Adeptus Primaris: Ideas to “flesh out” the Primaris Marines

So, the Primaris Marines have been growing on me more and more, especially as I have gotten to see and play against armies with these models up close several times recently (I currently do not own any Primaris models, even though I have almost all the Power Armor army variants, including Angels Sanguine, Space Wolves, Ultramarines, Grey Knights, and a “generic” bunch of Marines I bought off eBay that can be used as “counts as” Dark Angels).

That said, while they are a very solid addition to the Space Marine codex (and I assume to future Deathwatch, Dark Angel, Blood Angel, and Space Wolf codexes), I think there is quite a lot of room to improve/enhance/add to the Primaris line of models, potentially to the point that they either get their own Codex or, if they stay “embedded” within the Space Marine book, you could still field an “all-Primaris” force and have it be flexible, competitive, and capable of taking on the whole spectrum of potential opponents.

Based on all that, here is my idea on how to fully “flesh out” Primaris Marines to the point that they can stand on their own in an all-Primaris army:



HQ Choices:

[1] Primaris Captain

*Same as current model/rules.


[2] Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*Same as current model/unit, but with ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).


[3] Primaris Captain in Reiver Armor (option to upgrade with Grav-Chute, Grapnel Launcher, or Reiver Exoskeleton)

*New option that takes normal Captain Stats, but adds in “Terror Troops” rule and the ability to take Grav-Chute for +5 points, Grapnel Launcher for +5 points, and/or a Reiver Exoskeleton for +15 points (Reiver Exoskeleton gives the model +2” to its Movement, Advance, and Charge ranges).


[4] Primaris Lieutenant

*Same as current model/rules.


[5] Primaris Lieutenant in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*Same as current Lieutenant model, but with 5″ Movement and +1T, +1W, +1A, and the ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).


[6] Primaris Lieutenant in Reiver Armor (option to upgrade with Grav-Chute, Grapnel Launcher, or Reiver Exoskeleton)

*New option that takes normal Lieutenant Stats, but adds in “Terror Troops” rule and the ability to take Grav-Chute for +5 points, Grapnel Launcher for +5 points, and/or a Reiver Exoskeleton for +15 points (Reiver Exoskeleton gives the model +2” to its Movement, Advance, and Charge ranges).


[7] Primaris Chaplain

*Same as current model/rules.


[8] Primaris Chaplain in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*New HQ choice that is like a “normal” Primaris Chaplain with all the same wargear/rules, except that he has 5” movement, +1T, and the ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).


[9] Primaris Librarian

*Same as current model/rules.


[10] Primaris Librarian in Gravis Armor (option to upgrade with Jump Pack)

*New HQ choice that is like a “normal” Primaris Librarian with all the same wargear/rules, except that he has 5” movement, +1T, and the ability to add an Inceptor Jump Pack for +25 points (improves Movement to 10”, gives “Fly” and “Jump Infantry” key words, and gives Meteoric Descent and Crushing Charge rules).


[11] Primaris Techmarine in Gravis Armor

*New HQ choice that is like a “normal” SM Techmarine with Blessing of the Omnissiah rule, except that he has 5” movement, +1T, +1W, and +1A and comes with two Servo-Arms, two Plasma Exterminators, and Frag/Krak Grenades.



ELITE Choices:

[1] Reivers

*Same as current model/rules, except can now also take a Reiver Exoskeleton for +4 points per model (Reiver Exoskeleton gives the model +2” to its Movement, Advance, and Charge ranges). Additionally, Shock Grenades have their range upgraded to 12” and, in place of Combat Knives, Reivers can instead now replace their Bolt Carbines with Reiver Blades (S: User, AP: -2, +1 Attack when fighting with this weapon) for +5 points a model.


[2] Aggressors

*Same as current model/rules.


[3] Primaris Apothecary

*Same as current model/rules.


[4] Primaris Ancient

*Same as current model/rules.


[5] Primaris Ancient in Gravis Armor

*New ELITE choice that is like a “normal” Primaris Ancient with all the same wargear/rules, except that he has 5” movement and +1T.


[6] Redemptor Dreadnought

*Same as current model/rules.


[7] Redemptor “Bellator Pattern” Dreadnought

*New Elite choice that is a close combat variant of the Redemptor Dreadnought. Base it comes with all the same stats as a Redemptor Dreadnought, a Redemptor Fist/Heavy Flamer, two Fragstorm Grenade Launchers, and a Bellator Assault Gauntlet which grants it +2D3 x S: User AP-2 D2 attacks in addition to its normal 4A with the Redemptor Fist in the Fight phase. Additionally, it has a special rule called “Fury of the Ancients” which grants it +1 to Hit for any close combat attacks on any turn in which it charged.



TROOP Choices:

[1] Intercessors

*Same as current model/rules, except have the option now to exchange their Bolt Pistols for Chain Swords for +1 point per model.




[1] Inceptors

*Same as current model/rules, except they now have the additional option to replace both their Assault Bolters with a pair of Storm Gauntlets (S: +2 AP:-2 D2, gains +1A when used as a pair, may re-roll to Wound rolls of 1) for +20 points per model.


[2] Stormhunter Land Speeder

*New Primaris Land Speeder that is armed with two Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannons or two Las-Talons, has Move 16” WS3+ BS3+ S5 T5 W9 A2 Ld7 Sv3+, has the Fly key word, has Auto Launchers and the Power of the Machine Spirit rule, and gains +1 to Hit when targeting enemy units with the Fly key word.


