Wednesday, 16 August 2017

8th ed. Space Marine codex review part 1 - what's new?

Greetings all - it's about that time now I think, when I've had enough games with the 'new' space marines that I can start to talk with confidence about them in 8th edition, what's good, what's not so good and how to get the most out of the army in your games of 40k.

I'm going to write this article in a new way for me, so please as ever feel free to give your thoughts and comments on the style as well as content in the section below.

What's New?

Well, whilst I won't pretend to have read every line of every paragraph of the book yet, there are a few things that immediately jumped out to me as I read them, both in terms of units, options and background.

First up - and this is probably the biggie - Guilliman has returned. Ok, I'm kidding, that's not the big news. The big news is that since his return, he has been amending the codex (p9). Now, that is big news - previously the codex has always been sacrosanct, and though there have been hints in various places that it was not quite intended by Guilliman as the inviolable, unquestionable document the Ultramarines have always made it out to be, GW have delighted in making the Ultramarines the rigid, inflexible but possibly naive warriors that strive to be the purest of the pure. Added to this, On page 26 we see the visual breakdown of the Ultramarines 2nd company, and whilst the company is still 100 strong, we see that squads are now either 5 or 10 strong, with a total of 12 squads making up the company instead of the previously rigid 10.

The next step is another codex alteration, with the replacement of tactical, heavy support and assault classifications of units with battleline, close support and fire support. In practice, these classifications don't really make a huge difference, but when we look at the new primaris units we see why they have changed.

Primaris marines don't have any dedicated assault troops. Let's just have a proper look at that shall we?
Redemptor Dreadnought - ok, so it has a close combat weapon, but all dreadnoughts do, so that's hardly a surprise. In essence, the dreadnought is a hybrid unit capable of holding its own in all areas of the battlefield.
Inceptors - in the fast attack battlefield role section where assault units are often found, and short-ranged, but without a doubt these guys are intended to be shooting at people, not getting into close combat.
Hellblaster squad - absolutely intended as a ranged unit to stay well away from a fist fight.
Intercessor squad - no combat options here either, keep them 'at range'.
Aggressor squad - bit of a mixed bag here with some pretty high volume shooting attacks, but a couple of power fists. Given the low numbers of models in the unit however, and therefore the limited number of attacks, I wouldn't exactly call these guys an assault unit.
Reiver squad - This is just about the closest the primaris get to a proper combat unit, but even these guys come equipped as basic with a bolt carbine, not combat weaponry, and the combat knives they can take don't exactly give them the best damage output of a combat unit in the game.

On that basis then, there would be no justification for classifying some of the new units in the 'assault' category, so by redefining them as close support they can justify not giving them access to a dedicated combat unit.

The next biggie of course is the introduction of the primaris marines. However, I'm a little more interested by the more subtle changes that have perhaps been a little overlooked as a result. Lieutenants. I must admit I don't remember these guys but I'm reliably informed that they existed in the old Rogue Trader days. I love it - and whilst we don't see the named lieutenants it might have been nice to have introduced into the game, the fact that they're there at all is a cool little addition and adds a bit of depth to the manner in which a list is constructed.

The next part of the review will focus on the HQ section of the codex.