Sunday, 20 August 2017

8th ed. Space Marine codex review part 2 - HQ


Ok people (see, I'm channeling the spider now!), let's get down into the nitty gritty of this here book shall we? Enough of the fluffy stuff, what can the new marine codex actually offer me?

Right, so the HQ section is literally (ok, not literally) drowning in datasheets, stuffed to bursting. So, whilst I am going to cover everyone in there in this review, I'm not going to split out the individual options for the generic HQ's, so I'll do all the chaplains in one section etc. Each section and faction will be handily titled so if you don't like smurfs you can just scroll past them for example.

Each review section will finish with a few examples of what I consider to be the ideal synergistic elements of the character in question, and possibly a few sneaky tricks if I've thought of any.

Let's start with the non-chapter specific stuff though shall we?

Generic HQ choices

Captain

Right, so let's start with the boss man shall we? I think GW have, quite rightly, sat down and said 'who do we want to be leading most marine armies' and unsurprisingly given their fluff, the answer was the Captain. What we get therefore is a not too expensive character, who can hold his own in both the combat and shooting phases of the game - he has great WS and BS, can arm himself with a variety of weapons to make the most of those stats, with a not unreasonable 4 attacks. So far, so good, but what does he bring to the army at this point? Not much really, he's not a combat monster, nor is he going to change the game by bringing his own personal lascannon to finish off those pesky vehicles, so he needs something else.

Enter the edition of the aura buff! The captain as most of you will probably know by now allows you to re-roll any 'natural' 1's to hit for units within 6" of him. Yes, that includes his own hit rolls, and you only need 1 guy from the unit within 6" for the whole unit to get the buff, so it's pretty decent to my mind. It does force you to make some interesting choices though!

First, do you babysit a fire support type unit to maximise their damage output, or do you use his own combat capabilities to throw him forward and buff your aggressive elements (hopefully you'll already have read my thoughts on list building in 8th edition, so with a marine army you'll probably have a fairly balanced list between shooting and combat). Neither is the 'correct' answer, however whilst there are units in the marine book that are combat-capable, they are very much outnumbered by those with a shooting preference, so my own personal preference is to have your captain reinforce your shooting (actually the number of shots/attacks comes into play here too, since a lascannon is more likely to need the re-roll due to only having a single shot per turn, whereas most combat weapons get multiple attacks, meaning you don't have to rely on the re-rolls as much. I also think your captain is likely to be your warlord, and by not sending him into the teeth of the enemy you are also protecting the Slay the Warlord victory point in many games.

Second, is do you 'Chapter Master' the Captain. I'll be honest, I'm disappointed he's not a separate unit entry in the codex. A Chapter Master could easily have been included with a requirement to have at least 1 other HQ choice to ensure it didn't get abused, instead they went with the option of making it a stratagem that marine players can use to turn a captain into a Chapter Master. On the whole, I would say that having a Chapter Master around is an extremely worthwhile thing, but obviously you then have to balance that against significantly reducing the command points you have available for other stratagems in the game. In general however, I would say you wouldn't regret upgrading him - I've already seen plenty of situations where having the captain there has been frustratingly ineffective when all the 'missed' hits are rolled on 2's, not 1's.

The third choice is if you are simply taking the Captain for his aura buff, is it then worth giving him anything else that costs you points, as the chances are you'll be sat away from the action for much of the game. You could then have a very cheap Captain allowing you to maximise the points you spend elsewhere. Personally I don't go down this route, but that's for reasons I'll go into later.

As for the rest, he's got a decent number of wounds and a good invun to help, but don't be under any illusions that he'll survive long against the real combat monsters of the game or a lascannon to the face (as it should be!).

Alternative builds

The Captain has several datasheets in the codex, and I'm going to cover those here (I'll do similar for the other generic HQ options).

Bike mounted - This option makes the Captain tougher, and with more wounds than before, plus he's then considerably more mobile than the stock guy. Don't be persuaded to think that this means he needs to be aggressive however - the Captain on a bike is just as important in your gunline as one without the bike, he just has a bit of utility, since if you happen to draw the objective that is required to be scored by your warlord, then he's got a much better chance of achieving it, and he can also affect the game in later turns if the firebase he was babysitting is either no longer required or has become ineffective (ok, dead).