[3] Stormspectre Land Speeder

*New Primaris Land Speeder that is armed with two Twin Ironhail Heavy Stubbers, has Move 16” WS3+ BS3+ S5 T5 W9 A2 Ld7 Sv3+, has the Fly key word, has Auto Launchers and the Power of the Machine Spirit rule, and can either take a Force Field Generator (grants all friendly <Chapter> units entirely within 6” a 5++ save) for +25 points, a Homing Beacon (friendly <Chapter> units can arrive from Reserve within 6” of this model, as long as they are at least 3” from any enemy models) for +15 points, or a Targeting Relay (one friendly <Chapter> unit within 12” gains +1 to its to Hit rolls for that Shooting Phase) for +25 points.




[1] Hellblasters

*Same as current model/rules.


[2] Reaper Tank Hunter

*New Heavy Support choice that is a variant of the Repulsor and has the same stats, the same Hover Tank/Repulsor Field/Power of the Machine Spirit/Auto Launcher rules, and no transport capacity. Also, instead of the Repulsor’s weapons, it is armed with three Macro-Lascannons (Heavy 1 S10 AP-4 Damage: D6) that gain +1 to Wound when targeting units with the Monster or Vehicle key word.


[3] Redemptor “Mortis Pattern” Dreadnought

*New Heavy Support choice that is a fire support variant of the Redemptor Dreadnought. Base it comes with all the same stats as a Redemptor Dreadnought, two Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannons (can replace either or both of these with Macro Plasma Incinerators), two shoulder-mounted Onslaught Gatling Cannons (can be replaced with two Twin Heavy Plasma Incinerators), and two Fragstorm Grenade Launchers (can be replaced with two Storm Bolters). Additionally, if the Redemptor Mortis Dreadnought did not move in the previous Movement phase, it gains the “Stabilized Targeting” rule, which gives it +1 to Hit for any shooting attacks in that Shooting phase.





[1] “Archangel” Primaris Drop Pod

*New Dedicated Transport choice that is Movement: 0” WS- BS3+ S7 T7 W12 A0 Ld8 Sv 3+ with degrading profile (BS degrades 3+/4+/5+), has the Drop Pod Assault and Immobile rules (just like “normal” Drop Pods), is armed with a Heavy Bolt Rifle Array (30” Rapid Fire 6, S4 AP-1 D1), and can transport up to twenty Primaris Infantry models (cannot transport Jump units and Gravis Armor units take two slots). Alternately, it can transport one Redemptor Dreadnought (any of the three variants) and ten Primaris Infantry models, or two Redemptor Dreadnoughts (any combination of the three variants).


[2] Repulsor Tank

*Same as current model/rules


[3] Retaliator APC

*New Dedicated Transport choice that is a variant of the Repulsor and has the same stats (except for Movement 14”), the same Hover Tank/Repulsor Field/Power of the Machine Spirit/Auto Launcher rules, and a transport capacity of 14 Primaris Infantry models (cannot transport Jump units and Gravis Armor units take two slots). Also, instead of the Repulsor’s weapons, it is armed with three Ironhail Heavy Stubbers, two Fragstorm Grenade Launchers, two Storm Bolters, and an Icarus Rocket Pod. Finally, it has a unique piece of Wargear called the “Retaliator Force Field,” which grants it a 4++ against shooting attacks from 25” and further away (it becomes a 5++ against shooting attacks between 19-24″ away and a 6++ against shooting attacks further between 13-18″ away).


FLYER Choices:

[1] Overlord Gunship

*New Flyer choice that has Movement 20-40” WS6+ BS3+ S8 T8 W16 A4 Ld9 Sv 3+ and the ability to transport up to 7 Primaris Infantry models (cannot transport Jump units and Gravis Armor units take two slots). It has the Airborne, Supersonic, Hard to Hit, Hover Jet, Crash and Burn, and Power of the Machine Spirit rules and is armed with two Plasma Incinerator Arrays (30” Rapid Fire 3, S7 AP-4 D1 or S8 AP-4 D2 with a Mortal Wound for every to Hit roll of 1 when Overcharged), a Twin Lascannon, and two Heavy Frag Missile Launchers (each is 48” Heavy 2D6 S4 AP0 D1, can re-roll all failed to Wound rolls against Infantry targets).


So, in summary, with my proposed ideas above, the “Primaris Line-up” would look like this:


-Primaris Captain/Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor/Primaris Captain in Reiver Armor

-Primaris Lieutenant/Primaris Lieutenant in Gravis Armor/Primaris Lieutenant in Reiver Armor

-Primaris Chaplain/Primaris Chaplain in Gravis Armor

-Primaris Librarian/Primaris Librarian in Gravis Armor

-Primaris Techmarine in Gravis Armor





-Primaris Apothecary

-Primaris Ancient/Primaris Ancient in Gravis Armor

-Redemptor Dreadnought

-Redemptor “Bellator Pattern” Dreadnought







-Stormhunter Land Speeder

-Stormspectre Land Speeder




-Reaper Tank Hunter

-Redemptor “Mortis Pattern” Dreadnought



-Archangel Drop Pod

-Repulsor Tank

-Retaliator APC



-Overlord Gunship


The good thing about this from GW’s perspective would be that, aside from all the HQ choices and Apothecary/Ancient (which would be in their own, individual kits/blisters), you would only need to produce 5 Infantry kits (Aggressors, Reivers, Intercessors, Inceptors, Hellblasters) and 5 Vehicle kits (Redemptor Dread with Mortis/Bellator variants kit, Repulsor Tank with Retaliator/Reaper variants kit, Stormhunter/Stormspectre Land Speeder kit, Archangel Drop Pod kit, and Overlord Gunship kit).



2000 Point Battle — Tactical Report

I recently played a 2000 point game at my local store and thought I’d break down my list, what worked, what did not work, and how I would revise my forces and tactics going forward, based on what happened in this battle:

 First off, my list. I took three Detachments (one Astra Militarum Battalion, one Ultramarine Spearhead, and one Grey Knight Vanguard) for a total of 8 CPs and 9 “drops,” based on how I deployed in the game.

