urban legend. They do seem pretty awesome though. Thanks for the information on the new codex, I still don't have one yet. I'll grab it soon though.

  5. lord-o-doom

    Gates of Infinity is used in the begining of movement phase.
    One cannot shoot then use this power to teleport.
    So that combo should be thrown out as wrong.
    That or I am reading the power description wrong, page 57 of codex.

  6. @juahn f'rann: Definitely give the new 'dex a thorough going-over before you decide to not play against marines. While yes, there are some pretty good combos in there, everything -- even the basic space marine trooper -- is expensive. Let's take the Sternguard/libby combo: it's going to cost a minimum of 445 points, and that's only for the Sternguard (with no upgrades), the epistolary librarian (with no other upgrades) and their drop pod and locator beacon. For maximum effectiveness, you'll also need at least 3 or 4 more drop pods with locator beacons at 45 points apiece. Yes, the combo is powerful, but not game-breaking, and it does require a significant points investment. You'll find that most of the new 'dex is like that.

    @suneokun: As I said, take a look at the points price tag before you think GW didn't get the balance right. IMHO, they may have erred on the side of making things a little too expensive in some cases (Vanguard with jump packs, anyone?).

    @ronsaikowski: Well, Sternguard will die in droves to a Rending Pony attack. :) Seriously, though, while yes, their special ammo types are definitely amazing, but at the end of the day they're still only W1 T4 Sv3+ guys that will die to massed firepower or a CC specialist assault. Thanks for the compliment about the post. :) I think it's high time we move past the points cost phase of the new codex and move forward into the "let's get this thing figured out" phase.

    @seemyinnergeek: That Sternguard cheated, though. He was holding a Vengeance round in his hand while wrestling. :) Seriously, though, the new codex looks fantastic and is definitely worth it, even if you don't normally play marines.

    @anonymous (lord-o-doom?): Thanks for pointing that out! I've updated the post and the combo with the correct information. While that does make the combo a little less sick, that's OK, as that takes it out of the "gee, that's broken" category and into the "hey, that could be very useful under the right circumstances" realm.

  7. lord-o-doom

    Yup that's my handle.
    I like th options that this codex gives. Sure people lament wargear, but seriously; there were only like 7 things people ever took (in any combo).
    Instead there is a descent amout of options per unit and that is pretty cool. It isn't wargear, but one can still upgrade a unit, HQ to their needs.
    Sure the 3 people that took and auspex every game are gonna be sad, but me and mine are happy with this codex.

    I like the option to take 2 twin linked auto cannons on dreads. Parctical, maybe. Cool looking model yes.

    That and land speeder with 2 heavy bolters, heavy flamers etc. Practical, maybe? Cool to be able to do? Yes.

  8. Hmmm just an idea but just take one drop pod 2 libbys. Then drop the pod on/near the enemies objective and use the two libbys to port 2 ten man tac squads in, that's 30 marines in the opponents deployment zone in the first turn, if it's a big game have a teleport homer in your base line, just the libbys back and do it again.

    It's far from ista win but against gun line armies it will keep them distracted while the rest of your army hoofs it across the table.