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Space Marine Tactica (Age of Egos)

Age of Egos gives us his perspective on tactics for the Space Marines based on the 5th Edition Space Marines Codex

Unit by Unit Analysis

HQ Analysis

Before I get into each specific HQ, I think we need to break the HQs down into two terms; Support and Lead. Support HQs only work in tandem with appropriate units while Lead HQs can operate comparably well in any unit they are placed. So, following each HQ selection I'll describe the HQ accordingly. I won't get into the specific Special Characters as well, as they might be deserving of a future article. I also do not feel any of them are worth their cost.

Space Marine Chaplain


For 100 points you get 3 attacks at WS 5 that need 4's to wound against MEQ (Or Orks). This isn't a great deal to write home about but the Chaplain is a support unit with his ability to grant re-rolls to his unit. Obvious choices are Thunder/Shield Terminators, Assault Groups are not an optimal choice for the Chaplain mostly due to his secondary rule; Fearless. Fearless is a great ability if you have very good saves or Feel No Pain (Or both!). Here again, Thunder/Shield Terminators excel with fearless, as their 2+ save will negate most No Retreat! casualties. So, in summary, if you are bringing Thunder/Shield Terminators (Or Command Squad Bikes) a Chaplain is an ok choice. If you lack those units, he's better left in the display cabinet.



Here is one of the best HQ choices in the codex and definitely the best support character. For 100 points you get 2 Psychic Powers and a Force Weapon (Although, keep this guy out of arms reach as the new Codex Librarians can't handle combat well). His Psychic Powers are where his real strength are. Null Zone can make Daemon players sweat, Gate of Infinity is always a solid choice and Force Dome is solid as well. The other psychic powers may have their arguments but I find them rather useless compared to the above mentioned. Smite is only Str. 4 and still requires a to hit (Remember the Librarians new BS of 4). machine Curse gives you a glancing, which may save you a shooting phase but with the new damage charts will likely do nothing. Avenger can be appealing but is very situational. Quickening allows you to get into assault quicker with the Librarian, which is exactly where you don't want to be. Might of the Ancients gives you 2d6 Armor Penetration, which combined with his Str. 6 equates to an average of Str. 13...this makes him able to take down tanks well but has to be in close combat so probably not worth spending a power on. Vortex of Doom is a heavy and is good, provided you give your Librarian Terminator Armour. Else, it's rather useless.

Where these guys shine is in a pod with Sternguard and locator beacons. Drop, melta/flame/Special Issue Ammunition, then gate around for more fun. A seriously strong combination.



Captains got a buff in the new codex with a WS of 6 now, along with 3 wounds and 3 base attacks this makes them decent at close combat. If you want to go the route of having a close combat character, he isn't bad. A Relic Blade and Storm Shield makes for a good combat modifier, however he still relies on a 3+ save with no immunity to instant death. Power fists can still ruin your day (and your 100 pt character). I will say that Captains on bikes with full Command Squad are a sight and quite nasty on the field.

I won't get into the specifics of Space Marine Bike Armies as A) I don't have enough experience playing them and B) I think they are intricate enough to deserve their own article. Not running bikes though, I pass.

Chapter Master


A Chapter Master is a glorified Captain, which for 25 points gives you an one shot Orbital Bombardment (Which 66% of the time will scatter 2d6) and Honor Guard. Honor Guard are a 'fun' unit, which are cost prohibitive and easily replaced in roles by Thunder/Shield Terminators. I pass on Chapter Masters as well, as if you want a cheap combat character Captains fit the role fine.

Elite Analysis

Before I go into specific Dread builds, I'll go on a quick tangent and describe Dread weaponry (As it applies both to Venerable Dreads and Vanilla Dreads). Dreads should always have Multi-Meltas. Melta is a necessity in 5th and it is included in their base cost, so it saves you points. If you are concerned with hordes, then throw a heavy flamer on him (In addition to his Melta). Las Cannons lost a bit of punch in 5th due to damage tables and the cost you 30 points to equip now. One Plasma Cannon shot, with the quantity of cover saves, seems a waste. Stick with your Melta and add a Heavy Flamer if you feel the need.