 —Astra Militarum Battalion—


*Tempestor Prime with Rod of Command

*Tempestor Prime with Rod of Command



*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns

*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns

*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns

*5 x Scions with 2 Plasma Guns



*Chimera with Multi-laser, Heavy Flamer

*Chimera with Multi-laser, Heavy Flamer


—Ultramarine Spearhead—


*Sergeant Chronos



*Predator with Twin Lascannon, 2 x Heavy Bolter

*Predator with Twin Lascannon, 2 x Heavy Bolter

*Predator with Twin Lascannon, 2 x Heavy Bolter


 —Grey Knight Vanguard—


*Castellan Crowe



*Brotherhood Ancient (Warlord, with “First to the Fray” WL Trait, and GK Relic Banner)

*GK Apothecary

*10 x GK Paladins (3 x pair of Falchions, 3 x Halberds, 3 x NDHs, Paragon with Sword)


Overall, the plan for the AM Battalion was for each Chimera to load up with two Scion squads and a Tempestor Prime, providing me mobility/protection for the Plasmas, plus a source of Orders to re-roll 1s when I overcharged them, as well as “generalist” fire support from the AM Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in the form of their Multi-lasers and Heavy Flamers. Importantly, despite being made up of 8 separate units, this only accounted for two “drops” during deployment, giving me a solid chance of going first.

 For the UM Spearhead detachment, Chronos was there as a cheap HQ who also made one Predator always shoot at BS2+, no matter what damage it takes, unless there are -1 modifiers like from moving, enemy fliers being “hard to hit,” Raven Guard chapter tactics, etc. etc. The Predators themselves were included to give me the option to use the new KILLSHOT stratagem (for 1 CP it gives them +1 to Wound and +1 damage if they are all within 6” of one another and shoot at either an enemy Vehicle or Monster), but also provide versatile fire support due to their mix of Lascannons and Heavy Bolters.

 Finally, for the GK Vanguard detachment, the idea was for everyone to start in Reserve except Crowe (who can’t, unless you use the special GK stratagem to override that for him), them bring them in Turn 1 to overwhelm a particular portion of the enemy battle line and then “roll up” his forces from their with the powerful psychic, shooting, and close combat potential. Crowe himself was deployed near one of my Predators, out of LOS, as a counter-assault unit who also had the “Gate of Infinity” power to bounce himself around the battlefield and either support other units in close combat or, if necessary, grab objectives later in the game.

 My opponent was a veteran 40K player and a great guy who I enjoyed playing against and talking with the entire game. He brought his all-infantry, Primaris heavy Ultramarine army, with a small Grey Knight contingent in support, so thematically it was a bit of a “civil war” type game between our forces. If I remember correctly, he ran something like the following:


—UM “Primaris” Battalion—


-Primaris Captain in Gravis Armor (his Warlord, with the UM “uber Iron Halo” relic)

-Primaris Librarian

-Primaris Chaplain



-Primaris Apothecary

-Primaris Ancient



-5 x Intercessors with Bolt Rifles

-5 x Intercessors with Bolt Rifles

-5 x Intercessors with Bolt Rifles



-5x Devastator Centurions (3 with Twin Heavy Bolters and Hurricane Bolters, 2 with Lascannons and Centurion Missile Launchers)


—Grey Knight Vanguard—


*Grand-Master in TDA (with NDH)



*Paladin Ancient

*GK Apothecary

*3 x GK Paladins (all with pair of Falchions)


This gave him 7 CPs and his WL Trait (which we forgot to use all game long) was the UM one that enabled him to “regain” expended CPs on a roll of 5+.

 So, the game was somewhat “old school” in nature, with 4 Objectives (each worth 3 VPs if you held them when the game ended), plus the traditional Slay the Warlord, Line breaker, and First Blood.

 We deployed using the new “Frontline Assault” deployment type (each player is along a long edge of the board, with the deployment zones being 9” from the center point in the middle and 6” from the long board edges on the very sides, making for in essence a “wedge-shaped” DZ for each player). There was lots of cover and LOS blocking terrain overall and he deployed heavy in the center, with an Intercessor squad on each flank and his GKs in reserve. I deployed with two Predators in my center, the Chimeras (and their Scion passengers) on the right, plus the third Predator and Crowe on my far right… also, like him, I kept my entire Grey Knight TDA contingent in reserve. I finished deploying first and so got +1 to the roll to go first, which I ended up winning. He tried to seize the initiative and failed, so I went first.

 Summarizing the game, my Paladins/Apothecary/Ancient dropped in on his right flank turn 1 and completely removed his Intercessor squad using the new PSYBOLT AMMUNITION stratagem. My Predators, Chimeras, and Plasma Scions also managed to kill all his Centurions, his Apothecary, and a number of his Intercessors by the end of Turn 2. However, his “counter-drop” of Grey Knights and the rest of his Primaris shooting/close combat was able to eventually destroy all three of my Predators, both my Chimeras, and all my Scions, leaving only Crowe (who bounced to an Objective late in the game with “Gate of Infinity”), my WL Brotherhood Ancient (who also stayed back from the fight to hold an Objective, get Line Breaker, and deny him Slay the Warlord), and my Apothecary left by the end of the game.

 My GK Paladins moved slowly toward the middle of the board (where his main Primaris Battle line and one of the Objectives was) over the course of several turns, but when they finally got into close combat there, the Primaris Gravis Captain, Primaris Chaplain, Primaris Ancient, and Primaris Librarian killed them all, a bit to my surprise (they did get into combat without the benefit of +1A from my Brotherhood Ancient, since he was camping on an Objective far away and they did kind of charge in piece-meal, but they also were not able to crack the 3++ save of the Gravis Armor Captain, who survived multiple rounds of their best punches and then beat them down with his D3 damage power fist).

