Hidden gems of the new space marine codex

The new space marine codex has hit the shelves last week. Lots has been said about the big changes, but I think some hidden gems have been missed. Here are my top 5.

Beware of the mighty vanguard

The price reduction bat has hit many units and lots of talk has been about the drop for centurions and terminators. However, with the vanguard, the drop is hidden, but is huge! The unit cost is unchanged, but look at weapon changes. 

Power weapons and lightning claws drop to 5pt. Yes, that’s 5pts for a power weapon! Or a pair of claws for 10pts! That’s a saving on 20pts or the cost of whole vanguard! Power fist and thunder hammers take a 10 points drop each. That makes a huge difference to to the use of these weapons for me. I can see a them make my list more often. 

The heroic intervention rule has also taken a boost. Gone are the challenge rules, in are reroll to charge distance and ignoring disordered charges. That will deal with those pesky tau grenades! 

The stalking horse

To me the stalker in the last codex was a waste, a cool model with poor rules. The new version however improves this. It (finally) gains interceptor. While they drop too heavy 3, they can still split fire (firing 6 times 3 at each target) or are effectively twin linked at heavy 3 at a single target. All shots are now at bs 4. The old robotic slave shots at bs are gone.

They also gain ignore cover when in a squad of 3. This is so cool. Effectively ending jinxing skimmers! A squad of 3 will be a fearsome vs some lighter armies. Tau will still be tough, but elder and dark eldar will come to fear the stalker. 

On your bike! 

The subtle change to the mounted assault rule is quite a fun. In the old rule it was that if you took your captain on a bike, then 5 man bike squads are troop choices. A lot has been made of the fact that now 3 man bike squads, however, a more subtle change is that it’s no longer just captains. Any independent character can take a this option. This mean my mounted librarian will getting an escort!

Holy gladius! 

The ‘basic’ formation is the gladius. You must take a single Demi battle company, (basically HQ, 3 tactical, 1assault, 1 heavy support) and 1 other ‘Formation ‘ (lots to choose from!) will give you the gladius formation and access to 3 chapter tactics. As an ultramarines play, I already get 3, this means in 7 turn game I can use one every turn, and 1 tactic will get used 3 times. (1 for scions of gulliman, 1 for a Demi battle company, 1 for gladius) the tactical tactics allow tactical squads reroll to shooting and assault. That’s effectively twinlinked 30 marines! 

Dread squads

The idea of a squad of marine dreads is tempting. The ven and the basic dread both have take a price drop on the weapons, the ironclad is largely unchanged. All have gain attacks, now having 4 each. Taking advantage of the squadron rules, these can become a real force in the marine army. 

That’s my hidden gems of the new codex. I am still getting my head around the whole new concepts, and the new format. I hope you find this missive of use. I am off to paint up some vanguard! Till next time, see you across the battle field. 

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Post christmas blues

So the big day has come and gone, and all that’s left is a mountainous pile of kits to build and paint. I had a great Christmas and my family know me well. So what will I be adding to my ultramarines in the next few months? Well, my main aim was add some bikes and I now have a full squad of 8, a smaller 4 man squad, both with additional attack Bikes, a 3rd attack bike and a full command squad. Add to this the captain and librarian both on a bike and I have the core of a nice bike force. I have also added some vanguard recently and christmas saw me getting a box of sternguard. To round of the new units I also got some scenery.

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The plan
I wanted to get my 6th company up and running for February, but this pushing it even for me, but I will focus on bikes for a while. I have added some nice conversions to the command squad and I am loving my librarian biker.

The company standard was a dilemma, so I have scratch built my own (blog to follow) and the melta guns also caused me to rethink the plan. I have very few melta guns left in the bits box and bikers holding special weapons a quite a pain to do. So I have converted up a new gun arrangement on the front of the bike. The idea was to mount a melta gun centrally, replacing the headlamp. Nestled between the bolter, this triple gun idea was found on the net and looks really good. The apothecary and company champion on bikes were easy to build, with a bit of tinkering to make them look right.

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The sternguard box set was a real treat. I love this kit, but I don’t want more sternguard (just yet). I do however want to add some vanguard on foot, so it was more conversions . Mixing vanguard and sternguard boxes, I went for a new look. Rather than the normal ‘charging headlong ‘ look for an assault squad, I went for a more stoic, static look, almost at rest. The idea was to try and get the whole ‘defenders of humanity ‘ look that you often see in the artwork. Very blinged up and a grim pose.

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As I have said before, weapon layout is key to vanguard (and most other units) You often see people tooling them up to max, thunderhammer and stormsheilds (which is around 250pts for 5 vs 215pts for assault terminator squads with the same layout) but then moaning that they aren’t worth the points. My view is that less is more. I have gone for power weapon/stormsheild on the sgt, a pair of claws on 1, a plasma pistol on one and 2 standard. This is around 170pts for the squad, making them usable in small games. I will add the second 5 at some point in the near future. The ‘gun’ parts (such as the arms and bolters) will find a use soon, but more on that in the future.

