Saturday, 22 July 2017

Space marine review - 8th edition thoughts (HQ & Troops)

Greetings all - well I can happily say that I've now finally finished testing out all the units etc that I want to for my space marine collection in 8th edition, so I figured I'd post up a little mini-review of my thoughts and findings - hope you find it useful and it's not invalidated by the new codex too quickly!

Right, so let's dive straight into this then shall we?

HQ Units

Captains
So, we've got a few different ways of equipping them in the index, but broadly speaking they all come with 5-6 wounds, and toughness of 4 or 5. Everything else is basically the same.

Captains are one of the two big winners of this section, so I would be very surprised to see a marine army without one (though there are some builds that warrant leaving them out). The main reason for this is their aura ability, allowing you to re-roll 1's to hit for friendly chapter units within 6". If you're careful with your deployment and have some receptive terrain, you can really spread this benefit wide.

That however is basically it. They're decent mid-level combat characters but generally speaking, the damage that's output by combat-centric units is such that the captain isn't likely to last too long, and because you can no longer hide characters within a unit in a combat you've got to be pretty confident he's going to be safe from any reprisal attacks to commit him to an assault.

In terms of favourable builds, both the gravis captain and the bike captain get uprated toughness and 6 wounds, though of the two I'd be tempted to take the bike captain for the additional manoeuverability. Alternatively, depending on your preference, I also quite like a captain with a jump pack to give me a little flexibility to deployment whilst not losing that extra move.

As for weaponry, I'm not fussed about taking pistols, since he's mainly going to be hanging around my shooty units, though I would be inclined to invest in a relic blade, particularly if you're going to take a jump pack, as it blends all the combat weapon benefits pretty nicely, no penalty to hit, higher strength and decent AP with multiple damage.

Librarians
Good as they ever were, though they are currently extremely hampered in matched play if you're looking to take multiples - smite is still hugely useful, and spamming it around the table (hello grey knights) is horrible to face, but otherwise, two librarians uses up all your potential powers in a turn, one of which is pretty average anyway.

Again, having a libby on the table is massively helpful and these are the second big winner in the HQ section. Of course, Smite is the reason for this, essentially virtually free wounds buzzing around the table is just nasty, and only hampered by the fact that you're limited to hitting the nearest unit. On that basis, there are two practical methods of employing them - the first being terminator armour, and the second being with a jump pack. The reason for this is that both methods allow the librarian to deploy in a position to effectively target a specific unit with smite - sure there will still be some things you can't hit with it, but placing them on the board gives you as much of an aim as you're ever going to get with this power.

Of the two, I really like the jump pack more - again the speed of the unit in subsequent turns is the determining factor here - the terminator librarian is tougher and likely to survive longer, but is far easier to ignore by moving out of range.

Chaplains
Not bad, and better than they used to be in my opinion. Still not great though, the crozius arcanum is still a little underwhelming - standard 2 damage is nice but for a combat weapon the AP is lacking.

I can honestly say that I will use chaplains now - they're decent value despite the not-so-impressive crozius, but the key reason to take them is to get re-rolls to hit on all failed hits in combat for units within 6". Chapter masters beat them in that respect, as their aura extends to the shooting phase as well, but the only chapter masters currently available are named characters for specific chapters, so if you're not wanting to use those chapters and are looking to get in combat, then the chaplain is your best force multiplier there.

In terms of loadouts, I'd keep this guy pretty basic, a nice pistol isn't going to give you much, so keep him cheap and use him to buff proper combat units (what few you have access to!)

Techmarines
Now you rarely saw these guys outside of Iron Hands lists before unless they were attached to a thunderfire cannon, but given how that's been nerfed (more on that in another article!) I think the techmarine is a perfectly decent HQ choice and he's pretty damn cheap, but with no aura effect and having to get into close range to repair vehicles you need to be pretty cautious with his movement.

Personally now I wouldn't bother with adding the servo harness, if your techmarine is that close then chances are he's in major trouble anyway.

Troops

Scouts

So, I've only tested out a single scout build, but I'm sure we'll be seeing much more of them in the future. Sniper scouts with camo cloaks - it's in my opinion the best way of filling out the troops requirement of the battalion detachment. 15 shots targeting enemy characters with the potential to do mortal wounds is going to make most HQ units a little twitchy, and a bonus 3 command points in addition to the 3 for being battle forged makes the tax completely worthwhile as far as I'm concerned.

Just as a little anecdote, I took three units of these guys in a game against eldar, and by sitting them in cover, 7 of them survived the game (the camo cloaks give them an extra +1 in cover), and that includes a unit of five taking out 3 howling banshees in a single turn of combat!

As for the other potential builds, I can't really see bolter scouts being hugely useful, I'm not particularly impressed with the potential of bolters at the moment, though that might change a bit when I start facing some more horde-style lists. Pistol and combat blade sounds ok, but it's not really an optimised combat unit and in my experience so far 8th edition doesn't reward you for throwing such units into combat unless it's to tie other units up.

Tactical Squad

An absolute staple of the army in previous editions, this is therefore an interesting assessment. I'm not impressed. Quite honestly, having no AP on the basic bolter really hampers the humble bolter now. I must temper that opinion with the knowledge that most of the armies I've faced have not really provided me with many of the sort of targets where a bolter should be doing much - it'll be interesting to see how I get against a more horde-style list.

The big win for tactical squads in this edition in my view is the ability for special weapons to target separately from the rest of the unit, so taking a single lascannon in a tactical squad actually makes sense after all! Combine a minimum sized unit with a decent weapon option and salamanders chapter tactics and your special weapons become markedly more accurate and dangerous.

That all being said, I really don't see that the tactical squad has much of a place on the table now, I'd much rather take devastator units and turn elsewhere for mid-table control.

Intercessor Squad

Hmm, pretty much what I said for tactical squads applies to these guys too, except they can't take special weapons and their fire output is lesser, even if their bolt rifles are more likely to pierce armour.

I have two squads of five of these guys, but I can only really see me using them if I have to in my games of 8th.

Come back next week to see what I think about the various elite units and the flyers.
Till then,
TBE