At the end of the game, he had several more units left than me and significantly more combat power (i.e. almost all of his GKs were still alive, plus most of his Primaris HQ options, while I only had Crowe, the Brotherhood Ancient, and the GK Apothecary), but I actually was able to squeak out a win due to VPs (we both held two objectives, but I also had Line Breaker and First Blood, while he had none of the “auxiliary” objectives).

 Evaluating how I played, here are a few things I did well and a few things I did poorly:



[1] I had good target priority and concentration of fire early on, I think, with the Grey Knight TDA contingent overwhelming his right flank and my strong shooting assets rapidly removing the Centurions, which were a large threat to my forces.

[2] I made good use of the Chimeras, adding their firepower to my other shooting, using them to “block” off enemy forces, and getting them to survive late into the game and absorb a lot of combat power away from the rest of his forces.

[3] I made sure I was aware of and playing for the key VP conditions all game long, even when I started losing in terms of raw numbers of troops, thereby enabling me to control as many objectives as him and gain the edge via Line Breaker/First Blood when all the dust settled.



[1] I did not use the mobility/range of the Predators very well to keep them out of harms reach, enabling him to eventually destroy them all with a combination of shooting (including a lot of close range shooting/Smiting from his Primaris forces) and assault (the Grey Knights finished off my last Predator with Chronus in it because I had backed it into a corner, rather than “dashing” it away after they deep struck nearby.

[2] I didn’t employ my GK Paladins very effectively, dropping them so far on the flank that it took them multiple turns of “foot-slogging” to get into Smite/close combat range for the rest of the battle and, when I did get there, I didn’t deploy them in a way to maximize all their shooting, psychic abilities, and close combat power (I just kind of rushed into assault as quickly as possible, assuming they would be able to “brute force” their way to victory, an assumption which cost me dearly).

[3] I didn’t use my GKs, Scions, and UM Predators very well in terms of mutual support, but pretty much deployed them in separate parts of the board and fought them as “independent” elements, which enabled my opponent to deal with them in piecemeal fashion to some degree. For example, if I had dropped some of the GKs in near the Scions, then I could have used their threat to distract his shooting/assault (keeping the Scions alive much longer) and also could have supported the GKs with the Chimeras shooting and LOS blocking. Similarly, with the Predators, if I had some of my Scions or GKs to help screen them, they would have survived much longer and been able to contribute all game long, potentially.

[4} I didn’t use the ORBITAL BOMBARDMENT stratagem to drop a massive dose of Mortal Wounds in the center of his very clumped up Primaris Marine battle-line… if I had remembered to do that when I still had 3 CPs left, I think I could have massively softened up his forces, potentially to the point of critically wounding them, and when my GK Paladins finally assaulted, the combat in the center might have gone quite differently.


So, based on all that, going forward, what would I do differently in terms of list construction and tactical employment of my troops?

 Well, right now I think I will keep the Scion and Astra Militarum portions of my army, with the exception of potentially trading Chronus out for Marneus Calgar… not only does Calgar give me an additional 2 CPs (so up to 10 total for my army; I blew through CPs pretty quickly, especially using PSYBOLT AMMUNITION twice, which while very effective, cost me 4 CPs right there), but he also provides re-rolls to Hit for all my Predators if they stay close together (another thing I will do differently, deploy them all near one another), gives me a VERY powerful counter-assault element to protect them, and, finally, as my new Warlord, he is tough to kill and lets me regenerate expended CPs on a 5+.

 Now, of course, Calgar is much more expensive than Chronus, so I have to recoup points somewhere else… well, I think my GK contingent, while powerful, is a very heavy points investment with less than optimal return… instead of a Vanguard of Paladins and “supporting cast” detachment, I think I might opt for an Outrider detachment with three Interceptor squads (two 5 man units and one 10 man unit) and GM Voldus as the HQ… this gives me highly mobile infantry that can get around the battlefield all game long with their 12” movement (and special Shunt move), still shoot very well with their massed Stormbolters (and can use PSYBOLT AMMUNITION still), can grab Objectives late game, and also give me a range of Psychic powers to use still.

 As for Voldus, with the ability to cast/deny three psychic powers a turn, he can be an incredible “toolbox” to support the Interceptors, plus he can use Gates of Infinity all game long to go anywhere on the battlefield (i.e. like back to help Marneus and Predators, or over to support the Scions if need be) and he is no slouch in close combat either (5 x S8 AP-3 D3 attacks, all hitting on 2+s with re-rolls to Wound!). Finally, if I had enough leftover points, I would probably invest an UM Thunderfire Cannon, since its fire support can help at range, it can use the TREMOR SHELLS stratagem to slow enemy forces down, and the Techmarine Gunner can help repair my Predators if they are damaged.


Codex Space Marines: Primaris and Chapter Tactics

As I continue to digest all the new abilities, rules, and models that have come out for Space Marines between the start of 8th edition and the recent Codex release, one of the things that struck is me is figuring out how to best use the new Primaris units and, in particular, how to integrate them effectively with different Chapter Tactics.

While I think (contrary to many opinions across the internet) that all seven Chapter Tactics are at least solid, if not outstanding, I also think that the new Primaris Dreadnought/Infantry can maximize their abilities when combined with certain Chapter Tactics.