Jump pack - Similar to the bike Captain, the jump pack version gives a much improved mobility to the unit. I like to take a jump pack Captain if only because he can provide an extremely credible threat when coupled with Vanguard Veterans (so credible in fact that my Vanguard have been focus fired on by my last two opponents, neutering them pretty effectively and forcing the Captain onto the defensive). One extremely useful option for the jump pack Captain in particular however is the combi weapon option - dropping a melta/grav/plasma into the enemy lines is probably something they haven't accounted for with most marine lists - and works similarly well with grav/plasma pistols albeit with the trade off between less shots v using it in combat.

Terminator/cataphractii armour - the only way to actually get a 2+ save on the Captain without giving him a relic, terminator armour slows him down considerably, but does increase his protection and allows him to teleport onto the field of battle, which is always useful. If you're going down this route then realistically I think you'd want to take some hefty combat weapons since if you want to stay at range, the other options are better. Cataphractii armour is similar, but with the difference being he's even more protected, and even slower.

Primaris Captain

The Primaris Captain functions in basically the same way as the standard captain, except he comes with an extra wound and an extra attack, and his equipment options are far more limited. As standard, he comes with a 2-shot bolt rifle that does 2 damage per shot, which can be swapped out for a stalker version, which changes its type to heavy 1, with a -2AP at a greater range. Neither weapon is particularly impressive, but if you're planning on babysitting a squad in your deployment zone to benefit from he re-rolls then the stalker option has good range to allow him to potentially do something more than simply grant his aura ability.

Alternative build

The gravis armour grants the primaris captain extra toughness (though interestingly no extra wounds), added to much more close combat oriented weapons, a master crafted power sword, and a power fist with a built in 3-shot bolt pistol. The pistol is ok, but to be honest isn't going to do a huge amount. The combination of power fist and power sword however is very cool, giving him the option of taking on a variety of different targets.

Librarian

So, what do you do when you want a battalion and need to take a second HQ choice? Simple really, with access to the extremely useful Smite power, a librarian is a unit that you'll rarely regret having on board, particularly if he's then in a position to deny the witch. I'm getting ahead of myself though!

The librarian is all about his non-standard talents - without them he's simply a marine with a few extra wounds. No standard invun save, no better at shooting than the normal brothers and no auras, he is there solely to provide you with access to psychic powers and the chance to deny the witch.

That's generally good enough however! Smite in particular is rapidly becoming (who am I kidding, has become, since about 5 seconds after the release date) the 'standard' power that is cast first up by most psykers in the game. I'll go into more detail on the psychic powers at the end of the review, but for now, we want to know what type of character the librarian is. Suffice to say, that of the powers available, 2 relate to direct damage dealing (plus smite for 3), 3 are buffing powers, and the last is a debuff. Thankfully in 8th edition there's no longer a need to roll randomly for your powers, so you can actually plan for the role your librarian needs to perform.

None of the powers are particularly long range however, so the librarian pretty much exclusively needs to be up fairly close to the enemy, which ironically given his relative lack of protection, isn't really where he wants to be. Looking in detail at the capabilities of the librarian however, what becomes obvious is that you can't rely on one to make a massive difference to the game with any reliability - they aren't particularly survivable, and their damage output isn't high enough to do much more than contribute some damage here and there.

That being said however, the potential for mortal wounds from smite to stack up across the battle rounds if you can keep him safe, plus other damage from psychic powers, or the potential to buff/debuff a key unit at a crucial time is significant, and that means that taking multiples of these guys can rapidly become nasty indeed, and that nastiness is only limited by the restriction on casting a power more than once, with the exception of smite. Definitely a worthwhile addition to your list, if only to give you access to smite and deny the witch.

Alternative builds

Jump pack - If you're not going to deploy the librarian via a drop pod, then I strongly recommend investing in a jump pack for him. It doesn't add anything to his survivability, but it is well worth the points for the flexibility it gives you to deploy the librarian when and, to an extent, where you like. What that means is that you aren't hamstrung by the range of the psychic powers available to him, and quite often by waiting for a turn or two you can either easily drop him into a position where his smite and other damage causing powers can cause problems, or potentially even target key characters.

Terminator armour - One of the options for making the librarian more survivable, it improves his normal armour save and gives him an invun, but it does slow him down, particularly in comparison to the jump pack version although being able to teleport onto the field does allow him to remain mobile in terms of his original placement.

Primaris Librarian

The primaris librarian is almost exactly the same as the standard version, just with an extra wound and an extra attack, so there's little more to add to that part of the review.