Venerable Dread

The Venerable Dread returns with his old rule of re-roll damage. Considering 5th's forgiving damage table, this is a pretty nifty ability. I believe the math hammer has been done showing a Venerable Dread 'practically' has the survivability of AV 14 now. However, he costs nearly 165 points base! This is 60 points more than a regular dread, so the question you need to ask before placing one in your army is if 60 points is worth one pip of WS and BS, with his damage re-roll. Considering this is only a 16% chance increase to hit above a regular dread and for his cost + 40 you could buy two Dreads...I'll go with spending 40 pts more and getting two. Again, Melta is the best choice here as the drawback to Melta is one shot...which is BS of 5 will help overcome.

Vanilla Dread

105 points for AV 12, Multi-Melta packing monstrosity who can actually survive now due to 5ths damage chart? Yes please! Always a solid choice and arguably the best Elite unit in the codex. I always take at least one and add more as I scale up in points. Throw him in a pod with a heavy flamer/Multi-Melta kit and you have a deep striking Anti-Tank-Anti-Horde unit that will be in their face turn 1.

Ironclad Dread

There are only two things that fail to impress me about this unit; The model coming out for it and its non-linked Melta. AV 13 is a beast in 5th, as Power Fists and Power Klaws will need a 4 to hit, then a 6 to penetrate. Considering they will not blow him up on a glance, this equates into quite a tar-pit unit. 135 points isn't a bad cost, considering he gets EA free and a semi-melta CCW. The only downside to this guy is his regular melta. For this reason, I like vanilla dreads better simply due to cost and the Multi-Melta...but the Iron Clad is a solid choice as well.


If you are fluff nutter and want a Omnissiah theme, then he's an ok choice (Of course, he takes a Dread's spot as well). Otherwise, leave this guy at home.


They shoot "ok" and Assault Cannons lost some punch. Not worth their points.

Simple trick might be to have scouts or scout bikers take the locator beacon, then scout them into the enemy territory. If they survive the turn, teleport the Terminator and Smash Vehicles with your 8-12 S8 attacks... Also Terminator are good for tying up units as on average it takes 24 S4 attacks or 36 S3 attacks. That is 6 Orks on the charge or 12 denied furious charge. Granted spending 200 points to force your opponent to throw a lot of ammunition and attacks at them is a little much. (QUMI)

Assault Terminators

These guys can be real ball breakers, provided you support them well. If you run them though, go big or go home. Put them in a Land Raider, throw Vulkan in with them and watch them walk through pretty much any unit in the game. That said, that combination is in upwards of 550 points. It's all smiles until your Land Raider gets suicide melta'd and your Thunder/Shield Terms get lashed back and shot all game. I don't think these guys are as good as their rep, in terms of efficiency, albeit they have a place in a 2k list (See my 2k list below).

The combination of Shrike/Infiltrate/Fleet Terminators is fun and will work once. After people are aware (and laugh at your 'sneaky' terminator fluff), this will cease to be fun. Not to mention Shrike is 200 points and you lose combat tactics.

Legion of the Damned

This is the one unit that seems tantalizing to me but I have yet to play enough to comment on. The build that looks most promising is a Multi-Melta, Melta unit of 5-6 that deep strike in (Rerolling the scatter!) next to a vehicle and send it to hell w/ their Slow/Purposeful. Of course, this is 200 points to do which is semi-pricey. They have a great 3++ but so much of 5th is multitude of fire, they'll still die to mass dice (Not to mention they will be in a nice tight circle after you deep strike). Undecided but definitely leaning towards 'Fun Only'.