Below are some ideas I have for synergizing different Primaris units with specific Chapters and the abilities they bring to the table:

[1] Iron Hands Redemptor Dreadnoughts  — This may seem like an obvious one (given the IH’s affinity for vehicles in general and Dreadnoughts in particular in the fluff), but the Redemptor is already a beast, coming in at T7 13W and a 3+ armor save. Now, add in the 6+ “FNP” from Iron Hands Chapter Tactics and the Redemptor effectively has the equivelant of 15 wounds, putting it almost on Land Raider levels of durability (have an Iron Hands Librarian cast “Might of Heroes” on it and then it becomes T8, making it even tougher to damage, especially against S7/S8 weapons, plus it becomes even more dangerous in close combat).

In addition to Chapter Tactics, the Iron Hands have the unique stratagem called MACHINE EMPATHY, which enables a vehicle to ignore the penalty to BS for moving and shooting Heavy Weapons or advancing and shooting Assault Weapons, which synergizes quite well with the Redemptor Dreadnought, given the large number of weapons it carries on its chassis. If you load out a Redemptor with a Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon, an under slung Onslaught Gatling Cannon, two Fragstorm GLs, and the Icarus Rocket Pod, then it can move its full 8″ a turn and put out 18 x S5 AP-1 shots at 24″, another 2D6 S4 shots at 18″, and D3 S7 AP-1 shots with “Skyfire” a turn, making it an ideal platform for dealing with massed infantry and/or light enemy vehicles. Alternately, you can load this Redemptor in a Lucius Drop Pod (from FW) and bring it in turn 1 just outside 9″ from enemy lines, where it can unleash this massed shooting and then possibly even charge (cast Veil of Time on it by a nearby Librarian to get re-rolls for its charge distance), bringing even more “heat” into enemy lines right out the gate.


[2] Salamander Aggressors (with Flamestorm Gauntlets)  — Another kind of obvious one, given that these are the main Primaris models armed with any form of flamer weaponry right now, which of course is the Salamander’s forte. In terms of Salamander Chapter Tactics, being able to re-roll 1 failed to hit and 1 failed to wound dice in the shooting phase is not that great on these Aggressors (they already auto-hit and re-rolling to wound with one flamer hit is nothing to write home about), but don’t forget these Chapter Tactics also work in the Fight phase, where the Aggressor’s S10 AP-3 D3 damage gauntlets really DO benefit from a free re-roll to Hit and to Wound each combat round.

Besides the bonus from their Chapter Tactics, the Salamander Unique stratagem, FLAMECRAFT, costs 1 CP and allows the chosen Salamander unit to add +1 to any Wound rolls made for Flamer Weapons in the Shooting phase. Even with a minimum squad of three Aggressors, that is 6D6 S4 hits, all with +1 to their to Wound rolls… add in a nearby Vulkan and you also get to re-roll all failed to Wound rolls with flamers as well, meaning that against all targets they auto hit and, against T3, they would on 97% of their hits, against T4 they wound on 88% of their hits, and against T5-7 they wound on 75% of their hits, making them absolutely devastating against almost all forms of infantry. Even in Overwatch, where you cannot use the FLAMECRAFT stratagem (it can only be used in your own Shooting phase), the Salamander Aggressors get to shoot twice (as long as they did not move in their turn), resulting in 12D6 S4 hits when they are charged, all with re-rolls to wound if Vulkan is nearby… in other words, it is basically suicidal to charge a Salamander Aggressor squad (equipped with Flamestorm Gauntlets and with Vulkan nearby) with anything short of T8 monsters/vehicles.


[3] White Scars Aggressors (with Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm GLs)  — Now, this might seem a bit of an odd choice, since Aggressors do not really epitomize the  mobile warfare doctrine White Scars are known for, but upon closer examination White Scar Chapter Tactics actually benefit this version of Aggressors pretty solidly. Since all WS units add +2 to the Advance rolls, and Aggressors can Move + Advance and still shoot their Auto Boltstorm Gauntlets/Fragstorm GLs with no penalty to BS, this means they basically have a 8-13″ movement ability combined with an 18″ range on their shooting weapons, giving them a “threat radius” of 26-31″ every turn (or even further, if you use the new Repulsor tank to drive them up to enemy lines). Combine this with a nearby White Scar Warlord with the “Storm of Fire” WL Trait and a six man squad of Aggressors can drown your opponent in 36 + 6D6 Bolter shots a turn, with any 6+s to Wound becoming AP-1, which can devastate all forms of infantry in the open.

As for the second half of White Scar Chapter Tactics, the ability to Fall Back and then charge again in the same turn is a tremendous boon for Aggressor squads, since that enables them choose which combats they want to be in and also charge basically every turn, thus striking first with their 2 x S8 AP-3 D3 damage close combat gauntlets per model. Whether shooting or charging (or both), these variant of White Scar Aggressors could benefit tremendously from a nearby WS Captain and/or Lieutenant, since re-rolling 1s to Hit or to Wound can make their high volume of shooting and their potent close combat attacks that much more reliable all game long.


[4] Black Templar Reivers — While there are lots of different units that can benefit from the Black Templar Chapter Tactic ability to re-roll all failed charges, I think Reivers in particular can leverage this and other BT unique capabilities. When equipped with Heavy Bolt Pistols and Combat Knives, Reivers each have 3A base (4A on the Sergeant), so they are above average in short-ranged shooting and close combat right out the gate. Add in the ability to Deep Strike in 9″ away from the enemy turn 1 via Grav Chutes and you can rapidly get them in position to charge and use that BT Chapter Tactic to its full advantage. Finally, if you Drop Pod in Helbrecht, Grimaldus, and a Lieutenant right next to the Reivers on that same turn that they come in and attempt to charge, then they all gain re-rolls to Hit, re-rolls of 1 to Wound, Ld9, S5 in close combat, and the ability to generate even more attacks if they roll any 6+ to Hit. A 10 man squad of Reivers (with Helbrecht, Grimaldus, and a Lieutenant nearby)  shooting and then charging, say, a 30 Boy mob of Orks, would get 10 x S4 AP-1 Heavy BP shots and 31 x S5 attacks,  resulting in 25-27 dead Orks on average when the dust all settles.