Chaplain

The chaplain is the spiritual guardian of the chapter's warriors, and in particular they are normally known for providing inspirational leadership in times of need. So, what does the chaplain actually provide to an army?

Well first up he's the bog standard marine character in terms of strength, toughness, wounds etc, but with a couple of tweaks - first he hits on 2's in combat, and second, he brings his own special wargear. The first item of this is the rosarius, giving him a 4+ invun save - that's a big boost for someone who is likely to be putting himself in harm's way! The second is decidedly more lacklustre - the crozius arcanum, weapon of the chaplain and badge of office. it boosts his strength by 2pts, has an AP of-1 and does two damage per successful wound. I'm not impressed by that to be honest. Sure, you'll wound most infantry stuff on 3's but you're still not strong enough to get the majority of vehicles down from 5's to wound, and the AP is nothing to write home about. 2 damage is nice, but you won't wound often enough to make the most of it.

Thankfully, in wargear terms, this can be addressed, as the chaplain is able to swap out his bolt pistol for something worthwhile - take a power fist! Then all of a sudden the chaplain hits on 3's in combat (wait for it) but is then S8, so wounds most things in the game on 3's or 2's, with a -3AP and D3 damage. That's much better!

I said to wait for it - the chaplain has two significant buffs - the first is an aura bubble that lets nearby units use his leadership of 9 for morale tests - excellent stuff! With the re-roll from ATSKNF you shouldn't ever really fail a morale check on a 5-man squad near the chaplain. The second buff is that he provides a re-roll to hit (not 1's, all failed hits) in the fight phase for models in units within 6". So he also provides that buff to himself, meaning whilst the power fist only hits on 3's, you can re-roll any 1's you get. All of a sudden the chaplain has a potential damage of 9 and could still use the crozius against lesser opponents if necessary, and all you've lost out on is one measly bolt pistol shot.

Definitely take this guy if you're planning on taking combat units with your marines, he's cheaper than a captain boosted up to a chapter master level and it won't cost you any command points. However, if you're not planning on taking any combat units, this guy really isn't worth the points.

Alternative builds

You should be getting pretty used to this by now - terminator armour and jump pack. I won't go over the same points as in the last two slots, but suffice to say the jump pack option gives you good mobility, the terminator suit increases your durability. I prefer the former, though I will still take the latter with my terminators as I have the limited ed chaplain built and painted!

Primaris Chaplain

As with the librarian, the primaris chaplain offers no differences to the standard version except an extra wound and an extra attack, but no flexibility around wargear.

Techmarine

So, the techmarine is in the HQ section as the boss of your vehicles, and he can repair D3 hull points from one vehicle per turn if he's near enough to them. With a servo harness he also brings a flamer, a plasma cutter, 2 servo arms and can take a combi-weapon. Here's a hint. Don't.

The only reason (and I mean only) to take a techmarine is if you have a ton of vehicles and you're worried about an important one being crippled but not destroyed early on. He can't fix non-chapter vehicles (so can't heal knights unfortunately) and isn't very mobile, plus his weapons are hideously short ranged for someone likely to be standing in your deployment zone.

To be honest, there's only one situation where I'd take a techmarine and that's if I'm also taking a thunderfire cannon, when he ceases to become an HQ choice and as far as I can tell, can both 'fire' (he doesn't, but I'll come to that in the Heavy Support section) the thunderfire cannon, and his own weapons, and fix something all in the same turn. (all those extra arms definitely help with him multi-tasking).

Lieutenant

Now I really like the inclusion of the lieutenant, I always wondered why you went from Captain in charge of a whole company to squad sergeants with nothing in between when so many marine deployments don't actually require a whole company's attention. The lieutenant therefore represents that middle layer of command, and is very definitely designed to fit with the Captain in game terms.

As far as stats go, he brings the fairly standard marine character statline, hitting on 2's in combat and 3's with shooting, and with four wounds. Interestingly, of his standard equipment, it's actually the shooting weapon that's better, with a master crafted boltgun and a chainsword, but you'll definitely be wanting to swap that chainsword out for something a little nastier if you plan on getting him close.

As with the Captain, he brings a worthwhile aura, re-rolling ones to wound. As you can see, combining the Captain and the Lieutenant in close proximity you'll get a very powerful combination, re-rolling ones on both to hit and to wound rolls, which only gets better if you upgrade the Captain to a Chapter Master.

Alternative builds

The Lieutenant can also be built with a jump pack, so again if you're going all out for assault then that enables him to keep up with your combat forces to maximise their damage output.