Second best Elite choice and one of the better choices in the game. They are pricey but if used aggressively, will provide one hell of a headache for your opponent. Take combi-weaponry if you take them as at 5 points each it's a steal. Combi-Meltas are no brainers here with perhaps a few combi-flamers. If you take a unit of 10, you can split your combi-weapons, so 5 have melta and 5 have flamer/Heavy Flamer. This means you blow up the transport and then torch those who get out. The rounds are interesting but it's almost always advantageous to use hellfire (wound on 2+). Negating cover saves is situational, Vengeance can cost you models (and still only wounds on a 4+) and Kraken allows cover saves. Since cover saves abound in 5th, either shoot the negate cover or Hellfire to force more saves. I always pod or Gate these guys around, as they are an aggressive unit...NOT a unit that should park in a forest!

Troop Analysis

Tactical Squads

Always take a 10 man for the free Heavy and Special, never just buy 5 and don't combat squad in Kill Point games. There are the no brainers, the only real question is how to kit them out. This is where Space Marine players will likely schism. I see Marine armies as a mid-field fire point army, with good survivability. I do not expect my Tacs to assault, unless I have Tau or IG in my face. Else, I'm thinking of how to aggressively advance while shooting. Combat Tactics supports this role (and this partly why I dislike specials that take it away), so I think Power Fists are pointless. I usually combat squad. Power Fists in combat squads with wound allocation will leave you frustrated and your opponent happy. Tacs are not meant for elite hand to hand, you need to run away if you are in combat with such. Power Fists simply don't belong in tacs.

Shooting, the free Flamer is a solid choice as wound allocation/cover is so important now. Melta is another solid pick. Plasma sucks in 5th, leave it at home. Heavy choice, Multi-Meltas are very solid (and free!). If you know the squad is going to squat on your objective and shoot down field, a 10 pt las-cannon seems worth it. Missile Launchers, while free, don't do a great deal now since glancing is so weak but I can see saving points to take them. I pass on Heavy Bolters and Plasma as I'm usually more concerned with vehicles than say hordes (and either way, they'll likely get a cover save).

Scout Squads

A great pick to take,a pain to remove if your enemy doesnt have a spare orbital bombardment to use. If you take them, go big or don't bring them. Use camo cloaks, Snipers, Telion and a Missile Launcher is a good build. The only problem is if your enemy is a close combat type (e.g. Khorne Berserkers, Orks, Blood Angels). But, if you have range at your side, and squat them in cover on an objective and they are a serious pain in the Arse to remove.

Fast Attack


Lets get this nonsense unit out of the way. Here are the arguments I see on forums for Vanguard;

"I had great success when I used a Scout Squad with Beacon and turbo'd over and killed this one unit" "They rock! I deep struck next to this unit the other day and tore them up!"

Their Deep Strike ability is not good guys. To assault when you deep strike, you need to place your initial model 6-7 inches away from your enemy. Ok, now you roll scatter (Which will happen 66% of the time). If you scatter, you roll 2d6. The most common number on 2d6 is 7 (With 6 and 8 following behind). Guess what happens if the arrow points towards your enemy with that roll? Mishap. Guess what happens if the arrow points away from your enemy with that roll? No assault.

Horrible unit. Over-priced, no consolidation in 5th, can scatter, very situational and did I mention over-priced? Great models, horrible rules. No thanks.

Assault Squad

Interesting unit if you take two flamers, although they cost the same as a tac and don't score. If you need an assault punch, Thunder/Shields are a better pick. These guys are still marines...just a pip in attack. If I need a dedicated assault/counter-attack unit, I prefer it to be a hammer not a fly-swatter.

Land Speeder Squadron

Best Fast Attack choice and one of the better choices in the codex. For 70 points you get a Fast Skimmer with Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer that can deep strike off Beacons or move 12 on the table and unload. Solid pick. Either go Melta/Heavy Flamer or Heavy Flamer/Heavy Flamer. I like the Melta/Flamer combination as you can provide horde/vehicle help where needed. That Melta 2d6 threat range becomes 24 inches from your speeder as well...enough to make any armor sweat.