Reivers used in this manner can effectively defeat enemy “bubble wrap” unit turn 1 while the rest of the BT army maneuvers into position to make their own charges and, in later turns, the Reivers can help force-multiply the rest of the Templar assault via their Shock Grenades (no Overwatch and -1 to Hit for the rest of the phase for any units hit by them) and their “Terror Troops” bubble (-1 Ld to any enemy units within 3″ of one or more Reiver squads). Also, given that they have T4 and 2W and are relatively cheap points-wise (at least compared to other Primaris units), Reivers provide an affordable method to keep enemy units occupied until follow on Black Templar “hammer” units (i.e. Terminators, Vanguard Vets, Assault Centurions, maxed out Crusader squads) can get stuck in and do what BT do best.


[5] Ultramarine Intercessors — Given their newly acquired “Objective Secured” status as a Troops choice, Intercessors particularly benefit from the Ultramarine +1Ld, making them excellent for camping on objectives until the very last man, especially with re-rolls from ATSKNF. Additionally, being able to fall back and still shoot benefits Intercessors significantly, since they are basically “Sternguard-lite” with their S4 AP-1 Bolt Rifles. Finally, the UM unique stratagem, SCIONS OF GUILLIMAN, costs 1 CP and allows them to re-roll ALL to Hit rolls for a single phase, making them significantly more potent, especially when double-tapping their Bolt Rifles. Throw in Guilliman himself nearby and Intercessors become a threat to even tough units like TEQs and light vehicles. For example, two full 10 man squads of UM Intercessors rapid firing at the following targets with Guilliman nearby produces the following, on average:

-T4 2W 2+ armor Terminators — 8-10 Unsaved Wounds

-T7 10W 3+ armor CSM Rhino — 8-10 Unsaved Wounds

-T5 10W 4+ armor  DE Raider — 10-12 Unsaved Wounds

-T5 3W 3+ armor CW Wraithguard — 8-10 Unsaved Wounds

For a pair of basic Troop units whose main job is to hold Objectives, that is some very solid damage output every shooting phase, and yet another reason to run UM Intercessors.


[6] Imperial Fist Inceptors (with Assault Bolters)  — Again, perhaps a little surprising here, but Inceptors can really do some effective work using Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics and abilities. For example, take a 6 man squad of IF Inceptors, all with dual Assault Bolters… this unit can Deep Strike, fall back from combat and shoot the same turn (thanks to the “Fly” keyword), move 10″ a turn, and has 12W at T5 and a 3+ armor save. On top of that, it can put out 36 x S5 AP-1 shots a turn at 18″ and ignores any enemy Cover bonuses, which makes it even more effective against massed light infantry (like Conscripts, Cultists, Gaunts, Orks Boyz, Necron Warrior phalanxes, CW Guardians, etc.) that are often used to “bubble wrap” opposing armies and which rely on cover to boost their survivability.

Finally, activate the Imperial Fist unique stratagem, BOLTER DRILL, on the squad and also boosts its shooting by +1 to Hit with a nearby Rhino Primaris (meaning that every 5+ grants you an additional shot) and you get an average of 40 hits from a single Inceptor squad. Against a 30 man Conscript squad in cover, that averages 22-23 Unsaved Wounds, followed by another Mortal Wound when the Inceptors charge (due to their “Crushing Charge” rule) and then 5-6 Unsaved Wounds in combat from the Inceptors… that is a total of 29 dead Conscripts on average, with the last model being wiped out by a failed Morale Check even if a Commissar is nearby (he executes the last man standing) and the enemy “bubble wrap” completely removed in a single turn. Alternately, against a MEQ squad, these Inceptors would average 13-14 Unsaved Wounds from shooting alone, so basically wiping out an entire squad plus of anything they are shooting at. Even against a tough unit like a CSM Daemon Prince, this unit would cause an average of 6-7 Unsaved Wounds from shooting, followed by an average of 1 Mortal Wound on the charge and then another 1-2 Unsaved Wounds in combat, killing the Daemon Prince outright before it even got to swing back in the Fight phase. As you can see, Bolter Drill and a supporting Rhino Primaris makes IF Inceptors VERY deadly to a wide range of targets (and they can get even deadlier, if you put your WL near them with the “Storm of Fire” WL trait).


[7] Raven Guard Hellblasters  — While Raven Guard Chapter Tactics are outstanding on any unit that has access to them, they pair particularly well with the long range/high hitting power of Hellblasters and the special RG Stratagem, STRIKE FROM THE SHADOWS. Before the game begins, you can use STRIKE FROM THE SHADOWS to “Infilitrate” a Hellblaster squad 14″ away from an enemy unit that you really want to destroy… ideally, you put the Hellblasters into cover so that they have a 2+ armor save and, as long as they are more than 12″ from the enemy, they can maximize their survivability due to the -1 to Hit for any enemy units shooting at them. Turn 1, drop a Jump Pack Captain and Jump Pack Lieutenant in next to them and then unleash 20 x S8 AP-4 D2 shots at your chosen target, re-rolling 1s to Hit and to Wound. Shooting this powerful can devastate infantry of all kinds and can even take on things like 16W, T8, 2+ armor Land Raiders, with an average of 15-16 hits, 9-10 wounds, 7-8 Unsaved Wounds, and 15-16 damage total inflicted (i.e. if you are even average in your rolling, they just “one-shotted” a entire Land Raider by themselves).