Primaris Lieutenant

Guess what? There's a primaris version too (in fact, the primaris version was actually released first this time) and he comes with less options, but an extra wound and an extra attack. As with the primaris captain, he can take the stalker bolt rifle option, which is a pretty good idea if you're planning on using him to bolster your firing line, otherwise take the power sword and have at it!

Special Characters

These guys are particular versions of the above generic characters, and quite often come with different abilities. As such, I will only go into detail of the differences between them and the generic version. I'm also not going into detail on the Chapter Tactics, relics, stratagems etc for the special characters at this stage, so you'll find that all of these guys will be 'more' effective than their basic rules indicate.

Ultramarines

Marneus Calgar

Chapter Master: More wounds, a better save, more attacks, better leadership - he's the quintessential chapter master after all. He brings a relic blade and a nastier version of the boltstorm gauntlet carried by the gravis captain. He can also teleport onto the battlefield, which is as useful as you might imagine. On top of that, he has some pretty cool bonuses.

First up, his armour grants him a 4+ invun (pretty standard for most marine characters) but it also halves any damage caused to him, which is pretty amazing!

Next up, he brings the chapter master's aura, allowing re-rolls to all failed hits in 6". Nice.

Finally, if he is your warlord, he grants you an extra 2 command points (this combos really nicely with the Ultramarines warlord trait I'll cover later).

As you can imagine, Marneus Calgar therefore is the absolute boss of the buffers, excepting of course the great Guilliman himself. As with most marine characters however, he isn't really a combat monster - he's good, but dedicated combat characters are still better. He combines that however with buffing abilities that dedicated combat characters aren't likely to give you.

Chief Librarian Tigurius

Tigurius is simply a souped up version of the standard marine librarian. His profile is the same, and he similarly can't take any additional protection options. That being said however, he can re-roll failed psychic tests, can pick a unit within 6" and make it harder to hit in each of your opponent's shooting phase, knows 3 powers from the librarius discipline instead of 2, and can make an extra deny the witch attempt each turn. Sadly he can still only cast two powers each turn, so the extra psychic power he knows is more about flexibility than added capability.

Tigurius is one of those interesting characters that you find in the game sometimes, he doesn't have an obvious role or strength as such. In this case, he's not strictly more powerful than other psykers with the exception that he can re-roll those failed psychic tests, but he's pretty good at stopping others from casting theirs and his ability to make a unit harder to hit is very useful if you can combine it with cover.

If you can figure out how best to make use of him then he's very good indeed, but the problem is each of his advantages doesn't play well with the others so the chances are you'll be missing something.

Chaplain Cassius

Cassius brings an extra point of toughness over and above the normal chaplain, and otherwise just gets the one extra ability. You might not want to kill too many guys around him, since he rolls a die for every friendly ultramarine casualty within 6" in the fight phase and on a 6 the unit that caused it takes a mortal wound.

Cassius is a decent character, but in fairness, even T5 isn't going to cut it against most decent close combat weapons - it'll help him survive longer against the masses, but not the quality killers, and the mortal wound ability is a nice little addition, but it's not a reason to go with Ultramarines.

Captain Sicarius

His armour save is better than a standard Captain, but he's otherwise the same. His tempest blade is nice, causing D3 mortal wounds on to wound rolls of a 6 - and he also allows Ultramarines tactical squads within 6" to hit first in the fight phase. Again, if you're already committed to taking Ultramarines then actually, I'd say Sicarius is well worth the investment - since you're likely to hit with most if not all of your combat attacks and therefore causing mortal wounds on your opponent is definitely a reasonable chance.

Oh one more thing - do not, under any circumstances, overcharge his plasma pistol!

Sergeant Chronus

Chronus is a great option - his profile is nothing to speak of, but his one great bonus is the ability to grant a tank 2+ to hit, and to regain 1 wound per turn. Regaining those wounds isn't going to make a massive difference against dedicated anti tank shooting, but that's not the point, stick him in a land raider for 4 lascannons hitting on 2's and you've got a very powerful unit for example.

He's actually a steal at his points costs too, though again I wouldn't necessarily go for Ultramarines purely to get access to Chronus.