Scout Bike

Space Marine Bike

The only reason to take Bikes is for the special weapon allocation and to bury an attack bike. If you are set on taking them, then dedicate them to AT purposes and load up with 2 Melta + Combi-Sarg w/ Melta and an Attack Bike w/ Melta. That's a pretty nasty unit in terms of AT, dishing out one 2d6 Melta at 12 inches and 4 2d6 Melta at 6 inches. This unit 'may' have promise but the bottom line is; It has to compete with a Land Speeder. The Land Speeder has better movement (Over terrain/units) and for the price of the above bike unit, I can have two Land Speeders w/ Melta/Flamer.

Bikes also tend to bleed KPs or go away very quickly if your opponent nods in their direction. Multi-Melta, ML, Las Cannon, Battle Cannon, etc will kill your expensive bikes just as quickly as regular marines. The only time I would take Bikes is if they count as troops and you are playing a bike army, else the Land Speeder wins out in terms of role capability, movement, cost and survivability.

Attack Bike

Attack Bikes suffer all of the negatives listed above for bikes but with even higher price tags! A squad of 3 with Melta will cost you 150 pts, which again is more than two Land Speeders kitted out correctly. This is a very easy KP unit for your opponent and will die to any attention dealt to it. Attack Bikes can have a place in Space Marine bike armies, deep in regular bike units. Otherwise, they simply die. Pass.

Heavy Support

Devastator Squads

With the advent of armor and the ridiculous costs of their weapons, these guys really lost their way in 5th. Keep them on the shelf.

Land Raiders

Land Raiders got really tough in 5th. Still, they are really expensive. If you are delivering some nasty combat unit, then Land Raiders are solid. However, the downside is you need to get close to complete this job...and melta will be grinning and waiting. If you decide to include a Land Raider, make sure you armor overload so they can't focus heavy weaponry. Crusaders are rock solid, Redeemers can have their moments and vanilla Land Raiders have come into their own with the advent of AV 12 vehicles running around. The ONLY time EA is worth it, is on a Thunder Term deliverance vehicle.


For 85 points, I can have a Predator kitted out. You will be able to make your enemy rage, because the missles used by the whirlwind use a large blast template. It WILL Decide a battle.


Read the artillery rules in the main rule-book. Then read them again. Then think about one las-cannon or missile launcher shot and the corresponding damage roll. Cool model (granted a pain in the ass to put together) but simply can't survive.

I'm sorry but wrong, wrong, wrong. Thunderfires put out 4 S6 AP5 blasts at BS4 and 60 inch range, or alternatively use the S4 blasts that force difficult and dangerous terrain tests on anything it hits. Put 4 shots on a Land Raider and watch him take 4 dangerous terrain tests. Or drop the S6 on 5 Terminators; even with a 2+ when you're making him take 20+ armour saves some are gonna die. At 100 points, you're also getting a Techmarine with full servo harness. This is a complete steal. Never forget that the free Techie has Bolster Defences, so you're sitting the cannon in a 3+ cover save. Thunderfire cannons are amongst the best anti-horde unit Marines can get, bar perhaps the Whirlwind for its ability to fire indirectly. Calas


This will likely be contrary to most opinion but I like the Vindicator. Big templates for horde, nice AP if you catch something in the open and good Str. if you are desperate for vehicle duties (but should be a last option!). AV 13 is nothing to sneeze at the fear factor this guy produces will save other armor. Good pick. (Especially againt chaos marines, because of the AP)

Tactics and sample army lists

First, I'll list the three possible builds I see Space Marine players (Or basic ingredients of each);

Mechanized Marines Pod Marines Bike Marines

I will only comment on the first two, as I stated before I think Bike Marines deserve their own article (and someone with more expertise in fielding them). I listed them above for a sake of completeness, as I think a Biker Marine army 'can' be competitive.