So, that’s my painting project for the next few weeks. Keep an eye on Twitter for progress. Till then, see you across the battlefield.

Return of the vanguard

Every on loves sternguard. Well, every Space marine player. Their enemies, not so much. The special ammunition is very flexible, 2 special or heavy weapons per squad and all the combi weapons go a long way to win games. The old ‘sternguard in a droppod ‘ caper is the opening move of many gamers. (Me included!)

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But what about the poor assault cousin, the vanguard? These are about as rare on current lists as the assault squad? Only a few diehards take them in competitive lists. Kids love em because you take a whole squad of thunder hammers or lightning claws. They never work as well as they think they will, but I’d like to make the case for them. Let’s look and the negatives first.

1- assault armies don’t work. In current 40k shooting is king. Not a lot to say about this, it is. The old khorne player in me is sad at this, but, then I do have 2 full sternguard squads so the ultramarine player is ok with it.
2-assaults take planning and a lot players get it too easy to develop descent plans with assault troops. They just stick with tried and tested shooting units. I am looking at you tau players here.
3-young players are easily swayed. They build big deathstars that get blown away on turn 1. The loss of a thunder hammer vanguard will put you 50+ points down, not a good move.
4-assault terminators are a cheaper, more durable solution. At 225 you get the same stats, 2+ save and a squad of thunderhammers.
5-has anyone ever used heroic intervention? Really?
6- tables at the moment tend to light on Los blocking terrain. This really hurts assault troops. It’s all trees and low walls.

As you can see it’s easy to pull these veterans apart, but I think people over look a few key points.

1- you don’t have to take jump packs. 10 vanguard on foot charging out of a stormraven will get 40 attacks. That would make a dent in most units!
2-you can tailor your vanguard. The options available allow you to make the right squad for the right task. Basic vanguard with just chainswords are great vs guard, Orks, nids, eldar or tau. Facing chaos? Drop the whole 2 claws on every trooper thing, and just take power weapons (saves you 75pts)
3-deep strike is the new black. I have said it befor, but deep striking is on the rise. Being able to counter this is very useful. Your own deepstriking vetrans can take tactical objectives, score vp or contest strategic points.
4-vanguard can be a great shooting unit if your brave. 10 plasma pistols anyone? Or 10 Grav pistols deepstriking into a tank squad! The brutally possible is very under estimated, but cost less than thunderhammers all round.
5-they are better than assault marine for only 5pts more. For those few points you get ld+1 and A+1, plus more options. Not bad for so little points.
6-why take thunder hammers at all? Ok, this is contentious. What is the value of a thunderhammer over a power Fist. The concussive rule is great, but you normally kill your target at s8 ap2 anyway. A power fist is the same stats (without concussive) for 5 pts less? Over a 5 man squad, that’s a saving of 25 pts? And vs tanks, your better with melta bombs. (Saving a further whooping 100pts!)

So they have options, but you don’t have to take them. Low cost vanguard units can play a vital role in your plans. I run a 5 man squad with jump packs costing 190. Not really Cheap and cheerful yes, but with enough of a bite to really hurt. I am planning on adding 5 more, again keeping the cost down and using my stormeagle as a delivery system. Around 40 attacks plus upto 10 hammer of wraith attacks! That will make a hole! Around 10 of these attacks will be power weapons.

On foot I have just started assembling 5 more. Armed with a mix of weapons, again, keeping the cost down, I think these will be good unit. Possibly in a pod.

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Here are the units.

5 Vanguard Veterans (190)

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
3× bolt pistol; storm shield; lightning claw; 3× chainsword; lightning claw; power fist; jump packs; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines) Heroic Intervention

• Space Marine Sergeant

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
bolt pistol; power weapon; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics-ultramarines

5 Vanguard Veterans (170)

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
3× bolt pistol; plasma pistol; lightning claw; 4× chainsword; lightning claw; on foot ; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics (ultramarines) Heroic Intervention

• Space Marine Sergeant

WS4·BS4·S4·T4·W1·I4·A2·Ld9·Sv3+
storm shield; power Axe; power armour; frag grenades; krak grenades
And They Shall Know No Fear; Combat Squads; Chapter Tactics-ultramarines

So, that’s my case for vanguard. My key points are these-don’t over equip, always have a few basic guys at the front to bubble wrap. Plan your use, don’t just hope the best, know you enemy and hit’em were it hurts. And consider the not with jump packs options!

Till then, look to the sky’s and while your doing that, I’ll sneak my scouts into you deployment zone. See you across the battlefield.