Sergeant Telion

Sergeant Telion is the classic grizzled scout sergeant - and he's packed out with bonuses. His own sniper rifle comes with extra damage and -1AP, which isn't bad, considering it gets and extra shot over normal sniper rifles too, thoguh sadly it doesn't have the mortal wound ability that normal sniper rifles do. As standard for scouts, he can be deployed anywhere more than 9" from the enemy, and has a camo cloak for +2 save in cover. There's one very good reason to pay 75 points for Telion though, and in my view it's worth more than all the others put together. Telion grants +1 to hit for a single scout unit within 3" of him each shooting phase. That doesn't sound brilliant at first, but if you combine that with 10 sniper rifles shooting from a big scout squad, all of a sudden they're hitting on 2+, which certainly makes them a serious threat to most things that aren't super heavies.

I'd say of all the possible characters you can take with Ultramarines, Telion is the first one on my list if I were writing an Ultramarines army list.

Imperial Fists & successors

Captain Lysander

Lysander is the epitome of a resilient marine in the fluff, having been lost in the warp for centuries and returning untainted to his chapter. He's a standard Captain in terminator armour, with a relic thunder hammer and storm shield, so he gets a 3+ invun. He really is able to pile on the pain however, as his thunder hammer doesn't suffer the penalty to hit that most do, and grants him S10, doing 3 damage per hit. Combine all that with his natural 2+ to hit in combat with the ability to re-roll 1's and you can pretty much guarantee his 4 attacks are going to be counting. As an added extra, Lysander also grants +1 to the leadership of Imperial Fist units in 6".

Ironically for Imperial Fists, who by and large want to remain at range, Lysander is a great combat option (just about as good as marines get tbh) and is a fantastic choice for the leader of a teleport counterpunch.

Pedro Kantor

Kantor is the chapter master of the Crimson Fists, his inspiring leadership and resilience keeping his chapter alive in the face of a devastating catastrophe. In the last edition, he was a great force multiplier that became obscene if your opponent brought orks. Thankfully that unbalanced choice has now gone, but he still functions as that force multiplier. In terms of wargear he brings the Dorn's Arrow storm bolter, which fires 4 shots at 24" with a -1AP and a standard power fist.

As a chapter master, his aura ability grants re-rolls to all missed hits in 6", and he has a second aura that also grants an extra attack to those units. That's where I get a bit confused with his purpose to be honest - the re-roll to all failed hits is massively useful to a firebase unit, making devastator squads incredibly effective (I know, I use him with mine all the time) but that really does waste those extra attacks, which would be very helpful to combat units. His problem in terms of combat output is that he doesn't have any mobility options, can't teleport in nor does he get a jump pack, so he's limited to moving forward in a transport, which then becomes target priority 1 to any competent opponent.

Personally I love Pedro, the chapter master re-rolls are extremely impressive, and although they can sometimes be wasted, the extra attacks he grants units within 6" can be very helpful later in the game, particularly if the enemy manages to get the drop in on your devastator units.

High Marshal Helbrecht

High Marshal Helbrecht is another chapter master, and comes with a nice mix of wargear, with a combi-melta and the sword of the high marshals. Don't need to discuss too much about the combi melta, but his BS of 2+ makes it much more reliable than most, especially with those chapter master re-rolls to failed hits. The sword of the high marshals grants him S5 with the standard power sword AP, but it does D3 damage and grants him D3 extra attacks if he charges that turn.

His 4 attacks mean that he's a pretty nasty combat character himself (not quite Lysander levels, but pretty nice all the same). He has a really nice aura ability though, granting him and all Black Templars units in 6" an extra point of strength, meaning with his sword he goes up to S6, so wounds bikers and their equivalents on 3's.

Helbrecht himself is pretty good, and with a Black Templars army you are going to want to get up close and personal, so he doesn't suffer the same problem that Pedro Kantor does in that all his talents are solely dedicated to a single purpose. He also forms one part of a really nasty combination that the Black Templars can put on their enemies, and one that I can't wait to try out in a game sometime!

The Emperor's Champion

The Emperor's Champion is the other element of that combination. In the fluff, he's essentially the descendant and embodiment of Sigismund, who during the siege of the Emperor's palace on Terra sought out and killed the champions of Horus Lupercal. All of the Champion's talents are focused on achieving this goal therefore, and he's a duelist of almost unparalleled ability.