Mechanized Marines

METAL BOXES...ahem, Rhinos everywhere. All your tacs button up in Rhinos unless necessity demands you get out. Flame/Heavy Weapon from the ports. Speeders for your Fast, Dreads for your Elites and Preds for your Heavies. This does a couple of things; 1) Armor overloads. Two tanks are easy to deal with for 4 heavy weapons. 4 Rhinos, 3 Dreads, 2 Land Speeders and 3 Predators are a bit more difficult! Always buy a Rhino for a tactical squad, even if you 'know' that unit will be sitting in cover. With the advent of dedicated transports picking anyone up and the survivability of armor in 5th, an extra Rhino scooting around is always good.

A caveat for Land Speeders/Vindicators. If you are facing an army that is placing a great deal of moderate strength/firepower down field, use the reserves rules. Your Speeders are fast, they can move on 12 after a few turns of loosening your opponent on and turn the game. A reserve Vindicator will always get a shot at 30 inches, which is midfield. Speeders can also Deep Strike off beacons, which can be pretty damaging if you kit them with Heavy Flamer/Multi-Melta. If you are playing a competent opponent and you see some serious firepower, use the reserve rule.

Here is an army I run (Mostly Mech Marines) at 1750. Pretty competitive, fun to play;


Libby with Gate and Force Dome


Seven Sternguard with 5 Combi-Meltas, Sarg has Combi-Melta Drop Pod with Locator Beacon

Vanilla Dread--Multi-Melta + Heavy Flamer Drop Pod with Locator Beacon

Vanilla Dread--Multi-Melta + Heavy Flamer Drop Pod


10 man Tactical Squad with Flamer, Multi-Melta Rhino

10 man Tactical Squad with Flamer, Multi-Melta Rhino

10 man Tactical Squad with Flamer, Las-Cannon Rhino

Fast Attack

2 Land Speeders with Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer

2 Land Speeders with Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer

Heavy Support

Predator with Auto-Cannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsons

Predator with Auto-Cannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsons

First turn you either drop two Dreads with Heavy Flamer + Multi-Meltas on a flank or a Dread + Libby/Sternguard. Wherever you drop, that's a dead unit, Land Raider, tank or tank squadron. Two Locator Beacons allow you to gate where needed and out of combat. If you drop two dreads first turn, your opponent will be looking at the following armor on their first turn;

Two AV 12 Walkers on a flank; Three AV 11 Rhinos popping smoke and advancing with full Tactical Squads; Four AV 10 Land Speeders with Melta/Heavy Flamers; Two AV 13 Predators

Another 2000 list without any Pod mixture "True" mechanized marines. Very competitive;




Vanilla Dread--Multi-Melta + Heavy Flamer

Vanilla Dread--Multi-Melta

Five Thunder Hammer Terminators Land Raider Transport with Extra Armour


10 man Tactical Squad with Flamer, Multi-Melta Sarg has a combi-melta Rhino

10 man Tactical Squad with Flamer, Multi-Melta Sarg has a combi-melta Rhino

10 man Tactical Squad with Flamer, Las-Cannon Rhino

Fast Attack

2 Land Speeders with Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer

2 Land Speeders with Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer

Heavy Support

Predator with Auto-Cannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsons


I think this is the most competitive list Marines can bring to the table at 2000. Lets look at the armor;

One AV 14 Land Raider, Two AV 12 Walkers; Three AV 11 Rhinos; Four AV 10 Speeders; One AV 13 Predator; One AV 13 Vindicator

Multi-Melta count; Eight

Melta Count; Two Combi Meltas

Heavy Flamer count; Six

Pretty straight forward, Rhinos advance and pop smoke, dreads run behind rhinos, Speeders choose a flank and Predator/Vindicator provide a fire base. Vulkan joins the Thunder Terms.

IG Chimera/Russ horde? Eight Multi-Melta shots + a Las Cannon + 2 Auto-Cannons.

Horde? 6 Heavy Flamers, 6 Heavy Bolter shots, 2 Dreads, and 30 marines.

I don't care what you face, this list will do well.



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