Alternately, you can give the RG Hellblasters the Heavy Plasma Incinerators and deploy them normally, in cover deep in your own deployment zone (so again, 2+ armor saves and a -1 to Hit them for most enemy shooting). With a nearby Rhino Primaris to buff their BS (and make it impossible for them to Overheat their plasma weapons), a 10 man squad of Hellblasters with Heavy Plasma Incinerators in essence becomes a squad of 10 x BS2+ Lascannons, albeit with only 36″ range (vice 48″ normally) and D2 (vice D6 for a Lascannon) for each weapon (but they do also have AP-4, instead of AP-3 like normal Lascannons)… add in a nearby Apothecary to heal/revive any Hellblaster casualties and an Ancient with the Banner of Emperor Ascendant relic (friendly units nearby are immune to Morale tests and any nearby friendly infantry models that die get a “free” shot before being removed on a roll of 3+) and you have a very tough, very dangerous, long-ranged fire base unit that can take on a wide variety of units all game long.

Codex Space Marines: Top 3 Stratagems

Out of many things in 8th edition that I am excited about, the advent of Command Points (and, more specifically, useful Stratagems to spend them) is one of my favorite new additions.

Like with other parts of the revamped rules in 8th edition, I think Stratagems provide a unique yet generally balanced way to give players more agency over their armies and make gameplay in 40k more “tactical” and based around good pre-game and in-game decision-making, rather than just winning via luck or taking the most “broken” units available to your army.

Now, besides the three “core” Stratagems from the main Rule Book (re-roll a single dice, interrupt charges to fight, and auto pass a morale check, all very useful in their own right) and a few odd ones we have gotten from the FW books, the only other stratagems we have “officially” seen are the ones in the recently released Space Marine codex (though, of course, we are about to get a whole bunch more when the CSM and Grey Knight books drop, plus I expect every faction to get their own set once they get an 8th edition codex of their own).

As one of the reviewers on a 40K Podcast I listen to said, stratagems truly are the “secret sauce” which makes the codex armies powerful, flexible, and flavorful all at once. Based on that, here is a look at what I think are some of the best stratagems available only to Space Marines (provided your army is Battle-Forged and includes at least one Space Marine detachment in it) and how they can be exploited tactically on the tabletop:

[1] KILLSHOT — Costing only 1CP, you can use this in the shooting phase and, as long as you have  a <Chapter> Predator (of any kind, including the FW Deimos variant) within 6″ of two other friendly Predators, then all three Predators can add +1 to their to Wound rolls and +1 to their damage for the rest of that phase whenever they shoot at an enemy Monster or Vehicle.

**Against any army that contains even a few Monsters and/or vehicles (which is probably 90% of the forces in the game, except maybe pure Ork Green Tide or pure Primaris foot-slogging lists), this is an exceptionally powerful stratagem and, against armies that rely on powerful LOW units like Guilliman, Wraithknights, Stormsurges, Stompas, super-Heavy tanks, Imperial Knights, etc. it can be your “ace in the hole” for defeating them. If you take three Predators with 4 x Lascannons each, that gives you a total of 12 Lascannon shots with this Stratagem…. add in a nearby Captain for re-rolls of 1s to Hit and you get an average of 9-10 Lascannon hits… against anything T8 or below (which is the VAST majority of vehicles/monsters in the game) you are wounding on 3+s, which then bumps up to a 2+ due to the Stratagem, giving an average of 7-8 wounds at AP-3… in turn, against most vehicle/monster targets with a 3+ save, that is reduced to a 6+ save, giving you 6-7 Unsaved Wounds on average. Finally, thanks to the +1 damage from this stratagem, each Lascannon wound is doing 1+D6 damage per wound, giving you an average 29!!! damage inflicted on the target after all the dust settles… that means you are potentially one-shotting things like Wraithknights and Imperial Knights, which can change the course of the game in a single shooting phase.

Even if the Predators take the Autocannon/Heavy Bolter load out instead of Lascannons (which saves points and makes them able to effectively take on mass infantry/mass light vehicles as well), activating the KILLSHOT stratagem makes them surprisingly effective against monsters and vehicles (i.e. three Predators with ACs/HBs shooting at a Wraithknight with KILLSHOT activated and a Captain nearby inflict an average of 16-17 damage in a single shooting phase… add in a nearby Lieutenant for re-rolls of 1s to Wound and that goes up to 19-20 damage, leaving the Wraithknight easy pickings to finish off with the rest of your army). The beauty of this is, like with all other Stratagems, if your opponent doesn’t have enough vehicles and/or monsters to make it worth using, then simply save the CP for something else and you can still use the Predators as a long-range fire base to support your army… I particularly like giving the three Predators Twin Lascannons and two Heavy Bolters each, since this keeps them affordable, enables them to hit hard against tough units when using KILLSHOT, and also keeps them versatile to engage the entire spectrum of enemy targets.


[2] AUSPEX SCAN — Costing 2 CPs, this stratagem enables an Adeptus Astartes Infantry unit to immediately make an out-of-sequence shooting attack at an enemy unit that has arrived as a reinforcement within 12″ of it as it was in the shooting phase, albeit with a -1 to its to Hit rolls (so, basically, this a new version of the old Interceptor ability from previous editions).

**I love the defensive versatility and flexibility this stratagem gives a Space Marine army, especially with the plethora of deep striking threats that exist in the current game (i.e. Tau Commanders with multiple Fusion Blasters, Scion Command squads with max Plasmas, Vanguard Vets jump packs and massed pistols/power weapons, Tyranids Mawlocs, etc.). This stratagem, while pricy in terms of CPs, gives you a highly effective way of neutralizing these threats before they “alpha strike” half of your army off the table on turn 1, especially when paired with a solid shooty infantry squad that you can use to bubble-wrap the critical elements of your force.