He brings a 2+ armour save with a 4+ invun, 4 attacks that hit on 2's and when he's fighting any enemy characters, he can re-roll failed hits and gains an extra point of strength and gets an extra attack. Added to that, his black sword when fighting characters or monsters grants him re-rolls to wound, and against all opponents grants him +2 strength, and D3 damage with the standard power sword AP. That's quite a bit to piece together, but suffice to say that against enemy characters, he brings 5 attacks, hits on 2's re-rolling 1's, then becomes S7 (8 if he's within 6" of Helbrecht) and re-rolls failed wound rolls. All that means he has the potential to deal a monstrous 15 wounds in a combat if all the rolls go his way.

Err, quite frankly, if you're playing Black Templars, then you absolutely have to take this guy - unless you're trying to lose! His only real issue is getting himself into combat, but again with Black Templars the chances are you're going to have some land raiders kicking around he could hitch a ride in.

Chaplain Grimaldus

Grimaldus we know is a Chaplain, he's very standard in that regard, but comes with an extra rule that allows units within 6" to roll an extra attack for each 6 they roll in close combat. That's really useful, imagine if you rolled a couple of 6's with your Emperor's champion in a combat against an enemy character! Yep, Grimaldus is part three of the triumvirate of Black Templars characters that you really, really want in your army - keep them together and put them into the heart of the enemy and these guys and their support will wreck face.

White Scars

Kor'sarro Khan

Kor'sarro Khan is the master of the hunt, a Captain of the white scars with special sword intended to take out characters. He brings the normal re-roll 1's ability for Captains, but also grants +1 Strength to White Scars units that charged that turn and are within 6" of him.

However, the big change for Khan is that he no longer comes with a bike - a real shame since it's such a very thematic option for the White Scars.

Khan's big trick is that he doubles his strength against enemy characters - pretty nice indeed, and he should be pretty effective picking on lesser characters, though I wouldn't be too inclined to put him up against tougher stuff because with only a 3+ armour save, 4+ invun and 5 wounds, he's not great at taking damage from the nastier combat units in the game (Lysander for example would make mincemeat out of him).

Salamanders

Vulkan He'stan

Vulkan is another classic space marine character, one I've seen countless times against some of my more regular opponents, though not so often in more recent times (Vulkan was one major reason I gave up taking scouts for a while as they regularly gave up first blood to his heavy flamers as he came out of his drop pod).

Vulkan himself is very much a close ranged unit, with a heavy flamer and a nasty combat weapon (+2S, -2AP, D3 damage). Personally I think -2AP is the sweet spot in 8th edition, as it generally takes a save so far down it kicks in any invun your opponent might be bringing, but you don't then pay through the nose for its damage output that you're not making the most of. In defensive terms, he brings 5 wounds and a 3+ invun of his own.

His main benefit however, and the reason that you'd take him, is that he grants re-rolls to hit and wound to friendly Salamanders models within 6" for flame and melta weapons. Bring this guy in that classic drop pod with a company veteran squad toting meltaguns and he's still a hideously effective prospect to face! As with most marine characters, he's decent in combat, but even the spear of Vulkan isn't going to really let you go up against real combat beasts.

Raven Guard

Kayvaan Shrike

Shrike has had a promotion since the last codex (yay!) so he's now the Raven Guard chapter master, so he gets a 6" aura for re-rolling all failed hits.

One big thing you'll notice in this edition however if you play the Raven Guard is that whilst most of the other chapters gain things by playing together, the Raven Guard most definitely boost individual abilities rather than all over benefits. Shrike bucks that trend a little bit by granting a re-roll failed charge aura to units in 6", but his lightning claws are pretty nice, with a -3 armour save and D3 damage with re-rolls to wound. He also gets 5 basic attacks, which is pretty nice as he basically re-rolls everything in combat. His only issue really is that against tougher units, he's only S4 so might struggle to wound, though the re-rolls will come in handy here.

Honestly if you're taking Raven Guard, their characters really are assassin types, and whilst Shrike does at least give a buff out to nearby friendly chapter units, it's not a game-changing buff or one that you can't get some other way, however he's pretty good, but as with most combat characters for the marines, isn't going to go toe to toe with most of the nasty combat units in the game.

Conclusions

So there you have it - sorry for the massive wall of text but I really wanted to get all the hq units done in one post. As I said, I've not added in the chapter specific abilities, warlord traits etc so in every case the units will be better than indicated here, but the combinations especially for the generic characters are too numerous to cover.

In general though, the value in marine characters comes from their aura abilities and buffing powers, with only really the Emperor's Champion and Lysander being what I would call genuine contenders in the combat arena.

Of them all, I'd have to say that Lysander is probably my favourite, though in return he doesn't add all that much to the surrounding units.