For example, a tactic that I have heard discussed for the upcoming CSM codex is as follows: the CSM player deep strikes a squad of 10 Terminators (all with Combi-plasmas and a PW/PF/LC) alongside a TDA Sorceror or two just outside 9″ of your army. The Sorceror(s) then cast Prescience (so more accurate shooting and no danger of overheating when the Overcharge the Plasmas) and Warp Time (so they get a free 5″ move, putting them just over 4″ away from your forces) on the Terminators and, if they need it, Death Hex on one of your units (this removes the unit’s Invul save completely for a turn)… the Terminators activate the new CSM “VETERANS OF THE LONG WAR” stratagem, giving their shooting +1 to Wound, then open up with 20 x S8 AP-3 D2 Overcharged Plasma shots, all hitting on 2+s (and with no chance of overheating) and wounding anything T7 and below on a 2+ (or anything T8 on a 3+)… with no Invul save to protect the target unit and a -3 AP value, this can basically “delete” almost any unit in your army in a single go, even Guilliman, and even if the target does survive somehow, the Terminators now only have to make a 4″ charge to successfully get into combat and finish the unit off with their specialized melee weapons.

As you can see, this can be a ridiculously potent tactic, and one that is quite difficult to defend against normally. Well, that is where the AUSPEX SCAN stratagem comes in. Say you have a unit of 5 Devastator Centurions with Grav Cannons/Hurricane Bolters and a nearby Chapter Master “bubble wrapping” the critical unit(s) in you army which your CSM opponent would want to target… as soon as the CSM Terminators drop in, before they get a chance to cast any Psychic Powers or shoot or charge, you can activate this stratagem on the Centurions and hit the Chaos Terminator squad with 20 x Grav Cannon and 60 x Hurricane Bolter shots… between the -1 to Hit from this stratagem and the re-rolls to Hit from the Chapter Master, this should inflict an average of 12 Unsaved Wounds from the Grav Cannons (or about 6 dead Terminators) and about 3-4 Unsaved Wounds from the Hurricane Bolters (or another 1-2 dead Terminators)… suddenly, from the threat of 20 super-powered Plasma shots and 10 Terminators charging down your lines, you now only have an average of 4-6 Plasma shots and 2-3 models in TDA charging you, drastically changing the situation (and, even with Ld9, those last 2-3 Terminators may quite possibly fail their morale check and run away at the end of the turn anyways, since they suffered 7-8 casualties on average from the AUSPEX SCAN shooting). This is a bit of an extreme example, but overall I think you can see the game-changing power of this stratagem, especially against powerful enemy deep striking elements that you would otherwise have a very difficult time defending against.


[3] STRIKE FROM THE SHADOWS (Raven Guard only) — Costing 1 CP, this stratagem allows you to set up a single RG Infantry unit in reserve and then, at the beginning of the first battle round (but before the first turn begins), set it up anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9″ away from any enemy units (since this does not occur in any of the phases, it should not be limited to “one per phase” and thus can be used by multiple units in your army, by my interpretation).

**Another amazing stratagem which you can use to truly build your army (and your tactics) around. So, a couple of things right off the bat… the wording on this stratagem says “a Raven Guard infantry unit,” with no restrictions on what kind… this means that you can use it on anything from Tactical squads and Primaris Intercessors to Jump Pack Vanguard Veterans to even Terminators or Centurions (all types). Secondly, and equally significant, this all occurs before the first turn begins, but after any Seize the Initiative has happened, meaning that you can deploy your units with this stratagem knowing safely who has first turn. Finally, because this occurs before the first turn, this means that any units impacted by it do not count as having moved already and, when you first turn comes up, they can still make their full move (and/or advance, if required).

Taking all of this into account, there are multiple ways to exploit this stratagem: right out the gate, it allows you to deploy “reactively” with key units, meaning that you can place them on the battlefield with full knowledge already of your opponent’s deployment and what forces he has available. With a “shooty” unit like a Devastator squad or Hellblaster squad or Sternguard squad, this enables them to set up exactly where you need them and with the ability to target exactly the enemy unit you need them to engage, all without any penalties to Hit due to moving and shooting. Combine this with the Raven Guard Chapter Tactic that gives enemy units -1 to Hit when shooting at these squads at more than 12″ away and you have both a powerful alpha strike and the ability to absorb your opponent’s shooting “counterpunch” next turn, as required.

Alternately, for an assault focused unit like Vanguard Vets or Assault Terminators or Assault Centurions, this stratagem can put them just over 9″ away from enemy lines before the game begins, then on turn 1 they can make their “normal” move (so 4″ for Centurions, 5″ for Terminators, or up to 12″ for Jump Pack infantry), setting up a very achievable charge range for even the slow-moving Centurions (also putting them all within range to maximize their close-in shooting, like flamers, meltaguns, hurricane bolters, pistols, etc. prior to charging). I think an ideal “battle group” to use this stratagem on would be a Vanguard Squad kitted out with Jump Packs, and a mix of dual LCs/THs and Stormshields and Kayvaan Shrike with the “Silent Stalker” WL Trait (which he has to take if he is the WL). Using two CPs, you can set both of these units up just outside 9″ from enemy lines, then Turn 1 move them to just outside 1″ of the unit you want to charge (so no chance of failing the charge roll)… in the Assault Phase, have Shrike charge first, meaning that the enemy cannot shoot Overwatch (thanks to his WL trait) and, once they are locked in combat, have the Vanguard Vets charge as well… with Shrike giving everyone re-rolls to Hit, you should be able to tear up whatever unit they charged quite well and, once they gotten clear of that combat, use their Jump Packs in subsequent turns to set up more charges and/or seize objectives, as required.


Overall, I think the new Space Marine Codex has lots of very solid, if not excellent, stratagems in it, but these ones in particular stood out to me and are the ones that I will be looking to design my army lists around.